207 posts • joined Tuesday 20th February 2007 14:56 GMT
Re: I want to quit my addiction to Microsoft products...
Truth is if you can find your way around Windows, you'll be fine in any of the common Linux variants - Ubuntu, Mint, SUSE... the basic idea of desktop + toolbar + menus is common to all. And any major distro will be 99% sure to just work out of the box.
Try it out via a live USB drive or CD first - nothing is installed and you can play to your heart's content.
Regarding MS Office - yes, older versions will run under Wine, and I did that for a while.
In practice I get by just fine with LibreOffice and tend to send most things out as PDFs, which LO generates utterly painlessly. Again, if you know MS Office, LibreOffice is similar enough to be an easy learn.
The one program that I do need to run in Windows is our accounting package - it just won't work under Wine.
So for that, and an older version of Photoshop that gets used maybe once a month, I run VirtualBox. Once Windows has been installed inside that it runs just fine on my not too recent machine, and both of these programs run just fine. For my money it's much easier than Wine.
Been There. Didn't Do That.
I believe that e-mail hit my in-box last week? Ignored it of course.
I've been using Audacious on Linux for a while - what I take to be a Winamp clone? I really can't understand why you need behemoth of a program just to play tunes. http://audacious-media-player.org/
Like Winamp did on Windows, Audacious does on Linux and Windows - gives you a really simple music player.
Seriously, why do the people designing music players feel the need to i-Tunesify them and make large, cumbersome, and confusing?
Right Wing Logic
Ah, the right wing logic always amazes me.
The item in question costs £14+ more in the UK than in the US even after VAT has been added to the $US retail price. (£199 - £185).
Right wing droid declares "You're "getting fucked out of" £14.60 at most. Not a big deal. Blame the government.".
Hate to burst your bubble, but that extra £14 is being grabbed by the capitalist whores at Acer, not by the government. But hey, what's a little 9% premium if it keeps Free Enterprise humming along....
Netflix all the way
We have a Netflix account (that thinks we're in the US, not Canada). $10 a month roughly for all that we can watch. Cable would run some $75-100. Not a hard choice to make.
If you like British detective series and foreign films, rather than NFL and hockey at least. If your life is only complete when you can watch TONIGHT'S NEW EPISODE OF (some mediocre American sitcom), then yeah, Netflix won't do it.
What Netflix doesn't have I will pull off of Pirate Bay - maybe once or twice a month.
At the end of the day Netflix has demonstrated that people will choose to buy legal content if it's priced reasonably.
Note: Bittorrent traffic maybe a smaller percentage of the whole, but does that mean that they are generating less traffic? Or just that Netflix etc are doing much, much more than previously.
Note 2: Do not under any circumstances watch the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Movie after the full TV series.
Please Mr. Al-Qaeda, Save Us!
There's an obvious and simple solution to all of this.
Hire a brown skinned passenger (aka "Terrurist") to carry a cel phone filled with something that goes "Boom."
Once the TSA nabs him you can be sure that phones will be added to the list of stuff that you aren't allowed to carry on to the plane.
Re: I use...
Wow - I used Second Copy about ten years ago to sync Palm files and calendars between two systems on our home network (Windows something) and really liked it. One of those little gems that Just Worked, and which let you do what YOU wanted, rather than what THEY wanted.
After a foray into Apple, then settling on Linux, never used it again. Good to see it's still around.
A great mystery is the "free from Craigslist" HP 4315 Inkjet printer beside me. Mostly just used as a scanner because even after installing HP's Linux driver bundle it never exactly works right.
Specifically: It refuses to print the Guardian Cryptic Crossword Puzzle.
It will print the clues, and all of the numbers, but will absolutely not print the lines and black squares that define the actual grid.
Actually it gets stranger. If I choose the "Print Version" of the puzzle, it won't print. If I "print" it to a PDF, then print THAT it's fine.
Value vs Features vs Price
My trusty Nexus S has died finally, so I'm shopping. Probably I'll find a used Nexus 4 on Craigslist, or maybe go one further and pay Google $350 for a Nexus 4. I'm tied sufficiently into the Googleverse that using hardware that's also predominantly Google makes sense.
In the interim I'm using a cheap and crappy Samsung Discovery, running ICS, with no hope of ever upgrading to the beauty of JB - much less KitKat. It's slow, and kind of ugly, but I only paid $100 for it - new - and it runs everything that I use adequately well. You might call it a "landfill" phone, but for 90% of people it would actually work just fine.
If an adequate phone can be had for $100, why would I spend $700-1000 for new Samsung or Sony device? (The asking price from any of Canada's network operators.)
For that matter, how come the Nexus 5 which sells for $350 on Google's web site is being offered for $500 by the Canadian telcos? (Greed of course, pure unfettered greed)
The thing that allows this level of price gouging is obvious: it is more or less impossible to buy a cel phone from anyone other than a cel provider. Whether you're paying the full (inflated) price up front, or going for the the "free" (inflated price) phone with a two year contract, you're pretty much stuck with buying from the greedy cel companies.
The reality is that virtually no-one will know about or buy a phone from Google, because they are awash in advertising from the cel companies that imply that you have to buy from them.
Ultimately what we in Canada need is a big enough, tough enough retail operator who will specialize in selling unlocked name brand phones at good prices. Someone with enough marketing budget to blast through the wall of cel company advertising.
Until we can separate the hardware from the phone service we're going to continue to get screwed.
Two problems actually
Oh Canada! Where the current MINIMUM plan that comes with new phone costs $70 a month, and includes - hold on! - 250 megabytes of data. If you want more than that you'll wind up paying a nice round $100 a month.
OK, so we get robbed blind by the monopolistic triumvirate that runs Canada's cel networks. I accept that.
The real problem is apps that refuse to let you limit their use to WIFI.
Our local library has been flogging the Overdrive app for e-books and audio books, and I was using it on my Android phone for the latter. It's actually one of the worst apps I've encountered on almost every level, but I like our library, support them, and where a good option exists, actually try to obtain media legally.
Because I am not independently wealthy I had specifically set Overdrive to only download via WIFI.
Last month Overdrive updated their app to add some flashy but generally useless swipey junk. And REMOVED the WIFI only setting. And removed the control that let you pause a download in progress.
The next time I went to download a new audiobook the damned thing gobbled up a month's worth of data in a couple of hours.
So Overdrive, I'm gone back to using Pirate Bay for audio books. Better selection, faster and easier downloads, and they don't expire after two weeks.
Tax on the Stupid
Sigh. Repeat after me: Just because it's on the Internet doesn't mean that a) it isn't still illegal and b) the authorities won't lock up your ass for doing it.
Just as it was stupendously inevitable and obvious that the government and media companies would hammer Napster, Pirate Bay, and other such enterprises, it was abundantly obvious that at some point they would step on Silk Road.
Were these guys really so stupid that they didn't expect the feds to show up? For that matter, do their customers think that they won't also get nabbed?
Re: Obscured upgrade path
"And Windows Easy Transfer doesn't count, assuming it works with Windows 8 (although it should). You have to know it exists first and then locate it on Microsoft's website."
And you know, at the end of the day, that's a big deal.
Girlfriend is still running XP, and only last year was upgraded from Outlook Express (with which she actually was very happy) to Windows Live Mail (or whatever the version is called that actually downloads the e-mail to your hard drive).
I'm sure that a new system and new OS* are coming, and I automatically assume that somehow moving all of her stuff from XP to Win 7 or 8 will become a nightmare. Maybe it isn't these days, but I have long ago learned to not assume anything with MS.
* Yes it'll be Windows. She specifically uses MS Word a lot, and it makes no sense to try and move her existing docs into LibreOffice.
Canada has it.
Just announced last week, Canada now has a thingy on the the Interweb to check the IMEI of stolen or lost phones. http://www.protectyourdata.ca
a) It's run by the evil scum slimeball cel phone companies.
b) It's ugly as sin and confusing to boot.
c) This service is limited to 2 queries per day by Canadian consumers only (WTF??)
d) The website bizarrely doesn't actually tell you how to register your phone as stolen, beyond calling the cops. Who largely don't care about penny ante stuff like phone thefts.
And of course, it's already possible to hack and change the IMEI number http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/06/police-mobile-software-hack-defeating-anti-theft-measure/
What i can't understand is why all of the stolen/second hand phones on Craigslist are selling nearly retail prices.
Re: A neat trick
Oooh! Bargain! In Canada the minimum monthly spend is $70, meaning your free phone plus service costs you $1680 over two years.
Canadian telcos finally eliminated the infamous three year contracts that were required when you got a "free" phone.
However, they maintain the same level of profit by jumping up the monthly charge, so you pay just as much, only over 24 months instead of 36.
In my case I have two year old plan that charges $50 a month. If I walked though the door today, or even just wanted to upgrade my phone, I'd have to pay at least $70 per month.
(In fact, more than that. $70 a month get you 250 megs of data and a voicemail that will only hold THREE messages. To maintain the services I have now (1 gig + 20 message capacity) I'd have to pay just shy of $100 a month.)
All of which is why I'll just buy my next phone off Craigslist and keep this "cheap" phone plan going until the end of time.
(Bootnote: 95% of the Canadian cel market is owned by three large ugly greedy companies. There are a couple of tiny upstarts which are supposed to provide competition, but they only have service in major centres, and often spotty coverage at that.)
Call me Back When/If it's Finished
Yes I'm a Facebook user, although every time they remove another bit of privacy or another actually useful feature I find myself one step closer to leaving.
What amazes me about Facebook is that they have consistently had one of the worst Android apps that I've seen. With every version it just seemed to become more and more unstable, slow, and generally useless for anything that you would want to do with Facebook.
At the same time they want it to be ever more closely integrated into the larger Android ecosystem, with access to more or less everything that Google has control of.
How foolish do they think that I am?
Setting Ourselves Up For Disaster?
I think of how much of my life somehow relies on the Internet - shopping, banking, information, communication at a minimum - and how many essential services now pretty much demand that you access them on-line.
I think about how less secure all of this is than we have been assuming (from either governments, corporations, or Bad Guys), and I think about the sheer size of some of the recent attacks on specific sites and services - can you say "bot-net" anyone?
I've pretty much concluded that we're fast approaching a day when suddenly a significantly large part of modern society will stop working with no warning. Whether by accident, incompetence, or malice really doesn't matter.
The frightening thing is this: twenty years ago it would have been hard to imagine a utility outage that could impact more than a small geographic area. The possible exceptions might be some major electrical outages that might touch a couple million people in a region.
Otherwise, when stuff broke, it was generally a local problem.
Now we're all relying on a large network which, although sold on the idea of being self-repairing, looks to me like it relies on a some pretty vulnerable weak spots - maybe DNS systems; maybe major fibre conduits, or the major hubs that data passes through. And let's not forget the ways that a government can close off some or all of the 'net. And that's not even considering the volume of data living in "Clouds" run by Amazon and others.
It seems to me that there's a looming possibility that one day a large part of the Internet that we rely on will come crashing down.
How much of your life would grind to a halt if the 'Net was unavailable for a day?
Re: Let's fix the #1 problem with email: SPAM
Spam? A serious problem at Gmail? Not in my experience.
My e-mail(s) are scattered hither and yon all over the the Internet, and I seldom see more than a dozen messages a day in my Gmail spam folder. (Yes, I do check it daily, for that one message in a thousand that is filtered wrongly. Although it's likely less than that...)
I remember the bad old days of trying to keep my spam filter settings caught up in whatever standalone desktop mail application I was using - the ability to entirely ignore spam is one of the reasons why I like Gmail so much.
No, my point was that Android jelly bean lacked these stupendously obvious features, which is why I was trying CM.
Battery life still sucked...
I've installed CM twice on my admittedly ancient and dusty Nexus S. Both times it was quickly removed when I ran into odd crashes and downright nasty battery life. YMMV.
Ultimately though what really gets my goat is that (aside from random curiosity) I installed it because I wanted a couple of "obvious to anyone who actually uses the damned thing" features: Lock Screen, so I don't keep randomly losing icons from my home screen; and the freedom to send a text message to a group of 44 people at one time without being harassed by Android.
And of course that bloody obvious to anyone that isn't brain dead thing: a quick and easy way to turn WIFI, BlueTooth etc on and off.
I haven't had a chance to play with KitKat yet, but I fear that Android is going the way of so many Google projects - losing features that people actually use, and adding strange restrictions that really have no place.
Who knows - maybe this will be the year of the Firefox and Ubuntu phones.....
Fair prices for technology
Anything that will drive down phone prices is good by me. I can't conceive why a new smartphone (locally in Canada) runs $600 to $800. Someone is taking a staggering mark up on these items.
Holy Remind Me Of GeoCities Batman!
Wow. Just for fun I opened a new tab and typed "yahoo.com" just to see what in the heck Yahoo! was doing these days.
Ooooh-Kaaaay... I now know why I never visit Yahoo.com....
Do They Use Yahoo Groups in Syria?
Wow. So much venom over a glorified mailing list... But then, this IS the Internet.
I subscribe to a couple of Yahoo Groups, and have created a couple in the past. The truth is that Yahoo's interface always sucked big time. At least now it looks good while sucking.
I just can't get all that worked up about cosmetic makeovers of Yahoo, Google, or Hotmail. Sure, I like stuff to more or less stay the same, but I also can see that there are probably 100,000 more important things for me to worry about.
The bottom line is that if you have very specific needs or wants, you should roll your own instead of relying on a large (free) corporate provider. Any web host will offer you a mailing list similar to Yahoo groups for a few dollars a month. That way YOU can choose the interface, the design, and make the rules to suit yourself.
I go back to the days of using LISTSERV and Majordomo - don't even try to tell me that Yahoo's interface is difficult!
(Paris, because well, we are talking suckage...)
Re: What all this proves is that you can’t get a £550 phone for £350
I've long wondered what on earth people need so much storage for on a phone? Surely just music?? Ten thousand albums downloaded from Pirate Bay? Every picture ever taken?? Movies??
My two year old Nexus S still has 10 gigs free of 14, and I don't worry about managing what's on it. I'll copy off the photos every couple of weeks, but that's it.
Truth is that probably two thirds of people exist quite happily with 8 or 16 gigs on a phone.
Re: thuggery isnt it?
Possibly, just possibly, the drives in question held information which would have compromised Guardian sources, and the Guardian was clever enough to refuse to hand them over, and instead "allowed" themselves to be bullied into destroying them.
Under the current global regime, there would likely have been no legal avenue to refuse the government access to all data held on the machines, so smashing them to bits would have been a good way to go. And doing it at the "request" of the government is just a bonus insurance.
(Coincidentally in the midst of reading "Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet
By Assange, Julian, ioerror, and others. What they discussed a year ago is pretty much spot on what is happening today.)
Suits Me Fine
I'm still running fine with my much battered Nexus S. I've been shopping for a new phone, but just can't see spending hundreds of dollars for a marginal improvement in utility.
I'd give this a go with no problem. If it will do Gmail, Twitter, and has a decent GPS, I'm in.
Does though raise the question why big name phones are running $500-700 when ZTE can sell this for under a hundred bucks....
Technology Which Should Die
It's time that we tossed the password concept onto the trash heap and found something, anything, better to replace it.
It's ludicrous to have dozens of passwords for dozens of services, which is why so few people actually bother. Aside from stuff like banking and taxes, which actually matter, I recycle the same easy password for most sites.
It's ludicrous to expect people to generate complex alphanumerical with a hashtag passwords - which is why few people actually bother. Again, The Register doesn't get a super secure password because - well, who cares?
And of course, again this week, despite what I might do, another site that I visit now and then got hacked (a local municipal government), so it's again time to replace my password there, my actually very strong password because I used a credit card there, and on any other sites that use a variation on it.
Passwords are 80s technology that should have been retired a decade ago.
But Can They Fix NetFlix?
I'd buy one tomorrow, plus a second smartphone to run it, if they could fix the god-awful NetFlix interface.
It still amazes me how hard NetFlix works to make it difficult to find anything they offer. How their browse function - well, it doesn't really even exist. How they don't even support something so stunningly obvious as a bookmark feature. How the search is on the level of what I had on my Commodore 64.
Seriously, 90% of what we watch on Netflix is found purely at random.
Hands down Netflix offers the second worst media experience that I know of.
My Minimum needs?
It's not a phone, it's a really little computer that also makes phone calls. Gotta change your expectations.
If I can go a full day (24 hours) with wifi, bluetooth, gps, and whatever running, and with moderate usage as an actual phone, and not need to plug in, then I'll be very happy.
If the camera is good, even happier - "good" means markedly better than snapshots, and can capture a moving dog. I don't expect DSLR quality from a phone.
If the phone is reasonably rugged, even better, where rugged means "Yes, I do drop the damned thing about once a month, onto hardwood or even concrete.'
And finally, if the touchscreen will work in wet, rainy, cold weather, with numb fingers - at least enough that I can answer a phone call! - I'll buy it.
I Estimate You're Lying
The report said that cyber crime costs the world between $38bn and $1tn, although it is impossible to produce entirely accurate figures due to the indirect costs which are often left out of such calculations.
Eh? Maybe be impossible because a) half of the victims will never admit to being attacked, and b) estimated losses tend to be grossly inflated, esp. if insurance can pay for them.
My first question is always the same: how useful is the touch screen when it rains? My admittedly "old" Nexus S can't even answer a call if there's the slightest bit of rain falling. One or two drops on the screen and you can't unlock it for love nor money.
Makes me long for a real physical button.
Also worth noting that caterpillar is among the most scummy, anti-union, anti-worker companies on the planet. Having their name on your gear may make you mighty unpopular at some job sites.
Already covered - I would like to think
Don't know about most people here, but about eleventy-seven security and privacy goofs back I went through my Facebook profile and deleted EVERYTHING that I could. My profile has two things: My City (which makes sense) and my e-mail address - hardly a secret.
Almost every privacy setting is set to "Friends Only" and I vigorously block all the stupid spam that Facebook feeds me, and aside from "Scrabble" don't accept requests from games and apps and other dreck.
Still, I have no illusions about what Facebook might have on me, and who they would sell it to.
Funny things is that I have no real qualms about handing large swaths of my life to Google, storing my e-mail on their servers, and have never found their advertising particularly irritating.
Location is Everything
The value or Netflix or any similar service is tied to your location. For instance, if you live in certain third world countries* you are offered literally one quarter of the content that Americans can watch.
Or you find that Netflix has a full series, except for the final episode which closed out the series. (Hello Pirate Bay!)
This whole fractured content thing will eventually lead to some kind of upheaval. We actually like Netflix (Brit crime dramas galore) but the content issues, and the woefully bad user interface are a constant irritation.
Old ≠ Stupid and Usless
I know lots of people aged well past sixty. Probably because I'm not too far behind.
As I near my supposed Golden Years (ah for the days when pensions and even retirement were the norm, rather than today's endless slide into semi-employed poverty) I am often amazed at what marketers and fools think I need or want.
With the sole exception of my Mom (80 this year) every person I know has a mobile phone, and no-one has any significant issues using them.
Most of them also are rabid Facebook users - that's how our entire extended family keeps in touch.
My former mother-in law, also around 80, has for years traded pirated sewing machine computer embroidery patterns via e-mail with other like minded Disney fans.
No-one that I know is in a rush to move into a retirement home, and most of them are still heading out to loud rock concerts with the friends. Some while abusing certain controlled substances.
Although there are surely some people who could benefit from this dumbed down phone, the reality of most baby-boomers over sixty is that they grew up with technology, and embraced it with joy and curiosity. They've used computers at work and at home from at least the days of the original IBM PC, have upgraded at least eight or ten times, and have happily added iPods, smart phones, and other doodads to their tech arsenal.
So Mr. Simon Rockman: get your head out of your ass, and market this product to the people who actually need it, instead of making bone-headed assumptions about the 85% of older people who aren't invalids, idiots, or luddites.
Intelligent Use of Resources
It always seems strange to me that in most of North America it is a given that no matter how little teachers are paid, it is considered to be too much. Yet no parent or voter ever seems to mind paying a high hourly rate to their BMW mechanic, dentist, hairdresser, or pool boy.
It is disturbing that so many people feel that money spent on educating children is somehow money wasted.
In all seriousness, can you ever pay a good teacher too much? Even a mid-range teacher will have an indelible influence on thousands of people over the course of a career. Is this really an intelligent place to pinch pennies?
(Paris, because, well - you figure it out.)
I can't believe that looking at the video actually RUINED the story for me. Talk about a disappointment!
There are beards, and beards.
For instance This Guy, who, unbelievably, is running for office.....
you have to look. this is the photo on his campaign poster.
Has It been a year already?
I guess that it's time for my once annual trip to hotmail land. Somehow the damned thing never dies, and somehow I invariably end up using it for something once a year. Usually to test another e-mail account.
Anyhow, I had a relative complain bitterly to me last weekend that all of a sudden they couldn't figure how to send an email since it became outlook.com. They're the kind of average non-geek user that uses hotmail, and they were rightly pissed off.
(Not that Gmail is remotely intuitive until you've used it daily for a month)
Re: Use too much Leccy? We will turn you off
"The point of load control is that you turn off those loads that won't cause too much inconvenience to large power gobbling corporations."
There, fixed that for you.
Re: Minor point
Oh if only he wasn't a British citizen and completely free of obligation to adhere to US laws...
Until he changes planes at a US Airport and finds himself magically whisked off to a sunny location to be imprisoned and tortured....
Contrary to what some Merkins believe, Merkin law doesn't apply outside Merkia
Tell that to Iraq... Afghanistan... Pakistan.... Viet Nam... and anyone stuck forever at Guantanamo.
Oh sorry - they decided that American law doesn't apply at the last one didn't they?
Re: Depends on the country
Canada too, and has been for decades. In a nutshell - and really it's kind of obvious - anything that the employer gives you is considered to be compensation for your employment.
Could be money, a Christmas bonus, an expenses paid vacation, bags full of acorns, lunches and dinners... it doesn't really matter. If you get some value from your employer, it's taxable.
Well, except for all of the Post-It notes and Scotch tape that you bring home....
I Be Afraid.
Right now the Facebook app is the one thing on my Android phone that is always half-baked. It has "Network errors" when nothing else does, it uploads photos that never arrive at Facebook, or which are posted four times. It hangs for endless periods.
In short, it sucks.
On top of that, Facebook is a company that I really don't trust, and I've long since stripped any "real" information out of it, and refuse to let it connect with any other site or app.
...the Facebook app has the ability to read settings for the HTC Launcher, the stock Android launcher, and the Touchwiz launcher – this, Android Police believes, is a smoking gun that indicates the app may become available as a standalone app in the Google Play Store as well.
Aha. I'm betting that the next "upgrade" to the Facebook app will try to tie it so tightly into the Android OS that it will be nearly impossible to sandbox. That's the moment when it will disappear from my phone.
Oh My God....
I'm not only reading an article about an alternate file system that I'll likely never bother to use, I'm also reading and enjoying the comment thread that follows.
I really better take to dog out in the sunshine for a walk.....
Re: Eh? Wifi?
FWIW, tried running it from USB instead of a DVD and everything is just fine. Odd bug that.
I'm liking the KDE a LOT, and am seriously thinking of changing over from Mint.
Re: NewsBlur - updated opinion
Ahem: "Due to overwhelming demand, free accounts are temporarily suspended.
By going premium you get full access to NewsBlur."
Re: Linux as a desktop is a failure, its time to move on
I call BS. Three years on Ubuntu/Mint with negligible problems. I was, and arguably still am a Windows ace, and have been up to my elbows in the guts of the thing. I also ran a Mac for several years. I would not go back.
I've got Photoshop humming along nicely in WINE, and the one thing that won't run under Linux (QuickBooks) is happy in a Vista Virtual machine. Otherwise I use 90% what came preinstalled, plus Chrome and a couple of other things that amount to personal preference.
Stuff Just Works. Every time. With significantly less virus alarms, update demands, reboots and pre-installed dreckware that seems to be part of the Windows world.
Unless you have some very specific demands that specifically require a Windows or Mac software package, there's no reason why 98% of the world can't get by very, very well with Linux on on the desktop.