Email Etiquette

Tuesday, 05/10/2010 ≅17:19 ©brainycat

My first email address had a a '!' instead of '@' in it. Back in the days of 300 baud uplinks and disks that cost tens of dollars per megabyte, people understood the value of brevity. In today's networks, where bandwidth flows like manna and storage space is as ubiquitous as dirt, people seem to think that every single communication they send needs to include a whole trove of wholly useless and irrelevant information.

This is my biggest email pet peeve ever:
bad signature

This, and other crucial lessons in email etiquette, are available at theoatmeal.com.



Finally, a reason to adopt twitter

Thursday, 21/05/2009 ≅11:24 ©brainycat

The Boston police department has informed it's citizenry that it will warn them of the zombiepocalypse. I only hope that Seattle's PD is as forward thinking as well. Of course, with all the hippies around here, it'll be a handful of gun owners and the cops vs. the unarmed zombies.



Domain information about fbstarter.com and kromked.net

Thursday, 30/04/2009 ≅10:17 ©brainycat

The facebook world has been deluged with messages asking users to visit fbstarter.com and kromked.net. I tried to check out the sites, but on this windows machine not much happened; my local DNS didn't even find the site. I'll take a look from my laptop and see if I can find any more info. Interestingly, the domain ownership information has a few surprises. fbstarter.com is registered with a Turkish registrar, and kromked.net isn't anonymized! Names, addresses, everything is right there in the record.

First, fbstarter.com:

Arastirilan alan adi: fbstarter.com
Ad / Name Boris Soroka
Adres Stavropolskaya str. d.18 kv.164 Moscow Moscow 109386
Tel +7.4957851102
Faks
E-posta vy@seostudio.at
Guncelleme / Updated


Ad gizli
Ad / Name Boris Soroka
Adres Stavropolskaya str. d.18 kv.164 Moscow Moscow 109386
Tel +7.4957851102
Faks
E-posta vy@seostudio.at
Guncelleme / Updated


Ad gizli
Ad / Name Boris Soroka
Adres Stavropolskaya str. d.18 kv.164 Moscow Moscow 109386
Tel +7.4957851102
Faks
E-posta vy@seostudio.at
Guncelleme / Updated


Alan Adi Sunucusu1 / DNS1 ns1.freedns.ws
Alan Adi Sunucusu1 IP / DNS1 IP
Alan Adi Sunucusu2 / DNS2 ns2.freedns.ws
Alan Adi Sunucusu2 IP / DNS2 IP
Son Guncelleme/ Last Updated
Kayit Tarihi / Registration Date 2009-04-30
SKT / Exp. Date 2010-04-30
Statu Aktif

And kromked.net:


Domain name: kromked.net


Name servers:
ns1.nameself.com
ns2.nameself.com


Registrar: Regtime Ltd.
Creation date: 2009-04-30
Expiration date: 2010-04-30


Registrant:
Liza Doblex
Email: doblexliza@gmail.com
Organization: private person
Address: Garilda ave 13-33
City: New York
State: NY
ZIP: 13512
Country: US
Phone: +1.8121291341
Administrative Contact:
Liza Doblex
Email: doblexliza@gmail.com
Organization: private person
Address: Garilda ave 13-33
City: New York
State: NY
ZIP: 13512
Country: US
Phone: +1.8121291341
Technical Contact:
Liza Doblex
Email: doblexliza@gmail.com
Organization: private person
Address: Garilda ave 13-33
City: New York
State: NY
ZIP: 13512
Country: US
Phone: +1.8121291341
Billing Contact:
Liza Doblex
Email: doblexliza@gmail.com
Organization: private person
Address: Garilda ave 13-33
City: New York
State: NY
ZIP: 13512
Country: US
Phone: +1.8121291341



NASA poll: Biggest Hits for the Home Planet

Tuesday, 14/04/2009 ≅14:10 ©brainycat

In line with the recent post about the validity of online polling, NASA is sponsoring a poll celebrating Earth Day where we get to vote for the 3 most important advances in terrestrial observation that NASA has provided in the last 50 years. At the landing page is a list of major achievements, complete with links to spectacular imagery. Vote on the second page. Javascript required to vote.



Does opensource mean anything at all to the average user?

Monday, 13/04/2009 ≅21:58 ©brainycat

For folks like myself, opensource is a big deal. I'm not going to say I've submitted numerous patches to various projects, but I have been able to fix problems that have come up for me, extend functionality, and scripted solutions that make sense for what I want to do. A self-circular argument, because what I want to do is have fun computing. Making CPUs warm by performing calculations on datasets with operators that will generate new (hopefully) intended datasets.

Most people who use computers don't care HOW they work, and don't care to know. They expect to see easy-to-understand buttons that magically make stuff happen for them. By most, I mean the vast majority of the "dirty, unwashed masses" still "stuck in the win32/Wozniak wasteland". The vast majority of people have not the slightest interest in looking at source code, and in fact wouldn't even know source if they saw it. Most people certainly don't want to compile their own code; the expectation has been created for them that there is nothing more to installation than downloading and unpacking. Even the rudimentary installation on win32 systems is hidden from them. Have you ever seen an InstallShield wizard tell you what registry keys it's installing? I haven't. I have never seen InstallShield tell me what libraries (dlls) it's installing either.

Is it any coincidence that every OS review in the magazines, and every mention online, of a distro makes a point of saying at least an entire paragraph about the package management system? How many problems have you seen at linuxquestions.org, unix.com, etc regarding package management? There comes a point where a computing software system (OS, libraries and executable software) becomes too complex to programmatically manage. People who know how these things work know that these issues are easy to solve, and know how to solve them, but most users don't. Yes, linux makes it easier to diagnose and repair dependency errors. This means nothing to people who aren't interested in fixing them. It's human nature to stick with the devil you know rather than a new and different set of problems. Most people already know how to work around win/mac limitations, and once they get to a point where the computer does what they want it to do enough of the times they ask it, they're happy. Most of the population referred to as "users" are actually "operators", and they're more than happy in their ignorance.

People who understand software to the point that an OS is just another piece of software understand how important a slick scheduler is, compile-time optimizations, and how various kernel architectures are suited for different tasks. Seriously, how much of the computing public does that number comprise? I'd wager that less than 1% of people who use computers daily know what each of the following are: library, scheduler and linker. The people who do know what those are, how they work and how to make them work for their tasks at hand are the few people who NEED them to work well, day after day.

It makes no difference to most people how much better their experience could be with the investment of a few hours worth of mental elbow grease. The box turns on, they get online and go to facebook, myspace, World of Warcraft, whatever. That's what they expect from a computer, and people will happily pay commercial OSs to make it easy for them. Linux will not be able to compete with commercial OSs until commercial apps, with all the support structure (books and magazines and friends and websites) run flawlessly and identically to their analogues on OSs they are more familiar with. The cruel irony is that the manufacturers of commercial software aren't going to invest in making their products work on an OS that has a tiny fraction of the overall market, and a miniscule fraction of their target market.

The other cruel irony is that it seems a lot of energy in the opensource community is directed towards trying to put a sterile veneer on linux, trying to hide all the messy guts. I ran a live cd from a wildly popular distro the other day, and it didn't have a root account, didn't have 'dig', didn't have 'cfdisk', didn't have 'awk' or a host of other utilities that any selfrespecting unix-like system should have. There's certainly a place for making the transition from computer operator to computer user as simple as possible, and I certainly applaud those efforts. But I'm terribly afraid the community is trying to sell more than it can ever deliver, and is delivering no real reason to make the switch.

Yes, you can make linux do whatever you want. What does that mean to the company that manufactures a wildly popular MMORPG? It means there's no way you're going to try to build code that will work on the multitude of kernels, C libraries and supporting utilities out there in the wild. It's like trying to write software that will run on anything from win3.1 to server2k7, and macs too. It's a programming nightmare even if money weren't an object. Yes, linux is generally free of charge as well. Most people don't understand that they're paying for their OS now, so that seems a moot point. The only way linux can get the "killer commercial app" written for it is if a single distribution gains enough market share, and the distro stays consistent long enough, that enough people adopt it for all the reasons we push linux for now. Except the distro has to discourage customizing the installations, to maintain a stable platform for the developers.

So, in conclusion, while the greatest strength of Open Source Software is the ability to bend it, stretch it, hammer it, glue it and paint it any way you want to... that's also the weakness that will keep it relegated to the ranks of the geekelite for the forseeable future. Personally, I think it's a great thing, insofar as the community keeps it's collective eye on the ball and dedicates itself to producing software that works right. If the energy that went into hiding the dark, scary innards of linux went into forcing market share for open protocols (a fight that's conceivably winnable, as the battleground is the serverroom), lobbying for closed protocols to be opened, and cracking commercially closed protocols, linux would be better off. Only fight battles from a position of strength. Linux is the swiss army knife and Rosetta stone of the serverroom. Lets all make sure it stays that way.



Linux Video Contest

Monday, 13/04/2009 ≅11:59 ©brainycat

Some time ago, the Linux Foundation sponsored a contest to create a video adverstisement for Linux. The winners have been announced. All three of the selected videos take different approaches, but they're all really good.

The first video feels like a Mac video to me; it's all touchy-feely artsy. Very well done, but not my cup of tea. The second is my favorite - it covers the breadth of linux, captures the excitement of OSS and engages and involves the viewer. The third is a great skit, but I don't know if most users could relate to it - it makes the point that Linux is different, but not why or how.

This my favorite video:

The Origin... from Agustin Eguia on Vimeo.



the first good reason to buy an iphone

Tuesday, 17/03/2009 ≅14:44 ©brainycat

I finally found the killer app for the iphone.



Hardware Review: Jaybird JB-200 Stereo Bluetooth Headset

Tuesday, 17/03/2009 ≅08:30 ©brainycat

Jaybird JB-200
Stereo Bluetooth headphones
Jaybird's website
amazon.com

I received the JB-200 headphones about a week ago, and I've been listening to them every day since. I wanted a pair of A2DP stereo headphones that were light, unobtrusive and not likely to fall out or bounce around while excercising. I've previously had the Motorola S9, and I didn't like them at all. The band across the back would catch on my collar and jam the earbuds toward the front of my skull, a singularly less than pleasant sensation. Also, they made a clicking noise every 4 seconds. I know it's not my blackberry, because other headphones didn't click.

After looking around on the web, I found the Jaybird JB-200. Marketed towards the mobile, excercising crowd, these were billed as the most unobtrusive, secure, waterproof bluetooth headphones available. I checked out some of the reviews, found that people generally liked them a lot,  so I bought a pair. Piqued? Read on...



Thunderbird and Line Breaks

Monday, 16/03/2009 ≅18:09 ©brainycat

I get a lot of URLs in my mail, lists and friends and mostly from myself while I'm at work. Thunderbird, unfortunately, breaks any URL that extends longer than 1 line, and this has been annoying me to no end. Piqued? Read on...



Review: Mobipocket Reader

Sunday, 15/02/2009 ≅14:53 ©brainycat

I installed the free Mobipocket Reader on my Blackberry 8300/v4.5 a couple of days ago. My first impression was finding books I wanted to read was going to be a real time consuming chore via EDGE, so I went to the mobipocket online bookstore via FireFox. I found several titles I want to read, but I wasn't going to spend roughly eight bucks a title for the electronic versions when I can get the paper versions used for the same price.

Next, I checkd my local library and VOILA! For the price of a free library card, I could download up to 20 mobibooks at a time and keep them for 3 weeks each. All from the convenience of wherever I happened to be at the time! I selected 5 titles to begin with:

After providing my Mobipocket Reader PID to the library's database, I "checked out" (downloaded) the software to my laptop. "In the Beginning" and "100 People" are just over 200kb, "Deer Hunting" is about 800kb, "Heavy Metal" is 1.1MB and the hefty file is "Google Tools" at 17.6MB. That file includes numerous images. Once they were downloaded, I copied them via USB to the /ebooks directory I had already created on the SD card in the Blackberry.

I am very impressed with the software. It is easy to select a font that you are comfortable with, navigation is simple if you're accustomed to Blackberry shortcuts, the software loads fast and is responsive. Mobipocket Reader handles the images very well, inserting links as placeholders, then rendering the page with a thumbnail. Clicking the thumbnail brings you a full size image you can scroll around. If you leave a title, you will be returned to where you left when you open it up again. I placed a bookmark in a file, but I have yet to find where to go back to the bookmark. There is a menu  option titled "Navigation" which seems to imply a submenu, but when I select it nothing happens for me.

All in all, I would highly recommend this software to any blackberry poweruser who wants to extend the functionality of their device. Blackberry skills and hardware requirements you will need to use this software include:

  • downloading and installing applications
  • keyboard shortcut navigation
  • navigating the Blackberry SD filesystem
  • an SD card with a nominal amount of available space
  • Handheld OS version 3.7 or higher

My one caveat is that I recommend finding a source of free titles rather than relying on the bookstore that the software will point you towards.