Computers

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Go Mighty Corolla

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WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Stay tuned and wait. for. it.

Ok, so I had just gotten off of 128, and I wasn't going a thousand miles an hour, and there was no Stop 'n Shop, but there was a Wegman's. I threw RoadRunner on, because it's the very best song to finally break the 300,000 mile barrier on this rustbucket. Aaaaand, it didn't do it. Why yes, I am a sysadmin, why do you ask?

Just a bit further toward home though, I found a real Plymouth RoadRunner Superbird in a parking lot:

Natalie and I think it's this one right here.

So yeah apparently the odometer thing's A Thing with Toyotas from the mid-2000s. And they don't see it as a "design flaw" that every inspected car becomes illegal at 299,999 miles. It's like $500 to fix, apparently, which means it's still worth it to keep it on the road, but it is the second-costliest and absolutely the most pervasive and 100% predictable non-recall inspection-failing repair in this car's 14 year history.

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Stereo Slide Viewer Hack Proof of Concept

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Peaches - The Inch

Wherein there's some history, and a major pet project.

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Geoguessr World Tour - Albino Reindeer?

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It's still the holiday week, so here's one I found today, if you want to see it yourself, it's right here. I don't know if white reindeer are a thing, but this one actually does look albino, it's pretty pink:







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Geoguessr World Tour - The Blurry Faced Man

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I'm with you, blurry faced man of Bloomsbury Square:

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My Life Is Going To Suck Without Net Neutrality

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There are so many things I do which are likely to suffer with Net Neutrality's loss.

I run my own mail, web and cloud sharing services on a VPS that I maintain. Owncloud syncs all my devices, I use IMAP and webmail. I also run lots of "consumer" stuff for myself. I own 2500 CDs which I've ripped and share for my own personal use. I have playlists. I can connect with DAAP from my phone, and listen to my own CD collection, music I have paid for, Spotify style. I know people are saying "Spotify will work just fine", but what if I don't want to use Spotify?

This is all encrypted, personal connections. Nothing illegal is happening here. I'm not filesharing or streaming Torrents or any other grey-area services. It's just all my personal stuff, owned and manually copied myself, sharing to myself. No one gets ripped off here.

I can plug my Amazon Fire stick or Raspberry Pi into any TV and use Kodi to stream my own MP3s or movies, etc. I can use it to watch Amazon Prime or Netflix as well. Kodi also has a wealth of plugins to watch content from sources such as the PBS website. We all can watch Nova, or Julia Child, or even Antiques Roadshow over the Internet, for free, legally. This may all suffer when backbone providers and local ISPs can both decide which packets have priority over other traffic. PBS could be QOS'd out of the budgets of millions.

(Note *)I don't own a Nest or any other IOT garbage, but I have toyed with the idea of building my own, running on infrastructure I build. I don't want Google to know what temperature my house is right now. And I don't want some mass hack of 500 Million Nest users or idiot IOT Lightbulbs to let some Romanian turn my furnace off in the middle of February either.

So yeah, losing Net Neutrality could effectively disable all of this. Small hosts like me could be QoS'd off of the Internet entirely, unless we pay extra /at both ends/. Pay my hosting provider to pay their backbone providers to QoS my address at a decent speed. Then pay my consumer ISP to QoS my traffic so I can reach "The Good Internet", like they have do in Portugal.

This is going to cut my lifeline to my own data, hosted by me on my own machines. Am I going to have to pay an additional "Get Decent Internet Access Beyond Google, Spotify, Facebook and Twitter" fee to the Hampton Inn just so we don't get QoS'd away from our own stuff? It's bad enough that the individual hotel can effectively do this already today, but the hotels are at least limited by the fact that they're in competition with each other and if they have ridiculously shitty Internet that you can't check your mail over, well people would notice that. Backbone providers pretty much have no such direct consumer accountability. No one's going to say "well, fuck that I'm not going to route over AT&T anymore", they might say "Hilton has shitty Internet, I'm going to Marriott".

Some of the most demoralizing part of this is that the rule-makers just don't get it. I already know they don't care, but former FCC Chair Michael Powell's statement, which boils down to "You can still use Facebook, (Amazon) Alexa, Google and Instagram, just like you can now" is missing the point either deliberately or purposefully. That most "consumers" will be fine isn't the point. The point is that everyone be equal, and all traffic be routed equally.

* The risk to my information is proportional to the value an attacker places on the information. Could a state actor target my email server and read my mail? Yeah, the Equation Group or Fancy Bear or some Eastern European ID theft ring could probably exploit some flaw in whatever software serves my VPS, or flat out order the ISP to give them access to my stuff, but why? What does the NSA gain by ransacking my mail server? Not much. How about criminal attackers? However they /would/ expose 1.5 Billion Yahoo accounts all at once, and have that entire corpus of mail to search against, plus passwords they could use to try and attack everyone's bank account all at once.

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1980s Nightmare Fuel

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A couple of our friends recently got two 1980s Jill dolls from Goodwill. The dolls spoke and moved, and were controlled by a proprietary multi-track cassette tape. The tape had the audio for the "conversation", and another track that controlled the movement.

The dolls they got didn't have tapes, but they were able to find one online. Here's the result. I strongly recommend using closed captioning on the first one.

Talking about a slumber party, remember to bring /your/ PJs too:

Man this is creepy:
...I just knew you would, we always have such a fun time at parties.

Wait! Cathy says she's going to wear some really wild pajamas (?). By the way, don't forget to bring /your/ PJs. And a teddy bear. We can't have a slumber party without a teddy bear. And bring a jhgfdlhg too. Cathy's not here yet, but I think we should go ahead and change into our pajamas anyhow. Afterall, this is a slumber party, not that we're actually going to sleep or anything. In fact, I think we should try and stay up all night long.

Was it Suzy or Steven?

Here's the commercial from back in the day, which I don't remember even a little:

I definitely wouldn't be able to sleep knowing that doll was in my house. I do wonder how hard it would be to rip out the proprietary tape and replace it with like an Arduino that feeds the audio tracks from WAV files or something. It looks like it has to seek the tape though because it reacts differently if you give a correct or incorrect answer, so that might be the nail in that idea.

Dave should have the tape drives running in tip-top shape soon enough, though I like the creepiness of these pre-tuneup runs more.

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You know what, no, they don't

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Because if people could remember what 100 years ago Earth was like, they'd know that the best things to happen in the last 100 years are based around the idea that if we all work together, then when we're old, we will take care of each other. And when we're young, rather than work like adults, we will teach our children with the collective knowledge of our species so we can continue to advance. We can afford to take care of those who can't work like the rest. Too much of the time, we choose not to take care of those people.

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Do people really not understand how good things are?

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One thing which has bothered me as much as anything about the right wing populist uprising this year is that if people could even remember to 100 short years ago, literally zero of what they see as their daily life to which they're entitled even existed.

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And With That

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I've bought my last MacBook

Who's to say this isn't /only/ on the Macbook product, and that the Macbook Pro might not have the stupid thing? Either way though this is bush league.

Previously

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Why use any specific OS?

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I was reading this Slashdot post about "why use linux" and pointing out all the good things we have.

But really the question applies to pretty much any OS now. A huge percentage of users could be told "you're using X at work" (well, not X, like a variable, $X) and they'd adapt, begin to prefer whatever OS, and buy it for their home computers. [I'm sure Linux would accelerate /fast/ in the case that a couple of major companies start deploying to the desktop (this is gonna be the year...).]


Macs

I own 3 Macs, but I'm as or more at home in Linux on the desktop (I didn't "switch" from Windows, I switched from Linux, by accident, and I stand by those words today). I only really use Free Software, even on the Macs, save for a couple of things to be addressed below... When I set up a Mac, the stuff I always set up is:

Chrome
LibreOffice
GIMP
Adium
Firefox
OpenEMU
iTerm
OwnCloud sync client

And that's about it, and you can run 37% of that functionality on any platform, subbing Pidgin and excluding a decent shell on some platforms (Cygwin doesn't count), which is weighted at 62% of the total functionality of any computer I use.

I use iTunes, Mail.App, and Photos, (which is loathsome), as well as calendaring and contacts, so not all Free Software, but I guess I use "Apple Software and Free Software" when on the Mac, but that's mainly because of aesthetics, not any functional advantage they may or may not have over Free alternatives. Mail.app looks nice, iTunes looks nice, it's nearly impossible to run Amarok on OSX, at least the last time I tried, they integrate well with their OS, etc. However we must be able to run things like Adobe software, and OmniGraffle. I'd hate my job without OmniGraffle.


Linux

On Linux, I can do a handful of small things I can't do on OSX, and the same thing the other way 'round. But I set everything up exactly the same. I prefer the OSX Keychain Encrypted Notes function over my GPG encrypted files, but just because it's smoother. OSX has improved in handling multiple monitors over the past few years, and KDE, and X in general, has gotten much worse at it. I like to have multiple screens, with multiple virtual desktops, and when I change virtual desktops, I want only that physical screen space to change. So I have Enlightenment. Easy (enough) and gorgeous, and all kinds of customizable.

Other things are a massive pain, Juniper SSL VPN with a requirement for 32-bit Java and Firefox. Come on everyone... But it works, and I use it day to day. It just took a month to get the machine set up the way I like, and it takes some upkeep when some package gets updated that breaks that arrangement. But it's never been a showstopper, because I'm a professional.

However, even for any non-professional, there are major cases for Linux:

Linux runs my home theatre, which boots to Kodi so I can stream TV and movies from our collection of ripped DVDs, watch online streams from the major networks, PBS, Archive, etc*. Chrome so we can watch local news, use Amazon and Hulu and stuff, and browse seamlessly through emulators for any game I care to play through N64/PS1 era. All controlled by the TV Remote (within Kodi) or any Android tablet or no-provider obsolete shitphone (With KDE Connect, Yay for KDE Connect!). Haven't touched the wireless keyboard in at least a month.

This is all doable on a $35 Raspberry Pi 3 right now. I know that part because of the video game cabinet which is on the horizon and which does exactly all this stuff, including Wipeout XL PS1 Games. I'm sure we will be doing build blogs on that.


Windows

So what about Windows? Not for my specific use cases, but why should anyone care who isn't old and curmudgeonly? I carry grudges maintain baggage from 20 years ago.

I hear there's transparency now kind of, and virtual desktops are finally a thing baked into the OS, but every time I log into my Windows 10 VM at work, I am infuriated by it, so why should I bother? Windows can suck it. That's all I know. I'm happy enough to do server admin of Windows servers, I don't much care either way whether I'm adminning Windows or Linux at the end of the day.

Desktop OS? No dice. How times change.

* Side Note: Please do not buy one of those "pre-built pirate box" Pi's with Kodi and a bunch of janky, buggy, potentially insecure plugins pre-installed. Kodi has very strong feelings about that, and I agree with them on the point that regular people who think this is going to be better than an Amazon Fire stick with Free TV streaming are going to:

A) Be disappointed
B) Bring awful attention to a fantastic project by unfairly associating them with and implying their endorsement of piracy and copyright infringement.
C) Could be setting themselves up to get owned by pre-installed botnets or whatever other backdoor/sniffer/malware nightmare scenario, I can't even imagine buying one of these...

People are of course going to download and use those plugins, but should know what they're doing, not blame Kodi for any fallout, and most importantly should not give money to thieves and scam artists, because that's dumb.

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