Older blog entries for dmarti (starting at number 468)

Google Juice: the new signage?

Interesting comment from a Google review of Taqueria Cazadores (where I sit writing this, using the decent WiFi connection.)

Great food. I would never have heard of this place without Google maps.

Me either. Came up for me when I asked Google for [burrito] around here. So hooray for burritos and free wireless, but still pretty empty at the dinner hour.

I wonder what places the users of other search engines see. And I wonder if in the future there will be restaurants where everyone who walks in happens to have the same brand of phone.

Syndicated 2012-12-11 02:10:03 from Don Marti

Internet trend: people love trends

One of the great things about Silicon Valley is that you can say, "look, shiny!" and get people to run off and do pointless things for a surprisingly long time.

For example, let's have a look at 2012 Internet Trends (Update) from Mary Meeker and Liang Wu at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.

Pinterest gets a whole slide. A new device that automates the process of getting up and changing the thermostat (which has to be the best First World Problem since "My guitar tuner is on top of the TV so I downloaded a guitar tuner app so I don't have to get up." ) gets a whole slide.

Healthcare is a $2.6 trillion industry in the USA, so it probably has to get mentioned somewhere, but it gets a third of a slide (78) buried under credit cards ("ooo, mobile payments, shiny!") and education ("ooo, Internet classes, shiny!").

Now look at slides 83 and 84, about the US budget. "Entitlements," which mainly means Social Security and Medicare, get lumped together. This is usually not helpful. Social Security is solvent until some time around when the (32-bit) Unix clock wraps around in the 2030s. Meanwhile Medicare, because of rising health care costs, is in just as much trouble as anyone in the US who has to pay for health care.

The "growth of entitlements" problem is just the public-sector side of the rising health care costs problem. If San Francisco Bay had a sea monster that was eating private boats and public ferries, the problem wouldn't be Ferry System Reform. Actually, around here it probably would. Forget I said anything.

But back to "Internet Trends." Look! Shiny! Asset-light generation! Let's think about all those people who work short-term jobs and buy their stuff from Rent-A-Center and get it repoed...and make everybody live like that! That would be cool. Because then instead of just doing something with their own stuff, people would be paying a percentage to some VC-funded entrepreneur every time they did anything. It's like micropayments for everything!

(What looks like reduced hassle and freedom from the POV of the 1% looks like Precarity to the rest of us.)

So it's pretty clear that this presentation is a carefully crafted "hey look over there", to get all the other VCs fired up about the hot new "Social Predatory Finance" sector while KPCB really puts its money into cost-effective health-related startups. Good one.

So that was the main point of this, and you can stop reading now. One more thing, just to go back and look at the "% of Time Spent in Media vs. % of Advertising Spending" slide.

Print has 7% of time spent and 25% of spending. And those two bars, the 7 and the 25, get nice little down arrows on them, as if as soon as Madison Avenue gets back from its three-martini lunch, smokes a Lucky Strike, and catches up on twenty years of back issues of Wired, it's going to realize, hey, wait a minute, what's up with all those insertion orders for print advertising that we've been signing in our anachronistic stupor? We have to catch up with this online stuff, and maybe even lose the IBM Selectrics!

But there's a reason that print still gets extra ad money, and it has nothing to do with ad industry inertia or marketing people who fetishise that crisp paper and inky-smelling ink.

Advertising exists to send a signal about the advertiser's intentions to make and support a product, and online and mobile advertising reduce that signal by making it easy to target individual users. Meanwhile, print advertising has a combination of two excellent qualities: it's easy to place advertising that's matched to relevant content, but hard to track users. Print is going to keep its advantage until newer media fix their privacy problems. Anyway, more on that topic here: Creepiness and conventional wisdom.

Syndicated 2012-12-05 13:11:11 from Don Marti

Kill the username while you're at it.

Mat Honan at Wired is all on about Kill the Password. He's right.

But what about the username? That could use some killing too.

I just made an account with a random username on a site, and all I'm thinking about is finding excuses not to go back, so I don't have to remember a stupid username that's not "dmarti".

Just use email addresses, and let people set a real name or nickname for display if they want.

Yes, I ignore registered user counts from sites that use usernames. They're all (1) people who signed up just so they could "squat" their chosen username, and never come back and (2) people who have signed up a bunch of extra times because they can't remember the stupid username.

Syndicated 2012-11-25 15:35:42 from Don Marti

Thankful for RSS feeds...

...and the people on the other end. (If you have a minute, just check and make sure that yours didn't get broken—thanks.) Here's some random good stuff from late summer/early fall, worth reading if you missed it the first time.

Still an interesting question from Gabriel Weinberg: How do you completely de-personalize Google results?

Interview by Kathryn Buford: Why Low IP Restrictions May Increase Your Bottom Line: Q&A with Johanna Blakley on IP Lessons from the Fashion Industry

Planet Python: Ned Batchelder: Fixing broken Unicode

Acquia fastest growing software company in US

Eric Goldman: Why Did Google Flip-Flop On Cracking Down On "Rogue" Websites? Some Troubling Possibilities (Forbes Cross-Post)

Source Sans Pro is to News Gothic as Linux is to Unix? Source Sans Pro revised and hosted on GitHub

3D Printed Homes? Here’s The Scoop

We the Coders: Open-Sourcing We the People, the White House's Online Petitions System (via Dries Buytaert) (via Dries Buytaert - Drupal)

Here's How BitTorrent Aims To Change How Artists Are Paid For Their Work

Aaron Swartz: Look at yourself objectively

Edward Z. Yang: How OfflineIMAP works

“The Dumbest Idea in the World”: Corporate America's False - and Dangerous - Ideology of Shareholder Value

Valdis Krebs on software marketing buzzwords: Changing Centuries, Changing Contexts

Michael Meeks on prospects for the Linux Desktop: Stuff Michael Meeks is doing

Simon Wardley on the intersection of licensing and business plan: Open by Default ... No Thanks

Viljami Salminen on test environments: Establishing An Open Device Lab

Hey, Googlebot, go read this: Google search loves me

Gervase Markham: ‘Do Not Track’ and the Role of Government

Seth Godin: Instead of outthinking the competition...

Robert David Graham on hard drive error rates: RAID6 or die

Joe Konrath: E-books in Libraries: They Still Don't Get It The elephant in the room is that publishers don't like libraries.

The Oatmeal: How much do cats actually kill? [Infographic]

Eric Shepherd: Welcoming WebPlatform.org

Zac Gordon: How to Build a Responsive WordPress Theme with Bootstrap

Syndicated 2012-11-22 15:27:03 from Don Marti

Where do you stand on software patents?

Where do you stand on software patents?

If you have a bunch of notebooks and half-working code full of software ideas, and you're willing to spew software ideas at anyone who hands you a whiteboard marker or buys you a cool beverage (but you can't afford a lawyer) you're probably against software patents.

If your office has lawyers like other people's offices have mice, and you find yourself sending lawyers out for coffee just to get them out of your hair (but all your software ideas are something like "there should be an app for this") then you're probably for software patents.

I don't think that either side of the debate understands the feelings of scarcity and abundance on the other side. "Lawyers, sure, no problem, we've got plenty, put them to work." or "Software ideas? Here are some, implement them, please, they're distracting me from my real project."

Bonus link: Timothy B. Lee on Social Distance and the Patent System.

Syndicated 2012-11-22 14:46:37 from Don Marti

ThinkPad T430 running Linux

Selena Deckelmann and Matthew Garrett have both run into some issues with Linux support on Lenovo systems.

This is just a quick note to report on a different Lenovo experience: the Lenovo ThinkPad T430 has given me absolutely no grief whatsoever. I did a standard install of Fedora 18 alpha, and I did not have to configure anything for it to just work out of the box. Display, camera, wireless, everything. The one device I have not tried is the fingerprint scanner.

There are of course several versions of the T430. I have the 1600x900 display with the Intel graphics and the Intel SSD.

When I do an lspci on here, it's all Intel, Intel, Intel. (except for the Ricoh Co Ltd MMC/SD Host Controller, but that works fine, too. Just plug in an SD card and it comes right up in the GNOME 3 file manager.) So, great system all the way around. Thanks to Sarah Sharp at Intel and the rest of the Intel and Lenovo Linux teams for an excellent experience. (The T430 would be a no-brainer to offer through the ThinkPad laptops with no operating system page, if they ever get that going again. Just saying.)

Please feel free to get in touch if you're laptop shopping and have any questions about this—I can try something for you and report back if you like.

Syndicated 2012-11-17 14:43:40 from Don Marti

Destroying the Internet as we know it (ftw)

tl;dr: Don't like skeevy pirate sites? Give your browser a privacy tuneup.

Ricardo Bilton asks, While behavioral advertising may be vital to the current makeup of the web, the question worth answering now is this: Is that really the kind of Internet that we want to use in the first place?

Will privacy tech (Do Not Track is just the beginning; tools such as about:trackers are the next step) destroy the Internet as we know it? And is that such a bad thing?

Good question. Current trend is for more and more of online marketing budgets to go towards creepy adtech. The promise of adtech is: throw money at people who know lots of math, so that you don't have to spend money on content to attach the ads to. The knights of adtech will just chase down the users you want to show your ads to, and stick the ads on the cheapest possible content that the user is willing to look at.

So where do the ads end up? In a lot of cases, on pirate sites. Chris Castle points out that McDonald's ads are running on skeevy infringing song lyrics sites.

But Castle and allied artists are missing an opportunity here. When confronted with the biggest brands in the world supporting pirate sites based in China and outside the laws of John Mellencamp’s home country, what can an artist really do about it except speak out.

But this is the Internet. You can always do something about it—that's why they call it the Internet.

Speak out is a start. But here's a next step. Get your browser upgraded with the latest privacy tech. AdBlock Plus is OK, but about:trackers is already usable. Turn it on, block the creepy ads, and tell your Internet audience about what you did.

Hey, why not make a privacy tech howto video? Hi, I'm John Mellencamp, and here's how to save time and protect your privacy... How about it? Finish up with a plug for your favorite legit download site or some other sponsor.

Syndicated 2012-11-14 15:59:12 from Don Marti

Fedora 18 Alpha on a ThinkPad T430

Just put Fedora 18 Alpha on a ThinkPad T430. (This machine is, as far as I can tell, a 100% supported, zero-vendor-drama Linux box. And in normal use it's dead quiet.) Fedora 18 was an easy install, and boots really quickly.

Now for the GNOME 3 rant. Actually, not much of a rant. This is more like a couple of things I found to tweak.

Since I'm a lumper, not a splitter, I symlinked Downloads and Desktop in my home directory to "." and added a .hidden file to hide the stuff I don't want to show up on the desktop. My "system" is that there's stuff that's part of a versioned project (in Perforce or Git), and just one place for stuff which needs to be gotten rid of or added to a project.

I used gnome-tweak-tool for a couple of things.

Desktop: Have file manager handle the desktop: On

Shell: Arrangements of buttons on the titlebar: All

Typing: caps: Make Caps Lock and additional Control

Windows: Action on title bar double-click: Toggle Maximize Vertically

Windows: Window focus mode: Sloppy

Now for the fun part: fixing Alt-Tab behavior. (Greg K-H does this too.) Originally I was using one GNOME extension to do this, but that doesn't seem to be maintained any more. There seem to be a few choices, but I'm currently running Coverflow Alt-Tab which does a nice job and by default cycles among windows on all workspaces.

So that is my one GNOME extension so far.

Two basic setup tasks, adding the printer and a wireless network, went really smoothly. The UI for networking on here is much improved—just pick a network and it prompts for a password if necessary. Simple.

The wireless network config is pretty similar to Mac OS (the designers of the two systems have probably been peeking over each other's shoulders at coffeehouses). For the printer, though, advantage Fedora. I just hit "Printers" under System Settings, and it found the HP LaserJet 3055 on the home network and just worked. No pause to download or install any software. Easiest print setup ever.

I got baffled by the VPN setup, though. Trying to translate a working OpenVPN config file into the right config choices did not go well, so I just wrote a script to start OpenVPN and pass it the file. If I have time I will take another look at doing this the easy way, but for now the script Works For Me.

Getting out of GNOME territory, a few other tweaks.

I added a "lessx.sh" file to /etc/profile.d. It goes something like this:

  export LESS=-X

I tightened up sshd configuration (yes I run sshd on the client, long story). Listen on lo only, PasswordAuthentication no. I also swapped out Sendmail for Postfix and set up the myorigin and defaulttransport lines in main.cf to tunnel outgoing mail out via ssh.

One puzzling thing was the result of nmap. Looks like rpcbind is running. A "sudo yum remove rpcbind" took care of that, but it's a little strange to see this service running. At least it shows that my long-standing "always nmap a fresh install" advice is still good.

Syndicated 2012-11-13 14:49:59 from Don Marti

Sunday links: disruption and trolling

Paul Carr: Travis Shrugged: The creepy, dangerous ideology behind Silicon Valley’s Cult of Disruption. I’m actually embarrassed that it took me until then to make the connection, particularly given I used to host the startup competition at a technology conference called “TechCrunch Disrupt.” The original Silicon Valley meaning of a disruptive company was one that used its small size to shake up a bigger industry or bloated competitor. Increasingly, though, the conference stage was filled with brash, Millennial entrepreneurs vowing to “Disrupt” real-world laws and regulations in the same way that me stealing your dog is Disrupting the idea of pet ownership. Bonus link: followup. (Problem with the economy is that it's like the MMORPG in "The Noob"...some of us are roleplaying, some are playing to win, and some are just griefing. Liberalism gives us freedom from cloying moral relationships, but some people don't get how to opt out and roleplay as Homo economicus or "disruptive" griefer.)

Kaid Benfield: The Christian Case for Cities (via The New Inquiry - Zunguzungu). Review of Eric Jacobsen's The Space Between: A Christian Engagement With the Built Environment.

Reginald Braithwaite says Programming is a Pop Culture. Meanwhile, Joey Hess writes Haskell code on a tiny netbook screen, and uses dialup.

Jeff Sparrow on industrialized warfare: Sinister Automatons.

Why the legal term "intellectual property" is misleading: Intellectual 'property' can be infringed, but not stolen

Bonus links from the Reddit troll watch department: What an Academic Who Wrote Her Dissertation on Trolls Thinks of Violentacrez (via The New Inquiry - Zunguzungu, ReadWrite, Cyborgology, and Freedom to Tinker). Also The troll's privilege

Syndicated 2012-11-04 15:13:43 from Don Marti

The next big thing in advertising?

Andy Nairn: Wake up to sleep marketing! The average Briton spends 36% of their time sleeping. And yet dinosaur agencies still spend less than 1% of their budgets on interrupting people while they snooze. (Must be getting harder to write these parodies—real advertising is showing up in all the silly places before the parody writers can get to them.)

On the serious side, here's a promising new Firefox addon from Edward Lee: about:trackers. This proof-of-concept explores a policy of blocking cookies and connections when a site would have been able to track you across too many other sites. More info: Controlling what Firefox reveals to social networks.

Bonus links...

Erin Griffith on "insanely ineffective" online advertising: We’re Still Waiting For Internet Ad Spend To Catch Up to the Web–Let’s Not Make The Same Mistake With Mobile (via PandoDaily)

Terry Heaton: Banners, the turd in digital media’s punchbowl Banner ad systems and networks are supposed to function like print advertising in that they “surround” what must be scarce content in order for them to “work.” The problem is they don’t work, primarily because nobody sees them. This was proven by Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen (banner blindness) nearly ten years ago, but it didn’t stop publishers from staking everything on banners. (and an alternative: When advertising enters the stream)

Scott Meyer: It's Time for the Mobile-Ad Industry to Start Taking Privacy Seriously.

Todd Garland: Engineers: Stop running away from advertising. (The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks. -- Jeff Hammerbacher)

Syndicated 2012-11-01 13:35:05 from Don Marti

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