Older blog entries for dmarti (starting at number 461)

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

Sunday morning reading: internships, open access, bikes, farms

Andy Nairn on smelly marketing practices: Pecunia non olet.

Justin Colletti: Has The Internship Turned Evil? When for-profit companies seek short-term payroll savings by relying on unpaid interns, they are effectively forcing would-be innovators to become the competition.

This makes a lot of sense if you use Markdown and "git diff" instead of MS-Word and "Track Changes": One sentence per line, please: Brandon Rhodes (via What The Web?!)

Guide released on good practices for university open-access policies. based on policies adopted at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and a couple of dozen other institutions around the world.

A Dragnet for Pee-Wee Bike theft hurts a lot of people, but it’s not like anyone is going to devote actual resources to stopping it. So, at Priceonomics, we thought we’d take a crack at trying to reduce bike theft. Could we use software to help people fight back against bike thieves?

Lindsey Kuper: Mark Bittman's simplistic "Simple Fix for Farming". Real farmers respond to an encouraging study of diversified systems. If you can make as much money with the alternative system but it takes more time and management to do it, then you've actually lost ground. On the other hand, is our capacity to manage complexity growing fast enough to handle it? John Robb: Exponential economic growth with rapidly decreasing resource needs...

Worth a second look, if you missed this the first time: Recovering Adam Smith's ethical economics.

Syndicated 2012-10-28 15:57:49 from Don Marti

Can privacy tech save advertising?

Peter Klein of MediaWhiz, writing in Ad Age: Why Do Not Track Will Make Online Advertising Better (Seriously). Anti-tracking legislation will make online advertising more focused and relevant to consumers. It will set into motion a more innovative and prosperous era of digital marketing, dominated by a healthy respect for consumers' wishes about how their data are collected and used, and innovative advertising that meets their needs.

Good point. Placing ads on relevant content can help everyone, but tracking individual users is just creepy. Making the creepy side harder is just what advertising needs. Klein writes, Do Not Track will force marketers to be more creative in their campaigns, tapping into legally available data—users' expressed interests. This will foster deeper and more relevant connections between brands and consumers and benefit online advertisers in the long run.

It all goes back to the signaling problem. User tracking isn't just a problem because it sets off people's creep radar. It's a problem because, as soon as ads start being targeted to the user, they stop pulling their weight. (part 1, part 2.) The more targeted that advertising gets, the less well it carries out its essential role of sending a signal about the advertiser's intentions and resources. In media where user tracking is impractical, the users give advertising more attention.

In the long run, there are a couple of other points to keep in mind.

First, better privacy tech isn't just good for advertising, it's good for the content creators. When advertisers have to target by interest, they have to look for relevant content, instead of falling down the adtech rat hole and chasing the desired user onto the cheapest possible page. All but the bottom-feeder content sites are likely to do better under an improved privacy regime.

Ricardo Bilton for VentureBeat, in How Do Not Track could destroy the Internet as you know it, quotes Marc Groman, the director of the Networking Advertising Initiative, who says, Behavior-based advertising is absolutely critical to the long tail....And if that goes away, I don’t know how most websites are going to monetize their content. Fair point, but I won't miss FunnyJunk.com. Are any sites really both funding original content and dependent on behavioral ads?

Second, DNT is a nice start for privacy tech, but it's only the cornflakes in the complete breakfast. Browsers have some design features, left over from the dot-com 1990s, that might have seemed like a good idea at the time but that feed the privacy problems of today. Two of these misfeatures are information leakage in the User-Agent header and the policy for how the browser handles cookies and scripts from third party sites. There's an interesting proposal to fix the second one, but much work remains to be done.

And now that we all know that privacy tech is good for advertising, maybe we'll have more interest from forward-thinking ad agencies in making that happen. Ad agency-sponsored Internet privacy lab, anyone?

Syndicated 2012-10-23 13:10:52 from Don Marti

Sunday reading: agency problems

Charles Stross writes, Corporations do not share our priorities. They are hive organisms constructed out of teeming workers who join or leave the collective: those who participate within it subordinate their goals to that of the collective, which pursues the three corporate objectives of growth, profitability, and pain avoidance. But it's a little more complicated than that...

Chris Dixon: Agency problems If you are selling technology to large companies, you need to understand the incentives of the decision makers. As you go higher in the organization, the incentives are more aligned with the firm’s incentives. But knowledge and authority over operations often reside at lower levels.

Agency problem showing up in corruption and foreign land ownership: China's food security plan in Africa.

Steve Randy Waldman: Forcing frequent failures (via Felix Salmon and Stumbling and Mumbling) Squirrels don’t lobby Congress, when the ranger decides to burn down the bit of the forest where their acorns are buried. Banks and their creditors are unlikely to take “controlled burns” of their institutions so stoically. If we are going to periodically burn down banks, we need some sort of fair procedure for deciding who gets burned, when, and how badly.

Syndicated 2012-10-21 13:50:07 from Don Marti

Sunday links: robots, cities, and the future

Warren Ellis: How To See The Future. The most basic mobile phone is in fact a communications devices that shames all of science fiction, all the wrist radios and handheld communicators. Captain Kirk had to tune his fucking communicator and it couldn’t text or take a photo that he could stick a nice Polaroid filter on. Science fiction didn’t see the mobile phone coming. It certainly didn’t see the glowing glass windows many of us carry now, where we make amazing things happen by pointing at it with our fingers like goddamn wizards.

David H. Freedman: The Rise of the Robotic Workforce. Called Baxter, it is a humanoid robot that has the potential to be everything Brooks was shooting for: a breeze to use, capable of handling any number of basic assembly-line jobs, and ridiculously cheap.

John Naughton: Google's self-guided car could drive the next wave of unemployment. [Google] engineers have demonstrated that with smart software and an array of sensors, a machine can perform a task of sophistication and complexity most of us assumed would always require the capabilities of humans. And that means our assumptions about what machines can and cannot do are urgently in need of updating.

Venkatesh Rao: Cloud Mouse, Metro Mouse (via attention industry). Metro mice view cloud-mice as philistines, incapable of appreciating the finer things in life, represented by megacity cultures. Cloud mice view the metro mice as self-absorbed, urban supremacists with embarrassingly limited horizons....

Hanna Rosin: are men an endangered species? The story was no longer about the depths men had sunk to; that dynamic had been playing out for several decades and was more or less played out. The new story was that women, for the first time in history, had in many ways surpassed them.

Timothy B. Lee: Restrictive Zoning Is Crippling Silicon Valley’s Transit Options. People like me who would like there to be more dense, walkable neighborhoods in America face a kind of chicken-and-egg problem. Achieving the necessary density requires a significant fraction of people to give up their cars. Living without a car is only practical in areas that are well-served by transit. But a good transit system is only economically viable in metropolitan areas that already have significant density.

Washington's Blog: Cowardice Is Destroying America. The courage of the men at Valley Forge was also a turning point in the war. Slogging on through the dead of winter without shoes inspired a nation. On the other hand, cowardice makes people stupid and docile.

Syndicated 2012-10-14 13:25:35 from Don Marti

MLP: software development fun

Junio Hamano: Git User's Survey 2012 edition. You have already taken this, right? (Bonus links: Junio C Hamano: Git 1.8.0-rc0 Junio C Hamano: Fun with running textconv)

Drupal and NoSQL: My (not so) secret agenda for Drupal 8 Drupal 8 and MongoDB update #1

Mark Dominus is mad, I tell you, mad! (But some of these Git tricks, used sparingly, could be really useful.) My Git Habits and Rewriting published history in Git

Jessamyn Smith: Everything I wish I’d known about git... If you know another version control system, do your best to forget the names of commands and the association of functionality with commands

Ubuntu developers: Sebastian Kügler: Best practises for writing defensive publications

Google Authenticator FTW: Another layer of security for your Dropbox account, Dropbox and Time-based One Time Passwords...

Two interesting projects at Sony: Sony opens up the Dynamic Android Sensor HAL (DASH) – developers can contribute [open source] and BacklogTool – new open source tool for backlog management from Sony.

Allen Gannett: Enterprise software begins its beautification, where design was once an afterthought. While tools such as SharePoint hold market share despite being clunky and obtuse, a startling shift has occurred in the last two years. We are beginning to see the rise of truly usable—and increasingly, beautiful—enterprise software.

JessiTRON: Git: The Good Parts - history is written by the victors. Software is built feature by feature, fix by fix. This is what you want to see when you look back at history.

Linus Torvalds on "clean history" (via What The Web?!)

Linux on the (consumer) Desktop My punch-line is that the Linux Desktop faces a huge and multi-factored ecosystem challenge, there is no single simple issue to fix.

Jonathan Corbet: Bazaar on the slow track. Bazaar, as a project, may not be dead, but it shows signs of going into a sort of maintenance mode.

Dave Winer: Manifesto: Un-Web 2.0. (via Phil Windley's Technometria) In Un-Web 2.0 you get full control of your data, and the services just get pointers to it, or copies of it. The originals live with you. Pointers are much preferable to copies because then you can keep updating the content after it has been incorporated in someone else's content tree.

Viljami Salminen at Smashing Magazine: Establishing an open device lab. (Watch this space...we need one of these in Alameda.)

Sean McArthur: Persona Beta 1. [W]e hope to eventually remove ourselves from it all.

Kees Cook: Link restrictions released in Linux 3.6. an entire class of vulnerability just goes away.

Steve Losh on keyboard choices: A Modern Space Cadet

NIST Selects Winner of Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA-3) Competition

Syndicated 2012-10-08 12:42:42 from Don Marti

Sunday reading: patent roundup

Ryan Whitwam: How the Apple-Samsung case could push OEMs closer to Google and stock Android. You could make an argument that a company might flip out and bail on the Android platform, but I think it’s more likely that it would seek safety in the shade of a monolithic Google experience.

Jean-Marc Valin and Timothy B. Terriberry: It’s Opus, it rocks and now it’s an audio codec standard! Opus is the first state of the art, free audio codec to be standardized....Opus is the result of a collaboration between many organizations, including the IETF, Mozilla, Microsoft (through Skype), Xiph.Org, Octasic, Broadcom, and Google.

Judge Richard A. Posner: Do patent and copyright law restrict competition and creativity excessively? The problem of excessive patent protection is at present best illustrated by the software industry. This is a progressive, dynamic industry rife with invention. But the conditions that make patent protection essential in the pharmaceutical industry are absent.

Prof. Gary S. Becker: Reforming the Patent System Toward a Minimalist System. It has long been recognized that patents impose costs on society since patents keep out competition, so that the monopoly power of patent holders enables them to raise prices and lower outputs. However, until recent years many other costs of the patent system received little attention, including paradoxically that this system might in fact discourage innovations.

Timothy B. Lee: How a rogue appeals court wrecked the patent system. No institution is more responsible for the recent explosion of patent litigation in the software industry, the rise of patent trolls, and the proliferation of patent thickets than the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Followup: The Federal Circuit, Not the Supreme Court, Legalized Software Patents. Bonus link: Public vs. Private is a Spectrum, Not a Dichotomy

Jordan Weissmann: The Case for Abolishing Patents (Yes, All of Them). [P]atent protections never stay small and tidy. Instead, entrenched players like intellectual property lawyers who make their living filing lawsuits and old, established corporations that want to keep new players out of their markets lobby to expand the breadth of patent rights. And as patent rights get stronger, they take a serious toll on the economy, including our ability to innovate.

Syndicated 2012-10-07 14:52:50 from Don Marti

Git Fusion and upstreaming in-house work

New release from Perforce, where I work: Perforce Git Fusion (press release, product page). Now you can set up remixed Git repositories for projects, and work in a custom repo without worrying about extra tooling such as submodules, subtrees, or "repo" scripts. A developer at example.com might work in a single Git repository that contains...

  • That developer's own in-house code

  • PNG versions of the artwork (a subset of a much larger art collection handled in Perforce)

  • An open source project, let's call it libfoo.

That developer might do some work that touches both in-house code and libfoo. (It all goes in with one commit and push.) Without remixing, it would be a pain to extract the libfoo stuff and upstream it, so you end up with a forked libfoo hanging around, making life miserable.

But we're remixing here. So we can also keep a regular libfoo Git repository around, using Git Fusion as a remote. When I pull from Git Fusion here, I get a new commit with just the libfoo work. And since this is just a regular git repo, we can also run a tracking branch of upstream's master. So we can rebase that commit onto whatever branch upstream wants it, rewrite the commit message to be relevant and not specific to in-house code, and contribute normally via patch or pull request. This is where we can clean up this commit to match libfoo's "guidelines for contributors" without affecting the original.

Easy for everyone to do in-house work that touches the open-source dependencies, and easy to extract and contribute what is upstreamable.

Syndicated 2012-10-02 13:57:27 from Don Marti

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