The Midlife Geek

Ramblings of a middle aged engineer, runner and open source enthusiast

Tag: Rants

Well that’s a shame

From Sourceforge’s blog (emphasis mine):

Thanks to DevShare, we are now able to offer a bundle program that is fully compliant with Google’s strictest policies. This includes a solid compliance process for both open source applications and third party offerings. The whole installation flow is clean and has no misleading steps. Uninstallation procedures are exhaustively documented and all applications are verified to be virus and malware free.

I notice the linked example, Filezilla, has a clearly labelled download button with the file name on it. Except you’re actually downloading a completely different file name. Continue reading

ICT Forums

I’ve studied six computing modules at the Open University, participating in their forums and even moderating one (TU100). I feel that there is a tendency to criticise computing modules that I haven’t noticed on mathematics modules. Unfortunately students are often not specific in their complaints, leading to responses from the faculty which don’t really answer the question (clearly -they don’t know what it is) in turn provoking a hostile response.

This isn’t to say staff are blameless. It infuriates me that while replying with accusations of not providing enough information, they then fail to do so themselves – stating the number of students on the module would give perspective on the number of people actually complaining.

It seems clear that regular forum users believe they are representative of the majority but from experience on TU100 I’m not sure this is true. A lot of students don’t like posting and I’ve met several students who find forums intimidating. I’d love to see some hard numbers here.

Assumption

Someone asked me yesterday “You’re good with computers, can you give me a copy of Photoshop?“. Aside from the fact I run Linux on most of my computers, I’m not keen on being accused of software piracy on the basis that I’m “good with computers” or any other reason. I made the mistake of asking why he needed it, he wanted to resize some pictures – so I suggested Paint.net.

His answer? “Oh no that’s free, it’s bound to be rubbish.”

Strange, I thought he wanted Photoshop free.

Don’t fix it, censor it

The Security Research Computer Lab at Cambridge University posted an article about industry response to a fundamental flaw in the “chip and pin” system in February. The paper, by Omar Choudary (a PhD student), highlights a flaw in the standard that permits the use of any PIN number. The University passed it to industry two months before publishing.

Now, some eight months later, the only bank known to have addressed this is Barclays. Instead of addressing the issue, the bankers’ trade association feels the best course of action is to tell the University its being irresponsible [pdf] in publishing the information! Given the Streisand Effect, is that not trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted? The University’s response is an emphatic no, at the moment.

It is interesting that the UK Cards Association feels an offence was committed in proving the vulnerability. I would have thought they’d welcome the information, given their front page statement:

We inform and engage with stakeholders to advance the industry for the ultimate benefit of our members’ consumer and retail customers. Our work includes preventing card fraud, contributing to legislative changes, collating industry statistics and developing industry standards and best practices.

Linux is not a get of jail free card

I’ve been having line problems with my ISP – British Telecom. To cut a long story short we see a 75% speed drop, phone BT, jump through umpteen hoops and they reset the profile at the exchange. The fault is with the line and it’s intermittent.

That doesn’t really bother me. The customer support agent told me to use BT’s speed diagnostic tool. Now aside from why their tool would be better, its not really an option as its a poorly written Java applet that doesn’t seem to work with Firefox or Chromium in Linux. Now I dare say I could get it to work but why spend the energy? When I mentioned it to the agent, he told me BT doesn’t officially support Linux and helpfully suggested I keep a Windows laptop handy.

Are you kidding? Keep a Windows laptop handy? There are reasons why I use Linux, there are reasons people use Macs and Windows too – they chose to. What the hell has that got to do with my ISP? I have no software from them, it’s a wireless access point they provide. Do you know what operating system it runs? Linux.

Ubuntu spot the difference

After writing documentation for many years, once in a while I come across a post on the Internet that makes me wonder why I bother. So I thought we could turn it into a game.

Basically it’s like spot the difference, see how many things you can spot that are wrong with it and post them here.

Here is the post in question and it is a cracker. I can think of several things that are wrong with it but see what you can come up with. Here’s a starting hint – man visudo.

Vim

I’ve been away from Ubuntu for a while and just installed Xubuntu 9.10 on an Acer Aspire One.  While editing some of the files, I remembered that pressing the cursor keys in insert mode inserts characters.

This is because of vi compatible mode and is easily redressed by adding “set nocompatible” in “~/.vimrc”.  I understood from this page that this was the default but I might be misreading.  It seems to be a peculiarity of Ubuntu, I didn’t notice this in RHEL, Arch or Fedora (three distributions I use fairly regularly).

Is this an indicator that vim is not perhaps as popular in Ubuntu?  I notice that most times I see a guide online it will suggest using gedit, even if invoked from the terminal.  Perhaps, as I’m not au fait with Debian, our lineage prefers the compatible mode.

I’m sure its not important and we all have our preferences for editors but I do like vim and wish that this behavior was default.  One of the paradoxes with OSS, GNU/Linux in particular, is the freedom afforded allowing us to configure our environments in whatever fashion we prefer creates a diversity that is difficult to train new users, especially between distributions.

Licensing

Never thought I’d have to publish this on my personal blog but I’d like to draw attention to the license:

For any CC work that you use from this site, please use the following attribution:

This work by Dougie Richardson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland License. Based on a work at http://blog.lynxworks.eu, permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.lynxworks.eu/about/

I chanced upon a site earlier (not linking to it – as I see no need to further their hits) where my post has been lifted verbatim and reprinted as the owner’s – with my name and as a link right at the end.  It’s not asking much that if anything helps you, redistribute it under the same terms and give credit where it’s due.

Certainly don’t want to see someone else’s name attached at the top!

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