“First, we kill all the marketers.”
Wow, *28* sudden new followers in an instant, ALL selling something? Gee, you think I won’t figure out it’s ONE rotten spammer than needs to be up against a wall and, as Groucho Marx said in Duck Soup, “Pop goes the weasel” ?
ADDENDUM: And, predictably, some un-aware spammer script did a “like” on this post as well.
Remember when Rudolph and Hermie wound up on the Island of Misfit Toys but still didn’t belong as they were not toys? And they summed it up as being misfits even amongst misfits? I have that feeling, as I suspect many do, which is what makes the scene so effective – (almost?) everyone can relate, at least in some way. Some years ago $HOUSEMATE and I attended ConVergence in the Twin Cities. They even called themselves the Misfits… and… the results merely convinced us that the key to having fun when living in Minnesota that one must make Step One be: Leave the state. Yeah, misfits even amongst the soi-disant “Misfits.”
Recently I’ve had (yet another) experience like that. I follow a few authors, er, writers. (Writers WRITE, so Authors must merely AUTH.. whatever that is) and they occasionally have promotions and giveaways that are not necessarily directly tied to their own works. Two came up recently, neither of any interest to me. Alright, that’s normal, really. It’s a big world and I am but one creature in it, and not everything is of interest to me. BUT.. these are or were BIG DEALS amongst many (most?) of the READERS of the world. One was a collection of J.R.R. Tolkien works. I do not know if it was “everything” (or everything not in a stodgy professional journal) or just a honking big chunk of his fiction work. I could hardly wait for the contest to end. Not as I had entered, but as it was wearying to get promotional email after promotional email about the darned thing. Whoever won it, I hope they enjoy it. But I knew it was not for me, so abstained. Likewise with Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ stuff. Zero interest. I just want it over so it ceases taking up space in the Unread Messages section. Yeah, I could unsubscribe from various lists (and have, a few times) but there has been some stuff of interest.
The Artificial Intelligence revolution will be when individuals have their own AI agents that can properly sort what is spam, what is not spam but still of zero or less interest, what might be of interest, and “You need to see this now.” That day might be close, but it is not here yet. And I do mean personal. It will “live” on one’s own hardware, and Yahoo, or Google, or FaceBook, or the Great Green Arkleseizure doesn’t have a single damned thing to say about it, except perhaps that they just hate having their crap shot down all the time – and that complaint, ultimately, will be the very mark of success!
A while back I mentioned some issues with Skype. In the last few days an update came along. It’s almost as if Microsoft heard the complaint(s – I am not alone) and went, “They fixed it? We’ll fix that!” The Skype window is too damn big again – and now I can’t resize it (vertically) and it eats space I wish to use for something else. Sure I can have one window partially cover another, but that’s not what I should be forced to do. My machine, MY rules. Microsoft can be [screwed] with a chainsaw. A rusty one. Sideways. And twice on Sundays, aye.
But since I am forced to throw one window or another to the background, guess which thing gets covered? That’s right, it’s Skype that is misbehaving, so it’s Skype that gets to “sit in the corner.” Will I miss anything? Don’t care. Bad design has side effects, and I can be reached here, various other WordPress sites, email, IRC. Meanwhile I dream of the SMOC (Sweet Meteor Of Competence) hitting Redmond one day.
Ages ago, Skype was its own thing and that was good. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked and worked well enough cross-platform. I could run Skype on Linux at home, on Android when out and about, and text, or talk, or even video chat with others, even if they were using a Mac or running Windows. At least one little thing was sort of right with the world. And then Microsoft bought Skype. The first, very predictable, thing they did was to all but ignore Linux.
Microsoft ignoring Linux wasn’t all bad. At least they were no longer targeting it and lying about it. Meanwhile, I kept running the old version of Skype as it was in the software repository and it worked. I could re-size things to my liking, adjust theme some, and go on. Things were still mostly right with one little thing.
Recently, though, I noticed that though I’d set myself ‘AWAY’ and had NO (count them: ZERO) other instances running, I’d come back to find Skype had re-set me to the default ‘ACTIVE’ or such, not the ‘AWAY’ I’d set. Uh oh. Cracked?
And then a day or three ago I came back to find Skype had closed – without my having closed it. Crap. Tried to start it. No dice. Oh crap. Web search… oh joy, the good, old version I’d been using was no longer supported and was actively being disabled. I’d seen the new version. It wastes screen like I have a freaking WALL for a monitor and can devote a square foot to what should be a mere few inches. And it cannot be readily shrunk. Minimized into an easy-to-miss taskbar tab, sure. But made actively visible at a sane size: Nope. “Get a bigger monitor.” Gee, I’m already running dual 27 inchers on the main machine. The secondary machine has but one monitor – and it will stay that way. And then there’s the laptop where screen, already the most precious resource in all (home) computing is even more precious still.
Evidently some damn fool in Redmond (or in their pay) has the stupid belief that s/he knows what I need or want more than I do. This idiot ought be fired – out of a cannon into a hard, thick wall. If that’s too cruel, they can be left near Tierra del Fuego and after they WALK back to Redmond, then, maybe, they can resume work. Maybe the dimwit will have learned something about people on the trip – assuming survival. People want what they want, focus groups be damned.
More web searches followed. So much stuff for Windows.. even when I search with -Windows to try to get useful results. Finally one page suggests a file to go edit. It’s outdated, and that particular path and file doesn’t exist. However, it does lead me to look at the .config directory. Aha! ~/.config/skypeforlinux/settings.json which has some window-size numbers in it. I reduce them and save. A quit and re-launch and.. it’s better. Lather, rinse, repeat. Much better. Still a bit too big (somewhere, there is another hard-limit on minimum size. Did I mention BAD DESIGN?), but at least almost-sane. Crap! The damn thing “fixes” my edit. Alright, I change it back and set things READ-ONLY. Take that, you incompetent shiteheads! So far, it seems to be holding.
The “amusing” thing is that after so long, all those years of hearing whinging about how in Linux one must resort to “hand editing” of configuration files, unlike the “easy” everything-is-graphically-controlled Microsoft Windows, it’s the Microsoft product I need to fix by editing a config file and adjusting permissions.
My next laptop, if there is one, will NOT have Windows on it – ever. Not even from the manufacturer. Those shiteheads at Microsoft deserve precisely NONE of my money Really, they though should be paying me damages for suffering. And if I end up paying a few bucks more, well, at least it’ll go to a better class of people – and verified compatible hardware. Dear Toshiba: Your laptops are nice, but until I get them unbesmirched by MS-Windows… bye!
Oh yeah, the old Skype was rather like IRC. Nice, simple, good. The new version? As @mjsminkey said on Twitter, “They made it into a suckier version of FB Messenger.” My text is sort of right-justified. Bleagh. And I get a damn tutorial or adverts or close on every launch. Bleagh. And ‘AWAY’ isn’t even an option any more. Only ‘ACTIVE’ ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ and ‘INVISIBLE’ are listed choices. Yeah, a dumbed-down Fisher-Price interface that lacks options some damn fool thinks are unneeded. Well, those three choices are not always any of the right choices. So now the account is probably going to be ‘ACTIVE’ all the time, unless truly signed off. If someone gets in a huff that there’s not a quick reply, they SHALL get told to go vent at Microsoft. I’d set ‘AWAY’ like a sane being if I could.
The ONLY thing they got right was including the choice of a decent dark theme in the setup. Better if I could fully control color choices, but… well, considering the source, it’s a win.
Skype is useful and overall I kinda like it. The news some time back that Microsoft had Borged it, was decidedly unwelcome news. Microsoft does NOT make good software, and at the time was looking like it was doing its damnedest to abuse its (near) monopoly in the desktop operating system market. That the Skype Linux client was ignored was rather expected. After all, Microsoft pushed its own Windows stuff and grudgingly acknowledged that Apple and OSX existed and tried to claim Linux was something evil. Project much?
More recently a new Skype beta for Linux finally appeared. I discovered this when I updated to a new version of my preferred OS (Linux Mint, Xfce version – in case you were wondering) on a laptop and Skype was not listed in the repository. So I went looking for a directly installable version and found the beta. I tried it. It works, I’ll give it that. The dark theme is there and not hard to find. But the thing EATS screen. It’s wasteful of the most precious resource in modern computing. Changing hard drives is annoying, but readily doable. RAM upgrades are a bit easier. A bigger screen or greater resolution.. on a laptop? Riiiiight.
While I am not *quite* feeling nasty enough to sentence Skype devs to using 640×480 screens until they get a clue, I’d be giggling madly if it happened and not feeling at all bad about it. I’ll settle for them having to use Windows Phones, 1366×768 laptops and 120 grit tp. That might help excise their heads from their tuchuses. I’m being nice. It could have been 80 grit.
Alright, I gave in and got the Chromecast even though Google. It was inexpensive, it works, and their Android app doesn’t demand the network be renumbered for some addlepated chucklehead. I’ve streamed stuff to it a few times now and it’s neat, but while being able to pause the feed is nice, being able to fast forward it is better. Even the “good” TV can be a bit annoying. One day when it was time to deal with “Laundry, folding of” I figured I’d catch up on news and let CNN roll by. Oops.
I was hoping for a set of stories or articles that lead from one to the next. Instead the one seemed to loop until I forced it to change. And in the “National” (USA) version the lead story was… not Hurricane Harvey. Not Hurricane Irma. Not North Korea’s nuclear testing, nor missile testing. Not anything of an Immigration “Agreement” nor anything else of real import. Nope, the lead was… a stupid vapid rant about Trump’s supposed temper. The bit about him, during the (now long OVER) campaign telling his audience to beat the crap out of someone if they were about to through a tomato.. well, what do you expect someone to say, “Let the asshole paste me”? And face it, had Hillary or Bernie said the very same line, it would have been shown in a very positive, humorous light.
This isn’t even fake news. It’s not news at all. It’s rubbish. “The Propaganda Arm of the Democrat(ic) Party” is how some have summed up the so-called Mainstream Media. It’s not merely obvious, but outright blatant. I’d find it funny, except It’s Happening Here. This was a bit easier take some decades ago when I listened to shortwave and would be entertained by the nonsense spewed forth by Radio Moscow. Of course, I was not living in the USSR. Not then, anyway. Nowadays, I can’t be so sure.
Doing It Wrong
If, for some strange reason, you read the comments on my previous post here you saw someone asking if I minded if they “cross-posted” (the term they used) it to another site. As I have had things cross-posted/re-posted/re-blogged before (guest posts at ATH that a couple folks liked) I figured it was no big deal. I was wrong, as it was NOT a simple re-publication on another personal site with a link back. Oh no. It was something far worse. It was Marketing in the truly Dilbertian, or perhaps even Catbertian, sense of the word.
Instead of a simple re-posting, an account was made on the site they are building, Writer Beat, and I found myself signed up to the damned thing. There was no mention that such an account would be created, nor that I would “need” one for this. A lie of omission, that.
Further, the FAQ had a couple bombs lurking in it. One could not post more than once every 48 hours. While I am hardly prolific in my posting, my schedule is my schedule.
- I did not sign up for this
- I was not informed of this
- I did not consent to this.
The second bomb was the requirement of commenting on others posts. Nope:
- I did not sign up for this.
- I was not informed of this.
- I did not consent to this, either.
Whether something is deserving of a comment of mine is my decision alone.
And notice a pattern? The utter lack of informed consent. Dishonesty. This is not a medical emergency situation where such can be ignored for the sake of life-saving urgency. This is just plain old-fashioned lying.
I agreed only to the asked-about allegedly free re-publication, nothing more – as nothing more was revealed. But then I found I had an account on that dubious site. When I found those bombs lurking in the FAQ, I decided I wanted nothing to do with any place that made such demands. I had logged in. I had changed the password (before I made the comment containing the original public). So upon that discovery I decided to delete the article from that damnable site, which I did. I then went looking for a way to delete the account itself. Such an option does not exist.
Before, I was merely miffed. Now I was getting genuinely angry. No way to leave means it’s a trap. Even if not calculated to be, it still is so. And thus I sent this e-mail:
When you commented on Elegant Ungulate it was about a simple cross-post or
re-post. You did NOT tell me it was an account sign up. That is dishonest.
Also, no mention was made of article frequency limits, nor commenting
requirements associated with this un-informed and un-consented sign-up.
As I find this all dishonest and distasteful, I intended to delete the
account that was created without my consent. Only problem – your site seems
to be a Roach Motel California: A person can’t DO that.
Well, I mean to.
WriterBeat delenda est!
I did get a reply that my article had been deleted (Had I not already done that? Or is this site copying FaceBook’s malicious, evil design where deletion isn’t really deletion?) and that they had gone in and manually removed the account a mere user could not delete. The corker was the utterly ridiculous claim that *I* had “misunderstood” things when they had been outright omitted – at the very best, merely omitted. Oh, and though it was not said outright as “exposure” it was implied with “Should you ever decide to reach a larger readership…” Uh huh. There is a place for those who use an “exposure” line on folks. That place is on the hard vacuum side of an airlock. You want exposure? Sunbathe at the South Pole. You’ll get the exposure of your life.
The site owner(s?) must be desperate for content if they are trawling the web for articles to copy and people to sign up unawares. Perhaps a name that feels like it should be about/for reporters, or cops who walk a lot, or a riff on Tiger Beat magazine isn’t exactly helping.
What’s puzzling, assuming it isn’t automated by a ‘bot lacking any judgment of content, is: why that post? It’s nothing of much import. One guy talking about replacing an aging phone with something newer. It’s filler, really, and I know and admit that. Going down to the very next (that is, the previous) post gets an almost infinitely better candidate for wider transmission and perhaps discussion. But “I have a mark on my arm…” was bypassed. If I were to believe in “Social Importance” (cue Tom Lehrer’s tune Smut) I would assign a significant amount to that and very little if any to “Telephone, Man.” Of course, if it can be explained by incompetence, incompetence explains it. And it sure does!
So, should you get some schmuck trying to get your stuff on Writer Beat, BEWARE! It’s not mere duplication, but an attempt at conscription. Don’t be shanghaied.
My take is as said in email:
Writer Beat delenda est!
ADDENDUM: This is not a new development. Have a look back to 2014 at 4 Critical Changes Writer Beat Must Make to Become Competitive and note the author’s followup update to his article. There seems to be history of dishonesty on the part of Writer Beat’s owner(s).
*** Back in 2013 I finally got annoyed enough with the silly (at best!) anti-vaxxers to rant a bit. I repeat it here, now, only slightly modified. It’s not 2013 any more. ***
I have a mark on my arm…
And everyone (or very nearly everyone) of a certain age or greater also has this mark. It’s not the ‘Mark of the Beast’. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact opposite. It helped me, and so many others, avoid – at a minimum – far worse marking. Those rather younger generally do not have this mark. They don’t have it, because they don’t need it. They don’t need because I, and so many others, have it. This mark is the one that came from getting a vaccination. You could say, the vaccination. The name vaccine itself came from this, or a very early version of it. It is perhaps the ultimate vaccination success story. It’s also one thing the United Nations, through the World Health Organization, got right. You see, the last “in the wild” (not a lab accident) case was diagnosed in October 1977. In 1979 the WHO declared that smallpox had been eradicated. This was the first time, ever, that a disease had been considered eradicated.
Since then there has been only one other such success, so far: rinderpest, a disease affecting bovines, that was declared eradicated in 2011. There had been hopes that polio (and perhaps measles) would join them. It hasn’t yet. War and paranoia have prevented the last phase of vaccinations from happening, so instead of zero cases cases yearly worldwide, there are over 200. That sounds good, if you think about the time when cases were in the thousands or millions, but it’s bad if you want to truly wipe out the disease so you can stop worrying about it at all. ADDENDUM: Things are improving some. In 2016 it was down to 37 known cases.
Smallpox vaccine actually was relatively dangerous – compared to other vaccines. It had some nasty potential side-effects. And it was not 100% effective. Why was it used? Have you met smallpox? No? Consider yourself mighty damn fortunate. By the time I got that vaccine, it was pretty good, and had about 95% effectiveness. And that last 5%? A thing called ‘herd immunity’ – if enough of a population is resistant to a disease, even if an unfortunate individual comes down with it, it can’t spread. Thus while the last 5% aren’t perfectly protected, they have a sort of immunity by a kind of automatic quarantine.
The polio vaccine was so effective it astonished the researchers. Its success rate was the stuff not of mere dreams, but of outright fantasy. It also is not perfect, but is well beyond being merely “good enough.” There are other vaccines, for other diseases. I’ve met perhaps one person who likely had (and was lucky enough to survive almost unscathed -if only barely) smallpox. I have met a few people who survived polio. There are vaccines now for more minor illnesses, some of which I’ve had and even though they were mild and “minor” (and minor is relative – they aren’t harmless, they just cause permanent disability and death less often than the Big Bad ones like smallpox.) I would have been quite happy to have traded a needle-stick for the affliction itself.
It irritates me greatly to see that there are still people with the mistaken (at best – all too often it’s more outright crazy) belief that vaccines are inherently dangerous. The claim has been around since the very first vaccinations (and in truth the very first really were a gamble – but it’s not 1796 any more and more than a little progress has been since then). Nowadays the claim often centers on thimerisal – a mercury compound once used as an antiseptic and antifungal agent in vaccines (to prevent the vaccine from causing another illness), and accused of contributing to autism. Certainly, exposure to heavy metals is best avoided, but the evidence for thimerisal doing anything beyond the intended preservation is simply not there. Autism rates increased after thimerisal use ended or was at least greatly reduced (The USA stopped using thimerisal in all but a very few vaccines and antivenoms in 1999.). That doesn’t mean that thimerisal protects against autism; it indicates something else is going on. The “study” that showed the MMR vaccine (and thimerisal) had a link to autism was not only never replicated, but was debunked, retracted by the medical publication that first published it, the originator found to have several conflicts of interest which he hadn’t revealed, and that person is no longer permitted to practice medicine. In short: QUACK! The whole thing was a scam, setting himself up to profit. Ponder that one. This crook was willing to knowingly misdiagnose a cause of an affliction, and have others risk illness for his personal profit. There is a word for that behavior: Criminal.
So now, gullible and panicky people looking for something to blame, erroneously blame vaccines and thereby cause a different problem. Remember that herd immunity? It doesn’t work if the immunity rate (and immunity is conferred by vaccine) falls too low. When that happens, the unlucky individual who contracts an illness can and does come into contact with another susceptible person, and then that one can carry it to the next, and so on. The result is an outbreak of a disease that was rare for a while. Thus nowadays, thanks to this ignorance of the facts, and the stupidity of continuing to ignore them when clear and obvious evidence is presented, there are more and more cases of measles, and whooping cough, and who know what else might be next.
“Those are just childhood diseases.” some say. Adults can and do get them. And often they are far nastier for and to adults – and I can tell you that when I was kid and had some of the “childhood diseases” that they were no fun at all – and I was fortunate to experience milder (relatively) cases. These diseases can still maim and kill. We have a good, effective tool to not only avoid such outcomes, but to avoid the affliction itself. The current vaccines are all much, much safer than even the safest version of the smallpox vaccine – it was a big relief to everyone when it could be set aside. Polio and perhaps measles can, if people come to their senses, also go the way of smallpox (there is no known non-human carrier of either) – and that will mean two less vaccines needed, without risk of outbreak.
I have this mark on my arm. If you don’t, you’re welcome.
Earlier I posted about the frustration of Living on the Edge (of broadcast coverage area). Since then I picked up a smaller TV set that fits the ‘window’ for a TV in the bedroom closet upstairs. Alas, the gain in altitude doesn’t seem to help and the antenna little that almost could, can’t.
But this set has all those lovely connectors. RF (75 Ohm cable, not 300 Ohm twin lead – the less lossy, but you need to Know What You’re Doing… so no longer fit for this Modern Age, it seems. Heavens help anyone even considering truly low-loss ladder line!). So, HDMI port? So.. streaming gadget perhaps? Chromecast was rejected as being too Google and Google has lurched to the left in a nasty way as revealed by Youtube (yes, that’s Google’s toy now) policies regarding free speech (“The lefter it is, the freer it is.” sums it up. Useful Idiots. And the Great User is gone! Or so we thought.)
Looked around, saw Roku. No particular ties. And on sale – even at a local store. *SHOCK* So got that. Set it up. Fiddly getting a right, proper, secure WiFi password entered but it could be and was done. And.. the gadget worked. Much wanted some sort of signup (didn’t bother – figured maybe later if at all) or outright paid subscription (really didn’t bother). Tried a couple of the freebies. Commercials, but… well, TV, so that’s expected. So far so good.
And then it pushed the Android (and likely iPhone) app for remote control, better experience, yada-yada. And the app came up, looked at the network, and whinged about the address range. I’m not going to tell you the WiFi address range, but it is NOT publicly routable. $HOUSEMATE deals with it. ESR calls $HOUSEMATE about network issues from time to time. Ponder that. I trust $HOUSEMATE (yes, with root, even) far more than some arseclods at Roku. There is NO workaround. Their answer is “Do it our way or G(et)TFO.”
The amusing thing? The Roku gadget itself doesn’t care. Only the phone app does. Now, I’ve been sans TV signal since circa 2009 and the antenna was a Grand Experiment. The Roku? It was returned. To Hell with the arseclods. I G(ot)TFO. They can go “pleasure” themselves with a rusty-bladed chainsaw – sideways. And twice on Sundays, aye.
I am still pondering some sort of streaming setup, but this rate it might have be a roll-my-own solution. Chromecast is Google is Youtube and they have doing a real bang-up job of convincing me the less I deal with them the better. Amazon/Fire is Bezos… and the Washington Post.. “Democracy Dies in Darkness (and We’re Here to Turn Off the Lights).” Plex looks good – aside from the recent “We know better than you about what to do with your data” debacle. They did backtrack on that, but it leaves me wondering if they will be like Facebook: Backtrack today, “accidentally” do it anyway tomorrow – until and unless caught at it.
So, what have I learned?
1. $HOOTERVILLE is still in a hole, even upstairs.
2. Streaming media might not need that ‘r’ to be properly described.
3. TV shows are still a powerful sedative. (Yes, fell asleep watching something.)
4. Groucho Marx’s quip about television being educational still applies.
5. I am really glad I did NOT going into Broadcasting. BS from one end is quite enough!
Perhaps the best thing would be to see if can repair that now-ancient VCR. I think I might have a couple episodes of Laugh-In on tape somewhere.