Category Archives: Rants

Rant Wednesday: No Cookies For You!

Run a web site that blocks users who turn off cookies and java? How about rethinking your crappy, backwards attitude!

No, my little Linux blog is not going to change the world, though in this case, I wish it could…

If you take your security and privacy seriously, like me, you probably disable cookies and javascript in your web browser..

Tracking Cookies

We all know that web sites need to make money to stay in business. and we get that. Most commercial sites will use one of the many advertising companies like Google Adsense etc. to serve up advertising on their site. They do this by using cookies, little bits of text that will stay on your computer and tells them all kinds of things about you. Some of the data may include the last time you visited, your comment user name, what advertising you saw or clicked on etc.  Worse, they can be used to track you as you go from site to site in the same ad network.

Are mainstream sites like the news site below using cookies for evil?  No, but I deserve some privacy from your intrusive tracking!

Yes, we get it, we need to enable cookies if we want to participate, comment etc. But for those finding your site through a link from a news aggregator  and just want to read the story quick and move on, you are doing us all a disservice.

No cookies, no view our site!

No cookies? Go Away!

Javascript

Javascript, can be misused to serve up virus and malware packages to your machine. This in turn can be used to turn your computer into a spam sending email server, botnet client, or even steal your personal financial information!

Yes, if you turn off javascript, many web sites will break. I get that. Javascript is a powerful way to do some really neat things in a web browser. The site below, actually displayes just fine, until their server notices that you have javascript turned off. They then forward you to a nag screen to complain!

No Javascript? Go away!

No Javascript? Go away!

But darn it web developers, completely blocking my access to your site because I have cookies turned off or javascript turned off is just short-sighted and dumb.  Web users are getting smarter about their privacy and safety on the web.

For many sites, it’s pretty easy to get around the no javascript complaint on their site by actually deleting the node that is sending the javascript warning. While that works much of the time, it doesn’t always.

Do we use cookies and javascript in our 7 sites? Sure we do, but all of them can be used without either!

To those sites who don’t play these stupid games, we thank you.

For sites that choose to block those of us who want a little privacy and security,  we’ll take our web surfing elsewhere until you grow up.

 

 

Non Computer Related Fun This Week

I’ve spent the last 2 days doing component-level service on my 6-year-old powered wheelchair. When you live your life in a wheelchair, you fast have to remember all the stuff you can not do when your chair is broken! My goats were very upset when it wasn’t me feeding them dinner last night.

My odyssey started with a quick run for some water softener salt. 2 miles from home I got caught in a huge downpour. The rain was not on radar as I left, it just popped up as I got on the road. Not that unusual for Florida. Deciding it would be best to do that errand another day, I went home. Turning on my chair to exit my van, I had power, but the chair was blinking out random error codes.  I love computers, but why must they be in wheelchairs!

Calling my bride in the house to bring my manual chair, I got into it, then we managed to drag my non functional chair into the house.

I’d been out working on the farm  before my ill-fated trip. I’d been rained on several times, using a chair that is supposed to be water tight, I never worried about it.

Turns out the rubber membrane that the control buttons are molded into, had cracked in the depression of the button. This allowed water over time to leach onto the motherboard of the controller. The highly mineralized water started leaving deposits on the motherboard, under and around the processor, surface mounted to the motherboard.

Oh, why could you not be in a socket!

I did get a laugh though. When I got the controller open, a nice sticker greeted me that said, “Made in England.”   This of course brought back fond memories of an IT Crowd episode where everything that was breaking, was made in England.

Back to my controller, with my surface mount rework station, a large magnifying glass and several hours worth of work, I was able to clean up the mother board and bring it back into working order.

I’m fortunate that I can do all my own repairs, both mechanical as well as electronic. Checking on the web found that there were several places that would be happy to sell me a new controller, for $1200.  The local wheelchair place assured me that the controller was DOA and that replacing it was my only option. I couldn’t get them to agree to a friendly wager that I thought otherwise.

So while I only had a 24 hour period of upset, who I really feel bad for are the thousands of people dependant on mobility devices, who get ripped off for every stupid part they need. I mean, simple caster wheels for my chair are $90 from the company. I found better wheels on Amazon for $20. Had I let a local mobility store do my repairs this week, I’d have been out $1500.

My point, if you have skills in electronics or mechanics, think about who you might be able to help if they have issues with their mobility devices.

There is no way I could have afforded to pay for these repairs, and insurance companies have made it so hard to get a new powered wheelchair now, it’s just not even worth trying to fight with them anymore. (Mostly thanks to a couple of huge companies hawking them on TV for years, flooding the market with chairs for people who likely didn’t even need them!)

I’ll be scouring garage sales for a backup chair in the coming weeks!

 

 

Complaint: @ownCloud 7 Calendar

After running ownCloud 7, we have just a single complaint.

The consensus here on the farm, is that the original ownCloud calendar application displayed much better. The new calendar devotes way too much space to the calendar listing, that was previously a much more logical button. This leaves less space to actually view the calendar itself. For those of us on low resolution monitors, it’s just not practical. Please give us an option to collapse the left side menu, or to use the old calendar format.

ownCloud Calendar Application

ownCloud Calendar Application

Everything else about ownCloud 7, we just love!

After spending about 2 hours playing with the old, ownCloud 6 calendar template, style sheet, and javascript; I was able to actually get exactly what I’d like to see. Everything works except the settings. As I’m not a programmer, this was just an experiment as a proof of concept to see if it was possible.

Calendar, what we'd like to see!

Calendar, what we’d like to see!

Again, ownCloud rocks! The sharing between servers works great and we’re happy with all the other changes. Just give us the old calendar back please!

 

This Never Happens With Linux

I’ve mentioned before, we have but one, lone Windows 7 computer in our collection of 11 machines here on the farm.

Yesterday, I dutifully allowed an update of the Adobe Flash software. Now I am very careful about what I click on, and what is being installed on my machines. So imagine my outrage when the updater starts installing an unwanted piece of software along with the Flash update!

There was no way to stop the install of what is commonly called bloatware or crapware. Adobe was, without my permission, installing a McAffee product on my computer.

Of course, as soon as the software was installed, I went right to the control panel and uninstalled it.

Adobe is not the only player in this deceptive game. When Java is updating, it always tries to install bloatware as well. The only difference is that at least you can click a box to refuse it!

Crap like this is one of the main reasons my family stays far away from Microsoft products.

 

Free and Open Internet – Demand it!

There has been much debate lately about how the Internet operates

Attention!

in the United States. Poor oversight and worse laws have allowed companies (You know who they are!)  to charge additional fees, and even slow down the traffic of some web content providers.

This is something you should be outraged about. I pay for a fiber optic Internet connection. I expect to get full speed regardless of what site I am viewing. It’s what I pay for. The last thing I think is fair, is for my Internet service provider to slow down my connection to certain services, and then demand extra money from those services for full speed!

Tell your elected officials that you want the Internet to be regulated like the public utility that it is! Would your power company be allowed to send you only half the normal power when you want to run one appliance, but give you full power to run another? Same difference folks!

Demand that the Internet be run without intentional bottlenecks. And for that matter, we should also do away with letting our ISP trace our entire web usage so they can target advertising to us!

Send your open Internet comments right to the FCC at:

openinternet@fcc.gov