2017-11-23 Narcissistic software developers

How to recognize narcissistic software developers? When their software is incompatible with some other software, it's always the other software that's incompatible, even though the other software has worked for years and it's only with their brand new software the problem exists.

I could be talking about systemd. I could be talking about certain Linux kernel developers who get yelled at. But I'm not. You see, I just ran slackpkg upgrade-all, and among the updates was something called Firefox 57.

Suddenly all my perfectly working extensions are "incompatible". No, they are not, we have yet another case of narcissistic software developers refusing to admit that their software is incompatible. And guess what, it even places a big blue "remove" button next to every single extension, to make it really easy for me to get rid of everything I - the user and owner of my computer - need, and end up with nothing but a useless browser.

I counted 17 extensions that have been disabled, with no care for the person actually using the computer (again, that would be me). And please, don't suggest replacements for those extensions, it's not the extensions that need replacing, it's the narcissistic developers. Even if you could give me a replacement for every single extension, Firefox would still be made by the same people, and to keep using it would help them keep their positions, rather than help getting them replaced, as they should be. And by replaced, I mean fired.

2017-11-19 I'm not a Blizzard fan

Three years ago, my ISP decided that they would no longer provide e-mail. So I had to get a free e-mail address, and change every account I have to use the new e-mail address. Some were easy. Steam, for example, just wanted to send an e-mail to my new address, to confirm that I had spelled it correctly.

However, there was one account that caused trouble. Battle.NET, a gaming service by Blizzard.

I had to create a ticket with their support system to change my e-mail address. With the ticket, I provided a photo of my paid for Star Craft II game, and of course my new e-mail address. A month later my old e-mail address was finally closed.

I don't know what Blizzard support did, but I suspect they sent a request for further information to my old e-mail, which I cannot access. I can't access the support ticket without logging in, which requires a one time code that gets sent to my old e-mail. I can't even log in to my Battle.net account, it says the password is wrong, so maybe they reset the password instead of changing the e-mail address.

The second part of the Star Craft 2 series (Heart of the Swarm) is now free for everyone with a paid first part, but the free copy must be claimed within a couple of weeks. So as I see it, not only does Blizzard owe me my paid copy of the first part back, they also owe me the free second part.

This weekend Overwatch, another Blizzard game, was free to play, and next weekend it will be 50% off. I considered buying it, in fact I might just have done so, were I not waiting for getting access to my old account. But because I can't trust them, and because I want all the games I buy on Battle.net in the same account (so I don't end up with as many accounts as I have games - I've had about 12 e-mail accounts so far), I didn't buy anything.

Listen up, Blizzard: Until I get my Battle.net account back, I'm buying all my games on Steam. So, if you want my money, you'll either have to fix that e-mail address, or sell your games on Steam (without requiring a Battle.net acocunt).

2017-11-14 Catalonia

Things have been happening in Catalonia over the last month, that calls into question the political status of Spain. I have a couple of things to say about that:

To the Spanish government: I don't care if you were elected. Arresting your political opponents is something only a dictatorship would do.

To Belgium: A few political opponents of the Spanish government are currently fugitive in your country. Remember that a democratic country doesn't send people back to be political prisoners in a dictatorship.

To the European Union: Make sure that sending people back to be political prisoners in a dictatorship is against EU law. Some 25 years ago, you were really excited about adding a new word to your name: "Union". I remember another union where political prisoners in one member state would be sent back by other member states. If the EU becomes a place where its member states do the same thing, I have another word you can add to your name: "Soviet".

2017-10-16 Arrested development

For many years, computers became smaller and smaller, while becoming faster and faster. Then somewhere between 3 and 4 GHz it stopped. Apart from gaming graphics cards, there isn't any reason to buy a new PC every 18 months like there used to be.

And although long ago I calculated that it would take an 8 GHz PC to run XP without waiting for the computer like my then 600 MHz Linux machine did, I'm actually fine with the development having stopped. Why? Well, let's compare PC's:

To phones:

Phone development didn't just stop at the Nokia 8310, but reversed its direction, becoming bigger and less mobile again. If the same thing had happened to computers, we would probably be back to refrigerator sized by now.

2017-09-05 Why do atheists always talk about religion?

I hear this question a lot. Why atheists talk so much about religion, when they claim to not be religious. Alway from religious people, of course. The same question also gets asked about other groups that have one thing they don't want anything to do with. Why do they talk about it so much?

Because the only way you notice that they are atheist is that they talk about it. The other 999 atheist you meet you never realize they are because rather than talking about religion, they are buying groceries or some other non-religious thing that doesn't say anything about them being atheist.

Or because you brought it up. Maybe you asked them if they'd found Jesus, in which case you brought it upon yourself when you get to listen to how Jesus is no more real than Harry Potter, and that there are better moral guidelines in the Lord of the Rings than in the Bible. Or maybe they sneezed and you said "God bless you"... Notice that word, "God"? Yeah, that's bringing up religion, and they have every right to not like you bringing that up, just like you wouldn't like if someone said "Allah a'Akbar" to you.

Oh, you found an Atheist forum on Reddit/Youtube/wherever, and all they talk about is religion? Yeah, so we have this group of people who have only one thing in common: They don't believe in God. What are they supposed to talk about? Gardening? Astronomy? That's not how it works, when a group of people are together, they will talk about their common interests. A group of hunters will talk about hunting, and a group of motorcycle enthusiasts will talk about things related to motorcycles. And again, you only see the small group who are gathered there, not all the rest.

"Oh, but look at Bill Maher, he doesn't talk about anything else". Because talking about religion is his job, that's why he gets paid to be on TV. He doesn't represent atheists, just like Osama Bin Laden doesn't represent Muslims. Oh, sorry, I forgot, you actually do think that Osama Bin Laden is a representative of all Muslims. Let me try again: Bill Maher doesn't represent atheists just like Fred Phelps doesn't represent all Christians.

2017-09-04 South and North Korea

We hear a lot these days about South Korea and the USA doing military excercises, practicing for attacks against North Korean nuclear facilities. Ok, I get it, Seoul is very close to the border, and they have good reasons to be scared of the North Korean Nukes. What I don't understand is, North Korea is getting ready for war against the USA, and the USA is getting ready for war against North Korea. Why would you want them to fight that war on your soil?

But, they say, we want to scare them into not attacking. The problem is that the USA thinks that North Korea is the aggressor, and North Korea thinks that the USA is the aggressor. Either way, both sides will see themselves as defending themselves against an agressor. And that's why your strategy won't work. You cannot scare someone into not defending themselves.

But but but, North Korea is clearly the aggressor, so they are wrong in claiming self defence. Oh really? I'd say that being starving them for years is quite an aggresive way to treat them.

But we are blockading them because they are building nukes and missiles. So did the USA, they just built so many that they won't need to build any more until after World War 4. If anyone with nukes is automatically the aggressor, the USA must be the biggest agressor of them all. Look, anyone who is blockading North Korea but not the USA is not doing it "because nukes".

Look up "Nuclear non-profiliation treaty"... Oh, first of all, North Korea is not a party to that treaty, so it doesn't apply to them. And second, even if they were, you can ask Mr. Trump what one does with a treaty one doesn't like, which was signed by a predecessor.

Yeah, but we really don't want more countries to have nukes. Oh really? So you'd be ok with North Korea having nukes if the USA didn't have any? Then there wouldn't be more countries with nukes.

No, because we don't trust the North Korean government. Guess what, they don't trust the US government either, so that argument leads to the conclusion that either both gets to have nukes or neither.

But we need nukes for self defence, and we really don't want them to have any. Oh, so you're saying that you don't want them to be able to defend themselves. I'd say that makes you the agressor. Otherwise you wouldn't have a problem with them being able to defend themselves.

I'm not defending North Korea here, both sides are escalating, and both sides are wrong in doing so. The rest of the world doesn't want a war (that mostly includes "we the people", i.e. anyone who is neither part of a government, nor has shares in the weapons industry). It would be much better if Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump could meet up in Beijing and ask eachother "what would it take for you to stop (building nukes / blockading). But that's not going to happen as long as we have two mad men running both countries. So all I can do is shake my head and ask South Korea: Why would you want that fight to be on your soil?

2017-08-25 Building from the roof down

There's been a lot of talk about autonomous cars lately. Unfortunately, they have been creating the autonomous system all backwards. The first generations are going to be different degrees of doing most of the driving, with the human driver constantly monitoring, ready to take over with millisecond warning in an emergency.

Problem is, humans suck at both. Constantly monitoring makes them bored, and they either start fiddling with their phone or fall asleep. And taking over a driving car is something we don't even allow professionals to do, even if both drivers have their hands on the steering wheel for minutes. A computer on the other hand doesn't get bored, and it is fully capable of making sub-millisecond decisions.

What they should have done is letting the human driver do most of the driver, but have the computer take over if the human driver fails to notice a pedestrian. That would have avoided the whole discussion about what to do if the system makes a mistake. The car is already on a collision course, the system failing isn't likely to make the situation worse.

Once that is working perfectly, they would then be able to expand on the autonomous system step by step, and each step would be a safety improvement compared to what we had before. Instead they have built a system that requires the human driver to do the impossible, and when it fails, the human driver will get the blame. As a result, the systems they are building should not be allowed on the roads - not even for tessting - until proven 100% safe. Which is not possible without testing on actual roads. Allowing them on the road is a huge safety hazard, and any politician who thinks autonomous cars, as they are bing built, are a great idea should not be allowed to ever again comment on road safety.

2017-07-13 Mozilla Google-Analytics fiasco

Someone discovered that Mozillas Firefox add-on page uses Google Analytics without the users permission. Selected "do not track"? ignored. Turned off telemetry? Ignored. Installed tracking blocking add-ons? ignored. The official solution? DNS-block google-analytics.com. So, only recommend Firefox to people with skills to DNS-block... Got it.

Then some moron from Mozilla says something about that if you use Firefox, you should trust Mozilla. Yes, we trust Mozilla not to use Google Analytics. Guess what, you just broke that trust. However, we never trusted Google.

Want to know what we call people who do trust Google? Chrome users.

2017-07-12 Helping oppressed women?

One of our local political parties annouced that they support outlawing Burqas. They also want to help those poor Muslim women who are oppressed by their families. While I am undecided on the first, and fully agree with the latter, what I do have a problem with is that in my opinion the two statements are in conflict.

Not all Muslim women wear burqas because they are oppressed by their family. Some actually do so because their religion says so. And unlike what we are used to here in Scandinavia, in most parts of the world, religious people actually believe in their religion. And I pretty sure that by "helping oppressed women", they don't mean forcing them to no longer be religious. So, we have a group of women who believes that their religion requires them to wear a burqa whenever they leave their home, but a (future) law forbidding wearing a burqa. Thus those women will end up having no way to leave their home.

Which women are the most oppressed? Those who are required by their family to wear a burqa when they leave their home, or those who are prohibited - by law - from leaving their home? There are many ways to help oppressed women. This is not one of them. This is simply racism in disguise.

2017-07-12 Ukraine propaganda

Looking at western news sources, one easy way of determining which are spreading government propaganda is to look at how they mention the conflict in Ukraine. A propaganda source will report it as one conflict, between Russia and Ukraine, trying to suppress any notion that they are actually talking about two very different conflicts.

In Crimea, there was unrest, Russia sent in troops, held a referendum, and that was it. European countries were invited to send officials to monitor the referendum, but most (if not all) refused. There were reports of the referendum being fradulent, all from countries that refused to send anyone to monitor. Which, I must admit, fits very well with the current political tactic of discarding reality and declaring whatever they are left with the truth. So, what is the reality? The reality is that we have no evidence of any fraud, because we refused to look. With no evidence of fraud, we can either accept the results, or we can stop claiming to be pro democracy. The people have spoken, and they wanted to be Russian.

The other conflict is the civil war in the Donetsk area. In This conflicts, there are no Russian troops. Russia is probably supporting the rebels - unofficially - but can we really fault them for that? Do we suddenly dislike countries that support rebels in other countries? Such as those who support the rebels in Syria? Something about throwing rocks while living in a glass house, perchance? And look at the difference - when Russia sent troops into Crimea, the conflict ended. If Russia really wanted to invade the Donetsk area, they could end that conflict just as fast. Heck, they could take the whole of Ukraine, and there's nothing the Ukrainian army could do about it. The only reason the Ukrainian army is still fighting is that Russia is staying out of it.

Does this mean that I am pro Russia? That I like Putin? Not at all. There's enough shit going on in Russia that European news could write twice as much about it without even mentioning Ukraine (but then again, if they actually cared enough to separate the two conflicts, they would also have to write twice as much). The only thing is that to do that, they would have to do real journalism, instead of simply copying government propaganda.

2017-06-28 Why not an electric car?

I keep hearing from engineers with high sallaries that an electric car can fulfill 90% of transportation needs, and hydrogen is too expensive and doesn't solve any problem the electric car doesn't. Every time all I can do is shake my head. These people seem to live in a bubble with no idea how people live outside the bubble.

Most electric cars have small batteries with short range. Every time anyone mentions this, they will pull out the +500km range of a Tesla. Hold it right there. A Tesla replaces an Audi or Mercedes, not a Corolla or a Punto. On the other hand, when someone mentions that electric cars are way too expensive, the same people will insist that a Tesla is not the car to compare with, one should compare the price of one of the useless micro-cars with tiny batteries.

Also, the maximum range of a Tesla may be comparable to a petrol car, but most of the time, the maximum range is not what matters. How does the range per minute of charging / refueling compare? Oh, but you are supposed to charge your electric car overnight in your garage. And that's where the whole "living in a bubble" thing becomes apparent. Most people don't live in a house with a garage. They live in an apartment on the 7th floor, and the car is parked on the other side of the street. You figure out the physics of that extension cord. I'm sure if anyone was to explain this simple fact of life to them, they would say something about the city putting up chargers along the street. Oh yeah, maybe in 25 years. So, until then, should we bet on hydrogen or keep making petrol cars?

Another thing that always gets mentioned is how even the 500km of a Tesla goes down a lot when pulling a caravan, and by the way, Copenhagen to Rome is 2000km. That would take a week if you need to charge your car overnight every few hundred km. Sure, but you aren't going to Italy every day, so you just use your SUV to pull the caravan, and the electric car as a commuter car. Oh let me guess, the SUV is an Audi Q7? Someone's living in a bubble. The rest of us only have two cars if we need two commuter cars, and none of them is an Audi Q7 or a Tesla. My "second car" is an old Toyota, and my primary is a bicycle. Which one would you put in front of a caravan, if I were to replace my Toyota with a Nissan Leaf?

2017-06-16 24 hours

I have an audio stream and a video stream. I have two bags of cheese puffs, two bags of pork rinds and plenty of dip. I have meat, coal and a Weber.

Yeah, I'm pretty much ready for a weekend of race.

2017-06-13 The most expensive SSL certificate

It is well known by now that SSL and thus https is insecure. Yet browser makers are pushing to force everything to https. When people say that this is an attempt to divide the internet into two groups - those willing to pay to run a server, and those who are forced to use Facebook or Twitter - someone always says something about Let's encrypt being free.

I'm going to argue that Let's encrypt is the most expensive certificates you can get.

Oh, if you follow their official guide, it's simple. Just download some random executable from the internet and run it with administrator access... Then download 7 different anti-virus suites, none of which solve anything, give up and pay a bitcoin ransom to some dude in Kazakstan and finally reinstall the whole system anyway.

Anyone who cares a little about security will tell you that if you must use that random software, download it to a USB stick, then move it to an airgapped machine and run it there, and if successful, use another USB stick to move the certificate to the server. That will likely require some manual interaction, including knowledge of OpenSSL to generate the certificate signing request (which also needs to be moved via USB stick to the airgapped machine), and with the extremely short lived certificates Let's encrypt provide, it's not something you can read up on every couple of years when your certificates expire.

Oh sure, the protocol is available, but it's intentionally made way more complex than any protocol should be, either to force you to use their software, or at attempt at security by obscurity (even worse).

Either way the result is that unless you like paying bitcoins, you basically need to hire someone just to deal with Let's encrypt. And I can get an Extended Validation certificate valid for two years from even Verisign for less than it would cost me to hire someone to update Let's encrypt certificates for two years.

And for what? They don't even try to explain what it is that their horrible protocol does that couldn't be done with a one-liner curl cron-job.

2017-06-06 Paying your taxes

There is a lot of talk about people not declaing their income for tax purposes. Or as we call it in Danish, doing "black work". Ideally, we should all pay our taxes, because that money pays for schools, hospitals, roads and all those things that we all need at some point of our lives. Yet, I can understand those who don't.

When I pay about 40%, and yet feel that my taxes cover less than half of what it did when I paid 50%...

When schools, hospitals, benefits, etc get cut to pay for tax cuts for the rich, who already only pay what they feel like, and hide the rest of their income somewhere like Panama. So now they only pay half of what they feel like...

When someone is too sick to work full time, but "the system" ignores everything the doctor says, and convincing "the system" to pay out benefits that allow one to live on a part time job is in itself a 40 hour work week, and as a result, people end up getting more sick, until they can't work at all...

When unemployment benefits get cut because "there will soon be a lack of workers" - in the middle of a financial crisis with huge unemployment rates. Look, anyone who didn't fail basic logic realizes that if there was actually going to be a lack of workers, you wouldn't need to cut unemployment benefits in the first place, because nobody would be unemployed. And by lack of workers, I don't mean companies screaming "we can't find someone with 10 years of experience working with our in-house ERP system, 8 years of Java 5.1 and an MBA in kiss my ass", and we are not going to spend a single cent on teaching someone with 10 years of Java 7 and 3 years of Oracle experience", but actual lack of workers...

When they keep shouting about how soon we will have a lack of workers, yet we must invest in getting our roads ready for self-driving cars, which will make truck- and taxi drivers unemployed...

When the politician who shouts the loudest about how everyone must work has never had an hones job, but spent his whole life living on tax payer money...

Yeah, I can understand people who fail to declare their income.

2017-05-20 Shellshock vs WannaCry

Remember Shellshock? A little bug in Bash three years ago Apparently some Windows fans think that Shellshock was comparable to WannaCry, the ransomware that plagues Windows machines that haven't been updated.

First of all, Shellshock wasn't a security hole in Bash. Yes, Wikipedia says it was. Well, Wikipedia is wrong. It was a bug in Bash, the shell on most Linux system. And if you think the shell has anything to do with security, please get off the internet. The shell exists to allow people who know what they are doing to tell the computer exactly what to do. And guess what... It will do it, no questions asked. If you want to limit what the shell can do, Bash is not where you do it. Oh sure there is rbash (restricted Bash), but consider that a bug-for-bug compatibility feature with the old restricted shell - which didn't exactly provide security either.

The whole thing only became a security problem because PHP "developers" don't know jack shit about security. They would happily take environment variables originating from the users browser (that's in both the Apache and PHP documentation) and pass them on to the shell, without validating input. Look, if you pass user input to any interpreter (shell, SQL, etc) without validating the input, you are the problem. Not the bug in Bash. That invalid code that Bash did end up executing was only there because those PHP "developers" didn't validate input.

"But but but... The PHP developers didn't pass those environment variables and didn't even call Bash. The system() function did that behind their backs". Not if they had read the documentation. It clearly states that system() will call the shell (at least the C version does, if the PHP documentation doesn't, that's another reason to not use PHP). Oh, and look what I also found in the documentation:

Do not use system() from a program with set-user-ID or set-group-ID privileges, because strange values for some environment variables might be used to subvert system integrity. Use the exec(3) family of functions instead, but not execlp(3) or execvp(3).

And guess what... Anything that runs under a webserver is comparable to set-user-ID. It gives people access to things that they wouldn't otherwise have access to. Set-user-ID often elevates from normal user to root access, where anything running under a web server elevates from no access at all.

So, wasn't there a bug at all? Yes, but it wasn't a security hole, as it did not elevate any access. Moronic PHP "developers" already elevated access way above what access people viewing a web site should have had, and that small bug just ended up tipping over the house of cards.

The only security hole was in the PHP "developers".

2017-05-03 Eight years of Donald Trump?

Long before the 2016 US election, I predicted that Donald Trump would win. And unless the democrats learn from their mistakes, my prediction for 2020 is going to be another four years of Donald Trump.

"People voted for Donald Trump because they are racists". No they didn't. A large number of people who voted for Donald Trump voted for Barack Obama in the previous election. And guess what... You didn't exactly hear klan members saying "that nigger has been doing so well that he deserves another four years". If they said anything about him, it involved rope and a tree.

People didn't vote for Donald Trump because they wanted him for president (sure, some did, but not enough to win anything). They voted for him because they were facing the threat that unless they voted for Trump, they would get Hillary Clinton as president. Many people saw the election as a choice between Goldman Sachs and Bozo the Clown. And the way things are going in the US, with the rich controlling basically everything, Bozo the Clown looked like the least dangerous option.

When - long before the election - I heard many republicans say they would rather vote Bernie Sanders than Donald Trump, and I heard many democrats say they would rather vote for Trump than Hillary, it became clear to me that it was time for change. And Hillary represented the status quo.

It's not just the racism claim either. Just today, I read that Hillary had - yet again - said that she lost because the FBI and because Putin. All excuses because she and the rest of the democratic party refuse to accept that they were the ones who handed Donald Trump the keys to the White House. And if they keep making excuses rather than learning, we are looking at 8 years of Donald Trump.

Well, either that or come up with a replacement for that terrible two party system where people vote not for the candidate they feel is the best, but against the one they think is the worst. Even when that means voting for Bozo the Clown.

2017-05-02 What's wrong with systemd?

I see this question asked a lot: What's wrong with systemd? Technically, lots of things are wrong with systemd, but others have explained those in great detail. Besides, the same things are wrong with Windows and OSX, so clearly it's a matter of opinion. And that's all great, after all, if we didn't have the freedom to try out different things for different people, we would all be running Windows 10.

So, if different opinions are a good thing, why do some people (including myself) have such a strong dislike of systemd? Shouldn't people be allowed to create projects that do things differently? Yes, of course they should. And lots of projects do, and nobody complains. So what makes systemd different?

What we dislike about systemd is not it's design. Sure, we don't want that design on our computers, but if that was all there was to it, we wouldn't be having this discussion in the first place. The reason we have this strong dislike of systemd is the same reason people like dislike Ladas, Mao suits and Kim Jong Un haircuts. The whole concept of someone else telling us what to do. Everyone should not be driving a Lada. Everyone should not be wearing Mao suits. And everyone should not be running systemd.

Keep systemd to yourselves, that way you won't see this strong dislike. Sure you may still run into technical discussions about what's wrong with systemd, but as I said above, different opinions are a good thing. And in a technical discussion, both sides just might learn from each other.

We have a term for that idea that everyone should be running the same software. We call it "One Microsoft Way".

2017-04-12 The Big Bang

Why I don't believe in The Big Bang? When something is finite, there is always the question: What is on the other side. This goes for space as well as for time. When it comes to The Big Bang, the question becomes: What was before The Big Bang? However, if you ask that question, you basically get the same answer as if you were to ask a creationist what was before God... In either case, the "answer" given is that there is no such thing as before, and thus the question cannot be answered. And because of this, I consider The Big Bang theory to be a religious belief.

"But but but... All the evidence... All matter in the known universe is moving away from a single point, and if we do the math, we can follow the paths back to a point billions of years ago...

Which is all correct, I don't disagree with any of that. The important part here is "the known universe". Returning for a moment to everything finite has an end, and asking what's on the other side, until such an end has been discovered, it must be assumed that space is infinite. The known universe is a very small part of infinity. What lies outside the known universe? Thinking that there's nothing outside our little corner of space is no different than when the people on the cricket planet in the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy thought that there were no other planets, simply because the constant cloud cover on their planet prevented them from seing outside their own atmosphere.

So, if space is infinite, and the rest of space also contains matter of some form, did all of it come from The Big Bang? No. For the simple reason that if is all to originate in a single point at a single point in time, spreading it through infinity requires breaking the speed of light. In fact, covering an infinite distance in finite time requires infite speed. And of course breaking the speed of light equals breaking physics as we know it, and in that case we can throw out every single theory.

So, space must be infinite and there must be matter out there that didn't originate in The Big Bang. Yet all evidence in our corner of space points towards The Big Bang actually happening. What's the alternative? "A Big Bang". Big on an Earth scale or on a Milky Way scale, but just a small localized bang on an infinite scale. Possibly a massive black hole simply became too big to support itself. We don't know. Maybe we never will, but not because we can't know, simply because our collective time here won't be large enough to ever record one, and even if one were to happen within our lifetime, we won't survive anyway.

This "A Big Bang" theory is really just The Big Bang theory with the whole concept about God creating time (whoops, that was the other one) taken out and replaced with "we don't know what was before, at least not yet".

2017-04-03 Four types of testing

It is often said that developers can't test. This is a simplification, one that even a manager should be able to understand. However, this is often reduced to "developers can't test their own code", which completely misses the point, and often results in a different developer being asked to test. While more testers are always better, it doesn't solve the problem. To help understand why, I've split testing into four types, and who needs to do them. Automated tests, e.g. unit test are outside the scope of this post.

So, how many of these does your place of work skip?

2017-03-17 Firefox dropping ALSA support

So, Firefox finally dropped support for ALSA, which is the Linux sound drivers. Instead, we are supposed to install something called PulseAudio, written by a guy who seems to share his oppinion on freedom of choice with Kim Jong Un. Firefox is losing users and yet they decided to get rid of another group of users.

First of all, their telemetry said that very few people are not already using PulseAudio. Wait, what? Telemetry? That thing Microsoft introduced that pissed off more customers than Windows ME and Vista combined? And here we are talking about Linux users, people who are likely turning any form of telemetry off as the first thing. If it's even enabled in the first place, apparently Ubuntu comes with Firefox telemetry already turned off. So their whole argument is based on a complete lack of knowledge. I mean, that's like basing your decisions on a survey of people who never answer surveys...

Second, the people defending the decision are saying "get on with the program and switch to PulseAudio already". Gee, where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, every Chrome and Windows 10 fanboy. The people who are still running Firefox are those who don't like to be told what to use, and who prefer their current setup. You are more likely to push people to PaleMoon than to PulseAudio, those who would listen to the "get on with the program" argument are already running Chrome on Windows 10.

Which leaves me with two questions: Imagine for a second that I (hypothetically) were to listen to that argument... Why would I install PulseAudio? Chrome isn't dropping ALSA support. And does PulseAudio even run on Windows 10 in the first place?

2017-03-06 Why I use Linux

I have been using Linux as my main system since 1996, dual boot at first, but I kicked Windows 98 out in 1999 after realizing that I only had two games on the Windows partition, one of which couldn't handle a PC that fast anyway, and the other I had played twice since installing it.

My original reason for installing Linux was that it was stable. Back in 1996, the alternative was Windows 95, and I was about to start learning C. Knowing from my previous Turbo Pascal experience that a blue screen of death was just one stray pointer away, and C uses a lot more pointers than Pascal, I decided to install Linux. These days, Windows is stable enough to use even for development.

A system where even the boot process consists of simple and easy to understand shell scripts. As a software developer and computer geek, this has great appeal. These days there is a project called Systemd that aims to get rid of this.

A natively remote GUI. Imagine being 100km away from your computer and being able to use GUI programs like you were sitting right at your computer, except a bit slower. No, I'm not talking screen scrapers like VNC (shudder) or even RDP, I'm talking full native remote GUI support, without even needing to have a graphics card in the computer running the software. These days there is a project called Wayland that aims to get rid of this.

So, with Windows being stable enough to destroy the first reason, and projects working hard to get rid of the everything else, is there still a point to running Linux? Until recently, I was seriously considering Windows 7 as a good alternative to avoid Systemd and Wayland, but then Microsoft decided that they wanted to take back the position as the worst OS. The result is called Windows 10.

PS: Before anyone suggests FreeBSD, notice that my web server is in fact running FreeBSD, and for a desktop system, I'd like to see some credible reports about running Steam on FreeBSD.

2017-02-22 Destroying a postal service

For years, there has been this idea that public utilities - in this case the postal service - should be run on "free market like terms". Basically, that means they get to compete in the free market, rather than being financed by the tax payers, and the government gets to pull money out of the resulting company. Which may sound great on paper, but it takes decades to switch a company mentality like that, and most of the time, the CEO will still be refering to the minister, which tends to guarantee that the switch will never be made.

What you get instead is two things: First, a focus purely on cost. "What's our largest cost?" "Customers" "Good, we need to get rid of those". The idea of spending money to earn more money is completely lost to these pseudo-market constructs. And yes, having customers costs money. Not having a company at all is free, but you also don't earn any money.

And second, a complete lack of understanding of what market terms means. "Our competitors are cheaper than us, causing us to lose money, we must raise prices to compensate". Now you are even more expensive than your competitors, and lose even more money. When the local supermarket got a cheaper competitor, what did they do? They lowered their prices. What a novel concept.

This pattern repeats every single time a public utility is semi-privatized here. Currently it's the postal service, but the same thing happened when they did it to the railways. Not that the railway situation has improved, it's just gone down to the only customers left being those who are really hard to get rid of - i.e. people without a car. Heck, take someone like myself. Loves trains, hates being i a car, whether as driver or as a passenger. Any business that manages to get rid of a customer like that is a failed experiment. So, guess what the key I have right here says... Starts with a "T", ends with "yota".

The solution? Only one: Stop these experiments. Public utilities like railways and postal service need to be run as public utilities, not as a private company.

2017-02-10 Mmmmmm, Nougat

Normally I'm not an NVidia fan (insert Linus Thorvalds quote here), but when I needed a tablet a year and a half ago, my choice fell on an NVidia Shield. The Shield tablet is was born with Android 4.4, if I remember correctly, but mine was delivered with Android 5.0. My tablet just got the official Android 7.0 update - ok, Android 7.0 has been out for a while now, but if this had been Samsung, I would have been stuck on Android 4.4.

2017-02-09 Why Linux will soon have 40% of the desktop OS market

What if I told you that Linux will soon have 40% of the desktop operating system market? How? It's pretty simple, actually.

We can split the OS market up into three - server, desktop and touch (tablets, phones). The server market is not relevant to this, so ignore that. Desktop OS includes Linux, OSX and Windows 7. Touch OS includes Android, IOS and Windows 8 and 10. So, now that Windows 7 is officially no longer available, that leaves Linux and OSX to split the desktop OS market.

Oh sure, some people still try to put Windows 10 on a desktop PC, but that doesn't make it a desktop OS, no more than putting Android on a PC makes Android a desktop OS. A better argument would be that Windows 7 isn't dead yet, but if it's not sold anymore, does that make it a part of the market?

(The same argument could be made that Linux is free and thus not sold, so Linux is not part of the market, but that only changes things to "why OSX will soon have 100% of the desktop OS market).

2017-02-02 Trustworthy sources for Android Apps?

For years we have been told that to keep our systems secure and free of adware, never download software from random sources, always go to the original source. E.g. download Microsoft software from Microsoft or Valve software from Steam.

Then we were told for years that Google Play is full of malware, and to be honest, unless it's blatantly illegal, there's nothing Google is going to do about it. If you download an app from Google, you never know if you are going to get the real thing or some adware from an advertising company trying to track your every move, such as - well, Google.

So, why is it that so few app developers allow downloading their apps from a trustworthy source? I recently tried to download the official ticket app from the Danish state railways. Nope, no trustworthy download, just a link to Google Play. And to make matters worse, downloading from there requires a Google account. Requiring a Google account to use the official state railways ticket app lies somewhere between illegal government support to a specific company and straight up facism in my book.

The Steam app is actually one of the few apps that can be downloaded from a trustworthy source - if you ignore the links to the adware stores and follow the very tiny link below.

2017-01-30 Why Firefox is dying

There is an old lawyer joke, saying that if you have the facts on your side, pound them into the jury. And if you have the law on your side, pound it into the judge. But if you have neither, you need to pound the table.

Likewise, in a free market, there are three ways to compete: Price, features and advertising (advertising being the "pound the table" option).

All the major browsers are free. Thus there is no way that Firefox can compete on price.

When the Firefox developers saw Chrome grabbing a large part of their market share, they saw that some people prefer a small but fast browser over a not so fast browser with a lot of features. Forgetting that not all people are the same, they decided that Firefox needed to be a small but fast browser to compete. For Firefox to become small and fast, they needed to take out every feature that makes Firefox different from Chrome. And for the last several years they have been doing that, with one more huge change coming up: Getting rid of Firefox' add-on system and replacing it with the much more limited Chrome add-on system. It seems to have competely escaped them that the remaining Firefox users are using Firefox because of add-ons they can't live without, and Chrome not supporting those add-ons.

So, Firefox is quickly approaching feature parity with Chrome. With Firefox able to compete on neither price nor features, it only leaves one thing: Competing on who has got the bigger advertising budget.

If anyone believes that the people developing Firefox are able to compete with Google on advertising, I hear the Golden Gate Bridge is for sale... Trying to compete on advertising rather than features will be what kills Firefox. And those of us who prefer Firefox over Chrome - well, let's just hope that Pale Moon will be able to take over.

2017-01-29 Tinfoil hats

How come I still see the term "tinfoil hat" used once in a while?

The term is used mockingly to refer to a person who believes that the government is monitoring everything we do. These people used to believe that there was an agency specifically tasked with surveilance, and that this agence was called the NSA. Later, they believed that any software made in the USA (such as Microsoft Windows) had built in backdoors, allowing the NSA to monitor everything you do. That is, until Microsoft accidentally released a version of Windows with debugging symbols intact, and someone found a symbol that nobody knew what did called NSAKEY.

Remember Edward Snowden? A few years ago, he leaked documents that told us how the NSA worked, and how much they were monitoring. When they realized just how much the NSA was monitoring, the people we used to call tinfoil hats said "Oh my god, it's even worse than I imagined".

Thus the term "tinfoil hat" was replaced with "someone who doesn't have his head stuck in the sand". So, why do I still see it used once in a while? I can only come to the conclusion that the people still using that term do have their heads stuck in the sand, and completely missed every single leak of confidential documents the last several years.

2017-01-28 Search engines, part 2

Bing found one of my pages. That took over a month.

2017-01-23 Search engines

Back in december, I started looking at getting my site onto search engines. I tried Google first, but their page for submitting a site is only available for people who have a Google account, and not being very fond of Google, I don't have one. Bing, on the other hand, allowed submitting a site without having to be a customer. On december 22nd, I submitted my site to Bing, expecting Google to crawl Bing at some point.

In early January I happened to post a comment on a web comic, and in addition to name, e-mail and comment, it also had a URL field. So, as I was posting a comment anyway, I entered the link to my site. A few days later, Google had discovered my site, and now it has indexed most pages. Bing, on the other hand, does not even know that my site exists, even though I submitted it over a month ago.

Winner: Clearly Google.

<- 2016