Monday, 22-Jul-13 14:07
Red Men

I heard about Red Men by Matthew De Abaitua first through my Twitter feed (probably through Mr. Jones), and I figured it might be a good read. Turns out Twitter was right.

Red Men is a story about a post-singularity world, where humanity is trying to cope with an artificial intelligence that seems hell-bent on replacing humans with simulated versions of them, but has also figured out the commercial aspects of such an endeavour: If you could have a copy of all your best workers working tirelessly inside the computer, wouldn't that just make economic sense for any large corporation? The main character, Nelson, is just a family man with enough wit to be important, but not enough of a bully to be a manager - so he works hard in the crosspressure of corporate life, bosses with issues, an AI nobody really understands, and family. For a scifi novel, it's surprisingly easy to identify with. In fact, I think I had a few flashbacks to Nokia...

The book has film rights already sold, and there's a pretty cool short film of the first chapter already out there (watch it!). The slightly weird bit is that the different editions of the book have been through quite a bit of editing, so the version you read may not be the same as what other people read. I read the Gollancz edition on Kindle, but based on the excerpts some people might enjoy the earlier edition more.

(And yeah, this was a deliberate attempt at writing a bit more. I'm on vacation, so I'm getting more rest and clarity, though of course any free time from work is immediately enveloped by family. It is a bit easier though when you only have three people vying for your attention instead of a dozen.)

Friday, 07-Jun-13 09:13
PS3 Media Server & YLE subtitles

Finally figured out how to get DVB/YLE subtitles working when streaming the original .TS -file (also known as .REC) from my Mac. There is a lot of info on this on the internets, but they're mostly about "I have this .SRT subtitles file that came with this illegally downloaded program, how do I show them" -variety. Not a whole lot of info on how to get it working if you grab the original media stream from the air and just want to have it nicely playing back. The thing is - YLE uses DVB subtitles which are embedded within the TS stream itself, unlike all other Finnish channels who just burn it the texts directly into the media stream (which means they can't be turned off, so this simplicity comes with a cost). Unfortunately MEncoder and FFMpeg just sort of assume that subtitles are for extreme nerds who understand intimately the structure of MPEG2 transport streams.

After trying out a myriad of extremely obscure command line options for MEncoder and FFMpeg, I ended up just disabling everything else and going with VLC. Hover on the image for further info.

That's it! Restart server, and browse to your collection with your PS3. You should now see a text "[VLC]" behind most of your media files (except the ones that can be streamed immediately).

I used PS3 Media Server 1.81.0 and VLC 2.0.6.

Monday, 03-Jun-13 14:15
Deletability - my new favourite mangled word

My recent phone conversations with magazine sales menseem to go pretty much the same route.

"Hi! I have some happy news! I'm calling you to offer you this free magazine as a thanks for being our customer! Would you like X or Y?"

"No thanks. I'm not interested in any of those."

"But it's... free!?!"

"Save your money. Use it to make them better 'cos right now I don't want them even for free."

There's enough papery stuff delivered in my mailbox already, so I'm not adding any new stuff unless I actually want it to be there. Yes, I still do subscribe to paper versions of magazines because of the convenience (compact size, enough to read so it's worth carrying them to places, no big loss if they're used in garden games by two-year-olds). However, getting rid of physical objects is a burden, even if the trip to the paper recycler is just a few meters. I still need to actively do something to get rid of the "free" stuff, and suddenly it stops being free. Time is money, etc.

However, if they offered me a sampler PDF directly to my inbox, or a magic code to get 7 days of access to their online site, I might take it. I want my crap to be digital, 'cos I have the tools to deal with them, and I can deal with a larger amount of crap and samplers and ads on my computer than I can physically. The delete button is less than five centimeters from my right pinkie...

The more stuff there is, the more important disposability and deletability become.

Tuesday, 23-Apr-13 20:28
Dark day

You may have noticed the black popup covering this site today, calling you to sign a petition to make some sense to Finnish copyright legislation. Well, for those who don't know about this, Finland has a law which says that "if 50,000 people sign a petition, the government must take it seriously". Unfortunately, what it actually really means is still up for debate, but to get 50k people to sign something in a country of less than 5M eligible voters is quite significant (especially if you're an MP who cares about being re-elected).

Anyway. The real reason why my blog and plenty of other sites went all black was that few people realize that the copyright struggle is a three-party thing. There's the content creators (like the artists), the content consumers (like me), and the middlemen (like record companies). For the most part, the middlemen like to play the creator's side, but when it comes down to actual profit - well, there's a saying in Finland: "The artist pays."

You have to think about it this way: who gets the most out of strong copyright? The middlemen do not create or consume anything. Yes, they do facilitate, and as such they are a valuable part of the ecosystem, but strictly speaking - they're not necessary. However, since individual content creators often lack the resources to enforce their copyrights - and the content consumers don't care - there is a spot in the ecosystem for companies which have the money and the interest to police copyright - and there we find the middlemen.

This is why we're in this fight. Not because copyright is a bad thing (it isn't! It's a great thing!), but because it's no longer in the hands of people. New copyright legislation is dedicated to removing rights from both consumers and creators and concentrating it in the hands of middle-men corporations, because they have the money to write the laws, and lobby them incessantly until they get what they want.

This is why this site is black. To support a copyright law that does not make corporations force the police to seize laptops from 9-year olds. To support a copyright law that allows artists to have a say on whom to sue. To support a copyright law that says that people must be listened to.

Please do support the petition.

Wednesday, 06-Mar-13 13:13
A couple of OSX tips

I've recently been plagued with OSX performance issues - tasks using a lot of CPU, and inexplicable beach balls popping up, machine getting stuck and making life miserable in general. So here's what I have learned:

SystemUIServer eating all your CPU

TL;DR: Kill it, it's safe. Run "killall SystemUIServer" in your Terminal whenever that happens. It will restart itself.

Longer story: sometimes an application which is occupying your menu bar can get stuck doing network traffic, and this may appear as SystemUIServer getting stuck in a loop. You can either get rid of the offending menubar app, or just kill the SystemUIServer process, which will be respawned by OSX, but in an unstuck state this time. It will get stuck again sooner or later if you don't get rid of the app, but it doesn't happen that often. More information.

System slow, disk activity even if I have plenty of memory, apps show spinning beach balls often

TL;DR: Disable swap memory with

sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
and reboot.

Longer story: As stated in this article OSX virtual memory handling, Spotlight and problems in HFS compound sometimes to the state that the system spends way too much time swapping perfectly good bits from disk to memory and vice versa. So, you can go ahead and kill the swap with the above command. This has made my Mac a lot faster, but the downside is of course that you need enough memory (8G or more) so that your system does not die suddenly. This isn't without its risks, but so far I'm very happy that I did this.

Saturday, 23-Feb-13 14:49
Pencil-and-paper -programming

While cleaning up some old cupboards I found an old booklet from 198-something. At that tender age of fifteen-ish, instead of going to hockey practice or hanging out with other kids in the mall, I wrote Z80 assembly language programs with paper and a pencil; something that I had completely forgotten. I didn't have money for an assembler, so I painstakingly looked up the hex code equivalents for the mnemonics and then wrote a BASIC program to write those into memory.

My bedtime reading at the time was "The Complete Spectrum ROM Disassembly" - a book full of commented machine code. Which, in retrospect, was a bit sad, but on the other hand, it gave me a very complete understanding of how a computer works. And that has been very useful in my career.

Hover over the image for more.

Tuesday, 12-Feb-13 23:24
Running Java programs over SSH/X

Sometimes you need to run Java GUI programs over an SSH tunnel. However, this can be excruciatingly slow, because X's and Java's understanding of how to draw stuff just doesn't seem to be very compatible.

Here's what I do to make it tolerable, if not pleasant.

First, use a fast cipher like blowfish with SSH (assuming these aren't your default options):

   ssh -C -c blowfish

Second, when starting the java app, use something like this (invocation may be slightly different depending on your environment):

   export JAVA_OPTS="-Dsun.java2d.pmoffscreen=false ${JAVA_OPTS}"

This turns off the offscreen pixmap support as detailed in JDK6 documentation, and makes for a significantly faster experience.

Tuesday, 15-Jan-13 19:40
Fallacy of value of work

One thing that constantly pops up in copyright discussions is that "people must be paid for their work." While I appreciate the sentiment, this is wrong and harmful. The correct form should be "People must be able to ask for money for the work they perform. It must then be equally possible for the employer to say no."

Now, this sounds awfully freemarketlibertarian, yes. However, that's not where I'm aiming at. I recently came across a discussion (in Finnish) where a teacher voices a strong concern about the availability of teaching material devaluing the work of teachers - when material is available for free online, why should the school pay the teacher for his/her time to make material? I know a lot of people - especially computer savvy people who are familiar with Open Source - like to laugh at this, but in fact I think this is a real fear which shouldn't really be dismissed like that.

The underlying problem is quite well defined by Cory Doctorow in this piece on the Guardian: "Just because something has value doesn't mean it has a price." (Seriously, read it. Understand it. Become a better person by internalizing it, even if you disagreed with it.)

The feelings that teachers are going through are nothing new - in fact, the almost exact same fears were voiced when Richard Stallman started working on free software back in 19omnomnom. "Who will pay for my time if I create something which is free?" "Why would I spend hours on something I'm not paid to do?" "By hoarding information I become important and cannot be fired." The answer to all of these questions turned out to be "It'll be okay." Now, I don't know enough about teaching, but I can answer how it all turned out in my profession:

"Who will pay for my time if I create something which is free?"

Everyone. Many people who contribute to projects in Apache or Github or Linux or any of the zillions of other open and free source projects are either hard-core programmers or will be shortly. There's nothing that improves your skill like public review, and good Github or Stack Overflow account is a sure-fire way to get yourself hired.

Also, since the freely available software is so good these days, many companies are actively paying their programmers to participate in these projects, because they realize one truth:

If I put in an hour of my time, and 99 other people do the same, each of us gets 100 hours done for the price of one hour.

"Why would I spend hours on something I'm not paid to do?"

Ward Cunningham, the man who invented wikis, told me once (paraphrasing from memory): "I was showing my wiki to a lot of people. Everyone, who asked 'why should I contribute, what's in in for me' didn't get it. It's not about 'me'. It's about 'us'. The right question is 'what's in it for us'."

Turns out people have a lot of motivations to distribute their work freely. Some people want comments from colleagues. Some people use it as a way of advanced backup. Some people just think it's easier to manage in public (because over the years, we programmers have honed some of our tools to work much better on the internet than on our desktops). For some, it's an ideology. Some people want to pay back for all the stuff they've received. For some, it's just a hobby and they like the interaction with others. Some aspire for fame and greatness. Many reasons, but all benefit the same.

"By hoarding information I become important and cannot be fired."

This is the fear, isn't it. Well, turns out that this is rarely true. If you become a liability to your employer, you will go, no matter what you know. 'cos even if you can't, your boss can look further ahead than you, and she/he should be able to see what is good for the company in the long run. Maybe they'll hurt for a few months after you go, but really, nobody is irreplaceable.

Sharing won't make it easier for you keep your job either. But, it does protect you in two, very important ways: first, if you do a good job, all of it will be visible. And that means that getting a new job is a lot easier - if you're good and can show the code, you're probably hired the next day. Second, you get to keep the stuff you worked on. In many companies, once you go, you lose access to all the work you did and have to replicate many things in the next place. Not so with open source - anything you contributed is available there: you can keep working on it, apply what you learned at the company, and continue to do so in the next place.

Now, especially when it comes to education, I strongly believe that openness is the way to go. Teaching and research are two sides of the same coin. We wouldn't be where we are now if the alchemists hadn't put aside their secret tomes and agreed to share their research with each other. Newton said: "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." If there's a group of people who should really, really appreciate this, it's teachers.

Thursday, 10-Jan-13 15:01
Ten years

Wow. This blog just turned ten. OK, so it's entering puberty a bit early, being quiet and pouty (and on occasion, eclectic), but still - ten years. Not too bad.

A lot of the early entries would now be material for Twitter or Facebook, but I guess that's true for most of us oldtime bloggers. Microentries go to microblogs, and the old blog is now a place for longer thoughts.

But that is fine and as it should be. Here's to another ten years!

Wednesday, 02-Jan-13 14:29
Bluetooth audio problems with 10.8

Upgrade my Macbook Pro to OSX 10.8 (aka Mountain Lion) recently. Frankly, it's not much of an upgrade from 10.6, though I like the new login screen. I'm having trouble adjusting to some features, like the disappearing scroll bars (mostly because the horizontal scroll bar always appears on top of the item I actually want to click, causing endless confusion and minor enragement).

I also think Finder was better in 10.6, mostly because I used the "latest changed files" feature heavily and it seems gone in 10.8... Oh well. Also, for someone who makes a living writing Java code, the hassle of getting everything reinstalled is a pain.

The good thing however (and the major reason why I wanted to upgrade) is that the Bluetooth stack seems a lot more stable than it was in 10.6. It hasn't caused a major freeze even once so far, and unlike the old one, it no longer wants to put my BH-905i headphones into headset mode, but accepts that A2DP is what I mostly want from my headphones, not the crappy headset profile...

However, I did have some issues with the sound quality: terrible popping noise; not loud enough to make sound unbearable, but just enough to annoy me all the time. So after some googling I found a magical command line setting you can use:

defaults write "Apple Bitpool Min (editable)" 53

Restart music player and Bluetooth (turn it off and on again) and you should be set.

Wednesday, 12-Dec-12 21:31

Finally! The last one of these darned ambiguous dates that have given me headache, well, for a long time. One of my first blog entries back in 2003 is reproduced here under permission:


Two things about the date (even though the date is gone): First of all, I was trying to configure a new software, and it was using some sort of a strange US date format. So, I go to Preferences, and try to set it to our normal dd/mm/yy. I am presented with these options:

Please choose your date format

  • 03/03/03
  • 03/03/03
  • 03/03/03
  • 03/03/03
  • 03-03-03
  • 03-03-03
  • 03-03-03
  • 03-03-03

Um. Err. Do I actually have to wait for a frigging day to figure out which one of these is the day and a whole month to figure out which one is the month? This kind of a configuration might have been useful in the last century, but certainly not now... Well, at least I can choose whether I want to have a dash or a slash as the separator :-).

The other thing: when my (probably never-to-appear) grandchildren ask what I did on this grand day, at 3:03, I can tell them that I was sitting on the toilet. Hooray for magic dates.

For the record, when my grandchildren ask about 12/12/12 12:12:12 I can tell them I was looking at the world in infinite detail, bending it to my will. Or to be precise, tweaking ThingLink's source to do something I've never attempted before. Then again, most of software development is doing stuff you've never done before - or possibly nobody has ever done that before. Which is precisely which makes it so interesting and frustrating.

Sunday, 07-Oct-12 14:56
Facebook, blogs & such

I was recently in a Finnish blogger's meeting - the kind of a meeting we've been having for about ten years now. A lot of the same faces, so it's really more of an old gang that used to read each other's blogs -meeting rather than representative of today's blogosphere really. But in those days, we were a non-insignificant part of it. Now it felt more like a meeting of people who happen to be in the same Facebook group, and I didn't see a lot of people posting to their blogs; but many did post status updates to Twitter or Facebook.

But is blogging dead? Have people moved on? Not really, says Technorati's 2011 survey. It's just that blogging is now... established. Platforms like Tumblr have lowered the threshold of participation so low that they've become almost self-sufficient blogging ecosystems of their own, and a Wordpress instance is just so easy to set up that it's not funny. The old days of experimenting with this new form of self-expression have showed what one can do and what one shouldn't, and the good stuff lives on.

While I enjoy Twitter and Facebook a lot, their problem - from my point of view - is that they're a bit too easy to use. Posting has been made so easy that people do it all the time - especially Twitter seems to be a write-only-medium around whenever Apple launches something. (I habitually turn Twitter now off for 24 hrs whenever this occurs; I can read the news in a far better format elsewhere.) It's like drinking from the firehose, and that eventually means that a lot of interesting stuff I just miss because I can't be arsed to scroll back through the zillions of messages.

Now, Facebook is trying to do something about it, but I increasingly feel that their algorithms seem to be a bit broken: I'm missing even more stuff than on Twitter, because FB is hiding it (or at least feels like it's hiding it) from me deliberately. And while most of it is crap, it does occasionally hide things I would've like or needed to have seen. Yes, I know many of you are just now itching to click on the comment link to tell me that Google Plus solves all these problems. But I think it only works because there aren't that many people there. Most social software works really well when you're running a tightly knit group of people, but once everybody and your mom is there, things break.

Which takes me to why I increasingly find myself going back to blogging: With the publication threshold going a bit up now that simple thoughts can be effortlessly shared using other tools, and the blogging tools having matured, the blogs I follow just seem so much nicer, better thought out, insightful, funny, informative and, well, interesting. Now that FB and Twitter and G+ function as a first-order crap filter, only the better stuff gets through to blog level. You write about meaningful stuff; you share the cat video on Facebook. You see an interesting link and share it on Twitter; but someone else sees it, has a thought, and writes it up on a blog, whereas previously it would just go to a blog.

So Facebook isn't killing blogging. It's making it better.

And someone has to be the source of all those links that people share. ;-)

(Here's a thought: does sharing discourage original content? Is the time spent on reading and sharing links away from creating original stuff?)

Tuesday, 02-Oct-12 13:20
Tolkien Week

To celebrate the Tolkien week I wanted to share my most memorable Tolkien thing - the not-so-widely known soundtrack from Ryhmäteatteri's epic performance from 1988. Hover over the image to find more. You'll need Spotify installed - if you don't, the songs are available also from Youtube, but the quality can be low.

Friday, 28-Sep-12 09:35
Miksi tukea joukkoliikennettä

Yksi argumentti, jota en kovin usein ole nähnyt esitettävän, on yksinkertaisesti tämä:

Mitä useampi pyöräilee tai käyttää joukkoliikennettä työmatkallaan, sitä enemmän autoilijoilla on tilaa.

Noin karrikoidusti kuulostaa joskus siltä, että palavasilmäiset nuoret yrittävät vakuuttaa vanhat autoilijasedät ja -tädit luopumaan siitä omasta autostaan. Mutta näinhän ei ole, vaan joukkoliikenteen lisäämisen tavoitteena on pitää huolta siitä, että ne jotka sitä autoa haluavat tai joutuvat käyttämään, mahtuisivat sinne tielle ilman ruuhkia, kun ne jotka haluaisivat käyttää joukkoliikennettä tai pyöräillä, mutta joutuvat autoilemaan, saadaan pois sieltä häiritsemästä.

Tässä valossa on oikeasti vaikea ymmärtää, miksi kukaan vastustaisi joukkoliikenteen lisäämistä ja pyöräilyn helpottamista, koska on paljon halvempaa ja yksinkertaisempaa saada ihmisiä pois tieliikenteen jaloista kuin rakentaa lisää autoteitä. Tonttimaata kun on melko vähän ja sekin kannattaisi käyttää asuntoihin, ja maan alle ja ylle rakentaminen on hillittömän kallista...

(No juu, on tämä nyt yksinkertaistusta ja populismia. Mut hei, järkiargumentteja voi mennä lueskelemaan vaikka Otso Kivekkään blogista. ;-)

Saturday, 22-Sep-12 18:23
Radio Eyes

The story is making rounds about someone finally figuring out that you can just make a copy of a public transport ticket with an NFC phone, then use the ticket, then reset the ticket to its original state by writing the original content to it with the same NFC phone.

You can claim that this is a big security vulnerability, but in fact it really isn't. It's the equivalent of a public transport company issuing paper tickets using regular printer paper, and then punching a hole to it when it's used. You can make a photocopy of the ticket you received, and just keep making more photocopies and throw away the punched ones.

There was no security in the first place, so it's not a security breach. The only reason nobody figured this out earlier was the fact that nobody had cheap, ubiquitous NFC readers available - Radio Eyes, I call them. You've already got two perfectly good EyeBall Mk2 Photon Detection Engines installed by default, so figuring out that there's no security in a printed A4 you can put through a copy machine isn't really a big brain exercise. Calling it a security breach would be like calling stealing candy from a kid the "greatest crime since Enron."

This is an example of a technical term called "security through obscurity", which is the rather dubious practice of just making stuff hard to find instead of actually protecting things through algorithms. And I'm pretty sure a lot of the other early NFC ticket/card manufacturers have made the same mistake as the Amsterdam PTA. [Fun fact: the Ultralite cards are manufactured by NXP, Nee Philips Semiconductors, a Dutch company. And this particular trick with the travel cards has been "exposed" at least once before - though at that time you couldn't download an App to get the free trips...]. The ISO-14443 family of standards, which is the basis for NFC, has been around for a very long time, and there's a metric fuckton of still operational systems out there whose developers probably never thought an inch about security, because "it was just going to be for our use only."

In a world where everyone can have radio eyes, and you can download an app to open them for you, you just can't continue relying on obscurity.

A lot more of these coming your way soon.

Updating the story now that kids are out with their mom... As an example, this tag is on the front door of the house. My N9 tells me that it's a "Type 2 Tag", which in other words means it's a Mifare Ultralite. Now, if the developers never bothered to make it read-only, anyone could just use their phone to overwrite the contents with links to say, cat pictures.

Also, I finally found the link to the original hack of the Amsterdam transport ticket from 2007: It should be noted that the hack has been public knowledge for at least five years, and the Amsterdam PTA hasn't bothered to fix the problem yet. So there really is no security involved. :-) (The link above has plenty of other information about different attacks on the Dutch public transport system too. Interesting stuff if you're into it.)

Of course, the difference is that now you can download an app for it - which is something I've been expecting for years now ;-)

You can buy your own Mifare Ultralights for $0.50/piece from anywhere. Go hack! ;-)

Sunday, 22-Jul-12 22:25
Minor thought about Nokia's strategy...

I've kept quiet publically about my views on Nokia, my former employer, simply for the reason that quite a lot of the public discussion is just mindless bashing - the public opinion in Finland in general is quite bipolar: if things are going well, you can't say bad things; and if things are going badly, you're supposed to be competing about who can invent the most creative bashing. And I think a lot of the discussions has so far been pretty destructive, and kindly put, context-free.

Anyway, one thing that really irks me about this whole Windows Phone strategy is something that worried me already with Symbian: the fact that it's completely bound to the Windows ecosystem. Yes, Visual Studio is a nice environment, but if you take a look at the offices of any random self-respecting innovative startup, or peek at any gathering where alpha-geeks congregate, you'll see overwhelmingly nothing but Apple logos. And this has been true for the past seven or eight years or so.

Still, a few years ago, mobile development occurred on Windows and web development on Mac - mostly because mobile operating systems were their own beasts, and you needed a host environment to write stuff on them (though you could write Java code for feature phones both on Mac and Linux too, but mostly it was a pain). Now, both dominant players in the smartphone world, Android and iOS have very deep roots in Linux and BSD, respectively, and many of the engineers who built those systems are Mac and Linux users - so the development environments are available on those platforms as well.

Now, when your average alpha geek realizes that mobile is cool, are they going to ditch their existing platforms, toolchains, email clients, etc so that they could be first in a completely unknown environment? Will a hipster ditch his Mac and iPhone to use Windows to code for Nokia? Or lug two laptops into the cafe? Or reboot his machine to switch between operating systems?

I have my doubts. The preference of the work environment is ingrained pretty deeply into people. Yes, some people have the ability to keep switching between OSs, and some people just plain prefer Windows. But my guess is that whenever someone creates a mobile startup, they first code for what they're familiar with (which in these days will be iOS & Android), and only if it works, they hire an offshore consultant to replicate the experience on Windows Mobile to get the rest of the market. You can get some pretty great talent from Romania, Ukraine, Russia or India for quite cheap...

Now, obviously there is value in being the first-mover in Windows Mobile space - less apps is less competition. If you're really good, both MS and Nokia will use their marketing muscle to highlight your app in order to promote their own platform and phones. But still, it's an awfully big risk to start off with the small market - 'cos in order to be big, you absolutely must get to the Apple and Android stores. And someone else might make it first. If someone clones your best-selling iOS app on Windows Marketplace, well, the loss isn't great.

Of course popular apps will appear on Windows Mobile as well; once you have the concept proven, it's easy to replicate. But still, will Windows Mobile be the platform on which the Next Big Thing will be born? Or will it be the "Can Haz Too" -platform, nice and comfy for your dad to join Foursquare after all the hipsters have already done their final check-in and moved to Wherever?

I don't know, and I certainly don't want to underestimate Microsoft's marketing muscle... but it seems to me that they'll need to do something fairly radical to start winning back developer's hearts. A lot of the server-side stuff these days is pretty much "sorry, we don't really support Windows that well", and for many developers it seems that Windows is the place where you pop in to check whether your site still works on Internet Explorer. So it's hard to see why it would be different for mobile any more.

(If I'm wrong and for some reason there's some sort of a selection bias here and it just so happens that all the Macs owned by developers happen to be people I know and everyone else uses Windows, please do let me know in the comments.)

(Update: Just learned that Nokia is even kicking out excellent developers from their dev program for not developing on Windows Phone. So they're turning to Android/iOS. Oh well. Developing for Symbian wasn't ever fun, but this isn't the way to end it.)

Saturday, 14-Jul-12 23:50
Unhelpfully, he said

One thing that greatly bugs me is the tendency of some people to suggest switching operating systems or platforms whenever you have a problem. For example, if you have a problem related to an Android device, some dork will inevitably come and suggest that you should buy an iPhone. Or if you have a problem with your Mac, some other dork will come over and proclaim that if you just switched to Linux, you wouldn't have these problems. (And I'm not going to even start with the kind of comments you get if you happen to have a problem with one Linux distro - ever tried debating Debian vs Gentoo or Red Hat vs Ubuntu?)

And I do understand that people do try to be helpful. But in this case, it comes across as smug and mean, and to me it sounds like "well, it's your own problem for being so stupid you chose the wrong platform." I mean, if I choose something, it's usually the result of some thinking and balancing of benefits and disadvantages - so when someone just suggests, without understanding the context, that I should've chosen something else... well, to me it sounds like what an utterly contemptuous, stupid person would say.

But the biggest thing that irates me that the advice is always, always completely useless. If I have an 81 cent software problem, what kind of a solution it is to buy a €599 phone to solve it? In exactly which kind of an universe is that a reasonable solution? It's the rich bully kid solution, if anything - it's just like asking advice on money problems and someone telling you "well, you should've chosen to get a job that pays more", or complaining about something your spouse did and getting the extremely helpful "get a better wife" -response. Mean, prejudiced, stupid, and completely and utterly useless, and nobody in their right mind does that to people. Except that it seems fully okay when it comes to computing issues, apparently. Which is probably one of the reasons why people think geeks are dorks.

So henceforth I'll be treating any such suggestions with extreme prejudice. I've listened to this shit for 30 years. Enough is enough.

Thursday, 05-Jul-12 20:23
Ditched Facebook for a month, nobody noticed

I wouldn't call Facebook sabbaticals a trend, but I've seen a couple of people take them recently. Much like a New Year's promise - no alcohol for me in January!

Anyway, I decided completely quitely to just not go to Facebook about a month ago. I had a couple of purposes: mostly to wean myself, as I sometimes get into these fully unproductive "must refresh Facebook to see if anyone says anything interesting" -states, but also to see if anyone noticed or cared. Today I finally cracked and asked the wife, if she's noticed my absence. "No, but I did wonder a bit why you've never seen any links", she told me. My tweets do go to Facebook, so that probably kept up the appearance of me participating, but I didn't read any comments, wall posts, respond to friend requests, event invites or private messages.

Facebook is social software, yes, 'cos it gets better the more people use it (kudos to Matt Jones for this). But if I wouldn't answer my phone or talk to anyone or attend a regular hobby for a month, I would really hope someone would notice and at least ask what is going on. But in the hypersocial atmosphere of Facebook, it is enough to just make noise to fake a persona. No actual interaction is required. And there is so much noise that the loss of one voice means nothing - there are a billion others ready to step up to join the chorus of social cacophonia.

Of course, I am not an important person, and I would expect only a handful of people to really care about hearing from me. But yet... Social software like Facebook and Twitter are pretty much the only contact I have with people these days (you know, small kids keep you busy). I don't think it's really contact though; just reflections from random angled surfaces.

(Oh yeah, and about my other target: I'm getting a lot more done. Or to be specific, I've been a bit more relaxed and a bit more focused, so I feel better. Absence of distractions good. Haven't yet really decided if I'm going back to FB. Probably I'll start popping by every now and then and go away if I notice myself spending too much time in there.)

((Also, I started a simple Tumblr blog where I try to post some thinglinked space images every now and then.)

Private comments? Drop me an email. Or complain in a nearby pub - that'll help.

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"Main" last changed on 10-Aug-2015 21:44:03 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

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