Sunday, February 28, 2010

AndroidBoss - lazy leechers?

Been lazily looking at access stats, found a visit from AndroidBoss, came to look, and found this: http://androidboss.com/android-squeezebox-revisited/.

Hmm... Looks to me that they ripped off my post, didn't give me any credit, and didn't even bother to clean multiple references to other posts at my blog...

I've submitted a comment, it is awaiting moderation. Wonder what the fate of it will be.

Wonder who their other posts belong to.

Their whois record looks interesting, too.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Awful Anti-Pirate System That Will Probably... What?

The Slashdot article mentions the Assassin's Creed 2 ever-present DRM that will, allegedly, succeed, because, quote, "This vital and complex bit of code has been written from the ground up to require having the saved games live on a machine far away, with said machine being programmed to accept, save, and return the game data. This is a far more difficult problem for a hacker to circumvent".

What?

A publicly available server (by the virtue of it exposed 24/7) is a more secure location than a (granted, virus a malware ridden, but nevertheless) private box, usually behind the firewall provided by a router or cable modem?
You've gotta be kidding me.

I'm accepting bets on how long this system will stay up before being compromised, with extra bonus on the exact figure of a drop in a stock price of parties involved when the news hit the fan (and something tells me the echoes are going to be pretty loud).

Oh, and guess what? I'm not buying Assassin's Creed 2, despite eagerly looking forward to it (and having paid my hard earned money for the first one). I am not a thief, and will not tolerate being treated as such.

PS: Free idea:
  1. protocol sniffer (tcpdump(8) will do just fine);
  2. proxy pretending to be Ubisoft's DRM server;
  3. profit.
Bleeping amateurs, Ubisoft is.

UPDATE (thanks to DP for the link): bleeping amateurs, just like I said.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

If you unexpectedly receive a replacement credit card in the mail...

...it means that your bank had been breached, and your account information may have been leaked.

It is much cheaper for your bank to incur the expenses related to issuing you (and anywhere from few hundred to few hundred thousand others) a new card (and/or new account number) - it is a bulk, fire-and-forget process - than to expose themselves to further liability trying to cover things up.

Don't forget to update your recurrent payments, and keep praying that it's just your card or account number have been compromised, and more substantial pieces of data such as your mother's maiden name or last four of your SSN. Good luck.

UPDATE: If they're nice, they let you know they've been breached. In California, they are required to be nice by law.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Android + Squeezebox, revisited

(this is a followup to earlier posts)

Now that there are quite a few decent Squeezebox remotes on Android Market (pick one yourself), it is clear that this option is not quite what it cracked up to be.

Primary reason: latency.

A remote must be immediately available. None of those applications are, and the failure is not theirs. Here goes the breakdown.

WiFi connection establishment

I bet that most people keep the WiFi connection off to extend battery life (the fact that UMA is non-existing on Android devices is not helping). This takes awfully long time, sometimes up to a minute and beyond. Sometimes this step fails completely - even if I am within a line of sight to the WiFi access point. I know that this is the fault of either Android or G1 implementation, but it's not helping.

Time to start the application

Unlock the screen, tap the shortcut, wait for the application to start, wait for the application to connect to the server. Good thirty seconds.

Oops

By this time, the need to pause the track (if that was the case) is long gone. Most useful application today is to look up the track name, provided you can get it from the playlist if you're too lazy getting up and walking, 'cause by the time you get to it, it's most probably over.

Oh noes! I'ts gone black!

And yes, the screen lock timeout kicks in annoyingly fast. Either that, or the battery goes dead pretty soon. The only viable option (if you really want to use the application, for example, to control the Softsqueeze running on HTPC) is to plug it in, but then, what's the point...

Buttons, where's my buttons?

There is one more serious pet peeve: application developers' minds are stuck in terms of classical UI design. Big pictures, small buttons impossible to touch, unusable scroll.

People, give me a break, I don't even need to look at the remote in order to control it. My fingers know where the buttons are, and if they don't, they can feel the layout to find them. Sure it is not available for touchscreen, but did you forget about gestures? What can be simpler than slide left or right to flip the item displayed, up or down to skip back or forth, tap the screen to pause and hold it and slide it to navigate within the current track? Be creative, for Pete's sake.
And for those shouting "Oh yeah? You smart? Go ahead and make your own better than mine!" - sorry dude, I have my own sandbox to play in, can't spare time. You're welcome to jump in, though.
Having said all that, I would like to extend my gratitude to the authors of freely available Android Squeezebox control applications. Yes, Android users are not the most grateful bunch, and they're hopeless as the revenue source (compare download stats on free and paid applications), but still, they came forward - and it seems that the quality of their products is still better than the quality of paid. Cheers.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blogspam, Foresight, and Smart vs. Wise

So here's this Chinese speaking character leaving fat, juicy spambait comments all over my blogs. And there's nothing I can do with it today other than simply delete the comments (which I will keep doing, have no doubts).

But the question is, why the hell Google doesn't provide a "report spam" button next to "delete comment" button, so their robots can nail the bastard?

And even a better question is, when do they, in addition to hiring all Young Bright Minds, get someone with foresight and ability to think on a bigger scale, so they stop stepping on the same rakes over and over again?

Unfortunately, the answer to the last question would be "not soon", because (as I was already writing here (automated translation)), they seem to favor bright people over wise. Well, maybe that's good for whatever they plan to do (words "world domination" briefly flash in my mind), but this is definitely not a consolation to all those that have been burned by their gaffes. Especially preventable ones.

So, like it let's mark the clock and see how much time it gets them to add the "report spam" button on Blogspot blogs. I can even promise not to sue them for the idea, not that there will be any credit given just like a dozen others that have been published right ere on this blog well before they've been implemented by Google. Yeah, I know, it's not the idea, it's the execution that matters. Sure, dear.

UPDATE: The "report spam" button was first spotted on Friday, August 13th 2010 - half a year later. Good work. Kinda.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Friendship Just Got Cheaper

So this morning I wake up and find "4 new sharing requests" in Google Reader. And a note: "You have to add these people to Friends or Family to allow them to follow you in Reader".

Hmm. I do know those people. Neither of them is my friend, technically - I've never met neither of them in person, haven't even talked to some of them - but I don't mind them following me, for I have some idea of who they are and why they want to follow.

But Friends? Family? That's a bit too much.

I guess it's time to redefine "Friends".

Oh, and the best part? Google by default adds people you allow sharing requests of to "Family". Might be very embarrassing.

And the last question - why the hell can't I simply allow someone to follow me in whatever there is without adding them to any group at all?

UPDATE: My bad, default "Family" and "Friends" group names are deceiving. If you go to Google Reader's sharing settings page, you will see that you can arbitrarily add and remove groups and individuals, as far as Reader is concerned.

Buzz access, however, doesn't fall under the same rules - it uses a homegrown access control page. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to wait till they grow wiser...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Orthogonality

Engineer: Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will want to use it!

Marketologist: Don't worry, that's 90% of our target audience.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bioshock 2: I've Just Been Had

My kid convinced me to buy the Limited Edition Bioshock 2, for the sake of the book with artwork, the CD with the music, and the posters.

Fine, I pay almost a hundred dollars and a few days later get it in the mail. Then install. And run.

And find out that I CANNOT SAVE A BLEEPING GAME WITHOUT A WINDOWS LIVE ACCOUNT.

Let me get this straight, I just purchased a product I cannot use without further compromising my privacy? And nobody told me about that BEFORE I purchased it in big, bold, red letters?

I call it blackmail. I think I will press the "publish" button, get the phone and call Newegg to decide what will have to be done about this.

PS: And don't tell me scary tales about piracy killing developers. It's not about piracy, it's about establishing a revenue stream with me being at the spending end (and yes, bleeding my privacy along the way). I didn't subscribe to that.

PPS: Oh yeah, and of course, killing the resell market.

UPDATE

Turns out, there *is* a way.

So, let me see.

A bright white rectangle of a message worded so you think there is no other option other than to create an online account, and a very pale scroll bar next to the dark green background, so pale that people that do this crap for living don't notice it, and there is not a single hint on within the message tat the message is not complete?

Oh, come on. Don't tell me that there hasn't been a long meeting with Windows Live reps present (at least in spirit), and a bunch of suits making a decision to make it just so, so the vast majority of [unsophisticated] sheeple user base just shrugs their shoulders and creates an account, and others either see the scroll bar and create a local account (if their vision is good enough), or freak out and start ranting (if their eyes were burdened by decades of wading through crap just like this).

PS: No, it's not a conspiracy. It's a business model.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hardware: Microsoft FA6-00010 Wired Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 R.I.P.



Purchased on December 26 2007 from Newegg (still sold there, same price, higher shipping).

"H" key started not responding a couple of months ago, almost unusable today - which makes the life span of roughly two years. Oh well, not bad for fifty bucks, though other keyboards served me way, way longer (as a matter of fact, I don't have any other keyboard in the house that failed - all of them have become obsolete (connectors) or otherwise fell out of use (new keyboards as gifts), this is the first one that actually failed).

Mouse is complete junk, though - but it was kinda silly to pay just about the same money for the retail package which did not include the mouse. At least got a spare.

Oh well, lemme go get another.

And yes, I do

- What do you do for living?
- I ask unpleasant questions.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Google doesn't get about All This Buzz...

...is a simple fact that people are many personas in one.

The Me fixing my cars has nothing to do and wants nothing to do with The Me working for That Big Company, nor The Me obsessed with climate control, nor The Me talking strange tongues, nor The Me playing the sax or doing whatever else.

What's worse, they conflict.

Their areas of interest and social circles are barely, if at all, connected, and quite often information leaking from one circle to another would cause major embarrassment, if not more severe consequences.

Not even talking about the simple fact that a friend of my friend is not necessarily a friend of mine.

It's not even the "nothing to hide" argument, its a simple fact that multiple personas of me are standing in each other's way, and treading on each other's feet, and are annoying each other when they are trying to do something.

Give me multiple personas I can control (without resorting to having multiple accounts, which is a major inconvenience).

Give me privacy controls so I can prevent bleeding of facts from one sphere of interest to another.

Give me a way to separate them.

Then I'll be happy.

I don't see that hapening anytiume soon, though., so for now I'll just buckle up and see if am willing to subject myself to all these voices talking in my headmail all at once.

UPDATE: They did it again.