Functional Entropy

Chaos breeds order, sort of.

Category: Open Market Stupidity

Then Maybe The Disembodied Free Market God You Worship Will Like You

It’s been another quiet period for me, but only here. Life/work/parenting is its usual relentless dash to daily exhaustion and very little of that needs written documentation. The only thing that’s really caught my attention and that I’ve deemed necessary to pass along off my desk (read: my browser history) is some of the product of the rest of the world (I’m excluding everyone who lived in San Francisco prior to 1995 because you’re right in the middle of all the brand new capitalism effluvia and don’t need me to tell you about any of it, especially third hand) realizing that the new technology cultural runoff is just as repellent as the Wall St runoff. Given the moribundity of the first tech bubble which was annoying enough to make me leave SF forever in 1998 (and the SF I left doesn’t exist any more so, ha ha, guess I’m staying) and really started the process of removing all that was actually interesting and unique about the city and substituting the early stages of one of William Gibson’s dystopian cyberpunk cities in its wake. I think that city has finally reached its final tipping point wherein it will no longer be able to make fun of Los Angeles for being douchey when so much is available locally.

You can first bask in the utterly unironic unpacking of all the ways that being absurdly privileged isolates you from the necessities that other people have no choice about facing and wonder how it is that people can become so disconnected with the things that most people are required to (either by income level or by access to the resources required to use the cool tools) just plain do regardless of how busy they feel or whatever. I’ve worked in technology for longer than Rob Rhinehart has been able to legally drive a car and I still do my own laundry and don’t just discard my clothing when I deem it no longer useful to me. Rhinehart doesn’t even live in the Bay Area, but the weirdness and insulation from human culture is there in noticeable amounts. Shit, if you read between the bro-trepreneur phrasings, the guy isn’t a monster by any means in what he’d eventually like to do, but is apparently living a life of minimalist excess by having everyone else do his dirty work.

The thing is, beneath the I discard my cheaply made Chinese garments (that are transported her efficiently because then you’re not paying more for freight than the contents of your shipping container are actually worth) after wearing them a couple of times and then other people can wear them. Is this technology insta-millionaire trickle down economics? Fuck if I know because other than what he’s written that’s available online and what I’ve read from other sources, I have no idea what kind of human he is or what kind of background he comes from. I’ve had a very difficult time not seeing everything through the lens of growing up in trailer parks and having to worry about where food and clothing was coming from and from that point of view, it all seems pretty fucking entitled.

The Most Important Piece Of Progress In Our New Product Is Making Sure Your Own Inattention Is To Blame For Its Defects

Yesterday I mentioned that I’m hoping to drag my feet on deploying Windows 10 at work and I doubt anyone else in even the most vaguely technical role will argue with me. Ultimately, it’s going to be some executive who sees it running on a display laptop at Best Buy or something and I’ll be forced to tip the first of many dominoes in a succession of many bad decisions and then white knuckle it through the days leading up to the first fix patches. Since it’s technically out in the wild over the next few days and I’ve generally found that the least technically adept with the majority of their crucial files saved to the desktop are the quickest to hit the shiny, candy-like ‘upgrade’ button.

I hadn’t really studied up on the WiFi Sense feature in Windows 10 and now that I have I can see a whole bunch of potential problems with it. My workplace has the most basic wireless setup I’ve ever seen and, because it’s ultimately so useless, it really doesn’t have much traffic. It’s internet only and is protected by a fucking WEP key that is crackable in about 15 minutes. That said, you’d get a slow unreliable internet connection and nothing else. You’d need a VPN client and it’s difficult enough to get our VPN appliance to poop out a compatible client much less valid credentials. So, in our workplace, WiFi Sense would almost make sense since an outdoor only experience that randomly disconnects would not provide much of value to an intruder and isn’t stable enough to commit any heinous acts while connected to it. It’s useless, but a safe (from the business perspective) useless.

At home, I’m a bit twitchier about wireless security. There it’s WPA or nothing and I don’t hand out my password to anyone; I go over to their device and type it in for them which I think is more polite than shouting an amalgam of symbols, case shifted letters, and numbers across the room. I think of myself as fairly sane and the reason that I like to keep connections from the outside world to a minimum is that I don’t like to have police my internal network if I can avoid it. I do password protect all of my own devices with a PIN at minimum and I’ve gone through periods of only allowing a double handful of MAC addresses to join the faster AP that actually hands out 802.11ac connections. Those, in a perfect world, can grab 450 MB/s and I’d like to keep fucked up machines off a pipe that wide since I’m ultimately responsible for what they do while I’m hosting. One thing I’m not doing is appending _optout to the end of my SSID because bearing the onus for poor design at my own expense (and god it makes my network look stupid) isn’t something I want to do. I’ve yet to have to deal with this because none of my friends did more than toe dipping into the Windows phone and 10 isn’t really out there yet. I’m going to be right back to typing in passwords again and making sure that the ‘Share with my contacts with compromised machines so my SSID and password can make its way around the world’ button is never checked. Ugh.

You Were Okay Until You Kept Being So Terrible That Everyone Went Away

Firefox has seemed adrift for at least a couple of years now. I stopped using it a while ago (back in the really bad memory leak days) because Opera was actually working a lot better for me. This likely dates how long it's been since I last regularly used FF. I like it when it was Phoenix and for the first half dozen releases until they started focusing completely on the Windows user. The crazy memory leaks which had more to do with Flash than anything else made me flee pretty quickly after watching idle tabs blaze through multiple gigabytes of RAM in only a couple of hours. They raised a lot of money from enthusiastic users and developers and mostly blew it in terms of making a browser that worked well for anyone other than web developers. I'm sure there's much more to that story, but I'm actually not that interested any more.

What is interesting to me is the integration of Pocket directly into the browser instead of as an offered add on. I only became aware of this after jvoisin posted an angry screed about what a fucked up decision this is and started digging a little further into it. I'm not a fan of proprietary software being baked into free software and so are a bunch of Firefox users who are also (understandably) upset about Mozilla violating their own manifesto. The response from Mozilla feels dismissive and, while it attempts to address some of the licensing dilution:

All the code related to this integration within Firefox is open source and Pocket has licensed all the Firefox integration code under the MPLv2 license. On top of that, Pocket asked Mozilla for input on how to improve their policy, based on early comments from Mozillians. After that discussion, Pocket updated their privacy policy in early May to explain more precisely how they handle data. You can read Pocket’s privacy policy here.

it doesn't address bundling non-essential and commercial software into the core of the project which makes it impossible to completely remove. Hilariously, you could always install an extension to disable all the crap, but I feel like Firefox has permanently removed itself from consideration as a trustworthy browser. Given FF's decline in usage (3% across all of my domains) I'm not sure anything will change.

This Is Probably Overdue

Reddit has always been at least a bit of a shitshow. Even when it was the saner alternative to Digg, it always had a it’s okay, we’re all libertarians in here posturing in written policy that, to be honest, kept me from being active in the community at all. I cannot say that I predicted the most recent meltdown and exodus of people who were actually contributing useful things but it seemed inevitable given that the motto-worthy freedom of speech of Reddit seemed to cater exclusively to the most loathesome variants possible. I’m guessing that the commercialization of Reddit made matters worse. The strategy post-acquisition seems to be pretty stupid as well.

It’s difficult to even venture a guess about whether this will actually spell the end for Reddit or not. Folks with excess amounts of money not wanting their money associated with Reddit is a bit more simple of speculate on, though. I wish that all of the career trolls even those who are more offensive than actually harmful would just keep hanging out and trying to offend one another, but we all know that will never be the case. For most of the sociopaths that have nothing to do but grief other people endlessly, without someone to react to the horrible crap they post, it’s kind of pointless. I guess that’s the idea behind correctional facilities in a sense. Maybe there’ll be a weight room?

Tired Guy Dumps Links

I spent most of the last week solo parenting and decided that most of what I'd written during the course of the week (and didn't post) was primarily garbage. Sleep deprivation isn't the inspirational force of nature that it used to be for me so most of what came out was gibberish. The kid likes to delay bedtime as late as possible and wake up the moment that sunlight pierces the horizon. I think he runs on some alternative power source that I don't understand. I'm going to dump some links instead:

I'm unsure of my confidence in Ubuntu's new package management scheme. If they're truly going to break with the Debian repos, then I'm a little less concerned. I have a feeling that this is part of a Canonical marketing push to make Ubuntu a little more appealing for virtualization. Since I don't have to touch Ubuntu anything on a regular basis I'll probably have to fire up a VM of my own in order to check it out once it's post-dog food. A lot of the promises made are insanely difficult to actually deliver, but smaller updates and atomic installations/removals do sound pretty good.

Even though I've been off the iOS crackpipe for a 4+ years now, I agree that Safari as the only browser choice for iOS devices is myopic as all get out and needs to change. Safari is a perfectly fine default for simple web tasks as it's still pretty snappy performance-wise, but is a little long in the tooth for sites dependent on more modern features. I used Safari the first day it was released and I wasn't a huge fan then, but at least it was a viable option to the dreaded IE5 on the Apple platform and was under active development. Marooning users on a platform that is coasting along seems like a bad idea.

Unsurprisingly, there was a shitstorm on Reddit which is reaching 4chan levels of obnoxious. Ah, well, it was (bad) fun while it lasted. The clue here is that while making the elimination of harassment a priority is a good goal, firing one of the people who make the site attractive to those outside the neckbeard majority is a bad thing. I imagine the trolls will soldier on until Reddit becomes completely worthless. Godspeed or something.

Companies I Wish I Could Hate To Death

The amount of ire that I've reserved for Lexmark over the years was only bolstered by this idiotic attempt to limit other companies from refilling their spent toner cartridges by using patent restrictions. Good lord. Slapping a sticker on a product intended (or maybe demanded) for single use and discarded is a pretty ineffectual way to do anything other than piss people off or, in other cases, cause decades of confusion. I guess when you're terrible then crazy terrible is the next logical stop.

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