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Archive for August, 2015

Synergy for Expanded Workspace Without Extra Cables

Quad head

IF ONE looks for a laptop with a graphics card that has more than one output, the outputs often cannot be used concurrently, so for instance, my work laptop can either use an external display via HDMI or via VGA, not both at the same time. How does one easily expand one’s workspace? Get a budget Chromebook (15-inch Acer in this case), install GNU/Linux on it, extend the display to an external monitor (28 inches in this case), then connect to the other (primary) laptop using Synergy. Voila! Quad-head laptop (see above). There are no excuses anymore for not choosing laptops over desktop.

Debunking the Alleged ‘Necessity’ of Facebook

Bathroom

One of the alleged “reasons” for Facebook registration is sharing one’s personal photos with family and friends, or at least view some. It is, however, quite antisocial to require a friend, peer, parent or sibling to give away a lot of personal details to a malicious company just to be allowed into the walled gardens of this company and view photos that this company has nothing to do with (not even copyrights).

Several years ago Rianne and I set up an album in this site, obviating the need for some privacy-infringing Facebook account, which practically helps spy on both the uploader and the viewers, who are supposed to be “friends” and thus not massively spied on. Later this week the album will have had half a million views, showing (we hope) that even a decentralised platform can host one’s photos and receive views from one’s connections, without the need for a massive surveillance network masquerading as ‘social’ media.

The only sad thing is, Yahoo! recently destroyed the slideshow part of our gallery by buying a company that had provided this third-party service for years (in the form of JavaScript), silently taking out all the code and server resources only months later (we estimate this happened half a year after the acquisition). Browsing photos more rapidly has therefore become harder and we are hoping to find a replacement some time in the future (none has been found yet which is fit for purpose). By buying this company, which is sad for a lot of people except perhaps the staff, Yahoo! basically broke the slideshow functionality in tens or hundreds of thousands of Gallery 2/3 Web sites. It is another legitimate reason to hate Yahoo!

When Mozilla Puts an Advertising Network at the Very Heart of Firefox

IT IS no secret that Mozilla has been planning to put ads inside Firefox. This is a very controversial decision, so Mozilla is apparently still experimenting with it, mostly promoting its own products and services. Today, however, I saw one of my ‘speed-dial’ buttons (linking to Twitter) spontaneously replaced with Mozilla ads, some of them “sponsored” and some proprietary software (like Pocket). I took screenshots to serve as proof of this and here are four examples.

firefox-ads

It might not be long before Firefox spies on the users, transmits user data to Mozilla, and then Mozilla sends targeted ads for whatever product/brand exists in the market and looks for clients. Mozilla would be utterly stupid to do such a thing, for the media (not just users) would definitely strike back. If Mozilla needs more sources of revenue, this shouldn’t be it. The negative publicity would induce greater losses than the temporary gains (from sales of advertisement slots).

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