Posts tagged ‘USA’


Keybase: one failure after another

08.12.2022

Because I locked my Twitter, Keybase was unable to find its usual proof there. It told me to link a new one from their ‘app’. I’d love to, folks, but you don’t let me see anything.
 

 

That’s Keybase. I can’t see anything in the window, and I can’t move the window. I have reinstalled the program, to no avail.

These software people are all having a good laugh at regular people. I’d rather they spent that time making things that work.

Oh, look, they’re HQed in New York. What a surprise.
 
Eventually, right-clicking the Keybase icon in the tray (when it didn’t disappear) showed a link, ‘Keybase’. I clicked on that. So now I have this window.
 

 
Ah, but you can fix the Keybase thing from the website. Great!
 

 
Let me click that link!
 

 
It’s the same story if you use their command-line method, and the bin\bash method just gives lots of errors in red.

From the days of Yahoo!, to Vox at Six Apart, to years of Big Social BS (BSBS), nothing really changes with this lot. You’d hope they’d stop failing at their jobs, but you’re reminded that many won’t.
 
PS.: The program window did load after a few hours. No idea how to add a Mastodon proof to it, so maybe it did me a favour by failing to load in a reasonable time. Their website offers zero clues on how to make this addition in the program—just that it can be done. Once again, there’s no thought given to regular people, only computer programmers.

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Avira dishonours paid subscription, blames it on the customer

08.12.2022

I see Avira has downgraded me to their free version despite my being paid up. As far as I can tell, this has been the case for months, and I remember Tweeting them back when Twitter was a thing.

I can’t log in at all, and it keeps showing a ‘Get Prime’ button to force you to pay again. No thanks.

I went to their website and fed in my issue. They then take me to this page, which is pretty typical for a lot of computer companies: blame it on the customer.

I take them at their word and clicked on their link to download the allegedly missing Microsoft .Net Framework 4.6.2. Only problem is, none of the download links on the Microsoft site work. (Because Microsoft.)

I still manage to get the MSI file from Microsoft and of course there was nothing ever wrong with my set-up. I already had the Framework installed:
 

 

Your move, Avira. And that move had better include fixing the problem and extending my subscription period by at least half a year.

I guess this is what happens when a big US company buys up what was a pretty decent German one.

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December 2022 gallery

02.12.2022

Here are December 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 

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Posted in gallery, humour, internet, media, politics, USA | No Comments »


Life in the fediverse

21.11.2022

Nathan Griffiths finally answers why Facebook used to freeze on the 1st of each month. I think his theory is very plausible. Now I know, after over a decade!
 

 
Meanwhile, I see CBS News has suspended its Twitter account (after the likes of Balenciaga deleted theirs altogether). This was before Donald Trump was let back on after Musk (whose followers are probably 70 per cent bot) ran a poll approving of the former president’s return to what must now be called OnlyKlans. (MySpaceX seems passé now.)

CBS News’s words: ‘In light of the uncertainty around Twitter and out of an abundance of caution, CBS News is pausing its activity on the social media site as it continues to monitor the platform.’

It’s still live on Facebook, so I guess the genocide of Rohingya Muslims and abundant misinformation are fine.
 
We’ve already had an account be temporarily suspended over on Mastodon.art but there’s a very reasonable moderator there and the appeal was granted within hours. You can read up on this over at Lucire, which is now on a fashion-friendly instance at fashionsocial.host. (The art account remains open, probably to post covers and photography on, a bit like Lucire’s old Tumblr account.)
 
With all this fediverse talk, what a pity my Hubzilla account has gone. I was there in the 2010s, probably around the time I signed up for Mastodon in 2017, possibly before. I did get myself a Pixelfed this time, so spot me at [email protected], and Lucire is at [email protected]. Will I use them? Time will tell, but possibly not. I’d still prefer focusing on our own sites, unless we can figure out how to bring this in-house.

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Posted in business, internet, media, technology, USA | No Comments »


November 2022 gallery

03.11.2022

Here are November 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 

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Posted in cars, culture, France, gallery, humour, interests, internet, marketing, New Zealand, politics, publishing, TV, typography, UK, USA | No Comments »


Twitter pushes the near future to look more bipolar than multipolar

01.11.2022

Dave Troy’s analysis of the Elon Musk takeover of Twitter makes for interesting reading, since Troy has actually spoken to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and has a bit more of the inside track than most.

For starters, Troy reminds us that Dorsey trusts Musk, in order to keep Twitter away from Wall Street investors. Dorsey has said this publicly in a Tweet. He believes this acquisition is about ideology, so Musk doesn’t care if Twitter doesn’t make money—or at least, money will come if the technology is opened up and they can charge for other things built on top of it. Getting data on all of us helps Musk in a big way, too.

Troy posits that Musk believes we need to be on other planets, so we shouldn’t help the poor in our quest to get off this rock; but another interesting one is that he believes in a multipolar world order, something Vladimir Putin has talked about. Musk believes in rule by technocracy, Troy theorizes, not by politics. He also believes Musk is a sociopath.

All this is quite fascinating to read. Taking Troy’s words on Putin, Musk and Dorsey sharing the same vision:

All seem to think a “multipolar world” is a good thing, because after all, shouldn’t Russia get to do its thing and not be bothered by anyone else? That’s “free speech” and opposes “cancel culture,” right? So yeah, that’s aligned with Putin. But Putin himself doesn’t support free speech; his government censors wildly, but it does support speech that breaks the hegemony of the Western elites. As do Musk and friends. This is internally inconsistent.

Because of these shared values, Troy foresees Musk teaming up with D. J. Trump at Truth Social and Kanye West at Parler to control the information space.

It points to a pretty dark outcome and a polarizing world, but one which has been brewing for a long time.

We could talk about the failure of neoliberal economics and, therefore, the western hegemony. With all the figure-massaging by China when it reports its GDP, there’s still no denying that the country has risen vastly in mere decades. And Putin has said as much about wanting to fight back against western hegemony.

It’s incredibly easy to fall back on “them and us” as a concept. Dictators might find it easier to make their positions official (even if there is internal dissent that is driven underground), while the west can broadly talk about diversity while not truly breaking ranks with the neoliberal order. Our Blairite government here is positioned as such while having a social veneer (and a modicum of restraint) based on history and market positioning, while the Opposition will make things that much harder and is more blatant at wanting to do so.

I would have once said China had the potential to be an outlier, raising its educational standards and embracing Confucianism, which has its foundations in free thought and liberalism, balanced with preserving a relationship between state and subject. Perhaps with Hu and Wen things could have gone that way. Under Xi Jinping the aims have changed, and at least one China-watcher I know (who knew Xi’s father and knew of Xi from 1982) tell me that they foresaw this.

I’m not going to make any bold predictions myself, but the world looks like a place that won’t become multipolar but bipolar, and Twitter is one tool that is going to accelerate this trend—building on top of what Facebook and Google have already done by forcing users into silos. Meanwhile, Baidu et al will no doubt reflect the official positions of their governments.

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Posted in business, China, culture, globalization, internet, New Zealand, politics, technology, USA | No Comments »


About me (according to libraries)

28.10.2022

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that I have a US Library of Congress entry, as a published author, though if I am reading it correctly, it relates to my 2010 mayoral campaign.

Following the links there, I arrived at a Virtual International Authority File but the data there seem to relate to my Wikipedia entries. Disappointing.

Keep going, and there’s an entry at OCLC, a non-profit library collective, also linking to Wikipedia.

But from there I have a WorldCat identity that OCLC manages, and this is where things get a little more interesting.

There’s some 2010 mayoral campaign stuff, five references to academic papers I wrote (nice to see they are ‘held by 2 WorldCat member libraries worldwide’), an early book I wrote, Typography & Branding (though I don’t recall having written it in 2002 as they claim), and a book I didn’t author but am credited in the colophon as the body typeface family’s designer, Mainland Island from Wai-te-ata Press.

I’m flattered that Typography & Branding is held at two Australian locations, the University of Newcastle Auchmuty Library and the Curtin University Library. I hope their students are getting a lot out of this early book of mine.

I admit I like this tag cloud:
 

 
Commiserations to my namesake, Jack Yan, on not winning the Toronto mayoral election. I was getting a lot of news hits from Toronto and Ontario, far more than our media here managed back in the day. I also thought he did rather well in the televised debates. We only had one episode of Back Benches in 2010 that wasn’t really a debate. But there was a fun quiz, which I won—some of us know more about this city than others.

In a very crowded field, Jack managed seventh out of 31, with incumbent John Tory holding on to his gig with 62 per cent of the vote.

I hope he has another crack at it if he feels he has something to offer. I found him a really great guy to deal with.

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Posted in branding, internet, New Zealand, politics, technology, typography, USA, Wellington | No Comments »


Lucire at 25: how things have changed

21.10.2022

The below was originally posted in Lucire. We have made it to 25 years of age there, and rather than reinvent the wheel, this little piece—as well as the one I uploaded yesterday hours after we turned exactly 25—reflect how I feel upon reaching this milestone.
 

Olivia Macklin, photographed by Josh Fogel, make-up by Beth Follert, hair by Erika Vanessa using T3 Micro, styled by Karlee Parrish, and photography assisted by Nick Sutjongdro. Click through to see full credits.
 
Today we decided to upload a story about Olivia Macklin—the actress who you’ll have seen in Netflix’s Pretty Smart last year and, before that, the US remake of Kiwi series Filthy Rich—in part because it’s so unlike what happened on day one of Lucire 25 years ago.

Here is a wonderful story about a well connected, theatre-trained Hollywood actress, shot beautifully in the US by an outstanding team there, with me doing the writing and interviewing.

The story has already run in our print editions.

The fact we even have print editions is something remarkable to me, and if I hadn’t made the decision to do so in the early 2000s, spurred on by a mixture of desire and naïveté, I couldn’t even type that previous paragraph.

The fact we have a group of generous and talented colleagues around the world is also not lost on me. I know I am very fortunate to have them around me.

While it’s not the first time that Lucire has been published in something other than English, I take some pride in seeing our story in French, a language I have learned since I was six. That, too, is vastly different to where we were in 1997.

Twenty-five years ago, I keenly watched the statistics as visitors came to see a website I had built with my own code, using what were then pretty clever techniques to ape the feel of a glossy printed fashion magazine. But I didn’t have any new stories lined up because my enquiries to designers weren’t getting any replies.

Nowadays, I have a sense of the stories to come as we plan quite a few numbers ahead.

I enjoy balancing the needs of print and web around the world and know I am blessed to be able to do something I love.

I’m grateful to all those who have worked on Lucire and stayed on the side of good, building up a magazine brand which, I hope, stands for something positive in this world. You know who you are.

I’ve spent half my lifetime building it up so far, and know it could be even greater.

I’m no Mystic Meg so I don’t know what’s to come, nor would I want to hazard a guess. But where we are now was not something I could have even guessed in 1997. Given such a big leap forward to 2022, I won’t even attempt to contemplate 2047 just yet. I simply remain hopeful.

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October 2022 gallery

01.10.2022

Here are October 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 

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I can empathize with the 500-mile email problem

09.09.2022

Big thanks to Petra on Mastodon for this one.

Don’t discount us non-techs. When we come to you, we’ve often done a lot of testing first before sounding the alarm. And often we are right.

Just like I was right with Vox when I could only get a compose window on select days over three months, or when Facebook forced an anti-malware program on us when we didn’t have malware. This one, however, takes the cake, and I have to agree with Petra on her assessment that it’s her favourite ‘non technical user with the absurd bug is right’ tale.

The author of the story, Trey Harris, has given me permission to republish it here. (Here’s the original.) I have only made slight alterations for style (e.g. using the right ellipses and dashes that weren’t available to him, and italicizing where he might have had all caps) but I have not changed any of Trey’s words. Please note the link to the FAQ at the end.

From: Trey Harris <[email protected]>
 
Here’s a problem that sounded impossible … I almost regret posting the story to a wide audience, because it makes a great tale over drinks at a conference. 🙂 The story is slightly altered in order to protect the guilty, elide over irrelevant and boring details, and generally make the whole thing more entertaining.

I was working in a job running the campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman of the statistics department.

‘We’re having a problem sending email out of the department.’

‘What’s the problem?’ I asked.

‘We can’t send mail more than 500 miles,’ the chairman explained.

I choked on my latte. ‘Come again?’

‘We can’t send mail farther than 500 miles from here,’ he repeated. ‘A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther.’

‘Um … Email really doesn’t work that way, generally,’ I said, trying to keep panic out of my voice. One doesn’t display panic when speaking to a department chairman, even of a relatively impoverished department like statistics. ‘What makes you think you can’t send mail more than 500 miles?’

‘It’s not what I think,’ the chairman replied testily. ‘You see, when we first noticed this happening, a few days ago …’

‘You waited a few days?’ I interrupted, a tremor tinging my voice. ‘And you couldn’t send email this whole time?’

‘We could send email. Just not more than …’

‘… Five hundred miles, yes,’ I finished for him, ‘I got that. But why didn’t you call earlier?’

‘Well, we hadn’t collected enough data to be sure of what was going on until just now.’ Right. This is the chairman of statistics. ‘Anyway, I asked one of the geostatisticians to look into it …’

‘Geostatisticians …’

‘… Yes, and she’s produced a map showing the radius within which we can send email to be slightly more than 500 miles. There are a number of destinations within that radius that we can’t reach, either, or reach sporadically, but we can never email farther than this radius.’

‘I see,’ I said, and put my head in my hands. ‘When did this start? A few days ago, you said, but did anything change in your systems at that time?’

‘Well, the consultant came in and patched our server and rebooted it. But I called him, and he said he didn’t touch the mail system.’

‘OK, let me take a look, and I’ll call you back,’ I said, scarcely believing that I was playing along. It wasn’t April Fool’s Day. I tried to remember if someone owed me a practical joke.

I logged into their department’s server, and sent a few test mails. This was in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, and a test mail to my own account was delivered without a hitch. Ditto for one sent to Richmond, and Atlanta, and Washington. Another to Princeton (400 miles) worked.

But then I tried to send an email to Memphis (600 miles). It failed. Boston, failed. Detroit, failed. I got out my address book and started trying to narrow this down. New York (420 miles) worked, but Providence (580 miles) failed.

I was beginning to wonder if I had lost my sanity. I tried emailing a friend who lived in North Carolina, but whose ISP was in Seattle. Thankfully, it failed. If the problem had had to do with the geography of the human recipient and not his mail server, I think I would have broken down in tears.

Having established that—unbelievably—the problem as reported was true, and repeatable, I took a look at the sendmail.cf file. It looked fairly normal. In fact, it looked familiar.

I diffed it against the sendmail.cf in my home directory. It hadn’t been altered—it was a sendmail.cf I had written. And I was fairly certain I hadn’t enabled the ‘FAIL_MAIL_OVER_500_MILES’ option. At a loss, I telnetted into the SMTP port. The server happily responded with a SunOS sendmail banner.

Wait a minute … a SunOS sendmail banner? At the time, Sun was still shipping Sendmail 5 with its operating system, even though Sendmail 8 was fairly mature. Being a good system administrator, I had standardized on Sendmail 8. And also being a good system administrator, I had written a sendmail.cf that used the nice long self-documenting option and variable names available in Sendmail 8 rather than the cryptic punctuation-mark codes that had been used in Sendmail 5.

The pieces fell into place, all at once, and I again choked on the dregs of my now-cold latte. When the consultant had ‘patched the server,’ he had apparently upgraded the version of SunOS, and in so doing downgraded Sendmail. The upgrade helpfully left the sendmail.cf alone, even though it was now the wrong version.

It so happens that Sendmail 5—at least, the version that Sun shipped, which had some tweaks—could deal with the Sendmail 8 sendmail.cf, as most of the rules had at that point remained unaltered. But the new long configuration options—those it saw as junk, and skipped. And the sendmail binary had no defaults compiled in for most of these, so, finding no suitable settings in the sendmail.cf file, they were set to zero.

One of the settings that was set to zero was the timeout to connect to the remote SMTP server. Some experimentation established that on this particular machine with its typical load, a zero timeout would abort a connect call in slightly over three milliseconds.

An odd feature of our campus network at the time was that it was 100% switched. An outgoing packet wouldn’t incur a router delay until hitting the POP and reaching a router on the far side. So time to connect to a lightly loaded remote host on a nearby network would actually largely be governed by the speed of light distance to the destination rather than by incidental router delays.

Feeling slightly giddy, I typed into my shell:
 
$ units
1311 units, 63 prefixes

 
You have: 3 millilightseconds
You want: miles

* 558.84719

/ 0.0017893979
 
‘Five hundred miles, or a little bit more.’

For those wanting to nitpick, Trey has written this FAQ with his answers.

I’m grateful for people like Trey, who actually investigate, even when what we say sounds totally implausible.

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Posted in internet, technology, USA | 6 Comments »