16 2 / 2013

Those of you with an Apple TV will know one of the most painful ways you can use YouTube is through the crappy search interface where you peck through the letters gradually and eventually you find the right content.  (mitigated with bluetooth keyboard support at last).

Sometimes that content isn’t there because Google disables a lot of things for the Apple TV.  A great example of this is Vevo’s enormous and official music collection that simply does not exist on the Apple TV’s version of YouTube.

Here’s where it gets interesting…. if you search for a bootleg full movie such as the classic Three Men and a Baby you will readily find it on the YouTube website, many times over.  

If you do the exact same search on the Apple TV you will not find the movie at all.  It is disabled for that platform.  Many illicit full movies are but not all and not the tag “full movie”.

Google is explicitly identifying pirated content and then deciding what ways you can access it, and they’ve been doing it for years even while Viacom tried to sue them for a billion dollars for being aware of piracy.

Offtopic: there is a subreddit dedicated to these movies, it helps fill in many of the missing or obscenely priced rental-only movies on iTunes…. except when Google forces you to watch them through their website.

15 2 / 2013

One day I on google I started thinking about if this particular search I was about to do should go on my “permanent record”.  

The answer is almost always no - most of what I do is just use the internet, it’s got all the answers we have plus porn, tv and steam.  

In the real world this information is overwhelmingly difficult to collect due to the sheer variety of stimuli we are constantly exposed to.  Online even the smallest moment of fascination we have with anything can be recorded in very creepy detail.

Worse still, we allowed empires to be built around the very concept of exploiting our thought and life streams.

A shout out to some of the ones that help reduce their visibility.

05 2 / 2013

If you’re a developer or in any other industry that generates temporary files Dropbox becomes a pain instead of the passive morphine drip it’s supposed to be - every time you compile or publish all those files get generated, indexed, uploaded with notifications, until eventually you give up and keep Dropbox closed while you work and hope you remember to open it later.

This is a decision they have explicitly made and stuck by for years even though 22,000 people who don’t matter would love to see it solved, and there are plenty of elegant solutions that casual users don’t even need to know about.

It sucks cpu, bandwidth and attention at exactly the wrong time and for any developer our active projects, weekend experiments, never-to-be-finished ideas and fully baked products are amongst the most important files we have.

I’d love to know what their own developers use instead.

Update: many developers have pointed out the problem is using Dropbox as an alternative to version control.  To that I would refer you to George McBay’s comment here about why git + Dropbox are natural partners, not alternatives.

03 2 / 2013

It’s hard to trust a company that makes it deliberately difficult for anyone to decipher their pricing.

Amazon’s overwhelmingly complicated pricing page features 4 tables (each x2 for Linux and Windows) and successfully avoids including any technical details to help you figure out what you are buying.

http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/pricing/

Compare this fan-created page:

http://ec2instances.info/

Everyone knows Amazon’s prices are shit compared to most VPS and dedicated server hosting companies, anyone using AWS in spite of that should not be further punished.

30 1 / 2013

28 1 / 2013

Mozilla has won an award declaring them the most trusted company under various increasingly creative conditions.  

Online privacy is a problem because ….. what is the gateway we use to the internet?  For the most part it is browsers.  

Online privacy stops being a problem the minute browser vendors decide to treat it as no different to any other form of vulnerability and start closing off all the doors.

So congratulations Mozilla.  You helped make the landscape that make the award that make your winning it so valuable.

27 1 / 2013

I’ve been puzzled about this for quite some time.  I tried to use Windows 8 for a couple of months, mostly from within Parallels who went out of their way not to make it a smooth experience.  Then I reverted back to Windows 7.

But I’m starting to think the Start Screen really is the future, it’s waiting on a fundamental change that needs to take place first in the way applications are developed on Windows.

Windows 8 makes developers consider whether their app really needs 3 folders with 17 icons of crap and complicated and custom installation and deinstallation processes that often introduce even more rubbish that additionally degrades the entire Windows experience.  

This is the 2nd time Microsoft has massively disrupted their software ecosystem in recent history in the name of improving the end user’s experience, but this is a little more subtle than the UAC dialogue introduced in Vista that forced developers to consider whether they need administrator access.

It’s a bold move.  The numbers will support their decision eventually.

25 1 / 2013

Parallels is the shittiest software I have ever used in my life.  I cannot count the times I’ve just terminated my VM because it is about 50 times faster than shutting it down.

I cannot count the times it has kept my fan above 6000 RPMs because I foolishly allowed a VM to sit idle consuming no CPU.

I cannot count the times it has leaked or hijacked keypresses and mouse events from OS X.  Sometimes when I go back into Parallels and see conversations I just had with people in Visual Studio.  WTF.

And then there was the time they decided that instead of creating a usable menu for Windows 8 virtual machines in their “Coherence” mode, as they did beforehand, they would just take it away and pretend it was impossible to do their job properly.  Microsoft didn’t remove anything from OS X, you guys did.

You even make me choose “don’t show me again” on each individual advertisement you spam me with.

You are pigs and I hate you.

20 1 / 2013

Over the weekend Kim Dotcom launched his long-awaited fuck you to the Justice department.  Prior to this Kim Dotcom’s empire was a prolific source of piracy and the favored destination on indexing sites like SurfTheChannel, TV-Links, LetMeWatchThis etc plus all the similar sites for downloads instead of tv shows and movies.

Essentially this is the same site and service as before, the only difference is the links provide a key instead of a file id, which Dotcom denies having and thus “doesn’t know” what you upload or share.  Even as you pass it to him with a wink.

There is an affiliate system which is part of what got him into trouble last time.  The websites that index videos and downloadables get paid if you become a paying customer.  SurfTheChannel was alleged to be making 35,000 pounds a month off its advertising and affiliates before being shut down.  Can’t be more specific but I would guess the majority was affiliates due to banner blindness while every single link could be a potential comission, but it is just a guess.

These affiliate systems are literally paying someone else to take the fall so it will be interesting to see who will take that risk again.

Without these affiliates file sharing via Mega ironically cannot compete with piracy, and there’s not many compelling reason to use them over anyone else in a market saturated with excellence.

The only way the new Mega can become viable and sustainable is through their API.  It’s a genius move that opens up an entire new group of people to carry Dotcom’s liability even as they build him an empire.

Be warned:  there are only three types of businesses you can build on Mega’s API:

  • ones that nobody cares about
  • ones that become features
  • ones that will destroy your life
It’s basically just like Twitter and every other platform that rose to abuse their power before them, but with prison sentences.
 

12 1 / 2013

Yesterday Aaron Swartz killed himself.  I knew of him although I never knew him, he was a political hacktivist and programmer and once upon a time he was the founder of a small startup that merged with another small startup called Reddit that I like to use.  Cory Doctorow goes into much more detail for having known him well.

A few years ago someone I did know killed herself.  Years later I can see she made the right decision and she’s one of my heroes now - she found the courage to kill herself again and again, most people don’t even have the balls to leave an abusive relationship or a shitty job.

Suicide is a horrible way to die.  Everything about it is just wrong.  Alone and miserable and gray.  Everyone who loves you thinks the only way they can help is by forcing you to stay longer.

When someone is dying “naturally” aka dietary, environmental, or if we’re lucky we can blame old age, we help them.  Eventually we turn off their life support or we elect not to resuscitate them or sometimes even euthanize them to avoid years of suffering.  We make the best of a horrible situation because we love them that much and we don’t want them to suffer.

Treating suicide as a legitimate option instead of forbidden and taboo (plus damnation for Catholics!) could provide our loved ones a safe environment to leave on their terms while confronting everyone with the reality that this is a sick person who may be dying.