starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

As I sit here waiting for my laptop to finish updating--mostly after trying to get Python (bleh) working in Visual Studio and killing my previous install of Windows 7--I wandered over to one of the furry communities I'm part of, and...well... Let's just say I've never been impressed with how this particular community handles itself. I wasn't impressed tonight, either.

That made me want to say something very clearly: The furry fandom has been very accepting of writers in general. While not as widely viewed as art, stories are often well-received by furs of all walks. And new writers are often aided by others, either with proofreading or tips, though not always to the welcoming arms of the author.

Then you have certain communities where the elitism tends to run rampant. SoFurry, at least in my eyes, is one of those communities. Spurred by a small collection of professional and semi-professional writers, I've noticed that that particular site tends to be far from welcoming. Whether it's the degrading star rating system that's easily abused, the lack of eyes on all but the most well-known authors, or the general lack of positive feedback from many of the more well-respected members, the site tends to anchor itself low on my list of acceptable risks in regards to upload locations.

And yet, I don't see that anywhere else. I know SoFurry used to be known as YiffStar, a site that featured stories above all else, but this seems more like something that grew from SoFurry's willingness to bend over backwards for its most prolific writers.

This is saddening, because SoFurry has the best features for writers, and yet, they're mocked or disliked by professional authors on the site: the ability to give downloadable ePub files to visitors (PDF would be better, but ePub is nice), professional formatting through the web interface (many professional writers prefer to typeset their own works), tagging system to make the story show up for the right categories (with some tag clouds being larger than the stories themselves), and threaded comments to interact with the audience. There's quite a bit more, but these features are very helpful for writers just starting out.

Instead, FurAffinity and Weasyl tend to be the best for newcomers. FurAffinity has support for various file formats and a large userbase, while Weasyl has a relatively large userbase of its own, and the ability to display PDFs and Google Docs uploads directly on the submission page. They also support thumbnails for marking stories with custom artwork or, better yet, small tag groups to let people know what to expect.

Above all else, FA and Weasyl tend to have the best communities for newcomers. Yeah, they have their bad seeds, but nowhere near the elitism I see from SoFurry's community.

Just a thought.
starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

So, for those who haven’t heard of it, Discord is a gamer-centric “replacement” for Skype and TeamSpeak, with both text and voice chat (though no video calls). A lot of people have started using it almost exclusively.

Personally, I haven’t been all too impressed with it, but as of late, it’s become a pain in my shiny tail. Between crashes that’ve forced me to reboot, to having games lose frames just from having Discord running at the time, to losing enitre multi-paragraph posts because Discord wipes the UI if you disconnect!

Yeah, something lost to a lot of people is that, for the desktop release, Discord is effectively a poorly-coded web app that’s been plopped into a Chromium/Electron instance. If you’re disconnected for any reason, it fully wipes the UI and replaces it with the initial “connecting” loader. That’s not even a beginner’s mistake. Beginners working with desktop apps don’t make those types of anti-user mistakes.

On top of this, there’s no local logging of text conversations, so if they lose your logs, you’re fucked. Better hope you manually copy/pasted what you wrote. Even Skype, a product they keep saying is inferior to their own, offers this courtesy. Skype also doesn’t wipe the UI if you suddenly go offline, and instead allows you to re-send once you’re reconnected.

Oh! And I should also add that it took them more than a year to implement the basic ability to set your presence status in Discord, and they seemed to rather shortly after my mate Calyo complained about it on Twitter. Before then, you were either online, set to idle if you left your system for a bit, or offline if you didn’t have the app launched. Skype, TeamSpeak, IRC, XMPP, AIM, YIM, etc… all allow you to at least set yourself as “AFK/Away” manually, with others allowing for Do Not Disturb, Invisible, and even other status modes.

Then there’s small things, like being put into text channels whether you want to be there or not, and the inability to leave a channel on a server without admins actively removing you from it. They add up pretty damn fast.

With all of the problems I and my mate Sildrae have been having, I really don’t like using Discord. It’s been a nightmare for me, and the instability it causes to all of my machines is far worse than anything Skype’s caused for me.

Of course, I can’t just abandon it. A lot of friends use it, some of them exclusively so. I don’t know what to do at this point, though.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

So, I’m sitting here with an empty Word document, and a thought comes to mind: What really is blogging?

Well, a weblog, or blog for short, is an online journal of some sort. Entries are typically found on a public-facing website running a blogging platform of some kind, such as Wordpress, Blogger, or Dreamwidth. Not all entries have to be public-facing, as the blog itself can be placed behind password protection. A vast majority of blogs have some sort of update feed, using RSS or Atom files that are updated with new entries. Many of them also allow for comments from readers.

However, with cloud services like OneDrive, Dropbox, and even Github…do we really need blogging platforms to create a blog?

OneDrive and Google Drive allow folders to be shared publically or privately, with participants informed of new additions. With OneDrive, you can create a DOCX doc online for free with Word Online, or through OneDrive Client and Word 2016/Word Mobile on your local machine. With Google Drive, a Google Docs document can be easily created online. Technically, an RSS feed could be set up with links to new additions as well.

Github also allows for native blogging through Jekyll, and uploads can be done through git pushes.

The storage-based options only have one real issue, and that’s comments. I don’t think public comments are possible with GDrive/OneDrive documents. However, this isn’t an issue for everyone, as comments aren’t a requirement for a blog. Some people prefer Twitter/Facebook replies, or even comments via email.

The only other problem is that storage-based solutions typically aren’t able to get that information into Google/Bing/DuckDuckGo. Again, this isn’t an issue for everyone, as some people prefer not to have their personal blogs indexed. That doesn’t mean the solution isn’t viable.

In all honesty, this has mostly been a pointless thoughtstream, but it’s one that makes me wonder just what it means to be a blogger in this day and age, especially with the options available to everyone.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

Windows 10 on a Laptop Isn’t Too Bad



Category            none


So, I recently had a bit of a problem. My old Samsung Series 5 laptop—which I nicknamed “Failtop” after Samsung decided to void its warrantee when I sent it in—decided to finally had the HDD go belly-up. As a result, I now have a new laptop: one Acer Inspire E 15 series in Obsidian Black. I absolutely love how it looks, even if it feels plastic-y.

Thing is, it runs Windows 10. Anyone who knows me knows that my experience with Win10 has been nothing short of catastrophic, exceeding even my time with Windows ME in terms of OS-side fuck-ups. I’ve made jokes that it’s as stable as a psychopath who lost it years ago and just bought an axe, and that it comes off as just plain shite because of the forced updates. Most of my problem was with my Surface Pro 3, which would require a full OS refresh any time there was a firmware update, just to make it usable for a few weeks at a time.

Well, on this laptop, with Anniversary Update, I can honestly say I’ve had zero problems with Windows 10—aside from forced updates, as that’ll always be a problem to some degree.

Seriously… I’m running this thing with Cortana turned on, and I couldn’t be happier—given my history with the OS. I mean, I’m still sort Windows 10 phones are few and far between, as outside of FirefoxOS, I’ve also always encouraged Windows Phone, mostly as a Lumia 1020 user. Regardless of that, Win10 hasn’t been all that bad.

I like what they’ve done with the Store app, especially with how it examines your system specs and tells you if you can run applications or games that give their spec requirements. It kept me from installing Killer Instinct, as I don’t have the RAM or VRAM for it, and that would have been a waste of time and bandwidth.

Still not a fan of flat design, and even less a fan of the forced flat look of Windows Universal Platform apps, but I’ll live at this point.

We’ll see if this continues. Creator’s Update is coming next year (effectively Service Pack 1.5), so I’ll have to find out if this continues to be a good OS.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

So, I’m sitting here forcing myself to deal with minor screen tearing from running Discord, and a thought comes to mind. People complain about applications screwing them over, but if those they talk to only use that application, what really gives them the freedom to drop it?

And yes, I’m going there with this, but it brings up a good point. I know people who solely use Telegram + Discord for communications, and refuse to use anything else because it works for them. However, the problem is that it doesn’t work for everyone, especially people who want to keep in contact with them.

Telegram requires a non-VoIP mobile phone number to even sign up for the service, much less use it. Not everyone can afford smartphones, as the ability to purchase such phones is being monitored as if a terrorist is going to pop in any minute and snatch up one to use for a nefarious plot. There’s also the fact that it automatically adds people in your contact list, and if someone else has your phone number, it notifies them the moment you sign up for the service. Oh, and it’s also not trusted by everyone, since they were very wary of having an open audit of their home-built cryptography.

Then there’s Discord, which isn’t too bad…if you have the hardware for it. I myself use a Samsung Series 5 laptop, and while Discord is open, I have minor screen tearing just from moving my mouse. If I start up a game, I lose a full 10-20 FPS so long as Discord is running. Even a game from 1999—Star Trek: Birth of the Federation—begins to chug while it’s running! One of my mates has even had sound issues thanks to Discord being open.

Yet, people will just say they aren’t having the same problems—and probably look at us like we’re doing something wrong. That honestly seems to be the most common response to such issues: it works for me, so it must be your fault.

But here’s where this leads: Why do people so heavily limit themselves to only a few bands of communication? Especially when the choice bands can be struck with outages that leave those who want to talk with them completely unable to.

I completely understand that managing multiple chat applications is annoying. That’s why Trillian, Pidgin, and many other multi-protocol clients were made. However, it also limits interactions rather severely for those who simply can’t move over.

Personally, I’ve been trying to keep myself open on AIM, XMPP, IRC, Skype, Discord, and Telegram (and occasionally Steam when I can remember). I want to drop Discord and Telegram because of just how much trouble they’ve caused me, but 99% of people I talk to are almost exclusively on those two platforms, having moved away from Skype because of issues (which I’ll talk about next post).

What are my options? Well, I can drop those two platforms, but I won’t be talking with many people. Or, I can stay on them and be frustrated to no end. I could also just bide my time and wait until the “next big thing” drops so people move to that, but who knows when that’ll happen.

I dunno. Just some thoughts.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

So, I wanted to separate this from the previous part because it's a bit of a long rant.

TL;DR : I think Internet Explorer 7+ got an unnecessarily bad rap because of IE6, and people don't know how to let go of a grudge.

Long version follows.

So, a lot of people tend to hold Internet Explorer with a lot of contempt. Thanks to how IE6 provided no end of a stranglehold on web standards for a long time, when IE7 was brought out, people refused to see it as anything but IE6. And yet, IE provided features that other browsers didn't at the time.

IE7 had SANDBOXING on Windows Vista, for starters. The real jump came with IE8, which included several features that were well ahead of their time.

  • Accelerators allowed you to do selection-based searches without needing to rely on copy/pasting things to the search bar.
  • Auto-recovery of crashed tabs, which really didn't always work in other browsers.
  • InPrivate Browsing, which was added before Firefox added Private Browsing (Safari got it first, though)
  • WebSlices, which are small chunks of webpages that can be updated like an RSS feed.

While it still failed the Acid2 test with nightmareish results, IE7 made strides towards better standards compliance, and IE 8 passed Acid2 completely. IE9 passes the Acid3 test, and IE11 (the final release) scores a 302 on HTML5Test, which is roughly on par with the browsers of its time.

Of course, web developers love to take the piss out of IE6 as the reason the web went nowhere for a time, but what they hate hearing about is that Chrome is taking IE6's place, effectively hijacking the standards just by being the most-used browser out there. (Doesn't help matters when Google employees essentially write the standards themselves these days, and the whole blackmailing the CSSWG incident.)

Other people enjoy pointing at IE's security flaws, to which I say: okay! Nothing is bug-free, and even Chrome is will eventually have major security flaws that end up exploited—and likely has a fuckton of zero-day exploits that haven't been responsibly disclosed. That's kinda how software is. As they say, if you want real security, keep it offline.

Thing is, Internet Explorer wasn't the best browser. Even as late as IE11, it wasn't the best, but it worked well enough that it served its purpose. Hell, it technically still serves that purpose for the people who use it.

Am I an IE user? Well…Sometimes, yes. IE11 still works, even if it doesn't work everywhere. There are shitty developers who still use useragent sniffing instead of feature checks, after all. However, if I need a secondary browser open, I'll usually go for IE first, since it's installed on Windows 7 by default as part of the OS itself.

So yeah… For further proof that I don't hate Microsoft, I just defended Internet Explorer. You can't go much further down the rabbit hole than that.
starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

So, something that popped up earlier today during a discussion is whether or not I “hate” Microsoft, with how much I rag on Windows 10. In short: No. Absolutely not.

For the long answer: I really like Microsoft in general. I used to hate them when I was in my FOSS phase, but then I started giving them a serious look, and realized they typically have it right in much of their software.

I use Windows 7, Office, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Expression Web, Expression Design, IIS, Microsoft Mathematics, Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio Express 2010, and quite a bit more. I actually prefer PowerShell over bash or zsh, and I find managing a Windows 2008 R2 server to be much easier than a Linux server. I prefer Windows Phone 8.1 over Android and iOS. Just in general, I like using Windows a lot more than I do Linux or OS X.

Even more, some of my favorite design aesthetics came from Windows: the Windows Vista Flair look-and-feel, Aero and Glass, the Windows Live design language, Windows Vista's Dreamscape live wallpapers… Actually, of all of them, Vista has had the most beautiful UI, in my opinion. A bit resource-heavy, but still a nice OS.

That said, I do think Microsoft has made some missteps: Windows 10's forced updates, dropping the Windows Live Essentials line, dropping Windows Media Center, Metro/Modern apps in Windows 8/8.1 being fullscreen only, the ass-ugly Ribbon interface on some of the native Windows apps… Hell, I think their biggest misstep has been the focus on UI for small touchscreens on the desktop UI. Windows 7 had a good mix, but didn't quite get the smaller screens right, which 8/8.1 did do properly.

Now, the reason I rag on Windows 10 is because I've yet to have a good experience from it. Just like how a lot of people hated Windows Vista when it first came out because of how buggy it was, I've had the same problem with WinX. Unlike Windows Vista SP1, the Service Packs (Redstone 1 & Anniversary Update) haven't really improved it for me, and in some cases made it worse. The forced updates constantly caused issues where I had to refresh/reinstall the OS after minor patches on the Slow Ring.

It has been an unstable mess for me. That's not good for a productivity machine, especially when it takes 3–4 hours to per attempted reinstall of the OS. I say attempted because, on my old Surface Pro 3, I sometimes had to reinstall it 2–3 times in a row just to get a working machine again. I never had the problem with Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. It was infuriating, which is why I'm sticking to Windows 7, which I know works.

So do I hate Microsoft? No. Not at all. I wouldn't be using Windows 7 and a slew of Microsoft products if I did.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

So… After thinking about the problem, I've got a few possibilities as far as getting my ideas out, but the big one for me is the simple one: my three journals.

  • @starseerdrgn (This blog): My general-purpose journal for things like tech and personal life stuff.
  • @latexbutterfly: My mostly in-character NSFW journal involving my story universe, with a lot of life-themed aspects as seen from outside of human culture.
  • @seleros_ibari: My general adult journal involving my story universe, usually filled with ideas, and that's about it.

I could easily use these three journals to replace my Twitter accounts.

The problem is "discussion". I'm allowing comments now, but where does the discoverability come from? I could use my Twitter accounts to push out updates, but at the same time, hardly anyone clicks through on such links anyway. As such, I'm just saying “fuck it” to that problem and not worry about discussion. If it happens, it happens. I can't force people to talk with me.

Of course, I don't need Twitter for news, as I use RSS feeds, so that's not an issue. Likewise with direct messages, since I have email and XMPP for talking with people. (Yes, email is still a thing people use.)

This is an acceptable solution at this point. It'll keep me from diving into the toxic pool of society that Twitter has become as often, so I can keep myself at least a little more positive.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

I gave the Twitter issue some thought, and while skimming through timelines, I've noticed that even NSFW accounts that I follow are starting to practically spam political tweets through the retweet systems. Accounts that are normally all about art or tech are turning heavily political as well. There's no way to filter it out aside from unfollowing or muting people outright.

Twitter, in and of itself, is a shit platform for someone like me. I've been saying this for a while, but it's becoming much more clear as of late.

Twitter's big feature is the “firehose”, a deluge of every bit of information from the people you follow, that they follow, and potentially that those people follow. There's no way to completely block retweets, as “quote retweets” completely ignore the one option you have for that—which some people actually use to get around the fact that others can turn off normal retweets.

Honestly, the worst of it all is the toxic atmosphere that spawns from many discussions. Even a minor discussion about simple problems can turn somewhat hateful when other people suddenly get involved.

Then there are the mobs that form on Twitter… I've seen far too many people simply chased off of the site for a minor disagreement. It's like playing a typical game of DotA, but far worse.

I'm thankful for people like Christian Heilmann, who at least try to make Twitter a nicer place, but I don't think I really want to be a part of something that causes me so much stress. I just need to figure out what I can do to keep from being drawn back to it.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

So, I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of Twitter and the like, and that hasn't changed in the slightest. I'm still put off by how toxic the site has become—hell, how toxic most of the internet has become. Yet, I keep subjecting myself to it. Why?

Because that's where my friends are. That's where people post content. That's where discussions happen.

I can't go a single day without a news article or blog post heavily referencing a Twitter or Facebook discussion as part of the story. I can't go a single day without someone referencing a Twitter or Facebook link. Social media is where damn near everyone is, and it's extremely difficult to do anything without being part of it now.

And yes, it affects me. You've seen how much I rant here. Much of that is honestly from the negativity that irks me, and affects my own mood.

I've had people tell me to “just stop using it” or “just block all of that out”, and that's the problem. I could block out a craptonne of things, but all that'd do is force me to block out people that I do want to talk with. Social sites don't give the ability to “just see the positive things”.

I follow a few people who post interesting alt-lifestyle things, only to have my timelines flooded with news about mass murders and calls for activism. I follow people I know in real life, only to have a stream of “Here's the latest bad news of the day” tweets and updates fill my screen. In this day and age, it is not possible to follow people without being flooded by negativity!

This is part of why I just want to drop social media. It's worn me down enough that I can understand why people want to commit suicide. If I awoke from a coma one day and saw all of that, I'd just ask the medics to put me back under.

But, as I said, there in lies the rub: That's where my friends are. That's where people post content. That's where discussions happen. If I want to leave social media, I practically give up my ability to socialize at all with most people. It's just something that's accepted by society here in the US, and fuck anyone who feels otherwise.

I don't know what to do, but I should definitely find something to help me with this problem. Gods know I need more positivity in my life right now.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

Chromification Continues: Firefox May Use Chrome's PDF and Flash Plugins/p>

*headdesk* REALLY?! Mozilla is looking to replace parts of Firefox with Chrome parts? Hell, they're going to replace the superior community-run PDF.js with the far inferior PDFium?!

I use Mozilla products to get AWAY from Google, not run back to them. Might as well go WebKit.

*looks up open source browsers*

Out of date, out of date, out of date… Has everyone really given up trying to compete with Google, or what? Only Safari and Edge seem to be trying to fight Google anymore, and Safari's the only one making any headway.

I remember when there used to be actual competition on the web. IE and Netscape fought hard using their features to their advantage. These days? It feels like web developers are pushing solely for the monolith known as Google. It's becoming everything that we feared from Microsoft in the 90s, but with the full backing of “tech geeks” everywhere.

Even the damned standards process is being taken over by Google. WHATWG was a result of Google trying to force the W3C standardization process to speed up, the CSSWG was recently bullied by Google to start using their WCIG incubator for that standards process, the HTML5 spec was put under an editor from WHATWG who works for Google…

I know people are going to say that Google is a protector of the internet and open web, but I don't believe that for a single second. The work to further Google's hold on the market, period.

Honestly, this is making me want to go with Apple products even more. At least the core WebKit engine is fairly modern, and is kept modern. I just wish they'd release Win32/Win64 versions of Safari that will work with Windows 7/8.1. I'd support that in a heartbeat.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)
(Reminder: Thoughtstreams are posts where I write what's on my mind, whether or not that results in anything resembling a sane flow of information.)

So, I'm sitting at my desk tonight, listening to modtracker music (💖 crystald.s3m 💖), using an older XULRunner application called KompoZer to do some writing. Yes, I'm well aware of BlueGriffon, and that it recently updated, but I still prefer the older KompoZer project simply because I don't need a lot of the bells and whistles provided by BlueGriffon. HTML 4.01 Strict works well enough for simple documents.

Yes, that's right. I'm actually using KompoZer as a word processor, so to speak. The WYSIWYG environment is perfect for simple things like inserting italic and bold text, and more complicated things like CSS are handled quite well by the built-in CSS editor. It literally does everything I would expect of a word processor, and still lets me hand-edit it without breaking the entire file.

That led to a thought while I was trying to work out a few things in my head. There's Firetext for B2GOS/FirefoxOS, but there's not really an HTML-centric Word Processor for the desktop, or other mobile platforms for that matter. Everything centers around Microsoft's Office OpenXML specification (DOCX), or on the OASIS OpenDocument specification (ODT). Even Google has their web-centric files under their own proprietary file formats.

Now that HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are capable of doing pretty much anything found in those specs, what's really stopping anyone from making such a project?

Well, giving a shit is probably one of the top reasons no one's done it. Most developers don't care about really care about making something easy for users unless it scratches their own itch (or makes them a lot of money), and most users probably won't move over to such a project anyway due to DOCX and ODT being the absolute de facto standards for word processing files. That's not something that would encourage proper devs to work on something like this.

The thing is, we already have plenty of ways to start. For desktop, there's WebKit as a rendering engine, or possibly PaleMoon's Goanna fork of Gecko (which supports XULRunner), while mobile apps would take advantage of the built-in webview engines on their respective platforms. There's also Electron for the desktop, allowing the app to be made entirely in HTML+CSS+JS. However, native apps might be better in some situations.

It's just a thought, though. I'd love to see a proper web-centric word processor made at some point. Who knows? I might even be the one to make it.
starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

So, I've got to admit, Mozilla's recent stand against B2GOS has started making me wonder if MOFO (Mozilla Foundation) is still any sort of software organization.

Between the constant stream of dropped project, poorly marketed projects and services, and constant forceful nature of their Web Advocacy team, it feels like Mozilla is turning into a web-centric version of the Free Software Foundation, and that's not a good thing. A lot of people despise the FSF for their forceful tactics and zealot mentality, and for good reason. It was several FSF zealots that made me run away screaming from (GNU/)Linux after 12+ years of using the OS, simply because I couldn't take being considered "one of those people" any longer. At least as a Windows or OS X user, not nearly as many people see me as "another free software zealot".

It's also shaking my faith that Mozilla can do anything properly outside of Firefox. They've dropped Mozilla Suite (now SeaMonkey, community maintained), Thunderbird (now community maintained), Sunbird (replaced by Lightning), and now FirefoxOS. The only project they've kept going with is Firefox. Just like Google, I'm having trouble trusting whether their next product will last more than six months, or until their attention span shifts to some other advocacy thing.

Honestly, I'll probably stick with SeaMonkey or PaleMoon & FossaMail at this point. There are plenty of tried-and-true XULRunner apps that can be found, most of them simply needing to be maintained a bit better—or at all. KompoZer (HTML Editor), Nightingale (Media Player), InstantBird (IM Client), Chatzilla (IRC Client)… Hell, there are probably quite a few I don't know about yet. Regardless, there are alternatives. I may go with them at this point.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

Okay, so I'm actually rather tired of trying to use Discord as a decent chat client. The UI is rather poorly designed for a chat app, and the thought that it was never meant for more than a voice chat system really shows in the desktop and web app UI.

For starters: The nicklist (user listing) and servlist (server listing) panes are completely static sizes, allowing them to completely overtake the chat area. No, I'm not exaggerating, you can completely obscure the chat area with a small enough viewport. You can't hide the nicklist or servlist, either.

For tablets where people need higher zoom levels—somewhat akin to lowering the resolution—this can make Discord completely unusable. The default should give the chat pane a minimum width (min-width), and auto-hide the nicklist and servlist if the viewport shrinks to a certain point. It's trivial to impliment this in CSS, or any programming language (C#, ObjC, C++, etc…)for that matter.

Then there's the whole "auto-load every old message in a very cluttered chat area" problem on loading a room. Yes, for a feature, having old messages is great, but apps that do this typically show some sort of clean break between old messages and new ones. Hell, they typically have much better spacing for the messages themselves.

There needs to be a clean break when you log in, and there needs to be more spacing between messages.

Now, don't get me wrong. Discord is a great service, and I'm all for seeing it grow. That's why I complain about these things. Unless I'm just utterly taking the piss out of something, I'm typically criticizing a product because I know it can be better. It's just like how I criticize Mozilla about some of the decisions that I think are bone-headed.

Personally, I'll still prefer IRC over Discord, but for a Skype replacement, it's one of the best options out there…outside of Mumble, which I endorse more simply because you can roll your own server. Most people won't use XMPP, even though you can do voice and video calls over it rather easily, so I don't try to push that too much.

And there ya go…

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

Personally, I like the featureset of Discord, an IRC-like chat system designed to be better than TeamSpeak and Skype. Servers are private, and require an invite link. Server connections are persistent across multiple devices, and don't require multiple usernames for one person to connect with multiple devices at the same time. They also have their "roles" system, which gives a lot of fine-tuning to permissions—including allowing or denying access to entire chat rooms. It's useful!

But, there's a huge problem—or at least it's a huge problem in my view. They have a web app for their client, but nothing for mobile web. I mentioned this on Twitter, and the reply I got was kinda tonedeaf…

Now, as you'll notice, I specifically mentioned Firefox OS, which I'm using on my LG Fx0 (a very lovely phone, expect a review before too long). It's not Android or iOS, so promoting the apps does nothing for me. Either the person behind Discord's Twitter account didn't know what Firefox OS is (which wouldn't surprise me), or they really weren't paying attention.

Regardless, I kinda can't use Discord on my phone, all because of an arbitrary requirement for a platform-specific mobile app. And don't get me wrong, I've used their Android app...It kinda sucked compared to their iOS app, which one of my mates uses. They don't even have feature parity with their desktop web app, much less the native desktop apps. Something tells me they don't really care about mobile. It's effectively Skype once again.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of mobile web apps that support IRC (Internet Relay Chat), and even a few IRC apps for Firefox OS (which are packaged web apps themselves). They work perfectly for the most part—though Firesea IRC seems to take a while to connect.

IRC is one of those technologies that's been around for a while, works perfectly as intended, users aren't tied to a single client. I can use LimeChat, Chatzilla (my preferred client), Mibbit, KiwiIRC (my preferred web client)…There are many IRC clients to choose from across many platforms.

Then there's chat systems like Telegram and WhatsApp…Ugh…I like the idea behind them, but the fact that a chat client requires a mobile number to simply function is annoying as hell. Add the idea of automatically adding anyone who has your number to your contacts list without your permission, and it just makes using such a service completely unappealing to me.

That's why I like XMPP. To add someone, you need to know their Jabber ID (jid), and they have to not only authorize you, but do so knowingly. It's also far more secure, since login isn't based on a finite-length standardized numbering system (phone numbers) and a login code sent to a smartphone. With XMPP, you can implement secure single-factor authentication (Kerberos, key blobs (a la SSH), etc…) or multi-factor authentication (SMS, OAuth, OTP tools, etc…)

Hell, if given enough time, I could probably adapt XMPP with some extensions (in the XEP series), take a project like Jappix, and remake the features of Telegram on my own. It's completely possible…given the time and skill.

I dunno. Maybe I'm "too old" for modern chat, as a couple of people have told me. Honestly, I prefer to see it as be being spoiled by growing up when chat systems had useful features, rather than just aesthetic features. Custom emoticons are nice, but when I wanna be left alone, let me tell people as much.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

So, sitting next to my laptop is my new LG Fx0, a Firefox OS handset that can truly be called the flagship of the platform. Originally made for Japan's KDDI for their "au by KDDI" phone service, LG released the device worldwide online after Mozilla dropped the Firefox OS project for cell phones—a decision that came far too soon, in my opinion.

I bought it for $55 USD from Amazon.

With a translucent gold outer case ("au", the carrier's name, being the chemical symbol for gold), this device looks absolutely beautiful. It feels like cheap plastic at times, but once you get over the misconception of "it's a cheap phone", it doesn't matter at all. What matters is that it's lightweight, easy to keep a hold of, and can run well.

The screen is crystal clear, even with the stock International ROM (Firefox Os 2.1), but where it shines is with the original KDDI ROM (Firefox OS 2.0), which can be found on an Fx0 reddit at the moment. It takes some tweaking, and MMS doesn't work on AT&T (yet), but it works otherwise. I'm still tweaking the settings where I can, but this project may take a while.

The camera isn't the best, but it works quite well for what's considered a cheap phone. It's clear in proper lighting, and it can take 6 megapixel images at 3264x1836 (16:9 ratio), or 8 megapixels images at 3264x2448 (4:3 ratio), and records videos at 1080p (1920x1080). For a $60~ USD phone, I'd expect a lot less from it. It also has flash, which I rarely see in cheap phones here in the US.

Storage isn't really a big issue. It only has 16 GB of internal storage, but it also has a microSD card slot to add more storage when needed. Currently, I have a 32 GB card in my own handset, and I've barely used it. Larger microSD cards would likely give you more storage than even an iPhone, and of course, more than Google Photos since you can simply slot in a new card in place of a full one.

With 1.5 GB of memory,it doesn't really slow down at all with the KDDI ROM. The stock international ROM is a bit jerky, but I don't think LG optimized it at all. If you can, try to run your own build, or the KDDI ROM.

Now, I know you'll likely expect me to talk about the OS, but that's for another article, and another time. I've got a lot to say about that subject.

Overall, I highly recommend snagging an LG Fx0 if you can. They're cheap, and they work well. I'll likely try and get a second as a backup at some point, but for now, I'm happy with the one I have.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

For those who don't know, Mozilla is seeking comments about their redesign of their branding. They're not seeking the community's help for the actual branding design, just…comments.

I once said that Mozilla has been slowly becoming corporate in their mentality, and it's looking more like that's the case with every moment I see news about them.

They've given SeaMonkey and Thunderbird to the community, but they've killed Persona and the Firefox App Marketplace, and FirefoxOS has gone from a good mobile phone OS to something used as a gimmick on smart TVs.

Now, Mozilla is giving a somewhat valid reason behind the branding overhaul: lack of recognition.

Since late 2014, we’ve periodically been fielding a global survey to understand how well Internet users recognize and perceive Mozilla and Firefox. The data has shown that while we are known, we’re not understood.

  • Less than 30% of people polled know we do anything other than make Firefox.
  • Many confuse Mozilla with our Firefox browser.
  • Firefox does not register any distinct attributes from our closest competitor, Chrome.

Let me break it down just a bit.

"Less than 30% of people polled know we do anything other than make Firefox." – Well gee, could it possibly be because you barely market anything else, or that those other projects keep getting given to the community? Outside of Firefox, Webmaker, Mozilla Developer's Network, Firefox Accounts, and Firefox OS (somewhat), I can't think of anything else Mozilla has really talked about in the public eye. Hell, on the Android App Store, only Firefox (and FF Beta) and Webmaker are listed as products. That's Not much for people to go on.

Also doesn't help that the only project they advertize on is Firefox. Just saying…

"Many confuse Mozilla with our Firefox browser." – Of the five projects I mentioned above, three of them have Firefox in the name, one is made for developers, and Webmaker isn't something I really even hear about. On top of that, I rarely see any decent Mozilla branding in the apps themselves. In "About Firefox", Mozilla's information is reduced to a line that puts the Get Windows X Trap to shame. The company is bad at even marketing themselves in their own product!

On top of all that, this problem is very common. There are plenty of games where someone can tell you the name of the game of the top of their head, but not the publisher or developer. It's normal for mainstream people to not know who's behind something, simply because they're selective about what they remember. It's not a branding problem, it's a people problem, and that's not something a rebranding will help.

"Firefox does not register any distinct attributes from our closest competitor, Chrome." – Besides the fact that it's not Google? It's a web browser! Outside of minor features, the UI, and platform-specific integrations (Firefox Sync & Firefox Accounts), it really shouldn't have all that much difference on the surface. In fact, on my Mac, it runs better than Chrome without being too different, and that's not a bad thing.

Now that I'm done ranting about the Corporate PR Ponzi Pitch™ blog post, it's time to get serious about something. Mozilla's design and branding language have nothing to do with why people have difficulty seeing Mozilla as separate from Firefox.

In fact, in my opinion, Mozilla's current design language for their websites and Firefox OS—the whole Gaia theme—is quite honestly the most beautifully simple styling I've seen in a while. It goes very well with the Mozilla Star logo, with the blueprint-style themes of MDN, and with the general theme of Firefox and Firefox OS. It's not bland, it's universal and easy to design around, which speaks volumes about what Firefox really is, universal and open to everyone.

MDN is clean and readable. MDO is clear about its messages, easy on the eyes, and works on all platforms. AMO flows perfectly between the platforms, and has a great UX.

Mozilla needs to realize that what they have now is something they can capitalize on if they would just make the move to do so. They have the style guides for the current theme written already, but they don't enforce it for their clubs and such. They also don't market themselves well, instead relying more on word-of-mouth and social media than anything. They need to fix that.

Gather someone people who know how to handle social media advertising properly, and start from there. Show people who Mozilla and the Mozillians are, and what Mozilla about: the open web, open source, making the web accessible to everyone, providing privacy to the users. Mozilla is about the people, no matter their background.

Mozilla, you started to do this very thing, but it became so disorganized that you lost every chance you had to take advantage of your stronger messages. Your privacy campaign fell on deaf ears because it came after the small window that would let you get that message out to a large number of users. Webmaker hasn't taken off in in most places because you've barely pushed it. Persona didn't get much traction because you didn't show people why it was better.

Take it from a long-time Mozilla fan who started with the old Mozilla internet Suite on Windows XP after moving away from AOL, and from a self-proclaimed child of the web who loves the open web far more than any operating system or piece of common technology: Your brand is strong, but your marketing is weaker than Microsoft's attempts at being clever and humorous. Look towards that direction to fix your problems, not a redesign of your brand image.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)
So, this is rather neat. I use KeePassX as a password manager, and I was somewhat worried about how I'd be able to keep using it if I ever got a Chromebook, or use a browser-centric spin of Linux. Pretty much everything with by passwords is in my manager.

Then I ran into Keeweb, which is a web app that lets you use a KeePass ".kdb" or ".kdbx" file from a browser and open it as if you were using the native app. It keeps everything local unless you tell it to sync to a cloud storage account—OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, or a WebDAV account—and that makes it extremely secure. No need to keep it on someone else's servers if you don't have to, right?

You can also run it locally if you want, or even your own instance on a webserver. It also has offline support, so you can still get your passwords and other info while you don't have internet access.

If you use a Chromebook and you like KeePass for your passwords, I highly recommend this project.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

 I know I practically just finished ranting about something similar but this is one of those subjects that keeps popping up, especially when I'm talking with tech-savvy people.

I'll see someone talking about getting a device or computer, and someone else will pipe up with something like "Why don't you just build your own computer?", or "Why do that when you can do $otherThing?". Most of the time, these people completely miss the point behind why the other person wants the device, and make assumptions that said person doesn't know what they're doing. Not only is this rude, but it's also rather ignorant to do.

When a situation like this comes up, and you feel you have a better idea of what would benefit the person, take my advice: stop and ask questions. Is this person tech-savvy? What kind of skills do they have with computers? What do they plan on doing with the device? Would they be willing to learn something else that could be better for them?

Find out exactly what they're looking for, and make your suggestion around that.

  • Do they just need a machine to browse the web, and don't know much about computers? A Chromebook or Chromebox could really benefit them with how dead-simple they are.
  • Do they need a machine for gaming? Point them to some parts and a copy of Windows. If they don't want to take that leap to build their own system, point them to a fairly decent pre-built, like an Alienware system.
  • Do they need something to do some heavy programming? Suggest a Mac if they don't want to act like a sysadmin, or a Linux machine from System76 if they want to go full-throttle into learning sysadmin skills as well.

Far too often, people assume they know exactly what someone needs, when in reality, it's based on their own needs and skills. Take a moment to do a reality check before you criticize that person's choice, or you'll just come off as overbearing and more than a little rude.

Geeks have a bad rap for being "anti-social" as it is. Please don't make it worse for the rest of us.

starseerdrgn: Koboldrone (Default)

 Just to update people... Sildrae and I just got back from the front office. We've sorted out the problem.

Because my van hadn't been moved in a while, the manager had to tag it as a vehicle violation, as per corporate rules. He seemed rather spiteful about having to do it, too. Like he really didn't like that rule.

The reason it was marked "no tags" is because he didn't check the back--again, unlike Texas, Arkansas doesn't require front plates--and was trying to spend as little time outside as possible. A good thing, as the UV index has been outright dangerous lately. It was also assumed inoperable due to it not moving for an extended period, so it was a good thing that I drove it to the front to talk about it.

I gave him my plate number, and he made a note that my van has an Arkansas plate, and that there's no front plate required. He also noted down that it's operable, so everything is good for now.

However, this has me somewhat pissed at Sun Homes corporate. It shows that they're completely disconnected from the effects of their rules, and likely don't even care about those effects. Even the manager here seemed perturbed that he's forced to put potentially hard-to-remove stickers on the windows of the vehicles. That shows something.

I won't miss living here, especially with the new rules that keep getting instated. However, it's good to know someone is trying to make things right.

August 2017

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