Why Net Neutrality matters to you.

By on September 10, 2014 - Opinion

Many people seem to believe that the battle for Net Neutrality is a geek matter that won’t concern them. In reality, the loss of Net Neutrality is an important issue that will cost everyone significant time and money.

If the proposed legislation passed, it explicitly authorizes Internet access companies to charge you more to access sites that haven’t paid them as well. Yes, that’s right, the Internet access company would get paid by both sides for the same bytes. However, the most important part of the legislation is that it allows them to block and slow down sites which haven’t paid them. Let’s discuss what this means to you:
Read More »

Yahoo no longer accepts Abuse reports. Time to blacklist Yahoo.

By on August 2, 2014 - Geekery, Opinion Tags:

Today I received a spam that the headers clearly showed was generated within Yahoo and went directly from their mail system to mine. So I reported it to their published Abuse address, so that Yahoo would know their user is spamming. I received back the following e-mail:

This is an automated response; please do not reply to this email as replies will not be answered.

To report spam, security, or abuse-related issues involving Yahoo!'s services, please go to http://abuse.yahoo.com.

Thank you,

Yahoo! Customer Care

Fail #1: They are required to accept abuse reports at their published Abuse address.

Fail #2: Going to this address gets redirected to http://help.yahoo.com/abuse/ which has hundreds of different links, but after spending 30 minutes looking through every single one of them not a single one provides a place to report a spam sent by Yahoo.

Result: Yahoo no longer accepts spam reports. I am therefore blocking Yahoo on every mail gateway for which I have control, and listing them in the Pink Providers blacklist effective immediately.

What I want from an Android keyboard

By on June 29, 2014 - Opinion

So I find myself forever frustrated by Android keyboards1. I never accepted a soft keyboard until (a) nobody made hard keyboard devices any more and (b) Swype became popular. I love Swype, and found myself using it even more than the physical keyboard on the last android phone which had one.

However, the implementations of Swype (or Glide or whatever each vendor calls it) have gone rapidly downhill in one way: they no longer believe the keyboard user. Apparently most people only vaguely get near the letters they need — so autopredict has gone into overdrive, always assuming the letters pressed have no relevance to the word desired2.

This doesn’t work for me.

I am very accurate with my entry. I watch my finger hit dead center on each key I want to use… and then observe that the word I entered isn’t on screen, nor in the suggestions. This is deeply frustrating. When I enter “ale” I mean the alcoholic drink. I cannot fathom why it enters “are” when my finger traced all the way to the “L”, and “ale” doesn’t even appear in the suggestions. Likewise when I try “wait” I get “wake”. My finger never approached the “E”.

Worse yet that even when I spell out the words letter by letter, many of these keyboards will replace my carefully poked out word with another, and give me zero option to revert the change. I’ve had to learn to hit two spaces, then go back and poke out my word in between the spaces so that it won’t invoke the “fixxer”.

And worst of all, almost every autocorrection is grammatically incorrect. So it’s not like the logic is better–it’s worse.

I want something very simple. I want auto-correction, but I want the keyboard to defer to and prefer what I actually typed. Suggest other words, but stop removing my perfectly valid word and replacing it with something grammatically incorrect.

1 While I am a Mac user and lover, IOS doesn’t work for me. I don’t think that way. Every time I am forced to use an IOS device I can’t find my way in or out of anything. So I’m a Mac-using Android advocate.

2 And yes, even recent versions of the paid Swype keyboard do this.

How technology improves our fail

By on June 26, 2014 - Opinion Tags:

When I try to use my phone in a natural and effective manner, how it knows so much better than me what I need. How it shows me the better path of disconnection and confusion. Nothing is better than backing up and retyping a word time and time again. My exact and correct spelling is so much less entertaining than the nonsense words my phone would prefer to send.
Read More »

Technology books are never done

By on June 12, 2014 - Opinion

One thing I am discovering about the difference between writing fiction and writing non-fiction technology books is that technology books are never really done.

With fiction, at some point you have told the story you are intending to tell. You may well have sequels to write, but a given story eventually is complete.

When you are working on non-fiction, there is always something more to add. Right as you are finishing the final review process, an important change is happening in the project core. You find a new tool that significantly improves on the painful process you documented in your book. The next version of the software is going to arrive after your book goes to the printer.

It never ends.