Sunday, 25 September 2011

Get your own cloud!

I've become involved with an awesome ownCloud project recently. Well, not really "involved", just hang around the IRC, report problems, suggest ideas, help other people to set it up (as i've set it up myself on my home server already) etc. Basically, ownCloud is a project aimed at those of us who doesn't want Google snooping around, who is reluctant to post stuff on facebook and who basically wants to have his/her data in his/her hands.

So? So. I have to admit that ownCloud is awesome. Though it is currently in its early stages of development, it already is pretty functional. I can upload stuff, access my files via WebDAV (natively supported by KDE's Dolphin), i can keep my contacts and calendar there via CardDAV/CalDAV, and listen to music. There are other, more advanced options like LDAP authentication but i haven't yet tested it so i can't comment on that one.

What i can comment on is how easy it is to set it up. The ownCloud setup itself takes a minute - in a sense, you don't really have to "set it up" - it just works. Setting up an environment to run that shit is also as easy as it can get. I admit that for some people setting up an apache/php server doesn't sound like it's easy to do, but trust me - anyone running Ubuntu will be able to set it up, given the right step-by-step guide. Hell, i never had a webserver before, now i'm running one.

Anyway, i've liked the ownCloud so much i actually already ditched Google's contacts and calendar altogether. I have installed a calDAV/cardDAV on my Android, also setting up Akonadi sync on my computers and now i have fully integrated, synchronized and backed up calendar and contacts, without ever giving up my rights to that data. Plus there's file sharing, so i'll start uploading stuff like my photos there at some point. I never liked the idea of music streaming so i didn't even bother to test it. However, i might change my mind later too.

With all that praise i'm giving it, it wouldn't be me if i never said something inappropriate about ownCloud. So here's the gory details. First of all, the settings area is a bit illogical. Why the fuck the admin section only contains LDAP? I'd expect to find all kinds of stuff there, like user management, installed apps, database backend settings and whatnot, but instead i get sections for "Apps", "Users" and a section for "Admin" that contains LDAP. Name it LDAP, for fuck's sakes!

Another gripe is that you have to go to IRC channel to ask for paths to use for CardDAV/CalDAV - there's not a hint in the GUI about that (at least i didn't find it). The "Help" area is bullshit and doesn't really help with anything. The "get more apps" link leads to a dark void. Overall, a lot of good ideas, but unpolished in these little things.

However, my final NERD RAGE dose goes to web browser developers. You're all fucking assholes. Firefox 6 renders like shit (funny thing is, Firefox 3 does a better job). Rekonq has some Javascript problems. Opera is completely and utterly unusable with this website. Google Chrome rules them all. As much as i hate Google for their decision to make their fucking browser use that abomination of a toolkit GTK+, it still blows everything else out of the water when it comes to rendering.

So, to conclude - will i use ownCloud? Definitely. Will your mom use it? How the fuck would i know. It's good enough for me.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

In before the lock

Here we go again. Microsoft is known for pushing for dubious technologies to take over the world. One of those is this idea of "trusted computing" (implying that we ought to trust Microsoft). They were once pushing this TPM chip idea, and was planning to include ungodly DRM into Windows Vista (thankfully, they backed up from that). Now they're coming back with another "initiative" - lock down the boot process.

Now, i can understand the need for "trusted computing" in some environments. You might want to have locked down machines in government organizations or secure environments such as military computers. You might want your computer to prevent you from running anything that isn't blessed from high above. But what does it have to do with us, ordinary users? I want to run whatever the fuck i want on my computer! No matter what these people think, i will rip CD's and DVD's, i will share my music and videos with my friends, i will run whatever software i want to run, and i will boot any operating system i choose to boot, regardless of what Microsoft, MPAA/RIAA and other idiots think about that.

But what does it have to do with "secure boot"? Well, you see, the "trusted computing" is legacy entertainment industry's wet dream, allowing whole new level of DRM that is not easy to avoid. Again, i can see DRM being a valid technique in protected environments and generally in some niche markets, but it's got nothing to do with us, consumers. If Microsoft chooses to lock everything down instead of properly securing their OS, it shouldn't be my problem. As one of the commenters on Ars Technica has pointed out, this is Microsoft basically admitting that no, we can't secure the OS enough to prevent userspace from taking over the bootloader, so we will lock everything down instead. Brilliant approach.

I can see the general trend towards locking everything down. We are losing our freedom and control over the hardware for some fancy bells and whistles. You know what? Computer is a tool. It should not tell me what to do.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

GMail sucks

Yeah, i said it! GMail sucks balls.

Now don't get me wrong. I am a long time GMail user. I use it since 2008 without any problems. I used it with web interface, i used it with POP and then IMAP accounts (via Thunderbird), and i am now using it with KMail. It always worked perfectly, until i decided that i am tired of having three different "sent" folders and sought to unify my devices.

And so, here we have it. I have a desktop with KMail2 on it, i have an Android phone with K9 Mail on it, and i have a web interface. I want to be able to see the sent mail regardless of whether it was sent using the web interface, KMail or K9 Mail. Previously, it wasn't possible, because webmail was stored in "Sent" folder on GMail, while the SMTP-sent mail was apparently stored in [Imap]/Sent folder.

Why the fuck would i want to have separate "Sent" folders for webmail and SMTP in the first place?! Well, i could understand that it might be some corporate needs or whatever, but why on earth would someone want that behavior by default, on a personal mailbox that is usually accessed from multiple devices by the same person and thus should have everything unified?!

Anyway, i managed to set it up the way it should be, but i encountered a few quirks. First of all, "[Google Mail]/Sent Mail" just looks ugly as fuck. But OK, that might be a fault of client software - after all, nothing stops programmers from giving folders arbitrary names while still retaining the "link" to the original SMTP/IMAP folder.

Then we have these labels. I can get the concept, but i can't get through my head their absolutely idiotic approach to labeling. Why "archiving" means removing all the labels? How can i restore the "Sent" mail from archive? Why is there an option to "archive" sent mail in the first place, because obviously sent mail can't really be archived (it still stays in "Sent Mail" folder)? Frankly, it took me whole evening to set everything up.

And finally, i would like to have an option to actually delete a message. Since my inbox becomes very bloated over time, i decided to archive my old email to my cloud. Naturally, if i archive the mail - i would expect it to disappear from GMail inbox entirely. But no! If i delete it from a folder - it stays in the mailbox! The only way to actually delete the message is to put it into trash first (so that it removes all the labels and excludes itself from GMail archive) and then delete it from there.

Frankly, i wish i didn't pick GMail as my email provider of choice. Yes, it's convenient, fast, reliable and spam-free, but so what? If it makes me jump through hoops just to set up a proper IMAP account - it's not worth it. I understand Google's desire to tie me into its web services, but i'm afraid it's not going to happen any time soon. I hate web apps, i always hated them and probably always will. I use Akregator to read my newsfeeds. I use Blogilo to write my blog posts. I use KMail to check my mail. I use KDE-Telepathy to handle my Google Talk and SIP accounts. Call me an old fag but i'm extremely uncomfortable with using a web browser to do something other than web browsing. The only reason i'm writing this in web-based editor is because apparently Google has changed its API again and Blogilo won't work with Google Blogger until they fix it.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Don't believe the truth

This is a follow up and a spitirual successor to my last post. I am now listening to the recent podcast about Wikileaks, and hearing all these talks about untrustworthiness of the mainstream media and the power of the Internet i recalled a curious bit of behavior i have observed in the wild.

Basically, when all this Bin Laden killing crew thing happened (you know, the part when all but one of the members of that operation died under mysterious circumstances), i conducted an experiment. I went to Omegle (stupid, i know) and asked the question that was vaguely constructed as follows: did you know that all but one people participating in Bin Laden elimination died in a recent helecopter crash?

Most people simply ignored the question. Some people started whining something along the lines of "aw, geez, not politics again". Some were making jokes about conspiracy theories and even totally unrelated stuff. However, one guy's behaviour striked me as extremely odd. He said something like "without proof, i'm not buying it". He said it five or six times in different wording - i'm not buying it, where's the proof, this is bullshit, yada-yada.

I got only one question - whatever happened to fucking research?! It was clear that the guy wasn't your usual office plant, it was pretty clear he was capable of questioning things and critical thinking (which is what most people lack). So why the fuck didn't he just go and research the fucking thing?! It's there, all over the Internet, all over the news! Well, news outlets didn't put it as clearly as i did, and most people would have difficulties translating "a helicopter crashed, people participating in earlier operation in Pakistan died" to "wake the fuck up, people, 22 out of 23 people participating in Bin Laden's supposed elimination are dead!", but the information is still there! There are forums, there are websites like Democratic Underground who could count as a semi-official news source, there are people, for fuck's sake!

Now, one can argue that reading shit on the Internet is the same as asking a bum across the street - you can't trust shit you read on the Internet. This is, of course, completely false, and people's opinion and "enemy" websites could be just as reliable source of information, and in many cases even more truthful since it's often unredacted, uncensored, raw intelligence waiting to be collected by the ones who is capable of connecting the dots, or is targeted directly towards what mainstream news fail to pinpoint or feel uncomfortable talking about.

And you can't trust official news outlets, because we know all too well that they're controlled by government and corporate interests. They can be hit with injunctions and super-injunctions (complete idiocy), they can be bribed or threatened, or even physically destroyed for what they could do (loads and loads of journalists were murdered for their stories).

The problem with such people is that they use this denial of validity of information as an argument. You tell them "hey, soldiers who killed Bin Laden are dead!", you get "i'm not buying it, it's bullshit, where's the proof". You tell them "hey, soldiers who killed Bin Laden are dead! It's in the news!" and you hear something like "nah, bullshit, don't watch the news - they're lying" in return. You go "hey, soldiers who killed Bin Laden are dead! Here's the link!", and get "nah, i don't trust any unofficial news sources or internet sites, it's propaganda" as a reply. Now what am i supposed to do in order to make this kind of people just look and see for themselves? Obviously, there's that alternative of not caring at all but that's not an option since not caring about shit is what got us into trouble in the first place.

So who do we trust? What do we believe? Not official news outlets. Not "enemy" websites and blogs. Not web forums and personal blogs. What then? I think the answer is pretty obvious. The answer is - don't blindly trust anything. Research your stuff, connect the dots, analyze, think through every detail. This is the only way. And this is exactly why the society needs things like free speech, whistleblowing and, most importantly, free (as in freedom) Internet. Many people are capable of connecting the dots (yeah, i still believe in humanity despite hating it so much), but not everyone is willing to do research, to question things and even to think - and that's why you have to force feed them with facts and information, or leave it where they can clearly see it (on web forums, in blogs, in news sites comments, everywhere they can be seen).
P.S. Oasis sucks.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Everyone has an opinion these days... Or do they?

I believe otherwise. Most people are dumb fucks. Yeah, that's right - even if you're reading this, there's a good chance that you're a dumb fuck.

Isn't it kinda sad that there's a big chance that you don't have your own opinion? That you believe everything you see, everything you hear and everything you think is true? Millions of people don't give a shit about anything. That's not to say not giving a shit is a problem in itself though, becayse face it - there's always something that you don't give a shit about - such as history of Ancient Greece, or inflation in Bolivia, or food prices in Mongolia. What really matters is what you actually give a shit about. And this is where it becomes complicated for most people. Millions of people care about shit that is completely useless from the grand perspective, such as football, or some Hollywood whore's love affairs, or the latest Cosmopolitan issue (you know, the dumbest magazine ever, with SEX in every headline). This is sad. But even more sad is the fact that these very people pretend to "know" shit, that they have an opinion.

Much of this so called opinion is often based on some stereotype, like oh, Muslims hate us for our freedoms, or shit like oh, women in society are being oppressed, or even something as crazy as if you're not gay - you won't get AIDS. This is what is dictated by mass media, stupid magazines, official news sources and society people live in.

But for fuck's sake, why is it always that having an opinion involves disagreeing with general public? Am i crazy for having an opinion that goes along with facts instead of bullshit, or is general public really so dumb? How can you even be so dumb?

Another interesting thing about having an opinion is that you rarely see people that can change it. Have you ever did so? Let me give you an example. I was a great unbeliever in official explanation of 9/11. I thought that the buildings were demolished, and planes are just a cover for invading Iraq. Now, i don't believe that the buildings were demolished. I still believe that it was a government-authorized operation and it really was used as an excuse to invade Iraq and erode freedoms all over the world, but at least i changed my opinion about the demolition thing. Have you?

Having an opinion also involves some sort of bias. When you believe in something, you selectively ignore and selectively hype the facts that are either uncomfortable or prove your belief. Problem is, you rarely hear an actual opinion from the "officials", because what you usually hear is "believe that, motherfucker". I wonder what Bush, Obama and all the others REALLY think about stuff.