Imagine messing up a laptop camera so badly that a return to normalcy is literally a headline feature

XPS 13 2019 review: One small move made Dell’s best laptop even better

Dell gave its XPS laptop an overhaul last year, but 2019 is all about refinement. Announced at CES, this year’s XPS 13 laptop looks largely the same as the 2018 model, but it has a few new and improved features that attempt to right some of the wrongs of the previous generation.

This is Web 2.0?

Until comes back to life I guess I’ll have to share my links the old-fashioned way: link blogging.

Expect this post to be updated until del comes back.

Helacyton gartleri – Disenchanted Dictionary
“Is this a new species? In 1991 the scientific community decided it was, and blessed HeLa [cancer] cells with its own genus and species: Helacyton gartleri, named by Van Valen & Maiorana.”
libcaca – Colour AsCii Art library
Better AAlib for better ascii art, patches for SDL and VLC available (and a great name to boot)
Stay Free! Daily: How Hip Health Plan helps breed superbugs
Holy cats, an HMO is breeding super-diseases by not authorizing complete antibiotics. This isn’t just bad, it’s dangerous to the whole human race.

Secure Email Meme

Oh boy, a chain blog entry! Dave Walker called me out to talk about securing email; who am I to refuse?

You should secure your email. Am I done?

OK, so that’s not the best supported argument. If everyone secured their email there would be virtually no spam, but any system that doesn’t show benefits at even 10% participation is more or less doomed. However, the benefit of securing email kick in much earlier when dealing with phishers.

One thing I worry about is whether my relatives are able to tell spoofed emails from real ones, and that they don’t provide personal information to any site emailed to them. If large companies start taking security seriously, if they start signing their emails and educate their users to look for their signature, we’ll start to see a dent in phishing. If Amazon, eBay, PayPal and various banks start, they’ll influence the smaller companies to start doing it.

To help influence the influencers, you can (and should!) start signing your emails today. There are two ways to get started, and they aren’t exclusive. Many people use both signatures in their emails. Either one will take about 15 minutes, much less than getting your first email account set up probably took.

The first is to get a free S/MIME certificate from a company like thawte. I did this a while ago but I lost my certificate and had to try to retrieve my password. It was a frustrating process; I assume registering in the first place was as well since I used “Which company is pissing you off right now?” for my 5th security question. However, I still recommend this method as easier and tech support was very helpful.

There’s an amazing guide for OS X Mail, as well as instructions for Thunderbird on Windows, and these signatures work for virtually all email clients. As soon as you get your certificate installed, your emails will start showing up as secure. How cool will that make you look, when your clients see your email in their inbox highlighted as secure?

Answer: moderately to not at all cool, but they’ll still be impressed with the geek mystique.

Continue reading “Secure Email Meme”

How Hollywood Manipulates Science

There was a story on Slashdot this morning about new research involving a giant ape. It’s awfully coincidental that this research came out 1 month before the King Kong movie. Think I’m being cynical? Listen to this NPR piece on how Hollywood manipulates science (8:54) to promote its movies.

Universal Pictures worked with paleontologists to ensure that dinosaur news would coincide with the release of each Jurassic Park movie. They even had one scientist lie about the discovery date of some fossils by a few weeks, in order to have the discovery date closer to Jurassic Park 3’s opening. He was fine with it, since Universal paid for a lot of his research. Universal is also the studio that is releasing King Kong.

Still think I’m being cynical?


MySQL wants to be Ikea of the database market. (via) The headline on its own is great, but MySQL and IKEA are actually pretty good parallels.

The people with $10,000 couches and $100,000 databases will always deride the cheapness, lack of certain design flourishes, and the fact that you generally have to put it together yourself. But that misses the point. It’s cheap, it does what it’s supposed to, and you can always replace it with the real thing when you start making enough to afford the name brand stuff.

Plus, for people who don’t know the benefits of the name brand stuff, we are perfectly content with our cheap knock-offs.

NYT on Floater Ads

The New York Times talks about floater ads, the ads that are actually in the same window as the content. On the downside they’re harder to block than popups, but the silver lining is that you know which site they came from so you can stop going there.

Whenever I see a link to IGN or Site Point or some other ad-heavy site I get that feeling that I get when I’m about to click on a PDF; I ask myself “Do I really need to deal with the interruption?” Usually the answer is no. Now I can mentally keep track of what sites make money off of annoying me, and give preference to sites that see respect their visitors.

If I were Macromedia I’d be figuring out a way to stop this. Do they really want to be known as the company that brought advertising more annoying than popups? Look at how well it worked for X10.

A softer world.

I got my book from A softer world and am very happy with it, although it took forever to get here. It doesn’t have anything that’s not on the web site, but it’s easier to leave out on the coffee table. They need an RSS feed, the only web comics I read are through Bloglines, although none of them actually include the images. Still, you should check them out.

Election Night Drink Specials

Election Night Drink Specials

I’m launching my latest project, Election Night Drink Specials. The goal is to provide a listing of all the bars in the country that will offer drink specials on November 2nd with people who have “I Voted” stickers.
I’m hoping to get more young people (especially college students) to vote because their bars are encouraging them to. So I’m encouraging bars to encourage people to vote by giving them free advertising.
There’s only one hitch – I haven’t been able to actually get any bars to sign up. The first bar to sign up is Ashley’s right here in Ann Arbor!
I talked to a couple drinking establishments and set out some feelers, but haven’t heard back. I need some help, especially if you happen to know someone who runs a bar. So if you have any tips, add them.
And thanks to David at Flippedlid for some design help, and Andy for some database talk through.