Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Goodbye Firefox

Last night I removed Firefox from my computer. It was my one and only browser for years and years. I loved the personalization you could do. Most of the add-ons I had were security related. Things like No Script, Ad Block Plus & Cookie Monster. Not to mention WOT.

But since version 29, the browser has become unusable. I have no idea what the people writing the code have done, but they have ruined it. How am I supposed to use a browser that crashes within a minute of opening? This never happened before. I go all the way back to Firefox 2. At the time I was using a slow XP machine with only 64 GB of storage & 128 MB of RAM. My current machine runs Windows 7 SP 1, has 640 GB of storage & 4 GB of RAM. I also have double the speed of my previous machine & get double the speed from my ISP. So that's not the problem.

So a few months ago I was forced to install Chrome. If I could, I would continue to use Firefox because it's just a better experience, & I like that Firefox has a sidebar. But I can't use it because of its crashing problems. Again yesterday was one of the few times I had opened it in the last month, & within a minute it crashed. Meanwhile I still use Thunderbird, which has no issues. Want to know why? Mozilla stopped developing it a while back, so they weren't able to ruin it. Just amazing.

Maybe some outside group can create a usable fork that works. I suspect Mozilla wouldn't like that because everyone would move over to that. You know, like how everone moved from Open Office to Libre Office.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

John Oliver on Net Neutrality

For those of you who have heard about Net Neutrality but are not actually sure what it means or why it's a big deal, I would suggest you watch HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

This was a 13 minute description of what the cable companies are trying to do. Yes, it's a comedy show, & there were plenty of laughs in the segment, but Oliver, a former Daily Show "correspondent" gives the best and most complete explanation out there. Shame on CNN & all the other networks for ceding the job of providing information to a comedy show on a premium channel.

Here's the good news- the entire segment is on YouTube. All you have to do is go on YouTube & type in Last Week Tonight & all videos will show up. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Why Netflix Can't Stream Some Shows

The technology term of the year is "cord cutting". This is a referral to getting rid of cable & watching everything online, as if the system is easier than  using Comcast or Directv.

It's not a perfect system because of the contracts studios & networks will make with various online partners. For instance: Hulu puts up shows 7 days after broadcast per the wishes of the networks. This isn't for all shows, but does apply to some. You also can't go back more than a few episodes. CBS puts up everything the next day, but the player is horrid & freezes up to the point that it's unwatchable.

Some websites ask for proof that you are a paying customer of a cable or satellite subscription. This defeats the purpose of watching online & the only reason for the existence is if you were out when the show was broadcast & this is the only way of seeing the episode. HBOGo does this, but in that case it is a premium channel afterall. However it is pretty well acknowledged that lots of subscribers are giving their passwords to non subscriber friends & relatives. That would explain Game of Thrones having the viewership of NCIS. HBO doesn't appear to mind, because it gives the show a buzz it wouldn't have otherwise.

The other problem is exclusive agreements. Take for instance the FX series Justified. Netflix doesn't stream this show. Not back episodes, nothing. You have to rent the season DVD's. So for people who aren't renting DVD's, you're out of luck. Now Netflix does stream Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Dexter & other shows of that type. But Justified is only available for streaming on Amazon Prime. So you would have to not only pay $8 a month to Netflix but another $99 a year to Amazon for the privilege.

This is where the supposed future of viewing gives way to the reality of the present. The networks & the studios will always do what is in their supposed best interest. Regardless what you or I think, or podcast hosts like Brian Brushwood, this isn't going to change anytime soon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Windows Explorer Has Stopped Responding

Sometimes Windows likes to play tricks. Today was one of those times. After about a half an hour of entertaining myself on Reddit, I decided to close my browser. I was doing something else at the time, namely some laundry. Heard the dryer go off, so I decided I would delete all the history, then put the computer to sleep.

Well, it appeared Chrome had other ideas. Namely it sort of froze while deleting. Somehow I managed to close it, then tried to re-open it, & it kept closing. So I said "the heck with this", & tried to open Firefox. Same thing.

So I decided to restart the computer. I couldn't even do that because apparently Explorer wouldn't shut down. I was forced to do a hard boot, something not recommended, but at least that worked. I guess things are alright now.

I had already run my anti-virus scan this morning, so that's not the problem. I just think that all computers have these glitches once in a while. I do not use this machine like some people. I'm not a power user.

I watch Netflix on this computer because I'm a poor soul. I have no Wi-Fi & my TV isn't a flat screen HD set. It's a 25" tube TV, no HD & obviously no HDMI port. So no streaming through a blu-ray player or a Roku. (Funny thing is I work for a company that makes hard drives for Roku boxes)

I know what some of you will say "get a mac". What is the difference? I seriously don't believe a mac is any better than my HP. I like to say Apple sells $500 computers for 2G. Am I wrong? There was just an article yesterday in the SJ Merc about the highly touted "Genius bar", & how much they're used. If macs were so great there would be no need for these. just my 2 cents.

Anyway, I had to vent. I was thinking of returning to blogging. I just didn't think it would be about this. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

iTunes Update Messes Up iPod Synching

I tend to ignore the constant updates Apple does to iTunes. The reason is the reputation of major problems following updates. This could be solved if there was a different system in place. This is the only software I know that makes you install the entire 200 MB package all over again.

So here's what happened to me. After several months of ignoring the update, I finally installed it a couple of weeks ago. Then yesterday I bought the iTunes LP "The Resistance" by Muse. (Amazingly the extra stuff like photos, videos & lyrics took longer to download than the entire album) Fine. Then I burned a CD like I always do. The reason is to make sure I have a backup. Plus it's an audio CD I can play, so I know the download actually worked, & I can re-install it if something happens to the computer.

Again this worked fine. Then I plugged my 4th generation nano into my computer. Not so fine. It never showed up in the sidebar. So I unplugged the nano, plugged the USB cable into a different port. Still nothing. Went online, looked for info. Lots of convoluted explanations of what to do. Finally shut down iTunes & restarted it. Then it worked. Whoopee!

All I can guess is that I haven't syncronized my iPod in quite a while, & certainly not with this version. This also is not the first time this has happened. It seems to be a problem with new downloads. If I add a Cd in my collection it doesn't seem to do this. Meaning that strangely, iTunes sometimes has issues with it's own files, which doesn't seem to make sense. It should have more problems with outside devices like CD's,especially since you don't have to be logged in to upload a CD.

I still contend, although Apple would disagree, that the music store should be separate from the manager/player. Put the store online, meaning make it a website like Amazon. After all, you can download from Amazon & have the file sent directly to iTunes, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Once you do that, iTunes becomes a smaller program, with probably less need of absurdly large update files. The use of Quicktime appears to be an issue to some people. Not sure if thats my issue or not. Not popups saying it is, but I notice in the support forums that it is for a lot of people. Remove it, either use the hated Flash (I've never had an issue- all video works fine on my computer), or HTML5. Size diminishes, meaning less problems.    

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why We Can't Vote Online

Today is election day. Like a large number of people on the west coast, I voted weeks ago by mail. In my state (California-largest in population), over 50% will vote by mail. The two neighboring states of Oregon & Washington are 100% vote by mail. Voter participation is high for this reason.

Could it be even higher? Why can't we log on to a voting website & do it that way? Because of fraud. It is well known how certain groups are good at hacking. Touch screen voting was a disaster here & other places because of software issues. Issues that included counting all votes for one candidate than who the person actually selected. Paper receipts were eventually required, but that didn't help.

The Republican Party & it's mouthpieces talk about voter fraud, but in-person voting has very little. They just don't want people to vote, especially minorities because they know they will vote Democratic. So they send out "watchdog groups" to intimidate voters. This is not democracy.

So how can we get voting to join the 21st Century? There has to be a concerted effort to make online voting possible. Mail voting still means hand counting. Meaning someone with an agenda can cook the results. Software needs to be created that can't be hacked, or at least is very hard to, so one can vote through a smartphone app, or by going to a secure website. Once that's done, we can take care of a bigger problem. The fact that only 60% of eligible voters cast a ballot.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mickey Mouse Meets Darth Vader

I was very surprised when I read that George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm to Disney. Then I saw the video where he said he had been planning to retire for the last four years. This is a big deal.

Then Bob Iger says there will be 3 new films. Remember, at one time it was claimed that there were supposed to be nine films. The original 3, 3 that took place before (that would be trilogy #2), & 3 that took place after the events of SWIV (Return of the Jedi). 

The only question is the actors. Do you set it enough in the future (30+ years) that you can have Harrison Ford & Mark Hamill play their characters at real age? If they even want to do it. Or a different time frame.

And does Disney release new DVD's using that annoying business of "last chance before it goes in the vault for 10 years"?

Or is this deal just an excuse for Disney to get hold of a real special effects company, namely ILM? And will Lee Corso now have to dress as Yoda?