From Pine View Farm

Geek Stuff category archive

Devolution 0

Elvie enters the room carrying a paint roller and says,

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Facebook Frolics 0

Writing for the EFF, Katherine Trendacosta argues that Facebook, like Crabby Appleton, is rotten to the core. A nugget:

For Facebook, the heat never dies down. The company is always in the middle of one spectacular scandal or another. Haugen’s testimony confirms what we long suspected – Facebook’s neverending crises are the result of a rotten corporate culture and awful priorities.

Ms. Haugen told Congress that she thinks Facebook should be reformed, not broken up. But Facebook’s broken system is fueled by a growth-at-any-cost model. The number of Facebook users and the increasing depth of the data it gathers about them is its biggest selling point. In other words, Facebook’s badness is inextricably tied to its bigness.

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Facebook Frolics 0

Through the glasses, darkly . . . .

Afterthought:

The surveillance state is real, fueled, not by the government, but by private greed shilling for sales and by pathetic individuals shouting into their “smart” phones, “Look at me, me, me, me! I’m an influencer!”

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Geeking Out 0

Listening to The Bishop’s Secret by Fergus Hume using QMMP on Ubuntu MATE under the Plasma Desktop. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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Aside:

The Bishop’s Secret is a darn good listen. As a mystery, it is so-so. As a comedy of manners, it is superb.

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Proctoring Gamble 0

I have seen numerous references to schools and colleges monitoring of student behavior during these times of remote teaching via Zoom and similar applications.

Like Google and Facebook, they watch what students are doing on their computers to make sure they are behaving the way the educational institution thinks they should behave or, indeed, have the unmitigated gall to take a bathroom break or get a Coke (Above the Law has some particularly egregious examples from bar exams).

At Psychology Today Blogs, Phil Reed takes a look at the larger issue machine learning and includes some strong thoughts on micromanaged digital monitoring. Here’s a bit:

In fact, the new digital approaches to learning retain all of the old aversiveness of classrooms from the 1930s but now coupled with a rather unpleasant odour of Orwell’s 1984. The fact that digital environments lend themselves so easily to this type of Big Brother-esque monitoring and control does not mean that they should be used in that way. Controlling learning, like governing, by aversive outcomes does not work. The fact that it is used so often may say something about the psychology of those setting up such systems, but it does not say much for their reading of the science of learning.

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Geeking Out 0

Updating a VirtualBox virtual machine of Linux Mint MATE using the command line (the command line is always faster, if you know the commands) on Mageia v. 8 under the Fluxbox window manager. The Mint wallpaper is from Mint. The Mageia wallpaper is from my collection.

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Geeking Out 0

I do likes me my pretty pictures.

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Mageia v. 8 with Fluxbox. GKrellM and Xclock are to the right. Thunderbird and Firefox are shaded in a tabbed window. The wallpaper is from my collecction.

And, no, you can’t shade or tab applications if you use Windows.

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Geeking Out 0

Mageia v. 8 with the Fluxbox window manager. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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Facebook Frolics 0

Photo phrolics.

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Misty Water-Colored Memories 0

I’m watching an episode of Midsomer Murders in which a 3 1/2 inch floppy disk plays a crucial role. (The housing was not floppy, but the disk inside it was.)

Remember 3 1/2 inch floppy disks?

I threw all of mine out about five years ago, including a 16 disk installation set for OS/2 Warp, which I used to run a PCBoard BBS for my employer of the time.

Those were the days . . . .

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Routine Maintenance 0

I recently had all the water cutoffs in my residence replaced because none of them cut off the water any more. But hey! they were all over 30 years old, and stuff wears out. (I had the primary cutoff replaced about a year ago with a nice ball valve for the same reason.)

This applies to blogs and bloggers, also. I just removed “Margaret and Helen” from my blogroll because there’s not been a new post there for over six months (which, by the way, is a darned shame–it was fun to read).

Bloggers, maintain your blogrolls and remove defunct blogs. I can’t count how many times I’ve clicked on a link in a blogroll only to get a 404 or to find that the latest post was in aught-something or other.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

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Meta: Down at the Farm 0

A little while ago, I installed a plugin to make this site more mobile-friendly, and it crashed the site.

When I tried to load the site, everything loaded except the posts. If I clicked to go to behind the curtain to the admin area, a message popped up from WordPress telling me that the site had suffered a fatal error and directing me to the WordPress help files. It was “down at the farm” for about half an hour.

After 16 years, I would rather not lose this blog.

After puzzling for a few moments, I went to the backend of the website, which was accessible via my hosting provider, and opened phpMyAdmin and tried routine database maintenance (check, repair, optimize), to no avail.

In a flash of quite accidental what turned out to be brilliance, I opened the file manager in cpanel, navigated to the appropriate directory, and deleted the directory containing the files of said plugin.

And I’m back.

(Wiping sweat from brow) That was a close one!

And I’ll not try that plugin again, as it clearly is a malignant kludge, but I will thank it for giving me a chance to learn something.

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Geeking Out, Macabre Dept. 0

The COVID-19 screensaver from the Xscreensaver suite on Debian Buster/Sid.

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Happy Birthday to Me 0

This blog celebrates its 16th birthday today.

Who woulda thunk?

I started it because someone in one of my training classes (I was training technicians in how to use and maintain my employer’s software at the time) told me I could self-host my website using Linux. As I had a spare computer lying around, thanks to a coworker, I installed Slackware v. 10.x quite by accident (whatever Linux I tried to install first didn’t work) and, after four months, got Apache working and brought the site online with the help of noip.com.

The blog, frankly, was an afterthought. I did it because I could, not because I had a burning desire to blog.

I haven’t self-hosted for more than a decade, the other parts of my old website are long out of date and have been removed from the site, but the blog lives on.

Every time I think of abandoning this–I guess you could all it–avocation, something comes along to re-ignite my outrage at our society of stupid.

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Geeking Out 0

Looking at a map of southwest England, where I spent my Junior Year Abroad at the University of Exeter, using Marble on Mageia v. 8 under the Fluxbox window manager.

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Recommended Reading 0

It’s all about the algorithm

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Facebook Frolics 0

The EFF weighs in the inimical implications on Facebook’s decision to wall off its garden from legitimate academic research. A snippet:


While Facebook claims it “do[es]n’t allow misinformation in [its] ads”, it has been hesitant to block false political ads, and it continues to provide tools that enable fringe interests to shape public debate and scam users. For example, two groups were found to be funding the majority of antivaccine ads on the platform in 2019. More recently, the U.S. Surgeon General spoke out on the platform’s role in misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic—and just this week Facebook stopped a Russian advertising agency from using the platform to spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Everyone from oil and gas companies to political campaigns has used Facebook to push their own twisted narratives and erode public discourse.

Revealing the secrets behind this surveillance-based ecosystem to public scrutiny is the first step in reclaiming our public discourse.

The Zuckerborg is the fast lane of the disinformation superhighway.

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Geeking Out 0

Listening to a Sherlock Holmes OTR radio show from the Old Time Radio Theater with the QMMP media player on Ubuntu MATE with the Fluxbox window manager. Shaded in a tabbed window are Thunderbird, Firefox, and Konqueror. To the right are Xclock and GKrellM. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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Geeking Out 0

My Mageia desktop under the Fluxbox window manager. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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Geeking Out 0

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Fluxbox on Mageia v. 8. The wallpaper is from my collection.

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