Many people hate the new Flickr design. It turns out there is a trick to show photo streams in a layout more similar to the old version. I read about it here and decided to turn it into something easier to use. I made this to help my gf who also hates the new layout.
This is a bookmarklet you can use. Click to add the required "?details=1“ to any page you want. Of course it will only work on pages that support this. It may break other pages. Just add this link to your favorites: Flickr Details. Every time you want to see the detailed version of the page, click the bookmarklet.
For those using Greasemonkey, there is also a simple userscript that will do the same. To install:
Open this page and copy all text (ctrl-a, ctrl-c): script
Open Greasemonkey and select New User Script
Click Use Script From Clipboard
All this comes with no guarantees, no support, and with a ”enjoy it while it works" message. I'm a tad too busy with other stuff these days, but I figured since I created this anyway, I might as well share it.
Every once in a while I find myself wanting to donate to programmers or charities, but I find the process annoying. A central service to handle all donations would be very useful.
I use a lot of free software. Very often these are open source applications or free games. A dozen Firefox add-ons, and many 'utility' programs on Windows. Even though these are free, there are many authors (programmers) that will gladly accept donations. And when a program is very useful, I like to donate. However, when I decide to donate, it is a bit of hassle to go look for the proper site, go through the entire process of entering payment details (credit card, Paypal, or whatever else is used). You see, donating usually happens after using the programming for a while, not when I first download it. At that time I am not sure yet if it will be useful.
When I make an (admittedly small) donation, spending over five minutes to have it processed is tiresome. Even more so if I want to make donations to several authors. Donating to five authors could easily take fifteen minutes.
A similar thing happens when I want to donate to charity. I have a hard time picking a specific charity or there are too many charities that seem to 'deserve' my money. I never know when I feel like I can afford to donate, or when the urge strikes. When it does, I want to donate without having to find the site. [Read More!]
In May of 2011, the EU decided on a regulation requires consent from site visitors before a web site can store cookies on the visitor's computer. There was a grace period for site owners to find a way to ask for this consent. And of course, by now most sites still do not comply with the regulations.
Since I am very interested in the issues of privacy and tracking myself, I want to at least make an attempt to comply with the regulation. The problem is, each EU country can implement the regulation in its own way, so it is hard to figure out exactly what to do. It seems like the UK approach is fairly strict and since I host my site in the UK, I figure I should try to implement consent this way. If it the UK approach is indeed more strict than Dutch regulations, I figure it is better to go with the most strict option.
So, starting today you will notice a little 'pop up' type of banner at the top of your page on every visit if you do not consent to cookie use. The banner will disappear after 20 seconds. If you do not accept and continue, non-essential cookies will not be used. Right now, the only cookies this applies to are those of Google Analytics. If you do accept, the site will use non-essential cookies and the banner will disappear. Ironically, it disappears because it sets a cookie that stores your consent. I am using code for this consent script from this site.
Please note: if you visit www.golb.org and then go to golb.org, you may have to give consent again. And of course if your browser blocks cookies or if you clear cookies, you will have to give consent again next time you visit. Ah, don't you just love regulations?
I urge you to read up on cookies and online privacy in general. You may want to find out how to change your browser settings to handle cookies in a way you are comfortable with. There are some links on my privacy page. And of course you can always keep an eye on the privacy posts on this blog.
We all know archiving files and making frequent backups is important to prevent data loss. But backing up files can be such a hassle. Quite often we limit ourselves to an infrequent backup at best.
For those of us who are quite actively creating content, a more frequent back up practice is important. But I feel it is not important enough to back up my entire system. After all, 80% of the stuff will be the same every time. That's all Windows operating system stuff. What really matters, are my pictures and documents. Instead of using a full fledged cloning program to create back ups of these files, I find a program like XXCOPY much easier to use. And “easy” means “I may actually do this”. [Read More!]
I recently made the switch to a smartphone running Android. The phone comes with access to the Android Market, a collection of applications (apps) one can download and use on the phone. Up until recently, this was only available on the phone. This makes sense, since one would browse the market, select an app and then install it on the phone.
While accessing the market on the phone worked ok, I found it annoying to just browse through long lists of apps. Perhaps it is my phone, perhaps my wifi network, but it would sometimes be quite slow. Now the market is available as a web site as well, at https://market.android.com/. This makes browsing a lot easier. I find myself looking through available apps more often than before, during moments of boredom (ahem) at my desktop.
I wonder if I am just too old-fashioned to use a smartphone
After seven years of service, Ask.com will pull the plug on Bloglines, the online RSS reader. This is a sad time for me. Yes, I know, Bloglines sucked for a while and almost everyone has moved on by now. But I like the clean and simple interface of the old version. Never had a need for the beta version either. The sparseness works for me, as it lets me concentrate on what matters: the content of the feeds.
Unfortunately, there are not many alternatives left. I have looked at Netvibes and it seems like I could use it. The only other alternative is Google Reader which I will probably use. Google reader has some advantages, as it seems slightly faster than Netvibes and somewhat more less clunky to use. But it certainly isn't perfect for my needs. I guess nothing is right now. My main objection when switching to Google is an increasing aversion against Google and its data hunger. It already knows what I search for, it thinks it knows what kind of ads I want to see, and now it wants to decide which mails are more important to me. But I digress. So, Google reaer probably, since there aren't any good alternatives left.
Yes, I have looked at installing my own RSS software on my server, but right now that is a bigger project than I want to get into. Offline readers are no option either, since I use many different computers. Although I may switch to an offline reader if I can get it to run from USB.
Bloglines, you had some fans left and will be missed. Thank you for seven years of service.
Schiphol (Amsterdam) airport is now using millimeter wave scanners as a security measure. Passengers are screened either with this new technology, or by full hand search.
There has a been a lot of controversy over all kinds of body scanners. This often focuses on the type of image generated by the scanners and whether or not these images are stored or viewed. After all, knowing someone sees an image of your body without it being covered by clothes can be quite an invasion of privacy. I for one would not want this kind of image to be taken, knowing some strangers is looking at it. Even if it is not technically a picture of me 'naked', it does bear quite a resemblance, as shown by the following example:
Security and law enforcement officials are quick to point out that the actual image is only seen by someone at a different location, someone who is not at the screening station and does not know whose image he is looking at. Many of them also point out images will not be stored. Yet most of these scanners come with the option to store images and sometimes images are stored. Perhaps not at an airport, but in at least one other US case. But even if the images are not stored, knowing someone looks at your image can be upsetting. Just take the account of a TSA employee who attacked a colleague after being ridiculed. [Read More!]
Image editing software can be quite expensive, but Paint.NET and GIMP are great alternatives that are free to use.
Every once in a while I notice I never got around to blogging about software that I like a lot. So I want to mention to image editors that are free but chock full of functionality. Both are great alternatives to such expensive commercial suites as Adobe Photoshop and the likes. Yes, Photoshop is the standard and has even made it to being a verb. That does not mean you have to shell out hundreds of bucks just to create your own mashup image, or to get rid of that zit on the picture you plan to post to that dating site.
When I started to mess around with some basic image editing a couple of years ago, I started with GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). GIMP is free and it is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows. GIMP has a ton of options, but I found slightly hard to learn. Probably because it has so many options, I got lost in figuring out how to use it. I also found its user interface hard to get used to. I consider this program best for real serious editing.
My current program of choice is Paint.NET. Also free, but Windows only. Windows is not even enough, you need Microsoft's .NET Framework. Don't worry though. If you don't have .NET installed, the Paint.NET installer will install it for you. Pain.NET's interface is easier to get used to, and its basic options are easy to use. But even with this program, more detailed image manipulation is possible.
No doubt there must be many more alternatives to Photoshop that you can chose from. Right now, I am very satisfied with Paint.NET, and knowing I can switch to GIMP if Paint.NET seems insufficient. If you are looking for a program to get started, I suggest you try Paint.NET first.
Canadian author Peter Watts got into trouble with US border guards during an 'exit search' on his way out of the US. It seems he has been found guilty of obstructing or resisting the border guards, because (going by his own account, see below) he did not do as he was being told right away, but asked 'why' before complying. (Hey, this is my interpretation of the event and the information I will take with me next time I happen to come across a US law enforcement official)
“After Beaudry had finished whaling on me in the car, and stepped outside, and ordered me out of the vehicle; after I’d complied with that, and was standing motionless beside the car, and Beaudry told me to get on the ground — I just stood there, saying “What is the problem?”, just before Beaudry maced me.
And that, said the Prosecutor in her final remarks — that, right there, was failure to comply. That was enough to convict. ” [Source]
So the lesson I learn from this, is to never question and always obey. Which is extremely contrary to my usual approach, as I hate injustice and would want to know why I am being treated like a suspect or criminal. I know we're all supposed to make sure we know all the laws and regulations of both our own country and of any country we visit, but most of the time I rely on common sense. This is one of those cases where that would be a big mistake. A compounding problem is that nowhere will it state what the limits of power are. What kind of commands can be issued that you cannot question? My guess is “any” and that is what I will have to go by in a similar situation. Which I hope to never end up in.
I hope April 26 will bring a sensible 'sentence' in this case, one of little impact on mr. Watts life. Well, besides the actual conviction of course, which is extremely bad in itself.
Many years ago, at that great time of the Amiga, one of the shooters I enjoyed was the series of Alien Breed games. The games were very detailed for that time, and game play was pretty intense. And just when I thought I killed them all, the aliens are back. This time on the Xbox 360 (and PS3/PC as well, I think). The new game is called Alien Breed Evolution, and I spent some time playing the trial game last night. It has a similar game play as the original game, but incredibly updated and stunning graphics and an even darker feel than the original. I find it a very impressing game for the Xbox Live Arcade service.
I won't give you a complete review of the game, as I only played the trial. Besides, I just read this long review, which does a much better job of reviewing than I could ever do. I will, however, give you a comparison of one of the original games and the new version. The video of the original is actually a game-play video over 2 hours long. Great memories!