Darwin's Theories http://theories.darwinsys.com/ New Theories for a New Time 2017-10-18T12:28:49-04:00 © 2015 Ian Darwin Less Tracking When Sharing Links Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2017/03/18/12/10000000000 Almost everyone who's active on the web has shared a link to a web page with someone. What many people don't know is that there is a bunch of garbage in most links that should be removed. It looks something like the following: <pre> ?utm_content=jjjj... Almost everyone who's active on the web has shared a link to a web page with someone. What many people don't know is that there is a bunch of garbage in most links that should be removed. It looks something like the following: <pre> ?utm_content=jjjjjjjj&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer </pre> The thing to note is that a full Web URL looks like this: <pre> https://hostname.com/something/something?p1=value&p2=value&p3=value </pre> The "something" parts have to be kept. The parameters are in the form "name=value", but the FIRST one has to have a ? before it and all the rest have to have an ampersand before them. Any parameters beginning with "utm_" are for tracking purposes, and can be removed. But you can't just snip with the first "utm_" parameter, because there may be parameters after it that are needed for the link to work. For example, <pre> https://hostname.com/current/news?utm_content=jjjjjjjj&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&story=1234&lang=en </pre> If you share this link, you should cut everything from the first "utm_" name to the last "utm_" value, so the link you share should look like this: <pre> https://hostname.com/current/news?story=1234&lang=en </pre> That is, you delete all the "utm_" stuff, but keep any other parameters, and keep to the "first parameter with ?, subsequent ones with &" rule. <p> You don't have to do this "tracking removal" when sharing, but if you do, you will reduce the amount of tracking your friends get. And you'll actually be doing the host site a favor by not replicating tracking information that is no longer valid after your share. If you want to get creative and replace the utm_source with your own imaginary (or actual) web site, there's probably nothing stopping you, and it probably won't hurt anything. Just don't point it at another commercial site, because it may result in them getting paid for your referral! 2017-03-18T11:11:00-04:00 Are 'chemicals' dangerous? Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2017/03/18/0000000000000 On clarity: I've had this discussion with several people, so I'm posting it here: Please don't tell me you "don't work with chemicals" or "don't use chemicals"! If you mean "hazardous substances" or "toxic substances" then for clarity's sake please ... On clarity: I've had this discussion with several people, so I'm posting it here: Please don't tell me you "don't work with chemicals" or "don't use chemicals"! If you mean "hazardous substances" or "toxic substances" then for clarity's sake please say so. You cannot live without chemicals. Two in particular: air and water. Air is a mixture of many chemicals in gaseous form. Water is "dihydrogen oxide" or as everybody learns in school H<sub>2</sub>0. These are but two chemicals you can neither work nor live without - there are of course many others. A chemical is, by a rough definition, <i>a substance that can't be decomposed by physical separation</i> (like filtration). Milk, for example, is not a single chemical: you can separate milk into cream and buttermilk using a centrifuge (or a hand-cranked cream separator on a small farm; I used one of those at one point in my youth). But if you centrifuge pure water you will get... drumroll please... water. It's a chemical. So please, don't disparage all "chemicals", any more than you would disparage all people when you mean a particular group, such as criminals, politicians, or whomever. 2017-03-18T10:25:33-04:00 Ports Madness Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2017/02/29/0000000000000 Whenever I have to use almost any ports/packaging scheme other than OpenBSD's, I am blown away by their complexity. I marvel at how easy it is to use OpenBSD's ports by contrast. <p> For eample, on the "easy to use" Mac OS X, I recently upgrade a a M... Whenever I have to use almost any ports/packaging scheme other than OpenBSD's, I am blown away by their complexity. I marvel at how easy it is to use OpenBSD's ports by contrast. <p> For eample, on the "easy to use" Mac OS X, I recently upgrade a a Mac from OS 10.9 to 10.10, and MacPorts totally stopped working! I was directed to their migration page, where this abomination came into view: (from https://trac.macports.org/wiki/Migration as of 2015-04-19): <pre> 3. Reinstall ports. To reinstall your ports: Save the list of installed ports: port -qv installed > myports.txt (optional) Save the list of requested ports: port echo requested | cut -d ' ' -f 1 > requested.txt Uninstall all installed ports: sudo port -f uninstall installed Clean any partially-completed builds: sudo port clean all Download and execute the restore_ports script. (If you installed MacPorts from source and used a custom prefix, then you'll need to use the -p option when you run restore_ports.tcl; see ./restore_ports.tcl -h.) curl -O https://svn.macports.org/repository/macports/contrib/restore_ports/restore_ports.tcl chmod +x restore_ports.tcl sudo ./restore_ports.tcl myports.txt (optional) Restore requested status: If you saved the list of requested ports, you can now restore the requested flags for your newly installed ports to their former states. sudo port unsetrequested installed xargs sudo port setrequested < requested.txt </pre> Seriously? They expect users to run that? <p> On OpenBSD, you'd just to "pkg_add -vu" and be done. What part of "keep it simple" to these people not get? And, special thanks to Marc Espie and the rest of the ports team for totally rebuilding and maintaining the OpenBSD ports systems and to the entire team of ports maintainers! 2017-03-01T10:23:45-05:00 Images, Truth, and the American Media Way Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2017/01/23/1439000000000 <b>MetaData</b>. It's something of a bad word since Snowden revealed the US NSA was illegally recording it. But the word just means "data about data". For a phone call, a spy agency might log such things as the caller and callee's phone numbers, their cell tower connection (or building location for a "land line" phone), time of call, duration, what "CODEC" was used to convert analog voice into digital data (this would matter if they need to analyze it for background noise), which end(s) paid for the call if it's long disance, and so on. The regular (non-meta) data would be the conversation itself. For a digital photograph, the metadata written by your camera or smartphone for every shot you take includes the camera make and model, the exposure data (lens focal length, aperture or "f stop", shutter speed), date and time, possibly the photographer's name and/or copyright information, maybe the GPS coordinates (lattitude, longitude, altitude, speed and direction if moving, ...). The non-meta data is the dots (pixels) that make up the image. You can see where I'm going with this: if we can determine when and where a picture was taken, that can give us valuable clues to shape how we interpret it. If a picture of a presidential inauguration claims to show a half-empty national mall at noon, the metadata may help us confirm or deny that the picture was taken there at noon. <p> The problem with picture metadata is that it's not 100% trustworthy, because it's not stored in any kind of write-once memory. It's just stored in the same JPEG or other file along with the regular data. If the picture has a time stamp of a minute past noon, it may be correct. But just like a picture may have been altered using any graphics editor, the metadata also may have been altered. There are sometimes good reasons to reset a timestamp. For example, a picture I took on film in the 1990's and scanned today would show it was created in 2017, so I routinely reset the date on scanned images to be the date I actually took them. On the other hand, if the time stamp says a picture was taken at 9 AM on a given day and it's claimed to be taken at noon, either somebody at the news agency goofed (they may have looked at the disk filesystem metadata to see that the picture was copied from a memory card to a hard disk at 12:01) or they may be just lying and careless. Or, the third choice, popular among conspiracy theorists, is that the timestamp was deliberately tampered, as a sort of "false flag" argument. I'm not a big fan of this one. On a sunny day we could also tell by the shadow directions, but US presidential inaugurations are held in January, when it's usually overcast in DC. </p><p> Since it's not trustworthy, as well as for privacy, social media sites typically just delete all the metadata when you upload a picture. </p><p> There's nothing magical about camera metadata; it's not encrypted, and there are plenty of tools to display and alter it. I use one called "exiv2", which you can download for free from <a href="http://www.exiv2.org/">https://www.exiv2.org/</a>. Exiv2 is open source, so any computer programmer can look at it and see that is doing exactly what it claims to. </p><p> Now let's look at some of the noon photos that show a largely-empty National Mall. </p><p> The AP photo coverage is here: <a href="https://twitter.com/AP_Politics/status/822548676795133954">https://twitter.com/AP_Politics/status/822548676795133954</a>, claiming to be taken "shortly before noon". CNN repeats this position here: </p><p> <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/donald-trump-barack-obama-inauguration-crowd-size/index.html">http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/donald-trump-barack-obama-inauguration-crowd-size/index.html</a> </p><p> But note that their version is quite different from the AP picture. Both the 2009 and 2017 pictures have an empty band in the middle, of about the same size, which makes sense for a security corridor. The 2009 certainly is packed right to the back. But look at the back part of the mall in this 2017 version, and all but the last two fenced sections are full. </p><p> CNN and AP don't make their picture metadata available to the public. But when AP sells a picture to a news organization, it typically leaves it in so the editors can exercise due diligence, e.g., look at the metadata. I think they're supposed to strip it, but not all do. A news site called "inquisitr.com" didn't. Look at <a href="http://www.inquisitr.com/3903950/president-obama-had-about-one-million-more-people-than-president-trumps-inauguration-crowd-aerial-photos/ ">http://www.inquisitr.com/3903950/president-obama-had-about-one-million-more-people-than-president-trumps-inauguration-crowd-aerial-photos/ </a> The first image has the Lincoln Monument and the buildings behind it bathed in the red sun of early morning, obviously not taken anytime around noon. The second, the one with the horse's posterior in the middle foreground, also shows the back four rows empty. <a href="http://cdn.inquisitr.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/inauguration-crowd-photos-trump-2.jpg">http://cdn.inquisitr.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/inauguration-crowd-photos-trump-2.jpg</a> shows one of the five fenced sections behind the middle break full, and the last 4 empty. Conveniently for us, this picture has its metadata intact. When was it taken? Let's examine the metadata from this picture, using exiv2: </p><pre>$ exiv2 inauguration-crowd-photos-trump-2.jpg File name : inauguration-crowd-photos-trump-2.jpg File size : 74707 Bytes MIME type : image/jpeg Image size : 512 x 343 Camera make : Canon Camera model : Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Image timestamp : 2017:01:20 09:08:48 Image number : Exposure time : 1/250 s Aperture : F9 Exposure bias : 0 EV Flash : No, compulsory Flash bias : Focal length : 350.0 mm Subject distance: Infinity ISO speed : 2000 Exposure mode : Manual Metering mode : Multi-segment Macro mode : Image quality : Exif Resolution : 5472 x 3648 White balance : Auto Thumbnail : image/jpeg, 9237 Bytes Copyright : Exif comment : </pre> <p> The <em>Exposure mode: Manual</em> is one of the hallmarks of a pro photographer (others include the gear used, the quality of the pictures, and the organization they're working for). The size 512 x 343 tells us that the image has been shrunken from its original (which was 5472 x 3648), but the date stamp tells us what we need to know. This picture <i>appears</i> to have been taken at 9 AM. But was it? The AP photographer who's credited with this picture lives in the DC area, so we can't blame the 9 AM timestamp on, say, a west-coast photog taking it at noon with their camera still set on west coast time. I've reached out to this photog, but had not heard anything by press time. The other picture, number 4 on the Inquisitr site, has a slightly earlier timestamp. It seems likely that these pictures were taken around 9 in the morning. </p><p> I do not blame the photographers, <em>and ask y'all to respect their privacy</em>. A working pro will typically be on site hours before an event begins, for many reasons: to get a good spot, to be sure of not getting stuck in traffic, to be sure any equipment damaged (in transit, by protestors or by police action, or even by the photographer by accident) can be replaced, etc. And the pro will start shooting as soon as they get there. And they will, periodically, dump their memory cards onto a hard disk connected to a computer, which will upload them to the company's servers. That computer's file system metadata will record the time the file was copied, not the time the picture was taken. And there are always tight deadlines at a news service, particularly for an event that is only scheduled once every four years. So it would be easy for somebody in the AP office, or the various papers that buy the photo, to be in a hurry and look at the filesystem metadata. But it would also be easy for somebody with bad intentions to pick the "wrong" picture. </p><p> We may never know what actually happened. </p><p> But we don't have to. Because CNN has recorded a picture for us that shows the crowd filling 4 of the back 5 fence sections! They called it a "gigapixel" since it's made of many, many megapixel images (typical news photographers work with 20-25 megapixel cameras, meaning each picture has 20,000,000 individual color dots). And it was taken during the speech. You can see it here: <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2017/01/politics/trump-inauguration-gigapixel/">http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2017/01/politics/trump-inauguration-gigapixel/</a> It is interactive. Use your mouse to slide left or right until you can see the Lincoln Monument and the National Mall. Now if you're on a phone or on a device with a touchscreen, pinch to zoom in on the far end of the mall, otherwise use the + button at the bottom. Unless this picture has been altered, or taken down, it will look like the screenshot I made around noon on Monday, 2017-01-23. A lot of people in red baseball caps, so you can be sure it's not a paste-in from an Obama inauguration! </p><p> <img src="https://darwinsys.com/blogimages/cnn-trump-gigapixel-screen.png" alt="Screen grab from CNN gigapixel" width="1279" height="720"> </p><p> So the questions are: why did CNN show two such different pictures of the same event and claim them to be at the same time? Any how did both AP and CNN make the same "mistake" at the same time? </p><p> And what can we conclude? Of course there are other data available: transit ridership was down, bus parking was down, and so on. Perhaps all we can say for sure is that Trump's inauguration attendance figures were smaller than Obama's, and larger than reported by the mainstream media. </p><p> </p><hr> <p> <b>Full Disclosure</b>: I am a computer nerd and a photographer. I not a fan either of Trump or of Clinton, only of the truth. </p> 2017-01-23T14:39:29-05:00 Failing Web Site du jour, part 47 Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2016/12/01/1439000000000 <span style="font-style: normal; font-size: 13.3333px;">After letting me sign up for online banking with RBC, I went to create a direct investing account to buy some shares. After making me click 3 or 4 links to get to the "Create your account" page, I was presented with this bleak admission of failure:</span><div style="font-style: normal; font-size: 13.3333px;"><br></div><div style="font-style: normal; font-size: 13.3333px;"><hr></div><div style="font-size: 13.3333px;"><i><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Thank you for your interest in RBC Direct Investing. In order to complete and submit your online application, you must be running one of the browsers listed below and complete the following steps:</span><br style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">&nbsp;</span><br style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"></i><li style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><i><b>Internet Explorer:</b>&nbsp;Please download Adobe Reader Version 9 or higher.</i></li><i><br style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"></i><li style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><i><b>Microsoft Edge:</b>&nbsp;Microsoft Edge is not supported – please use Internet Explorer or Firefox.</i></li><i><br style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"></i><li style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><i><b>Safari:</b>&nbsp;Please download Adobe Reader Version 10 or higher.</i></li><i><br style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"></i><li style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><i><b>Firefox 4 or higher:</b>&nbsp;Please install Adobe Reader Version 10 or higher.<br>(Note: for MAC users, Firefox is not supported – please use Safari.)</i></li><i><br style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"></i><li style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><i><b>Google Chrome:</b>&nbsp;Please install Adobe Reader Version 11 and&nbsp;<a title="Enable Adobe Reader" style="color: rgb(0, 51, 102);">enable Adobe Reader</a>&nbsp;as your default PDF Viewer to be able to continue.<br>(Note: Google Chrome 42 or higher with Adobe Reader is not supported – please use Internet Explorer or Firefox. For MAC users, Google Chrome is not supported – please use Safari.)</i></li> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"></p><hr><p></p><p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">If I recommended Firefox 4 in the web courses I teach, I'd get laughed out of the classroom; Firefox is currently at Version 50, so they're 46 versions behind. Chrome is at version 54, so they're not supporting "only" the current TWELVE versions, that is, the vast majority of users, of the browser that is currently used by more than 50% of the web. Do they want customers, or no?</p><p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">In other words, "we've created a house of cards based not on this-century web standards, but on incestuous and rococo knowledge of fine details of certain browsers, and, we're not interested in any of this modern stuff from your post-2001 era". FAIL.</p> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">I wrote to them on their contact page, where they promised to get back to me within two business days. It's now Day 3 (Updated: Day 6) with no response in sight from this site. FAIL.</p><p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">I went to my computer museum and found a browser that got past their 4 pages of login blather, I started entering my data, only to see this failure; they would not accept my Social Insurance Number (Canada's equivalent of a SSN), entered with no spaces, nor with spaces, nor with dashes, nor with any hint on how they wanted it formatted. An EPIC FAIL that was repeated a few times throughout what followed.</p><p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">Update: went back and tried again due to external factors. Got past the SIN question. Then it wanted to install Adobe Flash. WTF? There is ZERO excuse for (a) needing Flash or (b) using it in this decade. It is so insecure that even Steve Jobs said something like "Flash must go. This is not negotiable."</p><p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">But, I digress. At least, I tried to persevere. I dutifully installed Flash just for this one use. I spent half an hour filling in the form. It asked me some ridiculous questions about my work, and tried to pigeonhole me into some "job category", none of which quite fit. Several of the form fields were too short for correct answers.&nbsp;It told me I had to read two additional documents which it promised would open in a separate window, but they didn't. Figured I'd read them later. It insisted on making me print the document before submitting it, so I did so, all 14 pages. In the end I'm glad I did, because after I clicked Print and filled in the non-standard Flash-based print dialog and clicked OK, the last thing I ever saw was this:</p><p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);"><br></p> <img src="/images/plugin-failure.png" alt="Plugin Failure, black screen of death" height="748" width="1163"> <p style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">Against such overwhelming epic fail-ness, what can I possibly add? I have signed up for over five hundred web sites; the rbcdirectinvesting.com website is the worst of the lot and needs a complete re-write for the twenty-first century.</p> </div> 2016-12-01T14:39:58-05:00 What are the odds? Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2016/10/27/1234560000000 I was travelling last week with *two* laptop-like devices, a standard MacBook Pro and a new ASUS Chromebook Flip, and they both died due to power-related hardware problems! The MBP's power brick got dropped by yours truly - only a few inches, but wi... I was travelling last week with *two* laptop-like devices, a standard MacBook Pro and a new ASUS Chromebook Flip, and they both died due to power-related hardware problems! The MBP's power brick got dropped by yours truly - only a few inches, but with the two-prong plug pointing down and landing on a hard surface. Result - a bit of cheap plastic inside snapped, and the two prongs are forever pranged in different directions. You can buy new "duckhead" plugs for a few bucks on Amazon/Ebay, but when you're on the road and your only laptop goes off, it's a bit of a rush job. Fortunately I found a fairly cheap open-box charger at a computer store, and pulled the duckhead plug off that - thankfully, the plugs are all the same size, whether the charger is 45W, 60W or 90W. The Chromebook, on the other hand, seems to have died of its own accord, what we call "infant mortality" when a new device (2 weeks old) dies without a cause. Electronic components tend (Samsung Note 7 excepted) to fail either in the first week or two, or after years of service. Being turned on is one of the more stressful times in a computer's life, so that's when things often fail, and the ASUS was no exception. Sadly, I had bought it from Amazon, who then ran out of stock and don't expect to have this exact model back in stock anytime soon. So I went to ASUS's warrranty site to get an RMA to return it, and let them fix it. Suffice it to say that that felt a bit like a visit to the proctologist - I wound up having to type the serial number three times, my credentials three times, and even the description of the problem three times - and now I am asked to include the description of the problem when sending the unit in! Yeesh! Hopefully they will fix the problem and I'll have it back soon. I'll do a detailed writeup when and if it comes back working. 2016-10-27T17:57:01-04:00 Choosing an OS Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2016/10/24/1156000000000 Looking for help getting away from Windows? An alternative to MS-Windows 10? A neighbour asked:<div><blockquote cite="mid:00fecb50-1b87-e91d-895c-bfc4fc1a6ac0@darwinsys.com" type="cite"> <pre wrap="">Looking for help with my computer that has been <b class="moz-txt-star"><span class="moz-txt-tag">*</span>hijacked<span class="moz-txt-tag">*</span></b> by its Windows 10 operating system. Is there anyone out there who has advice regarding an alternative OS? Perhaps a LINUX version, or ????, or uninstall Win10 and go with Win7? I really HATE Win10! </pre> </blockquote> There are plenty of choices out there, none of them "right" for all. If you were happy with Windows 7, reinstall it! But do understand that's only a short-term solution as Microsoft will stop issuing security updates, if they haven't already.<br> <br> Things to consider in weighing the many alternative OSes: <br> <br> What do you need to use this computer for? <br> <br> If it's just email and the occasional document or spreadsheet, consider replacing it with a less-expensive Chromebook, running Google ChromeOS. I like the Asus ChromeBook Flip since it can be used as a laptop, a tablet, and can flip around to have use the keyboard as a stand.<br> <br> If there are certain specialized apps that are needed, what computer and what OS do I need? For example, Microsoft Outlook will of course only run on Windows, but "generic" email apps like Thunderbird run on just about every desktop OS.<br> <br> Security - if the will be connected to the internet (!), security is a *prime* concern, both for you and for everybody else who uses the internet (the "Distributed Denial of Service" attack that that took down much of the internet in mid-October 2016 was not caused by security problems on the main servers like PayPal that were affected, but by complete lack of security on billions of low-cost devices like standalone security cameras, baby monitors, etc, that the hackers subverted and recruited in cosmic quantities).<br> <br> You might look into each of these (all free to download):<br> <br> Linux - a widely-used Unix-like system. The system itself is free to use, and there are many distributions, most free, some with paid support.  Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora/RedHat (RedHat is a supported version of Fedora) are among the most popular and/or user-friendly distributions. Arch is a stripped-down geek-friendly version. Any major Linux distribution will have lots of support available in forums and via web searches. Linux offers several "desktop" packages, which affect how the system looks and feels. I haven't been using it for some years so I don't know which is better today, but Gnome and KDE have long been the two leading ones.<br> <br><a href="http://openbsd.org/"> OpenBSD</a>, a secure Unix-like system. Better than Linux from a security perspective, though not all 3rd party apps run on it (Disclosure: I am a member of the OpenBSD team).<br> <br> QubesOS - Aims to boost security by partitioning your PC into multiple "guest" OSes (each of which can run common 3rd-party apps and can also run Windows in one of its partitions). Might not be ready for prime time yet.<br> <br> ReactOS - intended to be binary-compatible with older versions of MS-Windows. Might not be ready for prime time yet.</div><div><br></div><div>Also, bear in mind that there are alternatives for much commercial software, e.g., if it works for you, use <a href="http://libreoffice.org/">LibreOffice</a> instead of paying for Microsoft Office.<br> <br> So that's some ideas for you to look over. Sorry I can't tell you the "one best" one.<br> <br> Ian<br> <br></div><div>Disclaimer: I do not receive any financial compensation for recommending any of the above products. I do offer consulting services in the ones that I use.</div> 2016-10-24T11:56:40-04:00 UFO Believers: Be careful what you wish for. Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2016/05/01/0000000000000 Any alien society that can arrive, alive, past the staggeringly, incomprehensibly vast sea of space that separates the stars, will probably have no need of anything we have to offer. If we are lucky they may treat us like we treat cats and dogs; if n... Any alien society that can arrive, alive, past the staggeringly, incomprehensibly vast sea of space that separates the stars, will probably have no need of anything we have to offer. If we are lucky they may treat us like we treat cats and dogs; if not, maybe as we treat pigs and cows. Or like those ants you stepped on this morning on the sidewalk; did you even notice them? 2016-05-28T09:20:15-04:00 Java Accessors: The Good, the bad and the ugly Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2016/01/24/1411000000000 <span style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt;">Java Accessors have always been a mixed bag and a source of suspicion. Why have so much code that just sets and gets variables? Yet every "Java 101" teaches that these are the standard way of providing "encapsulation", something that 99.44% of accessors actually fail to provide!</span><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><br></div><div> <p class="p1" style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span class="s1">Long ago, before the rise of the machines, I mean the IDEs,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">I did some tests on hand-written accessors&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">in a large application and found about a 1/2 percent error rate.&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">So one in every 200 accessors either set or got the wrong value!&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">The application 'worked' at the time so these accessors were probably not used, but who knows?&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Nowadays most Java devs know to use their IDE to generate such things. But the question is: should they?</span></p><p class="p1" style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Here's a long list of articles that challenge the accepted wisdom:</span></p><p class="p1"><ul><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 13.3333px;">http://www.javaworld.com/article/2073723/core-java/why-getter-and-setter-methods-are-evil.html (2003!)</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 13.3333px;">http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?AccessorsAreEvil</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 13.3333px;">http://typicalprogrammer.com/doing-it-wrong-getters-and-setters/ (2008)</span></li><li><span style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 13.3333px;">http://www.yegor256.com/2014/09/16/getters-and-setters-are-evil.html (2014)</span></li></ul></p><p class="p1" style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><br></span></p></div> 2016-01-24T14:11:14-05:00 Drone prices dropping - get yours now! Ian Darwin http://theories.darwinsys.com/2015/08/09/1603000000000 <div><span style="font-size: 13.3333330154419px;">We're not talking about the <a href="http://theories.darwinsys.com/View.web?blogId=2015/06/09/0837000000000">drones that the US military uses to commit murder</a>, but the small ones that you can buy and fly for fun and to take pictures.</span></div><div><span style="font-size: 13.3333330154419px;"><br></span></div><span style="font-size: 13.3333330154419px;">You can now order a micro-drone that takes HD video for just US$150 from&nbsp;</span><a href="http://igg.me/at/micro-drone/x/9356461" style="font-size: 13.3333330154419px;">this IndieGoGo campaign</a><span style="font-size: 13.3333330154419px;">. This looks like a real boon for shooting video. The HD video now is 720P but the camera just clips on; the campaign states they will have higher-resolution cameras available sometime after they get the backlog of orders sent out. Base price includes your mini-drone, free shipping in Canada and US, camera module, remote controller, battery, etc.</span> 2015-08-09T16:03:50-04:00