TWiT Network Ridiculous Whining

Ian and Leo on TWiT, and others on other shows this week, were whining because US newspaper companies don’t want to spend a bunch of money so that they can continue to give free stuff to Europeans without fear of legal financial penalties.

Leo has even admitted it cost his tiny company 40 hours of labor some if it lawyer time. Obviously Leo feels his company will at least break even on the expense so of course he should make the effort. I am confident the newspapers calculated that it will result in only a net loss so it would violate their fiduciary responsibility to waste money complying with GDPR.

Update: just watched Mac Break Weekly and Alex brought up how GDPR is a no profit, only losses, situation for businesses who don’t have EU customers. I should have expected this bit of sanity since Alex is a very smart business person (as well as one of the most amazing media production experts around).

Editing Built-In Spellcheck Dictionaries

There are common words that I frequently mistype where my error is also a properly spelled word e.g.  fro when I meant for. Since I will almost never use fro I like to have it flagged as a spelling error to reduce the number of spelling errors I miss when proofreading my work.

For LibreOffice and Mozilla Firefox it’s simply a matter of deleting the word from the built-in dictionary. One word of caution, be sure to use a good text editor for this because the files are very large and often use Unix line endings so Windows notepad will likely trash the file. Also because the files are in protected folders you will need to do the editing as administrator.

On my Windows 10 Pro PC the files are named en-US.dic and located in these directories.
C:\Program Files\LibreOffice 5\share\extensions\dict-en
C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\dictionaries

Unfortunately the Chrome browser compiles that same file into the executable so you would need to compile the program yourself to edit the standard dictionary.

Fortunately OneNote for Windows 10, OneNote & Word on the web, and Teams all flag fro as misspelled. (Excel on the web doesn’t have spell checking)

 

ISBN & UPC Code Lookup Sites

Dave McKay   posted to the Raspberry Pi community about this topic with great resources.

Google API for ISBN is accessable @ https://www.googleapis.com/books/v1/volumes?q=isbn:007024572X. Substitute your book’s number for the last 10 characters.

UPC lookup’s are free at the UPC Database. There is a limit on free access and most of the data is user entered so I wouldn’t count on it for running a business but it is great fro personal use. I even added a code for an item I had handy.

Android Smart Lock

My Nexus 5X on Google Fi asked me if I wanted to try out the Trusted Voice feature last week so I did. Unfortunately it makes the phone wake and show an invalid lock message when people around me or on TWiT shows say OK Google or sometimes just Google.

Then something happened that showed me how much this feature lowers the secutiy of your phone. I was watching All About Android and Aaron Newcomb said OK Google multiple times during his conversation with Ron Richards. My phone kept showing the bad unlock screen and going back to sleep until one time it unlocked! Oops, I decided that the convenience of this feature was far outweighed by the reduction in security so I turned it off.

Most Inaccurate Episode Ever

Was listening to this weeks episode of This Week in Google on TWiT.tv and beleive I heard more errors than I can remember ever hearing before, three of them in rapid succession.

  1. Jeff conflated the still living management consultant Tom Peters (author of In Search of Excellence) and the deceased Professor Laurence J. Peter (creator of the concept named the Peter principle).
  2. Then Leo and the group were thinking that an advisory rule about hot tub temperature limits was a law. AFAIK it isn’t a law, the reason that many manufacturers follow the advisory is due to either real problems they have experienced or requirements from their liability insurance providers.
  3. The last thing was that Leo claimed that Raspberry Pi’s where susceptible to the recent round of processor flaw security problems. They aren’t, see Eben Upton’s post for details.

An Unusual Copyright Problem

I’ve been helping out a friend by doing post production for his film over the past few years. It’s a long story why it’s been years, so don’t ask 🙂

Five years ago I added in a piece of music to cover up a previous editor’s work and I was careful to make sure the licensing was OK. The song I used was Good Ol’ Country by Realism12 Productions Team and distributed with a CC BY-ND license. I got the song from the Internet Archive, a legitimate site so I never anticipated any copyright problem.

Today I was uploading another draft of the film when I noticed that a copyright violation claim had been placed on it for that piece of music. The claimant let it stay on YouTube but added monetization which is usually no big deal however in this case when finished the filmmaker would like to put it on DVD and maybe other web based video sites. With an alleged copyright violation claimed the film could never be copied anywhere else or on to media for family & friends.

Knowing this was going to be a problem I decided to investigate the issue more before giving up and removing the music. I found that the YouTube Content ID system thinks Good Ol’ Country is Walking the Horse by Marcello Micheli. Comparing the two songs I feel they are more similar to each other than My Sweet Lord  and He’s So Fine and I remember well the outcome of that copyright dispute.

So rather than try to deal with the copyright mess I opted to simply pull that song from the film.

Huge Mistake by the Mozilla Firefox Team

They pushed this extension down to most users without warning.

LookingGlass01

Looks very suspicious and the first time I saw it I clicked Remove immediately. After all a weird extension name that I knew I hadn’t installed with an all caps Lewis Carol quote seems like some kind of malware. For a while I was thinking of uninstalling Firefox because if malware extensions are going to appear without any user action or notification it must be horribly insecure.

After investigating a bit and learning it was not malware simply a Firefox team error, so I clicked the More link.

LookingGlass02

Two observations, this is a handy list of the incompetent people who did this incredibly stupid act so other companies know not to hire them. Second observation it’s been out for a whole day and the Firefox team hasn’t fixed this yet, not good. Frankly if I didn’t love NoScript I’d dump Firefox since it is not any faster than Chrome in any usage or testing I’ve done.

Firefox 57 Quantum (was Farewell Firefox)

I’ve been using and promoting Firefox since firefoxnytadthe beginning when it was named Phoenix back in 2002. When the Firefox team wanted to place a full page ad in the New York Times I even chipped in some cash and had my name included in the list of supporters.

However today a new era has begun for Firefox and it eliminates the only reason I’d still been sticking with Firefox for 15 years. With the loss of NoScript I can’t think of any reason to keep using Firefox. Two other extensions I’ve relied on, TiddlySaver and Zotero, had made stand alone desktop programs to replace the loss of local file saving in Firefox. NoScript doesn’t have that option and I’d hoped it would continue but alas the Firefox team obviously felt it wasn’t worth any effort to help get it working :-(.

So long Firefox it was a great 15 years. see 11/18 update

Update 11/15/2017

I failed to mention that there was a perfectly good security reason for removing some capabilities in Firefox extensions. While the security hole shown at the link would not affect me it could easily have hurt normal users.

The NoScript Author has now published an article originally saying a new Firefox 57 compatible version of NoScript would be available today but now saying by the end of the week and adding some screen shots. Looking at the screen shots the new UI is very poor compared to the old NoScript and poor compared the UI of uBlock Origin. Since I spent quite a bit of time getting to know uBlock Origin on Chrome yesterday, I don’t think I’ll bother trying the new NoScript when it eventually comes out (I never count on time promises from solo free software developers). see below

Update 11/18/2017

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi

This has proven to be so true, after a few days with uBlock and reading up on alternatives I’ve come to the conclusion that with the single exception of NoScript every script blocker out there is really more of an advertising and web analytics blocker. That is not at all what I want! I always white list all the well known analytics companies because as a webmaster I know how useful it is to know about who is utilizing your site. When ever I visit a site and find useful content I immediately do a temporarily allow all to let through the advertising and let the web owner get there revenue (it ain’t cheap to offer good free stuff on the net).

The one thing I absolutely want to happen when I visit a site for the first time is to block every single last bit of scripting that comes from a source not on my white list. AFAICT NoScript is the one and only script blocking system that does this which makes it the one and only true script blocking tool for security purposes. The loss of NoScript has made my web usage so incredibly slow the last few days because I now have to stop and be think about how much danger is in clicking a link.

I have now installed Firefox 52 ESR and NoScript 5.1.7, removed uBlock from Chrome and plan to re-install Firefox 57 as soon as NoScript is ready.

Update 11/19/2017

The Firefox 52 ESR install screwed up my PC very badly, LastPass, Xmarks and Firefox all become incredibly buggy and unstable. In the end I had to uninstall Firefox and all instances of LastPass, manually remove all Firefox profiles, and manually edit the registry to remove every reference to Firefox. Things got so bad that LastPass in Chrome was no longer working properly. I’ve now got LastPass in Chrome working properly and I’ve got Firefox 57 installed with LastPass working. Hoping a compatible version of NoScript comes out soon.

With everything stable again I ran some timing tests to see if Firefox really is faster in my real world usage. I’m sure the benchmark results mentioned by Mozilla are true but benchmarks are a long way from real life web usage. My tests show Chrome is still slightly faster than Firefox on loading a variety of pages I regularly visit by about 3 tenths of a second. So other than the fact that it is the only browser that has NoScript there is no real reason to prefer it over Chrome for me.

Update 11/20/2017

The new version of Noscript is out!
Also, Xmarks came out of beta and is working well now too!