Archive: September, 2006

The mood is different now

At work anymore it’s not that happy of a place. Everyone but salespeople will lose their jobs (most on November 5), and the mood has definitely shifted to that direction. I have to say that we all still come in and perform our duties. There just isn’t that “fun” factor there used to be.

We used to come in and joke, poke fun, and generally have a decent to good time at work. Now we just come in, absorb what time we have left, and leave. That does not make for good workers or a good workplace.

Don’t get me wrong, no one is being mean to customers or not doing work, but it’s just not the same since we were purchased.

Blockbuster Has New Policy

Struggling Blockbuster Eliminates Rental Fees

The Onion

Struggling Blockbuster Eliminates Rental Fees

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL—The ailing video-store chain’s "End Of Fees" promotion will also apply to its supply of video games, snacks, beverages, and any item found in the store.

This article pretty much describes what every customer wants, and even then they still wouldn’t be happy.

Privacy and what you can do to have some (at least in your mind)

Well, I’ve whined about privacy and how much or how little we seem to have online. Now I’ll share with you a few tips I’ve picked up and use to at least attempt to have some privacy.

The first thing to do is SECURE YOUR EMAIL. Everyone I know seems to think that email can’t be read because they don’t know how to sneak around and read it. Sorry Mom, but just because you don’t know how to hack a server or intercept packets does NOT mean that the kid next door isn’t reading your email about Mrs. Smith’s affair with the pool boy. Your email is sent across the internet just like this blog post. Anyone so inclined could pick it up and read it.

Go get Thunderbird and add the extension “Enigmail”. Make a GPG key and use it. There are a LOT of tutorials on the web for how to do this, so I won’t waste my time. For all of you nay-sayers – yes, I know the NSA might be able to pop this encryption. That doesn’t mean we have to leave email out there for the neighbor kid to read or make it any easier for the NSA.

Next on my list is TorPark for internet browsing. I would not recommend using TorPark as your everyday browser. It is notoriously slow as a result of all the anonymizing it does. Please be aware that this browser is built from Firefox, which I hope you are already using. Also be alert that TorPark may not be 100% effective, but it’s a heck of a lot better than using nothing.

If you have a microphone and speakers (or a headset) you should consider using VoIP. VoIP is (in it’s simplest explanation) making phone calls over the internet. This comes in extremely handy if you are in one part of the country and have relatives/friends in another part of the country or world. If you travel a lot, you could use this program to call back home and talk to your significant other or kids and talk as long as you want. Skype is FREE.

Skype is also allowing outgoing calls to regular phone numbers for free within the US and Canada for the rest of the year. So even if you can’t get others to switch, just save on your phone costs for the rest of the year! The reason this is included in a “privacy” post is that Skype is also encrypted. No need to worry about Joe Smith hacker listening to your VoIP calls when using it.

Please be aware that you should only use VoIP if you have a broadband internet connection. Sending voices over the lines uses a lot of bandwidth, so dial-up users are out of luck for now.

That’s my quick and dirty suggestions for how to maintain some sense of privacy on the internet. Granted, none of these are perfect, but they are reasonable solutions to the issue of maintaining privacy while enjoying the internet.

Also, you may find this site a good read. They sell a USB key called “Democrakey” that has these applications and more. Plus, you can carry it in your pocket to use at the library, on the road, at a friends house, or wherever.

Kubuntu/Ubuntu – One year later

I can’t believe it. It has actually been a year (give or take) since I jumped into using Kubuntu. I was really nervous about giving up my second hard drive to an “unproven” operating system that I had absolutely NO experience with, but a couple of guys at work recommended Ubuntu.

Frankly, I prefer the eye-candy, so I went with Kubuntu and it’s prettier (arguably) K-desktop. I will admit that out of the box there were the usual growing pains. I had to get MP3 and other codecs, roll in Flash support, learn apt-get (okay, I could’ve used Adept, but apt-get is superior in my mind), add repositories, and determine where all my programs actually were.

For your average person this is too much work. You had to like problem-solving and/or be a geek to work through these issues. Now all a person has to do is follow the easy steps to install Automatix, then check some boxes, and their issues are solved. Granted, Automatix was around when I jumped in headfirst, but it wasn’t widely known or promoted.

Today I can happily say that I don’t switch back to XP except to occasionally watch a stream or Flash animation that won’t work in Linux (Flash 9 isn’t out yet). If hardware and software vendors would just give a bit more support to Linux, those issues could be squashed and I wouldn’t have any reason to keep it taking up a 40GB drive.

Frankly, Kubuntu works fine to surf, email, process documents, edit photos, watch movies, download, and burn CD’s (LOTS of that for me). I have yet to find any need on my PC that Linux cannot accomplish, and I would consider myself a “stronger than average” user.

Perhaps the initial growing pains are too much for most people to overcome. Perhaps Microsoft is succeeding in holding Linux adoption down. Perhaps PC users are lazy.

I don’t know the reason why Linux adoption hasn’t skyrocketed. Perhaps it will if some savvy group, company, or person makes their push right now. Microsoft won’t have Vista in people’s hands until after the end of the year!

An effort to get those Win98 users who still haven’t upgraded (or can’t) would almost certainly succeed with measurable results. The OS is the right price, support is only a geek-away, and once setup it works quite well.

I have rambled enough. To summarize: Kubuntu works well, and I have little reason to consider keeping Windows around. To all of you other users: GO CONVERT SOMEONE!

Who turned on the A/C?

Right after we finished re-roofing the house a few weeks ago, the weather decided to get cool. It’s not unusual around here to have cool/warm/cool go back and forth, but it is odd to have it stay cool all at once. Gotta love the midwest and it’s climate changes.

It would be nice if the weather warmed back up during October for the House of Horror, but I’m not holding my breath. Last year we froze our tails off outside in the back. Thank goodness I’m in the front of the house this year and won’t have to worry about it. We have about 99% of our construction done. Most of what is left is minor painting and detail work. Now to make sure costumes are lined out…

I JUST got the phone call that my car is finally done being repaired. That’s what I get for having a car with about two inches of room to work in the front end. Luckily Richard noticed that the idle-pulley was worn out as well. I would have fallen over if I would’ve found that out a month down the road and had to have the car yanked apart again at a four hour minimum.