Category Archives: rant

ip-cam considerations

Security Camera SystemsIP cams are great. They keep an infrared eye on your stuff while you’re not around and find out what keeps pooping on your driveway (a cat it turns out). But sometimes things can get a little out of hand.

So here’s a list of things that will trigger the IP cam motion detection you didn’t think of:

  • Cats parading on your driveway like they own the place.
  • Spiders shaking their arachnid booty in front of the camera while doing their webbing thing.
  • Spider webs moving in the wind, up close. All f-ing night.
  • The occasional bird.
  • The occasional insect in mid-flight. Sometimes even a mot at night caught in the infrared beams.
  • Trees and bushes shaking their leaves and branches cause it’s windy as hell.
  • Shadows of trees and bushes shaking their leaves and breanches because it’s windy as hell and sunny too.
  • Rain showers. Possibly in combination with freaky winds blowing it horizontally in places you didn’t think rain could get at.
  • The sun playing peekaboo with some clouds, causing abrupt changes in light levels.
  • Car headlights lighting up random bushes, walls and other stuff as they pass by your house.
  • Reflections of cats in the cars shiny exterior (what a great excuse for not washing your car).
  • Reflections of moving clouds in a puddle on the concrete at the right lighting conditions.

So watch out where and how you send those automated alert emails from the camera. GMail for example doesn’t like it when you send hundreds of emails a day using one account. They find it rather spammy. When this happens, they can block you from sending any more messages that day. This really blows if you have an urgent mail to send. Other mail providers have similar rules.
Uploading the images to a remote FTP server is another option. But make sure you have plenty of space there, and download those images regularly if you don’t want to run out of space.

Photo by Armend Krasniqi, cc-licensed.

bursting out of the search bubble, or not

Space Helmet Bubble!

The search bubble. That thing where Google puts you in so your results are tailored to your preferences and habits. It’s kinda creepy and cool at the same time isn’t it? One of DuckDuckGo‘s main features is that they don’t put you in a bubble. So they don’t track your past queries, they don’t spy on your social media accounts to figure out what you read, like or retweet and they don’t tailor your results.

This video shows pretty nicely what that Google bubble looks like btw.

Scary isn’t it? The problem is however… it works so damn good too.

I know my results are customized, but when I look for .NET related stuff (which I do all the time at work for example) whatever I’m looking for is usually in the top 3. I know it’s biased, but heck, it works like a charm.
Outside of the bubble, I get more stuff I don’t want or isn’t what I’m looking for.

So it all depends on what you want doesn’t it? But it is a good thing to know that the bubble is there and that it learns from your queries. It’s also good to know that you can escape the bubble if you want to. And just logging out of your Google account probably isn’t good enough.

Photo by Rachel Titiriga, cc-licensed.

it ain't cool if you just dump your files

One thing that continues to bug me about some software is that by trying to be user-friendly and idiot-proof, assume they can just make choices for you. Like where to install the software and where to store the files or databases created by it.

The installation folder for example is something I like to choose myself. I also do not like it when everything is just stored by default under the “Documents and Settings” folder. It might be common policy, but some databases or files just grow to damn big to be stored right there.

TomTom backups for example. The damn things go in your Documents folder FFS. Or the Picasa picture database. Too damn big I tell ya! It’s bad enough already that Windows keeps downloading service packs and Internet Explorer updates and stores them by default somewhere on the system drive. But if everyone starts stuffing it’s data on the classic C-drive where your temp-folder and your profile folders are also located you’ll be running out of disk space in no time.

So please think of the poor people out and their limited hard-drives and put one of those nifty questions in there that allows you to select a folder where you want them to put your stuff. You know what? You can even suggest a default location if you don’t want to bother the user with making choices. How awesome is that? I think I’ve even seen that a few before actually.

Photo by scottog, cc-licensed

the belgian limitless internet charade continues

So Belgacom announced to be the first to start offering a limitless, flat rate internet account. Yay! Turns out it’s also the most expensive format they have. Yay? Telenet of course soon had to follow with it’s own limitless formula, which also turns out to be the most expensive on they have as well.  Euhm. Ok, at least they are also boosting the cheaper formats which means that everyone will be enjoying a more luxurious bandwidth soon.

Well, at least it’s getting a bit better now and perhaps next year we’ll be seeing the cheaper accounts being sold at flat rates as well and the two duopolists will start competing each other on prices. Just maybe.

Funny they both came out with the same idea so close together. With fully prepared add campaigns and all. I wonder how long they had those lying on the shelves already.

Picture by Rob Sheridan, cc-licensed.

belgium is going digital tax crazy

Belgian politicians are going bonkers over the digital world the last month it seems. First Mr. Q decides to start taxing all digital carriers because hey, you might be using them to store copyrighted material. You know, the same tax they have for VHS and audio tapes. The difference just is that those tapes were actually used to store as good as nothing but copyrighted material. But a USB stick or external HD is a completely different deal. Lot’s of non-copyrighted material on there, but we’re still paying for it…

Now there’s a proposed bill from the ecological parties to start taxing downloads to cope with illegal downloads on the net. Yep, we’re all criminals again. In fact they are talking about legalising illegal downloads. Funny. I wonder how Hollywood is going to react to that. For a small fee we’re allowed to rip any movie? Nice. Let’s set up Piratebay.be! The worst idea in the bill is that they want to avoid the ISPs from simply charging this tax to the consumer by blocking raises on the monthly subscription fee on our broadband internet connection. Great, so by blocking already way too expensive internet fees you’re going to avoid us from paying too much? Euhm. We already are paying twice what they pay in Holland, so I doubt ISPs will give a fuck.

What’s next? A blogging tax? We need a damn Pirate party I tell ya. Arrrr!

Photo by Jeremy Brooks, cc-licensed

we all need a pirate party

You’ve probably heard of them in the news. The Swedish Pirate Party is one that sprung from the Pirate Bay bittorrent search engine lawsuits and is a modern party which focused on issues concerning privacy and copyright which have changed considerably in the last decade due to the influence of the internet and modern technology. A while ago I heard that the Belgium government is trying to get a Big Brother bill (Dutch article) across to force ISP’s to keep records over a period of two years of all it’s customers internet usage. For one this is going to cost a shit-load which the consumer will end up paying one way or the other. We’re already one of the most costly European countries to have a broadband internet connection in without this measure, so this won’t help at all. Secondly this is also a huge infringement of our privacy. Europe suggest logs are kept somewhere in-between 6 months and 2 years. Funny that they are going for the maximum term on this. Why not take the short end and don’t bother ISP’s with the investment of keeping huge databases? The worst thing about this whole deal is the potential privacy infringements this could cause and for what? Huge databases sitting there to be exploited, hacked and sold on to the highest spammy bidder. I don’t like it a tiny bit.

So Belgium could use a Pirate Party to protect us from bills like this IMO.
Does your country have a Pirate Party?

Photo by country boy shane, cc-licensed

ie8 finally caught up

Did you see the puke commercial Microsoft has running to promote IE8? They pulled it already on their own site but it’s on Youtube now so it’s gonna stay out there for now. But the thing is that they are throwing some big bucks at it to promote their latest IE release which bring us the awesome novelty of… euhm… nothing I guess.

Microsoft has been playing catch-up when it comes to it’s browser of years and they finally built a new version which can compete with Firefox, Chrome and Opera. So basically now they also have tabs, crash protection, phishing protection, pr0n- euhm.. privacy-mode and can-you-fucking-believe it web standard compliance! Microsoft built a standard compliant browser! Amazing isn’t it?

Anyway they clearly feel like winning back some of that lost browser market share as they duke it out on a comparison page with a big ad campaign and some other browsers. I say “some” because they left out Safari and Opera which are at least equally big as Chrome right? But hey, I guess they wanted to stand face to face with their nemesis Google I suppose. Some of the comparisons are biased and funny. Like the security one. If you click through to that NSSLabs report it shows that IE 7 was scoring the worst of all. The tests also match IE 8 RC1 with Firefox 3.0.7 Not Firefox 3.5 which was also out around that period in beta form which is a pity and makes the report a tad incomplete IMO.
This item is particularly funny in another comparison:

Internet Explorer 8 is more compatible with more sites on the Internet than any other browser.

That’s not hard now is it, if most website builders had to make sure their site works on your older non-standard-compliant crappy browsers because 90% of folks where serving using IE back in the day.

The good thing however is that there is finally a safe IE version out there that non-techies can use to safely browse the web and not get their systems infected with malware, trojans and virii.
Cause when that happens it’s up to us geeks to go over there with our disinfecting USB-sticks and waste our time to to get that PC back up and running again.

Time we could spend better on writing cool Firefox add-ons for example.
I still recommend Firefox 3.5 though which now has tear-off tabs, the awesome bar, anti-virus software integration, massive customization possibilities, a spell checker, full zoom (images and stuff as well), support for hundred of search engine (or Wikipedia etc) and so much more.

Photo by Garry, cc-licensed.