Category Archives: rant

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.

your website sucks in so many ways

Well, maybe not yours, but if it qualifies for the following rules, it does. So check em out.

  1. You can’t store my name. My name contains something called an umlaut which is used in Germanic languages like German (duh) and Dutch for instance. My name either turns up with a missing letter, or I get a funky character instead. It sucks. It means you can’t handle unicode or encoding properly. It sucks.
  2. You send me my password in plain text email right after I register. Well, ok, the email used HTML encoding, but that doesn’t make it any better. Email is not safe. Really, it isn’t, so I’m glad I didn’t use a password that looked anything like a password I use anywhere else. This makes me think your coders don’t know what they are doing.
  3. You chopped off my password after n characters and didn’t even warn me about it. Yep. As soon as I’m done registering I get this error message that my password is wrong. I just gave it to you silly twat, and it’s still in my copy buffer dammit, so it can’t be wrong!? Guess what happens when I do that password recovery thing by the way. Oh yeah. I get my password in plain text again, in my mailbox.
  4. I find out there are some privacy settings in my account settings which where not presented to me when I created my account. How odd? Not really. Apparently I automatically opted-in on a bunch of possibilities to commercially exploit my info. Nice… not. I hate spam. It sucks.

Most of these are so easy to come by that it’s sad to see these practices still in use. Try any good web 2.0 service and you’ll see how to avoid these pitfalls, and learn about encoding dammit. Also if you’re registered to the Belgian newspaper site of Het Nieuwsblad, make sure you check your privacy settings, and skip on some of the spam-features they have. They suck.

Photo by Sinsong, cc-licensed