Changing Times

Every few months, I try out some of the open-source web browsers and email clients, to see whether any of them have matured to the point where they can serve as adequate replacements for the programs I’m already using. In the past, not to put too fine a point, the answer has always been no. It looks like that has finally changed.

I’ve been using Firefox as my primary browser both at home and at work since Sunday, and the experience has been satisfactory. There have been a couple of pages that looked kind of funny, and it still seems to have a tiny bit of trouble with line-wrap in forms (such as the one I’m using to post this). On the other hand, the pages were still readable and the forms still worked and there was at least one instance (cookie handling after a software upgrade on Whistle Stopper) where CrazyBrowser/IE had trouble and Firefox didn’t. I’ve also been using Thunderbird for email at home. While it lacks some of The Bat‘s display flexibility, overall the interface is nicer and all of the needed functionality (including multiple SMTP servers) is there. Accordingly, I’m going to make these my default browser and email client for a while.

By the way, I have found that Suzuki Hisao‘s popserve.py is an indispensable tool when switching between email clients. Almost every program claims that it can import mailboxes from other programs; every one that I’ve tried does a terrible job at it. Importing by setting up a temporary local POP server has proven much more effective for me.

Electronic Voting (again)

Wired has the most complete article I’ve seen yet on the subject.

It was a basic error that students in Cryptography 101 learn never to make: Diebold’s programmers had written the key for unscrambling the system’s encryption directly into the code. This meant the key would never change, and anyone reading the source code (including anyone who downloaded it from the FTP site) would know it. The same key unlocked the data on every machine. It was the equivalent of a bank assigning the same PIN to every customer’s ATM card.

“Oh man, we thought, this is horrible,” said Kohno. “We realized that the system was written by novices and we weren’t really surprised then by anything else we found.”

Facing Reality

Michele of A Small Victory has posted an excellent account of what can happen when people try to shield children from the ugliness of reality.

Knowledge is power. Had DJ been able to recognize the symbol when he first saw it, he would have never put it on his site and he would have reported the kid who sent it to him right away.

I wonder how many other things I’ve not bothered to tell my kids about will end up costing them in the future?

I wonder if we’ll ever see the day when people of certain religious or political persuasions apply this important lesson to other “ugly” facts about, say, sex or drugs. I’ve seen plenty of people hurt by being sent out into a world they were not prepared for, because their parents refused to let the schools prepare them and then failed to take up the slack themselves.

Storage Predictions Update

Apparently Asus is going to market a Wi-Fi hard drive (really an ultra-low-end NAS box) and Sony will go for a 50GB Blu-Ray disk drive. These developments fit pretty nicely with my storage predictions last updated here.

Amazing Omission

I still find it almost impossible to believe that, in this day and age, there are still email clients that only allow one SMTP client even if multiple incoming servers are specified. Don’t people realize that many people like to use different accounts for different purposes, and that many SMTP servers (rightly) refuse to relay mail for senders not in their domain? Even Outlook has that one figured out, but apparently Mozilla Thunderbird doesn’t. Incredible.

Quote of the Day

A line from one of the comments for a post about “Intelligent Design” just came from out of nowhere and whapped me right in the chuckle center.

I don’t like to think of tumors as “cancer”. That’s just so…perjorative. I prefer to think of them as sterling examples of laissez faire biology.

Add One More

Things Jeff should not do:

  1. Read The 213 Things Skippy is No Longer Allowed to Do in the U.S. Army when he’s supposed to act serious in a meeting.

New Platypus Picture

Here’s a new platypus picture for all you other fans:

platypus swimming at Taronga zoo

Stack the Ripper

My automatic stack-ripping program is done, at least for the time being. You can just look at the user guide, or you can grab the tarball including the (Python) source, tests and an example as well. I’d really appreciate it if the three people in the world who are actually interested in this would provide feedback.

Weird Patent

OK, is it just me, or is the idea of a patent for devices for making artificial egg yolks in the form of discs seem kind of off-the-wall to other people too?