[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Wednesday, 2012-11-28

Pasting spaces into Google Docs

Filed under: Software,The Internet,Writing — bblackmoor @ 16:19

I just spent too much time pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to get Google Docs to paste spaces and keep them spaces, rather than turning the spaces into tabs. I couldn’t find a way to prevent it, so here is what I did.

  1. Paste my text into a text editor, such as Notepad++.
  2. In the text editor, find & replace every instance of a space ” ” with a character that does not already exist in the text, nor in the document you intend to paste that text into. In my case, I used a tilde “~”.
  3. Copy this modified text, and paste it into Google Docs.
  4. In Google Docs, find & replace every instance of the placeholder character with a space ” “.

Is it ridiculous that you need to do this to keep Google Docs from corrupting what you are pasting? Yes. Yes, it is.

Wednesday, 2012-07-04

MediaWiki on Dreamhost: Error creating thumbnail

Filed under: Linux,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 12:41

I have a number of web sites I administer. Most of these are hosted on Dreamhost, and most of them run MediaWiki.

Recently, I have noticed an error whenever I upload an image to the wikis. What is supposed to happen is that ImageMagick resizes the image to make a set of thumbnails. What has been happening is that ImageMagick displays an error:

Error creating thumnail:

Exactly like that, with nothing after the colon. After many hours of research (and great help from the Dreamhost tech support team), I finally found the solution. Add this line to the LocalSettings.php file:

$wgMaxShellMemory = 524288

Saturday, 2012-06-02

The Thing and studio stupidity

Filed under: Movies,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 17:35
The Thing

The cost to stream videos is ridiculous. DirecTV wants $6 and Amazon wants $4 for the same movie I can drive around the block and rent from a box for $2. And why is it that neither version of The Thing (1982, 2011) is available on Netflix streaming? I know Netflix would have them if it could, so it’s the dumbass studio that doesn’t want me to stream them from Netflix. It’s like the studio execs want people to download the movies from the internet without paying for them. Movie studios should be down on their knees kissing Netflix’s red leather loafers. It makes me wonder just how short-sighted someone has to be to get a job at a movie studio. I expect a typical movie studio meeting room is full of people who think vaccines, homeowner’s insurance, and dental floss are a waste of money.

Oh, speaking of The Thing (2011), we watched that last night. Not as bad as I’d heard, but clearly not the masterpiece that the 1982 John carpenter movie is.

Thursday, 2011-09-29

Taking the high road

Filed under: Society,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 03:27
Bad behaviour

Ran across this article (which I heard about from Gareth Michael-Skarka, ironically), which made me wonder for a moment if my choice to take the high road in online disagreements was ill-considered. Only for a moment, though. Ultimately, my not being an asshole to people who act like assholes is about my being happy, and not about making them change their behaviour — which I do not think is possible, anyway. Whether it’s nature or nurture, some people are, sadly, simply unpleasant. Ignore them, avoid them when you can, and don’t expend any unnecessary effort on their behalf.

On the other hand, don’t penalize yourself on their behalf, either. Harlan Ellison might be an arrogant jerk, and Orson Scott card might have some unpleasant personal beliefs, but my life would be poorer without their books. I don’t have to want to socialize with someone for me to benefit from their work. Keep things in perspective. Life is too short to hold grudges.

Tuesday, 2011-09-06

Why the Google Profiles (or any) “Real Name” Policy is Important to Me

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 16:15
Google+ protest image

A brave soul by the name of Todd Vierling has posted a compelling opinion piece explaining why, in his words,

… those of you who think that using real names will make people more open and social are horrifyingly deluded. Your idealistic vision of “real” interaction through real names isn’t just nonsense; it’s making online socialization more dangerous for everyone by putting them at risk of real-world prejudicial action.

(from Why the Google Profiles (or any) “Real Name” Policy is Important to Me , duh.org)

It’s worth reading. I suggest that you do.

Thursday, 2011-08-25

Thoughts on the ad hominem fallacy

Filed under: Society,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 10:48
Duty calls

When you are arguing with someone, try to remember that there is a difference between the person and their ideas. When you’ve made your point as well as you can, agree to disagree. Don’t ever say nasty things about the person. For one thing, it’s irrelevant, and it demonstrates that you have sloppy thinking. For another, particularly on the internet, you only see the other person through a very small window. There is a great deal more to the other person than just that they disagree with you on some political policy that neither of you has any control over, or some game rule that will never matter because you don’t play in each other’s games. The other person has an entire life outside of your insignificant disagreement with them. Basing your judgement of them on such scanty evidence is irrational. Assume that they have family and friends and lovers who respect them, just like you do.

And if they’re wrong, so what? Let them be wrong. You’re wrong sometimes, too.

edit: To clarify a point of confusion: this is not directed at anyone in particular, and I include myself among the target audience.

Tuesday, 2011-08-23

On the value of pseudonyms

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 14:55
Google+ protest image

In case you weren’t already tired of hearing about this (heh… heheh), here is an opinion from a scientist blogger (or perhaps a blogging scientist) on the value of pseudonyms.

Our new Scienceblogs overlords sure have great timing with their new pseudonymous blogging rules. For those who haven’t run across that yet, National Geographic has decided to eliminate pseudonyms and force everyone with a blog remaining here (which is already dwindling) to blog under their real names. Meanwhile, out here in the real world, there’s a new unfortunate case study (short version: “EpiGate”) showing how blogging under one’s real name can lead to serious threats and potential loss of employment, among other things.

(from On the value of pseudonyms, Scienceblogs)

Mothers (who may or may not also be scientists) also have an opinion on the subject.

Those who have the knee-jerk response of “Well, anyone who doesn’t want to use their real name has got something to hide or is just out to cause trouble” are, at best, cosmically misinformed. The notion that if “real names” (a term which, by the way, is nearly impossible to define – go ahead, give it a try) are good enough for the wealthy geeks at Google it should be good enough for anyone just reeks of massive privilege. (Frankly, the way Google’s been implementing their ‘policy’ also reeks of colonialism – if you’ve got a nice, comfortable looking ‘wasponym‘ as your name at G+, you’re probably fine, it seems, at least based on what people have been documenting about their clownish banning and reinstatement behavior so far.) I’ve been reading, thinking, and writing about identity and privacy stuff for more than a decade, and the more I learn, the more I come to agree with jwz, who said:

the other night I had dinner with a friend which turned into an hour long argument over it, because he thought that forcing everyone to use their real names was just fine. This is someone I’ve known for decades, so to say that I was shocked and horrified by his attitude is an understatement. It was as if my friend had suddenly started beginning sentences with, “I’m not a racist, but…”

(from Quick Thoughts on Parents and Pseudonymity, CurrentMom)

Meanwhile, Information Week gives us 5 reasons Google+’s name policy fails, TechEye offers concrete suggestions on How to stop Facebook and Google trampling on your privacy rights, and over on ZDNet, Violet Blue (who has been banned and reinstated by Google+ for using her “real” name at least twice now) declares, “Google Plus: too much unnecessary drama“.

Monday, 2011-08-22

No nyms equals evil

Filed under: Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 00:31

Google has been, in many ways, an admirable organization that has done a lot of good but to call its real names policy shortsighted would be kind. By demanding “real” names they can’t reliably determine what are real, they’ve inconvenienced a lot of people and excluded all of those who, for example, live under politically repressive regimes or who might for social reasons wish to stay anonymous.

Nyms matter enormously and an online world without nyms, where everyone can be easily tracked, completely measured, tidily pigeonholed, and endlessly manipulated, will become much less free and much less valuable.

(from No nyms equals evil, Computerworld)

Monday, 2011-08-15

Google+ protest image

Filed under: Art,Privacy,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 12:47
Google+ protest image

This is a quick and dirty attempt at an avatar to use in protest of the Google+ “government names only” policy. The image to the right links to the full-size image. The image below is the avatar-sized image. I wanted to put the word “PRIVACY” in there somewhere, but it’d be too small to read in the avatar version. Feel free to share, critique, whatever.

Google+ protest image

Monday, 2011-01-31

Girls in bikinis

Filed under: Entertainment,The Internet — bblackmoor @ 20:04

Pretty much no matter what you type into Google Images, if you scroll down far enough you will find girls in bikinis.

Gary Coleman“, for example.

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