I seem to have missed any press coverage of it, but Nick Clegg's "YourFreedom" site was launched yesterday. It asks you to list and vote on laws that you would like altered or repealed, in order to better restore and/or preserve the freedoms of the UK people.

http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/

Okay, it's easy to mock the coalition government as having "so few ideas it has to ask us what to do", but I think this is a huge improvement on New Labour's attitude to governance, which was more "we'll tell you what to think — and you'd better like it". So let's get on this site and let Nick know what we want. If it all comes to naught, then at least we gave the coalition government the benefit of the doubt.
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Subject:  Mrs. Sarah Welsh. (Benefactor)
From:"Mrs. Sarah Welsh" <welshfamily@huk.com>
Date:Fri, May 14, 2010 12:53 am
To:undisclosed-recipients:;

I am Mrs. Sarah Welsh, an English woman who is suffering from cancerous ailment. I am married to Sir Jim Welsh who also is an Englishman though dead now. My husband worked with the British Railways for over two decade before the cold hand of death took him away on the 23rd of July 2003 at about 2:00AM. Our marriage lasted for over a decade without any fruit of the womb. My husband died after a protracted illness. My husband and I made a vow to uplift the down-trodden and the less-privileged individuals within the United Kingdom, Europe, North and South America, Africa and the rest of the globe as he had passion for persons who cannot help themselves due to physical disability or financial predicament. I can adduce this to the fact that he needed a Child from this relationship, which never came.

When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of 10 Million (Ten Million Great Britain Pounds Sterling with an offshore Bank in Nigeria...
(etc.)

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Error 500 – Internal Error

500 (Server) Error from the BBC news web site
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John P. posts an interesting article "How I’d Hack Your Weak Passwords", in which he describes the routes that a hacker would take to crack your passwords. Including, for example:

  • Easily guessable passwords. Using "Cassie123" as your password? Bad idea!
  • Brute force attack. How long would it take an average computer to crack a five-letter, lowercase-only password?
  • Cracking a less secure site, then hoping you use the same password for more important sites
  • Cracking your email password, then looking for password reminders from more important sites

For what it's worth, here's a quick way to create a reasonably secure password:

  • Take a phrase that you can easily remember. I'm going to go with "Snape kills Dumbledore".
  • Alter it slightly to make it less guessable. This one's a little short, so I'll extend it to "Oh noes! Snape kills Dumbledore!"
  • Take initial letters for words or syllables. Take what seems sensible to you; "onsnkdbd"
  • Mix it up a bit with capitals, numbers, and/or punctuation. More character types means better security. "0n!Sn8kDbd!"
  • Practice typing it a bit to see how it flows, and change it a bit if it trips you up too much. On second thoughts, I don't like that 8, and the final ! is awkward. I'll change it to "0n!SnpkDbd;"

Microsoft suggests a similar technique, and provides a handy online password strength checker. It thinks the above password is "strong" (not "best", though, which it reserves for passwords at least 14 characters long... slightly overkill maybe?)

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spudtater: (Default)
( Nov. 22nd, 2009 09:54 pm)
Got 7 invites left for Google Wave. If you've not heard of that, it's a fairly nifty live-chat-slash-collaborative-editing web application; more here.

Want one?

Edit: 4 left
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spudtater: (Default)
( Aug. 29th, 2009 06:41 pm)
Due to the radio at work deciding that it wanted to play ABBA at me, I have finally signed up to last.fm. It's pretty neat, although how it operates from a legal standpoint still confuses me. I think I need somebody to explain it to me. With diagrams.

Also, I am slightly worried by its choice of songs. On Friday, the day when the Jaycee Lee Dugard story made worldwide headlines, it decided to play Solitary Confinement by The Members, followed by Dirt Room by Blue October.

So I decided to cancel random play and just listen to some Franz Ferdinand. I was listening to This Fire, when the fire alarm went off.

Odd.
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I have ranted in the past about people who see a nested list and think "that needs to have little pluses and minuses in it to make it dynamically browsable!"

I stand by that rant. 95% of the time it's absolutely unnecessary. However, in some cases it really might come in handy — and in a lot of other cases people just like the shiny. So I thought to myself: now that I know more about JavaScript (and have discovered the magic of Prototype), how could I improve this?

The result is my CollapsibleList utility. No more mucking around with 'onclick' attributes — simply drop in the script and a bit of CSS, call "new CollapsibleList('myListID');", and Robert's your parent's sibling.

Bonus features: javascript calls to expand entirely, collapse entirely, or collapse to a specific level. Magical pluses and minuses automatically keep up.
My professional web page is now live on flocci.org. As usual, I find it very difficult to figure out what to say about myself. I've gone with a bit of blurb about Stuff Wot I Like... or at least the programming languages and web technologies that fall into that category.

Stylistically, I considered the 'grid' concept that [livejournal.com profile] figg pointed to on my previous post, but eventually just went with a slightly 3D-ed version of the original design. Not 100% sure about the buttons on my projects page, or the external link markers (which look a bit hand-drawn [which they are]).

Any suggestions/criticisms with regards to either content or style would be welcomed.

Edit: floccinaucinihilipilification.org given a makeover as well. Let me know if it doesn't render properly on your browser.
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spudtater: (Default)
( Jul. 10th, 2009 10:20 am)
I'm in the process of creating a new professional web page, to hold my CV, programming, etc.

Anybody want to volunteer any thoughts? Mainly on the layout/style — I'm a competent web developer, but not so hot as a designer. Do the blue boxes look a bit naff? Or should there be more of them? What about the right-aligned title? Should the main text sit inside something?

Am currently trawling my computers for a better portrait of me, but that'll do for now.

(Site written in PHP... yes, I know. AFAIK that's all I have available to me through UKShells. OTOH, reCAPTCHA FTW.)

Edit: updated with new portrait and (thanks to GIMP script-fu) 3d-effect boxes. Drop shadow: everything must have it.
spudtater: (Default)
( Jan. 31st, 2009 02:52 pm)
Google.co.uk seems to be b0rken... it's displaying every result with the message "this site may harm your computer".

Edit: Google may harm your computer
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...the question foremost in a lot of people's minds is: "if I'm using this new Google browser thingy, how much information is it going to be sending to Google as I browse?"

The answer, suprisingly, appears to be "not a huge amount". At least, a reasonably trustworthy person at Google assures us so. I'm sure that nonetheless, a slew of very untrusting people are going to be closely monitoring what the browser does just to make sure. I shall await their results, but I don't expect there to be any unexpected dodginess.

Anybody who has a Google search bar installed, or has Google set as their default search in Firefox, should be aware that any search terms do go to google already, even before you hit "enter". This is how it comes up with that nifty list of auto-suggestions. With Chrome (a.k.a. "that new Google browser thingy"), the search bar and the location bar are merged into one. So if Google is set as your default search (and note that this can be changed, even to the likes of Microsoft Live Search), then Google will be sent every URL you type, as you type it.

This is not something I personally like, so I'll probably turn it off when I install Chrome (and I will have to, eventually, due to my work). Which is a shame, because auto-suggestions are nifty.

So, in conclusion, Google Chrome gets a "meh".

What all this debate over Google is distracting from is Internet Explorer 8, that other browser that is in beta at the moment. IE8 has a feature called "Suggested Sites", which it describes in the following manner:

"Suggested Sites is an online experience designed to show you which websites you visit most, and to provide you with suggestions of other websites you might be interested in visiting."IE8 Privacy policy, Microsoft

Those paying attention will already see the problem. The policy continues:

"When you turn on Suggested Sites, your web browsing history is sent to Microsoft, where it is saved and compared to a frequently updated list of websites that are similar to ones you visit often. You can choose to pause or stop this feature from sending your web browsing history to Microsoft at any time. You can also delete individual entries from your history at any time. Deleted entries will not be used to provide you suggestions for other websites, although they will be retained by Microsoft for a period of time to help improve our products and services, including this feature." (emphasis mine)

As of a few days ago, when I first discovered this aspect of IE8, I didn't see any other sites flagging this up in red letters. Now there are one or two pages crawling up Google's search results.

This really should be brought to people's attention. If people know exactly what the feature does, and are still okay to make use of it, then fine, I'm not going to push my own standards on them. But not everybody will know what it is doing behind the scenes — especially those without a computing background.

Edit: the post under the cut was accurate when posted, but Google have since stated that it was all a big mistake and have swiftly changed their EULA. See:

Original post )
spudtater: (Default)
( Aug. 4th, 2008 09:57 pm)
I have a Facebook. I do not intend to use it, but need it in order to view photos. Have sent out friends requests to a number of you. May have forgotten some people, or sent some out twice... Facebook doesn't appear to keep track of past friends requests.



Edit: Hello dirty Facebook people! This is a copy of my livejournal at spudtater.livejournal.com
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spudtater: (Default)
( Jun. 6th, 2008 11:51 pm)
Have been celebrating my newfound spare time by watching TED talks. They're pretty good. Try this one about generating 3D images from Flickr. Or this one about the intelligence of crows[1]... or... well, try sorting the whole thing by "rated most jaw-dropping", and just dip in to your liking. It's all great stuff.

[1] The good bit is about 3 minutes in.
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spudtater: (Default)
( Jun. 4th, 2008 08:24 am)

Firefox is great. I'm sure everybody knows that by now. But some of its best features are in the optional add-ons contributed by various developers. Here are some of my favourites:

For everybody:

  • Adblock Plus: Does what it says on the tin. That said, I don't really use it for ad blocking much. I originally installed it for downloading pictures from Flickr.
  • CustomizeGoogle: Twiddles with the output from Google in a variety of ways. Can remove Google ads. I like the fact that it adds direct links from Google image search.
  • Duplicate Tab: Finally! Firefox really needs this one. Click on a tab, then click "duplicate tab", and the current page will be loaded again in another tab, with page history preserved and everything. Highly configurable; play around with the options until you get what you want.
  • IE Tab: My mind boggled when I first saw this one. Addicted to tabs? Don't want to open a separate window when you just have to use IE for some site? Now you don't have to. Yup. IE inside Firefox.
For the seriously geeky )

What about you? Any gems to share?

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spudtater: (Default)
( Dec. 3rd, 2007 06:15 pm)
ASP is a dead language[1], as dead as dead can be. It killed the ancient Egyptians[2], and now it's killing me.

[1] Okay, well, framework, then.
[2] It killed Cleopatra[3], anyway.
[3] Reputedly.
spudtater: (Default)
( Dec. 1st, 2007 07:08 pm)
LJ has just introduced flagging for adult content. If you are offended by somebody's post, you can now press a little button, and the lj censorship team are notified. If enough people press the little button, the content will automatically be hidden from people under 18 years old.

Now this isn't the end of the world, but I find it patronising and faintly nauseating. The internet that I fell in love with never judged content based on whose innocent eyes might be looking at it. Everything was available, if you knew where to look. Sexual content, violent content, offensive content: the very fact that this could be expressed was important to me as a teen. Freedom of speech, of thought, became a major part of my belief system, mainly as a result of the anarchic permissiveness of the internet. Freeeedom! And stuff. Yes, I'd go so far as to say that possibly the most offensive things on the internet are ideas like this one, and have marked that post as such. Go though and do likewise.

The reason it isn't the end of the world, or of my presence on LJ, at any rate, is because anybody can lie about their age. To encourage people to do so, I've marked my journal as "explicit adult content". Because the internet isn't "child friendly", and I'm proud that it isn't.

8^)

Posting from the pub, on a Saturday night. Is that slightly sad?

Edit: in this journal I always welcome contrasting opinions. However, if you're going to disagree, at least put in some effort to explain why. Hint: this will usually take more than two words. If not, your comments will be deleted.

Really embracing my inner grouch today. And why not?   8^)
.

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