Google is trying to destroy the ad blocker market

Like I guessed about two years ago, Google are now trying to undermine the ad blocking market by releasing their own ad blocker, which will of course not block ads served by Google. It will probably also not block other privacy invasions or tracking systems that would benefit Google or its customers. Since Google is the world’s largest advertisement company, that’s quite a few.

This is likely just the first step of several that they might take while abusing their browser dominance. Watch carefully as things get worse the higher Chrome’s market share climbs.

You can still use an independent web browser, but who knows for how long? The effects I described in that old article linked above might lead to content no longer working correctly on anything but Google Chrome, and by that time Google’s control of what you can and cannot see, and also of how much of your privacy you are forced to surrender, will be total.

55'555 kilometers in a Tesla Model S in the Swiss Alps

Well, okay, we didn’t cover that entire length just in the Alps, but I needed a catchy title. If you want the short version: there is nothing to say here, and that’s the most significant thing I can tell you about electric driving in Europe today.

IMG_2515
Solar-powered Supercharger in Denmark

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I'm pretty sure that Microsoft will buy (at least a stake in) Canonical

Canonical are apparently preparing for an IPO. If that happens, I’m pretty sure Microsoft will grab a good chunk of them and maybe absorb them completely later.

While Microsoft has been focusing more on the container side with Docker lately, they have also been cuddling with Ubuntu. Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), which runs Ubuntu in a cage, is only one of these examples. Observe also that e.g. Microsoft’s MS-SQL adapter for PHP only explicitly supports Ubuntu and RedHat, none of the other distros.

If the IPO does happen, see me back here in 2 – 5 years to resolve any bets 🙂

How Microsoft and Google are manipulating your children

Microsoft yesterday announced Windows 10 S, a cut-down version of Windows 10 for the education market. They plan to make it available to PC makers to sell laptops with, for as little as US$ 200 a pop. “Like a Chromebook, then”, you say? Exactly, like a Chromebook.

Services as drugs for kids

This is the start of a new turf war for child mindshare. Like drug dealers, Microsoft and Google know that it’s best to get them early, get them young, make them depend on your products. Microsoft even helpfully supplies teaching aids.

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Fix crackling audio in some games in WINE

Some games happen to have wonderful audio (and music), like Wolfenstein: The New Order. Some games happen not to be available natively for Linux, like… err… also Wolfenstein: The New Order. So we play them with WINE, and sometimes there are slight audio issues.

But have no fear: If you get audio crackling in such games (especially if your audio device is not running at 44.1 KHz), the following environment variable might fix it for you like it did for me:

PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60

You can either start WINE in a terminal with this env var prepended:

PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60 wine Steam.exe

or if you’re using PlayOnLinux:

PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60 playonlinux

Or you can export it in your ~/.profile file if you want it to be set for all your applications (don’t forget to completely log out and back in, since .profile is read only once per session):

export PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60

Does this work for you? It works for me. I can’t remember where I found it first, but it’s a hint that’s been passed along, so pass it along I shall.

May the Flying Spaghetti Monster extend its noodly appendage to guide the hands of Lennart Poettering so that such issues become a thing of the past (if indeed Pulseaudio is to blame, but we always blame Pulseaudio, so we shall blame it one more time).

Now to enjoy the screams of expiring Nazi cyborgs in ultimate smoothness.

Bidirectional clipboards in KVM guests are as easy as spice-vdagentd

For a long time I thought there is no such thing as bidirectional clipboard support when using KVM. It turns out I was very, very wrong. All you need to install on Debian-like guest systems is the package spice-vdagent. You may have to start the service afterwards:

apt-get install spice-vdagent
systemctl start spice-vdagentd

Again, this goes on the guest system. On the host system you just have to make sure you’re connecting through spice with a spice client (outdated documentation about that is here). If you use the Virt-Manager GUI, this is all set up correctly by default for Linux guests.

Free bonus: 3D acceleration and compositing seems to be working by default in Linux guests as well. This has nothing to do with spice-vdagentd, I just thought I’d mention it since this seems new. It’s a boon for testing software in multiple desktop environments, especially since many modern desktop environments profit a lot from direct rendering and compositing (or even require it to function properly).

My favorite vim color schemes have been ported to Atom

The PaperColor theme has been my favorite vim color theme for quite some time now, and I’m happy to find the same theme in Atom as well, even by the same author!

They have been ported to the Base16 color scheme system. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, it doesn’t matter at all. Thanks a lot, Nguyen Nguyen, aka NLKNguyen. If I knew how to reach you, I’d send you beer money.

 

Microsoft's Cortana spies on everyone except school children

It appears that Microsoft decided that its voice-controlled assistant can no longer be disabled in Windows 10 after the upcoming Anniversary Update. So they can now be listening in on everything someone says in a household. Is this immoral? Microsoft probably doesn’t think so. But then you discover that Microsoft also decided that school children will not be spied on (so that would be immoral?)

A hardware killswitch is probably the only way you can make sure Cortana doesn’t hear you, but some manufacturers don’t supply those anymore.

Microsoft is not alone in wanting to listen in on your bedroom performance, Google also sneakily placed a recording system on all computers running an up-to-date version of Chrome. They even managed to infiltrate the free software base of Chrome, Chromium. So do Chrome users on Windows 10 now have two spies in their home? Seems that way.

US English language in Debian with proper weekdays and numbers

Our friends over there in the US like to have their own measurement systems, and they don’t stop there. They also like to start the week on Sundays. I hear this has religious reasons.

This leads to problems when you generally want to set up your Debian systems with plain old English (US) locales but need proper measurement units in your programs. One of the solutions here is the magical file /etc/default/locale. Here’s a screenshot of what amazing feats this can accomplish:

Screenshot_2016-07-15_12-39-44.png

My weeks start on Monday (as they should!) and I get European paper formats, Swiss date and time formats, but still have my precious English error messages. No one wants German nerdspeak, it’s gibberish! “Sendewarteschlangenlänge”? What does that even mean?

The beauty of the locale system is that you can mix and match any of these. You can have Portuguese weekdays with English error messages, Swedish currency and US paper formats.

First you have to generate all the locales you’d like to use (as root):

dpkg-reconfigure locales

Then just put whatever combination you like in /etc/default/locales and log out and back in again. Here’s an example:

LANG=en_US.UTF-8
LC_NUMERIC=de_CH.UTF-8
LC_TIME=de_CH.UTF-8
LC_COLLATE=de_CH.UTF-8
LC_MONETARY=de_CH.UTF-8
LC_PAPER=de_CH.UTF-8
LC_MEASUREMENT=de_CH.UTF-8
LC_ADDRESS=de_CH.UTF-8
LANGUAGE="en_US:en"

The system gets US English spelling and language, but the rest is in German (Switzerland). So we Swiss Franc as currency, ‘ as a thousands separator, etc. And this works both in pure console sessions and in most desktop environments.

Be careful, though. Some desktop environments (like Plasma) allow you to override these settings in your desktop session.

Windows 10 is no better than GNU/Linux at UI uniformity

Some years ago, I read a review of a GNU/Linux distribution where the reviewer, coming from Windows, commented that “some applications look slightly different than others,” and this person was puzzled as to why. I can guess why: One application was probably using the Qt toolkit and the other GTK.

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