Blogger / Gmail Account Disabled?

I’m not sure what happened, but apparently my second blog under my Second Life name has been disabled. It’s odd because I’ve only made one post on the blog and I don’t think I’ve used the gmail (if it has a gmail account?).

I’ve sent in a “what the!?” email (kidding, it’s a request for clarification / dispute) and I’m hoping this will get resolved quickly.

Although… I do have my worries… there have been some pretty nasty tales about posts and accounts disappearing from Google’s Blogger site with no way to get them back.

All I wanted to do was update my blog with some more tips… *sighs*

Cannabis: Why it won’t be legalized any time soon.

There are two main reasons why cannabis won’t be legalized within the next few years:

1.) The justice system feeds people to the jails, and the latter is a very profitable business; arresting and jailing people is an industry.

Legalizing cannabis would severely cut into this industry and big industries inevitably have lobbyists; they use them like a well refined weapon against the slow moving wave of government change.

2.) The other reason cannabis won’t be legalized any time soon is the pervasive attitude from those in power. This is not limited to lower levels of gov’t, it goes all the way to the top: Obama.

It greatly disturbed me that he laughed off the #1 ranked question in his own online polls in 3 different sections: legalizing cannabis to help the economy. That Obama would treat conservative protesters (remember the town hall meetings during the election run) with more respect than thousands to millions of online people voicing their views.

To be blunt: I expected better from him.

I also fear he’s getting the Bush effect: being surrounded by people with biases that aren’t balanced and not seeing how he’s being herded away from his original intentions.

Disable Slow Keys in Ubuntu

For whatever reason (long story involving a keyboard not working right) I had assistive technologies installed on my machine – you know, the ones that help the physically / mentally challenged use a computer?

Well, one of them was hindering my ability to play one of my games. Dangerous territory there, don’t get in the way of my games. Anyway… the pain in my arse is called Slow Keys.
(Edited the above to make it clearer)

If I held down the shift key for more than 8 seconds, it would ask me if I would like to enable Slow Keys.

Unfortunately, this dialog box makes anything you type not work / appear until it’s dealt with.

Annoying? Oh yes, and even more so as it tended to pop up UNDER the main window, so half the time I thought I was lagging / having technical issues.

The solution? To go into the settings for the assistive technologies:
System > Preferences > Keyboard > /Accessability/ > [ ] Accessability Features can be Toggled with Keyboard Shortcuts

I tried Googling it, nothing came close, so here it is.

Update – As Kevin pointed out in the comments, they’ve moved it in an update:
Kevin Says:

In Ubuntu 11.10 the procedure has changed to:
System Settings> > Universal Access > Typing > Toggle Slow Keys”

Thanks Kevin!

And hello linuxquestion.org users ^_^

Personal: Seller on eBay doesn’t accept Paypal

I’ve never seen a seller that insists on credit cards / cheques / etc, but refuses Paypal. To me… this is a huge red flag, despite their 100% happiness rating.

In this particular instance, the seller only accepts credit cards from Canadians, and as I don’t have one (and don’t plan on getting one) I had to ask the seller to cancel the transaction.

Too bad it didn’t work out. Lesson learned – Always filter by “Accepts Paypal”.

Anyone else out there run into this and it turned out well?

[Edit] With a few emails, the guy applied for a mutual cancellation of the whole thing, which was nice as he could have dragged it out and been a jerk about it. From now on I make a point of filtering by Paypal, and usually by BuyItNow. (I hate auctions)

Yahoo! and Open Source … and Richard Stallman?

I nearly fainted and then turned bright red when I got this email:

Hello –

I’m assisting Richard M Stallman of the GNU project. He has asked me to find the email address of the author of
https://amandakerik.wordpress.com/2007/06/25/yahoo-open-source-censorship-an-actual-response/
.
Because there was no address posted on the blog itself, I looked on the web and found this address (my email address here) in an Ubuntu forum post. Are you the author of the blog?

If you are not the author, I apologize for taking your time.

Regards,
Michael Hannon

Ok, perhaps a bit of background… I know who Richard Stallman is, I read a very interesting ebook about him and I’ve admired him ever since. (it’s odd that I didn’t blog about that, but I must have been busy) The very, very short version? He started the GNU project. That’s huge!

I did a bit of checking, and this looks legit, so it should be interesting to see where this goes!

I replied with the very short:

Hi Michael, yep, I’m the author of that post. What are you looking for?
Amanda

To which I got a quick reply of:

Hi –

Thanks!

I was just asked to find your address; I think RMS wants to know more about what happened when your post was deleted. He’ll probably be in touch in the next few days.

Regards,
Michael Hannon

I… well, at the risk of sounding like a teenager… I think this is sooo fucking cool!

[Edit] Ok, update time:

This is the email I got from RMS (Richard M. Stallman):

I saw your blog about the censored Yahoo post, and I get the
impression that you appreciate the freedom aspect of free software.
Would you perhaps like to support the free software movement publicly?

Well, as my friends know, I tend to get ticked off at limits, so duh I’m a supporter of free and open source software.

I replied with:

Quite true, what did you have in mind? Most of the people I talk to on a regular basis (both online and locally) have been persuaded to switch to various open source programs; usually Firefox and GNU/Linux.
I’m wondering about the scope / scale of what you have in mind,
Amanda

The message I got back was an auto-reply (I’ll include it if anyone’s interested), then:

The easiest thing that you could do, that would help us substantially,
is simply to say “free software”. Often our movement is hidden and
forgotten behind the very different idea of “open source”.

See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html
for more explanation of the difference.

It’s useful occasionally to add a little text to clarify that it’s
free as in freedom, not gratis. For instance, to say “free
(freedom-respecting) software”, “free/libre software”, etc. You might
do this for the first mention of “free software” in any article or
message.

If you want to help more, you could do things such as join the FSF,
start a GNU/Linux User Group, start a Free Software Activist Group,
organize anti-DRM protests for DefectiveByDesign.org, become a free
software movement speaker, etc.

Up until this point I had read about the free software / open source debate, but didn’t really grasp the difference. I had assumed that they had a huge amount of overlap (they do, right now), and it was a purple / indigo kind of debate.

After reading the linked article, I see the difference, and I’ll more than willingly go on record to state I’m in favour of free (freedom respecting) software.

Here’s the difference: It’s possible to create an open source version of a limiting technology (activex, drm, etc), but it’s against what free (freedom respecting) software is focused on.

The similarities between the two camps are too numerous to list at the moment, but the underlying values are different. Open source is, as RMS says in his article, purely practical. There are no values, no right or wrong, in open source. The focus is to get software that works. Right, wrong or sideways, if it works, anyone can look at the source, contribute to it, etc it’s open source.

Free (freedom respecting) software ventures into the “is this a good idea” or “is this limiting” areas – to some it’s essentially “is this being written for the right reasons”.

I believe in the radical (apparently) idea that each person is responsible for his / her actions, and that putting limits that are illegal to break only stops the people who have good intentions from doing it – and just succeeds in taking away their rights. People who are determined to do what they want, will do it.

This is why DRM on music is very short sighted – it only limits those who don’t have the interest to get around it, which admittedly is a lot of people. It doesn’t stop the official target – people that want to go around DRM will. But then we get into the next question: is DRM really for the people who “steal” music?

I see us being marched towards a Microsoft version of music – you don’t ever get to buy it, you rent it. You “license” it. You get to “rent” a song for each type of media player you want to play it on, which always has a “renewal” date – when you pay again to be able to play the same music as before. You don’t pay? You lose the music.

Am I the only person who sees something wrong with this? (They’re already doing it by the way, it’s just not systematic right now.)

Yahoo! Answers and the Deleted Answer, a resurgence of interest

Ok, there seems to be a renewal of interest over my posts regarding a deleted answer from Yahoo! Answers I blogged about over half a year ago.

As far as I can see this whole thing was a domino effect of:

  1. Someone didn’t like my answer and flagged it. Either someone with a high rank, or several people with medium ranks. Or it could have been the person who asked the question.
  2. Someone at Yahoo (who is probably ignorant about open source) made a quick decision and moved on.
  3. Someone got an e-mail reply from me regarding the letter saying my answer was deleted, but they didn’t respond immediately.
  4. Someone found out about my blog posts and contacted me, further explaining Yahoo’s reasoning.
  5. Someone got my official dispute and forwarded it onto the person in #4, who restated the same reasoning.
  6. Someone from #3 looked over the situation and decided to reverse the deduction of points.

All in all, do I think it’s a systematic bias against open source? No, I don’t see firm proof of this. Do I think it was malevolent / a conspiracy? No.

[edit] But, do I think that Yahoo’s without it’s biases? No, it’s guaranteed to have it’s priorities in some areas that would lend it to being biased. It’s logically impossible to not be biased in some way.

I think it was a culmination of a few people with not enough info and not enough time. It happens.

So why did I blog about this? Like I’ve said before, I wanted to see if this was a one-off or if it was a systematic policy that no one talked about. I also wanted to see if making a small fuss about something I disagree with would make a difference. It did, but not in the ways I was aiming for – I wanted to provoke a change in Yahoo, not be a tipping point for people to boycott Yahoo.

Don’t get me wrong, Yahoo’s got a lot of issues; for example their chat has a nasty habit of kicking people off for no reason or just not working properly. I personally object to the blending of the Yahoo and MSN chat networks, but they’re not my companies, not my choice. I’d just use Pidgin for this “problem”.

Looking back, I think the things that still annoy me are:

  1. The person who originally asked the question didn’t get to see my answer, even after the decision about it’s “violating the rules” was overturned
  2. I didn’t get an apology from anyone
  3. The person in #5 came across as quite abrupt and dismissive
  4. Nothing changed, except a few people’s perception of Yahoo

So what’s the result? A few people are ticked off at Yahoo, a few people are ticked off at me. People are now discussing whether open source should be censored, people are talking about whether open source is a viable replacement for Windows. I got my little bit of time in the spotlight.

Beyond that, I can’t see the ripples that my pebble caused in the lake of the world, but I flatter myself that the ripples will continue in their own way for a while.

On a tangent: a few people have said I’m too patient, too idealistic and too forgiving. What do you think?

Problems with Uninstalling Google Toolbar

I’m writing this quick note from a computer I’m fixing – the previous owner had various things installed, and one of them was the Google Toolbar.

Now, I’ve always thought of Google in a positive light, but after today… there will always be that thread of frustration tainting the view.

Ok, short version: The computer had Google Toolbar installed, and I tried to uninstall it. It uninstalled fine on the Admin account, but on a different account with near admin privileges it just wouldn’t get lost!

I tried a total of 7 times (uninstall, restart, check to see if it’s there) to get rid of it and it wouldn’t get the f—- off the computer, so I went into the folder on the harddrive that holds the extensions and found the folder that held the Google Toolbar. Hit the delete key and check? Gone…. FINALLY!

Details: I tried to uninstall it from the add-ons area as well as the uninstall option hidden in the toolbar itself. Each time it promised me that it would be gone, and each time I came back it was in my face insisting I set the search engine, etc etc etc.

Extra annoyance factor: it wouldn’t go away by clicking on the close button. Google: sometimes I have better things to do than to answer your stupid questions about which search engine I want and if I want to “help” you with stuff.