Technical Issues.

I am noting that the number of spam comments blocked is slowly going up while the number of real visitors remains the same. Not sure what that means. Otherwise, the site remains fairly stable, and if you have not worked this out I am using Markdown for writing the blogs. A bit faster… read a lot faster.

Wired summarizes the week thusly.

With tech companies gobbling up more and more user location data all the time—and governments tapping into those troves any way they can—a group of technologists in the United States and United Kingdom debuted 10 principles this week, the Locus Charter, for ethical retention and uses of location data. Facebook announced research into the Chinese hacking group Evil Eye, which has continued to launch espionage campaigns targeting Uyghurs. In this latest case, the group used front companies to develop spyware and carefully distributed both Android and iOS malware through fake app stores and tainted websites.
Meanwhile, a strain of ransomware called DearCry has been piggybacking off the same Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities originally exploited by Chinese hackers for espionage worldwide. And dark web marketplaces are overflowing with Covid-vaccine-related scams, hawking fake doses and forged proofs of vaccination.
In an attempt to cut down on the threat posed by browser-related attacks, companies like the internet infrastructure firm Cloudflare are developing a new generation of “browser isolation” tools that keep malicious code from running directly on your computer, while being faster and more usable than past iterations.

Or as I would put it, a good time to remain analogue. More on this below, but common OSes — and I would definately include Andriod on that list — have problems. Windows has more than most, because it does not have a userspace. The move to completely seperate sandboxes for each programme is continuing for security reasons, but it will require more resources for us end users.

Long term Linux.

The question in my mind is which is the more stable — Arch or Manjaro. Manjaro is Arch with another layer of testing. The laptop is now running it and it worked. The desktop ran Arch reliably for a year or two until the darn system curled up its toes and died. At that point it was no longer recognizing the hard disks.

Admittedly the BIOS on that machine was written in 2008.

I prefer rolling releases. I hate updates. But I hate it when things break. The alternatives to consider are Bunsenlabs, which I think is a little more stable than the Arch, and is based on the now demised CrunchBang. I liked Crunchbang.

The non systemd alternative would be Artix — but it does not have AUR, and that matters for me. Fedora is moving to Gnome 4.0 (which better be [better than Gnome 3.0.]( I used cinnamon and moved to Plasma to avoid that) and versions of Flatpaks, which I’m not sure that I understand.

I am going to be testing these over the next couple of weeks, using the laptop, which is not quite dead. Because I need something stable for the new desktop.

The death of the desktop.

This is the week when the desktop died. Had it. Could not find hard disks. Did not respond to any attempt to reboot it. This is not good. So… time to design a new one. The problem is getting parts: though NZ does not have huge parts shortages there have been problems. Nonetheless, I managed to put together a list of parts and will see if we can get them.

Kea’s techie mate said it would be better if she just gave her machine to me and he’ll build another one. But hers is working for what she wants — photoshop, photoshop old version and she does not want to touch it. This is a true rule — If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Electronics either don’t work or are stable for years. Aim for stability.

In short, to get something that could work with things that had costs in NZ: about 2K. THis is what most of my machines cost. I buy components from last year’s bleeding edge and then run them for a long time.

Which led to another conversation with Kea, who wants me to use Windows. Well, No. I don’t use the same things she does, and I find — over and over — that my equally ancient laptop can do things faster and better than a mac pro.

In part because I use very lightweight user interfaces. I need it to run Digikam, Darktable, and rapidphotodownloader. I’d like it to run Brave, RKWard, and a decent office suite.

The big issue is going to be sourcing the parts.

Analog, folks, Analog.

I’m writing this at a time when the US government is talking about having a vaccine passport internally to allow you do basically anything. This is tyrannical, and they think they can get away with it because they track most of us all the time. Moreover, the latest set of smartwatches don’t have any killer apps, at least for me.

For me, the two killer apps would be glucose monitoring and reliable heart rate monitoring. I don’t need the second until I’m back in serious training, which is not the case right now. The simplest watches just tell the time, and that allows you to leave your cellphone at home.

Do leave your cellphone at home, because too much screentime is bad for you. Didact, please note. That includes marathon games of HALO.