Categories
Games

YES!

A little chorus outside resident services was delightful. Thanks!
Categories
Misc

A Buncha Flowers!

Categories
Computers

Some Kind of Pythonic Magic

I’ve been tinkering with my nascent Python “game”. Each time I expand on it, it’s to learn a bit more about Python, or some feature or module that seems appropriate. To that end, I’ve heard that Python comes with “batteries included”. Meaning the standard suite of tools that come with a typical install of Python is extensive.

To that end, it feels like the built in libraries are somewhat magical in how well they handle things. I’m comparing to C, whose idea of standard libraries feels unbelievably spartan in comparison. Different tools for different jobs, I suppose. There are really weird, simple pleasures in programming in Python. Consider:

import os from pathlib import Path scoreboard = Path(os.environ.get("XDG_DATA_HOME") + "/guessing-game/scores.txt") if scoreboard.exists: with scoreboard.open("a+") as scores: // Game code here

This is delightful. I don’t have to do stuff like count to see if the return from Path is greater than 1 to indicate existence of a file, like I have to in JS when selecting elements, Path comes with a ready-made exists method that does exactly what it says on the tin. Oh, and the whole thing figures out the path on POSIX vs Windows path styles. Scrumptious!

I know my little honeymoon phase with my incredibly basic script will probably come crashing down when I want to do stuff more complicated, like have a high-scores list, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

Categories
Computers

Chrome Privacy

New changes to the way Google’s flagship application, Chrome, make it easier to stay on top of what Google is getting, and what you may be revealing to third-party sites. Another feature to be ignored by the masses, and questioned by people who still don’t trust them.

While, on their face, these changes make Google Chrome a little closer to other browsers in the privacy aspect. It still doesn’t feel like a genuine attempt at helping the user. It just so happens that keeping others away from their users, while still giving them privileged access to their data is something that dove-tails with their goals, for the moment. Still, they’re trying something Firefox and Safari take very seriously. Who knows where this will end up.

The Ecosystem of Google

Within Google’s sphere of influence, there is a lot to like for your average user:

  • Single sign on to lots of different first and third-party applications, like Docs, Drive, Gmail, GSuite and more
  • High quality web-based applications
  • User account data sync when you use Chrome or a Chromebook including passwords, extensions, preferences, wallets, subscriptions, etc.
  • Integration with your Android Smartphone
  • And much more

I won’t say that I haven’t been tempted to jump ship and join up with Google. I have an older Chromebook, and when I was signing into Google services, it was amazing. I could blow the thing away, and be back up in short order, everything back in place. If I weren’t so enamored with Linux and the Libre software movement, I can easily imagine me being either a hardcore Apple user or a hardcore Google user.

By and large, Google has ‘won’ this generation of smartphone, browser, search and advertising systems. The literal billions of users tied into those systems is no small feat. Even organizations like Mozilla and Microsoft often have to bend slightly to accommodate Google’s whims. This is a really weird time.

While no man lives forever, the same can be said about Google. They’re constantly killing services that don’t provide enough user telemetry or subscribers. Often, it feels like a gamble to use any one of their services because it’s just as likely to be killed a few months down the road. Other than their bread and butter, it’s a hard sell to build a business off of anything Google does.

Shiny Chromium

It’s hard to say that Chrome is a bad browser. The architecture, based on Apple’s WebKit (which, itself, was begot by KDE’s KHTML engine), and is screaming fast, well integrated on most platforms and can be used without the same UI. A feat that Mozilla has only weakly attempted in the past. The support for web standards (driven by a cabal of browser makers, such as it is) is pretty top notch.

The biggest problem with being such an 800lbs gorilla is that everyone starts to ape you. Sites target Chrome-features only, or support only Chrome are becoming more commonplace. A chilling throwback to the days of IE vs Netscape Navigator. The old beast has been felled, long live the new beast?

As I mentioned before, even titans like Microsoft bend to Google on occasion. In an attempt to hang on to browser users and tie them into their own ecosystem, Microsoft released Edge with the launch of Windows 10. A new browser, better, different and faster than their absolutely decrepit Internet Explorer (which still sees regular use in enterprise…). Try as they might, they could not edge out this competitor like they did to Netscape before. In this new Microsoft, they’ve adopted Chrome’s “Blink” engine and rebranded it as the new Edge. Same as Chrome, but different packaging.

History makes ready to repeat itself. What are we willing to do to make it fair, open and available to all? Firefox used to be all the rage, can we make it that way, again?

Categories
Politics

Encryption Bad, Police Good; Upvotes to the Left

I am exhausted. This whole anti-encryption rant is such a crappy straw man that I am actually surprised it works on people. Barr should drop the shtick and tell people what is really going on: The Government want unfettered access to anyone’s device on a moment’s notice. Granted, this is prohibited by the constitution, but why not try anyway?

Honestly, we live in times when encryption is the rule, instead of the exception. It’s in all of our tools, on all of our machines, wrapping all of our traffic and it comes in a tremendous number of flavors. Saying encryption on iPhones is bad is like saying curtains in houses are bad because they stop you from seeing in. It’s a stupid argument because the premise is stupid. We have a right to private communications, we don’t have to let government in.

Exploitative FBI

This comes at a time when some iPhone hacking groups and exploit — ahem, I mean, security groups are not buying new iPhone exploits because they claim they have a surplus of them. So how is it that the FBI, a national agency that has connections to the NSA, CIA and more cannot get into an iPhone they have physical access to when there is a glut of iOS exploits in the market? Does this make sense?

Of course not.

Hmmm…

They want the access because they don’t want to have to pay for exploits, or the talent to find them. Maybe they’re behind? Maybe it’s just a power play to grab more rights back from the people. I don’t know. It’s odd they haven’t mentioned any Android devices or the BitLocker encryption on millions more devices that should, in theory, be as hard to access, and yet no word from AG Barr on those devices.

I’m honestly glad that they’re being so blunt about it. It’s easier to see the real intention behind it. Though people will still fall for it. I see no end to the “Punisher Skull”/”Thin Blue Line” stickers on people’s vehicles. People want to be told what’s best for them, rather than looking for themselves. Including those ninnies who show up to various state capitals, protesting stay-at-home orders, heavily armed (“open carry”) because they can’t get their hair cut.