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  • Ascaris

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    Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 2,581 total)
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    • Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      From the post:

      “Advertising is essential to keeping the web open for everyone,”

      Oh, I am far from certain about that. Web advertising is broken, and it’s mostly been you (and a couple of other tech giants) that broke it, Google. Sites like askwoody.com are trying means to support themselves other than advertising because of this. Site owners are left with a choice of letting someone else (who has no concern whatsoever whether that site lives or dies) control the content of the ads on that site, while tracking that site’s users mercilessly, or not having any advertising at all. That is a trade-off that many site owners do not wish to accept on behalf of their viewers.

      “…but the web ecosystem is at risk if privacy practices do not keep up with changing expectations.”

      That ship sailed, went over the horizon, got to wherever it was going, unloaded its cargo, and set off for some other place by now, I think.

      I don’t know that expectations have changed. I think (many) people always expected to not be spied upon. It’s just that now people know how pervasive it is.

      This FLoC thing is supposed to allow tracking of a web user’s interests the same as is currently done. At present, the tracking scripts will send that information (ID and interests together) to Google, resulting in an ever-growing profile of interests (on Google’s servers) associated with that identity. Every time that user is encountered, Google will be able to look in its database and know what kinds of ads to serve to that person, since it knows what interests that person has. Instead, as I understand, FLoC will gather a profile of the user’s interests locally (on his own computer or other device) and send that information (the interests themselves) to the Google ad servers and let those servers serve up ads customized for those interests, but without knowing who the person is.

      On the surface, it seems to address the issue, but the devil is in the details. If your browser tells Google that you’re interested in woodworking, but it does not give your identity, Google will serve an ad about woodworking to… your IP address, which it now knows belongs to someone interested in woodworking. Do we believe Google is not going to save that IP address and that interest somewhere? This is Google we are talking about. They collect data that they can’t use for anything just because they might someday think of a way to use that data!

      If the person has an ISP that uses dynamic IP addressing, there’s still a record of that IP being interested with that topic at a given time, and any government official can get that record, then go to the ISP and find who had the IP at that time and have the interest linked to the identity.

      There are various techniques advertisers have used to fingerprint users in case they don’t allow the cookies to track them, and all of those will still exist with FLoC. This “solution” seems more geared toward getting privacy advocates to think something’s been done when the information that is still being transmitted is more than enough to profile the person and establish a persistent identity even if that identity isn’t transmitted directly each time.

      There’s just something creepy (as the title of the thread says) about my browser keeping track of my interests so it can blab that information (without asking me!) to Google to use for advertising. For the people who are not bothered by Google’s spying, it’s a non-issue anyway, and for the privacy conscious, this isn’t good enough.

      Advertising still doesn’t require tracking, Google. Lots of forms of ads don’t have tracking… it wasn’t that long ago that NO advertising had tracking, because the technology for performing the tracking did not exist. Advertising companies still made money, with no individually targeted ads at all! Imagine that. If you were selling a computer product, you could place it in a computer magazine, and you’d know that the kinds of people who would see the ad would be the kind who would buy a computer magazine. That’s a form of targeted ads, without any data flowing from the user to the advertiser at all. It must have worked, since ads didn’t stop existing at any point before tracking became possible, and then it became the norm.

      Google could sell ads under that paradigm if it wanted… no interest tracking at all, at any stage. Ad content would be determined by the topic of the site (or Youtube channel, etc.), and all of that overhead for tracking and profiling would be unnecessary. So many wasted CPU cycles, all that electrical energy, all that additional bandwidth shuttling the trackers to the person’s browser and the captured data in the other direction, not to mention the tremendous resources Google uses to collect and store all of this data… massive amounts of electricity used for that too.

      Sorry Google, but this doesn’t fix the issue. Trying to figure out ways you can keep tracking people while appeasing those who do not want to be tracked isn’t going to work. You’re still tracking, just differently. The part we want to have changed is the presence of the tracking, not the methodology! It reminds me of the famous “Spam” sketch in Monty Python… you’re changing everything but the bit that was the cause of the objection in the first place.

       

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: How much RAM does your computer have? #2356464
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      My primary machines:

      16GB in my desktop (i5-2500k oc’d to 4500 MHz). 4 DIMM slots (each with 4GB). GPU is nVidia GTX760, 2GB. 3 SSDs (~=128GB each), 1 3TB HDD, all SATA.

      16GB in my Dell G3 gaming laptop (G3-15-3579, i7-8750H). 2 SoDIMM slots, each with 8GB. GPU is GTX1050ti, 4 GB. 1 NVMe SSD (250GB), Samsung 970 Evo. 1 SATA SSD, Samsung 850 Evo (2.5″).

      16 GB in my new Dell XPS 13 (9310), i5-1135G7). Soldered. GPU is integrated Iris Xe, shared. 1 NVMe SSD, SK Hynix Gold M31 1TB.

      Before I bought the XPS, the role of my go-everywhere laptop was filled by my Acer Swift 1, 13″, with only 4GB (soldered) on a Pentium N4200 SoC. It actually did okay with such a small amount of RAM, as it has a 1TB (SATA) SSD, a Samsung 860 Evo, which helped to make virtual memory much quicker than it would have otherwise been.

      All of these machines primarily run Linux, but they are all Windows-class machines (the desktop was built from parts and started out with Windows 7, and the XPS came with Linux preinstalled, but the other two mentioned came with Windows 10, and most XPS 13 9310s like mine do too).

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      in reply to: My first OEM Linux PC (laptop)! #2356307
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      Well, I will just say that I was a Windows user from 1990 (with 3.0, though back then the ‘real’ work was done in MS-DOS) until 2015, when 10 came out and I saw the first feature update, with none of the things people had been hollering about fixed. I had naïvely thought MS would do as they had in the past, as with Windows 8 to 8.1… that is, they would listen to customer feedback and fix it.

      With that first update, Threshold 2, I could see where MS was headed, and that was when I stepped up the Linux plans. I had Linux on my “test” PC alongside Windows 10, but I would need it on my actual machines to really get used to it. I put Linux on both of my main PCs at the time (one old laptop and the desktop), alongside Windows, and used both operating systems in a dual boot setup… until one day I realized that I had not booted Windows in a long time. I had even migrated from 7 to 8.1 (with modifications) to buy myself more time, but it turned out that I didn’t need it at all. I was full Linux before 7 ran out of time.

      I don’t regret leaving Windows, though it could also be said that I did not leave Windows… it left me (as the saying goes). I like Linux, and I do have a Windows virtual machine and WINE for Windows programs I don’t want to live without, like MS Streets & Trips. The XPS is my first PC that never had Windows on it bare-metal, and I do not plan to add it. I only kept the other Win 10 installations (on the Swift and G3) because it was already paid for and present, and it is better to have it and not need it than the other way round… though so far WINE and Virtualbox have provided all of the Windows compatibility I have needed.

      My distro is Neon, quite similar to Kubuntu, just with more up to date stuff from KDE. Plasma, KDE’s desktop environment, is IMO the best of the bunch.

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: My first OEM Linux PC (laptop)! #2356170
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      Ascaris: Could you have replaced the Ubuntu GNOME desktop with another one that you like better?

      Yes, and I did try that initially, just to see how it would work. The problem is that each desktop has its own set of utilities, and installing the new desktop doesn’t necessarily convert everything. The result is a half and half kind of setup, where if there is a problem, the solutions one finds on the web that are geared toward regular Ubuntu or the KDE-based Kubuntu don’t necessarily apply, or at least not in a simple, straightforward way.

      Knowing which bits of the GNOME setup that can be removed is also a point of difficulty, as simply removing every bit with “GNOME” in the name somewhere doesn’t work. Even Kubuntu and Neon come with some GNOME bits, and some the additional GNOME stuff can’t be avoided, like with Firefox… it uses the GNOME Toolkit (GTK) to draw the UI in Linux. Even if one uses KDE, he has to have enough of the GNOME stuff to be able to function with programs like Firefox, just as users of desktops that use GTK (including all three varieties of Mint) need Qt libraries to be able to run things like the GUI for Virtualbox. GNOME and Qt interoperate pretty well, though the theming could be different, and GNOME famously reverses the order of the OK and Cancel buttons from the way MS has always had them.

      Even though I do not like the GNOME desktop, there is some GNOME software I do use regularly, like their disk manager (just called ‘Disks’ in Mint). I also (unfortunately!) find GPartEd to be superior to KDE Partition Manager, even though KDE Partition Manager is meant to be the KDE version of GpartEd. I also find Synaptic Package Manager (which uses GTK) to be better than Muon (which is a product of KDE, meant to be their version of Synaptic).

      Both of those KDE versions have some annoyances that are not in the GNOME counterparts. Just a short while ago, I was setting up the new SSD in the XPS (Dell wanted $200 to upgrade from a 250GB NVMe SSD to a 1TB, so I ordered it with the 250GB, bought a 1TB of my choosing for $130, and kept the $70 and the 250 GB drive), and I was having some trouble with that, as the Veeam rescue software did not boot on the XPS (probably a function of the new Tiger Lake platform being too new for it).

      I booted to a live session of Kubuntu 20.10 “Groovy Gorilla” from a USB drive, which I knew would have a new enough kernel to work with the XPS, then installed Veeam into that. Since Kubuntu STILL has not fixed the bug in KDE Connect I reported the better part of a year ago (and I handed them the fix also… update libSSL and OpenSSL! Neon (where  I also reported the bug with KDE Connect, eventually fixed what was wrong with those two packages, but not Ubuntu), KDE Connect would not work, so to get some files from the older PCs to the live session, I tried to create a new partition in the free space in another USB drive, so I could “sneakernet” the files over.

      KDE Partition Manager would not create the new partition in the empty space, nor would it wipe the existing partitions and start anew. I made sure everything was unmounted, but to no avail. It was just fail, fail, fail, whatever I tried.

      I’ve had this kind of thing happen before, so I already have GpartEd installed on the PC in question (my desktop). It did what I wanted with no problem at all. I got the new SSD set up and working, no more problems.

      In addition to all of that, I just wanted newer KDE stuff than what is available on Kubuntu 20.04. I like the stable 20.04 LTS base for the Ubuntu stuff and the latest and greatest KDE stuff. So, after I got done messing around with switching the desktop stuff, I just installed Neon. It’s easy to install a new Linux version… the harder part is setting everything up and doing all of the customizations, which I would have to do even if I kept the swapped version.

      In which ways (if it is not too much to ask, of course) is Ubuntu’s libinput touch pad driver inconvenient? Can one, for example, adjust the sensitivity to touch, so the cursor does not keep jumping around all over the place while one is trying to type something, but one still can click on anything clickable effectively, without straining one’s finger?

      I wrote a bunch of stuff on the topic in a post a while ago. The thing that would make the cursor not jump around when typing is palm detection, which is one thing that libinput is better at. Synaptics has it, but it doesn’t work on my XPS. I just assigned F9 to turn the touchpad on and off, and when it starts jumping around, I just press that and it stops.

       

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: My first OEM Linux PC (laptop)! #2356040
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      Good question. There are a couple of reasons.

      First, cost. While I didn’t price them out this time, I have checked the Linux first manufacturers against the big guys before, and based on that, I didn’t think the Linux first vendors would be competitive.

      The System76 equivalent (the closest to it, which is a 14 inch) of what I ended up buying is priced at $1,299. From Dell, it came in at closer to $900 than $1000, and the System76 wasn’t really what I was looking for (I wanted a slightly smaller 13 inch), though it is certainly within the ballpark. It’s about the same size as my Acer Swift. The System76 also does not have a 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratio as the Acer, Lenovo, and Dell all do.

      The cost issue is why I didn’t particularly begin looking for a Linux OEM model… because even with the Microsoft tax, mainstream Windows-first models usually cost less. Some of it is that the junkware offsets the cost of the MS license, but there’s also the economy of scale.

      The bit about the XPS being Linux OEM was a happy accident. I was just looking for one that had 16 GB and didn’t have extras that I didn’t want. Funny that I am a home user who is not a developer, yet to get what I was looking for, I had to go to the business section and get the developer’s edition. I don’t know that I am representative of home users, but if so, Dell did a poor job of guessing what they would want!

      Second, it’s good to buy popular models when it comes to getting parts for them years down the road. I’ve never had trouble getting parts from Ebay, since the models I’ve had thus far have been produced and sold in large numbers. I’ve bought a lot of laptop parts over the years.

      With models from smaller manufacturers, the parts supply in the secondary (used) market is probably quite limited. I am guessing the System76 models are probably Clevo units, as they are the OEM who makes a lot of the boutique laptops, which would broaden the parts supply somewhat if I knew which models interchanged with which other ones.

       

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: Tomorrow is World Backup Day #2355973
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      I am a little late here, but I thought I would chime in anyway: I use Veeam for Linux (free). It’s the only imaging backup program I am aware of that is available to consumers (meaning not costing a small fortune as enterprise setups do) on Linux. It’s fast, reliable, and comes with features that are extra cost on a lot of Windows programs, like Macrium, like backup encryption and incremental backups.

      The bad part is that it does not have a true GUI, but it does have a text-based approximation of a wizard-driven GUI, so you don’t need to type commands. The mouse won’t work, but TAB, Space, and Enter do, and while that intimidates newbies at first, it really is not hard to get used to. In the early days of MS-DOS and CP/M, an interface like that was the pinnacle of user-friendliness!

      Additionally, it does not currently work with Linux kernels newer than 5.7 because of changes in the kernel itself that are beyond the control of the Veeam devs, but they are working on that, and they say they are making good progress. If you use Ubuntu 20.04 with the default kernel (5.4 LTS), it will work fine right now. There is also an easy way to get it to work with kernel 5.8, the current HWE (hardware enablement) kernel for Ubuntu 20.04, which I have described in another post.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      in reply to: The cost of using Google Maps #2355611
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      I doubt that Google actually deletes the data they have on anyone. All we know is that they delete the stuff they let you see.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: No More Google Maps in Firefox? #2355591
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      When you say you put a location into Firefox, do you mean pasting (or typing) that into the URL bar?

      What happens when you try it now?

      When you said it used to invoke Google maps, do you mean it would go to the Google Maps site, or is it a mobile device that has an actual Google Maps app that you want it to go to?

      If you have changed the default search engine from Google to something else, like Startpage or Duck Duck Go, that would probably be it.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      in reply to: Waterfox #2355587
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      I clearly stated uMatrix had broken links in post #1.

      Okay… uMatrix is an extension, a type of addon, not an app, so that was where I was confused. I was not sure if you meant Waterfox itself or something else.

      As I also said both Firefox & IceCat don’t have those problems .

      I understand that, but Waterfox G3 does not have these problems on my PC either. Firefox and Icecat use profiles that are separate from the Waterfox profile, so the Waterfox profile could have some kind of error in it that will not show up in the other two browsers.

      Here’s a screenshot. As you can see, uMatrix is working just fine, and just to the right of uMatrix on the toolbar is the Clear URLs icon. I have Clear URLs and Mojeek Search installed without a problem. You can see that I was able to enable the scripts (and other resources) for mozilla.net.

      Screenshot_20210405_220518

      I don’t know why uMatrix is not working for you with Waterfox G3, but it’s clear that the malfunction with uMatrix is the cause of not being able to install other addons. The network errors you are getting are happening because uMatrix is blocking them, which is what it is supposed to do until you tell it to allow third-party resources like mozilla.net.

      That is what you will need to do to make installing addons work, and if you cannot do that because uMatrix is not working properly, it will have to be removed before installations of extensions will work again. I would suggest removing uMatrix and trying to install the other extensions.

      There should not be a problem with uMatrix working with Waterfox G3 that I can see. After uMatrix is removed, I would suggest you try to install it again and see if it works.

      If uMatrix still does not work, I would suggest using about:profiles to create a brand new profile, and try installing your extensions (including uMatrix) into that and see how that goes.

      If it works, there must be something messed up in your other Waterfox profile. You can rebuild the new profile into what you want it to be (using the sync function if you like), or you can use trial and error to discover what is wrong in the old profile, though that’s a tedious process.

      FWIW, the version of Firefox G3 in the screenshot is “G3.2.0 (64-bit) based on Gecko 78.9.0.” The version of uMatrix is 1.4.0.

       

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: Waterfox #2355266
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      Only two of the security protections on that app function the rest have broken links .

      What app? What security protections? I don’t follow. Can you post a screenshot?

      Did you enable the scripts for mozilla.org in uMatrix? With this enabled, I was able to install Clear URLs and Mojeek. Before I enabled these, any attempt to install an addon failed with a network error message.

      This is quite normal if you use uMatrix… you have to unbreak sites very often the first time you visit them. It’s one of the serious downsides of script blockers that keeps them from being something mainstream users can use.

      Are you familiar with uMatrix? It sounds like that could be the cause of the issues with whatever security thing you are talking about also.

      This would all work the same way in Firefox if uMatrix was installed and the scripts were not whitelisted.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      in reply to: The cost of using Google Maps #2355250
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      Hm. I think the governments are pretty much okay with all of it, but they put on a show to make it seem like they’re trying to control the internet giants.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: The cost of using Google Maps #2355249
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      I don’t want Google collecting anything about me even if I never see an ad. Ads are the least of my concern. I simply do not want my data in anyone’s hands. Data that was never collected can never harm me, but data that was collected definitely can.

      Google Maps with offline data is a no-go, as I will not permit any Google Apps on my device. Like Paul, I have had good results with Here WeGo, a dumb name for a good mapping program.

      I previously bought a lifetime license to TomTom on Android, many years ago, only to find that they apparently expected me to die within 2 or 3 years. That was when “lifetime” ended, and the app was discontinued in favor of their newer one with a subscription model. The old one still works, if you’re willing to keep using the same non-updated maps and an app that won’t run on anything from the last 5 years or more. Which I am, actually; that tablet has no cellular connection, so as long as it is offline, Google gets nothing. It’s just a GPS device with old maps at this point. Needless to say, TomTom will never see a cent from me again.

      As for the data deletion… Google has been caught with their hand in the cookie jar a few too many times for me to think they really have any intention of showing or deleting ALL of the data they have on any one person. They delete the part where you can see some of it, sure. I don’t think they see any compelling reason to actually delete it all. If it ever came to that, they know they can flim-flam government officials and claim “oops, bug” if they get caught yet again, and the odds that some outside auditor is ever going to go into Google’s army of servers and find data that they’re not supposed to have kept are pretty much zero.

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: Dell Latitude E5450 Swollen Battery #2355246
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      If you go aftermarket, you may be able to get it for half that. I’m still undecided on my G3’s battery. I’ve used aftermarket batteries for laptops before… never any disasters, but I did get some that would not charge to 100% (they would keep charging forever, which did not seem safe, so I removed them). Had that happen with 2 of them (from different suppliers). Both replaced the thing under warranty with no difficulty.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: Waterfox #2355193
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      I just installed the latest G3 version to try it out, and I am not having the issues you describe, at least at first glance (with a fresh new profile). uMatrix seems to be working fine, and Clear URLs installed without a hitch. I have not seen any prefs that appear to be padlocked.

      What prefs are locked for you? Which search engine plugins were you not able to install?

      I don’t know what you mean by rule-set recipes for English web sites, or the bit about updating security apps and broken links.

      Have you tried creating a new (empty) Waterfox profile and seeing if the issues are present there too?

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      in reply to: Dell Latitude E5450 Swollen Battery #2355191
      Ascaris
      AskWoody_MVP

      The article said that if you are not confident that you can remove the battery safely, to have it done professionally, not that you never should. You know your skill and comfort level better than anyone!

      My almost 2.5 year old Dell G3’s battery has dropped to 59% of its original capacity even though I have had it in “mostly AC use” battery preserving mode in the UEFI, and I have only deep cycled it down to 5% for the purpose of calibrating the battery. My Acer Swift is half a year older and gets used on battery constantly, deep cycled to dead (bad) numerous times, and there is no battery saver option in its UEFI. It’s at 93%.

      I need a new battery for it, but the last one was a genuine Dell, and it’s poor. There is no reason aftermarket batteries can’t be high quality… just that it’s hard to tell if it is a good one or a cheap knockoff. Evidently, even having a genuine branded battery is no guarantee it’s any good.

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

      2 users thanked author for this post.
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