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  • Ascaris

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    Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 2,727 total)
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    • Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      As to cookies: I do delete all cookies regularly and make no exceptions for the WaPo. After I do that, I still can login and access everything in the digital edition, as if I had never deleted those cookies.

      That’s the key: you log in. The addon would be powerless to access anything that requires you to log in. That’s how the AskWoody Plus newsletter is. The addon would not allow anyone to read that without logging in with a Plus membership.

      That is not what these addons do, or are meant to do. They do the same things as the privacy addons many of us use, like cookie removers, script blockers, and ad blockers. They just do it in a way that is focused on a specific task (preventing tracking by sites that have paywalls) rather than a general one (preventing tracking by sites).

      And I find no counterargument to the main point of this thread: that there is no good enough reason for not shelling out money in exchange for an issue one wants to read by using a paywall-leaping application

      It’s not a question of shelling out money vs. using a paywall-breaking addon. It’s a question of reading the thing for free or not reading it at all. And given the esteem in which I hold WaPo, (their motto is more of a mission statement, as far as I am concerned), I emphatically choose the latter, as I do with the other paywalled sites I’ve occasionally encountered. It’s why I never considered using one of these addons. I don’t want what the paywalled sites offer even for free.

      any more than there is for the proposition that it is OK not to pay for a copy of a printed newspaper at the newsstand.

      If the newsstand owner had a policy where they would give away a free newspaper to anyone who has a rubber duck on their head, someone who put a rubber duck on their head to get a free copy would not be doing anything unethical or wrong. It would be very much okay to not pay if the owner willingly gives you the product because you have met his terms. The person who put the rubber duck on his head is not cheating the system– he’s complying with its transactional terms, just as much as he would be if he paid for it. The newsstand owner is willingly handing the product over.

      These publications do something similar. They willingly give away a certain number of article reads per month not to someone that has a rubber duck on their head (they can’t see you, so they would not know one way or another), but (to name one method of several) to a person who lacks a cookie from that publication’s site in their browser. The lack of that cookie is what determines eligibility, so if a person took action to create the condition that defines eligibility, in this case deleting the cookies, they’re in. It is the site admins who chose that definition, not the reader.

      This would only affect you if you did not log in. That is a completely different animal. That gives the site a persistent ID with your participation, and thus with your explicit consent.

      The idea is, from the publisher’s end, to allow a certain number of free article reads per month per person. They don’t need to know a person’s name for that, but they would need some form of persistent ID, even if it is just a random number that is reliably connected to that individual.

      If it sounds familiar, it should, because establishing a persistent ID is the backbone of surveillance capitalism. It can’t exist without it. There is quite literally no difference in how a news site establishes your “identity” to determine whether you have reached your free article limit and how Google or Facebook would establish your identity to continue to slurp up your data while you are not logged in.

      Personally, I resist tracking (aka creating any kind of persistent ID other than the one I give them when I log in) across the board; I do not willingly allow anyone to track me, friend or foe. I am certainly not going to make an exception for a major media company that’s trying to game the system by having their content indexed as if it were free and clear when it isn’t. Resisting tracking and browser fingerprinting is exactly what th

      Plus the larger implications to the survival of democracy and the duties of citizens to inform themselves properly of what is going on in their own country and, to some extent, in the world at large.

      The people using the tools to bypass paywalls are attempting to do just that, are they not? They are trying to be informed, despite the efforts of the publisher to block them. Again, it’s not a question of paying for a site vs. using a paywall breaking addon. It’s a question of using the paywall breaking addon or not using the site. The people who would pay and those who would use a paywall breaker are largely not the same group.

      There are other sources of news, and certainly better ones than those that have paywalls. I’d consider democracy to have a better chance if the big media companies dried up and blew away. I think they are the single biggest threat to it at present.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      Anonymous captured it pretty well. There are plenty of sites with content that can’t be seen without a password and account in good (paid) standing, and any of the media could easily do that. The media with paywalls are trying to eat their cake and have it too (makes more sense in that order). If their definition of a new viewer is someone that does not have a cookie saying they visited already, then I guess I am a new viewer each time, and I am not “cheating…” I am playing by their rules by adhering to their own definition of a new user. They chose the definition, not me. I have no obligation to keep a file or data on my computer in order to further someone else’s interests. I don’t keep any cookies or local data, and I am not about to start now in order to help media giants game the system.

      Any site that considers my identity evens somewhat important will ask me to register an account. There’s a reason that sites like this one don’t just set a persistent cookie when someone chooses a username on their first visit and consider that sufficient to establish a person’s identity from that point forward (with no email address or password needed).

      If a paywall can be defeated by deleting cookies or not running certain scripts on the host page, the content owner has chosen to make the content insecure, deliberately. My browser, including its addons, act in my interests, and since it is my computer, I can pick and choose any software (including scripts) that run on it. Their server acts in the interests of its owner, and is fully capable of denying access to all but paid customers in the same way AskWoody.com makes sure that a post from a given user is actually from that user… by use of a unique identity and a password. I would not try to “crack” that, with an addon or otherwise.

      There is no real difference between using an adblocker or script blocker and using one of these paywall-defeating addons. They do the same things, just with more of a specific focus. All of the actions they take are well within the prerogative of the site visitor.

      I’ve never used any of the addons to try to break a paywall at a news site, as they fall so far short of the sacred duty you mention that I don’t even want their content for free. I have used addons to break through the “you must disable your adblocker” walls, though. As long as ads come with trackers, I am not going to allow them, and since tracking is unethical in the first place, I have no problem whatsoever blocking their income source when it involves tracking. You try to line your pocket by tracking me, all bets are off.

      Web advertising has been broken, probably beyond repair, by the surveillance capitalists, and a new model for payment is needed. It would be one thing if the ads were like the ads in the aforementioned publications when they were in print (just ads… no tracking or analytics), but that’s not what we are talking about now. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the rest have convinced the world that advertising includes tracking, so now the idea of web ads without tracking seems like an oxymoron.

      I make exceptions for those few sites I really want to support, including some independent news sites. Askwoody.com was also one of the chosen few when it had ads, but for most part, I refuse to see ads on the web, full stop. If a site has an ad that penetrates my adblocker, I will either figure out how to block it so that I can see the content, or I will leave the site and put it on my mental blacklist.

      Newspapers never made much on subscription costs. The vast majority of the cash was from ads. Ads that didn’t track you! I’d rather have that than the web version that tries to force me to accept tracking. But for now, I must presume that the presence of an ad in electronic form indicates the presence of a tracker. If this were to change, I would have to re-evaluate.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: Head parking #2372070
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      The drive can enter a low power state without the PC being put into standby (sleep). Some “eco” type drives park the drive head after as little as 8 seconds of idle time (independent of the system power saving settings… this happens at the drive firmware level). As an external drive, I would not expect it to be accessed as often as the system drive (which Windows is constantly using for one thing or another). It could have something to do with the minutiae of how the USB SATA adapter communicates with the drive itself.

      600,000 drive parks over 7 years is ~235 per day. It’s very possible for that to happen.

      How many power-on hours does the drive have? It would be in the SMART readout somewhere.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      The good news is that we, the customers, have the power to change this if we wish. The bad news is that so many of us don’t wish! There would not be the plethora of expensive but disposable tech items out there if people didn’t buy the bit about them being status symbols. The masses put up with it, so we all have to put up with it (at least to a degree). Our choices are limited by the choices made by the teeming hordes of consumers who outnumber us and can reliably be herded into whatever corral marketers want them in.

      It’s not just Apple that does this, of course. Old Jaguars (the cars) were notoriously unreliable even when new. In typical fashion, they attempted to turn it into a plus. A family member asked someone (many years ago) connected with Jaguar if they were really as unreliable as everyone said.

      “Oh yes,” came the reply. “This wouldn’t be your only car, would it?”

      Apple seems to be taking the same approach. They are positioned as luxury goods, and the idea seems to be that if you can really afford to live in Apple land, you can afford to buy new iThings frequently, and should do so without complaint (and in fact be glad to do it, because it shows you can afford it). “What’s the difference to you, Mr. Moneybags, if your very expensive tech device broke and the repair will cost as much as a new one? That’s not going to be a problem for someone of your means, is it?”

      For ordinary users who want the “just works” bit Apple promises, the bit about it being expensive now when you buy into the ecosystem as well as down the road, so that when you have to keep buying essentially the same thing over and over, is a bit much to swallow.

      The reaction of many Apple fans is unlike what you would see for just about any other company’s customers. If Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, Asus, HP, or Acer provide a bad experience, either with the product or the support for it, people will become irate and some will vow never to buy that company’s wares again. Some of those actually mean it, and all of these companies know this.

      Many Apple fans, though, will defend Apple and make excuses why it was okay for Apple to treat them poorly or to make their iThings difficult to repair, in what appears to be a form of Stockholm Syndrome. It’s almost like how the snooty waiter at a fancy French restaurant is an expected part of the dining experience (while a rude waiter at any other restaurant would drive customers away). They’re too invested in the Apple ecosystem and mythos to ever consider not rewarding the company for selling high-priced goods with planned obsolescence. That is always a risk when one company is the sole manufacturer of the hardware for the entire platform as well as the operating system.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      All Apple devices can be repaired and reused and are sold at Apple stores (and elsewhere) as certified refurbished devices.

      If Apple decides it wants to, and often for prices that fit with its “you should just buy a new one” marketing strategy. Oftentimes simple repairs are priced at just below the price of “a new one” when third party repair costs much less (if somehow Apple’s efforts to stymie third party repair shops failed), or perhaps Apple will simply decide not to repair your unit at all. And if you do successfully get it repaired at a third party place, Apple might later roll out an update to brick the unit, or send out an update to make older products artificially slower than they would have been.

      Apple has softened its stance a bit recently, but I would guess this is more of an effort to appease the “right to repair” crowd than anything else.

      Apple deserves credit for (reputedly; I haven’t used it myself, so I am going by reputation) making a desktop OS that is more coherent than Windows, and I would certainly give it a try if Apple were to offer it for sale for non-Mac PCs, but their business practices around repair for their hardware products leave much to be desired. They did not become the wealthy company they are by being consumer friendly. They’ve even put DRM chips into Lightning cables to prevent people from using cheaper aftermarket cables!

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      in reply to: Windows 11 kinda looks like Apple #2371951
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      Not the first time I’ve heard this and certainly won’t be the last. There was the whole “Windows 95 = Macintosh 89” advert going around at the time of Windows 95’s release.

      Yes, but it was just an advertising slogan. Windows 95, for example, had pre-emptive multitasking; you’d have to wait 5 or 6 years to get that in the Mac.

      Windows 95 was available on many affordable PCs that started at under a thousand dollars, complete with “Super VGA” color. The cheapest Macs of 1989 were far more expensive than that, and used a 9 inch black and white display that was built into the system unit. If you wanted color, you had to go to the Mac II line, and that was even more costly. A Mac IIcx from 1989 cost US$5,369, the equivalent of over ten thousand dollars in today’s money.

      Windows put computing within reach of millions of people when the internet went big and suddenly everyone had to be on “the information superhighway” as politicians referred to it at the time. Windows 95 came at just the right time to ride that wave, and by not tying the software to the hardware as Apple did, it enabled competition within the new consumer PC market, much as MS-DOS had done prior to that in the business world, meaning lower prices and more consumer choice (including the ability to build your own PC out of components, an option that many of us still enjoy today. I built my first PC in 1990). The importance of that would be hard to overstate.

      It’s not just everyone copying Apple. It’s everyone copying everyone, in the computing realm and outside of it. If one product demonstrates the importance of a given feature, others will want to include that feature. It’s a good thing, or there would only be one car manufacturer that has power steering, another one that has air conditioning, and so on.

      there was some criticism of the taskbar changes in Windows 7 that claimed it was ripping off Apple’s Dock

      More likely that it arrived there by convergent evolution, I would say, just as with the pre-emptive multitasking thing. Certainly the 7 taskbar’s large icons and the ability to pin them bears some resemblance to the Dock, but the MS Quick Launch bar preceded OSX’s Dock by several years. There is not much difference between pinning tasks and adding them to Quick Launch (it looks almost exactly the same with small icons), and the only other major change was that MS doubled the default height of the taskbar. Otherwise, it was still the same taskbar, just bigger, and with less information conveyed to the user (which is why getting rid of the large icons/captionless mode and restoring Quick Launch was always the first change I made to 7+).

      I’m still bitter with them starting the trend of removing headphone jacks from phones.

      Why? Just buy a phone that still has one. I’d never consider one without a headphone jack. Instant rule-out.

       

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

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      in reply to: Long Mint Boot Times #2371740
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      Have you looked at the logs? I think the answer will be found in there.

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: Windows 11 kinda looks like Apple #2371736
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      It looks Mac-like to me too at first glance, but less so as I look at it. The Mac has a global menubar at the top, with what looks to be the equivalent of the system tray on its right side, while the Windows pics show the system tray to the right side of the taskbar, same as it has been since Windows 95.

      The bit that makes it seem Mac-like is that the “finder” button, the leftmost (but still floating) UI element on the dock, is the analog of the start button, the leftmost (but still floating) UI element on the new taskbar, in the light blue images. The docked applications are much the same as pinned taskbar items. The taskbar has been evolving into a dock of sorts already over time, and this just makes it look even more like that at first.

      I saw something quite similar to this when I first started my new Dell XPS 13 with Ubuntu 20.04 (GNOME 3 desktop). The bottom bar was not a taskbar, but something analogous to the Mac dock. The bar at top did not have a global File, Edit… menubar, but it did have the notification icons at on the right side. I couldn’t wait to dump it and get back to the same Windows 95/2k pattern with which I am familiar. I’ve yet to see another UI paradigm that I find better, though I must say I have not used a Mac since they had 9 inch black and white CRT displays built into the beige system cabinet.

      I do think MS got the UI just right with Windows 95, and I still consider Win2k’s UI, which was just an evolved version of the Win 95 UI, to be the gold standard. Every Windows version I have used post-95, as well as every Linux setup, has had the 2k UI, as much as was possible.

      With 11, I would imagine that this is all stuff that can be changed in the settings, as there is one screenshot in the Windows Latest report that shows the stuff over on the left as it always has been.

      We can’t really tell much by looking at a small number of screenshots. It will be interesting to see what they do with this.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

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      in reply to: Windows 10 Home and Pro Support Dates #2371523
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      There was a period in between 1507 and the present when MS embraced their “last version of Windows” promise and did away with the 2025 end date on their site. I was aware of the 2025 end date from the beginning of Windows 10, as I referenced the MS article mentioning it several times in various posts, in response to the idea that Windows 10 was going to be the last version ever as MS had said it would.

      I made one such post a few years ago, and again I pasted the same URL as I had before for support, but as I try to always do, I visited the link first to make sure it still said the same thing I thought it did. This time, it didn’t, and the “end date” of Windows 10 on the MS page had been replaced by the end dates for each build that was current at that time, as if each were a separate product (which it was, more or less). I was unable at that time to find any current document from Microsoft that specified an end date to Windows 10 as a whole.

      The observation that they went back to the end date for Windows 10 (without a build number) is notable, as it does suggest strongly that the “Windows 10 forever” plan has been dropped.

      When MS made the announcement, by making Windows 10 the “last Windows ever,” they effectively changed the ongoing name of the platform from “Windows” to “Windows 10,” much as Apple’s OSX (based on “Mac OS 10,” which would have been the name with the old naming scheme) became the generic name for the OS and platform as a whole until they dropped the “ten forever” schema and re-renamed it back to MacOS once again.

      All this change would really mean is that MS is changing the ongoing platform name back to “Windows” instead of “Windows 10.” Ten’s a nice round number, but marketers want something new to promote, and names like “20H2” aren’t likely to generate the excitement they want.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      in reply to: Laptop Use With Lid Closed #2371518
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      Never had a problem using a laptop that was closed either. Many people use them like this… it’s a defective laptop if it can’t handle being used with the lid closed.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

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      in reply to: My data drive is not accessible! #2371516
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      I am running Linux Mint 20.1 xfce, and I tried to save something to my data drive (a 4TB hard drive), but it didn’t show in the list of drives!

      Was the volume (or volumes) on the drive mounted at that point?

      The ‘disks’ utility will show all of the drives that are detected on the system even if they are not mounted. Its full name is the Gnome Disk Utility, but it’s just called ‘disks’ in the UI.

      I suspect a reboot would have helped even if you did not change the Timeshift setting. It got unmounted somehow, I think… perhaps an accidental click on an unmount button somewhere?

       

       

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      in reply to: 64GB flash drive shows only 32GB #2370555
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      Where did you get it?

      It’s possible that it is a fake 64GB, and it really is 32GB.
      Otherwise, it is probably only partitioned to 32GB, with the rest unallocated or an unknown partition type.

      If you enter diskmgmt.msc into the search box in the start menu, and select that, it will bring up the Disk Management dialog. If it is 64GB, you should see the unallocated or unrecognized area to the right for that drive.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

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      in reply to: fix mistake (uBlock Origin personal filters) #2370287
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      Yes!

      Click the little gears icon in the popup from the uBlock icon (“Open the dashboard”), then go to the My filters tab. The newest changes appear at the bottom of the list. You should see the one with the correct URL there. Just delete the whole entry (one or two lines, dependng on whether you made other filters for the site at about the same time). Press “Apply changes” and it should work from then on!

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      in reply to: The Next Windows #2369859
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      ARM Windows already exists, along with an emulator for x86 software (not sure if that includes 64-bit stuff though). Microsoft does not have the same ability to push the hardware market into a new platform as Apple, though. Apple makes the hardware and the software, while MS mainly makes the software (the Surface line being a small part of the whole Windows device market).

      I can think of some features I would like in Windows 11, though, if it is going to be called that. Full update control (a la Windows 8.1/7) and LTS releases for all customers would be a great start. Not holding my breath on that, though!

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      in reply to: userchrome.css #2369853
      Ascaris
      AskWoody MVP

      Unfortunately, Mozilla has decided to mess around with the UI in Firefox yet again, and that is the source of your troubles.

      There is a way to get your Firefox back to normal for now, but it will probably only last one month or so. Enter about:config into the URL bar, then enter proton into the search bar. Toggle each instance of “true” to “false” by clicking the icon to the right of each pref name, or by double clicking the pref entry itself.

      That will turn off the new UI, called Proton, and bring back the old one, called Photon. That should make the old custom stylesheets work again. When Mozilla removes the ability to get rid of their awful new UI, the only solution will be to get the newest custom stylesheets from Aris-T2 and redo the whole customization setup. It may not be possible to get things the way they used to be exactly, but it should hopefully be possible to get them fairly close.

      Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

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