ER

Subscriptions

Dear Reader,

Over the last couple of weeks DiaBlog gained an unusual number of new subscribers. As flattering as that might be, hundreds of subscriptions were left unconfirmed. Meaning, an email address subscribed to receive diablog posts, but the person owning that email address did not confirm the subscription, when asked to do so.

Our system requires confirmation, because anyone can fill out the subscription form, even a bot But only the person with access to the email inbox can confirm that subscription. That way we do not spam people.

As a precaution I deleted all subscriptions lacking confirmation.

Should you be affected, please subscribe again. And please make sure, you confirm your subscription. We prefer to have fewer subscribers, rather than spamming people.

Thanks in advance,

Engine Room

ER

Blue eye for Bluetooth

Dear Reader,

Posts about computers are not very popular on diablog. One could even say, they are unpopular. Yet, for your own safety, please, bare with me.

One of the reasons for the lack of popularity might be, that a lot of people are unaware, how often they are using a “computer”.

Prime example, do you use a smartphone? Great, that’s a computer. Do you own a smart TV? That’s a computer. And so is your car, and probably you fridge, and your internet router, and your electricity and/or gas meter, and, and ….

Why do I bother you with that? Because today it was revealed that Bluetooth has major security holes.

Blue what?

Bluetooth is a wireless technique invented in 1994, 23 years ago. It is in use heavily. Bluetooth is in almost all smartphones and laptops. For years now it has been bundled with WiFi on the hardware level. So Bluetooth is pretty much everywhere.

And today a research company published security holes in Bluetooth. Unfortunately, Bluetooth did not go with what is called “Opt-in”, where you have to activate it. Bluetooth is active by default. You have to ppt-out, so to speak.

If you own a laptop or a smartphone, please turn off Bluetooth.

 

If you do not know how, please ask someone who does.

You and we all will have enough problems with all the “internet of things” devices, where one cannot turn off Bluetooth easily. We do not want a gazillion hacked smartphones and laptops on top of that, do we?

Please, do it now.

Thanks in advance,

Engine Room

ER

domain extended

Dear Reader,

Glynsky’s last post here dates back to March 17, almost six months ago. Pete, the other naming patron, went missing in January 2014 already.

A big thanks to Philippa

who stepped up and submitted posts.

Yet, the original idea of Glynsky and Pete isn’t fulfilled. So, when a few days ago the domain administrator asked, whether the registration of glynskyandpete.com should be extended, I wondered: should it?

Well, at least for another year diablog will remain online. After almost seven years I’d be sad to see it gone.

The always impatient,

Engine Room

ER

New Hardware

Dear Reader,

One of the reasons for my prolonged silence on Diablog was broken hardware. No, not the server, everything is fine there. The server received plenty of updates and improvements under the hood, all installed behind the curtain, you did not notice. Except for even shorter loading times maybe.

After a mere five years my high class, high quality, expensive Thinkpad notebook by Lenovo failed. The lid/display broke at one of the hinges. The display is the most expensive part of a notebook. Replacing it usually costs almost as much as an entire new machine. Thus, I decided to replace the Thinkpad.

Granted, the machine had been used a lot, it traveled a lot, and I admit to not handling it in the most gentle way all the time. Nevertheless, I had expected twice the life time. Tough luck, all of a sudden I was in need of a new laptop.

Over the past couple of years I had decided already, that my next machine would not be a Lenovo again. Lenovo installs spyware and maleware. No thanks.  HP computers are suspected of the same, HP was out of the question too. Dell offers linux laptops, but they are not the most reliable in terms of hardware any more. Plus, they glue in hardware, like the battery. That limits the life time of the laptop to the battery life, in other words three to four years. What a stupid waste.

So I had chosen an independent supplier of high quality laptops without any operating system – aka Microsoft crap – and without any of that UEFI shit, where Microsoft thinks, it can dictate what other operating system you can install. Thanks, but no thanks. I want a clean machine and bought one.

The new laptop arrived and I installed my preferred linux distribution, LMDE. The next step would have been to transfer my home folder from old to new and be done within an hour.

Since the laptop came from a linux sprecialist, my expectation was for everything to work out of the box. Yet, it did not. I had ignored the basic linux lesson: check whether your hardware is supported. My bad.

My graphic card was not supported, the laptop ran in software rendering mode. That means, all processors were running at up to 90% capacity. And that in turn reduced the run on battery from the promised 8-10 hours to a mere two hours. Not possible.

After unsuccessfully trying to fix that by myself, a conversation with the friendly supplier got the answer: the hardware was too new. And LMDE. using a slightly older kernel, lacked the required drivers. The newer kernel would not come into LMDE for another one or two years.

Luckily, by now other distributions are using my preferred desktop environment, Cinnamon. So I switched distribution. But now the software programs or applications were of a different version, mostly older ones. LMDE uses an older kernel, but the applications are cutting edge. LinuxMint is the other way around, newer kernel, but slightly older application versions. Bugger.

Copying the home folder was not an option anymore. Instead, I had to transfer the data by individual application. And I had to redo all my settings, making everything look and behave the way I want it. After a few updates and changes, I am now where I want to be. Everything works brilliantly. Everything looks and behaves the way I want it to. No spyware on the machine, no maleware, just clean, neat free open source software.

Consider me a very happy camper. And now I should have time for Diablog again.

By the way, has anyone seen or heard of Glynsky?

Stay tuned,

Engine Room

 

ER

Update party

Dear Reader,

A while back I said here, that I will not help people with Windows 10. Breaking that promise, I did help someone, who had installed the upgrade from windows 7 to 10. He could neither print, nor scan. And what a mess it was.

In the past you bought common, middle of the road hardware from reputable manufacturers and it worked with Windows.

Well, screw that. The HP thing did not work. And when you want to download the HP software, you have to register at the Microsoft store, and probably the HP store, and with Satan, I guess. Wait, that was repetitive.

In any case, getting the printer / scanner to work in Windows 10 was worse, than any fiddling I had to do with Linux ever. Even a decade ago. So, that was it. No Windows 10 support from me. If you insist on having it, fix it yourself. Or pay someone. I am out of that.

On to good news, we did hundreds of updates to our little server. You did not notice. Because – let me emphasize that:

Linux just works.

Thank you very much to all the developers, coders, architects, maintainers. volunteers, supporters, people, who make Linux happen.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Stay free,

Engine Room

ER

slightly bad news

Dear Reader,

My apology for the few days of silence. It has two reasons.

The first reason is a good one. I went on another road trip, attended parties with younger folks, and had a pile of fun. More about that later.

The second reason is a bad one. And that caused a bit of additional and unexpected work.

During last weekend a server of Linuxmint.com was cracked. Since I like and recommend Linuxmint, being informed was important. You can read about the cracking here: http://blog.linuxmint.com/

As far as we know, you need to be concerned only, if you downloaded the installation file for Linuxmint 17.3 Cinnamon 64 Bit over the weekend and installed Linuxmint from that file. The crackers were able to change the download location to a server of theirs and had file with malicious code in there.

The second part of the bad news was, the crackers got in through a security hole in WordPress. We are using WordPress and I recommend it. Again, I wanted to know more, and whether we are affected.

All our software is up to date and we should be OK.

Back to fun stuff next,

Engine Room