Blog: 2008-01

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Icedove Ate My Email and I Lost My To-Do Labels

I seem to have been bitten by an email-corruption bug in Icedove 2.0.0.9, the email application forked from Mozilla Thunderbird. Two reasons I mention this are:

  1. If you are using Icedove 1.5, you might want to wait before upgrading to 2.x, as I did not notice this problem under 1.5.

  2. In the course of recovering my emails, I lost all the "To-Do" labels I'd put on them, so if you're waiting for me to do something as the result of one of your recent emails, please remind me.

The bug report is Debian bug 463062 ("icedove corrrupts mail cache repeatedly").

This is the first significant trouble I've had with Icedove, so I'm not ready to switch mail programs. I actually switched to Icedove (well, Thunderbird) after various versions of Evolution trashed my data or hung for no good reason. Icedove and Thunderbird are generally reliable, straightforward programs, with tantalizing extensibility mechanisms.

Upgrading to Firefox 3 Beta 2

Early this morning, I downloaded the Firefox 3 Beta 2 (3b2), since I'm taking a look at Firefox as a developer. If you're an early-adopter type, and not married to many extensions, you probably want to install 3b2 as well.

Normally, I try to stick with whatever version of an application is in Debian testing, in the interests of stability. In this case, however, I decided to outright replace Debian's rebranded Firefox 2 (Iceweasel) with 3b2, as I wanted to experience the UI in real-world situations.

I'm happy to report that 3b2 migrated my bookmarks and settings almost perfectly, and has been rock-solid through hours of use.

The only upgrading drawback I've encountered thus far is that most of my extensions were disabled as being incompatible with Firefox 3 (or perhaps as simply not being marked as compatible with version 3). Extensions I have that do work are Adblock Plus, Chrome List, DOM Inspector, and Flashblock.

Most all of my privacy/security settings from Iceweasel were imported. One thing I had to do from the Security tab of 3b2's Preferences dialog was uncheck at least one of the "Tell me if the site I'm visiting..." checkboxes. From the Privacy tab, 3b2 had changed the "Keep my history for at least ___ days" numerical value had been changed to 90, when my Iceweasel browser.history_expire_days preference was 2. I also went into about:config to set the new browser.send_pings preference to false. (I'll be looking more into this ping feature, and might write about it, but for now I don't see a downside to disabling it.)

The new (in the vernacular) AwesomeBar is a significant improvement. I especially like the incremental text search over history and bookmarks, the addition of titles to the incremental search results, and the Star control/indicator. One of the functions of the Star is to a one-click bookmark ("give this page a gold star") that will let it show up in incremental search results but clutter the Bookmarks menu. (You can also find it under the Unfiled Bookmarks folder in the Places Organizer window, which is opened via the slightly problematically-named "Show All Bookmarks..." item of the Bookmarks menu.) I expect to use this Star casual bookmarking affordance heavily, for things I might want to return to, but not enough that I want to name and file a bookmark properly. Since I'd rather not be mousing over to the Star all the time, I suspect I'm going to want a key combination that sets an unfiled bookmark for the current page, if no such bookmark already exists; and, should a bookmark already exist, I'm prompted with a modal dialog for whether to remove it.

Operator 0.8 Extension with Firefox 3.0 Beta 2

The version of Michael Kaply's Operator extension for Firefox currently available for download on addons.mozilla.org officially supports Firefox versions 2.0 through 3.0a8, which does not include Firefox 3.0 Beta 2. To get the extension to install under 3.0 Beta 2 requires a slight tweak to the operator-0.8-fx+fl.xpi file.

I just unzip'd the XPI file, edited the contained file install.rdf to replace the string "3.0x8" with "3.0b2", and zip'd it back up. (In hindsight, I could've just used a binary file editor.) It seems to work thus far.

Privoxy Rules Update

I've updated my Privoxy actions file. Currently close to 8500 rules.

Six Feet Under and House, MD, Together

With TV series available on DVD a season at a time, and new episodes of The Daily Show and Heroes officially available for free on the Web, I don't need to pay for cable TV. Plus I get to watch shows like Lost a season at a time. (Watching Lost a season at a time is great for indulging curious impulses... and then suspecting the writers don't actually know where the story arc is going... but I digress.)

So now I'm watching early seasons of Six Feet Under and House, MD. As you might know, the first scene of each regular House episode starts with someone falling ill, often after a teasing misdirection to trick the viewers into thinking that a different character is to be the patient, and then the episode is spent with Dr. House saving the patient. Six Feet Under starts the exact same way, only the patient dies in the first scene, and the episode is spent on the funeral home family becoming slightly less repressed.

The odd thing about watching these two series in concentrated doses, intermixed, comes when one pops in a Six Feet Under DVD after recently watching nothing now shows but House, whilst working on the laptop and not fully paying attention. One looks up to see the victim of the day get run through industrial machinery at a dog food plant, and one's first reaction is, "There's no way House can revive that!"

When Debian Installer Doesn't Recognize ThinkPad T60 Ethernet NIC

If you're trying to install Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 on an IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad T60, but the onboard Ethernic NIC isn't being recognized, you need to get a 4.0r2 (or presumably later) installation disc.

The kernel in the 4.0r2 installer has an e1000 driver that properly detects the Intel 82573L device in the T60.

Minolta Flash Meter IV Manual

My studio setup includes a large high-powered monolight and softbox, and three Nikon SB-28 speedlights with various kinds of umbrellas and other light modifiers. I don't use modeling lights. So far, I've been doing the exposures by guess-check-refine. This works better than you might think, but the better way is with a flash meter.

So I bought a very used Minolta Flash Meter IV (which was substantially less expensive than even the tempting Sekonic L-308S). It did not include the crucial instruction manual.

Sometime after Konica-Minolta exited the business, the PDF scanned manual for the Flash Meter IV disappeared from their site.

When I searched around the Web for the manual, the best copy I could find was not a top Google hit, but was linked from deep in several pages of comments on a message board. I think this copy was probably the same one from the Minolta site. So, to direct future Web searches to the copy, as well as to send some of my Googlejuice that way:

http://www.vikenk.com/minolta_manual.htm

ACLU Mailbox Eco-Terrorists?

After the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) didn't seem to do anything useful to fight the 2000 election abuses, I stopped giving them money, and told them why.

Recently, I decided to give them another chance, and sent them money again. They sent me a membership card with my name spelled incorrectly.

Soon, I began receiving junk mail addressed to the same incorrect name the ACLU got, but from different organizations. Surely the ACLU doesn't violate one of the most popularly-recognized forms of "privacy" by sharing my contact information with other organizations, I thought!

Today, I got two pieces of such junk mail at once (Robert Redford and Toni Morrison: your names look great on all this polluting junk mail), and I'm really thinking it was the ACLU who compromised my previously 99.9% junkmail-free mailbox, so I went to the ACLU site to complain. I checked their FAQ first:

I do not want the ACLU to share my name and mailing address with other charities, what do I need to do to guarantee that?
If you would prefer that the ACLU not share your name or mailing address with other charities, please fill out our No-Exchange of Name Form.

http://aclu.org/about/faqs/

Which suggests that they do share your information by default.

If you've already given money to the ACLU, I encourage you to go fill out this form of theirs, as well as writing to them and/or on the Web about how you don't appreciate them violating your privacy.

Here's another way to look at this abuse. It's not just about junk mail annoyance and environmental waste. Membership lists for organizations like the ACLU are increasingly politically sensitive. The ACLU, who are diligent and forward-looking by nature, should recognize and respect that. I think they're being sloppy on this.

Voter-Verified Paper Records are Essential for 2008

MoveOn.org asked members to forward the following message. I usually don't forward these things, but I believe that voter-verified paper records will be crucial for the US 2008 election, so here's the forward...

This Sunday's cover story in The New York Times Magazine makes plain the threat: The winner of the 2008 presidential election could be decided by flawed, insecure, and hackable electronic voting machines.

Congress is poised to consider a new emergency paper ballots bill next week—but we'll have to convince them to act right away. I signed a petition urging local, state, and federal officials to require a paper trail for our votes. Can you join me at the link below?

http://pol.moveon.org/paper2008/?r_by=-6625880-IXVHIk&rc=paste

Prior to the 2004 election, back when I drank coffee, I worded some of my thoughts on the topic aggressively:

Electronic voting without a human-readable physical ballot that can be audited outside the electronic system is just begging for trouble, and will be subverted. Any elections official attempting to deploy less-trustworthy electronic voting systems should be suspected of either criminal incompetence or ill intent.

2002-07-20

During the 2004 election fiasco, I wrote:

Before conceding, the Kerry campaign should ask for a recount of ballots in battleground states that have electronic voting without a voter-verified paper trail. Then demand a revote. It's an opportunity to raise awareness about the designed-for-fraud electronic voting machines that computer scientists have been warning against since before the 2000 election.

2004-11-03

At the end of 2002, I wrote my own elections authority about my concerns, and heard back a few weeks later with a reassuring letter from the City of Cambridge Board of Election Commissioners. Sadly, Massachusetts is not a battleground state. :) Before the 2008 elections, we need for citizens throughout the US to demand similar competence and integrity from their own election authorities.

See also 2006-04-10, 2004-08-31, 2004-05-07, 2004-04-15, 2004-01-23, 2003-10-07, 2003-09-30, 2003-09-02, 2003-02-26, 2002-11-07, and 2002-11-05.

Computer-Impaired

I'll be reduced-productivity for a few days.

The backlight in my main laptop died suddenly. I spend Sunday attempting to fix the hardware without spare parts, then hooking up a CRT, then reviving my old junker laptop (claire) to function as an X terminal. I'll be ordering a new backlight tube, and possibly picking up a new ThinkPad T-series to replace my currently damaged one. Clearly I need a spare workstation anyway.

Earlier to... 2007-12

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