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20060801-goodbye.jpgSo long, WordPress, you’ve been great to me. Unfortunately I’m not going to be hosting here any more. I just can’t take it any more, the total lack of control over the programming and design of my site. I’ve wanted to do more than just blog, but with WordPress that just won’t happen.

So I just signed up with dot5hosting.com, I bought the domain name jobyone.com and I should be setting up shop there shortly.

WordPress has been quite a boon to me though. I originally set up an account just on a whim, but it quickly rekindled my love of being in charge of a website. So now, with the fire back in my belly, I’m moving on to bigger, better things as I plan to resume development of ECO, my master plan for making a CMS.

So long everybody.

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At last, I’ve gotten my shit together enough to put together the first bits of my guide to free software. At the moment the whole list consists of uTorrent and nothing else…but hey, it’s a start.

Joby’s Free Software Guide

Google has launched, yes, yet another brilliant piece of web software. At least I think it’s brilliant, I haven’t actually used it yet. I’m going to keep a running narrative as I go through the process of checking it out (no pun intended, and I won’t be buying anything for real because I have no money).

Signing Up
Upon first reaching Google Checkout, the first thing I see is a friendly little welcome message. There’s also a link to Google’s Tour, if you’d rather get what I’m certainly about to tell you straight from the horse’s mouth.

Find it with Google. Buy it with Google Checkout.

Want a faster, safer and more convenient way to shop on-line? You got it.

Stop creating multiple accounts and passwords.
With Google Checkout™ you can quickly and easily buy from stores across the web and track all your orders and shipping in one place.
   
Shop with confidence.
Our fraud protection policy covers you against unauthorized purchases made through Google Checkout, and we don’t share your purchase history or full credit card number with sellers.
   
Control commercial spam.
You can keep your email address confidential, and easily turn off unwanted emails from stores where you use Google Checkout

So after signing in with my Google account, I’m presented with a screen asking for all my billing information. This alone is getting me so excited. The thought of never having to type all this shit in again is thrilling.

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Terms of Service

Next up: reading the Terms of Service. It might be Google, but I still like to know what they can do with my credit card number. The interesting points are:

  • Users must be 18, US residents, and legally able to enter a binding contract (i.e. the Terms of Service).
  • Google is allowed to background and credit check users of Checkout.
  • I may be wrong about this one (the legalese is a little thick), but I do believe Google holds your payment until the seller provides proof of shipment. That’s nice of them.
  • No transferring cash, only buying and selling stuff.
  • Google has the right to limit the amount of money you’re allowed to spend in a given period of time (how much money in how much time isn’t mentioned, which makes me think it probably watches your patterns and keeps an eye out for an increase in spending).
  • You can’t sue them if their system goes down and delays your ability to buy stuff.
  • The security of your user-name and password is your prerogative.
  • If somebody commits fraud by buying stuff with your account, take it up with your credit card, not Google. Google doesn’t refund money from bad transfers, or insure the money they hold on your behalf. That’s the credit card companies’ business.
  • You may have to pay sales taxes sometimes (only as often as any other online shopping).

Trying to buy something

As a demo, I’m going to try to take all the steps of buying stuff from a few stores, right up to the final step of actually paying for it.

OK, I tried to order some wireless headphones from Buy.com, but it didn’t work. I got a cryptic and frustrating message, so I’m giving up on this until tomorrow.

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Helpful Links

Google Checkout: the site itself

mad coupons: I found a page with a whole mess of $10-20 off coupons from a bunch of on-line stores, a-la Google Checkout. I don’t know how long these will last, so use them while you can.

060626-comm-tower.jpgSo, between the recent appearance of telemarketers on Skype (and subsequent network load), and the brand new FCC tax on VoIP services that connect to traditional phone lines, I have to wonder if greed is going to ruin the promise of broadband phone service.

There was a day when I hoped VoIP would usher in a golden age of communication.  The gradual phasing out of analog phone systems would leave more cable bandwidth for the Internet, as digital data is a more efficient use of the line than analog voice.  Eventually a fully digital system would leave us with lower phone bills, more reliable phone service, and an all around slightly faster Internet.

The FCC, though, has decided to take a big old shit all over that dream, by trying to tax VoIP to fund the construction of archaic analog phone systems in rural areas.

Really, it could be argued that the FCC is doing nothing more than protecting the assets of the established telecoms.  If I owned a phone company I’d be terrified of VoIP, and be lobbying the FCC to the max.

So in the future, thanks to the FCC, we’ll have a slower internet, more unreliable phone system, and phone bills just as big as they are now.  That, and poor people in rural areas will get the shaft once again with their outdated phone systems, all so that a few rich guys can get a little richer.

I thought this was funny when I spotted it. I just got home and opened up my Google home page with its fancy RSS reader, and saw the headline Casualties in big Palestinian attack on Israeli post. It seemed a little poorly written for a major news source like this, especially when they're on the web and they don't really have to worry so much about how it looks on the page. Web headlines tend to be short and sweet, but still pretty long and descriptive by print standards. They also tend to be proper English.

Then I clicked the link to the actual page, and saw that they had changed the headline since Google cached it. It now reads a much more exciting and descriptive Palestinians launch deadly raid from Gaza into Israel.

Apparently even big news sources aren't immune to writing bad headlines.

Computer SecurityLaptop Theft Puts Customer Data At Risk

GMAC Financial Services recently began informing customers that their personal data has been severely compromised. Two laptops containing customers' personal data were stolen from a GMAC vehicle in Atlanta recently, exposing the names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, credit scores, marital status, and genders of 200,000 people.

As one particularly on-point customer said after receiving notice that his information had been stolen: "I'm not sure how or who determines what constitutes 'secure' when it comes to customers' personal information. However, if company guidelines deem it acceptable to house that data on laptops, in parked cars, then I would question their competence to establish any process and procedure to ensure the security of any data anywhere."

The first article I read about this little fiasco made a big fuss about how great it was that the data on these stolen laptops was "password protected." I thought that this was definitely either misunderstanding coupled with excessive faith in The Man, or it was intentional misunderstanding to avoid a public loss of faith in him. When I read that I thought "yeah, but these are old people, they probably think that putting stuff in 'My Documents' and putting a password on their windows account is security."

So I did a little Google search, read a little more, and uncovered the truth. Yeah, they had "password protection," but no actual encryption. What this means is that if I had these laptops I could get access to that data in 30 seconds, and I honestly don't know shit about security.

This is nothing less than what I expect from a generation that has to be told that the Internet is a good place to look for prior art when investigating patents.

I don't pretend to have answers. I don't know how we can force people to just learn a little about the technology they use every day. I just call them as I see them.

WordPress has finally allowed me to use a custom header image.  Unfortunately, to do that I am limited to the Connections theme, which is narrower than my old one, and a fixed width to boot.  This means some of my images are a little too big now, so watch out.

I'll be going through old posts over the next day or so to trim down any overly large images, so just be patient. 

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