Deleted Facebook

So I’ve done it.  I’ve deleted Facebook from my life.  Sorry Zuck, you’ve breached my trust one last time and you’re never getting another chance, ever.

This latest breach of trust is enormous in it’s breadth and scale.  The empty promises made by Facebook after each past breach of trust and/or data are just that, empty.

I’ve watched every minute of the two days of testimony and the hours of Christopher Wylie’s testimony and it makes for some very sobering listening. I’ve now permanently deleted my presence on the platform and removed the app and messenger from my iPad.

Around 2 years ago I had the app on my Android phone.  When the listening and other intrusions into my life became apparent I decided to stop using it.  I uninstalled the application and was horrified to discover that the majority of that application – the “background services” – remained on my phone!  Apparently, for convenience reasons.  Who’s convenience is a mystery obvious.

In order to get these background service uninstalled I had to delve down into the Linux terminal on the phone and force uninstall the service using sudo commands.

How many users are going to go look for these services?  Meanwhile the average user thinks they’ve uninstalled Facebook yet there is the bulk of those applications still installed and running on the device! This is the kind of behaviour that landed Microsoft in the courts in the 1990s. It seems Facebook was getting away with it, or at least has been until recently.

Way back in 2011 I was having conversations with my techie friends on how we were waiting for the backlash to arrive. I personally didn’t think it would take as long as it has. I also didn’t think the sheer audacity and arrogance of the company would stretch as far as it clearly has.  We were waiting … that wait seems finally over.

For them to have known about the Cambridge Analytica issue as far back as 2015 yet stayed silent on the issue is really the crux of the problem.  Separate from the obvious technical ones. If you send data to a 3rd party there simply has to be a level of trust. Zuckerburg can apologise all he likes.  He can also appear as sorry as he likes, it’s no longer enough.  Trust has left the building. It appears some very serious political, collaterally damage is inevitable. If not out-right direct manipulation through the use of the data obtained from the Facebook Graph API.

I’ve been reminded why I never used the option to “Log in with Facebook”, so I’ve not even had anything to migrate in terms of security.  I just downloaded my data and then requested deletion.  For anyone reading this, deactivating is not deleting.  In order to request that Facebook delete your data you have to find this very hard to find page.

https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account

I couldn’t find a link to this page anywhere in the Facebook support pages, it must be there somewhere.

Some people I’ve spoken to have thought this is a little over-reaction. They may well be right but this isn’t an isolated incident.  Lets not forget the psychological experiments conducted on users in secret.  But it’s OK, apparently they were allowed to manipulate users as it was in the T&Cs.  Er … What?

Honestly, just go delete your account now.  Do it.

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Meltdown / Spectre Speculation Issues

So, we are in Meltdown!  Thanks for this Intel.  So, Intel has been having a very hard time lately.  AMD has more or less just blind-sided them with Ryzen.  They’ve been rushing new platforms to market as a result and compressing their release schedules in order to respond.

It’s worth stating here that a lot of media spots on this keep citing individual companies like Apple or Intel.  The truth is this effects all processors implementing the x86 architecture.  This covers a vast majority of processors in the entire world.  Intel, AMD, ARM etc.  It’s true that the ultimate source of this issue is designs from Intels 8086 processors, AMD also had input into the overall x86 architecture.

Having said all that Intel is now facing one of the worst hardware issues to ever hit any technology.  If you think that sounds over-dramatic you’re wrong.  I think it is completely fair to hold Intel responsible for this.  Some security researchers are referring to Meltdown as an industry wide catastrophe.  It’s genuinely a complete nightmare.  I dread to think of the industry wide costs this is going to incur.  it would be next to impossible to calculate on a global scale.

Since so many CPUs implement the same architecture (x86) all chips based on the design are effected in some way.  Basically the entire world is about to lose a potentially significant portion of processing power.  Everyone.  It boggles the mind.

The issue is basically a problem with the way chips handle context switching.  CPUs have two modes, kernel mode and user mode.  The kernel is trusted and therefore has access to lots of security data.  Whereas user mode has a lower security status.  When the context is switched, this mode switching protects sensitive data by preventing user mode processes from reading the contents of protected memory.  Due to the security issue that has been found, CPUs now need to flush their kernel mode cache far more often than would otherwise be required.  Since this issue allows user processes to read kernel mode memory, when the context switches from kernel to user mode, the kernel now has to flush the protected memory.  This was even if a nefarious user mode process tries to read the memory there isn’t anything useful left lying around.

This switching and cache flushing is the source of the potential performance impact.  Obviously, if you are performing tasks that don’t cause much context switching the impact will be minimal.  However, if the task performs many context switches, such as virtualisation, the performance hit will increase accordingly.

If I was a large scale hosting provider, or cloud computing platform I’d be really concerned.  Imagine the worst case scenario where 30% of your computing resources vanished over-night.  Poof!  Gone.  If you had been running your platform with anything less than around 50% headroom in relation to the required processing power you’ve got a significant investment in more hardware needed.

But what is really incredible is this issue isn’t new.  What?  Yes.  This issue was first discussed in some depth in 1995, in a white paper called “Intel 80×86 Processor Architecture: Pitfalls for Secure Systems*“.  This paper also referenced older papers from 1992.  Over 25 years ago.

Yup, this issue has been kicking around for a very, very long time.

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No Comp Sci degree? == No Interview

Well really?

I’ve only been turned down for an interview once with this stated as the reason.  With 20+ years in IT behind me that’s pretty good going from a personal perspective.  However, I know this happens to others more frequently, and it’s a problem.

What has prompted this article is that I recently picked up a CTO role for a budding startup.  They’d already spent time and money on producing the basis for a tech startup.  They’d also engaged with a company to develop the mobile applications.  That relationship had only managed to produce what they described as a working prototype and needed things finished with some additional features.

Once I’d started digging around in the code my heart sank.  The company that wrote this code had been recommended to them from no less that a Microsoft MVP.  So they should have been in good shape to get things built.  The main developer had a Masters Degree in Computer Science from a prestigious university, so should know a few things about technology, right? … wrong.

This developer had managed to produce the most garbled and confused code base I have ever had to work with, the quality of the code is indescribably poor.  He’s displayed a complete lack of understanding of even the most basic principals of object orientation and displayed a complete, fundamental lack of understanding of how the internet works.  Yup, a mobile apps developer that doesn’t understand the basics of the internet.

I can forgive some programming language hiccups and idiosyncrasies but to not even understand what you’re doing at such a basic level is inexcusable.  Especially when you are selling yourself as a mobile application expert with a masters degree in comp sci and taking peoples money.

I cannot fathom where to start to describe how bad the code is.  Right up from executing POST requests when they should be GET (Or PUT sometimes or any variation thereof, never the right one) or thinking that authentication is getting an Id from a local device database and considering that as “logged in”.  Or maybe the method called GetPeople that gets locations (inside an object called People) but is actually pointing at the endpoint that gets Activities (using a POST of course).  Or is it the droves of test data being generated in the body of production code methods? … sheesh I don’t know.  Or is it one of the 35 dialogs that could be shown between login and the first application page being displayed?  Does a user really want to be informed every time you make a web request?  I literally don’t know where to start.  There isn’t a single line of code worth keeping.  Not one.

The architecture isn’t even worth mentioning as there simply isn’t any.  Need to make a web request?  Fine, create a new one and copy all the code from somewhere else and change the URL.  In an application with just a few pages there are 262 instances of “new HttpClient(“.  For the uninitiated that number should be between 0 and x (x being the number of HTTP verbs you need), but in reality this should probably be 1 as the HttpClient is designed to be reused.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I have encountered a situation like this.  I once worked with a guy that had equally tied himself and consequently his entire development team in knots.  This chap had a Masters Degree in Mathmatics and Computer Science from Oxford University.  Yes, the Oxford University.  He had equally ballsed up in a completely different way and cost his employer a substantial amount of money in real-terms.

The point I’m making here is just because someone has a fancy sounding qualification, don’t assume they won’t or can’t ruin your application development efforts.  “But, but, but he’s from OXFORD!”  And conversely don’t assume that someone without a fancy sounding qualification can’t get the job done.  That is a complete and utter fallacy.

I know it’s anecdotal but the two biggest messes I’ve encountered in my career were both entirely created by the “qualified” developer.

(image credit http://www.waxlyricalgames.com/megabadcode/)

2018 Update

So here we are in 2018 and I’ve just read some very interesting news.  A list of who’s who in the technology world (Google, Apple, Microsoft, IBM etc) have all dropped their degree requirements.  Yes, you read that right – DROPPED THAT REQUIREMENT.

This gives me a warm fuzzy feeling actually as it utterly vindicates my original post.

So, if you are a tech company and refuse to interview me due to not having a degree I think you need to take a long look at yourself as an organisation. Basically due to the fact that you’re going to have a fucking hard time convincing me that what you do is more involved/difficult/hard-core than the companies in that list I mentioned above.

In fact, further to this.  If you tell me that you don’t want to interview me due to not having a degree, don’t worry, I don’t want to work for you anymore anyway. Bye!

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Shell Overlay Icons – The Space Wars

For some of us there has been a quiet war raging inside the Windows registry. The fight is over your shell overlay icons and their priority. I fought back!

The Problem – Shell Overlay Icons Limit

Amazingly, even going into the modern era of Windows 10 in 2017 this is still an issue.  The issue is that many tools want to make use of shell overlay icons but Windows only has 15 “slots”.  It’s safe to assume that many of these tools would use this Windows feature for an “at a glance” method of displaying state.  This also means that a single tool wont just use one icon but many to display various states of files and folders.  For example the little screen shot below shows two shell overlay icons, one is green denoting a committed state and one red highlighting an uncommitted state.

an example showing shell overlay icons

As our ever-more digitally connected world evolves, more and more tools want to make use of this feature.  I’m sure most of you reading this have at least a couple of tools that do this.  However, the list for me goes on and on.  Tools like OneDrive, Dropbox, Git and SVN and … you get the picture.

Given that Windows only uses the top 15 entries in the registry, I have over 30 listed.  Dropbox alone brings 10 to the table, so what are we supposed to do?  As you can see 15 isn’t going to go particularly far given this scenario.  Whilst these shell overlay icons are useful in some scenarios they probably aren’t the best solution to the problem anyway.  There is a good discussion here on the problem from Raymond Chen who works on the Shell Team at Microsoft.

The Space Wars

What the hell am I on about anyway – Space Wars?  Many of these tool vendors, Dropbox I’m looking at you in particular, have started a kind of war inside your registry.  Aside from any chuckling ‘nix users chortling about the fact Windows even has something as insane as a registry we still have to deal with it.  Actually, to be fair a lot of the issues with the registry is down to my fellow developers abusing it but that’s a whole other story for another time.

So, what exactly is the problem?  When you take a registry entry key name like “DropboxExt01”  you’d expect that come before “DropboxExt02”, right?  Well, kinda.  If I rename “DropboxExt02″ to ” DropboxExt02″ (notice the leading space) ” DropboxExt02″ now comes before “DropboxExt01”.  And thus was born the space wars …

Each vendor thinks their tool is the most important, obviously.  So they’ve taken it on themselves to start appending their shell overlay icons key names with ALL THE SPACES, ARRRRR!!  Forcing their entries to top of the tiny selection that Windows will actually bother to use.

I Fought Back!

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve fired up regedit in order to fix this insane situation.  Countering a vendors update install that “fixes” that tools entries (read: appends more spaces).  “Why wouldn’t you want our icons to work”.  Well dear Dropbox your tool isn’t the center of my world, in fact I’ve nearly uninstalled you as this is such an annoyance.

Anyway, I’d just had enough yesterday.  So I wrote a tool.  Say hello to Overlay Ninja …

shell overlay icons - overlay ninja

Okay, okay it doesn’t look that great (yet) but I knocked it up in a few hours.  Now I can fix this problem easily in a couple of clicks and without going anywhere near regedit.  The source code for this is all up on my GitHub page.  It’s under GPLv3 so if you make any improvements please do submit a pull request so we can all benefit.

You can set priorities by application or by each individual shell overlay icons entry which adds a lot of flexibility.  I’ve tested this as far as I can and all is working as expected.  As ever, when doing anything in the registry make a backup first.  If you’re reading this and don’t even know what the registry is, what the hell are you doing reading this? 🙂  Go have a read of this before doing anything with the tool.

x86 or x64?

Inside the GitHub repository I’ve also uploaded pre-compiled versions of the tool so users without the required build tools can still use it.  Due to some architecture redirection foibles within the Windows registry you will need to use either the x86 or the x64 version of the tool for it to actually work as expected.  If your OS is 32-bit, use the x86 version, if it’s 64-bit use the x64 version (here’s how to check that).

Happy, er … Ninjaing, Ninjaning?  Ninjining?

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Bookmarks Toolbar in FireFox Full-Screen Mode

This is a neat trick that I use in FireFox.  I like to use FireFox in full-screen mode and I use the bookmarks toolbar a lot.  The trouble begins when using full-screen mode, toggled with F11 for the uninitiated.

Using full-screen mode really improves the browsing experience.

It gets rid of UI clutter and lets you focus on the web site you’re browsing.  Unfortunately it also hides useful things, such as your bookmarks toolbar.

You still have access to your tab bar by placing your cursor at the top of the view port.

You can also use CTRL+B to toggle your sidebar into view which is useful.  Unfortunately, the bookmarks toolbar will disappear … BOO!  You’re left with this:

bookmarks toolbar missing

Missing bookmarks toolbar

To bring it back whilst also in full-screen mode, you need a spot of profile CSS jiggery pokery but its really straight forward.

How to Show your Bookmarks Toolbar

Firstly, locate your active profile:

  1. Open the Run dialog by:
    1. Pressing Windows Key+R;
    2. Clicking on Start then type “run“;
    3. Press the Windows Key to open the start menu and then type “runbookmarks-toolbar-run-dialog
  2. In the Open command textbox in the Run dialog, type the following following command:
    firefox.exe -P

This will open the Profile Manager view showing your active profile.  To view the location on disk, hover over the  active profile entry shown on the right-hand side of the dialog, a tool-tip will pop up showing the path.

bookmarks-toolbar-firefox-profile-manager

  1. Navigate to this profile directory in explorer then look for a “chrome” directory containing a userChrome.css file.  An example location might look like this:
    \%APP DATA%\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<your profile directory>\chrome\userChrome.css
  2. If none of this exist, create what you need.
    1. Create a “chrome” directory if it doesn’t exist
    2. Create a new text file inside the new chrome directory (Right-click -> New -> Text Document)
    3. Name it “userChrome.css“.  Click on yes when asked about the file extension.
  3. Edit userChrome.css by selecting the file and hitting Enter on the keyboard or double-clicking on the file name.
  4. Paste in the following code:

    @namespace url(http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul);<br />
     #navigator-toolbox[inFullscreen] #PersonalToolbar{<br />
     visibility: visible !important;<br />
    }

  5. Save the file

Now restart FireFox and test the full-screen mode (F11).  Going into full-screen mode should now allow access to your bookmarks toolbar.

bookmarks toolbar full-screen mode

Shows the bookmarks toolbar in full-screen mode

Useful Full-Screen Shortcuts

When if full screen mode, you can use these shortcuts:

  • Open new tab – Hold CTRL + T
  • Scroll a page – Press PgUp or PpDn
  • Open Search – Hold CTRL + K
  • Refresh Page – Press F5 or Hold ALT + R
  • Go to saved Home Page – Hold ALT + Home
  • Cycle through open tabs – Forwards – Hold CTRL + TAB – Backwards – Hold CTRL, SHIFT + TAB
  • Close current tab – Hold CTRL + W
  • Undo Close Tab – Hold CTRL, SHIFT + T
  • Navigate history – Hold ALT and then tap an Arrow Key
  • Find in page – Hold CTRL +F then press F3 to continue looking
  • Open developer tools – Press F12
  • Open mobile view port – Hold CTRL, SHIFT + M

You can find many more useful keyboard shortcuts in the FireFox documentation.

 

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Apple Music – A Disaster for Users

This is the worst thing I’ve ever read regarding an online service.  Apple Music service hijacks ALL your content – even your own created works and holds you to ransom for access to it.  Literally unbelievable.  Not only that if you have nice high-bandwidth WAV files, it’ll convert them to MP3 or AAC at the same time.  This is just the worst thing you could possibly do to a composers own work.  I would be livid if it were my stuff.

“The software is functioning as intended,” said Amber.
“Wait,” I asked, “so it’s supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?”
“Yes,” she replied.

https://blog.vellumatlanta.com/2016/05/04/apple-stole-my-music-no-seriously/

I’ve never read anything like it.

The author – James Pinkstone – is also composer and has had his own material taken from his hard drive.  This is theft.  I hope that the attention this is drawing will force a rethink as this is probably one of the worst content hijacking stories I’ve ever read and in my opinion one of the worst consumer relations scenarios I’ve ever read about – bar none.

I have a MacBook Pro, an iPad and an iPhone.  However, all of these devices are dedicated to testing software I make.  I remember becoming so frustrated and annoyed, not to mention confused, with iCloud “sync” that I turned it all off.  I hate it.  It seems like the new music “service” from Apple has taken that premise, given it a limitless stash of steroids and unleashed it onto an unwitting public.

Draconian is the only word that fits.

Apple you already were an incredibly arrogant company but this is on a whole new level of arrogance.  This is criminal in my opinion.

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Blender GTX980ti

So last year I upgraded from my old EVGA GTX580 Classified to a Palit GTX980ti JetStream.  I expected a massive increase in performance in Blender, both in the preview rendering whilst working on models and also in final render times.  Since I’ve been incredibly busy on other projects I’ve not had much time for working in Blender.

I ran a few benchmarks and was more than a little disappointed in the results.  Using the BMW Blender benchmark file I was getting render times that were in fact slower.  Since I wasn’t doing any serious work at the time it wasn’t a huge problem, however I’ve now got a bit of time to look at this again.  Turns out there is a known compatibility/performance issue using this card.  The issue is not limited to a single manufacturer and seems to be related to the GM200 chip used in the 980ti and Titan X cards.

This issue is now being investigated by the Blender developers and you can keep up with the developments on their Blender bug reporting site here.

Update!

OK, so we’ve actually seen quite a bit of movement on this issue both from Blender and from NVidia.  NVidia have reproduced the issue and are looking into it.  That said, if they do make additional improvements things are looking very good indeed.

I’ve just performed a new test with Mike Pans BMW benchmark file.

With the very latest NVidia driver (368.22) and using the latest Blender nightly (2.77.0 – nightly – Thu May 26 04:46:46 2016) my time has drastically improved from 2:10 down to 1:01.  I think with the rapidly moving world of NVidia drivers we may well see further improvements over these times.

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The Dangers of Self Build Web Site Platforms

This might at first appear like a form of scare mongering, or a thinly veiled sales pitch on my part but I can assure you it isn’t.  I have too much work to do already!

For a small business owner the attractions are many and varied.  Obviously cost is always a very large consideration.  Probably the at the top of your list of reasons for not engaging with an agency or web site company to do the work for you.  And this doesn’t even consider involving the cost of a designer and a developer (yes they are more often separate roles rather than one all powerful individual!).

The allure of being able to build your own web site is a strong one for a small business.  After all, how hard can it be?

There are now many platforms that offer a kind of DIY E-Commerce solution that sell themselves as a kind of panacea to all web site requirements.  Some are good and some are outright dreadful but all of them will allow you to make very big mistakes along the way.  If it was easy, we would all be experts.  The pitfalls are incalculable in number.  Even after 20 years in the business I’m still learning.  I don’t work on my car for the same kinds of reasons.  Sure I can use a spanner but that doesn’t make me a car mechanic with oodles of experience under my belt.

If you aren’t in the software engineering game by profession what makes you think, other than the aforementioned sales pitches, you can do it?  Even when you have it “working” do you really know it’s working?  Do you know it’s secure?  Most of the time I see people doing these self build web sites 9 times out of 10 it’s for their business and is also an E-Commerce system.  In which case you dealing with some very sensitive data belonging to your customers.

It’s often overlooked by non-professionals that a web site is somehow not software.  It is software.  It’s an application like any, such as the web browser you are viewing this with, it’s just hosted on someone elses computer somewhere “out there” on the internet.

The issues I often see in these sites include things like:

  • Very poor UX (if you don’t know what UX is there’s one reason you shouldn’t build a web site right there)
  • Confusing navigation
  • Insecurities
  • Poor SEO planning
  • Awful design and page layout
  • Untested features
  • Incompatible plugins
  • Poor performance
  • etc.

Granted, some of the platforms negate some of these issues since you are sometimes forced down particular routes by design.  However, all of the platforms I have used will still allow the uninitiated to make huge blunders.  Whilst you are “saving money” by not engaging with a professional you could be dooming your site to complete inactivity due to any of these issues.  How can you calculate that cost to your business?  The short answer to that is, you can’t.

The platforms I’ve used personally and would recommend are not many.  Shopify and Squarespace are probably the only two I would recommend.

You have to remember that any time a user comes to a web site with issues that’s the first experience of you and your business they get.  First impressions do last when it comes to technology and if you don’t fill them with confidence they are not going to convert into a sale.  The point here is that most visits to most sites turn into a bounce statistic, the come to your site, spend 10 seconds (if you’re lucky) on the home page and leave again.  Boom, lost business, sad face.

Don’t make these mistakes, do research and my advice is at least speak to a professional before doing anything or making a decision, either way.  You might learn something useful even from a chat.

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The Decline of Ebay

Ebay used to be great.  Today, however, was the last nail in the coffin for me.  Either as a seller, or a buyer.

When perusing the site these days I regularly see items that are wildly overpriced, even when compared to “normal” retailers, and often not just by a small margin but by orders of magnitude more expensive.  The original core attraction to Ebay was not only it’s auction format but the change to get a good deal.  After the auction novelty wears off and the Ebay business ego inflates along with its fees, what are you left with?  A massively over-complicated and expensive e-commerce site.

Finding items has become a hit-and-miss chore.  Then when you do find what you’re looking for the price is either the same as other sites or wildly over-priced (no doubt desperate sellers trying to recoup the inflated final selling fees).  The search feature is something lots of sellers are complaining about.  It since Ebay took the hosting in-house during 2015 and started “tinkering”.

Anyway, I completed my last Ebay sell last month, never again will I darken your site.  I sold an item for £145 – the cost to me £11 shipping – £14.50 final value fees.  £14.50 – 10%!!!!!  This makes Ebay utterly irrelevant for me to ever sell another item.  Free listing my arse, you’ve just up the final value fees.  So after 13 years bye, bye Ebay.  You just don’t make sense any more.

Searching through the discussion forums proves for some sobering reading for any sellers.  Droves of messages from sellers detailing how their sales , literally, fell off a cliff over the Summer of 2015.

Messages along the lines of:

we were doing $250k a month until the summer, now we’re lucky to do $50k a month – we have 20 staff and are looking at bankruptcy within months at this rate

Seems this is incredibly common and is utterly unsustainable for either Ebay or the sellers.  I think this is truly the final decline of Ebay.  My personal usage has ground to a halt over the last 12 months in any capacity and it seems this is true for a very large number of people.

You can read some here.

https://community.ebay.com/t5/eBay-Chat/The-decline-of-eBay/td-p/2921049

RIP Ebay.

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Apple Music Service – The Swift U-Turn

The more Apple get in the news the more I wonder how long they can keep up with this “cool” image they seem to have.  Yes they make nice looking devices but their business practices stink.

It was their choice to offer this new music streaming service for free, not the artists.  If you wish to make that gesture for your benefit that’s fine but how dare you even think that you should not pay the copyright owners.  As far as I’m concerned that is institutionalised theft on a grand scale.

Well done to Taylor Swift for speaking up and shame on all the others that didn’t.

As a one time budding musician and commercial studio owner I know just how hard it is to breakit in that industry and three months of massively reduced income for many small labels would literally be the death-knell for them, for Apple it would be a minor blip in profits if that.

Shame on you Apple.  The Tweet from Eddy Cue “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid iTunesAppleMusic” just appears like the damage limitation crap that it is.

For anyone now moaning about Taylor Swift – You’d moan about any “rich” artists raising this issue and go on a witch hunt for them.  Stop your whinging and appreciate that Apple would only listen to someone in that position.

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This is AMAZING – Female Genital Mutilation Finally Outlawed in Nigeria

This is such great news.

“More than 130 million girls and women have experienced female genital mutilation or cutting …”

“Nigeria made history by outlawing female genital mutilation. The ban falls under the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 that was passed in Senate on May 5 and recently enacted into law.

This was one of the last acts by the outgoing president, Goodluck Jonathan. His successor, Muhammadu Buhari, was sworn into office this past Friday, May 29.”

READ MORE

Cover photo courtesy of: Graeme Robertson, via Getty Images.

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Get Windows 10 App & Skype Login Broken Fix

So yesterday a new icon appeared in my Task Tray.  A little Windows icon representing the Get Windows 10 App offering the free upgrade.  Great!  Er … not so fast.

I opened the UI and was presented with this monstrosity:

GWXEr, nice.  It appears to be thoroughly brokwn as well.  None of the links do anything at all.  A little message above the “Learn more on windows.com” saying “Please wait …” appears for a fraction of a second and then … nothing.  Apparently this is supposed to look like this:

yxNbNOU

I’m not feeling the love right now.  Also the idea of updated the OS on my main development machine feels me with a feeling of dread if I’m honest.  Updating major versions of Windows in the past has been problematic and my machines are all far from your avarage users machines.  Highly configured and rammed to the gills with all kinds of software powering my development processes and build environments.

I think I’ll be holding off on this for a while.

The Fix

To get these problems solved you need to make a change to the Windows registry.  If you aren’t familiar with regedit you need to be very careful.  Make a backup copy before you do anything in here.

  1. Launch regedit (click on start and type regedit and then press enter)
  2. locate this key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\.css
  3. The Content Type will be “application/x-css”
  4. Change this to “text/css”
  5. Close regedit

Problem fixed!

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Facebook Suspended My Account – The Real Name Policy Fiasco

So I went to log into my Facebook account the other day and was presented with a message saying that my account had been suspended.  Why?  They were under the suspicion that the name I was using on their site wasn’t my real name.

Er?  So what?  It’s hardly a legally binding scenaio.  Saying that it is their policy is just a tad ridiculous.

The uproar surrounding the LGBT problems last year was a prime example of a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  I have had to submit a scan of my driving licence in order for Facebook to check and confirm my real name and DOB.  The argument that it will stop bullying just doesn’t make sense, I see plenty of that from people using their real names.  It also won’t help people find me as EVERYONE I know knows me by my nickname (which I was using on FB) so as soon as my real name appears on the site THAT will confuse people.

After this event I am seriously considering whether I want to continue using their system at all.  The social experiments they performed on users back in 2012 was, in my opinion, scandalous and a huge breach of trust.  And now we are looking at an even worse practise by the company in the shape of internet.org.  This is simply not cool.

I’m starting to really dislike this company, A LOT.

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Borderlands 2 – 2K Games

I don’t usually write about games on this blog but I’m going to make ana exception in this case.  This is such a monumentally great game that I can’t believe I haven’t been playing it for years.  Best late to the party than not at all though I guess eh!

17,000,000 different guns … I mean … Wha?

Everything about this game is quality.  The graphics are superb, the narration is hilarious and the guns are great, really great … really, really great.  It’s well balanced the maps are fantastic and the baddies are great.  The comic book style graphics are seriously impressive.  Each frame that falls out of my graphics card would look incredible in a meatspace paper comic.  That is actually one of the most striking things about the game.  The look they have gone for and achieved is just inspirational.  The freedom this gives to artists in relation to unburdening them from “making it look real” has been really well executed.  Awesome.

It’s fast becoming apparent that by (no) chance it happens that my three favourite modern games were all published by 2K.  Bioshock (1 & 2), X-Com and now Borderlands 2.  That is an impressive set of games from one publisher.  They are seriously polished and immense fun to play.

The music in Borderlands 2 is also very well put together.  The production and feel of the soundtrack is in perfect balance with the visuals and storyline.  This is something else that was key to making the atmosphere work in the Bioshock titles.  The soundtrack is so important to adding an intangible extra dimension to a game atmosphere.

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Pixar Renderman now free for Non-Commercial

Wow, you can now get your hands on a non-commercial version of Renderman for FREE.  Pixar has been selling Renderman for a long time.  That said the asking price of £1200 was pretty damn reasonable for such an amazing piece of software.  Nowhere near as good as FREE though.

Problem is now a question of if your fave 3D application is supported and integrated.  Blender isn’t at the moment so no dice there unfortunately.

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