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The Open Office Is Dead

Open offices are dead. At least that’s what the sociopaths who foisted them off on protesting office workers—but never their bosses for some reason—say. An article in Fast Company says that the architects who have been pushing the open office concept on their customers have changed their minds. Sort of. First of all they ignore the most salient fact about open offices: they are germ exchanges that COVID-19 have rendered no longer...

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Switching to Emacs

Protesilaos Stavrou has an interesting video that boils down to a lecture on the morality of free software in general and Emacs in particular. He frames the lecture in terms of his journey from a complete computer neophyte to the accomplished programmer and user that he is today (although he modestly resists that label). The whole video is worthwhile but the part I want to write about is his thoughts about Emacs and what he learned...

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Irreal: Useful Emacs and Org-mode Features

Karl Voit gave an excellent talk at Grazer Linuxtage 2021 on some Org Mode features that you may not know. The talk also covered some Emacs features that he uses to enhance his workflow. He has an outline of the talk on his website so you needn’t worry about trying to take notes or writing down any shortcuts that you don’t already know. Experienced Emacsers probably already know a lot of the things he covers but I learned a couple...

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Book Publishing with LaTeX and Pandoc

Dan Grec was a software engineer who gave it all up for adventures of a different kind. Now he drives his Jeep all around the world living the life he’d always dreamed of. He’s also published a couple of books on his adventures. Since he’s familiar and comfortable with computers, he decided that he’d publish them himself and sell them on Amazon. While Amazon will give you some tools to help you get your book into their...

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Google and the Petro Curse

The Google graveyard of services is a familiar Internet trope that describes Google’s habit of sunsetting popular services. It’s infuriating. Seemingly everyone has a story of some app they depended on that Google killed. The smart money no longer adopts new Google services, fearing that if they do, the hammer will fall as soon as they come to depend on it. David Heinemeier Hansson has an interesting post on why this happens. He...

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Data Leverage

Over at the MIT Technology Review, Karen Hao has a seemingly promising article with the enticing title How to poison the data that Big Tech uses to surveil you. I read the article with great anticipation hoping it would provide me with some actionable strategies for striking back at adtech. Sadly, that didn’t happen. That’s not really Hao’s fault, though. Her article was a report on this paper by Vicnet, Li, Tilly, Chancellor,...

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On Passwords and SolarWinds

By now everyone knows about the major breach of the U.S. Government (and probably others) that had its genesis in an exploit that gave attackers access to the SolarWinds build chain. Some are reporting that the problem was a leaked and very weak password. Others say that the password doesn’t really matter and that the nation state responsible would have gained access one way or the other. Whatever the truth of the matter, the...

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An Interview with SciHub’s Alexandra Elbakyan

I’ve written several times about Sci-Hub and the moral quandary it presents for some of us. On the one hand it’s easy to say that what they’re doing is stealing and that it should be stopped. On the other hand, the scientific publishers are rapacious rent seekers who exploit the researchers, the reviewers, their journal editors, and in most cases the taxpayers who paid for the research in the first place. It’s hard not to cheer...