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Fifteen Days with Dired

Ramit Mittal is a new Spacemacs user who decided that for 15 days he would use Dired for all his file operations. That’s not hard to do. I don’t always use Dired but it’s usually easier than bringing up or switching to a terminal to do it by hand. Especially since if I need to do a file operation, I am almost certainly in Emacs anyway. For most operations, Dired provides the advantages of doing an ls followed by whatever file...

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Walmart and Apple Pay: What COVID-19 Taught Me

Everyday, I check the status of two items: Has the State of Florida finally rolled out their promised digital driver license program? Has Walmart finally accepted the inevitable and started accepting Apple Pay? So far, no joy but the two items aren’t really the same. Florida has committed to digital driver’s licenses and although they’re proceding slower than I’d like, I’m sure they’re working through the problems to get...

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Name & Shame: Procter & Gamble

The other day, I saw this disturbing post on Daring Fireball. The TL;DR is that Procter & Gamble (P&G) has been working with several Chinese trade and advertising groups to develop and test a way of bypassing Apple’s upcoming iOS change that requires a user’s permission to track them. You can read the details in this Mint article or, if you have a subscription, the Original Wall Street Journal article. The adtech scum hate...

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The TSA: Keeping Us Safe From Cash

One, not so bad, consequence of covid19 is that we haven’t heard much from the TSA and its shenanigans. That doesn’t mean, however, that they haven’t been busy violating people’s rights. You’d think that traveling domestically with cash is legal and you’d be right. If you call the government and ask them, they’ll tell you it’s legal and there are no restrictions on carrying any amount of cash. Apparently, the TSA...

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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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Newspapers and Writing

Journalists, it seems to me, have two main jobs: Discover and report the news accurately and Write up the results of their investigations in a clear and easy to understand way. It’s no secret to Irreal readers that I think they’re failing significantly in the first. In most cases, the best you can hope for is that they’re ignorant of the subject they’re reporting on and that they’re too lazy to educate themselves. Sadly,...

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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...