Stupid, stupid, stupid…

OK, so the fast train in Korea is the KTX. They offer free Wi-Fi with the kicker that you have top watch a commercial after every 30mb of data use. That’s me, last time it was a flay rate 200mb limit. This is kinda better, would be easy enough to ignore commercials. Fine, you have to download their app to the Wi-Fi. So I click on the link and see the following:

image

Ummmm, what?!

If I had one Christmas Wish List….it would be for people to follow this list!

 

 

Steven Bertoni Steven Bertoni, Forbes Staff

I cover technology, entrepreneurs and billionaires.

Tech
12/23/2013 @ 7:30AM |110,497 views

14 Bad Tech Habits To Break In 2014

Break these bad tech habits in 2014

Break these bad tech habits in 2014

Thanks to smartphones, cloud technology and social networks, we can take the Internet with us everywhere these days. The down side–we can take the Internet with us everywhere these days.

We are a society tethered to our devices. Apple played on this recently with a tear-jerker of a holiday commercial. But as clever as Apple marketing is–very few teenagers (or any of us for that matter) with faces glued to iPhones use the smartphone to create touching family moments. Most are only texting or surfing the Web.

So as we reflect on the life changes we hope to make in 2014, I asked my digitally astute colleagues at FORBES to share their technology New Years Resolutions. Below are bad technology habits we want (both ourselves, and others) to break in 2014–Good luck.

1) I will stop checking email before bed, right when I wake up and in bed in general.

Has this ever happened to you? Just before turning in, you check your iPhone one final time, only to have a (stressful, annoying, distressing—insert any adjective here) email keep you tossing all night. Or have you checked your phone first thing in the morning, and an email or text fills you with anxiety before you’ve even fully woken up? It happens to us too.

Tip: Keep all screens out of the bedroom. If like me, you use your iPhone as your alarm clock, swap it out for a clock radio to remove the temptation.

2) I will turn-off all email notifications.

The Microsoft Exchange email alert, the Gmail inbox counter and G-Chat indicator—few things are more distracting than these attention stealers.

Tip: Dig into your settings to switch off the distraction-inducing blips and chimes from detracting from the task at hand. Create a disciplined schedule to check your email once every hour or so–you’ll gain an incredible amount of control over your work day.

3) I will not use my iPhone or Android as a social crutch.

When did if become a requirement to bury your face in a smartphone during every minute you find yourself waiting for a friend at a bar or restaurant? Keep your phone in your pocket, take in the scene and maybe even talk to the person next to you at the bar.

4) I will talk more and text less.

No more refusing to answer calls from friends so you can text them back asking “what’s up?” Same goes for texting happy birthday, happy anniversary, happy new year. While texting is great for logistics, for big, emotional moments and milestones—reach out and touch someone. But there’s a caveat to this rule, see resolution #5.

5) If a person does not answer my call, I will not leave a voicemail—that’s what texts are for.

Pass codes, dialing “1″ for new messages, quickly scribbling down the phone numbers and addresses left in those messages–no one has the patience for that these days. As a result, now no one checks voicemail any more–at least not right away. Send a text, your friend will appreciate it, and it will actually be received.

6) I will not use my smartphone in the following places:

– in the gym

– in an elevator

– in a crosswalk

– in the checkout line

– in the drivers seat

– in the restroom

7) I will not use hashtags outside of Twitter, and when I do, it will be solely for trending topics (say no to #stopwritingstupidhashtags)

8) I will limit my Instagram posts to one photo per event/setting.

Tip: Want to post a series of pics—create a Facebook photo album. Another good tool is the InstaFrame app that lets you make a photo collage to share as a single Instagram image. A final option for not spamming your Instagram feed—use Instagram Direct to send photos to folks you know will appreciate seeing same sunset, 7 different ways–with 7 different filters.

9) I will not check Facebook more than 3 times a day.

Tip: Download Anti-Social–the program will block social networks like Facebook and Twitter but still let you access the rest of the Web.

10) I will not Google facts, dates, actors’ names, or anything else in the presence of other people.

11) I will not show people Memes in public

Memes, funny videos, cat photos should be shared via text message and email only–not by pushing smartphones under our friends’ noses.

12) I will unsynch my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts because people don’t need to see the same post on three different platforms.

13) I will delete enough email to keep my pile of unread Gmail messages below five-figures–because seeing you have 10,000 unread emails is just plain overwhelming.

14) I will stop writing click-bait, listicle-style Web stories. (But hey, it’s not 2014 yet, so I better get them in while I still can. Happy New Year everyone.

Follow me on Twitter: @Stevenbertoni

North Korea has a new tablet!

Some may immediately scoff but it’s not that bad from the report it seems.

It’s No iPad, But North Korea’s Tablet Isn’t a Joke Either

 

Rudiger Frank
A screenshot of the Samjiyon’s home screen, showing North Korea’s Unha 3 rocket.

It came with less fanfare than the iPad Air, the fifth-generation iPad tablet that Apple Inc. is releasing to a frenzied market today.

But the Samjiyon SA-70 tablet, released by North Korea’s state-run computer agency earlier this year, could also be an in-demand product, at least for a certain breed of frontier-market tech consumer.

North Korea’s nascent tablet industry first gained widespread attention last year, after Martyn Williams, a journalist who runs the North Korea Tech blog, described tablets that appeared to be showing up at trade fairs.

But those reports of a North Korean tablet only generated more questions: Were they any good? Where did they come from? Which was the best model? And how was the screen resolution?

North Korea may not yet have its Walt Mossberg, but for now, Rüdiger Frank, a professor at the University of Vienna, is happy to step in.

Last week, the Korea expert and frequent visitor to the North, penned a product review of the Samjiyon SA-70 that has garnered considerable attention in North Korea-watching circles.

The review — which, it should be noted, is earnest — reveals a product that isn’t quite up to Apple-like standards, but isn’t a complete embarrassment either. (At 180 euros a pop, the Samjiyon is also a bargain next to the iPad Air, which starts at $499.)

In fact, Mr. Frank, sounding very Mossbergian indeed, kicks off his review by giving the device a hearty thumbs-up: “After a few days of intensive use I can say that this is one of the few cases in my career as a consumer when I got more for my money than I had expected.”

From there, Mr. Frank — an owner of an iPad 4 and a GoogleGOOG -0.34% Nexus 7 — spends 16 pages outlining the specs on the device and ably describing the Samjiyon’s software capabilities.

As far as software is concerned, the tablet, which runs on Google Inc.’s Android operating system, offers a wealth of applications — some 488 preloaded onto the device, by Mr. Frank’s count.

That includes games like Angry Birds, a “fully functional” MicrosoftMSFT +0.34% Office package (Microsoft Corp. had no immediate comment on the apparent installation of its software on the device), a PDF reader and a music player. There are Siri-like voice-recognition functionalities, as well as an amply-stocked digital bookshelf of dictionaries (high quality, Mr. Frank says), encyclopedias (“quite sophisticated”) and e-books (expect plenty of Kim Il Sung here, though Dickens, Hugo and Balzac are also present).

The Samjiyon tablet, Mr. Frank concludes, is “a remarkable device,” and “tremendously useful” to anyone trying to understand the country.

According to Mr. Frank, the device can’t actually connect to the Internet, and while the device is designed to access North Korea’s domestic intranet, Mr. Frank said he could find no way to do so. (As a foreigner, he notes that he wouldn’t have permission to access the intranet anyway.)

That North Korea can develop and sell such a tablet is a reminder of the technological prowess of a country that, while little understood, has developed enough expertise to become an ever-present online threat to the government websites in South Korea – one of the most wired and technologically savvy countries in the world.

It also highlights the fact that North Korea, for all its economic woes and human rights abuses, has an upper crust of elites with ample disposable income and an appetite for fancy gadgets.

“The existence of this tablet does not in any way change the fact that the DPRK is, for many of its people, a country of hard manual labor and simple living conditions,” Mr. Frank wrote in the review, referring to the country by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The tablet is not just another toy of a typical consumer-oriented society,” he said. “It is a useful and entertaining device for a minority in a totalitarian system with a dominant ideology.”

In a phone interview from his office in Vienna, Mr. Frank said that the tablet was still in heavy use, though his iPad is still his go-to device.

“The major disadvantage for a Western client is you can’t connect to the Internet, but for everything else, it’s actually quite nice,” he said. “I was impressed by the sophistication of the software.”

*****

That North Korea can develop and sell such a tablet is a reminder of the technological prowess of a country

What a ludicrous statement!  In one of the videos/sites I saw how one of them was taken apart and it was noted how at least one part was nearly identical to a Chinese version of this tablet.  To me, I’m willing to bet this thing was made in China.  Maybe some assembly in NK but actual start-to-finish in NK?  Not so much.

Also, this 7″ form factor came directly from Samsung’s 7″ Galaxy Tab.  The shape, size and probably even weight is nearly identical to the 7″ tab used to have a few years ago.  It’s the same design/size/case as my wife’s cheapie tablet that she has right now.  This 7″ casing has been shuffled around many of the ‘less-than-technically-advanced’ companies.  It’s like Samsung sold the rights to use this form factor and now is making money from North Korea using it.  I would be interested in hearing from those who are detailed about the origin of this form factor.

In any case, it’s a cheap tablet that will eventually make a few rounds and get hacked to run more up-to-date/customizable software.  I’d even say that someone will get the WiFi working on it soon too.

Defective by Design: DRM FAQ

In any discussion concerning DRM, there are bound to be honest questions and misconceptions that keep being repeated. Without a resource to accurately respond to them, some small misconceptions can turn into popular belief.

We have compiled a Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) FAQ, or “Frequently Asked Questions” list, to address the most common misconceptions regarding DRM. We hope this will serve as a reference material for those working to educate others about DRM and digital media. Give it a read through at least once, and use this resource heavily in online discussions around DRM!

Even seasoned anti-DRM activists can learn something new about what DRM does and why it is so harmful to software users. Some especially important questions answered in the FAQ include, ” Doesn’t DRM limit copyright infringement?” and, “Doesn’t DRM make sense for streaming media and rental services?”

The FAQ is a collaborative effort of the DRM Elimination Crew and was drafted on the LibrePlanet wiki. Improvements and edits can be made there, and suggestions can be made on the talk page. If you have ideas for the FAQ or the campaign, we’d love to hear them! Get in touch by emailing us at info@defectivebydesign.org or visiting #dbd on Freenode.

Sincerely,

K ra

Defective by Design campaigns organizer

You can view this post online at https://www.defectivebydesign.org/new-drm-faq.

New New New setup….

So, not only did my monitor die and have to be replaced, the OS then shortly started tanking.  It all started by the stupidest of things….an external USB HDD.

See, I’ve been needing to back things up for a while on a few of my devices (My wife’s laptop, my netbook and my main machine).  So I am finally in a position to get the added devices required(external USB DVD burner for the netbook, USB HDD for everything).  First issue was the DVD burner was missing a cable.  Had to go back and get that.  Annoying but it seems to be working now.

Now, when I got the USB HDD, I plugged it into my machine and backed some stuff up.  Knowing that simply copy/pasting LARGE amounts of files is generally a bad thing (because you never know exactly where it stops and when you are copying 70,000 files, you certainly don’t have time to figure out where it stopped/retry a whack of bad files.  So I did a short test and it worked fine.  I moved over to test out the windows backup program that these drives came with, on my wife’s laptop, worked fine.  When I went back to my system and plugged it in a few days later (actually, I had plugged it in, left it for about 5 days and got back to backing up again) my whole system froze.  I didn’t immediately suspect the drive because, why would I?  It had been working just fine earlier.  After about an hour I unplugged it and lo-and-behold, everything started working fine again.  WTH?!  I plug it in, freezes.  Unplug, unfreezes.  That ain’t right.

I plug it into my wife’s windows laptop, works fine.  Oh this sucks.  Why the hell is Debian freezing solid when windows just hums along?  Well I did what I could and let windows scan/repair any bad sectors.  That took a few hours on a 1TB drive.  When done, plugged it back in to my Linux machine and all was good.  Stupid.

So I backed everything up (well, only missed a few things….ugh, nothing critical, but mildly annoying) then my system went screwy again.  Not related to the USB HDD this time….but my video.  After some attempts and a reboot, things were still not better.  Well screw it, I was thinking of reinstalling as I could find no help anywhere with this.  So, I downloaded Unbuntu 13.04 (because I wanted to test out Steam and games) and installed that.

Ubuntu installed fine and updates took quite a while (must remember not to allow updates during install….would save me an hour or two waiting! Updates can be done later.).  Everything went fine.  Got Steam installed and then Steam had some issues with me buying a game.  Figures. Still waiting to hear from them.  So while I was waiting, I grabbed a freebie game and played with that for a while.  Worked fine and having a bit of fun.

Now, Ubuntu uses a new ‘fancy’ desktop called Unity.  Unity up and crashed on me.  Oh great.  I was able to fix it without much difficulty.  Ok, so that happens.  But when it happens a 3rd time and I could not even get to my desktop at all, well screw that.  I switched over to Linux Mint (which uses a fork of Gnome2 for a desktop, no fancy graphics here now) and so far it’s been awesome.  I’m working on customizing my desktop to look pretty without being/needing fancy graphics to do so.  that’s all I really wanted any ways.

 

Still not getting it…

What I love about the Internet is the community that happens at times.  I posted my game code up for all to see and review and I received a lot of good feedback.  One guy, Bob, event went out of his way to help me understand classes and wrote up a basic structure for my style of game.

from collections import OrderedDict # for storing menus.

# adjust for Python 2 or 3
import sys
if sys.version[0] >= ‘3’:
getUserInput = input
else:
getUserInput = raw_input

def main():
place = ‘road’ # starting place
while place:
place = places[place].enter()
if not place:
ans = getUserInput(‘enter yes if you want to play another round.’)
if ans == ‘yes’:
place = ‘road’

class Choice:
def __init__(self, prompt, next, description=None):
self.prompt = prompt
self.key = prompt.partition(‘ ‘)[0].lower() # get 1st word of prompt
self.description = description
self.next = next

class Place:
defaultChoice = Choice(”, ‘cycle’, “I don’t understand that!”)
def __init__(self, name, description):
self.name = name
self.description = description
self.choices = OrderedDict()
self.menu = ”

def addChoice(self, choice):
key = choice.key
self.choices[key] = choice
self.menu += choice.prompt + ‘\n’

def enter(self):
print(self.description)
while True:
userChoice = getUserInput(self.menu[:-1]).l

ower()
choice = self.choices.get(userChoice, self.defaultChoice)
if choice.description:
print(choice.description)
if choice.next != ‘cycle’:
return choice.next# create the kingdom
places = {}place = Place(‘road’, ‘You are standing on a road. Nearby is a small house’)
place.addChoice(Choice(‘Enter the house’, ‘house’))
place.addChoice(Choice(‘South’, ‘road2’))
places[place.name] = placeplace = Place(‘road2’, ‘You are standing on a road, surrounded by howling wolves.’)
place.addChoice(Choice(‘Run for your life’, ”, ‘outrun a wolf? ha!’))
places[place.name] = placeplace = Place(‘house’, ‘You are in a small house. There are keys here. A stairway ascends.’)
place.addChoice(Choice(‘Climb the stairs’, ”, ‘your foot breaks a weak riser and you fall to your death’))
place.addChoice(Choice(‘Exit’, ‘road’, ‘you leave the house’))
places[place.name] = place

main() # start the game

I tried running it and get an immediate error.
ImportError: cannot import name OrderedDict

Well, let me do some research into this and see if it’s just a Python version issue because in the code there is something about checking version and using different routines.

Python 2.6.6 (r266:84292, Dec 26 2010, 22:31:48)
[GCC 4.4.5] on linux2

Ah ha, the Docs on OrderedDict say new for version 2.7 whereas I seem to have version 2.6.  How odd though, I thought I was running 2.7 all this time.  Off to Google to find a link/how-to on this.

I found this link, which does include an automated script to do the update for you (this one compiles from source) but experience has shown that such things never turn out exact and I really can’t be bothered to spend hours and hours trying to figure out what went wrong.

Then I found this link, which suggests using a mix of Debian versions, which I know causes bad things to happen.  Besides, Debian Wheezy is now stable and as soon as I get an external HD, I’ll be backing everything up and upgrading my OS, which includes v2.7 of Python.  So, time to wait then I can try this code out.

I will say this though.  From what I read in the above code, I’m not convinced that it will be any easier to program.  It just doesn’t look/feel intuitive enough when trying to debug an error message that might come up.  That and it seems to scream ‘complication’ when the following is to be adhered to.

      The Zen of Python

    Beautiful is better than ugly.
    Explicit is better than implicit.
    Simple is better than complex.
    Complex is better than complicated.
    Flat is better than nested.
    Sparse is better than dense.
    Readability counts.
    Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules.
    Although practicality beats purity.
    Errors should never pass silently.
    Unless explicitly silenced.
    In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess.
    There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.
    Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch.
    Now is better than never.
    Although never is often better than *right* now.
    If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea.
    If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea.
    Namespaces are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those!

Side Note: Why the hell is WordPress suggesting “Pink(singer)” for this post?!?! Also, they suggest ‘transportation’ for just about every, single post I have written for any of my blogs here after the publish phase.  What gives WordPress??  You desperate for some Transportation posts??

New Pages

I’ve added a new page today(the other one was added last week in case you missed it).

Python Resources : Here I plan to continue adding resources as I find them.  I’ll do my best to make sure they are up to date and still around.  If you know of any others that aren’t listed, please feel free to let me know so I can add them.

Learning Python Reviews: This page is a mini-survey to help people evaluate the quality of courses offered for first time Python learners.  The total results of the survey are posted at the end of the survey but I’ll try to get them online on the Resource page as well to make use of them pro-actively.  For now, please consider taking the survey so the information can be used for the betterment of all.