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Twitter Lists I'm On

Date/Time Permalink: 11/10/12 01:32:54 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

Remember Twitter lists? Everybody was excited about them back there once. Twitter still has this feature, and apparently people still use it.

Because if you read me, you should read these, too:

author - A list with no discernible theme that I can find, but just a bunch of random accounts. But "Goddamn Batman" is on it too, so I'm not arguing there.

Tech Stuff - Well, that's pretty self-explanatory, isn't it? Great complete list, by the way!

Skypost109-Bloggers - Described as "funny yet right down snarky at times." I shall always strive to answer the call of duty to live up to this high expectation.

Important OSS supporters - Oh, now how did I get so important without really doing much?

BoycottBoys - Described as "BoycottNovell shills and minions". Whee, I'm on a hit list! Which is funny, because BoycottNovell has standing insults to me they've never corrected or apologized for. This is what happens when you judge me by the standards of the troll cave at LXer.com.

Iowa Tweeps - Hello, Iowa! Are there any other Iowans here? Any of you Hawkeyes care to follow this list that has only five subscribers? I know there's more than five people in Iowa who know what Twitter is. I know at least eight or nine.

WebComics - I feel bad because this list is kept by a Spanish speaker and my webcomic is in English.

Sistemas - Also in Spanish, these are computer programmers and related stuff. I can suss out enough Spanish to tell this, thanks to my previous life out in the Southwest.

Famous - Somebody's got some really, really low standards for defining "famous". I've heard of just about everybody else on that list, and I'll bet none of them have heard of me.

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Why yes, thank you, I too would like a command line on my phone

Date/Time Permalink: 09/12/12 01:25:27 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

Considering I am now going on my seventh year on the web as the pariah, the gadfly, the malcontent, muckraker, polemic, the guy who tells you the uncomfortable truths that nobody wants to hear and will bury you for saying, I loves me some vindication. Readers write to Scott Adams mulling over command-line interfaces for smartphones.

Mind-blowingly, they use examples more suited to the Unix command line while still calling it "DOS", because, derp, AOL!

In other news, this graph of why some people use Linux touched off a heck of a lot of talk on Google+. I repeat: On Google+. Right after I wolfed about G+ being a ghost town with tumbleweeds blowing about, the place is suddenly hopping. Time for me to start complaining that it's too crowded and all these newbs are ruining it.

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Six Things I Wish I Could Do With My Google+ Account

Date/Time Permalink: 07/15/12 05:09:56 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

Whee! I've had a Google+ account for something like six months now. It feels exactly like one of those novelty birthday gifts where some agency will name an asteroid after you. Yes, there's my Google+ account, 2011-JG8, in the dark side of the Apoheles cluster. Too bad no human eye will ever see it.

While we're sitting here in the web's own trailer park in the bum end of the universe, is it too much to ask of Google if they could at least hook up the utilities around here? Such as...

Dump in my Twitter feed.

Really, my Twitter says it all these days. Every time I update my strip or any of my blogs, including ones I post in my paid work, or even post a scribble on Devinat Art, it gets tweeted. I need one place where I can point people and say "Everything I do gets reported there." I'm not going to copy all that one at a time. Just an option to add a feed, how hard is this?

Dump in RSS feeds from my other blogs.

Ditto. Google has a ginkas to make blog posts on your Google+ page. Hey, we already have that, it's called "Blogger.com". And the last thing I need in this world is yet another site to post on separately, not to mention one more place to risk working on only to see it fold a year down the line. Perhaps, Google, you remember acquiring that particular "Blogger" domain a few years back? Sure, just think back, it's the orange icon with the lopsided 'B'. If Sergey or Larry jolted suddenly one of these days and yelled "Oh my God! I forgot we own Blogger!" I wouldn't be the least surprised, because it's been that ignored.

Sign into stuff using my Google+ ID (the way you sign in with Facebook / Twitter).

I know this is a question of the old desktop mindshare factor, but is Google making some kind of effort to provide those buttons for things like commenting on other blogs, so you can sign in to comment there? How about marketing? For a multimedia empire, they could, you know, advertise Google+? I swear I could ask ten random people on the street and only one would even know Google+ exists.

Be able to cross-link between Facebook and Google+ (treating it as one social network).

Walled gardens are so 1995 (and / or so Yahoo / Apple). Quit it with the "Facebook? Who're they?" business. Just let us be able to follow and get followed by Facebook users. You can still search on Bing with Google's Chrome browser, hint hint.

Be able to add widgets.

I remember the good old days when we could do that on iGoogle. It made iGoogle pages instantly useful to me, being able to make a page full of handy little aps in one place. At least I had a reason to go back there once in a while. Now I go to Google+, and it's just this infinite white void of nothing, like the limbo-hell in those Progressive Insurance commercials.

Not be lonely there.

Right now, it's basically me and Linus Torvalds and two crickets. Even the crickets have given up chirping.

Having a home on Google+ is just like being homeless

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Spring Asstroturf Season: Slashdot Gives Us Three Lessons

Date/Time Permalink: 04/12/12 12:03:42 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

There's something about late spring that seems to bring the corporate asstroturf out of the woodwork (oops, I made a "Freudian typo" there!). College graduation is coming up after all, with all those fresh new students hitting the market and becoming truly adult consumers for the first time. Gotta get ready for them. Today's front page of Slashdot brings us not one, not two, but three examples.

The first is rather telling: An unnamed company employee posts about how their company asked them to asstroturf, posing the ethical question to the hivemind. The comments are surprising in their lack of condemnation, kind of "Meh, if you want to, everyone else does." Most of them say to go ahead if they feel the social marketing hype is warranted. Almost nobody raises the ethical issue of an employee posing as a customer giving fake reviews of their company's product. Certainly nobody brings up the potential violation of FCC law.

I always get the blankest looks when I bring up that 2009 FCC ruling. You can hear the fact bounce off the skull with an audible "thud".

Next, a story posts alleging that the media is unfairly biased against poor widdle Microsoft, while all the other tech companies "seem to get away from missteps unscathed". The Slashdot crowd barely has time to shovel themselves out from under this mountain of manure when one AC posts pointing out that in fact, the piece author is a paid Microsoft evangelist, a fact not immediately evident from the bald story.

I'm tempted to tweet him a link to the comment. I see the hornet nest, I have a rock in my hand... no, no, put it down Pete! You're too busy now.

Finally, another whooping pile of Micro-bull posts on Slashdot about how the desktop game of Freecell was allegedly "solved" by crowdsourcing, in one of those feel-goody "see Microsoft is really open-participation-friendly after all" pieces. See, Freecell deals hands based on seed numbers, which you can type in yourself, and they had to test whether every hand could be solved fairly. They supposedly proved only one hand couldn't win. The problem is, this story is completely false. A group of players couldn't solve the hand, but that doesn't prove it by itself. Wikipedia lists the full research on the game mechanics and notes that up to 1282 games are unsolvable, depending on how high you count. It is computer simulations, not humans, who prove Freecell games unsolvable.

If you want to explore the software that was used to find all 1,282 unsolvable games of Freecell, it's Don Woods' Freecell solver...

An open-source program, of course!

Well, I've got my lawnmower, so I'm ready for spring!

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A Little Linklist Of Linux And Technology Themed Webcomics

Date/Time Permalink: 03/19/12 04:47:42 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

It's been about three and a half years of churning out my own humble little webcomic. During that time, I've noticed that "webcomics which focus on Linux / FOSS / computer-geekery" is one heck of a tiny niche! So I thought I'd throw out a list for those others in my narrow slot.

You all probably already know about the big famous examples like XKCD, User-Friendly, and (though it barely squeaks into the "geekery" category) The Oatmeal. But I dug a little deeper to find some underrated webcomics that definitely deserve to be better-known:

Note: Webcomics have the shelf life of a dandelion in a hailstorm, so it's normal to find most of them discontinued. Don't moan; at least there's archives. Maybe with encouragement, some of them will start up again.

My 25 Percent

A very cynical webcomic about a software engineer in the corporate world. Has a distinctive style for caricature art that makes the characters adorable to look at, with broad humor that would appeal to a much wider audience.

EDIT The same author of "My 25 Percent" chimed in to tell us that he has a new webcomic up, C-Section Comics, with all of the neat character art and way better concepts! Still lots of geek humor, such as asking what Internet trolls would do if there were no Internet?

Geek Hero

About an open source developer and Debian user, with minimalist art and short, punchy jokes.

Business Casual

A full-fleshed-out comic about the computing industry, with lots of office humor and general geeks milling about. Been going strong for ten years now. Lots of depth and character development.

Help Desk

There's actually four webcomics here, "Help Desk", "Kernel Panic", "Old Skool Webcomic", and "PC Town". All four of them are surreal universes with humor as delightfully dry as chardonnay. "Help Desk" and "Kernel Panic" are more computer-geek oriented, "Old Skool" is almost its own little joke (at 8 episodes total), and "PC Town" appears to be a noir geek webcomic. Now tell me that isn't blazing new territory.

Bug Bash

A very creative webcomic about the technology industry (popular theme, no?) Chock full of interesting little flights of fancy and satire of office culture. Also, the 'about' page lists several more comics done by the same author... but I was too distracted by the awesome little animated cartoon clip below the webcomic, called "Arctic Circle". Yes, I've been tossing around the idea of branching into animation too...

The Bizarre Cathedral

You've probably heard of this one, since it's hosted at Free Software Magazine's site. It's definitely a gag-a-day type strip with jokes strictly from the pro-GNU point of view. Plus adorable fluffy animal characters.


Ran from 2001 to 2004, like the Velvet Underground of Linux-geek-centric webcomics - Before its time! Has great newspaper-style art. And one of the characters is a robot built from a recycled Vic-20! How old skool is that?

I'm Not Mad

Done by my old peer, Eric's Binary World. It's a geek-humor themed strip which is remarkable for being drawn in Blender! This gives it a unique look; as the strip's evolved over time, it resembles a a bit the 3D animation of the Weird Al Yankovic UHF ilk. Also changed from gag-a-day to continuing story arcs.

Add yours here!

In the comment section below, if anybody has heard of a substantial Linux / programming / tech webcomic that I haven't found yet, don't be shy! Tell us about it and I'll update the list. See, I'm reserving this much space for adding more:

Is that enough space?

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Google Thinks I'm Immature...

Date/Time Permalink: 01/27/12 05:08:51 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

I checked out this link to find out what Google knows about me through its advertising-tracking thingie. I got this:

Google demographics for Penguin Pete

Now, everything else is just about dead on. "Music, programming, and puzzles" would do alright as the title of my biography. But my age gets pegged to 18 to 24?

Hey, I'm 42 over here, Google, old enough to be your dad! And no, I prefer not to edit it, because I like to see what the algorithm thinks based on my surfing habits. For one thing, I work in online media and professionally I have to focus on the 18-24 demographic. So I go where they do. May I always have the web surfing habits of an 18-24-year-old; that's gold when you're billing yourself as a "social media consultant".

This is also why I don't understand all the hype about "Teh Evul Googul" tracking your personal data. Big deal, my gender, age, and a few of my interests? I routinely disclose more than that to complete strangers in the average coffee shop conversation.

PS Yes, I'm starting to call myself a "social media consultant". I'm still just a hack writer and artist for websites. But there's ten thousand other hack writers and artists for websites out there, and I've recently discovered that they all call themselves "social media consultants" because it sounds Web-2.0-ier and they get to jack their prices up. So OK, I sometimes call what I do "social media consulting" now.

You know what?


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Psychology Professors Are Destroying My Reasoning Skills

Date/Time Permalink: 01/22/12 01:52:27 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

Latest moral panic: How Google Search Is Destroying Our Memory. As stupid and predictable as this is, it's the same story that comes around every six months or so, but it will still be front-paged across web media and we'll still be scrolling past it in our RSS feeds by next week.

Hey, once again (again and again and again), I'll be the only one to shoot this down with common sense: Books.

Before there was Google, there were books. Indeed, the number of books I keep on hand has decreased since the advent of Google, and I know I'm not the only one. And the purpose of keeping many books is for research and reference.

So, I guess that's why dictionaries were invented, so we don't have to walk around memorizing the spelling, pronunciation, and definition of every word. And perhaps why telephone books were invented, so you didn't have to memorize every phone number. And why encyclopedia sets used to be a common household fixture, so you could look up facts on a broad range of topics. And why dispatchers had a big city streets atlas pinned to the wall, so they didn't have to memorize every street in town.

Before we kept our external memory on Google, we kept it in books. In fact, Google has done nothing but make all this diverse information faster and easier to re-locate again. It was never common to have all the names of the presidents memorized, except just to show off. Thirty years ago, if asked which was the last US president from the Whig party, I'd flip to the index of a tome and have the answer in one minute (#13 Fillmore). Now I Wiki it and have the answer in twenty seconds. It's the same process, just using different technology!

How come I never used to read magazine articles about how print media is destroying our memory?

I'll tell you why. Because psychology professors are stupider now than they used to be. It's a good enough answer for me. In case anybody Googled it, here you are.

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The UK Telegraph Diagnoses America's Problem

Date/Time Permalink: 01/10/12 11:11:37 am
Category: LINKS and Lists

I'll keep saying it and saying it... How can we effectively advocate Free and Open Source Software, open technology, and Internet freedom when we're still dealing with people who think computers are magic, not science? And how can we teach computer science to a population that rejects science... period?

The UK Telegraph mourns: Republicans turn their back on the Enlightenment . Now, I'd grant that this is all true for the Republican side, but it's not like I see Democrats being nearly the torch-carrying champions of knowledge they could be, either. This quote resonated:

"America is becoming an intellectual two-speed nation, with a technocratic, informed elite and a scientifically illiterate rump who are falling behind economically in their increasingly knowledge-based economy. The GOP is increasingly the party of the uneducated: it’s bad enough for them, but if it means voting stupid people, or people who are pretending to be stupid, into the most powerful office in the world, it’s bad for the rest of us too."

Yeah, that's the root of part of the problem at least...

We're gonna rock down to...

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The Top Ten Stupidest Things That Happened In Tech In 2011

Date/Time Permalink: 12/27/11 11:13:36 am
Category: LINKS and Lists

1. There was a movie called "Source Code" that had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with programming.

And you just know that it's only called "source code" because some studio executive caught the phrase from some TV set nearby that was jabbering about a tech story and he glommed onto it because it sounded cool, without the slightest idea that source code is a real thing.

2. Millions of cowardly Microsoft shills assassinate Steve Jobs' character the minute he's safely dead.

My former position on Steve Jobs: "Meh, he's not so bad." Post-Micro-turfing when millions of trolls post online comparing Jobs to Darth Vader, Hitler, and bin Laden, my new position on Steve Jobs: "Blast them all, I think Steve Jobs was a living saint, with a halo and wings, with flowers blooming in his footprints and the power to cure leprosy with a touch. And Bill Gates isn't fit enough to drink Steve Jobs' piss." Actually, I've always thought that last part.

3. Gnome 3 came out.

Man, with half the tech journalism out there screaming "You SUUUUUCK!" at the Gnome team, you think one or two of them might wonder if all was not rainbows in Happyland. Hey, Gnome. It's not working. Just roll it back. You just lost Ubuntu. That's like your wife, kids, and dog all leaving you and you're still not getting the message.

4. SOPA was even attempted in the first place.

I've already spake the prophecy that SOPA shall not pass, so I will not go into in depth here until after it doesn't pass. But the online SOPA opera has become a story of its own, a witchhunt beyond all ridiculousness. We seem to need a winter witchhunt every year... I'll explain why later down this list. But anyway, what were they even thinking when they wrote this thing?

5. Nobody cared when Dennis Ritchie or John McCarthy died.

HEY! Dennis Ritchie! Invented the C programming language and Unix along with Ken Thompson! John McCarthy! Invented Lisp and coined the term "artificial intelligence"! Between these two people alone, the entire concept of computing as we understand it would not exist! Not even His Hyphenship, Tim Berners-Lee, would have been able to start the World Wide Web! I wouldn't be writing this, you wouldn't be reading it, we'd be squatting in caves gnawing raw buffalo haunch.

If there was the slightest ounce of justice in this world, there would be Kim-Jong-il-style 50-foot-tall statues of John McCarthy and Dennis Ritchie in the middle of the biggest intersection in Silicon Valley. Instead, Wikipedia doesn't even list either one of them in its list of deaths in 2011. But bet your bronze baby shoes that they have tons of boxers, footballers, and hockey players listed.

6. Facebook was caught astroturfing against Google.

Yep, here's the story. Facebook got caught red-handed, secretly hiring a PR firm to plant negative stories about Google. Facebook...

"hired Burson-Marsteller, a top public-relations firm, to pitch anti-Google stories to newspapers, urging them to investigate claims that Google was invading people’s privacy. Burson even offered to help an influential blogger write a Google-bashing op-ed, which it promised it could place in outlets like The Washington Post, Politico, and The Huffington Post."

Your news, bought and sold. Your news, mostly lies. Your news, exactly what corporations want you to hear, and furthermore it's usually only what the richest corporation wants you to hear. For the thousandth time, I wonder when people will understand that corporate asstroturf exists in our universe?

7. Anonymous became famous.

In fact, the TV set cannot shut up about Anonymous, particularly during that LULZSec fiasco. They're not hackers, they're not terrorists, they're not protesters, they're not anything at all but idiots, and furthermore random idiots whose median age is 14. I can say that, a lone blogger with a one-man show, been saying it for years, can go to 4chan and say it, and nothing happens to me. Quit blowing them up into this James-Bond-villain. Secure your damn servers with a password stronger than "1234" and they won't be a problem.

8. NewEgg and Best Buy got into a bitchy slap-fight.

Because of this NewEgg commercial, which I see nothing wrong with since that is exactly verbatim my experience with every tech-shopping attempt at every major chain retailer ever. In fact, I'll bet I could stump NewEgg's best tech support in one question, and even give them a ten-minute headstart to Google it. But anyway, Best Buy sent them a takedown C&D, so BAAAAW!

In passing, I also made a little story-arc in my webcomic parodying "Bust Buy", starting here and running along for 5 clicks of the 'next' button.

9. People still cared about Wikileaks.

This is the part I'm talking about with a winter witchhunt. The winter witchhunt of 2010/2011 was Wikileaks.

I want to point something out about SOPA now. You know how you're all pissing and raging and flaming and hopping around about SOPA this year? Every single one of you were pissing and raging and flaming and hopping around about Wikileaks just about this time last year. And now you don't remember anything about it. Wikileaks is still in business, Julian Assange is still in trouble for some weird misdemeanor sex law that only exists in Sweden, he still didn't pay his fine (which amounts to what Americans pay for a speeding ticket), he still hasn't been extradited out of Britain... nothing has changed since December 2010. I repeat: Nothing has changed, despite all of the p.ing and r.ing and f.ing and h.ing a.

I have much more to say on this subject, but like I say about my prophecy, it's no fun if I show my cards too soon.

And, the tenth stupid thing to happen in tech in 2011 issssss:

10. I rage-blogged about Mozilla removing the 'page source' entry from the 'view' menu, readers pointed out it was still in the right-click menu.

I deleted the post now, but a while back I got my new Firefox upgrade and discovered that they removed the "view source" option from the 'view' menu. And I sailed to my blog and raged like a neckbeard, how DAAAARE THEY! Burn the witch! And then three or four of you Twittered and emailed and variously sent pings at me to remind me that the "view source" option is still available in the floating menu when you right-click.

Oh. Well, hand me the Stupid Hat. Never mind, then. So I deleted the post and never thought about it again until now.

And that is how you handle being wrong.

Happy 2012!

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