I’m Not a Robot (Rant)

31. December, 2017

Google’s “I’m not a robot” CAPTCHA is freaking me out.

I often spend minutes clicking stupid images only to be presented with more fucking images. It feels like it takes half an hour or more to just get the stupid thing to get out of the way so I can do whatever I came to do.

My main complaints:

  1. Is the frame of a street sign part of a street sign?
  2. Why do I get another page of images when I complete a task? Is the thing playing Sisyphus with me?
  3. Why does the thing suddenly change the game? First, I have to select pieces and click “Continue” and suddenly, it replaces pieces as I click and the button at the bottom behaves differently.
  4. Why can’t the thing remember me? Google and his friends know that it’s me! That’s their fucking business model! They make billions by tracking our movements on the web.
  5. The Google site boasts “Low friction, effortless interaction for your users.” There is no “File complaint” or support link anywhere. If it’s broken, guess who doesn’t care because they never hear about it? It’s one of these “it’s perfect – no one ever complained” situations.
  6. It puts me in an unbearable helpless situation where everything becomes a problem.

Just seeing the box turns me off by now. I’m starting to avoid web sites that use this. Patreon is about the last one where I force myself to endure the pain so I can help people. The support guys were nice and supportive, but there is little that they can do.

Google Shares Your WLAN Passwords with NSA

17. July, 2013

If you “Back up my data” is enabled on your Android phone, then Google keeps a clear-text, unencrypted copy of your WLAN passwords on its servers. Since Google is an US company, the government and its agencies have access to this data. Google also keeps a database with the location of all WLANs (for their location service) so it’s trivial for them to gain access (even though someone must physically walk/drive into the range of the WLAN router).

Solution: Disable this function, use a local backup program (disable cloud backup for them as well) and change all your passwords.

Related articles:

Human Impact on Earth

10. May, 2013

Most of us know that human life has an enormous impact on Earth (and especially on the conditions that allow human life on this precious world) but it’s one thing to “know” and another to “see”.

Google has released a new service for the Earth Engine which offers a time-lapse of an area of Earth’s surface over the last 28 years, for example coal mining in Wyoming (those structures you see are about 10 km across).

Or Amazon Deforestation, Brazil. The image spans about 500 km.

Next time someone comes up “there is no scientific … global warming …”, you have something to show them.

And there is no scientist who doubts climate change. The only questions left are how much it will change, how much of that change is because of human greed and what the exact consequences will be.


Publishing Your Passwords on The Internet

17. May, 2011

Would you tell your GMail password to a friend? Your colleagues in the office? Publish it on the Internet?

If the answer to any of these is “NO“, you should turn off automatic synchronization on your Android smartphone and never use it in open Wifi networks.

The reason is that Google uses something called a “token” to allow apps your smartphone to connect to Google services like your mail box, your calendar, etc. The token is like a key on your keychain: Anyone who has the key can open the door it fits. Unlike keys on your key chain, anyone who can pick a token out of the air knows where that door is!

Related article: Catching AuthTokens in the Wild


2. March, 2011

Missing the good old command line when searching the web? Have a look at goosh.org.

Amazing fact: It was written in 2008 and still works!

Tired of Being Tracked?

9. February, 2011

If you don’t want to be tracked by online advertising companies, there is a site where you can opt-out:  http://www.networkadvertising.org/managing/opt_out.asp

That doesn’t stop ads and spam, it just stops the companies from tracking your movements through the web.

Note that I couldn’t opt-out of more than roughly half of the networks; the other half simply ignores my selection. Not sure why that is; I’m suing FF 4 and I can’t find an option to allow third party cookies anymore.

Google Relaunches Instantiations Developer Tools

29. September, 2010
Google Web Toolkit

Image via Wikipedia

From the website:

In early August, Google acquired Instantiations, a company known for its focus on Eclipse Java developer tools, including GWT Designer. We’re happy to announce today that we’re relaunching the following former Instantiations products under the Google name and making them available to all developers at no charge:

  • GWT Designer
    Powerful Eclipse-based development tools that enable Java developers to quickly create Ajax user interfaces using Google Web Toolkit (GWT)
  • CodePro AnalytiX
    Comprehensive automated software code quality and security analysis tools to improve software quality, reliability, and maintainability
  • WindowBuilder Pro
    Java graphical user interface designer for Swing, SWT, GWT, RCP, and XWT UI frameworks
  • WindowTester Pro
    Test GUI interactions within Java client rich applications for the SWT and Swing UI frameworks

I played a bit with CodePro. The tools look promising even through there were some glitches, namely:

  1. The JUnit editor looks cool but the table with the current unit results often hangs.
  2. It was more complicated than I liked to generate test cases
  3. I couldn’t get the code coverage tool to work
  4. The dependency works but didn’t play with it long enough to say for sure how useful it is
  5. The code analysis shows a lot of numbers but the workflow is clumsy. For example, it says that something has a cyclomatic complexity of 16 but I couldn’t find out what and where.

Google Transparency Report

24. September, 2010

Google now shows usage data by country and service and how many requests it got from where to take items out of their search indexes, blogs, YouTube, etc.

Google Translate Just Got Better

16. October, 2009

You remember the old Google Translate? You know, the one which was really good for a moment of fun when you were bored: Just give it some text and laugh at the result. You could try to translate some text back and forth several times.

Well, it just got better. A lot better. Here is an example:

Der Hobby-Baumarkt war wie leer gefegt. Einkaufswagen an den Kassen, wild durcheinander, die Panik deutlich spürbar, in der Zeit eingefroren. Einkäufe, nur gesammelt oder schon bezahlt, lagen verstreut auf dem Boden. Werbebildschirme an der Decke blinkten rot, forderten alle Besucher zum sofortigen Verlassen des Gebäudes auf. Der modern geschwungene Informationsstand war verlassen, die Kassen eingeschaltet aber geschlossen. Hier war niemand mehr.

When I run this through GT, I now get something that is very readable, almost correct:

The Hobby-DIY was as completely empty. Shopping Cart at the tills, in wild confusion, the panic palpable, frozen in time. Purchases, only collected or already paid, lay scattered on the floor. Advertising screens on the ceiling flashed red, urged all attendees to immediately leave the building. The modern, curved level of information was left switched on but the cash is closed. There was no one.

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