Thursday, February 26 2015

Samsung's SmartHub
[15:55:31] matt [wronka.org]/Trip Two nights ago, my wife went to bed, and I tried to watch some Columbo on Netflix (I was up to the Great Santini, who sets up his own alibi through a fragile, technical, contrivance). We've only recently subscribed to Netflix since I've always been leary of the reliability of cloud services and rental subscriptions like this in general. It turns out the flakey Samsung implementation was more to blame.

This isn't abnormal. First off, the Samsung equipment (we own two of their TVs and one DVD player, all with essentially the same software) seem to arbitrarily forget WiFi passwords, which makes supporting them frustrating if not useless (they're all on the unsecured network now). Sometimes it fails to connect for a short period, and I need to just wait; that wasn't happening.

Obviously, there was a larger problem. I gave up and watched TopGear on my MythTV box instead, expecting whatever issue Samsung was having to resolve itself the next day. Why a box can't trust that it's on the Internet, or at least be optimistic about it once it's gotten an IP address, and a DNS server that resolves what it needs is an open question that I've tried to ask Samsung support (like the TV's software, I'm not optimistic for a response).

Yesterday while I was at work, I­ got a message from my wife, complaining about the DVD player not thinking it had Internet access. Obviously, she wanted to think it was a problem with our network—which is reasonable, given that's what the software said—but it turns out Samsung still didn't have their system up. It seems that there was some DNS hokeyness with their Akamai DSA settings. After a chain of CNAMEs (some of which included "china-" prefixes for some reason) eventually we got very short TTL addresses, which were not returning appropriate answers for the TV.

A Web search found somebody who *had* found an IP address that worked, also being served through Akamai DSA:

The resulting IP for www.samsung.com was; while you're setting-up your own DNS for your Samsung devices, I also suggest making ad.samsungadhub.com and rd.samsungadhub.com either fail or point to localhost since these are what send and track impressions for the annoying little piece of real estate in the top right corner.

I strongly discourage anyone from buying one of these devices (and apparently Sony devices) for these features, since they seem to be fragile. As I­ was trying to find information on the current outage (Samsung was not forthcoming and even mentioned on their support page of no known issues), I found references and news articles for outages regularly going back to 2013. It's clear Samsung doesn't treat this as production functionality.

More coverage today, after a couple days of this:

Monday, February 2 2015

SystemD 2015
[16:47:22] matt [wronka.org]/Psi+ http://ma.ttias.be/whats-new-systemd-2015-edition/

Unix: Do one thing well.
SystemD: Why do one thing, when you could be doing other things as well?

I'm not a huge fan of SystemD, in fact, I was considering switching back to FreeBSD for my home workstations to avoid it. However, there were some points in the notes on the 2015 roadmap which might actually be useful for the specific usecase I have for GNU/Linux.

Booting a standard GNU/Linux distro with a read-only root (e.g. from NFS) is frustrating; it doesn't work well, and even though many of the caveats are documented around the Web, it seems like there's always something that doesn't quite work. FreeBSD, for what its worth, booted diskless quite nicely when I was comparing the two about two years ago. In the end, I went with USB boot images for each node at home.

Looking at the roadmap, the 2015 plan for SystemD seems to be moving towards a system which is better designed for read-only root by default, which would be neat, and hopefully mean once the system is configured, bitrot would be less of an issue.

Monday, August 11 2014

[23:08:08] matt [wronka.org]/Lilith Looking at the diagrams on the Lytro Web site for the Illum camera, it actually looks quite nice, with both a manual zoom and a manual focus ring.

Sunday, May 4 2014

[02:33:54] matt [wronka.org]/Merch After calling US Air and getting a Web site to check, we were able to find no additional information. At 21:40, it still only told us that our bag had been acquired, was en route, and had arrived at the airport at 1500.

Saturday, April 14 2012

Murder Status
[19:59:18] matt [wronka.org]/Psi.generay I was working on http://matt.wronka.org/stuff/projects/murder/ and hoping to push out a second point release in March; obviously I didn't do that.

Murder, for those who aren't aware, was my attempt at bringing back finger(1) and modernizing it for our Web-first world. Finger and the finter protocol was an easy way for computer users to provide information about themselves and for other users to get a little bit more information about them or check their status. It's what you used before Friendster, which is what you never used before you used Facebook. The benefit of Murder over either of those is that it's designed to be descentralized (as was my Orkut-inspired [this is what you would use instead of Facebook if you are Brazillian, Indian, or a Finnish kid just learning about the lintu and mehilainen] Cork). Murder goes beyond those inspirations to be configured entirely from a shell account much as finger(1) was used, which also means it requires minimal permissions at the server level.

While I haven't pushed the point release, because of lots of craziness going on this summer, I might not push out the next release until August. Sorry for the delay. Hopefully I'll add some beneficial features for then.

Friday, March 30 2012

Smith Barney
[15:53:09] matt [wronka.org]/Trip Around the time Citi bought Smith Barney, they went from a usable, albeit non-stylish Web-based system for managing ones account to an Adobe Flash based system which suddenly left me stranded from my account. After finding a computer that ran Adobe's Flash plug-ins, it turns out you can't log-in with the Opera web browser for some confusing reason (it looks like bad scripting on Citi's part). I'm very happy I don't have any more shares with Smith Barney or Citi after finally being able to sell those.

Wednesday, February 1 2012

Cause and Effect: T-Mobile USA and AT&T
[04:55:31] matt [wronka.org]/Psi.generay a) AT&T makes a bit for T-Mobile USA
b) T-Mobile hides, and then removes their no-contract monthly plans
c) AT&T's bid falls through after concerns about competition
d) T-Mobile now has monthly non-contract "Value Plans" available on their Web site.

Tuesday, December 20 2011

Google Alerts
[14:38:33] matt [wronka.org]/Trip Many people may not be aware that I actually use Google for its 'Alerts' feature, which is pretty useful. As Google looks around the Web, if they find something that matches terms you have registered, it will send you an eMail.

I get a lot from various news sources. What I really want is to hit reply and correct them. Maybe that will be in version 2.

Saturday, October 1 2011

[18:43:33] matt [wronka.org]/Merch The Charisma has an annoying captive portal which means a) only one device (and one person) per room can use the network, and that when the session times out, it will poison your DNS cache so that you cannot access the Web site or machine you requested for a while. Also, the access point seems to be incredibly flakey and drops every couple of minutes at best.

Wednesday, July 27 2011

One Hour with the WebOS TouchPad
[17:16:54] matt [wronka.org]/Psi.dementia The web browser has different trade-offs with the pre-IOS5 web kit browser. General display is better, but there are instances where the scrolling is broken until you zoom in or out first; support for Arabic is noticeably absent by default.

The device itself collects and displays fingerprints more-so than others I've used (Apple iPad, Nokia N900, Samsung/Google Nexus S).

Oddly, when I set the language to Spanish, it still showed the Google location services terms-of-service in English. Other license agreements were in Spanish.

It required me to create a "WebOS" account with my name and eMail address. It didn't require me to set the timezone, which it presumably got from my location.

My co-worker, and IOS advocate, voiced that there weren't enough apps in the store, and that the UI looked too much like KDE.

I might like it better than an IOS device--the fact that I can switch between the Web browser and other programs without closing each in turn is a large part of this--but I'm not sure that I would buy one on my own. It seems rough still, but still promising. If it hadn't been for the disruption of Palm going out of business and being acquired by HP, I would imagine that a lot of these rough edges would have been polished, and am dissapointed that this hypothetical device isn't what it is my hands.

Tuesday, June 28 2011

Tuesday, May 31 2011

A Telling Question
[20:11:46] matt [wronka.org]/Psi.dementia Which do you find cooler:
Doom playable on the Web https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/demos/detail/doom-on-the-web/
A PC implemented in ECMAScript http://bellard.org/jslinux/

Friday, January 21 2011

[20:38:25] matt [wronka.org]/Merch Nokia N8's Web browser supports fixed positioning mostly right--at least it tries. That's a lot better than either Google's Android's Web browser or Apple's iOS Web browser.