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No Food for Thought

Food is something you should provide to your brain long before coming to this blog. You will find no food recipes here, only raw, serious, non-fake news for mature minds.

Car thieves are bad, but much wiser than car makers

admin Saturday December 15, 2018

Thieves have a new way to steal cars. A method for clean thefts, served on a silver platter by car manufacturers who sell cars equipped with key fobs instead of traditional keys, without any protection against a simple attack. Even Toyota!

If I had had such a vulnerable car stolen from me, I would be happy to discover that flaw. I would just sue the manufacturer for selling such a product. When you create such a vulnerability, you are guilty of gross negligence. The onus isn't on the customer to prove that this flaw was exploited, but on you to prove the theft was made with different means.

When manufacturers will have lost tens of millions of euros in damages, perhaps they will consider paying for security responsibles who have a clue or two about security.

Bitcoin is Not Going To Zero, and more on blockchains

admin Saturday December 15, 2018

When a decade of geek madness about "cryptocurrencies" culminated in May, I wrote a public warning. Since then, the hype has finally moved, and I'm happy to see the critical view almost no one had the courage to explain during Peak Crypto now well described by a mainstream magazine:

Forbes wrote:
Most cryptocurrency transactions are purely speculative. There are no real fundamentals to evaluate; bitcoin doesn’t produce any products or services, hire any employees or pay any dividends. The only way profits are generated is when the owner is lucky enough to find someone else who will pay more for the thing. If you are getting into the bitcoin game now, you are paying the higher price that makes this whole scheme work. That’s not a distinction you want.


Unfortunately, that article's title also reinforces a misunderstanding which was a basis of that mad decade. Which brings me back to a discussion I had with a physiotherapist early this year, which was a large part of my motivation for going public. This sympathetic guy was not dumb, but he was telling me about the thousands of euros he had invested in "cryptocurrencies", and apparently trying to encourage me to join the party. He regretted not having invested more earlier, and all the money he could have made if he had. This guy had the best intentions, but was unintentionally hurting himself, and perhaps even his patients. I tried to warn him gently that "cryptocurrencies" had no value, but he countered that market valuation was exploding...

"Cryptocurrencies" have always been worthless. But since market valuation is based on trades, and since a buyer always believes what he buys has value, market value cannot - by definition - show the actual value of "assets" such as "cryptocurrencies". The market cap of "cryptocurrencies" is surely going to keep decreasing as more and more people lose their illusions, but it will never reach zero.


The article also has the merit of distinguishing blockchains from "cryptocurrencies". The blockchain technology probably has actual value. However, I need to warn about how the article treats the blockchain technology. Essentially, blockchains are a marketing invention made to portray Bitcoin as credible and ingenious. There is nothing novel or really interesting about blockchains. Most projects using them are either creations of scammers who wanted a credible way to attract investments from superficial investors, just like "cryptocurrencies", or a way for legitimate entrepreneurs with projects that don't need blockchains to convince easily impressed investors more easily. In fact, it turns out the blockchain technology is such a bubble that a study found it is almost always a disappointment.

An Apple Brainwash a Day Keeps Bugs Away

admin Monday December 10, 2018

Computer maker Apple has found the recipe to avoid having to acknowledge any defect in its products: to instruct its technicians - I mean, its geniuses (of deception) - to avoid usage of the words "crash", "bug" or "problem".

Unfortunately, joining that cult is quite costly, given the sacrifices required by its gurus. Well, I guess that's just like any other sect, when it has managed to enslave enough fools.

A Week at Club Med Cancun - Technically not so Greatly Organized

admin Sunday October 14, 2018

I took a week of vacation and on a friend's suggestion, decided to spend it at Club Med's village in Cancun, Mexico. I had never tried Club Med, but I needed to relax and thought that by paying for quality, I would take a break from bugs, as well as from problems in general.

Bugs

Short version

I saw surprisingly few biological bugs in the village. A lot less than I expected. Unfortunately, I stayed in familiar ground as for computer bugs. At least 2 major bugs before my stay, at least 2 issues during my stay, and 1 bug after. I wish I was looking for an IT Manager job.

Long version

Even before I confirmed my choice, I hit a major bug in Club Med's website - the booking calendar was showing me the wrong prices (I believe it ignored my departure city). I still found the booking procedure impressive and tried to create an account. I hit another major bug right there, unable to create an account for days! I had to call an agent to book.

WiFi

Before you book, Club Med advertises the following:

clubmed.ca wrote:
What's included in your stay
Children Clubs for ages 4-17 + All-day gourmet dining & open bar + Unlimited water & land sports + Day & Night Entertainment + Wi-Fi & Gratuities = all inclusive


After you booked though, the formula gets more complicated:

Final voucher wrote:
As of November 1, 2016 basic WIFI access is included in your Club Med package. Premium WIFI is also available at an additional cost and can be purchased on site. Subject to change.

Of course, there is no useful description of each access type. So since I wasn't travelling for business, I didn't purchase premium WiFi.

The reception staff told me to install the Club Med Villages app on my cellphone. Over 24 hours after my arrival, and despite multiple attempts, I still hadn't managed to download the ~ 70 MB application on my cellphone. Plus, network was really bad on my laptop. So I went back to the reception, asked if that was normal, and since I couldn't get a useful answer, I gave in despite the feeling of deception and paid for the damn Premium WiFi access. I then tried to setup the Premium access on the cellphone - and was greeted by a DNS error. 2 young employees at the reception failed to help. After rebooting and multiple attempts, I gave up.

Over 2 days after my arrival, after I had given up, I noticed the installation had finally ended. I then tried to access my village, but that turned out even harder. A scrollbar stayed stuck at 100%. I gave up on that too a day later. Only after I came back home did I realize that the application was finally usable.

Salvaging the Unsalvageable?

Nevertheless, I liked many aspects of Club Med and felt compelled to help them improve. I was disappointed that no one asked me how my stay went when I left (probably because I left early). So when I saw an email asking for feedback, I decided to set aside my reluctance to waste time with surveys and took at least 20 minutes to fill it. Here's what I wrote at the last step:

Quote:
Unexpected technical difficulties; 2 important issues booking (wrong prices, prolonged failure to create account), big issues with standard wifi even without trying to view any video, inability to use premium wifi on cellphone. Unable to use Club Med app on fresh cellphone during whole stay. Lost at least 4 hours due to technical issues overall. Made me wonder if I chose the right brand for a worry-free vacation, and would hesitate to recommend consequently

Exceptional welcome videos; poor TV

Sunday cocktail is a great idea

Great resort location, great architecture, great choice of activities

Great buffet

Was expecting to have bicycles for rent. Disappointed that reception staff couldn't even tell me where to go to rent one


I was 98% into the survey then. I hit Next... and all I got was an image. No confirmation that my feedback was submitted. I tried to go back, but the document had expired.
Gah - apparently half an hour more wasted. All of that on my main desktop, with Mozilla Firefox 60 (ESR).

Other types of bugs, other life forms and Beyond

Other than technical issues, there is wildlife at Club Med, as my photos show.

This was my first time at Club Med, but I learned that it was bought by a Chinese company. Does Club Med still offer the best all inclusive resorts in the concept it created, or is there now a better option for those looking for real quality? I don't mind paying some more (my whole week was around 1800 CAD, direct flight from Quebec City included).

Julbo photochromatic cycling glasses

admin Saturday October 13, 2018

This summer I looked for cycling glasses which would not only protect my eyes from the Sun, but also minimize the airflow. After careful research, I chose Julbo's Aerospeed, even though I couldn't find a local retailer to buy them from. I bought online from trekkINN for 173 CAD and thankfully, the glasses fit well. Just a couple disappointments:

  1. It wasn't clear whether these came with a single glass or several. In the end, there is one glass (and it cannot be removed).
  2. At night, there is important reflection. You get used to it, but it requires some more attention.

EasyPHP review - not so easy to choose over XAMPP

admin Monday October 8, 2018

In recent years, I ranted about 2 of the main options for installing a development AMP (Apache, PHP) stack (including Xdebug) on Windows, namely XAMPP and WampServer. I was hoping that I could be kinder towards EasyPHP, but after trying EasyPHP Devserver on Windows 8 for several months, I'm not very satisfied.

Before anything, I should note that my first attempt to install Devserver 17.0 failed. Oddly enough, it worked after I installed the same version on the same Windows install several months later.

Cost/limitations

The first thing to say is that unlike the others, EasyPHP is semi-commercial. It offers modules from a "warehouse". It costs 10 USD per year to access that warehouse.

I don't have a problem with asking to pay for special packages, but I feel that EasyPHP developers are trying to get users to pay for the basics. The warehouse offers an Xdebug Manager module, which must be great. But when you don't have that, Xdebug isn't even enabled, and there is no easy way to enable it. I think it's just a matter of having the correct zend_extension line in php.ini, and it may just be a matter of uncommenting (removing a semi-colon from) a disabled line, but I feel that in order to make their module interesting, EasyPHP developers have intentionally made default EasyPHP worse.

The other area where I smell this practice is PHP itself. The current version of EasyPHP ships with PHP 7.1.3, which is 1½-year-old. Much newer versions are available in the warehouse, but 7.1.3 feels like an old version to ship as default. There may be good reasons to wait before going to PHP 7.2, since existing applications need changes to adapt to PHP's backwards-incompatible changes, but when PHP 7.1 has reached 7.1.22, shipping 7.1.3 seems quite negligent.

Issues

The other thing is that while EasyPHP does have an issue tracker, it has in fact 2, 1 for Devserver and another entirely different one for Webserver, which presumably causes lots of duplication or difficulty finding already reported issues.

I hit several important issues with EasyPHP:

  1. The dashboard being inaccessible
  2. Opening dashboard sometimes restarts Apache httpd on a different port
  3. EasyPHP needs to be started every time I open a session. Plus, the dashboard needs to be opened for servers to start.


None of the first 2 had already been reported. And several months later, they remain unsolved.

Conclusion

After trying the 3 main options, I'm sorry to say I don't see a clear winner. WampServer is definitely the worst, but between EasyPHP and XAMPP, there is no clear winner. If you're willing to pay, EasyPHP might be a little better. If not, XAMPP probably wins narrowly in general, but I recommend to choose according to your needs and the precise packages and versions offered by each option at the time you choose.