Tangled up money

I made a stab at moving my money to a credit union in support of #Occupy, or (as I wish it were) #Decolonize, but ran into a bunch of problems! Because I live on a boat, and my harbor doesn’t handle us receiving mail, I can’t prove a fixed address that the two credit unions I’ve talked with will accept. I get most of my mail at my ex’s house, which I also still own half of. I get some mail at my partner’s house in San Francisco. But what credit unions want is a utility bill and a credit card bill to prove my address, or my residency, or something. I have all sorts of Documents Which Can Prove I Exist and Am Contactable, but none of them count. So, my dollars are all in Ally.com for now, until I can find a credit union that will take me as I am or until I start paying Oblomovka’s electricity bill.

empty wallet after many used book stalls

Online payment systems are very handy for me. I buy a lot of stuff online — sometimes to spare myself the physical cost of running errands. I now have everything set up so that I can use Amazon payments, PayPal, Dwolla, and (naturally, since I’m a crackpot and a neophile) a few token, languishing, Bitcoins which I think of as the Pet Rock of currencies. I kind of like having all those possibilities and having them all tie into Mint.com, which displays everything in a way I can understand. I’m no financial tycoon but I do have some resources, and I really like being able to see the data about the bit that I have at my disposal. I had a good conversation lately with my friend Ian about how strange it feels to have that (and not be living paycheck to paycheck) and what we think we should do with it or about it. We talked about ethics and whether we would ever be someone’s landlord (No.) And the fact that we can’t figure out how to pool resources with other people and do things collectively other than through becoming a non profit, a corporation, or getting married. Are those structures enough? What other structures might be possible? How can we make co-operatives easier to create?

Anyway, back to money, banking, and software. Dwolla looks very promising! It has a nice web interface, elegant and non-stupid, which counts for a lot with me. It charges 25 cents to the person receiving the money. I think that’s it for the fees. Can it last? And could this be the magic platform/app/currency that enables us to pay content providers for stuff? I’ve written a few times about payments for music. I’d love to see music players with built in direct “tip jar” for all the artists. So while I’m listening to something, I should be able to not just star it or rate it; I could send a dollar (or even 50 cents) to the artist directly using Dwolla, alleviating my occasional torrent-guilt. I know people talk a lot of smack about micropayments. But this one, not really micro, and not ambitiously trying to be pervasive-over-everything, could work!

I have a list of posts I want to write a yard long, about music, books, politics, software development, poetry, feminism, and nifty techie things, but feel weirdly blocked up and so this uncharacteristic post in order to get what’s in my head out onto the page.

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WordPress security checkup

If you aren’t using the latest version of WordPress, your blog might have been hacked. There’s an attack going on right now that creates and then hides administrator accounts.

You can see if this has happened on your blog by going to the Dashboard and then the Users panel. The number listed in parentheses after Administrators should match the number of actual admins that you have for the blog!

WP users panel

If that number is higher than the amount of admins for the blog, you probably have hidden users. You could try turning Javascript off in your browser to see those hidden users.

Then, delete them (if you can) from the panel. I didn’t try this myself, but I think it will work.

Or, you can use mysql or phpmyadmin to delete those users from your database. If you don’t remember how to connect to your database, look at the files in your wordpress folder and read the contents of wp-config.php. That will have the username and password and database host name. You might also need to look at the help or FAQ files for your web host.

In phpMyAdmin, you can find and delete the hidden users by connecting to your database, then browsing the users table. Check the boxes by the wp_users and the email fields (or just check all of them) and then click Browse again. This should show you a list of all the users on your blog.

This is what a row of user data should look like in phpMyAdmin:

wp_users-sql-good

This is what a “hidden user” account will look like. It’ll be a name that doesn’t show up in your WordPress Dashboard, and it won’t have an email address in that 5th field. Might be a good idea to delete these users right away.

wp_users-sql-bad

I followed Lorelle’s instructions for how to recover from my WordPress blog being hacked. That worked fine:

* I did an xml export from the Dashboard and made sure I knew what that file was named and where I saved it.
* I did an sql dump of the whole blog (from the mysql command line, but you could do one from phpMyAdmin too) Just to make sure I would have everything, and so that I could do some forensics later on the contaminated db.
* Then I deleted that db, made a new db, and saved the information on how to log into it. You could also drop all the tables in the old one, I guess, and keep using it. While you could leave the old db there, it seems unwise.
* I deleted all the stuff in my wordpress folder on my server. If I’d thought, I would have saved a few custom banners and images first.
* I downloaded WordPress latest version, 2.8.4 and unzipped it, along with some themes and plugins.
* I then went to the url for my blog and told the install screen a blog name and my email address, and got a new admin password. Voila, new empty blog.
* Then, from the WordPress Dashboard, went to Manage and then Import. I imported the xml file as a WordPress import, with its attachments. This brought me all my pages, posts, comments, and so on.

A little tweaking and my blog was as good as new.

Total Crisis Panic Street Sign (While Danger is Eminent sometimes, I don’t think that’s what the signmaker meant!)

I think for your average user, who finds upgrading and installing a bit scary, this will seem even more scary. But it’s not bad at all. It just requires you to follow the steps, write down or cut and paste all the information you will need to keep track of:

– one set of info for your web host account
– one set for your sql database account and phpmyadmin
– the information for your blog itself, for the WordPress install
– where you’re saving the export file with your blog posts and comments!

In a pinch, if you really mess up in this process, you can get a backup and restore from your web host.

Now, even though I went through this process, I think that someone might potentially write a plugin or script to reveal and delete those hidden users. It might not catch all the modified data touched by those users, though. Spam may already have been inserted into your old posts, or some other havoc wreaked, which you could catch with Exploit Scanner or some other useful tool. The problem with this approach might be that there are multiple versions or exploits based on this security flaw and no one is sure yet if it’s modified core WordPress code or created some other exploitable security hole. So at this point, I think it’s best to do a clean install if you think you can manage it.

If you’re not sure, turn off Javascript in the browser, go to the Users panel, and delete the people who shouldn’t be admins — at least. And maybe there will be an easier fix in a few days — keep checking the WordPress development blog to see if it says something more useful than “OMG, you dumbass, why didn’t you upgrade right away, never, never, never do that again!” (Thanks… I know… thanks for the lecture, grumpy sysadmin…)

When I did this — and I had to, because “upgrade WordPress to latest version” was not #1 on my to do list, and a blog of mine got messed with — I had to re-install my plugins and go through the steps to re-create my blog. This goes to show that it’s a good idea to keep a worklog of all the things you’ve done to a blog, or a wiki or any sort of installation, so that you can recreate it from scratch! You can do this on your blog itself, by creating a section in your About page or somewhere else, listing the plugins you use, and when you’ve upgraded, and so on. It is especially useful to share this information a group blog where you might have more than one administrator. If you haven’t done this you could just be sure to do it next time and then write a really cranky blog post about how you don’t understand how anyone in the world could be so clueless. HA.

Good luck and here’s some more links on the subject!

WordPress Codex FAQ: My site was hacked
Old WordPress Version attack warning: please upgrade
Checking your WordPress security

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Neobaroque user interface

What do you think. Brilliant steampunk parody? Or simply the funniest, most godawful, user interface design in the history of the planet?

I can’t stop laughing! I keep expecting the Onceler to pop out and put a thneed on it!

It’s just like the early 90s software I remember when people had to make a GUI for everything, no matter if it was suited for it or not.

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Gadget love – Messing with my G1

Look, my G1 made friends with my Chumby!

gadgets!
So far I’m very happy with the G1. It has a great feel, it’s easy to type on, its phone and net coverage is great so far in the SF Bay Area, and every day people are posting new new apps for it. If you are a sanfransocial chronic fidgeter like me you’ll be snicking this thing open & shut all day, because of its pleasant slide-y feeling. And because you will be all like OMG I HAVE THE MOTHERF*CKING INTERNET IN THIS BORING ELEVATOR.

The first thing I did was to try out everything on the phone. My contact list, which is a giant mess, is in there from my old Razor’s sim card. Seriously, it’s a huge mess. The few people that I call all the time, I starred to move them over to the “Favorites” tab in the Dialer. The phone dialer is nice; I like dialing on the touch screen rather than with the numbers. The other thing about Contacts/Dialer that I like is the long, detailed call log. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to add new numbers from the call log to my contacts list: click and hold on a log entry, which pulls up a new menu including one to save to contacts.

I find it a little perturbing that I can’t tell if I’m closing an app, or just backgrounding it. Is that stuff all still running in the background?!

In the browser, I logged into my gmail account. Suddenly a wealth of data is there for me, since I’m a heavy Google user. The top bar slides down window-shade style to show new email, messages, calls, or other notifications.

Maps – Fabulous. Try street view, then the compass.
Market – Works great for me so far. Fun to browse. I like the comments/reviews on each app, especially how they are often frivolous and rude.
Amazon MP3 – addictive, good browsing, works beautifully. Buy mp3s, move them over to your computer or server with no problem at all. I already love Amazon MP3 for its lack of DRM and its great selection especially in Latin music.
Browser – Okay, but I have a little trouble zooming, clicking, entering data into tiny boxes. I think it takes practice with the tiny trackball.
Calendar – Scary good if you use Google Calendar already. I have 4 calendars going at once. So far I find week view the most useful – there’s no text on it but you can tap a colored block for a quick popup that gives details.
Gmail – okay, but I wish I could delete
Camera – still playing around with it. Works very well in low light! Seems a bit slow, but autofocus works well.
Music – Slick!
Pictures – Works just fine
Youtube- haven’t tried it yet
Voice Dialer – Works! neat! Will I actually use it? No.

I stuck some photos on it and changed my desktop to a photo from my Flickr account. Therer’s a Flickr group with 640 x 480 photos to use for wallpaper, and you can find more wallpaper on the various community forums. Moving from the left and rights sides of the desktop to the middle & back is strangely addictive and beautiful. I tried for a while to move apps by flinging them, or holding them and scrolling, but couldn’t get that to work. INstead, if I want to move something from the center screen to the left or right, I click and hold, drag it to the trash; then go to the side screen, click and hold on the background, and add the alias to that app or shortcut.

g1, so cute!

After a while I looked at App reviews and “tips and tricks” on some of the forums: Android Forums, Tmobile G1 forum, androidcommunity.com.

When you plug in the G1 to a Mac with a USB cable, you will see just 3 folders: albumthumbs, dcim, and Music. Poke around in there and see what you can see. Drag some music over to the G1’s Music folder and it shows up in your Music app.

When you are browsing, click and hold on a photo to download it. Not sure if this works with pdfs, movies, or sound files – I haven’t tried yet. When you download something from the browser, a new folder is created that you can see when you poke around with a USB connection. Same for amazonmp3 and BlueBrush – they create folders you can access through a USB and your computer’s filesystem.

At some point I downloaded some apps and messed around with them. when I first got this beast early this week, there was barely anything except like 500 different tip calculators. Hello dorkwads, take the tax, double it and add a dollar or two, you don’t need to whip out your $300 phone to calculate the tip … OR DO YOU…

Amazed – a simple marble-in-a-maze game.
AnyCut – looks useful to make shortcuts.
Barcode Scanner – Interesting! But has way more potential
Bluebrush – I have not really explored it but it looks like a collaborative whiteboard drawing app. I would not call its menus or icons intuitive… Flailed a while then left.
Cab4me light – Great potential! I need this! Needs more cab companies, data, a button to turn the GPS on and off.
ConnectBot – YAY I can ssh from my phone! This makes me happy. If I could ssh into my phone as well, maybe use scp, wouldn’t that be nice?
Es Musica – Tried this for fun. Hey, bikini boxing!
iSkoot – Skype for the G1!
Langtolang dictionary. Simple translation dictionary for several languages.
Shazam – This is good. It listens & samples a few seconds of whatever music you’re listening to and identifies it. I tried it with a range of music. It had great accuracy.
Strobe Light – this is really great if you’re a total asshole. Of course I downloaded it.
WikiMobile – How handy. Will never have another restaurant argument again. Am already a know it all trivia-hole, and now I can prove it on the spot. I haven’t tried the other Wikipedia app yet. How do the different versions compare?

Here’s what I’d like to have on my G1:

* password/keychain manager. What a pain in the ass entering all this stuff.

* a plain old compass app, unrelated to Street View.

* Ecto, or some equivalent, so I can post quickly to any of my 24812469 blogs, which are not all on Google/Blogger/Blogspot.

* Photo uploaders. Better extensions to send photos out very quickly to Flickr, my various blogs, Twitpic, or whatever. Hot buttons, so that I can snap the photo, and hit a single on-screen button to go “send to X” rather than pull up a menu, connect with gmail, start typing, and send to my Flickr email. It should be seamless, so I can take another photo or act like a human being instead of a little gnome fiddling with my magic box all day long.

* G1-Thing, to hook up one of the barcode scanners with LibraryThing.

* Inventory functions. More “barcode scanning a list of objects” functions. When I scan a bar code I don’t necessarily want to look it up on google or amazon or ShopWhatever. I might want to just add it to a list of Junk in my Trunk. I could see people scanning their CDs or books or DVDs here. Or hooking in the list of stuff in their pantry to somewhere like FoodProof, to figure out what they could cook without having to shop.

AAAAAA! Did I just mention computers and recipes in the same breath? Maybe I should go back in time and buy a Honeywell Kitchen Computer!

Honeywell Kitchen Computer

Honeywell Kitchen Computer

* GPS. I would really, really love some cool GPS functions. I love the satellite tracker/detector screen on my old (borrowed) Garmin eTrex. I would just turn that thing on and stare at it for 10 minutes to see how many satellites would pop up. I’d like to know what satellites so I can look them up online. Better yet pop me up some info and tell me all about it. Holy crap! SATELLITES are flying around over us in SPACE. That never ceases to be cool.

Some geocaching apps that hook in to geocaching.com would rock.

* Tide tables. I have no reason to care, except that when I’m driving up to the city, if it happens to be low tide or a super low neap tide I might swing by the beach to poke some anemones and harass a hermit crab or two. If I were still surfing, a surf report app might be nice.

* Nethack. The real kind not the graphic version please!

* Auto rotate. Last but not least. I wish that the screen view would rotate when I turn the phone, not just when I open the keyboard! Or is that a setting already, and I’ve missed it?

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Free Idea: Use ChaCha’s structure for disaster relief

On the drive up to Seattle a few weeks ago, Cindy and Sarah Dopp and I were playing with ChaCha and wondering how they make money. Around here we all go “What’s your business model” right away… and then snicker.

So I think I might just have figured it out. Do it for free for a bit with your VC money and show how it works. Then, sell “Enterprise ChaCha” or something like it, to a big institution. (I was looking at Indiana University‘s page about it.) You’d sell the structure and the setup, and the institution creates its own number (and password or validation system) and pools its own experts. So, sell it to Exxon or something for its corporate librarians and geologists. Or to the military, obviously. Here is the military’s answer to its perpetual search for AI. “Human assisted search”.

Anyway, this could also work for disaster relief, because it’s ideal for situations that change very rapidly. I was looking at Jon’s empty wiki and thinking, well aside from all the problems with the whole idea of that, which I won’t go into, might a Twitter feed be better? I thought of myself on the 2nd floor of the Astrodome after Katrina, gathering and putting out information that was extremely up to date, and how quickly things changed on the ground. Would I want a wiki for it? (I tried. It is hopeless without a core of people already trained to use one and to work together with one.) Maybe I wouldn’t want one. Maybe a feed would be better. Page back through the “2nd floor astrodome” Twitter feed and see what’s up. Combine many different channels of all the people at various stations in the Astrodome and you’d know who says what is true, right in the moment.

But even better — a private setup for a ChaCha-like thing. You get 100 people together to monitor and answer questions and you would have an instant backup, fit for the general of an army. Or fit for a reporter on the ground in a rough situation. I think of how I combed google news all day long for the Back to Iraq guy back in like 2003 and emailed him updates on whatever was going on or being bombed in the area near him. How much better, if he could have called a phone number like ChaCha’s, and tapped into a network of people like me. Someone would have texted him back the information he wanted within minutes. And if there were sort of a combination of Ning and ChaCha, you’d be able to set up your own information broker network and invite people to join it.

The Red Cross should be using this (okay, maybe in 20 years if they can get it together that fast). But, I offer the idea up to whatever nonprofits or disaster relief workers can use it.

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WordPress plugin idea – blikify

So I was at Recent Changes Camp this weekend talking smack about blikis with some people. And I told anyone who would listen about the plugins for WordPress that help you integrate your blog with Mediawiki or other wikis.

What about a plugin that would just let you designate any page or post as world-editable?

Add Markdown and your WordPress blog could be easily wikified. I could use this for my nascent Hack Ability blog, and it would make me (and readers, and other editors) a lot happier than setting up and maintaining a whole parallel wiki structure to go with the blog.

On #wordpress I was just talking with _ck_ who wrote a Wiki Post plugin for bbPress.

_ck_ also pointed me to this cool and hilarious video of andiacts and Selena discussing when to use Drupal and when to use WordPress:


“It’s so cool! It’s like a new solar system!” That made me laugh so hard.

I have never written a WP Plugin but this seems possibly within the scope of my coding ability. So maybe this summer I’ll give it a shot.

But, if anyone out there wants to write it, go ahead, take the idea and run. Just hat tip me when you do. And, I would be motivated to help and contribute, because it would be handy as hell.

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Annoyingly sexist framing of Google VP Marissa Mayer


Photo
Originally uploaded by thisgirlangie

As an inoculation to what I am about to expose you to, here is an awesome photo of some ubergeeks from the Google-sponsored Geek Girl Dinner organized by Angie Chang from Woman 2.0. From left: Sumaya Kazi (Sun Microsystems & The Cultural Connect), Katherine Barr (Mohr Davidow Ventures), Irene Au (Google), Rashmi Sinha (SlideShare), Angie Chang (Women 2.0)

By some quirk of fate, a copy of San Francisco Magazine arrived at my house today. If you’ve noticed this vapid glossy magazine for aspiring Not-LA and Not-NYC socialites, you will know why I was automatically tossing it in the trash. But there on the cover were the words “Google’s geek goddess”, and I had to look, knowing how annoyed I was about to become.

Oh, it was so much worse than I imagined!

According to SF Magazine writer Julian Guthrie, Google’s employee #20 and first female engineer Marissa Mayer is “not what you expect.”

What the hell do you expect? Who is “you”? Some drooling dinosaurish idiot who not only thinks the important thing about women is a mix of prettiness, girliness to the point of infantilization, sexiness, etc but who also thinks that “we” the readers of the article would expect a gazillionaire engineer-turned-corporate-executive to be some kind of Hollywood Geek Girl stereotype with unkempt hair who needs to take off her glasses and stop being obsessed with computers to become pretty.

Soooo how are we framing the opposite of what “we” expect? Mayer “looks Grace Kelly gorgeous, a tall, blue-eyed beauty with blond hair pulled back from her fresh face. She is much livelier than you might imagine, and her clothes are anything but humdrum.” This assumes “our” default expectations to be the opposite; female software engineers as humdrum, boring, un-lively, certainly not beautiful and maybe not blond.

You can see two assumptions set up here:
* Women who like computers are ugly.
* It fucking matters.

You know why it does matter? It matters because sexist and misogynist assumptions do still have a lot of power in our society. And we need to change that, by pointing out that misogyny and sexism are stupid, wrong, and undermine social trust and gender relations.

The article descends further into idiocy, still on page 1 of framing Mayer as a person and as a professional, by quoting some Valleywag posts calling her a social climber, implying that she got her job or position by dating Larry Page, and “using her looks”.

Guthrie quotes a Valleywag editor saying, “Marissa is surprisingly pretty in person. That in itself is a rarity in Silicon Valley, and you’d have to be naive to think that doesn’t color people’s views of her.” Great. This is a rhetorical strategy common to misogynist bullshitters: undermine a woman’s achievements by claiming her main “achievement” is being pretty, or worse, implying she used her sexuality to get a little dollop of fake power and status from someone Actually Powerful who deserved it. When powerful smart men are friends with other powerful smart men, those personal relationships aren’t framed as devaluing their talents and skills. But as soon as a woman has a personal relationship with a man, the power imbalance is assumed to be there along with a host of other assumptions about sexuality, the stereotype of a woman sleeping or flirting her way to her status. It’s tokenizing; it’s like suggesting women are only in tech because of Affirmative Action By Boyfriend. In other words, we are not “allowed” by history to have our own status. We only have status by proxy as given to us by men who have sexual access to us, real or implied sexual access.

I’ll list through a few more of the sexualized and sexist terms used to describe Mayer. Her “throaty laugh”, how she’s “the only blonde in a room packed with mostly dark-haired young guys”, she “acts goofy and girly”, has a “ballerina posture”. There’s a weird setup where Mayer is described as a geeky robot, “mechanical”, precise, unsexed, but then that unsexed-geek-girl stereotype is defused by her “personal passions” and “coming-out party of sorts for a new kind of Silicon Valley star.” That hypothetical ghost of a robotic passionless scruffy geek is contrasted with the girly, giggly, sexy, cupcake-baking, fashion-loving, non-threatening woman who sometimes shops for purses.

“Mayer is fiercely competitive. She wants to make the best cupcake, wear the prettiest dress, have the coolest penthouse.”

SIGH.

I think we can all enjoy cupcakes and fashion without being freaking defined by it. I’m not objecting to anyone’s hobbies of geektastic cupcakes, knitting, wearing pretty skirts made for super rich people, or whatever. I’m not objecting to femminess and the deliberate, or just automatic because that’s how we are, geeking up of things that are supposedly traditionally feminine.


me & Liza Sabater at SXSWi, photo by Rachel Kramer Bussel

BUT. The implication in articles like this is that women NEED a specially feminized presentation of self in order to prove that it’s okay for women to like computers. That’s completely stupid!

There is another problem in this article, and in the general pattern of media attention on powerful women in male-dominated fields. It’s isolation and tokenizing. An article will frame the tech world as if there is only one important woman. She is always presented as the Lone Woman in the midst of techie guys. Tokenizing! Context is important. And my own context, as a woman in this field, is that it’s full of heroic efforts of women in computing to make professional and personal connections with each other. Consider Mayer in contexts with other women:

* Webguild
* Grace Hopper Celebration 2006
* Blogher Business

Those images, for me, are much more powerful and meaningful than the one Guthrie paints of the Lone Blonde Chick at the party full of men. Journalists should not “disappear” women in tech by canonizing one saint who they love and hate, praise, objectify, and revile. There are a lot of us here!

To be overly generous, I would like to mention that after the first 3+ pages of utter crap, Guthrie did write a good, interesting, middle section to the article, which straightforwardly describes Mayer’s background in computer science, her interviews at Google, and her early work experience there, including the sort of oh so wacky “Nudist on the Late Shift” geek-culture stories about Wacky Startups that we can’t really avoid and that I do still enjoy hearing about and living in the midst of. So I’m not slamming Guthrie’s basic competence as a journalist and writer, and the article is not all fluff; it’s way less fluffy than you’d expect from SF magazine, that society rag for the more droolingly idiotic of the rich and famous.) Then we hit some more stuff about being a party hostess and cupcake making, Mayer’s childhood doll collection and background in “precision dance team” which must be a lot like what in Texas was called “drill team” and meant cheerleaders doing dance; and more bilge about underneath her Geekitude and corporate executiveness Mayer is “still that geeky super-normal enthusiastic girl”. What? I’m still trying to decode what “geeky super-normal enthusiastic girl” means. The effect to me is of deliberate girlifying of a brilliant, competent, powerful adult, in other words infantilizing them in order to make them less threateningly powerful-seeming.

I can’t even dignify the paragraph about Mayer’s dating life with a quote; it was just dumb. FFS.

But the end! The end was the worst! “Does Mayer ever see herself going completely low-tech and focusing (professionally or otherwise) on art, entertaining, baking, or fashion? ” You know, what would have to be wrong in an interviewer’s head for them to ask that question? What the hell? Why would anyone ask that question of one of the most powerful engineers at an extremely successful company, a person with a couple of degrees in computer science and many years of experience in the industry? “Oh… just wondering… have you ever thought of forgetting about this lil’ ol’ computer thing and sticking to cupcakes?”

I can”t wait to hear what my colleagues on Systers, BlogHer, and Linuxchix have to say here. I was also thinking that as a response we could add some good detail to Marissa Mayer’s Wikipedia page.

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Better Firefox, and a free makeover

I’m still halfway with a toe in poet-y land where everything is made of words and reality is very thin. It’s like swimming around in beautiful chaos! I love getting into that state of mind.

At the same time I’m messing about with techie things and it’s been a sort of cleanup week for me, as if it’s even more important for me to establish Order in the midst of my poety chaos.

I got fed up with my 8000+ emails in my Thunderbird inbox. I switched from using Pine about a year ago. And don’t get me started on how hard it was to get me even to the Pine level. I was very conservative and grumpy about it! Dammit, mm was good enough for me in 1989 and it was good enough for me in 1999! Anyway, my Thunderbird filters stopped working, and my inbox got goddamned huge. At times it has hit 20K. Finally, I gave up. I moved everything to a totally lame “2007 Inbox” folder. Voila! I’m at 0! As new flows in, I’ll construct new filters. And if I feel especially virtuous, I’ll go bulldozing through those 8000 old-inbox messages and put them away in logical places.

Search in Thunderbird still gives me hives. It starts searching the earliest emails first, and since I imported everything since 2003, holy hell it takes a long time to find the thing I filed away somewhere last month! Chug chug chug twiddle twiddle… sigh…

Still, it’s been pretty decent so far. I’m happy with it, though still wondering if I would be better off sending everything first to Gmail and then forwarding it on. Then I’d have it all two places without having to deal with IMAP.

My sister passed me a link today to some mozilla forum discussion about a bug with Firefox, Flash, and Ajax. Yeah I had KIND OF NOTICED. Ready to throw my computer out the window over here if it hangs one more time while I’m surfing around, hanging and chugging up my CPU without rhyme or reason. The links were all to PC/Ajax bug discussions, but here I am running FF with “Activity Monitor” up, because running top in a term window just makes the cpu usage problem worse, but with Activity Monitor I can sometimes kill Firefox before my whole machine crashes and I have to hard restart.

A few poking-around searches and I got to this repository of Firefox builds including ones for Intel Macs. So far I haven’t crashed today… huzzah. What will happen? Will it delight my heart? Will it bear all the weight I pile upon its back?

I’ve been using Desktop Manager (inspired by Skud). With this I can set up many different desktops and rotate between them, which is perfect! It’s rad! It’s not totally reliable but that doesn’t matter. I miss my old techie jobs where I would have 3 machines; a Mac, a PC, and an old Sun server. It felt like having a fabulous command center to swivel about and have all different junk set up on each computer. Plus on the Sun I’d have XWindow and 4 different desktops where I did all the real work. Anyway, now I have one small laptop, plus Desktop Manager. It’s nifty. At first I was mildly annoyed that I couldn’t get “move this window to Desktop 3” to work. Then I figured out I could just minimize it, go to 3 with a keystroke, and re open those windows with Quicksilver, which is relatively painless — I can train my hands to do it, like playing the piano. Mousing and trackpads suck because you can’t get that finger memory really working.

Mmmmm, Quicksilver. It haunts me. I am only scratching the surface of its beautifulness. It makes me so happy. It’s elegant! It feels like a powerful beast waiting to be tamed and taught tricks! So far I only really use it to switch and open apps. But, if I wanted to make some more nifty productivity stuff, Quicksilver is probably where I’d start. Danny babbled a bit to me about writing Applescripts to do various things. Applescript has never appealed to me. Maybe.

Meanwhile, at work yesterday Pete showed me YubNub so I’m in command line/ keystroke heaven. Now I can command-K up to the toolbar and I’ve got a bazillion useful shortcuts predefined.

You’d think that’s enough new stuff. But I have all these nagging projects. I spent some time at 7am this morning dicking around with me and Laura‘s Mediawiki install which has had annoying blanking and nonsense-insertion vandal attacks lately. As I looked around on the net I came across an article by WikiAngela that made great sense. I agree, it is better to leave a wiki open to anonymous edits! Then I came across Bad Behavior, a blacklist/whitelist application that I could certainly use on some blogs as well. Finally I ended up reading an incredibly useful article, Blocking Spam in Mediawiki. I did a bunch of it while Laura and I knitted our brows over permissions and group problems on the server. (Note: ConfirmEdit.php has a bug which breaks when it gets urls with a trailing backslash.) Oh man! Thank you for that excellent, brief, practical guide. Even if I cracked up hysterically laughing at your Orgasmosocialism page… OMG. Somehow “destroying the patriarchal institution of marriage and monogamy” was left off this dude’s list of the utopia which eliminates all social and political barriers to “the development of intimate relationships between consenting parties”.

Then I spent most of the rest of the day actually working. No really! It’s not just that my coworkers might read this! Except for when I went out for pie and bacon and the Bad Ass Mama’s Coffee Hour! I can prove it because finally this is up on SourceForge. I need to wrassle the ginormous release notes and bug fixes into a more news-like blog post and announcement for email lists. But it is nice to have it more or less out there for consumption. Yesterday I was melting down at the thought that I was stuck. But actually it was very very almost done, and things were fine. Why always with the last minute tearing out of my hair. I wish I hadn’t spazzed about it! At least not in front of people.

I leave you with this final, snarky, juicy thought as a reward for reading all the way to the end of this post. On a wonderful mailing list that I love dearly that shall not be named there was a long serious thread about this article on a nerd auction. The Washington State University LUG is auctioning themselves off at a Nerd Auction, to sorority girls, offering to fix their computers in exchange for a makeover. I cannot wait for the video. My god. I mean I am going to buy a plane ticket and quickly join the WSULUG. A lightning-smart hot chick in a pink sweater will buy me, and I will fix her computer. I will totally impress her with Quicksilver and Yubnub. Then, the (mutual) makeover, with a lot of giggling. Hey! Why not just sleep over in the sorority house? Geek slumber party! They’ll all end up with funny colored hair and will start wearing Leatherman tools on their belts, while I’ll come out of it all dishevelled, with lipstick all over my shoulders and a kick ass pedicure. Screw you nerds I am stealin all ur wimminz…

And then afterwards when all the ditzy sorority girls naturally reject the pale weedy glasses-taped-together nerd boys, I will be around the next day to comfort them…so I’d get the action from repressed, desperate nerds too. What a great setup!

“You can buy a nerd and he’ll fix your computer, help you with stats homework, or if you’re really adventurous, take you to dinner!”

My actual answer to that is unprintable and many-leveled and includes a snarling declaration of the actual meaning of Adventure.

No, seriously. The whole idea is kind of funny and yet pisses me off big time. I love the comment from this WSU mom of a geek daughter:

Do a search on world of warcraft and you will be loaded with girls who have no idea that WSU has great computer science department with a sense of bizarre humor.
Hell, if you had had a booth showing your online programs (assuming) for the stuff she does (which I don’t do…like Maya, etc.,etc., she might take an interest in her mother’s old school. Or maybe you are all Alliance and not Horde. Or are you all waiting for Halo 3. She lives on Newegg and is building her latest and greatest computer as we speak and would never ever join a sorority.

What a taunt! Hahaha!

Seriously again, the auction PR stunt plays up the very stereotypes they are trying to fight. Another comment points out,

Seriously, people, you wonder why you need this much press to get a woman to come within 10 feet of your sorry selves? This brings back every sexist or otherwise slimy incident I experienced studying engineering. . .

I have to agree, although I love ridiculous fun and can see that this LUG thought it was playing with stereotypes, not playing them up. I wish them success in that goal. And, presuming human decency from the bulk of them, I understand the lure of the spectacle and of publicity and of a joke. However, the impression I get is also that as a woman I am expected by their department’s culture to laugh and go along with degrading stereotypes of my gender.

But, I hope that the end result is that the CS department asks women why they don’t enter or stick with CS as a major, and listens to the answers, and acts on that. Or, they could go read the many studies which address exactly that question. How about this one by Ellen Spertus, Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists? . How about reading She’s Such a Geek, a book of fabulous essays by geeky women, in which nearly every essay explains the barriers and annoyances we face. Or this paper by Tracy Camp, The Incredible Shrinking Pipeline. There are a zillion more.

Maybe if they paint the Computer Science Dept. building pink? That might help?

I wonder what they do to encourage racial minorities to enroll… “Nerds” fix your computer, and you teach them to… what? What race and stereotype spring to your mind? Think that event would happen? No? Then why is this one okay?

Despite everything I have ever experienced and said about geek culture and gender, here is the key. I still expect geeks to be better than this. My techno utopia has got some basic feminism in it and so do a lot of other people’s.

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