Amazon Mechanical Turk

So I was going to start my journey of using the mechanical turk (Basically a platform on Amazon that lets you complete small tasks for a tiny bit of money, usually under $1 each), and saving up the money to buy a new computer.

This was cut a bit short. Since my social security number is apparently not old enough, they somehow can’t verify the information I have provided…. which is pretty sad for a company of that size working in information technology.

The whole thing was to make a bit of money on the side before I could find a reasonably paying job, and they told me to try again in one year. At that point I obviously won’t need to do that anymore since my marketable skills are worth at least $50k/year.

I guess I will bid farewell to this idea and the mechanical turk as a whole. Amazon also took a big hit in the amount of respect I had for them.

My next big Adventure

As you may know (I have an about me page that you’ve certainly devoured….) I’m married, have 2 children, and am German (2 of those aren’t actually on said page….).

Now I have finally received permission to reenter the United States of America. A process that was started in 2013, which in the grand scheme of things and considering all the hurdles, wasn’t actually too long. I might write more about that whole process later, since it’s all fairly interesting and a lot of people (cough) conservatives (cough) clearly have no idea how any of it works. (No you can’t just decide to come to america. No they don’t let people with Ebola just walk across the border).

So now (or …. soon) comes the time to actually move to America (yes I’ll call it that regardless of it annoying people who know that America is actually a continent). Which means that besides the horrible difficulties of moving, the horrible difficulties of being poor (and broke) and the horrible difficulties of airlines now thinking 2 ounces is too much luggage for a family of four…. We somehow have to carefully decide what stuff is precious enough to take and then somehow try to move via airplane.

Obviously the children are thrilled to go (one hasn’t seen her biological father in years, both haven’t seen their mother’s side of the family in years), neither is thrilled about leaving essentially all of their stuff behind. They have a shitload of toys from 4 Christmas’s (what’s the plural of Christmas anyway ?) and birthdays and all the stuff in between. And the great majority of them is going to see the inside of a trash can. And we have no money to replace them…. It’s going great so far !

Obviously we’ll be taking most of the clothes we have…. also a good time to sort them and throw away a whole lot…. and maybe some electronic devices that are easier to take than to replace.

Unfortunately the medical problems of my wife make it near impossible for me to find work since it makes a lot of things far worse if I leave and she has to deal with everything by herself. She is on disability, but the american social security system really doesn’t have a lot of room for things past the basic necessities. Which is something that way too many Americans are way too comfortable with, but I digress.

So with both of our families never even making it into the middle class neither is really able to help any, we are struggling to even get enough money together to pay for the plane tickets, much less being able to send some stuff by mail rather than having to replace it at an unspecified later time.

We’re planning on making the trip in late April or early May. Currently we’re waiting on two documents that still need to be sent to the US consulate and I will be receiving my visa shortly after that. Probably around the middle of April, hopefully slightly sooner.

In case you’d like to help me, I have started a gofundme campaign.

Thank you for reading all this.

Gratis Mentalität

Heise hat gerade eine Newsmeldung veröffentlicht unter dem Titel Mit Sky, Netflix und Co. weg von der Gratismentalität, in dem aus den vorliegenden Daten völlig verkerte schlüsse gezogen werden. Eigentlich ist offensichtlich was passiert, aber man muss trotzdem alles negativ verkaufen.

(zitat) “Die Zahlungsbereitschaft bei den Zuschauern wird sogar noch größer werden, weil jetzt die Angebote da sind”, vermutete Medienforscher Klaus Goldhammer. (zitat ende)

Die Zahlungsbereitschaft war immer da. Die Angebote nicht. Ich hatte sogar schon mal darüber geschrieben…. Wenn uns jemand ende der 90er Jahre gesagt hätte “Du kannst Musik haben so viel du willst, für 10€ im Monat”, wir hätten alle gesagt “Ja bitte”. Nicht nur das, wir hätten nicht napster heruntergeladen um Musik kostenlos zu haben. Kazaa hätte es gar nicht gegeben, genause wie limewire und alle anderen.

Die Bereitschaft der Produzenten die Musik für den Preis anzubieten wir einfach nicht da. Die Bereitschaft ist teilweise immer noch nicht da. Wenn Taylor Swift ihre Musik nicht bei Spotify anbieten will (obwohl sie jedes Jahr millionen bekommt), dann liegt das nicht an der Gratismentalität.

Ja, die Mentalität ändert sich, langsam. Aber nicht bei den Konsumenten. Wir konnten uns CDs kaufen, aber nicht sehr lange. Die längste Zeit waren “CDs” auf dem Markt die sich eigentlich so nicht nennen durften, weil der Kopierschutz nicht standardkonform war. Also konnte man die “CDs” auch nicht überall abspielen.

Das muss man sich in der heutigen Zeit mal vorstellen. Man kauft sich eine CD, nicht nur weil man die Musik mag, nicht nur weil man von der Werbung eingeschüchtert wird das Raubkopierer in den Knast kommen, sondern weil man die Musiker unterstützen will. Und dann kann man die Musik nicht hören wegen dem Kopierschutz. Wenn man ne mp3 herunterläd kann man die fast überall hören. Aber wenn man bezahlt bekommt man etwas was, vom komfort her, deutlich schlechter ist.

Man stellt sich vor man will ein Regal bauen. Am Straßenrand findet man das perfekte Regalbrett. Aber man geht lieber 5km weiter in den Baumarkt und lässt sich eins zuschneiden. Und dann bezahlt man im Baumarkt für ein Regalbrett das völlig Krumm ist und für das Regal nur die hälfte nutzbar ist.

Die Mentalität war schon immer die gleiche. Wir hätten gerne auch damals für das gezahlt was wir jetzt angeboten bekommen. Auch den gleichen Preis den wir jetzt bezahlen. Es hat nur keiner angeboten.

Und jetzt….

Wir sehen noch immer eine Werbung dafür wie schlimm raubkopieren ist. Fast alle Filme die wir kaufen haben so etwas. Fast alle Filme die wir kaufen haben Intros oder Vorschauen die man nicht überspringen kann…. Raubkopierte Filme nicht.

Aber hier ist wenigstens Netflix zur Stelle. Raubkopieren ist mitlerweile (wenig….. sehr wenig) schwieriger als für Filme zu bezahlen. Allerdings sollten sich die Produzenten auch hier mal gedanken machen ob man nicht alles für alle lizensiert, also nicht einiges bei netflix sehen kann, anderes nur bei Amazon, anderes nur bei Watchever…. Weil es wird sich keiner finden der Abos für alle bezahlt. Es werden sich aber sehr viele Leute finden die ein Netflix Abo haben und sehr sauer sind, dass sie nicht alles sehen können was sie wollen.

Also !

Hört auf über die Gratismentalität zu meckern. So wie Ihr das dastellt ist es nie gewesen. Es war nur einfacher etwas gratis zu bekommen als dafür zu bezahlen. Und das sollte euch zu denken geben.

Zero day exploits in Windows

And why Microsoft isn’t happy with Google.

So far this year Google has released information for 3 (fairly) major security holes in windows that could be exploited for a variety reasons. Obviously mostly trojans wanting banking information and the likes.

Microsoft isn’t happy because they were working on a patch for the last 2, with one of the patches being released only 2 days after Google released the exploit, the other one (released today) had a patch pushed from January to the February patch day because they weren’t happy with the patch.

So one would think that Microsoft is right and Google is wrong.

I happen to disagree.

One of the reasons that Google (and other people who publish exploits) have such a tight schedule is that security holes, even after the people responsible were notified, had a tendency of staying unpatched for a very long time. Microsoft’s internet explorer in particular had a reputation for being vulnerable to exploits that Microsoft had known about for over a year. These days Microsoft is doing a much better job. But Microsoft isn’t doing a much better job because they feel the need to make their products more secure (although much has changed and they actually do), but because they now know that the exploits will be released after 90 days.

Many companies have proven that it’s possible to fix vulnerabilities within 90 days. Even Microsoft isn’t doing so bad usually. One has to consider, though, that Windows contains millions of lines of code. So some hidden bugs could be fairly hard to track down. They also do have some of the best programmers working on it, though, so this really shouldn’t be an issue.

If Google is being consistent and doesn’t, for example, give RIM extra time to work on a patch, I think this is a good thing. I think 90 days is enough time. I think Microsoft is capable of providing patches for their products in time, with no problems. I just don’t think that they’re making this a priority. Or they need to streamline their project management and have the right people working on stuff in time.

I really don’t think Microsoft needs 60 days to work on a patch, so I think that they just started late. Start early, have the right people working on it and none of this will be a problem.

Party line vote attack ads

or X has voted with Obama Y% of the time.

In a fairly interesting development there are now attack ads on candidates that solely focus on how much they voted with Obama. Interestingly enough though Obama used the same tactic when it was Obama vs McCain for president.

Why does that bother me ? It does not. The implications do bother me, though.

So we live in a world where most of the voting happens along party lines. That much is obvious to pretty much anyone. But now the republicans are implying that the gridlock that is now part of D.C. is the fault of the democrats that keep voting with Obama. Obviously this also rallies the republican base.

If the democrats now made attack ads about how much the republicans vote along party lines, or against any democratic bill, nothing the ad says would be news to anyone, and it wouldn’t get anyone to vote, or even change the way they would have been voting. We have actually come to a point where republicans can freely admit and advertise that they vote against any bill of the democrats and it won’t cost them a whole lot of votes. It might even actually get them some votes. But they can “attack” the democrats on doing the exact same thing. Hypocrisy now knows another level.

Now here is what actually bothers me about the whole thing: All the ads are focusing on is how much the democrats vote with the president. Nothing at all is said about what bills they voted on, if they approve or deny certain bills. The content of the bills they vote on is completely irrelevant. It could be a bill preventing people from clubbing baby seals and all the democrats vote for it… doesn’t matter, voted with the president.

Jobs bill, ending government shutdown, obamacare, you’d bet the democrats voted with Obama. Why is that ? All of them are insanely popular with broad support among any demographic (except for that last one in the conservative rich white demographic, maybe).

So now we have attack ads that attack the democrats for passing bills that enjoy the support of far over 60% of the voters and the worst thing is: it works.

The republicans shutdown the government over obamacare, vote to repeal obamacare over 40 times, when it’s such a huge step into the right direction that no one in the general public really questions anything about it anymore, except for the personal mandate. Discrimination against preexisting conditions, no one wants that. Preventive care is paid for, everyone wants that. Medicare expansion allowing less fortunate people to get emergency help, everyone wants that.

But none of that matters, because what individual bills you vote on doesn’t factor into the ads anymore. The simple fact that you vote with the president is enough to rally people to vote republican.

Please people, focus on the issues. This almost seems like a foreign concept these days, but look at what the candidates have voted on and how they have voted. Don’t focus on statistics.

Obamacare has such broad support and republicans still run on the platform of repeal obamacare.

Background checks for all gun sales has 90%+ support of the general public. And yet almost all republicans vote against that bill.

Republicans shut down the government over obamacare in a last ditch effort to stop it from taking effect. And somehow they get reelected. Please don’t let that happen. Don’t let them waste hundreds of millions of dollars on posturing and circumventing democracy.

Whichever way you decide to vote, make it about the issues and not the person. Vote for the person who is more likely to improve your situation or the situation of the nation as a whole. Don’t vote for someone who wants to give tax breaks to the top 10%. Don’t vote for someone who creates or extends tax loopholes or even subsidies for companies who make billions of dollars every year. Don’t vote for someone who wants to cut social security for the people who already are hit hardest by the recession. None of this helps you, or the country.

Why Rick Perry will never be President

Rick Perry recently said: ‘The United States is at “historic record highs” of individuals being apprehended on the border from countries with terrorist ties such as “Pakistan or Afghanistan or Syria.”‘

Now obviously there’s no basis for what he said at all, but Rick Perry isn’t the kind of guy that lets facts get in the way of the point he’s trying to make. And very obviously that appeals to a lot of the conservative republican voters.

The problem that the republicans have, though, is that only the conservative republicans appreciate that kind of thing. There are quite a few moderate republicans, there even are liberal republicans and those people, while they would vote for nearly all republican candidates probably don’t appreciate everything the republicans are doing right now.

There was a time when the republicans knew that they can’t just push an extremely right wing agenda on the general public, and they didn’t try. There was a time when the republicans appreciated the middle class and what they’re doing for the economy. There was a time when the republicans appreciated job creators, rather than calling rich people job creators without any basis for it at all. These days the republicans just have no problems that they’re working to solve. The republicans have a majority in the house and they have the opportunity to pass legislation that would help people. Yet they pass bill after bill eliminating obamacare. Obamacare now being something that most of the country actually wants.

So currently the issues for the republicans are whether or not Obama is at fault for Benghazi (he’s not), whether or not Obama is at fault for the IRS targeting conservative groups (he’s not), whether or not Obama is at fault for the humongous deficit (he’s not), etc. The issue is not (and hasn’t been in a long time) “What can we do to improve the lives of americans”. And that is the main issue for most people.

So the Republicans (are you listening ? this might be important in 2 years) are holding primaries and the most extreme candidate wins (like the one that beat the extremely conservative Cantor) while making 100% sure that they won’t win a general election. They are trying to lower the taxes for the top 1% while taking that money from the bottom 50% and justifying it with ‘we have the moral high ground’. They make immigration, abortion or ‘don’t take my guns’ a topic for elections so that they can then push their own agenda.

You won’t win a general election by being against abortion (majority supports it), lowering taxes for the extreme rich (majority opposes it), denying background checks on all gun purchases (majority wants that), or close down the border (that simply isn’t an issue that needs to be addressed, what to do with the people that do (want to) come to america is a real issue). But apparently it wins primaries so now the republicans put themselves into a corner that it’s hard to get back out of.

Epson Workforce 2540 Review

I have recently bought the Epson Workforce 2540 (Amazon.com, Amazon.de), after my other Epson printer died. Luckily it was fairly shortly after buying that one, and I’m assuming just a random occurrence.

I went for Epson because they have recently (a few years ago) abandoned their Laser Printer department and focused completely on Inkjet technology. They now make printers who print faster and cheaper than most laser printers. And that while cutting power and not putting out toner dust or ozone. I don’t really print enough for a laser printer to make sense, and I don’t print so infrequently that the inkjet will dry out. So I decided to go for the Inkjet.

I decided to go for that specific model because I really wanted to have an automatic document feeder, it also has Ethernet and WiFi. Setup was reasonably easy (would probably have been flawless had I not had the drivers for the other Epson still on the machine).

The printer is amazingly fast. As fast as, or faster than, a laser printer. Definitely gets the first page out a lot sooner, even if it’s just getting turned on for printing. Quality also doesn’t lack anything, cost of one page is reasonable. There’s XL cartridges available in case you print a lot.

The scanner also doesn’t leave anything to be desired, Quality is good, speed is a bit slow, but manageable. The Software that has to be installed is pretty good. I really like that it can just scan multipage PDFs and even rearrange pages or delete pages and scan them again.

The Automatic document feeder, which again was the reason I went with this model, is pretty bad. It’s pretty slow and doesn’t always pull the pages in straight. It does work quite nicely besides that, though. If you do want to scan a lot of pages I would definitely advise getting a standalone scanner (either in addition to this printer, or getting a cheaper printer with it).

Overall I’m very happy with this printer. Haven’t used the document feeder as much as I had intended to, however.

Your stuff will break !

This isn’t really a prediction so much as a general point, both to consumers and to companies.

Ever since the end of life of windows XP we get a lot of people coming into the store to either replace their computer or upgrade to a new operating system. We currently charge 105€ for the license and 79€ for the Install. There actually are people thinking about doing it. Laptops with Windows XP preinstalled are usually over 5 years old. Windows 7 came out in 2009 and replaced windows XP fairly quickly on new computers.

Now here’s the point I’m trying to make: After 5 years you should consider your computer to be dead. You should not spend money on anything that you can’t move to a new computer. The license you can obviously use for all other computers you’ll ever buy (one at a time :p), but 79€ for installation (about $100) of an operating system for a computer that may very well break the very next day ? That seems like a fairly bad deal.

People keep thinking that the stuff they buy will just stick around forever. People think you buy a computer and that’s it. You now have a computer. When in reality it’s more of a continuing cost that they now have to pay. You buy a computer you really need to budget a new computer every 5 years, because that’s about how long you can count on it lasting on average. It’s even worse for a company. You get a new employee you need a new computer. When in reality you should be looking at it like a continuing cost. You need a computer every 3 years (sooner if you need it for programming, CAD, etc), you need a new monitor (or 2) every 5 years, hell you should probably replace the chairs at least every 10 years. Now with some numbers (computer $1k, monitors $500, chair $1k) you get a yearly cost of $500 for the computer, $100 for the monitor(s) and $100 for the chair. Or in a month you can budget $45, $10 and $10. Which means it’s less than $100 per month on all that stuff. Not really a big overhead at all. Even the up front cost of hiring someone isn’t actually that significant. A new employee probably costs you around $3k at least, you pay the same amount again and don’t have to worry about anything for 2 years.

Luckily computers these days aren’t really big ticket items anymore (unless you’re a serious gamer and want to have amazing graphics that you can ignore while actually playing (in most games you don’t have time to appreciate the graphics while playing)). It’s worse with other, more expensive items. People buy a car and don’t save up for a new one until it’s so worn down that you know it’s going to break soon. People don’t actually budget money for maintenance and repairs half the time. Some people don’t even budget stuff like gas, oil and insurance. So obviously your car breaks down at the worst possible time, you just bought a new TV, moved to a new apartment. Now you have to spend money to repair the car you really should have planned on getting replaced next year.

Disney Fastplay

I’m sorry if the Headline mislead you into coming here (I’m not), I really am (I’m really not). This has literally nothing to do with Disney.

I just appreciate Fastplay so much. And not just because the children lose their remote every 3 minutes. I’m just wondering why years after Disney made fastplay I still have to press play on the movies I watch.

Seriously, who in the world puts a movie into a dvd player that he’s not going to watch ? He’s going to want it to play I guarantee it.

Sourceforge

The most trusted name …. in malware ????

So as many of you know (yes I like to pretend more than one person reads this) I work in a computer store and I used to (I don’t much anymore) fix people’s computers. Fixing people’s computers in most cases means get the viruses and other malware off. So there are a few programs that I see all the time where I can just tell that the computer has a virus somewhere. Anything with the word ‘optimizer’ or ‘downloader’ in the name is an obvious candidate.

Anyone working in IT for more than a few weeks knows how that crap gets onto your computer. You download a program from a shady source, forget to uncheck the “Install more shady shit on my computer” checkbox and voila you’re good to go. And just as obviously anyone working in IT more than two weeks knows how to uncheck that box, or go to advanced settings (even if it’s greyed out). And I have obviously never had a program like that on my computer. Until a few days ago.

I was downloading Filezilla from Sourceforge, which is a fairly highly regarded ftp client. I’ve been using it for years without a problem as well. Somehow the filezilla homepage makes me download the thing from sourceforge, which really isn’t a problem. I trust(ed) sourceforge, and it’s really not regarded as a shady source for stuff. So then sourceforge makes me download some sourceforge downloader crap which slightly troubles me. I really shouldn’t have to download something to download something (legal, and free !). So I do go ahead and go to advanced settings in the installer to make it not install some shitty toolbar and mess up my internet shit. And then (!!!) without asking (!!!) it installs pc optimizer pro. Which starts running immediately.

This all happened over a week ago and I’m still pissed off about it. I will never trust sourceforge with anything. And I urge everyone to switch over to github or any other credible site to host your stuff. It really isn’t worth getting your potential customers all pissed off over something you don’t get any benefit from.