22 December, 2016

On Trump...

I can't write. I can't think straight. I don't know where to begin...

I spent the evening watching the Al Jazeera coverage and planned on writing as it progressed for NaNoWriMo's sake. I stopped trying. I tweet-stormed through most of the night, crossing fingers and fearing the worst as the projections rolled in. Eventually I gave up, and now with the electors' votes tallied, I've just, well, had it. I've lost faith, assuming that the electors would be intelligent enough to block his entry. John Oliver said it best when he said that, "This is not normal," and people like journalist Sarah Kendzior on Twitter go above and beyond explaining how unordinary it is.

 I would prefer not to reiterate how it will all go to crap now. Just let this sink in, "this" being the result of Poland's Law and Justice Party's first year in office:

[...]now school textbooks are being redesigned to downplay evolution and climate change and to recount a fanciful version of Poland's history; the government is mooting giving hoteliers the right to turn away customers based on sexual orientation or skin-color; a minister rejected an international accord against wife-beating because it subverted traditional gender roles; Parliament is about to get the right to choose which journalists may report from its debates; the guy in charge of national sex-ed curriculum believes that condoms give women cancer; a proposed law will virtually end opposition protests; and disloyal journalists at the "independent" state broadcaster have been purged.   

Goes without saying that something similar could happen here. Preferably, it won't or at least be stifled greatly by efforts from groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The latter of which I donated to this year and am now a member of for the year until I pledge again.

But still, everyone loses. Those in minority groups will feel it most, but if you're also white, cisgendered, or part of the status quo consider the fact that Trump will now have full access to the NSA or how he plans to take down the EPA through his Cabinet.

There's a lot more that I want to say, but I'm saving that for a separate post. This is just the gist of how I feel and what might happen. More or less things which I mentioned in my previous post on the election, plus the rest of his baggage.

The American Majority did not vote for him, but here we are...

07 November, 2016

On the 2016 US Presidential Election

I'll level with you: Come election day and ideally, Lessig would have my vote. He was my initial candidate of choice when he announced that he would be running as a Democratic nominee last year. This is the person who founded Creative Commons, collaborated with Aaron Swartz as both friend and academic, and wrote books about the issues facing the US political system including One Way Forward and Republic, Lost. I was introduced to his work through the former, which inspired me in many ways; using Creative Commons licenses for my blog and written work, continuing to write letters to senators and representatives--through a service usually offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation or Sunlight Foundation alongside others--and being more digitally aware and literate about said politics and politicians that reinforced Dan Gillmor's lessons in Mediactive.

Here was a candidate who would address the issues that mattered to me, even if he would resign once he signed the Citizen's Equality Act into law. This was someone who encouraged and continues to persuade people to get involved beyond the voting process so that, theoretically, their voice mattered more to the point that public officials took action with new legislation.

Unfortunately, he couldn't make it to the first round of debates, even if he was initially qualified to participate.  

I dismissed Donald Trump as nothing more than a mere celebrity just flaunting his fiscal privilege. Hillary was just Hilary, as in she was running and had an ample amount of experience. I thought that was perfectly fine regardless of her stance on particular issues which jibbed with me which didn't cross my mind then. Bernie seemed great at first, but never really got into the semantics about how he would go about fulfilling his campaign promises.

Now that mere celebrity actually has a chance to be an archaic epidemic filled with deplorable regress. A guy who, given the opportunity, would appoint Peter Thiel to the Supreme Court where First Amendment rights would go to die. Bigotry would be trending with colonial, binary pride reigning supreme. 

That's the short of it, and it's embarrassing. Goes without saying, it is also menacing in more ways than one. 

This election cycle has been hell all around, and not just because of Trump. The harassment of anyone who supports their candidate of choice, merely because they do, shows us how far we've come from the days of #HasJustineLandedYet (answer: not at all). The candidates aren't all that inspiring and even those of third-parties have been a disappointment. I say this as someone who initially supported Jill Stein after Lessig was out of the running until she started pandering to the anti-science crowd and thought that Brexit was a good idea. The fact that Trump is essentially turning the whole thing into a tabloid gossip-fest with his tweets, the "locker-room talk" video, and failing to answer questions at the debates, just so he can attack Hillary, doesn't help anyone.

Thing is, while my tweets and posts may infer otherwise, I won't usually go and tell people how to vote. There are two exceptions to this rule: The first one being for prevent a local referendum from passing...

...and now this one, as in I ask you to consider Hillary at the ballot box. 

Say what you will about her stance on fracking and the TPP--I also take issue to them--but at least under her Administration we'll still be able to advocate to curb the former and to reconsider the latter. Remember Lessig. Voting is just step one. The rest is up to you.  

Post-Script: Here's how Trump would impact my town's economy with regards to shipbuilding. Also, I would take the time to read Jon Ronson's expose on the connection between Trump and Alex Jones of Infowars notoriety.  

16 August, 2016

Vivaldi: One Year Later...

A little over a year ago, I talked about the Vivaldi browser which was still in its development stages. Since then I flirted between it and Firefox, mostly because I was concerned about its Chromium skeleton and some add-ons and sites which didn't function properly at the time, resulting in a brief Ello post.

Now with its third stable build, I finally made the switch to Vivaldi as my default browser, installing it on most of my laptops but one. (That one's an old HP with Windows 7 that I thought about tinkering around with--by installing Ubuntu or Qubes OS along with upgrading any possible parts--but wanted to wait until the free Windows 10 offer passed.)

Many of the features in Vivaldi mentioned in my previous review are, no doubt, part of the reason for the big switch. But for a browser over a year old, the team made some leaps and bounds in development alongside other circumstances that ultimately convinced me to make the switch...

Tab Stacking

Mentioning this feature again because Firefox discontinued its Tab Groups (Panorama) feature from stable build 45 onwards. I realized that this was their answer to the tab stacks far too late to make excessive use of it. The only major difference between stacks and groups is that the latter treats the clusters as separate windows, or rather it features one group while keeping the others in the Panorama UI. I find that stacks are far more useful since I can easily access them without the need of a keyboard shortcut. They're all in the same window, which makes browsing, blogging, or just playing around on forums and social networks much more practical, productive, and fun.

Hibernating Tabs and Tab Stacks

I love to think of this as one of Vivaldi's answers to Chromium's infamous and excessive use of RAM and other resources, which was why I never used Chrome on my Macbooks except for that one time which, personally, lasted only a week. Even if the computer I use now can take it gladly, with sixteen gigs soldered on, I just like that it's there in case I want to save RAM and battery. This feature will prove useful for my 11-inch Macbook Air that still chugs along after six years on two gigs. Granted that one got more use writing college papers than anything else, but either way, if I need to make use of it again when I'm out and about, tab hibernation will make browsing a little less stressful on the hardware.

Custom Themes

One of the new features with the latest build that allows the user to alter the look of their browser by playing around with the color schemes. In the same way that Vivaldi's built-in features allow me to use only two extensions, as opposed to going between four and six in Firefox, this new addition means that I longer need to skim through and download Personas or themes online. Creating themes in Vivaldi is simple and, more importantly, a blast. The ones built in also look lovely in case the user doesn't wish to make one.

The current theme I use now I named "Glade" and to replicate it for yourself, here's what you need to do.

Click to edit the "Dark" theme and set the following values in the Color Editor section...

Background: #081622
Foreground: #cdeeff
Highlight: #7bffdd
Accent: #03897d

Uncheck everything in theme preferences and leave corner rounding at its default setting. In the "Color" section, just check "Fade Foreground Colors" and the theme will be complete.

Private Browsing

A feature that made its debut shortly after my initial review and in 1.3, it only gets better. While the UI for some extensions are still buggy, in my experience, the fact I can access them while in private browsing is a sigh of relief.


Built-in with Chromium along with the sandboxing--as far as I know. Firefox is slowly getting there with the e10s testing, and admittedly, I'm now on their beta channel hopping to get a sample of it. Getting there will take time though as Asa Dotzler wrote when Firefox 48 went into beta. Personally, this is relatively minor, but still a good, under-the-hood aspect to keep in mind.