Fight for the Internet 1!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Google Still Not Evil

I probably shouldn't be posting this, since I feel commenting on anything related to politics is foolish on the Internet, but I'm doing it anyway. (Perhaps I'll delete this post later.)

Google is Still Not Evil.

I hear people talk about this and to be honest, I try not to be disdainful of their thoughts but it's hard.

GMail: If you worry about Google reading your email when using Gmail, there's a solution: Don't use it. Good Lord people, it's a great free service, but you aren't required to use it.

Do be honest, it's basically impossible for your email to not be ready by any modest sized email provider now days. For spam purposes alone your email is scanned. Not to mention there are other things being watched for. About the only way you can be "safe in your privacy" is to run your own email service, and even then that won't be a guarantee. Email isn't very secure to begin with and people need to realize that.

But I'm not done here. Gmail is awesome, and it's free. Do you remember the days of 10MB inboxes? I sure do. Do you remember the days of abysmal email interfaces? Thank God Google came along and improved things. (Though some old companies still haven't got with the program of using anything beyond HTML 2.0 or HTML 3.2. I'm looking at you Yahoo.)

Google Search: If Google started censoring their stuff, people can always choose to use something else. Though they are censoring things now, but that's not because they want to but because Government's and independent Agencies ask them to (like the RIAA and MPAA).

Google Earth: Paranoid much? Get over yourselves. You can tell Google not to map your private residence. (I know at least two people that have done such.) But you have to be a private estate or some-such and if you whine about not having a private place... that's not their problem. As far as seeing them as Big Brother for mapping the whole earth, you are just being an anti-big organization paranoid person, because Lord knows many Governments and probably numerous companies have already done this. At least Google's been upfront and honest about it.

Google Phone GSP: You think that just because your phone has GSP, that suddenly now you can be found? Um... unless you had powers of invisibility, you could be found before, albeit it not as quickly. Your cellphone can be tracked by cellphone tower transmitters along, alone. Let's also not forget that Google Phone's are not the only ones with GSP. Numerous phones have them, from many companies and providers. Honestly, this point alone is just banal and so are those people who worry about it.

Google Phone: I have not heard this argument spoken much but some people, namely Steve Jobs, seems to think Google is in fact being evil because they entered the cellphone business. Umm.... Steve, aren't you just being juvenile because you now have to share the cellphone-industry sandbox? Seriously, Google has just as much right to venture into that industry as you did to make your portable music player. Nay, strike that. They had more rights, because they made (good) software, not hardware, whereas you often make both. Grow up Steve. Sometimes I respect you, and other times I wonder if you've gone off your medication.

Google Chrome: People worry about it being closed source. ... Wait, what? People worry about Chrome, but you don't worry about Internet Explorer, the Blackhole for Viruses and Security vulnerabilities? Or what about Safari? Opera? They are all closed source. Most people seem to single out Chrome for some reason as dangerous because it's closed source. Well, again, all I can say is you can always use another browser. There are plenty now, and if openness matters, you know where to go:

I'm aware people worry that it watches your activity and possibly stores the information, in the supposed interests of providing better features and usability for you. If you don't like being watched and recorded however, get a different browser. Simple as that.

YouTube: This isn't mentioned by people when talking about how evil Google is becoming. That's probably because it's a point in their favor mostly. Google spends multiple millions of dollars a year to keep YouTube running, because that website has never made a single penny of profit. But they've done more than just keep it running. They've added numerous great features, most prominent among them being higher quality video. That's just awesome.

The list of great things Google provides we the people for free goes on and on. (Something that neither Apple nor Microsoft can boast. Certainly not for free, and in my opinion, not even with price disregarded.) Google contributes every single year to the free open source community, something you don't see Microsoft do very often and certainly not for the many early years of their history.

Honestly people, Google isn't forcing you to use their products and they are still free. If you are worried about misuse of power, you ought to be flipping outraged at Microsoft. You'd have trouble getting away from them and they sure has hell are not free. (For more information, check out

In conclusion, because I don't want to talk about this anymore, I've yet to see one decent piece of convincing evidence to show that Google is Evil or becoming Evil.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Command to Logout / Shutdown / Restart KDE4

There may be another easier way to do this, but this command will bring up a dialog box with the options to Logout / Restart or Shutdown KDE4.

qdbus org.kde.ksmserver /KSMServer org.kde.KSMServerInterface.logout 1 -1 -1

This is useful for when Plasma crashes and will not restart. (I actually have no idea how to manually restart plasma.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

KDE Compositing Won't Enable

Today, I started KDE and for some reason Compositing was disabled, and my System Settings icon was missing from its normal place in the KDE Menu. I could not re-enable Compositing. I suspect the problem is because of some recent software upgrades I loaded for KDE 4.4.2. Here is how I fixed my problem. Hopefully it will help others.

General Troubleshooting
To make sure there was no problem with my computer, I did a simple but easy test. I created a new user through KDE's system, and logged into that account. Everything worked fine. So, I knew it was a configuration file problem.

I could now compare the new account's config files (which reside in the an individual's home directory and typically start with a '.' or are stored in a directory starting with a '.'). Comparing the new account's config files against my own. I was able to eliminate quickly all of the non-KDE config files fairly quickly.

I made a backup of the .kde/ directory in my home directory, using a tar file. Then that directory, I used a simple divide-and-conquer technique for finding the troubled files. Instead of checking the over 100 config files from my directory, I simply copied the first half of the new account's config files over my own, and logged-out-logged-in to KDE to check if that fixed the problem. If not, I tried the other half, and repeating the eliminating half until I found the files the troublesome files.

The files in question was all prefixed with kwin. Had I guessed intelligently I would have tried these first. But simply overwriting all the kwin related files in ~/.kde/share/config/ with the newly created account files (which were probably created from defaults) fixed my problem. Compositing was restored and all I had to do was reset a few minor customizations I had before.