Word processing is possible on the VIC-20 and can be surprisingly comfortable despite the small screen text area. Here I will show a variety of word processors each of which handles the 22 column restriction in a different way. In many ways this is a follow-on article to: Spreadsheets on the Commodore VIC-20.

Hi gurlic! Has anyone here visited communities.win? What was your opinion of it? Are you still a member or did you leave?

Group chat is like being in an all-day meeting, with random participants, and no agenda.

Over the past few years, persistent group chat tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams have taken hold — and strangled companies. What began as a novel way to quickly communicate company-wide has become a heavy-handed interruption factory with serious consequences.

Now co-workers are expected to follow dozens of conversations in real-time, all the time. People are dedicating large fraction of their screens to a never-ending conveyor belt of conversation pile-ups. The mental overhead, and repetitive visual switchbacking, is exhausting. It’s repression through over-communication. People have had enough. The rebellion has begun.

Yes, chat is appealing. In the same way sugar is appealing. And cigarettes are appealing. It provides short term communication pleasure at the expense of long term organizational health. All sorts of things begin to go wrong when groups begin communicating in real-time, one line at a time, all the time.

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This article is about switching to a smaller keyboard (with fewer keys), why you might want to, and how to reintroduce the functions of missing keys in a way that capitalises on your own muscle memory.

When talking about computer keyboards, there are two main ways to subdivide or categorise what’s available: layout, and size. While these are overlapping concepts, it’s easy enough to understand the differences by way of examples.

Layouts are, broadly speaking, how the keys are arranged — QWERTY being a popular layout for most people who’ll read this, whether in its US-style ANSI arrangement or the international ISO style instead. There are many more layouts, including AZERTY, DVORAK, COLEMAK, WORKMAN, and so on. These all intersect to varying degrees with the needed key layouts for languages other than English (such as JIS), creating a rich matrix of possibilities. It’s the other primary categorisation that I really want to talk about here, though; that of size.

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Aug 29

There’s this iconic scene in the movie Fight Club where Edward Norton’s character is sitting together with his boss, and they’re negotiating some enterprise software sales deal on a dreary Monday morning. The boss is being dazzled with the usual, trite spiel that enterprise sales people lay on middle managers, like “waste is a thief”. But the caricature’s central psychological point is revealed when the boss injects: “Can I get that icon in cornflower blue?”. It’s magnificent.

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Arm is widely regarded as the most important semiconductor IP firm. Their IP ships in billions of new chips every year from phones, cars, microcontrollers, Amazon servers, and even Intel’s latest IPU. Originally it was a British owned and headquartered company, but SoftBank acquired the firm in 2016. They proceeded to plow money into Arm Holdings to develop deep pushes into the internet of things, automotive, and server. Part of their push was also to go hard into China and become the dominant CPU supplier in all segments of the market.

As part of the emphasis on the Chinese market, SoftBank succumbed to pressure and formed a joint venture. In the new joint venture, Arm Holdings, the SoftBank subsidiary sold a 51% stake of the company to a consortium of Chinese investors for paltry $775M. This venture has the exclusive right to license Arm’s IP within China. Within 2 years, the venture went rogue. Recently, they gave a presentation to the industry about rebranding, developing their own IP, and striking their own independently operated path.

This firm is called “安谋科技”, and is not part of Arm Holdings.

This is the tech heist of the century.

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As every year in September we expect the next iPhone, as same is this as there are reports confirming the Pre-Orders ate to be 17th September, still there is no news on when the device will be unveiled but Jon Prosser suggests that, it’ll be on 14th September, and it does make some sense….

For the last few weeks, I’ve been running CalyxOS. It is the latest in Free/Open Source mobile phone operating systems that I’ve used. This post is a summary of my experience using FLOSS mobile OSes and what my experience can tell us not only about phones, but Free/Open Source OSes in general.

After decades of hype, it’s only natural for your eyes to skate over corporate mission-statements without stopping to take note of them, but when it comes to ending your relationship with them,  tech giants’ stated goals take on a sinister cast.

Whether it’s “bringing the world closer together” (Facebook), “organizing the world’s information” (Google), to be a market “where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online” (Amazon) or “to make personal computing accessible to each and every individual” (Apple), the founding missions of tech giants reveal a desire to become indispensable to our digital lives.

They’ve succeeded. We’ve entrusted these companies with our sensitive data, from family photos to finances to correspondence. We’ve let them take over our communities, from medical and bereavement support groups to little league and service organization forums. We’ve bought trillions of dollars’ worth of media from them, locked in proprietary formats that can’t be played back without their ongoing cooperation.

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I have a secondary phone which doesn’t get a whole lot of use. I bought it a couple of years ago before starting a full time employee gig with the pink mustache factory. I did this because my friends who were already there advised me that the company did not supply phones but did expect you to load a crapload of apps on to do your job.

I decided my way around messing up my “daily driver” with that much garbage was just to pick up the cheapest and simplest thing that would get the job done, and so I did: an iPhone 8. It got all of the “two factor”, LastPass, Slack, Google apps gunk, Google mail stuff and more, and my “real” personal phone stayed nice and clean.

It also meant that I could put it away at the end of the day and all work-related stuff would stay out of sight and out of mind until the next morning.

Well, as previously described, I bailed out of that job right before the Twilight Zone started and we all went into lockdown early last year. That meant that phone had relatively little work to do. It just kind of hung around, and while I used it to help out other folks who reached out to me for ad-hoc consulting work, it’s been pretty quiet overall.

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Recently, I encountered a problem. My domain didn’t correctly implement SPF, DKIM, or DMARC.

Then, I encountered a second problem: I had no idea what those were, and seemingly nobody has written about SPF, DKIM, or DMARC in a way that a human can understand, not to mention implement. Every article I found was either highly technical, trying to game SEO to sell me something, or too high level to be useful.

As a result, I’ve had to do a lot of hard work and research to understand this problem. Hopefully, because I had to do this, you won’t.

There’s two main sections here: a human explanation of what these things are, followed by a reasonably straightforward way to implement them.

This might not be easy, but if you’ve landed here, it’s probably not optional. I hope this helps.

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Imagine an Internet of Snitches, each scanning whatever data they have access to for evidence of crime. Beyond the OS itself, individual phone apps could start looking for contraband. Personal computers would follow their lead. Home network file servers could pore through photos, videos and file backups for CSAM and maybe even evidence of copyright infringement. Home routers could scan any unencrypted network traffic. Your voice assistant could use machine learning to decide when yelling in a household crosses the line into abuse. Your printer could analyze the documents and photos you send it.

It’s not much of a surprise to most people that their devices, especially their phones, are snitching on them to the hardware vendor (or app developer). Some people are surprised to discover just how much. I already wrote a post Snitching on Phones That Snitch on You that focused on the amount of data an idle Android and iOS device are sending to Google and Apple respectively, described how we avoid those problems on the Librem 5, and even explained how to use OpenSnitch to track any attempts by a malicious app to snitch on you.

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My wife is pretty tech-savvy. While not a software engineer and not a computer scientist, she has a good understanding of computing technologies, statistics, formal methods, and an intuitive (but quickly growing) grasp of machine learning. She’s also able to code in R for her research, and she’s highly addicted to her iPhone 12 Mini, her iPad Pro, and her 12” MacBook, despite its slowly but steadily failing keyboard. With all this being said, I spent about 30 minutes yesterday evening trying to explain to her, what’s all the fuss about Apple’s new CSAM (child sexual abuse material) prevention features that are being introduced in iOS 15.

The point of the anecdote is of course not to show that my wife is dim, but rather to illustrate the issue with said CSAM features. In contrast to how easy it is to explain to “an average Joe” why Google’s or Facebook’s business models pose a threat to people’s privacy, it’s very hard to explain why Apple’s new mechanism is even worse.

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A backlash over Apple’s move to scan U.S. customer phones and computers for child sex abuse images has grown to include employees speaking out internally, a notable turn in a company famed for its secretive culture, as well as provoking intensified protests from leading technology policy groups.

Apple employees have flooded an Apple internal Slack channel with more than 800 messages on the plan announced a week ago, workers who asked not to be identified told Reuters. Many expressed worries that the feature could be exploited by repressive governments looking to find other material for censorship or arrests, according to workers who saw the days-long thread.

Past security changes at Apple have also prompted concern among employees, but the volume and duration of the new debate is surprising, the workers said. Some posters worried that Apple is damaging its leading reputation for protecting privacy.

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Apple’s choices in this case, though, go in the opposite direction: instead of adding CSAM-scanning to iCloud Photos in the cloud that they own and operate, Apple is compromising the phone that you and I own and operate, without any of us having a say in the matter. Yes, you can turn off iCloud Photos to disable Apple’s scanning, but that is a policy decision; the capability to reach into a user’s phone now exists, and there is nothing an iPhone user can do to get rid of it.


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Created on May 9, 2020
By @gurlic