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Archive for April, 2017

Mr. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., AKA Muhammad Ali, was not just a boxer. 50 years ago he refused to be drafted into the US Army, after having tried in vain to get the status of “conscientious objector”. I don’t like boxing, but I salute the man who followed his conscience and his principles. His example could quite well have been a catalyst (perhaps among others) of the resistance against a continued war in Vietnam.

Photo Associated Press, as published in the Washington Post

15 years later, I (unknowingly) followed his example. I just did not have to go to jail, I did about two years of “civil service”. Less mediagenic, I’m afraid.

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I’m very happy with my Galaxy S7, thank you. But given all the talk about the new kid in town, the Galaxy S8, I took the time to read Ars Technica’s review of Samsung’s new top phone. The S8 looks like a nice piece of kit, even when the fingerprint reader clearly isn’t ideally positioned – that could be a deal breaker now that I am used to unlocking a phone and tablets with just a finger.

I strongly agree with Ron Amadeo when it comes to Samsung and operating system updates:

Historically, Samsung is very bad at delivering major OS updates for its flagship device, and that looks to continue with the Galaxy S8. The latest OS version, Android 7.1 has been out for six months, but it hasn’t made it to the Galaxy S8.

It’s best to look past Samsung flagships for an idea of what future support will be like. Samsung only released Android 7.0 Nougat for the Galaxy S7 in January 2017—five months after the initial release—and we’re only referring to the very earliest unlocked models of that device. Updating the full Galaxy S7 line across carriers was a multi-month process that didn’t finish until March.

A process that didn’t finish until March? Well, here in Belgium that process still has to start, let alone finish! Since several months, I wait for a sign from Samsung that I can upgrade my S7 to Android 7. An update to Android 7.1 is even further away, it seems…

April 27th, 2017 – 23:00 EST

I know that the Sammobile website has lots of firmware downloads available, including some for the S7. But the Belgian version is explicitly destined for the models sold by a major carrier, and mine is unlocked, so I’m not (yet) risking that version ;-)

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In a blog post titled “Securing our Digital Economy“, the president and CEO of the Internet Society writes:

The truth is that economies can only function within a secure and trusted environment.

Which brings us to encryption. […]

Encryption is a technical building block for securing infrastructure, communications and information. It should be made stronger and universal, not weaker.

Stronger encryption? I’m all for it. Do I really have to explain that government-enforced “backdoors” in encryption tools will only weaken those tools – and the trust they are supposed to deliver?

Source: Shutterstock

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There is no way I can forget Robert M. Pirsig (September 6, 1928 – April 24, 2017). It took me a while to read his first book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values“. Mostly so, because after the first chapter I wanted to understand, even contemplate, every paragraph he wrote.

In ZatAoMM, Pirsig wrote down the best possible description of what motorcycle riding means to me:

In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.

To me, Pirsig will remain a philosopher rather than an author. That is also why from time to time, I am able to pick up his books, read a bit at a random page, then find myself contemplating his words and their implications for life in general and my life in particular. In fact, ZatAoMM is the only book that makes me do that…

My personal feeling is that this is how any further improvement of the world will be done: by individuals making Quality decisions and that’s all.

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Archive.org is publishing a series a programs, that allows any Mac-aficionado to return to 1991 and play around with old software on a modern computer. All you need is a browser, and – like me – you’ll be playing Crystal Quest again. The only drawback: I had a Mac IIsi in those days – with a colour display, and Crystal Quest comes up in a monochrome version…

And don’t worry if you do not like Crystal Quest: the site contains already a nice collection of programs, including games.

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Last week, I did loose a lot of time in what should have been a quick ColdFusion hack. My colleagues and I were just trying to set up a web service-based solution for a simple problem: they had a JavaScript page that needed a bit of data for which I already had the code in ColdFusion. So I created a new directory in an existing application, whipped up the required code in ‘index.cfm‘ to return a bit of JSON and tested the result from my browser… only to get an “Error 500 - Application index.cfm could not be found“.

Weird, heh? The required file was there, so why could CF11 not find it? Adding an ‘Application.cfm‘ did not help, neither did repackaging the code in a CFC. On CF8, on the other hand, everything worked as expected. So what was going on?

It took some time, but I did find the explanation: CF11 reserves the directory name ‘api’ for special treatment, so you can’t use it like any other directory name – and of course that was the name I had chosen! Adam Tuttle described the situation nicely in 2015:

Funny you should mention that the issue is inside an /api folder. I’m trying to track down the same problem, except I’m directly accessing an index.cfm (sort of — onRequest intercepts the request and redirects to CFCs as appropriate — it’s a Taffy API) and I’ve found that renaming the folder from /api to … literally anything else… works fine. It’s almost as if something in CF has special meaning at /api, like the special /rest mapping does.

Indeed, renaming my directory solved the problem – too bad it took me so long to find the cause. On to the next problem!

PS. Adam Tuttle has more to say on the subject, but his post on the subject has disappeared: the URL ‘http://fusiongrokker.com/post/coldfusion-11-sometimes-chokes-on-api‘ no longer points to the relevant text, but is redirected to another blog also belonging to Adam Tuttle. There, unfortunately, the post is NOT available. I won’t call this a case of linkrot, but it’s not good either. Luckily, the Wayback Machine has a copy of the page, including a few comments…

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My Palm – a PalmOne Tungsten E2, to be exact – still can be used for more than waking me up in the morning (or later ;-). Just to prove it still works, even on battery, here’s a picture of my latest Sudoku.

Dated 2017-04-11

The Tungsten E2 was introduced into the market in 2005. The funny part is, you can still buy them on Amazon. Since they can sync their data with a PC over a Bluetooth connection, they’re even compatible with the latest versions of Windows – how cool is that?

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