Orphaned Google Talk connections in psi

I use PSI, an open source desktop chat client to connect to a jabber server I run at work, and also to connect to Google Talk (aka Google Chat, Google Messenger, Google Hangouts – whatever they are calling this XMPP based instant messenging service this week). I’ve used this setup for years, PSI accepts connection to my PGP key so I can chat over encryption for conversations I wish to remain private (sending passwords or discussing finance, etc.) and still have the rest of my chats stored in gmail for searching as needed. This way I don’t need to keep a browser window open and be logged into gmail all the time just to stay connected for chat.

Continue reading “Orphaned Google Talk connections in psi”

Google Earth in Ubuntu 11.04

Installing Google Earth in Ubuntu 11.04 turned out to be as easy as downloading the latest version from here and double-clicking it, but not until I had already tried to download the source and build an install package manually. I’m not sure how this would have worked, but I gave up when Ubuntu barked that it was a “bad package” and instead of continuing on, I decided to look for an official package instead. I had, by that time already installed lsb-core though, and I don’t know which version I had or if that matters. The first time Google Earth ran, the fonts looked terrible. This is a common problem (and I’ve had it before on other Linux installs, but installing the core Microsoft fonts package fixed up the problem immediately.

sudo apt-get install ttf-mscorefonts-installer

Once trying to use the program I noticed that it was running *really* slow, pausing every few seconds or so, basically unusable. I got kinda worried that maybe I wasn’t set up to use my Intel on-board graphics card correctly (that maybe I needed to use a different driver) and started poking around. Armagetron, another program I run that needs serious graphics horsepower runs fine though. glxgears gave me just under 60fps which seemed really low but was suspiciously exactly the frequency of the monitor so perhaps thats just a red herring. I was starting to get discouraged when I noticed I had a bunch of updates to do. I did those and rebooted and Google Earth was running as slick as ever (glxgears fps numbers didn’t improve). Not sure if something got updated that needed to be, or if I really just needed to reboot after installing lsb-core or google earth itself.

So I started poking around for cool things to do in Google Earth and came across:
USGS Real-Time Earthquakes KML which is just so Geo-geek awesome I had to share.

Google+ and pseudonyms

Theres been a lot of talk on G+ lately about Google’s supposed ban on “fake accounts”. Anecdotal evidence of otherwise worthy folk who have gotten their free Google+ accounts shut down for violating the terms of service which disallows participation using a false identity have raised the ire of many a googling geek. While no different from Facebook’s stated policy, it seems that Google might actually be enforcing their policy. Geeks have pointed to at least one obvious problem with the real identity plan: how does Google verify that a legitimate-looking name is not, in actuality, a fake one? While they should be able to correlate a Google account with the IP used to access their sites at a given time and add that to any number of other clues from their vast archives (Google searches, cookies, geo-location data, etc.) this clearly would be an investigation of some magnitude for each and every case. From a business perspective they’d be foolish to waste very much time on that foolishness. As I said in one comment I think that:

Google really doesn’t care so much that you are using an alias, but instead doesn’t want it to appear that you using an alias to whomever they are planning to sell the data. …this isn’t about Google not knowing who they’re dealing with, its about the PERCEIVED quality of Google’s product (information about you) to potential buyers.

I’ve proposed in the past that the Slashdot crowd-sourced engine of reputation (karma) and moderation might be good model for other comment engines, and I think Google can learn from it as well in the context of Google+. Google should build in methods to verify that people really are who they say they are. They could do this by adding multiple OpenID verification, domain ownership verification like they already do with Analytics, and GnuPG signature verification for starters. They could attempt to make it easier for users of Disqus or other systems to authenticate with Google and cross-associate their content. This would allow Google to begin to build a “web of trust” around user accounts. Using the “key signing” model of OpenPGP while simultaneously hooking in to the additional verifications mentioned above, a user account (or posts by that user account) could eventually be assigned a “veracity” score indicating how sure Google is that a given user is the same person linked to these other sites or posts or comments. A high score would be much coveted because it could clearly indicate a known source.

The best thing about this kind of a system is that there would be no real need for Google to worry very much about whether the account was using a “real” name or not because the veracity (truthfulness) of a user’s identity would not be dependent on how realistic the name appears but on the quantity and quality of trust relationships developed between users over time.

Fixing Google+ circles

Not allowing folks to customize their default stream is forcing some devs to take matters in their own hands to offer workarounds. A Chrome extension by Micah Wittman (I haven’t tried it yet but can’t wait to install this) promises to provide some of the obviously missing functionality like: setting a chosen circle as the default, mute posts from a specifc person (certain chatty celebrities are making it more and more difficult to continue following them), and hide comments on posts.

Golden View for Google+

text-mode location bar in Ubuntu 11.04

Ubuntu‘s Unity interface in 11.04 is nice, very minimalist – but I keep finding little things that have been removed which force me to stop and Google for awhile before I can get on with my work. The latest one to peeve me was that the little pencil icon which toggled showing the text location bar in Nautilus is gone, leaving me with just the stupid folder buttons to navigate around which is really slow, especially when I want to browse a Windows share where I’m used to typing

smb://machine-name

which is akin to when you open a run dialog in Windows and type:

\\machine-name

Well, luckily Alin Andrei had me covered on this one. Just knowing that I can get to it with a quick forward slash ( / ) is good enough ( ESC to exit ), I don’t think I need to enable it full time.