+50 screenshots revealing Windows phone issues. A WP8 review.

This is a difficult article because the list of issues and flaws of Windows Phone is close to inexahustible. At the beginning, some months ago, my intention was to cover them all, but, overwhelmed by what I realized was a superhuman task, not being inexhaustible myself, at a given point I stopped, deeming it Mission impossible. Still, I hope I did some useful work which, despite not being complete, can surely convey to the curious reader some idea about this extremely buggy and unforgivably restrictive operating system from Microsoft.
Also please mark that this is not a review proper, but a list of reasons–some feeble, some very powerful–to rule out the purchase of a Windows phone, for most consumers. Sure, the system has its virtues, who can deny it?; like for instance its stability; but it’s the type of stability you can find also in the good old hand-cranked telephones: as they have no features, they won’t break. If one hundred restrictions and limitations is the price for stability, it’s too high a price in my opinion. In any case, it’s not true that restrictions are the price for stability; that’s only what Microsoft wants us to believe. The real reason behind WP8’s restrictions is purely commercial. Continue reading “+50 screenshots revealing Windows phone issues. A WP8 review.”

Get rid of Acrobat's upgrade notification popup


Are you tired of the annoying “update acrobat” Acrobat icon popping up in your screen’s lower right corner every time you switch your computer on, or access any pdf document?

For getting rid of it, you can go to the heart of the problem and get rid of it once and for all… until you need it. The “updater” is a small application called AdobeARM.exe which is sitting in the folder: c:Program FilesCommon FilesAdobeARM1.0 (or whatever your version number is). You only need to go there, spot the application and chage its name (for example to AdobeARM.backup) This way, it will not distract you again with its popups and, when you want to upgrade Acrobat reader, you can just rename the file back to its original name.

Hope someone finds this helpful.


gstatic.com makes websites slow


For the past week or so, I’m experiencing a sensible slowness in my browsing experience: recently I often don’t manage to open Google maps, and at the same time some other websites, having -theoretically- nothing whatsoever to do with Google, slow down to a crawl. What the hell’s going on?, said I to myself.

Then, I noticed that, when browsing these “suddenly slow” websites, the status bar got stuck with a message saying something like “waiting for maps.gstatic.com”; and this is the hint that put me on the right track. Hmm…, thought I, that “g” in “gstatic” is very suspicious. Hang me if it doesn’t belong to Google. So I checked it down and, in effect, it does: gstatic.com is Google. Now, connecting both facts (maps.google.com being very slow, and maps.gstatic.com slowing down some websites) was easy: whenever Google servers, for whatever reason, become slow, any other website running scripts that involve these servers becomes also slow.

But what on earth is gstatic.com, and what has it (therefore Google) to do with certain websites? After doing some research, I concluded that this annoying gstatic.com thing is, among other uses, just one more controlling tool by Google. (For other example, check this post: Google Getting Greedier.) I’m very much afraid that Google is the greediest “creature” on the planet. They want to control about every single click you do, website you visit, email you send/receive, phonecall you make, contact you have, document you write, or anything you do in your life involving internet, computing or telecommunications.

And the truth is, if it didn’t slow down my browser, I wouldn’t care that much. I wouldn’t even have noticed. But Google has gone so far that now they’re directly bothering me, and I can’t stand it. I don’t want to be waiting for ten minutes (no exaggeration) to load a webpage which used to load in five seconds.

So, if you’re like me, I’ll tell you a workaround for this. I’m sure there must be some better ones, but this is the one I’m using, and it works. It’s quite simple: in your browser script settings, blacklist the whole gstatic.com domain or the offending subdomain (maps.gstatic.com, t1.gstatic.com, csi.gstatic.com, ssl.gstatic.com, whatever). I believe that IE, Opera and Chrome have built-in scripting preferences. As to Firefox or Seamonkey, you have to install some script blocking extension, for example “NoScript”. This particular one has no blacklist feature (which is a pity), but only whitelist. By default, it blocks all scripts. So, you can set it to allow scripts globally and then “forbid” the gstatic bunch.

Mark, though, that after blocking gstatic.com scripts, some websites might stop working, or have a limited functionality. So, you might need to temporarily unblock it.

Hope this has been of some help for you. If you have any questions, please post here or send me a personal mail.


Gingerbread: Google Getting Greedier

(Or why Google starts sucking.)

At the beginning of times, when Earth was created, Google was Good. They had the “do no harm” philosophy; you were totally free to use their services or not, and when using them, you weren’t forced to anything else, nor you had to pay with your data or your privacy. But with popularity came The Temptation, the evil snake whispering into the Google Guys’ ears: “hey folks, you’re now popular: you can have a lot of power and money. Wouldn’t you like it?” And the Google Guys thought: “yeah, we DO like it!”
And Google created Android.
A lot of people complain about Facebook (Facebook F, Google G, two contiguous letters in the alphabet; just a funny coincidende). People complain about the evil use that Facebook makes of our data. “They sell it!”, people say. And indeed they sell it, of course. Where else would the money to keep Facebook working come from? Our data. But still, it’s a well known fact; therefore there’s no fooling ourselves.
But what about Google? Why nobody seems to complain about Google? Or, better said: why nobody talks about, or thinks that Google is selling our data same as Facebook does? (And, as far as I can think, Google has probably more of our data than Facebook has.) Why do we still think that Google is Good? I’m asking this because, I’m afraid, the “do no harm” philosophy has been left Far (with F like in Facebook), Far behind.
Google -as I was saying- created Android; but they didn’t create it for the fun of it, nor because they’re Good like God. They created it out of greediness. With Android Froyo (with F, like in Facebook), haven’t you ever noticed how hard it is to do anything if you don’t “sync”with your Gmail account? In effect, a non-synced Android phone is pretty useless. But, once you “sync”, what makes you think you’re not sending, in the background, every piece of information you have in your handset?: your phonebook, your address book, your other accounts passwords… Yes: Google created Android for you to “sync” it, and pass to them your data, so they can sell it!
Sync! What an innocent, harmless-looking word they use! “Oh, you’re just syncing your data to your Gmail account, so you don’t lose it and you can always recover it”. Hah! What a trap! Maybe you don’t lose it, but certainly Google won’t lose it! They’ll make sure they keep it well, to build the largest phonebook database in the world. Do you think they’re not going to sell it? Do you think they’re not already selling it? Of course they are. So, be aware that, whenever you press “Sync”, you’re pressing “Sell”.
And, yet, Android Froyo had a “bug”: you still could use your SIM card for storing your phonebook, keeping your “freedom”, disregarding the “sync to Gmail” option and depriving Google of your precious data. Yes, perhaps you were one of those aware people who thought: “I’d rather keep my numbers private, and not ‘sync’ them to Google”. Now, that was a problem. So, what did the Good Google Guys do? Easy: they released Gingerbread, Getting Greedier and Greedier.
And, now, Gingerbread is the end of all Good: now you can’t use your SIM card for storing contacts at all, except (of course) for importing your contacts from it to your phone, so that you have to “sync” it to Google. With Gingerbread, if you want to store a new contact, you can’t do it to your SIM: you have to store it in the phone and sync it to Google servers if you don’t want to lose it. It’s a perfect trap: once you get into Gingerbread, you’re bound to Google forever: your contacts are in Google servers, you can only retrieve them with another Android (i.e., Google) phone, but you can’t store them in your SIM; so, the next phone you buy will be another Android. No escape! Since Gingerbread on, you’re doomed to keep collecting phone numbers for feeding Greedy Google’s databases, so they can sell more and more while you have less and less privacy.
Of course, there are applications in the market for transfering your contacts to your SIM; but it’s not quite the same; not at all: it’s time consuming, it’s annoying, it’s not efficient, and many (most) people won’t think of it, won’t do it.
Sure: Android is a “free” mobile phone operating system and, same as with Facebook, we have to pay for it somehow. We pay with our data and our privacy. Which perhaps is fair enough, but hey!: at least, let’s stop thinking that Google is Good.
Quite the other way around: Google starts sucking.
(Not to talk about the message: “you may not able to log in to your Gmail account again if you don’t provide us with your mobile phone number” that we get every now and then when checking our mail. What the hell is this supposed to be? Big Brother?)

No icons in QT apps on Xfce

If you ever experience this problem: QT apps showing no icons in their menus when running in Xfce desktop, you can fix it issuing these commands on a console:
gconftool-2 –type boolean –set /desktop/gnome/interface/buttons_have_icons true
gconftool-2 –type boolean –set /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons true