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December 20th, 2006

Rant: How to disable Flash’s auto update? and what §$@}! were managers at Macromedia?

Filed under: Attitude,Cutting the crap,Technology,Web — jm @ 19:41

Today I suddenly got an “update available for your Flash-player” dialog, which means that Adobe had that crappy piece of spyware checking in with their servers every 30 days. I immediately wanted to turn it off. If you’re not interested in how Adobe fucked up Flash’s configuration, but only want to turn off Flash’s auto-update functionality, click here

But how do I turn it off?

I remembered that Flash has no control panel (where its settings would actually belong). It also has no entry in the program menu. Adobe deliberately makes it incredibly hard to configure Flash’s privacy settings, cache settings or auto-update settings. Instead, as I remembered because I searched for it once before, there’s a special page on Adobe’s servers that allows you (after you requested the page and thus provided them with all kinds of data) to access Flash’s settings dialog. If I hadn’t known that this thing existed, my search would have taken hours longer. Here’s what I had to do to find it:

  1. Go to Adobe.com

  2. Click on support.

  3. Click on Flash-player support, of course there’s no mention of the configuration site there, in fact there’s also no hint about it in the “support center” or the “FAQ”. 95% of all users are either lost or bored by now.

  4. Click on Search and search for “Flash configuration”. This provides no meaningful search result, but a category link to “Flash configuration”

  5. At this point the site becomes unbearably slow, which is not an issue with my DSL connection, as I can access every other part of Adobe.com just fine.

  6. Found a Technote titled: “IT Administration: Configuring Flash Player auto-update notification”.

  7. It says to go into the “Settings manager” located on the Macromedia website.

  8. However, the link doesn’t go to the settings manager, it goes to a page about the settings manager.

  9. From there, you can actually access the settings dialog, which has a helpful message below it that says

    “Note: The Settings Manager that you see above is not an image; it is the actual Settings Manager.”

    Obviously, even if a user stumbled upon the settings manager, they still don’t get it!

The solution

The breadcrumbs at the settings manager’s page show its path as: “Home / Support / Documentation / Flash Player Documentation”. It’s important that you note that it’s “Flash Player documentation”. So here’s how you access Flash’s settings (I’m not making this shit up):

  1. Go to Adobe.com

  2. Go to “Support > Documentation”

  3. Choose “Flash Player” (not “Flash”!) from the dropdown (yes, the size of the dropdown requires you to scroll down to get there)

  4. Click “Go”

  5. Behold the list of only one option

  6. Click the link titled “Flash Player 9 Help” with a link-text that reads “HTML”

  7. Click one of the links on the left to open the settings manager which then provides redundant navigation!

Or click this link to access Adobe Flash Player’s settings dialog!

This whole experience is sheer brilliance. I hope that everyone who ever worked on this feature was fired. There’s a beautiful passage in the book “The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams that describes this perfectly. A piece of dialog between the main character Arthur Dent and someone from the local council’s planning department, after Arthur found out that his house was going to get knocked down:

“You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to the building plans had you? I mean like actually telling anyone or anything.”
“But the plans were on display.”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a torch.”
“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look you found the notice didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of The Leopard'”

November 11th, 2006

WordPress 2.0.5

Filed under: PHP,Technology — jm @ 23:23

This PHP bug (#36705) broke the recent WordPress upgrade to 2.0.5 for some people (running fastcgi). There’s a WordPress plug-in by one of WP’s authors that fixes the issue. Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy fix that fixes the problem for all people. If you want to know why, you need to read the discussion of the braindead bug.

It’s one more reason why building maintainable systems in PHP is really, really hard. From the bug’s discussion it seems that PHP’s documented behavior changed silently between versions. It’s not strictly a PHP-only problem, though, as you could also blame fastcgi for its behavior, but changing your API, keeping wrong documentation is exactly what I’ve come to expect from PHP. At least I’ll make sure to check if there’s a similar problem with Python running under fastcgi.

U.S. Politics

Filed under: Politics — jm @ 00:31

Well, the Democrats took the full Congress. Sometimes it seems that Bill Clinton was right.

There’s nothing wrong in America what can’t be fixed by what’s right with America

We need a Government in the United States that not only holds up democratic principles, but is able to hold the moral high ground. As Germany’s government seems to be unable to lead itself out of a paper-bag… with political oversight restored and with the weapons-dealing, oil-guzzling, child-molesting, “but deeply religious (honest!)” Christians out of the house, I feel that there’s hope for the United States.

November 07th, 2006

PHP has a UTF-8-related security vulnerability in htmlspecialchars() and htmlentities()

Filed under: PHP,Technology — jm @ 03:19

Fucking beautiful :-/. All versions <=4.4.0 and 5.2.0 are vulnerable.

Advisory: PHP HTML Entity Encoder Heap Overflow Vulnerability

Here’s to hope…

Filed under: Attitude,Politics — jm @ 02:57

Let’s hope that the American people do their best tomorrow to reverse some of the boneheaded things their current administration has produced! I guess impeachment of the sitting president is only possible if he got some head somewhere in the hallway, not if he lied to congress, the American people and Europe about WMDs and intelligence that weren’t there, then labeling the few nations that stood up to him “cowards”, “liars” and “terrorist-supporters”.

The record of this American administration is incredibly sad. They brought the United States of America to the brink of degrading into a perversion of a democratic country, only paying lip-service to the values they once stood for. Not to mention they’re seemingly insatiable lust for power that lead them to protect a pedophile while accusing their political opponents of supporting child-molesters, smearing a disabled Vietnam veteran for being unpatriotic while cutting support for the military they claim to support so much, lead by a guy who never served outside his own country, suspending Habeas Corpus… the list goes on and on and on and on.

Here’s to hope that they start fixing that tomorrow!

October 28th, 2006

Google and language

Filed under: General — jm @ 11:46

Ben Metcalfe: Google can go shove their lexicographical ‘advice’ up their ass. My sentiment, exactly. Idiots!

October 20th, 2006

riiiiiiight…

Filed under: General — jm @ 09:11

bling h2o. Bottled water. Frosted glass. Swarovski crystals. $35.00 per bottle. *cough*

bling H2O

October 18th, 2006

The Web 2.0 thinking game

Filed under: General — jm @ 21:40

The comments are priceless! It'd be more funny, if it wasn't true.

September 30th, 2006

If you’ve ever wondered…

Filed under: General — jm @ 17:40

...this is how you make fucking tomato-sauce.

September 29th, 2006

The new Microsoft Excel misrepresents data by default

Filed under: Cutting the crap,Technology — jm @ 14:53

The default graphs were hideous at best, but now, thanks to a focus-group-tested and user-centric decision probably made by marketing drones without a brain: Microsoft Excel deliberately misrepresents data, because it turns out, users didn’t like empty cells in bar-graphsidiots :-).

Update: to change this non-sensical idiotic default: select the range, open VBE and type “activecell.formatconditions(1).percentmin = 1” in the immediate window

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