Toshiba website. To fulfill your identification, please enter your gene sequence (with control digit).
Toshiba website. To fulfill your identification, please enter your gene sequence (with control digit).

Hadar bought a Toshiba laptop a year ago. Approximately. I don’t know exactly when. Why would i want to know such a useless thing? For warranty? Thank God, no. The laptop works, although Windows Vista makes it work about 20 times slower than it is supposed to, which doesn’t stop Toshiba from recommending it.

No, i am supposed to want to know the date that i purchased this laptop in order to log in to the Toshiba website. Why would i want to log in to the Toshiba website? That i don’t know, actually, but they sent me an email asking me to renew my membership, and i’m nice, so i usually do things that people ask from me if i don’t have to bother too much.

So anyway, this website asks me for the user name. OK, i enter my usual amire80 and my usual password and it doesn’t work. So i enter my second option, amir_e_a, and it doesn’t work. So i enter my email amir.aharoni@gmail.com as the user name, which is actually a reasonable thing to use as a user name. But it doesn’t work.

So i looked at the email, where i saw the string amir.aharoni@gmail.com_IL somewhere. So i tried that as the user name and it didn’t work. I didn’t give up and entered it as the user name in the password reminder form. And it worked.

And then it asked me for the date when i purchased the laptop with that serial number (see the image).

How could it be stupider? I mean, this question is a bit less ridiculous than my mother’s last name, but how the fuck am i supposed to remember the exact date when i purchased? Do you actually expect me to dig up the receipt to find that date? Asking me for the serial number would be reasonable—i can look it up on the laptop itself. But the date?

And oh—does it mean that anyone can enter any email address, schlep an “_IL” (or “_US” or “_RU” or “_IQ”) at the end and find out whether that email’s owner has a Toshiba laptop, and its serial number, too? That’s a direct violation of their privacy policy.

Now, check out this part of their email. Read this slowly: “If you don’t activate your profile for our personalised website experience we will delete it after one month. That also means you will not receive any alerts anymore. We would like to make you aware that with this process you do not withdraw from your permission to allow Toshiba to contact you.”

What idiot wrote that? That same idiot that put “EMEA” on that website. “EMEA” means “Europe, Middle East and Africa”. It’s a term commonly used in marketing departments. It is supposed to be internal. I am a customer, Toshiba; i am not supposed to give a damn about how you run your marketing department.

And Ubuntu doesn’t work so well on that laptop, too. (Although when it does work, it works 20 times faster than Windows Vista.)

No more Toshiba laptops, then.


Reality – June 06

These stickers have become quite common lately on walls and cars:

עד מתי יוני 06?! ג. שליט
עד מתי יוני 06?! ג. שליט

“Till when June 2006?! G. Shalit”. It refers to a graffiti which is common in public toilets in Israel as well as at military bases. It expresses the frustration of a draft soldier that wants to get demobilized, although the date in such graffiti is usually the date he started his service. Shalit’s draft date is July 2005 and indeed, his friends were demobilized a few days ago. June 2006 is the date Hammas kidnapped him.

The apple you’ve got in your eye

The Free Software Foundation‘s Defective By Design campaign against Digital Restrictions Management proposes to ask “Apple Geniuses”—about the restrictions that the Apple iPhone imposes on its users and software developers who want to write programs that will run on it.

Nice idea, i thought, i may do it, but i need better directions, so i left this sincere comment:

This looks like a fun activity, and i may try doing it at my local Apple store, but there are a few problems that i’d like to clear out before i embark on the mission.

1. I am in Israel. This questionnaire is quite US-centric. While Apple products may be more familiar to people in the US, where they are common in some schools and workplaces, it is not so in Israel. Here, until recently Apple computers were used only by a few graphic designers, and only recently Apple started marketing them to the general public. iPods are quite common here, and so are iPhones, but none of them are marketed half as heavily as they are in the US. Also, the last question is completely US-centric. Can you please improve it by making it more generic and international?

2. All of this questionnaire assumes that i must trust FSF’s claims blindly. I do trust the FSF and i strongly believe that it acts for a good cause and i assume that it doesn’t try to lie to me. Nevertheless, a few links to sources that prove the claims about the restrictions imposed by iPhone would strongly improve my point and my confidence when talking to the “genius”. For example: a direct link to a Nokia website that proves that any developer can upload their programs to a Nokia phone, a direct link to a website with Steve Jobs’ speech against DRM, a direct link to an Apple website that outlines the restrictions on software that can be used on the iPhone, a direct link to a website that proves that it is indeed impossible to play Ogg Vorbis-encoded music on the iPhone etc. Also, i don’t even know what does it mean to “activate” an iPhone.

3. The FSF expects people to refuse non-free software, and all Apple products have it, so it would be a healthy assumption that Free Software activists would not be familiar with Apple products, style, lingo, etc. This questionnaire, however, assumes that i am familiar with these things. I have never used any Apple product at all, so i would feel quite awkward discussing them with an Apple-style person, who are also rumored to be rather arrogant about their stylishness. So could you please improve on that point and give a few tips on talking to Apple people?

Thanks in advance.

Talking like this to employees who represent the company is a very sobering experience. Asking them non-trivial questions often frustrates them badly. It’s not my fault. They must take responsibility for their workplace.

Market Share

At the infamous Bug #1 discussion, someone compared Microsoft developers’ priorities to Linux developers’ priorities. Although this discussion is very boring lately, i felt compelled to reply and said that Microsoft’s only priority has always been getting Microsoft products to all computer users in the world.

And today i read an interview by the Mozilla evangelist Christopher Blizzard, who says: “That might sound strange, but we are not that concerned about market share. […] I’d like to make sure more fundamentally that the web is healthy.”

Free Software people are determined to make the world a better place and treat questions of market share in a “if you build it, they will come” manner.

Reality – Start-Up

Roladin - Start-Up
Roladin - Start-Up

Roladin bakery and cafeteria were building a branch on Habarzel street where i work. So they put up a teaser – “Roladin Start-Up”. Like, it’s a street full of start-ups. When they finally opened, it turned out to be more than a gimmick:

Roladin - Feminism
Roladin - Feminism

They have a business lunch for guys and a business lunch for girls! A brilliant idea.

Fuck feminism.

Glasgow Mega Snake

Oh what fun it is to play “Glasgow Mega Snake” to an unsuspecting hitchhiker.

Or “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend”.

Or “Teen Age Riot”.

Or “Halleluhwah”.

Or “Breath” (Flash).

Oh what fun.

I suppose that you understood that those are songs. If you don’t try to find them after reading this, then we both failed.

Swiss, part 2

OK, i couldn’t resist, here a few more comments about languages in that Slashdot article about languages:

[Learn] Girlspeak.

I’m currently living with four (4) girls (three daughters, wife) all of which are able to speak in riddles and conundrums that they themselves understand, while leaving me completely at a loss of any valuable information.

Interestingly enough, this Girlspeak language transcends cultural boundaries! It is simply amazing how two girls can communicate without actually knowing the native tongue of the other.

adding German to my curriculum tacked one extra semester onto my studies. To say it was not encouraged is understating the case: I was told not to waste my time. Years have passed and the rest of my studies are some vague blur involving plumbing; but I can still speak German.

I learned German for three years, thinking it might be good for science. I even stayed with a German family for six weeks one summer. What I discovered: The Germans mostly speak better English than 3 years worth of German, and they’re usually eager to practice it. Had I learned Spanish instead, at least I could converse with the gardeners around here.

Germany is the only place where I’ve asked a question in english to someone off the street and have the person turn around and walk away. Sure the french may berate you, but I’d rather like that. Choose your poison.

Russian is rarely spoken outside of Kaliningrad and Karlovy Vary, but is widely understood (though rarely very welcome.)

The meaning of the name Gaydamak

Lera Henkel asked me: “Can you translate the Russian name Gaydamak into English?”

Gaydamak is not exactly Russian: It came to Russian from Ukrainian, and it came to Ukrainian from Turkish.

The original Ukrainian word is more correctly spelled “Haydamak” in Latin letters, but in case of Mr. Arcadi Gaydamak the custom is to write it with a ‘G’.

For information about who were the original Ukrainian Haydamaks, see the Wikipedia article Haidamaka, which appears to be pretty good.