Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Towards More Civilized Discourse

I find myself a little dismayed when I check out a blogroll and I DON'T find These Stone Walls. Father MacRae is an excellent writer, a light to the world, and a stunning example of obedience and charity while under duress. Case in point: His post entitled, Holy Hostility, Batman! He ably decries the nastiness, name-calling, spite and vituperation prevalent in a fairly large number of blog comboxes and other online communities. He makes the case that it's not enough for the blogger to refrain from such behavior; it is also incumbent upon the blog admin to prune nastiness out of their comboxes as well. In fact, this is one of the reasons I moderate comments.

(another is so that I'll have notification of some sort that a comment has actually been posted. It's not something that happens a lot around here.)

And I fully agree that one of the hallmarks of a good blog is a good community participating in the combox. But what do you think?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On computing

Most people browse on Windows. I advocate free software, even for Windows users. One problem is that open source licenses allow malicious coders to download the source code, insert malware, compile it, and publish it. To counter this, I suggest looking for your free software at, which certifies downloads as malware free and nag free. A second site that is very helpful for this sort of thing is, which also has an app to automatically update your downloads when new versions are released. You can also use the H Security Update check to make sure all your windows software is up to date.

In other news, the Electronic Frontier Foundation released a study demonstrating that information provided by default -- namely the combination of your browser, operating system, and plugins, along with their version numbers, uniquely identify 84% to 94% of web surfers, even those who completely disable all cookies. This is one reason why I use Firefox, SRWare Iron, Google Chromium, Midori, Arora, Opera, and w3m browsers with minimal plugins, and three or four different operating systems. I use at least one of these to misrepresent itself, in order to gain access to certain websites that absolutely refuse to grant access when I don't. According to the EFF, the only likely fix is to demand that publishers remove this behavior from browsers.