Killing the Animated GIF

I’m unsure when I entered the TARDIS but at some point recently animated GIFs (and the newer SVG format and others) made a strong resurgence on-line. I’ve seen them from the Atlantic On-line, Gizmodo, and an ever growing cadre of sites.
Basically these animated files are the modern equivalent of the flip book you or more likely your parents played with as a kid.
Animated GIFs were very popular in earlier days on the Internet. These digital flip books have many advantages, not the least of which are that they are relatively small and no extra software is needed to see them.
The major drawback is that they are incredibly distracting. Some browsers will let you hit the Esc key to stop them, but that doesn’t always work. If you’re like me, you’d just assume never see them animate. You’ll still see a picture but it will only be the first image in the file.
In Firefox there’s an easy fix to turn these pictures off.

  1. Open a new tab (File – New Tab)
  2. Type “about:config” in the location bar without the quotes
  3. Type “image.animation_mode” into the search field, again without quotes
  4. Double click on the “image.animation_mode” entry.
  5. In the dialog box that appears, delete the current value and type “none” in the field, again without quotes
  6. Click OK

In the Opera browser, open the Quick Preference (File – Quick Preferences). Remove the check mark from the “Enable GIF/SVG animation” or “Enable animated images” option.
In Internet Explorer go to Tools – Internet Options. Click the Advanced tab. Scroll down to the Multimedia section and deselect “Play Animations in webpages”. Click OK, then restart IE.
Any new animated graphics files won’t play in your browser.
Unfortunately there isn’t a similar fix for Google Chrome. You’ll have to install an extension like Stop Animations or Pause! Pause! Pause! or Paused!
What do you think about animated images in web pages? Let me know about that and if this page helped you out.

Why I Get More Than One (Virtual) Paper

James Fallows from the Atlantic Magazine wrote here, here, and here about why he gets more than one newspaper.
What he plainly shows in his posts is one of the first things my journalism professor at Oklahoma State made us aware of. In fact, we had to subscribe to at least two Oklahoma papers and at least one national paper. My local choices were The Daily Oklahoman (I think it’s just The Oklahoman these days), the now defunct Tulsa Tribune, the Tulsa World, and I think the Stillwater NewsPress. My national papers were USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.
I didn’t actually subscribe to all of those. A friend in the dorm had a girlfriend (Jen?) who was in my journalism classes, so she and I and a few other classmates split subscriptions, handing papers around. That’s not the point.
The point is that it built up a habit in me. I still consume a lot of print news in a given day. The difference lies with how I consume that news.
Going through three print newspapers every morning and three more in the evening consumed a huge chunk of time. I quickly figured out a method of scanning the papers. Even as my academic career careened off the girl-shaped cliff that became my ex-wife I still read the news. My consumption waxed and waned as life moved on but I always stayed up on current events.
These days I use technology to make my news consumption far more efficient.
This leads into a larger “What I Read” post that is forthcoming. Stay tuned!

Data Center-esque I am not ATM

This week I found myself waiting. I waited for my home IT infrastructure to do things I took for granted before.
The waiting irritated me. It irritated me because I intended to upgrade my home kit ages ago but I never not around to it.
My 2004 era HP OfficeJet 7210 doesn’t print anymore. It only sometimes scans and doesn’t answer the land-line phone for faxes.
I dusted off an ancient Acer AspireOne 150 (Intel Atom 1.6GHz, 1.5GB RAM) and a medieval HP Pavilion dm1z (AMD E-350 1.6 GHz, 8GB RAM). The former, running Ubuntu, I nominated as my Emacs machine. The latter, running BackTrack 5r3, remains my ethical hacking box. Both machines possess significant shortfalls that make them awful as regular use PCs.
Those two sandwich my mid-2011 MacBook Air on my desk. It’s a great laptop, but is hamstrung by its measly 4GB RAM. It’s my main machine, but running Firefox with > 10 tabs and Parallels Desktop can bring it to a crawl.
It wasn’t always like this. Up through 2011 my home gear was far superior to what my employer assigned me. There were tasks and projects I would specifically take home with me. From my Microsoft Trackball Explorer (the best pointing device ever) to the Microsoft 4000 keyboard to the dual 23-inch displays to my 64-bit dual cpu Sun Ultra60 running OpenBSD as my pf firewall, my home kit kicked my work gear in the posterior.
Then I needed to install a work firewall device. Then I got an ergonomic wireless keyboard mouse combo at the office. It went on through my work laptop. By then there was nothing better at home and I stayed later to do certain tasks.
I find myself now cobbling together this 2010-era hardware into a usable pastiche. Some things like my old multifunction printer are unusable. They’re en route to the electronics recycle center tomorrow. Replacements need ordering, a scary reality when unemployed. The remaining functional bits get refreshed, hacked, upgraded, or cobbled together.
I will dig out my treadmill and resuscitate my treadputer. Huge amounts of old electronics of all types are on the way out. Old books and manuals and DVDs and CDs and, yes, floppy disks now file circularly in the bit bucket. I’m slurping data from a surprising number of external hard drives into an old Network Attached Storage (NAS) server with RAID5 (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) I’ve resuscitated (I hope). It’s unreliable I think, so I’ll keep looking for a replacement (Drobo 5N, perhaps?).

What I'm Not Missing – the iPhone 5

I don’t normally miss things, but I find myself missing my work laptop. It’s funny, since I tried to return it for being too big. It ran Ubuntu Linux well. It was maxed out with CPU, memory, disk, display, and on and on and on. I miss the dual head monitor setup in my old office.
What I don’t miss is the iPhone 5. I didn’t realize it until I read this article about Apple cutting orders of iPhone parts due to low demand.
Last year I upgraded my iPhone 3GS work cell phone with a shiny new iPhone 5. The speed was nice. The additional screen space was nice. The new Lightning connector sucks if you, like me, own a bunch of the all ready inconvenient 30-pin accessories. The iPhone 5 is light and slick and thin. While it slips into a hip pocket easily it also lends itself to drops and slips.
I was never wowed by the phone.
My personal phone is an iPhone 4S. It’s a bit heftier. It’s more energetic. Vibrate notification feels like it could fell the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It’s the same OS but seems easier to navigate with one hand. It’s fast enough. And my iPhone 4S has more space than my former employer was willing to provide with the work iPhone 5, so music and podcasts are no problem.
Will my next phone be an Apple product? Setting aside whatever my next employer offers, my next personal phone probably won’t be an Apple product, at least not one of the current models.

New Adventures in Life, the Universe, and Everything

NOTE: For those of you who came here because of my running Ubuntu 12.04 on T430s series, that is at an end. The laptop was my work machine. I’ll try to help point people to more information but I can’t provide configs or verify settings any more.
This past Tuesday I was “let go” from Magna, the company where I worked for well over a decade. Upper management’s move came out of nowhere, and a number of my now former colleagues did not see the change coming either. It was really hard to experience, it’s not something I’ve ever been through before, and I’ve no interest in experiencing it again.
I’ve got good things to say about my time at Magna. I value my time and work there. I will miss the people. I will especially miss my team.
After Tuesday’s kick in the gut I took Wednesday off to let things settle emotionally. Thursday I kicked off the job hunt.
My plan as of now on is to write about the job hunt, what I’m doing for it, and what kinds of things I should have planned for while I was gainfully employed. Looking at this change as an opportunity I will also catch up on my InfoSec and IT reading backlog, so you’ll likely see write-ups. I’ll dig into privacy issues, politics and IT, and other topics as I’m moved to write.
My personal plans and journey you will find over on Harmony Pirate.