Category Archives: Computers/Internet

Killing the Goose #NetNeutrality

Well, they did it. The FCC voted 3-2 on party lines to scrap Net Neutrality even though 83% of voters across the board want to keep it, even though scrapping it doesn’t help anyone except the giant cable & phone companies and those they decide to bless with their approval, even though it’s the only thing other than trust preventing those cable & phone companies from placing restrictions on how you use the internet and where you go…and you can surely use your imagination as to how that can be abused.

But you trust your cable company, right?

The fight moves to Congress now. They can still nullify the action through the Congressional Review Act – ironically, the same method they used earlier this year to wipe out privacy rules that the FCC put in place under the last administration.

Write Congress. Call your Senators. Call your Representative. Battle for the Net.

The Internet Needs Your Help

On Thursday, the FCC is planning to vote to allow your cable company to decide which news sites you get to access, which streaming sites you get to use, intercept your search queries, charge you extra for accessing specific sites (even if you already pay a subscription to the site in question), etc.

Oh, they’re not framing it that way of course. They’re framing it as removing an “unnecessary and burdensome” regulation.

But Title II Net Neutrality is the only legal framework in place that’s preventing, say, AT&T from blocking Skype, or Verizon from blocking tethering apps, or Comcast from slowing down Netflix until Netflix paid them extra — all things that happened in the decade leading up to the rule being adopted.

It’s also keeping ISPs from doing what they do in countries that don’t have net neutrality, like offering different internet packages based on which sites you use. Yeah, they look like cable TV packages. It would suck to be a startup company that’s not included in one of those packages, wouldn’t it? Tricky to make any headway against the entrenched giants.

And just think what might happen if a cable company decided to downgrade (or even paywall) access to news sites or organizations or discussion forums or activist groups that they don’t like, while making it easier to connect to those that they do approve of.

“Please, the Internet was fine before it, so why do we need it?” The Internet was built on the principle. It only became an official, legal requirement after ISPs started violating it, and even then it took several tries to build a requirement that held up in court. And phone companies are still trying to push the envelope with bundling and zero rating.

“But competition will solve it!” Really? How much competition is there when you only have two choices for your ISP, the local cable company or the local phone company, both of which are giant conglomerates — and both of which have violated net neutrality in the past?

“The FTC can regulate it!” Nope, we tried that. Verizon sued for the right to arbitrarily block websites and won, which is why the FCC reclassified internet providers under Title II a few years later.

“This is a matter for the states. Let them handle it.” Verizon and Comcast are lobbying for the FCC’s decision to ban states from creating their own net neutrality rules.

Net Neutrality solves a real problem, and while we may be able to find better solutions, that’s no reason to throw out the solution we have today. Congress can stop the FCC from voting tomorrow, but only if they hear from you today! Go to Battle For the Net and call your Representative and Senators before the FCC votes to sell us all out in favor of your cable company.

Groot, Guardian of the Internet

Groot reminds us that Net Neutrality is critical to internet freedom, and we should call Congress TODAY, before Thursday’s FCC vote to eliminate the only thing preventing your cable or phone company from blocking competition, burying news they don’t like, and shaking down startups.

Unless you trust your cable company to have your best interests at heart, head over to Battle for the Net and get Congress to remind the FCC that they work for you, not Verizon and Comcast.

Amazing what Groot can fit into just three words, isn’t it? 😉

NVIDIA on Fedora 27: Bad Resolution & Painful Mouse Lag (Fixed)

I’ve been using an older NVIDIA graphics card in my Fedora Linux workstation for a long time. I finally decided to upgrade to a newer one, which meant uninstalling the legacy drivers, then installing the current NVIDIA drivers.

Using the RPMFusion packages simplified it, because I only had to do the following to uninstall the old nvidia-340xx driver and install the new one:

dnf remove xorg-x11-drv-nvidia\*
dnf install xorg-x11-drv-nvidia akmod-nvidia
reboot

(Of course, I still had to hit ESC during boot, CTRL+ALT+2 to get to a text console, and log in without access to copy/paste or windowing.)

But it didn’t work. Oh, it brought up the GDM login screen, sure, but the mouse cursor and keyboard response were so slow I could barely even click on the form. It would move normally for about a second, then simply stop for five seconds. You can’t use a computer like that. Even if it had let me log in — it didn’t — there wouldn’t have been any point.

Additionally, the resolution was slightly off, with the aspect ratio on everything stretched vertically.

And of course I couldn’t use any of the graphical utilities to adjust settings, because I couldn’t run anything graphical.

I tried all kinds of things to fix it:

  • Creating an xorg.conf file with nvidia-xconfig. (no change)
  • Manually adding an xorg.conf section setting the resolution to the monitor’s native resolution. (no change)
  • Completely reverting to Linux’s built-in nouveau drivers, uninstalling all traces of nvidia and reinstalling Xorg and mesa as suggested at RPMFusion. That made the computer work again, but 3D graphics were slow. Reinstalling the nvidia packages fresh took me back to square one.

Nothing I could find online was remotely helpful. It was all about making sure the drivers were installed correctly, which I’d done, or configuring X.org, which (a) I’d done, and (b) hadn’t made any difference. (Fortunately I had another device I could look this stuff up on!)

Finally, just as I decided to revert to nouveau again just to have a working system and table the question of 3D acceleration until later, I hit upon an idea.

Wayland, the new display framework, isn’t compatible with the official NVIDIA drivers. I hadn’t had any problems with nvidia-340xx, so I figured I’d long since disabled Wayland and forgotten, but just for kicks, I switched over to the text console and tried

ps -ef | grep -i wayland

…and found that Wayland was running!

But Fedora’s GDM is supposed to fall back to X.org when it’s not able to run (the nvidia drivers are mentioned specifically). Maybe it recognized the old driver as incompatible, but thought (wrongly) that the new one could handle it?

Fortunately, that page also offered the solution:

Edit /etc/gdm/custom.conf, and put the following line in the [daemon] section:

WaylandEnable=false

The line’s actually in there already, commented out.

Literally, the solution to the problem that had me tearing my hair out for an hour was to delete a single #.

GDM displayed correctly, mouse and keyboard responded smoothly, and I was able to log in just fine…and 3D was much faster than my old card.

Problem solved!

But only because I finally realized I needed to look for Wayland.

Android Oreo Won’t Stop Vibrating

I finally discovered why my phone has been vibrating on most incoming messages since upgrading to Android Oreo, even when sound is on: It’s now a per-conversation setting, so even though I have Messenger set to sound only, that only applies to new senders. I had to go through my saved text messages and turn vibrate off in every. single. saved. conversation.

Deleting a conversation also makes it use the default setting the next time that person sends a message, so if you don’t want to save the existing texts, deleting them is faster.

Not terribly convenient, Google.

Of course, that only fixes it for Messenger.

Notification settings are per-app now, and it seems Oreo assumes you want it to vibrate along with the ringtone unless the app turns it off. And of course not all of them let you turn off vibration independently from sound. They haven’t needed to until now, after all.

Ironically, this includes Chrome. I’m trying out Mastodon (find me at @kelsonv@mastodon.social for general conversation and @kelsonv@photog.social for photos), and for now I’m using the embedded Chrome app. And I can’t fine-tune the notifications because Google’s own flagship browser doesn’t include the options it needs on the new version of their OS! 🤦