Fnac selling (almost) only Windows netbooks?

It seems that the Fnac (at least the Spanish section) has been remodelling its web recently, which caused some downtime last week, and a really slow experience right now (their webmaster must lack the experience to realize that great changes should be made first in test computers, then moved to production ones. Or maybe they lack the resources to buy a spare server...).

Anyway, I'm visiting the place to check the prices of netbooks, more precisely an ASUS Eee 901, and, to my surprise, the Linux models are gone! I have previously seen both Windows XP and Linux-based netbooks in Fnac, but now only the former seem to survive. I suspect that the XP netbooks are always over-represented in stores, that is, they have many more XP units than Linux ones, even though they are sold on par. Or even more Linux units are sold.

However, this plain and simple oblivion of any Linux offer is outrageous, and can only point to nasty activity by Microsoft, who moves the necessary strings (money when possible, threats when necessary) to secure a niche (that of netbooks), that is one of the biggest market entry points for Linux, and thus the greatest menace to MS's monopoly.

Right nowk, the Fnac Spain "Ultra Mobile" page (can not make a direct link because URLs inside the Fnac site are a thing to fear and hate), shows only one Acer Aspire One with Linux. All other netbooks, including all other Acer Aspire One models, and all Eee PCs, are exclusively Windows machines.

Update: The Linux Eee PCs seem to be back. Maybe it was just an error? Probably I'm just too paranoid :^)

La jungla de internet móvil: simyo contra Movistar, Vodafone y Orange

Ya comenté en un post anterior los pros y contras que encontraba para contratar Orange o simyo como proveedor de internet móvil. Finalmente escogí simyo, con quien no tengo en principio queja, excepto que en general es más lento e irregular de lo que esperaba (pero temo que sea un problema inherente al uso de red de telefonía móvil).

Con el tiempo he ido viendo cada vez más anuncios de internet móvil, por la calle y en televisión. Obviamente los que más machacan con el tema son los ladrones de Movistar, como con todo con lo que creen que pueden sacar tajada engañando proveyendo de un servicio a la gente.

Lo que me indigna es lo absolutamente vergonzosas que son las ofertas de los principales operadores (Movistar, Vodafone y Orange), respecto a otras como la de simyo. Por ello, voy a hacer una mínima comparativa, y que el lector saque conclusiones.

Bases

Se ha comparado un producto de cada empresa, teniendo como características una tarifa plana hasta cierto volúmen de datos mensual. Tras ese gasto la velocidad ofrecida baja en todos los casos, pero no se cobra más por ese volúmen extra. Los precios son con IVA.

Datos

Compañía Ancho de banda Precio Límite datos Velocidad tras límite Permanencia
simyo 3.2 Mbps 28.99 € 5 GB 128 kbps 0
Movistar 3 Mbps 45.24 € 1 GB 128 kbps 18 meses
Vodafone 3 Mbps 45.24 € 1 GB 128 kbps ns/nc
Orange 3.6 Mbps 45.24 € 5 GB 128 kbps 18 meses

Notas adicionales

  • El módem USB de simyo es libre. Los demás son cada uno exclusivo de su compañía.
  • Vodafone excluye expresamente el tráfico p2p (compartición de ficheros). Simyo lo permite expresamente, diciendo que pudiera ralentizarse en caso de congestión de red.

Conclusiones

¿Hace falta añadir algo?

Comment on a Fox forum comment on Obama

Silly title for the post, I know. Bear with me.

Through the "random hot post" feature in WordPress, I read Fox forum post criticizing Barak Obama (I would't expect that in a Fox forum!). In short, it says that the claim that women are worse paid than men for the same job is a myth. For a longer explanation, read the whole article

The thing is that I tried to comment there, but I couldn't (when hitting "Submit comment" a 404 error appears). Bad page coding or anti-leftist filter? I don't know, but I'm writing down my opinion here. Because I can :^)

I didn't expect such right-wing ideas in a Fox forum [/irony]

I partly agree with the reasoning of the post, fair is fair. But the writer absolutely fails to stick to the logic he proclaims. There are two issues, that he correctly differentiates:

A) Whether men and women have different salaries "on average"

B) Whether men and women have different salaries "for the same job"

The writer seems to accept that while it is true that men earn more in A, in the more "fair" comparison B, the salaries are equal. I am not going to comment on B, because I have no data. For the sake of argumentation, I will assume that it is true that in the B comparison salaries are equal.

Now the writer tries to convince us that the comparison in A is unfavorable to women because:

a) women tend to not choose jobs with higher salaries.
b) women can not sacrifice themselves to their job, because they have to be good mothers

Let me disagree. The fact that, on average, men have better jobs does not imply that women do not choose them. Actually, it is more probable that what it means is that those on charge (men) do not choose women for those jobs. This is discrimination.

And about the point b, it is hard to make it enter some people's skulls, but women should be "good mothers" as men should be "good fathers". A home/family is a hard work for BOTH parents, and there is no sacrifice a man could do for his job that a woman should not be allowed to do. Maybe men are more willing to make sacrifices to their job (condemning their partners to stay home in the process), and maybe men are more allowed to do those sacrifices. This is discrimination.

DreamHost makes me happy again: free backups

Perhaps you are aware of my first (and last so far) gripe with DreamHost: as I wrote a couple of months ago, they wouldn't let me use my account space for non-web content.

Well, it seems that they really work to make their users happy, and probably other people requested something like that, and read what the August DH newsletter says about it:

In keeping with my no-theme theme, uh oh, I think I just made a destroy-the-universe-LHC-style self-contradiction, here's a new feature that pretty much has nothing to do with anything I said in the introduction!

https://panel.dreamhost.com/?tree=users.backup

Now, you know how we give out a LOT of disk space with our hosting? Well technically that space is only supposed to be used for your _actual_ web site (and email / database stuff) .. not as an online backup for your music, pictures, videos, other servers, etc!

Well, just like every other web host does, we've been sort of cracking down on that some lately, and it seems to catch some people by surprise! Nobody likes being surprised, especially in the shower, which is where we typically brought it up, and so now we offer a solution:

You CAN use 50GB of your disk space for backups now! The only caveat is, it's a separate ftp (or sftp) user on a separate server and it can't serve any web pages. There are also NO BACKUPS kept of THESE backups (they should already BE your backups, not your only copy), and if you go over 50GB, extra space is only 10 cents a GB a month (a.k.a. cheap)!

Thanks, DreamHost, for showing me that I made a good choice when I chose you!
Update: apparently only SFTP works (or FTP if you are idiot enough to enable it), but not scp or any SSH-related thing (rsync, ...). I hope I find some workaround, because if not that would be a showstopper for me.

Orange contra simyo

Estoy en proceso de selección de una compañía que me dé acceso a internet móvil. Es decir, poder conectarme a internet a través de la red de telefonía móvil, usando para ello una tarjeta SIM como la de los móviles, y un módem habilitado para usarla.

He seguido (de lejos) la evolución de los precios y servicios ofertados por las compañías de telecomunicaciones españolas, y la verdad es que no podían calificarse más que de estafa, o quizá "robo" es una palabra mejor. Sin embargo creo que ahora mismo es el momento en que los precios empiezan a ser competitivos (aunque no los de todas las compañias). Movistar y Vodafone parecen ofrecer basuras de calibre considerable, pero hay dos productos que me han llamado la atención: Internet Everywhere de Orange, y Tu propio internet móvil de simyo.

Ambas compañías ofrecen un servicio similar, que se puede resumir en:

  • Tarifa plana
  • Velocidad 3.6 Mbps hasta 5 GB mensuales
  • Tras consumir 5 GB se puede seguir navegando a 128 kbps sin coste adicional
  • Módem USB Huawei E220, que he leído que está soportado bien por Linux

La diferencia entre ambas es básicamente el precio (siendo simyo bastante más barata). A continuación resumo puntos a favor y en contra para ambas, y animo al amable lector a que me dé su opinión sobre el tema, si a bien tuviera.

Orange

Pros

  • Tiene tiendas físicas donde acudir
  • Regala el módem

Contras

  • El precio es más caro (39 eur/mes + IVA).
  • Exige compromiso de permanencia de 18 meses
  • Siendo una de las tres compañías que forman el oligopolio de las operadoras móviles en España (con Vomistar y Robafone), contratarla supone apuntalar su dominio (y poder para abusar del cliente), y ahogar a la competencia minoritaria

simyo

Pros

  • Mucho más barato: 24.99 eur/mes + IVA).
  • El módem es libre (el de Orange creo que no).
  • Me gusta más su política de funcionamiento, la idea de "no frills", y lo que conlleva.
  • Aunque respaldada por KPN, simyo es una compañía minoritaria en España. Por ello, contratar sus servicios activa una sana competencia en el mercado.

Contras

  • Sólo puede accederse a la compañía por internet.
  • El módem hay que comprarlo, por 99 eur + IVA.

Todo lo anterior podría resumirse simplistamente en que Orange te regala los 99 euros del módem, mientras que simyo te cobra 14 euros menos al mes. Si esto fuera cierto, en 7 meses uno habría amortizado el módem en simyo (y tengamos en cuenta que Orange pide 18 meses de permanencia, y simyo 0). En los 18 meses de permanencia de Orange uno habrá gastado 18x39 = 702 eur (más IVA), mientras que en simyo habrían sido 99+18x25 = 549 eur (más IVA). Esto supone un ahorro de 150 euros en año y medio.

First DreamHost disappointment

I will simply copy&paste an e-mail interchange between DreamHost and me, with a few extra comments (some data substituted by "xxxxx"):

DreamHost:

Dear Iñaki,

Our system has noticed what seems to be a large amount of "backup/non-web" content on your account (#xxxxx), mostly on user "xxxxx" on the web server "xxxxx".

Some of that content specifically is in /home/xxxxx (although there may be more in other locations as well.)

Unfortunately, our terms of service (http://www.dreamhost.com/tos.html) state:

The customer agrees to make use of DreamHost Web Hosting servers primarily for the purpose of hosting a website, and associated email functions. Data uploaded must be primarily for this purpose; DreamHost Web Hosting servers are not intended as a data backup or archiving service. DreamHost Web Hosting reserves the right to negotiate additional charges with the Customer and/or the discontinuation of the backups/archives at their discretion.

At this point, we must ask you to do one of three things:

* You can delete all backup/non-web files on your account.

* You can close your account from our panel at:
https://panel.dreamhost.com/?tree=billing.accounts
(We are willing to refund to you any pre-paid amount you have remaining, even if you're past the 97 days. Just reply to this email after closing your account from the panel).

OR!

* You may now enable your account for backup/non-web use!

If you'd like to enable your account to be used for non-web files, please visit the link below. You will be given the option to be charged $0.20 a month per GB of usage (the monthly average, with daily readings) across your whole account.

We don't think there exists another online storage service that has anything near the same features, flexibility, and redundancy for less than this, so we sincerely hope you take us up on this offer!

In the future, we plan to allow the creation of a single "storage" user on your account which will have no web sites (or email). For now though, if you choose to enable your account for backups, nothing will change (apart from the charges). If you want to enable backup/non-web use on this account, please go here:

https://panel.dreamhost.com/backups.cgi?xxxxxxxxxxx

If you choose not to enable this, you must delete all your non-web files by 2008-07-16 or your account will be suspended.

If you have any questions about this or anything at all, please don't hesitate to contact us by replying to this email.

Thank you very much for your understanding,
The Happy DreamHost Backup/Non-Web Use Team

My answer:

Dear DreamHost Support Team,

I fully understand your point. Though apparently sensible, a detailed analysis shows that the policy you cite from the TOS makes little sense.

Right now I have a 5920 GB/month bandwidth limit, and a 540 GB disk quota in my account, both applied to web use. My current use in this regard is less than 4 GB disk space (0.7% of my quota), and my estimated bw use at the end of the present billing period will be around 0.2 GB (33 ppm (parts per million) of my current (and increasing) bw quota).

Now, on the other hand, I have some 50-100 GB of data (less than 20% of my disk quota!!) that I want to keep at the servers (for whatever private interest, that I do not need to disclose, but I will: backup and data sharing among my different PCs). Keeping this data up to date could cause between 1 MB and 1 GB worth of transfers per day (30 GB/month at most, or 0.5% of my bw quota).

All of the above raises some questions:

1) Why on Earth am I granted such a huge amount of resources that I will never conceivably use? Maybe just because of that: because I will never use them?

2) Why am I prevented of using my account in the only way that would allow me to take advantage of even a tiny part of those resources?

3) In what respect is the HD space and bw used up by a backup different from that used up by web content? Isn't all data a collection of 0s and 1s? How can a Hosting Service, ISP, or any other provider of digital means DISCRIMINATE private data according to content?

4) Regarding the previous point, how is DH to tell if I simply move the backup dirs to the isilanes.org/ folder? I have to assume that if I make my backups visible through the web (which I can prevent with file permissions), then it makes them 100% kosher, since they become "web content" that I am allowed to host at DH?

It seems to me that you are renting me a truck to transport people, then frown at me if I take advantage of it to carry furniture. Moreover, you are advising me to keep the truck for people and rent small vans for the furniture.

[snip irrelevant part]

Believe me, I am willing to be a nice user. I just want to be able to use the resources I pay the way I need.

Iñaki

Their answer:

Hello Iñaki,

1) Why on Earth am I granted such a huge amount of resources that I will never conceivably use? Maybe just because of that: because I will never use them?

Some people will. Admittedly, very few do, but to be perfectly blunt, overselling is actually a vital part of our (and ANY) web host's business model:

http://blog.dreamhost.com/2006/05/18/the-truth-about-overselling/

2) Why am I prevented of using my account in the only way that would allow me to take advantage of even a tiny part of those resources?

That's an exaggeration, to be honest. Anyone can use up to the entire amount of their bandwidth and space, providing they use it for the purpose intended. If we ever open DreamStorage, you'd be welcome to use that space for backing up your data.

3) In what respect is the HD space and bw used up by a backup different from that used up by web content? sn't all data a collection of 0s and 1s? How can a Hosting Service, ISP, or any other provider of digital means DISCRIMINATE private data according to content?

Well, just as we have...there's a ton of data in a non-web-accessible directory. That's a pretty good tip that something's up. By your argument, we couldn't take down someone for copyright, or even child porn violations, as it's just "a collection of 0s and 1s", and who are we to "discriminate"? Our Terms of Service, which you agreed to 2008-02-22 at 3:39pm. If you didn't agree, this simply wasn't the service for you.

4) Regarding the previous point, how is DH to tell if I simply move the backup dirs to the isilanes.org/ folder? I have to assume that if I make my backups visible through the web (which I can prevent with file permissions), then it makes them 100% kosher, since they become "web content" that I am allowed to host at DH?

Honestly, we're not going to let you off on some weak technicality. If you don't wish to comply with the ToS, we've even allowed you the option of receiving a prorated refund, regardless of how far out from your 97 day guarantee you are. We have no desire to lose your business, but your truck analogy is almost there. We're offering you trucks for transporting furniture...and we're doing it at a nice low rate. But we do require you actually use them. We count on the fact that very few people are going to be moving furniture 24/7, but if someone wanted to use it to it's fullest, they could. However, that doesn't mean you get to rent the truck, park it somewhere, and use it as a free self-storage unit. We want the truck if you're not using it for it's intended
purpose.

[snip irrelevant part]

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks!

Jeff H

My final answer:

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the kind answer! This kind of support is what gives DH an edge over other hosting providers. Keep it up.

What I say in my second point is not an exageration. It's the plain truth: if not for backups, I will never use 1% of my quota. I mean *I* won't. Don't know about others, just me.

It seems a little unfair that some guy with 500 GB of HD use and 5800 GB/month of bw use is paying 8$/month as I am (I don't recall the exact amount), while I am using 4 GB and 0.2 GB/month. Then I want to use 80 GB and 30 GB/month and I have to pay an extra 16$. That's a total of TRIPLE that of the aforementioned guy, while I'm still using 6 times less HD and 200 times less bw.

I would love to pay for some resources, and administer them as I like, be it for web, backup, svn, or whatever. What I meant with my third point is that 100 MB of my backups "hurt" the system as much as sb else's 100 MB of web content, so I can't see the reason to make the user pay a separate bill for "backups". Just make ftp traffic count against the disk/bw quotas and that's it! You could then stop worrying about "fair" use.

But that's pointless ranting on my side. Thanks for the attention. I will consider what to do in the light of the information you provided me.

Iñaki

I just want to point out how ridiculous their answer to my third point above is. DH tells me that they should be able to discriminate my data according to content (or use), because the opposite would supposedly allow me to break the law with copyright violations or child pornography. To follow with the truck metaphor, I am renting a truck from them, to carry furniture around. Since I don't use up all the space in the truck, and I have a fridge I want to move, I put it into the truck. Now DH wants to patrol what I carry in the truck, and tell me that the fridge is not allowed, because it is not "furniture". When I complain, and say that what I carry in the truck they lend me is none of their business, they answer that it is, because I could well be using the truck for drug smuggling. That's really lousy reasoning. If I use the truck for carrying something illegal, then the police will sort it out, not the renting company. It is the general Law that will tell me what I can use the truck for, not the renting company.

Microsoft se pasa al humor

Pedazo de noticia que he leído vía EmpresaDigitala.net. Según esta, Microsoft apuesta por la seguridad para diferenciarse del software libre.

¡Oh, sorpresa! MS, la empresa que produce el ubícuo sistema operativo Windows, tan conocido por su invulnerabilidad ante ataques de software malicioso y su práctica ausencia de bugs y errores, ha decidido seguir por el camino de la perfección que la caracteriza, para diferenciarse del software libre, que tantos agujeros de seguridad sabemos que tiene, y cuyos bugs sabemos que se tardan tanto en solucionar. ¡Menos mal! Estoy ya harto de los virus y troyanos en mi Debian. Es que cada vez que me mandan un e-mail tengo miedo de abrirlo, no sea que se me infecte el ordenador. Además el antivirus que tengo todo el tiempo corriendo en segundo plano me come muchos recursos, y no puedo trabajar a gusto. ¡Ojalá pueda pasarme a Windows, y olvidarme de todo este rollo del malware!

¡Venga ya!

Truñoweb de la semana: alsa.es

Update: a 28 de abril de 2008, la página alsa.es parece bastante mejorada. Sigue sin funcionarme bien, pero ahora la han modernizado (al menos en apariencia).

Cuando uno quiere hacer un viaje en autobús, ¿qué hace? Pues consultar horarios y tarifas en la página web de una compañía que haga el trayecto deseado, ¿no? En este caso deseaba hacer un viaje que la compañía ALSA cubre, así que ni corto ni perezoso me dirigí a su página web: http://www.alsa.es.

Como primer contacto, el hecho de que se te redirija a http://www2.alsa.es/portal/index.asp ya es bastante malo. Ninguna web seria te reescribe la URL, sobre todo la de la página principal. Además, el añadido de la palabra "portal" es superfluo y molesto, y el fichero "index.asp" podría haberse omitido también (añadiendo "index.asp" a una línea en apache2.conf, httpd.conf o mods-enabled/dir.conf, si usan Apache). El cutre "www2" en vez de "www" al comienzo de la URL es también para nota, y el hecho de usar ASP ya ni lo comento.

Seguimos con que hay que aceptar JavaScript (si usamos el recomendable plugin de Firefox NoScript) de dos direcciones: www.alsa.es y www2.alsa.es. Doble molestia para nula ventaja sobre una sola dirección de origen.

Como queremos consultar una ruta y su horario, hacemos click en "Rutas y Horarios", ¿no? Esto nos lleva a una página donde se nos pide elegir país de orígen de una lista desplegable. Elijo "España", y me dispongo a elegir ciudad de orígen de la correspondiente lista desplegable a la derecha. Uno se espera que esta segunda lista desplegable esté conectada con la primera (que solo salgan las ciudades del pais que has seleccionado). Pues bien, está conectada: si eliges España, la única ciudad de orígen disponible es "Error". Esto puede ser muy útil a quien quiera hacer un viaje de Error de Arriba (España), a Error de Abajo (España), pero poco más.

Con la única función vital de la página inutilizada, me puedo dedicar a comentar más fallos de estos ineptos. Por ejemplo, eso de "Web optimizada para 800x600" me llega al alma. Lo que quiere decir es que han hecho la página con un ancho fijo de 800 píxels. Por eso con cualquier pantalla a más resolución (todas las de después de la Guerra Civil) se ve una columna central con contenido (por llamarlo de alguna manera), y dos franjas grises a los lados. Franjas que serán mayores cuanto más resolución tengamos. Y si tuvieramos MENOR resolución o usásemos una ventana pequeña, sería aún peor: tendríamos que usar barras de desplazamiento lateral para ver toda la página. La verdad, se me hace difícil comprender qué clase de inútil hace páginas de resolución fija hoy en día, pero por lo visto haberlos hailos.

Si intentamos comprar billetes, accedemos a una página en la que, además de toda la basura de imágenes y anuncios de la página de inicio, tenemos un recuadro donde nos salen los pasos que vamos tomando para comprar billetes. Hete aquí que el primer paso es elegir ruta, y por tanto en el recuadro nos aparece una copia de la página de "Rutas y Horarios" que menciono arriba (con su error idéntico y todo). Ahora bien, la página de compra es de 800 píxels de ancho, y la de Rutas y Horarios también. ¿Cómo meter la segunda en un recuadro que es parte de la primera? Fácil: con barras de desplazamiento o "scrollbars". Simplemente lamentable.