More help is available

From the “Do you understand why people hate you, Microsoft?” department:

D:\>net stop xyz
The service name is invalid.

More help is available by typing NET HELPMSG 2185.

D:\>net helpmsg 2185

The service name is invalid.

D:\>

Yes. Very bloody helpful.

I don’t expect miracles in the command line, but I do expect that if I’m told more help is available, that more help is actually available.

Chrome starts blocking web sites using HTTPS over SSL3

It would seem some organisations still haven’t got the message on SSL vulnerabilities, even one with a publicity-friendly name like Poodle.

For instance, Swinburne University of Technology, which is actually one of Australia’s better universities to learn computer science, has its student portal still trying to use SSL 3.

MySwinburne SSL error

My son was trying to figure out why he couldn’t connect with Chrome. Only by clicking for details do you get the slightly cryptic error: “ERR_SSL_FALLBACK_BEYOND_MINIMUM_VERSION”

It turns out Chrome has disabled fallback to SSL3. For now you can override it (though it’s easier for now just to use another browser), but soon it’ll be disabled completely. Site owners will need to make sure their servers support TLS instead.

They’ve also started giving a warning on SHA-1 certificates — no more green logo; it’s gone yellow, with a warning: “This site is using outdated security settings that may prevent future versions of Chrome from being able to safely access it.” Again, it’s up to site owners to resolve this, by updating their certificates.

Why can’t you resize Remote Desktop windows?

RDP optionsIf you can spontaneously change the resolution of Windows in a Virtual Machine, how come you can’t do it in a Remote Desktop session?

I’m forever opening up RDP sessions in the wrong resolution, because the RDP client seems to have a funny way of selectively remembering (or forgetting) the preference.

Sometimes if focussing entirely on the remote session, I’d like it to be full-sized. At other times I’d like it smaller so I can more easily jump between things.

Is there something complicated that stops RDP windows being resized after connection has been made? If it is possible in a VM, presumably it can’t be too hard in RDP?

It looks like in Windows 8 and later you can easily turn on “smart resizing”, and in earlier versions this can be configured in the .rdp file. But this scales the window at the original resolution, rather than changing resolution.

It’d be nice if proper resizing of the window was possible.

myTax – pleasantly surprisingly pain-free

I’m sometimes wary of online services, especially those provided by government. (Heck, look at the Myki web site… it’s clunky and still looks like it was written last decade — which of course it was, and it’s never had more than a minor update.)

But having tried the Windows-based eTax for the first time last year (when the Australian Taxation Office pretty much forced everyone off the paper Tax Packs by not making them generally available), this year I tried out MyTax, which is the cut-down simplified web-based tax return system. It means I can avoid having to download and install eTax.

It has to be linked to a MyGov account, which is Big Brother’s logon system that includes (at your option) services provided by the ATO, Medicare, Centrelink and others.

MyGov

Signing up and submitting the tax return all seemed to go fairly smoothly, and the simplified design (it can’t handle more complex tax affairs) means the process of entering all the information is much quicker than using a Tax Pack or eTax.

A big criticism of eTax has been that it only works under Windows. Given MyTax is also cross-platform, I wonder how long it’ll be before it is enhanced and replaces eTax completely.

The only criticism I have with it is that once you’ve submitted, it says there’s only one chance to Save and/or Print what you’re submitting. That’s a bit weird. And it doesn’t actually allow you to Save, only to Print. I cheated and Saved by copy/pasting the HTML into Word, and saving that.

Summer 2014/2015 starts

Saturday 18 October             Max 26    Partly cloudy.
Sunday 19 October     Min 17    Max 29    Afternoon cool change.
Monday 20 October     Min 12    Max 23    Mostly sunny.
Tuesday 21 October    Min 10    Max 28    Sunny.
Wednesday 22 October  Min 16    Max 31    Possible shower.
Thursday 23 October   Min 15    Max 20    Possible shower.
Friday 24 October     Min 13    Max 22    Cloudy.

iTunes free U2 album: How to make it appear

So you don’t want to splash out on a new iWatch or iPhone, but you do want that new U2 album that’s free on iTunes until 14th October?

The instructions (for Mac or PC itunes) say:

On your Mac or PC, open iTunes, then select the Albums tab. Select Songs of Innocence. Select a track to listen or click the iCloud icon to download.

What they don’t tell you is what to do if it’s not showing there. In my case, it wasn’t. It also wasn’t in Purchased, and although I could see it in the iTunes Store (and play previews), the iCloud icon wasn’t appearing.

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 10.58.33 am

The answer is you need to switch on the option to see iCloud purchases:

Preferences / Store / Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases

Then it should appear in the Albums tab.

With thanks to Sam Wilkinson on Twitter

Update 2014-09-16: For those who aren’t as keen on U2, Apple has now published an article on how to remove the album from your iTunes:

Remove iTunes gift album “Songs of Innocence” from your iTunes music library and purchases

Winter 2014 ends

I’ve tried to use the same technique to determine winter the same way I do summer; I decided back in June that winter started. And in August, it’s over.

Tuesday   19 August Max 15 Possible light shower.
Wednesday 20 August Min 7 Max 15 Cloudy.
Thursday  21 August Min 5 Max 18 Mostly sunny.
Friday    22 August Min 6 Max 19 Mostly sunny.
Saturday  23 August Min 7 Max 19 Mostly sunny.
Sunday    24 August Min 8 Max 18 Mostly sunny.
Monday    25 August Min 6 Max 18 Mostly sunny.

A couple of days later the forecast was extended out to

Tuesday   26 August  Min 8 Max 19 Partly cloudy.
Wednesday 27 August  Min 9 Max 21 Mostly sunny.

Airliner shootdowns ought to be technically impossible

Using missile to shoot down an airliner ought to be made impossible.  It may be a lack of imagination on my part, but I can’t think of a circumstance where a military force needs the ability to shoot down civilian aircraft.  There aren’t a lot of manufacturers of surface-to-air missile systems, regardless of their level of sophistication and range – shoulder launched or vehicle-mounted – so changing those designs to prevent civilian shootdowns ought not be a big deal. Admittedly there are many more means of bringing down aircraft beyond SAMs, but not a lot of them have the reach to bring down cruising airliners.

Civilian airliners have carried IFF transponders since World War II, so there’s the infrastructure in place already for the identification of non-military aircraft.  Furthermore, it’s a violation of Article 37 1.c of the Geneva Conventions to pretend you’re a civilian – that is, it’s a war crime with all the international condemnation that goes with that, so it’s reasonable to make weapons that refuse to down aircraft that identify themselves as civilian.

So, why is this still happening?

Retroactive HECS fees

I think it’s about time we introduced HECS fees for all those people who obtained degrees without contributing to the cost of those degrees.

The argument is that educating tertiary students costs the taxpayer money, and what’s in it for the taxpayers – why ought they fund some snotty kid’s education?  By the same argument, those who got those free educations between 1974 and 1989 ought to cough up and return the same portion of the cost of that education back to the people of Australia.