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October roundup #2


October 24 2019

I have released MaraDNS 3.4.01, discuss the updated search boxes, remember Flash websites not-so-fondly, and go over issues with buying some products on Amazon.

==MaraDNS 3.4.01 released==

I have released MaraDNS 3.4.01. This is just MaraDNS 3.3.03 declared “stable”. Compared to the last stable release of MaraDNS, I have added the ability to specify which IP a given host name has to Deadwood, MaraDNS’s recursive nameserver, and have updated the recursive nameserver to use, by default, the Quad9 recursive nameservers.

It can be downloaded on MaraDNS’s download page.

Using Quad9 is me throwing in the towel with trying to get Deadwood to resolve every single misconfigured domain on the Internet bug-for-bug the same way Bind does. While Deadwood resolves a correctly configured RFC-1034/1035 compliant domain name without problem (probably about 99.9% of the names out there), there are a number of corner cases which Deadwood resolves slowly or not at all (Amazon is a big offender here).

There was a time when even the smallest office connected to the Internet had their own recursive DNS server. Those days are over; recursive DNS is now handled by big companies with deep pockets who can afford expensive servers and server space in highly connected Internet hubs. While it still is possible to do recursive DNS from a computer on a home Internet connection, and indeed still possible to use Deadwood as a fully recursive DNS server, it’s sometimes slow and doesn’t always work.

==Google: Do lots of evil==

About a decade ago, I added some Google search boxes to help people find content on my web pages. Those search boxes stopped working a couple of years ago, and I have finally gotten around to updating the HTML/Javascript to work with Google’s current search boxes.

The old search boxes were a lot better: They just added HTML where I put the search box. The new search boxes overlay the entire page, and the ads often time hide all of the legitimate search results: One needs to scroll down to see the search results.

I removed ads from my site back in 2015 when Google made them too obtrusive; this is part of Google’s pattern of becoming less and less ethical in the interests of getting more ad revenue. See also: Google is making it harder to disable ads with their browser Chrome.

==I do not miss Flash==

It amazes me the number of people who actually miss Flash. Flash was a one-vendor proprietary solution with questionable Linux support and countless serious security holes. Back in the first 2000s decade, a site which needed Flash for basic navigation was the sign of a site of a small company or a company which did not care too much about its web presence. Flash was used by obnoxious websites with poor user design and obnoxious ads. Its only reasonable use was by sites for things the cross browser HTML of the time could not handle: Web fonts, in-browser games, and video.

I was, at the time, able to block all obnoxious ads by simply disabling looping animated GIFs and use a “click to Flash” plugin in Firefox.

==Beware of grey market cameras on Amazon==

Grey market cameras are cameras that are from outside the United States for foreign markets being sold in the United States. They are somewhat cheaper, but do not have a warranty in the US. The buyer usually knows this: Somewhere in the copy the words “import model” or words to that effect appear.

I recently found a grey market camera being solid on Amazon without the usual warnings that the camera is an import model. The reason I know it is an import model is because it is sold by 6ave, which is a known grey market seller (as can be seen in their eBay listings). I have reported the issue to Amazon but my report was ignored.

The price for the USA version of cameras is fixed by the manufacturer, and if a camera is significantly cheaper, make sure it is not a grey market model. This information is usually available if one carefully checks the product description; with Amazon, if one wants to avoid a grey market (or even counterfeit) item, buy only products being sold directly by Amazon or a reputable seller like Adorama.

==I do not buy food online==

When I want to get food, I go to the local grocery store.

I do not buy food on Amazon. There is too much risk of the food being expired.

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