An Open Letter to The Lawfare Blog

Gary Schafer, 25 December 2013

The Lawfare Blog is one of my favorite blogs. When dealing with substantive issues of the day, it is to Reddit what being at the adult table is to Christmas time. It's the nuance that many people, both left and right, greatly lack.

Unfortunately, there is one aspect of the Blog that I've found greatly annoying. It's a stupid, little sidebar that shows up on the lefthand side of the screen. It's especially annoying when viewing the website on my smartphone (a Samsung Galaxy S2). In that case, it takes up almost a third of the screen. Now, most people who do such things will put them at the top or bottom. But Lawfare puts them as a scrolling bar that stays in the same place regardless of how you scroll the screen.

To the Lawfare Blog: Please. Do me a favor. Get rid of this. Make it a fixed position on the screen, at the top or bottom. I guarantee you that if you leave it on the page as a scrolling bar that continues to cover up my screen, I not only won't "like" it on Facebook, I'll give you a big "thumbs down" just for this annoyance alone.


Airdroid, Ubuntu, and Permissions

Gary Schafer, 23 December 2013

I am currently running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (long term support). I also have a Samsung Galaxy S2 plus a Samsung / Google Nexus 10. Unfortunately, when Android updated their OSes to the latest kernel, they no longer supported PTP for file transfer; they only supported MTP. Linux took a bit to catch up. In the meantime, there was a nice, small app I could load onto each of these devices called Airdroid. Airdroid allows a user to essentially remote in to their device. I primarily used it to transfer files from my phone and tablet to my computer.

Unfortunately, there was an update done recently (no idea if this was due to Airdroid or Ubuntu) that caused a problem when transferring files to my computer. When I tried to transfer multiple files, Airdroid would put them into a .ZIP file. After transferring that .ZIP file, I'd extract them into a folder. But when I tried to open one of the files, I received the following error message: "Failed to open input stream for file." However, if I tried to download the files one at a time, everything was fine. The files would open normally. It was only if I tried to download multiple files at once that this error occurred.

I went to the Airdroid support forum to see if anyone else was having this problem. Yes, someone was. The Airdroid admins also said (a) that they were aware of the problem, (b) it was a bug, and (c) they would correct it with the next update. But the temporary answer to this problem for those of us running Ubuntu was in this snippet:

You don't have the permission to open the pictures you download. A temporary solution is to use some permission management to get the permission.

In a word, bingo! So here's how to fix this problem until Airdroid issues the permanent fix:

  1. Use Airdroid to download the multiple files as you would normally do.
  2. Open the .ZIP file and extract the files to a folder in Ubuntu.
  3. Select all of the files so that they are highlighted.
  4. Right-click on any of the highlighted files. This will bring up a menu.
  5. At the bottom of the menu, select "Properties".
  6. This will bring up a pop-up window. At the top, select the "Permissions" tab.
  7. If your situation is similar to mine, the user choice probably says, "No read, no write". Click on this drop-down menu and select "Read and write".
  8. If you want to, the next one down (for "Group") also probably says "no read, no write". Click on that drop down menu and select "Read and write".
  9. At the bottom of the window, click on "Close".

That should do it. You should now be able to work with the files normally. Again, it's just a permission problem. But this should fix this until Airdroid issues the permanent fix sometime later.

Here's a Random Fact...