Tag Archives: Tech Stuff

Orphans down and up again

Dropped by ‘Orphans of Liberty‘ this AM to see what Julia, James and Mike have been digging up, only to be diverted to some nonsense pet site about dogs. It’s not the first time the site has been interfered with to my certain knowledge. Apparently someone who doesn’t like what they say over at Ool and instead of simply passing on by, did the petulant toddler thing and diverted all incoming web traffic to another site. Which is very mature and sensible isn’t it? The Violet Elizabeth (“I’ll thcream and thcream ’till I’m thick”) approach to web discourse. “I don’t like what you say, so I’m going to shut you up!” Giving us an insight into the alleged saboteurs state of mind, or lack thereof.

As for sabotage, there are whole ‘how to’ sections on how to sabotage a web site out there in Interwebland, and you don’t need much in the way of brains to use them. As anyone who has worked in tech support knows, any bloody fool can and often does screw up a system, but it takes real brains to fix the temporary chaos they create.

Notwithstanding, upon discovering the divert I dropped Julia and James a quick email to let them know something was amiss, and by the time I finish typing this post all should be well once more. Which it is. As a one time contributor, I have the greatest respect for ‘Orphans’ and what they’re trying to say. Working on the premise that if someone is trying to shut them up, I think perhaps they’ve hit a nerve. Far from deterring their efforts, it should encourage a more spirited effort at finding out what it is some cretinous arsehole doesn’t want discussed in public.

I know this comes from the church of stating the bleeding obvious, but if anyone disagrees or takes issue with what others say on a blog, that’s for the comments. The idea being to make a point in a cogent or even witty manner, and perhaps people will listen to what you have to say. To discuss, debate, examine and dissect. Simply shouting others down or sabotaging the blog simply makes the saboteur look like an incoherent ignorant dickhead with all the social graces of an incontinent three year old with Alzheimer’s. Because in the final analysis what has he or she done? Created a temporary annoyance, that’s all. Regular readers will come back after the temporary glitch is fixed and the saboteur has achieved precisely nothing, well, apart from increase the blogs readership. Why? Everyone likes a little drama, and will turn up just to see if there’s any blood on the carpet, figuratively speaking.

No doubt the offender will break cover in a fit of characteristic vaingloriousness, they always do, but all they’ve actually done is proved to everyone else is what a total cunt they are. It’s so very, very sad and so are they. Time for breakfast.

A small note about Search Engine Optimisation

Achtung MinenTo all those Search Engine Optimization companies out there; please stop trying to spam my comment threads. It doesn’t work and I’m not interested. Not one jot, not an iota, or any other unit of measurement too small to be worth mention. All your advertisements and solicitations end up in my clever little spam trap, which is the waste disposal for this blog. Rather like a Septic Tank, it needs the turds clearing out from time to time.

Why? Oh heavens to Betsy this is a blog, FFS! A sort of mental gym where I flex my satirical muscles from time to time. It’s not something I generate any income from, nor expect to. One which receives on average fewer than twenty unique hits per day. A level which I’m quite content for it to dip below. Mainly as it means less work for me. I’ve got quite enough real life work ta very muchly and I’m very happy for this state of affairs to continue.

Read my comments policy page if you’re that bored.

TTFN

Scooters and stuff

In our little Arondissement (District) as well as many others, I’ve noted before how many scooters there are cluttering up the sidewalks and promenades. Particularly this type of thing and their contemporaries made by Piaggio and Peugeot. While I’m not a fan myself, I can see the utility for those who find it difficult to keep a motorcycle or scooter upright at walking speeds (You pussies).

No, what I’ve been looking at is a simple piece of kit marketed by an Italian company, mostly for scooters, but I’ve also seen their ilk wrapped around BMW LT1200’s, and having seen how useful they can be, I’m quite taken with the idea. Basically the cover acts as combo leg shield, bike cover and waterproof leggings. Not only that, but it costs less than a pair of leak proof waterproof trousers. Oh, and you have to love their advertising.

A set of these and some handlebar cuffs, and those long rainy Vancouver Island Winter months won’t seem so damp any more.

Oddities and space

I’ve never understood why certain people feel compelled to approach obviously busy strangers simply to indulge in ‘social’ chatter. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I like my personal space. Especially when working. To totally focus on a task to the exclusion of all else, detesting unnecessary distraction. I’m not totally asocial, I’m just picky, that’s all. Life has taught me that not all conversations are safe. Got something meaningful to say? Unload your soul in the comments (if you must), it’s what they’re there for. I may reply. I may not. Depends how busy I am. Yeah, I’m a party pooper, so don’t invite me, okay?

While the kids were growing up I made allowances, and always tried to respond to their anxieties / questions, hug when needed, and sometimes exercise extra care when getting up in the morning as Youngest had a habit of sneaking into our bedroom and sleeping on the floor next to our bed. Poor lamb, I almost trod on her one morning when I was new to the game of married life and every day was an ‘adventure’. Those were the days, eh, Bill? Clucking bell. Never mind, despite all the humps and bumps, both stepkids have turned out relatively okay, and I love them both dearly, so maybe I got it right. For a given value of ‘right’.

The future of social mediaOtherwise the whole multi tasking thing has rather passed me by, apart from when I’m cooking. It’s probably why I killed off my Farcebook account (twice), and while I do have a Twitter feed and ID, never Tweet. Why? Because they’re both time killers, distractions. Filling up empty lives with fluff and replacing actual thought. Hmm. Now there’s an interesting notion. Maybe social media will eventually evolve into some kind of electronic hive-mind for the ‘connected’, leaving them wide open to manipulation. An unwitting zombie army to be directed onto non participating ‘unbelievers’ or ‘deniers’ who don’t agree with the goals of the manipulators. I’m sure Leg Iron could twist that into one of his excellent scary stories or use the concept to taunt one of his drone co-workers.

As for me. Others might consider my relative standoffishness odd, but I’ll give the whole social chatter thing the go-by. Life is too short, and I have a flight to catch.

Life before the Interweb

I love gadgets. I own several. One of which, a Samsung ten inch screen tablet S4 is proving its worth with every single advancing day because it has built in GPS, and I don’t have to bother with logging on to every single dodgy Wi-Fi connection every time I use most of the non-Interweb maps. Do I care that ‘the authorities’ can track my every move when I bother to take said item with me? No. I don’t feel the need to cart it around, so whoever wants to figuratively read over my shoulder will know what city I’m in, but that’s it. If I’ve locked it in the Hotel safe they won’t be able to find it at all, as a quarter inch of pressed steel makes a reasonable RF shield. That and the RF shielded carrying bag I keep it in when travelling. Switch it on when I need it, the rest of the time it’s pretty much invisible.

Anyway, that’s beside the point. Yesterday had me thinking. Over the weekend I’ve found myself remembering times past, and how we young ‘uns (as I was then) got by without the instant in-your-face immediacy of modern mobile communications. We had no Windows, Android, Tweets, blogs, Skype, Whatsap, Texting, Sexting, aps, iPhones, mobile phones, or Tablets. Computers and Telephones were far too unwieldy to be mobile, but we did have access to a form of Radio Telephony. If Dad was a high level service or Civil Engineer. Which one of my boyhood friend’s Dad’s was. No-one else we knew was, so it was no use to us. Yet we got by without much fuss. No zombie cannibal gangs dropped by to eat our brains. None of the nightmares conjured up by Hollywood came to play. The Apocalypse was for other people.

Yet we had the three day week. Scheduled power cuts for eight hours at a time in Winter. Strikes that seemed to shut everything down for days. The phone worked, but we kids weren’t allowed to use it. Later on I had my own place, and the joy of getting a phone (or trying to get) put in by British Telecom. BT’s advertising slogan ‘It’s for You-who‘ carried particular irony.

Indeed, the pace of life was slower. Much slower. Treacleishly so. People raised in today’s society would have trouble coping because their brains would be set up wrongly. Their memories are not so well developed. I also remember doing a hell of a lot of walking to see far flung friends. A brisk twenty five minute hike down unlit English B class roads with a national (60mph) speed limit which was more of a guideline than an absolute, to the nearest form of public transport. Which was usually late. Closest shop in the next village. One black and white TV in the house. My Dad liked watching snooker, which is a slightly surreal experience when you have to guess the colours. No remote control (That was me). And only, horror of horrors, three erratic channels! Remember signal ‘ghosting’?

So we kids spent a lot of our time outside. Tramping across ploughed fields. Dawn to dusk. Hunting water rats, pigeons and rabbits with catapults (slingshots) or air rifles. Or just walking, simply because you had bugger all else you could afford to do. Under age sneaking into local pubs and clubs, the closest of which were a fifteen minute shank up and down some quite steep hills and dales. Learning about building our own cars and motorcycles in our mid to late teens, if our parents allowed us the garage space, and the guy with a car was king. Or at least someone to sponge lifts off with up to eight of us crammed into an ageing Ford Corsair with suspect brakes and limited power on a Saturday night. Using side roads which we knew the local coppers rarely patrolled. Come to think of it, the Police didn’t figure much in our lives. And we were invariably unsupervised. Walking and talking. Face to face.

You had hobbies, part time jobs. You experimented. Especially with something dangerous (Particularly the local girls – especially those who rode horses). Travelling for two hours just to go ten pin bowling or to see a movie. Hunting through poorly indexed racks of twelve inch vinyl for your favourite bands latest album. Then the luxury of hours spent reading, standing rapt, almost statue like in front of the paperbacks in W H Smith.

Some would call it ‘idyllic’, even a ‘golden age’, but I disagree. There were long, dare I say interminable periods of boredom, staring listlessly out at traditional English weather (rain, sleet, hail). Rarely getting out to play under heavily cloud punctuated blue or more often totally grey skies. Come to think of it, that’s what the Internet is; like constant sunshine with occasional light refreshing showers. Information to bathe, soak, indolently loll and roll recklessly around in the long grass. A world of knowledge and opportunity at your very fingertips. Book a rail ticket on the other side of the world. Book a restaurant or day trip. Learn a language. Watch a movie. Watch endless ‘banned’ content. Compared to the pre internet days, when all information was closely guarded, hard to find, and only sporadically available via the nearest library (two hours away on foot and by public transport) today is the golden age.

Workarounds and sidesteps

Have managed to get around WordPress defaulting to their silly ‘bingledy beep boop’ whatever post editor by ducking out to the main WP admin page and launching the post editor from the sidebar. Bit of a pain, but at least I’m now back in the driving seat.

Unlike the presenters of Top Gear. May has quit. He, Clarkson, Hammond and the shows old producer who also quit, Andy Wilman, have been meeting up, possibly to discuss creating a whole new car show. They won’t be able to call their new show Top Gear of course, but there are a bunch of digital channels that will happily fork out part of their budget, and sponsorship can fund the rest. It’s as good a workaround as any. As for marketing and distribution; globally there’s a host of avid ex-Top Gear fans who will gobble up the content as soon as it’s uploaded, sidestepping any attempts at restriction. The advertisers and sponsors who get on board with any new show hosted by the three goofs will make a mint, while any BBC relaunched Top Gear will sink slowly into the self imposed mire of BBC politically correct green lunacy, rarely to be seen again as they try to impose Hybrid solar self driven cars with backup wind turbines on the market. Unless the Beeb by some miracle rediscovers the personality magic that made Clarkson, Hammond and May work so well. Breath will not be held waiting for that to happen.

Eco Friendly Stig NotSo the blokey car show is not dead, It will come back under another name simply because the audience is there. Despite the wishes of the politically active but personally inept. Life’s like that.

As a side note; the law of unintended consequences was last seen gleefully prancing in through the back door of the BBC TV centre, up the back stairs and out through an emergency exit with a whole tranche of future BBC revenue.

Beep bloody boop bolleaux

I like WordPress, I really do. As a blog platform it works, or should I rather say worked. I know it’s free and the mildly customisable templates are free, the widgets are not as adaptable as other blog platforms, but that’s by the by. I like the anti-spam and IP blocking features which help keep the trolls at bay. All that was needed was to engage one’s intellect a little, and it’s a solid piece of kit. Which in my book is high praise. The only thing that is scrolling my knurd at the moment is the way it’s defaulting to this bloody silly ‘Beep, beep, boop’ post editor.

FFS! Who decided that a lower function, less intuitive, far slower to load post editor was a good idea. I mean, seriously guys. It dumbs down the whole platform and has me wondering aloud if there’s something better than WordPress out there. Blogger was once a decent platform until it became too hidebound, too vulnerable. There’s Tumblr and Pinterest of course, but neither fit my needs as a small time billy no mates of the blogosphere. Ghost might be a good idea, but it’s not really free. The software is, but the hosting isn’t.

There’s a bunch of others which I’ll be investigating over the next week or so. Or WordPress could ditch the ‘beep,boop, bloody beep’ crap and let everyone use the classic interface which loads cleanly and without kitsch. Not that I expect anyone to be listening, but it would be nice if they dropped the cutesy nonsense, which frankly chums, is a bit too girly for my liking.

Google off

I’ve dropped the once but no longer useful Google as a search engine as they have made the decision to be the arbiter of ‘truth’ on the jolly old Interweb. Google will now rank websites based on the Google decided amount of ‘truthiness’ of a sites content. Now isn’t that something the original Googlers told us they would never do? Besides, apart from loading the algorithms, which may have the law of unforeseen consequences bounding out into the limelight as usual I can’t see the benefit. Especially when sites that have forked out good money to the advertising arm of said organisation find themselves losing web traffic, yet have had their rank adjusted downwards for reduced ‘truth’ levels. How are Google going to vet all the sites on the Internet? Also, who gets to say what the ‘truth’ is? Especially surrounding areas of controversy? Put your lawyers on danger money, baby.

The problem is that Google has become the victim of its own success. It became big enough for the political and corporate world to take notice and insert their insidious tentacles into the enterprise (I’m told there are Manga web sites that cater for just such proclivities). In order to ‘go along and get along’ Google will toe their new masters line, warping their search engine to fit in with various corporate and political orthodoxies, serving up the version they are told into a neat little pre-package of ‘truth’, ranking web sites accordingly. Which will go down like a lead balloon with the Interweb’s more discerning abusers. It’s fun to Fisk.

After little more than a week of switching search engines from http://google.com / co.uk / .ca to the highly functional http://duckduckgo.com in three of the five browsers I regularly use, my spyware detection programme is showing a marked decrease in detected threats. My antivirus and both firewall logs also show a marked decrease in recorded threats.

Without having more than a three scan dataset off each, it’s hard to quantify the actual percentage, but using Google as my search engine meant I was getting around 150-155 spyware ‘threats’ every five days, much of which were those cheeky little web tracking cookies. Now I’m only logging 85-95. My web usage hasn’t varied that much either, apart from switching search engines.

To be honest I’m quite pleasantly surprised. Security scans take only two thirds the time they did less than a fortnight ago. I may even end up dropping Chrome as a browser. Who knows?

Peeback time

I was reading the National Post this morning, and just before delving into the Financial pages, I came across this little gem of a tale. Apparently there’s a type of paint with the property of ‘reflecting’ fluid. Originally designed to keep cars cleaner, it’s now being deployed around the Red Light district in Hamburg, Germany.

Watch the video. Yers, I know it’s in German, but who says they don’t have a sense of humour?

Suggestions for other uses on the back of a very soggy envelope please.

Update: How to make a low cost version of this moisture resistant finish using Anti-Perspirant and spray on plastic coating (Sorry about the Torch commercial);

Speeding up

I’ve just moved my office space into the sun room behind the kitchen and very nice it is too. Not too warm, not too cold, and a decent view. Only one issue; because of where the Cable guy wired in our modem, the wi-fi router is at the front of the house. Which means I get a wi-fi signal of under forty percent. Downloads were like watching treacle pour, streaming bandwidth felt restrictive and meant every YouTube video I tried to watch stopped and started like they were running on a 56kb telephone link.

So yesterday I elected to spend a few bucks on a wi-fi extender. Being a cautious kind of person I went to the local Future Shop and purchased A Linksys N300 extender for sixty bucks. Linksys used to be owned by Cisco, I have a Cisco Wi-fi router which has worked flawlessly since we bought it for under a hundred bucks about three years ago when our last Belkin router died. As an aside; we’ve had two Belkin Routers – they’re cheap and cheerful, but that’s the best that can be said for them. So I thought, yeah, great. Linksys don’t do duff kit (Insert ironic laugh here). How wrong can you be? After two hours of teeth grinding, finding out that Belkin had bought out Linksys and a demanded charge of twenty five dollars for tech support on a brand new item. Not to mention the setup programme crashing two browsers and taking me to a BSOD. At which point I thought “Bugger all this for a lark.” And hiked back to Future Shop with the offending item. This time I purchased a NetGear WN3000RP Universal WiFi Range Extender which cost just over ten bucks more. I avoided the D-Link N300. Cheap it might be, but I haven’t worked in Tech support for a while and I’ve got better things to do with my life than fuss over issues which shouldn’t exist. Half an hour later after a minor panic looking for my Wi-Fi SSID password I’m home with a 95% plus signal in my new office and a very happy bunny indeed. Yes, the NetGear Extender does create a new Wi-Fi network segment to manage, but the improved signal more than makes up for the minor inconvenience and best of all, no need to delve into my ageing laptops registry to fix problems caused by iffy setup programmes. Streaming video and downloads streak along at full tilt. I’m delighted. For under a hundred bucks the NetGear is good value for money, even if it does look a bit clunky. It works.