Archive for December 2010


Spam commenters are losing their minds

31.12.2010

Despite the smaller visitor numbers, this blog seems to leave way more spam in the Akismet queue than the other WordPress installations we have. I had wanted to write a post swearing at some of the dumb comments that come in, as all of these are automated, but three of the first ten today are just too humorous.
   You’ve heard of sites such as Engrish—some day, someone will make a site of bad comment spam (if they haven’t already). Comment spam is getting more and more surreal, as these examples show:

im not leave-taking over tell which every person else gain already said, however i take up desire to criticism upon your knowledge of the subject. youre truly well-informed. i hypocrisy believe how ample of this i lawful wasnt sensible of. thank you as bringing often information toward the one theme because of me. im truly pleasant as a result actually impressed.

Attempted translation: I took some leaves out of The William Tell Overture score, which gave me so much gain from Saïd that it stoked my desire to criticize your knowledge. Despite my lawless sense and hypocritical beliefs, you are truly well informed. Thank you for bringing us this theme tune because of me, making me a truly pleasant and impressed person.

Its a proper writen plus thorough post an individual built. Read you will get quite a few guests which supplement everyone on your threads. Soon after studying that posting I bought some very exclusive data which can be actually worth finding out about for anyone. This is the publish possessing some critical facts. WE want in which inside upcoming these publishing will need to carry on

Attempted translation: by being a well built individual, you’ll get guests supplementing everyone’s dress by wearing your threads. Soon, it will be worth finding out where just how they found out about them. It could have come exclusively from a publisher who was possessed while in the critical ward. His successor will have to make Carry On films.

i agree withy your p.o. certainly moreover i am since curious inside reading a little frequently of your posts upon your blog as a consequence speak to what you receive to speak. do you disfavor if i tweet your blog appointment out until my followers on twitter? i choose he and she would likewise enjoy the blog doorpost. thanks.

Attempted translation: I agree with both the use of post offices and making appointments to blog on Twitter. If I speak out about these Tweets to my followers, they will dance around their door posts out of enjoyment.
   With January 1 less than three hours away, happy Pope Gregory Day—have a lovely 2011!

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Bingo! Merry Christmas!

24.12.2010

Here’s a Christmas treat, an hour in to Christmas Day in New Zealand. Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, filmed in 1977 33 days before the crooner’s passing, featured a duet between Bingo and David Bowie.
   Taped on September 11, 1977, the special aired after Crosby’s death, on November 30. The set is supposedly the interior of the castle of Bingo’s relative, Sir Percival Crosby. It’s a nice performance from two of the 20th century’s musical icons.

   And speaking of David Bowie, the Daily Mail has part one of a new Life on Mars story, written by a ‘Tom Graham’. I know there is Matthew Graham, so this must have been a typo. Graham did, after all, pen an earlierLife on Mars story for the Mail in 2007.
   Merry Christmas!

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Posted in culture, interests, media, publishing, TV, UK | No Comments »


Civility is a good thing

23.12.2010

Baidu Talk, which launched in September, has netted 1 million users already, according to PC World. Michael Kan reports that thanks to the service’s insistence that no aliases are used (registered users’ identities are verified with the People’s Republic’s government) ‘this has led to more “civil” discussions between users on Baidu Talk.’
   It shows it can be possible. In the past I’ve lamented the decline of each medium as it’s spoiled by spam or splogs. YouTube has been ruined by extremist commenters. In most cases, these people hide behind the veil of anonymity.
   The city blog I proposed during my campaign would have required registration as well. The logistics were another matter but Baidu shows it can be done—and a more civilized discussion is just what we need to make some real progress in society. If dialogue and engagement solve problems, then the medium for both must be where someone wants to go—and not see a whole bunch of swearing going on.
   As I wrote some years back, what I miss about the internet, and this may be rose-coloured glasses, was the collegial feeling that was there in the early days. In the 1990s, we naïvely put our details into online email directories before we figured out that spammers could harvest them. But, importantly, we got quite a few things done. Some of my closest allies in business can be traced back to those early days, before we had to cut through more clutter to find good, trustworthy people.
   Providing a safe forum where the veil of anonymity is gone—where John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F***wad Theory does not apply—is perhaps one of the best things that can be done for so many services. A Small World is one where there’s some degree of safety and security; LinkedIn, by its nature, continues to feel collegial. Since we aren’t talking about sensitive information here, where aliases and anonymity might be key, an online John Hancock can be a good thing.
   The bigger picture is that if China is encouraging this sort of dialogue, I will have to say: watch out. And I did say four years ago that, with Google’s willingness to engage in self-censorship when it entered the Middle Kingdom in 2006, the Chinese people would only be more loyal to Baidu et al in the long term. That influence might yet grow beyond China’s borders.

Speaking of the decline of society, a few weeks ago, Dad and I had to go to the ANZ in Kilbirnie to re-sign some authorities we had on each other’s accounts. (We had to do this with American Express as well: what was it with these big institutions losing the original authorities that we did years ago, all in the same week?) Outside the sliding doors, I heard a very loud female voice. My initial thought was, ‘This is a very loud promotion someone is having on Bay Road.’
   When the doors slid open again, I heard a whole bunch of profanities. ‘You f***ing bitch, you whore …’—you get the idea. I got up, passed an elderly lady on her way in (this was Tuesday, 3.30 p.m., when a lot of elderly are walking along Bay Road), and said, ‘You don’t need to hear that sort of language, do you, dear?’ She said, ‘No.’
   A crowd, mostly of schoolchildren had gathered round to watch these two young women at it outside the local Pricebusters. Or, should I say, there was one abuser and one standing there and taking it. Seeing as neither was armed (I may be stupid, but not that stupid), I stood between them and asked them to stop: that the OAPs walking along minding their own business don’t have to listen to their sort of language.
   ‘I don’t care. You don’t know this f***ing whore …’
   ‘I don’t know you, either. I’m asking you to stop.’
   Although this had gone on for some time, it was only then that someone from the Pricebusters store came out. I asked, ‘Would you like to do anything? It’s your shop, but there hasn’t been an assault.’
   Seeing as the abuse continued, I said, calmly: ‘Walk away. Turn around, walk in opposite directions, and walk away.’
   I have a feeling that ‘Walk away’ in these ladies’ mother tongue meant ‘Let’s start beating the crap out of each other and this dude in the middle can get caught in the crossfire.’
   Fists flew, hair was pulled, and I got a little scrape where my watch was and my glasses were knocked off. It was then that various adults—I assume the female staff of the Pricebusters store—restrained the two. I advised the store that they could call the police now. Dad had come out by then and I suggested we finish the transaction inside the bank. And he didn’t need to see his son lose a fight to two women.
   These Streets of San Kilbirnie are tough and even Karl Malden would be surprised.
   Maybe I was the only adult around over several minutes, but I’m surprised that no one else helped out. It reminds me of two other incidents in the last few years where I played “first responder” (with a much larger friend assisting!) to a homeless man getting bullied and to a teen who had fallen off her bike.
   This isn’t about being intolerant of bad language. Most of this junk is on telly now after a certain hour. It’s the idea, which we’ve chatted about at the Vista Group luncheons with Jim and Natalie, that once we tolerate one thing, a worse thing will emerge. Usually this comes up when we discuss public drunkenness, and how, over the last generation, less and less acceptable behaviour becomes the norm.
   The fear that getting involved would drag one into a court case as a witness—that is baseless, too. When the police came (and quite quickly, too), I had finished at the bank. I asked one constable if he needed me to be a witness, and he said that he already had a statement from someone else. So: I tried to do a good deed, and I didn’t get dragged into a prolonged assault case. It’s easier than we think.
   And maybe I did something for the little guy, to draw the line at something that shouldn’t be acceptable in what is usually a very pleasant neighbourhood.

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Posted in business, China, culture, internet, New Zealand, technology, Wellington | 1 Comment »


Starting Upstairs, Downstairs this weekend

23.12.2010

I know I did this on November 23 on my Tumblr, but I have to share this joke with the Ashes to Ashes fans out there.
   Will the opening of Upstairs, Downstairs on Boxing Day on BBC1 (at 9 p.m.) begin with the Alexander Faris theme tune (see also below), or will Keeley Hawes narrate, ‘My name is Alex Drake. I’ve been shot and that bullet has taken me back to 1936’?


Above: Alexander Faris conducts his theme for Upstairs, Downstairs. I defy those of you over a certain age to not have the words ‘What are we going to do with Uncle Arthur?’ running through your head.

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Giving a toss about web hosting: Americans 2, Brits 0

23.12.2010

©

Generally, I turn a blind eye to people who use thumbnails of our work or take an excerpt from an article and link the rest to us. Pity, then, that so many of these sites are splogs, but at least they stop short of outright piracy.
   It’s when someone takes an entire article, pretends it’s their own, and even slaps a copyright notice on it—that’s what gets my goat more. In the past fortnight, two websites have done that with Lucire material (and material from many other media outlets). Neither had a contact address or contact form, because nine times out of ten, these are solved just by a nice email, so our only path was to notify their web hosts in the US. God bless them both: they have acted.
   While the Americans have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act down to a fine art, less can be said about Great Britain. A British site, which I will not yet name because I can’t be arsed sending them hits for being thieving gits, has taken three Lucire articles, in full, one even containing my byline. Two are not from our regular RSS feed, but from the features’ section, which means that the person has to go in to our site and save the content manually.
   We wrote to them in mid-November, not asking for removal, but just a cutting back of the content of the first article we found. It’s not a big ask, and I see it as a good win–win. The article in question was in Lucire’s RSS feed, so I figured they had an automated script that took the content. They might not even have known it was there. And they were kind enough to provide a link, and that’s far better than some people who don’t even give us that courtesy.
   But then I found the two feature pieces that weren’t featured in RSS. It’s a bit much then, because that suggests a malicious hand.
   I received no reply to the very polite email I wrote to them. The blog comments have not been published (I wonder why). And I see that their web host, a British company, has done nothing, either, except to inform me of their abuse email address.
   It is crystal clear that this site has breached the host’s published ‘acceptable use policy’, and while Britain does not have a DMCA, there is the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988, which I studied in some depth back at uni.
   The foundation of the British act and the American DMCA is identical, in that both are set up to protect authorship, and the British hosting company has been provided with more than sufficient evidence of its client’s guilt.
   It seems, then, that the acceptable use policy of this company is nothing more than lip service, because there is no response from the abuse address, nor from the fax I sent yesterday.
   A total of eight messages have been sent on the British issue, to two organizations who could not give a stuff about copyright infringement. The Americans only need one email. If you want to pirate stuff, there’s one hosting company in the UK that is your friend—it’s even won awards, apparently. At least one was from the Murdoch Press. I wonder on what criteria those were given.

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A new Eric and Ernie clip

22.12.2010

I wonder if I should get part of the Broadcasting Fee, the way I promote the BBC.
   I like real-life dramas, particularly about recent history. BBC2’s Eric and Ernie, to be shown on January 1 at 9 p.m., looks very good.
   A new clip came out on YouTube 12 hours ago. The earlier one is immediately below, with Victoria Wood and Jim Moir (a.k.a. Vic Reeves—I suspect he is shifting to his real name now and doing a “Dwayne Johnson” on us) as John Eric Bartholomew’s, a.k.a. Eric Morecambe’s, parents. The second shows Morecambe and Wise in action and getting heckled on stage in Glasgow—Bryan Dick, the actor portraying Wise, looks and sounds like the man he is playing. It’s a very good portrayal.

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Finally, confirmation that Firefox is crashing a lot

21.12.2010

After discovering about:crashes and Bugzilla, I’ll be finishing 2010 with some vindication that Firefox is, indeed, a buggy, crash-prone browser.
   At Bugzilla, where Firefox bugs are filed, the “unmark purple” bug that has been giving me so much grief over the last few months, which has crashed Firefox up to 11 times a day for me, is crashing the browser a lot.
   It’s not the only bug, but it is perhaps the most prevalent one for me.
   A gentleman named Gordon Hemsley, who had experienced this bug on an earlier version of Firefox, has uncovered more in the Bugzilla site as I chatted with him about my experiences (my emphases):

In the past week, there have been over 3600 crashes of this sort in 3.6.13 on Windows. In the past month, ~4900.
   It does appear that there is a significant difference between build 2010113000 and build 2010120300, in terms of the number of crashes, though that may be a result of the disparity between number of users of those builds.
   Interestingly, there is a large number of crashes for 3.5.15, and significantly smaller for 3.5.16.

   Other crashes are related to other aspects of the program. However, there you have it. I’m certainly not alone and there is something wrong with Firefox—never mind the company’s claims about how much more stable the latest ones are. My experience doesn’t gel with that claim, nor does that of many other people, if there are 3,600 crashes of this type per week now. I just seem to be ahead of the curve.

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Posted in internet, technology, USA | 3 Comments »


New Twitter, less utility?

16.12.2010

I might have to go on to one of those Twitter clients, when “new” Twitter is forced upon all users soon.
   When it eventually began working (it didn’t initially), I liked the new Twitter’s overall look. It was only missing one feature: telling us what the last Tweet of the person was at a glance. I didn’t want to click on each person to see what their last Tweet was.
   Knowing what the last Tweet was allows me to make a judgement call about whether I follow that person back. Sometimes you can tell if the Tweeter is actually a spammer, sending automated Tweets that you have no interest in following. For instance, these are my newest followers (sorry, folks—but since anyone can see you, I’m sure you won’t mind being used for this exercise):

Latest Twitter followers

In each case, I already have an idea who is worth following back, and it saves me some time. (I won’t comment on whom I have followed back out of these four.)
   The new Twitter is a little slower because it loads so much more—yet I don’t get any more utility from it, based on my usage.
   We all adapt, just as we did with wholesale changes to Facebook and other services. But I wonder whether it will be like Digg or Technorati, or, for that matter, Infoseek and Altavista (remember the portal gag? I think Google does), where changes scared people away.

PS.: Based on Twitter’s own ‘Help Center’, the bug I reported three months ago is still present for a lot of users. While the bug disappeared for me around six weeks ago, I’m now dreading the change, being one of the first people to encounter it when the new Twitter was launched.—JY

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Posted in design, internet, technology | 2 Comments »


What others write about their Firefox crashes; Chrome is the oddity with font-face

16.12.2010

Mozilla Crash Reports

It has been interesting reading the comments from other disgruntled Firefox users over the ‘unmark purple’ error (nsXULControllers::cycleCollection::UnmarkPurple(nsISupports*))—now that I can trace the majority of my crashes to this.
   Yesterday, Mozilla’s Crash Reports’ site crashed (rather fitting), and today, the CSS wouldn’t load, which allowed me to read what others wrote on the Crash Reporter dialogue box.
   Unhappy Firefox users who are finding our favourite browser plagued with endless problems. As there was no mention of ‘unmark purple’ in the 3·6·13 change-log, I presume we’re going to continue to suffer till Firefox 4 comes out. (Beta 8 is due out around the 21st now, delayed by several weeks.)
   Here is a selection of comments, complete with typos. One is from me (guess which one; no prizes offered):

why is this happenign so much lately…at least once a day..I get disconnected from Firefox

Really got fed up with this. Why this is happening again and again?

Yet again…c’mon Mozilla!!!!

and again

god .. whats wrong with mymozila .. ???

i CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’VE DONE THIS!

Two crashes in two days. Nothing unusual at all. Flash, of course.

After the update.. this is 3. crash.. // güncelleme sonrası 3. oldu çöküşü oldu.

it just went off air

Well, looks like your 3·6·13 update didn’t solve the crashes. Plug-in container crashed at the same time.

boom goes the dynamite

   The positive Firefox news today is that we implemented our first font-face, at the Lucire website. We’ve been experimenting with font embedding ever since Microsoft WEFT at the turn of the century, and the results were always variable.
   They are by no means consistent today, because I’ve noticed that it works in Firefox, IE8 (before it crashes, but, then, it is Microsoft; and without kerning) and Opera 11 Beta (also sans kerning). Despite the presence of SVG files and references to them in the stylesheet, and the assurance that it is now switched on by default, it does not work on Chrome. No surprises there, with Google’s ever-buggy, typographer-unfriendly browser, though I am willing to accept the possibility that we mucked up on the CSS spec.
   It’s the Royal Wedding headline that has a font-face spec, set to JY Fiduci:

Lucire with font-face
Firefox 3·6·13

Lucire with font-face
Chrome 8

Lucire with font-face
Opera 11 Beta

Lucire with font-face
Microsoft Internet Explorer 8

   Big thanks this week to Andrew, who installed some of the Lucire font family to see if he could experience what I do with these browsers. Interestingly, he did not encounter Opera’s ligature and quotation-mark bug (where any word containing a ligature changes font, and where quotation marks and apostrophes display in another font altogether) on any browser, though we did learn that Firefox 4 and IE8 were the only two browsers that picked, on his computer, the right weight for some of the specified type. He could see the installed fonts in his Chrome menu, unlike me. However, he was able to confirm that soft hyphens were not being picked up by Chrome—they were being displayed as regular hyphens, mid-line. (You can see this in the Chrome screen shot above.)
   Another friend, Steven, was able to confirm Chrome’s failure to switch fonts when it encountered a change in language. Thank you, gentlemen, and for those who called to help earlier, for giving me the benefit of the doubt.

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Posted in design, internet, publishing, technology, typography, USA | 3 Comments »


BBC drama, this autumn and winter

15.12.2010

Don’t know how I could have missed this. Oh, yes I do: I was running for office.
   Now that I’m not, I want to give the BBC a bit of a push, because these dramas look awesome. Aurelio Zen, with Rufus Sewell, looks like my sort of drama, and begins the first week of January. Caterina Murino plays his girlfriend and was that John Shrapnel I saw as a villain? Ashes to Ashes fans: our Luigi, Joseph Long, is in this series, so it’s not just Keeley Hawes (Upstairs, Downstairs) you’ll see this season.
   Doctor Who fans will note that Eccleston, Tennant and Smith appear, though only Smith is the Doctor in these clips.
   No Hustle promoed here, but that will also start in early January.
   And the calibre of the actors here is amazing. See how many big names you can spot.

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Posted in interests, marketing, TV, UK | No Comments »