Posts tagged ‘bug’


Capricious Cortana

23.11.2015

I have never seen a program as inconsistent as Microsoft’s Cortana.
   We were always taught that computers were very logical, that they all followed a certain set of code each time.
   Not so Cortana, which has had more different behaviours than anything I have ever seen.
   When I run into technical issues, it’s the fault of certain parties for failing to anticipate the behaviour of ordinary people or for adopting a head-in-the-sand position to bugs that are very real or crooked company policies. These have been covered many times on this blog, such as Six Apart’s old Vox site refusing to accept a log-in, or Facebook ceasing to allow likes and comments; and then there’s the human dishonesty that drove Google’s failures on Blogger and Ads Preferences Manager.
   This still fits into those categories, as Microsoft’s engineers on its forums are peddling standard responses, none of which actually work. One even damaged my start menu and forced a system restore.
   The bugs are so varied, and that to me is strange. Normally bugs will take one form and one form only. Address that, and your problem is solved.
   However, Cortana has done the following.

Day 1. Refused to work, with Windows saying US English was not supported (curious, given it’s an American program). I downloaded the UK English language pack. Worked perfectly for the rest of the day. How novel.

Day 2. Refused to work, but prompted me to set up again, and then it worked.

Day 3. Cortana becomes deaf. No prompts to set up again, but I do it anyway. It works again.

Day 4. I play with the microphone settings (by ‘play’ I mean clicking on a setting but not actually changing it) and Cortana would work intermittently.

Day 5. Cortana would not work except at night, and I play the movie quiz.

Day 6. Cortana claims my Notebook is inaccessible because I am offline. Clearly I wasn’t offline because I was doing stuff online.

Day 7, daytime. Cortana refuses to answer and sends all queries to Bing. The Notebook screen just displays animated ellipses.

Day 7, evening. Cortana works after I plug in my headphones (which has a microphone). After I unplug it, my regular webcam microphone starts picking up my voice again. Cortana works again.

Day 8. Cortana hears me say ‘Hey, Cortana,’ but then just goes to ‘Thinking’ for minutes on end. It might display, ‘Something’s not right. Try again in a little bit,’ after all that. Apparently Cortana still cannot retrieve my interests because I am ‘offline,’ which is amazing that I’m posting to this blog right now.

   The microphones work with other programs. And browsing the Windows forums, this has been going on since July. The November service pack was supposed to have fixed a lot of issues, but clearly not.
   I’ll be fascinated to see what it does tomorrow. But I am tired of the BS that their techs are dishing out as “solutions”. I’m being reminded why I don’t use Word or Outlook: because I have a short fuse when it comes to crap.

PS.: Day 9, same as day 8. Day 10, asked a few set-up questions (again) and it works, though ‘Thinking’ still came up for a few seconds on the first go. Day 11, worked without intervention (amazing!). Day 12, see day 7 (evening).—JY

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Posted in India, internet, technology, USA | 1 Comment »


Cyberfox day two, or, the day it, too, stopped displaying text

24.12.2014

Rather than repeat the story in new words, here is a draft of the post that was sent to Cyberfox’s support forum.

The short story: Cyberfox no longer displays text as of this morning after working well for its first evening yesterday after installation for the first time. Glyphs that are not from a @font-face linked font will not show, so if a page is calling fonts from the system, the browser displays blank text. Nothing happened overnight. I switched the machine off, and when I switched it on again, Cyberfox exhibits this behaviour.
   The long story: in 2011, Firefox had a bug which meant there was no backward compatibility with PostScript Type 1 fonts (https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=628091). This is very similar to that except the text areas are blank, rather than filled with squares or hex codes.
   About two Firefox versions ago (I am guessing v. 32), the browser stopped showing text. I switched to Waterfox, which lasted one more version before it, too, stopped showing text. I downloaded Cyberfox last night and was truly pleased that here was a Firefox-based browser that actually worked. Text displayed as normal, and these were my Type 1, TrueType and OpenType fonts. To top it off, Cyberfox’s rasterizer and the way it handled sub-pixel rendering was superior to that of the other two browsers (see my blog post at http://jackyan.com/blog/2014/12/switching-to-cyberfox-after-waterfox-and-firefox-stopped-displaying-text/ for two screen shots of the type). Naturally, I was over the moon and made Cyberfox my default.
   Just to be on the safe side, I turned off hardware acceleration as when I posted the above bug to Mozilla Support, I was told that that could be a culprit. I made no change to OMTC.
   Today, as mentioned, Cyberfox has become just another Firefox where no text is displayed. But the really weird thing is that the typography, for the type that does show, is identical to Firefox and Cyberfox: the superior rendering is gone.
   Also, I’ve since altered the font family I use as a default for Windows displays to OpenType (I work in fonts), so there should no longer be an backward-incompatibility issue. Nvidia updated one of its drivers today, so I let that happen, and confirmed that all my drivers are up to date.
   Reinstallation (while keeping profile data) actually fixes everything: the type is back, rasterized more sharply,
   I was using Australis as the theme but have since gone back to classic.
   I’d be grateful for any light you can shed on this as I’m keen to stay within the Firefox 64-bit family. Whatever makes Cyberfox display better than the other two immediately after installation (though not after a reboot) solves this major problem of no type appearing.

   The different rendering method is the fix. The questions are: why does Cyberfox render type differently if it’s Mozilla Firefox-based? And why does rebooting my computer change this setting?

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Posted in internet, technology, typography | No Comments »


Has Facebook admitted its servers ran out of resources?

02.08.2014

Those of you who follow this blog know that I believe Facebook’s servers are reaching their limits. In June 2014, when there was a 69-hour outage for me—and at least 30 minutes for most other Facebook users—I noted I was recording a marked increase in Facebook bugs before the crash. And the even longer outage yesterday—some reports say it was 35 minutes but some media have reported it was up to 90—was also prefaced by some curious bugs that were identical to the earlier ones.
   I thought it was very odd that in all the articles I have read today about the issue, no media have been able to get a comment from Facebook. It made me wonder if people had clammed up because of what it could mean for the share price.
   And I do realize how preposterous my theory sounds, as the logical thing to ask is: how could a company the size of Facebook not be equipped to handle its growth?
   Well, how could a company the size of Facebook not be equipped to deal with time zones outside the US Pacific? And we know a company the size of Google is not equipped to deal with the false malware warnings it sends out.
   However, the geeks have reported. There are two at the Facebook developers’ status page that relate to the outage.
   If you can understand the technobabble, they are: ‘Traffic and error-rates are almost back to normal after a coordinated intervention by our engineering teams. We are now monitoring the situation and we have our best engineers determining the root-cause of this issue that affected much of our web fleet. We apologize for any inconvenience and we aim to ensure that this issue does not repeat,’ and ‘Platform has been stable for >5 hours and our engineers have reproduced the complex issue that was causing many of our www/api servers to run out of resources. The team is now working on the final fix, but we are confident that there will be no further regression. Thank you for your patience and we apologize for any issues that we caused for your apps. Have a great weekend.’
   If I understand them correctly, the second actually says that the servers ran out of resources.
   Hopefully, the above means Facebook has fixed the error, which I believe to be the same as the one in June. Facebook itself had then discounted that it was an attack.
   No wonder no one has offered the media a comment, if the site is falling over so regularly because of its bugs.

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Posted in internet, media, USA | 1 Comment »


I might not have Facebook, but I do speak Ebonics

16.06.2014

Forty-nine hours and counting, which makes it the beginning of day three without Facebook.
   I didn’t really need it yesterday, so there’s something to be said about habits breaking after a couple of days. However, for work, I have needed to go on there: while Sopheak is covering for me as far as Lucire’s social media are concerned, I’m checking the finalists’ pages for Miss Universe New Zealand today. The problem now: many are coming up blank. Also it’s now impossible for someone to add me as an admin to their page (Facebook tells them I’m not a member and that it needs my email address).
   Facebook has been resolutely silent despite Tweets to them, which makes them worse than Google. At least Google has a support site where people lie to you, after which they go silent when they realize you have them over a barrel. At Facebook, you know you are getting ignored, and there’s no real way to file a bug report (if one of the bugs is you can’t post, then how can you post?).
   This bug appears to be spreading, if Twitter chatter is anything to go by, although things haven’t changed much at the unofficial forum at Get Satisfaction. However, I did find two posters at Get Satisfaction who have been out for six to eleven days.
   One Tweet of mine, strangely, did make it through as a cross-post; I wasn’t kidding when I said that being able to post is now the exception rather than the rule. (This, again, reminds me of the dying days of Vox.) But no one can like or comment on that post. If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you can give it a go here. At least those who visit my wall and can see it (not everyone can) know something is up with Facebook, and that the site is, once again, broken.

On one of my visits today, this quiz intrigued me. It’s from MIT, and it ‘examines people’s knowledge of English grammar. We are interested in how this is affected by demographic variables such as where you live, your age, and the age at which you began learning English.’
   After completing the quiz, it made the following guesses about my English and what my first language is.

Language

   It does appear my dialect is African American Vernacular English, and my first language is English. The second choice of dialect, ‘New Zealandish’, is an odd one: does this mean Australian? Or a bad impersonation of Kiwi (Ben Kingsley in Ender’s Game or, worse, Steve Guttenberg in Don’t Tell Her It’s Me)? There’s a possibility my mother tongue is Dutch or Hungarian.
   One out of six isn’t good, but I suppose I should be happy that we even come up in the survey, and that there are sufficient quirks to New Zealand English for it to be identified by an algorithm.
   One is allowed to feed in the correct details, so hopefully the algorithm improves and other Kiwis won’t have such way-out results.
   Or, it means that if our government wants someone to visit the White House, I am the ideal interpreter.

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Posted in business, humour, internet, New Zealand, technology, USA | 1 Comment »


Check your Google Feedburner feeds: are they serving the correct sites?

09.01.2014

A month or so ago, our Feedburner stats for Lucire’s RSS feed delivery tanked. I put it down to the usual “Google being useless”, because we would have expected to see the opposite. The take-up of Feedburner feeds has usually slowly grown since we started this one in 2007, without any promotion on our end.
   I clicked through the Feedburner link on the site this morning to discover this:

That’s not our site. Maybe on seeing the wrong content, we lost a bunch of subscribers?
   Now, I did change the ID for the feed, but that was last week, not December 11–12. Maybe I’m naïve, but I don’t expect Google to allow the hijacking of a feed ID that rapidly, since Google forbids, for example, people taking up old Blogger names. Unless they have inconsistent policies between their properties? Or maybe Feedburner is broken and dyingthe complaints have been coming for a long time.
   Now’s a good time to check your feeds anyway, if you use Google’s Feedburner service, to make sure that they are still serving the correct sites.
   The changes did not affect those who were getting Feedburner updates via their email (since I’m on that mailing list myself).
   Since I can’t trust Google with anything, we’ve changed our RSS feed to the one natively supported by Wordpress.

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Posted in internet, publishing | 3 Comments »


I’m not the only one who has a problem with Internet Explorer

21.06.2012

I realize software crashes can happen to anyone at any time, even Microsoft Windows president Steve Sinofsky, when demonstrating the new Microsoft Surface tablets in front of an audience in Los Angeles.
   However, it does remind me of the year where Internet Explorer 9 would not work on any of our computers. The question must be asked: if one of Microsoft’s own bosses can’t get Internet Explorer to work, what hope do the rest of us have?

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Posted in humour, internet, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


It’s the 1st of the month, so Facebook Timeline stops updating

01.11.2011

I know I’m not alone on this, as I have heard from two other Facebook friends, but Facebook has trouble getting to a new month with Timeline.
   Ever since my Facebook went to November 1, Timeline stopped updating. What rests there is the last post of October 31.
   Earlier today, I could still have a look at November entries by forcing the URL www.facebook.com/jack.yan/timeline/2011/11, but that eventually stopped working, too.
   There’s no November entry in the month links at the top right-hand corner, either.
   The only way I can see my Facebook entries is in the full history. Yet no one seems to have reported this bug, which only happens on the 1st of the month. Looks like I’ll have to.

PS.: Facebook Timeline finally made it to November, presumably because the US west coast got there. I assume Facebook is unaware that there are a lot of time zones ahead of Pacific time?

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Posted in internet, technology, USA | 8 Comments »


It’s nice to be believed

21.04.2011

The bug I wrote about a few days ago that’s emerging when I use Autocade is now filed with Telstra Clear—and it’s been escalated.
   For years I would report various faults, including with Telstra Clear, and I would not be believed. What a difference now that I am believed.
   For around two years, no one at Telstra Clear believed me when I told them that the internet went down when it was windy. They kept blaming me and how I used my computer. I guess the wisdom was that wind caused computer operator misuse. Until one day, I said, ‘I know what your script says. I have done [x, y and z]. Now, here’s what I want you to do.’ The technician came down from Palmerston North and confirmed there was a loose wire. He then called another technician. Zero marks for efficiency, though the error was eventually fixed.
   Or the Vox error, which went on for months in 2009, blocking me from using the service. When I complained to Six Apart, which ran the now-defunct blogging platform, it was apparently my fault. Or my ISP’s. Or the internet’s. Until, again after a long, long time, I gave them my username and password. Only then did they confirm that something was wrong: they could not log on as me even from their own HQ.
   Even Mozilla took its time, though happily, when they got on to it, they were remarkably quick in solving my reported bugs. And these days, I find I am not disbelieved there.
   Now that Lucire is on Cloudflare, I’m also finding that speedy service and, last night, confirmation that they did, indeed, suffer a DDOS attack. There are no doubts there, either—just rapid acknowledgements and very personal service, answering my concerns about various settings, the Google bot, and the way Cloudflare works.
   The latest one is the Google Ads Preferences Manager, though I was told today at our monthly Vista lunch by Jim Donovan that he had been checking his, and found that his opt-out had been respected. I wonder if Google is only respecting the choices of Chrome users.
   I have had a few friends discover their Ads Preferences Manager behave the same way as it does for me, but maybe there are some people for whom it’s working.
   Nevertheless, the Network Advertising Initiative, to whom I have informed of this issue, has not responded, which I imagine amounts to being disbelieved.
   All I can say to the disbelievers is this: I am a reasonably intelligent person. I have been playing and working with computers since 1978. That means, if I say there is a bug with your service, there is a greater chance that I am right, than there is for your belief that I mucked up.
   This time, it’s plain nice for Telstra Clear to come back to me without questioning how I use my computer. Or saying I pressed the wrong button. Or used the wrong finger in pressing that button. Here’s hoping it can be resolved for, as the tech told me yesterday, it’s very hard to identify an intermittent error. (However, today it is not intermittent: I have been consistently unable to get on to Autocade without adding www to its URL.) From my point of view, it’s just great that the right people are dealing with the right issue in my world.

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Posted in business, internet, New Zealand, technology, USA | No Comments »


How do you take a screen shot when Alt-Print Screen stops working?

02.12.2010

This is an error that happens to me at least twice a week for years, and no one seems to have a solution. I’ve read some of the help pages on this in web searches, and none of them help.
   As far as I can tell, only one case of this has been reported, but, sadly, the original thread cannot be readily found any more. Most have turned up in fake support sites. (The search phrase is Alt-Printscreen And Ctrl-V Only Works 3X—while I have not counted mine, I’d say this isn’t far off the mark.)
   How do you do a screen shot in Windows (XP or Vista) when Alt-Print Screen stops working?
   And, how and why does it stop working?
   Usually the solution is to reboot. Sometimes, however, rebooting isn’t a desirable option—such as in cases when I need a screen shot of something that I know I won’t be able to get back.
   Let me state some of the things that have been posted by well meaning people elsewhere that have not worked for me.
   Clearing the clipboard doesn’t work. (The usual copy and paste commands still work with text though.)
   On this computer, I don’t have a Function key, but even on my laptop, where I do have one, it’s not activated.
   I don’t have a second monitor plugged in.
   I haven’t installed Boot Camp, whatever that is.
   I don’t think it’s a memory issue because I have oodles more memory today than I did on my old machine.
   I don’t use Microsoft Office—I say this as some of the advice is around how an Office installation will screw up Alt-Print Screen.
   I used to think it was Photoshop, because, on my old computer, I could shut down the program and reopen it, and Alt-Print Screen would usually work again. Or, I could shut down one version and open another. However, these tricks have now ceased to work, though I have a feeling that they once worked on this machine.
   I’d like to say it is Chrome-related, because I have never been able to take a screen shot of the ‘Aw, snap!’ error page that comes up frequently. Whether there’s something related to the graphics, the crashes and Flash, I don’t know. Browsers crash so many times a day now that it’s hard to pinpoint whether the crashes are the cause of Alt-Print Screen failing, or whether the command had failed beforehand.
   But I’ve had these problems long before Chrome was even released, so we can’t blame Google (again).
   I’m putting this post up in case someone has some suggestions and future computer users can find this.
   The closest I have found to a real explanation is from Adobe, on a related issue:

That sounds a bit like an old Windows bug where the OS would stop informing Photoshop of changes to the clipboard after a while (we never determined the cause, but saw the same thing happen in other apps, and reported the problem to Microsoft).

   And, please, no unhelpful ‘Buy a Mac’ comments. You guys are seldom around when I Tweet about Mac problems (believe me, they screw up just as often, with everything from missing icons to stuck DVDs to files that disappear mid-transfer to fonts that don’t show up in a PDF even when subsetting is on …), and the Windows people never say, ‘Buy a PC.’

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Posted in general, internet, technology | 2 Comments »


Another false accusation from Google

02.12.2010

For around a year, I’ve been at Google for its misbehaviours. And one thing I dislike about these tech companies—whether it’s Facebook or Google or any of their ilk—is how they are slaves to technology, rather than masters of it. Somewhere along the line, they have allowed algorithms to determine guilt, thereby offending that old-fashioned idea of the presumption of innocence. From Blogger blocks to false copyright-infringement accusations to, now, this:

Blocked from searching on Google

   While Duck Duck Go is my default now, occasionally I’ll still put a search through Google. There is no malware on this system, or on this network, and I certainly haven’t put through a single automated request (how could human typing be mistaken for this?!)—reasons Google gives for this message. It’s just another case of guilty till proved innocent that this northern California company, and others, are so good at creating.
   Funny, isn’t it, that it has relied on an automated process to accuse a human process of being automated? It’s the Blogger fight all over again.

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Posted in business, internet, USA | No Comments »