Posts tagged ‘bugs’


Forget the 2010s and 2020s, Bing’s results are firmly in the 2000s now

09.10.2022

Immediately after blogging about Bing being able to pick up an article from 2022, Microsoft’s collapsing search engine has reverted back to being the Wayback Machine. There was just over a week of it living in the 2020s, but it seems it’s too much for them.

It’s back to, well, Bing Vista, for want of a better term. Of the 50 results (out of a claimed 120!) that it’s capable of returning for site:lucire.com, here is how it breaks down based on the publication year of the article. Since my last test, Bing has eliminated the 2018 and 2019 results (one page per year). We wouldn’t want to think it could deliver anything from the last decade, would we?
 
Bing
Contents’ pages ★★
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001 ★★★★★
2002
2003 ★★★★
2004 ★★★★
2005 ★★
2006 ★
2007 ★★★★★★★
2008 ★★
2009 ★★
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022
 

There were 29 unique results, which means 21 were repeats—42 per cent! Bing says it had 120 results but really only had 29. To fill up the 50 it had to show 21 results multiple times!

Let’s see how Google fared for the first 50 results.
 
Google
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★★★★
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002 ★★
2003
2004 ★★
2005 ★
2006
2007 ★
2008
2009 ★
2010 ★★
2011 ★★★
2012 ★★
2013 ★★
2014 ★★★
2015 ★★
2016 ★★
2017 ★★
2018 ★★
2019 ★★★
2020 ★★★
2021 ★★
2022 ★★★★★
 
Google has moved again since we began looking at things. In an earlier test tonight, Google had two repeat results, which was a surprise. But I wasn’t able to replicate it when I did the one for the blog post.

No such issues at Mojeek, where every entry is unique. They really are more capable of delivering search engine results for site searches that are superior to the other two’s.
 
Mojeek
Contents’ pages ★★★★★★★★
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004 ★
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009 ★
2010 ★★
2011 ★★
2012 ★★★
2013 ★★★★★
2014 ★★★
2015 ★★★★★
2016
2017
2018
2019 ★★★★
2020 ★★
2021 ★★★★★★★★★
2022 ★★★★★★
 
An improvement on our September 21 test, where Mojeek has managed to capture more 2020s pages as part of its top 50.

I won’t run the other search engines through this—I just wanted two points of comparison to highlight how ridiculous Bing remains, with the resultant effect on web traffic. It means Duck Duck Go, Qwant, Ecosia, Yahoo and others, which are also Bing, are just as compromised.

I might lay off them for a while as we know it’s crap and things aren’t going to change. Microsoft has firmly entrenched itself as a bunch of liars, like their other Big Tech counterparts.

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Windows 11 22H2 arrives; now for the usual post-upgrade tweaks

02.10.2022

Windows 11 22H2 arrived for me yesterday, and the first order of business, as always, was to sort out the typography. This earlier post is roughly right: make the registry hacks, then change the properties of the fonts in C:\Windows\WinSXS (namely by giving them administrator access) before deleting them. However, I needed one extra step to get them out of C:\Windows\Fonts, and that was to boot up in safe mode and delete them from 7Zip. Only then could I change the properties and say farewell to the dreaded Arial.

You still can’t type most characters above ASCII 128 in Notepad—a crazy state of affairs introduced during Windows 11’s time—though I managed to get the pound sterling sign to work (even though there might be less need to type it now thanks to the UK government). I guess no one uses the euro symbol at Redmond, or goes to a café (forget about any accented characters).

We’ll see if Explorer still rotates photos by itself—but as I’ve replaced it with One Commander for most of my file management, it will be a while before I will find out.

The new icons look good, and the new Maps seems to work reasonably well. Mostly I just care that my usual programs are fine and Windows’ font substitutes don’t do anything silly.
 

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Bing Webmaster Tools: how to make sure you vanish from a search engine completely

03.06.2022

With my personal site and company site—both once numbers one and two for a search for my name—having disappeared from Bing and others since we switched to HTTPS, I decided I would relent and sign up to Bing Webmaster Tools. Surely, like Google Webmaster Tools, this would make sure that a site was spidered and we’d see some stats?

Once again, the opposite to conventional internet wisdom occurred. Both sites disappeared from Bing altogether.

I even went and shortened the titles in the meta tags, so that this site is now a boring (and a bit tossy) ‘Jack Yan—official site’, and the business is just ‘Jack Yan & Associates, Creating Harmony’.

Just as well hardly anyone uses Bing then.

Things have improved at Google after two months, with this personal site at number two, after Wikipedia (still disappointing, I must say) and the business at 15th (very disappointing, given that it’s been at that domain since 1995).

Surely my personal and work sites are what people are really looking for when they feed in my name?

The wisdom still seems to be to not adopt HTTPS if you want to retain your positions in the search engines. Do the opposite to what technologists tell you.
 
Meanwhile, Vivaldi seems to have overcome its bug where it shuts down the moment you click inside a form field. Version 5.3 has been quite stable so far, after a day, so I’ve relegated Opera GX to back-up again. I prefer Vivaldi’s screenshot process, and the fact it lets me choose from the correct directory (the last used) when I want to upload a file. Tiny, practical things.

Big thanks to the developers at Opera for a very robust browser, though it should be noted that both have problems accessing links at Paypal (below).

We’ll see how long I last back on Vivaldi, but good on them for listening to the community and getting rid of that serious bug.
 

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Facebook admits we’re experiencing a bug preventing us from managing Lucire’s page

08.05.2022

Last night’s hour-waster was chatting to Facebook Business Support. No, that’s unfair. I was actually assigned an incredibly good rep who took me seriously, and concluded that Facebook did indeed have a bug which means, of all the pages I can manage, the one for Lucire is alone in not allowing me, or any of its admins, to do anything. How coincidental, after losing Instagram and Twitter for periods during 2021.

Ironically, one editor can—of course someone who is supposed to have fewer privileges can do more. Such is Facebook.

A few things I learned. There’s a Meta Business Suite, which a whole bunch of pages got shoved into, whether you wanted it or not. My public page is there, for instance. It seems if you have Facebook and Instagram accounts for the same thing, you’re going to be in there.

Despite the two-factor authentication discussed in the previous post, I actually can get into the Business Suite, via another page I administer for a friend. From there I can get to Lucire’s tools.
 

 

I don’t need two-factor authentication for any of the other pages in there, including my own, and have full access.

Trisha, or Trish as she said I could call her, walked me through the steps, and asked me to get to the Suite page. Then she asked me to click ‘Create ad’, and I get this:
 

 
She asked me to check the account quality, and of course there are no issues:
 


 

She wrote: ‘Thanks for letting me know. It’s weird because I have checked all your assets here and it looks good. But, here’s what I suggest, Jack. We’ll need to report this to our Internal team so they can investigate. You might experience a bug or glitch.’

I theorized: ‘Just so you know, this page dates back to 2007 so maybe it is so old that Facebook’s servers can’t handle it?’

It wasn’t something she responded to, as she stayed on-subject, but it’s a theory worth entertaining, as it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve witnessed this.

So, for now, the one team member who can still go on Facebook for us posted this at my request:
 
All Lucire admins, all automated gadgets sending links to this page, and all Facebook-approved reposting sites, were blocked by Facebook on April 25. Therefore, till Facebook fixes this, there will be no more regular updates to this page other than a limited amount from one of our editors.
 

I doubt they’ll ever fix it, and two years ago I did say I wouldn’t really bother if Facebook went buggy and prevented us from updating again. Clearly I am bothering, as I know we have readers who use Facebook. But I have very little faith this will ever be fixed, since I have seen other reported bugs (some covered on this blog) get ignored for years, and this isn’t a fleeting bug, from what I can make out.

The lesson, as I have probably hinted at more than once, is never rely on a Big Tech service. The sites are so unwieldy that they get to a point where no one knows how to fix them. If earlier experiences are any indication, such as what I experienced at Vox, we have arrived at the end of Facebook pages.

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The end of Facebook pages?

01.05.2022

Some of the articles in Lucire are still manually designed in Dreamweaver, and those need to be added to the social networks in a similar way. There we use Zoho Social to update things.

In practice, we only do Twitter, as IFTTT then takes care of reposting our updates to Facebook. Today, I noticed that IFTTT has failed to take any of our Tweets to Facebook since April 25, for no reason I can work out.
 

 

We also cannot use Zoho Social to make Facebook page updates, so the fault does not lie with these individual services, but Facebook itself.

First Zoho Social said I needed permission from the page admin to add images, but I am the page admin; then it said I could not post at all.
 


 

I went to Facebook for the first time in goodness knows how long to discover there is no way to enter a post manually there, either!
 

 

I tried using the Meta Business Tools, but I can’t be authenticated, since they require you use an “app” (none of which I have heard of), a physical security key (strange to me as I have no idea what one looks like or where it goes), or a cellphone (yeah right, like I’m going to give Facebook that very personal detail for them to sell).
 

 

It looks like another massively stupid decision on Facebook’s part, so odds are we’ll cease to update any of our Facebook pages going forward. It will take too much effort to figure out how to fix this. Even if we could type into Facebook, we don’t want to be feeding in every headline and link manually.

I ceased to have any respect for Facebook many years ago, but kept things going there for the sake of our readers. But if they are shutting down the pages—certainly all their functionality is disappearing—then we will have no choice but to end our updates there.
 
PS.: If any of you are wondering, I am definitely the admin, but I can’t do any of the things Facebook says I can:
 

 

If I access the options under ‘Page Owner’, apparently I can report ourselves, but nothing more!
 

 

Looks I still can post to a page where I’m not the owner but a contributor, but I can’t post to one where I’m the owner and admin:
 

 

Remember how a page settings’ page usually looks?
 

 
Here’s Lucire’s:
 

 
The only options I have as admin are:
 

 

And before you ask, there are no page ‘violations’ other than one post from years ago, because US sites can’t handle artistic nudity where you can’t see anything inappropriate. Genocide and misinformation are fine, though.

I think what Facebook does is let you work on pages that aren’t yours(!)—it wouldn’t be the first time—but not your own! It really is this daft there.

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Vivaldi 5.2’s bugs: time to go back to Opera GX?

08.04.2022


Above: Vivaldi appears for less than a second; each entry then disappears. One of the bugs from last night.
 
Vivaldi updated last night, and nearly instantly shut down.

Sadly, there’s a bug which shuts the program down the moment you hit a form field (filed with them, and they are working on it), and I found that ZIP archives would not download properly. Getting rid of a Spotify tab somehow got me around the first bug, but I know others have not been so lucky.

In the meantime, I discovered downgrading did not work—Vivaldi wouldn’t even start—while upgrading back to 5.2 didn’t solve that problem. I’d see Vivaldis in the task manager for a second but they’d then vanish.

Removing the sessions from the default folder helped me start the program again, but I lost my tabs; fortunately I was able to restore those, in order to duplicate each and every one on my old browser, Opera GX.

I had duplicated tabs onto other browsers reasonably regularly, and I could have retrieved a fairly recent set from my laptop, but it’s always good to have the latest.

Right now I’m deciding whether to stick with Vivaldi while its techs work on the problems, or return to a stable Opera GX, which I last used as my regular browser briefly in 2020.

The type display is still really good, without my needing to add code to get the browser working with MacType.

However, I like Vivaldi and what they stand for, which is why I stuck with it for so long. According to this blog, I’ve been using it reasonably faithfully since September 2017. And I have become very used to it over any other Chromium-based browser.
 
Some of you may have noticed that this website is finally on https, years after that became the norm. There was one line in the code that wasn’t pointing at the correct stylesheet when this blog loaded using SSL. That was finally remedied yesterday (I hard-coded the stylesheet link into the header PHP file). I’m no expert on such matters but it’s now loading a certificate I got at Let’s Encrypt, and it seems to be working.

One of the changes in the stylesheet that controls the indents and the paragraph spacing does mean some of the line spacing in earlier posts is now off. This happened on the Lucire website, too, but it was one of those things I had to do to make posts going forward look a bit better.

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Replacement for Notepad found, but what about Windows Explorer?

02.04.2022


 
Now that Microsoft won’t let us type certain characters into Notepad (anything above ASCII 127, at least on a standard US keyboard), I’ve had to look for alternatives.
   This is a daft move on Microsoft’s part as I am sure I am not the only person in the world who needs to type £ or or the word café. I accept not everyone needs to type en and em dashes.
   A number of kind souls on Twitter suggested Notepad++, which I had heard of years ago, but it was just far too complicated for me. What I really wanted was Notepad as it was before a few months ago.
   The closest: EditPad Lite 8, which is like Notepad but with a more convoluted search and replace, and tabs so you can have a bunch of files in a single instance of the program.
 

 
   Windows Explorer is the other one. It keeps rotating photos by itself, even images with no orientation code (such as screenshots). There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes it’ll rotate left. Other times to the right. Or upside down.
   Sadly, the timestamp changes, which is very problematic for, say, email attachments, which I file by date. Also linked files for magazine work—we can’t afford to have photos suddenly rotated in a file because Microsoft thinks so.
   That proved to be a lot harder to solve, as most people who make Explorer alternatives want to do multiple windows. Others have clunky interfaces. If you don’t want to pay, and even if you do, your choices seem rather limited.
   Eventually trialling more than half a dozen, I settled on One Commander, which doesn’t rotate photos without human intervention, and I had been happy with it till today—when it changed the timestamps on a whole bunch of photos during a transfer.
 

 
   I know the program would love to call these photos ‘modified’ at the time of transfer, but that’s exceedingly unhelpful for my purposes, when I need them to show the original date and modified date exactly as they were in the originating folder.
   Your suggestions are welcome. I do need to preview thumbnails, which knocks out some of the offerings. But again, you have to wonder why on earth Microsoft has introduced bugs when both these programs functioned fine under Windows 10.
 
PS.: Milos Paripović, the developer of One Commander, responded to my query about this. He says, ‘One Commander is using Explorer for file operations so it should behave the same way.’ And here’s the thing: I haven’t been able to replicate the bug described above since. So it looks like I’ll continue with One Commander, which has the best UI of them all. Altap Salamander did get a brief look-in, but it’s just not as nice to look at.

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When Here WeGo still sends you to the wrong location six years on

10.01.2022

Six years ago, I reported this error in Here Maps (a.k.a. Here WeGo), both via the official channels and to a software engineer I knew working there.
   It’s still there. There aren’t two Wharekauhau Country Estates (this is the route between them, to highlight just how wrong it is; the westerly one is correct).

   They’ve since been in touch via Twitter and I’ve re-sent them all the information, including:

Trust me, I went to this one and wound up the drive to some random farm with no one around, and had to back my car down a muddy trail with immense difficulty as there was nowhere to U-turn.

   This only came up because Here Maps tried to take me to New World Foxton recently, and I decided to look back.
   If I followed their guidance, I would have to drive through the war memorial.


   Don’t get me wrong. I really like Here Maps and the latest UI is fantastic. It’s no worse than its competitors in accuracy terms. Google has sent me to plenty of wrong places when I was still using their site for things. It’s just annoying when the official channels, reporting bugs the way they suggest, clearly don’t work. Hopefully if anyone’s planning their journeys to the above places, they’ll be able to see this post!

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On OneDrive, Flickr, and FLOC

19.05.2021

Yesterday, I worked remotely, and I don’t know what possessed me, but as OneDrive was activated on my laptop, I decided to save a word processing file there, planning to grab it from my desktop machine later in the day.
   Normally I would just leave the file where it was and transfer it across the network, which is what I should have stuck with.
   Heck, even transferring a file using a USB stick would have been a better idea than OneDrive.
   I hadn’t signed up to it on my desktop PC. I went through the motions, used the default settings where it said it would back up documents and pictures (while making it clear my files would remain exactly where they were). I grabbed the file I need—the entire 18 kilobytes of it—and thought nothing more. I deactivated OneDrive as I saw no real use for it any more.
   Bad idea, because most of my desktop icons vanished, and my Windows default documents’ and pictures’ folders were emptied out.
   After reactivating OneDrive, I found the lot in the OneDrive folder, and promptly moved them back to their original folders. The desktop files—the text files I had on there plus the icons—I duplicated elsewhere. Ultimately, I made new shortcuts for everything—thank goodness my laptop’s icon layout is identical to my desktop’s—and restored the three text files from their duplicate directory.
   The above took me all of a few minutes to write but in reality I spent an hour fixing this—something that Windows said would not happen.
   Chalk it up to experience—consider this fair warning to anyone who thinks of using “the cloud”.
 
 

Also in the “say one thing, do another” file for yesterday: I attempted to sign in to my Flickr account, which has not been touched since around 2008. I tried a range of addresses I had in 2006, when I originally signed up, and attempted to do password resets. Flickr: ‘Invalid email or password.’ I even tried an address that Yahoo! emailed me at in 2018 concerning Flickr, and which Flickr itself said might be the correct email (use your Yahoo! username and add ‘@yahoo.com’ to the end of it).
   I had no other option but to email their support, and mentioned that I was a paying Smugmug customer, given that the photo site now owns Flickr.
   They have responded in a timely fashion, not telling me the email I had used, but said they had sent it a password reset in there.
   Surprisingly (or maybe not, considering we are talking about another big US site again), the address was indeed one of the ones I had tried (I’m glad I kept a record). Except now it works—what’s the bet that post-enquiry, they fixed things up in order to send me that reset email?
   I thanked the support person for the reset email, but suggested that they had some bugs, and fixing them would mean less for him to do.

Don Marti linked an interesting article in The Drum in which he was quoted. Duck Duck Go, Firefox and Github have all opposed Google’s new FLOC tracking method. Meanwhile, Bob Hoffman points out that only four per cent of Apple users have opted in to tracking after the Cupertino company’s new OS opted you out by default.
   Most of the time, people tell me that they find targeted ads ‘creepy’ as they appear from site to site, so it’s no wonder that take-up has been so low with Apple users. So if not FLOC, then what?
   Well, here’s a radical idea: show ads on sites that have subject-matter relevant to the advertiser. It’s what happened before Google’s monopoly, and there were plenty of smaller ad networks that did a great job of it. The prices were still reasonable, and Google wasn’t taking a big cut of the money earned. Of course Big Tech doesn’t like it, because they won’t earn as much, and the old system actually required people with brains to figure out how best to target, something creepy tracking has tried to replace.
   The old methods, with their personal touch, resulted in some creative advertising work—I remember we had some page takeovers on Lucire’s website where the traditional header was redesigned to show off the R55 Mini, thanks to one of our earlier ad directors, Nikola McCarthy. No tracking involved, but a great brand-builder and a fantastic way for Mini to get a fashion connection. Ads with tracking are so transactional and impersonal: ‘Buy this,’ or, ‘You’ve searched for this. Buy this.’
   I doubt it does the brands much good, and before you say that that doesn’t matter, let me also add that it can’t do the humans much good, either. The user’s purpose is reduced to clicking through and buying; so much for building a relationship with them and understanding their values. That isn’t marketing: it’s straight selling. Which means the marketing departments that put these deals together are doing themselves out of a job. They’re also spending money with a monopoly that, as far as I have read, doesn’t have independently certified metrics, which 20 years ago would have been a concern with some agencies.
   I do like innovations, but every now and then, I feel the newer methods haven’t done us much good. Tracking is tracking, no matter what sort of jargon you use to disguise it.

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Another mailbox bites the dust from another crash—what is taking out Eudora’s data?

17.09.2020

Something is crashing my PC and taking Eudora mailboxes with it.
   The latest is losing my Q3 outbox table of contents, which I suppose isn’t as bad as losing the inbox, outbox, and all third-quarter emails, though being at the end of the week, there was still some repairing from the weekend back-up I made.
   The outbox was there but the table of contents was corrupted, and when Eudora rebuilds, for some reason the recipient isn’t recorded, only the sender.
   Once again I was faced with a line-by-line (or, rather, group-by-group) comparison of the back-up and the existing mailboxes, to see what changes had been made since the 11th.


Above: What remained of the third-quarter outbox. I can no longer group this ’box by recipient, since Eudora doesn’t rebuild sent email folders with the recipient in the relevant column.

   There were about three dozen emails that weren’t in common.
   The below Windows crash appears to have happened just after the last recorded “recipient-less” email in the corrupted table of contents.

   That was a while back, but I do remember another crash that slowed the computer to a crawl, with the non-closing app on restart being something to do with an AMD capturing window error.
   Could AMD’s software be crashing and deleting mailboxes? If so, it’s cost me many, many hours of frustration and the knowledge that I have a corrupted table of contents for this quarter’s emails that will never be fixed—a rare imperfection among years of perfectly archived ’boxes.
   I was also able to trace it to when I sent a message to a friend on Facebook who is not easily reachable by other means. Since I rarely use the site it was pretty easy to pinpoint when I was last there.
   Considering my phone died after installing Whatsapp what’s the bet that running Facebook on a desktop browser kills your desktop’s data?
   It’s as I always say: the newer the software doesn’t mean more reliable. Just ask anyone using Facebook today.
   I have updated the AMD driver so let’s see if the bug recurs. I’m considering running Eudora back-ups on a daily basis but the weekly Windows back-up takes in many other work folders, and I don’t believe there’s a way to run a second job through the default service.

I visited a dental surgeon earlier this week and noticed his software didn’t perform as he wished. He couldn’t edit things in his billing software due to a bug. He had to return to the file minutes later and repeat the task before the program let him.
   I dispute those who say I encounter more bugs than the average user. Watching the surgeon, he just lived with the bug, and knew that if he waited long enough, his program would allow him to make edits again. It seems to be a bug affecting the most basic of tasks. The difference, I imagine, is that he didn’t document the stupidity of the software developer in preventing him from doing a fundamental task, whereas I regularly call them out, especially when it comes to common sites such as Google or Facebook where the (misplaced) expectation is that they must hire the best. Not always.
   Prof Sir Geoffrey Palmer once said in one of his lectures, ‘The more lawyers there are, the more poor lawyers there are.’ The analogy in software is, ‘The more software developers there are, the more thick software developers there are.’ Like any profession, and I include law, not everyone who graduates is smart. Just look at some of our politicians who claim to have law degrees.

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