Posts tagged ‘error’


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 »


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 »


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 »


A typeface designer’s test of the Opera browser

01.11.2010

After my endless complaints about Firefox crashing on Twitter (even with a fresh install, it still crashes multiple times daily—even on the machine where the hard drive was reformatted), I was pointed to Opera 10·63.
   I can tell it’s not really designed for anyone who likes type. Here’s how my Twitter page looked, with the default settings:

Opera on Windows XP

In case you think your eyes are deceiving you, those are, indeed, bitmap fonts. Actual size.
   Here’s a page from Twitpic:

Opera on Windows XP

   On our computers, where Arial is absent, Opera defaults to System. It ignores whatever you feed into the font preferences until you start tweaking the CSS under opera:config. This is ridiculous. Since we have FontSubstitutes fed in to the Windows registry to indicate how Arial should be substituted, and every other program we have understands this, it seems silly for Opera to stand alone—and to substitute to one of the least likely fonts as a new default.
   But say you have Arial, or any other typeface, installed. Opera still has a problem. It cannot display quotation marks in the specified typeface. This, to me, is ridiculous: if IE5 and Netscape Navigator 4·7 can, then Opera 10 should be able to do that. Here’s an enlargement from Khoi Vinh’s Subtraction blog:

Opera on Windows XP

It’s meant to be set in Helvetica. It is—except for the quotation marks.
   However, I can’t dis Opera too much because Firefox 1 and 2 had this rather serious omission, something I complained about at the time. It was only Firefox 3 that someone decided that displaying punctuation in the same font as everything else might not be a bad idea.
   It also does something funny to any word with an or ligature: it changes the font for that word. Nothing else, just that one word.
   On Firefox 2, it would display only the ligature in another typeface. This was my test in 2006:

Firefox 2 on Windows XP

Here’s what Opera does, with the affected words highlighted:

Opera on Windows XP

Weird? You’re telling me, especially as the typeface appears to be Garamond Light—something I only specified for the H1-tagged headlines as a default. Believe me, there are no H1 codes on the page.
   I guess with the smaller user base, there have been fewer bug reports filed about these issues. I have filed one on the default fonts, and will be doing another on the remainder.
   The good news is that Opera doesn’t seem to crash quite as often. It also seems more compatible with Flash: my father, who browses news sites a lot, says he has far fewer problems with video buffering, even on an older machine. And I prefer the look of the browser—Google Chrome has really changed the æsthetics of how we expect browsers to look.
   So if you can live with the alleged weaker security and the poor typography, Opera seems to be a good browser. However, I can’t live with poor typography, so I might only use the browser as a back-up.
   In summary, in my world:

  • Firefox: crashes all the time;
  • IE8: cumbersome;
  • Opera: bad typography;
  • Chromium: interprets some code oddly;
  • Chrome: made by Google, and 2010 is my year of being Google-sceptic.

I use Safari on the Mac, but we’ll leave that to another blog post.

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Posted in internet, technology, typography | 3 Comments »


A weekend of malware

24.10.2010

Autocade warning

I’m prepared to eat humble pie if one of our sites is actually distributing malware (naturally without any knowledge or action on our part). According to Google, Autocade is doing just that, as of the 23rd:

Of the 3 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 3 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2010-10-23, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2010-10-23.
   Malicious software is hosted on 1 domain(s), including requestbusforward.co.cc/.
   1 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including globals1696.ipq.co/.

   Immediately, I did the following:

  • searched for the domain (requestbusforward.co.cc) that was the source of the malware, and found that there were accusations toward Gizmodo and Gawker of doing exactly the same thing;
  • notified people on Twitter that there could be a problem with Autocade;
  • confirmed on a machine that is infected (which we were about to nuke) that the message was correct (it happened exactly as Google stated);
  • began backing up the database of the legit data along with the images;
  • informed our web host, Rackspace, of the notice and asked for an immediate check whether the server had been hacked;
  • did a Google News search and came up empty for news about either Gizmodo or Gawker being infected (which you would expect given these are popular websites);
  • better safe than sorry, nuked the infected PC with a hard-drive format. (Thank goodness for long weekends.)

   Rackspace’s Joe Kirby reports that he has seen no hacking activity at the server end. I’ve requested a review from Google and we’re still going to upgrade Mediawiki, which Autocade is run on.
   I’m willing to keep an open mind about whether Google was accurate this time (I can confirm it was not accurate about this blog), given that the scenario could be reproduced, albeit on an already infected machine.
   It still strikes me as odd that there is nothing on Google News or Google Blog Search about an infected Gizmodo or Gawker, which you would expect to make some sort of a splash.

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Posted in internet, technology | 1 Comment »


A fancier 1,200th car on Autocade

21.07.2010

Writing about cars calms me. So call me a freak. And maybe I’ve just needed to chill more in this last month as we head into the last few months of the mayoral campaign.
   It surprises me that Autocade has reached 1,200 models: 100 in the past month. And since I knew we were about to hit 1,200, then subconsciously I did want something flash to mark that number:

Image:1984_Audi_Sport_Quattro.jpg
Audi Sport Quattro. 1984 (prod. 224). 2-door coupé. F/A, 2133 cm³ (5 cyl. DOHC). Homologation special for Group B rallying, based on regular Audi Quattro but with 320 mm lopped from the wheelbase. Standard turbocharged engine producing 306 PS, though competition models tended to be up in the 450 PS-plus bracket. Carbon–Kevlar body, steeper windscreen rake (of Audi 80 (B2)) for greater visibility as demanded by rally drivers, wider tyres. ABS, four-piston caliper brakes. This all came at a price: 203,850DM when new.

I didn’t want a repeat of 1,100 when the Nissan Cherry was the landmark model. (There actually was a miscount, but I won’t go in to that.)
   And in the 1,100–1,200 cycle, I managed to find yet another likely error (about a Ford development code) in Wikipedia which I harped on about over at my Tumblog.
   As I said in the 1,100-car post, Autocade is not perfect and I find errors in my own work. However, I don’t intentionally put wrong information in, and the Wikipedia error with the Ford CE14 code is like saying, in car-nut terms, that Margaret Thatcher was a member of the Labour Party. This error has now propagated all over the internet so that, if Wikipedia editors were to check, they would find plenty of pages to support a mistake of which their site could have been the source.

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Posted in cars, internet, media, publishing | No Comments »


Warp speeds on Air New Zealand

02.05.2010

Air New Zealand boarding pass

Anyone notice just how quickly Air New Zealand planes are these days? It takes the grand total of ‘1:00 mins.’ to get from Auckland to Wellington, which equates to travelling at 18,360 mph or 29,520 km/h. I am not quite prepared to do that in case the G-forces squash me into a pulp. And if it’s an early version of the Star Trek transporter, I fear having my hind end put on backwards.

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Posted in humour, New Zealand | No Comments »