Still, there will always be someone to ask:
On the other hand, if this be trollage, it’s pretty seamless.
Still, there will always be someone to ask:
On the other hand, if this be trollage, it’s pretty seamless.
Lots of mice have been plugged into my trusty desktop, and all but one of them have been unplugged for various reasons, the most recent being a Logitech rodent that for some reason couldn’t complete a cut/paste cycle.
So out it goes, in favor of what the label says is a Microsoft Comfort Optical Mouse 3000. Using the same settings as the Logitech, it’s absurdly fast; I had to crank everything back to get to the point where I could keep track of the pointer. What’s more, it’s silly-looking: two-tone silver over black. Still, it works, which the old meece in the cabinet don’t.
What GM has to say about the Cadillac User Experience:
CUE blends first-of-its-kind technology with highly intelligent design, bringing the intuitive control of smartphones and tablets safely to the road. With a clean, uncluttered design, Natural Voice Recognition and responsive touch-screen technology, CUE creates an experience that’s as simple to use as it is advanced.
With his thumb firmly downturned, John Phillips of Car and Driver [January] says that the system is “about to lap itself in the Indy 500 of Idiocy”:
[CUE] urged me to differentiate between “Infotainment Gestures” by memorizing the seven secret finger movements: “press/tap,” “press and hold,” “drag,” “nudge,” “fling or swipe,” “spread,” and “pinch.” I’m not making this up. Turned out that my personal favorite was “punch real hard,” followed by a finger gesture I already knew.
I hope these are intended for use in stationary mode, because if I’m flying along at freeway speeds — or, perhaps, freeway speeds plus 10 percent — I don’t have time to remember whether I’m supposed to be pointing this way or that.
Once upon a time, the great digital god Google smote me with the back of its algorithmic hand; I had to mend my ways and atone for my wickedness before I would be readmitted to Google’s good graces, a process which ultimately required me to hire the services of a white-hat malware consultant, my own mad skillz being insufficient to the task.
But that’s Google: it knows the quality of mercy, even if it’s difficult to entreat them to extend it to someone. Lesser entities have their own methods of persuasion:
The McAfee Site Advisor website claims, about NaturalNews.com, “We tested it and found security risks. Beware.”
These claims by McAfee are utterly false and highly defamatory. By spreading this information through its downloadable browser tools, McAfee is severely harming the reputation and web traffic of Natural News while misleading potentially millions of users about a website that they find to be highly informative, reputable and completely free of security risks.
UPDATE: McAfee contacted us and explained that if we paid them $38,000, they would certify our website and “take care” of the red reputation rankings. In a second conversation, they told us that if we made the decision to go with them TODAY, they would reduce the fee to just $32,000. Feeling forced into having our website reputation destroyed if we did not pay, we paid McAfee $32,000, which we consider an “extortion fee.” Magically, within minutes, all the red flags on our website were lifted and Natural News is no longer being blocked by McAfee. This cost us $32,000!!!
“We tested it” seems arguable:
Site Advisor’s scores are derived from users who sign up to be “site reviewers.” The ratings from these “site reviewers” are then TRUSTED by McAfee to be accurate, regardless of whether they are accurate or not.
This faulty reputation structure allows gangs of online paid trolls (so-called “anti-P.R. companies”) to game the system and coordinate a campaign of submitting negative ratings for any targeted website (such as Natural News).
I need hardly point out that if there’s one thing trolls like better than trolling, it’s getting paid for trolling.
They haven’t sent Maggie a bill yet, but they’ve blacklisted her on the flimsiest of “evidence”:
[T]he warning on Site Advisor about Maggie’s Notebook points to Blogads as my problem, and to be clear, Blogads is not the problem, and because of McAfee, Blogads has not been on my site for months. BUT here’s the story: McAfee says they “haven’t tested it [Blogads] yet,” and by their own admission they “don’t have enough information,” but flagged me anyway. Many, many sites use Blogads as an advertising source. They are completely reputable.
If nothing else, this shows you how often they update their “information.”
I started using this plugin last year; it does a pretty good job of hosing out the database when used on a regular basis.
Until, of course, it doesn’t. Judging by the changelog, it’s been a rough few days for the poor guy:
BUG FIX: deleted some CR/LF’s from the end of the plugin sigh
BUG FIX: forgot to delete a debug item… oops! sorry!
BUG FIX: query and depreciated item (mysql_list_tables) fixed
NEW: deletion of expired transients (optional)
I’d deactivated it for a while, figuring he’d straighten it out eventually. Looks like maybe he did.
Yahoo!, which managed Flickr competently until last year’s system-wide makeover, which got on users’ last collective nerve, is now looking for another photo site to mess up:
This fall, Yahoo began serious talks to buy photo-sharing site Imgur, a source with first-hand knowledge of those discussions tells us.
Since she joined Yahoo in July 2012, CEO Marissa Mayer has acquired dozens of startups. Most of these acquisitions have been acqui-hires.
The buy that cost Yahoo the most was its $1.1 billion purchase of Tumblr. Yahoo bought Tumblr because it has a deeply engaged, youthful audience, that uses the product on mobile. It would buy Imgur for all the same reasons.
Not that Imgur is going to cost that much, even allowing for the standard 50-percent markup on brands ending in R:
Our guess is Yahoo would have to offer something between $100 million and $500 million. But who knows in a world where Snapchat supposedly turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook.
And what the frak is “acqui-hiring,” anyway?
[It is] the process of acquiring a company to recruit its employees, without necessarily showing an interest in its products and services (or their continued operation).
A lone Republican, noticing the absence of the horse, calls for more security measures affecting the stable door:
Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) on Tuesday proposed legislation that would prevent the federal government from deploying new websites that don’t adequately protect personal data.
His Safe and Secure Federal Websites Act, H.R. 3635 [pdf], would also require existing websites to show they [are] safe and secure. If a website fails to meet that standard, the government would have to take it offline until it is repaired.
This is, of course, a shot across the bow of healthcare.gov, which was introduced with no discernible security and the functionality of GeoCities.
“In its haste to implement ObamaCare, the White House has acted with reckless disregard when it comes to protecting the public from hackers,” Bentivolio said Tuesday. “With this website, they have jeopardized not only the personal information of users attempting to obtain health insurance, but also potentially compromised dozens of other federal agencies and their systems.”
What “haste”? They had three whole years to develop this thing. And you have to figure that by now anyone’s private information, yours, mine or the government’s — which latter is therefore yours and mine — has already been picked up by NSA, awaiting bids from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg.
I’ve never worked for Walmart, but I suppose if I did, I’d at least sample the Great Value and Sam’s Choice wares. (Some might argue that if I worked for Walmart, I couldn’t afford anything but Great Value and Sam’s Choice, but that’s another matter entirely.)
Yahoo! of late has been trying, really trying, to get its employees to use the newly revamped Yahoo! Mail. No, not at home: Marissa Mayer hasn’t gone that far yet, and probably won’t, given the negative response she got for her call for less telecommuting. But apparently only 25 percent of Y! staff have actually switched to the corporate mail product, clinging, maybe even bitterly, to the devil they know: Microsoft Outlook.
Clearly something had to be done, and that something was a memo from a pair of Y! execs with the satisfyingly snarky title “Windows 95 called and they want their mail app back.” This runs ten paragraphs of varying length, of which I will here expropriate only the fifth:
First, it doesn’t feel like we are asking you to abandon some glorious place of communications nirvana. At this point in your life, Outlook may be familiar, which we can often confuse with productive or well designed. Certainly, we can admire the application for its survival, an anachronism of the now defunct 90s PC era, a pre-web program written at a time when NT Server terrorized the data center landscape with the confidence of a T-Rex born to yuppie dinosaur parents who fully bought into the illusion of their son’s utter uniqueness because the big-mouthed, tiny-armed monster infant could mimic the gestures of The Itsy-Bitsy Pterodactyl. There was a similar outcry when we moved away from Outlook’s suite-mates in the Microsoft Office dreadnaught. But whether it’s familiarity, laziness or simple stubbornness dressed in a cloak of Ayn Randian Objectivism, the time has come to move on, commrade [sic ... go deep in this pun, it is layered].
This isn’t the situation for which the phrase “LOL NO” was invented. But it could have been.
(Via Doc Searls.)
Once upon a time, in the early days of software, there was something called “documentation”: if your program somehow went awry, you were obviously unhappy with the situation, but at least there was an explanation of what had just happened.
Today, however, you’re left to twist in the electron wind:
One of the things the guy in his garage had to do, in order to even have a shot at success, was to go through all his error messages one by one and make sure every one of them accurately described what went wrong, in a way that the user could speedily fix or at least address the problem, with confidence, ALL OF THE TIME. All five hundred of the goddamn things, or ten thousand, or however many of them there were. Not like they were professionally edited or anything. Some of them had appealingly rustic little grammar errors in them, but there was some good old honest-to-God work involved in not confusing or annoying the user, because the user was the customer. Think of a hotel maid doing her best not to completely screw up the room, so the hotel doesn’t get a bad rating on the social media … even though her English is broken, she puts priority on it, and these small-business or one-guy software shops put the same priority on their error messages for the same reason.
Our standards with regard to error messages have slipped to an abysmally low depth. It’s like, nobody even stops to question it any more. The application burbles out some bit of nonsense … “web site does not exist” or “you do not have permissions,” or something else that doesn’t even bear a passing resemblance to what’s really busted. Or what we had going on at work this week, “Error 126.” You take this little string of characters, which amounts to nothing more than a — let’s call it what it really is — SIGNATURE. You take it and Google it and open up some “knowledge base” pages with comments from others who have run into the same error. From that, you figure out what’s really going on. The software publisher might as well insert random snippets from children’s nursery rhymes.
I got a wonderfully inscrutable — yet perfectly understandable — error message from a printer last week:
HAMMER COIL BAD
Bad hammer coil! Bad, bad hammer coil!
The numbers probably would have run out to 130 had there been space on the display panel. A call to tech support yielded up a “Wha…?” An actual tech was dispatched, on the sensible basis that they weren’t going to send out a new shuttle (manufacturer’s suggested retail price, about that of a Nissan Versa) on spec, and the truth of the matter was ascertained.
And that truth was weirdly complicated. There’s a teensy bar magnet superglued into the top of the dust cover. What it’s there for, I haven’t a clue. And at the moment, it wasn’t there anyway: ten years of vibration and dust and more vibration had loosened its hold on the plastic cover, and the magnet made a beeline for the first metallic object within the gravitational field.
Which was the cooling fan for the hammer bank.
Shuttle overheats, inscrutable message is generated, printer shuts down to Not Ready.
Then again, this printer is a decade old. Its younger sister on the platform is prone to coming up with uninformative information like “HALT CW1ZX,” which I tend to interpret as “Cycle the power and hope it goes away.” Sometimes it even does.
Every time I feel like adding something new to the sidebar, I probably should just click on this:
Your site has three bylines and link to your dribbble account, but you spread it over 7 full screens and make me click some bobbing button to show me how cool the jQuery ScrollTo plugin is.
“I wouldn’t do that, would I?” asked the guy with two dozen WordPress plugins.
(Via the seriously elegant Joy McCann. Not safe for work. The link, I mean, not Joy.)
Techcrunch has learned that AOL is [in] talks with Microsoft to sell Winamp, along with Shoutcast, a media streaming service also developed by Nullsoft. We have also learned that AOL has been planning to announce the closure of Shoutcast next week.
From what we understand, the deal is not yet finalized, with AOL and Microsoft still working out the price. It could also be very wishful thinking from those intent on trying to save both services.
Microsoft, so far, has declined to comment.
Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date. See release notes for latest improvements to this last release.
Thanks for supporting the Winamp community for over 15 years.
I do, in fact, have the latest version on the home box, and an actual Pro license; there are some things Winamp does that are simply not feasible otherwise.
Remarkably, that wasn’t the most useless site I found in half a dozen clicks.
The first time Renault’s Zoe EV got onto my radar, it was because someone named Zoe Renault objected to the name.
Unlike the other EVs, however, the Zoe comes with DRM attached to its battery pack. In short: If you value your ability to drive the Zoe at all, then you will submit to a rental contract with the pack’s manufacturer. Should you fail to pay the rent or your lease term expires, Renault can and will turn your Zoe into an expensive, useless paperweight by preventing the pack’s ability to be recharged, consequences be damned.
Blame Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which may be the single suckiest section of that sucky statute: “No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.” Almost anyone with a computer has had to fight with DRM at some point, and cars are more computerized than ever.
I am not hopeful, but:
At present, Representative Zoe [!] Lofgren, D-Calif., is leading a bipartisan charge to bring about the Unlocking Technology Act, designed to limit the overzealous use of the DMCA and Section 1201 to cases where real intellectual property infringement has occurred. Should this bill become law, it would go a long way to preventing the abuses that have hindered progress elsewhere from infecting the automotive industry any further.
I’m about at the point where support for this measure will be required to get any votes out of me.
How would you design something called the International Troll Registry? Let’s see:
[✓] Pure Nineties aesthetic;
[✓] Gratuitous use of Marquee tag;
[✓] At least some text in Comic Sans;
[✓] Old Internet Explorer and Netscape buttons;
[✓] Graphic element obviously poached from somewhere else.
Yep. That just about covers it.
Regrets? I’ve had a few, but not this one specifically:
I have long suspected that scripts of this variety aspire to obtuseness, if only to discourage people from “borrowing” the code: if you’re going to plagiarize, you might as well plagiarize something good, no?
WordPress released 3.7.1 almost before 3.7 was dry; there were bug fixes, and I duly installed the new version here.
With WordPress 3.7, you don’t have to lift a finger to apply maintenance and security updates. Most sites are now able to automatically apply these updates in the background. The update process also has been made even more reliable and secure, with dozens of new checks and safeguards.
Sure enough, two sites that I hadn’t updated to 3.7.1 as of yesterday had the new version automagically bestowed upon them last night.
Can I just say “Wow”?
It’s now software-readable, assuming one has the correct software:
An artificial intelligence system has cracked the most widely used test of whether a computer user is actually a software bot. And according to its designers, it is more than a curiosity — it is a step on the way to human-like artificial intelligence.
Vicarious, a start-up firm in Union City, California, announced this week that it has built an algorithm that can defeat any text-based CAPTCHA — a goal that has long eluded security researchers. It can pass Google’s reCAPTCHA, regarded as the most difficult, 90 per cent of the time, says Dileep George, co-founder of the firm. And it does even better against CAPTCHAs from Yahoo, Paypal and CAPTCHA.com.
Fortunately for us lowly bloggers, Vicarious isn’t planning to sell this algorithm to the sly, the slick and the wicked:
Vicarious will pit its tool against more Turing tests. The aim is for it to tell what is happening in complex scenes or to work out how to adapt a simple task so it works somewhere else… This kind of intelligence might enable things like robotic butlers, which can function in messy, human environments.
As a messy human, I suppose I must approve. But for now, I’m waiting for someone to jack their code and turn it into a bot function.
This site has been running WordPress for a little over five years, with about 36 hours of downtime. Not too shabby for a hundred bucks a year, I was thinking as I was looking toward the next yearly renewal; in fact, I mused, those idiots at healthcare.gov should have just installed WordPress — it takes a whole five minutes — and gone with that.
I was, as always, being sarcastic. But it appears I’m not the only one who’s thought this:
Of the 14 states running their own health insurance marketplaces, five — Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Colorado and Hawaii — decided to use WordPress to power their sites. Other markets, such as Illinois, which selected a federal partnership option, also tapped WordPress. [While] these sites are far from perfect, they’ve performed much better than HealthCare.gov.
To the extent that they’ve performed at all, they’ve performed much better than healthcare.gov.
Automattic’s Peter Slutsky, who sitteth at the right hand of Matt, saith:
“The government spent $500 (+/-) million on this website — that’s a lot of money to throw at a problem and the problem clearly wasn’t solved. Whoever was in charge of the process — the contractor(s), HHS, the White House, etc. did not properly load test or beta test the website before launch. That probably wasn’t a good idea when you’re rolling out something this large and this important.”
“WordPress is free, open source and flexible enough to power the majority of the state health care exchanges and upwards of 20% of the top 10 million websites on the planet. With the exception of some small glitches (normal for software), the state health care exchanges function properly.”
Besides, everyone knows how to debug WordPress: the first thing you do is disable all the plugins.
The computer industry (and I include in this makers of smartphones, tablets, and traditional computers in whatever form factor) is currently agonizing over the commodification of the personal computer. By this I mean that while geeks and fanbois drool over esoteric pixel counts and multi-core processors, normal buyers (which means 95%-plus of them) just want something that works for them at the lowest price they can find consistent with a reasonable level of quality.
How many of those normal buyers, I wonder, swore by [brand name] right up until the moment when their [brand name] machine turned into a paperweight?
Disclosure: The last time I owned a computer with a brand name on it was 1991, when I retired my Commodore 128. My current machine, slightly ahead of the curve when I bought it in 2006 — dual-core! — is now slightly behind.
Which is more difficult to read: Beowulf, in Old English, or a Google EULA, in whatever the hell they write EULAs these days?
Scientists have found that the internet giant’s user agreement is more difficult to understand than the saga, which features the lines “Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings/Leader beloved, and long he ruled.”
Well, of course. There were no lawyers in the days of Beowulf.
Researchers used a browser plug-in called Literatin to compare the agreements with more established works — looking specifically at word and sentence length.
However, they failed to consider the cultural understanding required to interpret the texts.
And this, I’m afraid, indicts our entire culture. Quoting Ewa Lugar, a researcher at the University of Nottingham:
“Fifty Shades of Grey is the ideal level,” she told The Times. “In terms of readability, it uses very simple language and a very simple sentence structure.”
O, boned are we.
(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)
Did you ever say to yourself, “You know, Self, BuzzFeed wouldn’t be half bad if it weren’t for all those goddamn graphics?”
Me neither. But there is an answer. If nothing else, it will show you just how much actual text there is in one of their mega-sized pages.
Then again, they could be worse. (One word: “slideshow.”)
The latest indication of the haphazard way in which Healthcare.gov was developed is the uncredited use of a copyrighted web script for a data function used by the site, a violation of the licensing agreement for the software.
The agreement calls for, among other things, a GPL or BSD license, either of which requires that the copyright statement be included in the source code.
A representative for the company said that they were “extremely disappointed” to see the copyright information missing and will be pursuing it further with the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that runs the Healthcare.gov site.
On the upside for HHS, this bit of chicanery does not affect their nonprofit status: the sea of red ink isn’t about to subside — which bureaucrats consider desirable, since they think it supports their incessant demand for additional funding.
There was a time when Virb was thought of as a serious rival to MySpace and even Facebook. But Virb’s site builder-plus-social networking scheme never quite caught on, and eventually it was rolled into Web host Media Temple.
Media Temple has been acquired by GoDaddy, the Web’s largest platform for small businesses. I’m lucky to have been part of this process from the very beginning, and I truly cannot wait to see what the future brings for these two companies. But more on that shortly. First things first: What does this event mean for Virb, YOU, and your website?
Well, this changes absolutely nothing, while also changing absolutely everything.
After early meetings with GoDaddy, it quickly became apparent that we shared different visions for our website builders. So … I’m thrilled to announce, GoDaddy has decided Virb will be sold back to its original founder and investors, Brad Smith (that’s me) as well as Media Temple’s co-founders Demian Sellfors and John Carey.
“We shared different visions” = “Hell, no, we won’t GoDaddy!” Maybe.
(Via this Andy Baio tweet.)
From out of the blue comes an email from this fellow:
Hello, my name is Matthew Lane and I’m a Graphic + Web Designer in Los Angeles, originally from Portland, Oregon (yes, it is as strange and amazing as you’ve probably heard). I would love it if you checked out my work at http://design.daydreamcreative.com and let me know if I can ever help out with any projects you might have use for me on (design related, no house cleaning or car washing requests, although I’m certainly not above it in an off month).
Dear Mr Lane: While your portfolio is pretty darn nice, I have to admit that if I happen to need any design work from someone originally from deepest Portlandia, I know just the person, just down the block. However, I’m happy to pass along your link to the readership, just in case.
Remember that possibly apocryphal character who wanted half a million for his domain name? The prospective emptor might want to caveat a little more than usual:
In 2006, Cameras.com was sold for $1.5 million. Monthly traffic: 1,747 unique visitors. Computer.com was sold in 2007 for $2.1 million, and draws in an eye-popping 1,049 people per month. Vodka.com brought 3 mil, and gets 1,346 — no stats on Vodak.com, though, which might be what people type when they’re boozy and thick-fingered. Fund.com went for almost 10 mil in 2008, and doesn’t get more than 400 visitors a month. That just can’t be right, but that’s what BusinessInsider.com says.
“Vodak” is also an occasional Farkism for “vodka,” but then again, Farkers, by their own admission, are boozy, if not necessarily thick-fingered.
I paid $35 for this domain in 1999. Monthly uniques: over 2,000.
The result of the headlong rush to October 1 was a system that had never been tested at anything like the load it experienced on its first day of operation (if it was tested with loads at all). Those looking for a reason for the site’s horrible performance on its first day had plenty of things to choose from.
I know from “not exactly optimal,” inasmuch as I look at it every day. In my own defense, I never expect hundreds of thousands of visitors a day — the all-time record is 13,636 — and while it varies somewhat from day to day, the front page at this writing has 1,281 lines of HTML code, calls four scripts, and has a single CSS file.
(Via Daily Pundit.)
There’s a reason they’re called Clients From Hell:
To tell you the truth, I don’t think you could get five hundred K even for ZooeyDeschanelWardrobeMalfunctions.com.
(Via this AlesiaKaye tweet.)
You already know what I think about supermarket self-checkout lanes — “Meh” seems to sum it up — but now there seems to be Actual Data to support this conclusion:
In a recent research paper called “Dancing With Robots” [pdf], the economists Frank Levy and Richard Murnane point out that computers replace human workers only when machines meet two key conditions. First, the information necessary to carry out the task must be put in a form that computers can understand, and second, the job must be routine enough that it can be expressed in a series of rules.
Supermarket checkout machines meet the second of these conditions, but they fail on the first. They lack proper information to do the job a human would do. To put it another way: They can’t tell shiitakes from Shinola. Instead of identifying your produce, the machine asks you, the customer, to type in a code for every leafy green in your cart. Many times you’ll have to look up the code in an on-screen directory. If a human checker asked you to remind him what that bunch of the oblong yellow fruit in your basket was, you’d ask to see his boss.
Forty eleven. (Unless it’s organic, then it’s 94011. Yes, I’ve scanned some bananas.)
Now who’s surprised by this?
Our emails are a dead giveaway. The words we use in the messages we send can reveal not just our gender but also our emotions and maybe even our personality traits.
Saif Mohammad and colleagues from the National Research Council Canada, used sentiment analysis to uncover the feelings buried inside email. “It’s an efficient way of generating data about the emotional content of huge amounts of text,” says Mohammad. “There’s been a lot of research based on positive and negative emotion, but with all this data available it makes sense to understand what we can learn from all the emotions.”
[O]n a few occasions, I’ve emailed Charles to ask his professional opinions on computer stuff, and once to say “Happy Easter”, and never have I received anything even closely resembling a personal reply; his reply emails have, for all the world, a perfunctory and completely hygienic outline to them, copying my questions or comments, adding his answers, then with a frosty CGH closing, he’s gone.
If it’s any consolation, I’m much nastier on the phone.