Archive for PEBKAC

Netflix and jail

File this Netflix-cancellation question under “grounded until the day you die”:

so i put in a email that isn’t my registrated apple id email. i am a very bad person because i went in my moms wallet and stole her credit card info because i knew i will cancel it before it started charging the account. so i looked for the subscription in my account on settings and it wasn’t there. i have been trying to find out a way to cancel it. i don’t know if i did it correct but i, logged in to my account with my apple id and put my moms credit card info on that one bc that is one that ik i can cancel. then i logged into the account that i can’t cancel and signed out.

will this stop the subscription?

Were this my mom, kid’s never going to see another screen in his life, except the kind that’s used for mosquito netting.

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Meanwhile at the back end

Dullsville, man:

I figured out why I don’t do any web programming: it’s not that interesting, at least not from a puzzle solving point of view. Putting up a web page mostly involves displaying a bunch of data. You might also want to collect some data from the user which you will pack up and send to the host, but it’s all pretty straightforward. Now it might get a bit gnarly when you have to interact with complex data base system residing on the server, but that’s mostly a matter of minding your p’q and q’s in the protocol you use. Once you have a web page up, things could get a little complicated, but it takes a bit of work to get to that point.

Out here in the Land of WordPress, we have a little game we hate to play called “What Just Broke?” Sooner or later, something will break, and we have to be prepared, even if the best we can do is to draft a plaintive email to our host. It gets more complicated as you add functionality; rare is the tech type who won’t stare at you in disbelief when you list all nine plugins you have running at the same time.

What? Me? I have, um, twenty-six plugins. One of them does nothing more than list the other 25. Makes for some, shall we say, interesting debugging sessions.

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Upgrade this, pal

Last night I had just left a comment over at Fillyjonk’s place, and somehow hit the dreaded Wrong Button. A popup of arguably greater than normal hideousness appeared and lectured me on my “outdated” browser: Pale Moon 27.9.0, released 17 April 2018. Apparently I inadvertently tried to invoke the Blogger editing platform, and they’re not prepared to support this ancient artifact (more than two weeks old!) on said platform. I’d complain to Google, which owns Blogger, but Google’s remedy for any and all such complaints is to switch to the pertinent Google product, in this case Chrome.

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Remembering when stalkers were good

But now we have pitiful weasels like this: If I viewed someone s page on LinkedIn and delete my page shortly after, can they tell that I viewed it? Could they have still been notified that I viewed their page via email?

Sheesh. As a general rule, these no-one-must-ever-know types don’t even contemplate notifications until it’s too late, and darn their luck, LinkedIn (or whatever network) won’t tell them the settings used by their targets. Then panic ensues.

After more than 30 years online — taking time out for meals, of course — the one thing I’m sure of is that you can’t keep a secret unless you cancel your connection, and sometimes even then.

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Insanely jealous

I suspect this is a nonstandard usage of the term “friend”:

I have a friend who receives about 15 to 25 new actual followers (not fake) per day and they will not tell me their secret. The account is private. They do not post new photos (132 photos total, the same 3 months ago). They never post stories. They follow only 611 people (that number has not changed in months). About 2 to 3 months ago they had 3,000 followers but now have 4,200. Does not use bots. A thousand extra followers is interesting considering the above. How can I do the same?

If you’re paying more attention to someone else’s account than to your own, you’re doing it wrong.

And note the sense of entitlement: doofus thinks “friend” is in some way obligated to tell this mysterious “secret,” because doesn’t everyone have a right to the maximum number of followers?

Hint: No.

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I swear

Oath is the Verizon subsidiary which is tasked with breathing some life into AOL and Yahoo, previously thought to be moribund at best.

This is what I think of them:

Feel free to look at said splash screen. I don’t think it presents a threat to epileptics, but I could be wrong.

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This could take a while

There was much hilarity based on the fact that the IRS Direct Pay site was down on the annual tax deadline. The real punchline, though, was in the government’s Official Notice:

IRS Direct Pay is down

Now that’s a serious maintenance period.

(Via American Digest.)

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Live, except when it’s not

I don’t think I could explain it to this bozo: How to watch Coachella live stream in west coast time from the east coast? Compensate for the three-hour difference? Not good enough:

I wanna watch but I don’t wanna stay up til 3 am as a beginning set time meaning I would go to bed at like 4 am, it’s just impractical, is there any way to watch the live stream in California time without the east coast time lag? Can I just change the IP address to a California one? Will people be streaming it via periscope or anywhere else?

This would work if someone sent a delayed feed — but then it isn’t exactly live, is it? Otherwise, he’s gonna need a time machine.

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Apparently out of their league

“Play ball!” came the call — it happens every spring — and I figured it was time to dust off the old MLB At Bat app for my tablet. It remembered my Default Team (Los Angeles Dodgers), and my subscription, it said, expires in mid-August, at which time I will have to put up another twenty bucks. What it doesn’t seem to know is today’s date: the app refused to cough up any games since last year’s World Series. (That said, they were happy to stream Game 7 for me.)

Maybe I should say “Fark it” and buy that iPhone I was thinking about. But first, an uninstall/reinstall cycle, just in case.

Update, 5:20 pm: And that did the trick.

[facepalm]

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It certainly isn’t our fault

“An error occurred. Please try again later.” You get this on YouTube and you summon the online help, you’re likely to be shown this:

  • If you have many browser tabs open, try to close most of them except the one you’re using for YouTube.
  • Restart your browser.
  • Restart your router.
  • Restart your computer.
  • Update your browser to the latest version.
  • Use Chrome.

If all else fails, says Google, switch to Google’s own product.

Nothing self-serving about that, nosiree.

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At the very center of the universe

That’s where you’ll find this guy, or at least where he thinks he is: Why do some websites shut down without notice?

You see, he thinks he’s entitled to be informed in advance:

Hi. I have been using the ‘Net for years and I do a lot of research. It can be a bit annoying when you use a certain site for a LONG TIME, and you have material on there that you want to copy and save, and then the site shuts down without the site staff — mods, admins, etc.— letting patrons of the site know in advance they are shutting down.

I think that is kind of rude.

Why do some people who run such sites do that?

I have been on a few sites and the site staff let people know a few days in advance they were doing so.

It would be nice if the people running ALL sites would post a public notice or send emails to let people know they are planning on shutting down.

I would prefer that — that would give me time to archive my material. I hate having to lose material unexpectedly.

I am curious — please help. Thank you.

Well, basically, Bunkie, you’re a shitty researcher and an overbearing jerk. Nobody on the Web owes you anything unless you’re paying up front for stuff, and if you had been, you’d have been griping about how many dollars you think you lost. And I can show you fourth-graders who know how to save Web pages. Are you not smarter than a fourth-grader?

The world doesn’t revolve around you. Never did, never will. It’s time you learned this on your own.

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Please don’t think ill of me

So the guy asks, “Can your friends on Instagram see what feeds you are following?” Which is a reasonable enough question, but then he explains:

Sometimes people will ask to follow me on Instagram, but I really only follow channels like @hotbabes, @sexywomen, etc. so I don’t want them to think I’m a scumbag and shallow.

First answer should break his heart, or at least his concentration:

Yes. They absolutely can see who you are following. Go to anyone’s profile — anyone at all, not just people you follow or who follow you — and click on “following” in the top right. There you go — all your sex channels show up for everyone to see.

I’d suggest he throw in some decoys, though it might be tricky to find, for example, @fansofwallacestevens.

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Meds gone unrefilled

You have to wonder what’s wrong with this character. The question is nonsensical by itself: If I unfollow on pintrest? And then it gets strange:

I accidentally followed a board I DON’T want to follow, I know this person. I immediately unfollowed. I then changed my name. And deleted my account. Do you think they will still have gotten a notification? If so I changed my name 30 secs later will they see the new one in the notification at least? I deleted my account will they get a notification at all?

After nearly a decade on Y!A, I operate on the assumption that 99.44 percent of the time, “accidentally” is a damned lie, and that they are never able to explain why, if it’s so important to avoid this person, they were hanging out on the one place on the Web they’re most likely to encounter that person.

I expect they’ll expel this guy from the International League of Stalkers, for sheer incompetence if nothing else.

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Well, fkth.at

Once again, Google worms its way into a technology, and then oozes out the back way while no one is looking:

The goo.gl link is very common on the web and was first launched by Google in 2009. However, the company announced [last week] that it’s winding down the URL Shortener beginning next month, with a complete deprecation by next year. Fortunately, existing links will continue to work.

The URL shortener service launched in 2009 for FeedBurner and the Google Toolbar. With neither of those services available, the same is now happening to goo.gl for both consumers and developers. The latter group is being directed to Firebase Dynamic Links with today’s announcement meant to “refocus” Google’s efforts.

All that Firebase crap is intended to work inside your app. So basically, this is just another effort to force people into apps, especially apps running on Android, which means apps under Google control.

[F]or average users that just want to truncate a link, there is no new alternative from the company, with Google suggesting Bitly and Ow.ly.

I’ve used Bitly for several years for my personal stuff. However, I am not inclined to conflate my links and the company’s, for which I have been using goo.gl.

(Via Frank Denis.)

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Future imperfect

I shudder at the thought of scrolling this much:

Someone did go back to AD 1, but I didn’t attempt to determine if these dates were Julian or Gregorian. And I still don’t know the upper limit. Since calendars repeat after not too many years, it’s not like you’d need every last byte of RAM on the planet to get to, say, AD 802701, the year in which H. G. Wells’ Time Traveller met up with the Eloi and the Morlocks.

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Delete your browser

You’d be doing us all a favor. Really, you would.

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Almost anything exceeds this guy’s grasp

“Unclear on the concept” is the understatement of the decade: “Are there any affiliate programs that accept applications without a website?”

To sort of explain:

I literally do not have the time to create a blog or website and the ones which i had earlier now have a problemw ith their database and hence they are rendered useless.Can anyone let me know atleast 2 affiliate programs that would accept my application without a website or how do i convince amazon associate program to accept me without a website

First guy to answer turned the bluntness up to 11:

So the idea of these affiliate sites is to sell products. Just how do you intend to sell products without any means to sell products? Or am I missing something?

Just one of the small (but growing, dammit) number of nimrods who will do anything for money except actually work. I think Amazon should connect the Mechanical Turk to his knees and make him pedal for spare change.

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Perhaps not an actual troll

Then again, it’s sort of tricky to tell. Get a load of this:

Sleeping under a bridge tonight and need help connecting to wifi at a coffee shop above?

No, really:

Hi so I’m visiting a friend what I do to save money is just sleep under a bridge with a friend. Anyway I was able to connect to the wifi from the shop above for about 10 mins and now I lost the connection and it won’t come back I had 2 bars so it wasn’t the best but stable enough worked with my tablet and phone…

I had to go back in for now to ask this please help I can’t sit here they close soon. Thanks

It is perhaps worthy of note that the earliest commenters, rather than commiserate with him, denounced him for stealing Wi-Fi.

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There ought to be clones

If nothing else, it would keep this person from looking like a total boob: Someone else has same e-mail address on Yahoo as I do, and it has caused me to not be able to access Facebook?

Then again, one could argue that keeping her off Facebook would be a kindness.

Disclosure: It once appeared that another provider (not Yahoo!) had assigned the same address to two people, one of whom was me. As I would have expected, it was an error in transcription; surprisingly, it wasn’t my error.

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I live with dust on my fan

The usual routine upon getting home in the afternoon: drop off my Bag O’ Stuff in the kitchen, enter the office just long enough to start up the computer, and make wardrobe adjustments suitable to the day. By the time I get back to my desk, the Windows startup should be complete.

Except for when it isn’t. The other day, I got some insipid beepage and the threatening warning: “CPU Fan Error.” So far as I can tell, this means the UEFI (which is Urdu for “BIOS,” or something) didn’t see it spinning.

Fortunately for me, the next day brought a box from Amazon, including a hell of a lot of canned air. I must have gone through a third of a can relocating dust particles from Point A to several dozen Points B. The problem has not yet recurred.

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On a secret mission

At least, that’s what this guy looking for a four-exabyte hard drive wants you to think:

Before you ask, yes I really mean 4 EXABYTES (4000 petabytes, 4 million terabytes or 4 billion gigabytes). For reasons I’m not permitted to disclose, I need to get a portable storage device capable of holding at least 3.7 exabytes. Sadly these files cannot be separated for reasons I cannot explain, so getting any device capable of storing less than 4 exabytes just won’t do. BTW, money won’t be an issue. PS This is urgent.

Nobody is selling drives as large as 100 TB just yet, and when they do, he’ll need 40,000 of them. This is “portable,” maybe, if you can bench-press a BNSF boxcar.

I think this guy needs his meds adjusted.

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But muh speedtest!

In my experience, 49.9 percent of the people who complain online about their Internet speeds are pirates, plain and simple, and I give less than a tenth of a damn about their problems.

For the rest, please read on:

When you signed up for service, you were quoted a speed. It was a number somewhere between the IQ of people who own the Jackass DVD boxed set and the age Ray Kurzweil imagines he’ll achieve with a proper diet and reasonable advances in cybernetics. This number was followed by “Mbs.” Knowing what this stands for won’t help you.

What will help you are radioactive isotopes. Remember reading about them in high school? How they decay over time, at a rate known as a half-life? Remember that sad little isotope’s life curve, sloping downward, ever-shrinking but never quite disappearing entirely? That’s your internet speed over time. You have no more hope of stopping its decay than you can preserve cobalt-60 in a coffee cup.

So what do you do? You dial up customer service, of course. (And I do mean “dial.” Online help, when you can barely get online, is a contradiction in terms.) And after seven or eight climbs up and down the phone tree, you get an actual person:

He’ll introduce himself as “Tom” or “Frank,” or “Jake.” This is not his real name. Take the last letter of the middle name of every person in your immediate family, mash them all together, and this is closer to the name his mother gave him. She is, by the way, very proud of him. He supports her and nineteen of his siblings on the pittance your internet megalith pays him to sap the very marrow from your bones.

Jake grew up in a village without a reliable source of clean water. He doesn’t give a shit that you can’t watch The Americans when your kids are playing Fortnight. But he doesn’t mind being polite, because he knows that your grandchildren will cut the lawns and service the pools of his grandchildren.

What’s more, Jake is a genuinely nice guy. He would love to help you. Unfortunately, he cannot. Taped to his monitor is a list of factors that affect internet speed. Things like router age, computer processing power, wind shear, earthworm activity, sunspots, Russian espionage.

And after that, it gets complicated, so you may as well read the whole thing.

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The dreaded Google Eye

Rob O’Hara draws some unexpected scrutiny:

I received a message from Google, informing me that some of my blog posts had been flagged for linking to known sites containing malware. Whenever Google contacts you with news of this nature, you are forced to react, quickly, before they remove you from their global directory. After scouring both my own site and the site I was linking to I could find no hints of malware or debauchery.

Sensibly, he decides to pull the not-really-offending posts, just in case. Then down comes the other shoe:

In the process of this, well, process, WordPress got confused and decided some of these old posts from several years ago were in fact new again, and sent out email notifications along with Facebook and Twitter updates. Sorry about that. Those in charge of update notifications have been sacked.

Insult to injury.

(This is not the dreaded Google Eye.)

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Skeezy Reader?

In between a network of Macs and an IBM System i sits Your Humble Narrator at a commodity Win10 box. And about every other PDF file I relay from Apple Valley to Big Blue generates this:

Adobe Reader error message: The file has properties that can't be copied to the new location

As a matter of policy, I blame everything possible on Adobe. But apparently the problem lies elsewhere:

On NTFS, files can have more than one stream of data. Usually there’s only one, the default, data stream.

Windows 2000 and XP used to use alternate streams to store additional properties which you could add in Summary tab of Properties dialog. This feature has been deprecated since Windows Vista. Yet you may still have files with such properties.

The warning is displayed when you copy a file which has alternate streams from NTFS drive to a drive that does not support alternate data streams. Therefore the alternate streams will be lost.

And Apple likes to pass on metadata through such streams; IBM scowls at such things. The best I can hope for is finding a toggle in Adobe Reader DC to shut this nonsense off. Unfortunately, I can’t find a damn thing in Adobe Reader DC.

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No sense of self-worth

Unless it’s in that little string of digits on screen:

I have instagram and i had 1700 followers after 2 hours i go check and it was down to 1663. What ddi i do to those people that made them unfollow me. I post often and i like on peoples post. I stay active on my account. It seems like i am following people more than followers. I post good things about me playing piano and breakdancing. I want to increase my followers. Anyone help … please?

Is this guy 12 or what? Nobody on social media owes anyone else on social media an explanation of an unfollow. There is no shortage of “If you support this heinous activity, get off my timeline immediately,” but that’s a slightly different matter.

A couple of folks have suggested that Instagram was deleting known bots, which seems like a reasonable thing to do, though some people will take it personally if they are told that a substantial percentage of their followers might not actually exist.

Especially if they’re 12.

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One fewer tool for fools?

The Law of Unintended Consequences came at this one fast:

Sarahah is a social networking service for providing anonymous feedback. In Arabic “sarahah” means “frankness” or “honesty”. It was created by Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq in the end of 2016 and reached a sudden worldwide success by mid-2017. This growth is considered to be deeply related with the release of a Snapchat update that allowed people to share URLs on their snaps.

Sarahah allows people to text messages to others and the person reading that could then reply anonymously. Initially it was meant for workers to compliment their bosses.

Yeah, right:

A Grimsby mother is celebrating “victory” after an online petition resulted in the removal of an app that had led to widespread bullying among local teenagers.

Lorretta Chester and her daughter Jazzminn, 14, had spoken out early this year about the widespread bullying that had been taking place on an “anonymous feedback” app called Sarahah, which was used in conjunction with popular app Snapchat.

Jazzminn had received numerous “disgusting and abusive” messages from anonymous people after she had been using the app, with some people going as far as encouraging her to self-harm or commit suicide.

Back to the wiki:

On 12 January, 2018, it was reported that a woman in Queensland, Australia had started a petition to have the app and others like it banned, after friends of her 13-year-old daughter sent her abusive messages, including ones suggesting that she kill herself. A news report from the Australian Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) stated that the child’s mother, Katrina, “called on Apple’s App Store and Google Play to stop downloads of Sarahah, which allows people to leave anonymous feedback for each other”. On 21 February Katrina posted a message declaring success, saying that both Apple and Google had removed the app from their stores.

I suspect that similar apps are already in development, possibly even in the stores. Asshats do not give up their enablers easily.

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Does porn make you stupid?

And if not, how do you explain this dumbass?

I watch porn every now and then. It’s not very often but sometimes I just have the urge. Anyway, about a week ago, I was searching and I came across this channel of a couple. I’ve came across videos of couples before but this couple was really funny. Apparently throughout most of their videos, they constantly make jokes. I liked it so much because it is exactly how and friend and I are in bed together. I don’t know much about them. It was a male and female, both white, they were both really funny, and most of their videos were shot with a headset camera. I don’t remember anything about their channel name. If anyone has any idea who this is, let me know.

Fortunately, there is very little porn on the Internet, so this should be really easy to find.

Seven-year-olds can learn how to set browser bookmarks. Why can’t he?

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Ding, dong, the Web is dead

Which old Web? The World Wide Web, and, says Rob LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson, the first brick falls this year:

When we started building websites in the mid-90s, we had great dreams for e-commerce. We fundamentally thought all brick-and-mortar stores would disappear and everything dot-com would dominate. But e-commerce has failed us miserably. Today, less than 15 percent of commerce occurs through a website or app, and only a handful of brands (think: Amazon, eBay and Netflix) have found success with e-commerce at any real scale. There are two giant structural issues that make websites not work: HTML and Google.

In the case of HTML, it’s an instance of “We were never intended to do that”:

In the early years, we were speaking in library terms about “browsing” and “indexing,” and in many ways the core technology of a website, called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), was designed to display static content — much like library books.

But retail stores aren’t libraries, and the library format can’t be applied to online stores either. Consumers need a way to dynamically answer the questions that enable them to make purchases. In the current model, we’re forced to find and read a series of static pages to get answers — when we tend to buy more if we can build trust over a series of questions and answers instead.

How often do you get the answer you need on your first trip to the FAQ? Not very, I suspect.

But that’s a design problem. The 800-lb gorilla in the room is far more sinister in intent:

As Google made it easier to find the world’s information, it also started to dictate the rules through the PageRank algorithm, which forced companies to design their websites in a certain way to be indexed at the top of Google’s search results. But its one-size-fits-all structure ultimately makes it flawed for e-commerce.

Now, almost every website looks the same — and performs poorly. Offline, brands try to make their store experiences unique to differentiate themselves. Online, every website — from Gucci to the Gap — offers the same experience: a top nav, descriptive text, some pictures and a handful of other elements arranged similarly. Google’s rules have sucked the life out of unique online experiences. Of course, as e-commerce has suffered, Google has become more powerful, and it continues to disintermediate the consumer from the brand by imposing a terrible e-commerce experience.

Meanwhile, about 15 percent of the questions flung at me on Quora boil down to “How can I get the highest possible ranking on Google?” I haven’t the heart to tell them “Build a really shitty site.” Yet.

LoCascio sees 404s in our future:

I am going to make a bold prediction based on my work with 18,000 companies and bringing conversational commerce to life: In 2018, we will see the first major brand shut down its website. The brand will shift how it connects with consumers — to conversations, with a combination of bots and humans, through a messaging front end like SMS or Facebook. We are already working with several large brands to make this a reality.

Facebook? Please.

When the first website ends, the dominoes will fall fast. This will have a positive impact on most companies in transforming how they conduct e-commerce and provide customer care. For Google, however, this will be devastating.

At least there’s some redeeming social value.

(Via Jeff Faria.)

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How times have changed

Joy of Tech update to classic tech cartoon

We never knew we had it so good.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Admirably tooled

There exists something called LMMS, and this is its core functionality:

  • Compose music on Windows, Linux and macOS
  • Sequence, compose, mix and automate songs in one simple interface
  • Note playback via MIDI or typing keyboard
  • Consolidate instrument tracks using Beat+Bassline Editor
  • Fine tune patterns, notes, chords and melodies using Piano Roll Editor
  • Full user-defined track-based automation and computer-controlled automation sources
  • Import of MIDI files and Hydrogen project files

I understood about half of that, maybe. And it doesn’t do a thing for the visuals if you’re uploading it to YouTube or some such place. Still, someone with actual talent — not me — can make wondrous noises with it.

I found this one last night:

This chap might be a third my age; most of the 40 or so tracks I’ve acquired from him qualify as good “production music,” the sort of stuff you find in your better movie trailers before the actual musical score is completed. “Denouement” here is totally different, and totally, well, wondrous.

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