heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

Chrome issues

Frankly, I'm surprised this isn't being shouted across the wired landscape. But, if nothing else, it is a pretty good reason not to touch Chrome.

The problem? Traditional browsers separate the URL bar and the Search bar. If you are using a fairly new browser that is not Chrome, look at the top of the screen. There's a place to type in websites. To the right, there's a little search dodah (that I never use).

Chrome's big failing is that the browser combines these. Now, you might think it is the ultimate in user friendly that you can type into the URL bar http://item.rakuten.co.jp/catherine/c/0000000264/ just as easily as how to bake a cake.
Actually, in Firefox (probably others too), stuff that doesn't resolve will be tossed to a search engine, so typing "how to bake a cake" into the URL bar will arrive at a Google search...

Now, okay, you might be thinking "what's the big deal?". Yeah, I know. I'm all for crazy conspiracy theories just to liven up a dull day.
Unfortunately this one is true.
You see, Google "autosuggests". If you go to Google and type in "christianity is", you will get some rather interesting auto-suggestions:

Google suggests that Christianity is...
This mechanism works because every key you press is reported back to Google to feed you a list of suggestions. Often the benefits outweigh the other issues. I use it a lot in Wikipedia so I can go directly to something I am looking for by picking it, rather than ending up looking at the wrong thing and having to read through the disambiguation page.

The problem, however, arises when you apply this to a URL/search bar. Is your bank The Nationwide? Do you bank online? Are you using Chrome? If so, think of the potential risks associated with entering www.nationwide.co.uk into the browser when every keypress is being reported back to Google. Not just what you search for, but what you do and where you go and eeven if your a krap speler...

There is more information (plus a video) available on TheRegister.

 

Adorably cute and then some!

Catherine Cottage? WTF?!

The problem with Google, or any search engine for that matter, is you don't always get what you are looking for. Sometimes search matches can be so totally bizarre you wonder what sort of algorithm put two and two together and came up with what's in front of you.

This is what happened... last winter I think. I dunno. I don't even remember what I was searching for. I just thought "Catherine Cottage" was an interesting name, and as it was early morning and I had nothing better to do... ☺

Now, isn't this stuff adorably cute? When my daughter arrives in my life (aged about six), she'd probably find herself dressed in some of this stuff. And no doubt she'd hate me for it... <sigh>
The picture on the right (awww, bless!), clipped from one of the items, shows what I mean. There's plenty more.

BTW, the link given above is not the link Google gave me. It's all in Japanese, so for the benefit of everybody who can't read Japanese (myself included!), I've linked you straight to the cute stuff. Just click links randomly, and use the back button to 'undo'.
 

The Orange saga - part three

I got a response to my second message.

I introduced myself and who I was. This is because, for years of paying the BT bills in the UK, they usually refused to speak to me because I wasn't the registered owner. Thank God for the website so I could set up options without speaking to a jobsworth.

Je vous informe que le contrat est au nom de Mme MURRAY et vous invite à me faire parvenir vos coordonnées pour le changement.
Uh, no, that's not quite what I said now, is it? Frankly I don't give a crap whose name the line is in, so long as I don't get fobbed off with a "who are you".

Je vous invite également à vous opposer aux démarches commerciales de France Télécoms en effectuant les modifications nécessaires depuis votre espace client, à la => Mon compte Internet > Mon téléphone illimité - gérer mes critères de parution.
They have, for the third time, possibly intentionally, misinterpreted what I am opposing. I suggest deliberate behaviour as, my French aside, I actually quote each time their message about gathering data from my "traffic". Shades of Phorm here...
Still, if anything unwanted should come of this - like my watching animé on Veoh or music vids on YouTube should turn into a crisis that can be shown to be the result of Orange's traffic analysis, I will clobber them for their entire €10,594,365,432 capital (yes, ten billion!) as I have asked and opposed and I get pointed to something different. The above is whether or not I wish to be listed in the on-line phonebook and whether or not I give consent to cold calling. Hardly looking at my traffic now, is it?

En ce qui concerne la lenteur de votre débit, je vous confirme que vous bénéficiez de l'offre net N internet + téléphone - 20 mégamax mais en réalité vous avez un débit d'un méga (1 M) dans la mesure ou votre position géographique ne vous permet pas d'avoir plus sinon vous encourrez des désagréments techniques.
In essence, while I have "up to 20 megabit", I receive only one. This is because my location would encourage "technical disagreements" with anything faster.
Over to you - do you know about ADSL systems? If the box can report 3-4 megabit, why can't I get this? Or does the quality flake out as it approaches maximum? Or is it an excuse to save doing anything?

En ce qui concenre le décodeur, je vous informe que je n'ai pas encore trace du paiement de la caution et vous confirme que votre offre est une offre sans la prise en compte de la TV.
Yes, read that twice.

There is no trace of the caution deposit payment, and as such he confirms the offer is an offer without the TV decoder.

What the...?

Well, later on in the week I'm going to go to the local agency and speak to a real person. This will only be about the decoder because it seems fairly obvious that:

  1. They don't seem to want to deal with the objection to traffic monitoring. I guess it is just easier to blanket snoop on everybody rather than implement blacklisting.
  2. My rate is 1 megabit and that's that.
But I would like to have an explanation as to why I was told that a decoder box was absolutely required, then to have somebody phone back but not speak to me, then to have my tariff altered to not have the TV package without my permission. But, oh, no. It is worse than that. I am still on the old (€10 more) tariff.

My thoughts right now are probably libellous...

 

Wires and petals

This is a look at some happy little flowers putting on their best performance in some really miserable weather.

 

Your comments:

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Rob, 4th April 2010, 13:29
You know, Rick, I don't know if I should be getting worried about you and your little girl obsession, or agreeing with you..! 
btw. this blog popped up in RSS as 3rd March..!
Rick, 5th April 2010, 01:32
Hey Rob. Obsession? That's the .hack/Sign theme. :-) 
Maybe my biological clock is ticking? Uhhh... No, I don't buy that either... 
Put it like this, if my daughter arrives and happens to look like the girl pictured above, that would be fine by me. And if my partner arrives looking like a grown-up version then I'd be ecstatic. What's wrong with cute, anyway? Cute is good. 
 
Thanks for pointing out the March issue. You're right. I copy/pasted the items and never altered the month. Duh.
Anon, 2nd May 2010, 13:48
(I realise this is almost a month old, but anyway): 
 
If the Livebox reports your line can do 3 to 4mbit, it probably can. France Telecom/Orange may have set the target signal to noise ratio much higher than 6dB (the modem will tell you what speed it could connect at if it were at 6dB) to make your line more stable (i.e not disconnect) at the expense of speed. 
 
This is actually something the UK does far better. BT will first set your line up with a 6dB SNR - so basically it will go as fast as it possibly can. If your line then experiences problems (too many transmission errors, disconnects) their automatic system kicks in and starts changing settings to make it more stable.
Rick, 2nd May 2010, 14:49
Thanks for that Anon. I remember back in the UK (near Guildford), I had a terrible time getting my 56k modem to be reliable. Eventually I downgraded to a 33k6 modem and things were a lot better. Heh, and this was a town AND I had BT fiddle the AGC for a modem. Before that, my 14k4 USR Courier never failed. Those were the days, eh? 
 
This is why I'm not being too pushy with Orange on this point. 3-4mbit would be nice but I am a LONG way from the exchange (BT would probably not consider me connectable at >4.5km). 3mbit that works half the time is worse (think of broken connections and data corruption) than 1mbit that works all the time...

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