More of the same?

2014-04-25

Unsolicited commercial email

Filed under: Miscellaneous, Spam — _ds_ @ 20:19

Earlier today, I received an email from a recruitment company, Assured Recruitment Solutions Ltd, trading as Uniting Ambition (domain is “unitingambition.com”).

Having had no prior contact with this company in any way, I am in no position to have given them permission to send that mail to me; I therefore consider it to be unsolicited commercial email and I have responded as such, citing the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. I used the message text given in a posting on RevK’s blog as a template.

As this is the first such message which I have received from this company, they ‘get away’ with this one and will not be pursued for damages regarding said message.

I will update this posting as the situation changes.

2013-12-08

FAIL: servers with IPv6 addresses, but only accessible over IPv4

Filed under: FAIL, Miscellaneous — Tags: , , , , , , — _ds_ @ 04:02

Okay. Fun situation. A possibly-interesting web site has a hostname, let’s say lart-me.example.com. That hostname has two IP addresses, as follows:

$ host lart-me.example.com
lart-me.example.com has address 192.0.2.197
lart-me.example.com has IPv6 address 2001:db8:dead:beef::3
$

(Yes, I’m using unroutable examples. I did consider using actual hostnames and addresses.)

It’s listening on IPv4 only, probably because admin don’t know about IPv6 or it’s blocked as not being TCPv4, UDPv4 or ICMPv4 or something silly like that.

Now, add in a lack of browser (or proxy) fallback to IPv4 – don’t assume that this isn’t intentional! – and watch what happens…

Connection to 2001:db8:dead:beef::3 failed. The system returned (110) Connection timed out

Confirming that it’s not listening on IPv6:

$ telnet -4 lart-me.example.com 80
Trying 192.0.2.197...
Connected to lart-me.example.com.
Escape character is '^]'.
^]

telnet> Connection closed.
$
$ telnet -6 lart-me.example.com 80 & sleep 60; kill %1
[1] 6942
Trying 2001:db8:dead:beef::3...
$

Whoops. Basically, fail.

Needless to say, traceroute6 lart-me.example.com works at least part of the way.

I see this (potentially) becoming a common problem as IPv6 spreads but admin (for example) simply don’t consider IPv6… they really need to make sure that their sites or services work properly regardless of whether the client uses IPv4 or IPv6 since, sooner or later, IPv4 is going to become Fun™ to use (consider carrier-grade NAT) and will eventually be of historical interest only.

I tried emailing the perpetrators of two such sites. One ignored me and the other doesn’t have a working webmaster@ address – which is another fail in its own right.

2013-11-06

“Okay, Google” without en_US

Filed under: Mobile, Software — Tags: , — _ds_ @ 14:51

This hack works for stand-alone Google search but not the integrated Google Now in the Nexus 5 launcher. (It was developed and tested with English (UK) on my Nexus 4 running Cyanogenmod 10.2.)

First, make sure that the voice search data for your language is installed and that English (US) is up to date.

Then, root shell time. Run the following commands, replacing en-GB with the appropriate directory name if you need to

# cd /data/data/com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox/app_g3_models/en-GB
# ls ../en-US

If that second command succeeds, the next step is this:

# ln -s ../en-US/dnn ../en-US/*hotword* ../en-US/phone* .

Otherwise, this:

# ln -s /system/usr/srec/en-US/dnn /system/usr/srec/en-US/*hotword*
        /system/usr/srec/en-US/phone* .

When done, find -type l should list 9 symlinked files.

Of course, ideally this wouldn’t be needed. Maybe Google will, one day, get round to adding hotword detection to other languages and localisations…?

Update (2014-04-26)

A little belated with this, but anyway…

Google have added “okay, Google” to various other English localisations and a few other languages this year. It’s now recognised for British English (which means that I get to use it without hacks), Canadian English, Australian English, German and French.

If your language still isn’t supported (and the above procedure doesn’t help), here are two other sites which can help (and if they don’t, search instead).

2012-12-07

Idiots on Britain’s roads. Let’s call it a war!

Filed under: Miscellaneous, Uncategorised — Tags: , , , , — _ds_ @ 07:18

I’ve watched that BBC documentary, “War on Britain’s Roads”, about, effectively, cyclists versus other road users. It showed accidents or near-misses. It showed a cyclist being cut in front of by a cab driver, and the confrontation which ensued. It showed CCTV footage of a cement mixer lorry turning left, dragging a cyclist under it… It showed cyclists being idiots too. It showed one who goes fast along the road, who likes keeping up with the other road users. It also showed a pedestrian stepping out right into the path of a bike…

This alleged documentary focused on the negatives – the idiots, what they do, and what can and does go wrong as a result. At least one review says that it did a good job of scaring people off their bikes and into cars, another says “smug vigilante cyclists”; it seems that many say that it was unbalanced and sensationalist.

I have no real argument with those reviews; and, indeed, let’s be fair here – it did show one or two good things too, like a policeman stopping things getting out of hand (it also showed him racing after others; but, to be fair, he was at least making sure that his presence was known) and two who’d lost cyclist relatives to drivers who, certainly in one case and likely the other too, hadn’t seen them (and couldn’t).

People out recording footage of their journeys. I’d expect that what they record to be mostly fine, no incidents to chase up, nothing doing. But if you believe what was in the documentary, it’s all but ‒ nowhere did anybody mention that. Maybe some of them go out looking for incidents, and sometimes cause them so that they have something to report – certainly, the documentary gave the impression that those featured do that.

Then there’s that last bit. Seems to have been some film-maker and some idiot racers – the former I’d expect to have set up properly regarding safety, insurance etc.; without that, it’s just plain irresponsible if not illegal.

Anyway…

I’ve had a few vehicles (usually cars) cut in right in front of me, and it’s not nice. Each time, it seemed to me that the driver of the vehicle in question was trying to push me into the kerb or off the road. This is not nice. Even if you, as a driver, think that you’ve given the cyclist just enough space, the cyclist sees it as dangerous. Remember that you’re nice and safe in your big metal box-o’-death – and the cyclist is very much exposed. Is it any wonder that some react, seemingly aggressively?

Okay, I’ve chased one or two who’ve done that, and got ahead of one and pulled out into the middle of the lane for a while, moving back when I caught up with slow traffic up ahead. Nothing much resulted, unlike Mr. Speed Freak in the documentary, who got into a confrontation with the driver after banging on his cab. I’d not do that. I’d probably fall over.

I’ve been knocked off my bike once – in fact, almost twice – by vehicles turning left when I wanted to go straight on. In both cases, I had no idea that the vehicle was coming up (they were, after all, behind me) and turning. The first time was by a car driver who had no excuse regarding visibility (yes, the excuse was used)– came up behind me, turned left; I, not having encountered this before, had no chance to react. Result? Broken wrist. Pinned bone. A few visits to the local hospital to see a physiotherapist – who was a cyclist and is now another statistic.

The second time (the almost one), it was a larger vehicle – a small lorry. I was able to stop and retain my balance; no damage done, and after making sure of this, we were both on our way.

Due to that cyclist v. cement mixer incident reported on in the documentary (which resulted in one dead cyclist and one mother not letting go and, consequently, making a difference), there have been some safety improvements in the fleet owned by the company whose vehicle was involved in the accident. Sometimes it takes this kind of thing to improve matters…

Check. Check again. Youre coming up behind the cyclist, so it’s safe to assume that you haven’t been seen and that, in the absence of indication to the contrary, the cyclist will continue straight ahead, across the junction. Wait until you can see the cyclist again, safely away from you.

Okay, I get things wrong occasionally. I’ve gone through a few red lights, and that’s something which I try not to do – as a road user, traffic lights apply to me too. I’ve probably done one or two other things, but not realised. I’m wary about signalling because of drivers who don’t give you a lot of space. I do slow down for others when on a cycle path, enough that there’ll be no real damage should one suddenly step out right into my path – I certainly don’t want to fall off as a result of bumping into somebody!

I don’t try to keep up with the cars. It may be faster and, perhaps, better (from an exercise point of view); but it’s also a lot of effort and it’s riskier should I have an accident, and I think that I’d be concentrating more on that and on maintaining my position. Competitive where competitive isn’t needed or useful.

I do sometimes ignore cycle paths. I know of some roads where the cycle path repeatedly crosses it: I find that, by and large, rather silly, particularly where the path remains wide enough. Short sections may be ignored too; there’s one such stretch not far from home, where the path crosses the road, follows alongside then turns away from it. Unless I’m following the cycle path, it’s pointless using that short segment.

Where I have problems is turning right from traffic lights. I get in the right lane, on its left side because (usually) there’s already a car parked there, waiting. And, as often as not, the driver of that car wants to go straight on; so I watch then proceed when I think that it’s safe. Maybe I should take some advice given in that documentary: take “possession” of the road – after all, on my bike, I’m another road user. Perhaps I should line up with, not alongside, the cars when waiting at traffic lights; I don’t know.

Oh yes. That’s one thing which I don’t like: drivers who stop too close to the kerb when in stationary traffic. To any pedestrians who hate us for mounting the pavement to get past traffic, look at the traffic and see how much room it’s left us.

I’m not sure that it’s a ‘war’ by idiots – drivers and cyclists alike – on the rest of us. While we can all be idiots, some are much more likely to be than others. We all lose concentration occasionally. We all get distracted. We all make mistakes. It’s fair to be informed that we’ve done so should we not realise it ourselves. But some endanger themselves or others seemingly deliberately…

2012-11-28

x32 isn’t x86

Filed under: Hardware, Linux, Software — _ds_ @ 17:41

There’s a shiny new possibly-to-be-in-Debian architecture named x32. This is, basically, amd64 (x86_64) with a 32-bit address space and 32-bit long integers.

Unfortunately, people have been referring to i386 (x86) as x32, presumably influenced by a certain monopolistic company calling amd64 ‘x64’ – I’ve seen search results including “Ubuntu 10.04 x32”. If x32 gains significant traction (looks like it could be gaining that now) and gets into Debian proper, and subsequently also derivatives such as Ubuntu, then this is going to be a little bit interesting…

2012-09-01

What’s wrong with Google+ on Android…?

Filed under: FAIL, Miscellaneous, Mobile, Software — _ds_ @ 02:45

What I don’t like about the ‘new’ +Google+ UI, having just upgraded downgraded from the last version for Android which supported Incoming (due to them finally having switched it off):

  • Circles menu is… inconvenient.
    • Being able to select which circles are shown there is useful, particularly if you have many. Alternatively, being able to mark some as ‘important’ (regarding placement in that menu) would work – and I include the pseudo-circles in this.
  • Pictures and videos are initially confusing, being above the name and posting text.
    • In portrait mode, they look like they’re associated with the content immediately above.
    • In landscape mode, the avatar and name appear misplaced.
    • The avatar shouldn’t overlap them – as is, it looks bad. I’d put it, name, date etc. above.
  • The avatar looks bad.
    • It should match desktop browser G+, i.e. not clipped to a circle.
  • In landscape mode:
    • Posting arrangement is strange. Should be vertical.
    • Notifications are badly placed. I didn’t find them until I saw the side menu in portrait mode.
    • Viewing a single thread makes bad use of the available space.
      • Here, it’s restricted in width to the height of the display (more or less). It needs to use the full width of the display (which, here, is 800×480).
    • Adding a comment doesn’t work well.
      • This is due to the above thread view limitation.
      • Portrait mode is better for display reasons, but this makes soft keyboard rather more awkward (narrow buttons).
      • Strangely, given this, making a new posting works as well as it previously did in landscape mode.
  • Nothing to indicate that there’s more text in a posting (in the stream view).
  • Still no indication of struck-through text.
  • No scroll bar in the stream view? Weird.
  • ‘Swipe to switch circles’ is missing.
  • ‘What’s Not’ is present.
  • Incoming is missing (but I expected that).
    • I don’t expect to go through each and every ‘not yet in circles’ profile to see what’s there – that’s what Incoming’s for.

The UI in the last version for Android to support Incoming works. It’s nice and clean. This one’s… less clean.

I’ve reported most of this little lot via the G+ feedback page (in smaller chunks due to the paltry 500-character limit). Hopefully we’ll see some improvements, including the return of Incoming. But somehow I think that that’s not going to happen…

Finally, according to the ‘city-level’ location, I’m in Northern Europe. While technically true, it often makes attaching my location rather less than useful.

2012-08-30

Google+ – Incoming not merely hidden, but completely removed?

Filed under: FAIL, Miscellaneous, Mobile, Software — _ds_ @ 22:58
Android G+ screenshots showing nothing found

Screenshots from the last Android Google+ app to support Incoming, showing “no posts found” (but there should be content). Taken on 2012-08-31.

Seems that Google+ have decided to cut off all but Nearby for those of us who still have the last version (on Android) to support Incoming.

This is Bad and Wrong.

Now I can’t easily and conveniently dip in and see what people who’ve circled me (but I’ve not circled back) are posting. There was a suggestion of looking at each individual profile to see what’s posted, but that’s repetitive, time-consuming and error-prone.

I might have decided to see what’s being shared for a while after being circled (i.e. not just what’s public) before deciding what to do. Incoming allowed this in a convenient way.

Well done, Google+, for removing useful stuff

I am now forced to downgrade to a newer version of the Android G+ app if I want something which works.

(Also, scrapbook pictures. Yes, I use them. No, I will not choose to use cover images instead. Yes, I want to use them on one of my pages, but somehow that got downgraded to cover image and I can’t revert that – THAT IS JUST PLAIN BROKEN.)

(You may pretend that the above text is liberally padded with expletives. That would be a lot closer to what I’m thinking.)

2012-02-24

Demonic mail breakage

Filed under: FAIL, Miscellaneous — Tags: , , , , , , , , — _ds_ @ 20:05

From the Demon Internet blog:

We recently told you that we’ll be migrating customers with Demon email services to a brand new, Microsoft Exchange based email platform. That time is almost here!

It is important that you regularly check the Demon Blog, the Demon Forum and the Demon Knowledgebase as we will use these to post the latest information about how the migration is going and how it may affect you.

Shortly we will be sending you important information that will enable you to migrate your email service. To ensure that you receive this information it’s essential that you can accept email to your Demon Postmaster email address (postmaster@yourhostname.demon.co.uk), as this is the address we will use to communicate important information such as your login details and migration date.

For the record, Demon’s current mail system has a rather unique extension in that you can collect all mail for your domain (domain) via POP3 but with envelope information intact. You can also collect for a specific local part (user+domain), again via POP3. In the absence of SMTP delivery (which I’d prefer), this is Quite Useful.

Problem is that they’re planning to break this useful working setup with an off-the-shelf Exchange system. Which requires that local parts are registered, else it ends up in ‘administrator’ and, it seems, without envelope information so that it can not be properly delivered.

There’s been a lot of debate in the demon.announce newsgroup about this.

I’ve responded to it as follows. I’m reproducing the text here, initially in case it was moderated away; and it has been.

No. DO NOT WANT.

I sometimes use finger to see what mail’s waiting.

I use arbitrary local parts in my email addresses. If I add a new one, then adding it to /etc/aliases should be sufficient – and, indeed, currently is. This is good. It’s simple, it works, why break it by requiring registration of local parts for which you want envelope information to be kept? For a start, it requires information to be kept in at least two places, and in different formats. (And if the registration page doesn’t work in a text-only browser and requires access via my Demon account, then it isn’t always going to be POSSIBLE to register a new local part when I create it.)

The corollary of this is that envelope information for ‘unregistered’ email addresses will be thrown away. This is just plain broken.

The current email setup is fine. It works. It does what I want. It’s part of the service FOR WHICH I’M PAYING.

The new one, from what I’ve read, doesn’t.

… with a followup, because another point was made in demon.service:

Also, what’s up with posting to demon.announce and/or demon.service? There are a good few of us who read these newsgroups.

And I wasn’t really aware of this ‘blog until I caught up with reading demon.service, and I’m unlikely to check what I’m unaware of (or, for that matter, go out of my way to read something in some place when there’s been a good method of communicating with us there for YEARS).

(Incidentally, the text box in which I’m typing this is too wide: part of it is obscured by the right-hand column of this page.)

They’re now advertising it as an improvement. I’m thinking about migrating to some other ISP – preferably one which still has some clue.

2011-10-23

Geolocation: how to fake it or fix it in Chromium

Filed under: Desktop, Mobile, Software — _ds_ @ 14:06

After a little searching, I’ve found out how to set my location for desktop browsers without involving Google. There is sufficient detail there for any competent person to be able to appropriately configure Firefox, but it’s a bit lacking for Chromium and Google Chrome.

Quoting from the above page:

The way these geolocation services work is by requesting a file from Google which then responds with your location in JSON format. To fake this in Firefox, you can create a file on your computer with this text:

{"location":{"latitude":48.861426,"longitude":2.338929, "accuracy":20.0}}

You can find this location by locating it in Google Maps or any other maps program that supports Latitude and Longitude. Google maps generates a link that looks like the following:

http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=48.861426,2.338929&spn=0.011237,0.027874&z=16

In this case the first number is the latitude and the second the longitude.

The full name of the file should look, on GNU/Linux, something like /home/user/.config/location.txt.

To make Chromium respect your chosen location, you need to load ~/.config/chromium/Local State (on your common or garden GNU/Linux distribution etc.) and look for "geolocation" (complete with quotation marks); replace https://www.google.com/loc/json with the full path name of the file containing the JSON text describing your location, converted into a URL, so you’ll need to prefix with file:// and quote certain characters, e.g. spaces become ‘%20’ and, on Windows, backslashes become forward slashes. Using the above example name, you’ll end up with file:///home/user/.config/location.txt. Now save the file.

Do this while the browser is not running, else it’ll take no notice of your changes and will happily overwrite them.

While I couldn’t say for Google Chrome, I do expect that the only difference from Chromium is the file which you need to edit.

This allows me to properly attach my location to Google+ postings without having to rely on my phone, but it’s limited: I do still need to use the mobile browser version of G+ (which works fine in desktop browsers) if I want more control over the location, for example to use what Google call “your city-level location”.

(There is one error in the how-to, though: the example JSON text contains an extra number just before “longitude”.)

2011-07-24

Wide browser windows

Filed under: Software — _ds_ @ 13:54

Is it just me, or do any of you lot hate wide browser windows too?

I’m putting up with horizontal scrolling (or zooming out, in some cases) here so that I can have the window width which I want – which allows me to open an X terminal alongside it, as it happens…

800 pixels is a reasonable minimum width, and anybody who thinks that 1024 pixels is a better choice or, worse, lets text be reformatted to the window width no matter how wide (without making some effort to constrain it to something reasonable) should be… I don’t know. Suggestions?

What has to be remembered here is that there are many devices out there with small displays:

  • Netbooks with 7″ panels
  • Smartphones

These typically have displays which are 800 pixels by 480 pixels (or possibly 480×800), and while the phones may be redirected to ‘mobile’ versions of the content, both they and netbooks may display the full site. It is true that many browsers, these days, have a zoom function, but it’s possible that the content may be rendered too small to read if the user has to use this to shrink it to fit the available screen space. (I can manage with quite small text, but that doesn’t mean that I necessarily want to.)

I mentioned, above, wide text. It’s particularly annoying to have to scroll back and forth horizontally just to be able to read the text (but again, zoom functionality); there are times when I’ve had to zoom out when reading a forum because of some large screenshot which the poster didn’t think to thumbnail. This is particularly fun when the screenshot is 1920×1080; consider that the largest monitors here are 1280×1024.

 

What to do?

Web designers: flexible width wins. Primary content which fits within a column at most 800 pixels wide wins, even if it loses in other ways. It may even be necessary to enforce a minimum width to prevent, for instance, a column of single-word lines… But, if you must allow it to be wider, constrain it to some suitable readable maximum. The CSS2 properties min-width and max-width help with these.

And, for un-thumbnailed images: one possible solution is max-width: 100%; which will, on most browsers, prevent it from widening its containing box; and another is overflow: auto; which may cause scroll bars.

It’s a minefield out there ☺

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