Staying Chrome?

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Staying Chrome?

I've been using my Samsung Chromebook at work for around ten months now. It's not my main computer but it's a meeting survival powerhouse for email, instant messaging and note taking. The battery lasts approximately forever, it boots immediately and the decent keyboard and trackpad are just miles ahead of fumbling around on a tablet.

There are two problems for me with the Chrome universe. One will probably get fixed, one could be a deal breaker.

The first issue is VPN support. Apparently we use some sort of old, fiddly Cisco VPN that ChromeOS simply won't talk to. I filed Issue 261241 in the Chromium bug tracker and hopefully it will get fixed soon. If you're struggling with the same thing please star the bug report.

I can work around the VPN problem by using LogMeIn or Chrome Remote Desktop. But I can't live long without Skype. Actually I'd be perfectly happy to never use Skype again but my company runs on about fifty thousand Skype chats. I used Imo.IM for a while but they were forced to drop Skype support. Right now I'm using IM+ which as far as I'm aware is the only working Skype option for a Chromebook (please tell me if I'm wrong) but it's buggy and can't restore a connection between sessions. I either need to find a way to kill Skype at work or wait for (or write) a better web-only client.

Probably worth sticking it out, Gartner reports a 8.6% fall in PC sales but predicts Chromebooks growing to over 12 million units by 2016.

(Read the full Chromebook adventure: Part 1: Going Chrome, Part 2: Staying Chrome? and Part 3: Leaving Chrome)

(Image by he4rtofcourage, CC).

Memo to future: How to reassemble Kate’s cot

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

cot-step1

The long bolts with plastic washers attach to the head and foot of the cot (1). These are easier to screw in using a drill with a hex bit. Put the four smallest bolts through the holes (2) before attaching the sides or you’ll be taking the sides off again. These will be used to attach the mattress spring.

cot-step2

Cams go in the head and foot (1), smallest bolts as described above (2).

cot-step3

Now just attach the sides with the medium bolts and then the mattress spring using the wing nuts.

cot-step4

Missing one of the medium bolts? It’s in this bag somewhere. When asking Kate to help by putting bolts in a bag remember to be very, very specific about which bag next time. The rest of the hardware is in a Ziploc in a side pocket.

etc, cot

Immature Gmail Exploit

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Immature Gmail Exploit

The Gmail Android client helpfully puts the first letter of the name of the person who emailed you in a big block at the left of the mail list (I guess if you have Google Plus friends you probably get a photo instead). But it's pretty easy to change the from name in your email client and trivial to do this programmatically.

Tips... spell your message backwards and use a different subject line for each email so they don't get grouped together.

Google Spreadsheets API and Column Names

Updated on Sunday, May 2, 2021

Google Spreadsheets API and Column Names

I had a play with the Google Spreadsheets API recently to feed in some data from a C# application. The getting started guide is great and I was authenticated and adding dummy data in no time. But as soon as I started to work with real data I got:

"The remote server returned an error: (400) Bad Request."

And digging deeper into the response:

"We're sorry, a server error occurred. Please wait a bit and try reloading your spreadsheet."

The original sample code still worked so it didn't seem like any sort of temporary glitch as the message suggests. After much hair torn it turns out I was getting this error because I had used the literal column names from my spreadsheet. The API expects them to be lower case with spaces removed. If not columns match you get the unhelpful error above, if at least one column matches you get a successful insert with some missing data.

Error messages are one of the hardest parts of an API to get right. If you're not very detailed then what seems obvious to you can leave your developers stumped.

Hope this helps someone else...

BBC Slams BA

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Might there actually be grounds to sue BA on the basis of a frequent flyer program that never lets you actually fly anywhere ever?

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Did you know? You can use your Avios to book hotel stays and car rental...

Well that’s good, as you sure as hell can’t use them for a flight:

There is no availability on British Airways for the displayed date range.

Previously…

Comments Restored

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I've restored all the comments that vanished after I removed Disqus last weekend. This is after a considerable effort to get everything out of BlogML and into WXR a couple of years ago. At some point I'll just have to give up and decide it's faster to write my own blogging and commenting system but for now Facebook Comments are enabled for all posts.

Chiroopractoor

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Chiroopractoor

Google's use crime of a new compose window is going to become compulsory soon.

I suspect this is because it will soon be revealed that Google is rolling out a chain of high street Chiropractic facilities to treat the crick in everyone's neck from composing email in the bottom right hand corner of one's screen.

Either that or it's a bid for mobile dominance by forcing PC users to work in mobile screen sized portions of their screen until you just give up and use your phone.

bye, bye, Miss Deprecated API

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

bye, bye, Miss Deprecated API

After my horrible experience with Cleat last year I'm finally pulling the plug on my remaining Twitter API projects. Twitter is switching off their v1 API soon and I'm still so sick of it that I'm not even going to upgrade existing products. If you used Follower then I'm sorry. If you liked my Twitter public timeline screensaver then you're odd, but I'm still sorry. I'll still tweet, I'm just staying clear of the API.

(Image is Fail Whale Pale Ale by Brian Cook.)

I can't post a single photo

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I can't post a single photo

You'd think Facebook or Twitter could scrape together a semi-functional Android client but apparently not.

Twitter has some size limit for photo uploads. In a sane world the client would resize a photo that was too large and just get on with it. Table stakes would be an error message. But no, it pretends everything is just peachy and then fails to upload. To post a photo to Twitter I have to remember to go into the camera settings and ratchet down the megapixels which I remember to do about never. 

Facebook used to work occasionally but now just dumps an ugly immobile progress bar that won't go away until I reboot the phone. 

Google+ probably works fine technically but if a photo is uploaded to a forest and there is nobody there to see it is that still in any sense counted as success?