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.

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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.

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bye, bye, Miss Deprecated API

Updated on Saturday, May 22, 2021

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.)

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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?

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Going Chrome

Updated on Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Going Chrome

I came to Chrome OS by a circuitous route. Initially I though a browser in a box was a silly, under-powered toy. But then I needed a meeting machine for work.

To start with I decided to use an old Macbook. It was running OSX 10.5 (Leopard) which is a bit out of date so I thought I'd update it to the latest 10.8 (Mountain Lion) goodness. But this turned out to be impossible to do from my desk. Before I could go to 10.8 I'd have to get physical media for 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and patch it up to the point where it would accept an upgrade. This meant shipping a disc or visiting an Apple Store and getting smarmed at. Unacceptable.

So I decided to ditch OSX and install Windows 8. This was a cheap online purchase and a painless install... but Windows 8 is a disaster on a non-touch device. Everything takes an extra few clicks or a half-mile scroll to the right. 

Live tiles seem like a good idea until you realize that you're not looking at the start screen often enough for them to be of any value. If Microsoft had introduced a permanent ticker at the bottom of the screen or a secondary tile screen on all Windows 8 certified devices life could have been more interesting. 

Removing the start button so you have to go into touch and swipe mode to do anything is a pain. A boot to desktop mode would be great for older devices.

The deal breaker though is the increasingly assertive Windows Update. Twice in meetings it decided to reboot the computer. It used to be you could delay updates for hours but Windows 8 just knows that the latest patch is more important that whatever you happen to be working on and cheerfully pulls the plug. 

Admittedly you can figure out how to find the vestigial, non-Windows 8 config for Windows 8 and go to manual mode. And then figure out how to turn off the nagging for not having the recommended Windows Update setting. But but by this point you realize that you've got a operating system that is about updates first and getting work done second. And Windows 8 Windows Update doesn't even update Windows Store apps so you've got a live tile nagging for updates every five seconds as well. 

On top on the Windows 8 horror the Macbook was old, heavy and had a puny battery. Also, after installing Windows 8 the only software I needed to install was Chrome and the office VPN client. Once this sunk in I ordered the new Samsung Chromebook.  

Setup on the Chromebook is: 1. Login to your Google Account (with support for two-factor authentication), 2. Choose a wallpaper (optional). 

I'm not likely to use a Chromebook as my primary machine any time soon. It is however a meeting powerhouse for email, IMs, calendar and note taking. I replaced Skype with imo.im (which I've used on Android for a while). Full Outlook web access took a bit of head scratching - see this post for details. Google Apps and Hangouts work seamlessly as you'd expect. It's light and the battery lasts all day.

The only niggle so far is that Chrome OS doesn't support the flavor of VPN that my company uses. It would be nice to get to the wiki, but it's not a deal breaker (If you have a Cisco VPN that insists on a group name go vote for this bug). 

Microsoft and Apple should be really rather worried.

Updated 2013-07-17 13:54:

Two quick updates.

Providing a group name to use with Cisco VPN devices was added in Chrome 28. Unfortunately it still doesn't work for me. I've filed issue 261241 on the chromium bug tracker for this - you can star this issue if you have the same problem.

Skype has managed to block Imo.im so that no longer works for Skype on a Chromebook. I'm using IM+ for now, but it's not nearly as good - it doesn't remember passwords and it keeps silently losing connectivity so it's easy to miss chats.

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

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Full Outlook Web Access on Chromebook

Updated on Monday, April 26, 2021

Outlook Web Access

When trying to load the Outlook Web App on a Chromebook you'll find that you can only access the 'light' version. It's pretty easy to fix, you just need to spoof the user agent. 

On a regular desktop computer launch Chrome and type chrome://version in the address bar. Find and copy the user agent string. 

On your Chromebook install the User-Agent Switcher extension. After this installs click the icon and choose Settings. Enter a new customer user agent - name something like 'Chrome Desktop', the user agent string is the one you copied from a desktop PC above, group is Chrome, type is replace and enter a character or two for the indicator flag.

Next click the Permanent Spoof list tab (still in User-Agent Switcher) and enter the domain of your outlook site (i.e. outlook.mycorp.com) and choose the user agent we just created from the drop down list (i.e. 'Chrome Desktop').

Finally log out of Outlook Web Access. You should now be able to uncheck the 'light' experience and get the full version of the Outlook Web App.

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

 

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Religion's Kayne West Tendencies

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

BBC News has a report today on a conference held by CERN to bring science and religion together around the origins of the universe. It has some choice quotes including:

"Science in isolation is great for producing stuff, but not so good for producing ideas"

From Andrew Pinsent, and from Canon Dr Gary Wilton that the likely discovery of the Higgs boson:

"raised lots of questions [about the origins of the Universe] that scientists alone can't answer ... They need to explore them with theologians and philosophers"

Let me get this straight.

  • The concept of atoms is first proposed by Demokritos in around 500 BC and realized by Dalton in 1808.
  • Subatomic particles are discovered in the late 19th century, followed by Rutherford's gold foil experiment in 1907 demonstrating that an atom is mostly empty space.
  • The Standard Model is built over decades including the proposal by Peter Higgs (and others) of the existence of the field and boson by which particles acquire mass.
  • An expensive and extensive search by Fermilab and CERN eventually seems to have discovered the Higgs Boson.

A few highlights.

And after hundreds of years of theoretical and experimental physics it's somehow time to turn this one over to the pros?

Another quote from the conference, this time from Prof John Lennox:

"When Hawking argues, in support of his theory of spontaneous creation, that it was only necessary for 'the blue touch paper' to be lit to 'set the universe going', the question must be: where did this blue touch paper come from? And who lit it, if not God?"

Science may never have all the answers. It may not even be possible. But it's the only way to keep pushing back the boundaries. All the theologians have to offer is that they've discovered God, just outside the current resolution of our understanding. Ad nauseam. Bugger off. 

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Thank you for choosing HSA Bank!

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thank you for choosing HSA Bank!

No, thank you HSA Bank for not giving me a choice and then cheekily pinching $2 on every debit swipe.

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etc, hsa

SETIcon 2

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

SETIcon 2

I'm at SETIcon 2 this weekend. It's a mix of science, sci-fi, religion and general speculation.

What really strikes me is that a couple of years ago at the first conference a handful of exoplanets had been found but the Kepler scientists were grinning away, not allowed to say much.

This time round it's hard to find a star without a planetary system. The (silly) Drake equation is falling term by term.

Next SETIcon it has to be some evidence of life...

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Petrol & Marks & Spencer

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I recently got back from a trip back to the UK. Every time I go back these days something about the country has fundamentally changed. This time it's that every petrol station and motorway services has a Marks & Spencer or Waitrose supermarket embedded in it. On the motorway there are generally several large branches, and then a smaller branch in the toilet hand-washing area, and finally a tiny shop selling sandwiches and a small selection of ready-made curries in each cubicle.

At first pass this seems very convenient, but you can't fill up the tank in the smallest BP (paying at the pump being virtually unheard of in the UK) without getting stuck behind someone doing their weekly shop. 

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