Isle of Skype

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Isle of Skype

There are things I still sort of like about Skype. I use it a lot for video calls (although for work and muti-party video it's pretty much all about Google Hangouts these days). I have a Philips phone that integrates with Skype for international calls (they seem to have discontinued it, and while the calls are cheap the UI is baroque). But the IM is horrible. It can't remember which messages you've seen between devices and so you're constantly trying to figure out what you have and haven't read.

And the IM on the desktop is nothing compared to the horror of the Skype Android app. This slowly spins up and by the time it's loaded previous messages your battery is dead.

Imo.im made Skype IM tolerable on Android and possible on a Chromebook. In the last week it seems that Skype has kneecapped them and blocked their servers from signing in. I'm limping by with IM+ Pro at the moment, but it's slow and buggy and frustrating.

I sympathize with Imo.im. I've been stiffed by Skype before as an officially sanctioned partner so it's no shock that they'd take out this kind of tool.

It would be nice if they could fix mobile and web access to the network first though.

(Related: Skype for Android 4 - Better but Useless; Android 11 Gripes; Staying Chrome?)

(You might also like: Catfood Software downloads are now on I Thought He Came With You; Leaving the Nest; Signs)

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Really BA?

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Really BA?

Not to pick on British Airways but yes, that screenshot is real. It's a marketing email opt out that has not only been pre-populated in favor of spam but has then also been disabled.

Previously.

(Related: Email marketing - don't shoot yourself in the foot; Fight Facebook with Email; Do I need a Zumbox?)

(You might also like: Vernal (Spring) Equinox 2020; Coastal; Chiroopractoor)

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Thank you Feedly

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020

Thank you Feedly

It has been brought to my attention that I've been whinging too much recently

So I'd like to take a break from that and say how much I'm enjoying feedly. It's a wonderfully well designed RSS reader. I use the Chrome Extension version and the Android app. It preserves the Google Reader keyboard shortcuts so I can sail through my subscriptions and it brings back social sharing. 

I looked at feedly once before and didn't really get it. I thought it was just one of those algorithmic recommendation news manglers that tries to guess what you want to read. It might do that on the home page but the 'All' view is a perfect replacement for Google Reader. 

I love it. I want to pay for it to make sure it stays around. Thank you feedly. 

(Related: Doing news right with Feedly and Google News; Got It; Export Google Fit Daily Steps, Weight and Distance to a Google Sheet)

(You might also like: Treasure Island; Please fix phone spam Google!; San Francisco from Twin Peaks)

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Google Maps Ate My Battery

Updated on Friday, May 22, 2020

Google Maps Battery Usage

I've been slowly becoming aware that Google Maps is eating up a lot of the power on my phone (an HTC One X with Android 4.1). Yesterday as my battery was near death I saw it was up to 25% of total usage on a day when I hadn't even run the app. Something had to give. I'd already turned off Google Latitude a few months ago so the culprit had to be whatever secret-squirrel location sniffing the phone does behind my back.

Android Location Options

Android has about a million different incomprehensible weasily location options. At least in 4.1, I've seen some evidence that 4.2 is a bit better. The bargain with 'Google's location service' seems to be that if you don't send your data to them they won't send it to you. At least I think so, the description changes when you check or uncheck the option. I've had this off for today and my battery has a lot more juice. It means that Google Now doesn't work, but so far that doesn't seem to be a loss. It might hurt other apps as well, but so far I care more about not having a dead phone at the end of the day.

(Related: Leaving the Nest; Where did that app icon go, Android?; Android 11 Gripes)

(You might also like: Scanning from the ADF using WIA in C#; Bernal in Bloom; Photo Sorter 1.10)

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Disqust

Updated on Sunday, September 5, 2021

Disqust

I just discovered that Disqus started running adverts on my blog without permission. It's probably been going on for a little while and I should have paid more attention, sorry.

By 'without permission' I mean that I'm sure I clicked though and didn't read a terms of service document that said they could do what the fuck they like to my site. And reading other accounts of this issue I'm sure I filed without reading the email they sent out that mentioned this new 'feature' in passing. So in a legal sense they probably had all the permission they needed. In a moral sense they're switch-and-bait scum of the highest order. 

They should have made this feature opt-in and then sent out an email explaining it in detail. Some sites don't want to run ads. You could have non-commercial Creative Commons content on a site that is suddenly a commercial concern. 

It's a free service and at some point they need to make money, fine. If this had been presented as an option I might have considered it. If they wanted to charge for the service I'd probably have paid for it.

Instead I've disabled Disqus and hastily hacked in Facebook Comments which should be coming online as I write this post. 

A side effect of this is that all the existing comments are currently unavailable. I have an archive and will try to get them resurrected soon.

(Since writing this post I have also ditched Facebook comments and now have a fully home grown solution that I moderate by hand.)

(Related: Is it safe to open securedoc.html (Cisco Registered Envelope)?; The Trust Project, Fake News and a Partial Facebook Uninstall; Migrating from Blogger to BlogEngine.NET)

(You might also like: Magic Mountain; Signs; Cloud)

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Earthquake Supply Co.

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Earthquake Supply Co.

The last time we refreshed our earthquake supply kit was because of a smell. It turned out a water container had burst. This rusted most of the cans, and then the became a domestic Superfund Site. 

Given the current subscription commerce trend - get a new belt shipped by FedEx every four hours - I think there's a small business or a very interesting nonprofit here. 

Deliver a 10-day disaster survival kit every couple of years. Pick up the old one a few months before the food expires and donate it to a homeless shelter. Repeat until the next big one strikes and the kit is actually needed. Different levels for different family sizes, pets, special needs, etc. 

As usual any of my billionaire readers who are interested in funding this should drop me a line

(Related: Business of Software 2009; Meeting Defragmenter; Executive Clubbing)

(You might also like: Petrol & Marks & Spencer; NatureBox; Vernal Equinox 2014)

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It was where he left it

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

It was where he left it

Not to bang on about the BBC and their horrible headlines but 'lost' is a bit different from 'I was in a panic for 20 minutes' but actually it was exactly where I left it. How quickly can you go from 'Nation shall speak peace unto nation' to SEO whore...

(Related: The Trust Project, Fake News and a Partial Facebook Uninstall; Got It; I Love Email)

(You might also like: Stars over Columbia State Historic Park; Kidlapse shutting down at the end of May 2021; Pinnacles National Park)

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Installation: Early and Often

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Jiri Novotny at Dextronet wrote a great post this week on improving installers for micro-ISVs.

One essential that I'd add is writing your installer early and including it as part of the build process. It's the first thing that potential customers see and leaving the installer to the last minute is a huge mistake. You should be testing with a complete installer as pretty much the first milestone in any new project.

For Windows products I'd recommend WiX. It's easy to learn, and easy to include in your build. The latest beta includes Burn, a bootstrapper to install dependencies before the main MSI runs. I'm sick of having to do this part myself and I can't wait for Burn to become a stable part of WiX.

(Related: Licensing Fail: WinZip vs. ScanToPDF; WiX Tricks for Screen Savers; Upgrading to BlogEngine.NET 2.5)

(You might also like: Lake Merced; Die PDF Die; Twin Peaks 360 4K)

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Shiti

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Citi - Reasons we can share your personal information

Citigroup sent me a nice notice saying they are going to share my information in about four thousand different ways, most of which can’t be limited. For the few that can limit you can’t update preferences on the web site, you apparently need to call them and beg to not be spammed. As I’m writing that number makes you type in your account number and then says ‘I’m sorry, our records are unavailable.’ Most likely they’re in the Citigroup basement behind the Beware of the Leopard sign.

Citi - To limit our sharing...

If you decide to just cancel Citi then say that they will continue to share when you are no longer their customer. It reads like even if you take the time to phone in to opt out they’ll revert to happily sharing promiscuously once you leave. But you can contact them again anytime although it’s not clear what can be limited once you leave. Dear customer, we hate you.

Presumably there is some well meaning legislation to require that Citi sends clear information about their marketing policy and opt outs. Only you can’t opt out and I can’t for the life of me understand what happens if I close my account. How about requiring opt out of everything from the web site and no marketing to ex-customers instead?

(Related: Is it safe to open securedoc.html (Cisco Registered Envelope)?; Export Google Fit Daily Steps, Weight and Distance to a Google Sheet; Facebook shouldn't own your social graph)

(You might also like: Coastal and Julian loop plus Black Sands Beach; Grabtown Gulch and Borden Hatch Mill in Purisima Creek; Worst special TiVo offer ever)

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Download.com goes nuclear

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

CNET download.com Download Manager

CNET stopped being a useful source of downloads for me ages ago. Over the lifetime of my account I’ve had nearly 100,000 downloads through CNET, but these days it’s one or two a week. I left my products up there anyway, but I’ve just asked them to remove everything they have listed for Catfood Software.

The reason is that CNET has rolled out a download manager that wraps every single download. Instead of the customer getting the product they thought they were downloading they are dumped into a CNET experience that tries to install a toolbar and push Bing / MSN into your browser defaults. Yuck.

It’s one thing for a vendor to partner this way. It’s quite another to roll it out site wide with little notification and no opt out, let alone a revenue share. CNET sell this as being about analytics. Of course it’s all about referral dollars. This isn’t the experience I want for my customers and so I’m pulling the plug on download.com.

(Related: Licensing Fail: WinZip vs. ScanToPDF; Is PAD dead?; Migrating from Blogger to BlogEngine.NET)

(You might also like: California November 2016 Propositions; Fixing the Washington Post Democratic Candidates Quiz; Long term solar powered time lapse camera using Arduino)

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I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison's blog.

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