Those annoying Google arrows

…the ones that don’t let you scroll smoothly with your arrow keys, but make the screen jump, giving you whiplash!

That’s right, I’m a computer Neanderthal.  But if you want to get rid of them, go to www.google.com/preferences and turn off Google Instant.  Supposedly your browser will remember such Preferences in a cookie, until you delete your cookies anyway….  (NB: This works even if you don’t have an account of any kind with Google, or don’t log onto it, like me … something else my sources left out.)

All Google Instant ever did for me was slow down my typing AND my hard drive, just like those sites that offer you the “opportunity” to view a snapshot of a linked website before you go there or not.

These are the kinds of things programmers think sound cool on the drawing board (or whatever they’re using now), but in reality SUCK.  They’re also the kinds of things that make me a believer in Entropy, that things aren’t really progressing, but deteriorating … apparently along with our ability to detect same!

Correction: They’d work great if most people had the cutting-edge, parallel-processing, quantum-memory, T-1 machines, servers, and web connections that corporate programmers have.  Or in heaven, one or the other….

(Full disclosure: I got this idea from Googling whether anybody else knew how.  Unfortunately the sources I read left out one simple thing, THE BLARKING WEB ADDRESS!!!!!  Which I have provided above for you, free of charge.  Pray for me.)

Palau is a U.S. State?

Sure there’s alot of important crap going down lately — or in the case of offshore oil drilling, COMING UP!  But while e-activist or e-shopper friends of mine surf from one online petition or storefront to the next, they keep hitting the same speed bump: The Republic of Palau.

Palau (sometimes spelled Belau) seems to be a beautiful Pacific Island nation on TV documentaries.  It’s also an INDEPENDENT Pacific Island nation, though formerly part of the U.S. post-WW2 “Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands,” along with what are now the also-INDEPENDENT Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of the Marshall Islands.  (Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands [CNMI], though in the same neighborhood, were always governmentally distinct, and not part of the Trust Territory. [Distinct enough that apparently Robber-Baron-era-like sweatshops are still legal on Saipan, CNMI, USA!])

All 3 countries seem to maintain some special relationships with their former postwar Trustee, the USA.  Whether these are voluntary or not, I don’t have information on.  But in any case, THEY ARE NOT U.S. STATES OR TERRITORIES, BUT INDEPENDENT NATIONS.  But my friends in Pennsylvania, who used to be able to whip through online petitions, and even e-commerce, at warp speed, now come to the drop-down list of States,  hit “P,” and instead of moving right on, since the only “P” State is Pennsylvania, have to go up and click down from Palau’s USPS 2-letter abbreviation PW, to PA for the American state.  What’s more irritating for them is that PA comes before PW in the alphabet, even though of course Pal comes before Pen, and apparently these lists are alphabetized according to the name, not the abbreviation, even though the full name is never displayed!

Let’s be reasonable, even though that’s a commodity in short supply in American politics and government these days.  Even though strictly speaking Palau, if it’s part of the USPS now for some reason, comes before Pennsylvania, PA does come before PW, and most Americans have long since come to think of the two-letter abbreviations as entities in themselves.  Secondly, Palau has 20,000 happy people; the Keystone State has more than 12 million (some of them bitter).  Thirdly, considering the passions aroused on the Internet increasingly, having to hit those extra keys to get to an American state in a supposed list of them, is certain to be hurting e-commerce in this Republican Great Recession, and even e-politics, at least a little — thousands of dollars’ worth? tens of thousands?  Fourthly, a note of realpolitik: Palauans have zero members in the U.S. Congress; at this time Pennsylvanians have 19 Representatives and 2 Senators, representing the 6th most populous State in the Union.  Might they also point out that the Quaker State has voted for the (real) winner in every Presidential Election of the post-Reagan era, i.e. the Democrat, while Palau has failed to do so?

I’m the most politically-correct person I know, but certainly going with reason in this minor yet definite inconvenience needn’t be seen as oppressing Persons of Color, i.e. Pacific Islanders, need it?  In any case, PA has nearly 2 million Persons of Color at least, whereas PW has fewer than 20,000 (though for the record, PA has over 11,000 Pacific Islanders alone).  Arguably the current setup is oppressing more PoCs than our proposal!

So how about it, Uncle Sam?  Put PA before PW in the list where it reasonably belongs.  In fact, listing Palau after a U.S. State in a supposed list of U.S. States could honor its independence from them.

If you agree, email the Postal Service through their Customer Service link, and use the “Additional Information” box for the text of your note to them.

Override “Open in New Window”

Another of my cyber pet peeves is when websites force links to open in new windows for no apparent reason other than to clutter your desktop and monopolize your RAM.

Now, sometimes there’s a good reason, like if it’s a completely different site of a completely different author / company / whatever, or a completely different or tangential subject.  But if it’s your own site, intimately related, etc.???

Like probably many of you, my websurfing is somewhat undisciplined, a kind of Cyber Attention Deficit Disorder.  (Very time-consuming!)  To minimize confusion, I try to minimize open windows or tabs at least: one ‘trail’ or series of related pages visited, or subject, per tab or window.  This I guess is more the method to my madness about forced New Windows.  Plus, Opening New Windows is time-consuming too, especially in XP for some reason, setting the hard drive going like a coffee grinder.

So, what I often have to do is routinely right-click –> Copy Shortcut, paste it in the address window, and hit Enter or the Go To arrow (IE 7, aka The Cripple!!!).  It’s a minor thing, but shows messy (or inconsiderate!) programming, of the website AND of Internet Explorer.  And it really p___es me off when I forget, and that coffee grinder starts up, and you can’t stop it till it’s completed its inexorable course!  [Is exorable even a word?]

I once wrote to Microsoft that they should add to the right-click menu an “Open in THIS Window” option, but they never really got back to me.  Better yet, how about a context-sensitive (ie, appearing only when applicable / necessary) “Override ‘Open in New Window'”?  Until then…

Open THIS in a New Window!!!!!  or…

I gotcher “New Window” right heah!!!

I hate rollover pop-ins!

Until we all get touch-sensitive computer screens that remove the need for mice (tabbing takes forever in today’s web pages!), DO NOT intrude on necessary mouse movements to links we want, with pop-in ads we don’t want, that cover-up content, and might not go away the way they promise to (eg, you click on “collapse,” and they just stay there!)!  When is a rollover NOT a rollover?: When it’s a roll-towardstowards something OTHER THAN THE AD!!!!!  DON’T make us have to steer the mouse around all ads like Magellan trying to circumnavigate the globe; that’s not “textured websurfing” that anybody wants!!!!!  Nevermind when the ad loads under the mouse, so you didn’t even get a chance to roll-away!!!

Or else, give us a way to block pop-ins, just like we had to block pop-ups!!!!!  (Nevermind that all the pop-up blockers in the world can’t seem to block all the pop-ups.  What’s wrong with this picture?!!!)

ROLLOVER THIS!!!!!

Confirm your email address

Why on forms online are we always asked to type in our email address twice?  It’s not usually encoded like a password usually is, so it’s not like we can’t see it as we’re typing the first time.  If we screw up, we go and fix it, that simple!

I think at some point in the early evolution of Web commerce, someone got in the habit of thinking of email addresses similarly to passwords.  I guess these are the guys who gave us the Y2K bug … or the Y2K scare, one or the other … or both, more likely!

A software idea

Ever hear your hard drive spinning and spinning and spinning for no known reason?  No system tray icon, no active video game or download (apparently), no other programs starting up?  Could it be malware?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to ask your computer, in effect (if not in actuality!), “Why’s the hard drive spinning right now?”

You’d think that the Windows Task Manager (talking XP here) could tell you this info, but right now I’ve got 58 “processes” going.  Is it one of these, or something ‘invisible’?!!  For that matter, are all these legitimate?!!!

I guess such a program would get the drive spinning itself, so maybe what you’d actually have to say is, “Why was it spinning N seconds / minutes ago?”  Or better, “What has caused / is causing spinning in the last N minutes?”  Most programs, when just sitting there waiting for input or whatever, don’t keep spinning the HD; this is why I’m concerned.

Is this too complicated?

And then you look up the questionable program, etc., and panic! 😉

Is eHarmony a cult?

Yes, it’s true, I was rejected by eHarmony.  Now I know why: I’m not a wussy.  I’m a real human being, not some ’50s fundamentalist Ozzie-and-Harriet clone.  “Obstreporousness“?  What gall!  Basically you have to be a total doormat – or some cultist.  (I never knew Jim Jones’ full name was James Warren Jones.  Neil Clark Warren?  Hmmm … any relation?!!)

BTW, according to m-w.com, “obstreporous” doesn’t mean “can’t be pleased.”  Interestingly, it does mean “stubbornly resistant to control.”  Control, huh?  Especially when you look at the questions and the required answers, I seriously think some cult watchers should investigate this outfit.  What happens to these ‘shiny happy people’ long-term?  What happens to some of eHarmony’s ‘rejects’ short- and long-term?: I’m not a cult expert, but I do know that this kind of emotional manipulaton is typical of cults!  ‘Oh please I’ll do whatever you want just make me feel that hope again!’

F’KOFF!

There’s even at least one accusation of fraud against eHarmony, though obviously I can’t verify it.

Strangely, it’s a serious compromise of Warren’s Fundamentalism to make use of the term “soulmate,” since he must know it comes from reincarnation theology, but totally unChristian!  He must be really desperate for disciples, money, and/or deceiving non-Fundies who may actually believe in soulmates.

All of a sudden I’m glad they rejected me!

PS: A post here (search for text “eharmony cult”) suggests that eHarmony’s employees may be the cult, reminding me of that suicide cult of space-worshiping New Age computer techies from a few years ago….  OK, time for a serious probe, before they off themselves … and take God knows how many others with them!

A “Canadian World Domination” Valentine

courtesy of The Wayback Machine.

BTW, I note alot of people are looking for them, and they have tons of web fans too (Google it!), but apparently they’ve disappeared into the past now, so TWM’s most recent version – from 2003?!! – appears to be reachable through the homepage link on that page (or TWM itself, of course, but I’ve already done the work for you!).

Generals Claire and Jenny, come back, the world needs you now more than ever!

As you can see in the quote box at the bottom of this page, my list of influential Canadians already in America – advance invaders, no doubt – left out a few names!!

366 Days and counting

A few worthy insights here.

Personally, I won’t believe they’re gone till the plane touches down in Texas … or Gitmo … or The Hague!!!  Remember when Giuliani wanted more time as Mayor of NY after 9/11?  I’m still seriously concerned about “Bush Overtime” or “Extra Innings.”

Nevermind how the Repugs will steal this election come what may anyway….

The Democrats could still cut this term short, if they had stones.  (Sorry, Nancy P.)

Cyber-Budgets, or, GIGO, or, The Coming Coverup

So the Bushies aren’t going to issue Budgets generally on hard copy anymore?  Do you trust them?  I sure as hell don’t!  They’re already spending money without Congress’ approval, picking-and-choosing which laws to “faithfully execute” and how, and making up other laws on their own without Congress; now they can just make financial changes as easily as you or I “cut” a zero from one line and “paste” it to another, or worse!!!

This is the same reason I don’t let Welfare, auto insurance, HMOs, banks, student loan servicers, etc., communicate with me by email.  I want it in print, on paper, you lying, thieving, deceiving, greedy, power-hungry sons of bitches!!!!!  Dated, postmarked, the whole damned nine yards!

Germany warns on Wifi; What about cumulative effects?

This recent British newspaper piece* is somewhat opinionated, but includes facts about German concerns about health risks.  This Wikipedia link currently provides allegedly-scientific counterpoint.  [“Jane you ignorant slut!”]

One thing possibly hinted at in the German report is the cumulative effect of ALL the electromagnetic radiation we now live amid (“electrosmog”?).  We’re usually told about their “safety” one at a time, but what about altogether?!!  One smokestack or factory-farm, car or burnt forest or clearcut, doesn’t cause Global Warming, but millions do, after all!

(*–Don’t worry about the .ece suffix on this link, it seems to just be a normal webpage.)

The Number One reminder for anything involving a computer

Stolen from OrthodoXCircle’s humor group, who probably stole it from somewhere else:

Jesus and Satan were having an on-going argument about who was better on the computer. They had been going at it for days, and frankly God the Father was tired of hearing all the bickering.

Finally fed up, the Father said, ‘THAT’S IT! I have had enough. I am going to set up a test that will run for two hours, and from those results, I will judge who does the better job.’

So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.

They moused.

They faxed.

They e-mailed.

They e-mailed with attachments.

They downloaded.

They did spreadsheets!

They wrote reports.

They created labels and cards.

They created charts and graphs.

They did some genealogy reports

They did every job known to man.

Jesus worked with heavenly efficiency and Satan was faster than hell.

Then, ten minutes before their time was up, lightning(!) suddenly flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, rain poured, and, of course, the power went off.

Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld.

Jesus just sighed.

Finally the electricity came back on, and each of them restarted their computers. Satan started searching frantically, screaming:

‘It’s gone! It’s all GONE! I lost everything when the power went out!’

Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all of his files from the past two hours of work.

Satan observed this and became irate.

‘Wait!’ he screamed. ‘That’s not fair! He cheated! How come he has all his work and I don’t have any?’

God just shrugged and said,

‘JESUS SAVES’

Funny Canada

About a zillion Canadian jokes here.  Not all keeping with the Canadian stereotype of PC or sensitivity or apologeticness!

One of my faves, in the style of Jeff Foxworthy’s Redneck jokes (which got him made a Kentucky Colonel* believe it or not): “You might be a Canadian if… 23. You know that Canada is the only country to successfully invade the US and burn its capital to the ground.”  (Not that I advocate the violent overthrow of the United States government or anything!)

(*–Which reminds me of another joke whose punchline is, “It’s like the ‘Honorable’ in front of your name, Judge: It don’t mean a thing!”

Which reminds me of a conundrum: If Americans have to call Harlan Sanders “Colonel,” why can’t Canadians call knights “Sir”?!!)

The one about the temperature scale reminded me of the scene in the recent cable movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, when Sitting Bull seeks refuge across the border, and the Mountie says, “I welcome you in the Queen’s name.  But I should warn you, the winters get pretty cold up here – this isn’t Dakota!”

The “Cultural differences” one about Americans, Australians, British, and Canadians is pretty good too, especially:

Brits:   Shop at home and have goods imported because they live on an island.
Aussies:   Shop at home and have goods imported because they live on an island.
Americans:   Cross the southern border for cheap shopping, gas, & liquor in a backwards country.
Canadians:   Cross the southern border for cheap shopping, gas, & liquor in a backwards country.

Hey, a little perspective is good, eh?  🙂

Canada Dabbles with E-voting

DON’T DO IT, EH?  Do you want to go the way of America (even more)?!!!

Cingular is NOT the new AT&T

SBC bought what was left of the original AT&T (“Ma Bell”),  and changed its own name to the better-known AT&T.  (This has happened in the past, where a lesser-known entity has bought a better-known one, or a smaller bought a bigger, in either case adopting the name and/or logos of the bought entity.)

Cingular was formerly a joint venture of SBC and BellSouth, which itself (ie, Cingular) at one point acquired AT&T Wireless, but only became branded itself as something like AT&T when SBC bought BellSouth and what was left of the old AT&T, and adopted the latter’s name.

Long story short, there’s alot more to “the new AT&T” than just the former Cingular.  Why the former SBC is focusing so much on the former Cingular (ie, cellular service) in marketing is beyond me!

If various Wikipedia articles have it wrong, your mileage may vary….

I will say this: In my more skeptical moments over the years I have doubted that the old AT&T was actually broken-up in the ’80s… paradoxically, a decision I mostly opposed.  But again if Wikipedia has it right, in fact it was, and although superficially it appears to have been substantially re-assembled as the whole “new AT&T,” there have been alot of spin-offs, as well as surviving new startups, in the former’s ‘semantic field.’

Are the American people better off?  Folks point to the telecommunications ‘revolution’ that has occurred in the last 25 years.  Would it not have taken place, or be as far along as it is today, if we had been allowed to keep the economy, convenience, and relative accountability of Ma Bell?  (Would THAT be a good thing or a bad thing?!!)  The scientists at the original AT&T were pretty smart dudes and dudettes, after all.  Also, at least one of the articles alleges post-breakup AT&T’s venture into computer science, the real driver of the ‘revolution,’ was ill-fated; IOW, it was other people anyway!

So what do we really have today in old AT&T’s place?: a miasma of fragmentary-seeming names and corporations, phone-service pricing that seems to be completely arbitrary (“whatever the market will bear”… or can be tricked into bearing), little or no regulation or true accountability, tons of money poured into duplicating many times over what most sensibly should be a single top-quality network of telephonic hardware (After all, the shortest distance between any two points is still one straight line!), increased unreliability, decreased sound quality, zillions of seemingly fly-by-night businesses and services and products, tons of OUR money poured into lobbying Washington against the public interest and only in the interest of corporate fat-cats, etc. etc. etc.

Of course, this was all brought to you largely by the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush/Cheney pro-business, anti-people ‘revolution’ of the last 27 years (brought to us all by Iran/Contra/October-Surprise)….

I say, Restore State sovereignty over corporations and business!

Newscast mentality in Washington

From AOL News (link will break) AP story about Sunni militant uprising in Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon:

White House press secretary Tony Snow said Tuesday the militants wanted to distract international attention from an effort at the U.N. to establish a tribunal to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

I think I’ve mentioned this before: the belief in Washington that the Federal government – at least its legislative and executive branches – can’t do too much important stuff on any one day, or follow or tolerate too many different important news stories.  They think the rest of the world is like this too: “distract international attention” from a Hariri assassination tribunal?

Look, we have 535 voting members of Congress, and thousands of executive branch employees.  There are more than 6 billion people on the planet.  And we can all only do one thing a day?  It really is the end of history!

What has occurred to me is that this may be governed or influenced by Washington’s desire to manipulate TV news coverage in its favor, instead of work their hardest for the Common Good.  Maybe the replacement of network-produced TV newscasts with web-surfer-driven and -selected story packages will be a good thing after all.

OR it might let them just bury stuff they want to get away with, which I already saw as a journalist in the ’80s.

Que conundrum!

Yes, I can joke about Monarchy.

To wit, the very funny ‘Dennis the Marxist/Anarcho-Syndicalist Peasant‘ from Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

(NB: The exclamation point isn’t technically part of the movie title, as in Freud!, Joey Trebbiani’s musical from Friends.  It’s just that it doesn’t always work out so well to try to run italic text into non-italic punctuation: Grail!  See?  Just in case it’s on someone’s Finals this week.)

‘Conservative’ MP proposes WWW censorship in Canada

See this blog.

Not that it has a snowball’s chance, even in the Great White North!  Her ruling party (not truly classically-conservative, as I’ve said many times before) may have a plurality in the House of Commons, but far from a majority, and they don’t control the Senate, which hasn’t ceased to be a House for “sober second thought” (yet).  And anyway, Private Members’ Bills are rarely enacted in Canada, even from within the Prime Minister’s party, especially from back-benchers.

Anyway, there’s really no need; other laws aplenty cover this stuff.  And constitutionally: c’mon, the Minister of Industry turned into a deputy Attorney General?  Real bad idea.

MS Word inventor going into space?

By no means let him “View Codes”!!!  😦