The Orange Hate-Monkey Accosted Me on YouTube

The Trump ads have to go away Google. Now. Not later, now. More generally, I want to be able to remove ads for users and subjects, for causes which can be enumerated to Google as an ad provider. I never want to see the Orange Hate-Monkey’s face on any screen, ever, and I definitely am not interested in any fucking thing he wants sell me. So give me the ability to block his and any other content I deem harmful or erroneous with the ability to flag said content for review by responsible authorities, which unfortunately doesn’t include the sitting president of the United States. Make this happen, Google or I will start blocking all ads on Android like I do on Windows.

Feedback on the YouTube forum.

The CTRL-Z Blogger Hole

I’ve run across this ctrl-z bug a few times in the Blogger interface and it’s about to drive me nuts. The first time I noticed it I was working on an article that I had published previously, an article that still had some cludgy wording in it I wanted fixed, and I wanted to add a bit of HTML zing! to the post. I had it open in the blogger edit interface, the same old Blogger interface that has been the Blogger interface since the beginning of the world wide web if not the beginning of time as we know it. A white and grey interface with orange buttons? The one that has a toggle in the upper left corner that says “Compose” on one button and “HTML” on the other? Two different shades of grey? You know the one I’m talking about. I had messed up some code I had entered under the “HTML” setting, and after checking the results in “Compose” I hit ctrl-z to undo the change, and the entire post I was editing simply disappeared!

Luckily I could just back out and start over re-editing. It was a pain but at least I could access the original post. This error has happened a few times since then. Every time it has happened, I have had a version of the post that I could go back to, luckily. A frustrating but recoverable error. Until this time.

Today I was working in a test post that I keep hanging around to save snippets of code in, handily named test post. I had just done some tweaking on some code in the HTML interface. I didn’t like the way it looked in the Compose interface, and I stupidly did the same thing again. I can clearly remember thinking “where was that error?” right before discovering the error again. However, this time I had no version to go back to because test post had never been published for more than a few minutes, and since it was currently a draft post the blogger interface helpfully over-wrote my test post, with all those years of HTML coding snippets saved just for this reason, so that I wouldn’t lose them, and it over-wrote that long, ugly mess with a fresh, new, blank post it had created when I hit ctrl-z.

Funny? It did once. Does again

If I had been thinking at the time I might have stopped everything and gone looking. I mean, I know there is an excellent article (from 2009) on recovering deleted posts over on The Original Blogger Tips and Tricks. I first ran across his five points for recovering deleted blog posts last year when the mobile Blogger app helpfully overwrote a published post I just happened to have created in the mobile interface before completing it later on the desktop. When I reopened the mobile version to do what I saw as some quick editing, it opened the stored version of the earlier post, and then wrote that clearly unfinished, earlier work over the published, significantly longer, one. Suggestion four from his list look for a cached version worked like a charm on that occasion, and I was able to just pretend the entire screaming-rage-fit had never happened.

It has views to prove it.

Suggestion number three, go back to a previous version in the same window might have been helpful [was not helpful] had I not [even though I didn’t] rage-quit the window in frustration [this time.] just before [There is no use] going to the blogger forums to complain about the fact that ctrl-z still deletes everything on screen in the edit interface[.] and being helpfully reminded of [T]he Tips and Tricks post by the first thread that mentioned ctrl-z. will not remedy the problem with [ctrl-z] deleted drafts[ and there isn’t anything that other users can say or do that will make me feel less stupid or bring the wasted hours of work back.]

This is an old, old interface error. I know it’s an old and common complaint, because there is a near-endless string of threads on the blogger forum that documents just how old and frustrating this error is. Just enter ctrl-z into the forum search window, and look at all the people who have the same problem, with no good resolution to be offered to them other than to be lectured to about backing up your data. [This is the only viable solution for accidentally deleting drafts aside from not editing drafts in the edit window within the blogger interface. This may seem counterintuitive, but, if you are editing anywhere else in the Google, Apple or Microsoft universe, drafts don’t just magically disappear when you try to undo. There is almost always a copy of your most recent work stored in memory somewhere. Until Google and/or Blogger institute a recycle bin or some other saving system that doesn’t overwrite your latest work upon leaving the interface, this error will have the catastrophic effect is has on unpublished drafts.]

[I think I’ve found out what is causing this problem, but again, the only way to correct it is to reprogram the drafts interface in such a way as to see drafts as not being completely transient temporary files. I have another long draft that I’ve been working on for about a decade now. I opened it to check if I had saved notes to incorporate in the draft, and seeing that I hadn’t; I created a new draft in another window, copied and pasted the notes and saved that new draft. Having not made any changes to the original draft article I deemed it unchanged and told blogger not to save changes. This is the action that gives the location of the error away. I had toggled over to the HTML editor! When I flipped back to Compose, blogger saw that as a completely new file, never in existence before I toggled back to Compose. When I told it not to save changes, it abandoned the file exactly as if I had never wrote and rewrote and compiled and rewrote and recompiled and etcetera, etcetera ad nauseum. New file discarded.

Silly me, I go back to the other drafts tab and close the new file I had created today. It doesn’t prompt me to save. It autosaved already. Data preserved. Hmm, that’s interesting. The search terms that turned up the other file now show the new file is the only one with those terms in it. Surely the interface didn’t…? Yep. It did. The blogger interface deleted ten years worth of angst in a microsecond because the file, as far as the interface was concerned, hadn’t existed until it recompiled the HTML into the WYSIWYG display file. This behavior would be what you would expect if the key combination CTRL-Z were pressed on a new file. There’s only one action to undo. Creation of the file. The WYSIWYG display file is promptly cleared with CTRL-Z when you return to the Compose screen because writing that file was the only action performed. Not allowing the new file to be saved before exiting the editing interface means that the file the interface just created, even though it was a ten year old file before you opened it, is abandoned today. File deleted. Programming error discovered. Will Google/Blogger ever fix it? I’m not screaming mad about it this time because having been burned before I had started making backups. The file is in the backup I made after editing it the last time. At least, I hope it was the last time. Fingers crossed?]

Yes, we understand. We are all but children in the eyes of the internet gods who never commit an error. We are so sorry to have to point this out but sometimes shit just happens. Sometimes you do something that you know is wrong at exactly the instant you do it, but you somehow still do it anyway. We children would really like known bugs to be fixed when they are brought to the attention of the for-profit programmers who work in the giant corporations that can’t help but run our flawed, childlike world. If you aren’t going to fix your errors, why the hell should the rest of us be any different? Why the hell are we relying on you when we could write code at least as well as you do, and do it in our own time? How many years does it take to fix an obvious flaw like ctrl-z blanks the edit window? I’m certain I could duplicate blogger’s interface in less than a decade, and I really don’t have to since I could install WordPress on my own website and learn about all the bugs that are in that interface, just for a nice change of pace.

At least if I’m paying WordPress I’m no longer the product being sold, but the customer being served. Food for thought.

It just happened again. FFS, Google!?! Blogger!?! Wake the fuck up and fix your shit! 10/27/2018 error discovered! Blogger is still broken! January, 2019. Migrated to Wordpress. Goodbye Blogger interface. 

Stuck in Mobile Interface Hell

Mobile apps are so kludgy. Why is it apparently impossible to make a mobile app that can produce content that can dance and sing like  desktop applications do? The Tumblr app will not let blog posts tap the power of the social web by drawing content from other websites and displaying it as it does on the desktop/browser interface.

At least I can access the code with the Tumblr app. The Blogger app cannot give me access to HTML code at all as far as I can tell. Don’t get me started on how the Facebook app can’t let go of content, even when you tell it twice to let go.

Yes, view in browser. No, I mean a real browser. No, I mean Chrome!

Why do I have to argue with Facebook programming on my own phone? The Blogger app can’t find my photos. Tumblr can’t multi-media code unless you can do it all from memory (I can’t) and the Facebook app? Zuckerberg isn’t getting the blogging part of my soul. He already has too much of the rest of it.

This is hell. I want my desktop back. Now please.

Jean-Luc Picard programming binary code from memory
into Data’s severed head in Time’s Arrow (Part 2).
I cannot program on this level, but I do know people who can.

Hey Google! Blogger Interface Needs a Patch!

For the last few weeks I’ve been getting spam comments from Blogger. Yes, that’s right. Blogger is spamming me with comments, if sources for the spam are to be believed. The problem is a little more involved than that.

Not only is the self-identified user Blogger spamming me, but the landing page for marking comments from blogger as spam still references the old blogger developers blog that hasn’t been updated since 2013!

Now, I understand. I rejected Google’s G+ comments interface. I post to G+ for blog promotional purposes (as limited as that is, I’ve seen the metrics) and I got tired of seeing my own posts listed as comments on the blog articles. It makes you feel lonely and pathetic when you are the only one posting comments to your blog. Yes, maybe that is because I am lonely and pathetic, but I don’t need reminders from my blog interface to realize this potential fact. So I moved back to the native blogger comments.

If they want me to use G+ as the only commenting form, perhaps they should fix the G+ interface to import old blogger comments properly; as in, not showing the obvious HTML code inline with the comment text. Give me the option of not showing my own posts to G+ as comments on articles. Something. Anything.

But please Google. Please. I’m begging here. Clean up the old Blogger interface? Make links go places that are still in use? Keep clearly proprietary user names reserved for Blogger and Google not to mention Alphabet, the new parent company and all the other companies that Google now Alphabet owns. At the very least, can you kill the spammers account? The fake Blogger? Please? 

Cable Wars

I haven’t mentioned this on the blog, but I’ve been watching The Walking Dead since 3rd season rolled around.  I dismissed the concept when it was bandied about before production started, because I didn’t think you could do a television series that could be kept interesting throughout its run based on the the general idea of a post-apocalyptic setting.

The Wife has worked on zombie films in the past. Our garage has been turned into an effects studio and art studio more than once when the demands for getting effects completed for the films she has worked on grew larger than could be completed on set; if the film even actually had an official set they were shooting on.

So when The Walking Dead was proposed as a TV series, it crossed the radar here at the house simply because of the subject matter. When the series failed to disappear as I predicted, I decided to give it a viewing just to see what it was about. I binged-watched the first two seasons on Netflix, paid for the few of the third season episodes I had missed on Amazon, and started watching the show live after that.

I’d say I love the show, but really I’m just there for the characters and for Greg Nicotero‘s excellent effects work. The storyline has been inconsistent over the seasons and really could do with some long-term plotting in advance of shooting, in my completely amatuer opinion.  If there is storyline plotting across seasons, it isn’t apparent in the progression of the story. However, it is one of the few things I do watch on television these days, my tastes ranging to the truly eclectic corners of rarely watched channels available on cable television.

I used to watch a lot of programming on BBCA, having a long-term love of a wide range of BBC programming including the recently relaunched series of Doctor Who and the even more recently canceled Top Gear. I was forced to give up BBCA last year because of costs increases phased in by my local cable provider.  That and the Science channel (which I wish had more actual science on it) and several other channels I watched more than the more normal fare available on basic cable were priced out of my reach in the latest price increases rolled out by US cable providers.

Rather perversely, most of the cost that I pay for my cable subscription goes to fund the incredible price tag placed on live broadcast of sporting events.  The last time I ever watched a sporting event of any kind on television was the first Superbowl that the Seattle Seahawks qualified for, because the Wife loved the Seahawks when fantasy football first appeared back in the 1980’s.  She never watched a game in her life before that Superbowl, and I had to explain the most basic facts about gameplay (4th and ten? What is that?) to her in order for us to get through the game. That was also the game that was stolen from the Seahawks with a bad call by an umpire, reminding me precisely why I hated sports in the first place; that arbitrary interference by non-players on the field can alter the outcomes of games in ways that are patently unfair. So that was the first and last game ever watched in this household, and the common joke that my TV is broken it won’t display sporting events has held sway ever since.

Consequently the news that my local provider may be removing AMC from the list of channels I can currently afford has gotten under my skin.  I remember when Paramount pulled Voyager from syndication and insisted that Austin had to create a broadcaster for UPN (and the local cable companies had to then carry that broadcaster) in order for fans of the show to be able to see it. That is the number one reason I stopped being a Star Trek fan, a change in my preferences that was solidified by the creation of the Abramanation.   I also remember when Time Warner threatened to stop carrying football games because of the costs that cable provider refused to underwrite for the NFL.

We are in the midst of yet anther cable war, with the various parties attempting to get more of the piece of the pie than they are currently getting, and I really don’t have time for any of them. I am unconcerned about the profits of the various corporations who want to prove to their shareholders that they have the clout to get what they want, so buy our stock. All I want is to be able to watch the programming that I am interested in, however that content is delivered.  KeepAMC or TV on my side (one of the worst programmed sites on the internet, hands down) a pox on both your houses.

I have been threatening to cut my cable and get all my entertainment directly from the internet for a couple of years now. If my cable company really was on my side as their website claims, I would be able to watch the shows I wanted to watch without having to pay extra for programming I don’t watch. The cost of providing me access to old and independent films and even well-produced television series runs about $8 for Netflix, why do I have to pay upwards of $100 dollars to my cable company for virtually the same menu of items? If AMC really wanted me to watch their programming, they’d make it available directly from their website and not force me to subscribe to a cable provider.

Those are the facts of the case, not the crap that they offer as excuses through their proxies. If AMC is priced out of my ability to pay for it as the rest of their network currently is, I will be cutting the cord like so many other Americans have done. I have no use whatsoever for continuing to pay for cable access that is limited to programming that I don’t watch anyway.  Paying too much for that already. 

Dr. Who Christmas Special. My First Amazon Review. A Twofer.

Image courtesy BBC
& Dalekdom on Deviantart
available on Amazon.com

Posted here on Amazon.

Let me set something straight. I love Doctor Who. I have watched every episode available from the First Hartnell to the latest Matt Smith. My cable system and PVR let me down and didn’t record this years Christmas Special, (wasn’t marked “new” apparently) so kudos to Amazon for having it available to purchase and stream (can I get a round figure on what it would cost to own all of the Doctor this way? Less than 5 figures, please) Doctor Who remains Doctor Who whether we’re talking about Hartnell’s Captain Kangaroo delivery, Pertwee’s 007 flamboyancy, Tom Baker’s charming teeth and curls, or Matt Smith doing a fair impression of Troughton’s second doctor. It’s all British, it’s all time traveling entertainment on a grand scale.

Watch this one, it’s good.

However, I write this post because, once again, I’m sent a message by Amazon asking me “how many stars I would give this show”. The same hook they use each time I purchase ANYTHING. From a song to a book to a movie that is 20 years old; to this film (which could probably benefit from a positive review) and each time I fall for the hook and wander over here, it’s demanded of me that I wax verbose on the subject of whatever it is. If I’ve purchased a single song, I cannot leave a review without writing an essay about it! That is simply ridiculous.

Please. Please, I’m begging here. Remove the requirement that essays be written for each and every product that you purchase, just so you can give an ‘attay boy’ to something that deserves it, without having to struggle with wit and punctuation, and heaven forbid CAPS LOCK. Let us just give a star rating, please? At least quit pretending in your e-mails that a star rating is all you want.

How Many Stars, Amazon? You Mean Write 150 Words.

Amazon sends me eMail asking me (again) how many stars I would give a streamed purchase I’ve made. However, when I click on the link, it doesn’t just want me to give the movie a number of stars, it wants me to wax loquacious about the merits of the film, and then summarize the entirety of my thoughts into a title for the post.

This time it was Dead Poets Society, a film that I could actually write quite a few words about, if it wasn’t 20 years old. The previous film was Blind Date, which I only purchased because a) it had Bruce Willis in the cast and b) we had never seen the film, with a possible c) we were drunk and shopping online. Considering the factors involved, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars, but what do you say review-wise about that?

Facebook status backdated to the blog.

Why Don’t You Try USING the Computer?

You call in for service, and the computer that answers the phone (annoying in itself. Uppity computers) demands that you identify yourself so that you can be routed to the right department (which, BTW, never gets you where you want to be) and several hours later, when the live person finally gets around to answering your call, they promptly ask you for the exact same information.

Woe be to he who complains about this, too. If you do complain, then you get booted to another department, where you sit in a queue waiting. And when they answer, they ask you for the same information, again.

Or “all calls are recorded for training and blah, blah, blah” but if I have a complaint, I have to submit the complaint in writing. Why not try listening to the recording? submitting a complaint through the $5000 solitaire machine sitting on the desktop in front of you?

Why not try using the computer that answers the calls? Routing information gathered to the person who ultimately handles the call? Actually using recorded customer calls to improve service instead of a blanket CYA device? A radical concept, I know.

Today’s Beef: So, What is a bad movie, Flixster?

I’ve been knocking around Flixster for a several months now, and I’ve noticed something that probably rates up there as today’s beef (and a few other todays as well…)

I’m running through a few quick rates, just trying to see how many films I have seen and still haven’t rated, how many films I want to see (but probably won’t have time for) and what kind of schlock might be listed that I should avoid seeing; and up comes this gem.

Now, I don’t want to pick too much on any one film, but I just gotta ask, what qualifies as a bad movie, Flixster? (after all, the slogan “Stop watching bad movies” appears after the Flixster logo on virtually every page) A routine search reveals that Rottentomatoes, IMDB and Metacritic all agree that Serving Sara is most likely a bad film. But the rating on Flixster is 3 stars, which equates to a generally positive watchable film. Even the (highly biased, negative) review on Flixster’s page paints a pretty grim picture of the film, and yet the people who have rated it seem loathe to give it the panning it seems to deserve.

[The generic unwillingness to truly pan bad films is only one beef I have with Flixster. Duplication, like this one, is another annoyance. I’m not interested in rating collections which are nothing more than boxed sets of movies I’ve already rated elsewhere. They should be roundfiled as duplicates]

The problem that I’m running into is that films that I can state unequivocally were garbage, based on a reasonably objective standard of measurement, do not get a low rating from others. Films that I hated, like Sin City or Four Brothers, for example. I guess they just aren’t bad enough.

However, with a little bit of perusing of the bottom 100 over at IMDB I stumbled across this little nugget of hell; Lawnmowerman 2, which I crowned the “king of the unnecessary sequels”. IMDB gives it 2 of 10 stars; rottentomatoes.com gives it 11% on the tomato meter. Flixster’s rating? 2 1/2 out of 5 stars. 50%!? Seriously Flixster, what’s the deal here?

Perhaps they should establish a bottom 100 list similar to the list at IMDB. Maybe that will encourage people to pan films that deserve to be ridiculed. Or perhaps the ratio of Interested to Not Interested should weight the overall star rating of a film (as an example that ratio on Lawnmower Man 2 is 297/3744; Serving Sarah ‘s ratio is 1083/5962) and reduce (or increase) a films rating based on who actually wants to see any particular film. Whatever the solution is, this problem needs to be addressed. Please guys, I’m begging you.

Today’s beef: Circumlocution

Direct and honest vs. roundabout and questionable.

I think I’m having one conversation, the person I’m talking to is apparently having a completely different one. There’s something disconcerting about that.

I’m at a loss for words on this subject, just because I can’t seem to wrap my head around the idea that what I’m saying to you isn’t what you are hearing.

I never have understood that, ergo today’s beef.