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Site b0rkage

For some reason my blog has been having trouble loading for the last day or so. I raised a support incident with SiteGround (my website host) who replied that it was probably a networking issue from where I was in sunny old England (ignoring the fact that peeps from America and Russia were unable to view it either).

A bit of investigation narrowed it down to it being a problem with the mySQL database for WordPress. It seemed to be just that database since I have a couple of others (MPQArchive and Gallery 2) and they were working fine. I tried to get at it via various routes (cPanel and phpMyAdmin) but no luck, they all kept timing out (web based access is such a crap idea, I’d like to use the mySQL command prompt to connect to it remotely and manage it that way).

But anyway, I decided the best thing to do would be back it up, nuke it, recreate it and then re-import the data. Obviously I couldn’t do that and my existing backup was a month out of date, so I emailed the support desk again to ask them to back it up for me (I was polite and everything) and they oh so helpfully pointed me to this page:

SiteGroundBackup

$20 to back up a fecking database?!?! As it turns out I went and tried the site again and it miraculously came back up… I’m still none the wiser as to what caused the problem and what fixed it but I’m definitely going to look into running a regular cron job to automagically back up and email me the various databases since SiteGround were pretty useless.

I suppose that’s the reason the hosting is so cheap, for anything other than routine problems they’ll charge you for it. Which really, is no different from having to ring premium rate phone numbers for tech support. Sigh! (You don’t get something for nothing).

Defcon doh!

Seems like the Defcon demo on Steam (the new game from Introversion) suffers from the same weird problem I had with Darwinia in that it just randomly crashes and reboots my machine. It’s kind of annoying since I’m not able to get through the tutorial and it looks like a really cool game. Seems to be a graphics driver issue that at the moment I don’t have the time to look into.

On the plus side though, I wouldn’t be buying the full game so I’ve saved myself $20!

Fun at adobe.com

After getting past the password / login fun just to download Fireworks I was slightly concerned by this highlighted link…

AdobeFireworksDownload1

Why would I have problems downloading? I ignore it and click Download. Getright picks it up and… it doesn’t download. Can’t even connect to get a file size. Great. So that’s why they have help there. Lets click that Download Help link.

AdobeFireworksDownload2

Huh! What? Why can’t I use a download manager? What possible reason could they have for not letting me? Gaaah… you know it amazes me how some companies stay in business.

Things that annoy me – #532

Websites that make me sign up just to download trial versions of their software, that annoys me. Unless their software is amazingly fantastic they’ve already done a good job of putting me off. At most I’ll give out my name and email address, but when they start asking for my address, shoe size and how I like my eggs (fried, sunny side up) I have to ask, why? I just want to try your software, I don’t need the Spanish Inquisition… and no I didn’t expect it.

I downloaded two apps last weekend, Macromedia Fireworks and Ulead VideoStudio, and both wanted my blood… erm.. sorry full contact details. I’ll pass thanks. Of course, there are ways and means of avoiding this, and this is where bugmenot.com comes to the rescue. A quick look up on there got me round that hurdle.

As it turns out, Fireworks is a really nice app, where as VideoStudio is not so nice. But that’s another story.

Things that annoy me – #24

Warnings like this annoy me (from here):

AnnoyIEWarning

I don’t much appreciate being told something in a condescending manner that is mostly untrue. Plus it puts me off visiting the site in question since they’re the one being a pompous twat. I somehow doubt how that’s going to change the 85% market share Internet Explorer has in Firefox’s favour.

So how did I come across this nugget of useless information? Well for the majority of my browsing I do use Firefox, but I also use FeedDemon for browsing blogs. And occasionally I go from the RSS feed to the site, which is where IE comes in, since FeedDemon uses it as it’s internal browser (you can change to a Mozilla plugin but it’s pants) and that’s when I saw this little annoyance.

Instead of calling your readers a bunch of c*nts for using IE, why not put a small link, graphic or section describing the virtues of Firefox over IE? Good idea, no?

Ahhh… much better… urge to kill fading…

Urgetokillfading

Complete tangent: Simpsons Shinning episode versus The Shining film. Excellent stuff!

The joys of Firefox

I fired up my laptop this morning and went to run Firefox as usual, but something wasn’t quite right. The setup dialog box for Tabbrowser Extensions popped up asking me to pick my settings. Odd I thought, so told it import my settings from a backup. Then clicked OK, nothing happening. So I picked one of the default settings, click OK. Nothing again. I hit Escape and Firefox appeared.

Of course the Tabbrowser Extensions hadn’t loaded at all so Firefox looked a mess. So off I went in search of some answers… but then found out I had no search engines listed in the little search drop down top right. Very strange. So I searched the old fashioned way by actually going to Google by typing in the address and everything. My effort was wasted, nothing useful came back. So I uninstalled Firefox and rebooted. No difference.

So I thought this was an ideal chance to try out Firefox 2 Beta 1. Hmmm. No. It looks very spiffy and everything but none of my extensions were compatible (other than Download Statusbar). Feck. Back to 1.5 then. Looks like when I uninstall it leaves bits behind. So how do you completely remove it? Like this apparently! Uninstalling it again and nuking the application data completely (C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\), and then reinstalling it did the trick.

As to what caused it, I’m not sure… but Kate was using it the night before ;)

I no longer leave feedback

And by that I mean on sites like eBay, Amazon etc. Why? Why the hell should I? It’s an odd internet phenomenon where everyone neeeeeeds positive feedback, gold stars and “A+++++ mega super seller, please have my babies” ratings. Well I for one, will no longer take part.

When I buy something from the local Dixons, WH Smith or wherever, as I’m walking out the door, I don’t get asked to rate my shopping experience, give them a number out of five and 120 character long appraisal. By virtue of the fact I bought something and didn’t complain should tell you all you need to know.

So what’s prompted it? Well, it’s me being a bit green if I’m honest. I bought a book from one of many, many resellers on Amazon. Amazon said it would take several weeks for them to deliver it and I needed it yesterday. My selected reseller said it would be delivered in a week and be about 10 quid cheaper (it’s now only 5 quid cheaper). Too good to be true you say?

Well I ordered it. It took nearly two weeks to arrive and was packaged in what looked like a bin bag and had travelled in from Hong Kong! Would you sent something that distance in a bin bag? I wouldn’t! It was bashed up a little and bend on one of the corners but acceptable. Given that the price was still expensive, I expected it in top condition, but I did need the book.

After a couple of days I got a request for feedback. Being in a ranty mood at the time due to exam / assignment pressure and caffeine abuse I gave a 2 out of 5 for rating and a slagging off for good measure. Shortly after I received an email in pigeon English from a Mr. Yin Lin Mak asking me if I remove my feedback, I would get half the cost of the book back. But only if I removed my feedback first.

And this is where I made my mistake, I did. And then began a fun game of “Oh, I’ll send you a check (*sic) but I’ll need to order a check book first. Ok, I have a check book, it’s been sent my media mail. What do you mean it’s not arrived? Please give me your bank details”. And that’s where the fun ended. I had no intention of giving them my details!

* They were pretending to be English, but in English it’s cheque, not check, which is the American term for it.

So I’ll make this clear DO NOT BUY FROM UKBOOKSTORE2 on Amazon.co.uk. He / she / it is more concerned about selling more books than customer satisfaction. And they’re not based in the UK. I mean obviously from an email address of ukbookstore2atyahoodotcom you’d expect them to be? Right? Pah.

The problem is once you’ve removed feedback on Amazon you can’t put it back and they obviously knew this. The amusing thing is I still keep getting emails asking for feedback. Now I’ll totally admit it was the greed of getting some cash back that got me, but I’m more annoyed that this is kind of tactic people stoop to in order to get an overall positive rating!

Well now I’m going to go by the old adage of “No news is good news”. If I didn’t leave feedback, then consider it a positive! I will comment no more and further to that, I don’t wanna talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

EA Downloader woes

Not me personally, but some chap over on the Ars Technica forums. He seems pretty pissed with it since it gave him some grief whilst trying to download and install his free copy of NFL Headcoach, whatever the hell that is. I think his reaction was a bit over the top given it’s just a game and he got it for nowt, but I’m being a bit of a hypocritic since I seem to remember that I went fairly ballistic over a certain task switcher…

Putting that aside though, there was an interesting point raised in the comments that surprised me given the audience Ars has (i.e. techies!), which was that a lot of people don’t like the idea of download only, medialess distribution. Personally, I think it’s excellent idea and one that I’ve pontificated about on numerous occasions. In particular – Steam.

Now I’ll admit that I didn’t start using Steam until a year or so after it launched and so avoided all the fun, which is where the problem child EA downloader currently appears to be. But I like the idea of not having any CD’s or DVD’s for games. I don’t like having boxes and crappy leaflet style manuals littering the place and it also eliminates that oh so fun game of “Hunt the CD” when I want to play something (damn you Battlefield!). When I’m using my computer it’s almost always on the net, so letting it do its internetty check is fine by me.

There are certain products that yes, I would like to have some physical media. Such as Windows, Microsoft Office, development languages, etc. Basically anything that cost over a few hundred quid to buy in the first place. But for everything else I’d much prefer to download it. Most companies make it a fairly painless experience to redownload software because after all, it is in their best interests.

Whilst that’s a slight digression from what was meant, it’s still relevant to Steam (and EA Downloader). I like approach of having an account linked to whatever I’ve bought. It keeps all my games up to date. It removes the need for shortcuts (yay evile things!). I can delete games I don’t want installed, but download them when I like, patched up and ready to go.

How can that not be a good thing? Am I being a bit naive? What do you think?

World Cup over for England!

If I was religious, I’d say thank god for that, but I’m not, so will retort with about bloody time! I can’t stand football, it’s an utterly pointless and boring sport that unfortunately in this country is treated like (religious reference again) the second coming of Christ. Perhaps now we’re out the coverage won’t be so rampant. Whilst I’m ranting, I think it’s disgusting the amount of grief Sven is getting, but unfortunately that’s the way it goes with our wonderful media. Kick a man when he’s down.

In other sporting news (not that you’d think so), as expected Schumacher got pole at Indianapolis. Alonso was well off the pace in 5th. Tomorrow’s race will be a damage limitation exercise for Renault. Barrichello put in a good lap for Honda to get 4th, whilst Button was back in 7th. Not terrible, but not very promising.

Opera 9

All it took was 5 minutes for me to switch back to Firefox (unfortunately).

I closed a tab by accident and went to right click in the tabbed area to undo it. There was no such option. Bugger. Ok, fine, I went and reloaded the page I was after.

Then I loaded up Google Calendar and got told it doesn’t support Opera officially, but I can still try it. So I did. I created a new event and it added it in twice. Not a problem, I deleted the extra one. That worked.

I needed to tweak the CSS in a website design, but first I thought I’ll view what’s already there. Oh.. err… I have no Web Developer toolbar. Sigh… back to land of the memory devouring web browser it is then. Still, it was nice while it lasted.

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