Category: Internet

  • Background image not appearing on mobile devices

    Spent some time trying to figure out why the background image on my site’s home page was not being displayed on mobile devices although it was appearing in a desktop browser. There are, of course, endless solutions that may or may not have worked for someone in the past. They suggested tweaking your CSS coding or adjusting the size of the image or some other voodoo. None of these worked for me.

    What worked for me was simply ensuring that the image’s colour profile was set to sRGB. Once that was changed everything worked as expected.

  • Artificial nonsense

    As if navigating the nonsense produced by the erroneously named Artificial Intelligence, which spews out all manner of silliness and even scarier stuff, was not tricky enough we should not neglect the human generated nonsense.

    On a recent visit to HMS Victory a guide informed Martine that after evacuating their bowels sailors would pull up a rope that was being towed in the water on the end of which was attached a rag with which they could clean their rear ends. The rag would then be draped back into the sea to be cleaned as it was towed along – hence the term Tow Rag. It makes for a good story but is utter nonsense. And yet…. it has now become a thing. An actual thing. There are even videos with actual tow rags

    a man on board a ship pulling a tow rag on a rope from the water.

    If such a thing was used at all why would they call it a tow rag? Would they not have a more colourful name for it?

    The OED has no Tow Rag and Chambers suggests you may have meant Toe Rag – which of course you did because that is an actual thing – hence the popular view of Boris Johnson

  • Who said that?

    A while ago I started following a blog after they posted some interesting music stuff but it transpired that the guy was one of those strange American conservative types who bemoan the intolerance of other people whilst displaying an equal degree of intolerance to anyone who may hold a differing view to his – which is probably most normal people. I continue to follow it somewhat fascinated.

    To support his belief system he will often share some quote that someone else has cut and pasted across the Internet. More often than not these are fictions created on a whim and then attached to a famous name to give it some credibility or are an actual quote misattributed. So we may have a quote claiming to be from Solzhenitsyn that he did not actually write or say and probably never thought about either but it roughly aligns with what the blogger thinks so he cuts and pastes it anyway.

    As is usually the case with such cherry picking the quotes are provided with neither a source nor any context. But in these information rich times one can spend a pleasant few minutes with a mug of coffee debunking the nonsense.

    Today we had a quote by the Canadian born author Saul Bellow:

    which was an interesting one. It is widely attributed to Bellow across the Interweb and Bellow does indeed use these words in a novel about a Jewish homosexual about to die from AIDS (a traditional right wing conservative theme) – Ravelstein but he is quoting:

    The rule for the dead is that they should be forgotten. After burial there is a universal gradual progress toward oblivion. But with Ravelstein this didn’t altogether work. He claimed and filled a more conspicuous space in Rosamund’s life as well as mine. She remembered a text from her schooldays that went “Associate with the noblest people you can find; read the best books; live with the mighty; but learn to be happy alone.”

    To Ravelstein this would have been the usual high-minded high-school kabibble.

    Ravelstein – Saul Bellow – Viking Press – April 2000

    The actual quote comes from the Scottish born philosopher Thomas Davidson. It can be found in a letter to his students collected in the book The education of the wage-earners; a contribution toward the solution of the educational problem of democracy. (Boston, Ginn 1904). It is number five in a list of twenty aphorisms.

    Thomas Davidson the philosopher should not be confused with another Thomas Davidson such as the painter, or the poet or the palaeontologist as one academic writer does:

    The “Rely upon your own energies, and so do not wait for, or depend on other people.” part is from the first aphorism with an erroneous “so”. Cut and paste. Cut and paste.

  • The Vanquis App Disaster

    It is not clear what has happened with the Vanquis app and they are certainly not going to admit to anything untoward. I have an image of a disgruntled employee handing in their notice and hitting the delete button on the way out. Whatever it is it is amusing to sit back and watch; but I have a zero balance – it will be considerably less amusing and more frustrating for users who actually need to use the app to make payments etc.

    The average banking type app gets four or five reviews a day. The Vanquis app gets around fifty five star reviews every day. These are clearly fake reviews and are there to drown out the one star reviews from frustrated users. Several of the one star actual users have commented on the fake reviews and ask that they be reported to Apple. I have done so but what Apple could or would do remains to be seen. Who would not take time out of their day to say something was “Easy to use”?

    Fake five star reviews of the Vanquis app

    Well Mr Christopher Johnson (or the less than BrillentAJ) for one and anyone else who was not be paid to do so. Of course there will be the inevitable glitch and user 260446 failed to read the instructions and gave their “Easy to use” review a one star rating.

    Mostly real one star reviews of the Vanquis app.

    Although the app (and web site) was broken before the recent update to iOS 16 many users noticed it after updating and so attributed the malfunctioning to the iOS update but there is a wave of frustrated users on Android devices too which suggests the problem is systemic at the Vanquis end rather than on individual devices.

    Android reviews of the Vanquis app

    But, let us whisper it, the Internet was not designed to do any of this stuff and so you have layers of complexity added to it to give the illusion of usability and security when a peak behind the curtain reveals the whole thing is cobbled together with bits of string and blu-tack and can start to fall apart at any moment. That message from your bank about their online services not being available overnight due to important maintenance should say “we have found yet another hole large enough to drive a bus through and are frantically trying to patch it before anyone notices”.

    At least it is not as bad as all the crypto/web 3 nonsense. Even Safe Hands Sunak could not resist joining the imbecilic gold rush.

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