Tag Archives: Computing

Lost in the Kalahari

I’ve noticed before that the folk at Kalahari.net seem to have problems with their search engine. I was just trying to find a book to link to for another post and the first hit from an author search for David Allen returned this.

How they made that match I’d love to know. I have sometimes seen where a title search doesn’t find something but an author or artist search reveals that they do in fact have the very title their search couldn’t find. Perhaps they should consider looking into this.

Return of Snap Preview

Yesterday I blogged about a way to get rid of Snap previews by adding a line to your hosts file. I thought I would never see another but minutes ago I did. So why didn’t the hosts file fix work? Simply that it assumes all Snap previews are served from spa.snap.com but it seems they are not. The one I got this evening was served from bp0.blogger.com. I could just add another line mapping this address to localhost ( but I don’t know what I might break. Does Blogger serve up other content from this sub-domain? If not it is safe to add it to the hosts file, but if it is used, adding it poses the risk of messing up any Blogger pages I visit.

The Cure for Snap Previews

I don’t like Snap Previews.  Far too often I get them popping up because my mouse pointer just happened to hover over a link unintentionally.  Basically, if I want to see what’s behind a link, I’ll click on it.  Displaying previews, expecially when I don’t want them is really just stealing my bandwidth.

Fortunately John Watson has posted a more permanent cure than the temporary, cookie-based fix that Snap offer.  The solution is as simple as adding this line to your hosts file; spa.snap.com

You’ll find your hosts file in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts on Windows or in /etc/hosts on OS X and Linux.

South African business needs to wake up

I was idly looking around for product info on the web and had a look to see if I could find a web site for the Photo Connection chain. I couldn’t despite going to their sister brand Incredible Connection‘s site and from there to the parent company Connection Group‘s site. I couldn’t find any link to a Photo Connection site. Their group profile page doesn’t even mention that the brand exists; strange considering the length of time that the brand has been trading, at least one year, perhaps even two.

Noticing that they have a Customer Feedback page I tried to leave the following comment.

Just wondered why there does not appear to be an Internet presence for your Photo Connection brand. This seems strange to me considering the fact that photographers are so tightly hooked in to the Internet in this digital age. Almost all investigation and a lot of purchases are done on-line so if you don’t have a presence there you must surely be losing out.

but when I submitted the form I got this error

Microsoft VBScript runtime error ‘800a01ad’

ActiveX component can’t create object: ‘CDONTS.NewMail’

/feedback_complete.asp, line 98

Sadly this type of haphazard approach to the Internet as an interface to customers and potential customers is all too common amongst South African businesses. A great number of businesses have no Internet presence at all and when they do these are often outdated, broken or written to work with only certain web browsers.

Companies, I’m tired of…

  • being unable to easily find information on your products
  • being forced to contact you by phone
  • reading in an advertisement that I can visit your web site at an some e-mail address
  • being forced to use a certain web browser to view your site

It should not be easier for me to buy products on-line from foreign vendors than it is to do so locally. The Proudly South African campaign would have us use local businesses to stimulate our economy. This would be a wonderful idea if only local businesses made it easier to do so.

Computicket is spamming me

Since last night I have received multiple copies of an e-mail from Computicket to each of my e-mail accounts, suggesting that I should be wildly excited that the stage production of The Lion King is coming to South Africa, and that I should rush to book my tickets.  There are several annoying things about this.

  • I have no interest in this show.
  • It is being presented in a theatre roughly 1,800km from where I am.
  • I have never asked Computicket to include me in any mailing lists.
  • I am receiving the message through several e-mail accounts that I have never given to Computicket.
  • The e-mails display no indication of how I can unsubscribe from further notifications, something I understood to be a requirement under South African law.

If this show is as popular internationally as they suggest I see no need for this spam campaign.  I’m sure they could fill all the seats by sticking to conventional advertising methods.

I did not expect it to do that

I’ve been using Firefox as my browser of choice for ages but I still need to use Internet Explorer at work for testing the web sites we develop. The other day I installed IE7 for the first time and immediately hit a problem; it just would not run. It started up but while loading the home page it just crashed. Rebooting made no difference but a bit of googling revealed the cause. I use Google Desktop as my local indexing and searching solution and it seems that IE7 crashes if Google Desktop is set to index web history. Turning that off let IE7 get up and running.

Now what was it that I didn’t expect? As a long time Firefox user I’m quite used to the tabbed browser and will often do things like drag a URL from another program and drop it on the tab bar, but not on a tab, to open the URL in a new tab. IE7 has a cute little tab that functions as a new tab button and it seemed quite intuitive to me that to open a URL in a new tab you could drop it on this button. Unfortunately this did not seem to be an intuitive idea for the design team because it didn’t work, nor did dropping it on the tab bar’s background; with both of these actions opening the URL in the currently selected tab, precisely what I didn’t want. So here we have this shiny new browser but I still have to jump through hoops to do some things that have been around for a few years in other browsers; and people wonder why I prefer Firefox.

ZYB: backup for your mobile phone

ZYB is a web site that allows you to synchronise your mobile phone and store your contacts and calendar online. I found it via Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools and took a look. It is quick and painless to set up and should prove very handy if I ever lose my phone or it gets stolen, something that happens far too often in South Africa. It will also be useful when I get a new phone as it will allow me to transfer my contacts to the new phone. Besides this it also lets you share your calendar and contacts. Basic use is free and if you have your life on your phone and dread losing it, you may want to take a look.

Windows Live Writer

I installed Windows Live Writer today and am using it to make this post, as I did the previous one.  It seems quite nice so far, certainly better than writing in the browser.  I’m not a prolific blogger and don’t really have an understanding of trackbacks so I hope that I’m using that feature correctly.

One problem I have with it is is its overall blueness.  I really don’t like this trend that Microsoft has for releasing software that is all shades of blue, and clearly designed to fit in perfectly with the default Windows XP theme.  I don’t use that default theme so these applications just look strange on my system.  Thank goodness that blue does not clash with my black theme.  I can only sympathise with anyone using the olive green theme.

Quite An Analogy

Last night my son, who is doing Computer Studies at school, asked if I knew anything about SQL as they were starting to learn it. My reply was something along the lines of “Only enough to work with it every day.”

Apparently they will be using Microsoft Access to do this and when I mentioned this to a colleague, he commented that using Access to learn SQL was like using Frontpage to learn HTML, which made me chuckle.

A Sad Day

I have long resisted the trend of sending HTML formatted e-mail addresses, ensuring that although I must use Microsoft Outlook at work I have it set to send plain text messages, switching to HTML format only when there is a need to do so. Sadly I must now set my default format to HTML as my company has mandated a new standard for e-mail signatures, requiring that a signature be in a specific font and have certain sections bold, italic or in a particular colour. I realise that this is probably done more to tone down and standardise the signatures of others that may have used bright colours and strange fonts, rather than to pretty up plain text signatures like the one I used to use. Still it saddens me that presentation seems to be as important as the message an e-mail conveys.