Tag Archives: Internet

What’s up with Afrigator?

I’ve just been taking a look at Afrigator to see what new entries there are. I’ve been through about five pages and while there is some variation, there is also a huge amount of repetition, with the same entries appearing over and over again. Either Afrigator is having a problem or some bloggers have figured out a way to get their entries reported numerous times.

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 (127.0.0.1) 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;

127.0.0.1 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.

A new internet

Many years ago I worked for a small software development company. Let’s call them InfoStuff, which is not their real name. We were bought by a larger group and the responsibility to construct a group WAN fell on myself and a colleague. We were programmers who had to program during the day and learn all about networking in the evening. Somehow we managed to set up a countrywide WAN and after a while it seemed logical to start a small Internet service provider. It was targeted at businesses using leased lines but a small number of dial-up accounts were available for certain staff members and naturally I had one of these.

The ISP side of InfoStuff grew, acquired more staff, grew some more, and so on until the group sold the ISP business along with the InfoStuff brand name. Being a part of the development business, my colleague and I stayed with the group. The group continued to use the newly sold business as our ISP and I still had my free dial-up account, as did one or two other of our staff members. Some years passed and our group moved to a new ISP, but still my free dial-up account kept working. I kept expecting it to be cut off or to start being billed for it but I never was. More time passed and the availability of the service gradually fell off. It seemed that the number I dialled into at the local POP was not one of their standard dial-up numbers, having a different login ID format. Sometimes their dial-up server would hang and not be reset for days. I obviously couldn’t complain and didn’t really mind as I had the number of another POP 1500km away and as I only am on a telephone scheme that limits after hours call costs to a fixed maximum, it cost me the same to phone this POP. A few months ago the local POP stopped answering at all and I started calling the distant one exclusively. Then on Friday evening I was connected and the line dropped. When I tried to reconnect all I got was Line busy. The dial-up server was hanging. By Sunday morning I was suffering from Internet withdrawal and as I needed to do some online banking I came in to the office to get on the net. At the same time I started looking for another ISP.

I asked for recommendations on the mailing list of my local LUG (Linux User Group) as I wanted to avoid M-WEB, South Africa’s largest ISP, who are notoriously Windows-centric. I got several suggestions and also looked at Polka, who have advertised quite a bit on TV, and Webstorm who came up in a Google text ad when I searched. One of the LUG members suggested his company, Frogfoot, a smaller one running all Linux equipment. Although they were a little more expensive than the others the idea of supporting them appealed to me. Sadly their web site did not have an online sign up and there was no answer on their 0860 number. I was not keen on Polka as they are just another face of the M-WEB Borg so I looked at Webstorm, who happened to also be the cheapest at R69 per month. I started their online sign-up procedure and gave them all my name and address details. This page was not secure but I wasn’t too worried until I got to the next page where I was to enter my banking details. This page was also not secure and there was no way I was going to send my banking details unsecured so I gave up on them. Lastly I had a look at Webmail ISP, suggested by another LUG member. They were a few rand more at R79 per month but offer more, giving 4 mail boxes instead of the single mail box and aliases offered by others. I signed up with them and was able to connect when I got home. I was connected until late last night and the speed seemed to be a little slower than I used to get with InfoStuff but that might have been just the connection I had then as dial-up speeds are always quite variable from connection to connection.

Are Web Site Designers Just Stupid?

I am so sick of coming across web sites that all display the same stupid, yet easy to correct navigational error.  I’ve seen it happen on sites varying from large corporations, right down to simple sites run by one or two people.

The error I’m talking about is where you are browsing through pages of information, scroll down the page, reach the bottom and go to do the obvious next action, move to the next page.  Except that you can’t, because there are no navigational links visible on the screen.  There is a set of navigational links letting you move to the next or previous page, or to a specific page, but these are at the top of the page.  So you need to scroll back to the top, just so you can move to the next page.  Is it irrational that this drives me nuts?

Come on people, put navigational links at the bottom too.