Category Archives: Technology

Verizon FiOS Fail

Verizon, what are you thinking?

Like so much involving modern technological communications, Verizon just couldn’t leave well-enough alone.

They’ve redesigned the “On Demand” section of their TV service.

Before it was a rudimentary, simple but intuitive effort. It had a few quirks, the nonpremium movie listings, e.g. FXM, IFC, could be inconsistent depending on what menu tree you were following was my biggest bugaboo.

But now it’s been “rebooted” as the kids say. No doubt it has been designed for the mobile/smartphone user rather than home theater/big HD screen user.

So now when you go in you run into a bunch of icons (not text). Once you figure out what the icons are you can try to navigate to find things. Some trees are semi-intuitive, others are a mish-mash of text and icon program and movie covers (which must be impossible to interpret on a phone screen).

The worst thing I’ve found, so far, is that the nonpremium movie listings don’t seem to exist any useful form anymore. The old, reliable text-based “Network” branch of the tree doesn’t seem to exist any longer. A simple “Free” tab is a shadow of the old one. Even worse it appears as a two-horizontal column offering that you scroll along trying to figure out what the little icons are. Attempting to get info on them is a dicey prospect and if you aren’t careful you could find yourself backing too far away and having to start the lengthy two-column trail all over again.

I know that between all the various networks that used to list their movies — TNT, FXM, IFC, TBS, etc., there are more than the 80 that are listed now.

I see much of this tail wagging the dog design these days as so many websites try to chase the smartphone user. Who uses their phone for their TV viewing? Other than desperation at an airport or trying to sneak something in when you are away from home or attention deficit disorder kids who can’t spend two minutes without looking at their phone? It’s a tiny screen, defeating the purpose of HDTV and our giant modern screens that a fiber-optic/high bandwidth system like FiOS is designed for. Now the loyal viewers find themselves kicked to the curb.

I say all this as a big fan of the Verizon FiOS service. I’ve recommended it to numerous people but this is a negative.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things #53745

Check this out – FCC’s Wheeler Proposing Set-Top Standards Enforcer.

Yes, the chairman of the Federal Communications Communications, the the increasingly ambitious and increasingly dictatorial federal government overseer of all things communication, wants to set up a whole bureaucratic authority to oversee set-top boxes, i.e. your cable box (and don’t be surprised when they decide to include your Roku or Sling Box).

WTF?

Despite somehow inventing and delivering perfectly functional cable boxes for decades, this overweening federal agency is edging towards a decision that somehow the cable box industry can’t work without the federali’s guidance.

The real gist of this is that the bureaucrats behind this want to control the content that goes through that box.

They may bray about “access,” as if it’s okay for people who don’t want to pay for the box have “rights’ to a box, but they are moving towards making the box just another “free” (subsidized and paid for by other people) “right” like an Obamaphone. Maybe it will be called a “Hillarybox.”

And the Hillarybox will have to distribute, under penalty of law, propaganda from liberal groups, free of charge because those groups (euphemistically called ‘stakeholders’) don’t want to pay to have their propaganda carried and many outlets don’t want to voluntarily  carry that propaganda.

Laugh all you want at my paranoia, this will happen if the feds get control of cable boxes.

There simply is no Constitutional reason for the federal government to have any say whatsoever in the hardware used in our private cable systems.

As I’ve said before, given their way, liberals will politicize everything, every minute of our life and every thing we do in life. They see Orwell’s “1984” not as a warning but as a manual and as a goal.

Free the Capacitors!

This story is related to the Starz story below.

Again, like Starz, it might seem inconsequential to your life.

But it’s not.

I know a little bit about these “capacitors” whose price was supposedly rigged. This is a ridiculous charge. It might be true but who cares? These electrical components cost pennies! They contribute a tiny fraction to the price of consumer electronics.

These aren’t specialized military or aerospace components which might cost a lot. These are off-the-shelf technology. These electrical components cost pennies! They contribute a tiny fraction to the price of consumer electronics.

Isn’t the usual complaint not that electronics are expensive but that they are ridiculously cheap? Part of that reason is the dirt-cheap electronic subassemblies made up of bargain basement parts like capacitors. Nobody’s being ripped off or forced to buy overpriced parts. These capacitors can be bought by the truckloads and there’s no shortage of makers. They are not anywhere close to being the most expensive part in any electronic device.

The companies pleaded guilty to save themselves the legal costs of fighting this (much like most of us will ‘plead guilty’ to a simple speeding or parking ticket to save ourselves the trouble of paying a lawyer or taking off from work to fight the ticket.

The charges were pursued by the Dept. of Justice’s San Francisco office so you can bet that some Silicon Valley companies pushed DOJ on this. Dig down and you might find those companies are going to cut a deal with the capacitor manufacturers to cut a fraction of a penny off the next load of capacitors.Oh, and guaranteed they contribute to the Democrat party.

Whatever, this is a waste of taxpayer dollars, a sign that government is way too big, micromanaging too many things it has no business overseeing and that the DOJ has too much time on its hands and too many people.

Obama to the Set Top Box Rescue!

Riding in on his unicorn comes our glorious president, The One, to make sure that those evil cable companies… uh… are suitably understood to be evil (they make a profit!!!!!)… and, um… have to be taught a lesson… so something good here about your set top box. Maybe it can be free or subsidized or it can be made to provide every programming channel in the known universe for no extra cost! Something magical and free about the set top box is coming to you or someone, in the classic Obama fashion. They’ll figure out the details later — after some poll-testing.

Yes, Pres. Obama has once more inserted himself into an issue that should rightly be none of Washington’s concern. The attempt to regulate or control every flippin’ moment and activity of our lives continues unabated.

Our cable systems should be none of the FCC’s business. They do not take up public airwaves. They are privately funded and are private space. They are enabled by localities — cities, counties and state. That is where such proposals and debates need to take place — not between FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s ears and then become yet another cycle of bread and circuses for Obama to present to the peasant masses to win their votes and distract them from more important things.

It should also be noted that making the cable companies provide the option of using other companies’ set top boxes is like requiring GM to offer Ford engines as options for its cars and vice-versa.

Cable services are not a right, they are a voluntary service. How companies configure them is up to the company and its approach to the market. Consumers vote with their pocketbooks

I happen to like the idea of multiple box options but I see no mandating reason to make it a law or a regulation. I, honestly, don’t think Obama and Wheeler (and liberals in general — along with more than a few Republicans) understand that difference. Just because something might be good doesn’t mean it has to be required or governed by Washington.

It should also be noted that Google is for this mandate because they see a way to get their nose further into the tent and weaken their competitors, the big cable companies.

Here are two stories on the topic: “President Obama Backs Wheeler’s Set-Top Proposal, Big Time” and “D.C. Weighs In on President’s Set-Top Support.”

Technostupidity

Why is it seemingly any pop-technology website inevitably becomes liberal? Is this a corollary of O’Sullivan’s Law — any organization/group that isn’t actively conservative will became liberal over time? Is it because they are media-oriented and seem to only hire (mostly young) liberals?

Whatever, Mashable has essentially become unreadable over the last year with an explosion in hard left and anti-conservative politics creeping in (Obama can never do any wrong); open promotion of homosexuality and any other “ality” that isn’t heterosexuality; an obsession with freakish things and people who seem to be nearing derangement; promotion of the liberal social or economic cause or celebrity intellectual du jour; increasing focus on flaky entertainment; and, as all of these do, a complete swallowing of global warming and magical green energy stories.

Engadget looks more and more like Mashable but a year behind.

The Verge is suffering from a case of Voxization by its owner, Vox. It gets dumber by the day. It is now reminiscent of a once cute girl who now wears librarian glasses so that people will take her seriously.

Even plain vanilla Tech Crunch seems to be following the path of least resistance. Lately “LGBTQ” stories have started popping up on the site.

Gizmodo can’t stay away from bashing Trump and it often promotes the liberal enviro scare of the week. The latest liberal social crusade will make a regular appearance when it needs promoting.

Oh, yeah, “Diversity” is the buzzword of the century for all of them. And all are so painfully politically correct I’m stunned that they still use black as their default font color.

Pretty much every writer on these sites has no problem expressing their opinion with the confidence of a recent college graduate and few seem to be aware that there might be a disagreeing opinion out there. Almost every one of them doesn’t seem to be aware that there was history before the year 2000, other than some vague dark ages where white males feasted upon women and minorities (except Bill Clinton, who did none of that).

Pillory Hillary

Remember way back when, in the 1992 campaign, Pres. George H.W. Bush was mocked when he was (allegedly) stumped by a supermarket price scanner? He was portrayed as out of touch with ordinary people; a scion of the insulated, pampered Washington life. Such a man was clearly unfit for office! Here’s the famous N.Y. Times story to remind you.

Reporter Andrew Rosenthal (a truer hack there never was) wrote: “This career politician, who has lived the cloistered life of a top Washington bureaucrat for decades, is having trouble presenting himself to the electorate as a man in touch with middle-class life. Today, for instance, he emerged from 11 years in Washington’s choicest executive mansions to confront the modern supermarket.” Rosenthal had his clueless puppet “shake his head in wonder,” at the amazing gizmos he saw at a World’s Fair convention of grocery store technology. It’s amazing that Rosenthal didn’t have Bush in a straw boater, chortling, “Gosh, Jeeves, what a wonder!”

Despite the fact that Rosenthal fabricated much of the story (he wasn’t there though he writes as if he was, gathered the material from the pool report and got several important details wrong and made up several others, etc.), I’m not here to rip him (as much as he deserves it) but rather here to ask, where’s the same reporting on Hillary Clinton?

We’ve learned from her released emails (which she tried to hide and then delete) that Mrs. Clinton, far more insulated from everyday than Mr. Bush was, has no idea how any modern technology works. She seems to have sent large numbers of emails asking her aides how her various communications widgets worked, how they plugged-in, what channel “Homeland” was on, etc. In fact, as part of her defense, she has pleaded ignorance of modern technology and said she needed her home-brew email system because she couldn’t handle more than one communications device at one time. That doesn’t even make sense.

So NYT, is such a technologically out-of-touch person fit for office in a tech-happy world?

I’m pretty sure I know what their answer would be if it was even possible for them to entertain the question.

Suicide of the Web

Recently the leftie rag/website The Guardian asked a good question: Is Internet advertising technology ruining the Internet experience?

The answer to that is yes.

I’m all for free market and capitalism, whereas The Guardian isn’t, but there are limits to commercialism, or rather where it becomes counterproductive. Internet advertising at many sites has blown through that boundary.

I visit a number of conservative blog and websites. Several of them are shocking computer resource hogs. Sometimes I wonder, does anyone involved with those sites actually look at them or visit them from the outside (without their souped-up IT computer)?

I have an older Windows XP laptop that’s done me great service for years and a newer desktop machine (64-bit Windows 7 and 8 GB of RAM). I’ve taken to visiting many of these sites with Task Manager open – just to watch the “memory” numbers skyrocket – and then shut Flash down since it is the chief resource hog.

I’ll stick to generalizations mostly but I will note that the worst offenders, as a group, are the Townhall sites. They’ll grind the laptop to a halt in a minute. I also have to be wary of The Examiner, Washington Times, Pajama Media, Breitbart and Real Clear Politics. There are others that I visit that are better on some days than others, such as Power Line and National Review or visit less occasionally.

Pay attention webmasters!

It looks silly to have five (I’ve seen as many as seven) Flash windows open on a site and, often, all of them playing the same Annaliese Dayes, the egg lady, Food Planet, etc. videos, scenes from Uppercut or a Stylebrity fashion show video or whatever nom de video they’re running under that week.

Lately several sites have been running a syndicate of web videos that change their name about every two weeks but are the same celebrity programming/gossip and travel trash that isn’t particularly relevant to the conservative audience.

Annoyingly, shutting down those video windows, by clicking the shutdown X, sends you to that website. I know you think you tricked me but all you’ve really done is annoy me and deceived your client. I’ll have the pop-up window or tab shutdown in less than three seconds. Does that register a click? Is your client going to pay you for that nonimpression impression?

Here’s an idea. Since you stick cookies into my computer, don’t have me watch the same video more than say, three million times? You can keep count, I know you can.

Oh, and when I stop a video: Don’t then run an ad and then restart the video; don’t restart the video/ad when I scroll away or go to another tab. Simply don’t restart the video! What’s the point of running a video/ad that I’m not watching? To merely consume bandwidth or are you just jacking up “views” that aren’t actually views? Naughty-naughty.

Tip to you web designers out there — never have more than three Flash windows operating on a page. Not everyone has a bleeding edge, 8 GB RAM machine. Five is too many and seven is insane. Three is actually too many but there are compromises.

Then there are times of mysterious resource consumption. Hot Air is a repeat offender here. I have had every video window shut down – and I mean killed, not paused, yet I still can watch Flash in Task Manager spin upward past 500 MB in less than 30 seconds and over 1 GB if I walk away to get something to drink. I don’t see what’s running or using those resources.

Somebody at Hot Air needs to take a serious look at their website ad policy and stop worrying about their commissions.

Note that Liverail, AdapTV, Doubleclick, AdChoices, moatads, Scorecard Research, ping.chartbeat, any of the google.dots and amazon.dots, et al, are the spawn of Satan. These little ad purveyors, unsolicited content installers and verification monitors are in a desperate war with each other to fill slots and check that things are where they are or are not. It’s often a game of digital musical chairs – heavily-laden poorly-written code modules conflict with each other, possible purposely-written sabotage algorithms and the constant presence of constipated servers combine so that we are treated to Three Stooges-style doorway obstructions watching something hang on loading and everything else, including the content that you wanted, piling up behind it, all battling each other for a place on the page (or redirecting you to somewhere else).

Does anyone really click on a Photoshopped picture of an alligator swallowing a koala declaring that “One weird trick” can make you cancer-free and cut your car insurance by 90%? Somebody must because these companies stay in business. My God, people are dumb. (They can’t all be Democrats!)

Newsmax. Don’t even get me started on the Newsmax boxes appearing on sites – often 100% medical and financial snake oil. What happened?

Taboola and other “Sponsored Links” crapola are an annoyance but don’t seem to be resource-intensive. I’m surprised that conservative purveyors of their sites stomach the low-info voter content they peddle (picture of Kim Kardashian and text saying ‘Eight beauties with IQs over 200!’) but it’s likely that’s part of the blog package. I just saw one on Power Line with a black & white picture, clearly from the 1960s of a bikinied cutie on a bike. The tag – “WWII Photos From The Front Line.” The other three pictures in this “Popular Articles and Offers” all featured chesty women in exposing tops and were entitled: “Finding a bikini top that fits them properly is a chore for these 32 girls;” “These 28 photos of women bending seductively are straight-up attention-getters;” and “These Girls Wish These Embarrassing Photos Never Saw The Light Of Day.” This was at Power Line, I remind you. (BTW, I have nothing against these gals but at Power Line?)

Pop-ups (and the rarer pop-unders) — another of the Dark One’s devices. These are inevitably peddling crap services when not hawking malware. Lately I’ve seen the appearance of pop-throughs.

Another annoying ad tactic is ads that explode when you accidentally get near them – kind of like the alien. Sometimes they appear in the middle of the text and sometimes they hang around the edge and if your mouse gets too close they spring forth – obscuring what you were looking at or, if descending from a banner ad, push everything downward. It then snaps back when the ad is done and you are forced to search for where you were in the article.

Then there are ads at ad-heavy sites that go to war with each other. I got a good chuckle the other day when a site’s craptastic pop-up POS ad (Upgrade to eFax!) kept smothering it’s autolaunch freight rail ads in side boxes. Yeah, nobody at home at this very high-profile website. Unfortunately, ad wars on websites are rarely that good (like Iran-Iraq war good) and usually more troublesome, when not actually making the site impossible to navigate – if not actually continually crashing it.

Highlighted words – I’ve never understood this technique. I understand the (relatively sound) theory but the practice is reliably incompetent (if not completely idiotic). You see the phrase “river bank” with “bank” highlighted and if you hover over it (foolishly thinking it might be an infolink leading to another article about the river) a little popup shows up pitching a “5.8% mortgage rate from Columbia BANK” or something about a checking account, car loan or a credit card. Again, do any of the people involved with these websites actually look at their website? Does anyone peddling the link service look at how it performs? Does any client paying for this service look at its implementation? It’s a rip-off!

Some sites accidentally or on-purpose won’t let you leave them easily. Hot Air is a notorious jailer, often crashing Pale Moon (which I use in defiance to Mozilla/Firefox and IE) if I merely click on another link so I use the open-as-tab or new tab options to navigate away from the site. I’m not sure if it’s accidental or purpose-built sabotage code. Whatever, it builds anger.

As noted above, I keep Task Manager open and often purposely shut down the Flash player. That usually works and rarely does it affect the content you are there to see – unless it’s an awesome Remy or Andrew Klavan video.

I have to note that marketing minions aren’t stupid and will occasionally package a bomb in their Flash package that crashes your browser if you shut down Flash. I’ve had this happen mostly at Real Clear Politics but it has happened elsewhere. The craven marketers will do anything to pump their numbers up and they really don’t care about shoving at you a video that you won’t watch and then counting that when they bill the client. It’s the negative side of a great system called “programmatic” advertising.

Modern ad technology is supposed to be smart yet the programmatic buyers are being duped. Just because a site is political doesn’t mean that running PSAs for gays (I thought it was a spoof ad the first time or two I saw it) or campaign ads for a Minnesota libtard on a conservative website are a good idea.

So much of web advertising is designed into trying to trick you into watching or clicking on something. Why? Seriously, take a sober look at your ad policy. If the product or service is of interest we shouldn’t have to be tricked into clicking on it.

Stop making your sites actually painful to visit.