Month: February 2012

More on capchas

First go and read the article.

In the past I’ve exposed a problem with the Blogger platform and using captchas with OpenID or WordPress credentials. The issue is that if one uses OpenID or WordPress credentials on blogger, even if you correctly type in the captcha, you cannot login with the foreign credentials.

And when I think about it, I have wasted a fair amount of time trying to get it to work on the blogger sites that enforce captchas. Fortunately there aren’t many sites that enforce a login of some sort. But there are some sites where I am FORCED to use my blogger credentials. It’s annoying.

And Blogger has shown no interest in fixing the problem. So once again, I invite you over to WordPress.

It’s Almost Spring Again

I realized today that we are three weeks out from the start of Spring here in the northern hemisphere.

I note the trees are budding out which means allergy season is coming!

But it hasn’t been a horrible winter here. We have gotten perhaps 5 inches of snow for the season thus far, though there is snow forecast for tomorrow. And temperatures have been mild. I’m saying that because of the outdoor temperatures and my gas bill. The gas bill for last year same time was $250, this year, $100. And temperatures have been 10 to 20 degrees higher daytime, and never fell into single digits during the night.

Now I’ve been here all my life and I don’t EVER remember a winter where we got so little snowfall and such high temperatures. And if you visit my flickr site an dig around you’ll see the flooding of a few years back. Never saw that happen either.

So it means that climate change, or global warming if you wish is probably real. And it also means that the weather here in the northeast is getting nicer, and if the flooding continues I will someday live on waterfront property.

Tech: So much for Udacity

I may have mentioned that I signed up for Udacity courses. It’s a site spearheaded by Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford professor involved with the autonomous vehicles in both the DARPA challenges.

I signed up for CS101 which is their intro Python class that will ostensibly give the skills to build a search engine. I know a bit of Python already and was really looking forward to this in order to expand my Python skills.

I also signed up for CS373 – Writing code for an autonomous car. That takes the Python even further.

But even though my logon works on Udacity, I cannot access any of the course content. I tried using Firefox 3.6.22, 3.6.27, and 10.0.2 with no success. IE8 also failed to load course content and so too Google Chrome 17.0.963.56m.

So maybe it was my computer itself, nope. Other flash and javascript based sites work just fine.

So I fired off an email to their support people. I told them that in IE8 it would not load. They shot back with this:

This is a common problem if you have any of the following running: adblock, flashblock, noscript, httpseverywhere. In order to view the site you must have these disabled.

Now note I had said IE8. They probably looked in their apache logs and found I’d tried to access with Firefox.

So I decided to try it from my cell, and the Safari based browser there cannot access the Udacity course content.

The last email I sent them was that I’l revisit Udacity in a few months once their javascript code straightened out.

I can’t fault them too much, if you hit the Udacity site you see they put the Beta tag right on the header. So I’ll check back in a couple of months to see if things have leveled off.

Geting ready to ditch Cox cable TV service

I signed up about 8 months ago for Fox Advanced TV service. It started at $60 a month which I could accept. But then it rose to $70 a month and I started the second thoughts.

So I received noticed the other day they’re offering net, Advanced TV and phone for $75 a month. So I gave them a call and asked a couple of questions.

The net service is their Net Essential which is 3mpbs. I’m on Premier because I use the bandwidth so it’s a no go there.

The other question I had was about how much the service would rise to after the 12 month period. It goes to $89 a month after tha fact.

So I asked the rep what if anything we could do to lower the cost of service. He came back with “Well, you can add the phone service for $9 a month.”

It was at this point that my tolerance was broken. I asked how to REDUCE the bill and he’s offering a way to INCREASE the bill. No thanks!

As part of the upsell he mentioned to me that prices on TV and net services are going up by $10 each next month. Ut si!

My parting words were “Is Cox really trying to push me to move over to Verizon?” and after 25 seconds of silence, I hung up.

This brings my rant. There really is no competition in the wired services arena. What we have in RI is call a duopoly, it’s either Cox or Verizon. And they do in fact collude to set prices.

So the upshot of this is the $900 a year I’m spending for cable tv service? It’s going to drop as follows:

I’m going to bring them back their cable box and tell them exactly WHY I am doing so and that I am encouraging everyone to do the same.

Then I will spend $99 for a Roku box, $95.88 for a year of Hulu Plus and $79 for an Amazon Prime account. So first year post Cox Avanced TV will be a cost of $273.88, or an average cost of $22.82 a month, for no bullshit, watch what we want, when we want and without the every six or so month price increases.

In the second year the total drops to $174.88 or $14.57 a month.

In either case, it represents a saving of 70% over Cox the first year, %81 saving second year and on.

Yes, I know, it’s not like having the TV on all the time but I’ll be god damned if I’m going to pay near $100 a month for cable tv. So Cox, so long to your video service. When you finally get real and offer prices in the realm of reality I might consider returning, but until such a time as you can drop to $20 to $25 a month, you can kiss my lilly white ass.

Churches SHOULD be taxed!

And by taxed, I mean property taxes. After all we have asshat Cardinal Edwin O’Brien saying that the church will challenge the marriage equality law in Maryland.

For example, down the street from me is the Holy Ghost church. It’s rectory is valued at just under a million dollars per records on file. And the church itself, a larger structure is probably twice that.

So three million in value. At a tax rate of $30 per thousand the annual tax would be $90,000 a year. Now multiply that out by the 25 Catholic churches in the city and the annual amount would come to $2,250,000 in tax revenue, assuming a valuation of $3 million per church.

Now I’m  focusing mainly on Catholic churches here because they’ve been the most vocal in opposing the rights of the LGBT community.

I have said it before and I will say it again. If you want to participate in the political system you MUST pay the price of admittance in the form of taxes.

For too long I’ve watched as the church lobbies against progressive causes in the state. Watched as they attack the rights of women and the LGBT community as a whole. And I await the brave politician who will step up and say enough is enough and finally move to end the tax breaks enjoyed by the churches.


Tech: Tethering your Andoid phone

I believe I’ve mentioned in the past that I have a Samsung Indulge phone with service through MetroPCS.

One interesting note, I see 4G LTE services in the oddest of places lately. We were out at a mill store in Cumberland, RI and I had solid 4G service. Nice!

So I wanted to know if I could tether it to my laptop. It’d be nice when I’m on the road to be able to tether away.

So did some searching and came up with an app called Easy Tether. The freebie version lets you hit port 80 type stuff, but locks out secure and imap ports. The full version lets you do anything your little heart desires for the price of $9.99

It is kind of a heavier duty install. You have to download the Android app on the phone, turn on USB Debugging on the phone, and download an application that creates a new network driver on your computer. In addition, if you have a Samsung phone you have to install the Samsung USB driver.

But once all is said and done, I now have mobile net service.

Tech: Something cool

So I had been testing something in the Google Chrome browser. I had occasion to use google to search and I noticed the little microphone icon in the search field.

Clicked on the icon and it prompted me to speak my search terms. So I did. Not bad. Similar to the voice recognition on my Android based cell phone.

It dooesn’t tolerate background noise all that well and that is with me using a headset. But it does figure out the text rather well.

Look up: A new view

If  you happen to be out and about at around 7PM look off to the west a bit. You’ll see Jupiter shining brightly about 30 or 40 degrees above the horizon and just below, is Venus shining away.


The night sky during winter gets more interesting to me. It is when Orion is in clear view in the southern sky, and a host of other systems become visile, some with the naked eye, some with the aid of binoculars or telescopes.

So if you can brave the cold here in the northern hemisphere, look up! And take heart, we’re sliding ever so much close to the start of Spring.

Tech: Slowed performance of browsers

In a previous post I had mentioned downgrading to Firefox 3.6.26. Well, that wasn’t the problem. Instead it has to do with Firefox habit of pipelining. That habit of pipelining causes AVG 2011 to freak out. That results in a lot of “Unresponsive script” errors in Firefox, Chrome, and in my case IE8.

I upgraded Java, Flash, Shockwave and Silverlight. No dice.

And it was then I deduced, it had to be AVG’s link scanner. Turned that off and I’m back in business.


Tech: Issues with Blogspot and OpenID

I mentioned in another post that I read a lot of Blogspot based blogs. And I do comment on many of those blogs. But I noticed recently that on blogs that enforce the use of capchas (I used to require that too when I was on blogspot!) it becomes a serious problem for we who use OpenID.

On blogs that allow I’d just give my name/url but on some blogs it’s either OpenID or Blogspot ID’s, and while I still have a Blogspot ID I don’t like using it because it links to a page that is not mine.

This is a point of frustration. So I found the Blogger/Google help forum and posted the details on the issue. Another user also confirmed what I was seeing and had tested in Opera with the same results. So this is a server side issue.

Finally I asked if anyone at Google/Blogspot could pick this up and to my surprise, it has been escalated to Google Engineering. Perhaps it will get fixed!