Category Archives: bitching

Why you shouldn’t use webfonts instead of images

Warning: principled rant against sloppy design and bad coding about to start; kids these days! Get off my lawn!

There’s a terrible disease affecting modern web developers – Twitter.com has just fallen ill with it, and it could be a long time before they cure themselves.

Deleting all images, and replacing them with the dreaded “web font”.

It’s the wrong solution for the problem, it doesn’t do what you think it does, and it pisses all over some of the Web’s core principles. If you’re a web developer, and you respect your craft, you shouldn’t even consider this, not for one moment. Here, for instance, is how Twitter currently looks for me – ugly, and very hard to use!

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.18.17

GitHub was another recent victim of this disease. They’re still in recovery, but they at least made their site “slightly usable” by adding tooltips:

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.30.18

What’s going on?

The problem

Core Web principle:

Information is everything; presentation is optional. It’s acceptable to forego presentation, so long as everyone can access the information.

Effect: When you load a webpage, your browser requests every image separately. This is a long way short of the “most optimal” code implementation.

Is this a big problem? For most of us … Not really. The system works, it’s flexible, it’s powerful – it’s a little inefficient, but for the corporations that care there are plenty of hacks and optimizations they can deploy.

The other problem

Most artists should be creating Vector images most of the time, but the software vendors who made the editing tools for Vectors … all died out around 15 years ago. Back then, the advantages of Vectors were small, because most screens were low res.

We still haven’t recovered. There are many standards for bitmap image files, and two very popular ones – PNG, JPG. There are many standards for vector image files, but no popular ones.

Effect: web developers end up looking to Web Fonts as a de facto “vector image” standard.

SVG, or not to SVG?

There is an official Web/HTML approved vector standard – SVG – in wide use, with strong support in all current browsers.

Does it work? Let’s see (http://caniuse.com/svg) …

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.45.46
Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.45.33

… but many software companies ignore it. For instance, Apple allows programmers to use both PNG and JPG (why?) in core iOS, but not SVG (despite having a full SVG parser built-in to their web browser). Many programmers I speak to believe that SVG isn’t supported at all – FUD wins again.

The other, other problem

A core principle of the Web is that information is accurately described (the M in HTML). A recent trend in web development is “progressive enhancement”.

def. “Progressive Enhancement HTML”: a webpage written the way you were supposed to write it, instead of being hacked-together by unskilled monkeys

HTML has always been “progressive” – this was a core principle 20 years ago. But HTML was so easy to use and abuse that many of us (most of us? nearly all of us?) have been writing poor HTML most of that time. Shame on us (shame on me, certainly – been there, done that :( ).

But … the key point here is: Progressive Enhancement isn’t an “optional extra”, it is the Web. If you fight PE, you’re fighting the entire web infrastructure – and we know how that war will end.

…whatever. What about Web fonts?

So, when you remove an “image” and put a “web font letter” there instead, and change that letter so that the font contains an image you wanted …

…your HTML is now a lie.

Maybe you’re the kind of web developer who scorns blind people (and partially blind), who ignores the Internationalization features of software. You laugh in the face of Accessibility Standards, so you can reduce development time.

But HTML doesn’t make these things optional. They are so core to HTML that they are “always on”, even if you personally never use (need) them. One of the beautiful features of HTML is that if you do nothing, most of the Accessibility is automatically done for you.

With HTML, you have to go out of your way to prevent Accessibility. For instance: replacing images with magic-letters from a magic font.

You’re not blind; why does the Web Font fail?

The thing about custom Web Fonts is … the user can disable them.

Again, this is fundamental to the web. Partly for the Accessibility issue (who are you to decide which users require Accessibility? No. It’s for the user to decide).

But also to support the web principles of openness, and user-control (not corporation-control). My machine, my browser, my choice.

Just as you cannot prevent users from hitting the “View -> Zoom” menu option and making your web page take more or fewer pixels on their screen (I’ve worked with web designers – mostly ex-print designers – who HATED this, and felt it was a feature that should be banned) … you cannot force a crappy font on the user.

Information is everything; presentation is optional. It’s acceptable to forego presentation, so long as everyone can access the information.

In my case: I have a MacBook Air. While wonderful in many ways, they have tiny (11″), non-retina screens, and they’re laptops – so the screen is often further away than I’d like. When WebFonts came to CSS, a lot of the websites I use (art sites, design agencies) started using “beautiful but TINY” fonts that were unreadable. Game Studios still do this today, sadly – lots of hard-to-read but “edgy!” fonts and bad colour choices.

Sometimes, the only way I can do my day to day work is to disable the crappy 3rd party fonts.

Another solution?

SVG says “Hi!”. Think about it.

Anatomy of a cluster-f*ck: Imagination’s SDK installer

iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) are powered by 3D chips branded “PowerVR” from a company branded as “Imagination”.

If you want to develop 3D games/apps, you can do that using Apple’s free tools + SDK. But some of the good stuff – e.g. higher-res textures – you’ll need to dive into PowerVR specifics. This should *in theory* be very, very, very easy. But Imagination does not make it so :(.

All you really need is a few source files, but instead of putting them on their website to for you to download, Imagination has wrapped them up in a 1 gigabyte (broken) self-extractor. And it doesn’t work. It *really* doesn’t work. Read on for some of the joys of just how awful something as simple as a “unzip this file” program can get…

UPDATE: I realised after posting that I left out a very important point. Until this mess, I’d found Imagination’s tech guys to be friendly and helpful, and their tools to be useful and to work fine. They were always badly documented (e.g. very bad error handling, missing key facts like “a 64 megabyte texture requires 3 GIGABYTES of RAM to save”, etc – but they essentially “worked”). Maybe I just got lucky until now, but this installer seems a radical departure in terms of quality and testing. For anyone who’s *not* used the PowerVR stuff before, bear this in mind: IME, this experience is not normal. Also: use the forums – the support team seems pretty responsive.

TL;DR – if you want to load PVR textures on iOS, google for “PVR” and “iOS” and “copyright imagination” and find the header files and source that are embedded in a couple of open-source projects from a couple years back, before Imagination accidentally broke everything.
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Southern Rail redefines Customer Service

For a 45 minute train that they planned to run 1.5 hours late, they told everyone it was:

“On Time”

…until 60 seconds after leaving the station.

The train was sat there for 15 minutes beforehand, with no announcement. Instead, they waited for the earliest moment when no-one could leave or seek alternative routes.

Now, that’s what I call Customer Service ;)

The new gmail: Downgraded, hated by users

I really don’t understand this. My best guess: there’s a new Senior Manager at Google who was doing badly in their peer-reviews, and was determined to “make their mark” by changing Gmail – if necessary over the cold, dead bodies of the thousands of people pointing out that this is a bad idea.

I thought Google was a company that prided itself on taking the best of a group of people, and putting “Product” concerns above all else?

But this week they forced a change on all several hundred million users that removes core features, breaks existing features, and adds only 1 minor feature (you can compose two emails at once without opening a new tab).

Let’s run through it, using Google’s own “Learn more” page as a reference.

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Ethics in the modern world: Lessig on Aaron Swartz

I don’t normally blog about this stuff, but here we have the intersection of an eloquent speaker on core matters of modern life and how they intersect the legal systems … with the kind of tragedy that’s often threatened when elements of society have orders of magnitude more power than responsibility:

http://lessig.tumblr.com/post/40347463044/prosecutor-as-bully

The public statement by the prosecutors is worth reading too:

http://0v.org/carmen-ortiz-has-released-a-statement/

UPDATE: according to the United States Department of Justice’s own website (?), in relation to this case:

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar

It is extremely difficult in practice (practically impossible?) to steal via “a computer command”. To me, the Attorney’s statement has no relevance to what – it is reported – happened in this case.

For reference, type “define: stealing” into Google, and see what you get

Lawyers can *always* hide behind a claim that they’re “only following the letter of the law”; unfortunately, the Western legal system is generally based upon NOT following the letter of the law, but the spirit of the lawmakers (as interpreted by various stages of Judges). Which makes such arguments inherently specious.

I’m not a lawyer, merely a slightly-informed amateur, but … If this is the best defence that the prosecutors can offer, as eloquent lawyers, it appears to me that they knowingly do terrible things.

Microsoft’s Fraudulent Windows8 “upgrade” offer?

Windows 8

It’s great, it’s beautifully presented, and the best OS I’ve used in the last 20 years or so.

It makes OS X look clunky (which, let’s face it – for Microsoft – is one hell of an achievement)

The upgrade

My primary windows machine (used to) run XP. Microsoft has a “special offer” to upgrade you to Windows 8. So I took it, and paid the extra for the physical DVD to be sent to me. That was on November 20th – more than 3 weeks ago, and it never arrived.

In the meantime, Microsoft auto-downloads and installs “Windows 8”

Or they claim to…

The bait-and-switch

…in the weeks since, I’ve found LOTS of Windows apps crashing, with “out of memory” errors on my 12 GB RAM machine. WTF?

After days of searching, I eventually found the cause:

Microsoft will charge you for 64bit windows BUT ONLY GIVE YOU 32bit windows

They never state this.

Allegedly, the DVD they send (or not, in my case) happens to contain the 64bit version. You won’t know this, but if you work it out, you can allegedly delete the crap they install on your system and replace it with the correct, actual, Windows 8.

The problem: Installed Physical Memory is different from Available Memory

32bit Windows 8 running on a 64bit CPU is ridiculous, from any perspective.

If you run “Device Information”, you’ll see a massive discrepancy between the memory that Microsoft agrees is in your machine (8Gb, 16GB, 32GB etc), and the memory Windows is willing to use (typically: 3.1 GB, 2.9GB, 3.5GB or similar).

There’s nothing you can do to make windows “enable” your memory – a 32bit copy of Windows cannot access more than 4GB of memory, by its very nature.

Good luck finding this out – Microsoft’s own website, if you select “windows 8” and search for “RAM” or “memory” instead takes you to Windows-7 specific problems. Sigh.

Addendum 1: Microsoft support

  1. Microsoft’s “Live Support” personnel HUNG UP 5 seconds into the live-chat
  2. Microsoft’s official email address that sends the electronic order info … has an auto-responder saying it’s not ACTUALLY an email address, it’s a fake

What can you do? … not much.

Addendum 2: Microsoft’s ‘other’ support

*IF* you can get through to Microsoft’s generic, non-Windows8, support, you might be in luck.

That way, I finally got into a livechat with someone from Microsoft who “reprocessed” the mailing of the DVD. It’s a 1-2 week wait (how are they sending these things – by pigeon??), and we’ll see what happens…

They also gave me a different download link for Windows8, which they specifically stated was the 64 bit version.

…12 hours later…

Nope! Microsoft lied again: it re-installed the OS it was already running, with zero changes. Still 32bit. Still application crashes left, right, and center.

4 reasons NOT to install iOS 6

As a developer, I’ve been using iPhone’s since they first came out. I have to test my apps on every version!

iOS 6 is the first version of iOS “post Steve Jobs”. But it’s terrible – it seems to be a 2nd-rate product rushed out by a small team of startup programmers, working from their garage.

As a developer … I’m dismayed. Consumers are famously slow to change (en masse) – but they are neither stupid nor indifferent. Their tolerance is high, but not infinite. The iOS 6 experience is going to force a lot of people away from iPhones. Looks like we’ll be doing a lot more Android development in 2013 than I was expecting …

1. It will DELETE your photos

Yes, really. You can recover them (from what I’ve seen so far: all of them) if you use backup recovery tools. But seriously: WTF?

Many google hits for this, plenty on Apple’s own support forums, with no response from Apple.

Or … it will randomly delete half your photos (happened to a phone I saw).

Or … it will REDUCE the quality of all your photos until they become tiny pixellated blobs.

AND … photos taken after you upgrade iOS 6? Forget it – they’ll be inaccessible too.

Deleting people’s photos is – commercially – unforgivable. I was amazed the first time I saw this happen.

2. It crashes. A LOT.

Until iOS 6, Apple’s OS was getting better and better with each release. I don’t *try* to crash phones, but it happens accidentally when you use the phone a lot. But iOS 6 is a total disaster.

  • iOS 2: took me 3 days to crash it
  • iOS 3: took me 3 weeks to crash it
  • iOS 4: took me 3 months to crash it
  • iOS 5: …never managed to crash it…
  • iOS 6: took me 3 seconds to crash it

    To be clear: this is through normal usage, nothing special, nothing “developer-y”.

    The iOS 6 crash was 100% reproducible, triggered by simply moving an icon on Springboard to a differnt screen, and then hitting the home button. Wow.

    3. It removes GPS and Maps from your phone

    Apple’s “Maps” app simply Does. Not. Work.

    iOS 6 REMOVES Google Maps, and there is NO WAY to get it back.

    So, now … unless you buy an additional “mapping app” (and there are none that are as good as Google Maps, unless you spend a huge amount of money), then … that GPS chip in your phone, that’s part of the cost of the phone? For most people it’s now a hunk of useless metal.

    In the last 10 years, very little in mobile phones has changed the way people live their lives quite so much as the instant availability of detailed, accurate, maps with GPS no matter where you are on the planet.

    Apple says you can “use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.”. Wow.

    4. You cannot return to iOS 5

    iOS 5 worked. It was stable. It had a GPS! and Maps!

    …but Apple forbids you from running it if you ever install iOS 6.

    As a developer, this has been a recurring nightmare: we had to make sure no-one ever upgraded a phone – even by accident. (as a developer: you test your app on every old version of iOS that you can. Not just on a simulator, but on each physical phone)

    Now consumers get to find out quite how (unnecessarily and unfairly) painful that process is…

Pearson doesn’t like people buying books; Amazon knows where you live (in a bad way)

Wow, Pearson has some strange ideas about commerce! To buy this popular textbook as an ebook, you have two choices, both conveniently linked from the front page of the author’s website:

  1. Go to Amazon. Buy it, in any country / price you want. Get it immediately. (unless this is your first purchase … see below)
  2. Go to Pearson. Not allowed to buy it, unless you’re American (especially funny given that Pearson was originally English, IIRC)
    1. Get taken to a page listing 100 random URLs, with bizarre domain-names, grouped by country.
    2. Guess which one (out of several for your country) is appropriate for you.
    3. Manually search for the product YOU’VE ALREADY SELECTED
    4. Get quoted a price that is MORE THAN TWICE AS MUCH for the IDENTICAL download

And publishers *still* complain that people use Amazon? Hmm…

Which means Amazon is able to get away with treating the consumer like crap – because it’s *still* less insulting and obstructive than what the original publisher is doing. If you haven’t already surrendered your private data – which is nothing to do with buying a book – to Amazon, you’ll be prevented from buying a book at this point. Here’s the screenshot:

And, yes, Amazon.co.uk ensures VERY carefully that I cannot buy this book, until I’ve gone through this process:

  1. I want to buy this eBook
  2. “No: you haven’t yet given our Secret Police full access to all your computer hardware”
  3. But … wait, what? … I want to give you MONEY for something you’re SELLING, and you’re telling me you want access to my hardware? What’s that got to do with the price of fish?
  4. “Not until you voluntarily destroy some of your civil rights. Your government wouldn’t let us do this, so … you know … we have to get you to do it ‘voluntarily’. LOLZ”
  5. WTF? Apple’s currently the defendant in a billions-of-dollars court case in USA for doing exactly this. Aren’t you even slightly worried?
  6. “It’s OK. We know that the book’s publisher is going to treat you so badly that even our bad behaviour is mild by comparison. Let me know when you’ve ponied-up your privacy, and I’ll let you serve me. That’s what we mean by “a service company”: it’s a company that you serve. Have a nice day! Yours, Amazon”

Net result: use someone else’s hardware, sacrifice it to Amazon, rip the evil DRM off there, and give Amazon less money in future (since there will only be a “fake” account on their system).

Treating consumers like idiots – in the age of Internet literacy – is a net loss … for all of us. And it continues to drive the younger generations further and further away from paying for stuff, and closer and closer towards pirating it.

When I think of media corporations today, this image comes powerfully to mind, from back when Swine Flu broke out. Guess which one sits on the board of directors of a corporation (I grant you, it’s not easy to be sure) :

3 Internet: now Google.com has gone too

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post (3 Internet is the worst broadband provider in UK), today some sites have started working – but now google.com is inaccessible too.

(incidentally … these sites can be pinged – just no web. Which makes me suspect it’s some fool at 3 who’s misconfigured their traffic throttling/caching – and didn’t test their changes)

And, making life hellish, StackOverflow is completely inaccessible.

We’re now at 25-30 hours of practically no internet … And, since 3 decided to remove their internet status pages (my3.three.com) earlier this year, there’s no way of finding out WTF is going on.

Welcome to the 1990’s!

3 Internet has the worst broadband I’ve used in 12 years

Just Sayin’.

(for past 20 hours, 3 has had no connectivity to 95% of all internet sites, including – intermittently – Google.co.uk. (*). Impossible to get anything done. And for the past 4 months, the service has been running at 1/50th of the normal speed. They don’t care – multiple calls to customer support result in being told “if the modem switches on, it is working. My script doesn’t allow any other possibility.”)

(*) – At times like these, I seethe that Google et al decide “What’s good for us” and actively prevent anyone from using e.g. Google.com, even if they want to. No, you MUST use your local country’s version of Google. I remember the good old days of the Internet, back when you were allowed to visit any site you wanted, just by typing it into your web browser. I never thought those days would end :(.

YouTube desperate for cash? adverts now “interrupt”, kill slow broadband connections

Noticed something new tonight…

  1. Started watching YouTube video
  2. Hit “Pause” because Google’s Flash code is dismal (crashes frequently, since the update from approx a week ago) and works badly on slow connections; you have to let it pre-load a big chunk
  3. YouTube response: the video stops, and an advert starts instead
  4. …which (so far this week) nearly always crashes Google’s video playback code, so you have to refresh the page, and start all over again

EDIT: incidentally, this is why it makes me so sad when Google Engineers say: “the web is so great! We can remotely nuke every version of Google products, force all users to lose everything and MAKE them have our latest version! They have no choice – it’s perfect!” … because it so often – even with Google – translates to: “we can force them to lose our decent, quality, working code, and force them to move to our buggiest, broken, badly designed, crappy versions – and give them zero power over their own computers!”

Meanwhile, for the first time ever:

Going to any video on YouTube now automatically logs my gmail email account against that youtube video, even though the two things are completely unrelated

WTF? #signs_that_the_google-pocalypse_is_nigh

I guess the big G is seriously hurting for money at the moment… crappy “in your face” advertising, plus some creepy “steal your data, screw the user for all they’ve got” privacy-violation … I’m disappointed; I thought they’d hold out longer than this.

Aside: Black-Hat UX optimization from Google?

This is so deliberate and in-your-face bad UX design – from a world leader in stats-lead-design, no less – that I’m hard pressed to explain it as anything but black-hat (i.e. deliberately designed to fool the user).

e.g. The link to “manage” the YouTube integration … doesn’t work, it just takes you to youtube.com. And the link to complain – “Send Feedback” – is a dead link that doesn’t do anything when clicked.

The “edit [services]” link (which is carefully hidden, to prevent the user from exercising control) doesn’t work either – it redirects to a lo-fi version of the page you came from previously.

It’s almost as if they didn’t want you to fight back! :)

Apple OS X install hell: way worse than Windows :(

Almost a year after Apple’s disastrous “force consumers to download Lion, instead of installing from DVD”, apparently it still doesn’t work. It’s hard to recommend OS X to anyone after this experience.

UPDATE 2: Apple’s “download a file from the internet” code is so bad it’s causing the MacBook to overheat – 80 degrees celsius, very close to the “automatically reboot” temperature. This is *to download a file*. Apple’s misuse / misunderstanding of web technologies seems quite incredible.

(the process is called “storeagent”)

My last 24 hours:

  1. Buy Lion
  2. Download starts
  3. …it’s a 4gb download, this takes a long time…
  4. Download stops at 25% for no reason.
  5. Resume button gives a wait cursor for 5 seconds, then goes back to “paused”
  6. Repeat twice
  7. Third time, the Resume button is disabled, and now Lion is stuck in “Waiting” and there’s no buttons you can press except “cancel”
  8. Remains in “waiting” for many hours. Googling suggests this is a permanent crash in Apple’s App Store.
  9. Cancel the download, re click the “buy app” link
  10. Apple quits OS X, kills all apps, deletes all unsaved data, throws me out to the login screen
  11. Login again, and Lion icon has appeared in the dock.
  12. …but: Lion now refuses to even start downloading – it’s stuck on “Paused, 0 of 0 bytes”

UPDATE:

  1. Try again (delete OS X Lion, re-purchase from App Store) and … finally the download starts. Waiting now to see if it will complete this time, instead of giving up partway like before…

I.e. Apple’s infrastructure is still blocking me from downloading the OS. How hard can it be to *download a file* ?

Next step: walk in to an apple store and ask them to give me a USB stick, since their webserver is FUBAR.

Fight the Guardian’s and The Independent’s spam

On Facebook.com front page:

“Dave Stone and Mike Merren recently read articles.”

…so I click on one of them. Lo and behold, instead of getting an article, I get The Independent app trying to force me to install it.

Force. Yes, force – there is no option to “view the article”, the only option is “install this app or cancel”.

Lots of people complaining about this recently, but there’s really only two things to do:

  1. Shame the newspaper by tweeting them
  2. Report them to Facebook for abuse

Tweet them to let them know what you think

@Guardian and @TheIndyNews

Report to Facebook

Yes, I know Facebook is behind this in the first place, but if you don’t bug them about it, they’re less likely to care:

…and you might as well let the developers know how pissed you are – directly – since Facebook gives you this option:

StackOverfow: PLEASE fix your search engine

StackOverflow.com has long had one of the worst search-engines I’ve ever seen. It’s clearly a simple thing hacked together. It generally doesn’t work, and most of the people I know use google isntead, and rely upon Google to collage all the stackoverflow results together.

Occasionally, you have search terms where Google gives you lots of non-programming hits (e.g. “iphone video (something)”. So the above method fails, and you have to use the appalling SO search engine.

Then you get this, because the search engine is so poor that it often ignores search-terms, so you have to creatively re-search and experiment to find the results you need:

ARRGGGH!!!

Web 0.1: flickr still doesn’t support OS X

…as in: after 5 odd years, on OS X the official uploader still “requires” you to either lose all your data every time it stumbles, or … force-crash it. Which, paradoxically, keeps your data intact. Confused? You should be.

e.g. you get 50% through uploading a few hundred photos, and your broadband has a momentary slowdown. Ten seconds appears to be all it takes. Because the flickr app doesn’t do basic error handling, it’ll hang at this point – forever.

If you do the obvious thing and hit “cancel” (there’s no “retry” button – why would you want to retry?), it deletes your data.

If you quit, it also deletes your data. (this is the mistake I made just now. That’s 20 minutes of editing image data I now have to do all over again. Sigh)

The only options are:

1. pull out the network cable, causing it to hard-crash … and “enable” the retry button
2. force-quit the app, causing it to crash … and when you restart it, it will automatically load in all the data

So, note to self: if flickr uploader hangs, FORCE KILL the ****er. Don’t do anything sensible or sane – it won’t work.

And … note to flickr: there’s quite a lot of Mac users these days; might be a good idea to start supporting them.

London Digital Agencies: Stop spamming, please

Why is it that these days every time a London-based “digital agency” or “mobile agency” gets hold of your email address, they IMMEDIATELY sign you up to their spam mailing list? Even some outside London have started doing this too.

YuzaMobile is the most recent example – why do it? It doesn’t benefit them: their spam has just thoroughly convinced me that I never want to let any of my clients or partners anywhere near them. They have a cavalier disregard for basic comms etiquette.

How did they get my email?

Well, I sent a single personal email to one of their directors who I’d met at an event.

How does that square with “spam me now, please!”?

I have no idea.

Death to the Demon-spawn Adobe!

I just waited 4.5 hours for Photoshop Elements to install.

And what happens?

It crawls to 100%, Adobe finishes the process, then announces:

I didn’t install Photoshop Elements. I won’t tell you why. [So you can’t do anything about it]. But [if you’re really stupid, and] you want to try again, run the uninstall program first, then start again.

…but it *did* install the *one thing* I told it not to: the infamous Adobe viruses.

(and, of course, it installed the UNinstaller … even though it didn’t bother with the main app)

This is why, when Adobe finally goes bankrupt, or is acquired and dissolved into nothingness, I shall be cracking open the champagne and cheering their demise :).

EDIT: incidentally, it’s also why I’m now looking for a pirated copy. I’ve got the legitimate copy sitting in my hands, I’m legal, but Adobe’s sheer incompetence means it refuses to install. I’m pretty sure a hacked copy will “Just Work ™”, and contain fewer viruses.

HMRC disdains Internet standards

Is there a place to complain that UK government departments are breaking the internet standards and refuse to fix their websites?

Occasionally, you find sites that do this. Usually, when you tell the organization, they’re a little embarassed, and rush to fix them.

From HMRC, I got a polite, pedantic, *but entirely incorrect* response telling me that the “standard” was X, when I know that to be false (as does anyone who has read the offiicial standards, as documented by the Internet RFCs).

They apparently can’t be bothered to read the standards, and don’t care that they’re wrong.

No wonder so many people hate civil servants: holier-than-thou attitude coupled with being clearly, inarguably, wrong. Sigh.

Once again, I’m forced to pirate digital content…

(…or else forgo it)

(EDIT: To be clear: Piracy isn’t theft, but it certainly is illegal. Please do not misconstrue: I do not condone piracy; this post is a lament at the extent to which the retail industries encourage or coerce consumers to pirate content. I am still looking for a legal way to buy the digital data I want, and in the meantime, I have Spotify…)

I want a single that came out 5 years ago. It’s available to purchase on iTunes …. in the USA.

I’m “not allowed” to give Apple money to buy that track, because my account was originally created when I was sitting in the UK. IIRC, even when I’m physically in the USA next month, I will still “not be allowed” to give them money for this (but … who knows? Apple doesn’t bother explaining this stuff to the normal consumer)

Switch to UK iTunes “mode”, and … Apple does not sell that track in the UK.

So, once again, the music industry would prefer that I go and rip the MP3 than that I *give them money*.

Do they care? Do they even know?

Of course not.

They will *never know* that I did this. They have no mechanism to allow me to *tell* them that I attempted a purchase – and was rebuffed. This would cost them nothing, but … they can’t be bothered.

Equally, when I rip the MP3, they’ll never know that I did. It has literally zero effect on their business. Because piracy is not theft: digital data is not physical property, and copying does not affect the original in any way.

Sigh. One day, the digital industries will grow up. I hope I’m still alive to see it.