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Google’s latest feature September 10, 2006

Posted by Steve in Photography, Techie Stuff.
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This is a work of genius – Google Image Labeller

Here’s the deal – Google image search can be a bit, well crappy, at times, because images on the web don’t really have much in the way of metadata  – it has to guess what a picture is all about from the surrounding text.

So Google have come up with a game, where you’re partnered with a random person and shown a series of images.  You type in keywords for the picture and your partner does as well.  When you both match the same terms you get 100 points and a new picture.

Ok, it’s not the best online game you’ll ever find, but you are doing something useful and helping to make it easier to find pictures to plagiarise in the future 😉

New from ASUS – the WL-700gE router August 21, 2006

Posted by Steve in Cool Linkage, Techie Stuff.
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Two words – “I want” – details here

Well at least I do until I see the price…

Tech Support – when will it cater for people above the Lowest Common Denominator August 12, 2006

Posted by Steve in Moans, Whinges and Rants, Techie Stuff.
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In the latest in my series of rants offering free clue to the businesses of the UK, I turn my attention to ISP Technical Support, and wonder why they seem only to cater for people who require help locating their on-of switch.

Having, on several occasions, had to educate the tech support “agents” on the end of the phone about the protocols which underpin the internet ( for example I’d diagnosed a DNS issue, but needed to explain what DNS does before getting anywhere) it seems to me that these organisations need to do more to address the needs of bone fide geeks who call up.

Usually when I have an issue I’ve already troubleshooted everything at my end. I know what I can and can’t ping, whether I’m getting an IP address over DHCP, I’ve tried a proxy server and third party DNS servers. I don’t need to be asked to go to start, click run and type “C…M…D” into the box, and wait for a black window to appear and type in “P…I…N…G…” (yes, that really did happen)

So here’s a suggestion for the ISPs – train your first line “techs” to recognise when they have somebody on the end of the phone who knows what they are talking about. Train them to pass such calls to somebody who can help them. If a geek is phoning in with an issue, it is something non standard. In fact they’ve probably found a workaround and are doing you the courtesy of calling to let you know that you have a problem. The script isn’t going to cover it so don’t waste the time. Put them through to a fellow geek and let them thrash out the issue between them.

The more experienced technician is going to welcome having somebody on the end of the line who can do diagnostics without having to be walked through it keypress by keypress, and the caller is going to be glad of being able to feel like they’ve helped to sort the problem out. And of course it is these people who are often asked for recommendations for an ISP and will be more likely to give your company a glowing recommendation if they’ve had a good experience with your tech support.

It’s not rocket science, is it? It’s what used to happen at my particular ISP before they outsourced their tech support to clueless people 😦

Announcement: AutoPoilot April 10, 2006

Posted by Steve in Driving, Techie Stuff.
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I’ve been busy for the last couple of days doing a spot of programming. I tend to go through phases where I really get into it – particularly if there’s an itch which needs scratching.

So I present – http://www.autopoilot.co.uk

Using the Google Maps Api it lets you create custom Point of Interest files for use on your SatNav unit, which can be downloaded in either Garmin format or, thanks to Eddy, for TomTom.

Feedback welcome!

I’m calling the FBI April 1, 2006

Posted by Steve in Techie Stuff.
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It's at times like this I wish I was still running Prat of the Week… because the City Manager of Tuttle in Oklahoma would win hands down.

The bare bones of the story are these:

The server running the city's website was reconfigured by the hosting company, and they screwed it up so it was showing a default page from the linux distribution which ran the server.

Jerry Taylor, the City Manger, got the wrong end of the stick, and so began an email conversation in which he accused CentOS – the linux distribution providers who were nothing to do with the knackered server beyond the fact that their software was running on it – of having hacked his site, and threats to involve the FBI.

Personally I think it might have been funnier if the FBI had got involved and helped to distribute some clue to this guy…

Are McAfee reading this blog? March 13, 2006

Posted by Steve in General Wittering, Techie Stuff.
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A couple of weeks ago I posted a suggestion that Microsoft could break McAfee in the same way as they did with Norton. I have a feeling that they may have got wind of this plan and got in their retalliation first, by issuing DAT files that quarantine parts of Excel and some Windows files.

An interesting development, which I think makes it Symantec’s move.

My congratulations… February 13, 2006

Posted by Steve in Techie Stuff.
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…to everyone at Microsoft for their recent success in improving computer security.

Now if you could just see your way clear to breaking Crapafee as well I’ll be a very happy guy 😉