Not about everything

December 8, 2012

Google, doing it wrong again

Filed under: internet,world wide web — takaita @ 14:00
Tags: , , , ,

For some reason I wanted to install another browser on my system, next to Firefox and IE. I picked Google Chrome. That was a mistake. Because, even though my OS is in English, Google thought I’d prefer a Dutch version. No way to change that it seems. And I also wanted to install it in the directory of my choice, not in the directory where Google thought it should be. No way to change that.

It is not the first time that I see Google doing it wrong: see Google is losing it.

November 25, 2009

Why would a compiler not allow comparing different datatypes?

Filed under: programming,world wide web — takaita @ 19:02
Tags: ,

While writing some code in ASP.Net, I got a run time error where two variables of unequal type were compared.

If varA = varB Then
    ' somecode
End If

By accident varA was a String and varB a Number. One would say, that those variables are unequal and life goes on. But no. The program refused to run. Alarm, Error, Wrong, Impossible.

I am totally puzzled. There is only one reason why this could be: a String and a Number (it was a Long, but that’s too much detail maybe), can not be equal, so comparing them is useless. But then again, comparing Strings of unequal length is fine, even though they can not be equal either, or Strings which start with a different letter.

The point of my code is to evaluate if two things are equal or not. I want an answer. So seriously, my question to all programming gurus around the internet, explain why a language can not answer a simple question, but wants to tell me – as the programmer – that I should not ask.

July 10, 2009

Google is losing it

Filed under: internet,world wide web — takaita @ 07:25
Tags: , , ,

The search results from Google are getting worse to a level that is annoys me. The reason is that Google search has been made “smarter”. While searching for a couple of terms, Google now supposes that the search results should include also search terms that are supposed to be related.

Some examples.

As I am interested in dragonflies, and I am Dutch (the Dutch word for dragonfly is “libel”), I do quite frequently use the search term “libel”. I am aware that this word has a totally unrelated meaning in English, but that meaning is mostly suppressed by using multiple search terms in Dutch, or for example adding the name of an area in the Netherlands. Or by setting the language to Dutch. But, searching for “libel Nederland” gives as the first hit a Dutch woman’s magazine called “Libelle”. Yes. I see the similarity in the words. Words can be similar but can have a totally different meaning.

Another example. Recently I was trying to find some information about legislature on internet privacy. The words “internet” and “privacy” are used in Dutch to, but legislature is “wetgeving”. That last word exists only in Dutch, so you’d think that it would return only Dutch search results. Well, it doesn’t. Check it out: searching for “privacy internet wetgeving” makes Google think I might also be searching for something wet, like “wet dreams poetry” or “wet women” or “wet ink printing”. So stuff like this is inserted between the results.

Google thinks it is smart by supposing I am dumb. That is really annoying.

November 18, 2008

Wikipedia: how my copyrighted photo got into the public domain

My copyrighted photo is now spreading around the world tagged as “Public Domain”, with no reference to me as photographer. Thanks to wikipedia. However the photo is still copyrighted by me, I did never change the license.

I have a flickr account with many photos, all are published there as “all rights reserved”. Out of curiosity I sometimes following links that are provided in the flickr statistics. On one such occasion, there was a referer to a Google images search. When I followed that, I saw to my surprise that it not only showed the photo on flickr, but also on wikipedia. A closer look revealed that my photo had been hosted on commons.wikimedia.org (the media storage for wikipedia) since March 2007. A bit by bit comparison showed that wikimedia hosted exactly the same photo as the medium size (500 x 333 px) version that was created by flickr after I uploaded the full size version. Wikimedia hosted the photo as “Public Domain”.

Hema

A further search on internet revealed a number of other places where this photo was in use. Apparently people had believed the public domain tag that was given to the photo by wikimedia, and thought it was free to use.

I was angry. My first step was to notify wikimedia of the situation. The problem was however not only that wikimedia was hosting the image illegally, but that a number of sites had copied the photo with the wrong license and that it will be very hard to stop further spread of the photo. It would have been a lot better if wikimedia would not use such free licenses, but would use a “wikimedia-only” license.

On commons.wikimedia.org, the photo got a “speedy deletion”. But people there immediately said that Commons (as they like to call it) is not responsible for the uploads. The uploader is responsible. Interestingly enough the accounts on wikimedia are basically anonymous. All you need to create an account is an email address, which is invisible to others. Wikimedia will only release this email address (and IP-number) when required by law. People can also use a temporary email address to create a wikimedia account.

On the other hand, sometimes the identity of a person can be found from bits and pieces. With some help of people on wikimedia, I was able to identify the uploader (name, address, email) with a high certainty. I have no doubts about the identity of the uploader, but I am not sure if what I have is evidence in a legal sense.

The question is who is guilty. Wikimedia claims to be not (never) responsible and says the uploader is. The uploader clearly did something wrong. But wikimedia has hosted the photo illegally for about 20 months, and worse even offered it for download as “public domain” during that period. To me – but I am no lawyer – that seems reason enough to be guilty of a violation of copyrights.

When I talked about sending a bill to wikimedia for this, some people started giving funny responses. One claimed that wikimedia would block my account there for that reason (I have had an account since a couple of years – I even have been an admin on nl.wikipedia for a while). As if that would invalidate a bill. Also it was questioned if I could prove that I never offered the photo with a free license. The photo has always been on flickr with “all rights reserved” – all my photos on flickr are, but I don’t know if it is possible to prove that. I know the photo was taken from my flickr account, and flickr does not provide an option to publish photos as Public Domain. It does offer several variants of the Creative Commons license, but not Public Domain.

Anyway, I decided to start to formulate a message to the uploader, explaining what exactly he had done wrong. I wanted to write how he had agreed that he in person is responsible for his uploads to Commons. For the exact formulation I opened the upload form of Commons. To my surprise there was nothing in that form that states that the uploader is responsible. There are only instructions. Indeed also instructions about copyrighted files which would be deleted without further notice. The text of the upload form suggests that all uploads are being reviewed.

In practice, uploaded files are being reviewed by volunteers who themselves say that they are not gods. Sometimes copyrighted files are being uploaded to Commons and removed. But some slip through. One person said that about 2% of the uploads to Commons are copyright violations.

In the case of this photo, the history of the file on Commons makes clear how this one slipped through. The history of the file is now invisible on Commons, but I have saved every iteration. In short: the uploader at first said it was a file from flickr (with no specified url) with a CC-license. Because a specified url was missing a bot on commons indicated that a human should check the status. The uploader was notified of insufficient information. The uploader then changed the file information to “own work” and the license to “public domain”. That change was accepted by an admin. But it would have been very easy to find the file on flickr. The name of the image on Commons was “HEMA_Utrecht.jpg”. A search on flickr for “Hema Utrecht” shows the photo as first result.

My suggestions to wikimedia:

  • Use a “wikimedia-only” license to prevent spread of copyright violations beyond wikimedia.
  • If you want the uploader to be responsible, only accept accounts that contain full contact information, make sure that it information is correct.
  • Change the upload form, so it is explicitly clear to the uploader that he is responsible for copyright violations.

The wikipedia is a large project with a big impact. Commons is a well-known and much-used source for free content. The organization behind these projects can or should no longer hide behind anonymous uploaders.

July 15, 2008

hotmail: Too many files in a zip

Filed under: world wide web — takaita @ 17:20
Tags: , , ,

As many others, I have a hotmail account for when I need to enter an email address somewhere. Useful.

Today I decided to use it to mail some files from work to myself. Using my own hotmail address as sender and receiver. There is some trouble with my regular email, so I thought I could use hotmail as well.

Using Mozilla’s Thunderbird to get my mail, it says that it can not get the mail. Well, maybe I overdid it a bit, because the zip file is almost 3MB. But I can can always use a browser. I thought. Logging in, opening the message (it is there) and then click on the attachment to download it.

Not happening. Hotmail tells me that there are too many files in the zip, so it can not be scanned for virusses. I am not really sure how many files are in the zip, something like 50, let’s say 100. Must be a stupid virus scanner. Imagine a virus scanner telling you that you have too many files on your hard disk.

too many files in a zip

hotmail: too many files in a zip

But I don’t care that it isn’t scanned. Remember that I send the file myself? I know what is there. I will download it anyway.

Then a small problem arises: I can’t. There is no way to download the file. It just keeps telling me that it can not be scanned for viruses. That’s it.

Now what?

December 14, 2007

Group sex and prostitution on Flickr

Rode Brug
Rode brug

Dear internet user,

My photos on flickr must be a disappointing experience for you. They often are just not exactly what you were looking for. I apologize, but I have to say that I was not aware of the problem. Until yesterday. Flickr opened up the referrer statistics for views on photos. Now I can see what you were looking for when you opened one of my photo pages.

While you were looking to satisfy your sexual needs, I could not offer you the slightest release. You were looking for prostitution at the “rode brug”(red bridge) in Utrecht, I could only tell you that the prostitution is taking place one bridge further, at the Marnixbrug. My photo of this Red Bridge just shows you simply a red bridge. Oh yes, I have a photo of the boats of the prostitutes too, but – I apologize again – you have more trouble finding it, and what is worse, it just shows the backside of the boats. No flesh. Sorry.

And also you have been searching for “group sex”, and must be totally disappointed by my photo of four couples of damselflies, sitting on a branch. They are having sex. But I don’t think that damselfly sex will turn you on. However, maybe you find it interesting. Somewhere else I have written some explanation about Dragonfly Sex. Just read it, it is fascinating stuff.

Group sex
Damselfly group sex

One other thing I have vastly deceived you with, is the 10 million megapixel camera. Yes, you searched for a camera with millions of megapixels. That is about four or five orders of magnitude higher then the current digital cameras have. You see, one megapixel equals one million pixels. Current digital cameras have about 10 million pixels, which equals 10 megapixel. Some have a bit more But you do not have to be that ashamed of your ignorance. That photo that you were looking at, was of a poster hanging at the window of a professional photography shop. They made the same mistake.

What else should I write you.Well. Some of you have found what you searched for. You searched for “Evernia prunastri” or “Euphorbia cyparissias“. That gave me a good feeling.

Regards, Taka

Euphorbia cyparissias Evernia prunastri
Euphorbia cyparissias Evernia prunastri

December 8, 2007

A greasemonkey script for Imagekind

Filed under: photography,world wide web — takaita @ 13:03
Tags: , ,

Imagekind is a place to order prints of artwork, including photographs. I do have an account at http://taka.imagekind.com/Nature, where prints of some of my photos are available. Imagekind is known for its high quality prints, although I have not tested this myself.

Frog (Rana temporaria)
Frog (Rana temporaria) Buy a print

To those offering artwork, the site displays some statistics, notably the number of views, sales and comments on each image. Nothing more. The problem is that the only way to get these statistics is to login, go to the admin pages and then open the page for each separate image. Because that is the only place to see them. That means a lot of work if one has a lot of images. Repetitive work like this cries out for an automated solution. So I created a Greasemonkey script to get the views and sales data, and display those on the gallery page. What the script does is to open each image page, parse the HTML, and look for the views and sales numbers. It will work as long as Imagekind does not change the HTML of the gallery and image pages in the admin section.

The good thing is that it does not only work for me, but it works for every one with an account on Imagekind. The script can be viewed, downloaded and installed from here.

October 11, 2007

September 7, 2007

A greeting to future historians

Filed under: history,idea,world wide web — takaita @ 22:53
Tags: , ,

Link rot, web archive, copyleft to preserve content for the future, the digital dark age. I was in a discussion on the interweb about this. The current diarrhea of weblogs and myspace stuff and photos, the highly praised content of web 2.0, created by the average user about his or her average life and average opinion. It should all be preserved. Future historians want to know all about us.

Yes, I gladly join. This is my content. Mediocre as can be.

For the occasion, a special greeting to future historians. Let me keep it simple. One word. “Hi

Mikulov - Jewish cemetery

As always it needs a photo. What is more appropriate then a photo taken on a graveyard.

June 23, 2007

The mysteries of reddit.com: all my new comments are made invisible

Filed under: internet,world wide web — takaita @ 09:09
Tags: , , ,

I have an account on reddit by the username TakaIta. Very seldom I submit a link, a bit more frequently I make a comment.

Recently I noticed that my comments are being downmodded at the moment I submit them. Normally your own comments get 1 point automatically, because it is supposed that you upvote them. But in my case, they got zero points even though they are marked as upvoted by me. First I was just a bit puzzled, but didn’t care so much. But then I tried to figure out what was happening exactly.

Here is what I tried and what I found out.

First I figured that it might have to do with ad-blocking. Reddit wants me to see their ads, and I use Firefox + adblock to get clear of them. Maybe they found a way to check if I am adblocking, and if so, everything gets downmodded automatically. So I openend Internet Explorer – no adblock – logged in into my account and submitted a comment. It got downmodded automatically. I suppose that it has to do with my account.

Next I created a new account, still in Internet Explorer. First I submitted a comment. It worked fine: it got 1 point. Then I surfed to the threads on which I had commented with my original account. Interestingly, my comments were totally invisible. Check out for yourself: go to my account mentioned at the top, and click on the “permalink” of any of my recent comments. While you can read my comments on my userpage, if you click the permalink, there is nothing to see.

What is happening? And why is it happening? Have I been too rude in my comments? Maybe. But I got no official notice of that. And I am not that rude.

So far it remains a reddit mystery.

Update June 25
Something has changed. My reddit account works again as supposed. But the strangeness is now on the additional account I created to find out more about what was going on. So now you can go to this other account (Hindeloopen) and click the permalink on the last (and only) comment made with this account. Then the text of the comment is not there.

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