Don't be evil?

google logo

“Don’t be evil” used to be Google’s mantra, but clearly they don’t mean it, if indeed they ever did. Which I doubt.

Those of you with Google accounts will no doubt have got an e-mail by now (or you soon will have) entitled “Changes to Google’s Privacy Policy  and Terms of Service. It’s all couched in nice friendly language, but what it means is that basically, as far as Google are concerned, you have no privacy.

“Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services. In short, we’ll treat you as a single user across all our products, which will mean a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.”

As an example of how this pans out, you could read an e-mail in Gmail, then see a relevant ad pop up on, say, YouTube.  The Reg explains it better than I can, but I find the whole thing really quite unpleasant, and a huge potential cause of difficulty on shared computers. I can remember when Google first launched, and how wonderful we all thought it. I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that everything on the net should be free – a service like Google’s search engine costs a fortune to run – but I was happy to display the ads in my browser. But now they’re like the Tesco of the internet – they want it all, and they’re not having it, not from me.

A couple of weeks ago, I changed my default search engine to Bing. It’s pretty good, and on the rare occasions it lets me down, I go over to Google. The nice thing about Bing is it shows me what I ask for, rather than what it thinks I would like to see to reinforce previous searches (unlike Google), which is why I switched to it. I discovered yesterday that their map service is at least the equal of Google’s. I have signed my accounts out of Google search, YouTube and Google+ (which I never used anyway, as I didn’t like what they were doing with it). I don’t use Picasa. I read my Gmail in Mailplane, a standalone OSX client which runs a standalone version of Webkit. Today I shall be seeing if I can find an alternative for Google Docs, which we use quite a lot here for collaboration. So, as far as possible, I’m opting out of their “unified service”.

I hope lots and lots more folk do something like this, to see if they can persuade the chaps at Mountain View that what they are trying to do is wrong. Google don’t own us, even if they’d like to.

two rants

I went out leafleting yesterday for the LibDems – didn’t have that many to do, just our road (which numbers 208 houses), but an awkward round; every house needed a magazine, but some houses also needed an individual letter.  Next time, I’ll do the letters and mags separately – I’m sure it would be easier.

Rant #1 is about letterboxes – honestly, who would be a postie?  Some of them are vicious, and trap your fingers gleefully.  Some of them have Hounds of the Baskervilles lurking behind their flaps; I have a steel rule that I use for poking leaflets through letter boxes, and it has *teeth marks* in it from frenzied dogs.  Some letter boxes are at ground level (why?), and some are vertical, and fiendishly difficult to operate when you have a stack of paper in one hand, and a bag full of more paper to handle.

And then there’s the gates – some of them just don’t open; I guess people use the alley and back gates there.  Many of them have to be lifted to actually open.  Some of them have sneaky little catches that delight in trapping your fingers.  One house had its recycling boxes stacked in front of their front door. Honestly, I’ll be glad when this election is over!

Rant #2 concerns Hull City Council, specifically the Leisure Department.  We have a nice swimming pool across the park, with a small gym attached.  You can purchase what is called a Tonic Card for £22 per month, which gives unlimited access to swimming and gym, but I wasn’t sure I’d use the gym, so I bought a book of 10 swimming tickets for £25 (a saving of about six quid, I think), and I’ve used four of them.

Then I decided I would like to use the gym after all. You can’t do that until you’ve had an “induction”, which they can’t do at the local place because they have “lost their coach” (how careless).  So on Saturday we trogged over to the big leisure centre and had an induction there. £12 each to show us how to use machines that are *not the same* as the ones at Beverley Road. No blood pressure test or any sort of chance to actually use the machines, so about as much use as a chocolate teapot.  But still – I have my card.

Can I part exchange my remaining swimming tickets towards a Tonic Card?  No.  I have to pay a casual charge of £3.60 per session.  Well, I guess I can live with that. Except you can’t use the gym before 9 a.m. unless you have a Tonic Card, and that’s the time of day I like to use the gym.

I feel an e-mail coming on.

Is there such a thing as a reliable courier?

We had to pull one of our web servers out of the rack at the back end of last week. In theory, it should have arrived back here on Tuesday, and been back in the rack on Thursday.

In reality, it is still stuck somewhere in the maws of ANC / FedEx …

First off, FedEx phoned on Tuesday to say they had been to collect it from Docklands, but they had taken the name of the company down wrong, and so couldn’t find it. We told them the right company.

The returned to Marsh Wall and collected it that afternoon. We waited patiently for it to arrive on Wednesday. Did it? Did it buggery. The twats tried to deliver it to our ISP in St Neots (who ordered the collection). They rejected it, and told them, literally and figuratively I imagine, where to take it.

Today, we waited. And waited. And got quite vexed and chased it up, to discovered that this useless bunch of wankers had somehow mis-routed it, and the bloody server is now in *Belfast*. They promise a pre midday tomorrow, but I’m not holding my breath.

bloody Easyjet

off to Glasgow in May, as per earlier message. Easyjet‘ s prices are cheap, but their site is horrible.

they don’t clean the credit/debit card number, so if it has spaces in when you cut and paste it, it will silently drop the last three digits, then fail the authorisation. Then it tells you to back and correct it, but the javascript doesn’t reload properly. Pah.

and *then*, it will charge a surcharge for credit card use, or a lesser one for debit card use; FFS – it’s an *online payment* system. How else can we pay? That’s just dishonest, and I hate it. And lets not touch on the airport tax – I bet it’s not really a conveniently round tenner a person.

bastards. But still, Glasgow here we come 🙂

an open letter to our neighbours

to all of you:

  1. the plastic crate does not belong to us. The plastic crate has *never* belonged to us. We do not know who owns the plastic crate, but it is not us.

    please therefore stop a) putting it right in front of our gate, so it has to be moved by anyone who wants to come through), b) putting it right in front of our front door, so we have to move it if we want to gain ingress and egress to our own house, and c) [boggle] hurling it into our front garden.

    it is by our front wall in the probably vain hope that the dustmen refuse disposal operatives will remove it on Thursday. If they don’t, I suppose *we’ll* have to take it to the sodding tip, even though it is NOTHING TO DO WITH US.

  2. you over the back fence – yes you. I’m sure that buying your children a huge trampoline and putting it in a garden the size of a pocket handkerchief struck you as a good idea, but perhaps you could ask them a) not to have the entire rabble of neighbourhood children round to play on it, b) not to scream quite so loudly, and c) to get off it at a reasonable hour of the evening (i.e. before 9 p.m.). Haven’t you noticed what time it gets dark now?

    thank you

    I also note that your house is now up for sale – I presume that your planning application to extend it and block all our light has been turned down. I wish you a swift and easy sale; I’ll even help you pack, starting with the bloody trampoline.

  3. you over the road. Yes, you – the ones who built a bloody car pull-in and DO NOT USE IT FOR A CAR, because it is Too Short (we told you so). Don’t you know how stressed parking is round here?

    having built it, please try not to dump your household rubbish in it – my sleep is not enhanced by having 8 to 10 rowdy and drunken yoofs playing foopball (yes, really) with your old bath at 1.15 a.m.

  4. love
    no. 20