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Google sucks

October 5, 2014 Leave a comment

It would appear that despite their ambition to not do evil Google has finally succumbed to evil nonetheless.

Ok, here’s the issue – I have an English OS on my computer, but I live in Russia but I want to use Google in English. Issue number one is that when you do a Google search from your browser google takes you to your local google domain, google.ru. in my case – WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME.

OK, I found a way around that, there is a google chrome plugin that always takes you to google.com and yet now I have to set my language settings to English several times a day because the damn thing keeps setting my language preferenc to Russia – again it doesn’t ask me if I want to use google in Russian, it just forces the Russian UI down my throat and the worst thing is that it FUCKING IGNORES MY SETTINGS – I’m logged into my account, I FUCKING EXPLICITELY SELECTED ENGLISH A THOUSAND TIMES ALREADY and yet GOOGLE KEEPS IGNORING MY CHOICE.

I need a place to vent. I’m not the only person having this problem. Go on google support forums – there’s people complaining about this shit from all over the world and GOOGLE JUST IGNORES US.

You write in those forums about how you’re logged in go into settings, select English but the damn google search reverts back to Russian and some fucktard intern from Google tells you to ‘log in go into settings and select English’ – that’s the level of their customer service.

Currently, in my book, Google is the MOST EVIL IT COMPANY IN THE WORLD.

Update: it turns out it wasn’t google’s fault after all. I’m the idiot in this little tale – when I was at parents’ place I logged into Google and never logged out. My dad ended up using my account and every time he went on google he changed the language settings to Russian. Logging out of my account on my parents’ computer has solved the problem. Sorry Google, you’re not all evil, sometimes evil is within us.

Categories: IT Tags: , ,

Geoblocking is evil

December 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Geoblocking is when you go to a website such as netflix and it tells you that the service is unavailable in your country, or worse still you go to a website such as amazon, and you want to buy something there so you add the item to your basket, go through the tedious process of filling out all the details to place an order with them, enter your credit card details and that’s when, they look at your credit card details and tell you the item you’re interested in cannot be purchased from your country.

Now I believe this practice is evil because it is a lose-lose situation. The vendor does not make a sale, the prospective buyer does not make a purchase – the question is who wins? I can’t see anybody standing to gain anything in this situation and yet what totally blows my mind is that nine times out of ten geoblocking is introduced and enforced by the businesses themselves – WTF?

The worst geoblocking offenders are companies that sell content or access to content. Netflix’s already been mentioned here, then there’s services like Hulu and the like. And then the media/movie companies backing them have the gall to go after people who share that content on the Internet. Again WTF? Are they really that stupid that they can’t understand that if only they removed their stupid geolblocking Internet piracy would probably go down by as much as 90%? These days the bulk of content that gets downloaded ‘illegally’ is comprised of TV shows that come out in the US and that people want to watch on the same day or the next day.  Now what totally escapes me is why the companies that hold rights to those TV shows won’t simply sell access to them globally through the Internet?

Those guys really love to compute how much money they lose every time somebody downloads their content ‘illegally’ but have they ever tried to calculate how much money they lose every time someone wants to sign up for netflix from outside the US and they’re told they can’t do it?

The Internet gives them access to the global market and yet, in a fit of irrationality, they say, ‘we don’t want that, we only wanna sell in these little local markets.’ Again I do realise that in a situation with a lot of small local markets there’s opportunities for price gouging, in theory, but again when we’re talking about digital content that’s so easy to copy I’m fairly sure that all that extra profit they make from price gouging gets eaten up by the loss they make when they refuse to sell content to people thereby forcing them to go and get it on torrents or P2P networks.

The question is what am I missing here? Could it be that all my assumptions are wrong and that it’s still more profitable to lose money on people who are forced to get your content ‘illegally’ but make up for that loss by selling overpriced content to a handful of dupes who don’t know how to use the Internet?  Because to me it seems like geoblocking is totally more trouble than it’s worth.

Movie companies often cite staggered release schedules as a reason for geoblocking but that’s BS, imho.

For one staggered releases don’t really make sense for countries that speak the same language. I mean what’s the point to releasing a movie two weeks later in the UK than in the US? Especially in our day and age when you can download the digital copies to all the movie theatres around the world simultaneously, seeing how modern movie theatres use digital projectors and all, it’s not like you’re going to be shipping reels of film by boat across the Atlantic.

And as for countries that speak different languages: ok before an American movie can be properly ‘released’ in Russia, for example, it has to be translated and dubbed but what’s the point to blocking access to the original English language version of the movie from Russia. Those people who can speak English in Russia and know how to use the Internet will be able to watch it in English anyway if they really put their mind to it before it gets released in Russia so why not just let them do it legally for a reasonable fee? And those that can’t speak English are going to wait for the official dubbed release because watching it in English wouldn’t do much good for them – again we come to the same conclusion, geoblocking does not make sense.

And last but not least, one more reason why geoblocking is evil is because it’s part of a rather ominous recent trend where vendors are trying to control their customers more and more. I.e. instead of doing everything they can to allow people to consume their products where and when people want, vendors, and especially media companies, are increasingly trying to dictate people when, where and how they are supposed to consume their content.  What I can’t understand is why these media corporations fail to realise the simple fact that people don’t generally like to take orders and they won’t take them. In fact that’s the main reason because the media market is collapsing: media companies are trying to force people to consume their content the old way, the way people bought and consumed it when it had to be sold on physical media, like CDs or tapes before that, but people will have none of that – and why should they do things the old inconvenient way when today we have lots of far easier and more convenient ways to access and consume content?

Categories: economics, IT, Politics

The Internet is no internet without google

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Earlier today something went wrong with google in Russia. I’ve no idea what it was, it’s just that for maybe about an hour google and all its services first slowed down to a crawl and then went down completely for maybe 15-30 minutes. Entering google.com in the browser and hitting enter would give you an error message and pinging 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4 would result in one request timed out after another.  I assume it must have been some technical glitch, or possibly the FSB trialling a new firewall and as is the custom with them, failing miserably.

So left without google I felt like I was marooned in a sea of information without rhyme or reason. I went to yahoo and then bing but to my total horror, neither of them allow you to limit your search to content that’s been updated in the last 24 hours, in the last day etc, a feature that’s been part of google for yonks.  It was a harsh reminder of why all the other engines still suck next to google. Even yandex, the Russian ‘yet another index’ that some people prefer for searches in the Russian internet as it supposedly does a better job of finding all possible inflected forms of Russian word, doesn’t seem to have this extremely useful feature and it sucks.

It’s kind of weird but I still have vague memories of the Internet without google. Back in the day everybody was using altavista.com and when I saw google for the first time I was unimpressed. It looked kind of spartan, just a search box. It’s definitely gone a long way from those humble beginnings. Just how much of an integral part of the Internet it has become over the years was made very clear to me today as all of a sudden I couldn’t access it. It felt as if the Internet just stopped making sense, I was lost, totally without direction.  That’s what the power of habit can reduce us to.

At the same time it makes me wonder what the Internet will be like in the future, post-google. After all it’s only a matter of time before google gets overtaken and left in the dust by some other technology.

Categories: IT Tags: , ,

web sites that go away

November 22, 2011 Leave a comment

the Internet is a-changing. It’s a truism that is true, the only constant online is change and as new websites are popping up into existence old ones are going off-line. It can be quite a shock when a site you’ve come to depend on is suddenly just no there anymore but that the downside of the Internet for you. It’s there today and tomorrow it’s gone, for whatever reason, the owners may have run out of cash or lost interest in the project and puff it’s gone. It can be quite frustrating and sad, online the landscape is changing so fast we can no longer keep pace with it, things are coming and going at such a speed that we no longer even have time to develop any sort of emotional dependence on them. Think about it, a day will eventually come when facebook will go off-line.

Categories: IT, Random thoughts

When online services go offline

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Software as a service is a great idea but what happens if an online service, or even just a website, that you’ve come to depend on over time suddenly goes offline – there is a first time for everything. For instance, there’s an oxford collocations dictionary online website that I have pretty much come to depend on in my writing/translating work and a couple of times over the past two months it has gone offline for no apparent reason. Both times it was down for only a day or two but still I was forced to install a local version even though, the local PC version is rather sluggish and works slower than the website. (That’s probably because my laptop is usually running a whole bunch of apps and processes and is probably nowhere near as powerful as the server or even servers that run the online app).

There is another website that I’ve come to enjoy that’s been down the past few days and it’s been quite disheartening. When a website or an online service is there, after a while you come to take it for granted and then when it suddenly goes away one day it feels personal, it feels like they’ve pulled the plug on you rather than on their services because you’ve come to depend on it so much that it felt like it was part of you and now it’s gone. Well bummer.

If there is just one good thing about locally installed applications that store all their data on your hard drive that’s probably the fact that they never go offline unless you wreck your OS or your computer is destroyed.

It’s an interesting philosophical question, actually, why is it that we always feel better after we’ve passed on the responsibility for taking care of our own shit (computer data in this case) to someone else, someone in the cloud. It’s as if we’ve got this innate belief that other people are bound to be better than us at doing this job, but why on earth do we assume that?

Cloud computing may not be for the faint of heart just yet

That’s the conclusion that I couldn’t help jumping to after reading this piece:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/bt2p2o

In short the guy writes about how he spent months painstakingly  migrating all his other email accounts to his one gmail account and uploading all his documents to his google docs account only to have his google account deleted (or suspended) by google.

It’s sort of like when you have all your info on this one laptop that you lug around with you everywhere you go and then you drop it and it breaks into tiny little pieces from which no information can be recovered only it’s probably more like having somebody grab your laptop from you and smash it to pieces as you stand there and watch helplessly.

Well, maybe  it’s not all that bade and who knows, google may eventually reactive the poor fella’s account and he’ll once again have access to all his stuff. However, what this story really calls attention to is the risks people are invited to take when they are encouraged to switch to cloud computing.  On the surface cloud computing looks like a very cool idea – software as a service, a new digital utility that allows you to rent digital space and applications, however at the end of the day what cloud computing boils down to is that you let someone else handle your (sensitive) data. Cloud is a very cool metaphor, but in actuality what it sort of conceals is that fact that your data that is in the ‘cloud’ is in actuality sitting on someone’s hard drive.

It may not really be that much of a problem from a purely technological viewpoint as in all probability those data will be backed-up and there will be some redundancy built into the system so that even if the actual server your data is stored on should go down, some other server will pick up the slack; in the worst case scenario loss of data will be minimal and 9 times out of 10 you probably won’t even notice anything. However, what do you do if your cloud computing provider decides you’ve violated some obscure terms of use (which most people hardly ever read anyway) and pulls the plug on your account. And what if it’s a major provider of cloud services like google with millions of users that can afford to ignore complaints from the likes of you for weeks on end or even to never get back to you at all? Yes, probably in most cases they will reactivate your account eventually but still what if it’s at a critical point that they shut down your account; suppose you’re finishing an important project and all of a sudden poof, you can’t access your data anymore and you write them an email and they tell you that you’ve violated their terms of use and that they’ll get back to you next week but your project is due tomorrow.

So what’s the lesson we can learn from this cautionary tale? – for the time being it would appear that the best policy is to store all your most important files locally and to only use the cloud for backups.

Categories: IT Tags: , , , ,

the demise of the global village

I will probably never understand why people seem to take so much pleasure in drawing borders where there were once none.

In technology today things are changing very fast. I’m not really all that old yet but I can still remember the time when the Internet was global in the sense that it didn’t matter where you were accessing a resource from, you’d still be getting the exact same information. Back in the ‘olden days’ I was so enamored of that ‘global village’ idea I didn’t even notice when things started changing.

I believe that the first time it was brought home for me loud and clear that the global village might be going down the drain was back in 03 (or was it 04) when I was visiting my relatives in West Ukraine and wanted to look up the roaming rates of my mobile operator on their website. I went to a local Internet cafe, since back then my Ukrainian relatives did not eve have a computer, but to my total dismay each time I tried to load my mobile operator’s website, it loaded the website of their Ukrainian branch instead. I remember that I eventually figure out a way around this region-based redirect and got through to my mobile operator’s website but still the whole experience seemed totally wrong to me. What’s the use of the Internet if I can’t access a website I want from anywhere in the world?

Unfortunately since then things have been going from bad to worse. This abandonment of global values has been especially awful in the corporate world. The websites of various commercial news outlets, TV companies and the like offer lots of content that can only be accessed from within the US or the UK or whatever regional market they happen to be targeting. It’s the f..cking DVD region codes all over again. As one sitcom character from the 1990’s would have said, ‘This sucks, this is total BS’

It would appear that the corporate types have totally missed the entire point of the Internet. The whole idea behind the technology was to make information globally accessible to facilitate cooperation and creativity and I believe that at its core this idea doesn’t really run counter to market economy. If anything the globalization capability offered by the Interent on the one hand makes the market place more competitive, which in theory should lead to better products, but on the other hand allows companies with niche market offerings to make a killing by targeting niche markets all over the world.

I was also wondering if there are any legal repercussions to refusing to sell stuff to people because of where they happen to be accessing your website from. It’s one thing if you simply can’t send things there but what if all the infrastructure is in place (and for most places it is in place, services like DHL can deliver things wherever) but you still say, sorry, you’re in eastern Europe so you can’t buy anything from us.

Well, whatever the case might be regarding all those legal issues, the fact remains that the global village as people envisaged it in the early naughties seems to have been divided up and segmented into tiny little localized sub-villages with all sorts of restrictions on what kind of information can be passed from one to another, and I personally think it’s a rather sad development – yet another dream of humanity has been crushed or is in the process of being crushed.