Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Bebo Inspired (sic)

 What the heck is Bebo? I mean, like what was it?

Right now people are closing their Facebook accounts and Whatsapp accounts in droves, this happened about 5 years ago, but this year looks more like a single solid departing wave for many. I am perplexed by this, and so I'm writing now to clear up my thinking and also to poke fun at the fearmongers.


My biggest fear with the social media exoduses that things like Parler which got killed off by AWS creates, merely cause new networks like the Bebo re-imagined service will undoubtedly bring the same broken services in the same way the google youtube algorithm would show you content to drag viewers in and thus was automatically showing them more and more extreme content just to see advert revenue. The fact that humans have failed to develop an allergic reaction to digital advertising and it's blatant waste culture distresses me. But even more distressing is the possibility that network fragmentation may split people farther apart. What am I talking about? Stuff nobody wants to talk about to be honest, but primarily the failure to inoculate against advert revenue is behind the Facebook screw-up. Because people don't want to pay for services, and even if we did, providers can make more money off of our data than they would off of a subscription. Even a Youtube ad-free subscription has very little take-up. The service probably costs more to run in that model to be fair. Why? I'm definitely no buying add-free youtube, not unless it comes with a fully add-free experience on the other platforms that touch it. It's a bit pointless. Like swimming in the goldfish bowl that is the internet. My big underlying fear is that the polarization that these social networks drive and thrive on is only now becoming evident and it's too late to stop a freight train that has been running down the track for decades. I have very little faith in the internet repairing itself. I keep seeing people on Twitter who think otherwise, and that old men cannot fix this thing, and that our youth will re-imagine the internet. Clearly the rose tinted spectacle wearers are prepared to wait for as long as their followers keep on promoting their bubble.

You could not make this up

As if 2020 was not an amazing yet humbling year, we not have 2021, it's over now for captain Tom. It's the movie script you could never write. I'm thinking of chucking out the TV set and youtube today, I keep seeing adverts for Netflix and other pointless entertainment services, sure I watch some non-broadcast TV, but not enough to warrant paying for Amazon Prime, the kids watch it for the most part, but if someone stole my TV, and blocked on my internet, I would not cry. Just the captain Tom movie alone would be like the titanic movie that I have never seen and never will see, depressingly kitch.

And all because a spineless Prime minister could not be bothered to lock down the UK, and to actually stop all air travel in February when we all knew what was coming already. Your prevarication mister Johnson Sir, is costing 1000 lives per day, equivalent to about 5 lockerbie bombings every day. Chew on that one.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Lockdown loo

How to sort out a loose toilet seat, if you have one of those concealed models. Ours was loose and wiggling about after > a year of usage.
My google skills are terrible, because a search for how to install one like this turned up no useful results. In fact it wasted a lot of time. So I'm sharing my experience repairing a soft-close model. The newer soft-close models are not covered in a lot of the tutorials in the same way the concealed bolts is glossed over too.
For the entire job, you will need a tape measure if you have bought a new toilet seat, something I almost did in desperation. You don't need a saw; many guides want you to just cut the bolts. You will need some penetrating oil and a flat head screwdriver. The cross-head driver was specific to the bolts on mine, your may vary.
Lastly, if doing a replacement, there is a nail, you will need a thin poking thing for getting the various plastic shims out.

1. Grab some soapy water in a spray bottle, and wipe down the working area well with disposable wipes. As seen in the right on top photo, use a sharp object to get the two plastic stoppers out. These will let you shift things back and forth now. It's a good time to add some penetrating oil into the areas we want to get into later.

2. Use the flat screwdriver to pop the chrome screw covers up. You will need to wiggle things around at this stage.
3. Now get to the screws and undo them a few turns to get more freedom. At this point give the throne a second good cleaning with the squirting bottle of soapy water. Using gloves is not necessary if you wash your hands well after, and the loss of agility gloves add is not worth it.

4. I dissembled and cleaned out the soft close mechanism at this point. It's rather fiddly to do, but if all you want to do is tighten the bolts, you can do so now, pop the plastic stoppers in again, and be done. NOTE! Do not over tighten the bolts, if you chip or crack the toilet, you will need to call out a professional. A straight-arm twist with no elbow action is enough.

New seat, if you are ordering a new seat, measure the distance between the bolt hole centres. also measure the pan depth (not height), we have a short pan for an smaller space, and seats that are shorter are not that common at all.

5. If you are still reading, you are where I went, installing the new bolts.
The nuts on the old bolts as installed by the plumber will fall off into the void. I ordered a set which come with an unusual rubber flange on the nut which actually stops the nut falling down. A plastic guide was also supplied, I binned that.

6. Gently push the new bolts into the holes.
Next up, we re-assemble, I'll share a few pictures that show the soft-close mechanism innards more clearly so that it might make it easier to take them apart (or put them together.) Remember, do NOT OVER TIGHTEN, or you may crack the porcelain.

Over here we can see the final assembly step. you want to rotate the bolting plate and covers in such a way that it becomes convenient to tighten them in the right final seat position. Depending on the distance between the pan and the cistern, that might be from behind, or, from the front.
Before tightening up, test the seat position (not by using, test by opening and closing it dummy) and check the alignment of the seat. Also go and stand a few feet back and check that it looks like it's aligned correctly over the toilet bowl.

Use a straight arm, and no "elbow grease" when tightening the bolts, and then use the flat head screwdriver to manoeuvre or force the screw covers back into place. Lastly, wash hands well, use a nailbrush as well, and rinse and apply hand cream. If you did the process correctly, buy are an amateur like me, it may have taken an hour and at least one tea break and multiple hand washes. Which means your hands will be quite dried out from all the soap action.

I'm sharing this how-to mainly because Google was not showing me anyone taking you through these steps to repair a loose concealed bolt toilet seat. I personally abhor the hundreds of DIY sites that post facile descriptions of a DIY task that only works if you use the exact same materials and suppliers or even in the case of electrical how-to's, live in the same country. I have actually left nasty correction remarks about bad electrical how-to-instructions on some sites, in an attempt to warn of future visitors from creating a fire hazard or worse. The web is full of bad tutorial websites that pay non professionals to upload stock photos of DIY jobs they never did in order to generate advert revenue.

Anyway, that's enough of my "I hate the crap on the people waste time posting internet", my crapper is now fixed!

Friday, March 27, 2020

What to sell in a thunderstorm

I have been putting off writing about this topic for some time now, probably for too long.
The current context for most of us is coronavirus and working from home. A sudden reliance on remote working tools and the internet has been surprising. Surprising mainly in that the tools work better than we imagined they would under strain. I work at a company that provides such a tool. I tend to never write about my workplace online much. I mean you can google it and find my CV online and find out for yourself. But we all sign non defamatory clauses in one way or another, and to be fair, I've never worked for long at any company that I did not like or thought any evil of at all. but, my point, is that to blow the trumpet requires timing.
This is the corporate logo, as it looked about 3 years ago. Before I joined a great team. I'm going to share a communique from a guy who is amongst the best bosses I have ever had, on the topic of marketing your product at what feels like the worst possible time.

Somebody said this week “There’s a thunderstorm and we’re selling umbrellas!”. What does that mean for how we show up in sales conversations or marketing media? How do we be empathic and sensitive to the gravity of the situation, but at the same time take the opportunity to seize the moment? If we want to be part of a movement that effects positive change within the world, the time is now. If we want to make a name for ourselves, the time is now. If we want to differentiate ourselves, the time is now. Ethos and empathy can be differentiating.
Anyway, there you have it, I think RealVNC and their new Connect product have a winner solution. It's the most secure and simultaneously simple to set up remote desktop access tool. No VPN, just use our cloud, and add a 2FA token of the favourite type, and get back to business.

My input in all of this? Well I love working here, as I have in every job I have held down. I feel that since I am a Test lead on this, while, I'm not able to support you on the product, I can vouch for it's quality.

Give our sales team a ring, you get a free demo (home user mode.) And you can carry on using the demo mode alongside the extra corporate subscription once you sign on. <== Link to the hard-to-find free account setup page.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Dump cake recipe Advertisement free

Mainly because the internet is full of broken recipe sites that start with a story about fairies or want you firstborn child's identity.  
  1. Dump 2 cans of fruit into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
  2. Dump the cake mix on top of the fruit.
  3. Add thin sliced of butter over top of the cake mix.
  4. Bake @ 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 40 minutes  or until golden brown.
Interested, okay, here come the ingredients and pics.

This is a template, change it up or down, remember the idea is not to do any real work, and keep the liquid in there, since the liquid is what makes these stop drying out.

    1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
    1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
    1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
    1 cup margarine, melted
    1 cup flaked coconut
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts
My variation is to swap the melted margarine (a time consumer) with 1/2 a block of butter, just chop into slices of grease and lay on top ; and sub the nuttytoppings with chocolate chip buttons.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Writting product reviews

Why write product reviews? Part 1.
Well because whenever you uniquely pass a Turing test, you proves it's not just a bot leaving a review. Amazon have a huge problem with this for example, and I'm not sure they are even remotely capable of preventing paid reviews, there advertising AI sux eggs, so they cannot possibly remove fake reviews. So now you know why I leave reviews, AI is getting better and better at it every day, reviews that include a photo of the item are even harder to fake, so up your game a bit on your next review. I'll leave a link to some bot accounts to look at below for later.

How I score

I like the 1-5 scoring system, its granular enough to not take too long and easy enough to use for decision making. I have a different grade for software and for hardware, and I prefer to leave reviews in big batches in order to get some normalization going.

Software scores

Apps on the google store/Android and on other platforms get
1 star if they just fail to run, or are making false claims
2 stars if they have big issues, and don't get un-installed within the 1st 20 minutes
3 stars if they are pretty cool, but not something I am interested in, un-install after a few days
4 stars if they have minor issues, but stay installed for a few days, (5 stars if un-installed because job is done)
5 stars if I keep the app in my likes list, or engage and use it occasionally over a period.

How to earn 1 star for an app:
Crash out-of-box; offer free money (which is a barefaced lie) or run some other kind of money making scam; portray women as objects, or attempt to steal data or money. Or just plain be a mickey-mouse app which took 10 minutes to create.
How to earn 2 stars for an app:
Crash more than twice. I forgive out-of-box crashes if an app works on 2nd or 3rd try, I am a software tester after all, so crashes do excite me, I will try again. If the app runs, but still does not float my boat, its 2 stars.
How to earn 3 stars as an app:
I am not always your target market, I give 3 stars for something that other people might like, but is just not for me.
How to earn 4 stars for an app:
I have to like some aspect of your app, it needs to be an app that I can tell other people to try out. I will un-install your app for now, but I will install it again later if I ever need an app that does function X. It's not a bad app, it's just not permanently installed. If your app is a bit crappy, but you give me good support this will raise you from a 3 to a 4 star app, or even a 5 star.
How to earn 5 stars for an app or game:
Some one-off or single use apps get un-installed, but do get 5 stars. Mostly the 5 star apps will be apps I actually buy. Half of the free apps I use do not get 5 stars, something in the way adverts get pushed at me for the most hilarious products mean that free apps are a bit hobbled in my rating system. Charge me 5 dollars for the app and get 5 stars is my economy, if you want loyalty get a dog I say.

I'd like to see a world where reviews count for more than dumb adverts, adverts can be manipulated by anyone, but reviews from people that I actually know in real life are the same old currency they used to be. If you want reviews from real people who connect with real people, build on a well connected review platform of some kind that connects real customers with real vendors.

(Promised earlier, list of mostly bot accounts , which will leave you "likes" on and boost your SEO . Even though is strictly not about promotions... NOT)

Monday, July 22, 2019

Why I quit my job

I've been asked this so many times in the last few months. Nobody actually reads this blog, so I am sure I'll be asked a dozen more times, "Why did you quit ?"
Energy and focus. It's not something individuals can provide, the fuel for a team comes from elsewhere most of the time, and when things got wrong and that disappears, it's not going to go well.
 A corporate restructure when I was once working at a large IT firm had the same effect, and people just start leaving when that happens, well, that's a part of the reason. Because when energy and mission are not there, it normally means the product is not profitable and a even bigger restructure is in the wings. Not looking at cost-to-build the thing kinda grinds me at a "is this for real" level and gets worse the bigger the company. Energy doing the wrong things can also be bad, lots of wrong things were done, but for me, I was not getting the energy or optimistic vision I need.

There are 2 other contributing reasons for my leaving outside of morale and feeling driven; focus and competency.

Focus is something a development team have when they are all building the same thing and with the same goal in mind. An easy way to do this is to look at the constraints, what can we not do and what must we always do are product rules to live and die by. Stepping outside of a constraint, really is failure for the project. Typical constraints might be speed, size, market or just simply size of the device. Being focused on constraints sets up a common language around the cost of building things, engineers are really bad at looking at the cost. It also prevents the priority from shifting about randomly aka "Who moved my cheese"

Competency, this is me really. When I find I'm just not learning how to use the tools quickly enough, or getting enough of the job done, I feel unqualified. I think this is easy to do when you are trying to be all things to everyone, and not only be great at just one thing. If you are prone as I am to going down the rabbit hole, then exposing yourself to a really large system makes that rabbit hole problem so much more of a hurdle. If I'm on a learning track that is too high level or too low level and am not making visible progress, it's my prerogative to feel I am failing. Failing to play my part.
Well that's it, really, low motivation in a system where the energy is at a low already and the important thing keeps shifting around. I don't think I am able to learn as quickly as I used to do; that really knocks your confidence and miss-directs you.
Under it all, I am finding myself trying to define my place as an introvert in the workplace, for years I have made a lot of concious behaviour changes to break the introvert mould that forms around you. Ultimately this "concious behaviour" puts a stress on you in small ways you cannot imagine until you find the space to go and look at yourself properly. Next time I post, I'll be talking about a few other things I have gotten wrong over the years and more recently too. However, quitting this job was not a mistake, it was getting in the way of me being happy at all. If this is you, watch and learn from Susan Cains TED talk  : "The power of introverts" .

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Fish Braai

Some notes on the fish BBQ.
It's probably the 1st time I actually cooked for someone else, which says a lot, but does not excuse 3 mistakes.
1. I forgot to add garlic to the bruschetta mix - I added a tad too much onion, but they were better than last time due to better toasting skills
2. I should double-foil the parcels on the braai, they all tore slightly, but with  no consequence, still more foil does help.
3. Put in a tad more coal to boost heat, it took over an hour to complete 2 re-loads of the grid.

This is the bruschetta recipe

This is the Hake braai recipe, it was a large fish,

I made a modified version of the recipe for quick following

Hake BBQ

·  200 g beetroot, peeled and cut into quarters
·  1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
·  4 tbsp olive oil
·  8 shallots - peeled and cut in half lengthways
·  2 tbsp runny honey
·  4 x 200g Fillets of hake, skin on and boned
·  1 juice and zest lemon
·  1 clove garlic, chopped finely
10 new potatoes, boiled and cooled
Dressing parcel 1
200g Beetroot, 1tsp thyme, 2 tbsp olive oil
30 minutes roast
Dressing parcel 2
8 Shallots cut lengthways, 1 tsbsp olive oil, 2tbsp honey, crush 1 clove garlic
30 minutes roast
1 tbsp olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice
Grill potatoes for 5 minutes.
Serve the parcels with fish on top, and with potatoes arranged around it all.

Pictured above is a incorrectly assembled Texas 47cm BBQ, as made in China - they missed out the grid between the 3 legs, so I had to find 2 bolts to put the wheels on, which is just an incredulously huge Homebase QA failure if you ask me.