Archive for the ‘Life: Work and Techy’ category

Techy Fun: More Information Please!

July 14th, 2007

As I’m in the process of slowing shutting down other sites I’ve worked on (due to time constraints), I’m reposting them here. Here’s an article from “Behind The Frontline” which was going to be a cross between I Work With Fools, Worse Than Failure and Dilbert.

Category: More Information, Please!. Author: Anonymous

It’s a nice relaxing Thursday at mission control when a tech support ticket is raised on the helpdesk. It looks like correspondence between two people (“Company XYZ: It looks like account 123 isn’t working, but 124 is”), but with no indication as to why and how it concerns us. I then request further information about what the problem is and shufty off to play Roller Coaster Tycoon for a bit.

An hour or two later and a new ticket is opened with exactly the same details (and by the same user). Update ticket again asking for a couple of bits of information “What is the problem? What is meant to happen? What software are you using? Are you getting any error messages?” – basically, something for me to start working from – at the moment, I’ve got no idea what the problem is, let alone how I could offer assistance.

I continue losing a bit of money on RCT3.

Check back on the helpdesk and more correspondence between the customer and this unknown third party – it looks like they are having a problem getting a piece of software working, but what software it is, I don’t have a clue. The third party themselves say things appear to be working.

I close the ticket with a note “Unable to assist – I can’t offer support for third party applications and I haven’t got sufficient information from yourselves to be able to diagnose problem”.

Grab a drink.

They’ve responded to the closed ticket. First of all with some more strange third party correspondence and then asking what information I need (I cut and paste “What is the problem? What is meant to happen? What software are you using? Are you getting any error messages?”).

I wait a bit more – it’s now 11pm at night.

They close the ticket themselves – “Oh, I see the problem: I’ve missed some files”.

11 hours later, the problem is resolved and I’ve still got no idea what the problem was! I need an alcoholic drink!

Techy: Firefox Exploit (sortof)

July 11th, 2007

It appears there is a new Mozilla Firefox based exploit around which (as these demos shown) can be utilised to practically run anything on your computer.

However, the reason I’ve added “sortof” is that Firefox doesn’t actually trigger the exploit itself – another browser (such as Internet Explorer) has to go to a URL starting firefoxurl:// which is then passed to the command line version of Firefox which then starts the exploit. Therefore, even if you just have Firefox installed (but not in use), you are at risk.

So how can you fix this? Secunia advises you to “Do not browse untrusted sites” (yep, like that is easy – especially with third party advertisements on “trusted sites”), and also to disable the “Firefox URL” URI handler. But how do you do this?

It’s reasonably simple:

Open Windows Exporer (not Internet Explorer) and from the Tools menu select “Folder Options” menu. On the dialog that appears select the “File Types” tab.

Now in the list of registered file types find the one that says:

“(NONE)” for extension and “Firefox URL” for file type

Select it and click on delete button to delete it.
Click on “OK” to close the “Folder Options” dialog.

If the delete button is greyed out, click it anyway, click [Advanced], [Remove], Sure? [yes].

Search Engines: What does Google Analytics Bounce Rate Mean?

July 10th, 2007

As many of you may be aware, Google Analytics is actually based off the old Urchin statistical gathering systems (which was a commercial available stats package). However, the new version of Analytics has a “Bounce Rate” section – but what does this mean?

Via 123-reg, I came across Google bounce factor research data is in, I found a nice summary which basically means:

  • The Bounce Rate is the rate that people leave your site for the one they were on previously (i.e. they didn’t find what they wanted on your site)
  • Google actually uses this information to tweak the search engine rankings for your site (on the basis, the lower the bounce rate the “better” your site is)
  • The overall bounce rate for the site and each individual bounce rates for each of your keywords plays a role.

Interesting – and it’s certainly one reason not to use Google Analytics (unless your bounce rate is non-existent), but in theory, it should help persuade people to build content rich sites which actually have the content on the page which the page is being promoted for (no more search for “car insurance” and ending up on adult only websites!).

EBuyer – up to date machines

July 7th, 2007

Have a quick look at the Netcraft report of the web servers which are running the computer supplier eBuyer – on the 15th, 17th and 27th of June they were running on a 48k ZX Spectrum (cool) and in between those dates they alternated between a Commodore C64, CBM Pet, MSX Toshiba HX-10 and a CRAY (which was a really fast machine back in the 80s).

Memories…. Sigh
» Read more: EBuyer – up to date machines

Free Directory Enquiries

June 19th, 2007

Continuing on my theme of free phone thingies (ok, this is only the second post out of what looks like to be two), I just thought I’d let people know that they can get free UK directory enquiries. Yes, apart from the BT Online DQ service and services such as, you can also get free directory enquiries over the telephone. Just call 0800 118 3733 (aka 0800 118 FREE) and listen to the short advertisement and then just ask the nice automated service for the number you require. It’s operated by 118118 so your mileage may vary….

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