Friday, 21 December 2007

Scientific chat up lines

New Scientist's Feedback column recently ran a compo "Flirt with science", where they invited readers to submit science-related chatup lines.

They've just published the winning chat-up lines, which are great especially if you're lover of puns and the absurd, as I am:
  1. Would there be any resistance if I asked to take you ohm? Emma Byrne, London, UK

  2. I love the way you smell so different from my dad. Toshi Knell, Nowra, New South Wales, Australia

  3. Would kissing you increase global warming and damage the Arctic irreversibly, or is it just enough to break the ice? Andy McCready, Sheffield, Yorkshire, UK

  4. I've had my ion you. Gary Duffala, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, US

  5. Baby, you must be a start codon because you are turnin' me on. Jessica Swanson, Stratford, Prince Edward Island, Canada

  6. I don't wish to brag, but in several parallel universes I invented the internet, warned the world about global warming, ran for president and won the Nobel peace prize. Yonatan Silver, Jerusalem, Israel

  7. Hello, I've just taken part in the clinical trial of a new drug to help memory loss; could you tell me, do I come here often?
    John French, Wellington, Somerset, UK

  8. You are definitely the woman of my REM phase. Giuliano Aluffi, Milan, Italy

  9. Er... hello... um... er. Oh look! Our shoes have similar spectral characteristics. Jon White, Rampton, Cambridgeshire, UK

  10. Meiosis? Kirstie Brogan Grace, Grays, Essex, UK (from a convent school!!)

Try 'em out, you never know if they'll work. Some of them might work on me, I have to admit!

My own faves are 7, 1 and 9. And I rather like 5 and 6 too. Yours? Or could you better the winners perchance? If so, please post it in a comment. Should you view that as a challenge, even better...

Broadband speed claims: Ofcom acts

Have you ever been misled by broadband providers' advertisements claiming to offer broadband speeds of "up to" X Mbps - then found that in fact your download speed is much less than that, or that your upload speed is just pitiful?

Misleading ads like this have been all too common in the UK; people sign up, tempted by the lure the ISPs hold out of faster speeds, not realising that with many ISPs you'll probably get less than the fastest advertised speed if you're further from the exchange, or that with other ISPs your speed could be significantly reduced depending on how many other users sharing your service are online. That's only in the small print, or not stated at all.

UK consumers and consumer bodies have been increasingly exercised about this kind of misleading ad, particularly for supposedly ultra high-speed services.

Take upload speeds, for instance. For domestic broadband, usually upload speeds are much slower than download speeds, e.g. for BT Broadband the advertised download speed is 8MB but the upload speed is a mere 256Kbps (and it's impossible to find any info on upload speeds on the BT site itself). Originally advertisers were claiming high speeds all round, without making it clear that upload speeds weren't hugely better than on a dial up package. So much so that in mid 2005 the UK Advertising Standards Authority issued advice to marketers to "either do not use unqualified speed claims (unless the package is faster for both downloads and uploads) or be specific about the advantage, e.g. “Faster download” or “Upload speeds of up to XMB”," having upheld complaints on that front against NTL, BT and AOL.

Then in September 2006, the ASA upheld complaints about "up to 8 meg" speed ads on TV and in the national press by Bulldog (though the ASA felt "up to" was fine in ads for 1 Mbps and 2 Mbps services, "where the user would not achieve the maximum speed because of factors such as the number of people on line but where the attainable speeds were close enough to those advertised so as not to affect the customers' experience in any meaningful way" - the highlighted buzzwords were used again earlier this year in a Sky vs Virgin advertising spat).

They again upheld complaints about "up to" speed claims against Wanadoo UK in October 2006, and against Be in January 2007.

The ASA even issued general advice to advertisers in March 2007 on that broadband ads should include a prominent statement along the lines of “top speeds vary significantly, in particular because of a user’s distance from the local exchange”.

The UK comms regulator Ofcom have been aware of the issue for some time, mentioning it e.g. their September 2007 consultation on Future broadband - Policy approach to next generation access in the context of the importance of appropriate information being made available to consumers so they can make informed purchasing decisions about next generation network products and services.

In their November 2007 consumer experience report and policy evaluation Ofcom noted falling consumer satisfaction with broadband in the UK , one area of complaint being that advertised headline broadband speeds do not reflect actual speeds delivered.

Their December 2007 International Communications Market report also noted that in the UK fully a quarter of respondents felt that they received a service that was less than the advertised speed of 8Mbit/s or higher - the UK (along with Japan) had the biggest gaps between perceived advertised/headline and actual speeds - and

In October 2007 the chair of the Ofcom Consumer Panel Colette Bowe wrote an open letter on broadband speeds to the Chief Executives of leading UK ISPs. And now finally, in their response to proposals in a letter by the Ofcom Consumer Panel, Ofcom have said that they'll be talking to internet service providers early in the New Year about:
  1. ISPs providing consumer specific information prior to sale on the estimated maximum speed a customer’s access line can support (using BT Line Checker and/ or equivalent).

  2. ISPs providing consumers with data early within the contract period on the actual (rather than estimated) maximum speed being achieved.

  3. ISPs offering consumers the choice to move, penalty free, onto a different speed package based on the information provided
Other things mentioned in the letter, to help consumers:
  1. To help consumers choose the most appropriate ISP for their needs, Ofcom have also started a project to identify the most useful indicators to consumers for comparative Quality of Service information, and they'll consider what's the best way to provide this information to consumers.

  2. Ofcom are also going to publish, in summer 2008, a consumer guide with advice on how best to maximise the quality of a broadband connection within the home.

Ofcom further said:
"We are keen that any measures are implemented in the shortest time frame possible. At this stage, we have not ruled out the possibility of using formal powers if we consider it would be more effective in delivering our objectives."

In other words, "This has gone on long enough. Better sort this out fast, you ISPs, or we'll make ya do it!" Which is good news for us consumers. I hope they make ISPs provide (pre and post contract) info on download speeds as well as upload speeds, and allow contracts to be cancelled if the promised speeds are not met - not just moved to a different package with the same provider. Let's wait and see...

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Blogger: undocumented keyboard shortcuts?

I love keyboard shortcuts - they help me be much more productive - and it's great that Blogger have implemented some, having added the much needed "Save but keep editing" earlier this year: see the Blogger keyboard shortcuts list.

I just discovered that, at the start of a list item in a numbered or bulleted list in the Blogger Post Editor, the Tab key will create a new list nested inside the current list. And Shift-Tab moves a "lower level" list item back up to a higher level.

  • I'm a list item.
  • I'm another list item.
    • And I'm a lower level nested list item created by using the Tab key
    • And another one.
  • I've Shift-tabbed back now.

Could there be other undocumented or "secret" keyboard shortcuts? Does anyone know at all?

My biggest wishlist items for Blogger currently are (still!) to have hotkeys for:
  1. switching back & forth between Edit HTML and Compose view (and if the cursor would just stay in the same position when you switch views, that would be perfect!)

  2. a bulleted or numbered list (Ctrl-Shift-l perhaps?), and

  3. (a new one) the Add Image command.
Hey, it's nearly Christmas. I can wish, can't I?

Modest needs, moi.

Seasonal Santa funnies - privacy, distance selling, environmental etc

For the Christmas season Out-Law, one of my favourite sites for digital rights news, have come out with a number of excellent funnies, written totally straight-faced as "news" articles, about some of the legal risks that face poor Santa Claus in this age of increasing red tape and regulations:

Santa putting children's information at risk, warn experts - "Santa Claus could be breaking privacy laws in his collection and use of data about British children... Yuletide cheer-bringer Claus could be putting the personal data of millions of children at risk... Children across Britain who write letters to Claus with a list of gift requests are not told for how long that data is kept, or if it will be used for other purposes such as marketing by third parties... What about the naughty/nice database?.. Are children given notice that behavioural data is being collected about them throughout the year? And does it qualify as covert monitoring, which would breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights?..."

Santa ignores children's refund rights, warn experts - "Santa Claus's failure to alert children to their rights to full refunds within seven working days under the Distance Selling Regulations is in breach of those rules... All they have to do is cancel their contract, and I imagine a follow-up letter up the chimney should do it. He must also tell children that they have this right, which he plainly doesn't... Claus is likely to be in breach of one company's trade mark with his gift distribution enterprise. 'Santa Claus of Greenland' has a trade mark over that term in relation to games, playthings, sports goods, decorations for Christmas trees and the regulation and control of electricity, amongst other things..."

Reckless Santa could cause yuletide chaos, warn experts - "Santa Claus has been accused of putting his life and the lives of others at risk through breaches of health and safety laws. Brandy-loving present-giver Claus behaves recklessly and in direct contravention of UK legislation... Santa should at least make sure his sleigh has guardrails to prevent a fall and a fall arrest system installed so that if he does fall he is protected... Make sure your roof is safe and that the chimney is clear so that he doesn't injure himself on the way down... The alcohol restrictions are the same for every pilot whether you are flying a light aircraft or a 747... It is 20 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, which is nothing, basically, a trace. One brandy probably would put you over that limit... There are also flying height restrictions which Claus is in clear breach of..."

Santa's hiring policies may discriminate, warn experts - "Santa Claus could be breaking a raft of employment laws designed to protect exploited and discriminated-against workers... Employers are governed by the European Working Time Directive, which restricts the number of hours anyone can work. That law could land Claus in hot water, said Doherty. 'In my mind the elves work full time all year round, and probably work more than 48 hours per week for the majority of the year,' he said... If Santa had to reduce his workforce as a result of the downturn [in toy demand due to a higher than normal level of bad children] and the elves were employees, they would be entitled to a redundancy payment. If they were not employees they would get nothing... What about the elf who wants to work flexibly so that they can look after their kids but Santa won't agree because he needs everybody working hard at this time of year?... It may be possible that if he only recruits elves to manufacturer his toys he will risk claims from other race types..."

Santa: environmental catastrophe?- "Santa Claus is ignoring his environmental obligations and could be putting the lives of thousands of livestock and agricultural livelihoods at risk... in his haste he may be ignoring his obligations to recycle and dispose of goods he has previously delivered... All producers, irrespective of size, were to register with an approved PCS by 15th March 2007, so Santa and the elves may be in breach if they have not registered and so they may face prosecution... His use of hooved animals in areas blighted by transmittable diseases is potentially his most serious safety breach. Outbreaks of foot and mouth and bluetongue diseases this autumn have put the future of the already-battered UK farming industry in jeaopardy once again. Claus's bringing of reindeer in and out of restriction zones could be a serious threat to the industry..."

Who'd be Father Christmas in the UK, eh?

Monday, 17 December 2007

Blogger: Technorati tagger for multiple word tags fixed

On Friday various changes to the Blogger post editor broke the Magical Sheep tagger userscript (which helps you add Technorati tags easily to your Blogger posts via the Firefox browser, using the free Greasemonkey extension). MC spotted the problem first. Or at least, was the first to point it out to me.

Fortunately that Javascript Jenius Kirk has fixed the user script so that it's all working again. Install the updated script and as long as your Post Options are visible, you'll see the tagger box as before. UPDATE: the script has further been tweaked to make sure the Post Options section stays open permanently even when you switch between Compose and Edit HTML modes. Links below are to the updated version.

If you've already installed the script, you can just install the tweaked script over your existing one and your MeTags etc will be preserved, no need to uninstall anything first.

I've uploaded the updated script to various places (same as before) so that the old links remain usable, but just point to the updated script (too small a fix to call it an "upgrade"!):
- and I've also updated my main post about that tagging tool to note the fix and to update the links there.

If you're a Blogger / user who hasn't yet installed the script and you'd like to try it, or indeed find out more on what this is all about, see my intro on what are Technorati tags and my Technorati tag creator overview, step by step installation instructions and links.

Maybe those behind the Greasemonkey Gmail API could start turning their thoughts towards a Greasemonkey Blogger API soon? Pretty please?

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Blogs, social networks: defamation v opinion, copyright, anonymity, your rights & risks - free event & drinks

If you write, run or host a blog or social network, or online message board or bulletin board, or plan to, you may be interested in a free event in January on your risks and liabilities to do with legal issues such as:
  • Are you responsible for clearing your contributor’s content?
  • Can you be responsible if other people take your comments out of context?
  • If you work for a company can your views affect them?
  • Can you remain anonymous?
  • What are you agreeing to when you join a blogging website and which countries' law do you have to adhere to?
  • What you need to be aware of when sourcing other peoples content?

The event is "Log in, Blog to, Log out", run by Own-It, from 6-9 pm including networking drinks on Wed 23 Jan 2008 in Clerkenwell, London. The speakers will be:

It's free to sign up for Own-It events if you're a registered member (and it's free to register - use a free disposable email address service like Spamgourmet or a Gmail alias if you prefer).

As you can tell from the questions listed above to be discussed, the talk should be relevant to those who host or run blogs or social networking sites too - not just bloggers or those who comment on blogs or post on internet forums or social network sites like Facebook, Twitter etc, in terms of the risks we face that we ought to be aware of.

I've signed up and do hope I'll be able to make it to this one - while there is an EFF legal guide for bloggers it's US-centric, and so is the legal guide to podcasting, as well as various developments in the USA on censorship / libel and defamation.

The EFF are very strong on promoting bloggers' rights in the US: the rights of journalists; bloggers' rights to free speech including political speech, without the abuse of copyright or libel laws to censor us; the right to stay anonymous; and the right to not be liable for hosting speech in the same way other web hosts are. I'm a big fan of the EFF, see my sidebar. The Open Rights Group are a similar group in the UK focusing on digital rights and civil liberties and also deserve support (I'm a member, as you won't be surprised to hear after my Copyfighters posts from May 2005, Aug 2005 and Mar 2006 plus Creative Commons song, if you were with me from that far back!).

The US is of course still very relevant to us here because content we create or upload could be hosted on servers located in the USA, or owned by a US company. For instance, this blog was directly affected when the BBC issued a take-down notice under the US DMCA against the YouTube screencasts in my BBC iPlayer review (though they later apologised).

But it's about time there was a legal guide for bloggers in the UK and Europe - I still have no idea about the risks of hyperlinking to other sites! Hopefully this will be an informative talk. And maybe someone - the ORG? - will produce a legal guide for bloggers here in the not too distant future?

In fact I may well draw up a list of the many questions I have on the subject and see if I can send it to the speakers / Own-It in advance in the hope that they'll address them.

Email stress: want to be on the BBC?

I notice BBC Two's Money Programme are asking people to email or phone in their email horror stories. So I guess the BBC must be planning a programme on all manner of email problems, as they're asking questions like:
  • Been fired by email?
  • Replied to all by mistake?
  • Wish people would stop cc'ing you in?
  • So fed up, you've declared email bankruptcy?

I guess if you email or phone them with your email stories you might even get featured on TV, for your obligatory few minutes of fame, if you're after that sort of thing.

In fact if you have funny email stories, I'd love to hear them too. I'm more than happy to feature the top submissions (which I pick, of course, hey I ought to get to be lady & mistress of m' own blog!) here on ACE - with of course a link back to the blogs of the top submitters. Let's see if this garners more entries than the guess the girl geek one did, or indeed the (only slightly tongue in cheek) mobileCamp one.

Of course, you may prefer to submit your stories to the BBC. Thass OK, I can live with that, being on the telly may be a somewhat greater attraction for most people! I just hope the programme doesn't turn out to be an over-general "email-bashing for the sake of it" type of thing.

And yes I confess, I've sent emails to the wrong people before, darn Outlook Address Book. Luckily there's been nothing too embarrassing. So far. I really ought to look at all the addresses very carefully before I hit Send...

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Skype: critical security update

If you use Skype for free or cheap VoIP phone calls over the Net via a Windows computer, and you haven't updated your Skype software lately, you ought to - there was a critical security hole which version 3.6 of the Skype software for Windows, an update issued in mid November, has now fixed.

With previous versions, there was a (it seems not at all well publicised) risk that if you visited certain malicious websites your computer could be infected with malware - viruses, spyware, etc, or control of it taken over by bad hackers.

So if you have a version of Skype for Windows that's below v3.6, you probably ought to upgrade Skype to the latest version as soon as possible. There are also other Skype issues to watch e.g. with trojans pretending to be Skype plugins.

Via Heise Security, which has more info on the security vulnerability.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Doctors shouldn't be using Google!

A while back there was a fuss about judges relying on Google searches for info related to their cases, rather than on expert courtroom testimony. Yet despite the hoohah about that, it seems the rot has spread. More people ought to be concerned about the fact that:
  1. Doctors are using Google to search for medical information, instead of using authoritative medical sources. And what's worse -

  2. They don't seem to be very good at it, at least in my experience!

Doctors using Google

I have a medical condition, genetic and not infectious. It's not life-threatening in me, luckily, as I inherited it from only one parent (if you get it from both you're pretty much snookered and will die before your 20's unless you have certain uncomfortable treatments which you're then stuck with for your entire life). And I shouldn't have kids with anyone who has it too. I don't want children, so that's not an issue.

However, I get tired and cold more easily than than most, and I will always have one mild symptom which I'm supposed to take stuff A for, because something in me is not the same as in ordinary healthy people. I have the right quantity of it, but I suffer the mild symptom because the quality of it is not normal. People who sneer at me or think I'm acting up or attention-seeking due to the measures I take to anticipate or prevent the tiredness and cold don't know about my condition, and frankly I'm not going to waste my time telling that sort of person.

My genetic condition was fully investigated when I was a child (as one of my parents has it). My parents consulted experts and even now keep nagging me to take the stuff I'm supposed to take to help alleviate the mild symptom.

Now I suffered a similar symptom in spades recently, due to a completely different health issue. Note that I said similar, not the same. Superficially it looks the same if you don't know I have the genetic condition and don't do fuller testing, and the end result is pretty much the same, but in fact the cause is slightly different.

Now the normal treatment for that symptom - taking stuff B, which is different from the stuff A I was told to take as a child - is aimed at increasing the quantity of the thing which I already have in sufficient quantity but is just not up to scratch in its quality. That treatment therefore doesn't assist someone with my genetic condition (increasing the quantity of something which is not right in its quality won't help), and in fact taking stuff B can be positively harmful to people like me if continued over time.

I went to see a GP (general practitioner, family doctor type for the non-Brits) about the other health issue I'd developed recently, because it just wouldn't go away even after some months. Now in order to alleviate the similar symptom the GP told me to take stuff B, which would certainly have helped someone who'd got the symptom from other causes and didn't have my genetic condition. But, as I said, I'd been positively told not to take that.

So I queried it with the GP, explained my genetic condition, and asked: are you absolutely sure I should be taking this stuff B?

The GP said they'd investigate and consult with their colleagues and get back to me. Get back to me a few weeks later they conscientiously did, but cue shock to the system number one.

What did they say? "I can't find anything about that on Google. So I'll ask my colleagues". Yes you heard that right, Google.

And that was the last I heard from them. They never got back to me ever again.

So much for asking their colleagues and reverting.

Now no one expects GPs to be experts in everything. After all, they're "general practitioners", family doctors, they wouldn't be able to know everything. But they should at least know the right sources to consult if and when they come across something they aren't familiar with.

Aren't there official medical databases, even books or manuals, which might be a tad more reliable than some random website that Google has picked? What happened to checking specialist medical databases or medical texts? Asking other doctors? And why couldn't they have asked their colleagues at least at the same time as doing a search on Google? They did have a a few weeks to do that in.

That was the first thing that worried me.

Doctors need training in using search engines and assessing the value of the results!

Here's the second worry.

Doctors, or at least that particular doctor, really aren't very good at finding information on the internet.

I tried searching about my condition on Google myself, doing two slightly different word searches. Both times, I found more than one webpage on the first or second page of the search results (including on Wikipedia), which not only described my condition but also confirmed that taking that particular stuff B that the GP had originally suggested wouldn't help that condition. True, they didn't say anything about taking stuff A, but at least they'd flagged that I shouldn't take, or at least didn't need to take, what my doctor had suggested.

Whereas my doctor said they'd found nothing about it on Google. They probably hadn't even spelled the name of the condition correctly. I wouldn't be at all surprised.

If medical professionals are going to use Google, Yahoo or other search engines for research in the course of their work, they at least need to know how to use them properly.

And even more importantly, surely they should be trained in how to evaluate the results - can a particular Webpage turned up by Google be trusted, is it authoritative, is it accurate, is it by someone who knows what they're doing or just some unknown person sounding off about a disease, condition or medicine or drug online, perhaps just to bring in ad money for their Website?

What should be happening? Professional ethics or even laws!

Now professionals who ought to know better have been turning to Google instead of official sources because of its simplicity, power and ease of use. I even found a University College academic paper based on research users, "‘I’ll just Google it!’: Should lawyers’ perceptions of Google inform the design of electronic legal resources?", on how the way people use Google and why they like it could help improve the design of electronic legal resources like LexisNexis.

But legal, health and other professionals need training on using the Net properly, and they need to remember to always use their informed critical judgement when assessing the search results. An American Bar Association paper on "Judicial ethics and the internet: may judges search the Internet in evaluating and deciding a case?" outlines the history of judges using the Internet as a research tool, concerns raised by that increasing practice (including fairness to the parties), and a proposed revision to the ABA's Model Code of Judicial Conduct (which was supported by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics and Committee on Government Ethics). This would at least make judges use the Internet with more care:
"judicial searching and citing of Internet materials raises concerns of accuracy, fairness, and permanency. Judges should
exercise caution in accessing factual information on the Internet, taking care not to let questionable Web site materials improperly influence case outcomes. Those bodies charged with making and applying state judicial rules should assess the need for clearer rules... a judge who intends to rely on materials obtained by searching the Internet must first inform the parties of the substance of the materials, and then offer the parties an opportunity to respond. Thus, before a decision is rendered, litigants would be aware of the Internet information and be able to contest its accuracy and relevancy."

For whatever reason, this proposed Judicial Canon still doesn't seem to have been finalised or officially released - at least, it was discussed as still a proposed Model Rule 2.10(B) at an ABA meeting in 2006 (original link).

Personally, I think that lawyers and indeed lawmakers in all countries should get their fingers out and make this sort of thing a law or rule which all lawyers and other professionals simply have to follow. Or risk being banned, disbarred or losing their licences to practice.

And furthermore, medical boards, ethics boards and the like should be issuing the same rule for doctors and other medical professionals.

And all of the official bodies should police it carefully.

Otherwise - well, do you really want a judge to make a ruling which could affect your life, or your doctor or nurse to diagnose your medical condition or prescribe drugs for you, based on some haphazard searches they perform on the Internet?

Monday, 3 December 2007

BarCampLondon 3 at Google, 24-25 November 2007

BarCampLondon3 last weekend was sponsored by Google and BBC Backstage and organised by the inimitable Ian Forrester with Amy Gepfert from Google. I've only just about recovered from my second BarCamp ever, the first being mobileCamp.

For those not familiar with the concept of a BarCamp or UnConvention or "user generated conference", the attendees are supposed to present or contribute in some other way e.g. helping out. You don't know the programme till you turn up. After they arrive people write on a whiteboard what their presentations will be, and you just decide what to go to on the day.

I haven't figured out how to present and stay anonymous. I did try a Cyberman helmet but it didn't work for me, you could still hear my real voice, I returned it to the shop! So I didn't lead a session, but I tried to do my bit by videoing lots of the presentations, and I'll be putting them online so that people who couldn't make it to the event can benefit from the presentations too.

This event kept pretty well to Imp's laws of BarCamp, except that many didn't even write down their names, never mind the details of what their talk would be about (a catchy title just isn't enough when you're competing with other talks in the same time slot). And there weren't microphones in all the rooms, or if there were not everyone used them, so on some of the videos the audio needs to be turned up quite a bit to hear the speaker properly. On the later one it's fine thanks to the loan of a gun microphone from Tom Hughes-Croucher, thanks Tom!

It takes me ages to process videos, so I'll be uploading them gradually over the next few weeks. To be going on with here's a lighthearted video of my own debut BarCamp "presentation", entitled "How to Fall Off a Segway". They said it wasn't possible - I proved them wrong! Plus a secret trick I wish I knew - how to get people to move the furniture out of the way for you - and BarCampers in action playing with the Googlers' Nintendo Wii. Lucky, lucky Googlers, to have the use of two Segways and a Wii, free meals 3 times a day, free snacks, beer, icecream etc etc...

The night festivities included games like London BarCamp fave Werewolf, and a chocolate fountain, but I was too exhausted to stay for those. For those interested in more info, there are photos on Flickr and various slides on Slideshare, plus several blog posts.

Keep checking back on this blog for more videos. I hope to have them all up by Christmas, the ones that are suitable for re-playing that is (not the "you had to be there!" ones) - including videos of the welcome and closing talks, and presentations on digital rights, voluntary economics (where people pay only if they choose to), Noserub, DIY user research, Yahoo Pipes, Website psychology, learning JQuery, the art of self-publishing, mobile web, mobile data and fair use, the future of BarCamp, and data portability.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Blogger: bug with posted pics, & temp fix

Kirk spotted that if you upload a pic or photo to Blogger using the built in Add Image icon in the Blogger post editor, a new bug now means that anyone clicking on the picture in your blog post to see a larger version gets prompted to download it instead.

Kirk posts, and Team Blogger immediately see and leap into action...

Blogger acknowledged the issue and published a temporary workaround the very same day.

Here's a step by step to fix the problem, at least for now:
  1. After you've uploaded the pic, go to "Edit HTML" view in the Blogger post editor.

  2. Find the code for the image, which will look something like this (I've put the bits that you need to change in bold red):
    <a onblur="[stuff]" href="http://[stuff]/AAAAAAAAAps/l45SRB9MHmc/s1600-R/16112007023.jpg">
    <img style="[stuff];" src="http://[stuff]/AAAAAAAAAps/mde1x2JIA7c/s200/16112007023.jpg" [stuff]/></a>
  3. Go to the second tag that starts <img... and find the bit that starts with src.

  4. Copy into your clipboard the jumble of letters and numbers immediately before the s-something bit, which in the above example is s200 (it could be s320 or s400). Just copy the bit between the / slashes, not the slashes themselves, so in the above example I'd copy mde1x2JIA7c, marked bold green.

  5. Go back to the first tag that starts <a... and find the href part.

    1. In the s-something bit, change the -R to -h. But don't touch the rest e.g. the s1600 in the above example.

    2. Find the s-something bit and delete the letters and numbers just before it, between slashes (in the above example l45SRB9MHmc), or highlight it and paste in what you copied from the img src bit. Don't delete any of the letters or numbers before that bit, so in the above example don't delete or change the AAAAAAAAAps bit or the letters/numbers before it.

  6. So in the above example the first bit of the image code would end up looking like:
    <a onblur="[stuff]" href="http://[stuff]/AAAAAAAAAps/mde1x2JIA7c/s1600-h/16112007023.jpg">

Hopefully Blogger will fix this soon!