Internet Explorer 8 Compatibility View SNAFU

File this one under Microsoft usability nightmares. I was visiting one of my W3 standards compliant pages using Internet Explorer 8 to check for cross-browser layout/rendering consistency when I noticed that IE8 served a pop-up.  I was not pleased to learn that I could press the compatibility view button to fix problems in pages made for older browsers. The page looked fine to me. What the hell, I’ll click the button.

Naturally, clicking the IE8 compatibility view button destroyed the layout. It wasn’t illegible, but it really no longer looked professional.

How to force a page into IE8’s standards mode

I found this gem to force pages into standards mode

<meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=EmulateIE8″ />

Works like a charm. No more annoying pop-up.

Consider adding this to any page/site that’s built to W3 specs.

IE8 Compatibility Mode Pop-up Message
Internet Exploder

The Pirate Bay Open to SQL Injection Attacks?

This from an old friend of mine on the private “guys list” mailing list.

So,  I was trying to get a couple of E-books from the pirate bay.

http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/5362753

The pdf I downloaded did not work, so I put up a comment and I noticed they were not un-escaping single quotes.

So I tried a double quote in the comment and it gave an error.

So I tried this in the comment box

“; SELECT * FROM `users` —

And it didn’t break.  I’m pretty sure it selected all the users.  Didn’t print them out, but it selected them.

So, what I’m saying is.  Thepiratebay.org is currently wide open to sql injection attacks.

Have fun, let me know what you do.

Is this news? Maybe not. This article outlines how TPB was hacked over a month ago. Close the door man! It’s wide open.

Intel 4500mhd Shared Video Change Allocated Memory

intelMy mostly spiffy new Acer 1810t laptop uses the Intel 4500 video chipset. It’s fine for video as long as you’re not a modern gamer. If you like playing older games, it works fine. However, unlike older integrated video processors, there’s no easy way to directly change the amount of shared memory allocated to video. The Intel 4500hmd uses new fangled Dynamic Video Memory Technology (dvmt) to control memory on the fly. Problem is, it doesn’t work well.

Intel 4500mhd memory allocation problem

There are plenty of gamers complaining, “the 4500mhd won’t allocate the maximum memory for my game!” But usually, more memory won’t help them. The Intel 4500mhd isn’t meant for modern gaming. Poke around on Google for threads re: what games can be played.

Some people have suggested changing the settings under: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver for mobile -> 3D Settings -> Driver Memory Footprint – but everything I’ve read has been telling people to set it to “high” whereas the Intel site indicates that setting the driver memory footprint to high will unconditionally limit the amount of memory, maximum allowed texture size, depth buffer precision and amount of textures kept in memory. FAIL.

No wonder everybody trying “high” hasn’t noticed any improvement. To be fair, Intel really dropped the ball here. Yes = No ?! High = Low ?!

My problem is exactly the opposite of the 4500mhd RAM gaming conundrum partially solved above. I don’t use my rig for gaming, and I want to be able to use as much of my four gigs of RAM for things like Photoshop swap files and whatnot. So… I’m going to set Driver Memory Footprint to “High” – restart – and hopefully I’ll notice more than 3 of my 4 GB RAM available to me.

More from the Intel site:

Normal (Default Value) – Driver automatically determines memory based on available memory.

LOW – Driver does not reduce memory footprint.

Dan Dreifort usually complains about tech here. But sometimes, he finds solutions to problems and shares them with YOU. What a mensch.

Bing.com won’t load on Verizon Wireless

(Updated 3/25/2010 below) If your Verizon Wireless connection does not load bing correctly. Please leave a comment here. If you’re not having a hard time viewing bing.com in both firefox and internet explorer over a Verizon Wireless air card EVDO connection, then you’re going to be really bored here. Go visit uncool instead.  Verizon Wireless support won’t open a ticket for me to fix this bing problem unless I can find another customer having the same problem. When I load the bing page from my Verizon Wireless connection, all I get is a white screen with one line of orange text – Tell us what you think – and some white on white text visible if I use the mouse pointer to select and highlight. But when I take my computer to any other connection, things are fine. It is only the Verizon Wireless card that won’t load bing.

Verizon Wireless Bing Problem

Back when Alltel still had a hand in my connection, I contacted support about a Verizon Facebook problem.  After I found other people having the same problem on Verizon Wireless, Verizon fixed the problem. But they blew me off until then. Same thing here with Bing Verizon Wireless. It’s not working. Verizon Wireless support is blowing me off. They won’t even open a ticket for me. Verizon told me to contact Bing… but naturally couldn’t tell me how I should go about doing that. How rude.

I wouldn’t hesitate to leave Verizon Wireless for another company, but I’m stuck with them. There’s no DSL or cable at my location. No other EVDO options. Satellite’s latency is too high for the sftp and other stuff I do. ISDN is a sketchy pain. Dialup… ugh. So I just need Bing to load, but Verizon Wireless as usual is not taking any responsibility. How I long for the days of Alltel’s comparatively incredible mediocrity. Please contact me in the comments or by emailing verizonsucks at uncoolcentral dot com

My earlier post declaring Webposition a giant pit of suck still holds true, in that I was complaining about the terrible “support” they provide. So this is not a mea culpa apology. But I should note: I’m MUCH angrier with Verizon Wireless’ terrible “support” than I am/was with webpo’s. As far as I’m concerned, until both companies reimburse me for my wasted time, they can suck it.

Verizon bing.com problem solution

I’ve spent the past several months communicating with others experiencing the same problems. There’s power in numbers. Eventually Verizon started replacing modems. After hearing from others that upgrading  to the um175 fixed most problems, I purchased a used Verizon Pantech um175 online to replace my Alltel um150. I took the 175 into the Verizon store a couple of days ago and asked if changing to a new modem would change my plan. Nope. I’m still grandfathered in on the unlimited plan for the time being. I can now access Bing.com. (no thanks to Verizon. Boo!)

Determine Line of Sight

Determine line of sight between two points
Determine line of sight between two points

EDIT: This post is old. the link to the software doesn’t work anymore, but Google has some ideas. Download at your own risk.

I use EVDO to connect to the intertubes. My indoor 7dbi omni antenna topped out at 1mbps down / 100kbps up on a very good day, usually lingering at about 500kbps down and 60kbps up. I bought a three watt amplifier package (came with a 5dbi omni) and gave it a shot. It increased my signal a little, but it also increased the noise. My speeds actually dropped a little.

I called Alltel to find out where my tower is located. It’s almost exactly 3 miles away… through hilly terrain. I’m located in what’s known as a “holler” in these parts. A hollow is essentially a valley in a valley, a nightmare of sorts in the RF arena.

I wanted to get a yagi antenna to point directly at the tower, but I wanted to find out if I had line of sight (LOS). It would be a waste of time and money to use a yagi or grid antenna without LOS.

I found a great, free program called RadioWORKS from Desert Hail. Enter the lat/lon of both points and it displays a graph to help you determine if you have line of sight between two points. It allows you to easily enter antenna elevation at both locations, so you can play around with the figures to determine how high you need to mount to obtain line of sight.

So, from the LOS survey I posted above, I determined that though I have LOS, part of the Fresnel zone is occluded. Rather than jump right to a yagi/grin directional antenna, I’ve decided to take my omni antenna to the roof to see if that helps. It might give me enough. I hope so… Though I found online sources to calculate bearing between two points, aiming a directional antenna is a task I’d like to avoid.

EVDO Antenna Line of Sight Update

I took the works to the roof and achieved a much faster connection. However, dealing with the inevitable lightning strikes is a daunting task. The antenna sits on a solid steel slab and is otherwise very inviting to lightning. Properly grounding the antenna involves an additional connection which loses precious dbi. And the mounting logistics are annoying too. On a whim, I moved the antenna to a second story window with decent LOS to the tower. Problem solved. It’s not quite as fast as it was on the roof, but it’s better and good enough. Lesson learned: If you’re able to place your antenna higher in your house, give it a try. I moved my Cradlepoint MBR1000 upstairs and ran some cat5 to a little switch that sits where the Cradlepoint mobile broadband aggregator used to be. As an added benefit, my wifi signal is also better when broadcasting from this height.

Line of sight update two

Checked today and the link to the line of sight software is dead. In case it doesn’t come back up or dies again in the future, please Google for radioworks line of sight to find other download sources for this great free software. (Update 3 – vendor link is working again. I had to remove the www. from the url. I’ve informed them of their webserver misconfig. Awful canonical SEO problem. They helped me with LOS, I’ll help them with SEO!)

Dan Dreifort consults on SEO and usability. He helped start an ISP in 1996. That ISP is still up and running, somehow. When he first started looking into determining line of sight he couldn’t believe the lack of available tools and information. Then he realized he was spelling it wrong. Line of site. Yeah, that doesn’t work as well.

Southland Tales and the Compact Fluorescent Lie

When I first watched Southland Tales on a seven inch screen late one night in bed… in Mexico, I knew I had to watch it again. On a 32″ screen I was able to appreciate more details of this oft maligned, sprawling film. Upon a third viewing, I still love it. It’s flawed… hundreds of negative reviews hit that, but at the expense of missing its poignancy and beauty. It’s a film in the truest sense of the word. If you think you “got it” from one viewing, you’re wrong. If you similarly dismissed it, your loss.

Do you watch “The Wire”? Avon Barksdale… he plays a supporting role in Southland Tales. Nutty. That’s just one of the interesting talent choices made by the casting department. The cast is ripe with seasoned comedic actors in non-comedic roles. They all do a great job. But this isn’t a movie review. I just  wanted to tell you to see it if you’re into disutopian science fiction and aren’t afraid of a complex story.

CF Bulbs

The real reason for this post is to expose the farce of compact fluorescent light bulbs. This one’s a little too long term for the Mythbusters so I’ll have to fill in. I’ve been using CF bulbs for years. Every light in my house that can be CF is a CF. They’re supposed to last several years, but they never do. I’ve bought half a dozen different brands, from GE to brands you’ve never heard of. They all fail. It doesn’t matter if they’re open to the air or enclosed in a fixture. Inside or outdoors. CF bulbs die after about a year or so of infrequent use.

Usually, their death is a stinky, caustic affair. The electronic balast dies a toxic premature death. The forensic evidence (apart from the odor) is melted plastic where the CF tube meets the bulb base.

So I pay anywhere from two to ten times as much for a bulb that usually supplies inferior light and lasts just as long as an incandescent bulb. What’s worse, CF bulbs use far more poluting chemicals. All this to save about 80% on my electric bill. Well, I did the math. It doesn’t save me anything. My wallet is lighter and the environment isn’t any safer. In fact, my big ugly environmental footprint is even bigger with CF bulbs.

Unless the batch of CF bulbs I bought today actually lasts more than two ‘years, I’m done with them. Fool me for ten years, shame on you. Fool me for a dozen…

To be fair, my home voltage is  about 125 volts. As high as that is, it’s not abnormal. If that’s why CF bulbs fail, (and I’ll look into it,) then at least I know. I just wish they’d say as much on the packaging next to the warning label saying, “warning: use of this product might cause a loss of darkness.” Don’t laugh. We’re only one lawsuit away from that waste of ink.

FCC Do Not Call List Idiocy

WARNING!! Something or other about your auto insurance.

BEWARE!! An issue with your credit  card…

The only reassuring bits of those two spammy phone calls is the part when the fembot on the other end of the phone divulges that this is their final attempt to contact you/me/unfortunate recipient of annoying robot phone call.

How to Make a Do Not Call List Complaint

After several similar calls over a few weeks, I stayed on the line until I got a human. Who kindly explained to me that they’re a big organization and that removing me from their call list wouldn’t be easy. (Why was I on this list in the first place?!) So I googled for do no call list complaint or something like that and got to a FCC page similar to but not as user-friendly as this hand FCC do not call violation report form. (Here’s the more convoluted fcc do not call complaint form I initially found.)

So far so good. Filled it out. A few days later, having completely forgotten about robot calls I received an envelope from the FCC. I was  a little scared. That’s right. Dan Dreifort owns parts of a couple of ISPs and creates a lot of crappy web content, so I flattered myself into thinking the FCC caught me in some unintentional gaffe. It didn’t get better when I opened it and saw that the missive was sent from the FCC complaints division. *gulp*

Government Waste

Naturally, it was just six pages of information about my do not call complaint. Good, but not great. Why would they send me three pages front and back via USPS when I submitted my complaint online and provided them my email address? (At least they printed on both sides of the paper…) So I’m going to complain to the FCC again. But this time, I’m saying something like, “Hey, you could save a lot of taxpayer money if you’d send email confirmations instead of killing trees and buying postage.”

Who the hell expects a written response when filling out a form online? Let’s hope Obama’s administration will realize the potential savings of bringing the FCC into the internet age. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a user-friendly form for me to use. Maybe I’ll write them a letter.