Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Oh hai, I’m WordPress 3.0.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

We offer instructions for upgrading your 2.x WordPress install via Subversion, so we certainly wouldn’t do anything silly between versions like deleting the entire directory that contains the ‘default’ theme, leaving your blog as a blank page with no indication of what’s gone wrong.

Oh, you found the ‘appearance’ tab in the admin backend? Ah, that’s my cue to notice that your website is broken, and instantly replace it with a nice picture of some trees. You like trees, don’t you? They’re very pretty, and I think sometimes you’ve got to put that above more practical concerns like not suddenly breaking everyone’s website.

What, you want your old theme back? Aww. OK, here it is in our themes repository. Oh, sure, I could just tell you where you can download it, but I have a better idea. Let me install it automatically for you instead! Just give me your FTP password, and everything will be juuuuust fine.

No, I don’t think there’s a plugin that will let you punch programmers in the face. Why do you ask?

We’re independent, honest

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

McDonald’s courts long-term jobless

Spokesman for Leeds Metropolitan University on the radio: “Macdonalds paid us to perform an independent study…”

Bollocks they did.

If you were paid for it, it’s not independent. Getting money for something is the exact definition of “dependent”. Call it impartial, unbiased or neutral if you like. It might even be true. But “independent” actually means something real and verifiable that backs up your claim to be impartial. It doesn’t mean “we’re unbiased because we say so, honest”, and when you start using the word as a free pass to avoid scrutiny, you go from being possibly biased to actually lying about the fact. Which is not good for your credibility as a research group. Stop polluting our language, you tossers.

Some rather opinionated plugins

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Update: The belongs_to patch has now made it into core Rails. Thanks to Jon for persevering with it where I threw in the towel, and to Koz and Pratik for giving it their attention. I’m still not entirely convinced that going through the conventional channels (as opposed to “whinging on a blog”) would have yielded the crucial feedback to get the patch in a state where it could be accepted, but all’s well that ends well…


A shark, being jumped, yesterday.Take this as the rantings of a pissed-off curmudgeon who’s had his second core patch rejected if you will, but it’s my sad duty to report that Rails has jumped the shark. It happened when it stopped being a framework and started being a collection of opinions instead.

You see, in my book a framework is something that’s meant to make programmers work more effectively – not to lecture them about what they’re doing wrong. Lecturing can be a good thing, as long as it ultimately results in better code – I’ll happily admit that following the Rails learning curve has taught me an awful lot about good programming practices. More and more though, I’m finding it being used to justify just plain broken features: If it doesn’t work, it’s your fault for not doing it the right way. Take this bit of profoundly broken behaviour:

let’s say we have a Company model, which belongs_to :city

>> torchbox = Company.find_by_name('Torchbox')
=> #<Company id: 1, name: "Torchbox", city_id: 1>
>> torchbox.city
=> #<City id: 1, name: "London">

Aha, we’ve got the city wrong. Let’s reassign a bundle of attributes then, like we would if we were doing this through a web form:

>> torchbox.attributes = {:name => 'Torchbox', :city_id => 2}
=> {:name => 'Torchbox', :city_id => 2}

Right, so now we should retrieve the correct one.

>> torchbox.city
=> #<City id: 1, name: "London">

Er, oops.
(more…)

“best not publish your work on the internet, someone might steal it”

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

In 2005, record producer Timbaland found a piece of music by young Finnish musician Janne Suni on the internet, took it without permission to use in his own work, made a lot of money out of it, and shrugged it off with a sarcastic comment when confronted about it. This hasn’t been covered by BBC News yet.

In 2007, adult DVD producer TVX Films found a picture by young British photographer Lara Jade Coton on the internet, took it without permission to use as the cover of one of their DVDs, made a lot of money out of it, and shrugged it off with a sarcastic comment when confronted about it. This was covered on BBC News yesterday, in a report that concluded with the reporter saying something to the effect of “The case is still ongoing, but for now this underlines the dangers of posting pictures on the internet.”

No. It. Damn. Well. Doesn’t.

Clearly, when putting a photograph or any other personal information online people need to consider the possibility of it falling into the wrong hands and being spread further than intended, but “what if some thieving scum come along and illegally repurpose it in a way that I don’t approve of” should not have to be part of those considerations. Ms Coton did nothing irresponsible in posting that photo. It wasn’t pornographic in any way – it was an elegant, professionally made shot. Good enough to be put on the cover of a DVD, in fact. Definitely not something she should regret putting her name to on the internet.

So what does that BBC reporter think she should have done? Just stuck to taking photos of bunnies and flowers? Or better, just stayed in and watched MTV? This is what copyright law is for, guys. You use someone’s work without permission, and you get your ass handed to you in court – as I sincerely hope will happen in both these cases. Don’t try to paint it as if the original artist did anything wrong by publishing that work for free on the internet… the suggestion that they should curb their artistic expression, just because there are a bunch of law breakers freeloading off it, is just offensive.

Lloyds TSB: The world’s most pointless travel insurance

Friday, January 5th, 2007

So I’m planning to do a fair bit of travelling this year, and I figured it would be wise to pick up some travel insurance. First port of call was my bank Lloyds TSB, and the online quote form on their website. It started sanely enough: confirm you’re in the UK, confirm you haven’t been told by a doctor that you’re about to die, that sort of thing. Then I was presented with this:

Certain activities you may take part in while away may be considered hazardous.

Click here to see a list of hazardous activities

(Tickybox) I confirm that none of the applicants will be taking part in any of the hazardous activities listed.

I think “Fruit or Vegetable Picking” was the first item to make me do a double-take.

Must be all that genetic engineering they’re doing these days. Those parsnips, they’ll all gang up against you the moment your back is turned. Oh well, that doesn’t bother me. Slightly more inconvenient, however, was the ban on both “Flying (as a Fare Paying Passenger in a Fully Licensed Passenger Carrying Aircraft)” and “Flying (Other Than As A Fare Paying Passenger In A Fully Licensed Passenger Carrying Aircraft)”. I also spent a moment pondering the implications of not being able to do any “Running (Non-Competitive and not Marathon)” – supposing I turned up at Bruxelles-Midi to find that my train was leaving in two minutes, I’d have to quickly find a willing volunteer to race against. Or continue running for another 25-and-a-bit miles after getting on the train, I suppose. And on observing that “Bungee Jumping (within Organiser’s Guidelines)” was right out whereas bungee jumping unsupervised with a slightly-too-long piece of string was presumably acceptable, I sensed that something was amiss.

Fortunately for me, a competitor’s website had managed to get the right idea and correctly arranged the list under the subheadings “you can do this”, “we’ll let you do this if you pay us enough” and “now you’re just being silly”. Unfortunately for Lloyds TSB, I couldn’t alert them to their mistake because their website didn’t provide an email address for the appropriate department. So I had to email an inappropriate one instead. Where it will probably be sat on for the next six months.

Well done Lloyds TSB, you just lost 50 quid of business through having a crap website.

Way of the exploding phone

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006

This is my phone.
It fits very comfortably in the palm of my hand.
At Stansted Airport this weekend, the security people decided that they had to take it away and do their thing with swabs, to test it for explosives.

This worries me slightly. If modern-day terrorists can pack any meaningful amount of explosive into a package that size and still have room for a working mobile phone, aren’t we all a bit screwed?

And if so, is there any chance we can have litter bins back at railway stations now? I know they took them away to stop people planting bombs in them, but if in fact it turns out that they can do the same damage with a bit of chewing gum under a chair, then it would seem to be a bit of a moot point.

Train announcements

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

I have in my MP3 collection a George Carlin standup routine about how people add extra words to what they say to sound more important. “‘Police have responded to an emergency situation.’ No they haven’t, they’ve responded to an emergency!”

Heard a good one on the train tonight. “Smoking is forbidden on all parts of this train; this includes the toilet areas.”

Toilet areas? That sounds awfully uncivilised – don’t they have actual toilets then? Toilet areas are the sort of thing a cat would have, surely.