I Hate Google Instant!!!

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Aaarghhh!!! I bloody well hate Google’s new predictive search results thingy (aka Google Instant). Why Google? Why? What have your loyal users done to you?

Why do you wish to punish us? Why have you taken something that worked and made it into something that doesn’t? Why, given the groundswell of opinion (for I know I am not alone in this), have you not changed it back?

What’s So Bad About It?

Well, how about the way my screen freezes up whilst I’m typing? Which in turn causes missing letters if I type fast as its too busy refreshing to acknowledge my keypress. And the fact that it is actually now slower to show results? Plus the other irritating new feature that when you use your cursor key now, instead of whizzing down the screen quickly so someone who knows what they’re doing can quickly scan the results, it steps slowly through the results one at a time.

But the all time most unforgivable thing about it is the most obvious: The fact that I never ever want the results for half the word or phrase I’m typing, because if I did…, I’d only be typing half the word or phrase in the first place!!!

An Example

Let’s look at a fairly typical example. I’m sat at work and I want to find somebody local who supplies workwear and other clothing embroidered with my company logo or slogan, so I set off typing “Embroidered Workwear Lancaster” into Google.

  • Em – pulls up Empire Magazine. A movie magazine with film reviews? Er, no thanks…
  • Emb– brings up Embarassing Bodies. A TV show examining problems with people’s privates? Can I wear them to work? Noooo!!
  • Embr – gives me Embrace. An English Indie band? Some cool tunes, but not really what I’m after..
  • Embro – gives me a Wikipedia definition for Embroidery. Well, we’re getting nearer, but I already know what it is thanks. Now I know about it’s origins too. Great, but if I had wanted that I would have typed “What is Embroidery” or “Definition Embroidery” or maybe “History of Embroidery”?
  • Embroidered – firstly gives me a screen freeze, then Logos 4 Polos. Well, that is what I want, but I want someone local who I can go and talk to about my needs…
  • Embroidered W – gives me another supplier, but not local…
  • Embroidered Workwear – and another…
  • Embroidered Workwear L – sighs… and another…
  • Embroidered Workwear La – one more…
  • Embroidered Workwear Lan – another…
  • Embroidered Workwear Lanc – hey, guess what…
  • Embroidered Workwear Lancast – and eventually…

Wahoo!! At last!! The thing that I was searching for: Embroidered Workwear in Lancaster

And it only took me two less keypresses than if I’d had to type it in full, along with 11 pointless screen refreshes and a screen freeze. Now, had I been typing quickly that screen freeze would have caused me to miss characters so it would have taken longer.

And that in essence is the point. It does take longer! And what’s good about that?

So Google, Please Take Note

If you’re going to introduce new features to the world’s most popular search engine, why not try them as an “opt in” feature rather than alienating your user base and driving them elsewhere?

But more importantly, sometimes just because a thing can be done, doesn’t mean it should be. This feature sounds lovely as a concept and I’m sure it was, but in reality it is a steaming pile of bovine droppings! 2/10. See teacher after class. Do not pass go!

In Conclusion

Well, I’m still going to use Google as even despite these glitches it remains the best option available… For now?

Okay, all I have to decide now is whether to be formal and wear a shirt, less formal and get an embroidered polo shirt or go casual with a printed t-shirt.

Top 16 I.T. Geek T-Shirt Slogans

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Okay, okay, it was only supposed to be 10, but I couldn’t decide which ones I liked best and then I got carried away.

Why make the list? Well, I thought after my earlier less than exciting post on t-shirts, that I ought to try again with something more interesting.

Interesting?

True, the subject I’ve chosen is probably only interesting to software developers like myself and other I.T. nerds, but hey, who cares?

The Top 16

From not quite the best to the absolute bestest, here are my top 16 computing geek slogans for printed t-shirts:

16) I am not a geek
I’m a level 9 warlord
15) If that doesn’t fix it, …
…let me know and I’ll come back with a chain saw.
14) <body>
Hello World!
</body>
13) Just f**kin’ Google it!
12) Cannot find REALITY.SYS. Universe halted.
11) For when life gets tough there’s always… CTRL ALT DEL
10) Error: Keyboard not attached. Press F1 to Continue.
9)   BREAKFAST.COM Halted…
Cereal Port Not Responding
8)   ASCII stupid question, get a stupid ANSII…
7)   Available for beta testing
6)   All wiyht. Rho sritched mg kegtops awound?
5)   There’s no place like 127.0.0.1
4)   C:\DOS
C:\DOS\RUN
RUN\DOS\RUN
3)   If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance
Baffle them with Bu11$h1t.
2)  There are only 10 types of people in the world.
Those who can read binary and those who can’t.

And my personal favourite, because it is my own creation (see One for my fellow nerds!):

1)
SELECT *
FROM all_users
WHERE iq > ( SELECT AVG(iq)
FROM  uk_flora
WHERE genus = ‘Narcissus’ );

0 row(s) returned

Got Anything Better?

If you’ve got anything better, why not submit it below? All comments welcome.

Not An I.T. Nerd?

Any (or all) jokes you don’t understand? Ask below and I’ll try to put it into “user speak”.

Am I becoming a “Quiz Addict”?

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It all started whilst planning for a quiz night with some of my old workmates (from before I became a self-employed software developer / web designer). The intention was a night of playing Buzz on the old PS2. Great for a beer-fuelled gathering if you’ve never tried it.

Anyway, as a few of the party are at a slightly higher intellectual level than the aforementioned Buzz game, I thought I’d print out a few sheets of other challenges to peruse between breaks. 

I came up with the idea of finding a blank map of the world with country borders, but no country names on it and set to work trying to find one on Google.

Within a few clicks I encountered Sporcle and the following page containing an on-line name the countries of the world quiz:

Have a go! I managed 89 on my first go, but would have a got a few more if I could’ve spelt them! Bosnia and Herzegovina definitely got the better of me…

Anyway, that was 9th January and a day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t been back on the site. That’s it. I’m addicted, which isn’t a good thing as I work from home on a computer and the ability to quickly alt+tab from what I should be doing to the Sporcle site is hampering my working day…

Help!! Is there an organisation that caters for this sort of thing?

The thing is, the quizzes are short (up to 15 minutes), but often fast and furious so there’s a real “just one more…” feel to it. Plus, there’s 1000s of quizzes on there covering a wealth of different subjects and best of all, it’s fast to load, requires no registration, is relatively advert free and doesn’t require any browser plug-ins.

Is there a word for it?

Quiz addiction that is. I did have a brief look on Google, but couldn’t find one. If you know of one, let me know in a comment below and I’ll credit you.

And do you know of any other similar free sites?

I know even at the rate I’m going, it’ll take a considerable length of time to work through all Sporcle has to offer, but it’d be interesting to know if anyone else has encountered any other sites they’d recommend. Again, stick it in a comment below.

Remember though, to compete with Sporcle it needs to be easy to search through, super fast and require no browser plug-ins in order to work.

Finally, beware…

Everyone that I’ve mentioned this site to so far has also become addicted. You have been warned!

Right, better sign off for a quick quiz. Think I’ll do a music one this time…

Are printed T-Shirts interesting enough for a post?

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Hmmm… A difficult question to answer? I’d guess that a quick straw poll would almost unanimously turn up a “No” verdict, but let’s see how we get on…

Before we bgein, if you haven’t already, reading my Why being a Web Developer is interesting… post may help provide a little context as this post broadly follows on from that one.

Printed T-Shirts?

I recently completed a website design for a Lancaster company, that specialises in printed and embroidered clothing in Lancaster, Morecambe, Heysham, Kendal and surrounding areas.

Whilst putting their site together, I was plunged into the heady world of printing on t-shirts, as well as bags, other clothing, ceramics, jigsaws and even cheese boards!!

Now let’s be clear, this is not the cheap shoddy t-shirt printing you used to get on Blackpool and Morecambe sea-fronts, which lasted all of three washes before flaking off.

Modern printing is of high quality, lasts wash after wash and some types can withstand temperatures of up to 80°C.

“Some types?”, do I hear you say? Ah yes, for as I now know, there are several methods of printing available dependent on your needs. The four I learnt about were screen printing, transfer printing, decorative film printing and sublimation.

For screen printing and sublimation, I’d suggest you follow the relavent links through to Wikipedia for a much better technical explanation than I could muster.

Transfer Printing

With transfer printing images are printed via a computer or scan onto a high quality transfer sheet. This is then heat-pressed onto the garment to produce a lasting print.

Prints can include full photographic images or any other design and can be applied to both light and dark garments.

Used for a single items upwards, this method is ideal for things like personalised gifts and photos on stag and hen party t-shirts.

Note, you can buy cheap kit versions of these for your home printer at PC World and the like, but I can tell you from experience that they don’t last and will quickly leave you with an unwearable t-shirt with a murky flaky picture in the middle of it.

Decorative Film Printing

This method is used for logos and text, such as individual names and numbers. Lettering is cut out from the decorative film and applied to the garment in up to 3 layers, allowing for a combination of colours and styles.

True to its name, the decorative film itself comes in a wide variety of colours and styles, such as flock, glitter, sparkle, leopard print and other special effects.

Ideal for names and numbers on personalised teamwear and sportswear such as football shirts and for company names on printed workwear.

Screen Printing

Designs for this method are completed on a computer and printed straight to the garment using silk screen printing.

Typically, this is used for volumes of 25+ identical garments and so is ideal for things like marketing promotions and giveaways.

Sublimation

Used for high quality full colour photographic images from a single item to large numbers, sublimation is ideal for white (only) clothing, as well as promotional items and personalised gifts such as mugs and mouse-mats.

In Conclusion…

Bored? Well, you can’t win them all. You probably won’t enjoy my forthcoming post on embroidery either!

Interested? Know of any other methods that I haven’t included? Why not post them below and help celebrate the interesting world of printing.

Why I strongly dislike Search Engines!!

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Okay, so I know it’s probably not best thing for a web developer to say, but it really needs to be said! Search engines are a pain in the proverbial back-side.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I use Google (still the UK search engine of choice) every day and I pride myself on being able to manipulate the results to find what I’m after.

And also, don’t get me wrong, website development itself can be a challenging and rewarding pastime, but its ugly sister, search engine optimisation is anything but. It is instead a frustrating and illogical nightmare.

Illogical nightmare?

Yep, that’s definitely the right word. Creating websites using programming languages and tools is done using a set of rules that on the whole make sense and generally behave as you’d expect (with some notable variations on how different browsers render HTML and CSS elements).

However, search engine optimisation (or SEO – the act of trying to increase a website’s position in Google et al), is based on a random set of rules and algorithms created by the search engine in question.

These change on a regular basis and are most certainly not based on logic, rather a desire to ensure that previously successful and therefore overused SEO techniques do not work.

So what are these crazy rules?

Well, suppose I do a website for a Blackpool based building contractor who amongst other things, specialises in property refurbishment.

When somebody types “Property Refurbishment Blackpool” into Google, we want their website to appear in the first 2-3 pages of the search results. After all, as we all know, beyond that and nobody will ever look at it.

How do we do this? Well, if there’s one thing Google has always liked, it is unique and regularly updated website content.

Unique? Hmm, he’s a builder and although there’s a lot you can say about building, the likelihood of a local builder coming up with anything revolutionary is highly unlikely. Regularly updated? Er, he’s a builder, NOT a journalist. He quite rightly spends his days building, rather than writing interesting building articles or keeping a diary about his ongoing building work.

Or take another example, what about an on-line store selling thermometers? Their website content is regularly updated with new products, promotions and reviews, but as with most companies, they’re in a competitive market.

What else can we do? Well, Google really likes (apparently) organic links to your website from social sites such as blogs and forums. Great, but let’s face it, when a customer buys a digital thermometer the first thing they think isn’t “I know, I’ll go and stick a link on a relevant forum about how much I like this thermometer”.

They may, at some point in the future; if they do use a forum; and the forum allows links; and they did like the thermometer; and someone happens to ask if anyone can recommend a thermometer; and they see that person’s post; and they can remember where they bought the thermometer; and they have the inclination; they MAY post a link to the website where they bought the thermometer and say “Here, try this one…”.

It all sounds unlikely…

It sounds unlikely and it is, because virtually none of this happens naturally. Sites achieve top ranking in many cases because their owners dedicate significant amounts of money and / or time to the aforementioned search engine optimisation (SEO).

Website content, reviews, links, comments, articles, etc. are nearly all created artificially to make Google et al believe that a website is important and should be prioritised above others within their search results. Virtually none of it is natural (or organic) which ironically, is what Google purports to like.

There’s a huge amount of content out there that exists solely to promote business websites and the internet is becoming clogged up with it! So much so that search results often show that content rather than the types of business it is intended to promote.

In the real world, builders create a website as a one-off exercise to advertise their business. They only want to change it when they start offering a new service, swap their mobile number, move premises or have a new project they’re particularly proud of, etc..

But that’s all good for you isn’t it?

Well it is and it isn’t. As stated, I don’t actually enjoy SEO work. Plus, you try going to talk to a local tradesman and say it’s going to cost more to promote your website than it is to create it.

And that you can only really guess how much money might be required. And that if Google decides to change its algorithms overnight, their precious good ranking could be lost and further money and effort may be required to re-instate it.

But the thing that really irks me is that it doesn’t make sense and I think Google can do better. Popularity and linking makes sense for social sites, hobby sites, special interest sites and the like, but not for businesses.

Internet users do not naturally link to boring and functional business sites, they rarely blog about them (unless they’ve been dissatisfied with their service) and they certainly don’t write articles about them!

For these reasons, it is stupid of Google et al to score business sites in the same way as other sites.

In conclusion…

Could be a better solution on the horizon? Google already seems to be trying to build a better business directory via it’s maps function.

Sadly though, as long as business websites are ranked alongside others and Google uses algorithms rather than human judgement to rank sites, there’s going to be a continued need for SEO of some kind.

And eventually I’m just gonna have to charge more for doing it…

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