Thursday, September 27, 2012

Installing Ubutu One on Windows XP

This is what happens when I try to install Ubuntu One on Windows XP.


I'm doing this, or trying to because I got tired of this software over-writing newer files with older files from the one Windows laptop I use.  I had a version 2 something, and they're at version 3 something.  So I uninstalled it and downloaded it again.  Guess that doesn't work eh?

One would think that "uninstall" would mean, oh I don't know...  Uninstall?  I suppose I'm just old fashioned.  

Poking around I found that Ubuntu One still had a number of processing running, and quite a lot large number of files and directories.  Killing it all manually, and erasing everything I could find, allowed the installer to run, and the software started normally.

Too normally...

Somehow it still knew my log in.  It connected right up and went straight into a sync session.  I wonder what it will overwrite?  It's like a game!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Peeve: Cell Phones

Let's talk right.

Although not a commercial term, like Band-Aid, or Kleenex, "cell phone" has morphed into a generic term for all forms of mobile, personal, communications devices.

This is inaccurate.
So step right up chimps and get the scoop.

Actual cell phones, using analogue cellular network technology, AMPS (look it up), appeared in the late 1970s.  These are simple analogue devices using basic radio technology.  This system did little more than give walkie-talkies a phone number, and a way to work through "cells" of radio transceiver coverage, so they could move around.

The digital mobile systems we enjoy today have their roots in the late 1990s, but have been through several technical generations.  In general, they use lower power, but more numerous transceivers, and digital switching, rather than the cell technology.  These digital systems were originally referred to as PCS (look it up).

The last cellular system in North America went dark in 2008.  Seriously.

Google+ Tips

1) At the top of posts there is a date/time stamp and the word "Limited" or "Public". Click on "Limited" to see who a post has been shared with, and keep this in mind when commenting or re-sharing. The date/time is a perma-link to the post.

2) Google circles are used for two purposes; reading an posting. You can create circles to post items to specific groups, and other circles to control the streams you view.  You can put sources in multiple circles.  If someone adds you to a circle, and posts to that circle, you will not see their content unless you have also added them to a circle of your own, and you read that circle.  That is to say, you will only see item from the circle you select. 

You can not control what circles other people create and use, nor does this matter. You get total control over your own circles.  You can add a person, or not.  

A person that adds you will only see items you post to "Public", unless you add that person to a circle of your own and post to that circle.  Circle adds are not reciprocal.  If a person you do not know, and do not wish to follow, adds you to a circle, you have no reason to add them back.  If you do not add them to your our circles, they will only see your Public posts, and you will see nothing of theirs.

For some reason, and I am blaming Facebook, their is an astonishing about of confusion about circles.  But it really is not that complicated.

3) You can mention someone in a post by typing '+' followed by their name. A pop-up offers search results. There are a few other very basic editor tricks that do things like bold and strikeout.  The person will receive a notification of the mention.

4) Google+ tends to send a lot of email notification. You can turn these off under "setting" (the gear in the upper right corner). 

5) When typing a post, there is a drop down at the bottom that allows a post to be "locked" (no re-sharing), and allows comments to be disabled.

6) You can post something to an email address, any email address, and the recipient will receive the content as an email.  The address does not have to be a gmail address.  The recipient does not have to log into a Google account to see the post you share with them.

7) Google+ has been billed as an alternative to Facebook. This grossly misses the point. Google+ is not Facebook, Google+ is an identity management system that has it's fingers in all Google applications. Google+ is doing for email addresses what the contact menus on mobile phones have done to phone numbers. If you have a personal gmail account, but have not previously used Google+, you should know that Google is on a timeline to convert all Google accounts to profiles. If you do not have a personal identity on Google+, you can head to to create one if you like.

The Tale of The Chimps and The Tape Dummies

Tape dummies?

Yes, tape, dummies...

Monday, September 24, 2012

US Bank's Pay-a-Person, Follow-Up

Here is the not at all helpful response I received from notifying US Bank of the sad tail described here.   They have completely missed the fact that their business partner's website is non-function in at least one popular web browser, that US Bank's website issued a beta software worthy server-side error, probably forwarded from ZashPay, and also that the transaction itself is in limbo, so far.
To: Me 
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 15:29:12 -0700 
Subject: usbank:dm: Chimp 

Dear You,

Thank you for allowing us to assist you through U.S. Bank's email services.

I am sorry to hear of the problems experienced by this issue.  Please have the recipient check their browser settings below to see if this will clear up the problem for them:

*  Clear Cookies/Temporary Internet Files by selecting the wrench icon located in the top right hand corner of the browser window.
*  Select Tools followed by Clear Browsing Data.
*  Make sure the options displayed below are checked and click Clear browsing data:
        Clear browsing history
        Clear download history
        Empty the cache
        Delete cookies and other site and plug-in data

*  Select the wrench icon located in the upper right hand corner of the browser.
*  Select Tools followed by Options.
*  On the left hand side of the window, select Under the Hood.
*  Click Content Settings.
*  Ensure that the settings allow Cookies, Images and JavaScript.

If they need immediate assistance with accessing Zashpay's services, they can also contact Zashpay's Customer Service at 877-898-5343.  They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We appreciate your business.  Thank you for choosing U.S. Bank.


David Myers
Email Operations
U.S. Bank 24-Hour Banking and Financial  Sales

Update: The next morning the mystery transaction had been applied to my checking account.  This means one of two things.

1)The money was sent to an email address other that my address of record with US Bank (both are correct, but the payer used an address not known to US Bank).  But I got the money by entering the address the sender had used in to US Bank's site.  So, in order to capture a payment, you just need the transaction number. The email address does not have to match.  That's not much security given that the email address and transaction number are sent in a plain text email.  

2) Either that or someone manually fixed this specific transaction.  

Either way, I don't think this service is fully cooked, and the sloppy website at ZashPay does not fill one with confidence.  

How to Tell that Your Project is a Failure

Every experienced chimp has been there.

Every new chip will be, sooner than they think.

How to Tell that Your Project is a Failure

US Bank's Pay-a-Person

US Bank has a new-ish service called "Pay-a-Person".  Using this service, a US Bank customer can transfer money to another US Bank customer without any fees or extra charges.

Leaving aside the ridiculous name, this sounds great, right?

...Right...  ...

Well I finally had the opportunity to give this service a try.  Someone send me money using 

When someone pays you with this service, you receive an email, sent to the address entered by the payer.  The email contains a transaction number and directions to go to the website "".

By the way, that is just how it appears in the email.

It doesn't say "http://" and it's not a link, it's just bold.

So anyway, I loaded up the ZashPay website, and what greeted me was my first hint that this would not be going well.

This is the ZashPay website in the current version of the Chrome browser.  There are two text entry areas, but the first one is locked, you can't type in it.  The button doesn't work.  And you can only enter some limited number of characters in the second text area.

But my personal favorite on this page are the tiny bits of a couple characters up in the upper right corner.  That's a nice touch.

Note to the chimps at ZashPay...

Dear Chimps at ZashPay,
This is 2012.  It is not 2000.  It is also not 2001, nor 2002.  Nor is it 1999.  If your web developer says it's hard to create something that work in any remotely contemporary browser, get a different team.  Hint: tell them to use HTML.  It works quite well.
Sincerely, Chimp

So I loaded up the ZashPay website in Firefox.  This worked.  I entered my email address and the transaction number from the email.  I then was presented with three choices; 1) sign in with an existing account, 2) create a new account, which requires my bank routing and account numbers, or an option specifying that I am a using with my financial institution.

Well option one was out clearly.  Option two is a possibility, but I do not have a blank check with me (did I mention it is 2012?  Yes?  OK, good, just "checking").  Option three seems right, so I checked that one.

ZashPay then presented me with a simple message stating that I should go to the website of my financial institution.  Fair enough, ZashPay, fair enough...

Next stop, US Bank's website, which actually has a pretty good track record.  I use it quite a lot.  Sure enough in the Bill Pay section, I find a Pay-a-Person link that allows for claiming money.  So far so good, except for the silly name for this service.  Why does it even need a name?  Seriously?

I was presented with a nicely formatted dialog allowing me to enter the email address the payment was sent to, and the transaction number.  On enthusiasticly clicking the attractively, but tastfully, colored button, I was presented with this:

Reference Id: ls18*2012-09-24-10:58:41:361*Thread:32-418530
Please try again later.


Update: See the a following on this still unfolding tale here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Quick Quiz

OK chimps, how many can answer this? 

What contemporary productivity tool was first developed for person to person communications as part of the ARPANET project, and was defined in 1977, with RFC 733?


Did you say eMail?

Sorry, it's trick question.  eMail has never been a productivity tool. 

Check it out:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

This is SOAP

Do you like some occasional XML with your Java?  I know I do.
So how about some SOAP tips, you dirty chimp you...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Technical Support for Relatives

Person: The software isn't working.
Chimp: Is there an error message?
Person: Hold on a second, I'll try it again...


Person: Yes, it says [message, take this action].
Chimp: OK, that means [message], you need to [take this action].
Person: Oh, OK that makes sense, thanks!

The Tale of Informix and the Eybium

The world of the chimps is privileged and burdened with lore and myth.  Tales of the ancient times can be heard almost daily wherever chimps gather around the glow of monitors to listen to the silver-haired old chimps as they drone on and on.

Sometimes these tales drift to the subject of the databases...

In the early times, one of the first things expected from computers by their masters was the ability to store away bytes, and return them exactly, later, on demand.  For the automated computers, the facilities that accomplished this feat are referred to as "databases", as they still are today.

The first databases were rather simple, but effective tools, fit to their time, not as clumsy or random as a blaster.  They were, and still are, called "relational", because they are all related.  One of the old databases was Informix.  The exact origin of Informix is lost to the mists of history, and much of what the silver-haired chimps say is of course not to be believed.  But it is known, that long ago, Informix was consumed by that mighty beast, know only as Eybium.

Perhaps there was a plan, perhaps there was only destruction.  We do not know.  But today, in deepest pages of the mighty Eybium domain, the brave chimp can still find information about Informix.  But take care chimps, for the vast creature that is Eybium is as powerful, and as it is terrible.

Technical Topics


Long, long ago, computers were actually people.  If you wanted something computed, you had to hire a computer.  This worked, but it was pretty inconvenient.  Computers had to be paid pretty well.  And they took breaks, ate lunch and got bugs - actual bugs.

Eventually, computing machines were invented.  And this seemed like a pretty good idea, at first.  But the way it worked out, maybe you didn't have to hire a computer anymore, but you did have to hire chimps to program the new, so-called, automated computers.  Not only that, but businesses also had to hire big chimps to supervise the smaller chimps.  Whole chimp hierarchies  sprang up!  Companies had to create entire divisions made up entirely of chimps!

And that's not all...  You can't just have these chimps running around amok all over the office.  Chimps need special pens, called cubicals.  And they need printers, mice..., and snacks, and sometimes, for bigger chimps, even windows and plants.

Are we better off for this?  Only history will tell.

But one thing is for sure, life's not easy for a working chimp.  Let's face it, most workplaces suck.  They're packed to the rafters with politics and they reek of failure and defeat.  And it doesn't stop, ever.  Humans are always coming up with an endless stream of "problems" for a chimp.  Hey, I thought computers were supposed to this stuff automatically?

Well, not so much...  It's on the chimps, day and night, to make the cursors turn into animals on certain links, to get the website secure, to make a Java app play Christmas music, to change the background from white to gray, and back again, to make the buttons have round corners...  It never ends.

Well chimps, Computer Programmer Shirt is here to help.  It's a big, big job.  And one little website isn't going to do it all.  But if, someday, there's one little tip here that gets one chimp home on time on a Friday afternoon, it's worth it.

Technical Topics