Let it all out (part #1)

Angry Cat say "Technology Sucks"Sometimes you just have to get it out there, get it off your chest and have a good rant. In no particular order, here’s a tidy list of things that pissed me off in the world of technology recently :

  1. This bug, in launchpad, where an issue with bad web servers can cause TLS negotiation to fail in Ubuntu. It’s affecting my ability to sync in Everpad (an Evernote client). Bizarrely, it got fixed in Ubuntu 12.10, the latest version, but it looks uncertain to make it to the Long Term Support release 12.04. Guess which version I’m running? This boils down to an odd choice of support for Ubuntu’s long term releases.
  2. DoubleFine Studios released the rather excellent looking game “The Cave“, on time on January 24th, but despite a promise of linux support, there’s no sign yet. They’ve managed to patch the Mac version for retina support since release mind you, but not a peep on the version I actually care about. My tweet to them, unsurprisingly, goes unanswered!
  3. My experience of using the Steam client in Ubuntu revolves mostly around playing Killing Floor. Sadly, there are two major texture issues, the first of which make my two favourite maps (London and Biotics Lab) nearly unplayable and the second of which makes the normally invisible Stalkers highly, highly visible. Is it cheating to play the game like this? Regardless, Steam are disavowing the issue and passing it back to Icculus who apparently did the port on their behalf. Makes sense, but still sad to see a hot potato being so deftly passed.
  4. Spell checkers which think that I’m American. I’m not. Therefore, it’s spelled realise, not realize. It’s a colour, not a color and it’s a centre, not a center. Wikipedia, to which I recently donated, expertly rounds up the full list, over here.

There’s more, but it requires a sub heading, since all of the following gripes are about :

Google (especially Drive)

  1. Incredible as it may seem, it transpires that Google Spreadsheets has no “Insert page break” function. It would seem that I’m not alone in thinking that there’s been some kind of oversight here too – as a quick Google search reveals. Oddly, they support page breaks in their Documents app, but no dice in the Spreadsheet department. The only workaround is to “add rows until your content is on another page”. Yeah. Or, and I’m just putting it out there, use LibreOffice which understands that inserting page breaks is an absolutely essential feature of any program you use to create content which may later be printed. Top humour marks to Google Employee, Ronald, who acknowledges here that page breaks are “definitely a great idea and on our roadmap!“. That was June 2010.
  2. Google is almost a synonym these days for the word “search”. Head onto Google right now and type scaine, and up will pop a multitude of hits for scaine (me), the s-caine pain numbing cream (hopefully not me) and even various hits for Prof S Caine (definitely not me). So why, when I later start Gmail and type in “Edwin”, do I only get hits for email that contain that exact word? Why, when my Google contact for Edwin contains the nickname “Ed”, does it not show me any hits for “Ed”. Nor any hits for Ed’s work address where his email is a first and second name contraction, but again, is referenced in my Google contact for him. This is very definition of Fail.
  3. While we’re on the subject of Google search, I’d like to point out that it’s been a few years now, and I still hate Google Instant (that thing where you type into the search box and the results start instantly distracting you from what you’re trying to type). I use https://www.google.com/webhp?complete=0 (to my knowledge, the only known workaround for this appalling behaviour) and the day they make that arbitrarily “Instant” is the day I’ll stop using Google search forever. I do, however, love that hundreds of like-minded people are keeping this thread alive, despite Google’s best efforts for the past two years to ignore it (by which I mean that I notice that they now close threads for new comments which have had a certain amount of inactivity, despite being relevant).
  4.  I’m guessing this is some kind of patent issue, but why can’t Google support that an asterisk (*) at the start of a line indicates that you want a bullet list?
  5. And why can’t I insert a line break between bullets? They get all crushed together and if I put a line-break in there, it kills the numbering.
  6. And why can’t I restart numbering from a list in a previous paragraph?

Yeah, the more I use Google office products, the more I find them to be toy-like replacements of the real deal. You could criticize LibreOffice on a number of fronts, but “lacking basic features” is unlikely to be your starting point. There’s more, like

  • the weak font support
  • the inability to sort your documents (you have to search, I suppose)
  • the lack of filtering on documents (search again, I guess)
  • the inability for templates to inherit sharing permissions (which makes them useless in many collaborative situations)
  • the inability to customise your styles, or any style for that matter
  • the inability to customise your toolbar…
  • …and there’s no strikethrough on the toolbar
  • having to choose a font size, instead of using “make bigger/smaller” buttons
  • and lots more, which I’ll save for no doubt further rant posts.

But I’ll end this little one sided screaming match on a light note. While searching for images of “Bad Google” to break up my incoherent ramblings, I found this, and it made my evening. Particularly comment 2, to which I am still chortling away! Sadly, the aforementioned search no longer yields that particular result, but I like to think that once upon a time, it did.