Tag Archives: Google

Lacking the drive

Google down the gurgler.

Sometime this morning it became apparent that there were issues with Google. gmail was refusing to appear, and Google image search was dead slow and stop. In the course of the day gmail has been appearing intermittently, but more off than on.

According to this story on The Register, the problem is with Google Drive, which is presumably the source of problems with the rest.

The hole in the wall.

My esteemed colleague and SOAS graduate, Mr Tucker, recently received a manual of Tibetan, which he’d bought from Amazon. In normal countries such an event would scarcely raise an eyebrow, but the Empire isn’t exactly normal. The Lexilogos website is almost certain blocked because it has links to grammars of both Tibetan and Uyghur. Yet Daniel’s book doesn’t appear to have tripped any alarms.

I might’ve sent it back myself because any book which describes a voiceless palatal stop (presumably) as a “moist” k is unlikely to meet Mr Bamboo’s demanding standards.

Painting the windows black

And bricking them up as well.

The news from Google is that Reader is being killed off in July. The reaction to the news provoked this G+ post from some Google dude who was asking what people liked about Reader. I saw this too late to add a comment myself, but might’ve said the following.

I’ve probably been using Reader for longer than I realise, having started in the days when blogspot, for example, was usually accessible in China. But when the lights went out after the 2008 Olympics, Reader was a small window into a world which was largely blocked until I had the means to get a VPN. Pictures and YouTube videos did not get through, but text did, and I could read articles from sites which had fallen off the radar. Most of them have little to do with China, but they have fallen victim to the blanket block which the country imposes on a lot of sites.

So well done, Google. You’re helping the Chinese government suppress information because if I didn’t have a VPN, I wouldn’t be able to read most of the feeds I have.

I see things developing in this fashion. First, I’ll probably use reader-like functions on blogspot and WordPress to continue reading some blogs; but other sites are independent of these sources, which will mean visiting them. Google Reader, by contrast, was immediate and convenient where visits to individual websites will be slow and time-consuming. Second (and finally), I’ll stop bothering altogether except when I happen to be on blogspot and can be bothered tracking down WordPress’s ids-integrated reader service.

Along with the demise of iGoogle, the death of Reader seems to stem from the belief that the world is all mobile phones and wireless. I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision was based on, “I surf the Web on a mobile. My mates surf the Web on their mobiles. That means everyone does what we do.” It gives no thought to people who don’t have the means or inclination to spend yet more money on some other way of surfing the Net.

Are there other reader service out there where I could gather everything? Probably, but I’ve never had to consider their existence. Are they accessible from China? Smart money says no. Feeds to the browser? Perhaps, but I’ve got overspill with Chrome, and I know that certain RSS feeds are blocked. Although I have a VPN, there’s no guarantee that it’s always going to work.

The end of Reader and iGoogle is going to be a colossal, inconvenient nuisance.

Bite of the Apple.

There’s some consumer programme on CCTV called 3.15 which takes an annual pot shot at one well-known company or another, criticising it for its shortcomings. This year it’s Apple.

The scam has to do with faulty phones for which a replacement is offered. The “new” model is nothing of the sort, being a refurbished phone with an old back cover. The report about it on Tea Leaf Nation says, “This practice does not exist in the U.S. and Europe, claims CCTV, and thus is discriminatory against Chinese consumers.”

Whenever there have been complaints about foreign companies in China (e.g. Carrefour has come in for flak for one reason or another), I’ve wondered who is to blame. If the boys at Apple’s head office have authorised this particular practice in China or if those at Carrefour’s head office have been discriminating against Chinese consumers, then they deserve to have a few rocks thrown at them. But I’m a little sceptical about the source of such bad practices, suspecting that local management is to blame for the mischief. For example, the case which affected Carrefour was in one city, but the same thing was not reported from others.

It seems that the company gets blamed when it’s more likely that some unscrupulous regional manager is the true villain. However, I’ll shed no tears if Apple really have been trying to diddle people in China.

(The article also notes that 3.15 has also been used by CCTV to bully companies which have apparently declined to advertise on it. There is further evidence that this may be the case because some whiny celeb appears to have been under orders to post a tweet [?] about Apple on Weibo at 8.20pm; unfortunately, it included that particular instruction. Other celebs also posted at the same time, but it’s also been claimed they were victims of hacking. Paint me a deep shade of sceptical.)

That dissenting vote.

Democracy with Chinese characteristics has seen Xi Jinping ascend to the Jade Throne with one dissenting vote. Instantly the brave censors were on Weibo to stop people from wondering who didn’t vote for the Son of Heaven. As one report suggested, he could’ve been the dissenter. Such modesty. Why a discussion about the dissenting vote needed to be censored is beyond me, but I don’t really understand paranoid governments.

Google+ goes wild

All right, there’s a slight spike.

When Google+ kicked off, I seemed to be alone. Then I made a few friends. Wil Wheaton is one of them, but as he’s a social media slut, I don’t think he means it. But it didn’t take long for the requests to grind to a halt, by which time I wasn’t bothering with Google+ anyway. As with Face­book, I’ve never understood the point of social media because I’d much rather see my friends in person; and if I can’t, they can read my blog.

Anyway, Google+ was apparently dying if you believed The Register. But suddenly the number of requests has gone from occasional to frequent in the past couple of weeks. The question which I’m obviously going to ask is why this has happened. Academic year over, students with nothing to do? Official orders to Chocolate Factory minions to swell the ranks of G+? Who knows?

[12.08.14. It’s been awhile since I last saw any stories about the decline and possible demise of G+, which I find less interesting than Facebook be­cause it’s a sludgy mess of random, often repeated stories. It’s a bit like a lucky dip, but it just doesn’t grab me.]

The 20th century of Green Bamboo

The Modern Age.

I’m now in my 20th century of blog posts. The boys at WordPress have obviously been fiddling about so that in recent days, whenever I post a new entry, I’m told what number it is. This should be the 1902nd. It would be nice for the 2000th post to coincide with the 6th anniversary of Green Bamboo in November, but that post won’t be happening much before December by my reckoning. [27.09.14. Having trashed so many pointless blog posts over the summer, I’ve sent the blog back to the 18th century.]

I wonder which personal blog has the highest number of entries in the world. I know. Let’s ask Google. Oh, hang on a mo’. Since Google+ appeared, Google has been neutered beyond the first page of results.

Yes, I was expecting that Google+ would be blocked (which is why I didn’t even bother trying the service; apparently, it was live briefly before the imperial zombies panicked as usual and had to ask the nurse to fetch their especially absorbent underpants to deal with all that zombie diarrhoea which comes squirting out the moment there might be the slightest hint of an opportunity for independent thought), but that seems to have buggered up Google the search engine. (Currently gmail seems not to be working, but I assume that’s one of those mysterious service failures.) [27.09.14. I don’t see much point in G+. I’d perhaps see some point to it if it was populated by people I know, but it isn’t, and I have no real interest in it.]

Of course, things could be worse because this could be Iran where even having a little harmless fun ist verboten. (Iranian youths arrested for public water pistol fight in Tehran.) Mind you, I wouldn’t be surprised if the imperial government issued the some fatwa against having fun with water pistols to university students here. Iran and the Empire are like joy vampires, sucking the happiness out of life. [27.09.14. There was another, similar case just recently of a group of young people who have been prosecuted for dancing together; and the case of some British-Iranian wo­man who is in trouble for watching a volleyball match. There is some saying about getting the government you deserve, but I don’t think the Iranians deserve this.]

Remember the accident I mentioned the other day where one moron on an electric scooter crashed into another one? Well, today as I was heading from Baoli to 远东百贸, I was following someone on an electric scooter who turned right onto 中山路. Meanwhile, Mr Blinkers starts walking out across the road without even looking. Scooter Man skirts round in front of him, and even although I was right behind Scooter Man, Mr Blinkers kept walking. There was no accident, but Mr Blinkers is one of those brain-dead morons who deserves to win a Darwin Award.

Over on Sinosplice, there’s a report about a poll on some Chinese website which asked the question What can save this country? The most popular answer by quite some way was “There’s no hope; don’t want to save it”. Oddly enough that might just about be right. Let the Empire revert to the way it was during the Warring States Period (or the 19th century), but without the warring; let it be what it ought to be and has tried to be for large periods of its history: a collection of disparate nations inhabited by a Sprachbund. But at the moment, the Empire remains a megalomaniac’s idea of a country.

0 to 3.6.x in 60 days

Patch me! Patch me!

A couple of days ago it was Firefox 3.6.14; and now it’s Firefox 3.6.15. Some sort of problem with Java applets. I’m also wondering whether the problem with gmail and Google Talk was with Firefox rather than Google, but who knows? Another mystery about which I’ll never know the truth. Can’t be too many more patches before we make the jump to FF4.

As for gmail, it seems to be working again, although Google Talk seems to be slow to dead stop to appear, though whether that’s Firefox or imperial paranoia.

The good news from Christchurch is that no bodies were found in the ruins of the cathedral. No one knows where the figure of 22 dead came from. Meanwhile, the workers demolishing the building next to the CTV building had apparently drilled holes in the wall of the CTV building to provide some sort of support for the building being demolished. The question is whether this might have contributed to the collapse of the CTV building, although my information also says that the building was allegedly making noises for a couple of days before the quake struck.

The British Humanist Association has been putting up poster urging people to vote No religion in the census. You’d think in a secular society no one would especially mind such advertising, but according to the article in The Guardian (Humanist census posters banned from railway stations) the ban is because “the advert had the potential to cause widespread and serious offence”. Oh rubbish! Widespread offence? The UK is a secular society. The Advertising Standards Authority committee of advertising practice seems to be living in some other country (Iran?) in another century (the 12th?).

(Cross-posted from Green Bamboo LJ.)

Try wikipedia

You won’t learn anything here.

I notice that I’ve had quite a few hits via baidu for a history of English lit. and A Dream of Red Mansions recently. I’m not sure why I’m getting hits for the former. Perhaps this term’s major essay at some university here is to write about the history of English literature. Unfortunately, I don’t have any substantive information on that one, but if you go to the antiquated Cambridge History of English Literature on Bartleby, you might find something of use. However, you should be going and doing research in your university library.

As for A Dream of Red Mansions, I wonder whether that’s come up because of a kids-these-day rant that was reported recently on Danwei. It was triggered by a comic version of A Dream of Red Mansions which takes some liberties with the story in the best traditions of parodies. But as the article says, this version was published four years ago and no one seems to have minded at the time. (One note, though. I’m not sure whether this is a comic book [i.e., manga] or a comedic, but otherwise prose rendition.)

Anyway, let’s give baidu what it wants. There was this sexy girl with long legs, and she had big boobs. She was a sexy girl with big boobs. Now, let’s see how long it takes for me to find that I get a hit or two via baidu for these terms. This time I’ll know that I actually wrote them.

Google in China. Noch einmal.

Another article about Google in China in The Observer today along with the usual arguments from both sides.

At the first Internet Governance Forum in Athens, starting tomorrow, the firm will insist its presence in China does more good than harm by getting more information to more people.

As we all know, Google has bugger all market share in China. In reality, it doesn’t appear to be making a significant difference.

‘We’ve made an empirical judgment, though, that being able to hire Chinese employees and have them be part of the Google culture and be free-thinking, freewheeling internet people … when you add it all up, we think we’re helping to advance the cause of change in China.’

Yeah, you keep telling yourself that. Just how many Chinese employees does Google have? Does the company really believe that such a small number of people is really going to make a difference? Also, where’s the main clause after “that”? I’m not sure whether the ellipsis means that material has been omitted, or the commentator simply trailed off.

‘We do see Google with a search engine in China that gives very different results from the one for the rest for us. I think the starkest example is the picture search for Tiananmen Square. We get the man in front of the tank; in China you get a happy, smiling couple, standing in Tiananmen Square as tourists.’

Another tiresome generalisation. It makes it sound as if all Google search results are warped and twisted. I do a search for “sexy girl long legs big boobs”, but all I get is a link to a page on model workers in Hunan, 1954 – 1957. (No, that’s not what I actually get. The top link for such a search is to a site which – I’m guessing ‘cos I’m not going to go near it – aims at “pick[ing] up cullies to increase their stock”.)

[27.08.13. A thought pops into my head while I’m editing this. What if you only want tourists grinning witlessly in Tiananmen Square and don’t want scenes from Tank Parking Day? All right, I suppose you can refine your search.]

I don’t believe it.

In another article from The Observer, it’s reported that books on atheism are the belle du jour of the publishing world.

A glut of popular science books making a trenchant case against religion have soared up the bestseller lists both here and in America.

I’m sure our hack didn’t really mean to imply that only books about science can make a case against religion, but I’d guess that if you asked for the antithesis of religion, most people would say science.

Dawkins’s book is also selling rapidly in the UK. ‘In terms of sales it’s vying with Jamie Oliver,’ said Alister Babb…

Jamie Oliver. Isn’t he that theologian? [Mr Bamboo. Isn’t he that pointless picky pedant? –ed.]

‘The God Delusion is selling four times as many as the next bestselling science book.

But is The God Delusion principally a science book, or is it principally anti-religious polemic? I can’t see how a book that specifically attempts to debunk religion can be described as a science book even if it employs science as part of  its arsenal against it. It’s also possible to make a sound case against religion using logic without summoning science to the cause.

However, I am aware that religion has been attempting to subvert science with such idiotic ideas as Intelligent Design, which purports to give nonsense a sound factual basis. If we are going to debunk pseudo-science, then scientists are just the people to do it. But what are the aims of these books? I assume that some of them are intended to address scientific fallacies that have been pressed into religious service rather than debunk religion outright; others may be a more direct attack on religion through science (which seems to be the aim of Dawkins’ book from what I can gather).

If you’re wondering what’s happening, I’m trying to think of a suitable concluding sentence. I fear this may have to be it.