Archive for the ‘annoying’ Category

Fido Fail… Where is that email invoice notification?

Friday, May 26th, 2017

So, my fears of paperless billing have struck again. My Fido email invoice notification did not come in last week. I only happened to realize this while processing my BC Hydro (hard copy) invoice.

No, it’s not in my SPAM folder, nor is it in my trash. The Fido customer website seems to have had a major update, so I’m betting it is related.

I hope not too many people get burned by this one!

Playing around with HTML5 ads with Google AdWords built in Google Web Designer

Friday, December 18th, 2015

I had to build a relatively simple HTML5 ad for the main client this week. I had previously built Flash advertisements, but even that was a few years ago.

This was sadly a frustrating experience, especially since Flash ads (which in end user terms are basically the same) have been around for over a decade.

I will not go into too much detail, perhaps, I’ll backfill this post in the future. I wanted to write down a few notes while this pain was still fresh in my mind.

Google Web Designer (GWD) is the preferred way to build HTML5 ads for Google AdWords. The sad thing is they don’t need to invent anything here, just copy programs that we’ve used to build Flash ads for years. Some notes on this “beta” product.

  • It will install without complaint on Windows Vista. It will NOT work properly though, many features fail SILENTLY on Vista. Admittedly, Google only claims Windows 7 compatibility – I was working over RDP on one of the spare machines in the office –  I didn’t even realize it was running Vista rather than Windows 7. The “Swap Image” and problems in the asset library come to mind.
  • Don’t even get me started on the quirks in the UI. I never could figure out how to move an object with the mouse, rather than create a transform. I ended up entering “pixel” values into the X and Y fields with the keyboard.
  • I couldn’t find a way to export a frame of the animation, for, you know, the JPG failover image that the majority of ad networks require for users that disable animated ads.
  • Misleading “template” choices. My first attempt at building an ad I picked one of the 300×250 templates that mentioned Google and something about remarketing. In the end, this caused me grief. My final file was not compatible with the standard AdWords upload… something about it being custom (forgot to write the exact error down). I eventually rebuilt the simple ad without a template, using the Google ‘environment’.
  • Resizing a file to switch from a rectangle to a leaderboard ad? Yeah, not easy. Actually, I never confirmed that I got this working – I may try again next week.

Google AdWords issues…

  • I use Inkscape for a lot of vector art work. GWD seems to use these SVG files fine in local previews, but uploading the “publish locally” zip file from GWD to AdWords failed in all my attempts. Worse, it failed with this completely misleading error: “Invalid file format. Make sure you are using a supported file format (.JPEG, .JPG, .PNG, .GIF, .ZIP or .SWF) and that your file is not corrupted.” I was using text that had been converted to paths, but I later tested with just an oval and rectangle. In the end? I made precisely sized PNG files. It feels so old fashioned, and I’ll be really annoyed when I have to resize the ad.

HTML5 Ad Notes

  • No, you do not need to include a “clickTag” with HTML5 on AdWords. This is not as easy to figure out as it should be.

Erroneous “This modification will affect transactions from closed periods…” prompt in Quickbooks

Friday, May 8th, 2015

I was highly disappointed to discover that a current version of QuickBooks will give this error message:quickbooks-depends-on-computer-date-format



If you have your Windows user date format set differently from the other users of QuickBooks – I assume that it would work on some days and not others! At this particular client’s site, 2 users were using a mm/dd/yyyy date format, and the 3rd, the person who couldn’t make postings, was using dd/mm/yyyy. I was able to triage this to a Windows user issue, since other QuickBooks users using this fellows Windows login also were not able to make postings.

It took a few tries while searching Google to find the magic search terms to confirm that I wasn’t the first to find this particular issue.

It is 2015, I would have bet that a very common software package from a large firm would have had time to learn to convert dates to a single standard, maybe UTC,  prior to applying business logic. But… I would have lost that bet with QuickBooks.

Meh, I guess this gives us something to point to when people find bugs in our websites. :)

Google Drive broke itself? Deleting the user settings…

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

About 3 weeks ago, I think Google Drive tried to update itself and broke itself. This happened on multiple computers running at one of our client’s businesses. These were Windows XP Pro computers, in Workgroup mode, and the users are running in Limited User accounts. I’m not 100% what the trigger to the problem was – it didn’t seem to be a  wide spread problem, since, my brief web searches on the topic didn’t turn up anything recent.

I tried an uninstall and re-install of Google Drive, but that didn’t work. In hindsight, I should have tried disconnecting the drive from a Google user account, and then re-connecting it.

What I actually did was to delete the Google Drive user level files (and, as it turns out, the settings). As far as I can tell, this seems to reset the software. It looks like Google Drive doesn’t really use the Windows Registry – this makes sense, it makes it easier share code across platforms like OSX or Linux (if such clients exist).

So, I renamed this folder, to “break” Google Drive:

C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Drive

I think Windows Vista and later would have it here: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Google\Drive


Upon re-opening the Google Drive client, I was prompted to do the initial setup. And after entering the Google Account username and password, and pointing to the original drive folder, it started to work. There was an initial sync check, where all the files were compared to the cloud copy, and then a prompt to correct any discrepancies.

I’m not impressed that this happened, it makes me wonder about all these automatically updating programs, like Chrome (which has also caused me grief after an automatic update).

Problem with Firefox’s new built-in PDF viewer and

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Annoyingly, within the last month or so, Firefox has switched it’s default PDF viewer to it’s built-in renderer. Generally, this is a good thing. It means that eventually we won’t need to all have Adobe Reader on our computers. But, annoyingly, this built-in renderer has issues with multiple PDF files, including those generated by our bingo card generating website,

For now, we have added a warning prompt for Firefox users to tell them why their bingo cards are missing the numbers or words within the grid. And now, the harder part, trying to figure out what part of the PDFs we use are incompatible with Firefox.

This is hugely annoying.

For anyone who stumbles on this, this page gives information on debugging pdf.js (the basis for the embedded FF viewer):