Category Archives: Software

Xmarks is Back

Xmarks is back. I found this on their twitter feed:

We experienced unscheduled downtime, we apologize for the inconvenience. Please try a “repair” for ongoing errors: http://bit.ly/MlqXKf

Which leads you to this ‘perfect storm’ explanation:

Xmarks bookmark sync has experienced unscheduled downtime over the last 20 hours. This morning the decision was made to disable syncing to facilitate recovery.

Xmarks has gone to backups to restore the service for impacted Xmarks bookmark sync users. If you use Xmarks bookmark sync please double check any bookmarks you’ve made over the previous 48 hours from 7/1/2012.

At this stage all users should be back in working order from the server, if you’re having issues we’d recommend trying Xmarks Settings -> Advanced -> Repair first. You may want to consider simply using Upload instead to push your local set up to the server if you notice inconsistencies.

If you use Firefox you can reference the bookmarks backups that Firefox automatically creates: http://kb.mozillazine.org/Backing_up_and_restoring_bookmarks_-_Firefox

A number of issues came together causing Xmarks to experience this problem:

– While our datacenters were not impacted, our staff was impacted by the storms that hit the Washington DC area – leaving many of our employees without power, without Internet, and without working phones.
– Our offices are also without power impacted by the storms so using them was not a possibility either.
– Nearly all of our servers were impacted by the bug detailed by Mozilla here: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=769972
– We found that rebooting machines fixed the issue before we found out the true cause (and the above bug report). Rebooting worked but a number of machines failed to shutdown gracefully causing issues bringing back up the cluster cleanly.

We apologize for this issue and thank you for your patience. We will be looking into ways we can further mitigate our risks against threats like these in the future.

That Firefox bug, by the way is ‘Java is choking on leap second‘. That plus a major power outage is very very bad luck indeed. The leap second bug had some nasty effets around the world — grounding Qantas flights and crashing various internet services.

Previously: Xmarks is Down.

Posted in Internet, Software | 1 Comment

Xmarks is Down

My Xmarks bookmark synching service stopped working. I got a whole bunch of different error messages, most of which made it sound like it was either my fault, or the fault of a gateway between me and Xmarks.

But in fact, it seems to be a server problem at Xmarks:

Xmarks experienced a server problem on June 30, 2012. We are working to fix the problem now, we appreciate your patience.

Sounds bad. I can cope for now … but I wish the error messages in my browser had been more accurate and informative. And that they’d put a notice about the problem on their main homepage.

Posted in Internet, Software | 1 Comment

It’s Only Funny at First

This looks like the sort of internet ‘tax’ you could learn to love:

explorer tax

"Today at Kogan we’ve implemented the world’s first ‘Internet Explorer 7 Tax’. The new 6.8 [per cent] tax comes into effect today on all products purchased from Kogan.com by anyone still insistent on using the antique browser," says a blog post from the firm.

via Kogan implements Internet Explorer 7 tax – The Inquirer, who seem to think it’s copacetic.

Kidding aside, though, this isn’t a true tax since since it’s private, not governmental.

Worse, I wonder if this might lead to a new struggle for market share in which some retailers would offer a discount to users who visit with Chrome, or come from Bing. In the long run, this sort of deal would not work to the advantage of open source projects since they don’t have the deep pockets it would take to run that sort of (wickedly effective?) promotion. I wonder if there would be any anti-trust implications…

Posted in Internet, Software | 7 Comments

ProxMate – Work Around Regional Internet Blocks … Or Not?

ProxMate says it is a free plugin for Firefox and Chrome that will allow your to see more of the internet by going around regional content blocks:

– unblocks Youtube Videos!
– unblocks Youtube Channels!
– unblocks Youtube Search!
– unblocks Grooveshark!
– unblocks Hulu (beta!)
– Add your own server!
– No History Tracking!
– On github!
– 100% FREE to use!

I ran into one of those myself not so long ago, but as far as I can tell, adding ProxMate to my browser didn’t fix the problem.

Could it be that the plugin makes it look like you are FROM the US when you are not, but fails to make like like you are not from the US when you are?

Posted in Internet, Software | 5 Comments

GIMP 2.8 Released

GIMP ReleasedThe latest from Gimp.org looks like a significant upgrade — better aesthetically, bigger feature set, it also feels snappier so far.

Versions seem available for just about every platform.

(GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a free and open source solution that rivals Photoshop. And did I mention free?)

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Grrrr

Firefox has a new version out (again, already), FF 10.

But Scrapbook Plus hasn’t been updated for it (yet, once again).

It’s especially annoying that the new version boasts that “Most add-ons are now compatible with new versions of Firefox by default”. Yah, except one of the ones I depend on the most.

OK, I shouldn’t complain. It’s free, excellent, and a great gift to us all from its creator, ” haselnuss”. Thank you sir. Thank you enormously for all your hard work. Now hurry up already.

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Another Reason I Hate My Bank

I have been having a problem with the web site for my bank, which after many years of working OK suddenly decided a few weeks ago that it really didn’t feel like downloading my transaction information into Quicken any more.

Yesterday I finally broke down and called the bank to see if they could sort it out. I hate calling the bank because every time I want something it takes over an hour and I have to speak to three or more people. Indeed, I spent five minutes with the first tech, then got escalated to Trish, a nice tech from Level 2 tech support. Eventually I was able to convince her that it actually wasn’t working. But her attempt to actually solve anything was frustrated by the fact that the bank, having just rolled out a redesigned of their entire web site yesterday, wasn’t actually serving many downloads because something had crashed.

So we made an appointment to talk on Thursday. Seemed like a positive experience on balance. But not so fast! Today I get a call from a different tech, informing me that Level 2 is not making appointments to talk to people, so the first tech would not be calling on Thursday. Yes, he called me when I wasn’t free to talk to say they wouldn’t be calling me when I was free to talk. And, oh yes, systems are still down, so no point doing anything today either.

On the positive side, the more-than-one-hour-and-three-or-more-people rule seems intact.

Posted in Shopping, Software | 2 Comments