“You no speaky english”

Today is I have some technical pet peeves I want to get off my chest, arse, and other parts of my anatomy.

I’m Canadian and live in France. I speak and read both English and French, but English is my first and preferred language, especially for all things technical. I’ve configured my web browser Firefox (Opera and IE have this facility too) as to which language variants I want. The HTTP/1.1 web protocol as described by RFC 2616 supports the Accept-Language header that the web client software specifies in HTTP requests as to which language the user wants to receive in order of preference.

So !WHY! is it that web sites like Google, YouTube, and many others select a web page language based on the user’s geographical location (determined by country assignments of IP addresses) rather than my personal preferences!?! Especially when there is a protocol mechanism to facilitate language choice! Why should I then have to change the web site preferences and store a language cookie (RFC 2965) to remember that choice, when my web browser keeps telling the web site my preferences as part of each request I make where ever I go!?

Why do web sites insist on pissing users off by making broad assumptions about as simple a thing as preferred language? “Oh! You live in France, you must speak French by choice. We’ll give you the French version of the site.” Bzzzzt! WRONG! Game over! Thanks for playing! Bloody wankers! (I can make similar comments about language selection when installing software, my region is set to France, but I have a UK QWERTY keyboard! What does tell you about me? Grrr.)

My second peeve concerns Contact Us links on web sites, either the lack there of, that they are often buried deep deep in the web site in some obscure corner of a page, the poor choice of options such as no means to make general comments, suggestions, or ideas, or that the page is inaccessible or won’t display at all. I wanted to comment on my language selection peeve to YouTube, but there was no link for comments, just how to complain about copyright, abuse, security, get API information, and the like. Trying some of the alternative choices, like Help Centre, would not even display at all in the browser – as though the web page request was stuck in some sort of redirection loop.

One thing YouTube/Google have done is publish their postal address and phone numbers, so I’ll probably print a hard copy of this rant and mail it to them. If I had a fax (OK, I could use the computer’s fax service I suppose), I might do it that way, but I’d probably find their fax machine connected to an automated telephone system menu that I’d have to navigate first before I could get a carrier tone. Hmm. Maybe if I press zero for an operator and blast the modem tones in their ear. That might give me some small measure of pleasure and assuage my need use a clue bat on someone.

Cast of Characters

People reading my posts and haiku might wonder after some of the names or words mentioned. I like to borrow from mythology and folklore, as the various gods, goddesses, heroes, villains, and creatures often lend so much more colour and personality to a story or poetic image. So I thought I might provide a brief run down of the cast of characters I’ve mentioned recently:

  • Baka: My white fluffy little dog; a bichon frise. Word from Japanese means fool or idiot, though I meant it, when I named him, in the context of clown, bouffon, or jester. And Baka’s friendly, affectionate, and often amusing personality has developed along those lines.
  • Cotton: my previous bichon frise I had from just after graduation from U(W) in 1990 to his passing in early 2005. Still in my memories.
  • Eos: Greek goddess of the dawn.
  • fée: French for fairy folk.
  • Helios: Greek god of the sun.
  • Selene: Greek goddess of the moon.
  • Tatty – A online friend from Norway. Witty, fun, free spirited, chatty friend, who likes dark beer and light bruises.
  • Thor – Norse god of thunder.
  • Unclr – An excellent photographer from Norway and friend of Tatty.

I often write of dawn, dusk, scenery, and storms as I find them interesting times of change often mixed with beauty, colour, scents, sounds, turbulence, and emotion. They act on the senses and the mind in infinite ways and every day nature offers a new painting to begin and end the day. It also happens to be times of the day that Baka and I go for walks and the places we go when I might reflect on the world around me.

Fade to black

So the day ends much the same way it begun. Late evening walk with Baka as the fading red glow of dusk is reflected off distant clouds. The air growing cooler combined with a distinct calm and silence, everyone having returned home, at supper, or watching TV behind closed windows and balcony doors. Growing signs of autumn. Soon the acorns will begin to fall and Baka will want to chase those that I kick along the sidewalk ahead of him.

The coming autumn makes me feel calmer and revives memories of walking home from school as a child with the smell of wood smoke coming from many homes, watching my father string lights in a tree by the front door, and the raking of leaves into huge piles that begged to be jumped into. Other more recent memories come to mind, such as evening walks with my previous dog Cotton in the weeks before Hallow’s Eve in a different town, on a different street, yet the same smells, same piles of leaves.

The south of France lacks that distinct change of seasons, like the especially bright multicoloured autumn displays that one sees in September and October as you drive into the hills of the Laurentiens north of Montreal or similarly into the country north of Toronto. Yet here there are small signs such as the cooler breezes, some rains, choppy seas, shorter days, and the fall of acorns from the few oak trees in the neighbourhood. Not as dramatic, but the feelings are the same.

Transitions

Yesterday I was awoken early (6h00) by a happily chirping telephone informing me of new messages. I had planned to sleep in a little, but alas no. So pouring my body and mind into a track suit and shoes, Baka and I braved the cool dark navy blue dawn. The moon was full and the air scented as we walked the street in silence. Despite the cool air of autumn’s approach, the dawn had a sensual almost feminine cast. Like a lover whispering in your ear.

Yet in contrast during this morning’s early walk with Baka, I could see dark clouds in a crescent shape sitting still and unchanging in the east over the hills of Cannes. The air was very still and not a sound to disturb the silence, as though standing in the eye of storm. When we turned to return I could see the full moon in the west. It was like an eye gazing and challenging, daring the potentially stormy weather to advance.

However, now looking from my kitchen window, it looks as though the clouds have wimped out, having decided to stay put and gather more nerve while they consider whether they should be a storm or not. I was so looking forward to an intense cool rainy day, maybe accompanied by the sparks of Thor’s hammer.

Toboggan Hill

I had a very interesting movie like dream last night. It was a fascinating story of a single middle aged business man disillusioned by life rediscovering the child inside him.

The story opens with Logan [I didn’t dream the names by the way. I’ve added those just for narrative] leaving a group therapy session of similarly stressed, disillusioned, and depressed people. Walks out of the building onto a busy city street in winter, feeling no better than when he went in.

As he walks through the city, he recalls winter in the forested country hills as a child. The cool crisp air, the crunch of snow under foot, scents of pine trees, and the simple quiet of a winter’s day as the snow falls about him. He decides that weekend to drive into the hills once more.

Weekend comes and Logan finds himself in a mountain park land, driving slowly upwards into the snow country. The road is narrow and covered by the previous night’s snow fall, yet already showing signs of being used despite its unploughed state.

The hills are covered by all manner of trees covered in snow as though a blanket had been laid over top of them, branches piled high with snow. Logan drives slowly with his window open. The air is cool, still, and silent, the car’s engine but a low rumble as though subdued into respect for nature’s winter white tapestry.
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