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Archive for November, 2011

Blistering Antarctic

The title may be slightly over the top, but we have had some pretty poor weather here in Wark and indeed the Northeast over the past few days. To press the point, here’s a picture I took over the weekend. We were on our way over to Bolam for lunch and spotted this uprooted tree. What’s interesting apart from the sheer size of it (not too well conveyed in the photo) is the fact that it knocked the tree behind it over too.

Tree near Bolam

JavaScript, JQuery and Leading Browsers– behavioural differences

It’s the second decade of the 21st century and the browser manufacturers STILL can’t agree on standards.

Here’s a simple piece of coding – almost too simple – it uses the JQUERY library (not shown) to simplify cross-browser coding.

<script language=”javascript”>
function alertMsg()
var gm=”/admin/ajax_keepalive.asp”;
$.get( gm, function(data) { $(“#myTimer”).html(data); } );
var t=setTimeout(alertMsg,10000);


This simple piece of code works as follows…

The purpose of the code is to put an incrementing number into my web page… that’s all – but the number is coming from another page.. and the purpose of this is to stop session timeouts by making sure that even when the user is idle – something is happening.

The function alertMsg() sets up the address of a web page which returns nothing more than an incrementing number. Every time you call the page, it returns  an incremented number – and the jQuery then forces that number into a SPAN on my web page.  You’ll note that the following line sets a 10 second timeout to call the same routine, over and over.

Finally the routine is called – which puts up the display and sets the timer to call the routine in 10 seconds – ad-infinitum.

Except that it works a treat in Firefox – and doesn’t work at ALL in Internet Explorer.

There are TWO unrelated issues here – showing the differences between the browsers.

Firstly in Internet Explorer, the routine is never called (alertMsg()) in the first place – because the DOM is not ready when the routine runs – so the timer never gets set.  It would not matter anyway because Internet Explorer CACHES the call to ajax_keepalive() – and so it would  return the same value instead of an incrementing value – EVEN THOUGH calling this page directly in either browser WORKS a TREAT.

Here’s a version that works for both (differences show in orange)…

<script language=”javascript”>
function alertMsg()
var gm=”/admin/ajax_keepalive.asp?r=” + Math.random();
$.get( gm, function(data) { $(“#myTimer”).html(data); } );
var t=setTimeout(alertMsg,10000);


Note that I’ve added a random number onto the end of the page call – as a parameter which never gets used – but it prevents cacheing… also I’ve wrapped the function call in a jQuery document ready function that makes sure this code (AlertMsg()) does not run until the DOM is ready.

Firefox does not need any of this stuff – Internet Explorer does – and we’re not talking old rubbish here – we’re looking at Firefox 7.01 and IE 9 !!!

Wet and Ruined Solar Lights

After buying another set of solar lights from B&Q only to throw two of them away today because the rain got into them – I’ve sent a letter off to them to complain – first time I’ve ever done that to B&Q. No doubt I’ll get a response back along the lines of "”very few customers ever complain” – which is probably true – it’s taken me years to get around to complaining about the cheap Chinese rubbish they import..

Anyway, here it is – if you have the same problem – feel free to pinch any information from this letter.


B&Q Customer Services
Torrance House

Dear Sirs

Over many years I’ve purchased solar garden lamps of one sort of another from B&Q and over the years I’ve noticed they are getting LESS reliable, not more.

Just a couple of months ago we had so many part-working sets in our garden we decided to buy a brand new set – you’ve only had them in a while, stainless steel set of 10 solar lamps with remote control (this is the first time I’ve seen a remote control on solar powered lights).

They look like the real thing – stainless steel, good construction, work straight out of the box, SPECIALLY MADE FOR B&Q in China….

The problem is like all the REST of the solar lights you’ve sold over the years, THEY’RE NOT WATERPROOF.

I don’t know what instructions you sent when you have these specially made but could you please add the instruction that it RAIN in Britain.

The set of 10 is already down to a set of 8 and this is typical, I expect half of them will last the winter.

The TWO things that stop these lights from lasting years (this applies to all but a few of your solar lights are:

1. NOT WATERPROOF. The water gets into the circuitry and rusts the boards or the LED leads – and they fail

2. The cover for the photocell is plastic, not glass – and it frosts up in the sun, dramatically reducing the life of the units.

I would willingly pay more for a set of lights that would last 5 years instead of one or two and I’m sure so would others. This is just BAD DESIGN – no other way of putting it. The cost of a little silicon seal and a piece of glass (the latter IS found on some of the solar cells you’ve sold in the past) would make a DRAMATIC difference to these products.

I hope this does not fall on deaf ears, forget refund offers, I don’t have the receipts and I’ve binned the broken units – over the years I must’ve bought at least a dozen different sets – if only they lasted I’d put a lot more in and have them ALL working.

We also bought a couple of the sets with the separate solar cell and a lead – nice glass front on the large solar cell but EXACTLY the same issue – they get soaking wet inside over the winter – and the circuits corrode – there really is no excuse for this.


Peter Scargill

Orange Crappy Modems

Despite my own issues with Orange as a phone company, Maureen has her own longstanding account and continues to use them – the reason is simple – as an Orange mobile customer, for a while they were offering home broadband for a fiver, including free calls (VOIP phone) to /orange mobiles.  As our mobile phones don’t work in Wark, it’s handy to be able to call the kids on their Orange mobiles for free.

Before anyone is daft enough to go down this route however, consider this… originally we received an Orange modem with the deal – you have to use theirs, a large, ugly grey thing, otherwise the free calls don’t work (this is deliberate – you CANNOT use another modem and still get the free VOIP calls). It is without a doubt the crappiest modem I’ve ever owned both to look at and to operate, so much so that I realised some time ago, when it continually packed in at random but about once every few days, that the only way to keep it going was to fit a 24-hour timer and reset it every night. That seems to have done the job. Hardly ideal.

Last week we went to the Orange store and asked about an upgrade. Well, apparently when Maureen’s contract is up for renewal, she can also get the latest modem. I thought there might have been a ray of light here as the model on show in the Orange shop is a sleek black Netgear modem…. that is until I looked at the reviews on Amazon – Orange, true to form have done it again.

Take a look at these reviews… not hand picked but straight off the page. Pretty much says it all, really… this is the new modem – not the old!!! I can see a move elsewhere coming on.

Orange modem reviews