Google: “Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer . . . “

The full message is :

Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network. Please try your request again later. Why did this happen?
IP address: <************>
Time: 2015-06-25T17:22:00Z

My initial reaction was that this was one of those “infected computer” malware scams. I won’t tell you all the things I did, but here’s what I found —

  • The problem occurs when I do a number range search in Google, in the format <string> <a>..<b>, where <a> and <b> are 100000 or more. Remember that for a number range search the two numbers are connected by two dots, with no spaces.
  • Here are some examples, with the numbers specified with various values and formats. Examples that produce the error message above don’t generate usable links, so you’ll have to enter them manually (copy-paste)  —
    • [cities 99999..111111]
    • [cities 100000..111111] [just change “99999” to “100000”]
    • use other values for <string>, <a>, and <b>
    • use commas in the numbers, —
    • use numbers with commas and decimals —
      • [cities 100,000.01..111,111.11]

Hey, Google — Please provide some consistency or better guidance for number range searches.

Friends in other places, using different isps, computers, browsers, etc., have gotten results similar to those above.

BTW—I learned about number-range searches years ago, when GoogleGuide author Nancy Blachman spoke to SPAUG.

Samsung silently disabling Windows Update on some computers [Updated]

Original story

Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker, who spends a large portion of his life analysing, debugging, and helping other people troubleshoot Windows, has discovered that Samsung is actively disabling Windows Update on some of its PCs.

Barker stumbled across the issue while trying to assist a user who found that Windows Update “kept getting disabled randomly.” By using Auditpol and registry security auditing, Barker discovered that a program called Disable_Windowsupdate.exe was being run every time the PC booted up—and that EXE file, unfortunately, belonged to Samsung’s SW Update suite.

Updated @ 23:20 BST, 17:20 EST: We finally heard back from Samsung, though it isn’t very informative: “We are aware of Mr. Barker’s claim regarding Windows 8.1 updates on our computers. We take security concerns very seriously and we are working with Microsoft to address this matter.”

Full Story by Sebastian Anthony – Jun 24, 2015 3:20pm PDT  is at ArsTechnica

NoSquint More Useful Than Before

NoSquint is a Firefox addon that “allows you to adjust the text-only and full-page (both text and images) zoom levels as well as color settings both globally (for all sites) and per site.” I have used it for years to make text larger, without also expanding everything else on the same page.

A friend recently complained about a website that used non-standard formatting, which made it harder for her to use. I looked at the site and agreed.

I found a couple of addons that changed or disabled some website formatting, NoSquint among them. Taking a new look at NoSquint, I saw that I could select text color, link color, and visited link color. What an improvement my selections made to that site’s usability!

A neat feature of NoSquint is that it can store your settings on a per-site basis, so changes you make for a site are necessarily applied universally. Also, you can select whether to make your selections permanent.

Note that this article is based on my use of Pale Moon. The NoSquint site comments seem to indicate that there may be issues with recent versions of Firefox.


How Is ‘Life or Death’ Software Tested?

Your average scripter likely isn’t writing a whole lot of proofs or going through the rigors of formal program verification, generally. Which is fine because your average scripter also isn’t writing software for jet airliners or nuclear power plants or robotic surgeons. But somebody is—and the odds are pretty good that your life has been in their hands very recently. How do you know they’re not a complete hack?

Well, you don’t really. Which prompts the question: How is this sort of code tested?

. . . [A]ccording to [Stack Exchange] poster Uri Dekel (handle: Uri), a Google software engineer.

“There’s a serious move towards formal verification rather than random functional testing. Government agencies like NASA and some defense organizations are spending more and more on these technologies. They’re still a PITA [pain in the ass] for the average programmer, but they’re often more effective at testing critical systems.”

Written by  Michael Byrne, Motherboard Editor