Search Filter

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Search Filter Plugin

Being somewhat annoyed at how often some fairly useless sites seem to appear in the top search results we decided to whip together a plugin that does something about it. Our Search Filter plugin removes some of the more aggressively spammy sites from your Google, DuckDuckGo and Bing search results, so that you never even have to see them. The remaining results should then be somewhat more useful regardless of what you are searching for.

What do we mean by spammy? For example whenever you search for how to take care of something, odds are that a WikiHow article will appear. I cannot ever recall reading this article and saying "that's what I needed to know, thank you". Because they never help. Sites like these work to generate as many "articles" as possible so they appear on as many searches as possible. Every visitor to their site is a viewer for their ads, which is how these sites continue to be profitable. So the users actually seeing any kind of benefit is irrelevant, by the time you've realized it's not helping they're already done with you. Conversely people write articles for such sites either because the site pays a small fee per article written or because they want their own sites to get a small boost from being attached to the traffic flow of the larger site, quality and readability take a massive back seat to the industrial-grade traffic flow that having an article site allows. Our plugin fights this by removing these sites from the search results before the user is required to keep track of how useless they've been in the past; our list is built by hand, not automatically, so the sites in question can't mess with it as they would with search engine rankings.

However we only know about a small portion of the internet and can't possibly know all of the link-spam sites. So please write in and tell us which sites you find the most annoying and help us build a comprehensive list of useless sites on the internet.

Fiverr

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Fiverr

As part of our push to reach out to new audiences and get the word out about QWERTY Software Development, we've expanded to include an offer on Fiverr through an account that we happened to have.

 

On a personal note, my experience with Fiverr was not particularly enjoyable either as a buyer or as a seller and it's with mixed feelings that I've fired up the old account. Fiverr also restricts us in what we can negotiate before officially accepting a new task; however this is actually a solid plus. While we run the risk that some clients may be disappointed that they are unable to negotiate for additional extras they feel should be included, it does insure that the project lines up with our process. This allows us to insure that the level of quality is uniformly high on each delivered website.

Windows 10 Issues

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Controlling the Windows 10 Update Process

I've been hearing a lot of complaints about Windows 10 recently stemming from the forced updates. Most problems only happen to people running the technical preview, but there are still issues for people who are supposed to be running a stable build. We don't have an office wide group policy for our machines here so for the Windows 10 machines that need to stay up we use this.

It's a small application that runs in the background and assumes control of the Windows Update process. You can still upgrade between specific times like the very latest Anniversary Edition update allows, except now you can control the times without restriction, completely halting updates for an indefinite period if that's what you want. The only downside is that it's not generally permitted for a regular application to request administrator permissions during start up, which means that you will either have to run in administrator mode or remember to start it by hand every time you reboot. This isn't a huge problem for us who either run in administrator anyway, never reboot our computers or both, but it's definitely a downside.

Helpfully it also disables the additional telemetry on the Windows machine it's running on. Completely disabling telemetry is something that is normally only allowed on the enterprise versions of Windows 10 or the server editions. The home editions will generally still transmit some data back regardless of which option you select. We're not comfortable with that, so this is also a help.

Forcing your own update schedule lets you wait out new updates to see if they make any headlines, then download them once you're reasonably certain the updates are good. Some of the more recent problems are just a bit strange, for example many webcams lost 1080p support with a recent update due to Microsoft removing support for on-camera compression and forcing a Microsoft only raw format to be used. This was a problem for people who were using USB ports that couldn't handle the transmission rate required, which is anything below USB 3 for 1080p; or those with older webcams that didn't completely support the change. If you were relying on your webcam, this is not a fun thing to have been surprised with, and it's only one example.

Of course there are other ways to deal with the problem, but a one button solution is the most efficient.