1913: "A �"

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:33 pm UTC

I forget when it was, mid-naughties maybe, but suddenly non-addresses (or valid-but-unregistered ones) typed into the address-bar started to be redirected to… was it Google…? Basically a "did you mean to search for?" page, upon a DNS-lookup miss1, that was much complained about.

(The idea being that by subverting the address-unknown system, they were picking up user habits (or at least attempted habits) rather than a request for "gaysexpictrues.net" just crashing out, unrecorded by anybody. Except your browser history, your network administrator, your ISP, of course…)

There was a roll-back, at the time, plus technical fixes to use more traditionally operative DNSs, but I think that it's not even in the sightline of the average user that this (admitedly useful) feature can and maybe should be rejected. I don't think I've done anything about it, myself, for most of the intervening decade+ since the original outcry. And these days, its even more insidious, especially with Google's own browser and OS (likely also Apple, and certainly Microsoft). It seems that things I type on this tablet (helicopter! barn-raising! strange quark! dimethylbutane! spleen!) propogate worryingly disproportionately to my search-engine autocompletes, even when not typed into the browser in the first place.

But then, given the prevalence of "boys/girls-night-out" drunken selfies that get offered to the wider electronic world, easily discovered by current/future employers/partners, I don't think people are as bothered as they might have once been by these creeping repurcussions.


For me, I would not mind incorrect URLs/non-URLs to be returned as a pure browsergside error (along the lines of the "not responding" error for valid-but-timing-out destination). To which I would nog mind a blacklist-led warning page would give me a chance to veto an inadvertent typoing visit to http://www.microsfot.com (much as with like the Deceptive Site warnings) if it could be accomplished with minimum push-pull to the Big Data cloud.

While it is unchanged, though, I will probably continue to use the address->search feature. Because I'm lazy and already jaded.


1, Rather than the kind of "bigcompany.org" cybersquatting page that someone has registered (along with many other mis-TLDed and typoed URLs) to bring to a generic ad-and-forward page for their own multi-micropayment harvesting.

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby balthasar_s » Sun Nov 12, 2017 2:17 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:What's your desired behaviour in this situation?
If i enter a valid url that exists - browser goes to there.
If I enter a valid url that doesn't exist - browser shows appropriate error message.
If I enter an invalid url - browser refuses to even try it (and maybe also shows relevant error message)
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:26 pm UTC

balthasar_s wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:What's your desired behaviour in this situation?
If i enter a valid url that exists - browser goes to there.
If I enter a valid url that doesn't exist - browser shows appropriate error message.
If I enter an invalid url - browser refuses to even try it (and maybe also shows relevant error message)


Follow-up: how often do you enter an invalid URL? And what's the use-case behind it?

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby commodorejohn » Sun Nov 12, 2017 3:56 pm UTC

My desired behavior if I give the browser a malformed URL is for it to tell me I gave it a malformed URL. The most common scenario for this to happen is that I either mis-typed or I got ahead of the UI waiting for it to bring up the brower-history autocomplete dropdown and left just the first few letters of the correct URL in the box when I hit Enter, so the idea that I want to search based on that erroneous input is absurd and gives silly results. Even worse is the behavior of Firefox when you turn off the auto-search, which is to bracket whatever you typed in "www."-".com" on the assumption that it is a complete URL and attempt to go there.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby balthasar_s » Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:32 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:Follow-up: how often do you enter an invalid URL? And what's the use-case behind it?
happens sometimes. by accident, by mistake, by copying the wrong thing, whatever else.
commodorejohn wrote: worse is the behavior of Firefox when you turn off the auto-search, which is to bracket whatever you typed in "www."-".com" on the assumption that it is a complete URL and attempt to go there.
Yeah, after disabling the auto search I discovered this "feature". Now how to disable this.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby ucim » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:34 pm UTC

Usually doesn't bother me. It's actually convenient, so I don't have to use a separate textbox or button to search, and it's fairly obvious whether its contents are a URL or a search term... except when I want to search for a URL (to find other sites commenting on it) but not go there. And that is already a thought process so it's easy to not forget to treat it special.

What does bother me is when my ISP (Frontier) grabs a hold of what I entered and decides that it should do its own proprietary search on whatever it is I entered.

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby rmsgrey » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:37 pm UTC

It makes sense for the default to be to assume that you meant to type whatever it was you put into the address bar and for the system to do its best to give you something relevant - the requested page where one exists (or the error from the server where the page should exist but doesn't), or some sort of auto-generated best guess/list of options (www.{your_string}.com or search results) where there's no such URL.

On the other hand, yes, it also makes sense for it to be configurable to do something that doesn't use bandwidth/time for people who only ever enter non-URLs into the address bar by mistake. Leave the "this is the one true way" nonsense for Apple...

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:19 pm UTC

And as of the next major Firefox release (whose mobile counterpart has already rolled out, strangely enough), there will be no dedicated search bar.

This used to worry me, but I think I'm ready for it. My biggest beef with how Chrome handled it was that they would (and maybe still do; I haven't touched it since like 2.0) only allow you to search using whatever you had your default search provider set to, and that there was a cap of like five autofill suggestions between search and URLs. The neat thing about Firefox's search bar is that you can click any one of an indefinite number of sites to search at any given moment. But they're incorporating that feature into the new all-in-one bar anyway.

Meanwhile, I'm getting fed up with the search bar's behavior, namely that it leaves the thing you searched for in the bar forever unless you manually empty it. It's even more annoying on Linux, where you have to triple-click to select all the text in it. They could have simply changed it so that the box clears automatically after you search, but this works too.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Eternal Density » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:04 am UTC

My Google suggestions for � are: thewheelsonthebus, u, meaning, and übersetzer (what does that mean? Oh I can search, duh. Weird, it brings up Google Translate without providing any translation. OH! It means 'translator'. lol.)
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Eternal Density wrote:Could someone please explain this to an Android user?

Thanks, I thought I was the only one. Explainxkcd is your friend, as always. http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/1913

I'm amused by the use of [citation needed] on the claim that keeping the bug is fun ;)


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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby typo » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:18 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:And as of the next major Firefox release (whose mobile counterpart has already rolled out, strangely enough), there will be no dedicated search bar.

This used to worry me, but I think I'm ready for it.

Chrome on my tablet has only one bar. It displays a magnifying glass icon if it's about to search, or a page icon if it's about to do an HTTP lookup. I don't understand how it chooses, but one particular behaviour is really annoying: when I tap the address bar (say on an xkcd cartoon) and edit the URL (say to change the number) Chrome does a Google search of the edited URL. No, that is NOT what I wanted. I've discovered that if I delete and retype the 'h' at the start of 'http://' the magnifying glass switches back to a page and it then does what I wanted when I tap Enter; however, I never remember to do that the first time.

I can still remember when software came with a user manual. Nowadays it's supposed to be so intuitive that nobody needs a manual. Not true.

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby balthasar_s » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:36 pm UTC

typo wrote:when I tap the address bar (say on an xkcd cartoon) and edit the URL (say to change the number) Chrome does a Google search of the edited URL. No, that is NOT what I wanted. I've discovered that if I delete and retype the 'h' at the start of 'http://' the magnifying glass switches back to a page and it then does what I wanted when I tap Enter; however, I never remember to do that the first time.

I can still remember when software came with a user manual. Nowadays it's supposed to be so intuitive that nobody needs a manual. Not true.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby orthogon » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:45 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:And as of the next major Firefox release (whose mobile counterpart has already rolled out, strangely enough), there will be no dedicated search bar.

All this talk of search bars vs address bars seemed a bit odd to me: I don't think Chrome and IE have had them for years; I'm not even sure that Chrome ever had one. But, yes, Firefox (which I only use for a couple of things) does still have a little search bar.

It is a problem, in my view, that we're conflating the two this much. Ideally, we should be educating people that a URL (or "web address" if you prefer) is the definitive way of knowing whose site you're on. Following the top hit from a web search might land you anywhere. Some banks make this point by saying "type 'www.thebank.com' into your browser" instead of providing a link. But having the address auto-complete or automatically do a search just strips off some of the security again.

We also need some kind of 'badging" for websites, to indicate that the site really belongs to the well-known entity that it purports to belong to. The new gTLDs make this problem worse, especially if mainstream organisations start using them more. Get people too used to the idea that a .biz address is kosher, and they're more likely to end up feeding their deets into http://www.thebank.phisingscam.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:58 pm UTC

(Aside from the expansion to non-Latin chatacters (which should be obviously so, so no allowing the using of the Cyrillic version of ".som" to look like ".com"!), I think it was a mistake to go beyond the three-letter gTLDs and two-letter national roots (however they then get subdomained, like ".co.uk" vs ".com.au"). Shoulda kept it technical so people don't start seeing ".randomword" and thinking that it is more valid than ".invalid", and ignore the security-circumventing tricks. But I wasn't ever asked for my opinion, nor privvy to the in-depth reasons given for the expansions.)

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby balthasar_s » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:23 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:We also need some kind of 'badging" for websites, to indicate that the site really belongs to the well-known entity that it purports to belong to.
Seems familiar... :)
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby ucim » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:44 pm UTC

balthasar_s wrote:That's what happens when they make the software think for you but it doesn't think like you.
Very well put.

orthogon wrote:Some banks make this point by saying "type 'www.thebank.com' into your browser" instead of providing a link.
And they are wrong. You should type 'https://www.thebank.com', otherwise you are vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack even if the site is https by default. Eve just adds the 's' for you, everything is secure between Eve and the bank, and Eve sends you whatever she wants.

Really... you'd expect a bank to get security right.

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby orthogon » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:00 pm UTC

balthasar_s wrote:
orthogon wrote:We also need some kind of 'badging" for websites, to indicate that the site really belongs to the well-known entity that it purports to belong to.
Seems familiar... :)

Quite so - actually I thought this was the thread for that comic, otherwise I'd have linked it myself!
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby svenman » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:04 am UTC

orthogon wrote:We also need some kind of 'badging" for websites, to indicate that the site really belongs to the well-known entity that it purports to belong to.

That's what Extended Validation SSL certificates (and to a lesser degree, Organization Validated SSL certificates) are for.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:03 am UTC

svenman wrote:
orthogon wrote:We also need some kind of 'badging" for websites, to indicate that the site really belongs to the well-known entity that it purports to belong to.

That's what Extended Validation SSL certificates (and to a lesser degree, Organization Validated SSL certificates) are for.

We need to make a push for every legitimate website to get these, and switch to HTTPS as well. At the very least, the ones that are making any sort of money off their users. And once that's done, browsers can be coded to put warning icons on literally all the others.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby commodorejohn » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:04 am UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:We need to make a push for every legitimate website to get these, and switch to HTTPS as well.

Translation: "We need to push for every website that doesn't shell out to a certificate authority to be branded as illegitimate."
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:11 am UTC

Yeah fuck that noise, I'm already pissed enough that I can't make my own phone trust my own webserver without paying some certificate authority to tell it to do so. I'm serving up nothing but static HTML, I don't need some fucking browser telling every visitor "ZOMG this site is run by hax0rz who will steal your identities!" just because I turned down the certificate authority's "friendly offer" to make sure that no such thing happened, "for a reasonable fee".
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Yu_p » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:08 pm UTC

typo wrote:I can still remember when software came with a user manual. Nowadays it's supposed to be so intuitive that nobody needs a manual. Not true.


Depends. If you have technical experience, most software now works without a manual, and if there was one, it would be thick enough for that alone to make it useless (i.e. less useful than looking the issue up on Google).

ucim wrote:Really... you'd expect a bank to get security right.

No.

Sadly, no.

commodorejohn wrote:
Steve the Pocket wrote:We need to make a push for every legitimate website to get these, and switch to HTTPS as well.

Translation: "We need to push for every website that doesn't shell out to a certificate authority to be branded as illegitimate."


There is a solution for this. So really, there isn't much of a reason for any business not to use https other than incompetence in cyber-security questions. Maybe also relevant in that context, is how the meaning of certificates is being misunderstood/-represented by critics of Let's Encrypt.

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Archgeek » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:01 pm UTC

balthasar_s wrote:
commodorejohn wrote:As someone who regularly has to go through several iterations of "okay, did you type that into the URL field, or the search field?" on support calls I would like to fire these people into the Sun.
Unfortunately, the URL field and the search field are trying to become the same thing these days.
For example the recent versions of firefox
it has an address bar and a search bar next to each other.

I type whatever I want into the search bar.
my favorite search engine will search for it.
nice.

I type an url into the address bar.
the browser goes to that address.
also nice.

But now I type something that is not an url into the address bar.
like some words or whatever.
and for some reason it does a search?
but
why?

it's an address bar. not a search bar.
the search bar is right next to it.
If I wanted to search for it I would have used the search bar. that's what it's for, after all.

Ok, i understand why some wolud prefer this kind of behavior.
why they would like to have one thing for everything.
i'm not such a one.
I won't want this.

It's nice to have such a possibility but even better if I turn it off.
but I can't.
there is no such option.

Ok, there is one in the about:config.
but to find the solution you have to search for it (!)

why are you ding this, firefox, why?

Powerful browsers actually do something nifty with this -- in both Opera and Vivaldi, one can do various searches from the same bar with the use of a little prefix, like "w representational state transfer".
Defaults in this version of Opera are
    g: google
    y: yahoo
    w: wikipedia
    d: duckduckgo
    z: amazon
but you can add your own, and they don't need to be single-letter. I just made one called "dave" as a test, and at home I've got 'dp' for dogpile and 'i' for imdb. Tasty little feature that restores a bit of control to that silly old bar's behaviour.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby svenman » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:02 pm UTC

Yu_p wrote:
commodorejohn wrote:
Steve the Pocket wrote:We need to make a push for every legitimate website to get these, and switch to HTTPS as well.

Translation: "We need to push for every website that doesn't shell out to a certificate authority to be branded as illegitimate."


There is a solution for this.

Actually not, because with "these" Steve was referring to my mention of EV and OV SSL certificates. These aren't available for free from Let's Encrypt.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Cougar Allen » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:00 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:What's your desired behaviour in this situation?

When I used Verizon as my ISP I found it annoying that whenever I made some little typo in an URL, which would only take me a second to correct -- NOOOOOOOOO! I can't correct it, because Verizon helpfully whisked me off to some Verizon search engine which I would never use voluntarily, and from there instantly to a "Not Found" error message, and even alt back arrow wouldn't let me get back to correct my little typo. Instead I had to start all over.

I would rather it just leave the typo there and let me correct it.

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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:13 am UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:And as of the next major Firefox release (whose mobile counterpart has already rolled out, strangely enough), there will be no dedicated search bar.

...Or not? It seems to still be there, at least in the Ubuntu version. And also a considerable amount of empty space on either side of the bars. Maybe they really did just get a ton of backlash during the beta.
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Re: 1913: "A �"

Postby orthogon » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:22 am UTC

Cougar Allen wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:What's your desired behaviour in this situation?

When I used Verizon as my ISP I found it annoying that whenever I made some little typo in an URL, which would only take me a second to correct -- NOOOOOOOOO! I can't correct it, because Verizon helpfully whisked me off to some Verizon search engine which I would never use voluntarily, and from there instantly to a "Not Found" error message, and even alt back arrow wouldn't let me get back to correct my little typo. Instead I had to start all over.

I would rather it just leave the typo there and let me correct it.

That reminds me: for some reason, the text entry interface for the Google search bar on Android doesn't have any of the normal features. In particular it doesn't offer alternative words, so most of the time I have to spell out the search letter by letter, and the delete key works one letter at a time. Oh, and it opens the search result in "Google App", which is a ... useless web browsing application made by Google, not to be confused with Google Chrome, which is Google's web browser. They could at least offer the option "would you like to open this in chrome, or in our other, shit browser?" It's like the way Microsoft have added an email app in the latest Windows 10 update, apparently forgetting that they already wrote an email application that comes in a free version. I guess it's keeping people in jobs, though, so.
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