Thursday, 29 October 2015

Blogging Problems

Apart from yesterday's blog post leading to another outbreak of moronic commenting, it highlighted a problem that has been mentioned on and off over the last couple of years concerning the difficulty in leaving comments as many people switch from accessing the internet via PC's and move to mobile access:-   

An aside, Jim, but an important one for your blog activity monitoring. I was a very regular contributor a couple of years ago but, somewhere in the dim and distant, NOMS/MoJ got Steria to block the blog and so I was unable to post in work so would only be able to do it at home. This I did for some time because I was regularly on my PC checking emails, shopping etc so a quick read and a quick response was always possible.

About a year ago, however, I got a Windows/iphone and now I can access my email on the go, shop for the couple of items a month I buy on-line (books mostly) and read the blog 'on the go'. Initially, I was able to continue to contribute regularly although typing on a touchscreen was never as easy as using a keyboard so my posts got shorter and shorter. A few months ago, the anti-robot screening software you started using, after working for some time, randomly began to refuse to accept my choices of pizzas, street signs or bicycles and posting on my phone became almost impossible. I kept typing long posts on the touchscreen but then lost them as the security software kicked me out etc. I got frustrated and posted less and less. So now I only post when I am at a PC which is increasingly rare as I am relying on mobile technology. I guess I should have brought this to your attention earlier as it may have allowed us to address the issue but now I am no longer a Probation employee and have less and less to say that hasn't already been raised (i.e. TR is stupid and dangerous etc etc). I pop in a couple of times a week just to catch up but that's about it.

My point is, the fall off of visitor numbers may be partly the 'developing picture', partly the reducing workforce, partly the upgrades (!!) in technology and other potential factors etc etc.

I also struggle with the comment verification on my phone and can usually only post from home. It tends to mean my comments are more thoughtful and less reactive - not always though!

Me too. I think this is a bigger than imagined, as more people go online via mobiles!

I have absolutely no excuse for not posting, except that I'm so often speechless at what I learn from the blog! Really glad Jim's hanging in there. I do appreciate your point about the deterrent effect of a touchscreen. Sorry I'm not techie enough to comment on iphone security, but as an Android phone and Windows laptop user I've only ever had a problem with disappearing text when I've tried to post adverse reviews about hotels or faulty goods. Funny that... So now I copy all text before posting and then repeat if refused. Never been refused twice. Works a treat. Funny that ...


As an almost complete computer novice, I have absolutely no idea what the problems are, let alone how to go about fixing them, so I did what I usually do and had a look around the internet. It would seem this has been an issue since 2013 and remains a problem in search of a solution:-

My wife is just getting to grips with her new iPad mini. We bought the mini so she could carry it around in her handbag or backpack for blogging. She is a beauty blogger and is always replying to comments, blogging, tweeting and generally interacting with her peers. After setting up the ipad mini with all her apps we hit a snag. As soon as she tried to leave a comment on blogger blogs she was unable to, due to some seriously bad CSS/JavaScript. A login box pops up on screen but the on load function is knackered. Poor show blogger.

The problem is that the box loads but iOS doesn’t recognise it as a text entry box so you can’t actually enter any credentials. I tried a few workarounds in both chrome and safari for iOS and the same problem kept occurring. No matter what we tried it was impossible to enter text into the box.

I then grabbed my own iPad and fired up opera. As a web developer I have as many browsers as possible installed on all devices in order to test my own code, something blogger seem to have failed miserably in doing. Sure enough opera rendered the login box correctly and allowed us to enters login credentials and leave a comment on blogger blogs. This kind of workaround is good for those involved in the blogger community as it will allow you to leave comments on your favourite blogs via iOS.

I cannot believe blogger are still having these issues. The majority of traffic I get to my self hosted wordpress blog is mobile browser users so it would be foolish for me to alienate the majority of my readership. It would be such a simple fix for them to implement, simply have the login box as static content below the comment box on mobile style sheets. Would take me 2 mins to implement and would make commenting accessible to millions of iOS users. I wonder if this affects android users also. Would love to hear.

So if you like to comment on blogger blogs head over to the App Store & download opera. It’s actually a good browser, an old favourite amongst my geeky friends.

Finally folks. If you are serious about blogging it may be time to go down the self hosted route. Your blog can never be deleted, you can have good backups and you never lose all your hard work. There is no service level agreement on these free things and it can be taken down at any time meaning you lose everything. Take back control.

Thanks so much for posting this. I’ve been coming up against this problem for over a year now. I’m one of the more tech-savvy beauty bloggers and I run my own self-hosted WordPress blog. The vast majority of the other beauty bloggers are using Blogspot/Blogger and with the default comment app. When I try to explain why I can’t comment on their blogs from my iPad/iPhone they just go, “Huh? Oh I couldn’t possibly fix that!” and promptly forget about it. I’d tried some alternative browsers (iCab, Mercury) but those didn’t work either, so I presumed it was a problem across the board. Off to download Opera I go!

My wife doesn’t use blogger. Never has. We have always used self hosted wordpress. However many of the blogs she reads are hosted on blogger. It’s simple for people to use and generally those seeking out simplicity don’t give a second thought to browser/device compatibility. If she tried to comment on their blogs we run into issues. The underlying CSS used on blogger is awful. It causes so many issues with iOS but blogger aren’t the only ones. PayPal and chrome don’t work well together on any platform.

This is driving me completely INSANE…I did download opera on my iphone but it seems to be really slow when I try to post a comment and it’s still not showing up anyway. I just started a blog in January and everyone keeps telling me they can’t comment on any of my posts! Before I ask them to download Opera I wanted to make sure it was going to work and it looks like I’m still having the same issue…I hate blogger!

The blogger platform doesn’t seem very good. If you can I would switch to WordPress. A much better platform after trying out both.

On my blogspot the problem isn’t solved by using Opera. On iPad I can’t type in the comment field when using “Name/URL” login. Another workaround: write your comment in a text editor, copy and paste it into comment field on blogger. Then publish.

And nearly three years later, this still is not fixed by Google. Which is why I moved my blog to WordPress in the first place, because Google broke Blogger and appears to have no desire to fix it. Google appears to want to kill Blogger, or at least they’ve utterly abandoned it, there hasn’t been any substantive changes to it in half a decade now.


  1. Just switched to Opera on the iPhone and now I can post.

  2. And I thought it was me

  3. Thanks, I just assume I am doing something wrong, when IT operational problems occur which are beyond my understanding as are the explanations here.

    Also going on with this On Probation Blog from Jim Brown is a concerted attempt to make it nonsensical by commenters posting remarks that destabilise the whole.

    Maybe I should consider it an honour to have been so targeted.

    I am sure that people do seriously attack JB's efforts is a sign that he continues to perform a valuable function, for those of us who believe that reintroducing TRADITIONAL Probation will be good for us all in England and Wales & therefore also the whole UK.

    Suicide in prisons is a BBC interest today, just being featured on R4 TODAY programme, I think there is to be mention in House Of Lords later.

  4. From Twitter: -

    " PublicCo ‏@PublicCo 14m14 minutes ago

    Data on #CRCs has been released (no reoffending information included as no cohorts yet formed) #probation #TR "

  5. A word to the wise. As ex IT in one of the old trusts, I can tell you that the IT manager used to get a spreadsheet from Steria every month detailing all your web activities - and you thought 'they' didn't know you'd used unblocking sites to access Facebook?. They might have let you all know (I left) by now but if they haven't, your Facebook or eBay or Amazon habits might be the difference between you and the other bod that gets retained in the next round. Worth knowing. Doubt accessing this blog would be seen as not work related - unless you're Jim!.

    1. As an ex-IT manager for a trust, this is not quite correct. The top ten users are detailed as well as the top ten websites, and a list of blocked sites people have tried to access. On request you can then get detailed web history on any user with date and time stamps and the details of which site. What staff access in their lunch hour would have been deemed 'fair usage'. Internet data though was used in a disciplinary to evidence someone running an online business in works time! Fair dos if you ask me.

    2. Posted at 12:17 and my boss reckoned they had a comprehensive list and was disgusted to see that some of the OMs who shouted loudest about workload were the ones to be found logged into Facebook all day. In fact we experimented with the unblocking sites as Steria had assured us it wasn't accessible. Oh yes it was!. From what you're saying, targeted monitoring must have been requested as claimed workload wasn't matching perceived output. To put it diplomatically.

  6. Opening a House of Lords debate on Young Prisoners Lord Harris (speaking now) reports an horrendously grim situation in custodial institutions - it is as if as a State we have learned nothing since we set up Borstals in 1908 - I suspect that what existed last century is better than now.

    NOMS coming in for much criticism

    Can be followed here and presumably later as well - he started at 15.41

  7. “In the man’s case, we believe that this is likely to have reached the threshold of inhuman and degrading treatment.”

    This is a quote from the Prison's ombudsman. It makes you wonder why this case did not cross the threshold. So much for British this case and as we hear about preventable deaths in the wider prison system.

    1. The death of an 84-year-old man who died in shackles after being detained at Gatwick airport was a “wholly unacceptable” and “shameful” end to his life, an independent investigation found.

      A scathing report by the prisons ombudsman on the death of engineer Alois Dvorzac, who was suffering dementia and stopped on his way from Canada to Slovenia to see his daughter, concluded that his detention by the Home Office was on “the threshold of inhuman and degrading”.

      The report was completed in July 2014 and will be published shortly after the inquest into his death, which found he had died of natural causes.

      “It is a tragic indictment of the system that such a frail and vulnerable man should have spent his final days in prison-like conditions of an immigration removal centre,” said Nigel Newcomen, the prisons and probation ombudsman (PPO), in his report.

      The report questioned why Dvorzac, a man suffering from heart disease as well as dementia, was held in Harmondsworth immigration removal centre for two weeks, home to more than 600 asylum seekers at the time.

      Newcomen mounted the investigation when it emerged that the elderly man died after he had been shackled by a handcuff and chain to a custody officer for five hours before suffering a fatal heart attack in February 2013. The chain was not removed until after the officer noticed he had stopped breathing and resuscitation attempts were made.

      “It is particularly shameful that he should have spent his last hours chained to a custody officer without justification and the Home Office needs to ensure such a situation cannot reoccur,” Newcomen said.

      The official report added: “He remained restrained by an escort chain until he died. We consider it wholly unacceptable for anyone to die in restraints, which is also very distressing for escort staff. In the man’s case, we believe that this is likely to have reached the threshold of inhuman and degrading treatment.”

      The PPO also added that restraints on elderly and infirm detainees might amount to a breach of article three of the European convention on human rights.

      Newcomen said the case was “particularly sad” but, despite the systemic failings, he found that “overall, Home Office immigration officials did what they could to manage the man humanely within the constraints under which they operated”.

      A Home Office official told the inquest that Dvorzac’s death prompted a review of its policy on restraints and the default policy was now not to cuff or chain detainees who were transported to hospital.

      The immigration minister, James Brokenshire, said on Thursday: “The death of anyone in detention is tragic and my thoughts remain with Mr Dvorzac’s family.

      “The circumstances of Mr Dvorzac’s death led to an immediate review of contractor restraint training and guidance. It was simply not acceptable that he should have been handcuffed before he passed away.

      “The approach to the use of handcuffs during immigration detention has changed significantly. New guidance has been published and all escort staff have been re-trained. The use of restraints during escorted visits has reduced markedly and when they are used, it must always be necessary, reasonable and proportionate.”

      The nine-day inquest heard that Dvorzac, a naturalised Canadian, arrived in Britain on 23 January 2013 on the way to his native Slovenia to be reunited with his estranged daughter when he was stopped by UK Border Agency staff and detained at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre near Heathrow.

      Officials stopped him after they found him wandering in a confused state in the airport. When questioned, he could not a give a clear account of his onward travel plans.

      He died three weeks later, taken by ambulance in restraints from the detention centre to Hillingdon hospital in west London. Officials made two attempts to contact his daughter, Alenka, but her phone rang out.

    2. The Guardian has learned that Dvorzac’s body remained unclaimed and he was cremated four months later at 10.45am on 21 May 2014 in Breakspear crematorium in Ruislip. His ashes are believed to have been scattered at a garden of remembrance.

      Although the shackling of Dvorzac has received most attention in this case, the witness accounts in the inquest raise questions about the overall impact of detention on a man described in the inquest as vulnerable and frail.

      urors heard that Dvorzac was initially deemed fit for a return to Canada when he was assessed at East Surrey hospital, where he remained for four days. However, his health deteriorated when he was taken to Harmondsworth detention centre.


      The PPO said Canadian authorities failed to provide him with financial or care assistance while he was waiting for deportation.

      The undignified final journey of Dvorzac began more than 50 years after he fled communism for a new life with his second wife, Dana. Not much is known about his life in Canada other than the fact that his wife had died and he had no next of kin in the country.

      By the time he arrived in Britain, it was clear he knew that he was dying and was trying to make a final reconnection with his long lost daughter. The inquest heard that he told one nurse in Harmondsworth: “I don’t have much time. I need to see my family.”

      The PPO report sheds fresh light on the precise circumstances of his last four weeks. He arrived at Gatwick airport on 23 January and was found with no travel documents and no luggage other than CA$1,400 in cash.

      The inquest heard that Dvorzac had no address for his daughter or her married surname and immigration officials attempted to deport him to Canada.

      However, the PPO investigation suggests he had firm plans for the second leg of his journey and raises the question why he was not sent on his way to Slovenia. The first time immigration officials tried to deport him, he became very upset in the ambulance on the way to the airport and was shouting, “No, no, no,” when told of the plans.

      The jury did not hear details of his family connections in Slovenia – beyond the bare fact that he had a daughter – and a Home Officie official admitted that more should have been done to contact them and bring about his removal from Harmondsworth and into a healthcare setting.

      According to the PPO report, the Home Office “had not yet been able to return the man’s money and property to his family” 15 months after his death.

      Channel 4 reporter Paraic O’Brien who interviewed Dvorzac’s family earlier this year said he was able to find the family in Slovenia within 24 hours.

      O’Brien learned that Dvorzac was desperate to see his daughter and had written to his niece to locate his daughter. “The world is changing incredibly fast. I will need the address of my daughter Alenka. Can you get it for me?” he wrote.

      This was confirmed by the PPO investigators. When Dvorzac arrived in the UK, he told an immigration officer that he had planned to get the train to France, then go to Austria and from there to Slovenia.

      They found that when the Canadian authorities were alerted to his predicament, a consular official told UK immigration officers that Dvorzac “should be detained and removed like any other passenger”. Canada did not accept responsibility for the costs of his deportation and could not offer him care.

      The Canadian authorities should have been alert to his case before he got on board the flight to London, the PPO report says, adding: “The Canadian police had found the man in the streets and had taken him to hospital for assessment. Doctors had diagnosed him with dementia and referred him to social services and then the hospital discharged him.”

    3. By the time East Surrey hospital got involved, it was clear that Dvorzac was a seriously ill man, on 14 different medications for acute coronary syndrome, diabetes, depression and anxiety.

      He refused all his medications when at Harmondsworth apart from a spray for angina. Over the two weeks in the centre, a number of doctors raised the alarm, warning he was not fit for detention. One said he was at high risk of death; another warned the Home Office that detention would damage his health, but this report took five days to be acted upon.

      After his death, Home Office immigration officials were still unable to contact his daughter. The first she knew of his arrival in Britain was when Slovenian police, contacted via the Canadian high commission, called to notify her of his death.

      She and the Canadian high commission were invited to be present as “interested parties” in the inquest, but both declined.

  8. Word is top brass in napo are having a restructure watch this space

  9. From Hansard - House of Lords - text of today's debate initiated by Lord Harris largely about suicides and deaths of young people in Custody.

    BEGINS: -

    " 3.23 pm

    Moved by
    Lord Harris of Haringey

    To move that this House takes note of the case for taking action to address the problems of young people before they enter the criminal justice system in order to reduce the prison population, improve conditions within prison, and focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners, as set out in The Harris Review: Changing Prisons, Saving Lives.

    Lord Harris of Haringey (Lab):

    My Lords, I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce this debate. I should make it clear that this is not out of any sense of self-promotion, but because I believe that the issues raised by the independent review that I led are so important. Indeed, I believe that they are important for the Government, because as they wrestle with the comprehensive spending review, they need to recognise that prison is a hugely expensive intervention and yet the benefits of this spend are questionable. It has a relatively low impact on crime, and indeed rates of reoffending are high, particularly among young adults.

    Last year, I and my team were commissioned by the then Minister for Prisons to review the 83 self-inflicted deaths of young people in prison from April 2007 to the end of 2013. We also looked at the deaths of the four under-18s who died in the same period. Uppermost in our minds throughout the exercise was that every single one of the young people who died and whose cases we examined was someone’s son or daughter, sister or brother, partner or even parent. Each of the deaths represents a failure by the state to protect the young people concerned, which is a breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is a failure by the state which is all the greater because the same criticisms occur time and time again. Lessons have not been learned and not enough has been done over the years to bring about substantive change. "

  10. On a tangent, am I right that there was a comment posted sometime this week suggesting Selous has recently said probation staff being let go by CRCs should be given EVR? I've looked but couldn't seem to find it, so maybe it was wishful thinking?

    1. It was in an adjournment debate on Wednesday. The full quote is: " Furthermore, any probation staff who were employed as at 31 May 2014 will, if they are eligible for voluntary redundancy, be entitled to the enhanced voluntary redundancy terms, as set out in the national agreement on staff transfer and protections, where a voluntary redundancy situation arises. Those terms stand unless otherwise renegotiated in accordance with applicable employment law."

      i.e. if you agree to voluntary severance, EVR doesn't apply.

      The full transcript from Hansard is here:

      The part I quoted is about halfway down the page.

    2. Many thanks.