Archive for kicking baby squirrels

you don’t know you’re born: a baby squirrels special

These days, I find 07refugees over at insanejournal a quicker way of keeping up with livejournal wank than wading through infinite cat macros at news, but this doesn’t stop me occasionally wishing to give the contributors a smack upside the head.

Oh noes! livejournal has sneakily turned on autopay so they can steal your moneys! OK, I want you to imagine this scenario: livejournal says they’re having a sale on paid accounts so they cost $10. When you get to the checkout they have this shady ‘credits’ system that lets you purchase $15 units only. So you buy the credits and — get this — they tell you they’re not giving you the extra $5 back because they ‘don’t do refunds’. That’s what stealing your money looks like. LJ know perfectly well they couldn’t get away with that kind of manoeuvre. Unfortunately, wordpress.com can.

(If I had a personal blog here, I’d have left there and then. As it is, the wank from that incident is worth $5. Also, of course, I’m never buying anything from them again, so ultimately they lost more than they gained.)

Oh noes! livejournal is screening comments on news! You think that’s censorship? Please. I can’t remember the last time I got a comment past the Great Firewall of Matt on our news blog.

Oh noes! livejournal is tracking visitors to your journal! Yeah, except livejournal is only tracking 5% of journals and has given you the option to opt out. Wanna see my footer?

lovelyfooter.gif

I don’t seem to recall anyone telling me about that, let alone letting me turn it off. Not to mention the Google Analytics shit in the header.


_uacct = "UA-52447-2";

_udn = "wordpress.com";
urchinTracker();

Oh noes! livejournal is inflicting snap previews on every link in your journal! Honey, wordpress.com was doing that months ago. And they didn’t even have the grace to make it an opt-in feature for existing users. We had to seek out the option to turn it off ourselves.

Oh noes! our ToS is vague and keeps changing and we don’t know what will get us deleted! and we is being censored from posting porns! Try not having a terms of service sometime. Then maybe try being hidden from all public listings if your content isn’t PG-13. Try blogging on a host where they can delete you without notice for having a link they don’t like the look of. Or a host where they rewrite the FAQ to allow them to requisition your username at any time without your permission. How do you like them apples?

Back on lj… Oh noes! livejournal won’t let me hide its stupid ugly navbar for evermore and never have to look at it again! At least they let you hide the navbar on your own journal. And if you can’t deal with their tasteful, grey, customisable creation then how would you like something fat and blue and Bloggery instead? (I take that back. Blogger also give you a choice of colours, and their blue is less visually offensive.) If I want to take the navbar off my blog that’s a) going to cost me money, because they charge you here to edit your CSS, and b) get my blog deleted.

And oh noes! livejournal reneged on their promise to never ever put ads on the site! Well, at least they told you the policy was changing. And, again, they gave you the option to opt out. We had ads implemented by stealth and they only owned up when a bunch of people informed them that the lack of ads was their favourite feature. Even now, the existence of ads is hidden away in the FAQ and right at the bottom of the ‘features’ page (and we had to lobby quite hard to get that much). Many people remain unaware of them, because Automattic are smart enough to show them only to non-logged-in users. As for opting out, you’d have to give them money. Yes, even if you’re already paying for other upgrades. And that’s an unofficial workaround which I can’t promise wouldn’t get your blog deleted. The official no-ads upgrade is vaporware.

Yes, livejournal gets a lot of stuff wrong, but guess which site I’m willing to trust with my personal blog? (Here’s a clue: the idea of random angst juxtaposed with compulsory ads and ugly navbars is of extremely limited appeal to me.)

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WP, phone home

The day before 2.3 is due to be released, hell breaks loose on wp-hackers as they fail to see why update notifications require Automattic to grab blog urls. Matt explains that they already know your blog url because they’ve been forcing you to ping Ping-O-Matic for years, and anyway it could be useful in the future. (Collecting information when you don’t really know what you want to do with it but you’re sure you’ll think of something? Yeah. That’s going to assauge people’s paranoia.) Hackers point out that Ping-O-Matic isn’t taking notes of what plugins and version numbers they’re using. Matt tells them if you don’t like it, fork. (I cannot be the only person who thinks this response is beginning to sound a little tired.) In response to pressure from Mark Jaquith, Matt racks his brains to think of something he could use the urls for in the future and comes up with some stuff about tying offsite blogs more closely into .org (He’s really not proving that good at this assuaging paranoia thing, is he?)

Doug Stewart’s explanation of how this isn’t going to play well with Techcrunch naturally goes unaddressed, because there isn’t really anything you can argue with:

If TechCrunch, Engadget, Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Linux Today, Ars Technica, etc. get wind that WordPress is “phoning home” and not notifying users that it is doing so (with some explanation as to the full ramifications), well, I think Six Apart’s recent issues with Open Sourcing MT 4 are going to look like a tempest in a teapot. Your reputation is something that is extremely difficult to build up, fairly difficult to maintain and EXTREMELY easy to lose very quickly.

Well, ok, I’m not sure about that last bit since the fanboys have been extraordinarily forgiving in the past, but I’m sure Six Apart could tell you that the more devoted the fans are to start with, the nastier they get when they think you’re screwing them over.

I don’t, as it happens, think this issue is as huge as they’re making out. If you’re so worried about security that you think people are going to hack into the wordpress.org database to find out what plugins you’re using, then why are you still downloading software in which holes are found every month from a server which was compromised earlier this year? And if you’re so worried about privacy, why are you using software that has a long-established history of ‘phoning home’ through hotlinked images and default pings? The majority of wordpress users are, by definition, fairly indifferent to privacy and security.

And the other thing is that, selfishly, I find it really hard to care what crap goes into 2.3 because I have no intention of having anything to do with it. Well, maybe some light theme testing, but it’s not something I’ll ever use. My main problem these days is deciding between Textpattern, MT and Habari.

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psychic squirrels!

Maybe other companies would be more willing to adopt WXR as a standard if the specs existed somewhere other than inside Matt’s head?

OK, so they should be smart enough to reverse-engineer it, but really, if you’ve just invented your own flavour of RSS and you want people other than yourself to use it, documenting it would seem to be the smart thing to do. Otherwise, they’re just going to go off, make their own version, and then bitch at you for not using their special flavour, which is superior to yours in at least thirteen ways which they are now going to enumerate for you.

(Actually, they’re probably going to do that anyway. That is what the world of feed formats is like.)

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icon deficit

lolcatblogging.png

I want the right to post cat macros in my own damn comments. You pop an ‘img’ quicktag above the comment editor and then continue to strip my images? One, this alone is moronic. Two, I am the admin, and I can post as many images as I like, yet you don’t trust me enough to let post them in my own comments? This is lame and makes no sense.

(I still sort of think it would be the funniest thing ever if even a tiny portion of the livejournal fandom refugees wound up here, posting porn and bitching about the ToS. Though of course we only get one icon, so this will never happen.)

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half-empty

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sniffing round Third World orphanages

Today, apparently, security holes are like Angelina Jolie having a baby.

Well, I’m not sure Ms. Jolie gets caught sniffing round Third World orphanages on a monthly basis quite yet, but it’s getting that way.

I’m past caring about exploits, I really am. I like to think that no script kiddie is going to attack my installs when all they have to do is google a vulnerable version and find some schmuck’s footer telling the world they’re still using 2.0. Seriously, who are these people who think shoving the release number in metatags is a good idea? It doesn’t get you traffic. It doesn’t help you when you’re trotting off to the forums with a problem (you can see it in the admin footer anyway, duh). If your readers care what version you’re using, then you need to think about why your writing is failing so miserably to hold their attention. The only people with any interest in this information are those who want to hack your blog. And you’re not even helping them out because they’ll get so much more of a buzz out of it if you make it slightly less easy for them.

:roll:

(There is also much sly kicking of baby squirrels at said link, if you’re into that sort of thing. I await the inevitable ‘but we ARE open source now!’ protests in the comments.)

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elderly fried teenage roses

Feed stats are no more. Boo hoo.

I don’t know which is worse, the mixed-metaphor-fest that is the post itself (feed stats were elderly fried teenage roses? yeah, often thought the same thing myself) or the closing of comments after only 200 of them. You can’t handle 200 ‘we don’t dig this’ comments? Poor flower. I can’t imagine the kind of nightmares news.livejournal.com/ would give you:

Let’s just hope you never get any truly passionate users, eh?

Anyway, people are much more upset about this than they were about Snap Preview. My feeling is that this is because the target audience for this place is new enough to blogging to be impressed by silly little popup windows and obsessed with stats. Stats are hugely important to newbies. They would rather have you conjure up some numbers out of thin air telling them they are read and loved, than hang around waiting for true and accurate figures which will probably tell them that they are not.

Unlike Snap Preview or ads, the presence of useless feed stats didn’t bother those who weren’t interested in them, but their removal was guaranteed to upset those who were. Bad misjudgement of your demographic. I hope this doesn’t become a habit.

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adsenseless

Apparently, Matt has been spouting off to the Greek media about his intentions to allow wordpress.com users to place Google Adsense units on their blogs. Way to go to undermine the forum volunteers telling people on a daily basis how adsense is not allowed for security reasons and any ads will get your blog taken down without notice etc. etc. etc.

You know, a major part of the recent livejournal user uproar was because Six Apart’s CEO thought it was more important to chat to CNET about policy changes than informing the actual users what was going down. Doesn’t anybody at Automattic pay any attention to what’s going on outside their little bubble?

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warning: this post contains dangerous animals

I was up late last night following Strikethrough 2007, about which my WP-related thoughts are: a) nice to know sucking at public relations is pretty much endemic in this field, b) it’s always best to screw your community over before they have time to get too attached to you and c) wondering whether these Warriors for Innocence freaks have started pestering Mark yet.

In other news, I have a new avatar, inspired by this:

NOT STAFF

and a new lolcat, inspired by this:

steak dinners

update: here, have some more colours:

white.pngblack.pngblue.pngpurple.png

Comments (13)

with friends like this…

Wow, can the fanboys get any more demented?

In a nutshell, the blogging market is c.l.o.s.e.d. – as in no more room, and most importantly, no more competition; because let’s face it, whatever you’ve got, it’s just never going to be good enough.

Oh, where do I start? You know, in 2001 I bet people were saying much the same thing about how Blogger had invented blogging by liberating people from static html, and I’m sure everyone in 2003 believed that Movable Type was the platform of the future as it freed them from reliance on Blogger’s wonky servers. (I’m actually stunned Anil Dash hasn’t shown up in the comments yet. Maybe he’s languishing in moderation as one of the Enemy.) And, outside your little fanboy bubble, everyone in 2006 was saying standalone blogging is yesterday’s news and social networking with a blogging component is where it’s at. If you run around predicting the future in this field you end up looking stupid. You don’t know what the kids are working on in their bedrooms.

In perfect illustration of the above point: disgruntled hackers give up beating their head against the brick wall and fork! At last! Except it’s not a fork. It’s better than a fork, because they’re starting again from the ground up and don’t have to worry about backward compatibility. Of course, it’s early days yet, but there’s some recognisable names in the mix. We’re talking people who may not have quite made it into the Default Blogroll of Google Love, but might well have done if they’d sucked up to Matt a little more. You were wondering why Owen Winkler vanished from your dashboard? You were wondering whether Skippy would turn his backup-plugin-related ire to constructive use? You were wondering whether the Shuttle team would be able to put their disillusionment behind them? OK, probably not, but anyway, wonder no more.

WP managed to overtake MT because it eliminated the pain of rebuilding, had better spam handling, and didn’t piss people off by trying to make them pay for stuff. It remains to be seen whether this lot can capitalise on the relative neglect of wordpress.org in favour of .com, but if they can implement multiblogs, build in podcasting and video features and build a better image uploader, they could have a potential winner on their hands. Nonetheless, it’s early days yet, I would not want to jinx them by fangirling or hubristic predictions, and I don’t know enough about Linux to tell you whether development-by-committee is a really good idea or a really bad one; although I am fully expecting an influx of Linux geeks to the comments telling me it is the best thing ever, and will be disappointed if I do not get it.

(Also the name ‘Habari’ is a little too Ubuntu-wannabe for my taste as well as making me think of Habbo Hotel, which cannot be good. Still, the mockups are pretty.)

Comments (16)

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