Today I am Going to Fly

Some men are born posthumously. ~Nietzsche

Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

The Futility of Facebook

Posted by penuruloki on September 28, 2006

Sure enough, now that you can opt out of the feed, most of my friends have, making the feed almost useless. I still use the feed exclusively though. If my friends don’t want me to know what’s going on in their lives, I won’t bother looking at their pages. It seems the polite (if petty) response to the whole mess.

One thing that did show up in my feed is the “notes” posted by a friend. These notes are essentially priveldged blogs. As expected of an extra feature taped on to another piece of software, the implementation sucks. I actually decided to post a response to the note, as there was more of a response there than on her blog (where it was also posted). Facebook’s response was to throw my post out because it was too long and tell me to write it again. I went to her blog and posted there instead.

The lesson of the day is to use the right tool for the job. If you’re going to bother blogging, use a real blog, not some crappy blog-like system tacked on to some social networking site.


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Facebook Feed Follies

Posted by penuruloki on September 7, 2006

So it turns out there’s a big uproar about the new feed on Facebook. I even got invited to join some anti-feed group.

The whole thing is just silly. I’m pro-feed for the exact reason most people seem to hate it: you don’t have to hunt and peck through the site anymore just to figure out what’s changed in your friends’ lives. I mean, if you didn’t want something to be made “public,” then you wouldn’t post it. Why does it matter if the changes are summarized? Would you rather picture some creepy guy poring over every detail of your profile every day taking notes to find any changes? This isn’t a tool for the stalker (they don’t need it), it’s a tool for the people who like to casually keep up with friends they don’t get to see that much, what with real life happening and all.

And there’s a reason I put scare quotes around the word “public.” Your feed info is only included in your friends’ feeds. If you’re adding stalkers to your friends list, the problem isn’t with the feed. People need to make smarter choices.

Ultimately, what it comes down too is that people have come to see Facebooking as an activity. It’s a mix of barfly socializing, friend collecting (with competition for bulging friends lists) and an Easter egg hunt to find new information. The new feeds are designed more with an eye toward the site as a tool for staying connected with real friends. That means they’ve eliminated the Easter egg hunt, and made a liability out of those bulging friend lists filled with fake friends and people you barely know.

I think people are way too caught up with the novelty of these sites, as opposed to their use. It’s the great Internet fad playing out all over again with Web 2.0. The Internet is a tool, not just a toy. Expect it to do something with the material fed into it. It’s not just your little sandbox to play in by yourself. The Internet is _supposed_ to make information easier to find and organize, not just provide a time sink for bored college students trying to avoid homework. I think some of these people need to grow up a bit.

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Comment Spam

Posted by penuruloki on August 16, 2006

No, I don’t have any here, but I did notice that there was some back at my old Xanga blog. I find it mildly amusing that some bot somewhere took the time to spam the comments (that no one reads) on my old blog (that isn’t updated).

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Windows Live Writer

Posted by penuruloki on August 14, 2006

For someone who spends so much time on his blog simply kvetching about blogs and blog software, I was somewhat obliged to give Windows Live Writer a spin to test it out. The basic concept is to provide a true WYSIWYG publishing tool for bloggers.
The first tentative observation is that it actually does work. Unlike some other free applets coming out lately, us x64 using bastard children actually get to play with the golden children. It also detected our custom WordPress install without issue. So here I am, taking it for a spin.

It also works with LiveJournal (though apparently not Xanga), so I can test out another interesting opportunity, the ability to post the same entry easily to several different blogs. I know friends who do this because they’re locked into the social networking scheme of each site, choosing that over blogroll links, trackbacks and RSS/Atom feed readers that cross site boundaries. I prefer cross-site linking to proprietary entanglements, but other see things differently.

It seems to offer a decent feature set, and things work fairly well so far. The app does do a few odd things though.

1. The program insists on leaving black sidebars on my editing box, presumably because my Siliconrow blog has sidebars along both side. So why not just show the rest of the site? It shows up in “Web Preview,” but you can’t edit there. The forced distinction between views for editing and viewing doesn’t make much sense to me.

2. The program jumps to layout view whenever you switch blogs. Why? I’m as likely (or more) to be previewing across blog sites as to be making changes when I switch blogs. I’m certainly not making a whole new post when switching, as the content doesn’t change, only the style.

3. The preview layout is a bit glitchy. I’ve noticed glitches with the text at the top of both sidebars, particularly with scrolling. Might be an IE problem, but damn that’s bad.

I’ll write more if I decide to keep using it. I have to get ready for work now.

[EDIT] Just to add another oddity:

4. Publishing the same post to two different web sites counts as two posts, with both showing up in the app sidebar.

I’ll stick with it and post a more complete mini-review when I’ve had a chance to play with more of the features.

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Posted by penuruloki on August 6, 2006

I’ve posted in the past about how the greed of commercial blog sites has corrupted the blog vision, and why I moved from Xanga to WordPress to rebel against their limitations. The worst offender has been MySpace, which lacks full text RSS feeds. If you have to go look at the hideous site anyway, why bother with the feed at all? Even AOL got that one right with their blogs. I had one friend with a MySpace blog, and I quit going to her blog because it was so hideous.

But now she has converted! She’s moved to LiveJournal, which is still a commercial blog site, and does still try to create its own little miniature universe with subtle little walls to keep its users bound to the mother site. But it does have full text feeds, and LiveJournal does support OpenID, so I can consider her saved.

The world just got a little brighter.

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Posted by penuruloki on June 14, 2006

It’s been a long time since I looked at it, but I noticed that Facebook has changed a little bit again. They now have a box to mark your status as “at home” or “at work,” which leaves me with two questions:

1. Who logs in frequently enough to update this and make this useful?

2. Who the hell feels the need to broadcast this level of information to the world? Do I really need to know what my friends are doing every minute of every day?

People scare me.

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Blog headaches

Posted by penuruloki on May 20, 2006

We’ve been tracking two small blog problems that are starting to become real nuisances.

The first is the Comment RSS Feed. I don’t know if it’s a problem with WordPress or Vienna, but the comments feed isn’t updating until the main feed is updated. That makes the comments feed kind of worthless. As posted previously, that functionality is _the_ reason I swithced to WordPress. That will have to be corrected.

The other problem appears to have jsut been fixed as I wrote this post. The server date was constantly 12 hours fast. Apparently the system time was still set to UTC, and the OS time to local time. Since the OS time would be set from the system clock at boot, the time was always wrong after a reset. This is now fixed apparently, so there should be no more posts from the future.

Blogging is work.

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The squeeky wheel…

Posted by penuruloki on May 20, 2006

I don’t actually know the Katie in question, but I had her Xanga blog linked under the “Hall of Shame” since I created it, owing to a horrendous background image making the site unreadable. I checked in today, and the background is gone! My ego isn’t big enough to assume that being listed on my blog had anything to do with the change, but it’s nice to see the web changing for the better nonetheless.

Now I need to find some new sites for the Wall of Shame.

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Discussions & Rss

Posted by penuruloki on April 28, 2006

On one last note, you don’t have to register to leave comments, so feel free to join the discussion.

And you should add the comments feed in the sidebar to the right to your RSS/Atom feed reader software to easily keep up with the discussions too. In fact, if you’re in Morris, I will personally come over to your dwelling and set up the software for you. It’s that important to me that people learn of the joy that is RSS.

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Posted by penuruloki on April 26, 2006

Blogs, like life, have themes. I’ve stolen mine from a theme site. The original author is linked somewhere on this page (it might be moving), but I’ve modified the color scheme to fit my taste. The bright whites and pastels are too much for me. So now your eyes get to suffer.

I’ve actually come up with a theory as to why I’m so much more wedded to white-on-black. I’m a known fan of torchiere lamps, and keep two in my living room. I don’t know off hand what’s in them now, but in the good old days, I kept twin 150 watt light bulbs in them. I had a bright living room. I like light. It may seem odd given the title of the blog, but I don’t like living in a cave.

My workspace is a cave. I think I just can’t get enough ambient light into the area, so the monitors seem unusually bright in comparison. That’s my theory anyway. I may be full of it (I usually am), but it seems to work. I’m old enough to resist change now though, so I’ll stick to my ways.

There’s obviously more work to be done with the site, but I think it’s taking shape well enought to go public. I’ve switched my Facebook profile link. My next step is to leave a parting post on Xanga to redirect visitors. I’ll do that soon enough.

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