Posted several linkdumps and a substantive entry to DW. The crossposter from DW is still not always getting access, neither am I, but figured some of you might like links to what you may've missed:
Livejournal under attack again
(friends locked, you'll need to login with OpenID, it's got a full list of all my currently available invite codes)

Interesting Links for 28-7-2011

Interesting Links for 27-7-2011

Interesting Links for 26-7-2011

Interesting Links for 25-7-2011

For those unaware, the attacks have been nasty, significantly stronger than the previous set and targetted at some Russian political blogs. The Russian President has ordered a police investigation, he likes to check his friends page fairly regularly...
Item: Jennie put on Would I Lie To You, and the female panellist reveals she lied repeatedly to her husband before they married.

Jennie: Why did he marry her then?
Me: Jennie? She's Keeley Hawes.
(Jennie then went on to wonder why she felt the need to lie, but that's a Serious Topic)

Item: I am a listed here: Brighouse Ward: Statement of persons nominated: Calderdale Council, yes, that is the ward I actually live in, and yes, I'm actually running seriously to try to win. Last minute unplanned nomination, but that doesn't change that I could do it and would like to. This does of course mean that I'll need to be posting some 'local news' stuff over the next few weeks, as that'll be stuff I'll be concentrating on. And having spent years building up the Google presence for my name, ought to actually make use of it.

Item: Livejournal has for the best part of the last week been under a massive, sustained DDOS attack. It appears to be politically motivated from within Russia. This does of course highlight the need, if you care about such things, to backup your journal somewhere, either on your own machine or elsewhere online. I like that I've got two homes that are interoperable for my writing; if you haven't got a DW account & don't want to pay for one, I have a number of invite codes spare--I need an email address to send them to, feel free to comment or email me (matbowles@gmail.com).

Item: At the gym recently, Jennie watched an episode of Doctors, partially. It had Colin Baker in it. She didn't see all of it, so is now inflicting it on me. It has some reasonable actors and acting in it. Shame about the script, plot, etc...
Just a heads up, in the last 24 hours I've received over 100 spam comments on the Livejournal mirror, so I've turned comments there to "friends only" instead of the former "anyone". Comments here on DW will remain open to all, as DW has better comment management facilities and invite codes means spammers have to work to get past the 'need an account' barrier.

It's a very small number of old posts targetted, normally I'd just turn comments off for those posts only, but Livejournal has such a weird system that you can't just turn new comments off, you have to remove all existing comments, something DW either has or will soon be fixing.

On a similar topic to where I prefer comments to go, those of you that've had problems commenting on Dreamwidth due to the NoScript extension going haywire (like [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking) might be interested in [personal profile] foxfirefey's explanation of the problem; basically, NoScript has a built in exception for Livejournal that they haven't yet extended to DW, if the exception wasn't there, the exact same warnings would flash up on LJ commenting, it's something to do with XSS and cross-site/subdomain cookies. You can override it yourself, or wait until they update to fix it.
Couldn't resist writing this one up: In post-Soviet Russia, President blogs you. The President of Russia has a Livejournal ([livejournal.com profile] blog_medvedev) and updates it (or gets someone to, anyway) fairly regularly.

LJ, its future, DW not a threat and SUp taking it in the wrong direction )

Ah well. I'm supposed to be writing up what's wrong with the OpenID implementation on both LJ and DW, but I keep getting distracted.

Short version: Both sites are problematic, DW has the excuse of being new, LJ has no excuse at all )

That's pathetic. Hopefully the competitive pressure from DW will push them into making more improvements, like it has done elsewhere. Competition is, after all, a good thing, and LJs been stuck in its own little rut with nowt but a bunch of clones for too long.

Meh, rambling. Time to go do something constructive.
Several things online have made me happy today, most of them related to the previously mentioned DreamWidth project.

Firstly, when designing the site navigation structure, they used a card sorting usability test to get it right, and came up with this navigation scheme, based around a design by [livejournal.com profile] grrliz. I've used my LJ OpenID to login at the site, and while it's superficially similar to Horizon, it just makes sense. I was stoked about this project just fromt he basic ideas behind it, that they're actually following usability and accessibility guidelines? Yowsers. I uploaded a userpic. I was asked to provide "a description for visually impaired users". Userpics will get proper ALT text. If that means anything to you you know this is cool.

Secondly, they've got what appears to be a top notch comment importer:
When I import, your comments will be assigned to the OpenID you made them with, which means you take control of them if you want )
Such a simple, simple thing to do, but apparently beyond the ken of most other import tools I've encountered.

On the subject of importing or backing up, remember when I promised I'd write a backing up how to? Well, I never did. Don't really need to now, Wordpress.com (my preferred online backup option) has upgraded their importer and launched Even Easier LiveJournal Migration. Seriously, you create an account, go to 'import', and follow the easy instructions. Mine is here if you want to bookmark it somewhere in case of LJ dying unexpectedly, I'll be turning off the search presence over there, don't want it to look like a mirror. Thanks for the heads up [livejournal.com profile] foxfirefey. SRSLY people, you can mark the whole thing as private "your eyes only", just make sure you've got a copy of your journal, just in case?

Lastly, a completely non geeky post. I post a lot of anti-religion stuff when I'm in a ranty mood. I know that not all religious types are crazy bigotted loons, but idiots like Christian Voice tend to spoil it for the sane majority. Today, I got another reminder, several people linked to:

The Life and Opinions of Andrew Rilstone: An Immodest Proposal

Go read it. Really.

Anyway, my importer has finally finished, so time to shut down the PC. G'night all
Short version. Livejournal has today fired about half of its US based staff, including several people that I'd say are key, if not crucial to the operation. This means that while SUP/LJ Inc have the right ideas about where to take the site, they're running out of money (and paid over the odds anyway) and can't afford to do it.

I suspect that LJ itself will continue, as it has ongoing revenue, but the improvements that it needs to turn itself into the successful site it could've been will now be significantly slowed, which puts the long term health of the site in danger. Not got time to do a full post, but here are some links:
... )
I promised a 'how to' on backing up your journal and exporting it to other platforms, in order to write that I first need to do it myself fully and properly, so that'll happen later on (hopefully tonight, depends if I can get it all to work). In the meantime, some of the comments/posts linked abouve are from [livejournal.com profile] rahaeli/[livejournal.com profile] synecdochic, who used to be an LJ staffer but left to concentrate on her writing career (I got the impression she was asked to defend the indefensible once too often)—she's a good fiction writer FWIW. Last year, she announced that with a small number of others she'd be working on a fork of the Open Source Livejournal code (to be called Dreamwidth) to update it, make it compatible with modern servers and run a platform that'd be more community friendly in the way LJ "used to be". Many of the proposals she put forward were ones that echoed what I was looking for—crucially a separation between your 'reading' list and the people you trust to read your friends locked posts, as well as complete interoperability with other sites on the same codebase.

That latter is interesting—if she/they (we?) can get it going, then different people could run Dreamwidth installations and you could still add people, let them read your secure entries, etc from your friends page, without much if any extra effort on your part. That could mean that anyone could pay for a server and run their own site. Drawback is that you'd need your own webserver, renting one of them is a minimum of £50 per month, much more for something decent.

But if enough people were to chip in, it'd be more than possible. In fact, it'd be more than viable, it'd possibly be a very good plan. There are a bunch of you reading this that know a lot more about the backend side of this sort of thing than me—we'd need to work to set it up, and then install updates, etc. Almost certainly viable with enough people, so, well...
[Poll #1326311]
The first is just utterly off the wall weird. The Secret Origins of Clippy tells us how MS patented all those bloody talking paperclips. Most scary:
Read the whole patent, and you’ll see that Microsoft put immense effort into the technical logistics of implementing Clippy. He wasn’t the spawn of a moment of temporary insanity; he was the result of a vast amount of cold, calculating effort.
I know that there were some that really liked the damn thing (when I was in the office for my first post-graduation job, one of the senior accountants proudly showed me how to change the appearance from the paperclip to a different cartoon), but for the most part? No, just no.

Second story is a lot more scary. What happens when your webhost pulls the plug? I'm fortunate that LiveJournal has an easy backup/archiving system that is interoperable, I know that I can transfer all my contents for the last 41/2 years to a Wordpress or similar install, as long as I have a recent backup. What happens if LJ goes down, permanently, when my most recent is old? Got a Wordpress install? How often do you backup? Using the .com? Got a backup?

If you're using something like Blogger, you're probably fairly secure, Google is, after all, massive. But it's reliant on advertising revenues. Such revenues go down during economic difficulties. What happens if they can't afford to keep their free service going? Do you have a backup?

AOL remain one of the biggest online brands. They just shut down Hometown and did very little to let existing users know, and from what I've seen there was no easy export tool.

How secure is your website? How much of the effort you've put into it do you want to keep? Back up people.
Whatever thoughts crossed my mind that weren't worth a whole post.

Yeah, alright, if you can read this then you know LJ is back up again, it wasn't when I tweeted, and besides, I said it three minutes before [livejournal.com profile] status updated. Anyway, change of emphasis. My icon is borked, can oyu let me know what you can see as the avatar for this post? It's supposed to be Fineas with the word 'Life' at the bottom, not some ugly bloke. Support say they've fixed it but...
Microblogging using LoudTwitter and Twitter. [livejournal.com profile] matgb_twitter is there if you're mad enough.
Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace a few years back. He likes to make money out of stupid people. His official biographer summarises his opinion of the site and its users:
I don’t think that’s true. I think it is—if you’re on MySpace now, you’re a [expletive] cretin. And you’re not only a [expletive] cretin, but you’re poor. Nobody who has beyond an 8th grade level of education is on MySpace. It is for backwards people.
Which, in slightly less fragrent terms, is what I've read about the demographics of MySpace use as opposed to Facebook use (Livejournal demographics are a subset of the Facebook demographic, Facebook is used by educated people, LJ is used by educated goths, geeks and weirdoes). All of this via the excellent [livejournal.com profile] jleach, who is The Independent's digital media editor.

I was planning on doing a whole "LJ has grown up and poached The Independent from Six Apart" post, but I haven't. So here we go. LJ has poached the Indy and is working on others. They were using the execrable TypePad service for their blogs, now they're on here. And promoting LJ to their readers and website users. So there's a big influx of slightly confused new users with the 'Independent Minds' logo as their default userpic. If you see it, be nice, a lot of them are all confused.

Oh, and my 'Livejournal is doomed' posts that used to be fairly regular aren't any more—the new owners, it seems, definitely 'get' what the site could be, and are working towards it. For the first time in years, we're back above a million active users per month now. That's awesome.

LJ is competing with the big boys of blogging now. And it looks like it could be winning.
Next Tuesday, from about 16.00, all Livejournal powered blogs and services will be down for approximately 4 hours. You know what? That's a damn good thing. Last year, when I was considering not renewing my paid account, my principle reason was:
Competing blogging platforms such as Wordpress.com and Blogger.com have a multiple redundancy system for its hosting, so that if one centre fails there are backups elsewhere; specifically, they do not trust all their data security to one location situated the wrong side of a major fault line.
They're moving the servers and location that all of Livejournal is stored on from San Francisco, a beautiful city due to fall into the sea at some point very soon, to a place called Billings in the middle of Montana. They're also, medium term, planning a co-location centre so that there's a backup server farm in case something happens to the main one.

Oh, last time they relocated the servers, there was some issue with spam filters as LJ's current IP is whitelisted, they'll hopefully have sorted things out but comment notifications might go missing for a few days...

So, y'know, no LJ next Tuesday afternoon. Guess I'll have to stay in the pub...
Well, I tried setting up the deli.icio.us cross poster (again), but it keeps crashing on me, so here's my linkspam of the last day or so redone with stripped html—sorry about some of the weirdness.

New Statesman - Richard Reeves

Wrote the bio of JS Mill I'm currently reading, which means I like him already. Very interesting set of columns, well worth looking over, even if they are in Staggers.


Edible Dirt,—Easter Sunday, Jesus wakes up

Not original, probably offensive to those that care, rather funny

10 Unfortunate Facts of Life | f*cking c*nts

This amused, it's about time I cleared it from my linklog and actually posted it somewhere

to funny life sex ...

theweaselking: Abortion discussion

Key quote from comments: "It's a hard enough choice without having to make it in an alley. I'll always be pro choice, period."

Why I am an abortion doctor

Read this: 'I can take a woman, in the biggest trouble she has ever experienced in her life, and by performing a five-minute operation, in comfort and dignity, I can give her back her life' Safe, legal, rare, why is there still a controversy?

How to Pack Up & Leave LiveJournal (A Tutorial) (://URLFAN)

Not a bad little how-to. Not how I'd do it specifically, I've already backed up everything including comments to a Wordpress install, but still not bad.

drjon: The LJ Strike (which is today)

Containts a nice little history of previous fusses on the site, with a balanced overview and points out that, well, we've won already

Pharyngula: EXPELLED!

Creationists premiere dodgy movie near home of famous science blogger, specifically ban him from viewing, but not his family or his guest. This is a really dumb move...

It's Just a Game... - Review: The Bible

Funny: "Summary: A confused film, half effects laden, no-brain blockbuster, half cinema-verite talking-heads, lacking a conclusion or climax to justify the budget. Poor plotting and characterisation lead the audience to sympathise with the villains rather

FT.com | The Undercover Economist | Dear Economist: How can I create an incentive scheme to keep our house clean?

Sounds familiar: "My fiancee is moving in with me. We’ve lived together before, and we hate housework. Before, we didn’t do work in retaliation for housework not done by the other." Good to know that even economics doesn't have all the answers

Interesting comment made at [livejournal.com profile] minnesattva's:
The sensible thing to do would be to differentiate LJ, position it if you like as an 'intellectual networking site', or the equivalent of a collaborative newspaper (it has news, opinion, cartoons...) - something you *read* (or write) rather than something you play at. You could even have a default set of people who would be added as your 'friends' when you started on LJ representing some of the best/most popular writing on here - people like say [livejournal.com profile] bradhicks or [livejournal.com profile] theyorkshergob who don't write about themselves on their journals much but write about actual *stuff*, but who you could then add or subtract at will...
Can't say I disagree with that at all, and am amused at the two choices given as examples. I have, naturally, got a whole passel of posts in my head on the whole SUP buyout/ending-of-Basic/interest not-really-censorship thing, but, y'know, lack of motivation strikes again. I do think ending Basic accounts is a daft idea, and I thinkt he way it wasn't clearly announced was insanely stupid.

SUP appear to want to treat LJ as a Social Network, not a blogging platform with SN elements, which I think is completely the wrong way to go, especially given the Russian market success where blogging means LJ. Ah well.

Possibility my long-on-hiatus alternate platform collection of ideas might get dug out again soon. Possibly.
So then, Google and [livejournal.com profile] brad have finally launched their social graph API. Simple version: Your friends list on LJ, Twitter, MySpace, FaceBook etc are public information. So if this takes off (and it will) you'll be able to log into one and find out if your friends from one are on the other. If the information is private, then you'll need permission, but if it's open info then I don't need to ask you gits to find me on Twitter or Bebo (MatGB, natch), I can get the site I just registered for to go see who I know, just like I can currently get them to check my Gmail addressbook. Which will be nice. If it works. It should do. Meh, Brad explains it in all his geekiness if you want:
Brad's product launch vid, in all his geeky glory )
There's an example of the code for those that want it on David Recordon's Blog, including a nice little in-joke.

LJ's new overlords are proceding apace with dragging Livejournal into the 21st century. It aggregates interesting public posts, yes, you can opt out if you want to (how it works for communities) but why would you want to? If you don't want people to see it, don't post it publicly. While it probably won't be of much use to established users, it will really help new users, which the site needs to survive, SUP spent money because they thought they could turn the site around and make it work. Features that draw new users in and help them get set up easily are needed--every other similar site has had this for years.

Last up, [livejournal.com profile] davegodfrey brings the science funny. SRSLY, go read and if time listen, watching a Discovery institute loony get schooled is always worth it, right?
In a discussion about the interesting Beeb article on gender differences [livejournal.com profile] andrewducker says:
You know, the quality of comments like this, and the breadth of knowledge available on my friends list is one of the reasons I love livejournal.
I'd amend it slightly to say blogging generally, but LJ, with the built in friends list aggregator, does make it very easy to keep in touch with a huge chunk of people with knowledge in specific areas way beyond my own.

Not sure on the research as presented, she's definitely got a point, but as always generalisations can be beaten by specifics--my index and ring finger are roughly the same length, and I definitely show both "male" and "female" traits depending on context, and I know a fair number of women that are a lot more "male" than me in most respects. But on the other hand, I definitely agree that a good mix of talents and a good gender ratio make for a much more succesful office/business in general situations, and I'm always slightly wary when a profession, office or place of work is too skewed one way or the other.
I am, as I'm sure is well, a remarkably modest man. I would, for example, never dream of having a category tag for my journal called 'showing off', for that would be vulgar. And that the most popular item under discussion in the most recent [livejournal.com profile] news post, and being linked to and discussed all over the site is my idea is, of course, something that merely provokes a modest smile.

For I am a humble and modest man. Right?

So, I'd like a favour from you, my friends and readers. )

Oh, you can send PMs to each other on site now, and select who can send them to you. You might want to go turn on e-notifcation of them, it defaults to off. And for those of you that hate the message centre, the direct link to just your inbox is right here. *cough*A certain person has a message waiting*cough*
How great am I? You don't know? Things to cheer you up on the train home, a notification in your inbox from [livejournal.com profile] coffeechica entitled DRUM ROLL:
This suggestion has been planned for implementation. Please watch the [livejournal.com profile] lj_releases community for updates.
I knew what post it was before I opened it, but it was nice to be sure. So that's two fixes from one suggestion.

I'm still of the opinion that the concerns about trolls editing comments are missplaced, but those that run LJ abuse disagreed--we've come up with a way to get around the problem. I reserve the right to bitch about them messing up MY idea with poor implementation, but, y'know. I rock!

ETA: Changelog entry detailing how it works:
Bullet point summary of implementation--paid users only apparently )

Oh, had a great night out, met [livejournal.com profile] nhw in the Melton Mowbray and talked SF geekery and politics with a bunch of people, was rather nice. Time to sleep now methinks.
There are some people that like "snap previews". They like annoying, bandwidth hogging javascript pop ups that come up when your mouse passes a link[2]. I'm not one of them. You might be, and if so I can, when I've time, rant at great length about why they degrade the user experience, clutter the web and really don't actually help in any way. But for now a heads up. If You haven't explicitly turned them off from your journal, they're now switched on by default[1]. There's more about how awful Snap Previews are and that includes links to how they're planning on filling them with ads. Turning them off is really easy and I highly recommend you do it, not just for yourself, but for anyone that reads your journal as well. I sleep now.

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] spacecowb0y has given us this howto on blocking them with adblock, which I personally don't use but I know others do.
[1] Basic and sponsored users are turned on by default—that paid users aren't? It's because they'll end up revenue sharing the ads.

[2] Anil? You never did point us to the UI research that said Regular people on the web *love* Snap previews. I'd love to see it, really, because it seems so utterly wrong to me and I like having my preconceptions challenged. So if you do get the chance (of course, I may've missed it as well—I did look around a bit at the time of the discussion)
Reasons to read [livejournal.com profile] the_lj_herald #XXVII
the_lj_herald: News Flash: upcoming changes and staff changes:
Users will be be able to filter their entries according to their security settings by appending security/friends, security/public, security/friends or security/group:customgroupname to their journal URLs. Style System 1 users will see filtered pages in the style that is used to display their tag pages and not in their own styles. This new feature may or may not be available to all users.
Expanded on by the volunteer who wrote the code, [livejournal.com profile] ciaran_h in the comments:
As the maker of the security filtering patch, I'd like to give you a bit more info...

You'll actually be able to filter by adding /security/public, /security/friends, /security/private, or /security/group:customgroupname to the URL, in the same way as you can something similar with tags.

more explanation )
Has to be said, especially as I'm planning on re-exporting soon, theis'll be a great feature, finding all your locked posts quickly will be very useful.

Reminder: The Herald is run by a bunch of non-staff anonymously (I think I can name one of the eds, but I'm not going to), and tracks a huge number of sources to round up any significant announcements in a nice friendly format. Definitely worth reading, especiallyif you don't follow any other LJ comms.
Well, to be more specific, I did a lot of trial and error copy/pasting my CSS, and think the problem is the large amount of /* comment */ text there was in there. As anyone that codes CSS will know, commenting on your markup is dead useful when you come back to it cold after a few months. But by judicious removal of most of it, I've both got the appearance back the way I like it and made a few minor improvements (especially to the way comments display).

Not going to bother hacking in and sorting out the tagcloud now, might do eventually but, y'know, bigger things to worry about. Can't find anything in the LJ FAQ saying why they're now stripping out CSS with large comment texts, that's a really strange decision to make. Ah well.

Silly quiz: Smut novel character )Can't really argue with that one...
OK, a fairly long post on the most recent news and another nail in LJ's coffin.  Those of you just interested in the future rather than the LJ trainwreck may want to skip to the second half.

A big strength of Livejournal )Livejournal may have the most insane abuse policy of any blogging platform )

This affects ALL of us

Standard blogging techniques breach LJs TOS—even quiz memes could get you in trouble )
A caveat, but either way it's a big problem for LJ )

So...
My plans for 'jumping ship' (redux) )
So, some clarifications.
Livejournal has two principle Unique Selling Points (USPs) )
What I'm looking at for journalling/blogging )
What I'm looking at for the Friends Page )
As for the network?  )
Maybe, if we get this right, we can have it so you choose where to put your content. You choose how to aggregate the content of others. You do it quickly, and easily. You choose whter to trust as a primary platform a company like LJ, a friend running a node (*waves hand*), a new start up, or you get your own server.

But they can all interlink, all interoperate. It'd be like LJ, with the privacy you want, but encompassing the whole damn web.

I think that'd be cool. Will it work? Dunno. But the prognosis is good.

Let's reclaim the Web

I'll, um, get back to avoiding work on my bit, right?
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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