The joys of blogging using a completely new platform with a development team that really want to make it work, instead of just make it sellable is palpable.

Dreamwidth is, still, not a finished, ready-for-general-release product. That's fine, it's getting there. What's really good though, is that the team behind it are really keen on getting the documentation up to speed, and are generally pleased when you go point out something that isn't working right.

After a lot of headscratching, and a bit of trial and error, I've finally got the sidebars to my main layout almost looking right (at least on this browser, on this laptop, with my preferred default settings). Setting the margin for some of the lists to -12px was a daft solution, but until I can figure it out better, it's a working solution.

Dreamwidth's default settings for page TITLE tags were, well, a bit weird, and broke basic usability and SEO rules. So I've been hacking. )

I know a lot of people don't like reading entries against a dark background with light text--I've fixed that for you )
Prettifying the Crosspost link in the metadata )
It's all, naturally, still being tested, but I thought I'd post and let people know that a) I'm still alive and b) I'm trying to be useful.

This layout is, officially, 1337

But more importantly, hover over that 'Dark' link. Look at the S2 ID number. Everytime someone creates a new layout on DW, it gets assigned a new, sequential, number. There are loads and loads and loads of them. But those of us who signed up to the site really early, well we've got styles with low numbers. Mine isn't that low. But it is pretty cool. S2 layout #1337. This layout is, officially, 1337.

I just felt like sharing that.

(feedback on the code, suggested improvements, bug reports, etc very very welcome. Pointing out that the pale layout is barely personalised and needs a lot of work will be a statement of the already known, I'm looking for unknown unknowns out of preference...)
Charlotte Gore is worried that the switch to the Lib Dems in the polls is a style over substance presentation only shift. In the comments, Jennie and Steph both disagree, for different reasons. Her server won't let me comment currently, so you lucky lucky people get the text as a post.

I think Jennie, Steph and Charlotte are all correct.

Most people vote for a variety of reasons, including perception of policies, how they're explained, trust in the leader/team, who's the prettiest (or, in this case, least worst), who they think is competent, what the policies will do for them personally, what it'll do for the country, etc.

the first time in any election I've studied

For the LDs to get a chance at winning, they need air time and most people don't pay a huge amount of attention outside of elections (Rational ignorance is, broadly, a good thing in a Parliamentary system). For the first time in any election I've studied since 1983, the "third" party is getting decent air time, decent scrutiny, and a real chance to make their policy case to voters.

an electoral strategy that could actually work

But unlike in 1983, that's being backed up by an effective on-the-ground campaign in a large number of seats, with an electoral strategy that could actually work, a professionalised team of volunteers and a front man that's actually connecting well with people, especially younger, previously uncommitted/deeply cynical voters. And a weird viral effect online, something I've never seen before, and wouldn't really have been possible before.

It's not presentation. It's not policy, it's not electoral reform, it's not media coverage, it's not a competent team behind an efective leader, it's not a strong ground campaign with experience campaigners, it's most certainly not the #iagreewithnick hashtag.

It's all of those things, combined, at the same time.

And, of course, a basic tendency within a large number of people in this country to actually be liberal. Maybe not the majority, certainly not all Liberal, but Nick's actually quite good at explaining a liberal case in a way that connects, was very impressed with his crime answers in the debate.

Or maybe I'm just being too optimistic. Again.
Some bloggy adminy points with some questions:

1) Thank you to the person who just paid for my account to be upgraded to paid; I'm always very grateful when people do this, while slightly bemused; it was on my to-do list for payday, but that's not for a few weeks, danke.

2) I've been doing some more tweaks to my layout, it's still nowhere near finished but it's better than it was. However, [profile] mooism had problems with the tag cloud in the side column obscuring the text ox for commenting; this shouldn't happen in the code and I can't replicate it, is it happening to anyone else, if so can you let me know what browser you're using and send me a screenshot?

3) [ profile] theweaselking had problems logging in with OpenID so commented on the LJ mirror of my post; I know the OpenID commenting setup here isn't ideal, and it's being worked on by the dev team, but does anyone else have problems enough to stop them commenting here? Would a walk-through/explanation help people? I'll be doing some more work on my idea for improving the taskflow at some point as well; knowing what problems people have would be good, but obviously it's a low priority until post-election.
A nice little mix of stuff in this lot, though the politics averse amongst you should be warned that with elections next week there's a fair bit on that, though not much of it is serious. Posted to both LJ and DW with comments open for technical reasons that I can't be arsed to fix, LJ version: Europe, books, maps and snails—MOAR linkspam
A nice little mix of stuff in this lot, though the politics averse amongst you should be warned that with elections next week there's a fair bit on that, though not much of it is serious. Also posted to DW with comments open, linkspams don't crosspost easily due to limitations at Delicious.
Couldn't resist writing this one up: In post-Soviet Russia, President blogs you. The President of Russia has a Livejournal ([ 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.
So, I've mentioned previously the Dreamwidth project, taking a fork of the LJ code, going back to first principles, and building a really good blogging/feedreading/social media platform out of the nascent ideas that LJ had but never did well, right?

I've also, previously to that, talked about other alternative platforms, specifically trying to build a distributed platform with the social/privacy features of LJ but without the reliance on one centralised point of failure. The specific idea being to try to Reclaim the Web.

our sort of blogging

Well, I never did get that project going. Partially because, well, it was fairly reliant on a few other individuals. All of whom are involved in Dreamwidth. All of whom share the idea of a distributed social model for our sort of blogging, a way to write about whatever you like, keep in touch with friends, but be able to interact with others on other sites easily and effectively, and crucuailly allow them to interact with you.

Dreamwidth is doing all that.

The Friends Page is replaced

But more importantly, they've taken so many little annoyances or stupidities out of LJ and replaced them with something that makes sense. The Friends Page has gone, it's a Reading Page. If you add someone to your friends page, you subscribe to them. You might also want to Grant Access to your privacy enabled posts, or you might not. Essentially, find someone interesting, follow them for a bit, learn to trust them, you can grant them access. Meaning I can follow the execrable [ profile] j_rentoul's outpourings but not let him read my private thoughts.

OpenID actually works!

OpenID is substantially improved. You can tie an OpenID to your DW account if you've got one, and you can use your OpenID to control any syndicated feeds from any sites you've got (so LJers can turn off comments to the Dreamwidth feed of their stuff if they want, which is good). Well, you'll be able to anyway, that's not quite working yet.

easiest backup I've ever done

Most importantly, the import feature isn't finished yet. It's still the easiest backup of everything I've ever done—all my stuff from LJ is over there, including my icons, filters, bio, etc.

So, even though I still hope to set up my own server running the code eventually, I'll wait until the code is in a proper release model to do it first. In the meantime, I'll be going there properly as soon as they've finished a few features.

I won't be leaving here

Most importantly, I'll be going there, but I won't be leaving here. They're building a cross poster, so when I write a post there, it'll turn up here. You'll be able to follow links there and comment there using your LJ ID without problems, and I'll still be reading everything here.

Basically, it looks damn cool. It's what LJ should already be, and they've not finished yet.

Interested? First person to click this can use my last invite code Gone to [ profile] akicif. I'll likelyalmost certainly get more.
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 [ 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, (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 [ 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
Today, I are mostly been sleeping. Then I did a lot of digging and wrote a post at Liberal Conspiracy about a certain Brian Coleman, London Assembly member and sexist git.

I first heard about the tedious cock in that post of [ profile] liadnan's, a long time before I moved up to London, and he's done nothing to impress me since. For quite awhile, my old post about him was top Google result for his name, it's fallen now to seventh. But I think he's more than a cock now, he's an expensive ignorant sexist git who deserves as much opprobrium as possible. So, given I no longer live in London, I don't have AMs or MPs to complain to. So I figure I'd hurt his rep on Google a bit instead.

If you fancy joining in, and have a publicly accessible website that's indexed by search engines, especially Google,
copying and pasting the below might assist in adding to the amusement—LC already has a good placing in search engines, but so do other sites that mention him. If lots of people link to that post with his name as the anchor, it should float to the top quite nicely...
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 [ 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.
So, having joined the network of a new Facebook friend[1], I thought I'd check out my page. Still got 8 'fans' and not verified as me. But there's a new widget (see sidebar) that can auto confirm it's me and give a direct link to it for new readers. Probably worth it, I thinks.

So, having installed it, verified myself, and everything, I follow the link to the website they've set up to support it, Not bad, and possibly a useful resource (need to explore a lot more). But, as is always the case, the 'similar blogs' category throws up interesting results from the algorithm. Here's a screenshot:

Piccy! )Some guesswork about how the Algorithm got me similar to Dizzy Thnks )

Help me!

[1] [ profile] andrewducker, who most of you should probably be reading as he posts more than me currently, on frequently similar topics.

[2] Why I think Dizzy is an arsehole )
Dizzy doesn't think, and I'd rather not be associated with him. Help me out? Danke.
ETA at the top: We're doing a proper liveblog anyway:

So, two of the mainstream politics blogs I hang around on a lot are 'liveblogging' the US elections, and I'm supposed to be contributing.

Liveblogging? That means actually writing content on the blog, using the comments box for information, and updating the post with important information as and when you get it. It was [ profile] nosemonkey's liveblogging of the London bombings that got me into the idea of blogging in the first place. I think it's a great thing.

So my favourite blogs are liveblogging the election results. Cool.

Except they're not. They're using It's a fucking flash embed chatroom.

Wonderful. We're using the wonders of modern technology to do something you could do on AOL 15 fucking years ago. And you can't scroll back to backread, so if you move to a different screen then come back you miss stuff. Stephen is at least updating the main post, but he's disabled the comments so you have to use the outdated unimpressive POS 'liveblog' software. FFS, I had been looking forward to contributing to both sites. Ah well, back to the email mailing lists, if we're going to use 15+ year old ideas, might as well use one that works.

What a peice of shit.
Gah! I finally wrote another post for Liberal Conspiracy, proof read it, spell checked it, added some paragraph breaks, then hit post. I just came back to it, and found the last paragraph read:
Or will the Republicans, like the post ‘97 Conservatives over here, fail to understand the depths of their own failure and be condemned to decades of opposition as they fail to understand the way modern America is truly rejecting their failed position?
Do you think I may've got a bit too attached to the word 'fail' there? FFS

*goes to edit*
Right, you (yes, YOU) have less than 24 hours to vote in SB's not-taking-the-piss-honest Prestigious Blog Awards, and given I'm looking likely to win one (with the guy I voted for chasing me from behind) it's probably worth a final plug. Because I know you lot are lazy bastards, I've replicated both the list of finalists and the poll itself under the cut. Those of you using other (lesser) blog platforms will need to log in with OpenID, instructions here, and if you're too lazy to do even that then you shall get a glowering look when next I see you...
The finalists are... )
[Poll #1243314]

For some of the above links to off-site blogs I've added in links to their LJ syndicated feed if I could find it quickly, even with my nifty LJ Addons insets it was a PITA so I missed a few more than I intended, but still.

Also, if you want to be nice and plug this on your journal, have a copy/paste text area of the links and poll code:
Um, somehow:
I've been nominated in SB's Very Prestigious Blog of the Year Awards
Which is a bit weird as I don't really do that much politics on here (well, actually everything I write about is political but that's because everything is political, especially if it involves more than one person). Also, um:
I've been nominated in SB's Very Prestigious Blog of the Year Awards
By more than one person, some of whom the feelings definitely mutual. Weird.

Nominations close tonight at midnight, mine are here, but I'm repeating them below so I can add links in for SB tomorrow, gotta go now, just got out of the bath and we're off to Leeds for [ profile] susannah_banana DJing at the Wendy House and I'm late...
My nominations are... )
So, after procrastinating for ages, I decided yesterday to get around to installing the most recent versions of Wordpress and play around. But life got in the way, good job I waited really, as they released version 2.6 today so I've been playing with that. It's good, it's so very very good. If you're currently using Google's Blogger service, now is very much the time to think about switching and getting set up on your own domain and server[1].

Specifically, I've updated Warlord TaKtiX[2]. What had previously stumped me was complete in 10 minutes, and done better than I thought possible )

The posting interface is clean and quick, they've done other cool stuff and really beaten LJ and Blogger down a peg or two )

I approve. I really do. I may dig out the old crossposting plan again. Maybe. Definitely play with the idea anyway—so looking forward to working on this for proper paying clients.

[1] I can assist/do the work for this, and while I haven't worked out a pricing structure yet, it'll be fairly cheap because, y'know, it's me...

[2] The revamped game is due for release any day now (Individual Starters and Demo Decks available for download on the official site). stuff for Laurence and players )
There are times when I nearly remove a few blogs from my reading list, but just stop myself. One of them is written by Chris, who lives in Torquay. But sometimes, he comes up with a gem. This is one of them:
In 1992 Tony Blair mounted a daring expedition from Labour's heartlands to capture as much enemy territory as he could. Confronted by a worn out and divided enemy his raid was as successful as it was audacious. He managed to capture vast swaths of formerly Tory territory sweeping all before him like an all conquering Caesar.

Like Caesar Blair was eventually stabbed in the back by those that he had once thought his closest allies, but unlike Caesar the band that he was leading was not safe in their own territory at the time. They where still deep in the enemies native territory and desperately trying to find ways to hold their position.

Labour is now under Blair's rather less able former adjutant have found themselves, un-supplied, surrounded, and cut off from their reserves.
Go read the rest. Seriously. You have to excuse the typos and spelling, the best spell checkers can only help dyslexia so much at times, but the whole post is both spot on and very well observed.

I have, as it happens, been to the Teotoberg site, Arne took myself and [ profile] the_prince there when we stayed on after a tournament he organised, very scary to see how little space the Romans had to try to fight in, one of the best implemented ambushes in military history methinks.
Gah, sometimes you can try to be too clever. Bottom link is to Andrew's fix of the crossposter code, which theoretically auto-selects a userpic, gets the timestamp right and removes the auto formatting. Except that having done so, it's not posted at all today. So either is playing up or I've messed my code. Anyone want to lay odds? Apologies for the messy appearance, this is a copy/paste from my profile there. Still, it works.
  1. Taxing times for Hungary's porn inspectors | The Register

    A Hungarian porn producer has filed his tax forms, and claimed scene dressing props as legitimate business expenses. So the tax inspectors have to watch his films to confirm they're used. Apparently 'It's a hard job'

    to porn humour taxation ... saved by 2 other people ... 22 hours ago
  2. Solar Cycle 24 Could Be 13 Years Long - Cooler Times Ahead? « Watts Up With That?

    I'm not enough of a scientist to know if this holds water at all, written from a sceptic perspective I think, but I don't discount the anti-climate change position completely, doubt is good. Anyone able to expand, confirm or debunk?

  3. 'The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion' - When the Anti-Choice Choose

    I've read many of these quotes before, but it is a fairly good collection about how anti-abortion campaigners react if it's them that needs to make the choice.

    to abortion Freedom ... saved by 320 other people ... 23 hours ago
  4. Hack Attack: Burn almost any video file to a playable DVD

    Mostly for my reference as I've got some stuff I want to back up from my old PC and have never done it. Anyone got experience of using this or other software to burn AVIs and similar onto DVD?

  5. Basic UK libel law for idiots by Adam Porter

    Another guide to online libel, this time from Urban 75. Seems accurate, although I'm really not sure about the linking could be defamation thing. Mentions the Staggers/Scallywag case directly though.

  6. Charlie's Diary: Moderation Policy

    Not a bad general guide about what is and isn't acceptable on someone else's blog, and most of it applies to me as well (although the bits about huge readership numbers and similar aren't, natch). Freedom of speech doesn't apply.

  7. Qinetiq ships first 'Transformer' war-droid | The Register

    It doesn't actually change shape, but it's got a selection opf different weapon fits, and dude, it's a robot. Um, not 100% sure I approve, but still, it's cool

  8. The greatest defunct Web sites and dotcom disasters - Crave at

    These are cool, a set of failed 'name' websites and why they failed. Some of the could work well now, others are just bad examples of stupid business plans.

  9. delicious -> livejournal reposter - May Contain Nuts

    Andrew's redone some of the code for the cross poster I'm using, much better, solves the timestamp problem and a few other things. I really need to reinstall an FTP client and fix mine.

    to livejournal ... 1 day ago
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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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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