I’m sure this is familiar to anyone who has done web development. Lucire has a new home page and the tests show:
Firefox on Mac, Windows, Ubuntu: OK
Chromium on Windows: OK
IE9 and IE10: OK
Safari on Mac OS X, Iphone and Ipad: OK
Dolphin on Android: OK
A really old version of Seamonkey we had at the office: OK
IE8 on Windows XP: not OK
All the roman text is showing as bold, and as usual this is not a bug that I can find reported (I even looked on Google). I have found bugs about italics showing instead of romans caused by installation issues, which don’t apply here as we are using webfonts. There is another common bug about faux bolds and italics, but I’m having the opposite problem: a true bold showing up where romans should (and bold italic instead of italic).
Annoyingly, this bug may have been with us for over a monthâ€”when we changed our body type.
Given that IE8 was never a good browser to begin with, and anyone who cared about their surfing experiences would not have touched it, it makes me wonder if we should invest any more time trying to get things to work. It does mean that just under a tenth of our readers (or is it just over a fifth? Depends who you want to believe) won’t be able to experience our website the way we intended. I realize older IEs are more commonplace in China but our readership this year in the Middle Kingdom had dipped.
The good news, in some ways, is Microsoft’s announcement that it will cease support for the venerable XP platform in 2014. If trends continue based on the first set of stats, the well obsolete IE8 should dip below the five per cent mark this coming year.
It’s a toss-up between leaving it and fixing it, given that we don’t know why IE8 is misinterpreting the linked fonts (theory: are the character sets of the roman and italic too large for it to handle?). If we knew, then fixing things would be a no-brainer. (Clues are welcome!)
Back in September, The Dominion Post claimed on its front page that I have an ‘accent’ that is holding me back. It was a statement which the editor-in-chief subsequently apologized for, and which she had removed from the online editionâ€”you can judge for yourself here if the claim was a falsehood. Still, despite having lived here for 37 years and having grown up here, I thought I had better take lessons from the great actor, Steve Guttenberg, on what a New Zealander sounds like, since evidently I was still too foreign for a newspaper reporter.
Head to around 49 minutes for Steve in the persona of Lobo Marunga, from Auckland, in The Boyfriend School, which aired in New Zealand as Don’t Tell Her It’s Me. Forget Sir Ben Kingsley in Ender’s Game.
My thanks to all those on Twitter and Facebook who complained to the newspaper back in September. The plus side is turning fictions like this into what they should be: a source of humour and entertainment.
In 2009, when my friend Vincentâ€™s Blogger or Blogspot blog was deleted by Google, I fought on his behalf to get it back. Six months on the Google support forums, nothing.
One day, a friend on Twitter told me that with Googleâ€™s deletion of John Hemptonâ€™s blog, as publicized by Reuter journalist Felix Salmon, Blogger product manager Rick Klau had intervened, and had it reinstated. Maybe I should approach Rick, who had a stellar reputation was being one of the good guys inside Google.
I did, and within a day, he had sorted everything out.
Six months using the official channels, one day getting the boss involved.
Admittedly, I began getting suspicious of Googleâ€™s Blogger service, even though my own blogs never fell foul of the Googlebot. Google then announced that it would end FTP support of blogs anyway, so I decided it was time to pack up and leave.
One by one, I deleted my blogs from Blogger, and I watched the number drop slowly inside Google Dashboard.
Google Dashboard always lagged a bit, but between the start of 2010 and today there was a problem: all my Blogger blogs had been deleted, but Dashboard continue to record 1.
And so began another saga with Google.
Again I used the official channelsâ€”the support forumsâ€”and got no response.
Rick had left Bloggerâ€”he would up being YouTubeâ€™s product manager for a whileâ€”so I contacted his successor, Chang Kim. Chang passed it on to Brett, one of Bloggerâ€™s staff.
Brett told me the name of the blog I supposedly still had. The weirdest things are these: Iâ€™ve never heard of this blog, so itâ€™s definitely not mine; but, I do know the gentleman in Canada who owns it, and he tells me that I have never had any connection to it, nor has he ever added me as an author. I responded to Brett at the time and told him this, but the conversation was dropped.
I never knew if Brett was on the level. What if Google had not properly deleted all my data as I had asked it to? What if the 1 reflected that? Or if it was a bug, then really Google needs to fix it, so being a good netizen, I really should point out this discrepancy.
I started a new thread this year on the Google support forums, and it was answered by our old friend Chuckâ€”the chap who fenced with me at the end of 2009 asking irrelevant questions and ignoring specific answers. He asked yet another irrelevant question, I gave him a specific answer, but this time, he just dropped it (a typical experience, I might add, for anything that falls outside routine matters on the Google support forums). I suppose thatâ€™s better than fencing and keeping me on there for another half-year.
So, would Google ever sort this out?
One evening, I decided I would turn to the one person inside the company who showed some responsibility for his companyâ€™s actions: Rick Klau.
Rickâ€™s with Google Ventures now so he had no real reason to get involved in an enquiry concerning a branch of a company he left three years ago.
But in classic Rick fashion, he stepped up.
And while it wasnâ€™t 24 hours, it was a single weekday. Rick asked me one question the day after my enquiry, I answered it, and a weekday later, he had sorted it: my Google Dashboard says I have no blogs with them.
Three (nearly four) years using the official channels, one day getting the (former) boss involved.
Google might do some questionable things, but it has at least one good bloke working for it. If only everyone was as professional as Rick Klau.
While my personal Facebook page and profile continue to have good reach and engagement, the Lucire Facebook is down, especially compared with this time last year.
We’ve increased fans and, on our site, readership, but it’s becoming more and more evident that traffic isn’t coming via the Facebook fan page.
It makes you wonder, then, whether Facebook pages remain a useful marketing tool.
Today is one of the high-traffic days of the year, one where had incredibly high Facebook engagement a year ago. We recorded a reach of 3,169 on the principal article posted that day, on Miss France 2013. Today’s figure for the 2014 competition: 45. (I’d give you a 2011 figure, but Facebook doesn’t allow me to scroll down that far on that page.)
If we post something without an external link, then Facebook will share that with more of our fans, and these will be in the hundreds.
This is probably the best example we have at Lucire for the declining effectiveness of Facebook, with two very comparable posts.
At the time, Facebook contended that algorithmic changes had been made to weed out spammy, non-engaging content, but that the median reach of pages hadn’t budged. It particularly objected to the inference that the changes had been made to spur marketers to spend more on ads to make up for lost reach.
In the document, titled “Generating business results on Facebook,” the paragraph in which the impending drop-off in organic reach is revealed concludes with an ad pitch; marketers are told they should consider paid distribution “to maximize delivery of your message in news feed.” â€¦
In other words, the main reason to acquire fans isn’t to build a free distribution channel for content; it’s to make future Facebook ads work better.
When I posted that Facebook was dying, I had plenty of people objectâ€”on Facebook, of courseâ€”because the network had become so ingrained. But, I thought, once upon a time it was habitual to check your Altavista or Excite home page. Once people find a better way to keep in touch, something that mirrors real-life interaction more, they’ll go.
Facebook fatigue could well come from the lack of stimulation that the website represents today. While Timeline was rolled out to much fanfare in September 2011, and other nipâ€“tucks had taken place regularly before then, Facebook has not innovated on such a grand scale since. However, like an operating system, or like some software, there’s little visual delight in Facebook in 2013 for me. The personal motive is far less than it was. And if there’s such a substantial drop-off in reach on fan pagesâ€”we are talking nearly 99 per centâ€”then there’s no supporting work reason to be there, either. Sure you could innovate and run competitions, but if the reach is this pathetic, does it give businesses much confidence to take the plunge? I don’t think so, not for the majority of small businesses.
Facebook seemed like a recessionary tool: one where people could spend time to forget how bad the economy is. When things improve, we might just want to get out there and do stuff.
All this potentially plays into Google’s hands, and that’s not something I’ll admit to lightly. Google News was Lucireâ€™s friend today. We need reach to get engagement, and we’ll go where we can get it. The search is on.