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31.12.09

My last post for this blog on Blogger (fingers crossed) 

Image by http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbiljr/Folks, this is the last post of 2009, and I might see you here in 2010.
   When I asked if there was an easy way to shift from Blogger to Wordpress at the same domain, no one had any clues, apart from our usual go-to web guy, Nigel Dunn.
   Nigel’s thought was I could create a new domain: instead of blog, maybe I could use wordpress. I could use the Wordpress import, get the old posts into the new directory, and then rename the Wordpress directory. Simple.
   I dug around a little bit today and I might be in luck: I do not need to do any of this.
   Because I never hosted any of these entries on a Google or Blogspot server—which means that Google can’t go around wiping anything and pretending that the blog never existed in the first place—Blogger actually published every one of these pages in full on our server.
   No databasing, no PHPing, nothing—they exist as fully fledged pages, with the entire CSS stylesheet, the meta tags, everything, on each page. Even the month pages are not database ones: they replicate every single post, in full. Blogger’s only record is keeping an index of my posts and maintaining some drafts.
   Needless to say, this is a terribly inefficient way of storing data, although it is remarkably safe—I am not subject to the whim of a database crash because the posts are all here in “longhand”.
   There are some problems with Blogger. It won’t allow us oldies to have the simplest things, such as a ‘Previous page’ and ‘Next page’ link. New users can get these, but if you have a custom template—as I do—and started in the early days, then Blogger won’t supply you with some easy code that you can plug in to your blog.
   Also, as mentioned, it republishes every single tag page when one enters a new post—even when that particular tag has not been used. This is also terribly inefficient and, as I discovered when poking about on our server, unnecessary.
   All told, the shift to Wordpress is on principle. Google has proven itself to be highly untrustworthy and has engaged in deception when it came to deleting Vincent Wright’s Social Media Consortium blog. I had also discussed this shift many years ago with readers, all of whom encouraged me to make the change.
   If all goes well, I will start 2010 with a new blog at this same location. The home page will look rather empty initially, because I will be starting fresh. However, the entire archive of posts from 2006 to 2009 will remain, hard-linked from the new home page, to pages that Google has published in full.
   I will keep the old Blogger account in case I need to make template changes, which are very likely. But no new posts will go via Google or be managed by the company. See you in the Gregorian New Year.

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History of the decade, part 11: man and woman of the decade 

Yesterday: 2009

Here is the final part of my satirical series today as 2009 draws to a close. Who were the most influential people this decade? Who expressed the 2000s and changed the way of our collective culture?

Man of the decade
Nominees
   Nicolas Sarkozy, for glamourizing the presidency more than Ségolène Royal could.
   Carson Kressley, for his contribution to the styles of world leaders.
   Al Gore, for trying to look stylish, but still falling short of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
   Vladimir Putin, for posing topless.
   Tiger Woods, for having a name like a porn star and acting it out.

Winner
   Peter Jackson, for helping millions of people find New Zealand on a map when the rest of us could not, and for making it OK to be a successful man with a beard.


Woman of the decade nominee, Elin Nordegren: Part of the reason she got a nomination was to sex up this blog. And because she looks far less of a slag than the women her husband has cheated on her with.
Woman of the decade
Nominees
   Sarah Palin, for creating Tina Fey.
   Elin Nordegren, for being the hottest woman associated with golf since Caddyshack.
   Jenna Bush, for calling her Dad at work live on the Ellen show.
   Angela Merkel, for getting a back rub from George W. Bush.
   Martha Stewart, for comparing herself to Nelson Mandela.

Winner
   Oprah Winfrey, for actually meeting Nelson Mandela.

There you have it, folks! Happy 2010!

If you want to read the whole series, this link should deliver the whole lot. Or, jump back to part 1 here.

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30.12.09

Why Peter Jackson deserves a knighthood 

[Cross-posted at Lucire] When Lucire first broke news yesterday about Peter Jackson’s knighthood in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours’ List, I was particularly delighted.
   Peter Jackson deserves a knighthood not just because he makes marvellous films. Peter Jackson deserves a knighthood because he continues to believe in New Zealand even after certain bodies and their bureaucrats gave him grief.
   Before he was a big name internationally, there was reported tension between Jackson and the New Zealand Film Commission in the 1990s.
   Because Jackson believed in this country so much, he got over it. A lesser man would have thought, ‘If the establishment won’t accept me, I’ll leave.’
   Many of the big Kiwi names in movies are based in California, because when they left there was no centre for movie production in New Zealand. And they wanted somewhere that could understand their vision for making movies.
   Instead, Jackson fought to make his Lord of the Rings trilogy in New Zealand—setting up a world-class hub for film in Wellington.
   While some politicians would like to give credit to the Tourism New Zealand 100 Per Cent Pure campaign for lifting the national image, I’ve always argued it was the effort of one man—Jackson—for bringing the country to the world stage.
   Destination branding can be ignored, passed over as just another tourism ad in a travel magazine. Peter Jackson alone gave it that hook, and if any one man can take credit for the first decade’s economic boosts, it is him.
   Through Jackson not only did the films become nice earners for New Zealand, the tourist industry boomed because of the trilogy. And the Film Commission came right in the end.
   And in many respects, Peter Jackson kicked the tall poppy syndrome idea out of the country’s psyche where it could only be entertained by a few foreign companies who use it to keep Kiwis down. Peter Jackson changed our culture.
   This knighthood is long overdue, but I applaud this honour for Jackson. He is a patriot, a word that should not have politically incorrect shades. His level of pride is just what New Zealand needs. Sir Peter Jackson is an inspirational figure and one hopes many others will have faith in their own beliefs, in the way that he does.

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History of the decade, part 10: 2009 

Yesterday: 2008

2009

Swine ’flu becomes the “in” illness, becoming more popular than the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK. Unlike SARS, no drink is released.
   Michael Jackson dies, finally causing the internet to break down. When Mollie Sugden dies, Mrs Slocombe’s Pussy, in a fit of rage, causes Twitter to break down.
   Sarah Palin starts her Facebook page, and gets more followers than Oprah Winfrey, forcing Oprah to end her show after 25 years as she is convinced this was one of the signs of the Apocalypse.
   With his wife Hillary as Secretary of State and busy on other matters, Bill Clinton wants to prove he still has his charm. He goes to the one last place where he does not have

November: Tiger Woods kept looking over his shoulder at tournaments all year. In November, it was revealed why: his wife had taken up women’s golf and had her own set of clubs. It was the first time golf looked like a cool sport to non-golfing males since Cindy Morgan appeared in Caddyshack.
women who have issued restraining orders against him: North Korea. Upon arrival, he realizes that Kim Jong-il has captured two female American journalists. After a persuasive conversation, Kim Jong-il realizes that if Bill Clinton wants to take two women home, he will.
   Roman Polanski, who prefers far younger women than Clinton did, is arrested in Switzerland, but some French politicians lobby to have him released, based on the premise that as long as the ages added up to 60, it’s no big deal. Eventually, Polanski rejoins his wife, who is younger than his 1977 victim, in Switzerland, under house arrest.
   China becomes the world’s largest car market after the Oscar gaffe in 2007, showing the Japanese once and for all who is boss (‘Don’t mention the war’).
   President Obama misunderstands his advisers’ remarks to ‘bow to the electorate’, and begins bowing to the unelected when he sees King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito.
   Tiger Woods is reminded by his wife of the strict rules of golf: if you play the wrong hole, there is a penalty. In an effort to make up the lost sponsorship after his gaffes, he releases a Christmas single, ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Mistress’.

Tomorrow: Man and Woman of the Decade

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29.12.09

The newer the program, the buggier it gets: a reminder of departed software 



One reason I love working with the NZCS as a client is that they promote professionalism when it comes to ICT.
   That brought my mind to software in general, especially if I am to shift this blog to Wordpress.
   If you follow my Tweets, you’ll know that I suffer a daily Firefox crash ever since I upgraded to 3.5. The earlier 3.0 was fine, and it still runs successfully on my Asus laptop, running Vista.
   Today I took the PageMaker 7 trial off my desktop machine after discovering many files crashed on opening. The old 6.5.2 works fine. We still have a few stationery templates on it, not to mention my résumé—important in those expert-witness cases.
   It’s not the only program to be more buggy with a newer edition. Others that come to mind include:
  • WordPerfect. The DOS 5.1 version was fine. Even the first Windows one did what it said on the tin, though the print driver updating was tiresome. On 5.2, I found it could not support italics. Nothing I entered italicized, without selecting the italic variant from the font menu. Version 6 could not handle columns—what you fed in to the program was not what you got on paper. Around this time, Microsoft Word kicked WordPerfect’s ass—I do not believe Word’s wide installation base was what killed it, but WordPerfect’s own incompetence. In fact, version 8 still could not handle columns, while version 14 (X4 to Corel) still has some issues with letterspacing;

  • Netscape. There were nice, gradual improvements to 4.7, which were all quite welcome. Netscape skipped 5, and that was a worry: the engineers forgot how to count. When 6.0 came out, it was so bloated and—worse for me—it no longer supported Adobe Type Manager. In those pre-OpenType days, I preferred the hinting of PS1 fonts to TrueType ones. I still upgraded to 7.1 just so I could use the newsgroups’ browser, but it was around the time of 6 that I switched to IE5;

  • Fontographer. You will still find some of us old-school font guys who think the world of 3.5, and Robofog was based around that version. When Altsys came out with 3.5.2, it was discovered that it would forget the width of the space character—we were asked to put a single point in there so it would remember that it needed to save the width. I went back to 3.5.1, and had (and still have) 4.1 alongside FontLab 5—which might be the only program that has not got worse with age;

  • Internet Explorer. Version 5.0 was actually quite good. It supported all the fonts I had (4 did not), even 6.0 was not too bad at the time. Around this time I discovered Maxthon, the Chinese-designed browser using the IE engine, and stuck with that till Firefox came out with 3.0. I liked the IEs these years because they supported speech marks and ligatures. Firefox did not—quotation marks would, for example, display in a different font. I guess the beta testers never used quotation marks and it was not picked up for versions 1 and 2, or the programmers deemed quotation marks superfluous. IE7 tended to crash within a few minutes of being open, as does IE8, and neither are worth entertaining;

  • ACDSee. I tried version 3.1 many years ago and liked it, and a friend suggested I give version 6 a go on her computer. It was rubbish. The whole point of ACDSee was being a practical file browser, especially for images, as it was far quicker than Windows Explorer. The newer version was slower;

  • Microsoft Word. Actually useless for word processing (I use WordPerfect—despite its bugs it still does a better job), Microsoft Word is good for two things: as a search-and-replace tool, and as a HTML converter. Or at least Word 97 is. When Word 2000 was released, its HTML export created so much superfluous code that the program became useless. I never tried any newer versions, though apparently I have a 60-day trial on my laptop. I have kept 97 going on my computers;

  • Adobe Reader. Regardless of how I set it, it will not print without changing all the characters to gibberish in version 9. Every other version worked fine. I have to go back to version 7 to get anything printed from it. On a Mac, embedded fonts sometimes do not get embedded when viewed in and printed from 9.

  •    It makes you wonder if these chaps ever tested their software in real-world conditions, or took note of the feedback offered. I’m wondering if another country can do it better.

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    Any how-tos on shifting to Wordpress? 

    Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasia_rogowska/Before you answer that, I know there are heaps on going from Blogspot to Wordpress or to a self-hosted domain.
       I wouldn’t mind finding one which allows me to go from a self-hosted blog run on Blogger (this one, residing at jackyan.com/blog) to a self-hosted blog run on Wordpress that has to reside at the same URL.
       Does, for example, installing the Wordpress blog to jackyan.com/blog tamper with what exists here now?
       Will I expect to have down time?
       You see, I’m sick of Google. I believe, that if things were to go awry, no one will help. No one helped when Google deleted the blog home page at Beyond Branding for three years. And, as you’ve read, Google has engaged in obstruction and censorship in our latest battle, learning a few tricks from Red China.
       Technically, since I started using the labels here at Blogger, which I assume to be tags, the publication time is immensely long. It seems Blogger has to republish every single label page, regardless of whether that label was used in the most recent post or not. That sounds like a recipe for disaster—and I’ve had more than my share of long-loading tags.
       There are now over 1,100 posts here, and while Wordpress certainly is buggy, at least Wordpress geeks, judging by their forums, tend to be far more intelligent than Blogger ones.

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    History of the decade, part 9: 2008 

    Yesterday: 2007

    2008

    Raúl Castro becomes Cuban president as the dislike for khaki tones, which hit the US earlier in the decade, finally arrives there.
       President Sarkozy fulfils his hot-women election promise by marrying Carla Bruni.
       César winner Mathieu Amalric plays President Sarkozy in a film loosely based on his life, Quantum of Solace. In the film, Amalric plays a speech-making Frenchman with a hot girlfriend and plans for world domination, and ticks off the British Government.
       With his Powerpoint market secure after the Bush administration’s botch-up, and with so much money from Warren Buffett, Bill Gates decides that there is no more need to work at Microsoft.
       Unable to locate the Queer Eye guys after the show’s cancellation, Radovan Karadžić is arrested in Beograd.

    February: Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy marry, as part of the French president’s election promise to put someone in the Élysée hotter than Ségolène Royal.
       The solar eclipse is visible in Canada though in China, they are unsure whether it was an eclipse or pollution. This makes the Chinese realize that Beijing needs to be cleaned up ahead of the Olympics. Beijing stops making cars briefly, delaying its aim to have the largest car market in the world in a contest with Japan till the following year.
       Tired of the unchanging fashions of the Bush administration, Americans head to the polls. The Republicans, realizing that the Democrats lost because they concentrated too much on khaki tones with Al Gore and on hair with John Kerry, select a boringly dressed bald guy, John McCain, as their presidential nominee. The plan backfires when the Democrats, thinking third time lucky, believe Barack Obama is the snazziest dresser and choose him.
       Realizing that McCain is not fashionable enough, and seeing how women were sweeping into power the year before, the GOP introduces Sarah Palin as its vice-presidential nominee on the strength of her candidacy in a 1980s’ Miss Alaska pageant. It was too late. Americans had already decided they preferred Obama’s style, more so when George Clooney himself said he liked the cut of his suits.
       Tina Fey is hired by Sarah Palin to be her double and to do the talk show circuit in advance of her book, Going Rogue, being published. Palin becomes wildly popular, while Fey is criticized by the mainstream media for being less funny than 30 Rock.
       O. J. Simpson goes to jail for 15 years, after a Nevada jury evaluates his earlier performances in the Naked Gun movies. Disgusted, they set out to make an example of him.

    Tomorrow: 2009

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    Research isn’t that important if you write in an encyclopædia these days 

    Here’s a very good example for why I don’t think Wikipedia can be trusted. Below is a screen shot of a page at Wikimedia Commons, which I assume is where you can submit pictures for Wikipedia. I applaud those who give up their copyright on images (and have done so myself from time to time), but it might help if they were in the right place.
       Here are some pictures on a page about the Hyundai Sonata Y1:



    Problem: not a single one of these cars is the Hyundai Sonata Y1. (Here’s what it actually looks like.)
       On the Y2 page, two out of twelve people got it right, which is roughly how the population works, anyway: for every two smart people, there are ten thickos.
       Granted, Hyundai itself has not helped things by calling the third-generation model, even in Korea, the Sonata II, which I suspect is how this error propagated. That, and people wanting to contribute to an encyclopædia but who refuse to do any research. It’s a dangerous mix.
       Just because a bunch of people believe in erring doesn’t make it true. Which summarizes my attitude toward Wikipedia. And Rogernomics.
       Incidentally, I recognize there are some positive aspects to Wikipedia’s existence—these were covered in the comments to the earlier post. I agree it is a landmark in the growth of the internet. Maybe one of the commenters is right about the science articles having fewer disputes (or, it shows the relatively good training of scientists and their willingness to settle things in a civilized fashion, rather than any merit on Wikipedia’s part).
       And without MediaWiki, there would be no Autocade. (In fact, if Wikipedia were accurate, I would never have started Autocade. It’s partly because of errors like the above that I did.)
       However, it remains the only volunteer site to my memory where a senior admin has gone out of her way to send me email abuse privately (while exposing that you don’t need to be particularly smart to be an admin there). After the Wikipedia defenders came to the site’s rescue in June, along comes one of their own to undo their diplomacy—and then some.

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    We are running out of time 

    I posted this on my Tumblog earlier today but it is worth repeating here:



    I captioned it, ‘We probably will keep thinking this is someone else’s problem till we encounter threats like the Maldives and other places do: if we don’t do something, our country will disappear. But this graphic is a heck of a good reminder.’
       The pic says it all, really.

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    Unlike Jimmy Carter, some of those peanut growers are mean 

    Found in David Vinjamuri’s Accidental Branding (one of several books I have still to go through), talking about the founding of the Clif Bar:

    Gary loved the package, but he was reluctant to name the bar after himself … As they were finalizing packaging a couple of months later, they ran a trademark search, only to learn that the name might infringe on a product called Gary’s All Natural Peanuts. Erickson wrote a letter to the company, who promptly threatened to sue them.

    What the heck?
       The incident is in another book, Raising the Bar, which founder Gary Erickson himself wrote:

    We did a trademark search and found a product called Gary’s All Natural Peanuts. We thought, “Well, it’s not exactly a bar. Let’s write them a letter and tell them what we are doing.” In no time flat we received a letter from the large multinational company that made the product telling us that they would come after us with all their attorneys and sue us for so much money that we would regret ever thinking of Gary Bar.

       I’d love to tell you who the multinational is, but a USPTO search does not reveal this trade mark. There is, however, one for plain old Gary’s for a company called Gary’s Peanuts, Inc., but I dare not presume it’s the same one. (It’s owned by Severn Peanut Co., Inc., a subsidiary of Meherrin Agricultural & Chemical Co., Inc., which owns Hampton Farms. Not sure if these guys are a ‘multinational’ as they look pretty local to me.)
       Whomever responded to Gary Erickson, this is abysmal business behaviour, Peanut people. Here’s a new company trying to do the right thing and probably wrote a very polite letter. Your first response, if the above is correct, is to resort to lawyers.
       Where I come from, formal proceedings are a last resort. Most people are able to work out their differences professionally and show some responsibility for their positions first. But if you want to enrich the legal profession and look like dicks when the story is retold, be my guest.
       It still amazes me how gutless some people are. And we wonder why the US is in the financial poo. Could it be because money is going to the wrong department for things that most normal people can sort out with a letter or two?

    PS.: Below is a response from Tom Nolan of Hampton Farms, confirming it was not his company who threatened Gary Erickson, and that they are not a multinational—so it more than gets them off the hook. It makes me wonder, now, just who Erickson wrote to, as the Gary’s All Natural Peanuts trade mark does not come up in a search.

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    28.12.09

    Here’s some more evidence for you to delete, Google 

    Remember this? Well, you would if you’ve followed this blog, and I go on and on about it.
       As the last entry on the page, and seeing as Nitecruzr pasted the incorrect code from the Yahoo! cache frameset, I decided I would furnish the correct code from the actual frame from Yahoo!. That way, we would all have the evidence we needed, and demonstrate that there was, indeed, a cache of a page from Vincent Wright’s Social Media Consortium blog. (A copy of the original cached page that Nitecruzr claimed to be unable to see, but everyone else could, is temporarily at http://jyanet.com/temp/cache.htm; a screen shot of this page at its original location is here.)
       Good ol’ full disclosure and transparency, right? And, as a senior Google forum person was allowed to paste HTML code into the forum, it should be all right if I followed suit.
       Well, not really. That entry’s now been unilaterally deleted. Bit like Vincent’s entire four-year-old blog.
       A friend of mine, known to some of you, mentioned to me that he had read the dealings on the support forum. He could clearly see the cache (as could everyone Vincent and I asked) and thought the obstructiveness was ‘insane’. So it’s not just me.
       Google, I’m not sure what your problem is with honesty, transparency and information.
       But we’re going to keep pursuing this.
       Those holding Gmail accounts, be alert.

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    History of the decade, part 8: 2007 


    May: Despite donning miniskirts during her campaign and raising the hotness stakes above what Geena Davis could manage, Ségolène Royal fails to become the president of France.

    Yesterday: 2006

    2007

    As Queer Eye draws to a close, it was discovered that the show had had little effect on making the world’s dictators nicer. They only dressed better.
       Therefore, more women were put into power after the well dressed men could not be trusted, with Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female US speaker, Drew Gilpin Faust becoming Harvard’s first female president, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner becoming Argentina’s first female president.
       Nicolas Sarkozy becomes French president, promising that France would have someone in the Élysée hotter than Ségolène Royal, his opponent. Spurred by his victory, he begins checking out hot women. Frenchmen rejoice at Sarkozy’s respect of traditional French values and the sport of les reluquants.
       Tony Blair says he has done all he can without dying his hair, and Gordon Brown takes over.
       Karl Rove resigns his position in the Bush White House and considers starting his own TV show, Rove, only to find that the name had been taken by a short Australian gentleman. He is hired instead by a slightly taller Australian gentleman, Rupert Murdoch.
       After discovering that his attempts to sing Elvis Presley tunes in Memphis were lamer than the everyday karaoke bars’ ones, Shinzo Abe is replaced by Yasuo Fukuda as Japanese prime minister.
       Rick Astley becomes an internet millionaire after his video for the song ‘Never Gonna Give You up’ becomes popular online. After collecting millions in royalties, he promptly invests them with Bernie Madoff.
       The Nobel Peace Prize, which Hollywood-watchers now observe to see who might be deserving of a future Oscar, goes to Al Gore.
       For now, Martin Scorsese wins the Oscar after remaking a Hong Kong Chinese film, but all Chinese are upset when the American presenter calls it ‘Japanese’. (It is worse than the 2001 incident when Russell Crowe was called ‘Australian’, which offended both Kiwis and Aussies.) The usual jibes about WWII ensue, which pushes the Chinese to beat the Japanese and, in one of the last points of contention, have the largest car market in the world.
       As part of its strategy, the Chinese dress up a Mandarin-speaking diplomat as a white man and have him elected as American president, so he can arrange to have more Buicks sent to Shanghai. He is asked to meet a man with the same initials—Karl Rove—to get advice, but accidentally winds up on an Australian TV show. His popularity with Chinese Australians, his use of Mandarin, and his proficiency with karaoke get Kevin Rudd elected as Australian prime minister.

    Tomorrow: 2008

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