Posts tagged ‘blogging’


Spam commenters are losing their minds

31.12.2010

Despite the smaller visitor numbers, this blog seems to leave way more spam in the Akismet queue than the other WordPress installations we have. I had wanted to write a post swearing at some of the dumb comments that come in, as all of these are automated, but three of the first ten today are just too humorous.
   You’ve heard of sites such as Engrish—some day, someone will make a site of bad comment spam (if they haven’t already). Comment spam is getting more and more surreal, as these examples show:

im not leave-taking over tell which every person else gain already said, however i take up desire to criticism upon your knowledge of the subject. youre truly well-informed. i hypocrisy believe how ample of this i lawful wasnt sensible of. thank you as bringing often information toward the one theme because of me. im truly pleasant as a result actually impressed.

Attempted translation: I took some leaves out of The William Tell Overture score, which gave me so much gain from Saïd that it stoked my desire to criticize your knowledge. Despite my lawless sense and hypocritical beliefs, you are truly well informed. Thank you for bringing us this theme tune because of me, making me a truly pleasant and impressed person.

Its a proper writen plus thorough post an individual built. Read you will get quite a few guests which supplement everyone on your threads. Soon after studying that posting I bought some very exclusive data which can be actually worth finding out about for anyone. This is the publish possessing some critical facts. WE want in which inside upcoming these publishing will need to carry on

Attempted translation: by being a well built individual, you’ll get guests supplementing everyone’s dress by wearing your threads. Soon, it will be worth finding out where just how they found out about them. It could have come exclusively from a publisher who was possessed while in the critical ward. His successor will have to make Carry On films.

i agree withy your p.o. certainly moreover i am since curious inside reading a little frequently of your posts upon your blog as a consequence speak to what you receive to speak. do you disfavor if i tweet your blog appointment out until my followers on twitter? i choose he and she would likewise enjoy the blog doorpost. thanks.

Attempted translation: I agree with both the use of post offices and making appointments to blog on Twitter. If I speak out about these Tweets to my followers, they will dance around their door posts out of enjoyment.
   With January 1 less than three hours away, happy Pope Gregory Day—have a lovely 2011!

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in humour, internet, technology | No Comments »


The ex-Vox testimony

22.11.2010

A phpBB forum for former users of Vox (I am one) started in September 2010. I posted there today, going through my history with the service. The below is a repost, which I thought would be of interest to readers of this blog (some of whom have come from Vox). It’s a small summary of my last seven years of blogging, geared to former Vox users.

For those who don’t know me, I’m Jack, and one of the Vox beta testers from 2006. I ran a number of groups on Vox: fashion, fashion magazines, fashion professionals, cars, Chinese (on which I was promoted to admin), RetroVox (which I was also promoted to), TV and New Zealand–Aotearoa.
   I first began blogging in 2003 at the Beyond Branding Blog, but was initially dismissive toward blogs in general. Some of those early experiences were clouded by some amateurish blogs out there—the sort that pretended to be authoritative but were anything but. Of course, these now form the majority of blogs today (!) but we have come to position them in our minds more accurately as personal journals. Back in, say, 2001, I remember some early bloggers pretending to be legit news sources and people believing that they were.
   In 2005, only two of the original authors of Beyond Branding remained at the blog, so my friend Johnnie Moore, who was a regular, but had moved on to his own space (http://johnniemoore.com), wanted to shut it down. By the end of the year, I decided I would take John’s lead and blog at http://jackyan.com/blog. I already had the domain, had some experience with Blogger, and gave Johnnie the all-clear once I told my last remaining author that I intended to move.
   In 2006, my blog opened. I called it ‘The Persuader’, after two sources: the old Persuaders TV show, and the book on advertising, The Hidden Persuaders. It’s quite quaint thinking back to those reasons, but more on that another time. The blog was picked up very early by some high-powered sources like Der Spiegel, but other than those initial highs, I settled back into a more personal blogging style.
   That same year, Vox started, and I had a beta-testing invitation. Initially, I did not know how to divide the use of the two spaces, but by 2007, again I had settled: Vox would be my personal musings (especially my relationships—those were set to private, which I liked) and Blogger would have my more business-oriented ones. The split worked quite well.
   Some Australians like Ninja and Snowy will remember that in August 2009, they were locked out of Vox. They were eventually allowed back in, but Six Apart never gave them a reason for the lock-out. By October, I experienced an identical bug, but Vox denied anything was wrong. It would take anywhere from a few hours to a few days before the compose window would come up. The usual blame occurred: it must be you, it must be your computer, it must be your use of your computer, it must be your ISP, etc. I travelled up and down the country and it was the same. Eventually, tired of all of this, I gave the ever-helpful and wonderful Daisy my password, and asked her to pass it on to Six Apart techs. They, too, could not get a compose window inside Six Apart HQ.

Days blocked on Vox
Above A graphic I have pasted in a few places out of frustration in December 2009: red denotes the days I was blocked from composing on Vox, and the reason more personal posts have reappeared here this year. Pink represents the days when the compose window took a few hours to load.

   Not that it was ever fixed. I put up with it for two months, because I probably had some mild form of OC and liked needling things till they are sorted. And probably because two years’ blogging habits were hard to break. (Imagine if I were a smoker!) By the end of 2009, I had decided I would return to blogging at ‘The Persuader’ exclusively, and Vox could be left as is.
   A temporary second account at lucire.vox.com came to little. I hated not blogging under my own name.
   I still took responsibility for my eight groups. I would come in and delete sploggers (I had decided by this time that reporting them to Six Apart would be pointless) and moderate comments. Eventually I shut off my blogs to comments, since all they attracted was comment spam. It was clear to me, especially with the most popular group topics being Indian escort agencies (and had been for years) that few folks gave a damn inside Six Apart, but I felt I had a duty to my group members to at least keep their blogging worlds as clean as possible. I would visit monthly (roughly), despite having a very busy political campaign.
   That was the other reason that I was happy to leave personal blogging as part of my past. In September 2009, I announced my candidacy to run for Mayor of Wellington, New Zealand, and probably the last thing I needed was an extra distraction. In some ways, I welcomed the technical problems I had. But this also meant that in September 2010, when Vox was shut, I took the easiest option possible for my old Vox blog entries: export them to Typepad. Last six weeks of the campaign, I wanted as few hassles in my technological world as possible.
   With Blogger being even bigger assholes than Six Apart could ever be (see this story for details), I moved my blogging over to a self-hosted Wordpress platform. That took 14 hours to customize and it still looks funny on Chrome, but I was quite happy starting 2010 with everything changed: no more Vox, no more Blogger (which led to a subsequent de-Googling of everything) and a new platform at jackyan.com/blog (that looked vastly identical to the previous one).
   In some ways, not blogging about my private life was a good thing. Not venting meant I had to deal with my issues, but the important thing was that campaigning became part of my life in 2010. It’s hard putting the genie back in the bottle. For venting, there were always Twitter and Facebook—things that were not mainstream in 2006. They are now, and ideal for the pithy off-the-cuff comments. With all that was going on, the shorter medium of Twitter suited me well …
   Despite having left Vox earlier than many of you, I’m glad this forum exists. The greatest sadness of leaving Vox in December 2009 was breaking so many of the connections I made there. While many have become friends in other places—Linda-Joy, Pete J. and Paikea come to mind—it’s good to have somewhere that I can still talk to a few of the folks who discovered this forum. It’s good to see Snowy registered here. I hope Xmangerm and a few others will pop by, too; I always liked what Xmangerm had to say.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in culture, internet, New Zealand, publishing, USA | 7 Comments »


A new blogroll (Chrome should be happy)

12.10.2010

Sorting by the definite articleAfter Andrew relayed to me that Google Analytics code was being downloaded with Blogrolling, that—and not the fact that Chrome users were blocked from seeing this blog due to a false malware warning (sorry)—motivated me to shift my blogroll on to WordPress.
   He was right: it was ironic that I could have it in for Google yet preserved a blogroll that permitted Analytics to keep a track of this blog. So, this afternoon, I spent a couple of dull hours transferring all the blogs over. Life after campaigning!
   A few links were dead, as you can imagine after four years, although I clicked on many of them regularly (evidently I clicked on the same ones). A few had changed addresses. But as of 5.30 a.m. GMT, there is a new, complete blogroll at right, delivered by WordPress. As the old part of this website (pre-2010) still has Blogrolling, I updated the blogroll there, too.
   As Mike Riversdale confirmed earlier today, Chrome’s oversensitive warnings are now gone, and everyone—even Chrome users—should be able to access any post on this blog made after January 1, 2010 again. As to stuff before that date, I believe my complaint still stands.
   My issue with the new blogroll is that it files everything beginning with The under T. To me, this remains a very unnatural way to sort things—once upon a time, children, even New Zealand phone books did not do that. If I am looking up The Dominion Post (most likely to complain about rubbish being left on my property), I still, out of habit, go to D in my phone book. While the Post might be an obvious one, for many other cases, how do I know if a business has opted to retain the definite article as part of its official title? Answer: I don’t. It makes a lot more sense to file under the next word—as most libraries do. Economist, The; Miserables, Les.
   If the Open Directory Project can ignore the indefinite and definite articles in its sorting, then surely WordPress can, too?

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in culture, internet, New Zealand, publishing, technology | No Comments »


If you are on Chrome, it won’t let you see this

11.10.2010

Ever since I began blogging a bit more regularly here (upping it to my usual frequency?) Twitter friends have been telling me that they cannot read these entries because there is a malware warning.
   What they have in common: they are all using Chrome.
   I wanted to try Chrome out again (I had it installed on my old desktop machine) but I’m turned off again. It’s part of the Google empire, and going on it would mean reversing my reasonably successful de-Googling of my life that I started earlier this year.
   Chrome is accusing me of having malware on this site, which is total cobblers. It is a bit like Google accusing Vincent Wright of having a splog last year—that matter that I had to fight Google on his behalf over for six months.
   I have used Blogrolling to host the blogroll on this site since 2006. It appears, if I read the Chrome complaint properly, that someone else had used Blogrolling (probably one of many millions of users) and put in a couple of malware links. Maybe they had put in legit links that have since become malware sites. Whatever the case, Chrome appears now to accuse anyone who even uses Blogrolling of hosting malware.
   It’s maybe a good thing that Chrome is being vigilant: extra vigilance is better than being lax. But to me, it’s a reminder of how Google has been cavalier with false accusations—Vincent was by no means alone—which tarnishes its brand.

I have to report things Google is doing right, out of fairness. In August I wrote a letter to the company to point out that there were things in my Google account that should not be there. There were services where I no longer agreed with its terms and conditions, and would the chaps kindly take them out of my account?
   They haven’t complied fully, but a few things have been fixed. Adsense now shows ‘0 products’ (it incorrectly showed two at the time of the letter), although ideally I would prefer not to have an Adsense entry at all. The Blogger count of the number of blogs I have was on four for many months when it was, in fact, zero. It now shows ‘1 total’: still wrong, but closer to zero than four was. (Again, I had requested complete removal of my Blogger account.) Last week, Docs showed I had one document, but that has now corrected itself to zero again. (The correct number was, and is, zero.)
   And, the most major of all, I no longer have Social Search: Google had been insisting that I had over 800 connections, which was impossible considering I deleted my profile. (The number of connections grew from the 700s after deletion.) Having connections suggested that Google retained a record of all the links I once had in my Google profile, regardless of the fact that it was using private information that it no longer had permission to use. After all, it got me a Buzz follower despite my unchecking a box that implied that that would not happen—and that wasn’t the only time I got signed up to Buzz without my permission (or a myriad of other Google services, including Google Talk and Google Notebook).
   The lesson seems to be: if you want Google to be more careful with how it uses your private information, write a letter. And I mean the sort that takes ink, paper, stamps, a jet plane and carbon emissions. Things are still not done to my satisfaction, but they are gradually improving.

Elle MacphersonGoogle will find the newer stuff, but not always the most relevant stuff—a search for an old Elle Macpherson story is a case in point.

There is one thing Google does not seem to do very well any more: search.
   That’s an exaggeration, but I have been really surprised at things that it has failed to find of late. For example: stuff on this blog. It is not to do with age: Google finds the older entries from this blog without any problems (despite the Blogrolling issue noted above). Those older entries were compiled using Google-owned Blogger, when it still offered FTP publishing. The entries, like this one, which have been put together with WordPress, cannot be found readily (if at all). Could it be because so many of my WordPress entries here have been anti-Google? Duck Duck Go and Bing do not seem to discriminate between Blogger- and WordPress-compiled content on this site.
   And just plain stuff at Lucire doesn’t get found very easily. A 2000 story we did on the 10th anniversary of Elle Macpherson Intimates is a good example. The other search engines find it: it’s the only online story on the subject. Google does not: it kicks up some really irrelevant links where Elle Macpherson Intimates and 10th anniversary are mentioned, but as unrelated concepts. Duck Duck Go has it as its second entry, as does Bing.
   This is not about how highly Google has placed the story nor is it about where Google has put Lucire. (A Lucire entry is found by Google, on the second page, which has a link to our 2000 article, but the article itself is non-existent on Google, despite inward links.)
   There was another few recently. One was when I tried to locate a Typepad post about Vox locking me out. Granted, my Typepad blog is pretty new (started when Six Apart closed Vox), but Duck Duck Go had no problems locating the entry. I forget the exact queries, otherwise I would link them now for you to check. Whatever the case, Google failed to find the links.
   Even if it were not for my problems with Google, I would have shifted to Duck Duck Go on the frustration that I could not find things on the ’net that I know for sure exist. I still use both—there are still queries which Google handles better than Duck Duck Go—but I can no longer consider Google a complete research tool.

There is some good news out there in Tech-land USA (read the Bay Area). Six Apart seemed to care a lot more about Typepad than Vox. After the first import of my Vox data to Typepad failed, its boffins came in and helped out, and got the site up and running. I am pleasantly surprised that many of these entries still contain the images I uploaded to them. The only loss has been the videos, but they warned us about that and gave us the option to shift them to Flickr. I opted not to, so I can’t blame anyone but myself.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in branding, business, internet, publishing, technology, USA | 12 Comments »


Vista was just a duo today

18.03.2010

Due to others’ appointments, the Vista Group meeting today was a mere duo: myself and Jim Donovan, Esq., who will give up blogging in 10 days. It meant it was the second-least well attended meeting in our history. Jim has never let us forget the least well attended one.
   I have always said that one should blog when one wants to. If one feels pressured to do so, then stop. Blogging should be a fun activity and, for me, it’s cathartic. With a new venture on the horizon for Jim (from where he will likely blog again), time is at a premium, and I can fully appreciate that he needs to take a step back.
   Of course we will not bid farewell to Jim just because he stops blogging, principally, as Natalie wrote in our emails arranging today’s meeting, we are too incompetent to organize the monthly meetings without him. And he got us in to the Wellington Club for the end-of-2009 edition where we took over the Deputy Mayor’s table. (Albeit on a day that the Deputy Mayor was not there, which made for a less comical time.)
   The Club (the luncheon at which should have been chronicled at the time) has its own gym. Apparently, Club members often talked about how our gym’ll fix it. That is, however, another story.
   There were some in-depth discussions about my mayoral campaign and the Wellington City Council, the fact that Anouska Hempel, a.k.a. Lady Weinberg, is a Wellingtonian and how she is important to anyone who watched various Hammer Horrors, and the Y2K episode of Family Guy and its homage to Dallas—things that we would not have digressed to had Natalie and Mark been there. (Jim had brought up ‘Who shot J. R.?’* on his blog a few days before.)
   However, we covered the boiler-plate approach of some IP law firms, the bad customer service we received from Vodafone and Sky TV, and the lack of clarity over some WCC charges over which Jim got three different figures for the same thing. From what I could make out, the charge varied depending on the person he spoke to, the day of the week, and the flutter of a butterfly’s wings over the Shetland Islands. Need I push transparency again?


Above One of Anouska Hempel’s creations, the self-named Hempel hotel, in London. I believe they want a definite article in the official name, but I can’t be brought to capitalize it in the middle of a sentence. I will only make an exception for residents of The Terrace in Wellington.

* It was, of course, Kristin, Sue Ellen’s sister. Everyone remembers the hype, no one remembers the answer. Back in those days, we found out a year later in New Zealand, and there were no internet spoilers.—JY

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in business, humour, New Zealand, Wellington | No Comments »


Beyond Branding Blog removed from Blogger today

23.02.2010

As of tonight, the Beyond Branding Blog, where I first cut my teeth blogging, is no more.
   The posts are still there, but no further comments can be entered on to the site. The nearly four years of posts remain as an archive of some of our branding thought of that period.
   The blog had a huge number of fans in its day, but as each one of us went to our own blogs, there seemed little need to keep it going. Chris Macrae and I were the last two holding the fort in late 2005. Since January 2006, no new posts have been entered on to the site. No new comments have come in a year.
   Google’s announcement that it would end FTP support for blogs in May spurred me into action, and I advised the Medinge Group’s membership this morning that I would take it off the Blogger service.
   I altered the opening message to reflect the latest change.
   I was very proud of the blog, because it was the first one I was involved in. It was also the first I customized to match the look and feel of the rest of the Beyond Branding site, which I designed in 2003. While the design is one from the early 2000s, it has not dated as much as I had expected.
   Beyond Branding’s core message of transparency and integrity remains valid, so while the blog is no longer updated, I think the book remains relevant to the 2010s.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in branding, business, design, marketing | No Comments »


Blogger to end FTP publishing; shift to WordPress well timed

03.02.2010

Blogger has announced that it will cease supporting its FTP publishing service, which means the shifting of this blog to WordPress was well timed. It seems I would have had to shift in any case—the fact that this happened just over a month ago was fortunate.
   I received an email about this for the first time from Rick Klau, the gentleman who helped Vincent Wright and I restore his Social Media Consortium blog, today. I was surprised to learn from Rick that ‘only .5% of active blogs are published via FTP’ and ‘On top of this, critical infrastructure that our FTP support relies on at Google will soon become unavailable’.
   After personal experience, I can say Rick is one of the good guys at Google, and I have no doubts about what he says. It highlights that Google wants to host as much of our data as possible, which, as readers of this blog have seen over the last year, is a dangerous proposition. If Blogger decides to pull your blog, then good luck getting it restored: you won’t have ready access to your data.
   In fact, if this blog was not self-hosted, I would have faced far greater concerns with my shift to WordPress; and the fact that Vincent’s was hosted at Google almost saw to its total demise, if it had not been for Rick’s intervention.
   With hindsight, if it were not for the issues with the Social Media Consortium, my offer to help, and the subsequent stonewalling I received on the support forums, I might never have made the move when I did. Funny how things work out in the long run.

Tags: , ,
Posted in internet, technology | 1 Comment »


And it’s back again

10.01.2010

When the Social Media Consortium disappeared again, we panicked and alerted Rick Klau at Google. Once again, Rick was as good as his word and found out there had been an accidental deletion.
   What impresses me about him—as if I wasn’t already impressed—is his quick action. He must have other matters to deal with, yet he responds within minutes and actions things soon after.
   Initially, the newly restored blog was not appearing in the Dashboard, but that has now been remedied.
   Once again: thank you, Rick.

Tags: , ,
Posted in business, internet | No Comments »


This blog is ranked 38th for &#133 cars!

09.01.2010

Technorati rankings

Technorati rankings

I was pretty stoked to find that this blog ranked so highly in Technorati on the subject of cars, considering it’s not a core focus, even if it is a passion of mine.
   I was visiting the site in order to update the Medinge press room URL, which shifted late last year when we moved away from Blogger (the usual story). Turns out you can’t update a URL—you have to claim a new blog.
   To all those who helped me get such a high ranking, thank you.

Tags: ,
Posted in cars, interests, internet | No Comments »


As the 2010s dawn, there’s a vacuum on the internet

06.01.2010

Photo by Elliot TuckerRick Klau’s action today in restoring Vincent’s Social Media Consortium blog got me putting things into perspective.
   We know sites like Blogger and Vox are free, but what happens when they fail?
   Vox, the Six Apart blogging service, had been where I had put my personal posts—as well as a bunch of private ones inaccessible to the general public—for three years. I built up good friendships there, before social networking became everyday.
   Yet when that service failed, I went from Vox evangelist to someone who became acutely aware of the site’s failings. Those who dissed Vox months before I did, and whose complaints I thought little of, suddenly seemed to be visionaries.
   I don’t think things were handled brilliantly. While I was still there and keeping up my rate of complaints about their service being dodgy, I got replies. The minute I left, that was it.
   ‘Phew, we don’t have to talk to that nut again.’
   All the claims about wanting to get to the bottom of the problem suddenly seemed insincere. And it’s worth noting that the bug I experienced—where a compose screen would take between 15 minutes and 48 hours to load—is still present.
   They had lost quite a few users, as I had noted, and it’s obviously something deep within their code.
   The damage had been done.
   Meanwhile, Google hasn’t exactly helped, either. While Vox had me pursuing its problems for six weeks, Google was damaging its brand for six months.
   When Vincent’s blog was first blocked in July, the company promised two-day reviews. These promises were all broken. I’m sure Vincent and I, and many other bloggers who contributed to the Social Media Consortium, would have loved to have known why. As it turned out, the blog’s reviewers agreed with the computer’s decision to render the blog inaccessible, and then to delete it altogether.
   By the time I got to the Google support forums to argue the case in November, there were more broken promises—as well as downright obstruction by someone who probably gets his kicks from it.
   It got me wondering: people who do things in Google’s name aren’t very intelligent, if they can’t grasp some of the basics of their role.
   They were also not particularly courteous or understanding.
   As the frustration grew, things in my world got un-Googled. My Firefox default search engines became Cuil or Bing. I shifted my blogs away, including this one, or simply stopped blogging at Blogger. (The Medinge Group’s press room went to WordPress late last year.) While once upon a time I would recommend Vox, Blogger and WordPress to people depending on their blogging needs, I would only now say, ‘Wordpress’.
   I never was sold on Gmail—and I notice friends are beginning to have problems with that service, including being locked out. People using Gmail to commit fraud and use Lucire’s name were allowed to continue to do so, even after we reported them. Even before this incident, but within the same calendar year, I discovered that Adsense was a load of rubbish.
   All this began making me think: Google has jumped the shark.
   If someone like Google’s Rick Klau—who, if you read his blog, is an incredibly intelligent guy, not to mention an incredibly courteous one—had known of our case earlier, I’m sure we wouldn’t have allowed the Google brand to become so tarnished in our minds.
   Rick fixed things in 24 hours and saved the day as far as the Social Media Consortium was concerned. He’s also given himself a lot of good karma—I’ve seen other blogs he’s gone and restored in the last few days. But it’s a couple of days of Google goodness versus six months of its own brand-wrecking, through either bad service done in its name, bad products, or not having much of a human touch.
   Given that I was one of the first people to use Google in the late 1990s, and abandon AltaVista, Infoseek and the others in its favour, it’s a disappointing end to the 2000s.
   The trust I once might have had for Google has evaporated into the ether. It would be stupid to say that I would never use the company’s services again—you can hardly avoid it—but I’ll be thinking twice about anything new that it introduces.
   The internet leadership vacuum is becoming a reality, because I don’t see Facebook or Twitter dominating (especially not the former, with its questionable practices). And that means a new company can fill the void in the 2010s. It could even be a New Zealand one—or, better still, a Wellington one.
   There’s enough world-class thinking here which can be used as a base. And, if elected this year as Wellington’s mayor, I’d like to build on that and see if we can create an online world-beater.
   I know of a couple of Kiwi ventures already that have world-beating capabilities, currently seeking capital. The “next Google” might be among them, if we can make sure that they can grow the way they should.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in branding, business, internet, leadership, New Zealand, politics, technology, USA, Wellington | 9 Comments »