Posts tagged ‘Six Apart’


Remember when you could post, comment and like on Facebook? Those were the days

29.05.2015



Let’s see: Facebook doesn’t work on Wednesdays and Fridays. Check. Thursdays are OK though.
   It’s another one of those days where the Facebook bug that began on Wednesday (though, really, it’s been going on for years—including the famous outage of 2013 where what I am experiencing happened worldwide to a large number of users) has decided to resurface and spread. Not only can I no longer like, comment, post or share without repeated attempts, I cannot delete (Facebook makes me repeat those attempts even when a post has been successful, but doesn’t show me those till an hour later) or upload photos to messaging without repeated attempts.
   The deletion is the hardest: while commenting will work after three to twelve repeats, deletion does not work at all. The dialogue box emerges, and you can click ‘Delete’. The button goes light for a while, then it’s back to the usual blue.
   And this happens regardless of platform: Mac, Windows, Firefox, Opera, Android, inside a virtual machine, you name it. Java’s been updated as have the browsers on my most used machines; but it seems the configurations make no difference.
   I am reminded how a year ago I had even less on Facebook. Quite a number of users were blocked for days (Facebook isn’t open on weekends, it seems), but eventually the message got through and things started working again.
   My theory, and I’d be interested to learn if it holds any water, is that older or more active accounts are problematic. I mean, if spammers and spambots have more rights than legitimate users, then something is wonky; and the only thing I can see that those T&C-violating accounts have over ours is novelty. Facebook hasn’t got to them yet, or it tacitly endorses them.
   As one of the beta users on Vox.com many years ago, I eventually found myself unable to compose a new blog post. It’s an old story which I have told many times on this blog. Even Six Apart staff couldn’t do it when using my username and password from their own HQ. But, they never fixed it. It was a “shrug your shoulders” moment, because Vox was on its way out anyway at the company. (The domain is now owned by another firm, and is a very good news website.) Unlike Facebook, they did have theories, and tried to communicate with you to fix the issue. One woman working there wondered if I had too many keywords, and I had reached the limit. I deleted a whole lot, but nothing ever worked. It suggested that these websites did have limits.
   Computer experts tell me that it’s highly unlikely I’ve reached any sort of limit on Facebook, because of how their architecture is structured, but I’m seeing more and more of these bugs. But we are talking about a website that’s a decade old. My account dates back to 2007. Data will have been moved about and reconstituted, because the way they were handled in 2007 is different to how they are handled now. There have been articles written about this stuff.
   What if, in all these changes over the last eight years (and beyond), Facebook screwed up data transfers, corrupting certain accounts? It’s entirely conceivable for a firm that makes plenty of mistakes and doesn’t even know what time zones are. Or deletes a complainant’s account instead of the pirate’s one that she complained about. (This has been remedied, incidentally, the day after my blog post, and a strongly worded note to Facebook on behalf of my friend.)
   The usual theory I hear from those in the know is that certain accounts are on certain servers, and when those are upgraded, some folks will experience difficulties. That seems fair, but I would be interested to know just what groups us together.
   Last time I downloaded all my data off Facebook, and this was several years ago, I had 3 Gbyte. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest that that was now 6 Gbyte. That’s a lot to handle, and when you multiply that by millions, some will result in buggy accounts. Ever had a hard drive with dodgy fragments? Or a large transfer go wrong? Facebook might have better gear than us, but it’s not perfect.
   I don’t believe for a second that certain people are targeted—a theory I see on forums such as Get Satisfaction, with Republicans blaming Democrats and Democrats blaming Republicans—but I do believe that something binds us together, and it is buried within the code. But, like Vox, it may be so specific that there’s nothing their boffins can do about it. You simply have to accept that some days, Facebook does not let you post, comment, like, share, delete or message. The concern is that this, like random deletions, can happen to anyone, because these bugs never seem to go away. Looking at my own record on Get Satisfaction, they are increasing by the year.

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Posted in internet, technology, USA | 6 Comments »


Could Facebook follow Vox into the void?

04.07.2014

Originally posted to the Vox Neighbourhood on Facebook, without links

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Key to the 2009 calendar. Yellow: days when Vox worked normally. Pink: days when the compose screen took minutes or hours to load. Red: days when Vox would not allow me to compose at all. I gave up on December 13, 2009, and consolidated all my long-form blogging here.

A few weeks ago, what happened to me on Vox in 2009 happened here on Facebook. The difference was it was eventually remedied after 69 hours (Vox could not fix this over 6·9 weeks).
   I could no longer post, comment or like anything. Back at the end of 2009, my profile on Vox became so corrupted (through no fault of my own) that it would take up to two days before the compose window would come up (I would press ‘Compose’ regularly to see if the window would show and it would take two days of pressing before it would come up). Six Apart kept blaming this on me, my ISP, living in New Zealand, traceroutes, cookies, and the rest, until, at the end, I said: here are my username and password. If you can log in and get the window from your HQ, I’ll shut up.
   And they couldn’t. But there was never a solution. I had to leave because I could not compose a post any more.
   A year later, Vox was dead.
   I’m used to having corrupted profiles, whether it’s with Google, my telephone company, or with Facebook. No big company seems to be able to keep my data, and that’s probably a good thing. But what was bothersome is that spammers could still sign up for new accounts. You’ll remember that the biggest keywords on Vox for 2009–10 were Indian escort agencies, and those guys spammed the place like crazy. I was spending more and more time reporting spam accounts to Vox.
   When I was Facebook-less last month, I noticed the same. As with Vox, I could read other accounts. I could see group activity. And, for the past year, I would see bot accounts regularly, some allowed to be on Facebook for well over half a year. As on Vox, I would report them regularly. I’d find a minimum of two a day, and I’ve reported up to seventeen a day, trying to join my groups. I’ve just reported 11.
   People keep forecasting when Facebook would die, citing all kinds of reasons, such as new social networks, people getting bored of it, etc. But I wonder if the spammers will kill it eventually, to the point where there are hundreds of millions of spam accounts, hogging resources meant for legitimate users.

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Posted in internet, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


Facebook reaches its limits again: ‘Sorry, something went wrong’

19.06.2014

Mea culpa: OK, I was wrong. Facebook got things back up in about 20 minutes for some users, who are Tweeting about it. However, as of 8.37 a.m. GMT, I am still seeing Tweeters whose Facebooks remain down.
   Looks like some people do work there after hours. What a surprise!
   However, I reckon things aren’t all well there, with two big outages in such a short space of time—and I stand behind my suspicions that Facebook has reached some sort of limit, given the increase in bug reports and the widespread nature of the outage tonight.

That didn’t last long, did it?
   Facebook returned late morning on Tuesday—as predicted, it would only be back once the folks at Facebook, Inc. got back to work at 9 a.m. on Monday and realized something had run amok.
   Now it’s Thursday night NZST, and if Twitter’s to be believed, a lot of people globally can no longer access Facebook. This is a major outage: it seems one of every few Tweets is about Facebook being down.
   Just over two days, and it’s dead again.
   Looks like I wasn’t wrong when I wondered whether that I had hit a limit on Facebook. To be out for nearly three days suggests that there was something very wrong with the databasing, and the number of people affected were increasing daily.
   And when you look at the bugs I had been filing at Get Satisfaction, there has been a marked increase of errors over the past few weeks, suggesting that there was some instability there.
   For it to have such a major failing now, after being out for some users this weekend, doesn’t surprise me. This time, groups and Messenger have been taken out, too.
   Facebook really should have taken note of the errors being reported by users.
   My experience with Vox was very similar, although there the techs couldn’t get me back online. They gave up at the end of 2009. The similarities are striking: both sites had databasing issues but only with certain users; and both sites were overrun with spammers creating fake accounts. That’s one thing that did piss me off: spammers having more privileges than a legitimate user.
   Well, we can probably wait till 9 a.m. PDT when they get back to work. It may say, ‘We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can,’ in the error message, but as far as I can make out from what happened to me, Facebook is a Monday–Friday, 9–5 operation, not a 24-hour, seven-day one.
   At least it died on a weekday: we can count ourselves lucky.

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Posted in internet, technology, USA | 1 Comment »


My forced Facebook sabbatical

14.06.2014

It’s been an interesting day with a forced Facebook sabbatical: I can no longer post, comment or like on the site, and it’s been that way since 3 a.m. GMT.
   I’d say I’m a fairly heavy Facebook user. There haven’t been that many days when I haven’t posted since I was sent an invitation by Paul Heck back in 2007, and when I last downloaded all my data, some years back, it was 3 Gbyte worth. It’d easily be double that today.
   So not having access to Facebook any more makes you realize how habitual it has become.
   I find that between bouts of work, I’d look in. I still do that even though I know I can’t interact on the site. I still can read others’ statuses (and send direct messages) but it seems normal to like the odd thing, a function I no longer have. In fact, one friend who I was in touch with expressed that he thought it was odd I had not liked some of his work, because that had become normal as well. It became a way of telling someone you cared.
   What I probably miss most is this: I’d share jokes on the place. Facebook seems to be the medium in which I do that today, instead of email. As I said in a blog post a while back in the wake of Timeline’s launch, it gives instant gratification: you know when you’ve got a favourable reaction. It’s a source of entertainment, too, and much of that came from socializing with silly puns and the like. Good brain exercise as well as providing a bit of levity.
   Being unable to access my own groups is a problem. I’m not sure if I can delete dodgy threads on them presently, but this shows how much I’ve come to use those groups for hobbies—to the point where I quite often learn about things from them. At least one is for work.
   Day one sans Facebook hasn’t been quite enough to alter my habits massively, since I’ve been occupied on other things. But it has made me aware of when I do go on the site and what I actually value on it. And it is to share a good laugh, in lieu of having a pint at a pub.
   It makes you wonder: where is the substitute? It hasn’t been on Tumblr, Twitter or Instagram, which I frequent. They have each evolved into narrow categories: Tumblr for visual stimulation, Twitter for quick comments, Instagram for sharing images and following some hobbies. Weibo has been more cathartic for me, rather than a place I interact. Google Plus is just where I post articles about Google.
   A friend and I Skyped this morning, in the small hours, and concluded again, as people have many times, that the next grand site will offer something so different, and so important to us, that Facebook will be seen as old hat and quaint. It was inevitable, as I repeated my story on how no one could have seen the fall of Altavista as 1998 ticked over. But, right now, if you find yourself Facebookless—and not by choice—it does leave a void in your routine in 2014. Believe me, I didn’t want to admit that.

One unlikely thought crossed my mind: what if it doesn’t come back? What if I found the limits of Facebook? After all, the error messages have all said that the bug is momentary, and to try back in a few minutes. It’s been 12½ hours so far, but Facebook time and real time are usually different things. I’ve been tracking bugs for years on Get Satisfaction, and things take at least half a year to get right at Facebook. For a start, a bug where one could not tag someone by their first name took six months to fix. The bug where New Zealanders could not see their Facebook walls on the 1st of each month took over six months to remedy since the first report (October 1, 2011; the last was April 1, 2012). It took 19 months for Lucire to secure its name on Instagram (well, it took a couple of days once it got to someone who cared—just like Blogger). It took three years for a Facebook page map for That Car Place to be correctly positioned in Upper Hutt and not Hamilton (since Facebook seemed to confuse owner Stephen Hamilton’s surname with his location, even though they were put in to the correct fields).
   This latest bug is particularly difficult because, despite finding pages where I could report it, I can’t post. The bug is that I can’t feed in anything, so what is the point of offering a comment box, when the message won’t “stick” or be sent? It is the equivalent of a giant poster asking, ‘Are you illiterate? If so, please write to …’
   Asking a friend to post on my wall on my behalf is useless, too, since one friend attempted to in the evening and also got an error; while another friend, also wanting to help me out, couldn’t see the wall at all. It plainly wouldn’t load, which is what I find on a cellphone browser like Dolphin.
   Trying to use Facebook to log in to an app does give a slightly different message: there is a link to an explanation on what is happening. This is absent everywhere else. Facebook claims that they are updating a database where my account is. It must be a very special database because I’ve seen fewer than half a dozen Tweets complaining of the same problem today.

No Facebook access

   However, I’ve become wary of explanations from big Bay Area websites, since few of them hold true.
   It brings back memories of Vox (no relation to the current site at the same URL) in 2009. Those of you who knew me from blogging there will recall the story: the posting window would take two days to come up for me. (It should take a second.) Six Apart, the then-owners of Vox, kept getting me to look at various things, or blamed my ISP, before I got fed up with the excuses. This went on for months.
   I eventually said, out of frustration: ‘Here is my email and here is my password. Use them at Six Apart headquarters in San Francisco. If you can get that posting window to appear instantly, I will admit it is my problem and shut up.’
   The end result was they couldn’t, either, but it took such a drastic action before I was believed, and I wasn’t some guy who didn’t know “how to internet properly”.
   I’ve seen Google outright lie—as some of you have seen on this blog—and I just wonder about Facebook right now. I’ve probably filed the greatest number of Facebook bugs of anyone at Get Satisfactionsince you can get blocked from Facebook and accused of abuse if you file them at the site itself—to keep a record of just how the site is disintegrating. What it says on the tin and what it does are becoming two very separate things.

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Posted in business, internet, technology, USA | 13 Comments »


Instaspam: has Instagram jumped the shark?

30.03.2013


The tipping-point has been reached: on some of my photos, fake Instagram account likers outnumber human beings. In terms of comments, spam outnumbers real ones. Of my last ten likers, nine were fake accounts. And we know that when some sites get to this point, they begin dying.
   Yet it’s frightfully easy to spot the fake accounts. Many have the same description, or a mixed combination of various sentences (e.g. ‘Bacon trailblazer. Friendly pop culture ninja. Unapologetic gamer. Beer enthusiast’). Many have the same photographs—both profile and content.
   The problem has gone on for weeks, even months, but on the social networks now is the hashtag #Instaspam—something Facebook’s thousand million-dollar purchase might come to be known by, if the company doesn’t get a handle on fake accounts.
   A few of the ones I reported a fortnight ago still have active accounts, so I wonder if anyone there cares.
   Yet, if folks like us can spot a fake account a mile away, how come the real experts—the boffins whose Nginx servers are being dragged down by this—haven’t been able to target them?
   But this is Facebook, I remind myself: a company that stopped caring years ago.
   I remember the good old days when I received replies from Facebook staff, from basic issues to trade mark disputes. Those days are long gone, and Instagram is now part of the big machine.
   In the last few weeks, I’ve been losing feature after feature on Facebook, with links that can no longer be clicked on, tags that can no longer be done with a person’s first name alone, and other little glitches. But we know that Facebook is broken, and even bug reports are now considered spam.
   It’s in direct contrast to Tumblr, which reached 100,000,000 users over the last week. The company is still in the habit of replying to emails and while some of those are copy-and-paste ones, at least you know something is being looked at. Since a lot of fake Instagram accounts have fake Tumblogs tied to them, I’ve reported my fair share—and received either an automated response or a personal one from Tumblr.
   It makes you wonder if Tumblr staff use their service and understand the user experience—all of its recent changes actually work and are bug-free, and are improvements on the service—while Instagram is now in the Facebook culture of “too big to care”.
   And that’s the distinction between understanding your public and being locked up in your ivory tower, dealing with only the issues at hand.
   If I deal with a company, I’d like to know that the leaders have a good grasp of their communities, as well as the world at large. If it’s just about them and their boards, then it’s a cinch that things aren’t healthy there—and, sometimes, a clue to dropping share prices.
   Even at the city or state level, that engagement is vital—which brings me to this interview with California Lieutenant-Governor Gavin Newsom.
   It’s been fascinating reading Gavin’s views in this interview, where he mirrors some of my thoughts about bottom-up governance and citizen engagement (you know, the stuff I talked about in my 2010 campaign). Sometimes, if you elect politicians, you get politics as usual. Put in someone who has had real business experience—Gavin has 17 businesses—and you might start getting ideas for real change.
   Stop engaging, as Facebook and Instagram have, and we may be looking at another Vox: a site which, in the late 2000s, also let spam get out of hand. Splogs were being set up in an automated fashion, left, right and centre. Legitimate bloggers, as I was on that site, were locked out. Eventually, Six Apart, which owned Vox, shut the place down—despite a healthy community of real bloggers. But even toward the end, things were looking less and less viable. Instagram could well have jumped the shark—and if the issue isn’t fixed, it could be to Facebook what Myspace was to the Murdoch Press.

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Posted in business, internet, politics, technology, USA | 4 Comments »


Facebook removes my Limited Profile option

08.12.2011

Those who know me know that I tend to break most websites.
   I’m the guy with a Blogger account where Google has held on to the data of one blog against its terms and conditions, but can’t tell me which blog it is. In fact, Google tells me that it’s one of Errol Saldanha’s blogs—on which I’m not an author. Either they’re BSing me, or they don’t know. After I told them they were wrong, they gave up investigating. They’re not very good at handling criticism.
   I’m the guy who doesn’t have a Google Buzz account or a Gmail, but, to this day, has seven followers whom Google won’t identify to me as part of its “transparent” Dashboard.

Google Buzz

   I’m the guy who (maybe until this week—I have yet to start a new service ticket, but I have heard back) could not follow up tickets on the Telstra Clear Right Now customer support service because of a corrupted profile.
   I’m the guy who had to wait two days for a compose screen to show up on the old Vox.com—and argued with them for weeks till they discovered that, if signed in as me at Six Apart HQ in San Francisco, that they could not get it up, either. It was never fixed, and they eventually found it easier to close Vox.com down than deal with all of its failures.
   And now, I’m the guy with no Limited Profile option in Facebook, despite having had it since the day I joined in April 2007.
   At first I thought it was a system-wide malfunction brought along by Timeline being opened up to Kiwis, although I’ve had Timeline since September 25.
   But after checking at a party tonight, others who use Limited Profile still have it.
   Among a group of my friends, it’s just me. Nice one, Facebook.
   Limited Profile cannot be selected as a friends’ list from the status update window and it no longer appears in any of the previous posts. I can type it, but the option either never appears, or it appears for a split-second before disappearing.

Facebook: no Limited Profile

It cannot be seen on the page of a friend who is on that list.

Facebook: no Limited Profile

   The list still exists, and the privacy settings are preserved when “viewing as” that person, but I can no longer do anything with it.
   Should it show up—say after a language change—Facebook will not let me save my new settings. The following window will not go away unless I cancel it:

Facebook: no Limited Profile

   Odds of it being fixed? Somehow, I doubt Facebook is going to listen to one guy out of 900 million—even though I’m sure the problems can be traced to one of its coding problems.
   I’m blogging about it in the hope that someone else has this same issue. If you do, add your voice to Get Satisfaction.
   But remember, if they can’t keep the boss’s own private photos from being seen and saved by the public—in a security hole that was there for weeks which they ignored till Mark Zuckerberg was affected—what hope do the rest of us have?

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Posted in internet, technology, USA | 2 Comments »


It’s nice to be believed

21.04.2011

The bug I wrote about a few days ago that’s emerging when I use Autocade is now filed with Telstra Clear—and it’s been escalated.
   For years I would report various faults, including with Telstra Clear, and I would not be believed. What a difference now that I am believed.
   For around two years, no one at Telstra Clear believed me when I told them that the internet went down when it was windy. They kept blaming me and how I used my computer. I guess the wisdom was that wind caused computer operator misuse. Until one day, I said, ‘I know what your script says. I have done [x, y and z]. Now, here’s what I want you to do.’ The technician came down from Palmerston North and confirmed there was a loose wire. He then called another technician. Zero marks for efficiency, though the error was eventually fixed.
   Or the Vox error, which went on for months in 2009, blocking me from using the service. When I complained to Six Apart, which ran the now-defunct blogging platform, it was apparently my fault. Or my ISP’s. Or the internet’s. Until, again after a long, long time, I gave them my username and password. Only then did they confirm that something was wrong: they could not log on as me even from their own HQ.
   Even Mozilla took its time, though happily, when they got on to it, they were remarkably quick in solving my reported bugs. And these days, I find I am not disbelieved there.
   Now that Lucire is on Cloudflare, I’m also finding that speedy service and, last night, confirmation that they did, indeed, suffer a DDOS attack. There are no doubts there, either—just rapid acknowledgements and very personal service, answering my concerns about various settings, the Google bot, and the way Cloudflare works.
   The latest one is the Google Ads Preferences Manager, though I was told today at our monthly Vista lunch by Jim Donovan that he had been checking his, and found that his opt-out had been respected. I wonder if Google is only respecting the choices of Chrome users.
   I have had a few friends discover their Ads Preferences Manager behave the same way as it does for me, but maybe there are some people for whom it’s working.
   Nevertheless, the Network Advertising Initiative, to whom I have informed of this issue, has not responded, which I imagine amounts to being disbelieved.
   All I can say to the disbelievers is this: I am a reasonably intelligent person. I have been playing and working with computers since 1978. That means, if I say there is a bug with your service, there is a greater chance that I am right, than there is for your belief that I mucked up.
   This time, it’s plain nice for Telstra Clear to come back to me without questioning how I use my computer. Or saying I pressed the wrong button. Or used the wrong finger in pressing that button. Here’s hoping it can be resolved for, as the tech told me yesterday, it’s very hard to identify an intermittent error. (However, today it is not intermittent: I have been consistently unable to get on to Autocade without adding www to its URL.) From my point of view, it’s just great that the right people are dealing with the right issue in my world.

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Posted in business, internet, New Zealand, technology, USA | 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.

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Posted in culture, internet, New Zealand, publishing, USA | 6 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.

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


Vox cars’ group crosses 100

12.01.2010

Even though I am no longer blogging on Vox, I have some good news there: the cars’ group that I founded got its 100th member today.
   It’s actually the third time we’ve crossed 100, but on those previous occasions, it was sploggers that got us over that number. And each time I’ve had to go and delete those folks from the group, taking our total down.
   While there are still some questionable accounts among that 100, none of them have the usual signs of joining multiple groups (probably by way of a script). None have come and posted spam into the group, either (which is immediately deleted, though at least one of our members had to learn the hard way).
   Vox might be technologically flawed, especially with Six Apart’s lack of attention, but I have a responsibility to these groups, some of which I set up. In fact, one of the reasons this cars’ group exists is that the former one, called Cars Rock!, was overrun by spammers after its creator and moderator left. (In fact, one member there is called Splogger.) I’d hate to be the guy who let the side down, though I can foresee a day when I’d get so frustrated with the spam that I might have to (at left are the most common keywords among the Vox groups—looks like splog city to me).
   I’ll leave the proper way, mind: I’d hand over to a new moderator, then walk away. I don’t think I’d let the group die as so many others on Vox have.

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Posted in cars, internet, USA | 2 Comments »