Archive for August 2022


Autocade slowly gets to 29 million page views

27.08.2022

It took a while, but Autocade has now finally reached 29 million page views.

The stats’ page since the count was reset shows 1,362,506 views. Add that to the 27,647,011 recorded on March 19, 2022, and we have well and truly crossed the 29 million mark (by 9,517, in fact).

We probably got there yesterday given that the counter is no longer updated live (so much for improving technology), and I didn’t get a chance to look in.

Sadly, this does mean the slowest growth in reader numbers since 2019.

I’m sure part of it is down to Bing’s collapse, which must have shaved off at least six per cent of our daily totals.

What I have found fascinating is our model leaderboard. The Ford Taunus 80 had been leading for some time since the reset, but it’s been well and truly beaten by the current Toyota Corolla. What caused a sudden surge during August is anyone’s guess, but all I know is that I’m grateful for it. It’s a newish page as well.

The Kia Morning (TA) is now third, another newer entry that shot up the ranks.

I’ve also been watching the pages for the Peugeot 206+ and 207 jostle for fourth place against the Daewoo Winstorm. (At the time of writing, the Winstorm is ahead by five views.) Another former leaderboard champ, the Ford Fiesta Mk VII, now sits in sixth, while the Renault Mégane II, Opel Astra J, Rover SD1 and Ford Cortina Mk III complete the top 10.

Here’s how the Autocade traffic watch is going:
 
March 2008: launch
April 2011: 1,000,000 (three years for first million)
March 2012: 2,000,000 (11 months for second million)
May 2013: 3,000,000 (14 months for third million)
January 2014: 4,000,000 (eight months for fourth million)
September 2014: 5,000,000 (eight months for fifth million)
May 2015: 6,000,000 (eight months for sixth million)
October 2015: 7,000,000 (five months for seventh million)
March 2016: 8,000,000 (five months for eighth million)
August 2016: 9,000,000 (five months for ninth million)
February 2017: 10,000,000 (six months for 10th million)
June 2017: 11,000,000 (four months for 11th million)
January 2018: 12,000,000 (seven months for 12th million)
May 2018: 13,000,000 (four months for 13th million)
September 2018: 14,000,000 (four months for 14th million)
February 2019: 15,000,000 (five months for 15th million)
June 2019: 16,000,000 (four months for 16th million)
October 2019: 17,000,000 (four months for 17th million)
December 2019: 18,000,000 (just under three months for 18th million)
April 2020: 19,000,000 (just over three months for 19th million)
July 2020: 20,000,000 (just over three-and-a-half months for 20th million)
October 2020: 21,000,000 (three months for 21st million)
January 2021: 22,000,000 (three months for 22nd million)
April 2021: 23,000,000 (three months for 23rd million)
June 2021: 24,000,000 (two months for 24th million)
August 2021: 25,000,000 (two months for 25th million)
October 2021: 26,000,000 (two months for 26th million)
January 2022: 27,000,000 (three months for 27th million)
April 2022: 28,000,000 (three months for 28th million)
August 2022: 29,000,000 (four months for 29th million)
 

Toyota’s unsuccessful Verossa was the latest entry into the database.
 

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Bing hates novelty—it’s really Microsoft’s Wayback Machine

27.08.2022

Bing is still very clearly near death, as this latest site: search shows.
 

 

It manages a grand total of 10 pages from Lucire, and as outlined before, some are pages that have not been linked to for 17 years.

I purposely updated some of the pages Bing had in its limited capacity, and strangely, those have disappeared! Bing doesn’t want anything new, as it appears to be Microsoft’s Wayback Machine.

The fifth result here is a case in point. Some of you may recall lucire.com/about.shtml appearing in all the search engines, including Bing. This is a page last updated in 2004, with some final tweaks in 2012 (I assume for ad code; I don’t recall). It was a page that I decided I would stick on to a new template, since the search engines loved it so much. I copied the text from our licensing site. And, for the sake of online archæology, I put the 2004 page exactly as it was into a file called about-2004.shtml.

Bing must still be alive enough to spider and index the renamed page, but it rejects the revised about.shtml!

It’s similar to what I wrote in mid-August when I updated other ancient pages from the early 2000s: Bing rejected them, including a frameset that now pointed at the latest page!

You may be thinking: obviously, you are doing something wrong with your newer code, Jack, for Bing to favour the old stuff. But look at the fourth result: it’s from 2020, the one “new” page that Bing has managed to index and show. I don’t think we have anything wrong with our code if this page has made it in.

Google happily included the new about.shtml.

A search for Lucire itself on Bing now does include the home page, which is a new development in a search engine that’s limping along. So much for the earlier claim that there were issues with the page that prevented it from appearing.

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The Red Points saga: this might finally be resolved

24.08.2022

Nine days since the first DMCA notice was lobbed against us, the saga has finally reached the powers-that-be at Hearst SL.

And once it did, things began happening quickly. I’ve heard from their head of legal, and what he’s outlined to me seems like a good resolution to the whole saga.

He tells me some changes have been made to Red Points Solution SL’s processes, which I think is a good outcome if it saves others the grief of what I’ve had to deal with—especially while contending with publishing deadlines and the day-to-day running of a company. It was a bigger distraction than I would have liked to admit.

In a gesture of goodwill, I offered to set to private the two stories we published on the Lucire website over the whole affair.

I suggested to him that I update everyone here, since you might have thought that the disappearance of the two articles was down to Red Points!

I shudder to think what would have happened if I didn’t have contact email addresses for senior VPs at Hearst Communications, Inc. or former Lucire team members who wound up working for Hearst. Or how someone without a legal background specializing in IP would have felt. Not everyone would be in this position.

It’s still concerning to me that Google continues to state that results have been removed in site searches for us, and for the topics those articles covered. Basically, they’re saying we’re thieves, and I don’t think that’s fair dinkum. As Google works at a glacial pace, I assume the notices will eventually disappear once they receive Red Points’ withdrawals.

I’ve also received an apology from Red Points’ CMO. The gentlemanly thing to do is to accept it. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Google to stop saying we stole stuff.

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Red Points Solution SL walks right into it, attempts to shut down free speech via DMCA

23.08.2022

This is too good. Now, Hearst Communications, Inc. was sensible enough to realize that what I raised was real, and a senior VP put me on to a colleague dealing with Hearst Magazines International. Nothing yet, but I wrote a release, sent it to a few colleagues, and published it on Lucire describing what had happened. As it’s going in to Lucire, unlike Google, I’m really careful about libel.

Just now, Red Points Solution SL has been by and issued another notice. They can’t deal with the negative publicity so they play the only card they know how: issuing another DMCA notice to Google and leaving Hearst SL wide open to a penalty of perjury.

I mean, I’ve seen stupid (like that time a former disgruntled staffer wrote an anonymous note to people who knew me but hand-addressed the envelope), but this is like walking into a trap (that I didn’t even realize I had set!).

Now, what if word got out even more widely that Red Points Solution SL is shutting down free speech? Time to send the release more widely?

If only I had more time—but this might be tomorrow’s free-time project.

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Testing the seven search engines in the world

22.08.2022

After reading Mojeek’s blog post from last July, I learned there are only seven search engines in the world now. In other words, I was checking more search engines out in the 1990s. It’s rather depressing, especially as the search market is largely a monopoly with Google dominating it (and all the ills that brings), and Bing and its licensees (like Duck Duck Go) with their 6 per cent.

Knowing there are seven, I fed the site:lucire.com search into all of them to see where each stood.

The first figure is the claimed number of results, the second the actual number shown (without repeats removed, which Bing is guilty of).

I can’t use Brave here as its site search is Bing as well.

Yandex appears to be capped at 250 and Mojeek at 1,000, but at least they aren’t arbitrary like Google and Baidu. Baidu has a lot of category and tag pages from the Wordpress section of our site to bump up the numbers.
 
Gigablast 0/0
Sogou 19/13
Bing 243/50
Baidu 13,700/213
Yandex 2,000/250
Google 6,280/315
Mojeek 3,654/1,000
 

Frankly, more of us should go to Mojeek. It can only get better with a wider user base. Unlike Bing, it hasn’t collapsed. I know most of you will keep going to Google, but I just don’t like the look of those limits (not to mention the massive privacy issues).

Mojeek is now at 5,900 million pages, which must be the largest index in the west outside of Google.

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Google finally responds to our first counter-notification

21.08.2022

I suppose it’s positive that Google has finally responded to our first counter-notification against Hearst SL’s and Red Points Solution SL’s fraudulent DMCA notice. Hey, Google, why don’t you begin by asking your complainants for proof before presuming an innocent party guilty? Then used your milliards of dollars and high-tech to see that our work is original? Would have saved us a lot of time.

You’ll soon see the other two counter-notices I filed on the first issue alone while I waited and waited and waited for you to respond. Failing to do that first step has cost us all time. And you knew of this problem back in the second half of the 2010s, if not before.

This system is really broken.
 

 

Oh well, another two weeks of libel by Google on the first issue alone. Everyone: use Mojeek.

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Companies worth millions engaging in fraud, and Google is their weapon

20.08.2022

Yesterday morning, we received a second notice with two more URLs—one with wholly our own content—from Hearst SL and its contractor, Red Points Solution SL.

I’ve done a bit more digging and it’s usually fraudsters who engage in this behaviour. You can read more about them in Techdirt, Mashable and Search Engine Land.

With their millions of dollars, I guess these two Spanish companies are now in the same game of fraud.

And Google believes them, even though Mashable wrote about these techniques in 2018.

If it’s that easy to manipulate Google, then it’s finished as a credible search engine.

Meanwhile, Red Points Solution and Hearst SL open themselves up to charges of perjury. Not too smart there.

Three firms with millions, even milliards, of dollars who don’t like the independents, and one firm now falsely claiming ownership of work from us, French Sole, BFA.com, and L’Oréal. With L’Oréal, why would you involve your own advertiser? Does Hearst SL want to slit its own wrists as a company?

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Time to get New York involved

19.08.2022

Still nothing from the Spanish outpost of Hearst or from Red Points Solution SL on their false accusation against Lucire, so tonight I contacted one of the Hearst VPs in New York—as they’ll more likely understand where we’re coming from. Whenever there’s been a copyright matter, Americans tend to respond quickly, faster than Europeans or the British—except for Big Tech, natch. Those folks you need to threaten. It’s frustrating to continue seeing a DMCA notice when we do a site: search on Google, one that isn’t warranted. I’ve found a senior enough VP—I’ve been around long enough to know who’s who—who I think would get it.

Further investigation shows Red Points being named as defendant in quite a few cases—and they’re just the ones that the search engines have picked up. Who knows how many others aren’t put online or are worthy enough of being reported on?

I’d be extremely wary of a company whose technology appears to be very unreliable, if our case is any indication, and exposing their clients to lawsuits. I see from the Google complaint only two sites have fallen foul to their specious claims—and you have to ask why not every single article written about Valentina Sampaio being named Armani Beauty’s newest ambassador? Were we picked out because they felt we were small enough to be picked on and that we wouldn’t fight back? And why would they risk claiming not only our original content as their client’s, but the work of L’Oréal—a major Hearst advertiser—too? It’s potentially destructive for Hearst and harms its relationship with an advertiser.

They’ve picked on the wrong people—especially a magazine that is known to some people inside Hearst.
 
I was curious to see what part of the Spanish web I had accessed in the last year. Answer: not a lot. More in the last day or so looking up Hearst’s Spanish outpost.
 

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Are hybrids better for the environment than pure EVs?

19.08.2022

Shared by a family member. Hear out Dr Graham Conway, principal engineer in the Automotive Division at Southwest Research Institute, and why zero-emission vehicles are not truly zero-emission. It’s a point I’ve made way, way back (in the 2000s) when I cited a study which showed the Ford Fiesta Econetic, a diesel car, was the best vehicle for the environment over its lifetime.

This TEDx talk is from 2020, and Conway believes hybrids are a better bet for the environment than full EVs. Have a watch as he explains why.
 

 

TED has flagged Conway’s talk with the following statement: ‘This talk only reflects the speaker’s personal views and interpretation. Several claims in this talk lack scientific support.’ I’d be irresponsible if I didn’t quote this. It’s also worth having a read of this from 2021 and this from 2020. Here’s one more link from Green Car Reports in 2020, titled ‘Lifetime carbon emissions of electric cars are much lower than previously suggested’. All of these suggest that newer production processes and decarbonization may be helping EVs rank better when their lifetime (including production) emissions are counted.

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False accusations from Red Points Solution SL

18.08.2022

Yesterday, I returned to find a DMCA claim filed against us by Red Points Solution SL, purporting to act for Harper’s Bazaar España publisher Hearst Magazines SL, falsely accusing us of breaching their copyright with this article. You can read the notice here.

Naturally, I filed a counter-claim because their accusation is baseless.

Our source was PR Newswire, and it’s not uncommon to find stories of interest through that platform. In fact, Armani Beauty was so keen to get this out there on November 3 that we received the release in four languages at 15.28, 15.30, 15.33, 15.36, 15.39, 15.46 and 16.03 UTC.

The quotations and images were supplied by Armani Beauty, which is part of L’Oréal. I’ve worked with people from L’Oréal for over two decades and know their systems well enough, including the money they have for licensing images for press usage.

Lucire has a lot of original articles, but some of our news is release-based, as it is for anyone in our industry.

Our rule is: even when it’s a release, you write it up individually in your own words. You may have something additional to bring to the story. And we aren’t a repository of releases.

The only time we would run a release mostly verbatim is if we issued it, something that might happen once every couple of years.

Naturally, Google has so far done nothing and our story remains absent from their index. Big Tech loves big firms like Hearst.

I’ve tagged Harper’s Bazaar España in social media demanding they front up with their evidence. I’ve also messaged Hearst’s Spanish office with the following.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
 
Yesterday, your firm lobbed a false accusation against us by deceptively claiming your copyright had been breached by one of our articles. I note that you filed this as a DMCA complaint with Google.

We have filed a counter-notice.

We find it appalling that you would claim an original work has breached your copyright.

The imagery and quotations to our articles were sourced from L’Oréal, and we have informed them directly of your deceptive and misleading conduct.

I demand you furnish proof. As you will no doubt fail to, we demand you withdraw the complaint. We reserve the right to pursue our own legal remedies against you.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Jack Yan
Publisher, Lucire

I basically thought they were being dicks and my friend Oliver Woods chimed in on Twitter about it. Oli’s very insightful and objective, and I respect his opinion.

They are being dicks, but there is a strategy behind it. Petty little minds wanting to look good on Google, not liking someone else ahead of them. (Not that I ever looked to see where our story ranked. I mean, seriously?)

It reminds me of a US designer’s rep who emailed me a while back wanting us to remove an article.

I asked: what’s wrong with it? Did we err in facts? Is it somehow defamatory?

When I probed a bit more deeply, it turned out that they were incensed it came up so highly in a Google image search.

I explained that that wasn’t a good enough reason, especially since the story had been provided to us by a PR firm.

They countered by saying that as they had not heard of us, it was highly unlikely that they would have released us that news.

I thought it was a very strange strategy to accuse someone you wanted a favour from of lying.

I still have the email from their PR firm. Call me Lord of the Files.

I’m not going to reveal the identity of the designer. I asked one of my team to see if he would call me directly instead of having one of his rude staff insult me. He never did call. The image is still there, and I bet they’re seething each time they see it.

It’s not even a bad image. It just doesn’t happen to be hosted by them.

I don’t really know why search engine domination is so important. We all should have a fair crack at it, and let whomever has the most meritorious item on a particular topic come up top.

The American designer, and the Spanish outpost of this American media giant Hearst, are obviously not people who like freedom of the press, freedom of expression, or a meritorious web. American people might like this stuff but a lot of their corporations don’t.

Which is why Google is terrible because it doesn’t allow it. We know through numerous lawsuits it has biases toward its own properties, for a start. I’ve observed them favouring big media brands over independents—even when independents break a news story.

Mojeek is just so, so much better. No agenda. Just search the way it was and should have stayed. That’s the “next Google”, the one that could save the web, that I had asked for in 2010.

Except it shouldn’t be the next Google because we don’t want more surveillance and tribalism.

Fair, unbiased search is where Mojeek excels. I really hope it catches on more. God knows the world needs it.

I think the world needs Lucire, too, the title that Harper’s Bazaar Australia named as part of its ‘A-list of style’. The Aussies are just so much nicer.
 
PS.: Hearst uses a company called Red Points Solution SL to do its supposed copyright infringement detection. Based on this, they must be pretty shit at it. And remember, we don’t even publish in Spanish. Yet.

I see you have falsely accused us of copyright infringement with our article at https://lucire.com/insider/20211103/valentina-sampaio-named-armani-beautys-newest-ambassador/ when we have done nothing of the sort.

We demand that you withdraw your DMCA complaint to Google.
 
https://lumendatabase.org/notices/28469986#
 

Our story’s source is Armani Beauty through PR Newswire, to which we are signed up as a legitimate international media organization. The story is our work, using facts and quotations provided in the release.

PR Newswire provided us with this release on November 3, 2021, at 15.28, 15.30, 15.33, 15.36, 15.39, 15.46 and 16.03.

A counter-notice has been filed.

We require an explanation from you on why you have targeted a legitimate media organization with your deception. Clearly your detection systems are not very good and we would certainly be discouraged from using them.

 
P.PS.: One more email to Red Points Solution SL on August 19, 21.56 UTC after they doubled-down with another notice removing two URLs from Google. Again, no proof of their original work was provided, and none can be seen in Lumen even when requested. It seems Google will lap anything up if it sees a big company behind it.

I have reached out to you through numerous means but yet to hear back.

I publish Lucire, a magazine with a 25-year history and five editions worldwide. You might even say we’re the sort of business that would need Red Points Solution’s services.

However, we’ve found ourselves at the other end, with legitimate media stories from our website removed from Google with DMCA notices you’ve filed.

Your client is Hearst SL.

If your latest efforts are down to Hearst’s orders, then they are claiming ownership over material that is not theirs.

All our content is original, and where it is not, it is properly licensed.

In the first case:
 
https://lucire.com/insider/20211103/valentina-sampaio-named-armani-beautys-newest-ambassador/
 

Your client does not own this material at all. We own the story, and the quotations and images are owned by and licensed to us by L’Oréal. Hearst has no connection to it other than Harper’s Bazaar being mentioned in an editorial fashion.

In the second case:
 
https://lucire.com/insider/20190905/nicky-hilton-hosts-brunch-to-celebrate-her-collaboration-with-french-sole/
 

Your client does not own this material at all. We own the story, and the images are owned by and licensed to us by French Sole and BFA.com. Hearst has no connection to it other than Harper’s Bazaar being mentioned in an editorial fashion.

In the third case:
 
https://lucire.com/insider/page/164/?mobiinsider%2F20120130%2Felizabeth-olsen-models-asos-magazines-cover%2F%3Fwpmp_switcher=mobile
 

Your client does not own this material at all. In fact, we own this material fully. No Hearst properties are even mentioned.

Counter-notifications have been filed on the basis that it is our original content and that your client has no right to make the claim in the first place.

It would be far easier if you would review your systems as presently they are opening your client and yourselves up to a legal claim …

We think you need to go back to your client and have them show you just how they can legitimately claim ownership of material that is not theirs.

In the meantime, we insist you stop these notices as they are unwarranted and unfounded.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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