Archive for the ‘media’ category


Attempting re-entry into Bing’s Pubhub

08.08.2022

In early July, I wanted to see if we could add Lucire to Bing as a news source in their Pubhub—after all, Google has us as one, as Yahoo, Altavista and Excite had back in the day. And I’d say that 25 years of publishing with an international team might qualify us as being media.

The folks came back rejecting us, saying we needed to come back in a month’s time. Usual story: look at our rules, you must have messed up.

Bing tells everyone this these days, because it’s a good way to keep webmasters confounded as they try to figure out what’s wrong with their site and why they can’t get it listed. It’s the same with Pubhub.

The one “rule” that might be very broadly interpreted in their favour was that articles needed to have bylines. Granted, a lot of news ones don’t, since sometimes we don’t want credit for them, and you don’t always see a reporter’s name for shorter, simpler items. But features do have bylines. And when Bing swung round in early July, coincidentally I had written quite a lot of the last bunch of articles, so my name was all over them. That was a no-no.

So here we are, a month and a few days on. The home page (the one that Bing declines to include in their index now, as it prefers pages from the early 2000s that we haven’t linked to for over 17 years) contains articles from me, Stanley Moss, Lola Cristall, Jody Miller, and Elyse Glickman. There’s one story on Panos Papadopoulos that he wrote in the first person.

What’s the bet that nothing will happen?

Sometimes you have to give it a go, even when you know nothing will happen—just to prove a point.
 

Above: The top pages in a site:lucire.com search on Bing. Five of these pages we haven’t linked to in 17 years. As a search engine, it makes absolutely no sense.
 
I was surprised, however, that Bing claims to have 330 results for site:lucire.com today, up from 10. It’s still a tenth of what Mojeek has, and a twentieth of what Google has. But it is an improvement. Maybe the worst is over?

It’s still useless as a general search though, and even more useless as an internal search. The fact that popular pages are excluded and 17-year-old ones aren’t means something remains very wrong with the search engine.
 
PS. (August 9 NZST): I spoke too soon. Bing says 330 results, but try looking beyond 50, which was what it tended to cap Lucire at.
 

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Rising popularity on Autocade

07.08.2022

Ever since we had to reset the counter for Autocade in March, because of a new server and a new version of Mediawiki, it’s been interesting to see which pages are most popular.

The old ranking took into account everything from March 2008 to March 2022. With everything set to zero again, I can now see what’s been most popular in the last few months.

Some of the top 20 were among the top pages before March 2022, but what’s surprising is what’s shot up into the top slots.

Over the course of half a day on Friday GMT, the Toyota Corolla (E210) page found itself as the top page, home page excepting. And the Kia Morning (TA) page shot up out of nowhere recently, too.

I know our page on the Corolla is number one on Mojeek for a search of that model but that can’t be the only reason it’s done so well. I haven’t studied the referrer data. A shame that link: no longer works on search engines.
 

 

Corolla fans, thank you for your extra 6,000 page views! It’s helped our overall total, but the viewing rate is still down at 2019 levels thanks to the collapse of the Bing index, and the search engines that it’s taken down with them.

I almost feel I’ve shot myself in the foot for promoting Duck Duck Go so much since 2010! But then I hopefully spared a lot of people from being tracked (as much) by the big G.

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Laying out French articles in HTML takes a long time

05.08.2022


Above: Some French text in Lucire.
 
Regular Lucire readers will have seen a number of articles run in English and French (and one in Japanese) on our main website. Typographically, the French ones are tricky, since we have to distinguish between non-breaking spaces and non-breaking thin spaces, and as far as I know, there is no code for the latter in HTML. Indeed, even with a non-breaking space, a browser can treat it as it would a regular space.

So what’s our solution? Manually, and laboriously, putting in <NOBR> tags around the words that cannot be broken. It’s not efficient but typographically, it makes the text look right and, unless we’ve missed one, we don’t have the problem of guillemets being left on a line by themselves without a word to attach to.

The language is set to fr in the meta tags.

Among our French colleagues, I have seen some go Anglo with their quotation marks and ignoring the traditional French guillemets. Others omit any thin spaces and, consequently, adopt the English spacing rules with punctuation. For some reason, I just can’t bring ourselves to do it, and maybe there is an easier way that we haven’t heard of. I hope nos lecteurs français appreciate the extra effort.

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When the oldest looks the freshest

02.08.2022




 
Here are three Elle covers that I uploaded to last month’s gallery, from 1991, 2007 and 2022. Which looks the most modern?

To me, it’s the 1991 US one. The Futura Light type is calm, it all looks rather balanced, and the photograph is well lit and composed. From memory, it was commended by the Society of Publication Designers in New York but I have to check my old annuals.

Go to 2007 and there’s just too much clutter, and the custom type looks uncomfortable, especially the bolder cut. The 2022 cover sits somewhere in between, but it feels like it’s the dawn of desktop publishing with different sizes and weights, and type inside circles.

Granted, I’m not comparing apples with apples, as the 21st-century covers are for the French market, and the 2022 cover isn’t strictly for Elle but the Elle Corps summer special. Makes you wonder what timelessness is, and if such a thing even exists. Many of the old covers for Lucire that I art-directed were meant to be timeless, too, but how they have dated! Is it about calm, a lack of clutter, and a sensible, restrained use of type? Or does that in fact date things, and we’re just at a moment in time when the 1991 cover’s trends have come round again?

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More signs of Bing’s tiny index

24.07.2022

Because I have OCD, one more round of stats.

It’s not just us: Bing seems to have a reduced index for everyone. Here are a handful of sites that I fed in at random for site: searches. The only site where it beats Mojeek in indexed pages is, you guessed it, Microsoft’s. I guess since Google favours Google’s own results, Bing does a better job indexing Microsoft’s—and I doubt it’s because their own people conform to Bing’s applied-when-they-choose rules.
 
Die Zeit
Google: 2,600,000
Mojeek: 4,796 (0·18 per cent of Google’s total)
Bing: 3,770 (0·15 per cent of Google’s total)
 
Annabelle (Switzerland)
Google: 11,700
Mojeek: 405 (3·46%)
Bing: 105 (0·90%)
 
Holly Jahangiri
Google: 738
Mojeek: 222 (30·08%)
Bing: 49 (6·64%)
 
The Gloss (Ireland)
Google: 19,200
Mojeek: 1,968 (10·25%)
Bing: 71 (0·37%)
 
The New York Times
Google: 36,200,000
Mojeek: 2,823,329 (7·80%)
Bing: 1,190,000 (3·29%)
 
Lucire
Google: 6,050
Mojeek: 3,572 (59·04%)
Bing: 50 (0·83%)
 
The Rake
Google: 11,500
Mojeek: 1,443 (12·55%)
Bing: 49 (0·43%)
 
Travel & Leisure
Google: 28,100
Mojeek: 9,750 (34·70%)
Bing: 220 (0·78%)
 
Microsoft
Google: 122,000,000
Bing: 14,200,000 (11·64%)
Mojeek: 1,748,199 (1·43%)
 
Detective Marketing
Google: 998
Mojeek: 579 (58·02%)
Bing: 51 (5·11%)
 

In the earlier Microsoft thread I linked, the original poster found that after they joined Bing Webmaster Tools and imported their Google data, that’s when their site vanished from Bing. So, again, we’re not alone.

I’d seriously be rethinking my business model if I was running a search engine that was reliant on Bing.

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A new video for the home page

23.07.2022

Earlier today, Amanda and I had a wonderful time at Te Papa to celebrate the Chinese Languages in Aotearoa programme. My contribution was appearing in a video, that was on this blog last October.

It dawned on me that despite being on YouTube, this really needs to be on the home page of this website, replacing the below.
 

 

It just never occurred to me any earlier how ideal the Te Papa video was, and how much it speaks to my whakapapa and my identity. But the penny has dropped now.

I know I still need to update the 2018 intro. It needs to be more profound than what appears in these blog posts.

It should also reduce confusion for visitors trying to find out more about my Toronto mayoral candidate namesake, who I note still does not have a declared website or email address on the that city’s official list.

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They’re brainwashed by the cult of Boris, so the next Tory leader will be an ideologue

10.07.2022

Sean O’Grady puts into his opinion piece what so many of us have said. He does it far better than I could.

They backed Johnson through the Dominic Cummings scandal, through the resignations of two ethics advisers, through the scandal of a party donor paying for the decoration of his flat, through the mishandling of the pandemic and the mismanaging of Brexit with a rotten deal, Partygate and law breaking, an unlawful prorogation of parliament and breaking treaties and international law, allegedly trying to get Carrie a £100,000 job and Wilfred a £150,000 treehouse, depriving kids of free school dinners … and much, much more …

So it’s not just Johnson who’s morally compromised, but the whole Tory party, with rare exceptions. They are all guilty men and women because they voted for him, campaigned for him, sustained him, lied for him and generally disgraced themselves and the country in the process. They were all members of the cult of Boris, and they knew exactly what he was.

They didn’t care because he was a winner. He hasn’t suddenly turned nasty – he was like this since about the age of eight. He’s outlived his usefulness to them, but if they thought the devil incarnate could win them the next election they’d be signing his nomination papers right now. Parties tend to get the leaders they deserve.

Sunak, Javid and others are in no position to be preaching about integrity. If seeing the monarch mourn her husband whilst sitting alone due to COVID-19 restrictions at the same time Johnson partied at his ‘work event’ didn’t concern them, are we to believe that they are one bit concerned about sexual assault? Pull the other one.

If the Tories are smart, they’ll go for someone well outside this band of muppets. But as O’Grady also states, ‘Your next PM, like Johnson, will be chosen by about 90,000 mostly elderly, reactionary and unrepresentative members of the Conservative Party.’ In such cases, name recognition and familiarity will decide the next leader. Sadly, that’s unlikely to be anyone from the moderate wing of the Conservative Party. That is now a minority.

Will they promote a better culture than Johnson did? Possibly. If they have some sense of organization and leadership. But that alone is not going to fix the UK’s problems. Ideologues should not come before pragmatists, but it’s hard to see any other outcome given what the Conservative Party has become.

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The next lot to be removed: Disqus

08.07.2022


 
Years ago, we removed the Facebook widgets from Lucire’s pages. Last year, there were Instagram’s and Twitter’s turns, after each of those platforms locked us out (though later we regained access, and in Twitter’s case we issued a veiled threat to their lawyers). Last night, it was Disqus’s turn as we removed the commenting gadget from the Lucire site.

Obviously, not having Disqus’s trackers was a big plus, and speeding up page-load times, but there were two other major considerations: readers seldom comment these days (fashion is less divisive than politics), and, we have no idea where the money for all the Disqus advertising is.

I seem to recall that we were nearing their US$100 payment threshold, and I had in mind that once we hit it, I’d take the ads off. They were pretty ugly anyway.

Logging in yesterday, I was surprised to see Disqus claimed we had earned a little over US$3 now, while there is no record of any payment to us in the last year. Disqus also has nowhere on its site detailing payments made. Nor has it any feedback forms for non-subscribers (though you could argue that we have “paid” them in terms of the space their ads took up on the Lucire website all these years). I posted a question on their forum—the best I could do there. Seventeen hours later, no answers.

Right after that, we removed the Disqus gadget on all of Lucire’s static (HTML) pages, and switched off the Disqus plug-in on the WordPress (news) part of the site for posts going forward. No pay, no stay. I also removed the default comment boxes for the last 100 stories, though I might still change my mind and reinstitute them. If I do, they’ll be native ones, not anything to do with a plug-in that slows things down.

All those years, adding plug-ins that were once far more innocent; as each one became part of the surveillance economy, the detriments began to outweigh the benefits. What’s interesting to me is, other than the Facebook widget, their removal came after they prompted us with something dodgy, not because we suddenly had concerns about their tracking. Till I started investigating, I didn’t even realize how bad the problem was, though with hindsight of course I should have known, given how I’ve banged on about Facebook and Google. Part of me thought wishfully about Twitter, and as for our Instagram gadget, it was being run through another service (which might have been worse since it meant another company knowing stuff), and back when Instagram was a thing, I thought our readers would enjoy it.

I’m not consistent as Autocade’s Disqus forms are still up (at least on desktop), but they don’t have the dreaded Disqus ads, and readers actually comment there. But I will have a look for a good alternative—and I won’t be touching any of those Disqus settings as I don’t wish for the ugly ads to be introduced.

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Facebook saves private medical information despite saying it gets scrubbed

02.07.2022

As embedding from Mastodon is not working tonight, I’ll copy and paste Per Axbom’s post:

Nice bit of reporting from Swedish Radio. They built an online fake pharmacy and activated Facebook advertising tools. Thousands of simulated visits to the pharmacy were made each day, and the reporters could see all the sensitive, personal information being stored by Facebook.

Facebook sent no warnings to the pharmacy, despite saying they have tools in place to prevent this from happening.

A few weeks ago they revealed how this was happening with real pharmacies.

He links this article from Sveriges Radio.

So, how long has it been since Cambridge Analytica? We can safely conclude that this is all by design, as it has been from the start.

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July 2022 gallery

02.07.2022

Here are July 2022’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 

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Posted in cars, culture, design, France, gallery, interests, marketing, media, politics, publishing, technology, UK, USA | No Comments »