Posts tagged ‘2020s’


Now Google is worsening on a site: search: framesets from the early 2000s are in the top 10

26.01.2023

This was never supposed to become a search engine blog, but like the Facebook “malware scanner” (or was that scammer?) and Google lying about its Ads Preferences Manager, I was forced to investigate when no one in the media (or, for that matter, the wider internet) did.

And over the years, those posts really helped people and exposed some wrongdoings.

Hence the latest obsession, about Bing, because no one seems to have noticed how Microsoft’s search engine is behaving as though someone at Redmond is unplugging servers left, right and centre.

Someone on Reddit suggested I try Kagi, which is a paid search engine—but from what I can tell, it’s a meta-search (the person who told me about it confirmed this, as did an earlier review).

I’ve seen meta-searches for decades, and admittedly Kagi is the prettiest of them all, but because it’s pulling from Bing and Google, it suffers from the limitations of both, especially the former.

We already have seen how Bing basically favours antiquity over currency, at least where Lucire is concerned, so Kagi’s results contain, in their top 10, pages that have not been updated (or linked) since the mid-2000s. When the Google-sourced results are factored in, it looks a bit better (since there are pages from the 2010s and 2020s), but they still aren’t the most relevant (since it seems Google has been faltering somewhat on site: searches, too).

Here’s a screen shot from Kagi. Results 1, 6 and 7 are current; result 3 is from the early 2010s; results 2, 4, 5 and 8 are framesets from the 2000s; result 9 is from 2014 and hasn’t been linked since then; the remainder are stories which can still be found through spidering but date from between 2011 and 2016.
 

 

Since it’s a meta-search, I decided to peer into Google and its top 10 do not look good, either. As I don’t tend to use Google, and the recent tests were about grabbing the number of search results, or analysing their currency, I hadn’t drilled down on a site:lucire.com search for a while.

Let’s see how they look today.
 


 
Surprisingly bad. Results 1 and 2 are current; results 3, 4 and 5 are framesets from the early 2000s that have not been linked since then; result 6 is from 2005 and has not been linked since then; result 7 is a 2011 story; result 8 is a 2022 story; result 9 is a 2016 story; and result 10 is a 2011 story.

In other words, the Google top 10 has changed probably due to their algorithm, but I wouldn’t call these relevant to what searchers seek. I could understand the old about.shtml staying in the top 10 despite its antiquity, but some of these top-level pages are really old. Framesets? Seriously?

Result 11 is repeated, which is also odd, while results 14 and 15 are tag pages from the Wordpress part of the site. The 15th is for Whangarei, not exactly the fashion centre of the world.

Google’s fall could explain why these blog posts have suffered traffic-wise as they are seriously irrelevant; there’s no connection to the pages’ popularity, either. It’s really beginning to feel like the Wayback Machine there, too.

Mojeek still makes more sense, since the search there requires a term, i.e. site:lucire.com lucire, so naturally it gives you pages containing the word Lucire more.
 

 

Result 1 is our home page (makes infinite sense!); result 2 a current top-level contents’ page; result 5 is the main page from Lucire TV; while the rest are stories that have the word Lucire contained in them more than what is typical for our site.

It looks like the US search engines are faltering while Mojeek is getting better. What an interesting development. I didn’t have worsening Google search on my 2023 bingo card.
 
Incidentally, for this website, Google still places my mayoral election pages from 2013 in its top 10; while Mojeek links the home page, the blog, a mixture of posts from 2009, 2020, 2021 and 2022, a transcript of a 2008 speech, and a tag page from 2010. Bing has pages from 2003 and 2012, but also some current top-level pages and, amazingly, three blog posts that are likely to be relevant (two of them critical about Bing from 2022 and 2023, and a 2021 post about Vodafone). In other words, Google has done the worst, in my opinion. Bing only has 10 pages so it has the smallest index but what it showed was surprisingly good! That leaves Mojeek, again, as delivering the best balance of relevance and index size.


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Marking galleries private today

18.01.2023

Along came Copytrack again yesterday, identifying an image that they allege we stole and put on Lucire’s website. And once again I had to go back through old emails—only 11 years this time, not 13 like the last—to retrieve the email to prove that I had the correct licence to publish it, and that and the download page where I got it (it’s one of the most famous fashion labels in the world and knowing their budgets, they’ve paid for press). You wonder why they don’t whitelist legitimate publications.

It’s all very well for them to use their automated systems but I have to get the DVD archive manually. I’m just incredibly fortunate that I’ve kept every email since the 1990s.

On that note, I’ve marked most of the gallery entries on this blog as private today. Pretty much every image in the gallery I know to be either licensed for press use or is a publicity pic. But some have come via social media. I simply recognized them to be the press images because I have a photographic memory, and, for fun, I’ve added them to the gallery. Even though legally I have numerous defences, and I’m pretty sure I’d prevail in case of any legal claim, for a personal blog it’s just too much of a hassle when these so-called copyright services come knocking. I’ll do the hunt for work but I’m not being paid to blog. I know a lot of you enjoyed those gallery posts but they’re going to be pretty limited moving forward.

There are plenty of nice pics at Lucire—feel free to pop by there for a gander.


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What saying yes to SEO “guest posts” looks like

05.01.2023




 
Here are a few screenshots from a magazine I loved, but sadly, it seems they’ve responded to those SEO emails, and grabbed the US$50 per post.

I don’t blame them, since Google has destroyed the online advertising ecosystem, and they have to make ends meet somehow.

I was in contact with them some years ago, and they’re really good people.

The top articles on their home page are theirs, and they remain excellent in quality, but scroll down and there are articles that are obviously SEO pieces. What’s the bet that Al Woods and Alexa Wang, with the same initials, are the same person? As a result, I made the sad decision to remove them from Lucire’s link directory.

My feeling is that you accept these SEO gigs at your own risk, and those risks include getting demoted by the search engines as I’m sure they have figured out when you’re part of trying to game the system. They also make the site look like a content mill, despite the great original journalism that’s front and centre, and more visible there.

Our sites are our shop windows, so it’s in our interests to remain visible in the search engines. But everyone has different priorities. And I may be wrong: maybe these pieces haven’t affected that site at all. I’d just rather not risk it.


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A Mastodon New Year’s Honours’ commentary

01.01.2023

As commentaries on the New Year’s Honours go, this is a good one about fellow Scots old boy and Tawa guy Sir Ashley Bloomfield.
 

 

Engagement on Mastodon is pretty good these days, and there’s no real point to Twitter any more. I still have Dlvr.it content go there since they still haven’t offered any posting options for the fediverse, but that’s largely it. The Lucire account at Fashionsocial.host has far more activity (multiples more) than it did on Twitter despite having a twelfth of the number of followers.

In fact, some of you will have noticed this on my personal site, taking place on December 18.
 
Before

 
After

 
No point keeping icons to things I no longer actively use, and Drivetribe went ages ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if these outward links kept disappearing on others’ sites as people re-establish personal presences, whether self-hosted like this or on a modern equivalent of Geocities. Who needs Big Social?


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Google’s advertising business is a negligence lawsuit waiting to be actioned

09.12.2022

Apparently the New Zealand government says Big Tech will pay a ‘fair price’ for local news content under new legislation.

Forget the newcomers like Stuff and The New Zealand Herald. The Fairfax Press, as the former was, was still running ‘The internet is scary’ stories at the turn of the century. What will Big Tech pay my firm? Any back pay? We have been in this game a long, long time. A lot longer than the newbies.

And what is the definition of ‘sharing’?

Because Google could be in for a lot.

Think about it this way: Google’s ad unit has enabled a lot of fake sites, scraped sites, spun sites, malware hosts, and the like, since anyone can sign up to be a publisher and start hosting their ads.

While Google will argue that they have nothing to do with the illegitimate usage of their services, some might look at it very differently.

Take the tort of negligence. To me this is classic Donahue v. Stevenson [1932] AC 562 territory and as we’re at 90 years since Lord Atkins’ judgement, it offers us some useful pointers.

Lord Atkin stated, ‘You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour. Who, then, in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be—persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question.’

If you open up advertising to all actors (Google News also opens itself up to splogs), then is it foreseeable that unethical parties and bad faith actors will sign up? Yes. Is it foreseeable that they will host content illegally? Yes. Will this cause harm to the original copyright owner? Yes.

We also know a lot of these pirate sites are finding their content through Google News. Some have even told me so, since I tend to start with a softly, softly approach and send a polite request to a pirate.

I’d say a case in negligence is already shaping up.

If Google didn’t open up its advertising to all and sundry, then there would have been far fewer negative consequences—let’s not even get into surveillance, which is also a direct consequence of their policy and conduct.

Do companies that are online owe a duty of care to internet users? I’d say this is reasonable. I imagine some smaller firms might find it more difficult to get rid of a hacker, but overall, this seems reasonable.

Was this duty of care breached? Was there causation? By not vetting people signing up to the advertising programme, then yes. Pre-Google, ad networks were very careful, and I had the impression websites were approved on a case-by-case, manually reviewed basis. The mess the web is in, with people gaming search engines, with fake news sites (which really started as a way of making money), with advertising making pennies instead of dollars and scam artists all over the show, can all be traced to Google helping them monetize this conduct. There’s your obiter dicta right there. (Thanks to Amanda for remembering that term after all these years.)

Google hasn’t taken reasonable care, by design. And it’s done this for decades. And damages must be in the milliards to all legitimate publishers out there who have lost traffic to these unethical websites, who have seen advertising revenue plummet because of how Google has depressed the prices and how it feeds advertising to cheap websites that have cost their owners virtually nothing to run.

Make of this what you will. Now that governments are waking up after almost two decades, maybe Big Tech is only agreeing because it fears the rest of us will figure out that they owe way, way more than the pittance they’ll pay out under these legislative schemes?

Anyone with enough legal nous to give this a bash on behalf of the millions of legitimate publishers, past and present, directly harmed by Google and other Big Tech companies’ actions?


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On the verge of a change for the better

13.11.2022

I can’t find the original toot on Mastodon but I was led to this piece in the MIT Technology Review by Chris Stokel-Walker, ‘Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks’.

As I’ve cut back on my Twitter usage, I haven’t witnessed any issues, but it does highlight the efforts Big Tech goes to in order to maintain their sites. If anything, it explains why Facebook failed so regularly and so often, as documented on this blog.

The prediction? An anonymous engineer tells the Review:

“Things will be broken. Things will be broken more often. Things will be broken for longer periods of time. Things will be broken in more severe ways,” he says. “Everything will compound until, eventually, it’s not usable.”

Twitter’s collapse into an unusable wreck is some time off, the engineer says, but the telltale signs of process rot are already there. It starts with the small things: “Bugs in whatever part of whatever client they’re using; whatever service in the back end they’re trying to use. They’ll be small annoyances to start, but as the back-end fixes are being delayed, things will accumulate until people will eventually just give up.”

I wonder if they will give up, since I’ve encountered Facebook bugs almost since the day I joined, and there are still people there. In fact, like tech experts, some fellow users even blame me, saying that I encounter more bugs than anyone they know. I doubt this: I just remember the bugs better than they do. We’ve all been subject to the well publicized global outages—just that the majority don’t remember them.

While one contact of mine disagrees, I think Twitter won’t collapse on its own. Mastodon could be an alternative, encouraging people away, just as Google enticed Altavista users over; or Facebook saw to the end of Myspace. There seems to be a new era coming, sweeping away the old, especially as Big Tech falters. Twitter has lost a huge chunk of its staff, and Facebook has slashed its ranks by 11,000. Mojeek has emerged as a credible, privacy-respecting alternative to Google—as Microsoft Bing collapses, taking with it its proxies, Duck Duck Go, Ecosia, Yahoo! and others. The web’s future feels more open, more optimistic, with these technologies spurring civilized dialogue and sparking ideas. It could almost be time to bring back the day-glo on a Wired cover.

On the other hand, maybe Twitter can collapse on its own, with a fake blue-tick EIi LiIIy, looking to the world like Eli Lilly, announcing free insulin and sending Eli Lilly’s share price tumbling, wiping milliards off its value. With advertisers pulling out (little wonder if their Twitter account managers are fired) it may look very different come Christmas.


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Twitter pushes the near future to look more bipolar than multipolar

01.11.2022

Dave Troy’s analysis of the Elon Musk takeover of Twitter makes for interesting reading, since Troy has actually spoken to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and has a bit more of the inside track than most.

For starters, Troy reminds us that Dorsey trusts Musk, in order to keep Twitter away from Wall Street investors. Dorsey has said this publicly in a Tweet. He believes this acquisition is about ideology, so Musk doesn’t care if Twitter doesn’t make money—or at least, money will come if the technology is opened up and they can charge for other things built on top of it. Getting data on all of us helps Musk in a big way, too.

Troy posits that Musk believes we need to be on other planets, so we shouldn’t help the poor in our quest to get off this rock; but another interesting one is that he believes in a multipolar world order, something Vladimir Putin has talked about. Musk believes in rule by technocracy, Troy theorizes, not by politics. He also believes Musk is a sociopath.

All this is quite fascinating to read. Taking Troy’s words on Putin, Musk and Dorsey sharing the same vision:

All seem to think a “multipolar world” is a good thing, because after all, shouldn’t Russia get to do its thing and not be bothered by anyone else? That’s “free speech” and opposes “cancel culture,” right? So yeah, that’s aligned with Putin. But Putin himself doesn’t support free speech; his government censors wildly, but it does support speech that breaks the hegemony of the Western elites. As do Musk and friends. This is internally inconsistent.

Because of these shared values, Troy foresees Musk teaming up with D. J. Trump at Truth Social and Kanye West at Parler to control the information space.

It points to a pretty dark outcome and a polarizing world, but one which has been brewing for a long time.

We could talk about the failure of neoliberal economics and, therefore, the western hegemony. With all the figure-massaging by China when it reports its GDP, there’s still no denying that the country has risen vastly in mere decades. And Putin has said as much about wanting to fight back against western hegemony.

It’s incredibly easy to fall back on “them and us” as a concept. Dictators might find it easier to make their positions official (even if there is internal dissent that is driven underground), while the west can broadly talk about diversity while not truly breaking ranks with the neoliberal order. Our Blairite government here is positioned as such while having a social veneer (and a modicum of restraint) based on history and market positioning, while the Opposition will make things that much harder and is more blatant at wanting to do so.

I would have once said China had the potential to be an outlier, raising its educational standards and embracing Confucianism, which has its foundations in free thought and liberalism, balanced with preserving a relationship between state and subject. Perhaps with Hu and Wen things could have gone that way. Under Xi Jinping the aims have changed, and at least one China-watcher I know (who knew Xi’s father and knew of Xi from 1982) tell me that they foresaw this.

I’m not going to make any bold predictions myself, but the world looks like a place that won’t become multipolar but bipolar, and Twitter is one tool that is going to accelerate this trend—building on top of what Facebook and Google have already done by forcing users into silos. Meanwhile, Baidu et al will no doubt reflect the official positions of their governments.


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Rare: an Asus product not lasting the distance; awaiting its successor

16.09.2022

I see it was only 19 months ago since I bought the Asus ROG Strix Evolve mouse. A mouse that cost several times what a regular one does, claiming the switches would last 50 million clicks. It has now developed a fault, and I wouldn’t even consider myself a heavy user. I’m certainly not a gamer.

Mice seem to last shorter and shorter periods. An old Intellimouse 1.1 lasted from 2002 to 2013. Its successor (after trying badly made Logitechs) Microsoft mouse lasted from 2015 to 2020. Here is the latest lasting 19 months.

Its problem is that a single click is being recorded as two clicks, with increasing frequency. Right now, a very cheap no-name unit bought in August 2021 is the daily driver with my desktop PC, and one of the earlier ones will now have to go with my laptop. It’s reasonably comfortable because the size is (almost) right (the biggest criterion for me), it’s light, and it works. Those switches won’t last 50 million clicks and the unit feels cheaply made, but right now I need something usable, and most mice are just too small. I even saw an article testing mice for ‘large hands’, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that they are for medium hands at best.

A Delux M625 is on its way now from Aliexpress (here’s the seller’s link). I’ve never heard of the brand before, but one Tweeter who responded to me says he has tried one, and found it acceptable. What sold it? None of the features that I find useless (a rapid fire button for gaming, RGB lighting effects that you never see because your hand is on the mouse and your eyes are on the screen, high DPI up to 24,000) but three simple figures: width, length, height.

The Microsoft Intellimouse 1.1, which I have raved about for decades, measures 126 by 68·1 by 39·3 mm. A bit of height helps so I don’t mind if a mouse exceeds 40 mm.

The Delux vendor claims 130·6 by 68·9 by 42·5 mm. That sounds very comfortable to me, as width is very important (something the Asus didn’t have, with my ring finger off the body of the mouse and on to the mouse pad). The no-name could be better, too. In a few weeks, I should know.

I had been so desperate after coming up empty with local sellers I even looked on Amazon. But I couldn’t be arsed converting Imperial measurements to metric, which the majority of the world uses. Jeff’s mob can carry on abusing workers and selling to their own country.

As to the Asus, caveat emptor: it hasn’t even lasted two years reliably.


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Google libels, and gets away with it

08.09.2022

This isn’t a dig at Red Points or Hearst this time, since I received an apology and they did what they said: the DMCA claim notices were withdrawn and they have revised their systems. If anything, Hearst SL wound up quite cordial, as their New York office has tended to be in my dealings with them.

This is a dig at Google who only today sent what appears to be the final confirmation that our URLs have been reinstated.

This sorry saga began on August 17 and essentially Google told people searching for various terms that we were thieves till today.

The fact this virtual monopoly can libel someone with impunity—and has done so for years—should disturb any right-thinking person.
 
Speaking of Google, we gave in and connected the revised about.shtml page on the Lucire website to a current page. This was a page we hadn’t linked since the 2000s, but kept coming up high on site:lucire.com searches on Google and, formerly, Bing.

Since I typically don’t use Google for searches, and have not done regularly for a dozen years, I had no idea until investigating the collapse of Bing’s index recently. (Itʼs still just as compromised, despite claiming it has a higher number of results for any given search. I see no real evidence of this.)

Admittedly, people might seek an ‘About’ page, so instead of their reading a 2004 page, we took the content from our licensing website and created a new one. The old one is linked from there, as it’s quite a novelty.


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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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