Posts tagged ‘Mastodon’


‘Google … broke the web’

23.01.2023

Nice to see I’m not the only one who sees Google for what it is today. Warning: coarse language.
 

 

What’s bizarre is a reply I wrote largely in agreement (and had a few likes to) has vanished. Maybe some Google lovers didn’t like what I wrote?

Sometimes I can make the point better the second time around.

Strange, a reply I wrote in agreement has vanished.

Basically my earlier point was that Google has also destroyed a lot of legitimate publications’ earnings through depressing ad prices, diverting income to splogs, content mills and spun sites. Not to mention taking a decent cut for itself.

The whole enterprise is a massive con.

From a legal POV I would even say it was all foreseeable and a negligence lawsuit waiting for someone to take it on. It would be great to close it down.

The original reply linked to this post, which is also saying the emperor has no clothes—except this time it’s applied to Google. If Googlers are worried about that, then maybe I’ve cut very close to the chase. The one part which, when attacked, destroys the entire corrupt system.
 

 
PS.: Don Marti expresses my point far better than I did.
 


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Life’s could-have-beens

15.01.2023


 
A Mastodon post about my mayoral campaign policies. No, I didn’t foresee a global pandemic as such (though I certainly was on Twitter perplexed at why the WHO had not declared COVID-19 a global emergency in January 2020), but I did feel there was insufficient resilience in our economy and wanted to advance ideas that would at least put this city right.

I saw the cafés all opening around town, the PM John Key’s support of tourism, and thinking: there’s not enough diversity among these types of businesses, and we’re well behind other cities on the percentage that IT plays. We need more high-wage jobs if we were to increase our rates’ base sustainably, not make Wellington unaffordable by taking a bigger and bigger chunk of incomes that had barely risen in line with the cost of living. All this I stated at the time, and they were trends that stared us right in the face.

Working from home was a way of alleviating stress on our traffic network, or at least help stagger the amount of traffic on the road at any given time. Tied in to that was publicizing real-time about public transport, which I think is starting to happen, to encourage their use.

The expansion of the wifi network meant that Newtown would be next, heading out to Berhampore, the whole idea being to bridge the digital divide for our less well off communities. I had already been into a meeting with Citylink and had a model through which it could be funded. I lived in Newtown as a boy, and I know how little we had in terms of the family budget. And, as we saw in lockdown, internet access was very far from being equal among our communities.

I’m not subscribing to ‘That’s easy to say in hindsight,’ because all these ideas were a matter of record, as well as the reasons behind it. I am subscribing to a degree of cherry-picking but when you consider these were my “flagship” ideas, I’m not even being that picky.

To think we could have set all this in motion starting in 2010 and been ready for 2020. I don’t really sell nostalgia if I’m running for office because that would be disingenuous. You’re being asked to vote on the future, and so many politicians are trying to resell you the past. I’m grateful to those voters who got this and put me in third place twice. We have a good mayor now who’s young enough to get it.


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Elizabeth Arden is missing out on a big market here

13.01.2023

As this wasn’t shared much on social media, I can only assume not many of you share my sense of humour. It’s a fake, of course, since I’m feverish from the first dose of the shingles vaccine (if you look down the side-effects list, I have them all) I needed something to ease my way into my work day. But just imagine …
 


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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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January 2023 gallery

01.01.2023

Here are January 2023’s images—aides-mémoires, photos of interest, and miscellaneous items. I append to this gallery through the month.
 


 

Notes
Rosa Clará image, added as I was archiving files from the third quarter of 2021.

The Claudia Schiffer Rolling Stone cover came to mind recently—I believe it was commended in 1991 by the Society of Publication Designers, which I was a member of.

I looked at a few more risqué, but mainstream, covers to see what is appropriate, since the Lucire issue 46 cover was one of our more revealing though most glamorous ones in years. Vanity Fair and Women’s Health were useful US cases.

Lucire 46 cover for our 25th anniversary: hotographed by Lindsay Adler, styled by Cannon, make-up by Joanne Gair, and hair by Linh Nguyen. Gown by the Danes; earrings by Erickson Beamon at Showroom Seven; and modelled by Rachel Hilbert.


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An introduction to smart TVs for a complete novice

27.12.2022

Earlier in December, we decided to put a TV into our guest room. One catch: there is no aerial there, so initially we thought, ‘We have some great DVDs, let’s plug in the DVD player.’ But it didn’t quite feel right.

We’ve stayed at enough places with smart TVs, including some running the Android TV system. We’ve never really had a need to pursue this since most of the things I really love to watch have come out on DVD, and if Amanda and I wanted on-demand, there’s always the laptop with an HDMI cable. Simple.

I began looking into this and was intrigued by one suggestion on Mastodon for an Nvidia Shield, but alas, none were available in the time-frame (viz. before guests arrived). I was largely stuck with the Amazon Fire sticks, various Google-branded Chromecasts, and the DishTV Smartvu. The ever-knowledgeable Drew at PB Tech recommended the Smartvu, since he was in a similar boat: his place didn’t have an aerial, and he used the Smartvu to work as his regular TV. It also happened to be the most expensive of the lot.

My criteria were fairly basic. I wanted something that I could set up and sideload APKs on to, and never, ever go to a Google Play store. I began de-Googling in earnest at the end of 2009 and I sure as heck wasn’t going to intentionally invite the bastards back 13 years later—and actually pay to have their spyware in my home. The fact that Google’s offerings were more expensive than Amazon’s should be an affront to all consumers. Pay more to have them spy on you!

DishTV’s New Zealand distributor has comprehensive instructions on how to set it up, and sure enough, one of the first steps was it would take you to the Google Play store. No doubt that would be the same story with the Google Chromecasts. Which, unfortunately, left me with one choice: give Amazon money even though they owe me (and this is an ongoing dispute in which, since they are Big Tech, I believe they are lying).

But Amazon it was. PB was charging quite a lot more than Harvey Norman and Noël Leeming and, while Gerry Harvey might be a prized dick, he does seem to hire good people on the shop floor. I never had anyone at Leeming help. Nor could I even find the product at their Tory Street store.

Amazon does require an Amazon account, which I still have, despite all the BS; but once you are in, sideloading is not too difficult. And there’s no Google Play in sight, even if it is a reasonably stock Chromecast set-up.

Of course, I went through the privacy settings and made sure any data the gadget had collected to date were deleted.

I then proceeded to follow these instructions and enabled third-party apps.

The first method, sideloading from my phone using Apps2Fire, never worked. Waste of time. For whatever reason, the third method didn’t, either: ES File Explorer refused to sync with Dropbox despite all my credentials being correct. Of course I had to attempt the second one last—download the Downloader (yes, really), then go to the address where the APKs are.

It’s just as well, since some of the Amazon-hosted APKs don’t work (e.g. Euronews), so you need to find alternatives. Matt Huisman offers some New Zealand ones on his website, and getting the Freeview one was a no-brainer—the terrestrial channels are then all available, as though one had a normal TV. (I was very surprised to learn that this is not a common thing to do, and equally surprised that the APK was not available on Amazon; presumably it’s not on Google Play either.)
 

 

Amazon did suggest getting the Fire TV app for my phone, but when you scan the bar code, it offers two destinations from which to download it: Google Play and Apple Appstore (I still want to call it Ishop). This is pretty senseless, since Amazon has gone to the trouble of hosting so many APKs itself, why not its own one?

Maybe … it’s because it’s a lemon and doesn’t work. I grabbed the one at APK Mirror, and it was about as useless as a milliardaire running a social network. (I don’t believe it even installed.) No biggie, once everything was set up I had zero use for it.

Which leaves Alexa, which interested me from a technological point of view. The original Alexa will stop working on December 31, so I might as well shift to using the thing that Amazon now calls Alexa. And to ask it to make fart noises, which seems to be its only utility if you don’t have other gadgets wired into the network. Only problem: how does it work? Where do you talk into? The stick? The remote?

Strangely, Amazon does not say when I searched for information on its own site, so I guess everyone else automatically worked it out by telepathy.

All I know is when I pressed the button, as per the very few instructions provided in the box, the TV said to wait for the tone, then speak. Nothing ever happened, whether I spoke to the remote or to the stick.

One Mastodon user told me that I had to talk into the slot in the remote.

It was a week later that I tried keeping the button pressed down after the tone. Only then did it work.

I’m not sure how anyone is supposed to know that, especially as Amazon’s own instructions just instruct you to speak after the tone. There’s no instruction to keep the button pressed down. I would even say that implicitly, you’re instructed to let go of the button. You hear a strange noise, you release the button. That seems like a natural reaction to me.

Again we come to the usual conclusion that tech people make a lot of presumptions about how tech-savvy the public is. Folks, you need to assume that we are coming to these gadgets with zero knowledge about them. Yes, I realize Walter Matthau had to press the button on his mic to talk to Robert Shaw in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, but Walt never had a computer tone beep back at him.

Now with hundreds of channels, there’s still barely anything to watch, though I did find the Jackie Chan movie Wheels on Meals in the original Cantonese. Once I finish watching that, it’s back to the DVDs for me. I just hope our guests are happy.


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Are there a lot Gmail users who get their address wrong, more than any other service?

12.12.2022

Kurt and I have very different brains, if you read this thread that I jumped in on.

I am sure he is right on how things should work. Get me talking about spacing and spelling, and I’d be in the same boat. Or the use of the word billion. I have my ideas on all of these, but not everyone follows them.

But in the Wikipedia article he cites, not everyone accepts that [email protected] and [email protected] are the same—and certainly my own experience backs this up. You won’t be able to email me, for example, if you miss the punctuation. I also won’t be able to reach employees at some of the big media players on this planet.

I know Gmail would like us to think that a dotted and non-dotted email address are the same, and says as much, but there are just too many stories out there of people receiving emails not meant for them.

And you know what I think of Google: what it says and what it does have not always been the same thing.

Kurt believes all those people have fed in the wrong address for their emails to wind up with others. It’s entirely possible, but for one tale that I linked to, on Reddit.

A former network engineer, Dan Hoyer, said, inter alia:

So, bottom line is that Gmail didn’t always ignore dots, and people who had dots but had that address first were merged with the non dotted accounts and started receiving email from someone else’s non dotted account in addition to their dotted version. (I am not sure, but I believe the reverse may have happened too if the non dotted name came first.)

And in the replies, Melissa Chapman says:

I am with you about the change. It 100% used to see dots and they were suggested to users as alternate forms when you created your gmail. I’ve gotten email for people with my same maiden name in California, New Jersey, Minnesota, and most recently France. And not just junk mail, but Paypal, church tithes, and utilities. It’s frustrating that Google completely denies that this is the case! I don’t use my older email much, but I also wonder if the other user has some access or gets some emails. Like with Paypal, they had confirmed their email to create the account!

Now, if Melissa is telling the truth, then there is an issue with Gmail, where someone else can get your emails. If what Kurt says is right, then Melissa’s claim about the Paypal account’s verification by another user is impossible if someone else did not register a variant of her address on Gmail separately, and was told that it was accepted.

With respect, if someone is ignoring certain claims, it’s probably because they don’t want to open their minds to the possibility that their belief system is wrong. I remember that from an earlier Google experience—and what kicked off my de-Googling in 2009. As I said, I accept Kurt’s position on how things should be—but in practice not everyone is strict about things, and the computer world is as rife with examples as any other.


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Keybase: one failure after another

08.12.2022

Because I locked my Twitter, Keybase was unable to find its usual proof there. It told me to link a new one from their ‘app’. I’d love to, folks, but you don’t let me see anything.
 

 

That’s Keybase. I can’t see anything in the window, and I can’t move the window. I have reinstalled the program, to no avail.

These software people are all having a good laugh at regular people. I’d rather they spent that time making things that work.

Oh, look, they’re HQed in New York. What a surprise.
 
Eventually, right-clicking the Keybase icon in the tray (when it didn’t disappear) showed a link, ‘Keybase’. I clicked on that. So now I have this window.
 

 
Ah, but you can fix the Keybase thing from the website. Great!
 

 
Let me click that link!
 

 
It’s the same story if you use their command-line method, and the bin\bash method just gives lots of errors in red.

From the days of Yahoo!, to Vox at Six Apart, to years of Big Social BS (BSBS), nothing really changes with this lot. You’d hope they’d stop failing at their jobs, but you’re reminded that many won’t.
 
PS.: The program window did load after a few hours. No idea how to add a Mastodon proof to it, so maybe it did me a favour by failing to load in a reasonable time. Their website offers zero clues on how to make this addition in the program—just that it can be done. Once again, there’s no thought given to regular people, only computer programmers.
 
P.PS.: I received an email from Github where I filed a report several days later, and it appears discussions around the removal of Mastodon proofs began in 2020. The feature was removed in 2021. But this hasn’t wound up on the website yet after a year, so people are in the same boat as me.


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Avira dishonours paid subscription, blames it on the customer

08.12.2022

I see Avira has downgraded me to their free version despite my being paid up. As far as I can tell, this has been the case for months, and I remember Tweeting them back when Twitter was a thing.

I can’t log in at all, and it keeps showing a ‘Get Prime’ button to force you to pay again. No thanks.

I went to their website and fed in my issue. They then take me to this page, which is pretty typical for a lot of computer companies: blame it on the customer.

I take them at their word and clicked on their link to download the allegedly missing Microsoft .Net Framework 4.6.2. Only problem is, none of the download links on the Microsoft site work. (Because Microsoft.)

I still manage to get the MSI file from Microsoft and of course there was nothing ever wrong with my set-up. I already had the Framework installed:
 

 

Your move, Avira. And that move had better include fixing the problem and extending my subscription period by at least half a year.

I guess this is what happens when a big US company buys up what was a pretty decent German one.


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Life in the fediverse

21.11.2022

Nathan Griffiths finally answers why Facebook used to freeze on the 1st of each month. I think his theory is very plausible. Now I know, after over a decade!
 

 
Meanwhile, I see CBS News has suspended its Twitter account (after the likes of Balenciaga deleted theirs altogether). This was before Donald Trump was let back on after Musk (whose followers are probably 70 per cent bot) ran a poll approving of the former president’s return to what must now be called OnlyKlans. (MySpaceX seems passé now.)

CBS News’s words: ‘In light of the uncertainty around Twitter and out of an abundance of caution, CBS News is pausing its activity on the social media site as it continues to monitor the platform.’

It’s still live on Facebook, so I guess the genocide of Rohingya Muslims and abundant misinformation are fine.
 
We’ve already had an account be temporarily suspended over on Mastodon.art but there’s a very reasonable moderator there and the appeal was granted within hours. You can read up on this over at Lucire, which is now on a fashion-friendly instance at fashionsocial.host. (The art account remains open, probably to post covers and photography on, a bit like Lucire’s old Tumblr account.)
 
With all this fediverse talk, what a pity my Hubzilla account has gone. I was there in the 2010s, probably around the time I signed up for Mastodon in 2017, possibly before. I did get myself a Pixelfed this time, so spot me at [email protected], and Lucire is at [email protected]. Will I use them? Time will tell, but possibly not. I’d still prefer focusing on our own sites, unless we can figure out how to bring this in-house.


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