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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I don't really expect that many Tumblr refugees will see this post, even with the tag, but I know there's at least one person already on my reading list who cross-posts from there, so there may be a few. There may be some G+ refugees, too. In reality, all I'm doing is taking advantage of the occasion to post a few links. Hopefully more than just a handful of my readers will find them interesting.

Let's start with the useful stuff. (People who have been on DW long enough to remember the Livejournal exodus will probably want to skip ahead to the fascinating stuff.)

We can start with the DW community [community profile] post_tumblr_fandom and ilyena_sylph's About tumblr and DW, mostly news post answers. Good overviews. Another great summary is staranise | Basic Dreamwidth for Tumblr users. (Which comes by way of umadoshi | More using/getting-to-know-Dreamwidth, fandom-migration, and WTF-Tumblr links.)

That's probably enough to get most people started. On my personal reading list, the posts I've seen lately are:


Okay, now the fascinating stuff. Watch out for rabbit holes.

Let's start with jesse_the_k's post, Remember when Fandom Spec'ed Pinboard?. Well, no, I don't -- I wasn't using Delicious at the time. But apparently a lot of fans were, so when the site's owners (Yahoo) made some "improvements" like disallowing several punctuation characters in tags (in particular, "/" -- just try tagging fanfic without slash), there was a mass exodus to Pinboard.

Jesse links to Fan Is A Tool-Using Animal, which tells the whole story very entertainingly. It's a transcript of a talk given at dConstruct 2013 by Maciej Cegłowski. The talk included a reading from this hilarious bit of fanfic and, more relevant to our current topic, this amazing collaborative Google doc which is a list of features (with votes and use cases) that fans wanted for Pinboard.

So, finally getting back to Tumblr, (remember Tumblr? this is a post about Tumblr) here's the Tumblr-inspired version of the Pinboard spec: Fandom platform of the future - specs and features, on Google Docs.

How much of that gets into Pinboard, Dreamwidth, AO3, or anything else is anybody's guess. But fen are amazing, and anything can happen when you dive down a rabbit hole.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It's been a week. Not only are we moving house, a large number of people are moving from LJ to Dreamwidth. I'd already mostly moved, and since I have a permanent account I'm not likely to leave completely, but I've been reducing my exposure -- the entire journal is marked "adults only" and I've taken off all of my interests and most of my personal details. I also gathered together and posted a few notes on the process, under the tag ljexit. Feel free to crosslink, and to use the tag yourself.

Monday was a bit rough, both emotionally and physically exhausting, from spending all day at Rainbow's End organizing and sorting. I did some finishing-up Tuesday night, taking advantage of a dentist appointment and the resulting personal day, when our mover failed to show up. (We found out later that he'd been in an auto accident on the way up.)

Tuesday night was miserable and mostly sleepless, and I woke up on Wednesday with a queasy stomach and muscle aches. It was a close enough match for flu that I called in sick. As it turned out, though, it's more likely to have been physical overwork, lack of sleep, dehydration, and low blood sugar from having been thinking about things other than self-care for much the previous two days.

Thursday at 1pm our listing went live: 4126 37th Ave SW, Seattle, Washington 98126 | The Warmack Group. If you're reading this and interested, the open house is this weekend, and you only have a couple more days to get an offer in.

Friday I got in to work late, having gone with N. to look at another house. I very much wanted to get in to work for the last meeting of the day, with $BOSS and $HR_PERSON. Um... yeah. I've been offered an "early" retirement package. (Scare quotes because it would be only a couple of months before my target date.) I may very well take it. The emotional roller-coaster ride one might expect from having to look reality in the face from up close, but at this point I think I'm ready.

Saturday -- yesterday -- Naomi and I went to look at The Dome House in Monroe. It was magical. Almost perfect for us -- EXCEPT: it's isolated as heck, at the end of a mile of twisty, narrow, gravel road. Haul the garbage to the dump yourself. Lots of unpermitted, unfinished construction in the barn. It would have been perfect for who we were 20 years ago. *sigh* I wouldn't have missed seeing it, but it makes me sad to have to pass it up. N called it the other end of the rainbow. Had a great talk with the owner, who is moving to someplace dryer for health reasons.

So that's the week. I'm glad it's over.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Before you abandon LJ altogether, or even if you don't intend to leave at all, go over to your Dreamwidth account and claim your LiveJournal OpenID (see instructions here)

Doing that ensures that all the comments you made over on LiveJournal will link to your Dreamwidth account when people import them. And if you haven't imported your LJ yet, do it soon before LJ notices that it's going on and blocks it.

mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

If you use Livejournal, you will already have seen the pop-up demanding that you agree to their new terms of service. med_cat has an excellent partial translation and analysis. A full copy of the agreement can be found in archangelbeth | And the translation of the New User Agreement for Livejournal

I will add more as they come in. The salient points are:

  • [The user must] Mark Content estimated by Russian legislation as inappropriate for children (0 −18) as “adult material” by using Service functions.
    Who the heck knows what this includes? Play it safe.
  • The user may not:
    • without the Administration’s special permit, use automatic scripts (bots, crawlers etc.) to collect information from the Service and/or to interact with the Service;
      Which arguably covers backing up to DW or your local hard drive.
    • post advertising and/or political solicitation materials unless otherwise directly specified in a separate agreement between User and the Administration;
      This presumably covers promoting one's CDs or other ventures.

Many of my friends are leaving altogether. I don't blame them.

What I have done:

  • I post no original content on LJ -- it's all cross-posted from here on Dreamwidth.
  • Copied all LJ content -- posts and comments -- over to Dreamwidth.
  • Comments on cross-posts are disabled; the footer has a link to the corresponding DW post.
  • I use LJ only to read comments and posts that are not on Dreamwidth. I read DW first so that I can skip cross-posts that don't have comments.
  • I have started to take people who no longer allow comments on LJ off my friends list.
  • Effective immediately, I am marking my journal as "adult content", and disabled my participation in "user rankings".
  • I have reduced the amount of information shown in my profile. In particular, I have removed my list of interests.
  • I have taken my website link off the journal headers and out of my profile. If you want more information, look at my DW profile.

Future action:

  • Sometime in mid-April, I will disable comments altogether on LJ, at which point all existing comments will be hidden. They've already been copied over to Dreamwidth, so nothing will be lost. This is for your protection, in case you've posted a comment that could be construed as violating Russian law.
  • At some point, I will stop cross-posting, both because of the legal risk and as a protest.
  • At some further point, I may delete all or most of my posts, or possibly replace them with links to the corresponding posts on DW.

Sorry, LJ. We had a great time together, but I think it's best for both of us if we go back to being just friends. OK?

And I'm not saying you treated me unkind / You could have done better, but I don't mind / You just kinda wasted my precious time. / Don't think twice, it's all right.

mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

I opened up LJ this evening to find that the posts it's showing are out of sequence -- the top post on my friends' feed is from yesterday sometime, and there's a later one further down the page. It isn't most recent comment, either: both of those are from an account that turns comments off on crossposts.

My conclusion is that either they're using some kind of ranking system which they're not telling us about (and which I didn't see any setting for that that might fix it), or possibly that crossposts are arriving weirdly out of sequence. So...

PSA #1: If you're posting on LJ and not DW, or posting different content on LJ, I might not see your posts.

PSA #2: If you're crossposting and redirect all your comments to DW, I'm going to stop reading you on LJ to cut down on clutter. (If you allow comments on LJ I'll still go over there and read them, if I can find your post. That is, obviously, no longer guaranteed.)

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

So 2017 started with an inch of snow on the ground, and the entire week has been unseasonably cold. Welcome to global warming? I spent most of last week trying, with limited success, to catch up on the things I'd fallen behind on over my week of vacaton. I may survive the month.

Now that LJ has moved its servers to Russia (dropping HTTPS and at least a hundred pro-Ukraine blogs in the process), it seemed like a good time to disable comments on my crossposts and direct all comments to Dreamwidth. If you're reading this on LJ you can comment there with OpenID as [yourname]@livejournal.com. But I think you'd be better off making yourself a Dreamwidth account, importing your LJ, and crossposting. Just ask if you need help -- I've been giving out lots of advice.

The other news is that we (N and I) bought a new (to us) car -- it's a 2004 Honda Odyssey which (who?) seems to be going by the name Rosie.

We have also done quite a bit of cleaning-up and downsizing; first order of business is to get the downstairs cleared out so it can have a new floor and kitchen cabinets installed. Needs doing.

... and yesterday I transplanted my storage server into a small case. It's back on the mini-ITX board I'd had it on for the last couple of years; the smaller case makes a lot more room on the shelf. Downsizing.

Looks like it's going to be an interesting year. Lots of adventures. Nasty, uncomfortable things.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I'm not going to go as far as some people, but I'm going to turn off comments on my crossposts, for several reasons:

  1. to save me the trouble of having to import them into Dreamwidth,
  2. to reduce my presence on Livejournal, now that it's wholly owned by Putin and Trump,
  3. to encourage people to move to Dreamwidth.

Apropos of that, if you have a DW account that I'm not reading yet, just comment on this post and I'll add you.

mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

Just in case you were wondering just how private your LJ is now that the server's in Moscow, we have:

  : wget https://mdlbear.livejournal.com
    --2016-12-30 16:59:04--  https://mdlbear.livejournal.com/
    Resolving mdlbear.livejournal.com (mdlbear.livejournal.com)...
    Connecting to mdlbear.livejournal.com (mdlbear.livejournal.com) [...]
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 301 Moved Permanently
    Location: http://mdlbear.livejournal.com/ [following]
    --2016-12-30 16:59:11--  http://mdlbear.livejournal.com/

... which means they are deliberately downgrading the connection from https to http. Wouldn't surprise me if blocking Dreamwidth is next.

mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

Thanks to a heads-up from [personal profile] madfilkentist, I can now confirm that LJ's servers were, in fact, moved to Moscow. The lag was presumably due to DNS propagation delay, which sometimes takes up to a week.

Geolocation data from IP2Location (Product: DB6, updated on 2016-12-5)
    Domain Name	     	  	Country		     	Region	City
    mdlbear.livejournal.com	Russian Federation 	Moskva	Moscow
    ISP					Organization	Latitude	Longitude
    Rambler Internet Holding LLC	Not Available	55.752220153809	37.615558624268
    (End of the road for LiveJournal [The Mad Filkentist])

See also my previous post on the topic, mdlbear | Dirty deeds afoot on LJ

One thing I forgot to mention: after you've set up an account on Dreamwidth, you should claim your Livejournal OpenId. That links your DW and LJ identities, so that anyone importing data from LJ will see comments as coming from your DW account even if you wrote them on LJ.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Several security-minded people on my reading list have been moving from Livejournal to Dreamwidth; some have even deleted their LJ accounts. Meanwhile, huge numbers of Russians have been moving their blogs to Dreamwidth. Apparently LJ has quietly moved all of their servers from the US to Russia. That LJ availability glitch a couple of days ago? Yeah, that. A large spike in the number of new Dreamwidth accounts being created by Russians.

As for me, I'm not changing much: I don't lock posts (I think I have maybe two or three, and those are merely somewhat embarrassing), I post only to DW, and I and have it set up to crosspost to LJ. I have permanent accounts in both places, so dropping LJ wouldn't be denying them any money at this point.

There are some things you can do:

  1. Get an account at Dreamwidth.org if you don't already have one.
  2. Set it up to crosspost to your LJ account. Unlike LJ, Dreamwidth is a US-based organization that, unlike LJ, is entirely supported by its users.
  3. Every so often, back up your LJ journal to DW.
  4. Subscribe to the DW journals of all your old LJ friends. Note that DW separates your access-control list from your reading list -- none of this abuse of the term "friend" that LJ does.
  5. Don't post any secrets! Especially not to livejournal. Go back and delete anything you wouldn't want to be read by any three-letter agency on either side of the pond.

Notes from today's investigations: )

Let's put it this way: regardless of whether LJ has actually transferred your journal to a server in Russia, you should consider the privacy of your livejournal to have been breached.

Sorry to be the bear of bad news.

ETA: LiveJournal servers moved to Russia: darkoshi

As some people have pointed out, this doesn't change very much. Sure, it adds support for the notion that LJ's Russian owners are slime, but we already knew that. Move to DW, set up crossposting, delete all non-public posts, don't give LJ any more money, and carry on.

ETA 12-30 Looks like DNS updates have finally propagated:

  : Geolocation data from IP2Location (Product: DB6, updated on 2016-12-5)
    Domain Name	     	  	Country		     	Region	City
    mdlbear.livejournal.com	Russian Federation 	Moskva	Moscow
    ISP					Organization	Latitude	Longitude
    Rambler Internet Holding LLC	Not Available	55.752220153809	37.615558624268

(thanks to: The Mad Filkentist)

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I've been seeing a number of complaints on my friends page about the new LJ homepage. Here's how you fix it:

  1. Go to your friends page. It's [your-user-name].livejournal.com/friends .
  2. Bookmark it.
  3. Never go to the LJ home page again.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Because of the recent major increase in anonymous spam comments on LJ, I have disabled them there. Either register, or come on over to Dreamwidth where anonymous comments are still enabled. Besides, I can always use more comments on the DW side.

Also, I've pretty much stopped posting "hippo birdie" posts, in part because the LJ portal is going away, and in part because I've taken the LJ portal and home page off my "AM" list. They were pretty useless to begin with and have become more so. With the demise of birthday posts, I now have no unique content on LJ -- it's all cross-posted from DW.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Here, in two easy pieces, is how to fix Livejournal's recent problems.

Fixing the comment page.

  1. First, if you're still using an S1 (ancient) style, switch to S2.
  2. Go to your profile.
  3. Go to Journal > Journal Style, and in the box headed <yourID>'s Current Theme click on "Customize your theme" (or just follow the link)
  4. Under "Basic Options", find the line labeled "Disable customized comment pages for your journal". Select "No". (As in "no, don't fsck up my comments".)
  5. Go to Profile > Settings > Display(tab) (or just follow this link.)
  6. Under "Comment Pages", check the box for "View comment pages from my Friends page in my own style"

Fixing DDOS attacks, Rich Text Editor failures, and a host of other problems.

  1. Go to dreamwidth.org and create an account. For the rest of this year you can create a free account without an invite code, but a paid account is well worth the price.
  2. From your profile, go to Organize > Manage Account > Other Sites (tab), or follow this link.
  3. Add your LJ account under "Crossposting", and check the boxes under "Crosspost by Default" and "Display Crosspost Link". Now anything you post on your shiny new DW account will be crossposted to LJ.
  4. Go to Organize > Import Content (or follow the link to Import Journal). Import your old LJ contents. Do this every month or so to import the accumulated comments.

Now, sit back and watch the ongoing decline of LJ with a certain air of amused detachment.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Dear LJ:

Despite what status.livejournal.com says, your site is almost completely FUBAR. I can get to my friends page and parts of my profile, but that's it. And you have started sending me email in HTML instead of text.

No love,



2011-09-20 08:49 am
mdlbear: (grrr)
My last couple of posts failed to come across from mdlbear.dreamwidth.org. Anyone else having similar problems this morning?


2011-09-20 08:47 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

My previous post didn't cross-post to LJ; this makes me grumpy. We'll see if this one works -- I'm guessing it won't, either.

ETA: and indeed it didn't.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

I've made my decision: Most of my posts will start out posted on mdlbear.dreamwidth.org, and be automatically crossposted from there to mdlbear.livejournal.com. If LJ is flaky, I'll get them transfered as soon as I can.

The exceptions will be fluff like birthday posts, LJ's "writer's block" (which I do occasionally), and other memes, which will originate on LJ and get pulled back to DW somewhere between weekly and every couple of months. Weekly if I can figure out how to automate the import process.

I may stop doing the birthday posts altogether except on rare occasions; I seem to resent the time even though it's not very much. Possibly because it registers in my tiny bear-like brain as a break in my morning routine, coming well before the caffeine has hit. Let me know what you think about that.

I still want to have a "blog" on my main website, but that's still in the future. I have "blog" in quotes because it will just be for my longer articles and series like The River and Adventures in Family Computing.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

... so what was I doing while LJ was down? Mostly system administration, I suspect. Between making the YD's Windows 7 computers print on our home network, and backing up the failing backup drive, it's been a long week. Oh, and replacing ink cartridges and cleaning print heads.

I went to Fry's and got a couple of hot-swap holders for SATA drives; I'll use one of those for the backup drive. Once I get it loaded. It would have gone a heck of a lot faster if I'd figured out that I needed to transfer the monthly incrementals last if I wanted to restore hard links correctly. *sigh*

Meanwhile, the good news is that the UBF had a hearing yesterday and got slapped with a restraining order keeping him out of a 300yd zone that just happens to include our house. So he won't be staying over any more.

Just one walk, on Thursday. This was partly due to getting a severe leg cramp last Sunday. But I did get in some singing, which was good.

And a lot of puttering in the office. A pretty good week, modulo the pain.

Lots of links in the notes. xkcd: Lanes is the one to go to; may be triggery if you have cancer. The debt limit fiasco continues to be top news; solarbird has been writing it up. Go look.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

A mostly good day -- I'll get to the bad parts later. But I started the day in what appeared to be a solidly "good" mood, a little over three weeks after ending my experiment with a reduced dose of SSRI. We had bagels and lox for brunch, and I bought a djembe and a seedpod rattle at a garage sale down the street. Colleen and I went out for a nice drive, to Santa Cruz via Highway 9, and back via 17.

Now the bad parts. When I went out for bagels I discovered that someone had "broken" into my car (in quotes because I have been very lax about locking it) and gone through my glove compartment. It was pretty obvious, because the gloves were on the floor. Fortunately I don't keep anything valuable there, but I felt annoyed and a little bit violated nonetheless.

The annoyance of the evening was trying to get the YD's computer to print. I finally managed, by switching her to the "other" subnet where she could see the networked all-in-one. I think I need to abandon the idea of having a separate subnet for Windows; it causes more problems than it solves. Whether to keep it for guest machines is an open question; probably a good idea.

But there was a lot of friction over that, and the fact that she now wants her own printer. She wants an all-in-one; I'd really rather she got a plain printer. We may split the cost. In any case, I ended the day stressed, depressed, and frustrated. Ugh.

Plenty of links in the notes. Mostly distressing news. :(

... and LJ is being a flake, and still isn't accepting my posts. GROWF!

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I will not be cross-posting my LJ comments or links to them on twitter, facebook, or any other social network. I may conceivably cross-post my own posts between Dreamwidth and LJ, though in which direction is unclear, and I haven't done it yet. I may conceivably cross-post my twitter updates to LJ via one of the usual culprits; currently it doesn't represent enough bandwidth to be worthwhile.

I try hard never to put links to other peoples' locked posts anyplace in my LJ, even in friends-locked posts, because I know that some people don't even want the existence of their locked posts known. Similarly, I don't put links to my own locked posts anywhere except in other posts on the same filter.

If I make a comment on somebody's locked post that I think is worth making public, you'll find it here with all the serial numbers carefully filed off.

I actively encourage people to link to my public posts, and have no problem having my LJ name associated with my real one. However, when I finally get around to establishing a presence on Facebook, it will not link back here. The last thing I need is FB rummaging around in my friends list.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

LiveJournal's new sneaky trick -> LiveJournal's latest misguided attempt to make a quick buck. -> No Opt In, No Ads

What they're doing is redirecting links to outboundlink.me, which adds an affiliate code and sends you back to, e.g. Amazon with the affiliate bucks going to LJ. Sleazy, and both a privacy and a security risk. Not to mention a violation of my copyright.

... So I now have, after much delay, an account on Dreamwidth ([personal    profile] mdlbear, of course), though I haven't made use of it yet. I'm not going to abandon LJ -- most of my friends are still here, and I have a permanent account. And I'm not going to move my primary blog to DW; eventually they'll both be cross-posted to from someplace completely under my control, probably under steve.savitzky.net.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

Another day that turned out to be more tiring and unproductive than expected. And I can already see that the next month is going to be full of more of the same: distressing paperwork, difficult phone calls, expensive deadlines, some of them likely to be missed because things fell off the queue. It would be good if I can find my way to a "just do whatever you have to" space that enables me to slog through it all without too much damage.

I did get in some practicing; I'm getting a lot more comfortable with Bm now. About time. And I'm re-exploring a more bass-heavy picking style that works well with some of the Norwescon material.

And I made some good progress on sorting receipts.

I spent quite a lot of time fighting web applications. I HATE ZIMBRA! And something embedded in my LJ friends' page broke the user interface -- navigation keys didn't work, nor did the middle mouse button. Wasted a couple of hours debugging it; it was gone by evening, as things fell off the end.

Good links under the cut. Go read.

I'm probably going to have to start following The Introvert's Corner on Psychology Today. The post that got me started was "Chit-chat, Happiness and You", on the importance of deep conversations.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
raw notes )

The day started with a dentist appointment (teeth cleaning). No problems, so it's good. The advantage to 9am appointments is that Guitar Showcase, located right across the street, isn't open yet.

Got in a good walk: to Safeway and back via the back (hilly and longer) road. My step count for the day was 10257, so Go Me!

Making some progress at work, but as it involves understanding somebody else's code in an unfamiliar language, it's going slower than I'd like. Still, it has its moments.

Lots and lots of good links -- see behind the cut if you like that kind of thing. Almost all gadgets this time. The thing that excites me about the Lenovo Skylight is that it's ARM-based. There is no Windows port for the ARM.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Editorial: Missing Interests and Planned User Strike on Livejournal
The purchase of Livejournal by a Russian-owned company raised questions at the time of SUP's commitment to LJ's long-standing relationship with its user community, for good and ill. The recent decision to drop the ad-free Basic account is "a business decision. It is, emphatically." It may however be a poor business decision, one made in the hopes of making a fast buck off the content provided by the users without understanding the background of those users' relationship with the site. The removal, for whatever reason, of possibly controversial interests gives users good reason to worry that we are not wanted on a site we helped make so popular. The restoration of those interests, allowing us our thoughts on yaoi once more, does not immediately restore our faith in the company, especially with the clandestine removal of the primary way in which most of us first came to the site (and then brought our friends).

In short, Livejournal users no longer feel like customers, but product, and that's bad business all around.
(Emphasis mine. This is basically dead on.)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

My analysis of today's LJ content strike can be found at:


Many of the people on my flist are respecting the strike (reluctantly in some cases); many more are ignoring it either because they haven't heard about it, or because they don't believe in either its goals, its methods, or both. A few have gone on to post the reasons why they are or are not respecting it. Almost all the arguments I've seen, on both sides of the debate, are missing the point entirely. I don't think even the originators of the strike understand it fully.

Bottom line: it was never intended as an economic weapon; it's merely a simple, reasonably painless way of sending a message both to LJ's Russian overlords, the public at large, and to ourselves. Of the three, the message to ourselves is perhaps the most important:

Leaving LJ isn't really a good option right now, because there's still a community here. If we could all pull up roots and transfer our blogs, our comments, and our network of friends over to someplace better, I think most of us would do it. I think we should be figuring out how to do just that, and not by moving to another centralized service that will eventually betray us in turn, but by building a decentralized community that can keep us in touch after we all take back control of our own content and "to our scattered servers go".

Some post-strike links I like: a post-strike analysis from [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman, and a good economic and cultural analysis by [livejournal.com profile] chipotle (by way of [livejournal.com profile] lysana). A striker returns...and responds to the critics by [livejournal.com profile] thatcrazycajun. (added 3/22: this post is also noted in comments to this post by [livejournal.com profile] beckyzoole.)

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The 24 hour LJ content strike begins at midnight GMT on Friday, which works out to 5pm here on the US West Coast.

It will be a largely futile gesture; I was originally not going to participate. But after reading this interview with Anton Nosik of SUP (the new owners), [he provides a response here], I was sufficiently infuriated to join in. This despite the fact that [livejournal.com profile] theljstaff, hiding behind a pseudonym in an obscure account, has posted a half-hearted apology. [livejournal.com profile] beckyzoole lists some reasons for going through with the strike here.

Do I think the strike will have any effect whatever on LJ? No. But it will have an effect on those who participate, and on those who read our journals. LJ has, once again, shown its total contempt for its users. Fine. The strike is our gesture of our contempt for them. Sure, it's the equivalent of shaking your fist at the bus that just splashed mud on you as it drove by. But it feels good. See you tomorrow.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Blogging and Newspapers, a Lesson in How Not to Brand and Market - Blog Maverick
Never, ever, ever consider something that any literate human being with Internet access can create in under 5 minutes to be a product or service that can in any way differentiate your business.
(from Don Marti)

The actual post is about why newspapers shouldn't have blogs, but it applies even more to things like web services. If somebody can duplicate your service on their own website in a couple of minutes (for example, by installing an open-source package), what makes you think you can make money selling it?

Yes, I know that I'm posting this on LJ. Ad-supported websites are another matter, but they're still vulnerable: a suddenly-popular open-source package could still make a deep hole in their user base.
mdlbear: (ccs-cover)

As most of my flist probably knows by now, LJ has added a controversial new feature called Explore LJ - you can see the actual page here. It looks a lot like Google News, only restricted to LJ.

Although I think it's a transparent attempt to monetize user-generated content, I don't think it's a privacy violation, and I'm not going to opt out. Here's why: I want my blog to be noticed.

Sitting in my front closet right now are about 500 copies of Coffee, Computers, and Song. If a few thousand more people get pointed to it and a few dozen of them decide to buy a copy, I'm not going to complain. At all.

For similar reasons, my LJ is indexed on Google and any other search engine that cares to drink from the firehose of LJ's live feed. I rarely friends-lock, and consider anything I post to be public. I have a long history of this, going back to my days in alt.callahans, and it's too late to back out now even if I wanted to.

(I'm in the process of setting up a private journal, where I can control access separately to every post. That's different: it'll be encrypted, unsearchable by anyone but me, and on servers totally under my control.)

Damn the torpedos search engines, full speed ahead!

mdlbear: (xteddy)

... but the fileserver still isn't frozen. I'm going to take this as a hopeful sign. If it works, it would also mean that the other 400GB drive I was having trouble with is also usable. I have a pretty good idea what I could do with, for example, a 400GB eSATA drive.

In other cold-related news, some anonymous person sent me a virtual gift of a polar bear cub with the note "Spread More Joy" attached. Um... Thank you very much, whoever you are!

(The cynic in me wonders whether this might actually be a random freebie intended to promote the giving of virtual gifts, but... It's cute anyway. Anyone else get one? Anyone out there giving virtual gifts?)

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Account type: Permanent Account
Date created: 2002-06-08 16:52:29
Date updated: 2008-01-01 09:12:48, 17 hours ago
Virtual Gifts Received: 0
Journal entries: 2,922
Comments: Posted: 7,559 - Received: 5,315
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

... to bring you the following special announcement:

SixApart has sold LJ to SUP.

SUP? SUP is the company that has been operating LJ -- very successfully -- in Russia. Considering our ongoing problems with 6A, this is probably a good thing for LJ, though that remains to be demonstrated.

You can read the press releases here in [livejournal.com profile] news; there are also two new communities to be aware of: [livejournal.com profile] lj_2008 and [livejournal.com profile] lj_policy.

We now return you to your usual friends list.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

A couple of weeks ago I switched anonymous comments back on, so that people who don't have LJ accounts can comment. Anonymous comments are screened, so after you post one it won't show up until I look at it and decide it isn't spam or flame-bait.

It's also worth noting that LJ accepts OpenID, so if you have a blog or a website somewhere else that groks the protocol, you can use that.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
Techdirt: Court Rules That Anti-Spyware Companies Can Call Spyware Spyware
...The judge dismissed the lawsuit, noting that security firms have every right to label software as they see fit, citing part of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

We often point to section 230, because it protects service providers from liability for the actions of the service providers' users. However, this is referring to a different part of section 230, which says that no service provider is liable for a good faith attempt to restrict access to something it deems objectionable. The court felt that the security company was a service provider, and that since it believed Zango was objectionable, then it has every right to try to restrict it. The court makes a second very important point. Zango complains that its software is not objectionable, and therefore the security providers cannot block it as objectionable. However, the court points out that the statute clearly says that it's for what the service provider finds objectionable. In other words, the content in question need not be "objectionable" at all -- it only matters what the service provider feels about it. This is a pretty strong endorsement for the idea that security companies absolutely can call software whatever they feel is appropriate.
This is bigger than it looks, since it also implies that LJ/6A, for example, can block whatever they choose to label as "objectionable".

One more reason for owning your own data.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

This post by [livejournal.com profile] elements (found by way of this post on [livejournal.com profile] fandom_flies) talks about "the user as citizen":

This issue of ownership is much bigger than Six Apart and Livejournal, because it's really about how we as a culture construct the new class of relationships between citizens and businesses that is embodied by the interactive, hyper-connected social nodes that form the new structures through which modern humans are organizing our public lives.

I'd like to propose that any business entity that is primarily driven by and dependent on an active and content-generating user base be obligated to assign some share of real and actualized decision-making power to democratically chosen representatives of that user base. Obviously I don't expect to see this spring into being in law overnight, or even perhaps at all, and I'm not sure that would even be appropriate. But I would like to see businesses encode this principle into their very structures in such a way that we the users - we the citizens of the social web - can count on a certain measure of rights and due process, beyond what we are legally owed by a corporate entity.

That's one possibility, and it's certainly worth pursuing, but I don't think it's likely to work. Let me propose a few others. I think they all have their place, and it's an open question which is going to work better:

  • User-owned services: This is the tried and tested model of credit unions, mutual insurance companies, and co-ops. One user, one vote, and everybody owns an equal share. If LJ had gone this route, and had stuck with paid and invited members, we wouldn't be in this mess.
  • User-owned servers: This uses the even more tried and tested principle of "A Person's Home is their Castle." What's on my server at home, under a domain name that I own, is a lot harder to take away. ISPs and phone companies are under much stricter rules about when they can deny you service than are corporations that own their own servers and kindly let you put your content on them. The nice thing about this option is that it scales well -- exactly like the Web, in fact. Search engines and cooperative tag servers take the place of centralized databases, and even searching and tagging can, and should, eventually be decentralized.
  • Anonymous peer-to-peer: This is the Freenet model. Your content is encrypted, and widely replicated. Anyone with the document ID and key, which you can publish widely as well, can retrieve it and decrypt it. With wide, random distribution it becomes practically impossible to find and delete every copy of something (though it may become hard to find a copy for a while). Something like this has the potential to go a long way toward fixing the current problems with both censorship and overly-restrictive copyright.

Ultimately I think we're going to have all four: a push toward user representation on corporate-owned services, user-owned co-operative services, federated private servers, and anonymous peer-to-peer networks. I'm directing my own efforts toward federated private servers and anonymous peer-to-peer because they're the best fit for my cynical, old, anarchistic hacker's soul. (And, I might add, a pretty good fit with what some of my coworkers are doing, which hopefully will be published soon.)

But if someone else wants to write a Community Member's Bill of Rights I'll be happy to sign it, and if somebody wants to build a user-owned co-op community I'd be delighted to buy a share.

mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

This post by [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman points to [livejournal.com profile] annathepiper's recent post, which indicates that word of the latest LJ kerfluffle has been spreading, getting as far as Firefox News.

Now, whether Abe Hassan's comments on [livejournal.com profile] efw can reasonably be construed as "insulting to fandom" or merely a misguided and tactless attempt to get into the spirit of the Existential Flame War, the fact is that people have been construing it as an insult, adding to a rising tide of cynicism and anger. There is no doubt whatever that Hassan is a SixApart employee who makes official announcements on [livejournal.com profile] news, and should have known better (added) than to stick his oar into a hornet's nest (to mix a metaphor slightly).

There's an interesting contradiction in LJ's Terms of Service: Section XIV.2 seems to say that they have to notify you before they take anything down:

Should any Content that you have authored be reported to LiveJournal as being offensive or inappropriate, LiveJournal might call upon you to retract, modify, or protect (by means of private and friends only settings) the Content in question within a reasonable amount of time, as determined by the LiveJournal staff. Should you fail to meet such a request from LiveJournal staff, LiveJournal may terminate your account. LiveJournal, however, is under no obligation to restrict or monitor journal Content in any way;

... but section XVI says

You agree to NOT use the Service to:

  1. Upload, post or otherwise transmit any Content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive to another's privacy (up to, but not excluding any address, email, phone number, or any other contact information without the written consent of the owner of such information), hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable; [my emphasis]

... and ends with:

If LiveJournal determines, in its sole and absolute discretion, that any user is in violation of the TOS, LiveJournal retains the right to terminate such user's account at any time without prior notice.

Which gives them a loophole they can drive a stretch hummer through, and they've obviously been invoking this clause with a heavy hand to please whatever entities are yanking their chain this week. It's an open question whether this loophole is a recent addition to the TOS, and whether it would get them into trouble if it came down to a court battle. I wouldn't count on it.

Bottom line: don't trust 'em. Back up your posts yourself, and start looking for a way to move your primary blog to a host -- or multiple hosts -- under your own control. To your scattered servers go, in other words.

mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

The New Adventures of Queen Victoria has a good comment on some of the latest LJ ugliness. (Also pointed to by [livejournal.com profile] filkertom; unfortunately the post has been deleted.) In that post, a simple gratuitous mention of H.censored P.censoredand c.censored p.censored drew an immediate snarky comment from an burrLJ employee86.

From which we conclude that LJ is scrutinizing every damned post for keywords. Not really surprising; so is Google, only for a different reason. LJ has also set themselves up as sole judge, jury, and executioner of what content is permitted by their Terms of Service. OK, they can do that: it's their site. I have a permanent account, so I can't send them much of a message by not sending them any more money. (Shakes fist at sky.)

This post by [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman has a little more to say about it, and [livejournal.com profile] tibicina draws our attention to the [livejournal.com profile] fandom_action community for discussion of legal issues and legal action around fandom. More on the recent journal deletions here and here.

[livejournal.com profile] technoshaman also points to an airline pilot's take on security. The stupidity isn't entirely confined to LJ.

mdlbear: (lemming)
Pictures of my LiveJournal Friends )

Try out this Meme

Brought to you by NardVille
mdlbear: (lemming)

Seen many places on my flist, here's a link to my 42nd LJ post. My life in a nutshell, I guess. Can't speak for the universe.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

...waiting for my next panel to start. It's on blogging, so I figured this way I'd be the first panel member to blog about it. The fact that it's during what I would normally consider to be dinner time is particularly annoying, especially when concerts start at 7:00.

With luck I'll have time for a bowl of chili and a quick rehearsal. I have only about half an hour's worth of Tres Gique pieces lined up; if I can run for an hour i'm prepared to wing it...

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

So I see that permanent memberships are going on sale again -- for a week, starting Thursday. I've given them as gifts in the past, but I won't be doing it this year. I don't trust LJ anymore -- they're more concerned about looking good to investors than they are about their users' freedom of speech. (I was originally thinking of giving one as a graduation present, but I have since thought of something more personal, and arguably more useful.)

Like [livejournal.com profile] technoshaman says in this post, I'm looking forward to a day when we have a completely distributed blogosphere, where everyone controls their own content and it isn't tied to anyone else's server.

It's closer than you think.

mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

I have included the following paragraph in my bio, and added the appropriate interests.

Note on interests: Regardless of what ignorant morons have put as a "rule of thumb" in a sidebar to the interests list, the word "interest" does not mean "liking" or "approval". It means that I am interested in discussing a topic. For example, my interests list contains the word "censorship", which I thoroughly disapprove of. It also contains "La Marseillaise" in spite of the fact that the chorus could easily be misconstrued by ignorant morons as a death threat against my enemies. I don't necessarily approve of that sentiment; I just like the song. Got it?

Feel free to include this paragraph in your own profile, with or without credit. And if three people -- just three people -- put "La Marseillaise" in their interests lists, they just might think it's a movement...

mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

In previous post I described the recent unpleasantness and suggested that I had the beginnings of an answer. This article gives a little more information, and notes that many are jumping ship to LJ clones like JournalFen and GreatestJournal. But I don't think that's the answer.

As I said before, we need to take back our content.

There are some details I haven't worked out -- I'd like to have a simple, complete out-of-the-box package, but all I have are pieces. Here are the basics, though, and a few tools to get you started:

You need a place on the web where you can host static web pages, preferably in a domain that you own and without anyone else's advertising. But your ISP will do to get started. You do not need to be able to run scripts or a database. If you have a DSL or cable connection you could even host it at home -- I think that's where we're heading, but we're not there yet.

You do that, if you want to, on your computer at home. A program like Blosxom or ikiwiki will let you format and organize your own web pages offline, and construct the RSS and HTML summary pages you need to make a proper blog. I'm working on a more geekish solution based on the Unix utility make. You don't really need either. Just make a subdirectory of your main web page called "blog", and make entries with paths like "/blog/2007/0530/2150.html" or maybe ".../2150/title.html".

In other words, every entry is either a web page or a directory (which lets you put any images the page uses together with the text). Now all you have to do is run a little script to generate the RSS and HTML summaries and upload any new pages to your public website using a program like rsync or a web-based version-control system like Subversion or git.

Now, here's the part that will require a little more hacking on my part: there needs to be a script that parses the page for tags, builds the tag indices, and cross-posts to LJ or some other blogging site -- or sites -- based on the tags. That way, you can use LJ as your comment aggregator. The other missing piece is the little script that screen-scrapes LJ's email comment notifications and puts them back into your working directory. (You could run your own comment CGI script, but it seems like a lot of hassle. I stole this idea from [livejournal.com profile] ohiblather, by the way -- she has multiple blogs elsewhere on the web, and posts pointers to them in her LJ, which is also where she directs most of the comments.)

That takes care of the mechanics of blogging. I like the way Blosxom and ikiwiki let you integrate blogs and comments seamlessly into a website that might have much more in it. There's no reason, for example, why you can't allow comments on every page, or make a "changeblog" out of your version-control changelog entries to point your readers to new or revised pages.

The next thing you need is a "friends" page. Probably the easiest thing to use for that is Planet, a simple feed aggregator that generates a web page. Check out their list of planet-powered sites. But you don't have to publish your friends page at all if you don't want to; you can keep it on your own computer at home. And you'd better not if it has private or friends-locked posts on it, like you might acquire by reading your LJ friends page.

The thing I really don't have a good handle on is the community-building aspect of LJ. The rest of the blogosphere does this using things like trackbacks, pings, and blogrolls. I suspect that the FOAF project may be a large part of the answer: you put a machine-readable profile on your home page, and let FOAF-aware search engines do the rest.

What I'm really advocating is a move away from centralized services controlled by faceless corporations, back to a world where everyone (oops! ETA: runs their own node in the peer-to-peer network that is the Internet. Remember that TCP/IP is a peer-to-peer protocol -- which machine is the client and which the server depends entirely on what they're doing at any given moment.)

mdlbear: "Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness" - Terry Pratchett (flamethrower)

You can find a good, reasonably objective summary of "the recent unpleasantness" in this post by [livejournal.com profile] catrinella. In brief, LJ's abuse team has been suspending journals and communities based on certain trigger words in their interests lists. In addition to clearly-inappropriate content, the suspended journals include some clearly labeled as fiction, fanfic, and even survivors of child abuse.

The following quote from this article at news.com sums up the situation pretty well:

LiveJournal's terms of service ban "objectionable" content and say any account can be deleted "for any reason." But the company also claims to "provide users with as much freedom of speech as possible."

"Our decision here was not based on pure legal issues," countered Six Apart's Berkowitz. "It was based on what community we want to build and what we think is appropriate within that community and what's not. We have an awful broad range of discussions and topics and other things going on in LiveJournal, and we encourage other broad-ranging conversations on all sorts of topics. This was a specific case where we felt there was not a reason (for these journals to stay online)."

In other words, they are deliberately targeting fanfic and other material they feel would be offensive to their advertisers and corporate backers, possibly on the word of an external group. It's important to realize that this is merely the most recent in a long string of actions on LJ's and 6A's part that demonstrate that they are simply another soulless corporation interested only in their bottom line. Their site started out as a platform on which one could build a lively, living community. But now you can build your community only up to the point where it attracts the ire of anyone with money or influence. Then you're gone.

This is not surprising, and it represents the fundamental problem with all social websites: you don't control your content, the service does. They will host it only as long as it doesn't interfere with their bottom line.

The only way to control your content is to host it yourself. The only way to build a community that will last is to build strong links among the sites controlled by the community's members.

In my next post I'll make a stab at one way to set about doing this.


2007-01-01 03:11 pm
mdlbear: (lemming)

Here are my current LJ stats, for what little they're worth:

Account type: Permanent Account
Date created: 2002-06-08 16:52:29
Date updated: 2007-01-01 20:03:36, 3 hours ago
Journal entries: 2,066
Comments: Posted: 4,554 - Received: 3,199
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Unfortunately, rather than record another take on "Guilty Pleasures", I ended up getting sucked in to another LJ design trainwreck, (more at the link) this one having to do with revisions to the "update journal" page. This is supposed to be the basic, last-resort, guaranteed-to-work way of updating your LJ. And they broke it. It's prettier now, but some features don't work if you don't have JavaScript enabled! I should know better than to get sucked in to one of these flamefests, but I seem to have been the first one to discover -- or at least to mention -- the Javascript problem. So I guess I've done something of value.

Looking at some of these designers' userpics you can see the problem: they're young. Inexperienced. Arrogant. They think they're hot stuff because they graduated from a program in "web design". Whee. They'll learn, eventually, but meanwhile they'll make life miserable for us old curmudgeons who don't count because we're not in LJ's target demographic.

I need to stop going off on these tangents, amusing though they are, and get some work done. Tomorrow: turn in my sales tax account application, and hack some more on TiddlyWiki. That, at least, will be fun.

mdlbear: (penguin-rant)

... only works if you have Javascript enabled. Yes, I'm reporting it as a bug. Only workarounds I can think of are to use a client or enable JS.

Update: 12-15 What breaks it is having JS turned off in a browser that normally supports it. Possibly also spoofing the user-agent in the headers.


2006-12-14 06:51 pm
mdlbear: (penguin-rant)

So, once again, the LJ design team screws up and chooses to ignore user protests.

While we will not be offering an option to switch back to the old version, I hope we can work together to make changes and improve what we now have. Please understand that we love you guys and admittedly, we sometimes do things without fully understanding what the community reaction will be.

In other words, "we screwed up, but we're not going to fix it because you experienced users aren't bringing in any advertising revenue compared to all those newbies who set up plus accounts."

Fortunately, there's a cure for this one:

   emacs -f lj-compose

(Install from the [livejournal.com profile] ljupdate home page).

(Cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] fucksixapart.)

mdlbear: (grrr)
...at this post, which is mostly uninteresting but ends with an extended discussion of the advantages of text messaging in the event of a zombie attack.
Consider this, you're at the park and suddenly there's a zombie outbreak. You're surrounded. What do you do? Call 911? Yeah, like they'll believe you. Under normal circumstances, you'd probably be turned into a zombie by now, but luckily for you, you've got TxtLJ.

Just whip out your phone and text, "postcomm.zombiekillers Umm...help, zombies are attacking me at the park" to TxtLJ (89855).

That'll post your message to the [livejournal.com profile] zombiekillers and you'll be rescued in no time*.

*TxtLJ should not be relied on in a zombie attack.
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I would like to draw the attention of the tea snobs on my friends list to the [livejournal.com profile] teageeks community.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

... why I just added you to my friends list, it's almost certainly because you turned up on one or both of these lists of people who aren't on my friends list, but that are "close" by one measure or another. I won't feel bad if you don't friend me back; my friends list is mostly just a reading list.

Unlike some people, I have no reason (or excuse) to be shy about putting my real name in my LJ -- I'm Steve Savitzky, and you're most likely to know me (considering who's on my flist) from my filk songs.

This ends today's public service announcement; we now return you to your regularly scheduled web addiction.

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