Absolutely Astounding

Dear WordPress devs.

I really appreciate the work you do on WordPress. I appreciate your open source philosophy – I appreciate your contributions to the community of a relatively easy-to-use software package that has been a part of a revolution in how people communicate. Long ago, I threw away my own blogging platform, because I was attracted by the community and ecosystem surrounding WordPress (once it got going out of a languishing b2 product).

But I continue to be mystified by your continued obstinate behavior about helping the product’s users actually pick a standard way of syndicating their data. I know that Uncle Earl cares not about what text strings are formatted where and in what way. But as programmers you should actually get the fact that standard ways of consuming and sharing information really do matter – and they are going to matter more and more for Earl and Millie both when they begin to realize the power of mixing, mashing, and aggregating information.

I was so impressed that you enlisted the community help with implementing Atom support – including the publishing protocol. But why on earth did you not write a few lines of code to make it easier to change the default format from the InternetJerrySpringerDrama that is rss2 to atom?

Oh, I see, you “didn’t think this option should be part of the UI, because for almost all people the option is not useful.”

Of course, because my timezone offset and my encoding preference and whether or not I use “wp-hacks” support is stuff that more people care about than using an actual standard way of syndicating our content.

I really, really do in all sincerity appreciate that WordPress is Open Source – because it give me a chance to route around your damage to it.

For the rest of the world – the quick hack – until plugins show up to make this a little more seamless is to (I THINK) replace line 845-846 in wp-includes/functions.php from:

if ( $feed == '' || $feed == 'feed' ) $feed = 'rss2';

to

if ( $feed == '' || $feed == 'feed' ) $feed = 'atom';

That was only a quick, cursory examination on my part, I’m sure others will be coming out with better solutions.

I realize that open source means putting your coding fingers where your mouth is, but some coding choices in life just seem better off in the core – and this is certainly one of them. The WordPress devs apparently disagree, and it’s their software and their prerogative to do so. I respect that – I just don’t have any respect for it.

Enough of the Gmail Contacts already

Facebook, Quechup, and now Twitter.

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Folks, I’ve had it. This is not a feature. It started going downhill when I was still briefly using Facebook, before my permanent embargo – and I got friendship invitation from Hugh MacLeod. Yes – that Hugh MacLeod.

You might would have thought I would have been overwhelmed with amazement and awed at the mighty power of the new and glorious social networks! Me! Friended by Internet Celebrity! A top marketer! Microsoft gets it! Wow, I’ll bet next up, I’ll get friended by Scoble! O’Reilly ((Badgers!)! Cory! Maybe even Guy! Oh that would be the best!

Horseshit.

I emailed Hugh MacLeod once, before he was at Microsoft, and was still marketing wine. I think his cartoons are inventive, and honestly – I liked his post once on writing your own manifesto. So I wrote one and sent it.

I thought the Facebook thing was an anomaly. Then I got invited by MacLeod to join Quechup. Why? Because he uploaded his email contact list to that site.

I’m stuck as a buried entry in MacLeod’s address book. I’m not MacLeod’s friend. I’m not in his social network – I’m a single line in a huge ass address list.

I’m sure Hugh is a wonderful fellow. If I was a marketer, or I was a big customer of Microsoft products, or I was Hugh’s neighbor, or I drew cartoons, then maybe I would give a flying damn what he’s doing. But I don’t. And I seriously doubt the man cares about what I’m doing.

There are certainly blogs that I read that I have no relationship to the person writing them. Either they are great writers, or work in industries that I follow, are conduits for information, or are just entertaining. I’m glad that they do it. For some of them, I might could conceivably follow them in social networking tools if they manage to use those mediums in the same way (I follow the del.icio.us feeds for Jeremy Zawodny and Mark Pilgrim because they are good at finding information I’m interested in and after all, it is the lazyweb). I even followed someone pruporting to be Stephen Colbert for a time in twitter because it was funny.

But none of these people are in my social network. And neither is a person that I’ve sent a single email to or gotten an email from.

Real relationships are about conversations. And one’s real social network is a small, small, small group of people. The research has been showing that for years. We all know that. Hell, I know that Hugh knows that. He’s just uploading his email contact list because the sites let him, and… well, I have no earthly no idea why he did it beyond that, because it’s stupid.

Facebook, Quechup, and Twitter – I’m sure you think this is a feature that people want. And I’m sure for a sizeable group of people, it’s good for them to upload their “8” that are in their email address book to their networks. And I’m sure you absolutely love being able to mine that email address data for whatever purposes your advertisers (or potential buyers) can come up with.

But stop the madness alright? Right now it’s just pandering to the look at me crowd, and there are enough of us out there.

These invites and follows aren’t marketing, and they aren’t social networking – they are spam.

Ruminations on Retail

The brown-eyed girl and I went to Cary tonight so that she could go to Kohl’s – and I decided to go over to Best Buy.

I hate Best Buy, but there’s a lot of stuff in Best Buy that I like, so it’s fun to go now and again. Thankfully I’ve learned the appropriate glares and the correct intonation in my voice to “I’m just looking” that means “I AM JUST LOOKING” – so the salespeople don’t bother me (well, as long as I avoid the TV section where they hover like turkey vultures in the deep south on a hot, humid day).

I had a while tonight to look through every section in the store – the Cary Best Buy, unlike the Garner Best Buy now has an Apple section – which is good to know. It looks like Apple foisted some design on them, but it’s certainly very different than an Apple Store.

What I found most interesting was which sections were getting traffic and which ones were not. I’m sure some design psychologists might have a comment or two, but for me, I thought it was extraordinarily telling about which products are really the ones that are grabbing our interest.

The busiest section by far was the mobile phone section – which also includes the iPods and other digital audio players (although it’s all iPod traffic).

Coming behind in traffic was the mobile section was the Digital camera section – the side with the point and shoots – not the SLRs – although I think a SLR was in process of being purchased, I’m not sure.

Right behind that – Video Games. Lots of kids playing Guitar Hero.

Behind that – a two way observation tie 1) the computer section – mainly hardware and monitors, not so much browsing through the software. The Apple computers were getting attention (the Apple display set up contributed to that – it’s a lot easier to “try” the Apple computers than most of the Emachines, HP’s and Sony’s – and whatever else they carry). 2) DVD movies – pretty good traffic there too.

There was also pretty good presence in the TV section – particularly the lower end LCD TVs. I had hoped more people would be browsing the 1080p TVs so that the prices would drop, but alas, most seemed to be comfortable with lower resolution HD. (not that I care – I still have a standard def Tube that won’t hasn’t died).

There were a few people in car audio, and an actual buying customer in GPS units.

There were two MAJOR ghost towns. Analog phones particularly. Even appliances had more traffic. The Analog phones had about the same traffic as the desks and chairs. (which I don’t even count as a Best Buy section – I’ve never seen anyone there).

The second Ghost Town – it had a few people, maybe 3 total. Audio CD’s.

People go to what interests them – and tonight it was mobile phones, digital cameras, video games… and NO analog phones and CD’s.

Still Waiting

Over one year later, I’m still waiting for Leopard…

My Dual-G4 model was introduced over 5 years ago now, and it’s about 4.5 years old for me (I bought it in Feb 2003, right after it was discontinued in favor of the FW800 model). I’m so ready for a new home desktop computer.

Please hurry up Apple.

He’s baaaaaack

12 years later – O.J. is back in the news.

Henceforth, I shall resolve that this blog will be a “No O.J. None of the Time” blog.

But it gives me great joy to be able to resurrect 12 year-old newspaper columns that are basically just as relevant today as then.

As I was remarking to a former co-worker today, where I was telling him he could keep me in the database if it meant he could blame me for the software they were still running, whereupon I would blame other former co-workers for not implementing my specs right, whereupon they’d blame him for extending it in the wrong way – it’s part of the natural way of life – “The Circle of Blame”

Hakuna Blametata.

And this is what you changed your ticker to?

This is one of the reasons I absolutely loathe java. And it has nothing to do with the language. It has to do with the culture.

There are a few services that we run that are java-based. History shows that most of these seem to run happier using the JVM from Sun – so every so often as I reinstall systems or move the services around – I need to install the Sun Java software.

However, Sun makes getting Java the biggest pain in the arse out of most of the software packages I need to obtain for our services.

One, because it’s not open-sourced – at least not in any semblance of open-source like most of the other language environments – and because of whatever technology politics between Sun and RedHat – Sun’s Java doesn’t come in the set of packages distributed with my Red Hat Enterprise Linux Systems. Fine, there’s a lot that Red Hat doesn’t provide.

However, it’s not in any add-on repositories either – again, because Sun doesn’t allow for redistribution. I can’t manage Sun’s Java through my standard OS package management utils. Fine, that’s life, other software is the same way.

And Lo, Sun provides an RPM install right?

Yeah right. First, I can’t just wget the thing to the system(s) I need to install it on. Why? Because I need to accept the damn license agreement for the software. I could partially understand this, if not for what comes later.

BTW, the damn license agreement is some time-sensitive based token. My acceptance goes away if I close the browser or navigate away from the download page. I have to accept the license agreement each and every visit to the page.

And the download URL after license agreement looks like this:

…/ECom/EComTicketServlet/BEGIN5FC6679326C19D083B94612B83494088 /-2147483648/2329383831/1/838358/838202/2329383831/2ts+/westCoastFSEND /jdk-6u2-oth-JPR/jdk-6u2-oth-JPR:3/jdk-6u2-linux-i586-rpm.bin

You’d freakin think that somewhere in that that encoded token that I could use it from another browser just for a time to download the software so I could save myself some data transfer steps. But nope.

I get that. I get that I’m downloading precious cargo and you want to make it a complete pain in the arse to download the software that YOU NAMED YOUR COMPANY’S TICKER SYMBOL AFTER.

Second, it’s not really an RPM, it’s a shell-script wrapped rpm that guess what it does when I execute it? – that’s right folks IT MAKES ME ACCEPT THE DAMN LICENSE AGREEMENT AGAIN.

I won’t get started on the other problems – like where the RPM sticks all it’s files. But that’s fine, I don’t expect that the company that changed its ticker symbol to match it’s flagship product would actually spend engineering time on making sure that the flagship product conforms to the operating system standards of all the platforms they want that flagship product on.

Dear Sun. Please get a clue. Use the Schwartz in a way that matters