Slapped with a Large Trout

A funny thing happened on Twitter yesterday. My wiki project that keeps a database of nutrition facts Tweets every 6 hours with a random food from it’s 28,000+ entries. Yesterday, it highlighted trout:

Which promptly received an IRC-style trout slap!

So great. Two bots being surprisingly funny. Trout slapping is a meme that started the 1990′s in IRC. It warms my heart to see it alive and thriving on the modern web. :-) See also, trout slapping on Wikipedia.

LinkedIn: Yes, I know my daughter!

Tonight while on LinkedIn I was prompted for some people I might now, including this one.

screenshot

So, yeah, in fact I do know my 8-year-old daughter. I didn’t realize she was on LinkedIn? I wonder what professional updates she might have to share with me? What?!

I know for a fact this isn’t a real LinkedIn account. Anyone know where LinkedIn gets this? And what are they doing here? My best guess is that the LinkedIn iOS application sucked this email address and name from my contacts and is now prodding me to click the “Add to network” button to allow them to start sending emails inviting this address to join LinkedIn?

Please Charge Me Something

For Christmas the brother-in-laws on Tammy’s side pick names. There are only four of us but we like the simplicity of just getting one name to pick better. For a couple of years now we’ve used a website called DrawNames.com to handle the name drawing, sending emails and even handling exclusions so you don’t get the same person every year. They sent an email asking for feedback and I felt like sharing some thoughts with them and decided I should share them publicly too.

I like your service a lot and if I had more name drawing groups at Christmas I would use it for sure. I’ve suggested your service to others and I know that at least some of them have used it. Everything went very smooth and I think you have the right email confirmations in place to make sure you don’t get “busted” email picks in spam folders.

With that said, I have a concern that your service makes enough revenue to be around. My alternative to using your service is to write a small script that will pick names and send emails. It would be ugly. Probably break a lot. Would likely not get delievered right. I’d rather use your service! I see that I can keep a wishlist and I’m sure that generates affiliate revenue, but I’m not sure many people do that. I know we don’t.

I would rather just pay a small fee for each name drawing group that I have. Maybe a $1? $2? I’m not sure what the right amount is, but I have a hard time seeing how you would make $1 off of our group now, so at least for us that would be an increase.

In addition to making me feel like your service will continue to be around, it would also give me confidence that you are not dropping remarketing cookies in my browser (you aren’t right?) and that my friends and family are not having their email addresses sold to others (which your privacy policy assures me is not happening already).

While I have your ear let me also thank you for not littering the site with link ads. Thank you for not requiring the use of Facebook connect or login with Twitter stuff.

That’s it. The service is nice and works really well. Just charge me something. :-)

My hope is that they have thought about charging before but assume that nobody would pay. It’s the Internet right? Nobody pays. But they do. They pay in droves for the right thing. This website is worth as much to me as many iOS apps I’ve bought for $0.99. Maybe if they hear customers saying they would pay, they can see the path to something that pays the bills and is worth keeping around clarify a bit.

SOPA Scrapbook

I participated in the SOPA blackout on January 18th. All of my personal websites went dark at 8:00am CT and returned at 8:00pm CT. I served 6,235  STOP SOPA notices. My handful of sites were just a drop in the big ocean of over 115,000 sites that went dark. It really felt historic. I took notice of the first time that so much of the Internet banded together to make something happen, and did it happen. Just two days after the blackout the bills have lost major supporters and are going back to committee.

It felt like something momentous. A punctuation mark in the big timeline of the Internet. I decided to grab some screenshots and make a little scrapbook of the day.

My Sites

Here is what thingelstad.com looked like on SOPA blackout day.

Continue reading

Participating in SOPA Blackout

I just added these crontab entries

0 8 18 1 * /srv/www/maint/sopa/deploy-sopa.sh
0 20 18 1 * /srv/www/maint/sopa/remove-sopa.sh

On January 18th at midnight all of my personal websites will be going dark to protest the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills being discussed in congress. I’m joining sites like Wikipedia and Reddit in this process. I realize I don’t get a lot of traffic, but I felt it was important to join in. My sites will be in protest display from 8 AM to 8 PM central time.

WeSolver

I’ve been having a lot of fun working with MediaWiki and particularly the Semantic MediaWiki extensions. A few months ago a friend from when I worked at Dow Jones, Armistral, asked me for some input on how he could build this website he was working on. He wanted to create a site where people could work together to solve problems. Thus WeSolver was born. I strongly recommended that he use MediaWiki and he ran with it. The site is now live and he’s done a nice job setting it all up. Check it out and if your so inspired see what you can do to help with a solution!

Google Reminding People to Update

I got this email yesterday for a blog that I help my brother-in-law out with. I haven’t ever seen a notice like this:

Dear site owner or webmaster of http://domain-name-removed/,

Your site appears to be running an older version of WordPress. Google recommends that you update to the latest release. Older or unpatched software may be vulnerable to hacking or malware that can hurt your users. To download the latest release, visit the WordPress download page.

If you have any additional questions about why you are receiving this message, Google has provided more background information in a blog post about this subject.

Best wishes,

Google Search Quality Team

I didn’t know that Google would send a notice like this. Seems like a good thing to do to keep the web a better place.

I logged in and upgraded his site for him.

Update July 6th: This seems less cool than I hoped. Today I’ve gotten a number of emails on blogs that I upgraded on 7/4 to the newest WordPress saying I should upgrade them. Maybe Google is just seeing that the site is running WordPress and sending a note regardless of what version it is currently running?

Why I run my own websites

Marco Arment had a blog post today on the recent changes to Twitters API. He highlights that “Twitter is not Ours”.

Twitter can do whatever they want.

It’s the simple, brutal truth. Twitter must do what’s best for Twitter. They owe us nothing.

It’s not a public good. It’s not a right. It’s a private, entirely centralized service with no meaningful competition and a massive network-effect barrier to competitive entry. Twitter has all of the power in its relationship with users and developers.

You can replace Twitter in that reference with nearly any other social network or hosted blogging platform on the Internet.

This is why I run my own websites, on servers I pay for and administer, using open source software.