Tag: URL

Dear Comment Spammer

To the lovely people who have left some comments on my blog recently, and who may be wondering why they haven’t appeared.

It’s because you have a URL that takes me to a completely unrelated product website.

That and it’s obvious that you’ve not fully read the blog post in question.

I realise you are, probably, getting paid for this, and my hope is that having received no referrer links from this website, you’ll realise that there is no point in continuing to leave comments here.

Besides, of the 14 people who read this website, few would really want to click through to the weird mix of product websites you purport to represent.

Please don’t take any of this personally, but please just sod off!

Ohh, and have a very Merry Christmas!

On blog comments

I always get excited when I see an email in my inbox with a subject line that starts “WordPress:…” as it means someone has commented on one of my blogs. Such a simple delight I know but hey, you take pleasure in the little things I guess.

Sometimes that delight is instantly crushed when I realise it’s a spambot that is trying to add a comment containing a link to either some ‘enhancing’ pharamceutical, a flirty comment from a hot chick, or just complete nonsense accompanied by a phishing URL.

However there seems to be a rise in the number of “real” spam comments these days, and that is hugely disheartening. These comments are left by, it seems, real people who have taken a fraction of a second to search, for example, for “Olympics” found my blog post from a couple of years back and added in a perfectly unoffensive comment, with a link to their specialist Olympic Boxing in 2012 website.

And in a weird way that, to me, is worse than any automated spambot. The fact that there is (again, it certainly seems that there is) a real person that has left the comment makes the whole thing feel tainted and dirty.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hugely precious about this blog but really, this new development in comment spam is just ugly. But then it’s always the few that spoil it for the many.

Wordle

Ahh the internet is full of simple pleasures, like Wordle.

Give it the URL of your blog, a chunk of text, or your del.icio.us username and you get something like this (click for fullsize, requires Java):

Redirecting Question

Note: This is a techie question, all those not interested, look away now.

(and no, I’m not doing very well at the whole ‘staying away from the blog to be productive thing…)

[update]SORTED!!!
That nice man wot writes Hydragenic came through for me (apparently he would ‘not be defeated’, he cracked it second time round).

I’ve added the following line to my .htaccess file on the gordonmclean.co.uk domain:
RedirectMatch 301 /index.php/(.*) http://www.onemanblogs.co.uk/index.php/$1

And now when you click this link (which points at the gordonmclean.co.uk domain) you’ll be properly redirected back to this domain (onemanblogs.co.uk).
[/update]

I received an email the other day. It was a nice email, the very kind I’d hoped my 404 page would generate.

The problem is a simple one. I moved domains a while ago, so some of the links that still exist point to my old blog URL (which is still live but is no longer a blog).

Following one of those links (from Lifehacker.com I think) will take you to this URL. Which is currently displaying a 404 error message.

To get to the correct page, all you need to do is edit the URL, replacing “gordonmclean” with “onemanblogs”. Simple.

So why the hell can’t I figure out how to write the appropriate .htaccess commands to get it to do that automatically.

I don’t want to redirect everything, only anything that has “/index.php…..” in the URL. Shouldn’t be THAT hard, right?

Well I’m stuck. So, dearest technical interweb friends, help!!

Spot the difference

I’ve changed the name of this blog, well the banner image, from Informationally Overloaded to One Man Blogs. As no-one has mentioned this I presume no-one has noticed but there was some thinking behind this (and hey, you know me well enough by now that I have to analyse it a little, right?).

1. I know it pisses people off when I change things here, be it the title of the website or the URL that brings you here. I quite enjoy this so I try and change things once a year or so to keep you on your toes.

2. Most of the people who read this blog are web savvy enough to be overloaded with information at some point or another, so the title felt a little brash; MY information overload is more than YOUR information overload? Quite obviously it is not.

3. The simple fact is that I am not, and wasn’t really ever, overloaded with information. Yes I subscribe to hundreds of RSS feeds but I don’t feel compelled to read them all, and I’m reasonably good at keeping on top of the important things which allows me to quickly dismiss all the other stuff if needs must.

So there you have it. And no, you don’t need to update your links, although there are a few of you who STILL insist that my surname is McClean. It is not, it has one (small) c, like this: McLean. If you are one of these people, then I doubt this plea will make a difference but hey, a man can dream, right?

So there you have it.

What? Slow blog day? How very dare you!

Web apps are not products

Matt Haughey is, amongst bloggers, pretty well known and respected. He recently wrote up his thoughts on weblog applications and, as they mirror some of my thinking, I thought I’d expand on this theme here.

The title of the post, Bottom line, all weblog apps suck in some way, was borne of frustration and outlines a few points which, reading between the lines, boil down to the same kind of thing.

Few web applications are at the point they could be considered a product.

Matt talks specifically about weblog applications, one of which I use to power this site (WordPress). I do a little web design in my spare time (there’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one) and have a similar working pattern as Matt; create template then drop in the code required by the weblog application, then tweak, tweak, tweak. I share his bemusement at the way Movable Type is configured, and I definitely agree with him when he says:

My ideal blog engine company would hire some seasoned blogger and technical writer to be a documentation czar, keeping docs up to date when new versions are launched, produce screencasts for introductory users, and provide complete documentation at a stable URL that applies to every version of the product. If an outside site does a better job of collecting and offering templates, a documentation leader should recognize that and link to them in highly visible places. There doesn’t seem to be anyone internal at these companies fighting for the users to make sure they can keep being informed about how to best use the product.

All of my knowledge of WordPress, Blogger and Movable Type (three of the biggest weblog applications) comes from tinkering about in the code, trial and error, and random Google searches. Sometimes those searches will take me to the website of the application, but more often than not they take me elsewhere to someone who has solved my problem already, or has a good solution that could be adapted to meet my requirements.

The information is a far more important to me than the weblog application, particularly as most of those meet my requirements and, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this website, the supporting information becomes the differentiator which will sway me one way or the other.

Let me repeat what I said previously:

Quite simply, products include documentation, support and training, and tell a cohesive story to a potential user. A story that says, yes this product will do X, Y and Z, and if it breaks we’ll do our best to help fix it, and we’ll support you as you learn to use it throughout the lifetime of your relationship with the product (and, therefore, the company).

The really good thing about this situation is that there is an opening here, a wide gaping hole into which a willing technical writer could leap. Most of the weblog applications are open source and would welcome you with open arms. The role Matt outlines is a huge one, but is perfectly within the reach of most technical writers. You know, if I had any spare time I might just try to get involved…

Who ARE you people?!

I continue to dip in and out of the current crop of social networking.. umm.. websites … applications? … ummm webapps.. or however the hell they are collectively known (I’m desperately trying NOT to use the “Web 2.0” tag here).

None of them have particularly stuck with me, at least not yet, and they all share one common theme. They all have their own little quirks and frustrations. One of which seems to be a common amongst most of them, although it’s demonstrated in different forms. I guess it might just be me, being the common point here, but ultimately my annoyance boils down to one thing, over and over again.

I don’t know who anyone is.

And yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Get over it.

I have a tendency to sign up to most ‘new’ things, even if it’s just to have a nosey around.. ohh ok, it’s purely so that I can snag the username “snowgoon”. Still. Sad, isn’t it.

However the annoyance comes when you start using these sites, and start getting other people “adding” you, or requesting that you add them to your network. Which, considering these sites are built for just such social networking, makes sense. But there is an inherent problem, and I’m sure by now you’ve all guessed what it is.. that’s right. I may know you from a blog, but that doesn’t mean I know your real name, and sometimes it’s vice versa (as in, I know the name but don’t recognise the ‘nickname’).

Considering these applications (Facebook, Twitter etc etc) are all almost entirely focussed on leveraging online communities, they all seem to miss two basic assumptions.

Assumption 1: I might not know the name, or nickname, of the person who wants to add me as their friend.

Suggestion: As well as the nickname, provide the real name of the person, and possibly a URL if they have provided one. Chances are I’ll recognise one of them.

I realise that finding the sweet spot for this approach is tricky, too much information and people will just get pissed off, too little and it’s useless. But I think providing a “little too much” information is better than providing “not quite enough”.

But it might just be me.

Assumption 2: The level of friendship seems a little odd.

Flickr, I think, gets this right. There you can have contacts, contacts who are friends, and contacts who are family. Ultimately that means I can have a long list of contacts, with subsets of those being friends and family. Most of the people who read this blog and who have a Flickr account are listed in my Flickr account as a contact.

Now, you could easily argue that Flickr’s contact listing options are a bit too minimalistic. But maybe that’s a good thing…

Compare this to Facebook which bombards you with choices, but still misses one main aspect. One aspect which seems stunningly obvious. One aspect which means I can’t see me using it all that often.

Apparently I can’t have ‘online friends’. Which means that, dearest reader, whilst I can add you as a generic contact in Facebook, I can’t specifically say that you are a “blog friend” or “online contact” etc etc. Apparently our relationship doesn’t matter unless it has been made physical in some way (ohh errr). If I used to work with you, if I met you at a party, if we had a shagged, they are all covered in the default options. OK, maybe not the last one.

And this is my problem with these sites. They don’t seem to value the relationships that can be built online. I consider several people —in fact now that I think about it, it’s more like 20… or more—whom I have never met but have swapped emails, IMs, and blog comments with, my friends. The obvious caveats apply, but ultimately I value the relationships I’ve built online.

Forgive me if the current batch of social networking websites don’t quite float my boat, but they just don’t share my values.

Now, if I could rate my contacts using a simple star system, well that’d be much better.

So, is it just me? Do you draw a distinct line between online and “real” friends? Or, like me, do you think it’s possible to have, and maintain, both?

Site note

The domain www.gordonmclean.co.uk no longer points at this site.

There is a holding page there for now, and it won’t ever be much more than that, a place to get information about me, a URL I can use to link to without direct fear of dumping people straight into this blog. It will be expanded soon but I’ve got a couple of other sites to take care of first…

And yes, I realise that the people who were still going to gordonmclean.co.uk and letting the redirect bring them here won’t see this message until after the fact but… well, you were warned!

Moving Identities

Changes are afoot. I wonder why that is, why are they never “ahand” or “aknee”?

Anyway, having received notice that I’m shortly due to renew my hosting account for this site, I’ve decided that now is probably a good a time as any to move my site. I’ve been reasonably pleased with 34sp in the past but having recently used other sites that are running WordPress (PostoftheWeek, One Man Writes), on other hosts I’ve noticed the improvements in speed, and in one case, price.

So, I’ve been quietly preparing to move this blog and implement a few other things whilst I’m at it, but I’m still not 100% sure on how to best implement things and as it’ll impact you, dearest reader, I thought I’d ask for your opinion(s).

Part of this is more to do with sorting out my online identity than about different URLs, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, I guess I just needed the push to do it.
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