Category: Internet

Dec 05 2011

State of the fox

It’s been about a month since I broke myself from Expo. Certainly learning from that for the future.
I’ve tried taking some downtime in the interim but other matters have kept coming up. The most rest I’ve had has been over the past week or so, but only from being bedridden with salmonella poisoning.

We still need to re-home the last pair of “kittens”, and frankly their mother too now. Shelters/RSPCA won’t take them anymore as there’s just too many cats out there now.

Rant about YouTube changes
The alleged copyright infringement on my YouTube account has finally been resolved, and my 15 minute limit lifted. Sadly just in time for the interface to be updated and made awful for instantly managing subscriptions.

Instead of being able to instantly remove videos you don’t want to watch from your subscribed uploads, now you can’t at all, and they don’t even self-remove once watched. Also they form a monolithic list of all uploads in chronological order, so multiple sequential uploads from one channel get interleaved with uploads from others. I can’t see any way to filter. The only option made available is to add them to a playlist, so I presume the logic is that you’re supposed to go through, make a playlist of the ones you’re interested in, then load the playlist and watch them from there, then remove them from that, and keep a perpetually modified playlist to emulate the functions removed, but with more work involved.

They’ve also decided to put your subscriptions list in a bar filling up a 3rd of the screen estate. Do people really remove their subscriptions that often? Because you subscribe via set videos or channel pages. If you’re subscribed to more than 7 channels then you’ll need to go to a separate subscription management page to edit them anyway. If you have less that 7 or so then odds are all the videos from those channels will already be shown on your homescreen as it is. Why is this there? All it does is reduce the amount of page space available for actual videos.
Suggested channels was previously an option at the top of your recent subscribed videos list. It could be clicked away to make your page more usable. Now it’s a permanent sidebar addition along with the useless subs list and your personal info header (which contains duplicate links of the top-right account pull-down menu).
And the subscriptions activity is now only visible when merged into the recent uploads. Again it’s no longer tiered by account so each entry stands on it’s own, readily jumbled into a raw unsorted feed.

Interface updates are supposed to improve things. This means adding functionality, removing or replacing useless items, hiding or removing little-used functions and making navigation easier and clearer. This update has added redundant duplicate links, listings that take up screen estate which are functionally useless, jumbled updates into an unfiltered and now unfilterable single feed and drastically reduced the amount of information visible on each item, apparently all to give YouTube a modern-for-2002 3-column design makeover.

Do Google do ANY beta testing before these things? They’ve removed functionality and added obscuration, and suddenly I’m finding it distinctly unenjoyable to use YouTube as a result. The only ok thing has been the minor cosmetic changes made to the video and channel pages, but I still dislike the new video control icons which with the exception of the replay button seem less intuitive. It’s all about adding channels, but has removed the ability to actually deal with the videos you’ll get from them.

The mill
The milling machine is finally in the country. Due to the poor sales at Expo, I didn’t get enough money back to pay for it, so I’m borrowing from within the family to get it here.
Friday I’ll be taking some bulky items off to the Hackspace for use/loan which will clear needed space. Delivery is set for next Thursday, and I will need to take the garden gate off it’s hinges to accommodate it. It’ll have to be dismantled in the front garden to move through the house to the workshop, which isn’t such a bad thing as I can remove packing grease as I reassemble it.
Once it’s here I’ll be able to measure and order the correct size of couplers and build the stepper mounts. The control gear is ready to go and the spindle servo drive is nearly there. Got an idea for re-positionable optical end-stops too which I think I’ll be trying.

Business
I’ve crashed pretty hard since Expo. I did a lot of late nights and a lot of all nights to prepare for it, things went wrong at pretty much every turn. Moulds failed or ripped, equipment broke and repairs were useless, supplies were wasted, suppliers sent the wrong replacement materials, and I ended up with less of a product for sale than intended that finally turned out to sell very poorly there. It was a huge amount of work and pain for relatively little return.
The horns did generate a lot of INTEREST, but few sales. Expo is not the place to sell costume parts or things that work best as part of an outfit, only stand-alone ready to wear items. In retrospect trying to ape the activities of other people I know by selling directly at conventions has been a costly mistake at almost every turn. I’m a supplier not a trader, and I should be sticking to my strengths so I can grow the business rather than limp along using my strengths to recover from self-inflicted mistakes.
Getting the base products rebooted, remoulded and tuned for ready production. Stay away from custom orders/mods unless I genuinely have the free time. The rush job has an allure, but it’s always costly and I can’t set prices at what they’d need to be to make up for the extra effort without killing the order and alienating clients.

Time management
Someone’s sending me a PDA. At the momment my desk is smothered with paper, mostly notes and to-do lists. It’s bad enough that I’m loosing lists amid other lists. A PDA makes sense as it can be updated on the fly and paper you end up filling up.
Made some time for drawing and managed to progress a picture. Started having a hard time with finishing details though. Out of practice and don’t have the time to get my hand back in.

Money
I’m in a hole. I may have to sell some things I don’t want to to try and get out of it, but mostly I simply need more income, which is back to improving the business.

Going to stop here as I’ve reached my daily limit for rage/depression/bleak-determination.

Nov 11 2011

..archiving from RantMedia forums, May 21, 2010.

Ever since we first declared that we Were, that I Am, we became aware of our separation from the wider world, but that we existed within it.
We became aware of the subtle flow of events around us, the unfathomably huge complexity of the worlds mechanism that we watched from inside isolated minds, and we named this living outer world “God”.

Over millennia our communication between isolated minds, entities, people, has improved in faltering steps. We have slowly begun to commune with God by communicating with each-other, expanding our awareness of the world. We ever more peer into the workings of the world and through understanding it we become part of it.

We have created machines to aid us, to make our communication and conception of data more efficient and more accessible. We augment ourselves. We become able to talk back to this facet of the greater world, ask it for information and extend it to provide it where it already cannot. The networks of drives and impulses within us are now tangibly extended beyond our bodies, existent and observable in their function.

We are indeed nodes of a greater network, the concious mind of our wider world.

That’s something I wrote and drew before the Digital Economy Bill passed here in the UK. I thought perhaps for a moment that it could be overcome on grounds of religious discrimination. But it then occurred to me that it would be meaningless, too laughable. Too many people signing up in name alone, making a hollow shell. And that’s wrong, because while (yet again) SK gave it a name, the idea is sound. I do believe that the greater network provides us with increasing information and knowledge. That promoting, improving and expanding it will improve the world.
I don’t believe in “server” as a being or God, but as a concept. A collected drive or ethos to improve our communications and bring us closer to what we have previously called God.

Lip service though isn’t enough if you have any real feeling about this. It needs an act of devotion. Something to show it means more than just a transient fandom.

I intend to start with rebuilding my online pressense, automating many of my social networks together. I already have my PGP keys, RSS feeds, my antivirus and firewalls, which seem almost an entry-level requirement to say you believe in Server.
But that’s all just for me, my little connection to it all.
As a small act to improve the network as a whole, my act of devotion, I intend to work on some crossposting plugins for services with blog functions that don’t currently have them, and allow my own network and those of others to be further streamlined.

-END REPOST-

Sep 03 2011

Swearing at dead people

Some comment I left ages ago on a youtube video has apparently now been up-voted to “top comment” status. And consequently has started getting the usual high-brow YouTube responses of “Ur gay”, “STFU” and “U an idiot!”.

It got me wondering since it’s been nearly a year since I left that comment, how many similar comments have been left by people who’ve since died. And consequently how many of those replying to them are just unknowingly typing obscenities at the dead.

Aug 05 2011

A piss-poor scam premise

Just had a phonecall from “BT tech support”. Apparently there’s “corrupted temporary files on my computer”.

 

Them: Hello, am I speaking to Mr Turpin?

Me: Yes you are.

Them: Hello, my name is Chester, I’m calling from BT tecnical support about your phone and broadband service. We’ve been monitoring that there’s corrupted temporary files on your computer..

Me: Wait, so you’re intercepting my communications..?

“Chester”: Yes sir, we..

Me: You’re SPYING on my communications??

Chester: Well sir we’re from the research depar..

Me: The only way you could know there’s corrupted files on my computer is if you’re illegally monitoring my communications!!!

Chester: Ah, well sir..

Me: What did you say your name was?

Chester: Ah? Mr Turpin.

Me: No that’s MY NAME! Fuck off please!! *I hang up*

 

Just sayin’, a good scam probably isn’t one that starts by telling you they’ve done something illegal to you.

Aug 02 2011

Forum fallout

I’m aware that some people probably think I’ve been pointlessly shit-stirring on the old UKFur forums this afternoon.

The short story behind it is a friend got assaulted, robbed and raped over the weekend. (I am not willing or able to provide details, as it could influence behaviour and the outcome of legal action.) Myself and a few others were rightfully angry that a forum mod said they wouldn’t be kept away from them on there.

I can see their point. The forum moderators are not the police, they don’t know rumour from fact, they are not in the position to request legal documents or evidence.
However, while the forums are not linked to the real world meets per-se as is repeatedly stated, the majority of the organisation, promotion and discussion of those meets takes place on those forums. Large portions of the forums are dedicated to those meet discussions to the point there are regional moderators to spread the load.
Whether it likes it or not the UKFur forum moderators do have a responsibility to the real-world events even if they’re not directly organising them.

So when something like this occurs and is witnessed by long-term meet organisers AND the person is arrested and taken away at the meet itself, surely that’s enough that at very least you wouldn’t want them able to discuss and plan future meet attendance with the rest of the group, right?

I tried to steer away from the R-word at first in the thread, as it was not what was witnessed at the meet, but ask on the forums what outside events on the forums would lead to someone getting banned there with a few examples like murder and assault. Rape did eventually rear it’s head though as it was pretty obvious people knew something like this had happened and it was the point of my question.

The responses, screen-capped for posterity, were ranged, interesting and changeable as the few intense pages went on. They were for the most part polite, but I still can’t shake the feeling more than a few were also “shut up now” hints/expectations from some mods. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t get any warnings or outright bans myself as a result of this, though hypocritically a few others got off-site harassment as a result of joining the thread.

I learnt a few interesting things, both on the thread and off;

  • One mod can’t talk about people being raped without turning it around to complain about their own love-life.
  • Another admits they’d ban someone for accusations of molesting a pet, but would only maybe ban someone for actual proof of rape/assault.
  • The few users who respond at that point agree they would expect this response from moderators.
  • Memories are either short, times change, or hypocrisy reigns as one who is concerned about the discussion fouling police investigations omits recalling previous mod-only discussions about deleting profiles containing potential evidence when a pair were arrested for a mutilation/murder pact last year.
  • Another mod places rape on the same level as cyber-bullying.
  • Sympathetic parties are only sympathetic until they think they can out the mystery parties involved (specifics of those involved were intentionally never revealed and the thread closed before accusations began to fly).
  • Several mods don’t know the difference between detached and callous.
  • Several users don’t know the difference between a community and a database.
  • Many mods have a career in politics ahead for studiously avoiding answers to direct questions such as “Would you ban a user if it were admitted by them and proven by police they raped or assaulted another user of this forum?” even after it’s put forward that not doing so would be against the victims human rights.
  • That they might ban them but it might not work because they could come back under another name. Which undermines the whole justification for banning for any reason.
  • Only one mod seemed to give a shit that this might have effected a real person, and not just be to cause drama on their forums.

Basically the forum as a whole has historically managed to largely avoid having to do anything directly about this sort of thing. The problems usually just “go away” by themselves. People who are banned from physical meets for bad behaviour of whatever sort generally drift away from the community in a short while as they are no longer able to meet folk in person (for the most part). Throw in the fact that there’s long been a small but disturbing undercurrent of social pressure that a level of sexual predation in the fandom is just normal has meant small assaults against members of the community have been either stifled, ignored as hearsay/drama, or left to sort themselves out.

I’d like to say though that this has changed greatly in recent times through the sustained efforts of “Lupus Londonwolf” and the rest of the LondonFurs Committee who organise the physical London Meets (and a few others). They have probably done more than anyone to minimise and rapidly remove these harmful social elements from the community. They took chaotic, hidden back-room meetings and brought them into daylight; exposed members to the public and banned people who broke the rules. And most members have learnt from this. Social skills have improved, and people don’t try to get away with questionable shit anywhere near as much. Those who do are quietly removed early on or learn fast.

To put it succinctly, over the last 5 years or so they’ve changed the London group from one where we got kicked out of pubs every few months for damaging furniture, under-age drinking and people who couldn’t figure why it wasn’t appropriate to wear bondage gear and hump in public, to one where people aren’t afraid to report feeling uncomfortable about someones behaviours or actions, where you can change into costume without having someone try to feel you up, where we’re not only asked back to venues but the staff like us enough to offer us special rates and hours! This change in mentality seems to have spread to meets across the country.

It’s for actions like theirs that I’m still glad to be a member of this community, not for the actions of forum mods who still believe in the old Geek Fallacy that everything must be permitted or you’re persecuting them just like mean old normal people.

I owe this community a lot, but I’m not so tethered to the past I don’t know I can do without the forums if I need to, and at worst the community itself. It helped me grow and grow beyond it as a result.

Would I have said things as bluntly and honestly if I’d still only been socialising in that community? Maybe, but probably not. I know now though that in the worst case I would have lost access to a small convenience where I post maybe once or twice a week and would have had to look at other websites for meet-up details.

Widen your social circles, gain security through redundancy. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind for fear of retribution or expulsion. There’s usually more than one place to socialise, and if there isn’t already, make one.

TL;DR – If you do something that forces meet organisers to call the police on you, get you arrested and charged at a meet, not only do I want you banned from that meet but I don’t want to have to you haunting the community discussion forums where those meets are planned and organised, let alone haunt those members your actions may have affected.

UKFur, I am disappoint.

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