WordPress.com gives out more disk space. A lot more disk space!

Now, here is another reason to love WordPress.com folks:

 Today, one of those developments comes to fruition — everyone’s free upload space has been increased 60x from 50mb to 3,000mb. To get half that much space (1GB) at our nearest competitor, Typepad, you’d pay at least $300 a year. We’re doing the same thing for free.
Our hope is that much in the same way Gmail transformed the way people think about email, we’ll give people the freedom to blog rich media without having to worry about how many kilobytes are left in their upload space.

Open Source Contributors

With the recent news of Sun Microsystems buying MySQL AB for one billion dollars (insert Dr.Evil’s evil laugh here), I hear plenty calling Sun the largest contributor to open source. I beg to differ.

Sun is doing a lot for open source, there is no argument about it, and whatever they do is much appreciated. But calling them the largest contributor to open source, is a little bit too far fetched, I think. First of all, let’s see what we are talking about. Here is the list of open source stuff from Sun (according to their open source initiative page):

  • Solaris Enterprise System / OpenSolaris
  • Linux from Sun
  • StarOffice / OpenOffice.org
  • NetBeans
  • OpenSPARC
  • Java

That’s something, but doesn’t qualify for the number one contributor. First of all, these are mostly Sun’s own offerings. Secondly, some of these (Java and OpenSolaris) have been opened to be saved. They were open when it was pretty much obvious to everyone that if they are not, they aren’t going to last very long. Or, at least, they won’t prosper as they should. Thirdly, the effort that was put in some of these (StarOffice / OpenOffice.org) by Sun isn’t all that impressive. I mean, yeah, they bought and opened StarOffice. People jumped on it and started to improve it. And it improved a lot. But it’s still huge, bloated, and clunky, after all these years…

As I said, it’s still appreciated. There is plenty of good in Sun’s open source initiative. But I think there are companies that have done more good to open source than Sun did. I think that IBM did a great deal more. And it did it before anyone else, when open source needed help the most. Then, I think Google has done plenty and is still doing a lot. And, I think it’s not fair at all to forget Red Hat. These guys made a lot of money on open source software, but they were more than willing to share and invest those money back into the community.

Watching the candidates

I’m not usually very political.  I don’t care much about elections, campaigns, politics or policies, and things like that.  But that didn’t stop me from watching the USA presidency candidate talks at Google.  Here are the names and what I think  of them:

  • Ron Paul.  This was the only video that I watched in full length.  This guy speaks good, and he has plenty of common sense in him.  He’s also pretty popular on the Web, but, somehow, I doubt that he will make it to the president.  He and his campaign contradict the interests of too many people.
  • Hillary Clinton.  She speaks like a politician with a lot of experience.  That’s probably why I don’t understand much of her.  Watched the video for about 10 minutes.
  • Barack Obama.  I don’t have much interest in hearing how he reads “I think” and “I believe” of the paper.  He looked very much like someone who haven’t written those notes…
  • John Edwards.  This is the case of one picture being a thousand words. It’s much easier and faster to say “I don’t believe that guy” after taking half a second look at him, than listening to an hour of him talking.

User registrations disabled

For a few years now, since I started to use real blogging software (such as NucleusCMS and then WordPress), anyone could register on this blog and become a member.  Membership didn’t offer much though.  The main feature members have that others don’t is that they can work with the archive of their comments on this site.  For the rest of the visitors, what was posted, was posted, and there was no way to change it.

Together with a few legitimate users, hundreds of abusers (SPAM posters, bots, etc) registered.  Sometimes their registrations were cleaned out by one of the plugins.  At other times, I removed them manually.  And then still a few of them stayed, masking as real human beings and not doing much damage.

As I mentioned recently, I have installed WP AJAX Edit Comments plugin, which allows comment posting folks to edit their own comments during a certain period of time (15 minutes). This works pretty well for typing mistakes, premature postings, and that sort of things, which appear to be 99% of all issues people have with their own comments.

Since there is no more need for user registration, I have closed it.  I have also removed all user accounts from this site that don’t have at least one comment.  If you think that you need an account, you can send me a message, including your email, username, and a reason for why you want it (I’m really curious).  I’ll make you one.   If you have an account, but forgot your credentials, drop me a line, and we’ll reset it together.  For the rest of you, just use the commenting form and you should be fine.

The webmail observation

Interestingly, out of Gmail, Yahoo Mail! and Hotmail, only the first one does not append advertising messages to actual emails.  I am rather surprised by this, given we just started with the year 2008.

I remember back when Hotmail and other webmail services were just starting, it was a common practice to monetize on advertising banners shown to webmail users, while also embedding advertising messages into outgoing emails.  That was a really ugly situation, but a lot of people suddenly got free access to email, which was great, so we lived with it.

While free webmail has always been useful, most web people prefer to have a mailbox under their own domain.  Or at least they preferred before Gmail came into play.   Nobody ever took you very serious if you were communicating using a well known free webmail service.

When the coolness of your own domain started to grow, many webmail services tried to meet the needs of their users and attempted to hide the obvious facts of them being free webmail services.  This was the time when webmail services registered tonnes and tonnes of domain names and offered their users a choice of any for their mailbox.  It was also the time when some stopped embedding advertising into outgoing emails.

For a few years, I stopped caring much about this issue, since I got a proper mailbox, as did many other people with who I communicated.  I knew of webmail existence, but it was mostly outside of my scope of interests.   Until Gmail came out.

With Gmail, Google changed the perception of webmail once again.  Two things that they did differently were AJAX interfaces, which provided for a much faster and more responsive user experience, than traditional web sites; and plenty of space.  If I remember correctly, Gmail offered something like 1 GB mailboxes.  That was in time when most other webmail services were giving out 10 or 15 MB.  “You will never have to delete an email message ever again“.

Google managed to make webmail popular again.   They implemented most of the good stuff, ignored mistakes, and came up with a few smart things of their own (conversation grouping, labels instead of folders, etc).  And, of course, one of the things that they did right was the advertising.  While reading mail, users see ads for related stuff – in clean, text, no blinking manner.  And no outgoing message is ever modified by Gmail to include advertising or to suggest that recipient should  give Gmail a try, or any of such nonsense.

I move all my mailboxes to Gmail.  This my only email interface these days.  And I’m pretty used to it now. And a lot of other people are back to webmail. And so it amazes me to no avail that some web services still don’t get it.  After all this time and all these lessons.  They still including their ads in outgoing messages.  This is really weird…

To all of you using Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, et al, – you should really give Gmail a try.  At least you’ll know for sure that your recipients will get messages exactly as you send them.  No more, no less.

WordPress comment-related plugins

I went through a few comment-related plugins in the WordPress plugin directory.  It’s amazing how much cool stuff is written and uploaded over there.  Here are just a few to give you an idea of what you can find and install on your blog:

  • WP AJAX Edit Comments – this plugin can be used to allow people, who comment on your blog to edit their comments.  They don’t even have to be logged in, and they will still be able to edit their own comments for a period of time.  Also, this plugin provides some nice functionality for blog administrators and moderators, who can approve, delete, or mark comments as SPAM from the post at the blog, rather than from the email message or blog administration interface.  I have installed this plugin, and you, my dear visitors, should be able to fix your own typos now.  Let me know if it doesn’t work for you.
  •  CommentLuv – this plugins helps blog owners to give back some love to those who comment on their blogs. When a person leaves a comment on your blog, CommentLuv plugin navigates to this person’s web site (the one that was mentioned in the comment form), looks for an RSS feed of that site, and, if it finds the feed, gets the latest post from it.  It then appends a link to that latest post to the person’s comment. I tried this plugin and it works very well.  However, I decided to not use it here just yet – not because of the plugin quality, but because of the general way I see discussions here.  I’ll probably use this plugin on one of my other blogs.
  • Ajax Comment Posting – this plugin makes comment posting a little bit faster.  It avoids the page reload for when the comment is posted.  I’ve installed this plugin on this blog, but somehow I still don’t see it working.  If you notice that it works or, on the contrary, it breaks something for me, please let me know.
  • Delink Comment Author – this plugin helps in those cases, when someone posts a nice comment to your blog, that you want to approve, but don’t for the link that author of the comment used as their web site. With this plugin, you can remove the link to the comment author’s web site via comment administration of your blog.  I have installed this plugin too, and it seems to work exactly as advertised.

And now is a really good time to see if the comments on this blog still work for you.  I’ve tried to test things out and make sure that everything is OK, but to be on the safe side – you should too.  Please, leave a comment to this post and let me know if it works or if something is broken.  If comments don’t work at all for some reason, please drop me a line using any other way.

Google AdSense blocks are back

It was almost half a year ago that I wrote these words:

Google AdSense is gone.  I’ve been planning to do this for a long time but never got down to it.  I don’t want to have any ads on my personal blog anymore.  And, it wasn’t making me that much anyway.

As a tribute to my inconsistency and greed, I wanted to let you know that Google AdSense blocks are back.  Currently you can see one in full post view, between the post content and the comments.  Another two are in the sidebar.  I’m still playing around with the ad types, sizes, colors, and locations, so don’t be too disappointment if they annoy you right now.

Why are the ads back?  What happened?  Well, first of all, I accidentally wrote a couple of very popular posts.   I wanted to see how well these posts can do financially.   Secondly, with the latest theme changes and a round of plugin shakes, there seems to be more activity on the blog (more people are coming in, they are standing for longer, and they do more – read, comment, bookmark, etc).  I started wondering if it’s possible to get a penny out of all you people.  So, you can say that this AdSense comeback is an experiment on my side, with some hopes of earing an extra cent.

Of course, I can be totally wrong and off the track (which happens pretty often, if you need to know), and all the positive activity that I’m seeing around here is fueled by the lack of ads.  If it is indeed so, not only will I earn any money with the ads, but I’ll also lose some of the audience (something I’d much rather not happen).

Anyway, call me what you want, but the ads are back. At least for now.  If they are too annoying for you, all I can suggest is start using Firefox browser with AdBlock Plus and AdBlock Filterset.G Updater add-ons.  You won’t see another web ad in your life…

#cyprus IRC channel on UnderNet

Somehow I ended up connecting to the Undernet IRC network today and joining #cyprus channel.  Last time I did it was a good 10 years ago.  Maybe even more.  Back then IRC was a huge thing in Cyprus and all Internet clubs were full of kids chatting for hours.  I remember, it was so packed, that I had to buy a club membership to get some priority in queue for my HTML hacking.  And, of course, I did IRC too.  What was happening back than on #cyprus channel?  It was exactly as it is now.  Here is a screenshot for you (I won’t go as far as posting a log of this noise).

#cyprus@undernet

What is different about it now?  Well, it looks like they use a tiny bit less of colors.  And they have their own web site now.

Me? I’m living on the FreeNode these days.  That’s where most of the open source fun is happening (#fedora, #wordpress, #perl, #php, and others).

Legal and educational systems are lagging behind technology

I’ve mentioned this many times before and, I guess, I’ll need to mention this ever more – the technological progress of the recent years (the digital world, yes) has left many systems of our society behind.  Educational and legal are the most noticeable.   Here are a few words in the insightful and funny video (originally from the Ted.com – a place of many more insightful videos).  Here is a quote from a recent Boing Boing post showing the state of the legal system:

… pictures of Ford cars cannot be printed. Not just Ford logos, not just Mustang logos, the car -as a whole- is a Ford trademark and its image can’t be reproduced without permission.

Memories : beGucho

Yesterday I came across a bunch of my old files. Some things dated back to one of my first jobs in 1999. Others were slightly more recent, but almost forgotten about. One of these recent collections of files was the beGucho project. I did it with a few friends of mine (Michael, Slava, and Igor – the guy who helped me with the theme of this blog), but somewhere on the way we got lost and the project faded out. It was actually released back in June 2006 (I blogged it) and survived for a month or two. Here is a screenshot of how it looked like (slightly resized):

beGucho screenshot

The idea was basically to have a mood-o-meter of the web in a sort of Twitter style. (We haven’t heard of Twitter back then). People would just come in and share their mood with the rest of the world. There were two short comment forms – one for bad mood and another one for good mood. Scales with a huge arrow at the top of the page were indicating the current mood of the web. History of all moods was available in archives and via RSS feeds. The whole thing was written in Embperl and was lightning fast and extremely simple.

But as I said, the project didn’t take off and was taken off the web without anybody actually noticing it. Still, we had a lot of fun building this thing, and I’ve learned a thing or two about team working and user interface design.