LiveJournal privacy warning

If you are browsing LiveJournal being logged in to your account, be warned – there is a way for LiveJournal users to see who read their posts.  This functionality is currently available only to Russian users (yes, related to recent SUP acquisition of LiveJournal) and is provided via service.

There seems to be no way to opt out of being seen by post authors, other than using a separate account or browsing LiveJournal anonymously.  Both of these ways have their limitations though (access, comments, friends, etc).

SUP buys LiveJournal

Russian (or, Russian born) company SUP acquires LiveJournal blog service from Six Apart.  The two companies have been working together for the last six month or so, with SUP “taking care” of the Russian users of LiveJournal, which are an impressive 28% chunk of population.

How do I feel about this?  Here are some points from the top of my head, that will give you an idea:

  • I have an account with LiveJournal, but I don’t use it that much myself.  There are a few blogs there that I read, but this is not by any means a vital service for my web life.
  • I think that LiveJournal is lagging behind its competitors for some time now.  It needed a “push”.
  • I don’t think that SUP will be able to “push” it.  For a number of reasons.  (Russia lags in technological development and understanding.   SUP is company established by “an international management team”, not techies.  And so on.)
  • I don’t think that SUP (or any other Russian company for that matter) has enough trust to run a blogging service.  I think that many bloggers (especially political ones) will look for alternative services.
  • I have a feeling that monetization of LiveJournal will get a bit more aggressive in the nearest future.
  • I think that it’s time for a lot of people to take a look around and learn about other excellent blogging communities, such as for example.

OpenID – free, open, and decentralized identity system

It has been some time since I was thinking that logging into all those blogs to leave a comment is lame. I guess this idea visits heads of many people out there. During the last couple of days I added few more blogs on my blogroll and started to think more about this problem.

My thinking was in the direction of some WordPress service. At least in the beginning. Something along the lines of Blogs Of The Day. Some services, say Blog Passport or something like that, that could be used by all those WordPress intallations to authenticate visitors. Basically, the even the same database table from WordPress could be used as a base. A person would login to at Blog Passport and than visit any WordPress installation and at any site that would support the scheme he would appear as logged in user.

But all I did was thinking. I didn’t even investigate if there are any existing solutions. The good thing is that I didn’t write any code. Because today I stumbled upon something that would be acceptable – OpenID. I first saw it at It already supports it.

The idea of an OpenID is simple. It is even simplier that what I was thinking. It is a distributed system that authenticates against a URL. You can be logged in at any website that supports OpenID and than any other site that supports OpenID would work for you . The description of the process, the protocol, and the development status are all at the project’s website.

The good things about OpenID so far are:

  • free and open and intends to stay this way.
  • decentralized
  • supported by some big sites (

WordPress plugin is in the works. I hope that this project will get some attention and that we will finally have one annoying problem solved. Cheers!

Blogs of writers, editors, and other publishing professionals

archer904 maintains this list of LiveJournal blogs and feeds of writers, editors, and other publishing professionals. These people blog about their daily stuff – writing, editing, verifying, proofreading and publishing. One can read excerpts from yet unpublished works and get hints on how to improve own writing.

Which web service to choose for blogging?

As I have already mentioned before, my mother is very interested in blogging. She is about to start blogging herself. I am helping her to find the proper tool and get used to the idea. I think it is important to remind here that she is not by any means an advanced computer user.

Features that she needs:

  • Web interface. As easy as possible.
  • Few security levels for posts. She needs to be able to write public articles (viewable by everyone), “friends”-only articles (viewable by a number of people selected by her), and private articles (viewable only by her).
  • Categories for posts. She needs to create several categories for her posts, similar to the way I have it.
  • Searching. Searching for posts that she wrote previously is an absolute must.
  • Comment control. She must be able to switch comments on and off and to limit comments to “friends”-only.
  • Image galleries. She wants to post images from her travelling and day-to-day life. Organization of images, annotations, and comments are all considered and advantage.
  • Favourite links on the main page. She wants to maintain a number of links to her favourite sites and other blogs (like mine) on the main page. In other words: blogroll.
  • Free. She is not yet totally convinced that she wants to blog, thus paying any money for this functionality is not an issue.

After talking to her for a couple of hours yesterday, I realized that she sees my blog as an ideal example. I would have, of course, installed a copy of Nucleus CMS for her on my server, but I am not so sure about the user friendlyness of it. I mean I can easily modify HTML and PHP code as needed for my blog. This is not an option with my mom.

So far I have inspected the following web services:

None of the above services fully satisfy the requirements. Out of all these, has most of the features. It has an a very easy to use interface, themable blogs, multiple blogs per one account, categories for posts, image hosting and photo albums, comments control and much more. It even offers easy blogrolling, linking, syndication, and book lists. Surprisingly, the service is free. There are a few limitations though:

  • Disk space. Free account is limited to 10 MBytes. This is more than enough for any beginner who plans on writing text only. With photo albums and image hosting functionality it is pretty easy to run out of though.
  • Bandwidth. Free account is limited to 250 MBytes per month. Again, this is more than enough for a blogging newbie, but can be ran out of easily with lots of images or mild popularity.
  • Advertising. Free accounts will have a mandatory, but small Google Adsense advertising. I don’t see it as a big problem. This is much nicer than banner ad programs that websites used to have long time ago.
  • Minor functionality limitations. Few features are not available with the free account. Most noticably, access statistics are locked, so you won’t be able to see who comes to your blog, from where they come, and what do they want. Also, private blogs (limited to the owner or selected group of people) are also not available.

I personally see these limitations as minor ones. Most people use web services which don’t even offer half the features does, so few cut offs are an OK in my book. In case there is a need for more disk space or bandwidth, or if those limited features are all you need, offers a really nice pricing scheme.