Did You Miss The Lunar Eclipse?

21 December 2010 Lunar EclipseFor those of you, like me, who were too damn tired to drag their sorry butts out of bed to catch the lunar eclipse two nights ago (21st December 2010),  here’s a really cool video of  what you missed.

This time lapse video of the Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse was recorded by William Castleman, from 1:10 AM EST (6:10 GMT) to 5:03 AM EST (10:03 GMT) in Gainesville Florida.

Hat-tip to BlogTown.

Kill The Ping! The Ping Is Dead!

DodoThis morning, prompted by Jeff Chandler’s post, Another Part Of Blogging Dies – Pinging and Paul Maloney’s, WordPress Ping Lists: Is There A Point Anymore?, I decided to take a quick look at the sites that my installations were pinging and evaluate their usefulness.

I was in for a bit of a shock.

The “ping” for those of you who don’t know or remember (and I forgive you if you don’t remember) was a way for blogs to notify services that a new post was published.

They could then unleash their spiders to crawl your content and otherwise spread the word that you had written the next “must read” thing. You know, the kind of content I mean… The all important “I’ve got a new favorite brand of coffee and I contracted syphilis from my cousin Susan” post.

These days we announce such things via Twitter and Facebook, but the ping predates those. The ping is old school baby!

There was a time when pinging specific websites after new content had been published would allow that content to be indexed faster instead of going by a web crawling schedule, the ping would notify the crawler to come early and index the new content. Search engines like Google are so fast at indexing new content on the web, I think the benefits of pinging have gone out the window.

While I’m inclined to agree with Jeff that the benefits of pinging have greatly declined I’m not about to stop a practice that may possibly drive me some traffic, even if it is just one or two hits, when it costs me nothing to do. You never know if those one or two hits may become subscribers!

Still, the benefits have to out way the cost and while it was costing me zero time to ping, it was costing server resources (timeouts on pings sent to dead servers etc… ) and over the years I’ve built up a large number of sites that I had WordPress sending pings to every time one of our sites published a post.

That list had grown to a staggering 77 different sites and having been neglected for the better part of two years, it was about time I cleaned it out.

I’m rather shocked and a little saddened to say that of the 77 sites on the list only 11 remain functional.

Here are the ones which are still hooked up to life-support:

http://rpc.pingomatic.com/
http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2
http://ping.feedburner.com
http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2
http://ping.blo.gs/
http://www.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php
http://www.blogoole.com/ping/
http://blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC
http://ping.blo.gs/
http://overskrift.dk/ping/
http://rpc.twingly.com/

As I’m sure you’ve noticed not all of these are based in countries with English as their first language, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of people interested in consuming content in other languages.

You’ll also notice that some of the services, such as Google Blog Search and Feedburner,  are already covered by Ping-o-matic, which WordPress pings by default. I’ve included them on the list because Ping-o-matic is, in my experience, unreliable and badly in need of an update.

There has only been 1 update to the Ping-o-matic blog since 2006 and that was back in March of 2009. It’s fair to say that it hasn’t received much care or attention from Automattic lately.

Some of the services which it list on it’s manual ping web interface are defunct. In some case the providers have discontinued their RPC ping receivers and in other cases even the providers themselves have gone the way of the Dodo.

As far as I’m concerned the era of pinging out your blog posts has passed and it’s time Automattic killed Ping-o-matic and the functionality was removed from WordPress.

The Ping is dead but it’s corpse still lingers stinking up the servers of people who, like me, haven’t cleaned out their lists in a while. I’ll still check this list periodically, removing servers as they finally die off, but only because I’m a mean bastard that refuses to let go…

That and I might pick up one final subscriber from the rotting flesh…

Must Read: The Internet Goes to War

If  you’ve been drawn in by the media flood of reports about WikiLeaks and the new “Internet-wide Cyber War”, or as ABC proclaimed it “Welcome to Infowar, Version 1.0″,  then this is a must read post.

Despite the thousands of tweets, press articles and endless hype, most of the attacks over the last week were both relatively small and unsophisticated. In short, other than than intense media scrutiny, the attacks were unremarkable.

via The Internet Goes to War | Security to the Core | Arbor Networks Security.

Child Abuse is NOT a Cartoon

Child abuse is not a cartoonDaily Shite came under attack during the weekend after Sara posted a satirical image which made fun of the current slacktivisim campaign on Facebook, which is to change your avatar to a cartoon in order to raise awareness of child abuse: Congratulations Facebook, You Ended Child Abuse!

My lack of affection for slactivism is well known and while we at Daily Shite deplore child abuse in all it’s forms, we strongly feel that campaigns such as this achieve little except to allow a bunch of people to give themselves a self-congratulatory pat on the back for doing SFA.

I’ve discussed in the comments on the post how you can actually DO something to make a difference – donation, volunteering, training etc… so I’m not going to get into that here.

Needless to say, our stance that this is little more than ego masturbation for the armchair activist has resulted in us being seen as very bad people. You know the kind – those who support pedophilia, hate children and don’t like puppies.

Such is the price that is paid for engaging your brain and not being one of the sheeple!

Rather than bore you with a  lengthy post about the ineffectual nature of slactivisim,  how disgusting and insulting this campaign is and discussing how it trivialises a real and terrible problem, I urge you to watch the video below.

Recorded by Phil Baumann, this video encapsulates what I want to say on the matter far more eloquently than I can manage at the moment. I implore you to watch this before commenting.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mB_F0IYwaU

A Few Thoughts On Google’s Ideas On Making Copyright Work Better Online

Pirate KittyGoogle’s General Counsel, Kent Walker, updated the Public Policy Blog yesterday to talk about some changes to their handling of DMCA take down notices on YouTube and how they are going to take action against spam blogs using AdSesne.

Here’s a few choice and possibly random quotes from the post before I throw out my decidedly random thoughts:

There are more than 1 trillion unique URLs on the web and more than 35 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.

But along with this new wave of creators come some bad apples who use the Internet to infringe copyright.

We’ll act on reliable copyright takedown requests within 24 hours.

we’ll improve our “counter-notice”tools for those who believe their content was wrongly removed and enable public searching of takedown requests.

We will prevent terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete.

We will improve our AdSense anti-piracy review.

Building on our existing DMCA takedown procedures, we will be working with rightsholders to identify, and, when appropriate, expel violators from the AdSense program.

Okay, enough quotes. Now for some quick reactions to the post.

Why is the automatic assumption that content is infringing when a DMCA notice is received?

Why, if my content is taken down should I have to apply to have it put back up? Shouldn’t the assumption be that I am using content withing the terms of “fair use” (unless it’s blatantly obvious I’m ripping something off) and make the person filing the DMCA provide explicit information on how it is infringing.  There might be a lot less DMCAs filed if companies and people have to explain how it is infringing and demonstrate that they actually know what infringement is VS fair use.

Google is placing an awful lot of faith in the entertainment industry to do the “right thing” and not much faith in their actual users. Or are the users the “bad apples” Kent Walker was referring to?

Blogs like TorrentFreak are going to have a hard time turning up on autocomplete. Anti-piracy blogs and piracy advocates alike will be smacked down by this one.

Good to see them making a move on spam blogs (splogs) but if they’re going to have a YouTube type procedure, then we’re all screwed. Prepare for rampant abuse from idiots who don’t understand, copyright, infringement, fair use, etc..

Finally, the thread on Googles post got into the usual “entertainment industry bashing” mode, but this interesting comment was made by Peter Griffon (it’s not his entire comment, he went off on a tangent, but this part was notable):

I think the “entertainment” industry just needs to realize no one wants to pay their outrageous prices for stuff. Instead of fighting with everything cut cost on stuff, people pirate stuff cause they cant afford it in most cases… I mean goto walmart and you see people digging thru the 5$ movies.. even thou they are B rated movies.. put new movies at 5$ they wont be able to keep them in stock…

Blog Cleaning

Dung Beetle

Cleaning up

While I had removed a lot of the unnecessary stuff that was making it’s way to the from page of this blog and kept it so you were only seeing actual posts, (as opposed to webcasts for other sites and aggregated twitter content) Sara pointed out to me that all of that stuff was still finding it’s way into the RSS feed.

That, I’m happy to say, is a problem no longer.

I’ve now stopped all the stuff I didn’t want cluttering the front page of the blog form making it’s way into the RSS feed and the only way you’ll find it (assuming you want to) is to go looking for it in the correct category on the site itself.

2 thumbs up for clutter reduction!

Happy days!

Ultra Geeky LCARS Home Computer (Video)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vOvDFxn76g

Ultra geeky software architect Pascal Heiden shows off the interface to a home computer he programmed to operate like the LCARS interface from Star Trek.

This is what I built in my home and this video is my own work. Both the computer and the software is self made. The interface is inspired by the LCARS interface from Star Trek.

Shown in this video are:
– Agenda/Calendar
– Shopping list (Groceries)
– Rain radar
– Train departure times (because the train station is nearby)
– Library & Media player (connected to home cinema set)
– Internet browser

Not shown, but also operational is bluetooth support (notice the Transfer button to send the shopping list to your telephone).