Monday Technical.

This is the end of the difficult part of the year and the beginning of the harder part. From Labour weekend (25th October is Labour day, but it is Mondayized — yes that is a word in New Zealand ) until Christmas things just get busier and busier. During this time we generally review who provides us with internet services, web hosting, and what to do with hardware. At present, our motto is that if it can be done cheaper elsewhere, we will do so.

As far as the website is concerned, the big changes were made last weekend. I have noticed that the amount of bot driven traffic and spam has reduced. No new changes, which is good.

The question of platforms

Part of this experimentation — which will start probably once the crazy season is over — is to consider if wordpress still cuts it. I experimented with Ghost a couple of years ago, and they now have a transition from WordPress to Ghost. The limiting factors are (a) commenting systems — WordPress is now very robust here and (b) the ability to self host and not be dependent on the ghost.io systems.

The problem with wordpress is that I switch almost everything off. I don’t use Jetpack. I don’t use Gutenberg. I prefer to use the text editor. At times I write html code by hand. So most of the “user friendly” parts of the current tool kit in wordpress are, in my view, un needed.

Ghost is better for content generation, but not discussion. I’m going to watch this space. I do know that the field is changing rapidly.

Zoom and hardware.

One of the things that I spend a fair amount of time having to do, like most people, is meetings via distance. At work the stack is — a high density webcam, zoom or teams, and a headset. This suffices. But a couple of comments.

You need a webcam. The webcams in most laptops — are not good enough. You also need headphones. I have to use the webcam mike and speakers at times when I have a team with me zooming in, and they are simply not as good.

20180703_webcam_floorplan

So, to set up at home for important meetings, I need to replicate what I have at work: a webcam on top of the monitor, preferably 1080p. Getting hold of hardware at present is… challenging. If you want to spend around $250 Kiwi, you can get a streaming webcam in the holiday sale.

My solution? Take the work webcam home with the work PC if I have to do anything important.

The heat death of social media.

The elite are now officially the appeal authority at Facebook. You should have deleted your facebook account by now, but I do have instagram for some people in my life. Facebook and its apps sneak back in really easily.

Given the rapidity with which Facebook and Twitter are taking things down, this board will be challenged. In real courts.

The creation of Facebook’s oversight board is designed to effectively hand the last word over to the expert panel, possibly taking Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives out of the picture on writing speech rules — and sparing them having to answer questions from users, lawmakers and journalists.

But one of the co-chairs, former federal judge Michael McConnell, said he expected the board to have a steep learning curve.

“We are not the internet police,” McConnell said. “Don’t think of us as sort of a fast-action group that’s going to swoop in and deal with rapidly moving problems. That’s not our job.” The job, he added, was to hear appeals of decisions that Facebook has already made.

The board’s decisions will be binding “unless implementation could violate the law,” Facebook said. The decisions will also apply to Facebook-owned Instagram but not initially to WhatsApp, where content is generally encrypted. Membership on the board is part-time. The board isn’t disclosing its compensation.

And the anti trust system in the US is looking at Google: the other big media will also be in the spotlights.

While the case seems rushed for political reasons, it at least breathes some form of life into the United States’ dying antitrust laws when it comes to the major technology companies. It’s far too early to tell if anything serious will come of this, as the related court cases and legal maneuvering will take many, many years – and the upcoming US presidential elections could play a role, too.

Google, for its part, beats the usual drum all anticompetitive companies accused of antitrust violations beat: we are the best, people choose to use us, there are enough alternatives, our deals are not illegal, others do it too, and so on. These are only the premeditated opening salvos to a very long war, and I’m sure we’ll have tons of fun covering this fight for years to come.

The resurgence of paper

I note that now outlook is tightly integrated into Office 365 and teams, that your email and notes are no longer for you. This is one reason that I will continue to use paper for much of my thinking and planning. A stack of A5 notebooks works better. The same thing applies to books that matter. You need hard copies: starting with the Bible and Book of Common Prayer and the main poets, to the old literature.

There are a couple of ways to sort this out. One is to support Castalia Library and let the Supreme Dark Lord curate your books. The other is simpler.

Pull about the same amount (50 bucks or so) and once every couple of months go to a decent used bookshop. Look for old editions of Everyman books, or similar. If it has lasted 100 years in good condition it will last a hundred more. A bonus trick is to take the old best seller books and science fiction that are ephemeral and sell them, freeing up space in your library for things you will read and re read. This includes multiple copies of books.

Like your garden, your library does need weeding and editing. It should improve with age. It will be these curated collections that will survive when Facebook and Twitter and one with MySpace and OS/2.