I am renaming August to the month of Broken.

The month is just over half over, and already things have gone and decided breaking is the thing to do. It started last week, with the near breaking of my plans to return home this past weekend–plans that were changed for other reasons, which will be elabourated on once the appropriate people have been properly hunted, nailed to the nearest wall, and my time and effort in aranging things is appropriately compensated–in blood, if necessary.

Then, earlier this week, the old blogging stomping grounds of LiveJournal, where I still occasionally show up mostly because I’ve yet to convert all the cool people away from it to much more fun things, decided it would be fun to break my LJ RSS hack. More specificly, one of their upgrades apparently broke their own authentication mechanism. That only ended up being fixed an hour ago–and not, laughably enough, before several people who were experiencing similar problems re: their RSS feeds had decided to bring it up quite blatantly in the dev community–I should really consider watching that community, now that I think about it.

Last night capped off the reason for renaming the month of August to the month of Broken. We needed to get laundry done. As in, like, ASAFP. Which turned out to be at just about midnight last night–hey, we never claimed to keep a normal schedule. That was around the exact same time we figured out that hey, this building’s supposed to have two working washers and two working dryers. This building has one of each. And the broken ones are broken in such a way that by the time we figure out they’re broken, we’ve wasted a dollar in each. Those are, to my knowledge anyway, still broken–we’re presently air-drying the affected articles of clothing. Sadly, my name isn’t on the lease here so I don’t get to personally scream in some poor maintenance bastard’s ear about it, but Jess will undoubtedly take amazing amounts of pleasure in doing exactly that just as soon as she can find 30 seconds to breathe.

Well into the third week of August, and we’ve already had plenty of things go breaky smash on a technical and non-technical front–an average of one per week at this rate. I’m officially renaming the month of August to the month of Broken. Now, to go whip something real quick up to make it official on this here website.

LiveJournal tries to be cool, impresses me in the process. Welcome, google Analytics!

As anyone who’s been following my ramblings for a while knows, I’m a recent and still in progress convert away from LiveJournal. To this day, I still blog on that site as Arinoch, though now it’s more a duplication of the content you’d usually find on this site. One of my big reasons for skipping out on LJ is the lack of control over what you actually have the ability to do with your blog. But, a slightly more important one–to me, anyway–was the lack of an ability to actually see who bothers to read the thing. Until recently, they had absolutely no means of statistical tracking. Which, admittedly, isn’t the primary reason I do this, but sometimes it comes in handy. They tried to correct that minor malfunction with their own, internal analysiss tool, called “My stats”. It was barely useful for more than to see how many of your “friends” continued to check up on you every 20 minutes. So now, they’ve taken the next logical step and gone with the use of Google Analytics instead, giving you the option to get as detailed or not a look at your blog as you please.

I’ve been using the same service on this site, after trying several things to see who would provide me with the more interesting stats–and, after consulting with one well-known expert in the field, Toronto Mike. And all I can say is it’s about goddamn time. If I hadn’t already switched from LJ, I’d probably reconsider doing so now. Particularly if they opened up what you could actually do with the blog you’re optionally paying them to host. Offering this, plus options for advertising on your own–hey, why should LJ-sponsored ads be the only option available–is a good start, though. Now keep it going. I may be tempted to not hang up completely.

What I’d like to see next? StatCounter support, for the realtime stats analytics doesn’t touch. Dunno why they don’t touch it, but oh well. Now, allow me to go play with this for a little.

On RSS geekery, and LiveJournal. Yes, I still use that–sort of.

One down side to my having moved away from LiveJournal and back to hosting my own blog is I have even less reason to go back and check various LJ pages. Lately, it’s included the friends page. Sort of sucks, since there are still several LJ users I want to keep up with, in spite of the fact I’m drifting away from using it myself.

A couple months back, in my quest for an RSS reader I could use from anywhere, I came across this software, which runs on a self-hosted environment. So far, it’s working out a lot better than I’d figured it would–so well, in fact, that I’ve actually set it up for Jessica to use. Now, if we can just get her using it. I’ve recently started adding the RSS feeds of various LJ people I follow, just so I don’t have to remember to pull up the friends page–I go into my RSS reader on a daily basis anyway, so they’ll be right there with everything else I read. So far, I have it set up to access all the public entries. But, thing about being on the friends list of some of these folks is that I actually like to read, you know, actual content. No such luck so far.

I tried to implement a form of basic access authentication, passing the username and password I need to give the LJ server as part of the RSS feed’s URL (example: http://me:password@you.livejournal.com). either LJ or the feed reader, though, doesn’t like that–I still only get the public entries. Trying to massage LJ’s version of digest-based authentication, which I don’t think the RSS reader likes either, gets me no farther.

LJ does some funky things with its digest-based authentication, which doesn’t lend itself to much in the way of strict URL manipulation. So I can’t, for example, do something relatively simplistic like, say, http://me:password@you.livejournal.com/rss?auth=digest and expect it to work. I mean, it should, but it doesn’t.

So, for the moment, I have some partially working LJ RSS feeds, and plenty of time to exercise my google skillz. In the meantime, so far what I’m using seems to be working fairly well. If I can just crack this digest auth issue, or find some other way to do it that doesn’t seem to be horribly broken, this thing’ll run like a dream. fortunately I have all kinds of time to do it. And I’ve been looking for an excuse to mess around with http stuff anyway. Probably just be a quick and dirty hack, but quick and dirty’s good, if it works. And this had better bloody well work.

Update. Well. It works. Kind of. Except not really, and not quite the way I was hoping. Messing around with trying to get my RSS reader to play nice with digest auth just wasn’t happening. Probably a good thing–I have too many people to be trying that on, and it’d get really freaking tedius after a while. Say, after about 5 minutes. So I did the second best thing. I cheated.

It’s quick, it’s dirty, and it may not amount to being a whole lot more than a temporary hack, but it gets the job done. Well, when it wants to. It involved snagging a copy of LJProxy, which is supposed to be able to make use of their login implementations, thus cutting my headache in half right there. It takes the LJ username/password I’m more than willing to provide it, makes use of LJ’s own client/server API–the same API any LJ client uses to do things like post entries, and grabs a list of friend groups and the friends you’ve listed in the said groups. Then, it makes easy use of their broken implementation of digest auth to nab the RSS feeds belonging to those friends. Finally, it compiles them into a single RSS feed, stored locally, that I can then plug into my feed reader–making about ten times less work for one lazy geek. Then I just slam that one feed into my reader, and away she goes.

Now, if it starts working on a regular basis, I’ll have what you might call my ideal package. There’s only one small problem. It doesn’t quite work that way yet. The instalation process was easy enough, and it does run–just not all the way through. It gets stopped before it can complete its pulling in of content and build the agrigated feed, possibly due to resource issues but even more likely due to problems staying connected to the LJ service. Currently, I’ve got 30 people in the group I’m testing it–the documentation says for best performance, keep it under 50. It’s only gotten all the way through the 30 maybe… twice. The highest I’ve personally seen it go, and stop, is 20. right now, it’s stopped at 8. How do I know it’s not a resource issue? During its second to last run so far, I pulled this from the server.

04:49:04 up 6 days, 20:36, 2 users, load average: 0.00, 0.02, 0.00

So, during the running of the collection routine, the system’s barely being touched. That rules out being killed on grounds of causing issues with something else. So I’m leaning towards timeout issues with LJ. When I get motivated, I’ll poke around and see what I can do about maybe correcting that. But, it’s entirely possible I’m going to have to wait for the connection to improve on its own. Or, failing that, go back to the drawing board. Fortunately, on this, I’m flexible. And, in the meantime, my dream rss solution is near. And hey, it’s an excuse to break something. I can deal with that.

The internet is not private. Live with it.

Not that it should really be a surprise to anyone, but apparently it is. Facebook made some pretty significant-sounding changes to their privacy settings about a month ago, further highlighting why it is I go through phases of avoiding the site. Michael Arrington, over at Tech Crunch, puts it pretty much in perspective. His message, more or less: chill out already. And, quite simply, it’s a message I happen to agree with, for reasons not too dissimilar from those mentioned in the post. The most obvious of those reasons though hasn’t been quite blatantly enough stated yet, so I’ll just go right ahead and do that.

Privacy, especially on the internet, is pretty much a myth. That goes for blogging sites, social networking sites, emails, you name it. If it’s been sent to the internet, by you or by someone else, you might as well consider it no longer private. And the same holds true for Facebook, even before it made those changes to privacy settings that resulted in things being slightly more public than before. So this concept of there having been any real means of security online is a little misguided. A non-Facebook example, but an example that could just as easily have applied to Facebook, will help the explanation.

LiveJournal has an option to restrict the contents of your hosted blog to only select people, authorized by you, to read. Now, ignoring whether or not I agree with their method for determining exactly how folks are authorized to read your content, this was their version of semi-privacy–it’s not immediately search engine accessible, but people you know or want to get to know still have access to read, comment, and otherwise do what they will with your restricted content. Including pass it off to someone who didn’t originally have access to the said restricted content. Or copy it from your own, restricted blog, and post it elsewhere–likely where a search engine or other curious individuals can easily get their hands on it. There just went that sense of privacy. It’s the same way with email. You may be sending an email back and forth to one person, expecting them to keep it between the two of you. But who’s to say they’re not adding an address to the BCC field? Or forwarding the email to someone else? And if the conversation happens to be taking place on a mailing list, pretty good chance it’s being archived–which probably means it’s now searchable by non-members.

Back to Facebook for a slightly more relevant example. You’re at a party, and a less than flattering picture of you is taken. Not something you’d post to Facebook, but something that you’d probably laugh about with a few of the people who were at that party. The person who snapped the picture, though? He has no problem posting it to Facebook. And the next morning, he does just that. Now, you and those select few people who might have been at the party can still laugh at the picture. But so can everyone who happens to be “friends” with the person who posted the picture. Not all of which you may actually know–or, for that matter, want to be able to see the picture. Again, there just went that sense of privacy.

In that respect, and keeping that in mind, Facebook’s privacy changes don’t really amount to a whole hell of a lot of actual news. The rules of the game don’t change–just the default settings. You still really have no more or less security now than you did a month ago. And the same old advice applies just as much now as it did 6 months ago. If you don’t want it to go public, don’t give it to the internet. That includes Facebook. Don’t decide to just throw it up there and then whine when someone you wanted to keep it away from just so happens to see it. If you didn’t want it seen by an undetermined amount of people, you wouldn’t have posted it to a place where it could be seen by an undetermined amount of people. And if you did so in spite of you’re not wanting to, then I dare say it’s your own fault, and hardly the fault of whatever system or service you happened to be using at the time. The internet is by no means a private place, whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LiveJournal, MySpace, whichever. Get used to it.

And in the category of absolutely do not want…

This needs to die in a goddamn grease fire. Dear LJ: You are not Facebook. You are not Twitter. Please to be not trying to be both Facebook and Twitter. No fucking love for that pile of epic fail, me.

PS: Show me which majority of users want this chanbe? … Please?

ETA: Okay, my moment of duh has passed. Note to self: do not cruise LJ while distracted, or half awake. And do not do so on April 1st.

PSA.

I am apparently not getting LJ comments all of a sudden. This as of… some point this morning. So if you leave something and it doesn’t get responded to, I probably didn’t see it. Prod me on IM, or in email, or something (it’s all over here). I’m not sure whether to beat my mail provider or LJ, but everything else is coming through, so methinks I’ll start with LJ.

I are not deaded!

Contrary to popular belief I still check on this thing (I’ve even been dropping comments!). There’s just not been any actual content dumped in here in a small age. Really, up until recently there’s not been a whole lot of shtuff to remark on. I finished up my trip to Jesica’s (samari76) by us ordering out on the Saturday, and just taking the evening to do that thing where we be as lazy as the day is long. I made it back to Ottawa in one piece, naturally, and pretty much took it easy for the next week or so. After that, things started to sort of happen in pretty quick succession. I’ll try and catch folks up with what I can remember, but it’s been pretty non-stop for a bit.

I found a handful of jobs that were subsequently applied for, though as of yet none of them have called me back. I’m still keeping my eyes open for leads, but as it stands right now, it’s not looking entirely too promising. Trish made mention of a site looking for someone specificly familiar with Freedom Scientific‘s JAWS for Windows program. And, since I, well, use the thing, I figure what the hell. She informed my mother of this, though, and in typical mother fashion, she knew there was a company that was looking, but went and forgot the important information. Specificly, um, which company. Brilliant. So, it’s pick Trish’s brain time. Other than that though, employment situation’s pretty well the same; that being completely and totally not there. Go me.

I also get to spend two weeks in Pembroke, *without* the parentals. I’ve been requested and probably required to take advantage of my unemployed status and am house sitting for them while the mother thing flees the country with my dad for a couple weeks. Which basicly means quality time spent with the puppies, and an actual house to myself. Complete with a decent satelite TV package. Not that the cable package I have is anything to be considered small, but hey, if I’m not paying for it, that just makes it that much better. At some point I’ll probably end up catching up with a few other members of the family, but for the moment, piece and quiet is the order of the day.

Well okay, that and hockey. The preseason has snuck up on me; I thought it started later than it actually did. Instead, it starts tonight. In… about half an hour, actually. Nifty and all that. Everything is right in the world. And the regular season starts in plenty of time for another little piece of excitement to happen.

The weekend of our thanks giving, Jessica will be coming up here to spend it with me and the family. She’s never actually had, I don’t think, what I’d call a family get together for thanks giving. Or if she has, she’s not told me. So this will be good for her. Plus, you know, the fact I’d love a chance to get to spend more time with her, even if it’s just for a few days. We purchased the ticket last monday, and as it stands now, she gets here on October 10th, and goes home on the 13th. The plan, then, is to have the dinner itself on Saturday, when we’ll have most if not all of us together for it. Which will actually be nice for more than one or two reasons.
So there, I’ve been busy. Just not necessarily, um… well, active. Oh yes, and LJ idol? Not happening this year. Obviously. Next year, though, we shall see. Depending entirely on how lazy/motivated/whatever I feel when it comes up.

Oh, and before I forget (I know, I already pretty much did), happy belated birthday, Nefertiti (almadefortitude)! Hopefully this trip around the sun’s as good as or better than the last one. Although by the sounds of it, it seems to be improving already.

PS: Piece and quiet can start now, seeing as the fire department just picked *now* to inspect our smoke detectors. Not pretty when you have two very territorial muts.

Writer’s Block: How I got on LJ

I’ve actually been here a grand total of twice. Once in highschool/college, on an account I hadn’t touched since 2003 until it was earlier this year deleted in favour of this one. I think, though I’ll be damned if I can remember, I was introduced to it back then by a couple people I used to regularly RP with. I lost interest in it halfway through college though, and went almost 3 years before picking up another bout of the blogging habbit (the end result of that is here. A little over 2 years later, clefurgey and I were conversating about why I don’t bother posting on LJ anymore. I had my reasons, and she was kind of all meh about them, so I contemplated making the switch. I’d started following masterofmusings‘s LJ about that time, and through him, was introduced to kittytech. And to this day I swear she wonders why the hell that was inflicted on her. After a couple conversations with both of them, during one of which kittytech and I got into a discussion of LJ versus what I was previously using. I decided to poke around a little, see what’d changed in the 4-5 years I’d been ignoring it, and the next thing I knew I had me an account. Well, now I had 2 accounts so the one that hadn’t been updated since a weekend I’d spent at my now x-girlfriend’s place had to go. And it did. And the drama free zone’s been over here ever since. A couple weeks later the ads irritated me so I upgraded to a paid account and haven’t looked back. I can see me maybe starting another blog elsewhere at some point, quite probably using the same platform I was using pre-LJ. Just not in the immediate future, and not for a personal one.