This Blog Is Not For Reading

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    • New note by bobjonkman 2 December 2019
      Don't worry about it. I know that's not really helpful advice, but I've had experiences like this too. I think of it as "the wheels falling off". I suspect everyone has these times, but most people won't admit it. An uplifting aphorism I heard in a movie: "It will all be alright in the end. […]
    • New note by bobjonkman 2 December 2019
      These all need illustrations for the box covers.
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by nev 30 November 2019
      RT @nev i'm well aware canada's healthcare system is vastly inadequate, but just imagine if the housing system were anywhere near what the healthcare system was like. for-profit housing should be as obscene as for-profit healthcare. flipping houses should be seen as as unethical as hiking up insulin prices.
    • Favorite 30 November 2019
      bobjonkman favorited something by nev: i'm well aware canada's healthcare system is vastly inadequate, but just imagine if the housing system were anywhere near what the healthcare system was like. for-profit housing should be as obscene as for-profit healthcare. flipping houses should be seen as as unethical as hiking up insulin prices.
    • New note by bobjonkman 8 November 2019
      Elois and Morlocks, from another work of fiction co-opted into a user manual for the 1%
    • Favorite 8 November 2019
      bobjonkman favorited something by inkslinger: The fan theory that the Jetsons and the Flintstones are actually contemporaneous to one another -- the Jetsons' sky cities being the land of the wealthy (or formerly wealthy, perhaps, since capitalist wage relations still exist, even in a world with literal robot servants) and the Flintstones being the descendants […]
    • bobjonkman repeated a notice by inkslinger 8 November 2019
      RT @inkslinger The fan theory that the Jetsons and the Flintstones are actually contemporaneous to one another -- the Jetsons' sky cities being the land of the wealthy (or formerly wealthy, perhaps, since capitalist wage relations still exist, even in a world with literal robot servants) and the Flintstones being the descendants of the poor […]
    • Favorite 1 November 2019
      bobjonkman favorited something by ericxdu23: Hi. I'm still here.
    • Favorite 1 November 2019
      bobjonkman favorited something by hubert: ♲ @cryptpad@social.weho.st: Exactly 5 years ago at 16:42, was the first CryptPad commit by @cjdelisle, the start of a very ambitious project to restore privacy in collaboration tools. We believed in it 5 years ago and we thank the 200 supporters and 10000 weekly users from 150 countries that have […]
    • New note by bobjonkman 24 October 2019
      Best thread in a long time! nEVILle Park's ( @nev ) #Arachtober: https://social.coop/@nev/102887815460533048

Archive for the 'blogging' Category

NaNoWriMo 2013

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 1st November 2013

Blacked-out NaNoWriMo crest

NaNoWriMo — Why so black?

For the last several years I’ve been hanging out with the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge WriMos at various write-ins, trying to absorb some writing talent.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, in which people (the WriMos) try to write a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November. That’s not as ludicrous as it sounds — 50,000 words over 30 days is only 1667 words a day (with 10 days off for good behaviour, at least, 10 days with only 1666 words). 50,000 words is about the size of Brave New World, which someone once told me was the benchmark for NaNoWriMo (but TIL that Brave New World has 64531 words).

The first year I participated I got a terrific start on my first novel. All 675 words. Last year I got as far as the novel description. 11 words. But this year I have better idea. I’ve got some unfinished blog posts queued up, so I’ll take their word count, flesh them out, count the word difference, and submit that as my daily writing quota. Of course, it’s possible that I’ll edit more out of an incomplete blog post than I’ll be adding, so there’s a very real possibility of a negative word count. If that keeps up I might end up with a deficit at the end of the month. Let’s see how the NaNoWriMo word counter deals with a Buffer Underflow.

Come join me in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge region pages. Here are some handy links for local WriMos:

  • See the KWC NaNo calendar, in plain HTML, suitable for printing and framing.
  •  

  • And if you want to include it in your own calendar software (like Microsof Outlook, Apple iCalendar or Thunderbird Lightning) use this iCal link (.ics file, 7.5 kBytes)
  •  

  • Or if you have an Atom/RSS feed reader and want new events to pop up in your news stream automatically there’s an Atom feed.
  •  

  • And if you’re looking to chat in these long, lonely November nights, I’m hanging out (all alone, I might add!) in the KW Nano Chat Room.
  •  

  • For those of you with an IRC program use the server irc.mibbit.com, select secure (SSL) port number 6697, and tune into channel #kwnano You might be able to click on (or copy’n’paste) the IRC link: irc://irc.mibbit.com:6697/#kwnano to have your IRC program connect automatically.

The NaNoWriMo crest has all rights reserved, and so couldn’t be used here. From their FAQ page: Logo: Please do not use our logo (or parts of our logo) on anything without our permission.

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Posted in blogging, copyright | Comments Off on NaNoWriMo 2013

Charming comment spam

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 6th July 2012

Smoke curls up

Genie in the bottle

This blog may not have many readers who leave comments, but it sure does have a lot of commenters who leave spam! Still, I make sure to go through the list of pending comments in case there’s a real one in there. Today, I came across one comment that was obviously spam, but charming with its fractured English and a punch line I hadn’t heard before:

AftequeAlew:
A houseman was walking on the beach harmonious day and he bring about a bottle half buried in the sand. He irrefutable to provide it. Stomach was a genie. The genie said,” I resolve agree to you three wishes and three wishes only.” The gentleman prospect there his beginning demand and decided, “I think I be deficient in 1 million dollars transferred to a Swiss bank account. POOF! Next he wished after a Ferrari red in color. POOF! There was the transport sitting in van of him. He asked in search his settled hanker, ” I wish I was irresistible to women.” POOF! He turned into a box of chocolates.

Genie in the bottle by zenoka is used under a CC BY-NC 2.0CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

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Posted in blogging, spam | 3 Comments »

Blogging Etiquette – Deletions

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 6th November 2011

The word "Delete" as grafitti

Delete

Primarily Perfect People are Permitted to Perfunctorily Pass this Post .

The rest of us, Prone to Pecadillos, may occasionally write blogposts and then change our minds about the content. When that happens it’s best not to make changes or delete posts without letting your readers know.

Instead of making a wholesale change to a post it’s better to create a new post. Imagine if someone wrote about a similar issue, quoted from your post and provided links to it. Now your post has changed, and the links no longer make sense because the content has changed. Or someone makes a comment on a post, the content of the post is changed, and now the comment has nothing to do with the post.

Instead, create a new post with a new link. It’s a good idea to keep the original post; you could delete it, but then other people’s links would return an error (that’s called “link rot”).

About the only good reason for modifying an existing post is to correct an error. Even then you shouldn’t delete the incorrect material, but indicate it should be deleted by using the <del> tag, and marking the new material with an <ins> tag. For example:

The Javan Rhinoceros <del>has only one survivor </del> <ins> is now extinct</ins> in Vietnam.

This would show with crossed-out text for <del> and highlighted text for <ins>, like this:

The Javan Rhinoceros has only one survivor is now extinct in Vietnam.

(which is a sad development, and may be worthy of a post of its own).

If you really want to delete a post then replace it with text like “This post has been removed by the author”. If you do that then you should delete or hide the comments too.

These are open and transparent ways to indicate deletions. It’s merely an online publishing convention, since there really isn’t a style guide for HTML like Strunk and White’s in the online world. Or, more accurately, there are far too many Strunk and White’s in the online world!

–Bob.


Delete by delete08 is used under a CC-BY-NCCC-BY-NC license

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Posted in blogging, code, valid html | Comments Off on Blogging Etiquette – Deletions

Four things to improve your search result rankings

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 26th December 2010

A bottle of juice with a Google label

Google Juice by Johannes P. Osterhoff

Now there’s a spammy title for you!

 

There are many people who specialize in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They claim to be able to improve your rank on search engines, but here are some common-sense tips you can apply yourself.

1

The best thing to maintain good page rank with ANY search engine is to have good content. This isn’t something an SEO company can do for you — you have to provide that content yourself. Repeating someone else’s content may bring you a few hits, but the search engines will quickly determine that the original site has hosted that content longer, and rank them higher.

Google is additionally funny in that they will count the number of sites that link to you, assuming that if you warrant many links, you must have something the Google customers want. If you switch Hosting Providers or change to a different domain name then anyone linking to the old domain name may have (temporarily) dead links. That will drain your Googlejuice right quick. If you have multiple domain names with the same content then the Google page rank is diluted. Better to have one domain with 1000 links than two domains with 500 each. You should ask your Hosting Provider to set up “301 redirected permanently” for any non-primary domains. Google is smart enough to figure out that http://www.example.com is the same as http://example.com, but I prefer no www. Why? See http://no-www.org/.

2

The second best thing you can do is to have valid HTML for all your Web pages. Sadly, many sites fail badly on that account (including this one). Have a look at the W3C HTML validator for this home page. As I write this, this blog’s home page has 29 errors. That will drain my Googlejuice right quick. If a search engine can’t parse HTML it won’t index content, or rank the page up high. That counts for all search engines, not just Google. I’ve written about this in Invalid HTML Considered Harmful. There are consultants that can help you correct invalid HTML; you may know one or two already 🙂

3

The third-best thing is to make sure your pages are accessible. If your site works well on alternative browers (PDAs, game consoles, cell phones) and assistive devices (braille readers, text-to-speech readers) and plain text browsers like Lynx then it’s a pretty sure thing that search engines can index the content too. Avoid Javascript, but if you use Javascript make sure that content delivery isn’t Javascript dependent — make plenty of use of the <noscript> tag. Don’t use non-indexable technologies like Flash, PDFs, Silverlight, or ActiveX. Google is getting pretty good at indexing PDFs and even Flash, but you’ll get better results with plain HTML. I’ve never seen a PDF that wouldn’t work as well-designed HTML. Non-indexable technologies won’t drain your Googlejuice, but they do nothing to boost it either.

4

The fourth best thing you can do is not play jiggery-pokery with hidden text, irrelevant keywords, cloaking, “sneaky” redirects, comment spam on other sites, or fake affiliate sites. If you try to outsmart search engines’ ranking algorithms to artificially boost your ranking, you may succeed for a few days or weeks before you’re banned altogether. That will drain your Googlejuice right quick. Besides, jiggery-pokery is a lot of hard work, better spent creating good content.

Update 1 March 2011: Told you so!

–Bob.

Google Juice by Johannes P. Osterhoff is used under a Creative Commons by-nc-nd license.

Posted in Accessibility, blogging, Internet, Javascript, Search Engine Optimization, search engines, valid html | 5 Comments »

Welcome back!

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 16th October 2009

Crossing the Floor

Crossing the Floor

This blog is not for reading at its new location… Here!

In politics, this would be called “crossing the floor” — not only did this blog move to a new domain name, but the underlying software has changed from Blogger to Wordpress. There’s a political statement if ever there was one.

The move isn’t done yet. There may be some superficial colour and layout changes, some slightly more substantial tweaking of sidebars and widgets, and possibly a very substantial URL change (I’d really like to get rid of “blogs” in http://bob.jonkman.ca/blogs/2009/10/16/welcome-back/, but keep the sign-in page at http://jonkman.ca/blogs/. Technical advice for crafting Apache rewrite code is welcome, and will be duly credited.

Now that it’s on the Jonkman Family web site, I hope there are other Jonkman family members who start their own blogs here too. You’ll need an e-mail address in the @jonkman.ca domain, but those addresses are available for the asking.

–Bob.

(image from Nizzlebop’s Gallery, labelled for re-use by Google Image Search)

Posted in blogging, code | 2 Comments »

Kindles and the Death of Newspapers

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 5th March 2009

News boards in Stratford, mostly from the Stratford Guardian or the Newham RecorderLately, there’s been lots of online hullabaloo about Kindles and the death of newspapers and journalism.

Dave at Wordsworth made me think about this, and like an old curmudgeon I disagree with everyone about everything.

E-books are not going to be the death of journalism, but they’re another nail in the coffin for newspapers. Regardless of what I’m reading or reading it on, someone still has to write it. There always need to be authors[1], journalists and bloggers. What I don’t necessarily need is another book, magazine or newspaper to clutter up all my horizontal surfaces.

Journalism isn’t dead, and Marshall McLuhan was wrong — the medium is irrelevant.

Neither are fiction and non-fiction dead, but the sales of physical books will probably continue to decline while the sales of e-books increase. Partly it’s because e-books are displacing physical books, and partly it’s due to long tail effects. Digital books won’t be pushed by your bookstore’s favourite sales force, and so a single title’s sales may well fall off when there’s so much other choice. But more titles can be published: Printing on demand is becoming cheaper, and the vanity press will likely be making a comeback. The total sales of all books are likely to be greater, since many more books can be published at next to zero cost, especially with digital-only titles, distributed online.

So why will I never get a Kindle? It’s not the form factor, although I’d like an e-book reader I can snuggle up with. Somebody needs to mash up a plush toy, a Chumby, and a Nintendo DS (the hinge and double screen would make it a great book analogue!) No, what completely turns me off the Kindle is the DRM, or Digital Restrictions Management. Unlike a real book, you cannot loan a Kindle e-book to a friend. There are no Kindle used e-book stores, and there will never be Kindle e-book libraries. All the convenience I take for granted about books don’t exist on a Kindle.

Unlike the United States, Canada does not have a “right of first sale” in its copyright law. Fortunately, this means authors or publishers cannot legally prevent the re-sale of a book. But with DRM they can technically prevent the re-sale of an e-book. This puts authors and publishers in a position above the law. They are now the ones who get to decide what we can and cannot read, at least on their devices.

So, no Kindle for me, and I’m not the only one.

The other Kindle hoopla has been the Authors Guild vs. Text-To-Speech. [T]he guild is asserting is that authors have a right to a fair share of the value that audio adds to Kindle 2’s version of books. Later the Authors Guild tried to backpedal :

The remarks have been interpreted by some as suggesting that the Guild believes that private out-loud reading is protected by copyright. It isn’t, unless the reading is being done by a machine. And even out-loud reading by a machine is fine, of course, if it’s from an authorized audio copy.

This is completely erroneous; for an e-book there is no difference between an “audio copy” or a “visual copy” . Once I have a legal copy of an e-book all the author’s rights have been satisfied, and it makes no difference if I consume that e-book with my eyes, my ears or with my fingers on a Braille device. It’s exactly the same bits in the e-book. Fortunately, the Author’s Guild has been held up to ridicule on this. Sadly, Amazon immediately acquiesced, and will be adding still more DRM to prevent us from using text-to-speech! Fortunately, Amazon has been held up to ridicule on this, too.

So, no Kindle for me. And it doesn’t look like any e-book reader manufacturer will get it right — all the other e-book readers have been crippled with DRM too, and e-book stores have to sell at least four different, incompatible formats. Even worse, the DRM is incompatible with itself. If your e-book reader breaks, you won’t be able to use the e-books you’ve already bought on a replacement device. Some e-book readers are keyed to the credit card number you use to buy the e-book, so if you change credit cards you won’t be able to buy new e-books for that reader.

So, no Kindle for me. I’ll stick to real newspapers, real magazines and real books.

And yes, Dave, I’ll still rely on knowledgeable people to read books (or e-books) and recommend them to me. There’s nothing like someone else’s fresh perspective as an introduction to a new author or genre. The problem with Amazon’s recommendations is that they get you into a rut — if I buy science fiction I’m unlikely to get a recommendation for a mystery. One of the highlights of visiting a bookstore is talking to the staff to get their views on what they’ve read. That in-person interaction is a valuable service you can’t get online.

–Bob.

Footnote 1: Full Disclosure — I’m related to writers.

Image by DG Jones, used under CC

Posted in blogging, drm, ebooks, journalism, kindle | 6 Comments »

 
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