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Archive for December, 2007

Blogging Notes and Random Thoughts

A funny church sign
An example output image from the simple text-to-sign generator

HERE are some arbitrary notes that I keep in mind while trawling the Web and managing Web sites.

High Traffic

If my Web sites make the front page of Digg, then that’s x0,000 of visits from Digg alone (more impact than Slashdot), plus the ‘aftershock’ (sites that write about what they read on Digg). It’s scary to watch at times. I’ve reached the front page of Digg and Slashdot quite a few times (as the source cited, not just a story submitter). The last time was half a day ago and it knocked down a site.


I always have Netcraft in sight. Be aware that Netcraft is very popular among *nix sysadmins, so it’s biased in favour of that audience.

Tracking Own Site

Not tracking use is a good idea. The habit is time consuming and distracting. Vanity is its only benefit. It has no real impact on content that you write anyway. On the other hand, be aware that by tracking backlinks you can find out if someone says something incorrect about you. Technorati is a decent tool for (almost) spam-free tracking of citations.


NoScript (or equivalents) should always be enabled when browsing the Web, with exceptions. If only people knew the type of things that happen when they merely land on a page with JS enabled. Mouse being tracked, computer setup being probed and sent over the wire. Microsoft has some really nasty patents on it, so privacy was long ago forgotten.

Linking to Trolls

To clarify and put things in context, I don’t link to trolls myself. There are cases where inflammatory remarks are posted as a plea for attention. If someone does link to a troll, then I ensure people do not vote for it and promote it (social sites). rel="nofllow" has its merit as well.

Words to Avoid

I use the “Big Lie” argument quite a lot, but very cautiously because of what it’s associated with. It’s like a perfectly correct theory was poisoned by Godwin’s law. It is the same story when it comes to ‘patent terrorism’ (Sun exec and others), anti-Linux Jihad (Groklaw’s phrase), anti-Linux propaganda/brainwash.

When Going Against Someone is the Best Way to Help…

I was recently made aware of a Web site and startup called The Point. It is said to be “a new way of thinking about organizing actions like boycotts.” To borrow a description of the methods used: “When you start a campaign on The Point, you target a company and say, ‘Change, or else when X people join, we’ll all do something that will force you to change.’ So no one does anything until the campaign reaches its ‘tipping point’ — when you have the numbers to actually force a solution.”

This is related to the Web site Boycott Novell, which I mentioned a few moments ago. The site presents the point of view which is rarely covered and makes people aware of reasons to avoid Novell and move on to other solutions/companies. In that respect, the site has been very successful and cost Novell millions. Visibility/reach/publicity are the key. It’s long lasting due to RSS/search engines.

Signatures alone are not enough, but Bruce Perens played a role in a Novell boycott as well. He had 3000+ people sign a petition which is protesting against Novell’s deal with Microsoft. If there’s a site where people can quickly add their name to acknowledge that Novell lost their business, that would be it. In Novell’s case, Bruce Perens beat Shane and I to it.

The power of the Web (peers) has had many petition spots born. They can be made more effective though. One needs to hit abusive companies where it hurts — the PR image, which in turn hurts their wallet in the most effective (and long-lasting) way.

We sometimes pressure or present a list of conditions and suggestions for Novell. Last week, for example, Novell was pressured to stop with careless Mono development, to a certain degree. A former Novell developer acknowledged this after the GNOME Foundation found itself attacked.

To an extent, the site was inspired by the work of Groklaw, which brought SCO to its knees.

Boycott Novell is Fine

EARLIER today I participated in a audiocast and then came various links (including Slashdot) pointing at Combined with curiosity around Novell’s nightmare scenario at Wall Street, this meant that an already-increased interest in Novell had peaked. So, the server was brought to its knees and the site is now said to be “suspended”; in fact, the right text to use would be “overwhelmed by requests”.

The Web site enjoyed increased attention recently (much to Novell’s regret), but it was not prepared for this type of load (possibly tens of thousands of people requesting ~150 KB pages in a matter of hours). The site should be back to functioning shortly (it’s still cited in Slashdot’s front page at the moment).

I’m blogging this because I’ve been receiving E-mails asking about the situation. It would be easier to point people at this Web page, which resides on a completely separate Web server.

Linux, GNU/Linux, and Free O/S

MANY stubborn folks continue to insist that “Linux” is a more suitable name to use than GNU/Linux (even when entire distributions are involved). What if we just call edit a “Free operating system”? Our friends in the BSD side should receive some recognition as well because some drivers and work is clearly being shared. These are the two main families of Free operating systems, but the general audience will naturally assume that “Free” means “cheap” (and therefore ‘really, really poor’), not “libre”.

Propeller Grows Up – 400k Registered Users

As I pointed out recently, I’m still helping at Propeller where I am a Scout. We’re currently celebrating another milestone. Over 400,000 people have registered with the site since it was launched (as Netscape) a year and a half ago. This is a high pace of growth which places Propeller at the 2nd position among its particular market (second only to

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