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Where schestowitz.com Physically Resides

I’ve long advocated hosting from home, to the extent possible, but this site is managed from Northern Ireland and physically hosted in London since 2004. Maybe one day, provided a fast connection and assurance of no outages, I’ll host it from home. With rising energy prices we now see the media discussing power “rationing” (i.e. planned outages). That would completely mess up prospects of hosting from home.

London Sovereign House

Telehouse east London

Last night we had several site outages, which are very rare. I think this happens less than once a year.

The Diaspora of JoinDiaspora

Export of joindiaspora

AS per this account, about 7 hours ago JoinDiapora was taken offline. To quote: “As announced in our announcement, the server migration is currently underway. Given the size of JoinDiaspora’s filesystem and database, this might take a couple of hours to complete. We’ll post an update when we’re done!”

The data transfer was far faster than I had anticipated. Only a few hours passed before they posted:

And JoinDiaspora is “back”! As we’ve announced, the pod will be available in a limited mode only from now on. As such, all features are disabled, including the ability to post new content. However, you still can:

Export your data and initiate the account migration as soon as it’s done.
Send and receive private messages.
Delete your account.
Manage your profile and account details.

You can try and request an export of your profile data now. However, if the export fails for you, please hesitate the urge to try it over and over again. If it fails once, it will not work on subsequent tries. If you request an export and it looks like it never completes, that’s also fine. We will look into why the exports are failing for some users, and we have to fix those issues on a case-by-case basis. This will take time.

So what’s expected to happen now, based on this page, which I quote in part:

I am currently not able to export my data. What will happen to my profile?

Some of you are currently unable to export your profile data. You might either see an error message, or it might look like nothing is happening at all. We are aware of this.

After the infrastructure migration is completed, we will start investigating the issues with account exports. Everyone who wants a data export will get one.

If you’re currently facing issues, please do not keep retrying the export over and over again. Please don’t use automated tools like scrapers to manually acquire a copy of your data. Doing so will only cause exessive server load, which only makes our work even harder.

As we don’t know what’s actually causing the export issues and how we can best fix them, this work will take some time. For each export, we have to observe its progress and intervene manually if errors arise.

We don’t know how long it will take, but everyone will get their account data exported.

There’s no ETA.

My plan isn’t to make a real comeback to social control media but to just set up bots that link to posts in Techrights and TuxMachines. No extra overhead that way. I very much doubt there’s an intention to configure the JoinDiaspora domain and change the code to preserve existing connections between accounts. This means that even a diaspora (mind the pun) from JoinDiaspora will be very much lossy.

Many thanks go out to the various people involved in this. It’s understandable that technical debt added up to the point where a ‘lifeboat’ approach is required. At least they try to offer us lifeboats.

Export of joindiaspora

Social Control Media Isn’t Social Because You Don’t Lose Real Friends (or Social Life) Just Because Some Site/Instance/Pod Shuts Down

I will soon make changes to my microblogging routine. Probably some time next month. Here’s the alta vista of it.

“Social Control Media” is a term I coined many years ago; many people, even Wikileaks, have adopted the term since then. When I say “Social Control Media” I don’t limit myself to Twitter and Facebook; it also applies to LinkedIn (Microsoft claiming to ‘own’ your identity), GitHub (Microsoft claiming to ‘own’ your work/code), YouTube (video), and TikTok (crap). More importantly, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out in Techrights, Free software- and freedom-based sites aren’t robust to many of the same issues (volatility, misinformation) and even if they’re self-hosted, decentralised, federated etc. their existence is transient. Some sites or software will cease to be maintained within 5 years or less (in the case of self-hosting, a new version of PHP, for instance, can break the software you self-host).

Static sites with simple files are generally a good idea if you intend to keep your data, not only through the Web but whatever protocols will exist and get popularised in the future. More importantly, never rely on making “connections” online; make them “in real life” as real friends don’t need the Internet to keep in touch. I’ve hardly used the Internet at all to keep in touch with real friends.

Next Friday JoinDiaspora will go offline after more than a decade. When it comes back online it’ll be “read-only”, available temporarily only for users to be able to export their data and move it elsewhere (to another pod). All the connections will be lost, even if posts and comments are going to be preserved, according to the promises from the project’s core team.

Maybe I’ll fondly remember those 3,000+ “followers” I gained in JoinDiaspora.

schestowitz joindiaspora connections

What about the 2,000+ “followers” of Linux (TuxMachines)? I hardly ever knew them.

linux joindiaspora connections

After thinking about it for over a month and having spoken to another person who has posted heavily to JoinDiaspora for over a decade (with many “followers”, too) I am pretty certain I’ll migrate both accounts to another domain, another pod. I’ve not decided which one yet, but it needs to be something that can last and keep alive for at least another decade. As I explained here a few days ago, I’ve already lost more accounts than I can remember. I don’t want to jump from one dying pod to another soon-to-die pod. As for self-hosting, it’s out of the question due to complexity (Diaspora became bloated; I tried installing it almost 8 years ago and it was already very heavy and complicated to manage).

For me, IRC provides a more reliable means of communication and it’s vastly easier — not to mention a lot cheaper — to maintain.

Facebook: Peer-Maintained Surveillance Network, Now With Prompting

860640_cooperation

Graph theory is essential to the Surveillance Industrial Complex — the privatised branch which maps people and assigns risk levels to them, depending for example on who they meet/met and/or speak/spoke to. Facebook extracts an immeasurable amount of work previously carried out by the Surveillance Industrial Complex. It outsources the effort. The cost is being passed to the public in exchange for games and pseudo-status.

Recently, owing to a friend, I came to realise that Facebook no longer requires anything more than a person adding himself/herself to the site in order for surveillance to commence. Users are now prompted to inform on peers, even those whose accounts (profiles) are vacant or inactive. Family connections, geo-location, face recognition/tagging are all done by one’s peers now. The only thing more worrying than this degradation of privacy is people’s lack of awareness of the ramifications.

The prompting mechanisms add all sorts of relational metadata, adding to prompting for tagging of photos with names, even names of people who are not registered Facebook users.

I often hear arguments that go something along the lines of, “if you don’t like Facebook, then don’t use it.” Well, it’s not as simple as that. You may choose to leave Facebook alone, but Facebook will never — ever — leave you alone. The Surveillance Industrial Complex uses is to gather intelligence on everyone in civilisation. I can almost sympathise with countries that banned Facebook.

WordPress for Galleries

A new site I’ve launched, Maria Chain, uses a blogging software, WordPress, to act as a sort of photos gallery. This is the first time I set up such a Web site, presenting an artistic portfolio using WordPress.

SH Property and Libre/Open Source Software

ONE of my clients, SH Property, recently had the site redesigned. As I do architecture and programming for a living in a field which is very competitive, I often have to depend on tools that lower down the costs. The means by which I rebranded the site at the domain level only required Apache redirects, which sure saves a lot of money. It is worth noting that Libre/Open Source software was used almost exclusively to build the site and the previous logo/header/banner (when it was called SJ Property Investment), for instance, was created using the GIMP. It was temporary. Here it is:

SJ Property Investment

While Libre/Open Source software usually costs nothing to acquire, it’s far from impossible to make a living with it; services and skills — requiring manpower — are the real scarcity.

PHP Sucks on Backward Compatibility (or How ‘Gallery’ and PHP 5.3 Don’t Play Nice)

As a bit of a dinosaur in technology (I still use a Palm PDA and single- or dual-core AMD), backward compatibility and long-term support are important to me. I am not a fan of PHP even though many programs that I like (the latest being Roundcube) use it almost exclusively.

Many problems seem to occur for those who use old versions of Gallery with the latest PHP, which has become notorious for its backward compatibility deficiencies. One bit of software that I use which is not compatible with PHP 5.3 is Gallery 1.x. It’s a version that I hacked a bit to suit my purposes, so upgrading would flush all my customisations away. Whether a sandboxed compatibility mode is available (such that, e.g., PHP 5.2 is run for specified paths) I do not know yet, but based on what people are saying suppressing the warnings and errors should be possible. It’s not a real solution but a cosmetic hack. If your Web host undergoes a PHP upgrade to 5.3 it can lead to lots of issues associated with out-of-date software. “A short time ago,” wrote my host (with which I host about 10 domains), “we emailed you to let you know that we were upgrading all our servers to the latest version of PHP. This is now complete. We therefore recommend you have a quick check of your site and ensure everything is working as it should.”

The bottom line is, from my personal point of view, is that PHP yet again proves that backward compatibility is too much for it to handle and, as such, one oughtn’t rely on long-term usage of programs written in PHP. Other authors pointed this out before. It’s quite the blunder. In Web-based environments in particular, a case of “lose compatibility or get cracked” may become more common if we become dependent on PHP.

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Original styles created by Ian Main (all acknowledgements) • PHP scripts and styles later modified by Roy Schestowitz • Help yourself to a GPL'd copy
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