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I must admit, cloud services are beginning to grate on my nerves.

  • I am frustrated with webmail clients outside of my own domain email, through Roundcube.
  • Cloud storage is nice, but very insecure now. I already have access to a NAS, and as such, it would be effortless to keep my files there.
  • I want more control over what I can do with my website, such as being able to implement OwnCloud for myself, and a personal Dreamwidth instance.
  • I want to run my own email and XMPP servers, to take control of my communications. I want everything under my own domain.
  • I would also like to run my own search, but that would have to come later, once I learn how to make the Seeks Project work properly.
  • On top of running my own XMPP server, I want to run my own private Jappix node, along with a Jappix-Me installation.

Of course, the solution for all of this is to roll my own, as I do have the technical knowledge to do so. However, my ISP would likely not appreciate such an action, as it can be taxing on their connection if I were suddenly attacked. In this age of revenge hacking and constant threats from “black hat” hackers, that is something everyone should expect, no matter what.

So, what are my options? Well, aside from using the NAS, I simply need to figure out what I can and cannot do myself. Seeks Project and a personal XMPP server are possible, as is my own email server. Other pieces of the puzzle may be a bit iffy, but I still need to look into it.

I will still keep my Office 365 subscription—as having Office is nice—but I am becoming wary of OneDrive/Box/Dropbox for the most part. I do not know why, but something tells me to keep an eye out for a big security news story involving cloud storage soon.

teradyneezeri: (Default)
"We are a federation of microbloggers who care about ethics and solidarity and want to quit the centralised capitalist services." - Quitter.no

This quote says a lot about the Free Software Foundation's continuation of the StatusNet project. It says that they are willing to use their software as a political platform, at least in my eyes.

I used StatusNet before GNUSocial, and was quite happy with it. Decentralized system meant that I could easily run my own instance and other people could connect…at least if my hosting provider allowed access to that sort of thing. Sadly, two-way subscriptions are broken with the hosting package my mate has given me, and would need a VPS or dedicated hosting for me to open it up.

Regardless, even using the public instances was rather nice. The communities tended to be rather pleasant, though some things I said on the public Identi.ca instance were used by FSF zealots to further their political and ideological causes. In general, people were rather kind and open-minded, especially compared to the rather horrid community that has taken over Twitter after it became mainstream.

I have not tried GNUsocial's public servers, but from what I can tell, they are exactly like StatusNet aside from the community. The community seems to be more oriented around the Free Software Foundation's more forceful ideology and political stances, rather than the open-mindedness that Identi.ca had.

However, I did remember that the creator of StatusNet created a new product called Pump.io, which was supposed to be based on an activity stream, rather than the concept of Microblogging. I have an account, but I doubt I will do much with it. I still prefer using my Jappix account for both chat and social updates, and as it is based on XMPP, I love it all the more.

That said, I do not think I will ever see anyone that I personally know abandon something like Twitter or Facebook for another service. The PayPal effect—in which a popular service becomes more popular due to its large userbase, and becomes too big to fall—is rather strong with those companies. On top of that, Facebook's ability to automatically filter topics through machine learning is a very useful feature, and one I myself take advantage of constantly.

It does not matter how much you try to have people try alternatives, as without a majority of their friends joining them, they will see it as useless and simply go back to the other service. I have seen this myself while attempting to convince others to try XMPP over Skype, with only a select few even considering it.

Likewise with Twitter and Facebook. I have attempted to get others to try Facebook, but between misinformation spread over Twitter and the like, Facebook's moderation team being inconsistent on their interpretations of rules, Mark Zukerberg's depiction in the horribly inaccurate movie The Social Network, and other issues from Facebook's general staff, people are very unwilling to even try the service.

I have effectively given up on that, and interop is nothing short of a dream. Meh. Choice is golden, no matter what.

teradyneezeri: (Default)

I would normally not touch campaigns from people like the FSF and EFF, but in this case, I have something to say that is not a simple series of angry growls and the desire to set fire to office buildings.

Occupy Flash (I wish I were making this name up) is an apparent movement to push people towards uninstalling flash entirely, removing it as an option for web developers and web designers to use. Their reasoning is as follows, from their manifesto:

Flash Player is dead. Its time has passed. It's buggy. It crashes a lot. It requires constant security updates. It doesn't work on most mobile devices. It's a fossil, left over from the era of closed standards and unilateral corporate control of web technology. Websites that rely on Flash present a completely inconsistent (and often unusable) experience for fast-growing percentage of the users who don't use a desktop browser. It introduces some scary security and privacy issues by way of Flash cookies.

Flash makes the web less accessible. At this point, it's holding back the web.

In many ways, this is absolutely true. Flash is a rather painful plugin that has many security problems. However, then you scroll down, and see this:

The only way to truly force the web to embrace modern open standards is to invalidate old technology.

In my eyes, this is not only hypocritical, but entirely against the idea of an open web. In a time where many developers state they want an open web while pushing for the idea that "everyone should use Chrome," I am utterly convinced that people—including web developers—do not know what the term open web actually means.

The open web is one where people have choice, and people make choices. Where you can make websites that have DRM on elements, paywalls that block content, and plugins like Flash and Java. Where you can choose to use a browser that has features that others do not, such as Kmeleon, Rekonq, and Midori. Not where you force your choices on others.

There are still many people out there who think the only way to build a website is to use a bunch of JavaScript frameworks, like node.js and Angular. Some of them even try to force those beliefs on others.


The other problem is that HTML5 is not ready for the regular user to create things like animation, at least not easily.

Adobe created the Flash suite, which made it almost trivial to create animations and games with timed audio and video. The suite itself was designed to be user friendly for creators, not just developers. The plug-in was standardized in a way that would let you write once and run anywhere, and all you require is a single plug-in that can be disabled if you do not want to use it.

There are no applications or suites which would make it easy to do the same in HTML5. You need CSS, HTML, JavaScript, possibly SVG and other pieces. For 3D animations, you need WebGL. And all of this is assuming that someone is running a browser which will support everything you need, and/or has JavaScript enabled. Unlike Flash, you can only really disable flash, as HTML5 audio, video, and canvas elements cannot be disabled at all, or at least not easily.

As has been pointed out to me, unlike Flash, HTML5 offers an easy way to create such a tool. However, I will also point to KompoZer and BlueGriffon, two web design/development tools to make it easy for users to make websites. Neither of these tools have been updated in a long time, and are effectively vaporware at this point. No one is stepping up to make anything similar, as many people in that sector believe you should just encourage others a developer, rather than saying "people should not become developers just to display art."

People hear about the problems with Flash, and I will not argue that there are major problems with the platform, but that seems to be all they hear about now. They do not hear about the fact that it helped someone jump-start their game development dreams, or to help create a great animation that others could enjoy. They do not hear about the fact that, if someone were to find a vulnerability in HTML5 audio or video, that there is no way to easily stop such elements from loading without using something like an ad blocker, and there is no way to disable audio or video on a per-site basis.

With Flash, you do have the option to easily set click-to-run on Firefox and Chrome (and others), or to even disable the plug-in entirely. Firefox does so automatically if it is found to be vulnerable, but I would argue that doing so is very anti-user, as they are not making that choice, Mozilla is making it for them (treating all users as idiots, rather than as people). Hijacking someone's browser "for their safety" is still hiacking their browser. Likewise, taking someone's choice away in the name of "advancing a standard" is only going to hurt users in the long run.

Honestly, the plug-in architecture, despite being vulnerable in many cases, at least gave users a way to stop using bad plug-ins. It also offered a way to create your own plug-ins for others to use, rather than forcing a single monopolistic standard that cannot be disabled.

Users can simply use older browsers, avoid Chrome, and tell developers to "go away" in the end. That is their choice, and web developers have no say in the matter. The open web will remain open, despite what so many do to go against that.

Then again, it is not like many web developers will even notice. They are too busy trying to impress each other with their "framework of the second".

teradyneezeri: (Default)

I will state this here, as I did so in a comment elsewhere.

For those who do not know, Wallpart is a website form a Russian company which makes prints of images from the web, usually from basic image searches on various search engines. People seem to think they are committing "art theft", but this is not the case.

1) This is a Russian company. Therefore, they technically do not have to follow any laws except Russian laws. I am not a lawyer, but I am fairly sure that Russian copyright laws do not mesh well with US/EU copyright laws.

2) They are not storing any artwork on their own servers, which is the primary reason they are able to have such a service. All of the artwork you see is from Google Image Search, among other engines. They even state that they simply link their site to search engines. It is similar to someone going to Kinkos or a similar physical store and asking for a print from a USB drive.

3) Due to a combination of 1 and 2, what they are doing is technically not illegal, though it can be argued as immoral. Unlike actual art theft (claiming ownership of the copyright or attribution for the artwork, or uploading artwork that does not belong to them), this is simply a service similar to what is given by many professional and independent printing houses in the US and EU, only using the internet as a method to find images to print. They do not claim ownership, nor do they actually post any of the artwork themselves, which means that there is no actual art theft occurring.

I many not agree with what they are doing, but if you are honestly offended by what Wallpart is doing, the only option is to make it so that your artwork does not appear on any search engines, and that is assuming that their users are only using that feature. You cannot legally stop someone from obtaining a print of a file for personal use, at least not in the US.

Unless Wallpart begins hosting files themselves, what they are doing is completely legal, whether an artist likes it or not. End of discussion.

teradyneezeri: (Default)

Mozilla Webmaker is a tool designed by Mozilla to teach people how to make their own projects for the web. Notice the emphasis, and look at the page. Notice a slight bit of irony?


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teradyneezeri: (Default)

Earlier today, I cam across a post in my RSS feeds from one Benjamin Kerensa, titled "Can we kill Adobe Flash?"

The problem with such a move is that, by killing flash support in one fell swoop, quite a bit of the "old web" becomes unusable. Old flash animations and games become inaccessible, and many users would revolt by simply using old and insecure browsers. Just look at how much pain there was with bringing people away from Windows XP, and IE 6.

Unless Mozilla—or a combination of browser vendors—release a tool to convert flash applets to HTML5 with few issues, such a change would simply anger users, and potentially turn them against the open web.

It also does not help that browser support for various tools needed to emulate a Java-like or Flash-like development environment range from "fragmented" to "non-existent". With both Java and Flash, there is a common ground—the Flash player, and Java JDK/JRE—which they can learn, and expect that all systems will run their code the same way.

The primary reason that many flash animators (that I know) refuse to switch to HTML5 is due to the lack of tools that make it easy for them to simply create their animations without any need for coding. As they would say, "I don't wanna code. I just wanna make my art." We need something akin to the Flash creation suite before HTML5 would become an option for them.

Unity came close to making a great platform for games, but HTML5 lacks some of the tools that their NPAPI tool has—locking mouse cursor to a window in a first-person shooter, for example. With NPAPI support ending soon, Unity is going to be hurting, and that will hurt adoption of the web as a platform. People will not turn to the web for publishing their games, but will instead turn to desktop and mobile applications.

Edit: I would also like to add that this idea of "force change or do nothing" has become so annoying, that I can see why more and more users are beginning to dislike and distrust developers, and why many more are abandoning the idea of becoming one. This mentality strikes me as anti-"open web", not pro-"open web". That, in my eyes, is a severe insult to the mission which Mozilla holds so dear to its heart.

teradyneezeri: (Default)
Today, while browsing through my usual news feeds, I came across this story in VentureBeat | Dev, titled "Mozilla’s plans for Firefox: More partnerships, better add-ons, and faster updates". I noticed the following section in the second of the two emails which the article linked to, titled "Revisiting how we build Firefox":

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Just a few moments ago, I wrote a rather long and detailed answer to a question on Quora, "What are the advantages and limitations of XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol)?". I would like to share the answer here, as I placed a lot of effort into writing it.

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Early this morning, while I gave myself a bit of rest from working on a large document, I decided to meditate for once. I knew that it would help calm me, and as I mentioned to my master, Achiga, I felt like "shoving my keyboard through my laptop" out of frustration from issues with the many problems currently swarming my home.

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Something which I mentioned in an entry only a short time ago, was that I have issues with focusing on anything. If I am being disturbed by anything—whether they be messages or someone walking up and talking to me—I am completely unable to do any work. It had even gotten to the point of desiring to put a steel spike through my phone just to stop having my thoughts interrupted by it.


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Disclaimer: Please be aware that this entry will be written entirely in a third-person view. If the reader is disturbed by this, they are welcome to turn to another website.

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Note: If you believed some of my previous entries to be too long, you will likely be "turned off" by the length of this entry.

After my dreams from the previous two nights, I now wonder if perhaps I am beginning to allow my Legecian side to take over once again.

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I mentioned in my prior entry that I would have an exception should I enter such a hermit mode. That exception is my XMPP account.

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This may be something of a long read, but I apologize. I write thoughtstreams as I think of specific subjects, with little editing. They are a look into my actual thoughts, after all.

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Something which I have seen that continues to bother me is the reduction of status states in regard to messaging systems.

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Earlier this morning, I discovered http://me.jappix.com. It utilizes a Jappix instance to provide a public-facing profile for those using the federated system, and acts as a way for people to discover other users. Jappix itself can also be used as a social network, with status updates and commenting systems. All it requires is a proper XMPP account or server to act through.

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Yes, I still use social networks, and I wish I did not need to. However, I would be effectively isolating myself from people I do enjoy talking with if I removed myself from them.

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I am almost 30 solar years old now, with my next birthday being December 10th. I had a poor education which I have yet to correct, no college education, skills that seem to be lacking any need in current markets, poor health that I cannot correct without money (or at all, in the case of my back), and little in the way of ability to learn new skills without considerable effort.


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