The “I only know people who voted X” effect

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Sadly one of the biggest issues with social media and the “relevance” algorithms is that we each only see (for the most part) posts from people who share our own views. What this means is that Facebook, Twitter and the like are (maybe indirectly) more in control of the campaigning than those who are trying to disseminate a message. This makes social networks a very dangerous and polarising platform for political debate.
When will people wake up to the fact that having corporations in charge of our “free speech” is dangerous. We need a free and open platform for conversations and information sharing – a truly open inter-network maybe ;).

Please think before you allow your mind to be made up by what an app or website tells you what to believe in!

The social networking game

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The office kitchen chat last week was about Charlie Brooker’s recent TV programme “How Video Games Changed the World“. The finale of the show (spoiler!) was to include twitter as the latest game to have had a significant impact on the world. In the fashion that I expect he intended people started debating the validity of this but it was only a couple of seconds after hearing it I realised he had a point:

All social networking is a game.

Constructing posts, getting likes, browsing feedback, better understanding the audience and what works to create the next post hoping for a higher ‘like’ or ‘+1’ count. It’s also incredibly addictive – how many times on average do you check facebook or twitter? And how many times more do you check on a day you’ve written a really interesting post? Be honest now – include checking your email for notifications too! It’s almost inescapable, a function of our socially networked world. What are the rules? You may not know them or even have considered their existence and yet it’s clear that people can cheat. As the networks evolve so does our understanding of what an online social connection means.

But wait – it’s older than that. Consider the early internet when websites were evolving. Think of hit counters – competitions about how many new visitors you got each week. Communities and link ‘rings’ indicated you had interesting content – and you could be a member of many. Next consider Google, their world changing algorithm was based in link-in counting as ‘votes’ for your site and later included context as a modifier to eliminate fakes and cheats. Essentially they were assigning your site a score based on it’s popularity and quality. And then there’s the whole business of Search Engine Optimisation – essentially the sports coaches of the web popularity competition, followed by social media consultants promising similar goals.

How can you think for a moment that the internet as a whole is not a game? The largest, most popular and probably highest financed game of all time…

Importing a blog to WordPress.com (or Blogger)

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In trying to return to blogging I realised that the tools have moved on but my own blogging software had not – it was time to move away from another side project that would not be much missed. The blog portion of XSM (my CMS) did a good job of meeting the standards back in the day so I at least had an RSS feed from the archive. The aim was to move to an inexpensive (or free) hosted blogging platform that would have some easy to blog features such as an app or email-in-articles feature.

Having previously tried WordPress I decided to give Blogger a chance. The user interface is smooth and easy to understand but with plenty of options. The themes provided are comprehensive and I soon found one I liked. Importing was supposed to be easy – just upload the XML file you have exported and it would work… but no such luck – the importer just hung. It seems that Blogger is very particular about the XML formats it will work with and there is no documentation or feedback. It would, however, import from WordPress so, as there are many more plugins for RSS in WordPress I decided to try that. Unfortunately the WordPress.com hosted system did not provide this plugin so I spun up my own install to run the import. the RSS Multi Plugin for WordPress was able to load my blog but only 100 articles – not a problem as I only had 103. From there I exported the blog and ran it through the WordPress to Blogger site which worked smoothly. Blogger was then able to import the file. Yay.

I was almost done for the night but before I fell asleep I decided to download the Blogger app for iOS and write a quick post. Again the user interface was easy to understand, though rather limited. I wrote my post and saved it as a draft. CRASH. App gone. Not good. I loaded the app back up and my article was gone. I tried a shorter one and the same thing happened. Bad Google. Patience gone I decided to sleep on it.

In the morning I decided it was terminal and I should try WordPress instead. Amusingly I had deleted the instance I ran for the conversion process but WordPress.com was perfectly able to import my Blogger site and I was up and running again. I opened the WordPress app on my iPhone (having previously thought it was a little weak) and noticed it was actually pretty decent compared to the blogger app *and* it didn’t crash!

So now I am up and running on WordPress, it seems crazy I got here via my own WordPress install and Blogger but I’m confident now that I have made the right choice. With such great tools at my finger tips how can I fail to keep the blog up to date? Right?

Wish me luck, I’ll see you here again soon.

Using SearchMash instead of Google in Safari on OSX

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OK, so having played around with SearchMash for a while I decided to set it as my search engine for Safari.

Not an easy task indeed, but here is the answer, just follow the following simple steps:

  • open a Terminal
  • run “vim /Applications/Safari.app/Contents/MacOS/Safari” (without the quotes)
  • hit the “:” key to enter command mode
  • paste in “%s/http://%@.google.com/%@?q=%@&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8/http://%@%@@searchmash.com/search/%@?ua=safari/” (again without the quotes) and hit enter
  • save and quit by typing “:wq”
  • restart safari

Enjoy! of course, I cannot guarantee you will not run into any problems – do the above at your own risk – but it worked for me 🙂

I am Charlie Pace from Lost

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It’s funny that these quizzes are usually nonsense – but this one totally matches me, freaked me out a little!

You are: Charlie Pace
You almost have two different personalities. You are a good person but have some issues you’ve been struggling with. You aren’t one of the bravest people in the world but you defend what is closest to you. You are willing to fight for what you believe in, no matter the cost. You are also a smooth operator and your charm and honesty make people like you. You can be a bit cocky at times but definitely have the right to be. You feel the need to take care of people because of guilt from your past. Ultimately, you are a courageous soul and want to be everyone’s friend.

Esudoku goes global with a competitive edge

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Sudoku is now a global phenomenon. The logical 9×9 numerical puzzle was initially developed by an American before gaining popularity in Japan. Now the whole world has taken notice. And so has Retang.com…

eSudoku is the fastest open source logical sudoku solver available. It uses logical algorithms to calculate the sudoku answers. It also helps users learn sudoku as it explains each step it takes to find the answers. It can run on linux, unix, osx and there is an online version available at http://dev.rectang.com/esudoku.php.

… and now eSudoku has made a leap for freedom …

Rectang.com’s eSudoku is backing a new competitive daily sudoku game on Facebook. The Facebook application has daily sudoku puzzles varying from easy to diabolical. There is an unlimited time limit on each puzzle (up to one day!) and you gain points for completing each puzzle. More difficult puzzles are awarded more points and the leaderboard keeps track of the scores and rankings. The puzzles will get more difficult towards the end of each week giving new users a chance to get started. Esudoku is already proving popular. Check it out at facebook.com.

The next stage for eSudoku is developing a logical, equally rapid generation algorithm. Watch this space …