Wednesday, 8 February 2012
The relentless tide of technology
Google's recent "developments" have prompted me to take a little time out to reflect on some changes I have seen recently.
I have mentioned my sadness at the bookstores closing before. On the weekend we went to Book Affair. It is a secondhand bookstore in Carlton that I have loved since my student days. Many times I have enjoyed checking out books displayed in the window and browsing books in a quiet corner. We visited their new store on Elgin Street on the weekend and found they are closing in a few months. So look at the above picture of the couch in the basement and think of where you were when you last bought a book online and tell me which place you would rather be!
Big Brother is watching you! That is what the new policy seems to be about. I have read a few people commenting that with this new policy, Google will know more about you than your wife. For me, I hope it wont make too much of an impact. All my blog information is public anyway (I use Blogger which is a Google service) and I don't have a gmail address. The only thing that concerns me slightly is that Google will collect information about my googling (ie searches). But as some of the commentators have said, what do I have to hide? I guess what I really dislike is the idea that Google seems to be serving marketers and big business more than the users. But then again Google has made this blog possible at no cost too so maybe that is the price I pay.
On a more positive note about Google, it was a pleasant surprise that they have changed the comments so that I can reply to individual comments as a thread. I decided to stop moderating comments when we went on holiday in January and when I returned it seemed to work well. Hence I will continue this for as long as I don't see too much spam come through. I don't use the captcha code because I dislike using them myself. (I suspect that one of Google's other stealthy activities is to block more spam as I get less now than I used to.) I will of course still keep an eye on comments.
Blogger urls change
Another recent change is that my url has had a ".au" added to the end of it. So now I have both www.gggiraffe.blogspot.com and www.gggiraffe.blogspot.com.au. This sort of change annoys me both because I didn't choose this url, because the only reason E and I could think it might be done is for advertisers, and because it has affected my ability to edit my blog. (Update - just found this explanation of the url change from Blogger but not explanation of the changes to editing.)
New Blogger urls affect quick edit button and others
Just a few days ago I found the quick edit button (pencil icon) at the end of each post has disappeared. I googled it and found that others were also affected since the urls had changed. I am very annoyed about this as I like to correct typos and update posts with this button. Less concerning for me is that it has affected some templates. Very concerning is that I have just discovered that I can't delete comments any more which makes me wonder if I will continue to leave comments unmoderated if I can't delete spam. (Update - I have found I can still delete comments via the comments tab in the backend). The more optomistic side of me hopes it will be like my Delicious experience where big changes means I lost a lot of functionality but now it is even better than it was before the overhaul.
Update: 20/2/2012 just checked the google forum again - if you put /ncr at the end of your url (eg www.gggiraffe.blogspot/ncr) it will return the quick edit pencil but this needs to be done everytime you open the blog.
Picnik moves to Google Plus
I have used the free online photo editing software a few times for my banner and for event badges. So I was sad that it is no longer. Apparently it is moving to Google Plus. I don't know what that means for those of us who don't want to sign up to Google Plus. Having said that, for anyone who does want to use any of the photo editing software, it does not close until mid-April and until then all the premium products that we had to pay for are free! Now's your chance!
"About this Blog" page
I have created this new page on the menu bar beneath my banner. I have been thinking about the best way to have some things like my comments FAQs page and other resources on my top menu and I have decided to collect these sort of pages together rather than individual pages for each. I have got up a basic page but I plan to develop it. To fit my menu pages on one line, I have transferred my Kudos from a page to a post. It just seems the least important of the menu pages and will fit into About this Blog page nicely.
Not information technology but as good a place as any to mention my gas oven that I bought last year. We have had technicians out 2 or 3 times so far. The one that came out this week said that we have some problems with our gas supply being on the weak side. This explains why a new oven (and my old oven) have also needed to turned up quite high to cook anything.
I thought it might be timely to mention the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) while I am talking about the relentless development of technology that makes me feel like a cork bobbing along on a sea of change. I confess I didn't look into this act very closely but what I saw alarmed me about punishing people for linking to dodgy sites. While it can be done with dodgy intent, it can also easily be done innocently. More information at SOPA Blackout and Wikipedia. I hope the current media silence on it is a good sign it might go away but maybe that is just me being optimistic again!