Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The relentless tide of technology

I have Luddite tendencies.  Once at school I didn't want to do computing and was called Mary Lou Cabbage Patch by a teacher.  It is not that I don't like technology.  I am a blogger, after all.  It is more the stealth in which technology works.  I wish technological changes would be presented to me by a courier with a list of items, a return address and a choice to sign if I choose to accept it.  Instead they sneak in like a thief in the night, often bringing benefits but rarely do these happen without some loss.  

Google's recent "developments" have prompted me to take a little time out to reflect on some changes I have seen recently.

Book Affair
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!

Google Privacy Policy
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.

Blogger comments
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.

Gas oven
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.

SOPA
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!

18 comments:

  1. What a comprehensive collection of points! I don't know where to start, except to share my sadness at that bookstore closing. That picture is extremely enticing and it's horrible to think it's shutting.

    I hadn't noticed the 'au' bit on the end of blogs but now notice it's on mine too. That is irritating. Generally, though, I find Google to be better than most large-scale corporations (think facebook...) and so I cut them a bit of slack. Only so much though!

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    1. Thanks Kari - seems to have been a lot of technical changes already this year! makes me want to curl up on that nice couch - I agree that google doesn't seem to do these sort of changes a lot but lately there have been more than usual which worries me

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  2. I didn't notice the .au on the blog URLs until reading your post. I have been enjoying some of the recent feature updates like replying to individual comments and also subscribing to comment updates on other people's posts.

    I like your updated About page too! It was interesting to read about your food likes and dislikes, it appears we are total opposites when it comes to lemon desserts. :)

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    1. Thanks Mel - I didn't notice the .au until I started digging around because of the quick edit button disappearing.

      Have never liked lemon desserts but maybe could make the exception for a lemon cheesecake (I did say on my About me page that there is always an exception). Actually it is my About this blog page that is the new one - and I notice it isn't in good order so will get it sorted soon

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  3. Interesting set of thoughts on lots of matters that I hadn't really considered.

    I have Luddite tendencies and don't much like change, but am ok with some technology. The thing that irritates me most is that these new things just spring up and everyone else seems to know how to use them (almost instinctively it seems) whereas I feel as though I am fumbling in the dark (thinking of twitter, facebook, pinterest, and so on and so forth). I prefer to learn by being taught, then by doing rather than attempting to teach myself 'on-the-job' as it were.

    Out of interest, when I visit your blog I am directed to the blogspot.com version, but having just checked, can also access you via blogspot.com.au I wonder if it will automatically change at some point and if it's to do with the location of the visitor?

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    1. Thanks C - I think the web has given rise to lots of small changes because now a small thing can be done quickly and easily without having to shut down every computer or upload new software like in the past - the frequent updates that the computer asks me to do really annoy me - esp the Mac ones that are all for iTunes I don't even use it! I don't mind learning on the job but I like to know where to look.

      When I go to other blogspot urls they are automatically being given a .au address no matter where they are - seems very counter-intuitive. Esp as Google says it is so they they can do country specific changes.

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  4. I must admit I didn't read Google's new policy but I should. I appreciate you highlighting some of the changes! I use a lot of gmail's programs like blogger, email, reader, calendar.

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    1. Thanks Ashely - I should update this post to actually say that one of the main changes (as far as I can see) is that they can now link up all your data into a complete pic rather than an individual having lots of different accounts - I don't quite understand this - how much can they track the searches? how much can they link up one person with different email accounts (I have four addresses I can use) - glad the info is helpful

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  5. Hm, I'm not a fan of sudden changes imposed on me. (Facebook is *big* on that as well. :S) The single reply feature is a nice one, though.

    I love the picture of the book store! The most comfy place. :)

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    1. Thanks Kath - those sort of changes is one reason for me to keep away from facebook! Yes I thought maybe I should have called the post the Comfy Chair in homage to Monty Python :-)

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  6. I definitely have luddite tendencies too and hubby has to drag me to do things. I saw the Oatmeal's SOPA cartoon and I thought that that explained it really well (I'm serious! :) ).

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - I really need someone to drag me out of my luddite ways every now and again - looked up the oatmeal sopa cartoon - very amusing way to learn about it!

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  7. I don't see an au at the end--but I go through Google Reader, so maybe it automatically brings me to the old URL. And I also hate captcha codes--glad you decided against it!

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    1. Thanks Ricki - I think it seems in Australia that we see the .au but you wont see it in other countries - it really is a mystery to me what google are doing but wonder if that is why you were having trouble with my comments as there seem to be so many changes lately

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  8. I have been irritated by the recent Blogger changes as well - I want to make some edits to my link list and this is currently impossible, even through the back end. Hopefully they'll resolve this soon and the quick-edit buttons will return.

    Meanwhile there is some major internet disruption tonight that is affecting all Optus and many other customers! The one funny upshot is that many Australia-hosted sites are unaffected and now that Google has decided our blogs are *.au, your blog and mine are still completely accessible. :-D

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    1. Thanks cindy - that makes a lot of sense about why we are having weird internet slowness on some sites - at least the .au is good for something!

      Can you edit your link list through the design tab? I found I could only delete comments through the comments tab but I could do it. I have noticed that backgrounds have been restored which gives me some hope but I also noticed today that some of my links weren't working as a result of the url changes - most displeased about that!

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    2. I've been trying the Design tab daily! There is something about the javascript that is messed up at the moment. :-/

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  9. I have similar frustrations with technology and found myself nodding my head to many of these! I haven't heard much about SOPA since the "blackout" a few weeks ago, so hopefully that means it's been trashed!

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I love hearing from you. Please feel welcome to share your feedback and questions. I have started using word verification recently to combat an avalanche of spam. Apologies for the hassle of reading the mysterious captcha code (refresh to find an easy one).