Dave Winer - Scripting.com
Scripting News - 2018-04-20T23:50:39Z
It's great that the Dems sued Trump, Wikileaks, Russians if for no other reason that they will have to give depositions. Firing Mueller is looking like less of a solution to anything. Also pardon power does not extend to civil penalties. Heh. Good lawyering.
For such a famous place, it's weird that Silicon Valley doesn't have a landmark. Paris has the Eiffel Tower. NYC has the Empire State Building, London has Big Ben. I remember arriving in Silicon Valley in 1979 and driving around looking for it and finding nothing but suburbs. I guess that's why Buck's was so popular. It certainly wasn't the food. 💥
On a discussion board, I posted, in response to a fellow techie talking about interfaces that work for grandmas. "Here we are, a bunch of middle-aged men, with no clue wtf is going on. On the other hand things are so broken this way, there's no chance of it getting fixed. I don't like the NYC subways either, but they're what we got. Technology is like evolution, it favors what works, and never fixes its mistakes."
James Comey - 2018-04-20T15:39:18Z
James Comey is a lawyer and bureaucrat.
He doesn't have that much to say.
He was spectacularly wrong about something really important, and doesn't know it.
And he is no Michael Wolff, a muck-raker and rabble-rouser, by profession.
The press loves Silicon Valley - 2018-04-20T15:08:12Z
If you want an idea of why no one told you what Facebook was up to, look no further than the press. It was their job to tell you, after the tech companies.
Here's the lead paragraph of a news story written by John Markoff in the NY Times on this day in 2015.
- "Silicon Valley has a richly deserved reputation as the world’s engine of technology innovation, with a track record that includes developing integrated circuits, microprocessors, personal computers and smartphones. This is a culture of confidence and bravado. Ask a bunch of tech leaders about their goals, and it’s a good bet that many of them will utter the words, 'To change the world.'"
That was and probably still is the way the press views the tech industry. Until they get over it, don't expect much reality from them re tech.
A new reality TV show format - 2018-04-20T15:04:47Z
A new TV show format. Tours of neighborhoods in various parts of the US. Show people in different parts how we live, and vice versa.
Walk through a typical supermarket and show what you can buy and what the prices are.
The nearest airport.
An average commute.
See it as a person living there would see it.
Confront perceptions with reality.
Reality TV that is real reality.
I'm five episodes into Babylon Berlin and loving it.
This song is the point in Babylon Berlin when I knew I was hooked. It was about three episodes in, and i can see now that many of the main characters are in this scene. I didn't know that the first time around.
Sometimes by chance Twitter pairs two messages that totally belong together. Death is very real, and unambiguous. People who care about language should leave it to do it's work when it's what's really happening. Speaking as someone with recent experience with actual death. And I doubly hate it when that word is applied to something I care about.
Anyway not only is blogging not xxx, but look at all the new features here on Scripting News. Many of these things have never been done in blogs before, or for that matter on news org sites. You only believe it's xxx if you ignore everything outside your little piece of the blogging world (which for many is limited to their own blog). Just as we need to branch out and share innnovations in the land of RSS, we must do that for blogging too, so that when people say it's xxx, we can show them how it's anything but. You want blogging to thrive? It can, if you're willing to look, and tell the story.
Maybe one of the problems is that the main blogging platforms aren't moving. Or if they are moving, only in increments, and not in features that readers can appreciate. What a blog is isn't changing much. And that's not good, or necessary.
feedBase fixes - 2018-04-19T16:47:52Z
I found a feedBase problem, an interaction with the new checkboxes, de-duping and dereferencing feed URLs. It would manifest this way: Click a checkbox for a feed, reload the page, the feed is unchecked. But only for a few feeds. For most feeds it worked as it should (that's why I didn't catch the problem the first time around).
The common denominator -- the feeds were one of the de-duped feeds on the hotlist. The solution is to be careful with the de-duping map, to always map to the one that's preferred by the server, because we deref the URL before subscribing. We weren't doing that for a few of the de-duped feeds. The problem may come up with future mappings and I want to be sure we don't have to repeat the debugging process.
Another thing -- when dereferencing a URL, if the only difference is the protocol, don't use the deref, stick with what you have.
I'm beginning to realize that we need feeds to have a guid, to take all the guesswork out of this. It's a real mess! Once you try to maintain a database of feeds, something I've not actually done myself before, you buy into trying to come up with a canonical ID for a feed. The URL works pretty well, until you realize that there are several different URLs for each feed.
Also realizing we should have popped the protocol off the URL before using it as a key so http://xxx would be the same feed as https://xxx.
Wouldn't it be a great to have a blog that covered developments across all feed readers, so we can follow what's new? If you make a reader, would you support this? Not sure who would be good to write it, but we'd need someone who loves RSS, and isn't in business.
I was able to replace iconv with iconv-lite in River5, so if you have been having trouble installing, it makes sense to try again.
When I was growing up in NYC, before the EPA, they'd burn garbage in incinerators, in the morning, as I walked to school. It was choking. My mom sent me out clean, by the time I got to school there'd be burnt garbage in my hair and on my clothes.
Long ago, I designed a language - 2018-04-18T16:46:09Z
Little-known fact: I designed and developed a programming language.
My goal was to create an environment I would work in for the rest of my career. I just realized it's exactly 30 years later, and I'm still using it.
30 fucking years. I think I earned the right to say it that way. 🚀
Where would I start? db.c of course. 💥
PS: Most people don't know about Frontier. But you probably do know about things that were developed in Frontier. Like the first blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds, readers and content creation tools, XML-RPC and lots of other good shit. People would ask me how I got so much done. "Great tools." That's Frontier.
A friend who uses Feedly told me about his collection of NYT feeds. He sent a pointer, where Feedly offered me a chance to use his list. But only on Feedly. Ugh. Ideally, they would let me have the list in OPML form. I suspect they do, but if so, it's not obvious esp to someone who would want the list in OPML, i.e. someone who is not a frequent Feedly user, such as yours truly. This is the problem with commercial vendors who build on open formats. They don't reciprocate. They consume the openness. This happened before. Even better if they offered a dynamic link to the user's collection, so I could add the link to the OPML to my reader and if his collection changed I'd be updated. Remember the big idea of the web, people return to places that send them away. Feedly is doing the opposite, trying to suck people in and hold them. This is the tech industry philosophy, and it will imho be its downfall.
I would pay a fee to subscribe to a group of news pubs. I think this is necessary, but this should be created and managed independent of the tech industry. News already looks to tech to be its sugar daddy which leads to fawning coverage, and a huge conflict, at a time when tech is more in the news than ever, and deserving of scrutiny. Tech controlling news flow, especially Apple, which has little respect for criticism, free speech, spells the end of any semblance of independence of news. Also I'm hearing more that paywalls are seriously stifling the flow of news, at a time when we need better flow. Apple would not be good for that either.
Apple's pencil - 2018-04-17T14:06:02Z
I'm thinking about getting a new iPad, and said so on Twitter. I got a bunch of responses, including this blog post from Matt Ballantine, who loves the iPad because of its compatibility with Apple's pencil. Based on his report, I decided to get the new iPad and the pencil. I used to be a diagram person, as part of pitching ideas to other people, I'd develop what I called a chalk talk. A very good way to communicate, highly personal and persuasive.
Ariel Anbar posted a caveat about the pencil on Facebook.
- My main problem with the Pencil is that it doesn’t hold a charge long when unused - maybe a couple of days - and recharging it requires an additional step beyond my nightly recharge of the iPad. So unless I get into a daily routine with it, I find it is usually dead in the moment of inspiration-driven need.
- On the plus side, it recharges very quickly, but 5 min is an eternity when you suddenly have the need. Add to this the occasional need to mess around to get it to reconnect, and it is one of those really cool and tantalizing and useful but not-quite-up-to-its-lofty-potential pieces of tech.
- As for how to carry it, there are many iPad cases that have solutions. Some are quite inexpensive.
Hmmm. That's too bad. I wondered why Apple didn't promote the product more, maybe this is why. Even so, I think I'll give it a try.
Imagine a world without blogging. - 2018-04-17T14:49:47Z
Imagine a world without phones.
In a world without phones, you could listen to people with beautiful voices speak words designed by psychologists to make you want to buy tacos or life insurance.
But you couldn't listen to your daughter or son.
Blogging lets us write for each other.
18-minute podcast about the Denver newspapers and Berkeleyside. The Denver news orgs are doing something unusual, crossing the wall between publishing and editorial. And Berkeleyside, a local news org who just did a public offering of stock, and eliminated the wall between publishing and editorial. Have a listen and think if perhaps this isn't a better way forward for news than paywalls and hedge-fund ownership.
I wish the Democrats were self-aware enough to choose the strongest candidate to run against Trump or whoever is the Republican nominee in 2020. People still think in terms of a perfect candidate. Dems don't have any. But that's not a problem because the Repubs don't have any either. Imho what we need is someone who appeals to the massive core of American voters, without betraying us to the super-rich. Never mind who appeals to you -- you're going to vote rationally. Think about the massive number of voters who don't. I don't think they're fascists or KKKs, I think they are emotional and want to feel good. Who can give a rousing even angry speech that gets people to feel good about themselves without tearing other people down (except for Trump of course). That's the one. Imho
Sometimes things have to fall apart before they can start to make sense again. When they write the history of the web, if they get the story right, a big event will be the San Francisco newspaper strike in 1994. A lot of ideas came together there, across a wide divide. It showed us how news and tech are inextricably entwined.
The best part of the Comey interview last night was when he asked what the f*ck were Russians doing in the Oval Office, without any Americans there other than the president (who is obviously a Russian tool).
Installing the latest River5 - 2018-04-16T14:33:46Z
I don't know what the problem is, I had no problems installing it on my Mac or on a Linux server.
When I have trouble with NPM, this is what I do:
- Delete the node_modules folder and do an npm install.
- If that doesn't work, clear NPM's cache, delete the node_modules folder and do an npm install.
What's unusual about iconv is that it's written in C, and as part of the npm install process it needs to compile it to machine code.
I am anything but an expert in NPM problems, that's why I'm raising a flag here on Scripting News.
Update: I think Anton got to the bottom of it. Some systems have it set up so that you can't run downloaded stuff without modifying permissions.
Future-safing the web - 2018-04-15T16:36:13Z
As you know from reading this blog, I am a big fan of efforts to make the web long-lived. And that's why I was interested in this story about how the NYT is creating new archives of old stories so they appear on the web exactly as they did when the stories ran.
For example, here's an archive of the NYT home page for 9/11/2001. Interestingly, I took a screen shot of that page earlier in the day, as the story was unfolding. There was no question history was happening that day.
It's good, but who is going to do this for historic weblogs? I've kept my blog around, and various experiments I've done over the years. I have generally tried to use technology that I believed was going to stick around, so I've never built on Flash, for example. I've used static HTML files as much as possible. But even so, there are quite a few gaps in my archive, esp where I have let domains lapse.
And of course a huge bonfire of breakage is coming as Google tries to turn off HTTP. This is something users of the web, news orgs, libraries, historians, researchers, should join me in condemning. Changing to a new protocol is fine if you want to do it, but trying to force people to? That's a company that needs to be told to stay in its lane. More on this on the Google and HTTP faq.
Open source developers need as much support as the users of their products. With that in mind, I want to congratulate the developers of jsDelivr. I just adapted my project to use it as a CDN. The process was hard work, but made much easier by the docs and design of jsDelivr. That part was a breeze. They tell you just what you need to know when you need to know it with no extra fluff. This is really rare. Good work! 💥
BTW, development on feedBase is on pause, but I'm going to swing back around to it. I find it's good that once the initial problems are shaken out of a new product, it's good to step back and let it settle down before the next major construction project. (Update: as soon as I wrote this, I found two glaring problems. I'm going to fix them now, not going to wait for the next round of work.)
I wrote an overview of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, the piece I feel the press hasn't written. In case you haven't seen it. 🚀
Future of News con for devs - 2018-04-14T19:10:13Z
I want a future-of-news conference where we plan new open systems for news publishing and reading, without sponsorship of big tech companies such as Facebook or Google.
There would be a session at the conference entitled How To Get Facebook and Google to Give Us Money, and it would be off-topic at every other session. That way the sessions wouldn't all be repetitive expressions of powerlessness and we could get some work done.
People who were at BloggerCon will recognize this as the How To Make Money With Your Blog session at that conference. We swept up all the powerlessness into one session, and made it off-topic at every other one. It worked.
Artists when they get together, all they want to talk about is how they need to make money. I've never seen a discussion among creative people that didn't immediately devolve to this. In F-O-N, big tech companies encourage this. They want all the attention focused on them.
CDN overhaul for River5 - 2018-04-14T15:22:22Z
It felt like it was going to be a small change, but it wasn't.
That said, there are still references to fargo.io in the code. That'll take more time to shake out because this code is shared with my other projects. But the main files for displaying rivers are now in jsdelivr.
If you want to see all the code that's being accessed through the CDN, it's in the River5 repository on GitHub.
Uber, AirBnB and ? - 2018-04-13T15:23:08Z
I posed a query on Twitter this morning. "Uber is to taxis as AirBnB is to hotels as x is for news. What is x?"
Jim Parsons said the answer is RSS.
To which I said: "Sorry that's not what I was getting at. RSS is a channel for news. The others are replacements for taxis and hotels. Not analogous."
Then I thought about it and changed my mind.
Uber and AirBnB are channels, not the cars or homes that are shared. So RSS is perfectly analogous. The question I was really asking is this: Where is the analog in news for Uber drivers and AirBnB hosts. I once thought and still do that blogging was the seed for that movement. It faltered, perhaps because roadblocks were put in its way in the form of Google Reader and the pretense among news people that they were bloggers, and perhaps the relatively low value users place on news. We know what a taxi ride is worth, and a hotel room, but we have a less precise understanding of the value of news.
I still think that blogging is the answer. I know news people find it abhorrent, but I think to the extent they do, they are actually anti-news people, like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike.
Facebook isn't the answer for news on the web - 2018-04-12T15:58:38Z
Journalists say it's time for Facebook to endow journalism. I think that's a really bad idea.
- Journalism has to compete with tech, not be supported by tech. The best of both. It's way too early to surrender. That's what asking for a handout is.
- The best product in journalism and tech has yet to be created. It won't be if journalism is married to Facebook. How can Facebook's competitors emerge in this environment? They can't.
- I want journalism to listen much better. For example, the story of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica could have been reported eight years ago. Any number of independent technologists could have helped journalists develop this story. But they don't answer the calls. What incentive will journalism have to change if the bills are being paid by Facebook? They're already too impressed with huge tech companies.
- I want to compete with Facebook. All people with ideas in news and software should be able to. Senator Lindsey Graham asked Zuck the right question on Tuesday. Who are your competitors? The answer is they have none, though Zuck wouldn't say that. That is the big problem. Solve it and all the others go away. It requires Facebook to do a much better job of linking out from the main user experience. Meaningful change could happen immediately. Over a period of a few years, Facebook could open up to peering with competitive social networks. This would enable all kinds of new technology and news flows to develop.
- I want to build a beautiful online world just for news, not to tack it on to a discussion board. Start from zero. Given the current wealth of resources on the net, what would you create for news? I know what I want to make, and it would not be Facebook. It would start at a different place.
- It's too early to lock it down, either tech or journalism. Still too much change that needs to happen. Honestly I think it's the change that the incumbents in journalism are trying to avoid. The change could have started over 20 years ago. It's time to give up on the old way and create the new way. The ideas of Facebook definitely apply. But not Facebook itself.
PS: For background see yesterday's piece on where we're at with Facebook.
Where we're at with Facebook - 2018-04-11T14:04:29Z
There are two stories, advertising and world domination
The first story: targeted advertising. Facebook has an ad system, a web app like Facebook itself, where people enter credit card information, keywords and demographics to determine who sees their ad. They don't get any information about the users this way.
The second story: Facebook's API. This is how Cambridge Analytica got the data.
In 2010 Facebook announced with huge fanfare and press coverage that they were opening up Facebook's data to developers. They called it The Social Graph. They would accumulate every fact in the world, and turn that into a platform for developers.
They weren't doing this out of the goodness of their heart, though there is some of that (seriously, not kidding). This is how tech companies achieve dominance. They capture developers and potential competitors by being the environment everyone makes software for. We become part of their ecosystem, they control us. I'm sure Bill Gates and Steve Jobs schooled him on how to do this. It's how power is expressed in tech.
Was it a breach?
Equifax was a bonafide breach. The information captured was what you need to impersonate people in financial transactions. 148 million identities.
In 2008, the US government had a massive data breach of veterans data, 70 million records. Again the kind of data that can be used to impersonate people to steal money.
We're not sure all that has leaked through the Facebook API. In the last few days people have been saying that direct messages, which feel very private, were shared through the API. If so, yes this was a breach. However everything else was pretty well disclosed.
The reason it's a shock is the press failed to report on it in 2010 and after. Facebook does a thorough job of disclosing it to users. Zuckerberg was being dishonest in other ways in his testimony, but in this respect, he was being truthful. Not necssarily kind or fair, however, because they, like everyone in tech, are aware that users don't understand what they're giving up.
What's unique about Cambridge Analytica?
Not much. Every developer that has access to the Facebook API, and it's more or less open to the world, any of them could have done what CA did. The API been around for 8 years, and in that time companies formed solely to use the data that you can get through the API. Many of them.
An analogy. CA as a crisis would be like saying a leaky faucet in Manhattan is a crisis. The crisis could be all the leaky faucets everywhere. The intersection of CA with Facebook, while it sounds big is actually pretty small in comparison to the actual scope of the problem.
Were users hurt?
Because I am a developer who uses the same API as CA I knew what was going on.
Even so -- as a Facebook user -- I tried some of the data capture services that masquerade as tests and quizzes. But relative to Equifax, other credit companies, doctors I've used, banks, many of which have had real data breaches, Facebook really doesn't have much if any info that isn't already out there.
It's really hard to find much damage done to users here. Much less so than with Equifax or NARA, for example.
Facebook is a silo, and that's bad for freedom, but it is a place where a lot of speech happens, so there are First Amendment issues with regulating Facebook.
Should there be regulation?
Yes. On privacy disclosure, and prohibiting the most draconian uses of user data. It should not be possible for users to give those rights up in exchange for use of a social system like Facebook. The idea is similar to the law in California that says that most non-competes are not enforceable. The benefit you receive has to be somewhat equivalent to the data you give up.
What about Google, Apple, Amazon?
This is the really important stuff.
This affair should get users, government and the press to look at other tech companies who have business models based on getting users to disclose ever-more-intimate information. Here are some examples.
Google, through Android, knows every place you go. They use that data. Do they sell it? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure you can use it to target ads. Apple, through the iPhone also knows where you go.
Apps on Android or iPhones can be told where you go. Many of them are only useful if you let them have the info. Apps can also have all your pictures, contacts. Face recognition makes it possible to construct a social graph without any access to the Facebook API.
Google and Apple can listen to all your phone calls.
Google, through their Chrome browser, knows everywhere you go on the web, and everything you type into the browser.
Amazon Echo and Google Home are always listening. Imagine a leak based on conversations at home, phone calls, personal habits, arguments you have with your spouse, kids, any illegal activities that might be going on in your home.
If you have a Gmail account, Google reads your mail, and targets ads at you based on what you're writing about. They also read the email that people send to you, people who may not also be Gmail users. Some examples of how creepy this can be -- they seem to know what my investments are -- I assume they figured this out through email. Recently they told me when a friend's flight to NYC was arriving. I don't know how they made this connection. I assume it was through email.
Amazon, of course, knows everything you buy through Amazon.
Google knows everything you search for.
And on and on. We've reconstructed our whole society around companies having all the data about us that they want. It's kind of funny that we're all freaking out about Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. The problem is so much bigger.
It seems like a non-event to me. The press knew all about the API going back to 2010. That they didn't foresee the problem then is a result of the press accepting the hype of big tech companies on their terms, and not trying to find out what the implications of technology are from non-partisan experts. This was a story that could have and should have been written in 2010, warning users of a hidden cost to Facebook.
Today's scandal, the equivalent of the one in 2010, is that Google is attempting to turn the web into a corporate platform. Once they control the web as Facebook controls the Social Graph, we'll have another impossibly huge problem to deal with. Better to head this one off with regulation, now, when it can do some good.
A couple of technical/strategic questions came up yesterday that are still outstanding. First, I need to pick a CDN to use for River5 files that are used in user apps. Right now they're served on domains that I own that could go away. That would be a lot of breakage. Which one should I use? Second, I want to make some mods to the forever app we use to keep Node apps running. I need to figure out how to set it up so the new version installs the way forever currently installs. I don't want/need to do this differently, but it's outside my expertise. As always, help appreciated.
I love Apu, and that's the problem - 2018-04-10T22:17:56Z
The analogy is not true. As a Jew, I've never had someone call me Krusty. If it happened I would have no idea what they were talking about. Not so with Apu and Indians.
We have trouble understanding the problem with Apu because we love him. But they don't love him. I'm not sure what to do about it, but the people who write The Simpsons said pretty much exactly the worst thing about it in the latest episode.
I find it hard to remember this syntax.
- let checked = (flSubscribed) ? "checked" : "";
This would be easy to remember:
- let checked = (flSubscribed) then "checked"else "";
Not saying anything should change, of course. 💥
If RSS was a startup and had a CEO that TechCrunch needed access to, or was backed by VCs, or even a big tech company, they would temper their judgment. Instead it's a punching bag, a technology piñata. But people love RSS. It's still here, ready to bring you the news. And honestly they probably wouldn't beat on it if it weren't threatening someone. ❤️
I have been playing with the source for the forever utility. I want to try adding a few features, see what happens. But I have a basic question.