Internet Archives

I Hate How People Write On Facebook

Like so many people these days I spend at least some time on Facebook every day keeping up with whats going on with family and friends as well as posting my own two or three cents worth of updates and such.

However there seems to be a virus spreading through Facebook.  This virus is having a detrimental effect on the way people write the things that they post.  No, it’s not a computer virus, it’s a lazy virus.

This virus manifests itself primarily in two ways.

1.  Paragraphs.

It has caused many people to forget anything they may have ever known about how to format text to make it easier to read.  This can be seen every day as people post long texts in one long string of words.  I can’t speak for others but I personally find huge blobs of text like that to be much more difficult to read.

Seriously, have people completely forgotten about paragraph breaks?

In case you have, let me say that the paragraph is a wonderful invention in the world of writing.  It allows you to break your text cleanly into sections that each express a part of a thought, idea, or statement separated by a line of white-space.

This allows the reader to take in your words of wisdom in bite size chunks that are much easier to follow and digest all by simply taking a tenth of a second to hit the [ENTER] key twice at the end of a sentence.

Try it the next time you write a hundred plus word post, not only will it look infinitely better, it will be much easier for people to read and you might even get more response to it.

2.  Pictures.

The saying goes that “A picture is worth a thousand words” and it is true that a lot can be said with pictures.  However with the exception of comic style cartoon drawings I consider it to be another form of laziness to simply post a picture that has text overlaid on it.

Not only do I consider it a form of laziness, the text overlaid on the picture detracts from whatever value or message the picture itself may have.

Instead I suggest that the picture be posted in addition to actual text.  That way you get to send the message implied in the picture and also customize the text with your own thoughts.  It’s a chance for you to be original and express yourself more fully.

By making use of paragraphs and using actual text alongside your images instead of in them I sincerely believe that you will be able to do a much better job of expressing yourself and reach a lot more people.

I have no doubt at all that I am not the only one who automatically clicks away from long blobs of text because of how much harder they are to read.

As for the pictures, some of them are cute I’ll give you that, however I am quickly getting sick to death of seeing pictures with text splattered on them and if Facebook had a “Dislike” button, I would be using it on every one of them.

Freenet 0.5 Is Dead

The anonymous publishing, messaging and file sharing network known as Freenet 0.5 is, in my opinion, finally dead.

I first started using Freenet around 2004 a little while before version 0.5 was released.  It was a great idea, one that I consider to be very important in today’s world where “Big Brother” is increasingly snooping into every aspect of our lives.  A world where privacy is getting harder and harder to achieve and maintain.  A world where the anonymity which is an important part of any free society is more and more difficult to achieve.

It was a platform for truly anonymous publishing and blogging that was completely proof against censorship.  You could write anything you wanted and as long as you were careful not to expose details that could identify you, it guaranteed bulletproof anonymity that few (if any) other networks could achieve.

When I finally had a computer with enough capability and an internet connection that could handle the load, I started a permanent Freenet node of my own.  Except for occasional technical or hardware difficulties that node ran 24/7 for well over six years.  I maintained a “Flog” (a Freenet blog) and an index site that used a spider program to search out and maintain a list of links to other Freenet sites.

Then a few years ago the Freenet developers decided that it was time to move from version 0.5 to version 0.7.  A lot of people welcomed this change and migrated to the new version right away.  A lot of other people had an assortment of reasons not to trust the new version and stayed with 0.5.

For several years the two networks, while not compatible, existed side by side.  Many people ran both versions simultaneously, maintaining a presence on both networks.

Sometime around 2010 I began to notice an increasing decline in the number of 0.5 nodes that my node knew about.  Identities on the Frost message boards that I had been acquainted with for years began to go silent.  Never to be heard from again.

It reached the point where the only message boards I could find with activity on them were the ones related to file transfers, used to request files to be inserted into the network and report successful and unsuccessful downloads.

Around 2010 I began trying to convince people that if this 0.5 network were to survive it would need fresh new content.  It would need people to create new Freesites and Flogs and make at least semi-regular updates of those sites.

Eventually I took what I considered a drastic measure.  I obtained copies of the Freenet 0.5 and Frost source code and began learning Java in the little bit of spare time I had in an effort to get development restarted.  I began work on updating Freenet and even published build 5110, the first new build in over two years.  For well over a year I asked Freenet users for any help in this project that they were willing to offer.

In all that time I received all of a mere handful of one time responses.  Attempts to follow up on those responses received absolutely zero followup replies.

Fast forward to today.  In the last five months my node has NEVER been connected to more than one other at a time and that has always been the same node.

I hung in there hoping even then that things would turn around.

They have not.

Two nodes do not make even a fiftieth of a useful anonymous network.  In fact, with only two nodes (at least that I am aware of), anonymity is impossible.

Therefore I have taken it upon myself to declare that based on my observations over the last six months that Freenet 0.5 is dead.

I have shut my node down and will probably not start it back up again.

I know that there will be some who will say that I should just move to the 0.7.x branch of Freenet however at this time I still cannot bring myself to trust it because it’s so-called “darknet” is built on the concept of trusting node operators that you have no real-world reason to trust.  You don’t know them, in the overwhelming majority of cases you’ve never even met them or had any kind of online interaction with them before encountering them on the anonymous network.

Freenet 0.5 may have been left behind in terms of technology but I still think that it has one clear advantage over the current version.  It does not and never has required you to trust another node operator.  In fact it assumes that at any given time there are evil operators attempting to compromise individual users or even the network itself.

In my opinion, an anonymous network cannot rely on a trust based system.  Instead it must assume that there are large numbers of operators, either individually or working together, that are trying to compromise the network and it’s users.  The “darknet” that Freenet’s developers have created does not do this.

Oh I will probably look over and try out the current official version of Freenet from time to time but I’ve got to say.  It just won’t be the same.  By making that split and not maintaining network compatibility with the 0.5 branch, the developers divided Freenet and it’s users in a way that caused a lot of hard feelings and even more distrust.

For quite a while the divisiveness I saw between the two different versions was reminiscent of stories I’ve read about the US Civil war.  It started in 1861 and now, well over a hundred and fifty years later there are still people who are angry about it and distrustful of the descendents of the other side.

In any event.  With the death of Freenet 0.5 anonymity and freedom of speech have been wounded at least a little bit in a time when they are taking enough wounds from big government, big content, big corporations and politicians with their nasty little agendas.

Nice going fellas.

Improper Spacing: A Pet Peeve

There is something about the way web browsers interpret space characters that has always bothered me.  Every web browser I have ever seen collapses any number of spaces into a single space character.

This continues to irritate the living snot out of me every time I see it and especially when it happens to text that I write, which of course includes anything that is published in HTML.

The reason for this goes back to high school typing class.  It was one of the basic rules of proper formatting of text that a sentence ends not only with a period but with two spaces before the beginning of the next sentence.

These days however HTML makes following that basic rule difficult to say the least because any group of two or more whitespace characters are automatically collapsed into a single space.  The only way to force proper formatting is to use the code "nbsp;" to create a “non-breaking space”, a special character that among other things, does not get collapsed into a single space.

Of course, doing this in the course of writing is a royal pain because you cannot simply type a "nbsp;" key and therefore it isn’t used very often to enforce the “period, space, space” rule at the end of sentences.

And so the use of correct spacing between sentences has all but vanished.  Not only is it very nearly never seen in HTML documents, it has fallen out of use in plain text documents such as emails or text files.

Every time I see it I find it to be an irritant Rather like a very small insect buzzing in my ear.  Usually I can manage to force myself to ignore it but every once in a while it becomes something that makes me want to scream; “THIS IS WRONG”, even though I am well aware that almost nobody else cares even a little bit.

This post, like every text document or email that I write is written with a period an two spaces at the end of every sentence Even though I know that it will not be rendered that way.

Your Freedom Online

I know that in recent weeks I haven’t had much to say here about the SOPA and PIPA bills in Congress and I really should have.  Suffice it to say that there’s been a lot of complications that have kept me busy with things of a more personal nature.

However that doesn’t change the fact that either of these bills will have devastating effects on the freedom of speech that most of us currently take for granted.

They cannot be allowed to pass in any form.  Copyright infringement is a serious issue however that does not mean that it’s ok to allow Congress to, at the behest of “Big Content”, turn the internet into something that will eventually be just another part of their big money machine.  One that will allow little to no rights for the individual.

Both of those bills were crafted by the entertainment industry and essentially give them free reign over control of content.  They would stifle creativity and innovation and would also severely curtail the ability of people to express themselves online.

I strongly recommend that everybody contact their congresscritters and let them know that you want them to oppose any legislation that gives “Big Content” such a free pass to destroy the internet as we know it.  The easiest way I know to do this is to go to Http://eff.org and check their “Action Alert” page.  There you will find links that make it easy to contact your senators and representatives and make your voice heard.

The more people speak out the better.  We need to raise enough voices that they are convinced to not pass either of these bills or any future bills like them.  I’ve done so myself and I encourage everybody else to do so as well.

If we don’t speak out against it we’ll only have ourselves to blame if these bills pass.

Technorati Tags: big content, pipa, piracy, copyright, freedom of speech, sopa, freedom of speech online, copyright infringement, internet, entertainment industry, freedom

Am I Fighting A Losing Battle?

I’ve been running a Freenet node for a long time.  When I first started it up Freenet was at 0.4.  A couple of months later it was at version 0.5 and some time after that I was able to run my node 24/7 most of the time.

With the exception of occasional downtime due to technical (hardware) difficulties it has now been running 24/7 for no less than six years.

Some time ago, because nobody else was doing anything with it I decided that I would try to take on development in an effort to get the network built up and growing again.

In the last several months I’ve spent as much time as I could trying to figure out the source code and work on it.  In the last two years or more I’ve tried to convince people to use the network. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get people to actually use the Frost message boards and to create and update freesites.

The reward for my efforts has been large doses of silence with occasional comments by people whose only use for Freenet has been to complain about how it’s dying.

The problem is that if those people would take the same energy and time that they use for those complaints and expressions of apathy and use them to create new content on Freenet and promote the network, I firmly believe that it would have thousands of active users now instead of the low number of die-hards like myself.

As I’ve said before, I will continue to keep my node running 24/7 for as long as there is a network to connect to.  However I have to say that the lack of positive response on the part of those still using it is discouraging to say the least.

Is this a losing battle?  I hope not.  I still believe that Freenet 0.5 is important and needs to continue operation.

It’s just that I think it’d be nice to find out that I’m not the only one left trying to keep it going.

http://peculiarplace.com/freenet

Learning Java on my own is not an easy thing.  Learning Java on my own with Freenet as my first project is a monstrous task.  I really wish it didn’t feel like I’m trying to do it alone.

Technorati Tags: freedom of speech, learning java, anonymous publishing, anonymity, freedom of speech online, development, freenet, java, internet, frustration

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