Category Archives: Computers/Internet

Deciding Where to Post Online

Things I think about when choosing where to post something original, once I’ve decided to post it.

  1. Audience. Who’s going to be interested in this? Family? Friends? Fans or hobbyists or people in my industry or some other shared-interest group? People looking for troubleshooting help? Do I just want to say something for the record?
  2. Permissions. Who do I want to allow to see this? Am I OK with it being seen by the general public, or do I want to lock it down to specific people?
  3. Type of Media. Long article, short comment, photo, video, link to something interesting? Not much point in linkblogging here these days, while Twitter and Facebook are better suited. A long post is easier to compose and easier to read as an article than as a Twitter thread (though Tweetstorms do have their place). Photos are more likely to be seen on a dedicated photo site than here, but if there’s a story to it, a blog post might work better.
  4. Polish. I’ll sometimes post something off-the-cuff on Twitter or Facebook, then refine or expand it later. Or I’ll post a photo on Instagram in the moment, then when I have time, do a cleaner edit or album on Flickr, or write a story around it here.
  5. Connections. Is it related to something else I’ve already posted? This is why I keep posting funny signs, examples of holiday creep, and convention reports here.
  6. Permanence. Do I want to be able to find it again easily? If so, I’ll probably go with a blog or Flickr (yes, Flickr), because searching for stuff on Twitter or Instagram or even Facebook is such a pain.

So yeah, that’s why I still post some things here, why I only post other things on Twitter, why I post different things to Flickr and Instagram, why I sometimes cross-post, re-post, and re-edit. Am I overthinking it? Maybe, but it’s not like I go through a full checklist every time – this is less a recipe and more trying to write down what I’ve been doing anyway.

Ordering Photo Prints: Not Quite Interoperable

On the plus side: I was able to order photo prints while hundreds of miles from home on a business trip, and my wife was able to pick them up from the store the next day, which is pretty cool.

On the minus side: It was a heck of a lot harder than it should be by now.

  1. I went through Google Photos on my tablet and selected a bunch of photos by adding them to an album.
  2. I tried to upload them to the CVS photo website, but Chrome can’t upload photos from a Google Photos Album. This is on Google.
  3. I tried to install the CVS app, but it wasn’t compatible with my tablet. Not sure who to blame for this one.
  4. I installed the CVS app on my phone and tried to upload the photos from there, only to find that it had fewer options for uploading than the website.
  5. I got onto a laptop, downloaded a ZIP of the entire album, and uploaded it to the CVS website…only to discover during checkout that CVS is no longer offering same-day pickup at any locations near home — even though they’re plugging it all over the website and through the photo ordering process. So basically they’re lying about it. (Or maybe all the photo printers in a 10-mile radius broke down simultaneously. I mean, it could happen.)
  6. I finally set up an account with Walgreen’s, noticed their website clearly uses the same software as CVS’s, but tried anyway. I uploaded the photos, placed the order, selected a local store, and even put in my wife’s name as an authorized person who wasn’t me to come pick them up. Available the next morning. Done. Took maybe 5 minutes.

But it was a freaking pain to get to that point.

DST Google Photos Fail

Google Photos is overcompensating for the Daylight Saving Time switch on yesterday’s pictures. Photos taken at 6:00pm are labeled as 7:00pm. Everything from this summer/early fall (which might as well have been summer) is off, in the app anyway (the website shows the right time in PDT), which at least makes more sense than if it had only been one day. The weird thing: it’s not even showing the time in today’s timezone by mistake. It’s adjusting it the other way.

My best guess: There used to be a DST bug in Google Photos, but they adjusted for it. Now the bug’s been fixed, but the adjustment is still there.

Obligatory XKCD link:

Battle for the Net: Help Keep the Internet Open!

The FCC wants to eliminate net neutrality, the principle that ISPs should treat all traffic the same, and not block, throttle, or promote data based on what service you’re using or who you’re connecting to. But we can stop them.

What’s Net Neutrality? Simple: your cable company shouldn’t decide where you get your news, what businesses you buy from, which video chat services and streaming services you use, or who you talk to.

Why do we need it? It used to be an unofficial rule, underlying the way the Internet was built over the years, until ISPs started to break it. For example:

  • Multiple ISPs intercepted search queries and sent them to their own portals.
  • AT&T blocked Skype on the iPhone.
  • Verizon blocked tethering apps.
  • Multiple carriers blocked Google Wallet in favor of their own payment services.

In 2015, after a public advocacy campaign, the FCC made it official: ISPs in the United States are now required to treat all traffic equally.

So what’s the problem? There’s a new chairman in charge, and he wants to remove the rule.

No doubt cable and phone companies will go back to their old tricks. Plus they could slow down access to news sites that disagree with them, or charge websites extra for the privilege of reaching their audience (when they already pay for their upload connection), or slow down services owned by competitors (consider: Verizon owns Tumblr and Flickr now, and Comcast owns NBC) in favor of their own.

That’s right: free speech, fair competition, and the price you pay for your internet service are all protected by net neutrality.

Rolling back net neutrality doesn’t help you, doesn’t help business, doesn’t help anyone but the existing carriers.

That’s why I’m joining the Battle for the Net — and you can, too. The FCC’s public comment period is still open. Contact the FCC and Congress (here’s a form), and tell them why Net Neutrality matters to you. Then spread the word.

Keeping the internet open is critical. Let’s work to keep it!

Photobucket Lockdown: Another Chunk of Internet History Dies

Back in the old days, before you could upload photos straight to Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr, if you wanted to share pictures online you had to host them yourself. Or if you used something like LiveJournal, you could use their limited image galleries. But with space and bandwidth at a premium in those days, you could run into limits fast.

That’s where sites like Photobucket and Imgur came in. You could upload your images there, and then put them on your fan site, or your journal, or whatever. They were also good for posting anonymously, as in communities like Fandom!Secrets. And they’re still good for posting images in places like Ebay listings, or online forums (yes, they still exist) that don’t provide their own hosting.

But you know the problem with hosting your stuff with a third party. You can’t guarantee they’ll stick around. And while Photobucket isn’t closing up shop yet like GeoCities did (taking with it an entire generation of online fandom), they’ve suddenly blocked hotlinking (the main way people used it!)…unless you pay up $399/year for an advanced account. BuzzFeed minces no words, calling it “ransom”.

So an awful lot of images across the internet have stopped working overnight.

I’m starting to think about all my photos that are hosted on Flickr, now that Verizon owns it. I don’t think they’re likely to do something similar, and Flickr’s paid service is a lot cheaper than Photobucket’s. But Yahoo was never quite sure what to do with it, and Verizon… well…

It might be time to move my “pull in remote Flickr embeds” project off the back burner, just in case.