My Pinterest account hovers on the verge of abandonment. I do need someplace online to catalog the images I’m fond of now that Flickr wants to charge me to keep more than a thousand images online. Poor Flickr, Another victim of the downfall of Yahoo! Like Tumblr, I abandoned my Flickr account rather than submit to the authority of Verizon.
Instagram is much easier for sharing my own images and I use it routinely for sharing images I create on my phone. If you want to test it’s usefulness, try getting a photo into Instagram from a Windows desktop. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
…Are you back yet?
Yeah, that’s right. You can’t load photos if you don’t have a camera attached to the computer. So much for Instagram’s usefulness to me at home, although it does at least attempt to address the fact that you can’t author images without a camera. If the platform has a camera though, any image you have on the device can be used, even if you don’t author it.
Don’t do a Google image search and then save images directly to your Pinboards. Pinterest stupidly just sends you back to Google when you try to reverse lookup your image, and it doesn’t highlight the image you clicked on as being the result you saved to the board in the first place. Pinterest is almost completely useless as an image catalog that is easily accessible. If you want to save images to Pinterest that you found through an image search, you have to go to the page the image comes from and then save the image to Pinterest directly. You’ll have to do that anyway the next time you think you might want to use that image for something.
The most use I’ve had for Pinterest is saving images that Windows has thrown at me as part of the Windows 10 logon screen, and I’ve wanted to track down exactly where the picture was taken. Bing, for its part, is nearly as useless as Pinterest as far as establishing authorship for any given image. This is one of those things that we as internet users really need to start addressing. Where do these images and ideas come from? Who is responsible for them? Who owns them? There is no collecting authority for image authorship, but there probably should be.
Pinterest is currently the bane of all image searches on Google, and this makes me question why I use it at all. Mostly I use it because I can’t afford to keep a copy of every single image I might want to reference later. I’ll either run out of hard drive space, or have so many files to sort through that I can’t find the image I want anyway. So I group them on Pinterest according to some loose heuristics and pretend that organization makes sense.
However, every time I go looking for an image from Bing or any other cool image platform (including Pinterest) I am inundated with useless Pinterest image results. Useless? Try right-clicking on this image and then clicking on one of the Pinterest results. Now find the image on that board. Go ahead, I’ll wait again.
Are you back yet? No? I didn’t think so.
Time’s up. Did you find the image or where it comes from? Now you know my pain. I was presented the image as this thumbnail on Pinterest:
I had to screenshot and then crop the central image because I couldn’t find the image in the 20k+ images on the author’s one board. Then I pasted it into a blank Chrome tab and did an image search appending this string:
To the search string. Magically, all the Pinterest results are removed from the results if you add that string. I then discovered that the image came from an etsy account and that the steampunk wrist band I was looking at was sold out. Oh, well. Cool image anyway. In replicating the exact search I had done moments ago, now I discover that some of the Pinterest results do take me to the exact image I want to see. This is doubly frustrating because I have wasted all the time it took to write this daily beef. Fuck you, Pinterest!
This is the way I saw the structure when I first noticed it under construction two decades ago, driving through one of the many new power centers that were popping up at the edges of Austin. I didn’t see it as the empty shell that would soon be filled with consumer goods that the average tech junkie would be clamoring for. I saw it as it sits now, a building that was aged and worn from twenty years of hard use, cast aside like an empty cardboard container that only existed to hold a transitory meal of convenience. A tribute to the vanity of consumer culture, unloved and abandoned.
This is life in the city. The structures that seem to erupt suddenly out of the landscape and briefly exist as bustling hives of industry that are almost as suddenly vacant and decaying, a blight on the landscape that was perfectly fine the way it was before the bulldozers showed up to turn a farmer’s field into a parking lot. What, exactly, did this structure offer that wasn’t available at the local mall? The local mall that is now also abandoned or repurposed into something else?
Now the power centers sit just as idle as the malls started doing a decade and more ago, and the real estate developers are looking for the next big thing that they can get us all to go to and spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t the same behavioral patterns that hollowed out the centers of our cities back in the sixties and seventies. Maybe it is time to stop seeking the next new, shiny thing and take a look around at what already exists that we can make suit the needs of the moment. Let the corporations and the land developers starve. The people don’t need them if they can’t serve the needs of today.
Thank you for being a loyal Nuzzel newsletter curator. But all good things must come to an end: On Thursday, April 15, Nuzzel’s newsletter feature is shutting down.
So much has changed on the web ecosystem since Nuzzel first launched newsletters. There’s now a wide variety of other newsletter services and we recommend Revue as having the closest functionality to Nuzzel newsletters. Other good alternatives include Mailchimp and Substack.
I started using Nuzzel because it came up as a recommendation on TWiT several years ago. It occurred to me that I could solve my whole how to share things across social platforms problem by posting the individual items to my Nuzzel newsfeed and then linking that to the social platforms. However, as the years have progressed I find myself caring less and less about social on the internet, to the point where I go a whole week between logging on platforms less populated than Facebook, and sometimes go several days without logging onto Facebook itself.
With so much falling apart in the world these days, spending time on the internet chatting about anything seems like a supreme waste of time, especially in light of the findings concerning the persuadability of people on subjects that they consider crucial to their personal makeup. Things like religion and politics and other things that really make a difference if you can change minds. The kinds of things I find it worthwhile to spend time talking about.
I’ve cut way back on my podcast consumption as well. I haven’t listened to any TWiT content since before Caudito Trump took office. I’ve culled most of the podcasts that just can’t bring themselves to be more than a chat show from my feeds, focusing in on science and skepticism and world news and moving away from social issues inside the United States. I simply can’t take the emotional strain of knowing we need to change and routinely failing to see change happening any time soon. I need a change of venue, and I don’t see that happening any time soon either.
Nuzzel remains how I see news shared by others, especially journalists working on stories of their own. It is my aggregator of choice and has served as my personal news aggregator by allowing me to put together the news items I want to share. However, Nuzzel will be turning off the newsletter tomorrow. I have to say, I thought this would happen sooner. They kept it going longer than I expected, and I have been toying with stopping the newsletter myself because it just doesn’t seem to be where I am anymore.
No more newsletters for me now, thanks. I think I’ll stick to writing on the blog and sharing it to the social networks that show up as referrers in my WordPress site stats. The one-liners that I’ve put on interesting news articles are now officially a thing of the past. Might I suggest heading over to This is True to subscribe to Randy Cassingham’s worthy newsletter? He’s definitely better at the newsletter thing than I will ever be. Tell him I sent you. He’ll say “who?” But that will make me laugh and I need a good laugh these days.
The Newsletter function worked until the end of April, contrary to what the Nuzzel webpage and app said would happen. Everything worked until May fifth when the website itself went offline.
I installed Nuzzel based on a recommendation from a guest on This Week in Tech, after I noticed that Google news had started offering me news notifications without my asking for them. Nuzzel compiled news from friends on Twitter, giving me links to news that my friends were interested in and so consequently I might be interested in and helpfully told me how many of my friends or friends of friends had shared this or that article. What Nuzzel didn’t presume to tell me was what I’m interested in.
Google news notifications come with a justification under them that isn’t your friends are reading this or this headline is breaking which are explicable reasons for interrupting my stream of consciousness with something that might be more pressing. Like the other 900 pound gorilla in the room, Facebook, Google presumes to inform me that I will want to watch or read this other thing because I should be interested in it, thereby attempting to manipulate my behavior by algorithm rather than allowing me to modify my own behavior through introspection.
I used Nuzzel to cull the clutter that threatens to drown all of us in information in the internet age. On Twitter I pointedly followed journalists and authors and then I let Nuzzel loose on that dataset so it could tell me what most of these writers and authors were talking about. Dollars to donuts, what they are recommending is probably the news that is most worth paying attention to, and the process worked for as long as Nuzzel was in existence, for everything that wasn’t specifically local news.
Nuzzel’s enterprise spin-off newslit.co still exists, and why shouldn’t it? It is a paid for service that does what Nuzzel did and a few extra things, but they get paid for doing that work.
Rest in peace Nuzzel. Another useful site brought low due to an inability to monetize its useful functions. Hopefully someone was taking notes and figured out how to make the useful parts profitable next time.
Rumor has it that the twice impeached disgraced former president Trump is planning on starting his own social network since his deplorable behavior got him kicked off every online platform he doesn’t own.
Anti-Trumpists are busy trying to imagine correct names for his new service. Names that are allusions to Trump’s treasured voter base, White Nationalists. Most of their attempts to name this proposed service are depressingly predictable.
The service will be called Trump, obviously. Everything the guy does has his name on it, usually in gold capital letters. The service will end up going the same way that all of Trump’s other businesses have gone. Just like Trump streaks and Trump vodka and Trump casinos this business will also fail. Calling the network Trump is all that needs to be done in order to correctly name the disservice it will attempt to perform before it goes out of business.
Let’s be honest here. Coding is hard work that people legitimately expect to be paid for. Trump doesn’t do hard work or pay for things you do for him, so the chances that he can keep contractors on the project long enough to even have it see the light of day is an iffy prospect. Never mind that his floating this particular turd of an idea in the news pool is probably about as real as any of the other bullshit he’s floated over the last fifty years.
…Which means he’ll probably deny even suggesting it a few days from now.
The Wife recently suggested I rely on Patch.com for my local news. I was complaining about not having enough local news in my news feed, a common problem now that newspapers have gone the way of the dodo. When I first looked it over I thought/said to her “Ah. Another news aggregator like Nuzzel or Feedly. Just what I need.” …The Wife was annoyed at the observation and I closed the browser and all was right with the world that day.
The tab stayed open on the browser though, and over the next few weeks I would notice it and go “Oh yeah. That local news aggregator. I probably should check that out.” Then I would close the browser and all was right with the world again.
Today I open the browser and just for a lark I scrolled through some articles. The site immediately demanded I allow them to send me notifications. Every website does that now. I hate it, but it is accepted site behavior for some reason. I blocked the notification request and kept scrolling.
Then I opened an article. As soon as I did that the site pops up to ask me to join their newsletter. Again, I hate it but every site does this now, so I decide to bite on this lure and give them my email address. Of course that prompts them to tell me to create an account, and after creating the account they want me to verify my email address.
So I go to my email account and click on the verify link. Directly under that message is another message asking me to fill out a survey. The first question was “how likely are you to refer someone to this website?” Following my guidelines for ratings I say four out of ten because: a) I’m three tangents deep into a whim I engaged in while distracted and now I’m regretting the time investment; and b) I still haven’t read a single article on a website that I dismissed as “just another news aggregator” several weeks ago; and c) the site is every bit as demanding of my attention as every other site is these days and I don’t like being shanghai’d every time I sit down at the computer to look something up. A legitimate source doesn’t need to keep your eyeballs on the screen 24/7. A legitimate source is something you come back to without being prodded.
I’m dissatisfied so the rating is less than five. I’m still planning on reading the article so I’m not really that disatisfied. That’s a four. Now, take it or leave it Patch. That’s the answer you get at this juncture. I’ve got other things to do in real life and I don’t have time to write anything else today.
I tried calling in to the Freebirds locations that I usually go to (Tech Ridge and Hancock) and they instructed me to go to the website to order because they weren’t allowed to take orders over the phone any more. There is a problem with this scenario, of having to go use the Freebirds website. The problem? The website sucks.
I’ll go through the order just to prove the point. I can’t order all three types of beans or multiple meats on the website. Maybe I want more than one kind of bean on my burrito. Maybe I’m in the mood for steak and chicken. I can get ancho on the side for the Daughter and extra chicken for the Wife, but there is no way to say extra pico for the one and extra lettuce for the other. We don’t want to talk about food allergies. That is a lecture too long for this feedback. It will require a second submission.
Use the custom field, I hear you saying. That would be a wonderful challenge for my communication skills since the custom order field is limited to forty-five characters. When Twitter limited me to 140 characters it was sometimes tough to get the right message across in one tweet. That was a challenge that I was willing to take on because the worst outcome was that my message was misunderstood and I would have to tweet a second time to try to clarify my statement. I wouldn’t have to pay for and then eat the resultant mess. A custom field of 45 characters means I have to write the order out in code, and I’ll be willing to bet that my code and your code will not match since the encryption/decryption key isn’t provided with the order form.
The problem of “go in the restaurant and order or use the website” is solved for me by going to a different restaurant. Going to a restaurant with a drive through or having food delivered from some place that answers the phone or whose website allows me to clearly and unambiguously order what I want from the menu. I love Freebirds burritos, but I don’t love them enough that I will jump through extra hoops, settle for something made in a way allowable by the kludgy website or risk my health during a pandemic in order to get Freebirds food. Lady Liberty is going to have to find another job if those are my choices.
…I think I got the most volume and some of the most varied feedback I’ve ever gotten for any post I’d ever written before. It ran the gamut from “this is easy to do and Facebook can’t seem to do it, so they must not care” or “Facebook is in bed with X group, their behavior demonstrates this.” to “Any attempt to moderate speech violates my freedom of speech.” When I queued up this episode, one of the first things that the guest says on mic is that she figured that the Facebook Supreme Court was just a way to get Facebook out of the crosshairs for making the decisions that need to be made, content-wise:
…and by the end of the episode I was where Jad was “we have to ban Facebook, don’t we?” But then I thought some more about the varied responses to the tests that were put forward to illustrate just how hard it is to make judgements about what is or isn’t acceptable on social media, and I started to realize that what Facebook will ultimately achieve, if it succeeds, is some form of internet protocol for allowing the greatest amount of speech possible without misleading the populace or allowing for the targeting of segments of the population. I wish them luck with their supreme court experiment. Hope it all works out.
Tangentially, there were two more episodes later in my podcast feed that dealt with the same conundrum. Speech, the freedom and limitations of:
February 22, 2021 – Updating and moving this generic article forward for a new bug in Gutenberg. I don’t know how many users have run across this one yet, but I have. I have several snippets of HTML code that I like to reuse. I do this because it streamlines getting things I want to regularly add to my posts added without having to lookup or re-enter the code over and over again. Things like podcast embeds and the like (the subject of the previous bug I wrote about here, actually) well, they changed the way that reusable blocks work, again.
This bug report touches on the problem that I am experiencing: Comparing old and new Reusable block UX methods. #29178. It doesn’t quite cover the problem, though. Part of the usefulness of the reusable blocks was the ability to explode said blocks back down into base elements, such as code blocks and text strings and whatever. The ability to take pieces out of the reusable block has changed along with the editability of the blocks, and the dot next to the publish button stays present even if I completely remove the reusable block from the document being edited, because I have to change the block in question in order to be able to remove it.
Here is a snippet of my screen as an example. One of the blocks that I frequently did use was an HTML block that was just a horizontal rule (named “Separator”) that I could manipulate to suit my own visual issues. Basically, I wanted the rule to be of a particular length and a particular number of pixels. I am not really a coder, I’m just a user who is forced on occasion to fiddle with code, and I’m okay with this situation, as long as it doesn’t mean I have to code every single time I sit down to write something.
As you can see from the image, the block now sees itself as a group, not a single HTML code block like the Audio Embed block next to it. This is because I inserted the block and then saved the document I placed the block in. As soon as the code block is inserted into a document, it turns itself into a group. Unless you know to turn off saving reusable blocks at the prompt, this error will occur every time you use a reusable block and then save the document the block is placed in.
If you place the reusable block and then try to delete it, the group remains without the block you’ve added. The best part of this is that saving after you think you’ve removed the reusable blocks and not noticed the prompt is that if you save blocks that you thought you completely removed from your document, the editor creates empty group blocks in place of the reusable block that you had previously created. Without the ability to just remove the block and not have it turn itself into a group; without the ability to explode a block and reduce it to simple code and text, the end user is left with having to leave multiple tabs open set to various configurations of files just to be able to assemble a single document. A process that simply isn’t feasible on a mobile platform, for example.
h/t to paaljoachim for creating three bugs reports to deal with these issues 29267, 29268, 29269. The conversion back to standard blocks function was moved to a button on the bar from the pulldown menu at the end of the bar (bug 29268) I honestly don’t know if the overlapping squares button would break reusable blocks into standard blocks before I noticed the other new behavior that was so frustrating, but as of 3/9/21 it was working to do the job I wanted done. Thank you to mtias for pointing this out.
November 4, 2020 – This bug has to do with inserting coding blocks into the text that I’m working on. Like images, I occasionally have need to reference a specific podcast, either one that has sent me off on this fool’s errand of illumination, or one I want to provide to readers in order to give them some understanding of where I am coming from. Podcasters are as plentiful as the various kinds of life in a rainforest, and their approaches to embedding, whether it is even allowed or not, varies almost as much as the podcasters themselves.
The most plentiful podcaster out there at the moment is NPR. They are everywhere, all the time, and I link their podcasts as frequently as I link podcasts from any other source. However, the current version of Gutenberg does not recognize the embed codes for NPR podcasts, just like it has never recognized most of the embed codes for other podcasts.
This has never been a problem before because I have simply been able to introduce my own code into the text, taking the place of a paragraph, and that has solved the problem. Now the wise coders working on Gutenberg have seen fit take out my ability to write my own code into the text automatically, and I have to go to extreme lengths just to be able to get my code to appear unmolested in the published article.
I had a reusable block that I called Generic Embed. In that block I had assembled the code that rendered something like what I expected to see in the finished blog article. That block isn’t even visible in the block interface anymore. I have to scroll to the bottom of the reusable block list and select Manage all reusable blocks, and then find the block within the list of reusable blocks that I have created.
Looking at that list I can see that it is time to thin the reusable blocks down again. However, I can show you the code that is in the block because there are a couple of blocks that let me do this for you. Here is the code:
<figure><iframe src="embed url"></iframe><figcaption><span style="font-size:8px"><em><a href="webpage">author - page title - date</a></em></span></figcaption><br></figure>
That is the default block for verse. I suspected that block would leave the code alone because I’ve transformed text into verse in the past and it faithfully reproduces the verse exactly as typed within the constraints of the screen that is displaying the text.
If you use the default code block provided with the Gutenberg editor you will have to use an HTML encoder (h/t to the users at Stackoverflow for the tips) to change the code into the escape strings necessary to reproduce the code. Why this process is not automated within the block is beyond me.
Using the encoder I can now put the transmogrified code strings into the code block and get displayed text that looks like the verse block does just by pasting the actual code into it:
<figure><iframe src="embed url"></iframe><figcaption><span style="font-size:8px"><em><a href="webpage">author - page title - date</a></em></span></figcaption><br></figure>
In trying to present the raw code, I discovered that the ever helpful WYSIWYG is trying to make the code do things even when it is NOT SUPPOSED TO DO ANYTHING TO THE CODE except to display it as code. In the various tests I have conducted trying to discover a work-around, hours of trial and error and research into coding and displaying code that I should have learned years ago, I was driven to near madness trying to figure out why I could not just paste text as typed directly into the interface. No. I have to learn how to decode and recode in order to explain anything.
Modern day problems, being driven into a homicidal rage by things that should work one way but don’t because no one ever thought to eliminate that step in the process. However, my lack of formal training aside, this embed error shouldn’t have been allowed out in a supposedly finished product. A product people pay for. Thankfully, I don’t pay for it, or I’d be more pissed off than I am. Maybe you should fix this problem, WordPress?
In the meantime, I will come up with a work around for my podcast embeds, which will involve simply putting a dumb HTML block into the text and then manually adding the code that I want to appear there. It is a more time-consuming process to do it this way, but I will soldier on until the next update for Gutenberg fixes this bug and breaks something else.
Like the image bug that is documented below (but remains fixed, please don’t break that!) the embed bug also produces embedded objects that I cannot manipulate and captions that appear too large, but are manipulable from the settings menu, which does show up above and to the right if you have those menus turned on. The block isn’t there for all intents and purposes and can only be found by clicking off the object and moving the cursor so that it enters the embed, or selecting it from the pulldown at the top of the screen. Also, if you modify the text in the caption you will cause an irrecoverable block error and then have to do the whole thing over again.
The constrictions on adding a horizontal rule to a document have annoyed me from the first day that I worked with WordPress, even before Gutenberg. To be fully honest about my frustrations here, there have been no text editors that have ever been exactly what I wanted when it comes to presenting my words the way I want them seen, with proper margins, font styles, display graphics, etcetera. Every word processor has some deficiency that has left me cold towards it, and so being unsatisfied with all of them as much as I remain unsatisfied with my words themselves, I simply try to make do with whatever tools I have to work with.
I’ve finally come up with a version of the <hr> that displays properly within the Gutenberg editor specifically and WordPress in general.
Now that I know you have to generate escape strings to display code properly in the code box (again, why?) I can now display the code that works for me. Fingers crossed that they’ll automate that process. Or maybe not. That might get broken too if they try it. The verse block works so how hard is it to do a grey background (that for some reason means “code”) that doesn’t screw with your pasted text exactly like the verse box does?
March 14, 2020 – The latest release of the WordPress Gutenberg editor has dumbed down the editor to the point that it won’t work properly in the desktop interface. Basically, I can’t manipulate the images embedded in the text of my articles because the handles that show up at the manipulable edges of images disappear after the image is initially placed.
Color me unimpressed with the latest release. I look forward to the next release, when they fix that bug and I can edit properly again.
Gutenberg version 7.8.1 seems to have fixed the image manipulation problem. I’ll leave the above block as I created it just as a reminder of the annoyance I felt at the time.
(sets me as accepting notifications by default, then sends me notifications)
What the fuck is this? (clicks on notification)
Please enter your password
(Puts in password)
This password is incorrect. Please login to your account to view your notifications
Wait. Back up. You send my notifications to devices that I’m not logged into? Why the fuck would you send my notifications to total strangers that aren’t logged into my account? What the actual fuck is the purpose of this shit?
(Changes password, disables notifications)
Fixed that problem. The dialog is significantly cleaner and shorter than the actual experience was or is.
As I edit through some of the old articles on the blog I marvel at some of the things I thought were amusing at the time. One of the other things that I find remarkable is my, overly, extreme, fondness, for, commas. That, and I never seemed to understand what a colon (:) was used for and and I’m way, way over-using the semicolon (;) and I can’t seem to ask questions properly because I’m afraid of question marks?
I also find myself agreeing with writers who hate the ellipsis…