Showing all posts tagged: technology
20 September 2023
The internet felt like an unexplored new frontier when I launched the first iteration of disassociated in 1997. New frontier may seem ornate, trite even, but it was an apt description.
We were feeling our way in the dark, and I’d say most of us were clueless as to what the internet could one day become (although without doubt some people had one or two ideas).
Certainly though today’s internet is worlds removed from that of twenty-five years ago, and being online sometimes feels more like a case of running to stand still.
But it’s not all bad, and at least we still have our personal websites. New York City based creative professional Rachel J. Kwon has put together a collection of blog posts and articles written by publishers of personal websites, who expound the positives of their web presences.
Long may personal websites be with us.
19 September 2023
Threads. Mastodon. Bluesky. They’re among options for fans of micro-blogging who want to leave Twitter behind. But is seeking out alternatives to Twitter really the solution? American computer scientist and author Cal Newport, writing for The New Yorker, believes we should instead move on from what he sees as the flawed idea of a global conversation platform:
Fortunately, the original small community ethos of the early Internet seems to be mounting a comeback in forms like podcasting, e-mail newsletters, Discord groups, and TalkNats.com-style discussion sites—all of which can offer a more homegrown and personal variety of online interaction.
19 September 2023
I hate to think exactly how backwards compatible disassociated is. In the past I strived to work with web standards which ensured some uniformity of visual display, regardless of the web browser, or operating platform, being used to view the website. For the most part, but not quite always, disassociated generally worked as intended.
But in my cross-browser testing I really only used a small selection of better known, and recent release, browsers. I always hoped readers were mostly using these, while also keeping them reasonably up to date. As such, I’ve never given any thought as to how disassociated might present in legacy browsers. When I say lagacy, I’m talking apps that were available close to thirty years ago.
Netscape. Internet Explorer 1. Or Lynx, a browser that rendered websites as text only. While it turns out some of these ancient browsers are still available for download, I doubt few people would use them for regular web browsing. And that’s what my limited cross-browser testing regime is based on.
Between pruning container divs and removing collapsed margins the thought occurred to me that my site —with its spartan design and low-tech philosophy— could have remained pretty much identical since the internet’s early days. This raised an interesting question: Exactly how far back in time could my site’s design have remained the same? How far in the past could this site’s current design have originated? 5 years? 10 years? more?
This all sounds like going down a veritable rabbit hole to me. If I saw a display problem with disassociated, on a browser virtually no one was using, I’d probably be tempted to fix the issue, knowing it might take hours to effect. Therefore I’d probably not attempt the exercise in the first place. And even though Anthony ran into a few rendering issues, some of which he found fixes for, overall his website held up well.
18 September 2023
Everything you wanted or needed to know about floppy discs. An awesome computer science history resource put together by British IT consultant Jonathan Pallant.
Floppy disk drives are curious things. We know them as the slots that ingest those small almost-square plastic “floppy disks” and we only really see them now in Computer Museums. But there’s a lot going on in that humble square of plastic and I wanted to write down what I’ve learned so far.
18 September 2023
We don’t think about where we’d go to the bathroom. We don’t think about how we’d filter our water. We don’t think about what we’d do without all these survival tools made in a factory somewhere.
12 September 2023
Kagi Search is a pay-to-use subscription search engine founded in 2022, that promises to deliver relevant search results free of extraneous clutter and adverts. Another plus is Kagi’s undertaking not to track users, or collect their data.
But Kagi isn’t only about locating pertinent information and protecting the privacy of users. Last week they launched Kagi Small Web, an initiative highlighting the writing of independent publishers and bloggers whose work is often cast aside by the prevailing algorithms, and omnipresent influencers:
Initially inspired by a vibrant discussion on Hacker News, we began our experiment in late July, highlighting blog posts from HN users within our search results. The positive feedback propelled the initiative forward. Today, our evolving concept boasts a curated list of nearly 6,000 genuine websites featuring people with a wide variety of interests.
I’m chuffed to say disassociated is one of the websites to be included. I’ve spent the last few days clicking through a fraction of the six thousand or so publishers they’ve linked to, and am pleased to see one or two familiar faces. What a great idea this is. Thank you Kagi.
12 September 2023
The Mozilla Foundation, which is part of the same organisation that produces the Firefox web browser, and the Thunderbird email client, recently examined twenty-five car brands, and found consumer privacy left — to put it mildly — much to be desired. In fact, the foundation discovered cars to be in the “official worst category of products for privacy” that they had ever seen:
Car makers have been bragging about their cars being “computers on wheels” for years to promote their advanced features. However, the conversation about what driving a computer means for its occupants’ privacy hasn’t really caught up. While we worried that our doorbells and watches that connect to the internet might be spying on us, car brands quietly entered the data business by turning their vehicles into powerful data-gobbling machines. Machines that, because of their all those brag-worthy bells and whistles, have an unmatched power to watch, listen, and collect information about what you do and where you go in your car.
Not only did the majority of car brands that were studied collect large quantities of personal data, they were also highly inclined to on-sell that information. But there’s more. Some car brands were found to be gathering information about the “sexual activity” of customers. In other words, if you’re thinking about having sex in your vehicle, think again. Your car may be monitoring, and recording…
6 September 2023
The French capital, Paris, has become the first European city to ban the use of electric share scooters. The move follows a referendum earlier this year, where Parisians were asked to decide whether the e-scooters should remain or be removed.
Paris will this week become one of the only cities in Europe with an outright ban on rented e-scooters — as operators plan to ramp up their e-bike fleets to replace them ahead of the 2024 Olympics. Despite previously expressing hopes for a last-minute reprieve, the three firms with e-scooter operating licenses in the French capital, Lime, Dott and Tier, all confirmed to CNBC that they will have removed their scooters, or trottinettes, by the Sept. 1 deadline.
At first glance, e-scooters seem like a low-cost, convenient, and even environmentally friendly, way to travel short distances. But the sometimes dangerous conduct of some e-scooter users, resulting in injuries, and tragically, a fatality, drew wide condemnation in Paris.
E-scooter users are also causing similar problems in parts of Australia. A number of pedestrians have been hurt in collisions, and often have little legal recourse, or access to compensation.
While the e-scooters hire companies offer insurance to users, the policies are often voided if the e-scooter driver was not wearing a helmet, or breaking the law in some other way, leaving accident victims, who were doing nothing wrong, high and dry.
It seems like a no-brainer that the use of sustainable methods of travel, such as e-scooters, should be encouraged, but laws need to be in place to ensure pedestrians, and others in public spaces, are protected in the event something goes wrong.
28 August 2023
WordPress, creator of the CMS I publish disassociated with, has unveiled a one hundred yearlong website hosting and domain name registration package. If you have a lazy US$38,000, then there’s nothing stopping you from signing up. But I like the idea. It makes sense. When I first began designing websites in 1997, there was a consensus that the web, websites, and even email, was a fad. A craze. Something that would come and go. As did pet rocks and CDs.
It took only a few short years — or was that months? — before we realised though we were going to live on the internet. Forever. No, we weren’t going to crank up the modem and login via dial up, a couple of times a day, rather our computers would be plugged into the grid every last waking minute. And who could have foreseen — back in the 1990’s — that we would one day carry devices in our pockets allowing us to remain online constantly?
Now that I think about it, I cannot remotely conceive of a notion that the web, and all of its interconnected peripherals, were a mere passing phase. disassociated has been online (in one form or another) for twenty-five years, and I occasionally find myself wondering about its long term future. Like what happens when I’m longer here? The thought of making provision in my will, to keep this website registered and online, has crossed my mind once or twice.
I can’t imagine I’m the only one. To some people, their website is an integral part of their identity. I’m talking particularly about those who document every aspect of their lives on a website or blog. It would be a shame, a loss even, if upon the death of the publisher, these resources simply vanished because no one was paying the domain registration and hosting bills. These are matters I doubt few people even remotely considered twenty-five years ago.
The WordPress one hundred year package is therefore compelling, even though I can see people baulking at the $38,000 price tag. I quickly ran the numbers, and based on current domain and hosting costs, could keep disassociated afloat for a century for maybe half that cost. But I’d need someone, a dependable descendent, I could rely on to carry out the necessary administrative tasks of keeping my website online when I’m gone.
On that basis, the cost, although steep, begins to look a little more palatable. Everything is taken care of, without the need to burden someone else. But the WordPress proposal poses intriguing questions. Do you believe preserving your website is essential to preserving your memory? People are already giving thought to what happens to their digital assets, things like email accounts and social media pages, on their deaths, but what about personal websites and blogs?
21 August 2023
John Gruber, writing at Daring Fireball last week:
At this moment, Threads is #2 on the App Store’s top free downloads list, and X is #51. On the Play Store, Threads is #6 and X is (scroll, scroll, scroll…) #66. This rebranding would be a firing offense if the mastermind behind it didn’t own the company. (So much for Threads being the one that’s supposedly gasping for air.)
Despite the good app install numbers, engagement reportedly remain low on Meta’s rival to Twitter/X. Abené Clayton, writing for The Guardian, says Threads saw 576,000 active users in August, compared to over two million in July.
Threads is up against a few competitors, Mastodon and Bluesky to name a few, so the market is perhaps a little crowded. I would add Twitter/X to that list, but owner Elon Musk seems intent on destroying the platform, and in the process, his plans for… world domination.