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Digital Meanderings » 2006 » November

Archive for November, 2006

Issue with the DiggClick Plugin.

I recently installed the DiggClick plugin. Although it is a great plugin I’ve noticed a small issue with it. When someone Diggs your post and they aren’t on the actual post page, the plugin gets befuddled.

Example, if the Digger is viewing the following URL (http://digg.com/view/technology/upcoming) when they Digg your post, the plugin will get befuddled and display an error message where the “DiggIt” button should be.

Note: If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable working with a database you should not attempt this. Also make sure to backup the WordPress database in case anything really terrible happens.

In order to fix this issue you must first get the actual URL of your Digg post. It will look something like this: http://digg.com/mods/DiggClick. Next open your Wordpress database, using a tool such as PHPMyAdmin, then browse the “{blogname}_postmeta” table. Find the entry where the “meta-key” value is “DiggClick”. The “meta_value” column should contain an invalid URL. Change this value to be the actual value of your Digg post. Commit the changes then refresh your blog. The error should disappear.

The above needs to be done for every post with an error.

Another work around, that doesn’t require database hacking, is to navigate to your blog post from the digg post page. This will set the correct value in the “{blogname}_postmeta” table.

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Better Computing Through Advertising, or something like that.

It seems a woman named Leah Culver was able to buy a laptop by offering advertising space on its lid - see Help Me Buy a Laptop!. The question that comes to my mind is this: Why would a company pay to advertise on the lid of a laptop?

One angle is viral advertising. It seems to be all the rage these days and it undoubtedly brings in the press. Do a quick search on Google or Digg and you’ll see tons of references to it, I even wrote about. I even clicked the links on the laptop. Lots of press for only $150 a square inch.
Another angle I can think of is the male need to help. I don’t have any statistics to prove this thought but I bet there were a lot of men who run companies who bought space on the laptop. If this is case then would it have been any different if Ms. Culver wasn’t beautiful? I may be cynical but I think someone not so good looking would still be waiting for a laptop.

A less cynical idea would be just a general want to help someone else, the I-have-money-and-you-don’t mentality. This would be the most heart warming of all of my ideas but again the cynic in me doesn’t think this is the case either.

I’m hoping to spark some debate with this post so I’m going to leave comments open, please let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Clipmarks - A Possible Digg Killer?

I am a huge fan of digg and I’ve been using it for over a year so. It is one of the sites that I check compulsively I love it. Today I stumbled across clipmarks.

Clipmarks is another democratic news website but the UI is super slick. The main screen is designed with two columns. The left side is an AJAX style, auto-refreshing list of all the submitted stories and on the right the content of the post is displayed. Clipmarks also has a “digg” feature which they call “pop.”

Clipmarks also has a Dashboard that allows the user to customize their categories, even to rename the categories! By default you have access to the following: science, technology, politics, health, humor, entertainment, internet, war, and religion.

Although I really, really like Digg, Clipmarks seems like a great alternative. But time will tell if they have the same quantity and quality of articles as Digg has.

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

ATMs hacked using MP3 player

This is pure genius. It is unfortunate that they used such knowledge for crime but it definitely was a great idea! A criminal gang in the U.K. was able to steal confidential banking data by bugging ATMs with an MP3 player, The Times of London reported in its online edition Thursday.

read more | digg story

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

$12B I.T. Project ‘Sleepwalking Toward Disaster’

The English government budgeted close to $12 billion to transform its health-care system with information technology. The result: possibly the biggest and most complex technology project in the world and one that critics, including two Members of Parliament, worry is headed toward disaster.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

I am the 447,241,380 richest person in the world!

This website ranks your income against the world population. It is definitely an eye opening experience. I’d really be curious to know how this website determined their numbers though.

read more | digg story

Monday, November 13th, 2006

How Alphabets Evolved - Interesting

The evolution of the alphabet

read more | digg story

Friday, November 10th, 2006

My Gmail Debacle and an Important Realization

Well my Gmail account is finally back up. Actually, it was back up as of yesterday morning around 4:30am Eastern. In this post I’m going to write up my experience in hopes of convincing you that Google is not infallible and that it is important to have backups and other means of communication.

Tuesday 11/07/2006 : Gmail First Goes Down.

I woke to find that I no longer had access to my Gmail account. I wasn’t too worried as servers always have issues and it usually doesn’t take long to fix. I was also reassured that it was a server problem when I found out that other people I know who have Gmail were also experiencing issues. I emailed the Google Team just in case.

Later on in the day my friends’ Gmail account came back online while mine was still down. What was really confusing is the fact that all my other Google services were working fine.

Wednesday 11/08/2006 : Gmail Still Down

I spent another full day without access to my Gmail account. After exchanging a few emails with Google Support I still didn’t have any resolution although they did tell me that their engineers were working hard on the problem.

Thursday 11/09/2006 : Gmail Comes Back Up

I woke up at 6:30am Eastern to find that my account access had been restored. Unfortunately I’ll never know if I lost any email.

I emailed the support team to find out what the issue was. The only answer I received was that it wasn’t caused by anything I had done. I was hoping for a little bit more than that simple brush off. Maybe they will email me back about it.

The Important Realization

After this whole debacle I came to an important realization - I have been relying on Google way too much. All of my email, over 1GB worth, was in their hands. Only in their hands. If something major happened all of that email would be lost. All the personal messages from my girlfriend and my ex-girlfriends. All the emails from my friends and family. Bill confirmations, software registrations. Everything would be gone, two years of my digital history lost.

This is a problem and not just for me. It is a problem for almost everyone on the Internet. How many people create backups of the data that they leave in the safe keeping of these corporations? We use services for our email, our bookmarks, our spreadsheets, our documents, our financial statements. How much important data do you let someone else keep safe? How would you feel if it all suddenly disappeared?

As our lives turn more digitized this issue is going to keep arising and we need to find a way to protect ourselves. In the end I think it comes down to making backups. Unfortunately this too has problems. On site or off site? CD/DVD media or tape? What format should I store the data in? A proprietary MS format or something open source? Think of how many 8-track players you’ve seen in your lifetime and you’ll realize how important format can be.

Right now I don’t have the answers, I just have unanswered questions. The only thing I know for sure is that I will be making backups and I want my paper statements.

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Gmail still busted.

Well it has been over 24 hours since my Gmail account has been disabled.  I say disabled because everyone else I know can log into their account without an issue.  I’ve tried using my Treo 650, my home computer, my laptop and someone else’s laptop.  I’ve tried three different internet connections.  All to no avail.

I emailed Google last night about my dilemma and they responded asking me the following questions:

1) What browser version are you using? Please specify the exact version.
(In Internet Explorer, use ‘About Internet Explorer’ in the Help menu.)
2) Which Internet security, firewall, anti-virus or pop-up blocking software is installed on your computer, if any?
3) Which browser extensions or toolbars are installed, if any?
4) Do you experience this issue when logging in to your account from another browser? Mozilla Firefox is available for free download at: http://www.mozilla.org/products
5) When did this problem last occur? Please include the date and time (including time zone) so our engineers can pinpoint the incident.

I immediately responded and a few hours later I received another email asking me if the issue has been resolved.  I replied letting them know that it wasn’t.

This is really getting me down.  Is all of my email lost?  What about messages that have been sent to me since I started having problems?
I’ve been a huge fan of Google for a long time and this is really starting to change my opinion of them.  So please Google, get on the ball and fix my issue so I can start liking you again!

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Gmail.

I consider myself to be a Google Fan Boy. I love GMail, Google Calendar, Google Documents, etc, etc. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to access my GMail account all day! I’ve tried POP access, other computers, different Internet connections and even my cell phone.  Talk about annoying. I emailed Google earlier this afternoon and I’m hoping to hear from them soon.

What really irks me is that everyone I know can log into their account without problem. People I work with, people in nearby cities, and people all around the country can log in. It seems that it is an account specific problem which makes me curious about my data - is it still there?

Coincidentally Ars Technica has an article titled The Pros and Cons of Central Storage. It is an article that definitely fits my situation.

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006