Computers

Beep boop

Cleanup

I’ve been bouncing back and forth over theme choices, because as a former webmaster, I feel compelled to make my site look good. The problem with this is that I’m not a designer. I can make things work, but I often need an original framework off of which to work.

To that end, I ended up with the Scratchpad WordPress.com theme. This theme is neat, and full of whimsy. It has a lot of different options already styled. One thing I did notice is that the Jetpack-powered Portfolio extensions aren’t well styled. I’ve done some quick styling to patch up the visual issues with the Portfolio Types page:

.jetpack-portfolio {
  background-color: #FFF;
  padding: 1em;
}

.jetpack-portfolio a svg {
  transform: rotate(-30deg);
  position: absolute;
  top: -40px;
}

This just puts the posts on that category page into line with the theme look and feel. There are more tweaks to do to make it more mobile friendly, but it already works pretty well as-is.

Hope this helps!

Google The Conqueror

The open web is dying. Corporations are moving, almost silently, across the landscape, tweaking pieces here and there, closing doors and setting up walls. Chief among them is Google. The once proud standard-bearer of openness and standards, now a hunched, twisted reflection of itself. “Don’t be Evil”, it’s one-time motto, now a mocking phrase with a Wikipedia-esque “[Citation Needed]” attached to it.

Google has, by and large, won. The vast majority of browsers run some version of it’s Blink engine. Even that is an almost prophetic echo back to when they forked the WebKit engine from Apple; breaking compatibility. Now they forge forward, ignoring standards, intentionally breaking or slowing competitors down in whatever way is most effective while also giving them sufficient cover.

They publish new formats and standards, like WebM/WebP and SPDY in the name of speed and efficiency, when in reality they’re just looking to push the discourse of the web deeper into their own territory, where they can control more aspects. They offer free tools, like Public DNS to beleaguered Internet users trying to escape out of the, somehow even worse, ISP experience. CDNs to developers and website operators promising faster user access and lower bandwidth bills for the small price of adding further tracking methods to their already frighteningly powerful panopticon of surveillance tools.

People eat it up, too. Free email, office, calendars, contacts, voice chat, search and a whole raft of other services? All I need to do is sign up and agree to let you paw through everything I do? It sounds too good to be true! Tie it all in with your cheap smartphone and ChromeBook, also powered by their tools, and suddenly you’re enjoying the connected life with all of this sweet stuff. All it cost you was your privacy. Haven’t you heard, though? Privacy is dead. Besides, I’ve got nothing to hide…

ICANN-T Believe This

It seems like the copyright train has made it’s way around to ICANN. You know, the guys you (on some level) buy your domains from? Yeah, they’re getting into the copyright enforcement game. Sounds like kismet if I ever saw it.

Oh wait. No.

Cutting to the meat of the EFF’s article on this, is a quote about a provision regarding URS, an accelerated version of the copyright claims “court” for .org TLDs. That means any company who owns a generic (or even specific, I’ll get into that later) enough company can run roughshod over a non-profit who owns a domain, like in this excerpt:

When nonprofit organizations use brand names and other commercial trademarks, it’s often to call out corporations for their misdeeds—a classic First Amendment-protected activity. That means challenges to domain names in .org need more careful, thorough consideration than URS can provide. Adding URS to the .org domain puts nonprofit organizations who strive to hold powerful corporations and governments accountable at risk of losing their domain names, effectively removing those organizations from the Internet until they can register a new name and teach the public how to find it. Losing a domain name means losing search engine placement, breaking every inbound link to the website, and knocking email and other vital services offline.

Beyond URS, the new .org agreement gives Public Interest Registry carte blanche to “implement additional protections of the legal rights of third parties” whenever it chooses to. These aren’t necessarily limited to cases where a court has found a violation of law and orders a domain name suspended. And it could reach beyond disputes over domain names to include challenges to the content of a website, effectively making PIR a censorship bureau.

Mitch Stoltz – EFF – “Opening the Door for Censorship: New Trademark Enforcement Mechanisms Added for Top-Level Domains”

“But Nathan!”, you cry, “why do you care so much? I know you have a .org domain, but ‘degruchy’ is pretty specific.”

Yeah, I thought so, too, for a while. When I registered degruchy.org aeons ago, I was only vaguely aware of degruchy.com, a jeweler in Indonesia. I was wholly unaware (until very recently) of a department store called “Degruchys” on the Isle of Jersey off the coast of France. Both of these companies would be able to make a claim to degruchy.org for any number of reasons. They may not win, but I’m not holding out hope.

The EFF has already asked that they reconsider this contract and change. Which was done behind closed doors. I hope that they are successful in getting ICANN to change their position on this.