My pet monster, by Steven Kraan

Steven Kraan (aka @drawing_daily) has been drawing monsters for people everyone who follows him, and he’s created probably thousands by this point. I followed him a couple of months ago and today I got my pet monster:

I think it looks great! If you want one he’s planning to stop after he reaches 4,444 followers (as I write this he’s at 4,404 followers).

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The internet’s plans for that thing you created

Here’s an example of something I will never understand. A Twitter account called @wallstreetwoif posted this (the ‘i’ in woif is styled in uppercase, as you do) shared this:

And @picpedant (who you should go and follow now) pointed out that this is a copy of a Doghouse Diaries original, with the credit cut off and the captions reformatted:

Doghouse Diaries - Plans

It also looks like it’s been photocopied a few times, had some extra outlines put on. The ponytail on the stick figure has also been removed and the second frame now has a border at the end, weakening the point made in the strip somewhat.

The thing I don’t understand is why any of this?

Why take the effort to remove someone’s credit? Why make their work look like shit? Why edit it to change the meaning? Why share it without giving a thought to who created it?

I find it all very strange.

wales dot tumblr dot com

In 2009 I obtained the tumblr URL wales.tumblr.com and created a site called the ‘Official Tumblelog of Wales’. Here I would post links to irreverent and amusing news stories, curious photographs, memes, odd clippings from the past, pop culture and anything a little offbeat.

“A man who buried a female colleague’s body on farmland put the location of the shallow grave in the “favourites” list on his sat nav, a court has heard”
Grave listed in accused’s sat nav, BBC News

I ran out of steam about two years later after 108 posts. Two years after that, at the end of 2013, I left Wales.

Lately however I’ve noticed a curious uptake in activity around the blog. It’s getting on average one or two new followers per day, and a similar amount of reblogs and likes. As I write this there are 456 followers.

The URL wales.tumblr.com is a good one and it seems a shame to let a blog stagnate when it could be growing instead, therefore I’m hoping someone who find this post will offer to take it over (either via my secret contact page, on Twitter or by leaving a comment below). I’m not going to ask for a resume or anything, but I’m only going to hand it over to someone who clearly gets Tumblr and doesn’t just want the URL for some marketing nonsense.

If that’s you, please get in touch!

UPDATE: I found a taker, so wales.tumblr.com is now under new management!

Some more pictures →

Updating @datahole

Datahole's Twitter avatar Datahole is a Twitter account I have been ‘maintaining’ for over four years. In practice I’ve simply been letting it run itself.

It takes RSS feeds from Ars Technica, Wired, The Guardian and Bruce Schneier‘s blog and looks for stories containing words like ‘leak’, ‘phishing’ and ‘password’.

Then it adds in unfiltered posts from The Register’s security news and The Open Rights Group.

Last night I updated the look and feel of the account with a new avatar, header and background image. Besides these cosmetic tweaks I added two feeds from the blog of security expert Brian Krebs, specifically his categories ‘latest warnings’ and ‘the coming storm’.

How? And why? →

Discourse: The WordPress of forum software

Discourse logo Discourse is a new discussion platform (ie: forum software) from Jeff Atwood, Robin Ward and a host of other smart people who have founded a new company together. As Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc they intend to create ‘the WordPress of forum software’.

Discourse is a product that is badly needed. Most forum software in use today is showing its age1, but forums themselves are still going strong.

Forums are the dark matter of the web, the B-movies of the Internet. But they matter. To this day I regularly get excellent search results on forum pages for stuff I’m interested in. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t end up on some forum, somewhere, looking for some obscure bit of information. And more often than not, I find it there.
Civilized Discourse Construction Kit – codinghorror.com

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My Twitter archive

I’ve finally been able to download my tweet archive from Twitter. I’m really impressed with how they’ve made the data browsable and easy to explore. Here are my first tweets from January 2007:

My tweets from January 2007

Fascinating, no? You can also see some account details, which informed me that I am user ID #703,673 and that I joined on 25 Jan 2007, 8:53:08 PM (UTC).

You can get your own tweets (if they are available to you) via your settings at twitter.com/settings/account.

What else do you get? →

Upcoming Cardiff events: Cryptography, WordPress plug-ins and what you can’t say online

These are just some of the cool and interesting things happening in Cardiff over the next few months. I’m not trying to be as comprehensive as I have been in previous events roundups. Check out Steve’s post at SEOno for more cool things happening this month.

CryptoParty Cardiff – 22nd September 2012

CryptoParty With our rights to privacy online being eroded away little by little every day, now is a great time to learn the basics of cryptography. CryptoParty is a free and independently run initiative to promote the use of encryption tools and other ways to stay safe and secure online. Continue reading

Vi Hart on how (and why) she makes her YouTube videos

Vi HartVi Hart is a ‘professional mathemusician’ and YouTuber, currently employed by Kahn Academy. She makes brilliant animated ‘mathematical doodle’ videos that have become extremely popular.

The two videos that interested me the most however aren’t about mathematics, but about YouTube. In the first Vi explains (with a great deal of recursion) how she makes her videos: her process, production tricks and equipment used. All in her usual fun style.

In the second video she tackles why she makes her videos, and reads passages that have inspired her from anthropologist Edmund Snow Carpenter’s “They Became What They Beheld” (1970) and explains how those ideas relate to YouTube today.

How To Make A Video About How To Make A Video About How To Make A Video About How To Make

They Became What They Beheld: Medium, Message, Youtubery

In a third video, another young YouTuber has made a more conventional behind the scenes feature and interview with Vi.

Link

I like this suggestion for pinned tweets from Alex Pankratov:

The idea is to reserve the top part of my tweet stream for tweets that are promoted, or pinned, by their posters. This way if I go on a vacation and a vendor ships an update, I will still see the news when I get back:

Pinned tweet mockup

Once a pinned tweet is shown to me, it starts dropping down in my timeline as usual. Think of it as a delayed, on-demand tweet delivery.

I’d propose a variation of this idea though — perhaps pinned tweets could be generated from the tweets that people I follow are favouriting and retweeting a lot. Many people use favourites to bookmark tweets they want to follow up on, so Twitter could encourage this behaviour, perhaps by changing favourites into pins. Continue reading

Waterstone’s Spy Games

Waterstones Oxford Street I’ve moaned before about the obnoxious ‘RT and/or follow us to win a free iPad’ marketing strategy on Twitter before, and I had another little moan today. It’s depressing that so many of the people I choose to follow see no problem with sending unsolicited spam my way for the outside possibility of winning something or other. It’s human nature I guess.

A little later, @WstonesOxfordSt demonstrated a different kind of Twitter marketing. If only more corporate Twitter accounts would follow their example.

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“In terms of user experience, Facebook is like an NYPD police van crashing into an IKEA, forever”

Quote

Paul Ford on Facebook buying Instagram:

First, to understand this deal it’s important to understand Facebook. Unfortunately everything about Facebook defies logic. In terms of user experience (insider jargon: “UX”), Facebook is like an NYPD police van crashing into an IKEA, forever — a chaotic mess of products designed to burrow into every facet of your life. The company is also technologically weird. For example, much of the code that runs the site is written in a horrible computer language called PHP, which stands for nothing you care about. Millions of websites are built with PHP, because it works and it’s cheap to run, but PHP is a programming language like scrapple is a meat. Imagine eating two pounds of scrapple every day for the rest of your life — that’s what Facebook does, programming-wise. Which is just to say that Facebook has its own way of doing things that looks very suspect from the outside world — but man, does it work.

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out – nymag.com

I need to learn to write this well!