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Just came across this sobering article from a few weeks ago. Summary: LiveJournal has been sued, possibly successfully, over their ONTD group -- apparently somebody posted copyright-infringing material there, and because ONTD is vaguely official and (volunteer-)moderated, there's a strong suggestion that the traditional "safe harbor" provisions may not apply.

Suffice it to say, this is not good news. The precise details of how this falls out will determine how much (if at all) it damages the assumptions of zillions of websites, but a broad interpretation of it could be hugely damaging. One to keep an eye on...

ETA: Okay, it's worth reading the actual appellate decision, at least the summary at the top. (Much of this decision is nicely readable.) This clarifies several things:

  • First and most important, this wasn't a decision against LJ per se. Rather, it was the reversal of a summary judgement in favor of LJ. That is, the district court had simply dismissed the case on the grounds that LJ was clearly protected by the DMCA. The appellate court is essentially saying, "No, this one is kind of complicated -- let it go to trial".

  • Second, the key reason why this is muddy is that the moderation team of ONTD is apparently led by an LJ employee. ("Although users submitted Mavrix’s photographs to LiveJournal, LiveJournal posted the photographs after a team of volunteer moderators led by a LiveJournal employee reviewed and approved them.") So it's not just "the users" involved: LJ has a quasi-official presence in the group, so they might be legally liable. That's not actually surprising -- I could have told LJ that that's a legally dumb policy.

    (This is why Querki is designed to be strictly self-policing by the users, and why it's intentionally difficult (at the technical level) for company employees to mess with user Spaces: the line between "official" and "user-directed" needs to be crisp and sharp in order to enjoy solid DMCA protections.)

  • Third, ONTD isn't a normal LJ group. "In 2010, LiveJournal sought to exercise more control over ONTD so that it could generate advertising revenue from the popular community. LiveJournal hired a then active moderator, Brendan Delzer, to serve as the community’s full time “primary leader.” By hiring Delzer, LiveJournal intended to “take over” ONTD, grow the site, and run ads on it." So claiming that this group is run by "users", and therefore is protected by DMCA, is a bit disingenuous.

Overall, I'm somewhat less worried about it, having skimmed the decision. My read of this is that LJ got way too casual about DMCA, and did something strikingly stupid; Mavrix' claim that ONTD is not sufficiently independent to enjoy DMCA protection seems at least somewhat plausible on its face. The court is simply saying that, in this case, it is not obvious that LJ is covered by the DMCA.

While I do think Mavrix are kinda being assholes about it, by the spirit of the DMCA they may well have reasonable grounds for the suit. I'm not sure they're right, and I don't know how this will play out in court, but IMO the appeals court was probably correct in rejecting the summary judgement -- this one is messy, and does need to be properly litigated...

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Today's the 25th anniversary of my Laureling. That's kind of scary, a tad melancholy, and occasions a few random thoughts and a lot of feelings.

(Some very random, like the fact that so much of my life is dominated by the SCA and Scala. Fate has doomed me to ambiguous tag prompts.)

The most obvious thought is, of course, "Holy crap". I haven't quite been a Laurel for half my life, but it's getting close.

On the melacholy side, I have to say that I think the SCA has continued to steer somewhat off-course, albeit mostly in predictable directions. We've become much more regularized and consistent, at the cost of a lot of the distinctiveness that individual branches used to have. That's cut a bit of the wonder of the club for me: I used to enjoy travelling more, not least because the Society was so very different from place to place. It made things more interesting.

The award system continues its gradual slide into being an unmanageable and counter-productive mess, with ever-more awards proliferating and the Peerage getting pushed ever-further out of reach. I don't recall the exact statistics, but IIRC it now takes something like twice as long to get a Peerage as it used to. I find that both terribly sad, and deeply stupid.

It's sobering to realize that I probably wouldn't get a Laurel today. And I don't mean "me then wouldn't get a Laurel by today's standards" -- I mean that, the way the Laurelate talks, I'm a little skeptical that I would get voted in as I am now, even with 2.5 decades more experience.

More optimistically, the SCA has improved in some respects -- not least, we've largely found our feet as a "family" organization, which was emphatically not the case around here when I was starting out. I mourn the loss of nearly all of our college students (locally, at least), but at least it's no longer a Herculean challenge to have kids and stay active in the SCA. That gives me hope that the club still has a future.

Mostly, though, I am left with a bad case of, "what next?". I've stayed active in the Society for my entire adult life largely through finding new worlds to conquer every 5-10 years; for the first time, I'm having serious difficulty finding something that really grabs my attention and passion, and fires me up anew. Not sure why -- it's entirely possible that all those brain cells are so focused on Querki that they aren't available for other things -- but we'll see where I go from here...

Stance

Apr. 30th, 2017 10:57 am
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Signal boost from Jen Hofmann's Action Checklist (another of those useful weekly reminder lists to help stay aware of useful little things you can do) -- there's an interesting little app out now called Stance, which is specifically there to make it a little easier to call your congressional rep. It's nothing more than a smart message-forwarder, but that's still useful: you use the app to record a message for your rep, and Stance will, once a day, transfer those messages to the rep's voicemail system.

Pros:

  • If you're shy (as many of us are), you don't risk talking directly to a person on the phone.
  • No risk of busy signals, and Stance itself does retrying if the voicemail box is full.
  • You don't have to remember phone numbers.

Cons:

  • No chance of talking directly to a person, if you do like that. (I have mixed feelings, personally.)
  • Your phone calls are explicitly public: not personally identified as you, but they do put a selection of calls on their website.
  • The app is essentially advertising the phone-mail services of a little startup. (But seems to be a tasteful way for them to do so.)

Overall, not a world-shaker, but seems like a potentially useful tool, especially for the phone-shy. As Jen points out, calling your reps is one of the more useful things you can do, even if it is just an occasional "keep up the good fight, rah-rah-rah" so they don't feel drowned under all the negative calls...

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Another day, another use case: I finally got around to taking Kate's and my old "Restaurants we should try" spreadsheet and turning it into a nice rich Querki Space. I've only just started to flesh out the list of places we have already been, and give them ratings, but if you're interested (or simply want a look at a typical Querki use case), you can find it here on Querki. Being Querki, it's all cross-referenced by restaurant type, neighborhood, and so on. (And I've put the Location in for most of them, so there are automatic Google Map links to show where they are.)

And if anybody would like a site like this themselves, just speak up: I haven't gotten around to turning it into an App yet, but it will only take me a minute or two to do so. Once I do so, it will be quick and easy for you to sign up and set up your own Restaurants Space. (I suspect that this is only interesting to the foodies, but we certainly have friends who like this sort of thing...)

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For those who care about the ongoing horse races: as largely expected, Jon Ossoff didn't win the special election in the Georgia 6th congressional district outright. But he did come first by a pretty wide margin in a crowded field, and they're heading to a runoff. This is turning crazy-expensive, as you'd expect, and the odds I've seen have it pretty close.

As a result, they're on a big fundraising push, and today they're doing a triple match. So if you're inclined to toss a few bucks into these races (which, remember, this is Georgia -- a Democratic win would be quite embarrassing for the Republicans), this is probably a good day to do so.

(Usual caveats apply -- be prepared for followup emails, and use a burner email address if you have one convenient. I wish I didn't have to make this caveat, but both parties are currently convinced that More Emails Are Better...)

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Fascinating article in a recent issue of the Economist: Sacred Spaces explores the implications of how parking works in cities around the world, and calls into question some common assumptions.

It's not just interesting, I find it awfully timely and relevant for life in Somerville these days. I've wound up getting involved with the community over the past year or so, due to the massive building boom happening on our block. The warehouse across the street is being torn down and replaced by a 25-unit condo complex, and that's only one of three projects happening on the block right now. And the universal topic of argument -- the subject of probably half of all the discussion in the community meetings -- is parking.

It's a nasty bit of zero-sum. The builders want as much footprint as possible for their buildings, since that is where the money is; the result is that every one of them is begging for exemptions from the off-street parking requirements, which eat into the land where they could put More Building. And the city is encouraging this: their claim is that, if a unit only has one deeded parking space, it will only be bought by people with one car. After all, once the Green Line extension is completed (inshallah), we'll be within a few blocks of two subway stops, so people won't need cars.

Problem is, there is a lot of magical thinking in this, mostly because it omits the tragedy of the commons that is the on-street parking. This is already nightmarish (our street is narrow and chaotic), and parking permits are effectively free here. I think they're $40/year -- not enough to make anybody really consider whether they need a second car. So if the buyers of that new $600k condo have two cars, and it only comes with one parking space, it's easy to just decide to park on-street. And so the chaos grows.

Anyway -- the article is well worth a read. Among other things, it makes the point that this is a problem that can be solved with economics; the problem is that doing that without getting murdered politically is nearly impossible...

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Fact: I slept poorly last night. (No particular reason, just restless.) Hence, I am very tired today.

Fact: I am being considerably more productive today than usual.

Theory: this seems to be mostly because I just plain don't have the energy to overthink and doubt my previous decisions, so I'm just building the system as designed.

There is a lesson in here, somewhere...

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A few days ago, I posted about Rust, having just watched a wonderful talk about it at Scaladays. That presentation is now online. It's highly recommended for all programmers who are interested in language design -- it's a lucid talk about the language, focused on the rationale behind it and how they achieved those goals. Exciting stuff: Rust is probably the first language since Scala that I've found really compelling, the C++ replacement to Scala's Java.

And from the same series of videos comes this talk from the creator of Jepsen -- again, nothing to do with Scala, but a great technical talk. I tweeted that this one was "Funny, educational and terrifying". (The laughter isn't much picked up by the microphone, but was pretty loud at times.) Jepsen is a toolkit for testing distributed databases, and this talk (illustrated entirely with hand-drawn slides) goes into fairly deep detail about why it's so hard to build them. The upshot is that nearly every new-fangled DB turns out to be seriously broken in at least one or two respects. A great talk for anybody who is interested in distributed systems architecture. (And anybody who is using any of these databases.)

(And yes, there was one keynote that was actually about Scala -- Martin Odersky talking about "What to Leave Implicit". Also a good talk, but mainly interesting if you already know Scala; the other two don't require as much background...)

Rust

Apr. 20th, 2017 11:30 am
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This week's adventure in conferencing is my first trip to ScalaDays, which is in Chicago this year. This morning's keynote was a bit surprising, because it was about the language Rust, rather than Scala. But it was a great talk, and very educational -- I've known vaguely of Rust for a while, but really hadn't known the details. Here's a summary of what I learned, but I recommend checking out the video of the talk once it comes out.

I've been a serious evangelist for Scala for a number of years -- my usual take is that it is currently the best language for general, high-level application programming. You can argue the point, but I'm confident about this one: it's a lovely mix of pragmatism, power and principle, and makes programming more efficient and safe.

But -- not all programming is high-level. Some code needs to be closer to the bare metal, for efficiency, access to the hardware, or other reasons -- it needs to be specifically low level. Scala is only now beginning to be able to do this (with the relatively new Scala-Native compiler), and it's yet to be proven in that environment. Rust, on the other hand, is designed for that world from the get-go.

Or to put it another way, Rust is to C++ as Scala is to Java: a much newer, rethought, more powerful and safe language for playing in that domain.

The core problem with low-level systems programming is that it is scary -- it is very easy to commit any of several major mistakes, each of which leads to crashes or, worse, security leaks. This is true even if you're good at this stuff: programs are complex, and the interactions between the parts are where the bugs tend to arise. Rust is all about reducing that fear, and letting you code with confidence.

The beauty of Rust is that they've taken a very principled look at where those problems tend to come from, and found a few key areas to improve. In particular, the observation is that many bugs arise from uncontrolled access to memory. Plain and simply, pointers are a problem.

So Rust's biggest innovation is removing that word "uncontrolled". It introduces a compiler-time notion of "ownership", and distinct notions of mutable references (which give a code block the right to alter that memory block) vs "shared" references (which allow you to inspect the memory). While they don't use the same terminology, the concepts appear to be quite similar to write vs read locks in database programming.

They've built a lot of infrastructure on top of that, with some really remarkable results. Perhaps most impressive, they've built a concurrency framework that manages to be both flexible and safe. Most of the standard patterns for concurrent programming exist, but they're all adjusted to this ownership-centric world, such that many of the common race-condition problems just can't arise unless you explicitly say "yes, this code is cheating -- I know what I'm doing".

It doesn't solve every problem -- I checked after the talk, and confirmed that it's totally easy to cause deadlocks (unsurprising, given how much this looks like database programming) -- but it's still beautiful and powerful. In the area of concurrent programming, Rust is arguably better than most high-level languages.

Overall, I'm impressed, and I'm pleased to see Rust being presented at a Scala conference -- it looks to me like the languages are nicely complementary. Rust isn't really in competition with Scala: it is optimized for different kinds of problems. But it is principled, and well-designed, in a way that is very reminiscent of Scala. The combination of Scala for application-level programming with Rust for systems and components provides a solid replacement for the older Java/C++ stack.

Not that I've done much systems programming in the past 15 years, so I don't know if I'm likely to use Rust any time soon. But it's good to see the rise of a language that doesn't suck for that domain. God knows, my life 20 years ago would have been much happier with it...

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Today in "boneheaded corporate moves", we have Verizon.

My mother has triple-play (Internet/phone/TV) service from Verizon; as such, her primary email address is currently through verizon.net, as you'd expect. She also has a Gmail address, that I nudged her into.

She got a letter yesterday, announcing that Verizon is terminating its email service. She has three weeks to decide whether to transition entirely to a third-party service, or switch to AOL.

AOL.

Even Mom, who is, shall we say, not the most tech-savvy member of the family, had the reaction of, "Isn't AOL -- bad?". I've told her to just switch everything to her Gmail account: while Google may not be my favorite company in the world, this is yet more proof that getting your email through your ISP is just a bad plan.

But still -- AOL? Really? I mean, yes, they want to justify their ownership of the stupid company, but that's one of the most poisoned brands in the history of tech. Pushing all of their ISP customers over to it seems like a recipe to lose a lot of customers, with no obvious benefit.

Anybody have any insights into this apparently-foolish move?

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In the comments from my previous post about cross-posting from Dreamwidth to FB and TW, [personal profile] laurion recommended trying Zapier. At the time, I said that it wasn't worth the effort -- that using Zapier in a straightforward way didn't produce any better results than dlvr.it, which is easier to use.

Problem is, that was basically accepting a mediocre solution, and the engineer in me rebelled. In particular, just judging from "likes" on FB, people are reading my direct status updates there, but most probably aren't actually following through to read the links. So what I really want is to repost the text of my post here over there. The only difficulty is that what you have available is either the raw HTML of the post (which looks like crap on FB), or the completely-stripped version (which drops all the links, formatting, and so on). Both are kind of ugly.

But the thing that makes Zapier so particularly interesting is that you can inject semi-arbitrary code into your pipelines -- it's pretty limited, but you can use both JavaScript and Python. And while I may hate JavaScript, I do know it modestly well. So I just spent an hour hacking up a stupid but adequate regular-expression engine that basically takes the HTML output from your RSS feed here, and turns it back into something vaguely like Markdown. Once I figured out the ins and outs, it wasn't terribly hard, and the results are exactly what I want: the text of my post as a decently readable and complete Status Update on Facebook, with the link to the original post here at the bottom.

Of course, there's a catch (which I didn't figure out until I had all of this working): Zapier's Free plan doesn't include "multi-step Zaps", and as far as I can tell you have to have multiple steps in order to make this work. And their Basic plan is insanely expensive for personal use ($20/month). My solution seems to be working, but I'm still in the "trial" period, and I suspect they're lying to me about the claim that I'm currently on the Free plan. I would bet that, during the trial, I'm secretly upgraded to a higher level, and once the trial is over, they'll tell me I can't use this Zap unless I pay them a fortune.

We'll see how it plays out: for now, I'm going to leave this solution working, but I'm prepared to go back to dlvr.it if this goes up in a puff of extremely-expensive smoke. For reference, in case anybody else wants to play with it, here's the JavaScript that I injected into my Zap to get it working.

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This week's been an interesting one. Not happy-making, by any means, but slightly less ulcer-inducing, not least for the omnipresent leaks that Steve Bannon may be out of favor with His Imperial Orangeness. So I shouldn't be surprised that Trump's core supporters are apparently beginning to freak out. From the sound of things, they are beginning to believe that -- the terrible truth dawns -- Donald Trump might not have been entirely honest with them!

The situation still sucks, and we need to keep the pressure up. But for now, I'm quietly enjoying the view of these assholes panicking because they aren't getting to destroy the country as efficiently as they want...

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A minor but amusing signal boost: The Daily WTF (one of those useful news sources I mentioned the other day) has just gotten its own Alexa skill. So you can apparently install this, ask "Alexa, WTF Just Happened?", and she'll read off the day's craziness.

(Not that I have any particular intention of installing Alexa, but for my friends who have done so...)

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For those who knew Jane: given the kerfluffle around LiveJournal, [personal profile] keshwyn suggested to me that I should make sure there is a copy of her journal over here. That got stymied by the fact that I don't know her DreamWidth password (she had a mostly-empty account here, but the password isn't any of her usual ones), and getting it changed isn't simple at this point. So I eventually just created a memorial account for her. (Fortunately, I do have her LJ password.)

So -- you can now find msmemory's LiveJournal copied over to here, as [personal profile] msmemory_archive -- pass it on if you know folks who would care...

ETA: before clicking over there, please remember that it's in standard reverse-chronological order, so the depressing stuff at the end is on top. Take due notice thereof, and govern yourselves accordingly...

ETA2: oh, right -- unlike my journal, a lot of hers was locked, and those access permissions are only granted automatically if you've claimed your LJ OpenID here. (In practice, I only see 8 accounts that currently have access.) So if you don't see the locked entries in [personal profile] msmemory_archive and you had locked access on LJ, subscribe to it and I'll add your DW account to the access list. (Assuming you have the same handle here as there.)

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(This one's not really part of the "Wartime Thoughts" series -- it's simpler old-fashioned politics.)

For those who haven't been following the aftershocks of November: there are a series of special elections happening around now, filling Congressional seats that are currently vacant due to, eg, Cabinet appointments. And they are getting terribly interesting.

A couple of days ago, the Republican running in the Kansas 4th managed to win his election -- by seven points. This is Kansas we're talking about here, mind. Nobody expected the Democratic candidate to win -- but the spread was 20 points, and the pre-election calculations were that if the Republicans won by anything less than 20, it was a Very Good Sign for Democratic prospects in 2018. A 7-point differential was closer than pretty much anybody's wildest dreams. (The day before, the members of 538's weekly podcast put their guesses at anywhere from a 9 to 16 point differential.)

Now, the Georgia 6th is a toss-up. Seriously: the Democrats have a solid shot of winning a House seat in Georgia.

Yes, it's just one seat, and it's not going to tip the scales in any immediate way. But much of politics is about momentum, and it's time to make clear to the Republican Congress just how unhappy the country is with them. They're not going to listen to us unless they start losing elections, so it's time to start making that happen.

So -- if you're down there, you might want to help with the get-out-the-vote effort. And if you're not, but want to support the project, you might consider donating a few bucks to the Ossoff campaign.

It's time to start scaring the snot out of the Republican Congress. This seems like a lovely step in that direction...

ETA: while I think of it, a NB -- this is a political campaign, and they will start sending you emails if you donate. There are unsubscribe links at the bottom of those, but don't be surprised. (This is why I'm fond of using burner email addresses for things like this.)

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It's been a hell of a week in national events. Some thoughts about how all the pieces fit together.

I will admit, even I didn't expect Trump to play the Wag the Dog strategy (Wag the Dog = start a war to distract everybody) quite this soon, although I was certainly expecting it sooner or later. In this particular case, I have to say that it was actually a bit clever.

Trump's core problem at the moment is that a narrative has been brewing, that he is actively a pawn of Putin. Distractions entirely aside, I suspect that's the real motivation for the Syrian strikes: they're not just starting a war, they are starting a war with Russia on the other side. Memetically, this is all about showing that he is his own man, and thereby defusing the Russiagate controversy. The message is essentially, "So they got me elected. So what? I don't work for them." That's a fairly smart message for him to be sending to his wavering supporters right now, and plays cleverly into the general understanding that he's a changeable crook.

It might even be true. Let's assume for the moment that this isn't a truly Machiavellian plan on Putin's part, sacrificing the pawn of Assad in the name of broader strategic objectives. (I think it is entirely possible that that is what's going on, but a bit beside my point.)

There's an interesting question that not enough people are asking: what is the game here? What are Putin's strategic objectives?

I mean, sure -- you can assume that he's just a villain out of a Bond movie, sitting in the back and twirling his invisible Stalin mustache. But I suspect that's too simplistic.

My guess is that controlling the US would be a fine goodie for Putin (why not?), but his primary aim is to neutralize the US. To that extent, the goal of backing Trump was only secondarily getting him elected -- the primary objective was to hurt Hilary as much as possible, throw the US into chaos, and make it ineffectual on the international stage. Which, note -- Mission (largely) Accomplished.

What Putin mainly wants, I figure, is to be able to secure his borders, in the sense of turning everybody around Russia into client states again, as in the Good Old Days. And of course, for his murderous kleptocracy to be able to do what they want, with minimal interference.

To that end, we should be clear that it is quite possible that Trump is just a Useful Idiot, not actually being controlled by the Kremlin. It's possible that he is, of course, but don't delude yourself that it's a clear certainty. Even if that was true at the beginning, he's not a complete moron, and it's clear that he has figured out that that's a bad image for him. So he's going to focus for now on making clear that he's not a puppet. Which is good -- aside from raising the likelihood of Stupid Nuclear Holocaust a step higher.

But the other thing to keep in mind (and the cause of the title here) is, we shouldn't feel too comfortable in our own certainties. I was starting to think about this essay last week, and then hit the latest episode of Full Frontal -- with the interviews claiming that Sanders supporters were also being manipulated by the Russian alternative-media machine.

Which is entirely what I would expect: if their goal was to cause chaos and discredit American democracy, just manipulating one side is silly. Instead, you should be playing all of the sides against each other. I lack evidence, but would guess that they were trying to stir up the Clinton camp as well, simply because it fits the goals.

The point is, alternative narrative is a tool, and can be used in any and all directions. This crap is not just effective on the uneducated and credulous -- it works precisely because the world is complicated, and humans prefer to seek easier answers. (Heaven knows there is plenty of similarly silly nonsense that is believed by many wealthy, well-educated left-wingers.)

It's easy to get paranoid, and I'm not advocating that -- melting down into a puddle of helplessness is kind of what the Putinites want you to do. But it does mean that serious critical thinking is a necessity if you're not going to be easily manipulated. Facts aren't true or false simply because they come from the mass media, or the Internet, or your neighbor: you have to keep a well-balanced diet of information sources, always examining what their agendas are (because everybody has their own agendas -- that's just human) and keeping an open mind to the possibility that you're being misled.

It's a tricky game, and easier to just avoid altogether. But if you really care about civics and doing the best thing, it's going to be a part of modern daily life, I suspect...

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Since I'm pretty sure some folks care, here are my findings on cross-posting.

Background: my journal is largely public, and I like to have it disseminated to where people want to read it -- Facebook (FB hereafter), Twitter (TW), whatever. (While I think DreamWidth (DW) is the best place for following one's friends, the reality is that most of my friends are only on FB.) LiveJournal (LJ) has had built-in cross-posting to those services for a long time now, and I've been using that; even after I moved to DW, I've been cross-posting from DW to LJ, and thence to FB and TW. But now that I'm thinking of dropping LJ entirely, the question is how I keep the other services in the loop.

After doing some research (and finding that most of the crosspost-to-FB services have gone away in the past two years), I came to the conclusion that the most robust option seems to be dlvr.it. We are not their primary target market: they are really focused on marketing people who want to be able to write something once and then spew it widely, and their Pro plan is oriented to that. But they do have a Free plan, and their service -- take RSS feeds and post them to social networks -- is more or less what we need. I've been using it for a few days, and it seems to work.

To get this up and running:

  • Go to the DreamWidth FAQ about RSS feeds, which should show the URLs of your feed.
  • Sign up for dlvr.it. I signed up using my Facebook account.
  • Once you're signed up, it will take you their "Automate" page. There, you set up an automation with a "Feed" (the URL of your DreamWidth RSS feed) connected to one or more "socials" (Facebook, Twitter, whatever). The Free plan allows you to take up to 5 Feeds as inputs and 3 Socials as outputs.

That's pretty much it, and it seems to work pretty well; I might even upgrade to Pro eventually, if I decide to use this for official Querki stuff.

That said, some caveats:

  • Most importantly, this is a third-party service, and they conspicuously indirect all links through themselves. This stuff is really only for public posts anyway, but keep in mind that they are probably doing traffic analysis on who clicks through to your DW page.
  • dlvr.it requires slightly more FB permissions than I love. I believe I understand why they require what they do, but basically you have to agree to all of the permissions required by all of their features, even if you aren't using all of those features.
  • dlvr.it is a commercial service, and they support themselves with subscriptions. They really want you to be buying their Pro service, which is expensive. ($10/month) They don't seem to be nasty about Free users, but be prepared to see "Try Pro Now -- Free Trial!" buttons on all the screens.
  • They provide a good deal of control over how cross-posts show up, and I had been quite encouraged that there was a "Status Update" option -- that is, cross-post the post in its entirety to Facebook. Sadly, though, it looks like links don't survive the process, so I've backed off to simply posting links.
  • The Free plan is explicitly a bit slow in its cross-post speed -- they only check for new posts every half hour. (Unsurprisingly, the plans that cost real money are quicker.)

So -- that appears to be a viable approach to cross-posting from here without LiveJournal in the middle. There are likely other possibilities. (It looks to me like IFTTT is possible, although I'm not sure how well that would work.)

Anybody have other suggestions?

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For those who are struggling to keep up with the ever-growing clusterf**k in Washington and elsewhere, here's how I'm doing it:

First, on a daily basis, there is The Daily WTF. This is an irreverent but relatively straightforward summary of the major US political news stories. I've signed up for the mailing list, which sends out an update each afternoon. There's no in-depth perspective here, but it's a good way to stay up-to-date.

On a slower beat, there is Amy Siskind's Weekly Authoritarian News Watch. Siskind is a more-serious-than-average reporter, and her weekly braindumps are relatively long -- she typically covers 50 to 75 bullet points each week, keeping it all pretty factual, but organizing the news nicely and letting you draw your own conclusions. Her column is one of the reasons I've decided to bite the bullet and buy a Medium membership.

Then there is Kara Hurvitz' National News Roundup. Kara is more openly opinionated, and also more fun to read: she organizes each week into The Weird, The Bad and The Good, poking a little more humor into just how strange this nonsense is, and remembering to point out the wins when we get them.

And finally, there is The Economist. Yes, it costs real money to read the whole thing, but it provides a less navel-gazing perspective, and reminds you that there is a world out there beyond our borders. I read it for the wider view, and for analysis-after-the-fact of what's been happening. It's the most sensible news source I'm aware of, and well worth a subscription if you're willing to pay for quality.

All of the above are highly recommended. If you have the time and stomach for it, it's worth reading all of them, but any one or two will help keep track of the rapidly-mutating timeline we've found ourselves stuck in...
jducoeur: (Default)

This is a test to see whether dlvr.it does an adequate job of crossposting from DW to FB and TW.

I recommend ignoring it...

jducoeur: (Default)

Mainly for Somerville residents -- the developer of an enormous new apartment complex at Assembly Square is trying to skeeve out of some of the mandatory affordable housing: they're seeking a waiver to cut 37 affordable units out of the plan. IMO, the city shouldn't allow this; if you agree, it's time to go write to the Planning Board about it. More info on Mark Niedergang's website.

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