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Archive for the ‘web design’ Category

It’s been over a week since I last posted, so I thought I’d do a brief update at least…

I spent most of last week in Phoenix job-hunting and apartment-scouting. I’ve got a line on a guitar teaching position at a music store, which I will know more on at the end of this week, and I’ve narrowed the search area considerably for housing. Good progress and the weather was gorgeous. And, as always, it was a joy to see my friends.

Despite my dismal practice record of late, I got a Tangos and a Sevillanas vocal at my guitar lesson. I nearly made myself hoarse practicing the vocals on the way back to Flagstaff and I’ve gotten them memorized already because of that. Best of all, the lesson seemed to turn around the musical block I’ve had going for weeks and I’ve been practicing every day since. Funny. Practice really does seem to make a difference…

I’ve been back home for a couple of days now and have gotten the “Music by Ariel” site up and running with Drupal. Flamencophile now has blogs, a calendar, and a forum operational. It’s still in development and behind schedule, but it’s progressing. I’m roughly on track with my novel edit, too, only about two days behind my schedule, and I’m hoping I can get caught back up by the end of the week.

My exercise program has been wavering a bit, but is not forgotten. Lifting boxes and the amount of driving I did last week has been a little hard on my legs, so I’m still at the earlier level and taking it all very easy. I expect that to continue until I actually get settled in Phoenix. I have lost two more pounds in the last month, however, so my old rate of weight loss seems to have returned, which makes me quite happy. I’ve still got some more to go, but at this rate I’m within a month of having lost 40 pounds. Yeeha!

While I was gone, the temps took another dive into the 20’s. My maple tree turned red and dropped most of its leaves while I was in Phoenix. The aspens up on the San Francisco Peaks are turning golden and I hope to take a drive up that way in the next few days before it’s back down to the Valley for another round…

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Good! Wordprexy has removed the ads and readers in Turkey can see WordPress blogs…

More power to them for breaching the “Great Firewall of Turkey” and, now, in a way that does not violate bloggers’ or readers’ rights or sensibilities.

For the background on the banning of WordPress in Turkey, see “Why We’re Blocked in Turkey: Adnan Oktar” by Matt on WordPress.com

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I’m all for open access to the Internet, so I was prepared to be somewhat lenient in my views towards wordprexy.com in their stated efforts to get around Turkey’s ban on WordPress. What I wasn’t prepared for was to go onto my blog on wordprexy’s mirror and see porn ads. Enough already.

Freedom of speech and open access or no, and I do make my allusions from time to time, bethonged buttocks and promises of 3 more inches in three weeks are not what I think my readers expect to see here. I’ve sent in the email requesting to be removed. After today’s spammer/scraper trench warfare and hours of research on copyright issues, plus several buggy things on my Drupal dev project, I’m done in for today. I hope that they really do remove my blog, but I’m tired and cranky enough at the moment to be more than a little cynical.

Even if wordprexy’s actions are for the stated purpose, I just don’t want my work being used in that way. Did they think it through first or try to come up with a better solution? The vitriol in the comments on their blog makes me wonder at the whole premise. Get a sponsor or a recognized NGO to help ahead of time…something…find a way to do it right, folks.

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Okay. Now I’m really confused. I just got what, at first glance, appeared to be a trackback to an earlier post on this site that somehow got caught in my Akismet spam filters. It was the standard form of trackback, but with someone else’s name and IP, plus inserted text.

Note – I have removed the link, site name and other identifying site info. The rest is an exact duplicate. I have no idea if the person named is in any way actually associated with the offending site. Maybe, maybe not. I have no way to know. (My name is certainly plastered all over a bunch of sites that I want no association with.) Notice what was done:

[…] David Szetela wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerptI clicked on one of the sites for “free guitar lessons” and saw pretty much what I expected with my content. Gee, I didn’t know I wrote for “Guitar News.” (This is not the site’s actual name, just what they are using in their scraped … […]

The inserted string at the beginning (ending with the word “excerpt”) included a link to my post on the other person’s name. (The lack of a space, and the otherwise poor punctuation, sort of gives it all away…) The only thing I can figure is that in a matter of hours, someone scraped the scraper, inserted their own name, but kept the original URL (though not the hypertext itself) intact.

Good going, guys. I went to the site and they’d used the title of my post as their own page title – “Web Para-sites.” Indeed. It seems they are cannibalizing each other, in addition to everything else.

Once again, this is Ariel Laurel Strong for the Cloud of Unknowing on WordPress.com, signing off at 20:47 UTC on September 21st, 2007.

Afterword: I went and looked more closely at my original vs. the scraper’s scrapbook job and I think I see what was done. They simply sliced off the first two sentences, that contained a link back to my site, inserted their all-purpose lead-in with the post link and went on from there. Quite an easy thing to do with scripting. They could have at least gotten their punctuation right, though, the stinkers. 21:06 UTC, Sept. 21, 2007.

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While it was a great diversion from the other frustrations in my life, I have to admit that I behaved rather badly in this matter of dealing with content scrapers. After reading “What to Do When Someone Steals Your Content,” by Lorelle on WordPress.com, I’m ashamed of myself.

I read most of the article before I realized that I simply don’t have time do those things right now. (And it will take several readings and some note-taking to get all the action steps lined out.) Until I get settled in Phoenix, go through all the information and do everything in a professional manner – which is what I have thus far failed miserably at – I am going to have to accept that I can only do the bare minimum to deal with the content thieves right now and simply endure my indignation and wounded pride.

That’s just the way it is. I can sally forth in defense of intellectual property rights in a month or two, and do so in an a more honorable manner, instead of being such a barbarian about it. Mea culpa. Sometimes I still act like there’s a fire on the other side of the door and I’ve got a halligan in my hands.

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Clustrmaps

I don’t know why I get such a kick out of stuff like this, but I do. A couple of days ago I signed up for a free account on Clustrmaps.com and they just drew up my first map. (See lower portion of the sidebar to the right.)

They do a very good job of explaining how it all works on their site. They are evidently experiencing major growth – and the associated growing pains – so updates are a little slow and I only got a partial day’s worth data on the first one, but I’m a happy little camper.

Ari, signing off for TCU, September 21, 17:21, UTC.

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Now I’m really getting cynical. I did my Alexa search and after half-a-dozen pages of seeing my scraped writings (and with more to go), I got angry all over again. I clicked on one of the sites for “free guitar lessons” and saw pretty much what I expected with my content. Gee, I didn’t know I wrote for “Guitar News.” (This is not the site’s actual name, just what they are using in their scraped pages. I don’t want to malign any legitimate site that may use that moniker.) My evil twin must be ghost-writing out in cyberspace.

I went to the home page of the site and saw they’d gone one better on their AdSense links. They’d used CSS to turn a row of AdSense titles into navigation links! Gotta give them one for deviousness. I was impressed enough to go in and look at their page source. What an education! They’d stolen and/or repurposed numerous scripts and plug-ins, and had some fairly sophisticated javascripting going on, as well.

Well, well. What do you do when you are sailing in pirate infested waters? There’s no turning back. I’m already adrift on the bright blue sea and I’ve gotten plundered more than once. This deserves some real thought and considered decisions. It will definitely affect how I promote and monetize http://www.flamencophile.com and other sites I develop.

I keep going back to the original premise of the scraper sandwich I devised – humans can scan and discern genuinely valuable content when they want to. I can only conclude that the people that click on the scraper sites ads are being lazy and clueless, and that the scrapers do not have as good a click-through rate as a truly worthwhile site. It is the “volume” paradigm at work as opposed to the “value paradigm.

Parasites. Hey! “Para” – “sites,” that’s for sure. “Para-” meaning alongside of, beside, similar to or resembling. Definitely parasites – the tapeworms, liver flukes, and cattle bots of the web. Just have to be a hardy enough host to withstand a few, I guess.

That’s all for now. This is Ariel Laurel Strong signing off for the Cloud of Unknowing on September 21, 2007, at 17:20 UTC.

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