What BoingBoing doesn’t get about credibility, and why it matters.

[ music | Alanis Morissette – Ironic ]

I probably shouldn’t be enjoying Boing Boing’s implosion of credibility as much as I am. And I probably wouldn’t if it weren’t for Boing Boing’s incredibly lame defense.

“It’s our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day. We unpublished our own work.”

What Boing Boing fails to realize is that this damages their credibility. You can no longer count on Boing Boing standing by what they’ve said. Sure opinions change, but what you said should have some weight. Even if you don’t mean it anymore, or no longer agree with it, you said it, and hopefully meant it at the time. Neither The New York Times nor Time Magazine “unpublish” stories. It’s cheap, and it tells people you care so much about what you look like that you want to hide past mistakes, which costs you credibility.

“There’s a big difference between that and censorship.”

True, censorship is when a force out of your hands, usually government, prevents you from publishing something. However “unpublishing” is merely an act of editorial cowardice. It means you don’t believe in what you’re saying. It means you shouldn’t be looked to for ethical integrity. How would Boing Boing have reacted had they discovered Newsweek or CNN were “unpublishing” stories, burying bad calls they made?

“Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her.”

You denied her credibility by making yourselves no longer credible. A truly ethical journalist would have let the stories stand, and if asked about them now, merely said that things have changed and you no longer feel that way. As it is, you’re trying to bury a past you feel is embarrassing, and that’s the type of behavior we mock in our politicians and don’t tolerate in our most highly respected journalists. If Violet did something stupid, you just cut off your contact, choose to no longer cover her, and let the past stand.

You don’t rewrite history. When you try to do that, you create exactly this type of “real internet shitstorm and pile-on”, and honestly, I can’t say you don’t deserve it. You’ve been caught with your hand in the cookie jar, and this is the smack on the hand you earned. This is your rigged truck crash test, your CBS News Killian document fiasco.

You can try to claim it’s just a silly Internet thing, but it’s not. Not unless you’re willing to call yourselves just another silly Internet site. Do you want to play with the big boys or not? If so, you better play by the rules.

I used to respect Xeni, in spite of the Xeni Sucks crowd. However, this ordeal shows me that she’s not above allowing petty disagreements in her personal life to cause great lapses in her professional judgment. and play it down all you want, this is a great lapse in judgment.

I may no longer agree with things I said or wrote five or ten years ago, but I’m not going to pretend I didn’t say them. When people know I’ll be honest, they will also believe I’m credible, because I’ll always try to tell it like it is. When you erase the parts of your past you don’t like, you’re not being honest, and when you’re not honest, you’re not credible. And if you ever want to be taken seriously, that matters.

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How do people this dumb make it into newspapers?

[ music | Four Non Blondes – What’s Going On ]

Tom shared this gem of an article at the Telegraph. Wow. I can’t believe this article made it past a fact checker, or an editor, or anyone without an extreme eco-agenda. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-environmental activism, but this is just crazy.

First all, if you pay to pollute, then the stigma of polluting is gone. There is no incentive not to pollute.

First all, wrong. This would only be correct if money was infinite. This statement is blatantly incorrect in that carbon credit purchasing/trading make pollution a fiscal issue, rather than purely an environmental or moral issue. Pollution now directly affects the bottom line.

Imagine that someone came up with a plan for you to cheat on your spouse, say by paying someone else not to cheat on their spouse!

Again, wrong. Cheating on your spouse is binary, either you’re cheating or you’re not. Polluting is binary, either you are or you’re not, but the point is to pollute less. I doubt anyone’s husband or wife will be happy that their spouse now only cheats three times a week rather than four times a week, but I think everyone would be happy if we could reduce emissions of power generation plants by 25%.

Do they ever mention that the only trees that make a difference are the ones planted inside the tropics? Or that some trees actually increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere? Or that mass tree planting to satisfy our ravenous energy appetites reduces biodiversity, displaces people and causes social disruption.

No, no one ever mentions that because it’s not true. Apparently this gentleman has never heard of temperate rain-forests, for example. I haven’t the faintest idea what his second statement is based upon. I’ve never heard of trees increasing atmospheric carbon without burning them. Also, planting trees does nothing to biodeversity because forests aren’t usually made up of thousands of different types of trees, there’s usually a few dominant species in various stands, and a number of different stands. Trees aren’t planted in places people currently live, so there’s no displacement, and certainly not more displacement than would occur if sea levels rise by only a single meter. And when is the last time a tree disrupted anyone doing anything? That one’s just absurd.

And do any of them guarantee that they will actually plant that tree on your behalf? Do they send you a picture of the thing? Can they guarantee you that the tree in question will live long enough to absorb the carbon you dumped in the atmosphere, you naughty boy, before being chopped down?

Actually, reputable ones do just that. They promise a minimum lifespan for the trees, and yes you can ever see the stands they create.

I have no clue how articles like this can make it into a newspaper with any intelligent people behind it. Apparently the standards for the Telegraph have dropped dramatically in recent times. This kind of nonsense isn’t even fit for “letters to the editors” pages.

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Another reason I love Dreamhost, and cheap goodies for you.

[ music | Goldfrapp – Ooh La La ]

If you’re just here for the cheap goodies, you’ll want to skip to this part.

So, sometimes people wonder why I like Dreamhost so much. It’s pretty simple, aside from the great price and excellent features, I like them for their honesty and customer service. Some people look at Dreamhost Status as a list of failure. I look at it as extreme honesty. I’ve used many other hosts over the years, and experienced many with more issues than with Dreamhost, and are never explained, and half the time they lie and tell me there was no issue at all. But, here’s an example of why I love their support.

Subject: bad_httpd_conf makes me a sad tree.
From: Grey Hodge
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2008 17:44:53 -0700 (PDT)
To: DreamHost Support

I went to access part of my site and got a 404. Afraid that the underpants gnomes had moved onto more profitable things like stealing pages, I hit the root of my site. For this I was rewarded with the dreaded “bad_httpd_conf” error of legend. I consulted the Holy Runes, which instructed me to sacrifice a chicken in the ways of my ancestors (that is, with lemon garnish and a side of rice pilaf). Sadly, this did not remedy my problem.

Knowing that dreamhoststatus.com is occasionally relevant, I went there and saw nothing relating to me. Upon seeing this, I immediately started to type out a comment there, since at the top of the page it clearly says “posting in the comments here IS NOT an official way to contact DreamHost” it seemed the most logical thing to do. After misspelling several words and complaining about how every host in the universe is better and that I’m going to move to a host my friend runs out of his mom’s basement, I recalled you had this “support ticket” feature, and decided to give it a whirl.

So, my sites give me that error, and I’d like them not to. I would much prefer to see my carefully crafted yet half completed sites welcome me with open arms. As I took the time to type out all of this text, I’m obviously in a great hurry, and would appreciate if everyone stopped for neither food nor sleep in the coming days as you labor to deliver my sites to all the internets.

Yours Truly,
Grey Hodge
Gentleman of Great Influence and Stature

It wasn’t as though the world was ending, so I thought a little humor would be appreciated. I then proceeded to stare at the clock in agony as the seconds ticked by. An inexorable 12 minutes later I got a reply. 12 minutes! I’ve had days go by with other hosts.

Subject: Re: bad_httpd_conf makes me a sad tree.
From: DreamHost Customer Support Team
Date: Mon, 9 Jun 2008 17:56:51 -0700 (PDT)
To: Grey Hodge

Sir, I am dreadfully sorry that your beautiful sites have suffered this most humiliating indignation, and I have taken it upon my humble self to address the matter in the most expeditious manner possible. Not having a hammer close to hand, and with no negative reflection intended upon your previously attempted sacrifice, I employed my most powerful magic and mumbled assorted arcane incantations over the spilled entrails of a plethora of small beasts I found lurking in, and about, our offices.

The internet Gods must been pleased with my actions, as all of your sites are now back in operation and are displaying in glorious fashion.

Of course, it is also possible that running a quick re-configuration of your apache server did the trick. Sometimes, I must admit, it is hard to discern the truth of these things. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused, and will make every effort to prevent it from happening again.

Your humble servant!
Robert The Junior

Now, in the past they’ve always been courteous and prompt, well humored, and even laughed at some of my past requests’ jokes, but this gent decided he’d take it so far as to join in. I loved it and he did an excellent job. I love it when folks can take jokes well.

I promised cheap goodies. I will now deliver. The previous day I got the following email from Dreamhost.

From: The Happy DreamHost Forever Team
To: Grey Hodge
Date: Sun, Jun 8, 2008 at 9:25 AM
Subject: You just got five DreamHost Invitations!

Hey Grey!

This email is to let you know that you, yes you, have just been given five (5) oh so special DreamHost Invitations you can use to invite your friends and colleagues to DreamHost!

Of course, they don’t NEED an official invitation to sign up, but if you email them and tell them to use one of these five invitation codes:

[email me if you want one]

… they will get all these super special advantages not available any other way:

  • They will get four (4) times the normal disk and bandwidth! [that’s 2TB of disk space and 20TB of transfer]
  • If they choose our five-year plan, they’ll get $150 off!
  • If they choose our ten-year plan, they’ll get $200 off!

(Each code is good for only ONE sweet DreamHostering referral!)

But.. these invitations are too awesome to exist forever! In fact, they expire in just two weeks, so you should probably get to telling ASAP!

Tell your invitees to use the 12-digit code you give them in the “PromoCode” field when they sign up at: https://signup.dreamhost.com/

So enter one of those codes and you’ll get 4 times the bandwidth, and potentially save up to $200 on long term plans (which I expect no one will make use of that part). Each code is one time use only, so once they’re gone they’re gone. If you order and it says invalid code or whatnot, sorry.

* Update: Someone already used one, so that means there are only 4 left!

* Update 2: I wound up getting 6, not 5, and 4 are gone. 2 left, act now, operators are standing by!

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A friendly wager

[ music | XTC Vs. Adam Ant – They Might Be Giants ]

So, I bet tom that within 5 years oil will hit $60-$70 a barrel. He thinks I’m nuts. While he’s not wrong, this isn’t the reason. This article at Portfolio.com is a good read, as is an article Tom found over at The Telegraph stating some very sound reasoning. Namely, the economics of $120/barrel oil is unsustainable in the short term. No, it won’t drop to $70 and stay there, not at current use levels, but right now supply is up, demand is down, and some Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia are about to open the spigot even wider. In short, what’s good for us is good for them, and cheaper oil is good for us. They’ve made it clear they don’t want it at $20/barrel again, but we can live with it at $70/barrel much easier than two or three times that amount.

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MozNews Redux

[ music | Simple Minds – Don’t You Forget About Me ]

Well, it’s been two and a half years, and maybe that’s long enough. The Mozillaverse is livelier than it has ever been, with more and more happening every day. More exciting applications based on the technologies, new companies being founded, exciting opportunities all around. And in this age of blogs and podcasts and vlogs and feeds, apparently the world needs another voice. Well, MozillaNews is that voice. However, there’s a problem! We need writers and content creators. I don’t regret the 4 years I spent being MozillaNews’ primary content creator, but boy, there’s so much today I can’t possibly do it all.

We’re going to use a new CMS rather than our old custom-built CMS, and while we’ll import our old articles, we’re going to need new fresh content. So I’m putting out a call across all the Internets, through all the tubes, if you want to be a world famous blogger with the adoration of millions, email me at moznews@burntelectrons.org and we’ll talk.


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[ music | 4 Non Blondes – What’s Going On ]

So, I got an email from Dreamhost on thursday.

“Dear DreamHost customer, We have found evidence indicating that your ‘XXX’ web server account may have been subject to intrusion by a malicious 3rd party. As a precautionary measure, we have reset your password and ask that you change it…”

Ok, WHAT? My first thought was “who could possibly have gotten my password?” I don’t use IE, I don’t use the same PW everywhere, I use secure PWs, I don’t enter my information into forms from random email links, etc. I’m a security conscious user. My last computer virus was in 1993. Well, I asked what this was about, why they felt my account was at risk, and it seems it’s probably just a consequence of this incident from last year.

“We received a tip linking to a file of usernames and passwords including a small handful of DreamHost FTP accounts; your username was on this list. This does not necessarily mean that any illegal activity has occurred under your account (as we’ve not observed such) but it does mean that someone cracked, phished, snooped, or otherwise obtained the password for this user.”

It’s probably the old password from last year’s breach, but I took no chances. I’ve asked them what password was leaked, we’ll see.

UPDATE: No, it wasn’t my password from last year, it was my latest DH password. I am distressed…

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An Inconvenient Truth About The Economy

[ music | Nine Inch Nails – Somewhat Damaged ]

A friend linked me to this article and he asked for my opinion. I’m flattered he think my view matters, and he asked me to blog it. In short, I think this guy’s way off base.

First, remember this. When it comes to investments, you haven’t lost, or gained a penny until you cash out. You paid a certain price to buy in, and until you sell, your losses and gains are theoretical because you don’t have the money on the board, you have slips of paper in the company that are worth that much but only if you sell. So unless you sell those slips when they’re worth less than you paid, you haven’t lost anything. That’s why investing is for the long term, and not for the faint of heart.

Also, what the writer there fails to acknowledge is that while the Euro may be a “stronger currency”, it’s very bad for Europe’s economy if people start flooding it with investment cash because that’ll inflate the value of the Euro, making their exports more expensive, and hurting their economy. A little investment at once, or a lot over the long term is good, but a big influx at once causes instability. Additionally, just a few years ago the European economy was stagnant. It took the Euro to bring some balance to the continental economy. And now that all those countries are using one currency, one bank, economic issues in individual countries are harder to address because each country can no longer adjust their own money supply as needed. The US can because the dollar supply is managed by the Fed via interest rates. It can make credit more or less expensive, making it harder or easier to get loans and managing how people use their own capital. The US economy is more flexible for this, and more stable because exactly one country controls the dollar, while dozens of countries are all in cooperation with the Euro. History says European countries don’t tend to agree on any one thing for extended periods of time.

China has SO much invested in the US they can’t AFFORD to pull out. We’re China’s biggest customer, they can’t afford for us to go under either. Note how he values China’s “$1.4 trillion reserves.” Not Yuan, not Euros, but Dollars. The dollar is still the international standard. China has a lot of US debt. There are very few countries who can afford to buy that much debt, so China’s diversification options are limited by who can afford it, and who wants to buy it. If we’re that bad an investment, no one will want it. If they have no shortage of buyers, then we’re not that bad off.

The building boom didn’t start in 2002, it really started back in the early 80s, maybe a little earlier. The real estate market has been in a bubble for 20 years. Donald Trump got bitten by a correction in the early 90s, but even he knows that even in a declining real estate market, there’s money to be made if you invest wisely. The bubble is bursting because people’s bad investments are finally no longer able to ride the coattails of cheap loans and blind faith that everything always appreciates without fail.

Further, it’s not the Fed, it’s Bush’s terrible economic policies finally catching up with us. Huge tax cuts, even bigger spending increases, a bad war… The deficit is more than double what it was when Clinton took office, and Bush’s spending exceeds even Reagan’s excessive deficit-laden budgets. At least Reagan knew that eventually all that debt had to be paid off. Bush doesn’t seem to know that, or maybe he just doesn’t care.

And it was Greenspan’s fault that the real estate market didn’t correct several years ago, during the dot com crash he dropped rates too much to keep people from feeling too much pain. That was a correction, too many people buying into thin business plans based on selling a $5 of dog food via the internet but forgetting people won’t pay $20 to ship that dog food when they can get the bag for the same price at the grocery store. He kept dropping rates too far too fast. That just allowed people to take their bad dotcom investments and shift them into bad real estate investments on borrowed money.

This is another correction. The entire world economy is an interdependent system. The system is very complex. No single player makes all the decisions, no single player can go down the tubes without causing a world of pain for the other players. Everyone feels some pain sometimes. Right now, this is out time to feel the pain. Ten years ago it was Japan. Ten years from now it might be China or India or Europe. It happens. The only way to survive it is to remain calm. We’re all in this together.

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The REAL Truth About Mozilla

[ music | Foo Fighters – Disenchanted Lullaby ]

Recently someone ran over to WordPress and started a blog about Mozilla stuff. Now, I might have linked to that blog a while ago, but the latest post (as of this date) is nothing more than a personal screed against Mitchell. I never met her personally, but I’ve hung around long enough to feel comfortable enough to say that I doubt she has any significant personal ambitions of wealth here. If she did she’d have left long ago. Have you read this woman’s bio?

But he (or she) did make a few good points, but never got down to the root problems. Mozilla is full of brilliant people. sure, there are some rotten apples, but find me a single organization without them. No one at the top got there by being stupid. However, I think one issue still plaguing Mozilla to this day is management. But there’s another old saying that comes into play here, never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

Mozilla was founded by some people who had less than stellar social skills to start with, and they came from Netscape. Netscape was the golden child for a long time. Then MS came along and abused their position and ground Netscape down to nothing more than a sticker on the wall. A lot of the spirit of NS survived though, and that’s mostly good. But one thing I think that came along that shouldn’t have, and has survived like a virus, is an idea that once a decision has been made, it’s the right one. Arrogance, that used to be called. It is a phenomenon I am somewhat acquainted with. Humility doesn’t always seem to be in sufficient supply at Lizard Central.

Worse, this arrogance had a tendency to make Mozilla look aloof and smug to the community that supports it. The way Seamonkey was handled is a good example. Regardless of how the upper echelon actually felt, they came across as seeing Seamonkey as a bane, a ball and chain, an annoyance best shot and buried. I don’t actually think this is what they intended, but that’s how many people received the news. the Firebird name fiasco is an even clearer example. It wouldn’t have broken anyone’s back to say, “Hey, you know what, you’re right, we made a mistake, and while we can’t change it today, we assure you all that we’re working on the issue and it WILL be resolved within a few months.” The recent transition of Thunderbird was another example, although was handled a little better. But it was still handled poorly enough to give more fodder to trolls like Truthboy over at his WordPress blog.

However, I think there’s a glimmer of hope. They realized, were convinced, or planned all along and just really don’t know how to manage public relations, that Thunderbird is a very valuable property for both Mozilla and the world at large. A property with a lot of promise and potential if handled right. And they’re making some really good moves to help give that promise a chance to come true. I’m not sure this kind of thing would have happened 5 years ago. It shows that the success of Firefox, both in users, visibility, respect, and maybe even financially, has had a positive effect on the culture inside Mozilla.

So, what’s the real truth about Mozilla? They need more education about managing people, not developers. Some good old fashioned person-to-person human interaction across the board. I think that’s really the biggest issue anymore. Now, I know some will say, “Hey, anyone can speak their minds here.” The ability to do so, and feeling like one can are two different things. And I think they need someone to help temper some of the language in communications with the community. A little diplomacy goes a long way, internally and externally.

Take it from me. I’ve never said anything that could be construed as offensive or arrogant.

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USPS now another tendril of DHS…

[ music | Radiohead – Karma Police ]

When I checked my Post Office Box on Monday, I found a lovely photocopied letter amongst my mail. This is a large scan of the letter, and this is a smaller scan. The only edit I performed was to erase my PO Box number that had been hand written above where it says “ID only”. The “ID only” part was also handwritten, but is part of the photocopy, while my individual copy had my number written on it. I’ve also retyped the letter in it’s entirety letter for letter below so you can more easily read it.

Notice how this starts out as asking you for identification. That seems reasonable enough. However, when you read the entire document, you see it’s not really interested in your identity, it’s interested in your physical address. It’s quite specific about what they will accept as ID also, excluding documents many of us would reach for first. I asked the desk clerk about it, airing my dissatisfaction, and she said it’s all related to the PATRIOT Act, saying they all have to “jump through lots of silly hoops since 9/11.” Once again, the PATRIOT Act is being used as a crowbar for the gov’t to pry further into our lives. If a terrorist is using a post office box for illegal purposes, that alone is more than enough for USPS Investigators to be called in, and even to bring in the Feds. Further, if these “evildoers” need to be tracked to their base camp, asking them isn’t likely to provide truthful results. If these guys can get fake IDs and visas and whatnot, they can use those fake documents to fake out the USPS.

This is nothing but further encroachment of legitimate citizens’ rights that does nothing to stop terrorism or illegal activities whatsoever. I can’t imagine that this kind of security theater makes anyone feel safe, and I’m sickened that this kind of crap goes on still.



Please complete the attached PS Form 1093, application for Post Office Box Service, and return it
to our office. Postal regulations require that the form contain updated and current information. We
are in the process of updating these forms and appreciate your cooperation. The updated PS Form
1093 will need to be submitted in order for us to continue to provide you with Post Office box
. We ask that the updated PS Form 1093 be completed and returned within 14 days.

Please give the completed form to any window clerk at the post office. We will ask you to show
two types of acceptable identification, one being your photograph
. The identification presented
must be current, must contain sufficient information to confirm that the box holder is who he or
she claims to be, and must show your street address. Acceptable identification includes a valid
drivers license, state personal ID (non-driver’s license), armed forces of government ID, university
or recognized corporation ID, passport, alien registration card, certificate of naturalization, current
lease or mortgage, deed of trust, voter or vehicle registration card, and home or vehicle insurance
policy. Credit cards, social security cards and birth certificates are NOT acceptable forms of
. Each person over the age of 18 that receives mail in the post office box should
accompany you to the post office and show two of these types of ID listed above.

We appreciate your cooperation; and apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you for letting us meet your mailing needs. If you have questions, please contact the
Postmaster of your local Post Office.

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Never wake up monday morning in a panic again.

[ music | The Bangles – Manic Monday ]

Politicians do it, every one of them. Generals do it, CEOs and Chairmen of the Board too. And frankly, once in a while I know you wished you could have done it too. What am I talking about? Ghost writing. Why am I talking about it? Well, a good friend of mine runs a ghost writing company called GoodTermPaper.

While him being one of my best friends might bias me, I think Larry’s a brilliant writer. he always was. He started ghostwriting several years ago and has grown it into a full fledged business competing with other, somewhat dodgy companies who offer stock papers that will get you nailed for plagarism faster than a copy/paste from Wikipedia. Larry and his team of writers at GoodTermPaper actually create every project to spec for each customer, no recycled crap. I’ve seen where some of their customers come from, too. Top notch universities around the country, Ivy League even. Most are repeat customers, too, so that speaks to the quality of the work. Their customers come back again and again.

Recently their website was redone, as well, with a more updated and cleaner look. I must say a fantastic job was done, as well. 😉

So next time you have been given a really crappy assignment, or forgot your project is due in two days, don’t panic. Call the pros, and make your professors wonder when you got so smart.

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