PARANOID STUFF ABOUT ME, FLOATING ON WEB 2.0

Somebody’s blog, or perhaps some article, asked about web services that store your own otherwise personal information, or do tasks that could easily be served on your own equipment. (If it was somebody I read that reads me, please comment so I can recognize you!)

Xanga.com, and all the other famous blogging engines, are a piece of cake to replicate in your own computer equipment. Several blog servers are out there for you to freely download and run in your own computer. I’ve even thought of running one or writing my own, but I’m still writing here for two reasons.

One of them, is that my computers occasionally stop functioning. The big machine with the two handles that was my server finally threw the head on its main hard disk. If I had migrated my blog to that machine, none of you would be reading this now.

Indeed, I had to reinstall the OS on my regular workstation earlier this week.

Web services are handy for those moments when your own equipment fail you. Pobox.com is a mail redirector service I’ve been subscribed to for more than a few years now, because when I move or lose internet access, it will make sure I keep receiving email. My email goes to three places: My regular ISP email account, so that it shows in my reader, my cell phone, partly for emergency purposes, and a free email account, for moments when I really need to read the whole email but my emailing PC won’t work. That being said, all email sent to me is archived amongst the viagra spam that fills free email boxes.

I’ve also experimented with other “tagging” and “social” engines, mostly out of curiosity, but I’ve found there’s some notables I like, and since they have an account attributed to me, the data contained therein is personal in a vague sense.

del.icio.us is for tagging your own common bookmarks in a public way. I have yet to use its full potential, but it’s a great way to store bookmarks that you want to be able to recall from anywhere at all. In theory, if you find a user that has a good taste in bookmarking, you can use an RSS aggregator to keep track of what the user does. If you have a look at mine, you’ll note I recently marked a site that will archive your favorite websites for you! I’m not sure how I’d want to use it yet, but I’m sure you can keep a pretty good archive of your own personal pages and blogs with it, again, because sometimes, one of your computers may fail… or MySpace may crash and never return.

In a similar but more musical vein, and I use it far more often, is last.fm. Although it may seem bizarre to have a little plugin in your media player telling the world what music you listen to, the result is mostly harmless, and once enough data is developed, last.fm will introduce you to users with similar musical tastes, and here’s the kicker- will play a radio feed created with those tastes in mind. It’s far from perfect, but it’s the best example of such a thing I’ve seen yet. (Pandora doesn’t seem to be as flexible.)

I’ve left frapr pins on maps belonging to some podcasts I like, and Google’s archived sattelite maps are good enough to find people’s houses and cars…

Is any of this data dangerous? I suppose it can be, but for the most part, not really.

More commentary on the Web 2.0 fad later.

I should apologize for yet another delay in my writing… right when I was settled into making an entry, my PC went on the fritz and wouldn’t boot, so, as I was saying, I reinstalled and went to a more stable distro that has the features I want; so I’m on Kubuntu now.

I was still able to look at the filesystem by booting a copy of Damn Small Linux I had taken from a magazine, and I can’t recommend it enough- it’s almost good enough to use all the time, and in fact, I’m thinking about putting it on the hard disk of an old slow-pentium laptop to see if it gives it some usefulness.

One of my spare PCs was running a copy of FreeBSD I was experimenting with, so that after I figured out where BSDs like to keep their configurations (it’s a little different, but not by too much) it became a glorified NAS. I have new respect for someone that stated, “Windows haters move on to Linux, UNIX lovers move on to *BSD.” Like Linux, it’s not for everyone, but it has different design goals in mind, goals, in my opinion, based more upon the original spirit of UNIX (the monolithic, shared computer and/or cluster) and doesn’t seem to have the “desktop advocacy” vibe that Linux has grown.

The differences between Ubuntu and Debian are negligible.

Organic_Gaming made a comment on an older entry responding to vertigo_josh’s comment, so a little setup is in order…

I wrote a quick opinion response to some article I had read about whether or not modern operating systems should start moving away from the “filesystem” comment. My opinion on the thought remains the same: even in cases where the concept or names of files are ambiguous, like SQL databases or PalmOS, there are still ways that the data must be organized for easy retrieval, and no matter how you obscure it, the end result is going to look like or be inspired by the UNIX filesystem in some way.

The gentleman was really writing about the finder tools operating systems have, and the clutter of the desktop and ‘My …’ folders you tend to encounter on Windows boxes.

vertigo_josh asked in his comment, to paraphrase, if I think perhaps a cluttered filesystem is a sign of a messy person in the proverbial meatspace as well; I’d answer with a very definite yes. My /home directory would probably be a lot better organized if I didn’t have amaroK tearing though mp3 and ogg tags, and the rest of the lot is a joke. I use ‘locate’ all the time and I’m considering Kat first, and then afterward, Beagle.

If ‘locate’ worked on my bedroom, we’d have one hell of a product.

Organic_Gaming added a comment in agreement, that a messy filesystem indicates a messy person.

I can only add one more opinion, and this too is restatement of something I read somewhere- no matter what you do to the abstractions of the way we use our computers, or any of our machines, it will never be absolutely intuitive. There will always be a learning curve. The gentleman I’m paraphrasing said to consider that Windows types turn their computers off by clicking on an icon that says ‘Start’.

I will finish the entry about the amaroK playlist-interpreting code soon, because I’m about to write another program (or two!) that use it.

Hope everyone is doing well!

See you next time.

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3 thoughts on “PARANOID STUFF ABOUT ME, FLOATING ON WEB 2.0

  1. “There will always be a learning curve. The gentleman I’m paraphrasing said to consider that Windows types turn their computers off by clicking on an icon that says ‘Start’.”To me that doesn’t sound like a learning curve, though I know it is for some. No matter what you want to do, most things can be done by starting with the ‘Start’ button, shutting down is no exception. However, I tutor and do supplimental instruction of intro to computer students so I know there is definatly a learning curve… which the teachers don’t seem to be doing as well as they should to remove *grumble grumble*. Anyway, that’s a whole rant of its own.

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  2. You could alt+F4 until the computer shuts off… then you wouldn’t have a learning curve… but that depends on the OS… 
    I tutored for two years at Baker and I hated the teacher’s lack of teaching.  I did alot of work… it seems teachers/professors don’t care that you are spending a shit ton of money to learn… they tell you the pages and let you learn yourself.   

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  3. i think it may have been me that you were talking about at the beginning of your post… what i posted about was the fact that if xanga.com disappeared, so would all of my blogs :@ And from there, just the fact that people need to keep backups of things so that they don’t lose their data! I really don’t recall what spurred that post, but… Yes i think it may have been me :|i suppose that your ubuntu/debian comment was aimed at me too ! I have yet to hear of any alternative data storage methods that sound very convincing. let’s face it: UNIX got a lot of things right, and the filesystem is most definitely one of them. It’s so simple and straightforward, and accessible to the common user. After all, most everyone knows how filing cabinets work.I think that to complicate data storage to any further extent would be putting a stick in one’s eye… for proof, just look at the windows registry.

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