WTF is this Plaxo crap?

I just received a message from some social networking crap called "Plaxo".

Subject: John added you as a connection on Pulse

I'd like to connect to you on Pulse.

Pulse is the easiest way to stay up-to-date and share photos, contact info, recommendations, or just about anything from the sites you already use (YouTube, Flickr, Digg, etc.) with the people you know.

Thanks,
John

To accept this request and see what I'm sharing: http://pulse.plaxo.com/pulse/invite/?<removed tracking code>

Though member-sent, this e-mail contains promotional content. If you would prefer not to receive such mailings in the future, click here. Plaxo's office is at 203 Ravendale Drive, Mountain View, CA 94043.

So someone who is only identified as "John", and I don't know many of those wants to connect with me in some vague social networking bollocks? And to opt out I have to follow their process to stop receiving their spam?

Spam! At least Facebook lets you permanently opt out with a single click. These guys, I have no idea who they are and don't care. I won't be following their multi-step process for "opting out" (or rather, verifying I'm a real, live human).

Liberty and Democracy Party: some enthusiasts respond

So my previous post about the Liberty & Democracy Party got some responses. I had a long conversation with one Terje Petersen and he seemed pretty rational, a nice guy really. We disagree on a number of issues, of course, especially gun control.

Just now I received another one which appears somewhat less rational, from a harry1233 at excite.com (perhaps that should be overexcite.com). Rather than actually read my blog post, he's immediately jumped to the conclusion that I'm dissing the party. Far from it, though of course I did point out the overlap between libertarians and the tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorizing anti-semites. While it may have nothing to do with the LDP, they inhabit the same part of the intellectual spectrum as these nutjobs. Just as those of us on the Green side of politics have our tree-hugging, gaia consciousness, deep ecologist hippy nutjobs that we're all embarrassed of, like a nutty old uncle who only gets rolled out for Christmas and birthdays.

Anyway, for your amusement:

Hello Simon,

Please do yourself a favour and rewrite the Liberty & Democracy reference honestly. Why slag them as nutters associated / inferenced to the Citizens Electoral Council. Do you have an agenda of sorts to undermine them (the LDP)?

Look forward to you doing the right thing, you might even join the LDP.org.au party - yes it is liberterian in precept, but very much of an Australian flavour.

You too can make the world a better rather than bitter place.

fanks...

Planet Feed Reader bug

I've been trying to post to Planet's development mailing list because I've found a bug. It moderates posts from non-subscribers, and I can't see any other way to report a bug. So I'll report it here, and hopefully someone will spot it. I've asked Jeff separately to approve the post, but haven't had any luck -- he's a bloody busy guy, so fair enough.

Here's the bug report:

Hi folks.

For some time I've noticed that feeds slurped from planets, which are
in turn using my old-format, link to non-existent URLs.  For example,
if you look at planet.slug.org.au and grab the RSS, you get this:

<item>
<title>Simon Rumble: Crazy Egg rocks</title>
<guid>http://www.rumble.net/blog/Crazy_Egg</guid>
<link>http://www.rumble.net/blog/index.cgi/geek/Crazy_Egg.html</link>
<description>[snipped for clarity]</description>
<pubDate>Mon, 22 Oct 2007 05:13:13 +0000</pubDate>
</item>

Now the contents of the <guid> element is just plain wrong, if
used as a URL.  The contents of <link> are, in fact, correct.

Now if you look at the RSS 0.91 I'm sending at
http://www.rumble.net/blog/index.cgi?flav=rss you see this:

  <item>
      <title>Crazy Egg rocks</title>
      <link>http://www.rumble.net/blog/index.cgi/2007/10/22#Crazy_Egg</link>
     <description>[snipped for clarity]</description>
  </item>

Or if you grab the RSS 2.0 I'm sending at
http://www.rumble.net/blog/index.cgi?flav=rss20 you see this:

    <item>
      <title>Crazy Egg rocks</title>
      <link>http://www.rumble.net/blog/index.cgi/geek/Crazy_Egg.html</link>
      <description>[snipped for clarity]</description>
      <author>Simon Rumble
      &lt;simon@rumble.net&gt;</author>
      <category>/geek</category>
      <pubDate>22 Oct 2007 05:13:13 UTC</pubDate>
      <guid isPermaLink="false">Crazy_Egg</guid>
    </item>

Now if you look at the spec, guid is meant to be a unique identifier.
If the "isPermaLink" property is true (or not specified),
it's also the URL that can be used for the item.  So the RSS readers
are interpretting this correctly.  However, I don't know how Planet is
concocting these guids, and they shouldn't be putting the isPermaLink
property on regardless.

The blog software I'm using is blosxom -- so I suspect this isn't an
isolated incident.  You can also see this same example manifest in the
RSS 2.0 of planet.gllug.org.au

I'm not on this list, so if you want any further details, copy me in.

Got access to a photocopier in London?

The Australian federal election is coming up and this time around I'm not in London to coordinate for The Greens when the 20,000 or so people vote at Australia House in London. Instead we've got the very dedicated Michelle doing it. However, she's having the perennial "no budget" problem and is trying to find people willing to photocopy the How To Vote brochures that will be handed out.

So do you have access to a photocopier and are able to do some bulk copying for us? If so, get in touch.

Alternatively, if you'd like to make a donation to cover it, or volunteer to help out handing out the How To Votes, also get in touch.

Who's this Liberty and Democracy Party?

So anyone got any details of this new Liberty & Democracy Party? They push themselves as libertarians, but that often tends to start sounding like LaRouche nutjobism. So do these people talk about vast global Jewish conspiracies or are they, as they claim to be, classical liberals into small government? Their policies on drugs (legalise) would tend to be the opposite of LaRouche.

I always find the libertarian outlook fascinating. Libertarians and anarchists, to my mind, seem to have arrived at the same place from different starting points. Anarchists start out thinking individuals are generally good but governments and authority are bad. Libertarians start out thinking individuals are out for nobody but themselves and governments and authority are bad. They both end up with basically the same view, except that anarchists tend to believe that people can voluntarily work together (syndicate) while libertarians want big fences around their property backed up by big guns to protect their stuff.

I doubt this new party will do well. Australians aren't actually that averse to taxation. Poll after poll shows that we'd prefer better public hospitals and schools, in preference to tax cuts. We also don't have the critical mass of UFO-spotting, UN-helicopter-fearing, gun-polishing indvidualist nutters that you get in the US.

Long Tail not that long

The Long Tail in a remainder pile

This really tickled my funny bone. In case you're wondering, The Long Tail was something a certain business nerd stick mag was trumpeting a few years back. The basic premise of it was that, with minimal cost to holding inventory, non-traditional stores can stock an almost unlimited range of products, which means niche products can thrive.

But I guess the time of this particular niche is over.

Parties should show their commitment

Glen Turner has good things to say about political parties showing their comittment to a cause. Why aren't they out there building houses, paying doctors' bills, rather than just promising to use our money to do it?

In some parts of the world that's exactly how parties build their power base. Both Hamas and Fatah have social services at the heart of their power base in Palestine. Ditto Hezbullah in Lebanon. Many political movements based around the poor and the left in Europe and South America work this way.

But what services would a political party supply to gain the support they need from the swinging, debt-laden middle classes? Help pay their mortgages? A Labor or Liberal childcare centre? Not sure I'd trust my offspring to those bastards though -- these are the kind of people where you'd count your fingers after shaking their hands.

Howard: the grumpy old codger

I didn't see last night's "debate" (how can you have a debatge when they agree on almost everything?) as we went to see the absolutely amazing Control, about the life of Ian Curtis of Joy Division. The consensus on the "debate" seems to be a Rudd win, with Howard coming across as even more an out-of-touch codger.

The rodent really has been starting to sound like the grumpy old codger in the corner. You almost expect him to come out with:

You kids never had it so good. Back in my day when there was a Labor government, we used to have to steal loaves of bread from union thugs so we'd have something to eat. But we was happy.

Crazy Egg rocks

Crazy Egg
heatmap

Part of my job involves maintaining some of the reporting bits of various web sites. We use a combination of Google Analytics and WebTrends. I've just now discovered an amazing, but very narrowly targetted, tool.

Crazy Egg uses a little JavaScript include to track and report where users actually click on a page. It's designed to help you optimise your most important pages. It shows this information in a number of different ways, but the visual overlay "heatmap" is probably the most obvious. It shows you exactly where users clicked.

The shot shown here is of my contact page over the last weekend. Not too much data, but you can clearly see how people progress through and from the page. This would be really amazing stuff if you're optimising ordering pages or the like. It should give some interesting insights into our users.

One of the sites I look after has a page with about 2 million pageviews a month, mostly from people who've used the install disk and don't know how to change their home page. This is a demographic I don't really understand that well, so I can't wait to test out this tool on that page!