After all these years where next to nothing happened on the site, I suppose you didn’t expect that. Not ever, and certainly not now.
Even I didn’t, at times, as it took so long to get the site redone.
Yet, as the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse—the one who fell off his horse and had to finish on foot thus arriving late to the End of Times—here I am.
For how long? Well, there’s enough bad news going around already, so let’s leave that for later. I will have a post explaining the hurdle in which my site will, very likely, find itself in soon, as it is a (partially unexpected) consequence of the current push from the various control freaks vying for the takeover of our formerly liberal democracies, and a cautionary tale of what’s coming for us as the corporate and political worlds align to usher in the age of total surveillance.
But for now, let’s just jump with joy for a bit. This is the reopening announcement. It’s supposed to be happy and joyful. Like a Grand Apocalypse, when nothing else matters anymore because the die is cast and you’re either going to Christ or to Hell—and it’s too late to do anything about it, if you find yourself in the later case.
The site was entirely rebuilt. Its CMS (content management system) was already old when Joe Biden was last coherent (over the course of at least one conversation), and the amount of work required to simply perform an upgrade was such that starting from scratch was the sensible option.
I’ve added a secondary channel—In addition to barely edited, garrulous blog posts like this one—pretentiously named “Flashposts” where I get to utter short and stupid things in rapid succession. It’s just “micro-blogging” like the twitter, yes, but without all the celebrities and other morons. Also, you cannot “follow” me, and I don’t include these in the email notifications (praise the Lord).
In addition to a cubic ton of technical stuff that nobody sane should ever care about, this redesign should hopefully make the site at least readable on a wider range of displays and devices—as, alas, I must reckon there is no keeping an ever growing number of people from those stupid, invasive, tracking slave collars shaped as phones1.
And I’m not one to stand between a crackhead and his pipe—because they just go an get another pipe.
Still, it isn’t all about catering to the needs of the techno-zombies—far from it.
In addition to the CMS upgrade, I guess there’s no need to point out that the whole design of the site is new. Unless it’s been so long since you last visited here that you don’t remember how the old one was. In which case, I’ve just pointed that out. So there.
Here’s more cold product description stuff for you:
- The site now serves everything over a secure connection (SSL. You know, that little lock icon in your browser’s address bar). You should probably appreciate that, even if you’re not in China, Iran or France.
- The user interface received a full facelift with massive injections of Botox and whatever substances, injected or ingested, that help old silicon horseface Cher believe she can beat entropy when looking in a mirror. At a distance.
That includes the user profile management section that should be more practical for you than the hot mess that was before.
- More direct access (read “permalinks”) to some peripheral content, like the various media assets and, in particular, individual comments: this gives you and me the ability to link directly to precious bits of reader-contributed wisdom and information. Like this one for instance.
- As many of you will be using those darn phones anyway, I’ve thrown in heaps of those weird Japanese barcodes (QR Codes), so that you can “scan” the pages addresses on a large screen (a PC monitor for instance) rather than strain your dainty delicate fingers “tapping” them on your diminutive displays. Thoughtful heh? Yeah, I know you love your crack.
- I updated, when possible, the old content that depended on obsolete technology (Flash to HTML5 video, mostly). Some of the oldest stuff however, cannot or will not be updated.
Done, not done
There are many options to consider when building a “modern” web site, and, as in any project in any line of work, you have to weight them carefully based not just on convenience and costs. For this site, there are things that from the start, several years ago I deliberately rejected for ethical reasons.
This was part of my “product brief” for this redesign:
No third-party data harvesting/people tracking engine disguised as comment system (Disqus, etc). Comments are managed in house and on location, they’re part of my site publishing software.
No third-party data harvesting/people tracking engine disguised as membership management (those “social login” or “single sign-on” schemes, whether corporate or “open source” ). Member accounts are managed and stored in house.
Anybody who’d rather let Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and the rest of the technofascists know where they are all the time rather than take five minutes to create an account at my site is welcome to remain a nameless, faceless guest til the end of times.
No third-party data harvesting/people tracking engine disguised as antispam service (Akismet et al). Spam is assessed and eradicated in house.
No third-party data harvesting/people tracking engine disguised as mailing list/newsletter management (MailChimp and others). Email from my site to you is managed and sent in house, and your address is never shared with anybody else.
No ads, no referral programs, no marketing scheme. Google’s (and other’s) massive tracking and advertising network will not follow you on my site.
No remote scripts (notably none of those “social media” follow-me-like-me tiny button-trackers), no content delivery network, no third-party statistics, no tracking images/pixels.
All of that made it in the final product.2
And that was easy, as I’ve been loathing that trend in IT towards outsourcing and centralizing content and services for a very, very long time.
With Big Tech fully dropping the mask since the electoral coup on November the 3rd in the US, I feel that all the time I’ve invested in growing up from very paranoid to extremely paranoid wasn’t lost.
If you’re still reading through this boring laundry list of what I’ve gone and done and done not done, perhaps I could bore you a little more before you finally give up and start clicking on everything to see what will break.
A few things on membership, if you please:
Sign-in credentials have changed.
These used to be username + password, they are now email address + password
Well, it’s been a long time since anybody logged in, and—as most usability studies show—a username is easier to forget than an email address.
As the site is now served over SSL, all the data transmission between you and the site is encrypted, making it a secure option to use such sensitive data as your email address to log-in.
What doesn’t change is that no email address is ever shared or published on the site—nor elsewhere.
If you already have an account, and think you’ve forgotten the email address as well, it’s quite easy: the address you use to login is the one on which you receive the notifications. Just dig up your old emails—or look up the one I’ve just sent, announcing this return.
Registrations are open again
Closed for a long time, registration is open again—and still free of course. You can bring friends and family, and their dogs. Dogs are always OK with me. Dogs are the only people I intuitively trust.
To throw spammers off course, the registration page lives at an ephemeral address, so I can’t provide the link here as it becomes quickly obsolete. Just send friends and family to the site, there’s a big “Register” link at the top right of every page. Dogs don’t care though. They don’t bother with computers and are way smarter than any smartphone’s human appendage. Bless them.
One last thing: there’s now a member ranking system. While it may sound at first like some social media popularity contest (blue) bird guano, it really isn’t. I explain everything here, and also touch briefly on why registrations were closed a while ago. In case you care about it.
Off you go
You’ve made it to the end of the post. Now is the time for you to start clicking or tapping all around, and discover just how much of it makes you go either “Oooh!” or “Eeew!”.
Or just “Meh”.
If you have any problem or questions, do not hesitate to contact me.If you have a generic question regarding the new site, consider asking it in the comments below. I’ll answer there, as it may help fellow readers.