Comment Armageddon

So there I was catching up on some RSS feeds that I had missed over the Christmas New Year break. I made an unexpected find while I was doing that. Michael Arrington’s TechCrunch is a respected authority in Web 2.0 circles as far as covering new start-ups and the culture of the Internet and technology news. But this post caused some controversy.

TechCrunch covered a website that was a social network for budding photographers. So what you might say. Well this is a social network for amateur pornography. I have not linked to the site covered because that is not what this post is about. Arrington covers the site in a very matter-of-fact way that you would expect. It would seem that his readers don’t appreciate it, generally. True this is not the sort of thing that TechCrunch usually covers and that might be why there was the reaction that there was. Still not sure it was worthy of the reaction of some.

The real action here is the comments. There are no less than 191 comments at the time of this post. It is the most entertaining run of comments that I have read in a long time. Like fies to a dead cow everyone turns up for a go. It has everything from name calling to preaching doom and gloom. There are “hissy” fits and passionate pleas. Everything, you name it you will find it here.

What’s more the names read like a who’s who of the blogosphere. Featuring in order of appearance:

I am sure there are some I missed or did not recognise. These guys probably subscribe to TechCrunch so I am not surprised that they do. But for them to be motivated enough to comment, you can imagine. I learned some things about Robert Scoble that I did not know. He actually kicks butt in an argument. Still not sure why they got involved, no one wins a flame war.

Very entertaining and well worth the read. Not often I recommend to skip the article and go straight to the comments. I am not about to make judgements about the merits of Arringtons choice of topics but suffice to say his readers have spoken. But from my perspective it doesn’t seem like it fits the TechCrunch mould. It says a lot about knowing your audience.

Skype Notifications

If you are like a lot of other users of Skype you may have noticed some strange happenings with your notifications. For the last month or so I have had no notifications when a contact comes on-line. I put it down to a glitch in Skype. But there is more to it than that. Don’t be alarmed though if you are one of the many affected, they know of the problem.

I have all my alerts on, although I don’t get any for contacts coming on-line. For that reason I miss people and that is really starting to drive me nuts. So about a week ago I tried to reinstall Skype. No luck. So I started digging in the notifications. I tried turning them all off, saved it. Then switched them all back on again. Nope. I also tried various combinations of logging on then off in between changing settings. Absolutely no go.

In my explorations I also noticed that some of the sounds had been switched off as well. I had not made these adjustments so it looks like this might be related to the bigger problem as the sounds directly correspond to the loss of features.

These sort of problems pop up every now and then in Skype. I had an issue with my Web Cam not being available during a call. It resolved itself using one of the above measures. The other thing that can happen is that it is fixed in an upgrade of the software or just spontaneously resolves. Who knows why or how. This issue has however been persistent. So I took further measures.

Usually when you “Report a Problem” to Skype you either get nothing back or you get the standard support response: make sure you are using the latest version, ensure that you your drivers are up to date and that your operating system is updated. Very useful. This time I said that all of the above was in place, I am glad I did.

It turns out that this issue is a known problem and that the Skype team is working on the problem and that it should be fixed in a coming build. They recommended that I keep an eye on the download page and apologised. I thought that was nice of them. Keeping an eye on the download page is a good tip. As regular users of Skype may know updates have been built into the latest versions of Skype. But they are slow to remind users that there is a new version. Perhaps the two problems are related given the advice? One other thing I did not do and should have is check the forums and this has come up, although it took some digging to find it.

Since I have had this problem for a while and that I know I am not the only users affected I thought it valuable to pass on. While it still bugs me a lot, not having a program that works properly; I am glad that they are working on it. Patience I guess. It is also great that I got a response that is useful and informative.

More AllPeers News: Sylck Response

AllPeers LogoThe guys over at the AllPeers Blog; Peer Pressure have made a very nice, detailed response to some criticisms that a blog has made of their application. It is not often that you see a calm, non-threatening response to some scathing remarks.

Slyck is a P2P blog that “reviewed” AllPeers and according to Peer Pressure was very wong with some of the assessments made. From the Sylick blog I read that they felt some of the claims made by the AllPeers extension were false and miss-leading. I have been following the AllPeers story to some extent; strange thing is that some of the things they claim AllPeers to have said or implied in the lead up to the release I can’t remember reading. Nor did I get the impression that they were making the extension out to be something it is not.

The first paragraph sums up the gist of their review:

“Fast and easy” “Secure file-sharing” “The killer Darknet Application” “It’s P2P without uploading!” “Open source was never easier” “Drag and drop, it’s easy!” One may wonder what the fuss is with AllPeers. AllPeers came onto the scene for both FireFox fans and P2P fans. While looking through reviews may make it look like nothing could come close to something ‘so great’ with this application, it makes sceptics worry. Could the sceptics be right? Slyck dives into the media attention and the application itself to find out what is really going on.

Particularly the statement about being “The killer Darknet Application”, this so far from the truth. AllPeers actually state very strongly in their user agreement that they are not an application for sharing copyrighted material. So beats me where they got that from. Although the statement is very similar to what another prominent blogger said (who’s name escapes me): “… AllPeers will make Firefox a killer app“. Or something to that effect.

I don’t want to get too involved in the mud slinging, although it appears to me that this is coming from one direction at this time. But the response from AllPeers goes onto to talk a little about their encryption, this I found most interesting. I talked to my brother about this and his statement was:

“..unless every user purchases an SSL certificate, then it really is not that secure. Rather secure in name only”

However, this is answered in the response post:

“For the record, part of the AllPeers registration process involves getting a digital certificate and associated key pair, which are used to authenticate and encrypt all (yes, I said all) communication.”

This implies to me that perhaps it might employ some form of open source encryption like PGP. Not sure if that ensures “true” encryption, but it is what I use for email and apparently that is pretty much “uncrackable” for anything short of a super computer. Interesting anyway, thought’s James? I don’t claim to be a guru with this sort of stuff, he is so I’d be interested in what he makes of that.

Peer Pressure also make it very clear that this extension is in the early beta release. This does not equate to a perfect application. The expectation that it should perform as such is strange. I have said before that to believe that it should is miss-guided and setting your expectations too high.

The up-shot of this post is a lesson in how to respond to a negative post and there are some interesting insights into AllPeers. This in my opinion adds tio their integrity and their commitment to making a product better for their user base.

Odeo Respond, Download Link Returns!

As posted yesterday it appeared Odeo had decreased it's functionality of the "send me an Odeo message" by not allowing users to download the mp3 of the left message. Well there has been a great response from Odeo with emails and even a blog comment. All is restored in the Odeo universe.

Odeo Download LinkBiz Stone who works for Odeo left a comment on the Rail yesterday that indicated that the omission of the Download link on the web page was a bug and implied that they were unaware of the problem until I had blogged about it. So great I found a bug! The emails that were recieved were also prompt and promised a resolution. The action by Odeo to resolve the issue has been excellent. When I logged onto my inbox this afternoon, the download link is now present and accounted for. Everyone breath a sigh of relief. I am yet to see if the enclosure in the RSS feed from the "inbox" has been fixed as well but I am assuming that it has.

I commend Odeo staff on their excellent response time and the fact that they responded at all. They could have easily just resolved the problem and pretended that it did not happen. Great work Odeo, we still love you 😉 (In a nice blokey type of way…).

In fact I am not really sure how Biz found my humble blog, and if he is reading this then I wouldn't mind knowing. The other thing that I was curious about was if the staffers at Odeo patrol the BlogOsphere looking for tags and posts regarding Odeo, to see what people are saying and suggesting. I know that one suggestion that I made in the past was implemented, so that was cool.

Thanks Odeo keep up the good work.

LibSyn Player Removed!

Well the Global Geek Podcast has been going very well. The website is working great, accept for the LibSyn Player; which has been broken for nearly two weeks.

LibSyn PlayerThe player is just a web page application that allows people to "stream" the audio directly from the web page. It is also detachable so you can surf the net and listen to the show. About twelve days ago, after the upload of show number 004 (I think) it broke. It failed to update with the new show and the situation stayed that way. For me the player does not work at all. For others it might play any show that we have published, at random! Not good.

You might think that this is a minor thing, but you would be surprised to learn that this is the way that most people listen to the show. The majority of people appear to not know about aggregators or "podcatchers". So the fact that it is broken is really affecting our statistics, we have seen jumps in other episodes that should not have occurred and a downturn in the numbers for the most recent show. We are fairly sure that it is related to the player not working. Part of trying to combat this was to put the WordPress Podcast Widget on this blog, you can go to the streaming page and listen to the podcast from this and download the podcast with the right click "save as" command. But it was not a total solution. We have also tried to search for a decent player from somewhere else but we are having trouble finding one that us gumby people can put on the page and looks good.

So after all this and three emails to Liberated Syndication I have removed the player from the site, I just hope that people click the "POD" button to listen to the show or download it manually or preferably subscribe to the show using a podcatcher of some description. I recommend Juice as a free option, open source and it works. For a payed version of an integrated podcatcher and RSS reader I recommend FeedDemon.

Still hoping to get the player fixed and reinstated on the website but until LibSyn get back to me my hands are tied. Normally they are good with support but on this they have sucked.

WordPress Response

I am not going to move the blog. Great response and in a timely fashion impress me, to the point of me totally deciding to stay with WordPress.

I got a response from a previous email that said that we are working on the problem and that it should be fixed now. Well that was before the problems last night. So I wrote a fairly pointed email back saying that in no way was it fixed. In addition there have been a few mentions in the blogosphere about the issues.

Seems that WordPress has grown at a rate that they were not expecting and that they have had some difficultity keeping up. This has resulted in servers slowing down and being unreliable. I got a response from my email in under an hour, you can not get better than that! The first thing I got was an apology. The second thing was that I was informed that they have purchased more bandwidth which should speed up things around WordPress. I have been informed also that as fast as they install new hardware (by that I presume hard-drives) it fills up. I think this is just a reflection of the growth of the blogosphere, it is growing at a phenomenal rate and doesn’t look like slowing down. However this week it looks like they are having a mass install of new hardware in their data centres and that will make a world of difference, I hope it does.

This is evident in the WordPress Blog so that’s good to hear:

We’re in the very final stages of bringing the new systems online, just waiting the last few bits of configuration to come online. As we’re more than doubling the servers we’re using, it should address all performance issues and help us prevent any for a long time to come.

Finally, I was told that they are working very hard at making WordPress a great domain that just works. The response also said that they have not been achieving that recently and that they have dissapointed their users. But they have the solution and they are working on it. So hang in there bloggers there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Interestingly Sebastian and I mentioned in the podcast last week that the ping times for WordPress to Technorati are terrible and that bloggers need to manually ping Technorati to see some benefits from it. This is a problem with Ping-O-Matic and Technorati recognised by WordPress as Matt has been talking to Technorati about resolving the issue. My advice keep doing it manually as this has not been resolved yet, I will try to keep you posted.

Great response from WordPress and I hope that I can continue to support WordPress as I like their style and they are excellent in the support stakes.

NewsGator Response

I am compelled to write this post due to the buzz created by the NewsGator outage and their response to the FeedDemon community.

It certainly generated some buzz. “NewsGator” was the number one search on Technorati yesterday and people have blogged about it big time. The interest that was shown aside. The response from NewsGator in my opinion has been one of the best responses from a large company that I have ever seen. I even received a comment on my previous post from Jack Brewster who is in Tech Support at NewsGator! I have never seen any company communicate to the users of their product in such an open and frank way. Under the same circumstances other large companies would not have even made an apology, let alone tried to explain exactly what happened.
Greg Reinackers Weblog goes into further explanation in regards to the reasons for the outage, detailing the exact events of the outage hour by hour. He ends his post with these words:

But for now – yep, we screwed up. To our customers who were affected – you have my personal apology, and my assurance that we’re doing everything we can to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

In fact I started to feel sorry for the bastards! They are obviously working very hard at delivering a stable client that does have some great features. It would appear that they were trying to improve that when the crash occurred! I really hope that the willingness to provide information and communicate that to users will continue it certainly gives a fresh face to the usual no comment I see from big companies. Well done NewsGator.

I would still recommend FeedDemon to anyone, it is a great RSS reader. I would recommend it even more strongly given their handling and response to the outage. I hope that other companies take a leaf out of their book and start remembering that real people are using their products. Thanks guys keep up the good work.