Publisher payments and browsers like Brave aren't the answer and may hurt long term

As you may have noticed, I don't really have any ads on this site… or at least I didn't when I wrote this, but if you're reading this in the far future I probably sold out already.

Many blogs have way too many damn ads, talking ads, tons of shit in the way all the time, making your computer go slow with god awful JavaScript and even more terrible Flash video or needlessly super high HD HTML5 video. You complain and nobody listens, they just say "that doesn't happen on my computer!"

So there are ad blockers, but that hurts publishers because there's no ads to make money.

So there are solutions like Flattr and browsers like Brave which seek to fix this problem by having users put in money and then distribute the money to the content they most like and/or consume the most.

Actually, that sounds awesome, innovative, genius even, and that's not sarcasm, it does sound really cool.

But of course there's a problem with it.

The reason ads make more money is because people are more likely to click on ads than they are to pay cash, in fact nearly no users at all will pay cash, even if it's an easy option. What do I base this on? Well, unlike many of you I interact with other human beings and don't simply work from my ultralibertarian Aeron chair thinking about the benefits of mutual exchange.

I often see people, primarily dorks from the development world like me, say things like "I'd pay for content if I liked it enough", well first of all these people aren't clicking ads anyway, but also it's total bullshit too. Most people will still watch commercials on broadcast TV than pay for subscription services (which often still have commercials these days), in fact the vast majority of people will do this… so suddenly you'll have an influx of people paying for your site about Magento hacks? Give me a break dude.

You may make some money from donations or subscriptions, but almost always you'll make far more money with ads. Yes I'm sure some dumb fucks out there will say they make more money with subscriptions and donations than they ever did with ads, but that's probably because they:

  • Have niche content consumed primarily by people like them who don't click ads.
  • Have niche content which ad companies don't want to support, or if they do support they payouts are low (e.g. pornography)
  • Are liars and they're just full of shit anyway, but think it makes them seem noble even though they may have never had ads on their site to begin with.

This whole thing reminds me of another issue, payments of software.

Remember that?

How you can be open source / free and just charge for support and accept donations!

Remember all the start ups that did that model… and then went right out of fucking business? There are only a handful which made it work, and they all have a big brother (or sister, for the ladies out there) sponsoring them.

It's still an issue too, as I wrote about before in my post: The best way to support yourself being a free software developer is apparently getting another job.

And that's where this shit puts publishers in the same boat, because most people simply aren't going to donate, they aren't going to pay for the content they consume, and by blocking ads you are hurting publishers.

Some overload their sites for their clickbait articles, yes, but most sites aren't over the top and people really depend on it, it may only make $1,000 – $2,000 a month, and there's no way in fucking hell anyone is gonna Flattr or Brave that much money for cats that look like Hitler pictures in posts about which restaurants have the best meat ball salad. I'm sorry, it's not going to fucking happen, and in the handful of cases it does is like suggesting playing the lottery, you're not helping.

As with the linked post above, it reeks of elitism and self-importance, but in an indirect way. If you are reading this I can gather that you:

  • Probably are a developer or web designer, or work near them in some way.
  • Probably never click ads.
  • Possibly use an adblocker.
  • Possibly have some sort of philosophy you think is in line with paying for content you like, but in reality you consume things all the time you wouldn't pay for anyway, such as simple fixes on a blog like this. Nobody's sent me money, but you bastards link to my unicode and Geonames articles all the time.

So let's not break our arms trying to jack each other off, you may pay if you think it's cool enough, but even if you're there all the time, if you can get it for free, or you think maybe the publisher has slightly different politics than you, you probably won't ever pay, so don't try to pump sunshine up my skirt, I know you're full of shit. If you asked me in public though, I'd totally lie and also say "yeah, I'd pay for content I like," but it'd be a lie, just like when you say it.

I do think services like Flattr and software like Brave are really cool and I want to somehow build a world where we can have those and good ads. I'm not just complaining, I do have some ideas in mind, but I lack experience in advertising so they could be shit ideas, like have a browser or extension which does the following:

  • White listing only approved ad companies; make the voting democratic in some way or have multiple private companies with different motives reach a consensus.
  • Have a grey list when rules are violated, this can be done by users clicking a button near the ad to report it, and if enough do from enough places, it's automagical.
  • Rules that we can all pretty much agree on like: no fucking talking or auto-play, no intensive CPU usage, no HD video, no attempts to hijack the browser, and probably other shit too. Google's own rules for their advertisers aren't too bad.
  • Set a limit on ad to content ratio for each page load.

This alone will solve 99% of bullshit.

If you don't agree, I don't really care, but feel free to reply to express your opinion, and feel free to be as hostile as you want, because I'm going to return the favour, even if you agree with me.

Disable autocomplete / autofill in Chrome 51 for typeahead

So all the old insane tricks don't seem to work anymore, right? Well, I've seen one where you create a bunch of retarded hidden fields, but that's inelegant and adds too much complexity. So, based on something I found rarely mentioned, I manged to assemble this:

The type "search" makes it to where Chrome will not apply autocoplete or autofill, however some browsers like Firefox still will, so you also add the classic autocomplete="off".

It works with typeahead and Bootstrap 3 just fine, however if you have specific styles for input[type='text'] you'll have to include 'search' as well.

It's also a valid HTML5 element as well, and in HTML4 or (X)HTML 1.x most browsers will fail to text even though it says search, so it may not be valid, but it will work, and that's more important.

So, good luck, until Chrome changes this shit too and wants to punish developers. As they claim, turning off autocomplete isn't really a security feature, that's nonsense because I'm not using it for security.

They say that we should take advantage of autocomplete and autofill, but that logic doesn't seem to include the fact that maybe people other than Google have search suggestions, or even hidden values like numerical IDs which need to be applied when the item is selected — something autofill doesn't do and Google doesn't seem to give a fuck.

Google Chrome actually stealing mundane ideas from Opera?

A week or so ago, not sure when, Opera updated; nothing was really different, except the autosuggest / autofill items were now bold. I didn't think much of it, until Chrome updated, suddenly theirs were bold too.

What the…?

So, I went out looking for answers. One of the first things I noticed was since about May 4th, a lot of people were talking about Chrome's bold autofill lists; primarily asking how they could restyle that. I didn't find anyone talking about how Opera had done the same thing.

Granted, Opera is not really the most popular browser, and I use it for testing purposes primarily, but nevertheless this change really stands out to me. Not necessarily because one browser copied another, but because the copy is so fucking mundane and silly. Is there some massive benefit to bold auto-fill or bold auto-suggest items?

Is it so revolutionary that when Opera updated, some Google Chrome hacker said "HOLY SHIT, WE GOTTA DO THAT, RIGHT NOW, PUSH IT OUT ASAP! WE CAN'T BE LEFT BEHIND! THIS IS DISRUPTIVE!"?

I've tried to find out if there's any discussion from either company regarding this, but I sure can't find it. If anyone has any information, I'd sure like to know why this was done, because it's so goofy.

Exchange and PHP, a nightmare with a solution

OK that title is not very smooth or clever, but a project I worked on several years ago was syncing Microsoft Exchange with PHP. There's a lot out there not documented, primarily because there are several problems with PHP's implementation of XML and Microsoft's over-use of namespaces and so forth. However, with some serious hacking, I've come up with some solutions.

This was initially based on some code I had found online, however it was so long ago I have not been able to figure it out so I cannot provide proper attribution. Additionally, impersonation does work, and I've seen a lot of people have a problem with this as well.

The biggest thing is it requires a lot of manual XML to actually work, you can't build the objects and expect it to work correctly, it literally will not, primarily due to PHP's SOAP class.

The primary benefit of this code is to see how I hacked around dealing with PHP's issues when it came to trying to deal with the Exchange calendar and task system.

Feel free to reply with any fixes, updates, etc.

A few things to note:

  • When I created this, it was a hackfest with very little time, so the code is not my best work at all; I mean it uses globals for god sake, and improper OOP, improper usage of PSR, classes doing far too much, etc.
  • This code was built for PHP 5.2 – 5.4, and takes no advantage of PHP 7 or anything.
  • Yes, those two above mean I am embarrassed by the quality of this code, but hiding it isn't really useful to anyone, especially because I am not using it in my project any more.
  • This will not work out of box, because it was built specifically for my project, however because it was such a nightmare and other people are struggling, I'm sharing it. It should give you a good idea of where to start and how to deal with some hiccoughs.
  • I assume you've already got the basis down, and you've got messages.xsd, Services.wsdl, and types.xsd, and all the other stuff. Basically I am just assuming you've got it working, you're just running into problems actually doing anything useful.

Usage from my job which pull down basically everything first. This is because repeating calendar entries are only listed once, so you have to pre-grab and store everything in order to deal with it later. The most important aspects are storing the ID and change key so that you can properly manage it later. If someone edits a calendar entry, the change key will be "changed," so every once in a while, depending on your desire of accuracy, you may need to resync everything, unless you find a better way to do it (if so please share).

Here's the classes:

The best way to support yourself being a free software developer is apparently getting another job

In this YouTube video there's a crappy interview with Richard Stallman where he does his typical thing of laying out his philosophy and answering some asinine questions from the hosts. One good question asked though was, more or less, regarding the idea of supporting a family while at the same time giving your software away for free.

Free Software people love telling you that on the one hand you should be able to/you can make money with your software, but on the other they also tend to admit you can't actually make a decent living giving your shit away for free, and yes I know you can sell your software, but if it comes with source and someone redistributes it to the world, well then you've given it away, so your attempts to charge don't really work.

Yes, there's Red Hat and a few others out there, but since those original big boys which have been heavily propped up by companies which create proprietary software and hardware, there really haven't been any other success stories. All those companies like Cygnus, VA Linux, etc are all gone. The idea of "well we can give it away and charge for support" and "we charge for manuals / physical copies of software" aren't decent and workable business models. They're great ways to go out of business though, unless you've got a big daddy company to back you up, like IBM, which doesn't play be the same rules you claim to.

Here is the part of the interview I'm talking about:

Host: Are you actuality putting the needs of have no non-free software above the needs of feeding my kid?

Stallman: Absolutely. I don't see much difference what your saying and what a thief or swindler would say trying to justify what his doing; the most effective thing an American can do not reduce ecological impact is not have a kid.

In a way that speaks for itself, but the comments too really are interesting because they often both admit the obvious issue of working essentially for free (save a few examples out of tens of thousands of FOSS projects) and at the same time claiming you'll actually be better off and make more money this way.

Not to mention that freedom, apparently, is taking freedom from everyone else; then again this is coming from zealots who think Stallman deserves GNU tacked on to the start of Linux, a requirement which no other software project, platform, or library is morally obligated to make, just Linux.

I think it may be obvious I'm not one of those who says "Richard Stallman deserves praise for all he's done," he gets more than enough praise. I'm not against open source or free software, in fact I've distributed code on this blog using the MIT/X11 license. I am against forcing everyone else to live by your rules and licensing.

If you can make your way through the typical ass kissing Richard Stallman posts, you can find the nuggets I'm talking about.

This was ridiculously stupid. I don't care if your child eats – that responsibility is on you. And I'm not willing to sacrifice my freedom, just so that you can meet your responsibility. Think about it.

It doesn't seem to occur to him that maybe I have the freedom to create closed source software, and he has the freedom to not buy it. It's as if it's imposed upon him. Maybe he should think about that.

As far as the double think goes when it comes to making money. Well, Free software apparently makes it to where developers keep the money or maybe the users, who knows:

…with this model there would no need for publishers at all. All profits would go to developers, the people who deserve the money and did the work. No need to spend on marketing or distribution either, ergo no need for publisher.

Free software is important. Free software takes the power of the CEO or director of a company and distributes it to every single user of the application. Free software is about transparency, and the ability to be less ignorant to malicous code inside software.

However, when reality sets in:

Feeding the kid, lol. As if anyone would have to starve in a western country. Here in central Europe, you certainly don't need work at all for this, there is basic coverage.

Someone's clearly never been poor.

Regardless, the point I'd like to make here is that being a software developer does not mean you are incapable of doing any other sort of work and are a charity case if you can't find a job that meets your standards.

So on the one hand as the developer you'll reap the rewards of all your hard work, but on the other you won't really have any money and "lol fuck you and your kids, get another job moron," and they apparently don't see the connection here.

There you have it, yes you can make a living and feed your family (as if children are the only dependencies people can have, then again I guess many of these people live with their parents) but really only if you're lucky enough to work at Red Hat or GNOME, or you get a job working some place else.

I definitely see this approach as the best way to increase software investment and development. Everyone knows you do your best work, not when secure in the knowledge you can work all night getting that bug fixed and be proud, but when you gotta get in bed by 8pm because you've got to be up early enough to start up the deep fryers at work… hopefully tonight you'll be able to get on that issue someone reported five months ago.

Is PHP out of fashion?

One thing I keep running into is the claim that "PHP is out of fashion," which I don't quite understand considering PHP is the most popular server-side language on the entire Internet, and many of the top websites in the world use it. Indeed, even on Twitter recently I had this conversation (edited for readability, see link for context):

Faizan Javed (‏@faizanj): A bigger issue – what is it with valley startups and PHP?
Tony Showoff ‏(@TonyShowoff): What do you mean? The polarisation of it, to where either it's evil or it's the only thing used?
Faizan Javed (‏@faizanj): the intense focus and controversy over an arguably out-of-fashion language.
Tony Showoff ‏(@TonyShowoff): Java is also "out of fashion" but still used, PHP is used by more web sites than any other language. I think it's inadequacy. A lot of things go in and out of fashion, but fashion doesn't reflect usefulness. Remember the coming p2p/push/xml/etc revolutions?
Faizan Javed (‏@faizanj): one can argue Cobol and Fortran are also still useful in their domains. But hip, cool and mainstream they are not.
Tony Showoff ‏(@TonyShowoff): So is hand looming one could say, but half of all internet sites don't use COBOL and half of looms aren't hand driven.

Like underwear, PHP is becoming cleaner, as if it's been washed with Tempa-Cheer on double rinse at high heat.

I think he does bring up a good point and question though. Are COBOL and Fortran fashionable at all since they still are in use, mostly in the realm of maintenance? Well, maybe, but I don't think so. As I tried to point out as best I could on Twitter, niche use cases are not the same thing as something being ubiquitous. Just as you can still find handloomers that doesn't mean machine looming is falling out of fashion, despite the rise in custom hand made items on etsy.com

I think people often confuse what's cool with what's in fashion and what's useful or available. This is less of a big deal in pop culture trends, but in the computer world it doesn't really make much sense. Sure, PHP may not be cool, I'm not sure if it ever was, but that doesn't change the fact that to this day when you want to find a web host, almost always they have PHP hosting available and not much, if anything else. Despite Python and Ruby becoming more hip, along with Erlang and the less useful other things which are some goofy spin off of another thing, they simply aren't available everywhere or ubiquitous.

So, in a sense, asking whether or not PHP is in fashion is sort of like asking whether or not underwear is in fashion. Sure it may be cool, or sexy, not to wear it, but for the most part you'll find it everywhere you look. Is that a bad analogy for PHP? Maybe, but reflecting PHP's problems over the years, I think it's pretty apt, but like underwear, PHP is becoming cleaner, as if it's been washed with Tempa-Cheer on double rinse at high heat.

But what about the numbers (click image for source information)?

stats-w3techs

php-trend-201301-netcraft

And finally, what about as far as community help goes? After all, a programming language's success and usability these days often relies on thriving communities. Well…

tiobe-community-stats

Uncool? Maybe, but no programming language has ever been cool. Out of fashion? I don't think so.

Quora, where incompetence is fine so long as you have good grammar

I get Quora summary emails despite not being a Quora user, and sometimes I see very interesting questions, and more often than not very incompetent answers… rather, incompetent answers written very well so they sound like they could be correct. Here's one example:

rewrewrew

Well, as most of you know, YouTube was never written in PHP, and they could've gained this much by just looking up YouTube on Wikipedia. I think the second part of the question is an interesting one, however the answer is dog shit. Primarily because it's a question of scalability with two different types of platforms. Sure, Twitter and Facebook seem similar enough. They're both web sites full of assholes bragging about themselves (myself included) and trying to pick up strange, but their problems are completely different.

So, this is a classic thing of "anything is faster/better than PHP so therefore if it used PHP it would've failed," which is totally stupid and based on nonsense.

Twitter works in ever changing content where historical entries are rarely retrieved, Facebook does pretty much the opposite. I suggest looking up the histories of both how Twitter and Facebook have dealt with scalability on websites like highscalability.com and also YouTube has tons of videos where their engineers have discussed it. Note that you could only listen to information provided by actual Twitter and Facebook insiders, not random morons who think they've got it all figured out, that's why I'm not listing it all here myself.

YouTube could've survived the volume, because it survived with Python, which is slower than PHP in a lot of ways, but I think any actual developers reading this, whether or not they love or hate Python or PHP, know that YouTube's bottlenecks are database and bandwidth, not their code backend. And there's plenty of videos on YouTube of developers from there stating this very fact too.

So, this is a classic thing of "anything is faster/better than PHP so therefore if it used PHP it would've failed," which is totally stupid and based on nonsense. Sure, PHP used to really suck, especially in the days YouTube launched, but that has nothing to do with their success or failure.

But oh it gets worse:

rewrewrex

Facebook's HHVM still couldn't be enough? Well, Raphael Costa claims to have 15 years in enterprise software, and I believe it, because it would explain why most enterprise software systems are garbage, because their engineers are incompetent.

Let's just point out why this is nonsensical garbage:

  • Facebook used PHP and expanded with it beyond the popularity of YouTube, and yet YouTube couldn't have used it?
  • Facebook is more popular than YouTube, so this makes no damn sense at all. I guess I said that already.
  • Facebook also serves video.
  • Most importantly: serving video literally has not a fucking thing to do with the language you run on the backend, because you're serving them as flat files or from CDNs. This is true in the case of both YouTube and Facebook, and also your major online porn video sites.

Yet, his post gets the most upvotes, and he is considered authoritative. This is just one example of Quora really being no better than Yahoo answers, especially nowadays. I've never used Quora or contributed, and this is pretty much why.

Should you trim passwords?

A question I see asked from time to time is whether or not web sites should trim passwords on account creation and login. More often than not the typical responses show both a complete lack of understanding of what "trim" even means from people who should know better, and a lack of understanding that not every user is Dade Murphy after he just got in from grindin' some serious hand rails. Though not everyone has their head up their ass or argues from a position of complete ignorance.

So consider:

  • Trim means to remove white space from the beginning and end of a string, not the centre.
  • Even if you don't email passwords or display them anywhere, users will still copy/paste them to each other and various places and often this will add a space or \n to the end of the string.

A few things are clear to me based on my experience and reading what others had to say about it:

  1. People who are against trimming passwords either don't know what trim means, or think everyone else understands and uses simple security protocols like not saving passwords in word processors
  2. People who are against trimming passwords probably have never had to deal with real users or customers, and probably are some shitty wanna be Richard Stallman with retarded expectations of what users can and should be able to do
  3. Users should be allowed to have spaces within the string itself, but not on either end, in order to save your support people (and possibly yourself) a lot of headaches
  4. People who are against it assume that if there's a space it's because a user intended it, but how many people actually put spaces at the end of passwords? Basically fucking nobody.

So it's simple: users should be able to use any characters they want in a password, but the password should be trimmed at both create and login. There's also no reason to warn people that passwords are trimmed, again because nobody understands what the fuck this means, even apparently technical people. We know from massive lists of cracked and leaked plain text passwords that nobody uses spaces at the end of passwords, not even keyboard cowboys who give bad advice on Stackoverflow.

Trim away my friends, don't listen to people who probably don't even have clients.

Vi vs Emacs, nope they're both terrible and obsolete

Earlier this month Linux Magazine carried an op-ed titled "The End of the Editor Wars," (more discussion) discussing the age old argument of vi vs Emacs, or really vim vs Emacs these days.

I've been using Linux and Unix for at least a couple of decades and it's an argument I've never understood, because both editors are total shit, but especially vi. There are so many alternative, better editors to choose from.

If we only talk about the editor wars in the sense of vi(m) vs Emacs then certainly vi has won, and I think there's some fairly straight forward reasons for that:

  • vi comes on everything remotely POSIX or Unix compliant
  • Some people pride themselves on the overly complex nature of vi(m) over other editors, you can even find people swearing that vim with tons of weird extras is superior to a full IDE such as PhpStorm or Visual Studio. I guess this can be true in the same way that hang-gliding is faster than super sonic air travel. In short, and I say this with the up most level of offence: these people are liars, morons, or delusional. There's no way it can possibly be true.
  • Emacs, in my experience, was always more bigger with people more apt to use Lisp, and nobody but supervirgins and beardos use Lisp. ((((know(((what((((((()()))))I((((((((((((mean?

The entire vi vs Emacs argument is really like two retards jumping off the short bus, then proceeding to beat the hell out of each other in the Waffle House parking lot over the who is the heavy weight champion of the world.

One may win, but they're both still retarded.

There are tons of editors which do way better at everything in comparison, to either, but especially to vi, as vi does everything in the worst way possible.

In other words yes, vi won, but they're both still crap.

Even today distros like Ubuntu override things like visudo to load into nano, *not* into vi. I think this is wonderful and I pray for a day an easy editor replaces it completely, maybe even easy editor from the BSD universe, that works fine too.

Vi comes from a time when there were limited keys on a keyboard, and instead of using escape and control to manage the program (used in a limited way, escape especially in that it brings up command mode), they devised a brutally complex and illogical system for editing which persists to this day, it is truly for the masochistic and pretentious.

Knowing the basics of vi in that knowing how to do basic editing and also how to escape+qw! or wq is important if you're a sysadmin, but unnecessary for everyone else, and as soon as you can install any other text editor, you should, and most people do.

I understand personal preference exists, but it says a lot about someone's personality in that they'd honestly say vim is better than a real IDE on X and they can work "faster" with it. That can only be an absolute lie or a delusion on a David Berkowitz level. The dog is barking at the vi masochists and it's saying "hold on to a turd and call it gold, after all, you'll gain +100 nerd points in the valley."

Hamburger Icon, the illogical and unnecessary name

Stolen from the BBC
Stolen from the BBC

You may know the menu icon or navicon, sometimes called "bars", on your smart phone or tablet. When you click it or touch it, you get a menu, ta-da, pretty great.

Except lately I've seen some people, including people I respect, call it the "hamburger" icon. This is pushed further by the media, and in fact it mostly seems to be a media thing since, well you know how reporters often run out of things to talk about…

The BBC carried this article: Hamburger icon: How these three lines mystify most people.

Are people really mystified by a standard icon seen everywhere? Somehow I doubt it.

Here's why it concerns me:

Standards are important in computing, especially when interacting with regular, "non-technical" people. Having a clear and understandable name for things makes sense. People need to connect words to actions, and if someone says "hamburger icon" instead of the more obvious "menu icon" then we've sacrificed logic to be cute.

It's always been a menu icon since it was invented, and in fact originally the cutesy name was "air vent icon," which makes more sense than hamburger, speaking of…

Here's why it makes no damn sense:

It doesn't look like a fucking hamburger! If it were a hamburger, the top and bottom lines would be wider to signify a bun, but they're all equal. It seems like a really big stretch and attempt to try to apply a name to something that does not need another god damn name.

I always thought it looked like a gripper, as one can often see on the bottom of remote controls to make sliding the battery panel off, as well as many other places. This makes sense too with smart devices, because people use their fingers on them.

Other things it looks more like: a deck of cards, a list of items, an air vent, a stack of items… Would you say the StackOverflow icon looks like someone assembling a hamburger?

Plus when I click it, no matter what, I will never get hamburgers.

Here's what we should do instead:

I don't use the term "navicon", because it seems silly to me, but so does "favicon," and that seems like a good name for technical people and development, but not regular people.

Consider the fact that people, after playing with their phones, tablets, or a web site will see it brings up a menu and they will think "oh, it's a menu icon," and it always brings up a menu wherever they see it. I don't think they'll naturally say "oh it's a hamburger, no duh, of course, as it looks nothing like a hamburger!" even if they don't understand what it's supposed to represent, they'll just associate it with menus.

So when I say menu icon, they'll know what to click.

The best thing to do is to just not repeat this weird ass thing, it's so trivial and unnecessary.

So if it's so trivial why the fuck do I care?

Because I don't want to make interacting with users even more complicated by giving illogical, goofy names to them to be cute. We don't need to set precedent with this, otherwise what's next, calling bullets "M&Ms" because they're both round?

Want to make a list, click the M&Ms icon…

See what I mean, what's the difference? Oh yeah, bullets look more like M&Ms than the menu icon looks like a hamburger.