Category Archives: General

If I don’t know where else to put an article, or if I simply forget to categorize it, here it winds up.

De-Spamming My Twitter Followers

I’ve recently despammed my Twitter follower list. If you were following me, and now find yourself blocked, you have my apologies. Please send me an e-mail and I’ll unblock you.

This provides me with a great opportunity to discuss my attitude about Twitter followers and following.

Generally speaking, if someone starts following me, I follow them. If I follow someone, I usually expect to be followed back, and likely will stop following, after a week or so, someone who isn’t following me.

Exceptions to this rule are announcement accounts (e.g, @MSDN, @GoogleCode, @APStylebook) and major celebrities (guideline: someone whose identity has been verified by Twitter, e.g. @SethMacFarlane).

I may decide not to follow someone, but that doesn’t mean I mind them following me. I prefer a two-way street, but that’s not to say that people who only want to listen aren’t welcome to follow me.

I do mind being followed by Twitter accounts that are:

  • Obviously meant only to spam. If all a follower does on Twitter is solicit business, please keep me out of it.
  • Astroturfing. This one is sometimes a judgment call, but if a follower’s tweets are about things other than the kinds of things I am talking about (or the follower hasn’t  tweeted at all), and that tweeter is following a lot of other people with whom he is not communicating / has no common interests, I’ll probably toss him into this category and block him.
  • Patently offensive. Profanity, sexually suggestive comments, edgy humor; these are all fine. Trolling and hating are not.
  • Malicious bots. I am followed by a handful of IT bots; so long as they’re reposting / harvesting relevant info, I’m OK with that. All other bots can GTFO.

Web Site Changes: New Theme, New Root

As you can see, I have been working on this site’s theme.

I’m designing specifically to support the IAB Universal Ad Package. The way I’ve done that is through three columns: The left, “content,” column is 728 pixels wide,  which is the same as a leaderboard; the center column is 180 pixels wide, which supports both the rectangle and wide skyscraper formats; and the right column is 300 pixels wide, which supports the medium rectangle.

I remain committed to never having advertising on this site, nor ever charging for any content here. (I greatly appreciate donations, and I do charge for customizing / specific implementations of my code). The reason I am designing my site this way is to both have a base template from which to develop client sites that need to support advertising, and because the WordPress Codex is thin on templates specifically geared toward supporting display advertising.

Finally, I moved the blog from a subdirectory to the root of my Web server. When I started blogging with WordPress back in 2006, I thought I might do something else with the site, and didn’t want to clutter up the root with WordPress-specific rewrite rules and files. Since then, WordPress has become a much more robust content management system, and I’ve discovered that a blog is all I really need, so it’s high time everything went to the root.

As a result of all these changes:

  1. The template has some problems still, which I’ll be fixing over the next few days. If you spot a problem, please leave a comment.
  2. Many local links, namely download and image links, are likely broken; I will be fixing those, too, over the next few days.
  3. I’ve not installed WP-Syntax, my old code highlighting plugin, because I’ve gone completely over to SyntaxHighligher Evolved. Thus, some code may not wrap properly or look pretty, especially on older posts. You guessed it: I’ll fix that over the next few days.

Again, if you spot something that needs fixing, please let me know by leaving a comment to this post. Thanks!

A Quick Note About The Blog’s Design

Hey everyone, I know the blog looks pretty 1996 right now, and some stuff just plain looks like crap. That’s because I’ve decided I’m going to put together my own theme.

To get things started, I have gone with Sandbox, since it lays a strong, style-hooks-heavy base, which means about 90 percent of the design work can be done in CSS alone. But, like all things on this blog, I get to them when I have a moment, and at the moment, I am in the middle of the holidays and blizzard clean-up.

Anyway, things will get better soon, I promise. Please bear with me and thanks for stopping by.

All links in this post on delicious: http://www.delicious.com/dougvdotcom/a-quick-note-about-the-blogs-design

RIP, Facebook Page

Well, it was an interesting experiment. But my Facebook Page was a wonder of how not to do social media. It was little better than a bookmarking service, and I already use several of those.

On the other hand, Twitter is a far better option for communicating about my business and this blog, and is actually resulting in two-way communication. So I’m going to focus my energies there.

My Facebook page is no more. Long live my personal Facebook profile.

‘Behind Every Great Fortune Is A Great Crime’

Federal postal authorities with Vitaly Borker after they arrested him on Monday at his home in Brooklyn.

Federal postal authorities with Vitaly Borker after they arrested him on Monday at his home in Brooklyn. Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The headline to this post is via Chris Rock, who repeats that line during his “Never Scared” comedy special (link very NSFW!), speaking about the difference between being rich and being wealthy.

It means that significant, lasting wealth is often created by exploiting something new, or using some means to circumvent the kind of behavior most people would consider fair or reasonable. The patron of the exhaulted Kennedy clan made his fortune from bootlegging and insider trading before the 1929 stock market crash. Rockerfeller, Vanderbilt and Morgan were the great robber barons of the U.S. industrial revolution.

I mention this because Vitaly Borker, proprietor of decormyeyes, was arrested today on federal charges of “mail fraud, wire fraud, making interstate threats and cyberstalking.”

Borker, as you will remember from this blog, discovered some time ago that Google’s PageRank algorithm didn’t consider whether the mentioning of an online store was positive or negative. (Google claims this is no longer the case.) Therefore, Borker took a extremely combative approach to customer complaints, intentionally stoking animosity, so that his online store would appear in multiple online complaints, often at very reputable, PageRank-enhancing Web sites, such as Get Satisfaction.

It seemed to work well, and I admired the ingenuity behind it, if not the tactic itself. Seems now, however, that Borker will be a test case as to whether anti-service, and preying upon the gullible / lazy, is at an end. (I might also note that this is further proof that for all the caterwauling, good journalism isn’t dead; if anything, it’s more valuable than ever.)

All links in this post on delicious: http://www.delicious.com/dougvdotcom/behind-every-great-fortune-is-a-great-crime