Yelp, extortion scheme?

Techcrunch [hat tip Robert Schultz]: "The plaintiff in the suit, a veterinary hospital in Long Beach, CA, is said to have requested that Yelp remove a negative review from the website, which was allegedly refused by the San Francisco startup, after which its sales representatives repeatedly contacted the hospital demanding payments of roughly $300 per month in exchange for hiding or deleting the review." - This should be interesting to monitor. I can't imagine an up-and-comer like Yelp doing something so stupid. Could it have been an opportunistic employee? Guess we'll find out.

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Posted by Rob at 7:45 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

More from Blogger's Rick Klau

Hats off to Rick Klau from Blogger. He's really been responsive to the confusion caused by the recent changes to Blogger. You're a class act Rick, thanks!

Here's something very telling, at least it is to me, from Rick's comment in my most recent post about the Blogger changes.

A wonderful boquet of flowers.
This isn't a reaction to Tumblr, or WordPress, or TypePad, or anybody else. (Each are great, btw, and have lots to offer.) This is a simple challenge: we want to deliver a best-in-class experience, and creating a product with dependencies on downstream ISPs was preventing us from delivering the stable, reliable and functional product we wanted. It was also preventing us from doing more for the 99.5% of users who host with us (either on their own domain or on
Emphasis is mine. 99.5% of the users who host with Blogger will benefit, who can argue with that? I certainly can't.

I've been a very satisfied Blogger user and wish Blogger all the best. I hope you guys are able give us some killer features!

Rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin...

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Posted by Rob at 9:30 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Zeldman on Flash and iPad

Jeffery Zeldman: "Lack of Flash in the iPad (and before that, in the iPhone) is a win for accessible, standards-based design. Not because Flash is bad, but because the increasing popularity of devices that don't support Flash is going to force recalcitrant web developers to build the semantic HTML layer first. Additional layers of Flash UX can then be optionally added in, just as, in proper, accessible, standards-based development, JavaScript UX enhancements are added only after we verify that the site works without them." - Good design advice.

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Posted by Rob at 8:52 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Yes, the desktop is still king.

Daniel Jalkut: "It's an unfair fight. We know exactly what the web can do, and we have a good idea of what it plans to do, thanks to its (laudable) open standards. But none of us has any idea what the next iPad, iPhone, Wii, Xbox, TomTom, whatever, will do. Don't get me wrong: the web is excellent at innovating, but it innovates for publishing and social interaction. It doesn't innovate on desktop UI or device integration, the very areas where brilliant desktop applications shine. And it innovates, as I have already suggested, in the art of catching up." - I know the web is great for a lot of stuff, but the client/desktop is still king because it can completely embrace the environment in which it lives. The web experience has to live inside a lowest common denominator shell, the browser.

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Posted by Rob at 9:52 AM | 2 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Dave on the death of a website

Scripting News: "I'm a very technical person, and I've been aware of this issue starting from the first day I wrote an essay that was published on the web. I've been doing things to protect my writing. Yet, if I were to for whatever reason, stop tending my web presence, the whole thing would disappear within 30 to 60 days. One or two billing cycles before the hosting services cut off service. And then no more than a year before the domains expire and become porn sites or whatever.

This is a terrible situation.

And a business opportunity."

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Posted by Rob at 9:36 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Facebook, you naughty doggie!

TechCrunch: "This looks really, really bad. An avid Facebook user named Harman Bajwa says that his Facebook vanity Url - - was unceremoniously revoked yesterday for violating Facebook's policies. His new Facebook URL is the much less memorable" - Well, money talks, and bull$%!* walks.

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Posted by Rob at 9:29 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Static pages, yes static I say!

Dave Dribin: "Static also means fast it's fast. I don't need to install the latest and greatest super-duper-OMGWTFBBQ cache plugin. And getting Fireballed won't take down my site. The few times my site has been linked by more popular sites, my server hasn't so much as strained itself, let alone failed to serve up pages." - Ahhhh, a man after my own heart. This is the one thing that keeps me from leaving Blogger. I can't find a single cool publishing system, with ease of use, that pushes out static HTML for posts. Crazy isn't it?

I'll have to keep an eye on what Dave decides to do, it may be what I'm looking for.

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Posted by Rob at 12:58 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

MySpace, then and now

Watch out! It's a blog fly!Financial Times - Reportage: "Since then, MySpace has shed 40 per cent of its staff, closed many of its international offices and publicly given up trying to match Facebook in the race to become the world's biggest social network. (MySpace has more than 100 million regular users, Facebook more than 300 million.) A move by MySpace and other News Corp digital businesses into the biggest new office development in Los Angeles was scrapped - after the $350m, 12-year lease had been signed - leaving the company paying more than $1m a month for an empty building. The number of people using the site has also dropped precipitously this year: MySpace's share of the social networking market has tumbled from 66 per cent a year ago to 30 per cent, according to the online research company Hitwise." - I would have called this article "How to build and empire, sell it to an old school media baron, make a ton of money, watch him run it in the ground, and get out." Maybe that's too long?

It's funny the article says MySpace was at the forefront of Web 2.0. I find that laughable. It looked to me like a complete nightmare, hey, ever heard of the blink tag? Yeah, it was that bad. While Facebook isn't the most aesthetically pleasing site ever created it makes MySpace look like an ugly step child.

Remember boys and girls, most of the web has the attention span of an A.D.D. child.

So, who's going to be the next darling and take down Facebook? If the woes of MySpace are any indicator we have three to five years before we'll find out.

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Posted by Rob at 6:36 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

On Twitter's Retweet

Dare Obasanjo: "Twitter recently added retweets to this list with Project Retweet. After using this feature for a few days I've found that unlike hashtags and @replies, the way this feature has been integrated into the Twitter experience is deeply flawed. Before I talking about the problems with Project Retweet, I should talk about how the community uses retweeting today." - Dare is a bright and shining star at Microsoft, in my humble opinion. The question is, with this sort of talent why is it Microsoft's web properties are so bad? Are there just too many cooks in the kitchen (Marketing, Program Managers, etc), or are there too few Dare's to go around?

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Posted by Rob at 7:50 AM | 1 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Another reason to like static HTML

Scripting News: "Choose software that's easy to archive. Ideally you should just have to make a copy of a folder to back it up. Most bloggiong software is nowhere near that simple. " - This is yet another reason I LOVE my statically published weblog pages. I've moved my weblog to a few different hosts over the years and I can do exactly what Dave does; I tar up a directory, copy it to the new host, untar, and I have my weblog up and operating. Easy. It's also darned easy to backup, using the same method.

All this talk boils out of a post on Blogspotting, a BusinessWeek blog, that is going bye-bye. The writer would like to back up his work, I'm not even sure if he has the right to do that, but it puts the light on backup/archival yet again.

I'm one step away from moving to a WordPress based weblog, and this comes along to make me think twice, again!

How easy is it for one to migrate a WordPress based weblog to a new host? As easy as 1-2-3, or does it involve moving a database? Hopefully that process has been completely automated. It looks like quite a process, doesn't it?

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Posted by Rob at 11:20 AM | 2 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

How to kill a product

Ned Batchelder: "Tabblo is written on the Django framework, and therefore, in Python. Ever since we were acquired by Hewlett-Packard two and a half years ago, there's been a debate about whether we should start working in Java, a far more common implementation language within HP. These debates come and go, with varying degrees of seriousness." - Ned may be talking more about the debate they continuously have within HP but the bigger nastiness is how easy it would be for Tabblo to fail by doing a rewrite. Where's the benefit to the user? There's nothing wrong with Python and there are plenty of successful projects in Java. If HP needs to interop with Tabblo, they have web services, communicate with Tabblo using whatever makes sense to you. End of story.

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Posted by Rob at 10:05 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Custom URL shortening

I purchased a new domain a while back with the intent of creating my own URL shortening service.

I'm writing this now because I just noticed an entry, from Mr. Bob Kepford, on Twitter about setting up his own. It reminded me, I need to get this show on the road.

But what should I use? I've decided to go with Adjix. They have a very simple setup for creating your own custom shortening service by using Amazon S3 as the storage mechanism and they simply redirect from your URL, through Adjix, and off to the desired URL. Pretty sweet!

So, what do you need? Simple, Adjix has a weblog post to explain the entire thing. After you've read it, and configured your own service, read the next entry to complete the full setup.

Dave Winer, A.K.A. Dr. Bootstrap, was one of the first to do this, and it's working quite well for him.

Dave's own custom label shortening service,, has been online and working for a while now.

Example shortened URL.

I will be applying this to my own, white label, URL shortening service, soon, I hope.

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Posted by Rob at 11:36 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Scoble on Twitter's SUL

Robert Scoble: "OK, so when Twitter came out with its Suggested User List I went through a bunch of emotions. Hatred. Jealousy. Self loathing. Blaming. Anger. Denial. All that kind of stuff. I have lashed out at it over the last few months here and there. Pissing off Tim O'Reilly and Veronica Belmont and a whole raft of other people. After all, I had more followers than any of my friends did before this list came along and now they all have millions of unearned followers that were gifted to them by winning a lottery called 'the Suggested User List.' Also known as the 'SUL.'" - Robert, Robert, Robert... why does this matter so darned much? Make the R.S.U.L. and get on with it. Would you be happier if Twitter removed the "Following" and "Followers" stats from your page? That way you wouldn't know how many people you're following and how many are following you. Ahhhh, bliss! What if people could categorize what they talk about in a better way, or better yet, what if Twitter did a Google-like job of categorizing what you're talking about and had killer search so you could find like minded people. I know you believe followers equals revenue, although I'm not sure how it works, but it would seem you already have quite a following. Are you more interested in being the Paris Hilton of Technology? Being famous for being famous? You're a good guy Robert. I don't want you to become the Paris Hilton of Tech, I like Scobleizer much better.

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Posted by Rob at 8:38 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Revisiting 09/11, Scripting News

I followed a link via Dave Winer's FriendFeed this afternoon to an piece on Gigaom titled "Remembering 9/11 - A Time Before Social Networks."

I left a comment of course because I was a part of a social network at the time, called weblogging. The only thing Twitter has brought us is a much quicker flow, along with more noise to sort through. Still useful, yes, just noisy.

On that day I found it next to impossible to get through to CNN, MSNBC, and the NY Times websites. They were just overwhelmed. I turned to Dave Winer's Scripting News for up to the minute information. Dave, if you read this, you did a great job that day.

This brings me to the title of this post. Go read Dave's account of the day, and click on the links. It's surprising how fragile our lovely World Wide Web is. A lot of the links just don't work. Sad to lose that history, don't you think?

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Posted by Rob at 3:28 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Can I get an Amen!

Om Malik [via @davewiner]: "Chris Saad, who works for, a start-up that makes social media tools and has been involved in various technical groups such as, today outlines seven reasons why the blog-builders and users need to rise-up. 'It's time we start re-investing in our own, open social platforms... Blogs are our profile pages - social nodes - on the open, distributed social web,' he writes. Well said, Saad! For his seven reasons," - I've been writing this weblog since 2001, it is my own personal profile. It's me, it's how I feel, what I'm doing, who I'm doing it with. It's family and friends. It's work and play. It's a view into my life, it's my very own personal nightmare. It is me.

I love having this blog and always have. As long as I'm still around this weblog will serve as my very own, one man, social network. It cannot, and will not, be replaced by Facebook or Twitter, they don't, and won't every let me run things the way I want to run them.

This is my place on the web, and they can't touch it.

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Posted by Rob at 6:50 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Static Pages

Ugly CritterScripting News: "But not this blog post if I have any say about it. It's stored as a static file on a Windows XP server running Apache. It could just as easily be stored on a Linux machine running anything. Or even an iPod or iPhone. Text files are the ultimate in stability. The same text file you could read on a mainframe 40 years ago could be read on a netbook today. " - I've said it before, I'll say it again, I'd like to switch publishing systems but I can't publish static HTML from many of them. I share this idea with Dave, no matter how arcane it may seem. My static HTML pages are super easy to backup and move from server to server and if I switch to a new publishing system, it doesn't matter. I don't have a desire to pull those static pages into the new system, they'll stay just where they are, in their current form. No fuss, no muss.

So, I think Blogger will continue to serve my weblogging needs.

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Posted by Rob at 6:10 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

This is who I am

NY Times [via @zymurgy]: "Those whose names are not unique may run into problems in trying to manage those brands. Chris Hardwick, a stand-up comedian and host on the tech-focused cable network G4, had no trouble registering a few years ago and securing the appropriate Gmail address. But he missed out on claiming his name on MySpace to a Chris Hardwick in Ohio. Last weekend, Mr. Hardwick got home from a performance too late to get his address of choice on Facebook; he said a high school student in England appeared to have grabbed it." - I didn't realize the spigot opened on Friday evening, so I wasn't able to grab Fahrni as my identity on Facebook, a kid in Switzerland got it, I wound up with rob.fahrni, which is ok because to me that's not my real identity, or profile, or whatever you want to call it. For me my real identity begins at a URL most people don't know about, This weblog is an extension of that site, but that site is the leaping off point, it's the home to my front porch, but I digress.

Watch out! It's a blog fly!All this hubbub over identities got me thinking. I want a way to identify a URL as my "true identity", I don't want Google or Facebook or Twitter or MySpace in charge of that, I'm in charge, and I'd like to tell web services "Hey, this is Rob Fahrni, not that other site over there." Now, if I want to identify Google or Facebook or Twitter or MySpace or some other site as the keeper of my identity that's ok too, or maybe I don't want an identity on the web at all, that would be fine too.

Could this be an extension to some other service? OpenID maybe? Is there a way to embed some metadata in my preferred web location that works today? Maybe someone has already created this service and I'm just not aware of it? If it exists, please, share in the comments. If it doesn't exist, and you'd like to help me create it, please leave a comment. Let's get the ball rolling on this, today.

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Posted by Rob at 5:51 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.


Rob Fahrni has been a Software Developer for 20 years. He's developed DOS, Windows, Linux, iPhone, and Palm based applications in C, C++, Objective-C/Cocoa, C#/ASP.Net, and, yes, even BASIC...
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