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LEECHING AND LINKING IN THE HYPERTEXT KINGDOMi

Replying to: Indieweb.xyz: Difficult or Silo?

Heh, well everything not on your own domain is a silo, or at least I can make that argument.  Not all silo’s are bad we’ve all just gotten sloppy talking as if they are.  Silo’s become particularly bad when they become monopolies: ie. Facebook, Twitter, Google.  But what you are trying to do with Indieweb.xyz is exactly the opposite, that is create another independent outlet for both articles to be found and also blogs to be found.  We need more of these not less.

Indieweb et al.: Commendably, you have built Indieweb.xyz using Indieweb tech.  But I’m not sure if the Indieweb, as it sits right now, is the best audience.  I mean, we Indiewebbers all “got ours”, we can talk to each other directly anytime we want, we have: webmentions, chat rooms on Indieweb.org, Slack, IRC and maybe other places, we have Twitter, we have our own Indie News self serve aggregator, newsletters and most of what we talk about with each other is Indeweb related.  And there is nothing wrong with any of that, it’s just that, maybe Indieweb.xyz gets overlooked by that audience.  I see you have opened things up so that more diverse non-indieweb equipped blogs can syndicate and I think this is wise.

There are blogs and bloggers out there, basically talking to themselves because nobody can find them.  They don’t know if anybody is reading or appreciates what they post because nobody comments and they have no clue about Indieweb.  They want to reach out but they don’t know how, maybe they aren’t techie, maybe they majored in English at Uni.  How do we reach them?  How do we get them to get off their duffs and nailing manifestos on Indieweb.xyz?  I have to confess, there are times when I forgot to syndicate to xyz because my post was not linking or Indieweb related.  I’m getting over that.

Difficulty: I think it is best if we have to do a little work to syndicate to xyz.  I’ve thought about what if we could syndicate via RSS but that would spam xyz out.  It does not need all my drivel, only my better (or longer) posts.  And if you incorporated RSS then the real spammers would take over sooner or later.

There is a generational thing here too.  I’m not talking about the Indieweb, but others on the web.  They have become passive, or at least it seems that way to me.

Keep at it.  You are experimenting with something good.  When all the massive silos like FB and Twitter go down or wall themselves off, people will discover the need for places like Indieweb.xyz.  They just don’t know it yet.

 

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Once upon a time, when there were actually a bunch of search engines to compare results from, we had Parallel Search Forms.  I won’t call them an “engine” because all they did was display the results from several search engines side by side.

You had one form to enter your search terms and the site would query 2 or 3 search engines simultaneously, displaying the  results side by side for comparison.

Example: You can see the remains of one here (opens in new tab) as an illustration.

I would love to have one of these today, setup like this:

Privacy Search engine #1: Duckduckgo – DDG uses Bing as the backbone of their search.

Privacy Search engine #2: Startpage – SP uses un geolocated, un personalized Google.

Privacy Search engine #3: Mojeek – uses their own index.

This would make it easy to compare search results of the first couple of pages of each AND how many ads are on those pages all in real time.

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Like: Indieweb.xyz: Difficult or Silo?

I want to respond to this but I’ll wait for morning.  There is a lot here to think about.

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I just installed the new Aperture WordPress plugin.  I’m not real clear on what it does but it gives me access to Aperture and Microsub and, maybe, Monocle so it’s going in the direction towards an Internet home, which is good.

I’ve been kinda waiting for this, but also stalling a little to see how thing go.  This brings me closer and makes the process easier which is great.

See also: Indieweb.org

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This is the infamous vacuum cleaner post I have been promising to write.

I just bought a refurbished vacuum cleaner.  A Tristar MG-2 canister, if you must know.  It’s a compact model which is handy to pull out quickly when you track something in and for carrying out to the garage for cleaning out the cars.  New Tristars are very expensive.  Refurbished they still are not cheap but they will outlast most of the plastic junk built today.

A family I knew well, bought a Tristar back in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s.  Back then the styling had not changed since the 1940’s.  The family nicknamed it The Pig, because it looked like a little piggy rolling behind them.  It was ugly in a cute sort of way, built like a tank and powerful.  I know they used it for over 20 years and they loved it.

Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

Better to buy a quality refurbished vacuum than a new cheap plastic vac. Most new plastic vacs cost $150 to 500 or more.  The really cheap ones are abysmal and all are kind of considered disposable.

Here are the numbers I am seeing: You can buy a new “high end” plastic vacuum cleaner for $500.  It might be made in China or it might be assembled in Germany from Chinese parts.  Or you can spend $250 – 500 for a quality refurbished vacuum cleaner, made in USA, made of metal, that will still be running in 10 – 15 years.  Heck, $250 – 350 buys a heck of a lot in the refurbished department.

Most of the high quality vacuums are made in the USA. I like that.

High quality vacuums can be repaired, Usually it’s just a new belt.  They can be refurbished and have a second life and will probably still outlast the modern plastic ones.  I’ve learned this the hard way.

It is okay to have more than one vacuum cleaner.  I have one for each floor of my house because I’m done lugging a vac up and down flights of stairs.  Also a vac model that is perfect for your ground floor may not work as well upstairs where the bedrooms are.

Bag vs. Bag less

I’ve owned expensive bag less vacuums.  I hated having to go outside to the dumpster all the time to empty the  dirt collector with dust flying everywhere in the wind.  Trying to empty that dirt cup into a garbage can indoors just puts dust back in the air.  And it’s all plastic so dust clings to that dust collector like crazy.  If you have pets, the disposable bags are neater and do not collect pet smells the way plastic does.  The only two bag less vacuums I recommend are Rainbow and Filter Queen (see below).

 

Upright vs. canister

Whatever you prefer. I have had several upright vacuums starting with a couple of Hoovers to a couple of Dysons.  Uprights cant get under furniture the way a canister can. Uprights need some room to maneuver.  Uprights seem to work better in offices and retail stores than in smaller home spaces.  If you have large rooms and hallways with big expanses of wall to wall carpet, and are used to an upright, get an upright.  Get a refurbished Kirby.  You want one with a Kevlar fan blade.  If you have small rooms with lots of tight spaces I think a canister is better.

Why Buy Refurbished Vacuums?

Why buy a refurbished vacuum cleaner?  If you buy one of the vacuum cleaners listed below brand new, you are going to pay over $1000 – 2000 or $3000 or more depending on model.  That is a lot of money – too much money for me.  If I buy a properly refurbished machine I get like 96% of the machine if it was new at a fraction of the New price.

Get to the Vacuum Cleaner Models Man!

Upright: Kirby.  Runner up: Electrolux/Aerus upright.

Canisters:

Rainbow: Made in USA.  These use water to filter out dust and dirt instead of a bag. Even the older pre-HEPA models are remarkable at filtering the air.  I’m convinced every home should have a Rainbow and here is why: a Rainbow can suck up water: plumbing leaks, basement seepage, roof leaks, windows left open in a storm the Rainbow can suck those wet messes up.  If you live in a place prone to flooding a Rainbow is great for cleaning up afterwards.  It’s great for sucking up excess water out of a basement carpet.  It’s great to have one in reserve.

Pro Tip: If you buy a Rainbow, invest in a non-electrified wet hose, plastic tubes and squeegee attachment if your unit didn’t come with it.  These can be aftermarket but made for your model Rainbow. Cheap insurance!

Plus, of course, it vacuums up dry dust and sand like crazy.

There is a downside to the Rainbow, because you have to fill the tank with water before each use, it is not the best for a quick cleanup when the kids track in dirt and the in-laws are due any second, or for lugging out to the driveway to vacuum the interior of the car. The Rainbow is for weekly cleaning day.

Others in no particular order. You really can’t go wrong with any of these.

Electrolux/Aerus:  These are well built machines which are sort of torpedo shaped.  They have a great disposable filter bag system so bag changes are clean and neat.  The retractable cord is a great feature.  They last a long time.

Tristar: Made in USA. compact, powerful, they are built to last.  If you need something smaller and lighter for lugging around or in a cramped home or apartment this is perfect.

Filter Queen:  Made in USA. my experience is only second hand but they have a reputation for lasting forever and being very good at cleaning and air quality without losing suction.  These can be good if you have a long haired pets.  They even make a dog grooming attachment.  Refurbished Filter Queens seem to be in high demand.

Where to buy?

Online Retailers:  There are a number of them, a good search engine will find them.  I bought my Rainbow from Great Vacs a few years ago and I just ordered that Tristar from them because I was satisfied with their service.

eBay:  You need to do your homework buying a refurbished vacuum cleaner on eBay.  You want to find a seller that really refurbishes the machine and doesn’t just polish up the exterior with Armor All and pass it off as refurbishment.  Find out: 1. what the seller does for refurbishment, 2. what their return and refund policy is (if they don’t have one pass), 3. what is their sales history and buyer satisfaction rating, 4. how much is shipping and what is the final price with shipping, 5. what exactly you are getting: hoses, attachments etc.  You want to separate the garage sale finds from a truly refurbished model done by someone that knows what they are doing.

What do you have?

Note: reading below is strictly optional in case you have insomnia.

I have a Rainbow “D” model bought refurbished as my main machine on my main floor.  I dust with it and sweep the floors with it. I bought this a few years ago online from Great Vacs (see above.)  It’s also my “just in case” vac should I ever have a wet cleanup requiring more than just a quick mop (ie. dishwasher leaks, clothes washer leaks, plumbing leaks, water in the basement, etc.)

Pro Tip:  I dump my Rainbow dirty water on the back lawn in good weather.  The lawn loves it.  In winter I empty the water into the toilet.

When I bought the Rainbow, I already had a subcompact 1990’s Royal canister with shoulder strap for quick spot cleaning, doing the stairs and cleaning car interiors. It was too small in capacity for general cleaning but it was good for those jobs.  The Royal also had a tendency to flop over off it’s wheels when trailing behind.  The Royal finally broke down and repairs were more than the little plastic vac was worth.  The refurbished Tristar, mentioned above is replacing the Royal.

My upstairs is all carpet.  I have a refurbished Electrolux, that I bought on eBay.  It is close to the model we had when I was a kid, so I guess nostalgia.

Unfinished basement:  I have a Dyson canister.  I originally bought this as a general purpose vac.  I hated it from the start.  I replaced it with the Rainbow.  The Dyson sits next to my workbench, plugged in and ready to suck up sawdust and anything else on the concrete floor in that area and off the workbench.  It works well for that task.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned.  Views expressed are my own opinions.  Your mileage may vary. I get no compensation from anybody.  I have no relationship with Great Vacs other than I am a customer.

If you really have to buy new, my recommendations don’t change, find a local dealer for any of the brands named. They are all still making quality new products. (Electrolux is now called Aerus.)  2018.

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Download Ringlink for free. Ringlink is a CGI Perl program that provides the tools necessary to build and run rings of websites, i.e. systems of links between websites of similar contents.

Bookmark: Ringlink download | SourceForge.net

Eureka!  Now this is a genuine FIND.  I looked for this weeks ago, but the script website is dead and I thought I had reached a dead end.  Today I tried my search differently on a different engine and found the actual Ringlink script.  Better, it was last updated in only 2017 so it’s current!

Ringlink is a perl script for hosting webrings. Note the plural.  You can set this up as a webring hosting platform. Yes strangers can sign up and start their own webring or webmasters can sign up for a pre-existing ring.

There are still some small highly niche ring hosts running this script today.

I once ran a small niche webring hosting service using an earlier version of the Ringlink script back in 2003ish.  It worked like a charm.  I think I had about a dozen rings running on it, not all of them were mine.  I don’t know what the top end is for this script, that is, how many rings it can run and how large.  I know my version had a proper index of rings and I think each ring also had an index of sites.  Ringmasters had their own admin panel and the RingLink host had an admin panel.  On my version ring codes were all HTML.

To get this running you need a CGI host.  Some knowledge of perl and HTML.

Now this is a tool for a webring revival.

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A self-contained PHP/MySQL script for creating and managing a full-featured webring

Bookmark: The Orca Ringmaker – PHP Web Ring Creation and Management

This is a full featured script.  If you want to create and host one webring.  This is not a server for hosting multiple webrings.  Still very handy since you have control on your own server.

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This is Part II of my series on the Death of Webrings.  Part I is here.

For this article I am going to use two examples.  I want to make it clear that I am not picking on the example rings, their creators or their intended uses.  I do want to point out what I see as flaws in their model that unless corrected will inhibit use, uptake and general adoption by the public.

Modern 2018 webrings overview.  There are not a heck of a lot of examples which is why I am discussing the only two I know about.  Both of these webrings are one offs, meaning they are custom coded to form one webring.  They are not a centralized service designed to host many webrings.  Nor are they designed so that anybody can create and run a webring.  In this sense they are less democratic than the old 1990’s style ring hosts like Webring.org, Ringsurf.com and Webringo.com.  On the other hand, they do avoid being dependent on a third-party silo.  The creator has full control.

Indiewebring

Indiewebring is made on Glitch which seems to be a remotely hosted service. If so, it is a sort of silo.   I am in no way a coder, but the way Indiewebring operates is really neat.  It is designed to link together Indieweb enabled websites.  Unlike a ’90’s style ring where you have to register with the ringhost, then register your websites, then apply to webrings, this modern ring has almost none of that “friction” to joining.  You put your site URL into the form and it checks to see if you have enough Indieweb identification and stuff on your site.  If you do you get a code which you must place on your site.  Almost no instructions, few explanations if things go wrong, all very minimalist which is the fashion.

It works well and at least at the front end, it is simple.

The idea is neat.

This ring, as built, is really more of a club or association.  It is not organized around topical content, but rather if you have the right code on your site.  As such it’s almost like a merit badge.  There is nothing wrong with that, I’m just pointing out the limitation.

It is a black box.  There is no public index of ring member sites or how many sites are in the ring.  The only transparency is to follow the ring.

I presume rings like these can be replicated – if you know code or understand how things work at Glitch.  If replicated how does one make such a ring topical?  How would that auto signup feature check to make sure all the applicants are about one topic? (ie. blue widgets, Star Trek, catching lobsters. etc.)  Just having the right code in place to join is not enough for most visitors.  They want to surf a ring that matches their interests.  Code is not content. Code is not entertainment.

Administering such a ring is also a black box.  How are member sites curated?  Are all ring codes intact?

My point is not to bash this individual ring, but to say this is not the model to build a “webring revival” on.  It needs to be:

  1. DIscoverable.  Hubs, interconnection.  Does the ring code give any clues as to what the ring is about?
  2. Easily replicated by average person.  If every ring has to be custom made there will be no ring revival.
  3. Topical.  Does it match the ring topic?
  4. Curated.  Are the topic and the quality of the sites right for membership in the ring?
  5. Managed.  Are all ring codes in place?  Can they be found? In short, is it navigable?
  6. Transparent. What are the signup rules? How many members? Who is a member?

It may well be that all these concerns can be addressed eventually.  If so, great!  I think the web might be ready for this.  If not, it is an evolutionary dead end.

Microcast.club

Microcast.club is getting much closer to solving the questions above.  This idea has some legs and I would like to see the concept grow and maybe fork to be even bigger than a webring.

Here is how it works: you put your microcast feed URL in the form. You get a webring code to put on your microcast website.  You also appear in the flat directory you see on the ring page.

This has some legs for the future.  It’s more topical and open.  The ring and the directory reinforce each other providing traffic for everyone.  I’m assuming the ring code is checked periodically and that having it on your site keeps you in the directory. Remove the ring code and lose your listing.  This helps keep thing easier to administer.

It’s still not subject oriented but there may be ways to overcome that.  If that can be overcome either by human review (might be wise) or machine detection you could expand this idea into a semi automated categorized directory with multiple subjects.  Just speculating.

It still has many of the same problems as the Indiewebring above.  It’s custom made so it is hard for the common webmaster to duplicate.  That limits mass adoption.

I wish them both well.

Back to old school.

I did find The Orca Ringmaker.  This is a php script and as near as I can tell, it lets a webmaster create one webring.  This gets around concerns about remote ring hosting silos going under.  You are the host.  Anyone who knows how to install this on their server can run one so it can be duplicated.  Pro Tip: Even if you have no use for it now, I would download a copy now.  Webring stuff can disappear from the web overnight.

Update

I found this after publication: Bookmark: Ringlink download. Which is a perl script to let you run, not just a webring, but a host of webrings.

What does this mean?

Recap:

  • Two of the three remaining web ring hosts appear broken (read slowly dying.)
  • Webringo.com is at least in working order but appears to only have a few thriving rings and many abandoned ones.  (This is sad because it has some good features.)
  • Indiewebring is a one off. Neatly done but problems with replication and wider adoption.
  • Microcast.club has some good features but the same questions about wider adoption still exist.
  • Orca Ringmaker is a bit harder to start up (you have to install a script) but at least it’s off the shelf and ready to roll once you overcome that.

 

None of this gives me hope for a resurgence of widespread webring adoption.  I’d like to be wrong.  Unless somebody like Taylor Swift suddenly makes a webring and promotes the heck out of them, I just don’t think people will notice in enough numbers to matter.

I hope somebody proves me wrong.

 

 

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I just gave a subscription as a birthday gift and it was a hit.  Good gift for an angler.

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