yahoo! media playerIn general, I’m not a big fan of anything Yahoo!, but the Yahoo! Media Player is actually a really cool and easy way to stream music from your site. The only unfortunate thing is that there is a long list of to-do’s on the Yahoo! wiki (some of which should be standard).

Trackseek, Trackresume, Trackfocus Hacks

The good news is that this guy Eric Fehrenbacher developed a few amazing hacks, but for some reason the hyperlinks to the javascript files arent’ available and he hasn’t been replying to comments.

I’ve been trying to get these hacks to work on my other site, so I went ahead and extracted the .js files. Copy these files and then link to them in your HTML header:

This code is necessary for all 3 hacks:

http://www.danceatthepostoffice.com/js/ef.ymp.utilities.js

And then you can choose which extension(s) you want:

http://www.danceatthepostoffice.com/js/trackseek.js
http://www.danceatthepostoffice.com/js/trackresume.js
http://www.danceatthepostoffice.com/js/trackfocus.js

I’m not taking any credit (or responsibility) I just extracted the code. Please don’t deep link to these files, copy the code to your own server, and then also check back with Eric’s site in the future as he’ll hopefully be making updates.

How To Remove “Learn More About This Player”

Also, I couldn’t figure out how he got rid of the “Learn More About This Player” link. So I made up my own simple hack with CSS, just add this to your stylesheet or header:

<style type="text/css">
#ymp-relevance {
visibility: hidden;
}
</style>

Facebook Connect officially launched on Thursday and gives its members access to third-party sites using their Facebook login/password.  This feature is available to all FB’s members on (so far) 24 partner sites including: Digg, Twitter, Citysearch, CBS, CollegeHumor, Hulu and others.  In addition to instant access, Facebook Connect promises data portability: taking your friends, profile pics and privacy settings with you as you transverse the web. Facebook Connect will give us a well needed rest from profile-fatigue, but at what cost?

The data portability debate has been going on for some time now. The DataPortability Project has been promoting open source standards for data portability since 2007.  They encourage use of the well known OpenID authentication protocol which has already been adopted around the web by Google’s Blogger, AOL, Yahoo, etc – as well as having been incorporated into open source platforms like Drupal and WordPress.

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Wendy Chun's Control and FreedomIn Control and Freedom Wendy Chun argues that “power now operates through the coupling of control and freedom”. Rather than thinking of control and freedom as opposites, Chun stresses that they are two sides of the same coin and therefore they rely on each other. Chun argues that the “freedom” we experience when using the Internet comes from the controlling technology that is the foundation of the Internet. The moment you attempt to access a web page the computer involuntarily begins a dialogue with the network and therefore there is no anonymity on the web. The screen “suggests that your computer only sends and receives data at your request”, explains Chun, but the truth is that the network is receiving a reproduction of your data “without [your] consent and knowledge.”

Chun believes that “the idea that we are only free when safe defers freedom” because freedom exceeds control and should not come with a guarantee of good or evil. The control-freedom paradox is made evident through the entwining of human freedom (as free will) with the underlying objective control necessitated by our presence on the network. Chun asserts that we must “explore the potential of communications technologies–a potential that stems from our vulnerabilities rather than our control”. Chun poignantly illustrates “deterrence no longer prevents,…our very ‘preemptive actions’ often cause the very events they claim to be preventing”. Therefore, we must overcome paranoia and pre-emptive tendencies if we ever hope to truly experience freedom.

IE6 is my grandmother on her deathbed and she just won’t die. Her skin is obviously wrinkled and dated, she doesn’t have any recollection of the past, and she is sucking the life (and money) out of everyone around her. God, can you please pull the plug!?

ie6IE6 is a seven-year old technology. It was released in 2001 and predates Windows XP, Gmail, Facebook, Safari, Firefox, 9/11 and the iPod. In the days before Web 2.0, the two most popular browsers were IE6 and Netscape. Choosing between those two browsers is like choosing between a Ford Pinto and a Hairy Firetruck, but back in 2001 we were just happy to go for a ride. So….SEVEN YEARS later why is IE6 still one of the top two browsers? Why is (roughly) 25% of the world still using IE6?

Market Share Data

Why IE6 Sucks

  1. IE6 doesn’t support CSS standards
    IE6 complies with (roughly) only 55% of CSS 2.1 Basic properties, compared with Firefox’s 98% compliance.
  2. IE6 Is Destroying The Economy
    Web developers spend hours (sometimes days!) optimizing CSS and HTML for IE6. This is an enormous time suck for the developers, a drain on the client’s budget, and wasted resources for the company. As a developer myself I can attest to the hours of painful labor spent solely on fixing IE6 bugs, and there have even been initiatives to Save The Developers.  A poll on CIO (from of over 500 voters) shows that 40% of developers still optimize for IE6.
  3. IE6 Is Unsafe
    a) “Using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser to surf the Internet has become a marked risk — even with the latest security patches installed”, says USA Today.
    b) “THE US GOVERNMENT has sent out a warning out to internet users through its Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), pleading users to stop using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.” according to The Inquirer.
    c) New York Times, Slate and others have similar stories
  4. IE6 Doesn’t Display Pages Correctly
    Many sites don’t render correctly on IE6. Here are two sites off the top of my head that don’t look quite right:
    a) Google Documents has never worked for me in IE6; they have stopped supporting IE6 on Vista.
    b) Facebook chat constantly fails for me in IE6.  Meanwhile, Facebook asks you to “…switch to another browser”


  5. IE6 is the 8th Worst Tech Product of All Time says “PC World
  6. IE6 doesn’t have tabbed browsing

Why IE6 is still around

  1. Ignorance: most people don’t know or don’t care
  2. Beauracracy: Universities, companies, and large organaztion have IE6 preinstalled on millions of computers around the world and they are unwilling to upgrade. I noticed this trend last summer as I traveled around parts of the US, Asia and Europe: public computers default to IE6. What is even worse is that many of these comptuers are controlled by system administrators, so the user can’t install new programs or browser upgrades! Even as I sit here, a New Media student at the University of Amsterdam computer lab, IE6 is my only browser option.

What You Can Do

In addition to the obvious things we can do…

  1. Spread the word to friends 
  2. Stop developing for IE6 compatibility

…to kill IE6 we need a top-down approach:
If your organization defaults to IE6 then contact your boss or the IT department and let them know that they are using a seven year old technology to run their business! Tell them exactly why IE6 sucks! They’ll probably thank you for being so “cutting edge and innovative”.

Upgrade To Another Browser Now:



*This post comes after a long line of other frustrated people trying to make the web a better place: End6, StopIE6.org, BrowseHappy, BrowseSad. What other sites don’t look correctly in IE6? What are some other initiatives to stop IE6?

galloway protocolIn Protocol Alexander Galloway argues that the Internet is not the “free-for-all of information” that many people perceive it to be, rather it is a controlled network. As Eugene Thacker outlines in the book’s forward, “Information does flow, but in a highly regulated manner.” By examining the network not as a metaphor, or as a theory, but as a technical diagram by which digital data is managed, Galloway illustrates how control can exist after decentralization.

“This book is about a diagram, a technology, and a management style”, explains Galloway. The diagram is the distributed network, the technology is the digital computer and the management style is the protocol. These three come together to define the “computerized information management” system that is the Internet.

Galloway reminds us that “Protocol is a solution to the problem of hierarchy.” It is how a seemingly “out of control” technology can “function so flawlessly”. It is that “massive control apparatus that guides distributed networks, creates cultural objects, and engenders life forms”. In other words, as Galloway emphasizes, Protocol is how control exists after decentralization.

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A few weeks ago I created a Facebook pseudonym in order to follow the News Feed of the real “Chris Castiglione”.  Too often I hear stories from friends who hadn’t realized that by default Facebook broadcasts almost every update anyone makes to an account. Most notably when friends unknowingly transmit a relationship status messages (e.g. “Chris is no longer single”) or try to call out sick from work. I wanted to know what information Facebook was displaying to my friends, so I’ve been using a test account to see how well the privacy settings on Facebook actually work.

Recently, I uploaded my old photos onto my Facebook account.  As I uploaded each album, I “deleted” it from the wall feed on my profile page assuming that it would also remove it from my friends’ News Feed.  Yet, regardless of my effort to remove the “story”, my friends were inundated with over 10 notifications about my various photo albums! (And the same goes for deleting events, videos, joining groups or any “story” transmitted via the News Feed).

Facebook News Feed Privacy

Facebook News Feed Privacy

Similar issues have been brought up regarding the “hide story” feature that existed in “Old Facebook“.  The current “New Facebook” that launched in September has a new design, a new enhanced interface, and new ideas for how to mislead users.

It has only been two years since Facebook implemented the News Feed, and a lot has changed on the internet regarding how we view our own privacy.  Early issues concerning the Facebook News Feed were noted back in 2006 by danah boyd in her article “Privacy Trainwreck” where she was concerned with the amount of information we share with friends on the internet. She notes the new confusion and the “icky” feeling that comes from this new sense of exposure, or as others see it invasion.

But like I said, a lot has happened in two years, we’ve become more comfortable sharing our personal lives, and most days I’m Twittering, FriendFeed-ing and Pownce-ing my life to strangers. So… why am I so shocked and upset about Facebook sharing my “stories”? Because it feels like an icky invasion of privacy. Now when I use Facebook I feel like I’m being watched by someone else who is the same room and recording all my actions.  I’m much more hesitant to click or update my settings nervous that Facebook could be announcing it to everyone without my knowledge.

The major problem with the Facebook News Feed is that most people have little knowledge of how it works.  boyd has refers to this as “Facebook’s ‘opt-out’ precedent”.  Citing that Facebook continuously imposes new defaults unbeknown to the user with the defense that users can “opt-out”.  boyd goes on, “Given what  I’ve learned from interviewing teens and college students over the years, they have *no* idea that these changes are taking place (until an incident occurs).”

I think the bottom line is that Facebook – as the industry leader – needs to be more transparent with what is being done with our data!  If I “delete” one of my stories, then (of course) intuitively it should “delete” everywhere.

There are a few Facebook groups that have been raising awareness: Students against Facebook News Feed and Petition: Facebook, stop invading my privacy! But perhaps if you really want to be safe then the old adage about abstinence is truly the safest.  Of course we could stop using Facebook all together, but maybe that is a bit extreme. So instead here is how you can completely opt-out broadcasting to the News Feed:

How to Opt-Out of Facebook’s News Feed

1. Go to “settings -> privacy settings” at the top of your account.
2. Choose “News Feed and Wall”
3. Opt-out of all these boxes on the left. Save. Then click on “Edit Application” there on the right.

Facebook Out-out News Feed

4. Once you come to the application screen you’ll need to click “Edit” and select “Never publish any stories….” for each application.
Facebook Out-out News Feed 2