I've changed a little the way the blog is being displayed. Now posts should present a more specific image than the general blog icon and the list of posts should display an image and then text, regardless of what is in the post. Let me know if anything goes awry.

Welcome to my new blog!

Please let me know what you think.

I've had some issues with Blogger and that pushed me towards the step that I have been too lazy to make for so long a time: my own domain and hosting. So, from today on, my personal blog is at https://siderite.dev. I am working on it, still, so forgive the occasional hiccups.

Let me know if anything is wrong or, even better, that everything is right!

Siderite

As I was saying in a previous post, I came back from vacation to about 5 DMCA notices about posts that had no infringing content that I could see. I've tried changing the URLs of links, the images, then reposted the posts. DO NOT DO THAT ON BLOGGER! Apparently, even if their rule says to not publish the post unchanged, they consider any republication of a post automatically put in Draft because of a DMCA notice to be infringing. And what happens after trying to republish five posts a few times? Your blog gets deleted and any attempt to contact the assholes at Blogger is ignored or, worse, a complete farce.

Example: A DMCA requests comes for a blog post containing only my text, a link to IMDb and a YouTube embed. The post gets sent to Draft. I send a counter notice to Blogger, then republish the blog. This might be considered "infringing" of their policy, but it only happened once, so I don't think this is the reason why they deleted the blog. Then they delete the blog (all the blogs on that user, I had some private ones that I hadn't backed up at all and now they are completely gone) and send me an email containing, I kid you not, this text: "we have removed the blog. Thank you for your understanding."

I've tried contacting them about my user being blocked from Blogger and the blogs deleted, but they have replied only with an automated message saying it usually takes two days to get back to me. Two weeks later, no reply from them... except the ones for the DMCA counter-notices. Guess what they said? I kid you not: "Thanks for reaching out to us. We have no record of the following URLs having been removed by Google due to a legal complaint". I replied with a quote of their previous email. No reply.

So the only solution, until I find my own hosting and I set up my own blog, is to rename the blog and move it on another user.

This is a cautionary tale, too. Always backup your blog and any content you post on another platform, no matter how "no evil" it is. Also, make sure you backup everything, even the little details, checking the result, because backup and restore tools don't bring money to the platforms, so they usually suck big time. For example for Blogger there is no way to import a post with a JavaScript script in it that contains comments, because the newlines have been stripped and the comment affects the next line of code. And most of all, when your post gets DMCA'd, leave it in draft, file a counter-notice and pray that they actually mean something.

On the administrative side, because of the domain change and the backup SNAFU, the blog might not work completely as expected. Please let me know if anything goes wrong so I can fix it. For example, the links to the blog are automatically converted by JavaScript, because I can't export, replace and import the posts again without losing the JavaScript in some pages and posts. Plus, I have no idea if this blog is going to last.

Wish me luck, folks!

I have a few posts that link to various sites that provide free online viewing of manga. Recently, I've been getting DMCA notifications about "copyright infringement", therefore I am replacing them with Wikipedia links. I am aware that whoever sent those notifications is wrong, since they can't possible have copy rights for links of sites they do not control, but I am not going down that rabbit hole. Google still works, after all.

And speaking of Wikipedia, I've recently been to Turkey where I was shocked to see that the entire Wikipedia site is blocked. According to Wikipedia, the site is or was censored in one way or another in China, France, Germany, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan and Venezuela. Hmm, France, Germany and the UK, huh? I wish you'd have said something, visitors from those countries... assuming my blog is not censored as well, [intense stare into the future, horizon and the wall in front] as the shining beacon of freedom it is for the entire world [snapping out of it].

Anyway, seems that only China and Turkey are seriously banning the Wikipedia articles, so I've added a way to "Fix" the links by replacing them with Google queries *if* you are in Turkey, China or Taiwan, thanks to ipapi for the user location detection service.

On the 3rd of August I get this email from IFTTT, a service I have been using to automatically post Blogger posts to Facebook: Hello siderite,

Facebook has recently made significant changes to their platform. One of those changes includes removing the ability for third party applications, like IFTTT, to publish status messages, link posts, and photos on your behalf to your personal Facebook profile.

The following three Facebook actions will be removed from IFTTT starting today, along with any Applets that used them:
  • Create a status message
  • Create a link post
  • Upload a photo from URL

While it’s unfortunate to see some of your favorite Applets removed, we support Facebook’s decisions to evolve their platform in the way they best see fit.

Thank you for your understanding.
The IFTTT Team


It was nice that at least they warned me, but how can anyone imagine that the best way to announce breaking changes in your clients' systems is to write an email that says "from this very second we are going to rip it all away from you"? Even funnier, they link to this Facebook policy change link that was published on April 24th and which announces their own breaking changes starting from the 1st of August. See, IFTTT? This is how you warn your customers: three months in advance.

Strangely enough, some of the applets work, while some just disappeared. I don't mean disabled, I mean completely gone, with no trace or warning on what they had been. Probably these will soon be gone as well. So expect (from this very second) that blog posts will not appear regularly on Facebook until I fix the problem with my own tool. On the other hand, you can always subscribe to the blog itself via RSS, a well proven technology ever since 1999 (that's the reason they partied then). You know that something is good quality when engineers name it: the first letter of its acronym comes from another acronym and when you don't understand what it means even if you have all the words.

I have updated my blog page with the Asteroids in the Solar system. There are only 892 at this date, rather than the 1500 I had before, but these are only the NEOs larger than 1 kilometer and the data is dynamically loaded rather than embedded in the page as it was before. Why didn't I use all of them? Because there are almost 500000 asteroids in the database and displaying them all would have been meaningless. Enjoy!

BTW, if you are wondering what the effects of an impact would be, play with this simulator.

Microsoft is closing Codeplex, so I had to migrate all projects that I felt were still relevant to Github. First of all, you should know there is a migration tool at Codeplex to do this automatically. Second of all, you SHOULD NOT USE IT, because it's just stupid, plus it only works in cases where you committed source code, not archives of source code. It does't add a proper readme file or a licence file and it doesn't even migrate the description. So don't use it, just don't!

I don't know how I feel about this. I always wanted Codeplex to be successful, but with so little resources allocated for the project, I think it is better that they are closing it. It was a slow, out of date web site and Github is clearly better for many reasons. However I don't see how a monopoly on online source control is good either. Well...

I am not going to keep it there for long, so try it out. It is based on Markdown CSS, by mrcoles.

I have enabled Disqus comments on this blog and it is supposed to work like this: every old comment from Blogger has to be imported into Disqus and every new comment from Disqus needs to be also saved in the Blogger system. Importing works just fine, but "syncing" does not. Every time someone posts a comment I receive this email:
Hi siderite,
 
You are receiving this email because you've chosen to sync your
comments on Disqus with your Blogger blog. Unfortunately, we were not
able to access this blog.
 
This may happen if you've revoked access to Disqus. To re-enable,
please visit:
https://siderite.disqus.com/admin/discussions/import/platform/blogger/
 
Thanks,
The Disqus Team
Of course, I have not revoked any access, but I "reenable" just the same only to be presented with a link to resync that doesn't work. I mean, it is so crappy that it returns the javascript error "e._ajax is undefined" for a line where e._ajax is used instead of e.ajax and even if that would have worked, it uses a config object that is not defined.

It doesn't really matter, because the ajax call just accesses (well, it should access) https://siderite.disqus.com/admin/discussions/import/platform/blogger/resync/. And guess what happens when I go there: I receive an email that the Disqus access in Blogger has been revoked.

No reply for the Disqus team for months, for me or anybody else having this problem. They have a silly page that explains that, of course, they are not at fault, Blogger did some refactoring and broke their system. Yeah, I believe that. They probably renamed the ajax function in jQuery as well. Damn Google!

After a month of trial with no one to complain of HTTPS issues, I've decided to set the blog to redirect normal connections to the secure URL. Let me know if you experience any problems.

I have created a Facebook page for the blog, so if you are tired by my Facebook ramblings and only need the updates for this blog, you can subscribe to it. You may find it here.

Also, I've discovered a bad bug with the chess viewer: it didn't allow manual promotions. If you tried to promote a pawn it would call a component that was not on the page (an ugly component) and then it wouldn't promote anyway because of a bug in the viewer. Hopefully I've solved them both. It mainly affected puzzles like the one I posted today.

Clippy is back, thanks to this nice project. So what else could I have done than add it to my blog? Just go to Menu and choose your "Assistant".

If the assistant is set, the messages from the blog come from the assistant. It also follows the mouse as it moves around and does various gestures depending on what one does or reads. Have fun!

I have been using Disqus as a commentator for some time and yes, it is a bit bloated and yes, it writes all kinds of errors in the console, but it has a big advantage that you have all your comments and replies in a single place. When you go to a Disqus enabled web site you see a warning that you have unread messages. So from now on, my blog is using Disqus as its comment engine. While doing this, I've also updated some layout and code, so let me know if anything is wrong.

So there it is. Tell me what you think! Preferably in the comment section.

My blog is hosted by Blogger, a Google site, and usually they are quite good, however this month they announced a change that, frankly, I think will hurt them in the short run because it was so sudden and leaves not only blog owners, but Blogger themselves unprepared. The news is about forcefully enabling Secure Hyper Text Transfer Protocol support for all free Blogspot sites. BTW, the link above that explains why Blogger forces HTTPS... doesn't work on HTTPS, which shows me a nice red error while editing this post.

The underlying idea is good: move everything to HTTPS, no matter how relevant it is for people to be safe and anonymous while reading my blog :). In theory, everything should be working the same as with HTTP, with some small issues that are easily fixed. In practice, we are talking about templates that people have installed without modifying or scripts that one can only find on HTTP sites or images and other resources that can only be found on unsecured web sites. For example, Google's default blog bar itself is causing an error in the console because it is trying to search the blog with an HTTP URL, even if the bar frame is loaded from an HTTPS location.

I had several problems:
  • The PGN Viewer that I use for chess games is only found on an HTTP site, therefore Google Chrome blocks loading those scripts when in HTTPS. I had to copy stuff in Google Drive and change the PGN Viewer scripts to use alternate URLs when under HTTPS and host files from Google Drive. I hope it will not reach some hosting limit and randomly fail.
  • Many thumbnails loaded for the related posts list and the blog main page are also loaded via HTTP, causing mostly annoying errors in the console. I tried to fix it programatically, but it relies on knowing which sites support HTTPS and which don't.
  • Videos, pictures and resources inside the blog posts themselves! I can't possibly change all the posts on my blog. There are over 1300 separate posts. While I don't have any posts that load remote scripts through HTTPS, it is still damn scary because I can't manually check everything. It would take me forever!
  • Caching. It is a myth that HTTPS requests cannot be cached, but it does depend on the server headers. If the HTTPS servers that I am blindly connecting to are misconfigured, people are going to perceive it as slowing down. Also, there is an interesting post that explains why loading scripts from third parties is breaking HTTPS security.

With this in mind, please help me test the blog with HTTPS and let me know if you find any issues with it. I've done what I could, but I am a developer, not a tester, so let me know, OK? Thanks!

While it is simple for blog owners to use a small Javascript in order to force users to go to the HTTP URL, not allowing this from the get go is a pretty ballsy, but asshole move. Will it make the internet safer? We'll just have to see.