If you have "no place to go," come here!

In Which CD Showers Lavish Praise upon Lambert

chicago dyke's picture

And so, I take a bow, make a leg, tip my hat, and offer my profoundest and most sincere thanks to the man who makes it all possible, Lambert. My weekend started a few hours ago, so forgive me for this rant but I don't feel like doing any real work and this issue actually has a bit of political relevance in addition to just me being a fawning fan. Thank you, Lambert. And fuck you, JSKit, Disqus, Blogger, WordPress, Facebook and all the rest of you fucking lazy ass motherfuckers who have seen fit to deny me almost all of my other regular blogs. You suck. He rocks.

I am not rich. One thing I can't afford right now is a new computer. But I don't need one, god dammit! I use Macs (not trying to start the flame war here) for a reason- they last. I have two perfectly functional PowerBook G4s, and although I have to use a different machine to play DVDs (that was the sole issue with the G4s afaik) in every other way they work fine. I use them to do email, professional writing, blah blah what computers are for and they work fine. I had been using them blogging as well, but alas... it seems I am no longer welcome in the growing social networking environment. Simply because I cannot upgrade to the newest Mac OS, because my machines run on a different chip than the new ones and there is no bridge or whatever between the two operating systems.

One by one, over the last year or so, blogs that I read have gone dark for me. I either can't load them fully, can't comment on them, or both. It's really illuminating to behold, as a process. My favorite gay blog went dark yesterday. I literally experienced it as it happened. At 2pm I could still post there and load the page with full comments. At 5pm, I was shut out. It was eerie and odd.

I am not a programmer, so I don't understand what is going on here. I'm also not a computer expert, and the Apple download pages are sort of sucky, so I couldn't figure out how to even try to "minimally upgrade" to the OS Firefox says it still supports. And anyway, I love Safari. I'm used to it and that's what I want to use, and paid to use when I bought this machine. Whatever, I asked a Mac savvy friend and he said, "you're fucked until you get a new machine." Sigh. I contacted various programmer types at JSShit etc., and they gave me the standard "Apple doesn't support it any more so we don't have to." Shorter them: fuck off, loser. Get a job. Well, I have three. But I don't have a spare 2K for the Mac I'd buy if I had that choice. I guess I'm undeserving, or something.

Politically speaking, and in terms of socio-economics, this slow and inexorable fade to black is sort of fascinating to me. We have all discussed the "digital divide" on other threads and topics before, and how the poor are kept poor due to their inability to become computer savvy at a basic level. Anyone who has taught poor children has seen this up close, as I have, and it's heartbreaking. Every day that passes locks them further into perpetual poverty, because they won't be able to keep up with their richer, more technologically endowed peers. Even cell phones, for all they've become little computers, aren't enough. The way to stay in the game today requires that one is able to purchase a new machine about every 2 years. Those of us who can't can get stuffed. Why do you think that is?

The obvious answer: rent. The computer industry/software industry/internet and social networking industry have got us all believing that the rent model is acceptable when it comes to computer technology. This makes me see with the Red Haze like little else. The analogy I like to use is this: cars. You can still drive a Model T on today's roads. Sure, you're not going to win any drag races and you might have to go a bit out of your way to find leaded gas or whatever, but if the tires are good and the engine works, you can tool around just like your great-great Flapper grandma did back in the day. And even if we do some day see the long-dreamed of Flying Cars on the market, it's not like the government would tear up old-fashioned roads; flying cars would likely be a luxury item for a long time before they became a standard. Gas companies wouldn't want to let go of the market they have for traditional cars either; even people driving beaters need to buy gas and too much of our economy is related to oil.

But somehow, the "information superhighway" is different. One of my clients is working on this major tech project and we talk about this frequently, because he wants his product/service to be available to any computer user, no matter how outdated they may be. Of course it makes his life/work a bit harder, but the market he's reaching for is the entire market, not just middle and upper class tech buyers who can afford the latest computer woo. I honestly can't understand why JSKit, Disqus, etc., would not want the same thing. I don't have much money, but I very much practice "support your local blogger" by clicking the ads on their blogs. I won't be doing that anymore at many sites, and that will hurt the bloggers I want to support.

You can probably see where I'm going with this. Is this on purpose? Which is to say, are these changes to blogging/social networking technology designed to shut out poor voices, and affect the climate of social networks? I'm really starting to think it is. When only upper-middle class Obots can leave comments at political blogs, valid critiques of the administration's policies are lost and silenced. I have always loved Lambert's motto "If you have no place to go, come here." Well, apparently so do the people who make decisions about how blogs and commenting systems are programmed. There is a whole additional conversation about issues like registration, hosting, etc., that I'm not qualified to discuss but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Anyway, if you have any, give Lambert some money. The button is right over there. He fucking deserves it. And someday, you may find yourself in the same position I am, and you'll be glad of this place. I don't really have time for Serious Blogging anymore, which is why I haven't been posting much, but goddanm it's a nice option to have for the rare moments when I can blow off real work. Thank you, Lb, for making it still possible for this po negre chil.

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Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I suspect the reason a lot of those sites are "going dark" for you is that they are shifting to using Javascript to make just about everything work. Corrente works just fine without it, though allowing Corrente to run it provides some additional functionality. It used to be that Javascript was used to implement all sorts of fancy features that I could easily live without, but I've noticed in the last few years that many sites are starting to use it for even the most basic functionality. Like, for instance, you have to enable Javascript some places just to read an article, much less comment on it or see the fancy doodads and charts and stuff.

The other problem is that a lot more of them have been rewriting to depend on Flash or some other embedded multimedia software.

Don't see how that explanation helps you any, but upgrading Firefox, if you can manage it, will probably help with that. Might not help with the Flash problem, though, because that doesn't seem to be supported by Adobe in PowerPC anymore, either.

Looking around at the state of Linux on a PowerPC, it looks like Ubuntu's last long term service (LTS) release still supports it. If you were to install that, you might get a few more years of use from your machine. Unfortunately, I don't see how you could simultaneously use all the Mac software you're used to and the web browsing software on Linux. I don't know how useful that would be. You might find acceptable Linux analogs for what you're using now, or you might not. You'd probably also want to locate a computer-savvy friend to install it for you.

I'm using the Intel processor version of Ubuntu LTS on this computer, and it works fine for the websites I visit. Of course, I can use the latest Flash player.

But to your more basic point, yes, Lambert deserves lots of credit for keeping this site functional without requiring all the bells and whistles. Most site administrators seem to be uninterested in doing that lately, and it's a sad thing.

Submitted by gob on

- I too run an old PowerBook G4; both Firefox and Safari run reasonably well for me (well, Firefox is a dog, but it does run), and I've never upgraded my OS (not enough memory). What sites have gone dark for you? (You can mail me if you like and I could try them.) Admittedly, I seldom comment anywhere but here, but haven't noticed the fade-out you describe.

Yes, eventually we are hosed, but now?

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

Just out of curiosity, what do you do for Flash content? Can you see it, and if so, what are you running?

I suspect this issue is going to come up more often as time goes by, and while I don't use Macs, there are clearly many folks who do.

Submitted by gob on

Flash "works" on FireFox, at least for YouTube; the scare quotes are because it runs my processor half to death (as indicated by the rapidly rising temperature). I use a Flash blocker to reduce the annoyance level, which only adds one click to the process of watching a video.

It also works on Safari, somewhat better. For YouTube, I use html5 when possible; it seems a bit easier on my processor and doesn't seem "leaky". Though I haven't yet figured out how to see embedded YouTube video using Safari; instead I just click through and view it on-site.

I guess it's obvious I'm not a very demanding user. If there's a workaround, I'm fine.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

from your Flash blocker. That eliminates the extra click at YouTube (and allows you to see the opening/title frame without clicking on it).

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I got a iBook that runs OS 10.4.11 for $249 dollars. You need a new-to-you mac, not a new mac.

but excellent point about the digital divide, and how it silences the voices of the poor. to say nothing of holding them back.

Submitted by lambert on

... although all contributions gratefully received!

* * *

It's really the platform, Drupal, which is open source software, and collecting rents isn't in their business model.

And any software that breaks, or "goes dark" has been poorly designed, or deliberately designed, to avoid the principle of "graceful degradation," where even if the whizzy stuff doesn't display as whizzy, you still get a readable version. (Flash programmers and the worst JavaScript programmers don't understand this, or do, and don't do the right thing.)

All that said, back in the day when I had some money, I bought a brute of an OS X server... Which now, four years later, is no longer supported, and on which I can't upgrade Firefox (!!!).

So I'm thinking of just bagging OS X and going to Ubuntu. I've got Ubuntu on a laptop, and it turns a machine that's brutally slow under Windows Vista Home (yech) into almost a development machine. In terms of look and feel, ubuntu pretty good -- and if I want sexy, I'll just splurge on an iPad when I get lucky. In terms of keeping the system up to date and installing new software, Ubuntu is much, much better.

So, I would recommend, CD, that you look into Ubuntu. You can get a reasonable laptop that will work quite fast with it for "email, professional writing," and browsing for around $500. Google "ubuntu safari" for installing safari on it... But at some point, Apple, as well, will stop supporting Safari on your machines, so why not bite the bullet now?

Submitted by gob on

I abandoned my last Linux installation for a Mac when I was unable to untangle the package dependencies needed to get a decent level of graphics support (for what, I no longer remember, but it was important). Over the years when I was a Linux user, installation got stunningly easier, but upgrading was still a nightmare.

Have things gotten better? I no longer have the stamina for 40 hours of try-and-fail in order to get some simple thing working.

Submitted by lambert on

Ubuntu's package manager has handled all the dependencies I've encountered without a hitch; I used Red Hat before, and Ubuntu is much, much better. I don't know what your graphics requirements are, and if they are really high end, i.e., not mainstream, there might be configuration issues, but I installed Gimp and Scribus the other day without a hitch. Just pressed the button. And for what CD needs, there shouldn't be any problem at all. Unless she's so hung up on Safari, which isn't a mainstream install, and there are support forums, Ubuntu having such a large user base.

Also, a very nice thing about Ubuntu package manager is that it keeps you aware of what needs to be updated, and you can choose whether or not to update and doesn't make you reboot the machine, either. Exactly opposite Windows, which just seizes control of your computer periodically and then reboots it, sometimes twice, all the while not telling you anything that's going on, and giving you no choices at all... .

Submitted by gob on

My wording was very unclear, I see. No matter. It looks as if a return to Linux is at least worth researching. Thanks.