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Archive for February, 2010

25
Feb

Google turning off the lights for Bloggers using FTP

A few weeks ago, Google announced that its Blogger “service” would drop support for File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, publishing. Blogger’s FTP publishing option has long been used by people who want to publish a blog as part of their own, non-Google hosted website, but use a hosted service to maintain the blog from the backend. Google has decided to end support for that option:

FTP remains a significant drain on our ability to improve Blogger: only .5% of active blogs are published via FTP — yet the percentage of our engineering resources devoted to supporting FTP vastly exceeds that. On top of this, critical infrastructure that our FTP support relies on at Google will soon become unavailable, which would require that we completely rewrite the code that handles our FTP processing.

It turns out that that point five percent are a vocal, savvy bunch… and they’re mad. Originally, Google was going to shut down FTP publishing on March 26th, but it has backed off and given users an extra month to make the “all or nothing” choice: Either migrate a Blogger blog to Google’s servers, or leave Blogger. Not surprisingly, many people are choosing to leave.

Writes one user:

Cut sleazy “migration” buzzword.

We don’t want to move our content to your servers, since you like to shut down services the moment you decide it’s ‘outdated’ or hurts your bottom line.

I’m done with Blogger forever unless you keep FTP for people who like me who have been using it for years.

Another says:

Putting in my two cents again about the disappointment that Blogger is shutting down the FTP updating. I had spent a lot of time and effort getting my sites working with Blogger, and for me, it was the ideal situation because I could update all of them from one location online.

Since the initial announcement, I tried both Thingamablog and b2evolution. TAMB is based on your computer, b2evo is installed on your server. I wanted to throw both of those out there for the any that are migrating away from Blogger because of this changeover. I tried both of them, and with some configuring, I was able to import all of my posts, with correct dates.

And another:

Unfortunately, I have to take my blog elsewhere – thank you for the free service over the past 6 years. One of the things that would help with my migration is knowing the algorithm you use to generate the URL of a blog post please.

Still another:

FTP is time tested software.

Hard to believe the mighty Google is afraid of FILE TRANFER PROTOCOL.

Still not too late to come to your senses. Not only will I de-Google my Blog but I’ll de-Google everthing — except Gmail I suppose, since that would be too onerous even for me.

And I’ll urge others to do the same.

Because if you screw us once, you’re bound to screw us again and anytime you feel like it.

Michael observes:

So you’re solving problems I might have on my end (i.e. my ISP & FTP) by just eliminating what could cause the problem despite the problem not being on your end. Yeah, thanks.

I’ve moved to WordPress.

Finally, foobarmus points out:

The tragedy of this imminent move is that many blogs currently accessible to readers in China no longer will be.

The great firewall does IP based blocking as well as many other kinds, has been blocking blogspot for years, but they can’t block all the ftp bloggers in one fell swoop, because it simply isn’t technically feasible.

Those blogs are now going to end up on google servers, which means it will be much simpler to block them all – and this will happen in due course, as certainly as our sun will turn into a black dwarf. This means that less information unprocessed by the central government will be available to your average Chinese person, which is basically a bad thing for humanity.

Please rethink this strategy, for the sake of Chinese people who are trying to live informed lives.

All of these comments come from the blog Google set up to focus on the “migration” or “transition”.

FTP publishing users have until May 1st to find a new platform. We recommend WordPress. Other possibilities are Serendipity and Movable Type.

20
Feb

Macworld's McElhearn begins to wean himself off Google

Tech writer Kirk McElhearn has announced this week that he's made the noble and informed decision to Leave Google Behind:

For a company whose unofficial slogan is “Don’t Be Evil,” Google has been ignoring its so-called core value with alarming frequency as of late. And because of that, I decided to delete my Gmail account, along with all other Google services that I am able to do without. I have also deleted as much personal information as possible from my Google profile.

He goes on to recite the many ways that Google can collect data about its users, which are noted on LGB's front page:

But not only does Google dominate the search (and, hence, advertising) market, it also knows a lot about you. By adding more and more “free” services—free in exchange for the annoyance of ads, and for users’ giving up their privacy — Google accumulates a wealth of information about your interests, your browsing habits, your contacts, the blogs you visit (using your Google profile), pictures of your home, and much more.

He concludes:

Google knows more about you than the NSA, and has recently shown that it doesn’t give a hoot about your privacy. The company has gotten too big, and has turned into just another corporation trying to maximize its assets—and those assets are you.

Well said. Welcome to the LGB movement, Kirk!

12
Feb

Welcome to Google Buzz, also known as Public Gmail!

In the futuristic digital world that Google wants to create – the Googlenet – there is no such thing as user privacy. So naturally, Google didn't bother to build meaningful privacy safeguards into its latest offering, Google Buzz, which is basically an attempt to further monetize and exploit the people that Google has lured into signing up for Gmail:

When Google introduced Buzz — its answer to Facebook and Twitter — it hoped to get the service off to a fast start. New users of Buzz, which was added to Gmail on Tuesday, found themselves with a ready-made network of friends automatically selected by the company based on the people that each user communicated with most frequently through Google’s e-mail and chat services.

But what Google viewed as an obvious shortcut stirred up a beehive of angry critics. Many users bristled at what they considered an invasion of privacy, and they faulted the company for failing to ask permission before sharing a person’s Buzz contacts with a broad audience. For the last three days, Google has faced a firestorm of criticism on blogs and Web sites, and it has already been forced to alter some features of the service.

Whoops.

Normally, when Google rolls out a new product that lacks privacy safeguards, it faces some criticism, but the Monster of Mountain View always brushes it off. Refreshingly, it looks like that might be harder to do in this case.

[C]ritics said that Google’s decision to use e-mail and chat correspondence as the basis of a social network was fundamentally misguided. While it is common for social networks to make public a person’s list of friends and followers, those lists are not typically created from e-mail conversations.

“People thought what they had was an address book for an e-mail program, and Google decided to turn that into a friends list for a new social network,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group in Washington. “E-mail is one of the few things that people understand to be private.”

Yeah, but Gmail's not private… it never has been. It's a product offered by Google, which inherently means there is no guarantee of privacy whatsoever. People who want their email to be secure and deletable should use a service like Hushmail that actually respects their privacy.

Of course, Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan had to make this dumb comment:

I don’t think people expected that Google would show the world who you are connected with.

Well, we Google skeptics did. This is par for the course.

If there is a silver lining to Google's continuing onslaught against privacy, it's that more people are starting to take Google skeptics (like those of us here at LGB) seriously. Google is still growing like a dangerous cancer, but the number of people who are developing a healthy suspicion of Google is also growing. Hopefully, the growth of the latter will soon outpace the growth of the former.

4
Feb

Mozilla continues to contemplate getting rid of Google

As Google gets bigger… and bigger… and bigger… and continues to subvert free software, the Mozilla Foundation seems to be increasingly thinking about severing ties with the monster. Or so CNET's Matt Asay muses:

There have been rumblings that Mozilla would look to Google alternatives for the default search engine within Firefox, despite Mozilla pulling in 91 percent of its revenues from its Google partnership. Mozilla employee Asa Dotzler, though not speaking for the foundation, says that he'd welcome a switch from Google given its rising dominance over the Web.

BusinessWeek ran a story almost a year ago about the increasingly tense relationship between Google and Mozilla. Things have gotten worse since then, as Google continues to promote Chrome. The Monster of Mountain View is now encouraging developers of extensions for Firefox to develop the same extensions for Chrome, so that it can more easily poach Firefox's market share.

Mozilla should stop dithering and unhitch its wagon from Google's.