Category Archives: Planet-LGU

Posts for the Linux Greek Users aggregator

Interoperability my arse!

Windows XP Running On Linux
Image by paradoxperfect via Flickr

Roy says it best about the new Windows 7 installation. Once more, for all their rhetoric, Microsoft’s actions show yet again that they don’t care about interoperability or playing nice with anyone else. All they care is maintaining their desktop monopoly and part of that tactic is not making it easy at all to setup a dual boot setup.

While in 2001, when XP came out the excuse “Only hardcore geeks use GNU/Linux so why should MS even consider them” might have had some basis, 8 years later, when desktop GNU/Linux is more than viable through distros like Ubuntu and where it is quite likely that people might consider trying this other OS while wanting to keep the Windows option open, it fails to convince.

This is nothing other than the same ol’ spiteful, monopolistic tactics on behalf of MS. This capability, to install multiple OS’ without screwing up each other has existed for ages so it’s obviously not rocket science. As such, MS’ refusal to implement it can be nothing but deliberate.

And if that’s not enough, we now have GNU/Linux users defending such actions! So now, among the atheist appeasers, Women “feminist” appeasers we have to add GNU/Linux appeasers as well. If Microsoft apologists were not enough. Of course, that there are those who would sell-out to MS in order to get ahead in the marketplace is nothing new, but plain users? Those who are the ones getting the most annoyance out of such tactics? Why do they feel the need to apologise  for MS?!

Here’s some of the classic excuses (and my counter) you’ll see on why this isn’t really a problem, move along, nothing to see here:

GNU/Linux users are a small minority. Most desktops will be Windows only so why should MS even implement a dual-boot consideration?

Because even though GNU/Linux is small, it is also showing accelerating growth and even a small percentage of desktop users, when seen on a global scale means quite a few million people. People who will all be inconvenienced when they need to upgrade their installation or repair/reinstall it when it will (eventually) break down.

Because MS has been blabbing about “interoperability” for the last few years and they need to be called on their bullshit at some point. Their rhetoric has never been honest and their actions prove it again and again.

They didn’t really make it hard to install Windows 7. It could have been far worse.

Gee thanks…

Should  we be thankful that Microsoft doesn’t go out of their way to prevent GNU/Linux installations now? Should we praise MS for not making our task more difficult than it already is? What kind of fucking stupid slave-mentality is this? “Golly thanks for using lube while screwing me in the ass, sir!”

And you know what? They did make it harder than Windows XP. Slightly so but nevertheless true.

You don’t stop criticizing someone when they act less evil than they could have been. You stop criticizing people and corporations when they stop being evil.

Pfah!

All you need to do is hack #1, #2 and #3.

Which is obviously something all people who’d like to try out the system can do right? No, of course not. And MS knows this and they know it will further reinforce the perception that GNU/Linux is only for hardcore geeks. You know what the regular user will say when you mention hacking the goddamn boot loader? “Huh wut? No thanks”. Which will mean that it will always require a power user (and perhaps more than that) to simply set it up (and then again and again when Windows invariably breaks down and requires reinstallation).

Compared to the possible scenario where Windows acted like an OS of its generation and recognised that “hey, there are other OS’ out there, perhaps we should be considerate to those of our users who might be dual-booting”, and have Windows autorecognise the MBR is taken, and provide sensible options on how to work with it that a simple user can follow, you know, like GNU/Linux has been doing for what, 8 years now?

Of course it is better to make it seem as if only IT nerds can setup and maintain a GNU/Linux installation alongside Windows 7, even when they difficulty has nothing to do with GNU/Linux and everything to do with MS’ refusal to play fair. Thus they can keep their ignorant audience locked in and happily continue spreading their FUD, only they have some appeasers from the GNU/Linux camp on their side as well who will make their point for them by saying stuff like “Oh it’s easy. Just reinstall Grub and then hack the bootloader“.

Other OS’ and even some particular GNU/Linux distros are worse than that.

A Tu Quoque is a logical fallacy. If other OS’ are doing even worse, then they are worthy of even heavier condemnation. And about those GNU/Linux distros that do it (see Moblin, IPCop etc), you do know they are meant for a single OS installation right? You do know that Moblin is for netbooks which are unlikely to have a dual-boot while IpCop is a firewall right? Don’t you think it’s just a tad intellectually dishonest to bring those up as examples of such faults?

You wouldn’t would you?

So while there can be other who can be just as bad, if not worse than MS, this does not constitute an excuse of any kind, especially since they hold most of the desktop market and their actions are clearly deliberate. And if Free Software OS’ are doing this without having a reason to do so, then you can always change it by contributing or even convincing the developers of the errors of their ways.

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The fastest caching combo for WordPress. Am I in a cached Nirvana?

Diagram of the basic operation of a cache
Image via Wikipedia

I hope you’ve recently noticed a significant improvement in the speed of the Division by Zer0.  I’ve done some further testing and I think I’ve discovered the perfect combination of tools which, at least for me, has made everything much snappier.

Last time I was playing around with Dreamhost’s FastCGI option1 as well as trying out a few newer caching plugins since Super Cache didn’t really play nice. Specifically I was testing Hyper Cache and DB Cache and trying to decide which one is better to keep. Well, in the end I figured out that using both is even better, and now I’m going to tell you why 🙂

Hyper Cache

This one is one serious mutha. It basically does the same thing as Super Cache but without requiring you to edit your .htaccess or other such hassle2. All you have to do is activate and go. And the results are really stunning. With it activated, I routinely get pages loading in sub-second speeds (whereas before the average was 2-6 seconds) on cached pages with very low overhead, which means I can withstand traffic spikes.

I was so impressed I spent an afternoon just reloading pages to admire how fast they loaded 🙂

Of course this plugin will not help with javascripts speed so if you have a lot of ’em, you will still notice your site taking a bit. However you should notice that the loading starts immediately and then waits for each javascript to download and run (so you’ll see the page appear in stages) instead of waiting a bit until it even starts loading (while it’s gathering prerunning the php and quering the DB). As such, if you have most of your javascripts loading at the footer (as you should), your content will appear immediately for your audience to start reading, and by the time they’re one the second sentence, the page will have finished.

My main problem was exactly that incidentally, that the content took up to 5 seconds to even appear. As long as the main text is there, I don’t mind so much how long it takes for the rest of the “bling” to load.

Another good thing about hyper cache is that it will not activate if you’re logged in to your wordpress installation. This means that in order to see the speed of your site as it appears to everyone else, you either need to use another browser (I keep a konqueror lying around just for this) or to clear your cookies. On the upside, it means that you almost always see the current version when you make non-content changes, such as editing your theme (as the cache will be automatically cleared if you make content changes.) This really helps if you like to tweak your site layout a lot.

One last (bad) thing I’ve noticed is that if I go ahead and clear all hyper cache. My site will die with an internal server error. I’ve tried this twice now. I do not know if that is because my site would die if hyper cache was not there or because once the cache is cleared, there some heavy duty function running to repopulate it or whatever. I know it happens though. I don’t have to do this anymore however so it’s not really a problem.

Overall, Hyper Cache is an absolute win for people hosting their own WordPress, especially if you’re on a shared hosting plan and even more especially if you’re using Dreamhost PS, as Super Cache is not an option.

DB Cache

This plugin takes a novel approach to caching. Whereas all the other that exist simply save the html output of your content and then serve it to avoid running PHP code each time a page is requested, DB Cache saves database query output to avoid making SQL calls to it.

This has a few significant benefits. First of all, it helps with Search Engine crawlers such as the google bot. Where a normal caching plugin really shines when a lot of people access one specific page, it actually harms you when one agent accesses a lot of pages, since you add the cache-saving to your load, on top of the normal page loading. DB cache on the other hand, by caching common Database queries, can fill exactly that hole which significantly reduces the juice you need to serve all the bots crawling you.

This is becauseeach page of your site, other than the main content and possible some post-related queries (ie similar posts), has basically the same calls. Your recent posts, your tag clouds and category lists, recent comments etc, depending on what widgets and theme you use. These generally don’t change from page to page but for a normal caching plugin on a new page, they still need to be called so that the full html page can be saved.

So by caching all these common calls, you seriously reduce the time one needs to wait on a blank screen before a page can even start loading the content. You also reduce the load when a crawler does his daily thing and you even increase the speed of the occasional visitor from a mobile. While DB cache will not give you the awesome speed hyper cache will on a single page load, it will certainly reduce your overall server’s CPU & RAM load (much more important than bandwidth and disk space for shared hosting) and make visits to uncommon pages quicker.

Another plus which I’ve discovered is when you are using Gallery2 through the wpg2 plugin. Gallery is imho a database chewer because people don’t simply see one image and then leave, but rather switch quickly among a lot of them. As a result, DB Cache is perfectly prepared to grab those common queries done through wpg2 and save them for later, increasing the overall speed.

The caching combo of ultimate speed

Until now I’ve never mixed caching plugins as they all generally worked in the same or similar way. However the distinct way these two worked gave me the impression that they wouldn’t really conflict and might actually complement each other quite well. One of them is built for serving one page to lost of visitors in a short time period, while the other is perfect for serving many pages to one visitor. So I went ahead and activated both of them at the same time

And whatdayaknow, there was no explosion 🙂

What happens at the moment is that generally, a page always has at least a few queries cached by DB Cache. You can even see the cached queries increasing with each time it’s reloaded (when bypassing hyper cache). This in turn allows a non-hypercached page to load quicker which is then saved into hyper cache for further visitors.

So currently you see the results of this experiment. I’d like to believe that my speed at the moment is quite good and others who have followed my advice have experienced similar improvements. I really hope this is the last time I have to play with caches in the future and that the current speeds are not just an illusion.

Let me know of the results if you try the same combo on your own sites.

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  1. Since disabled as it seemed to cause more problems than it solved []
  2. And removing it is simple too, unlike Super Cache []

If someone fights unfairly and you nevertheless win, it doesn't mean they don't deserve condemnation

Image representing Mozilla as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

I have been a fan of Techdirt for a few years now but as Masnick becomes more and more rabidly pro-“Free” Market Capitalism,  I start to reconsider. I keep seeing articles which seem critical of one action only because it opposes the free market, not because of any utilitarian argument.

The latest post commenting on the recent siding of Mozilla with the EU anti-trust action against Microsoft is the latest such example of this trend. Within, the author complains that such a move is obviously wrong as well as misguided as obviously there isn’t a monopoly since Firefox has managed to gain market share. In the same breath however, he also mentions that the original instigator, Opera is an “also-ran”.

Basically what Masnick is saying is that if a complaint is made by someone who cannot gain any market share, it’s because they are not good enough. But if it’s made by someone who managed to gain a foothold, it’s disingenuous. Whatever happens, there can’t be a monopoly issue brought up at all.

Anyone can easily see the fallacious reasoning here. The truth of course is that Microsoft is not simply abusing its market position to stiffle innovation on the browser space1 but it has been doing so aggressively and for a very long and well documented time.

Firefox managed to achieve market acceptance despite Microsoft’s monopoly on the space. When the new browser came out, it didn’t even register on the radar until the first major grass root advertising and word-of-mouth campaigns started. Even though it was vastly superior to any of MS’ offerings, its growth was slow and tortured, owning mostly to the fact that most webpages were “optimized” for IE and flat-out refused to work with Mozilla based browsers.

Not only that but the fact that MS bundled IE with their OS2 made any viable alternative difficult to discover. Why would most normal users even consider looking for an alternative browser which most of the time couldn’t access their banking portals? Many times. even when you put an alternative browser on one’s desktop and advised them to use it, they wouldn’t because it was not what they were used to. This is how deep the IE conditioning had gone.

There is no more striking example than what Techdirt dismisses quickly: Opera. Almost everyone will tell you that for a long time before even Firefox got conceived, Opera was the undeniable leader in features, standards-implementation, speed and basically all there was in a browser. And yet, it didn’t even make a dent in the market share of MS. Techdirt, the stalwart defender of innovation for some reason does not even wonder why Opera didn’t make it but rather assumes that it must have been because they were not good enough or something. In other words the classic  selective view of reality that annoys me so much about Free Marketeers.

Of course Firefox managed to compete, in the same way that GNU/Linux managed to compete, by being adopted immidiately by the Free Software movement who then went had to fight uphill for every percentile of market share. The reason they achieved it is because of their distributed nature, philosophical backing and knowledge of technology which allowed them to be unaffected or quickly overcome many of the hurdles in their way. Does that mean that the competition was fair? Not at all. It was stacked against them on every turn. But they persevered.

Opera unfortunately had neither a huge community behind them, nor the budget required to raise awareness of its existence which is why then, and still now, it still can’t get market share, even though it is still considered by many as one of the better browsers. However, were MS Windows to come bundled with Opera and IE and ask the user which one they wanted to use, then things would have been much much different. Most people who didn’t know either, would give a try to each and stick with Opera overwhelmingly.

The author also brings as examples of competition Google’s Chrome and Safari, both of which don’t sustain his argument in the slightest. The only reason either of those managed to achieve any market share is not because of any innovation but because of the popularity of their respective distributors. Apple has a well known fanatic fanbase and a considerable market share in the OS, for which they also bundled their own product. Google did a smart marketing campaign but overall Chrome, even though an inferior product from all others, gained share because it’s suggested in the front page of the most popular search engine.

And with all this, IE still stands at ~70% even though it’s the worse of them all and Microsoft has done practically no marketing whatsoever about it and only a half-arsed effort to improve their own offering (mainly by copying popular features). If that does not give you a very clear hint that something is amiss, then I do not know what will. Everyone must strive infinitely more to achieve even a single market share percentile while MS without doing anything can still enjoy a monopolistic percentage.

So yes, Firefox has managed to crack MS iron grip on the browser but that is not because a monopoly “obviously” doesn’t exist but rather despite this very clear, for all but the Free marketeers, monopoly. Just because they have managed to a degree to overcome the mountain of challenges posed by the anti-competitive business practices of MS does not mean that these practices should be left unpunished.

If you play a game and you opponent is obviously cheating but you nevertheless manage to defeat him by playing fair, does it mean that they do not deserve condemnation and punishment? Of course they do. You do not punish them only when you lose, you do it regardless – not out of spite or revenge – but as a lesson and a warning for the future. Leaving them unpunished simply gives the incentive to cheat the next time as well.

But the view of Techdirt is more inane than that. When you play with a cheater and you lose, you’re just a sore loser. If you win, then they couldn’t possibly have been cheating could they?

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  1. mainly because it was in their best interest to have apps based on the OS or an OS-locked browser instead of a multiplatform browser []
  2. After they hastily made it an “integral part” of the OS during the Netscape anti-trust case, in order to claim that they couldn’t remove it []

This is why I love GNU/Linux

(7:16:50 PM) Viola: I have installed an update and now my firefox does not work anymore
(7:17:04 PM) Viola: chchchchilfä!
(7:17:07 PM) db0: what happens?
(7:17:13 PM) Viola: dead
(7:17:18 PM) Viola: It doesn’t talk to me
(7:17:38 PM) Viola: I can’t start it anymore
(7:17:55 PM) db0: ok, open a terminal and try the following
(7:18:02 PM) db0: sudo killall firefox
(7:18:21 PM) Viola: ok
(7:18:27 PM) Viola: un jetz?
(7:18:30 PM) db0: done?
(7:18:32 PM) Viola: jepp
(7:18:37 PM) db0: OK, try to open it again
(7:18:58 PM) Viola: aaaaaaah
(7:19:02 PM) Viola: schibby
(7:19:03 PM) Viola: danke
(7:19:06 PM) db0: 😉
(7:19:23 PM) db0: I love GNU/Linux 🙂
(7:19:31 PM) Viola: ich auch!

In windows I’d still be explaining how to open the task manager 🙂

Of WordPress Caches and Fast PHPs

Example of a Plug-In Framework
Image via Wikipedia

Improving the speed of this and my two other sites has always been a major issue for me. Ever since I’ve switched to WordPress I’ve never been fully satisfied with the loading time and it seems I’ve been trying since forever to improve it.  My main methods were through the use of caching plugins such a WP-Cache and later on WP-Supercache and through manual performance tweaking. For a while it seemed to have worked to a degree until again my performance started dropping without any apparent reason.

It was at this point that I jumped to the VPS offering in a desperate attempt to get a site which loads in this century. Again, for a while things looked to be working well but now and then I would get horrible site b0rks which would take me hours to troubleshoot and resolve. The latest one was the reason I discovered that WP-Supercache didn’t play nice with VPS and thus I had to find something else, or live with it in a state of half-on.

To my delight, it seems that now there are new caching plugins available which I can try. I already mentioned Hyper Cache last time and today I discovered DB Cache (h/t  diTii.com) which seems particularly promising, especially because it works not by caching the fully loaded page, but rather by caching the Database queries themselves. This is an interesting take on caching since it now can improve performance for web crawlers as well as normal users. It also provides an extra benefit to me since I’m proving a gallery through the wordpress interface, and that means that the database queries for that are also cached.

So I ditched Super Cache from all my blogs and installed DB Cache on the Division by Zer0 and the Wesnoth Journals and Hyper Cache on the ACP. It’s of course always difficult to figure out how much difference a caching plugin has done to your site. As of now, I can’t say I notice a significant difference on loading times with DB Cache, however I did notice that the number of SQL queries that are made each time the page loads have dropped from >60 to about 15 which means that there some difference.

I  have also noticed anotther thing. In the past it could take a few seconds before my site even started loading (I guess while it was running the SQL queries) but after that it would be displayed very quickly (especially if it had been supercached) whereas now, the site starts loading very quickly but it takes more time to actually finish loading the content, in effect loading in parts (first the header, then the content etc) but in a way that is much more exaggerated than before.

Another thing I also decided to do is to finally activate Fast CGI for PHP. I hadn’t done this before as it wouldn’t have made much difference when Supercache was in use but now that the code is executed every time, it seems like a good idea. There’s also the added bonus that for VPS, the Xcache opcoder is available which further improves php performance when on high load. I do not think it will make much of a difference as my problem is not one of traffic but it may come in handy for those rare reddit moments.

As of now, the performance seems comparable to SuperCache times and I am hoping that this time I will not have any more random Internal Server Errors. Unfortunately my WordPress admin panel is still quite slower than I’d like with loading times randing frmo 5 to 15 seconds or more on occasion. I honestly don’t know what I can do to fix that but at least the admin panel is not something that is used very often.

Next step will be to see if Hyper Cache is better than DB Cache and if they can both play well together for a combined improvement.

So what do you think of the current speed?

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Quote of the Day: Windows bits

Quoth Anonymous (USEnet post)

“Windows [n.] – A thirty-two bit extension and GUI shell to a sixteen bit patch to an eight bit operating system originally coded for a four bit microprocessor and sold by a two-bit company that can’t stand one bit of competition.”

PS: Here’s something to read to understand why far too many people dislike Microsoft. No, it’s not because we’re jealous.

Planet of Anarchy

Anarchism
Image by anarchosyn via Flickr

I have just joined Anarchoblogs1, a new aggregator focusing on all kinds of Anarchism (yes, even the oxymoronic “Anarcho”-Capitalism) who took over after the previous such attempt stopped being updated. This is basically the same thing as Planet Atheism but for Anarchism but further than that, the person behind it has interesting plans for the future.

As anarchism can fall anywhere from the left to the right of the political spectrum and with members all over the world (primarily outside of english speaking countries), the owner decided to create various hubs which can be separated by interests or language (initially, in the future there are plans for location specific ones etc). At the moment there’s only a few of them and I have been added to the english speaking hub.Of course, the main site displays all content from all hubs together.

I find that this separation into hubs is actually a good idea and perhaps Planet Atheism can copy it and organise Atheists to specific groups, to make the whole thing more manageable and allow the members to subscribe to only the topic that interests them.

So this is my introductory post for Anarchblogs and also a way to spread awareness to all who might have anti-authoritarian, anti-statist leanings. If you fall low on the y-axis on the political compass, then you should consider joining as well.

How come the Division by Zer0 has joined you might ask? Well, the more I read, the more I learn of how much Capitalism fails and also how much the modern state is designed to protect the interests of the wealthy. I find it impossible to avoid sliding towards the libertarian left more and more. And since lately I’ve been blogging especially much about Capitalism and Communism it seems like a good place be.

For those of you who might discover the Division by Zer0 from there, welcome and I hope you enjoy your stay. I won’t ask you to subscribe as you’re probably be seeing my writings through the aggregator, however I thought I might post a few of my older posts with Anarchism related content.

I have generally had not much presence from anarchists around here (unlike AnCaps to my dismay) so I’m hoping that this might present me with some views from a different perspective than usual.

Here’s to a brighter future and to more voices raised high.

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  1. h/t to Rad Geek – he goes into more details on this, check it out! []

Comment Wars Meme: Why Intense Debate is superior to Disqus

The last post on war: Thoughts, wishes, duty.....
Image by FlickrJunkie via Flickr

In recent months, outsourcing one’s blog comments to a specialized comment engine has become quite trendy for many people. Of those specialized engines, two are gathering the most publicity, Intense Debate and Disqus. I jumped onto this comments outsourcing bandwagon about half a year ago and my choice was Intense Debate Comments (IDC from now on). Not only have I not regretted at all but I’ve become such a staunch evangelist for this system that I have made quite a few converts 🙂

So what is this post about? Well, yesterday, Friar Zero asked my via email why I preferred IDC over Disqus. The simple answer is that IDC was the one I stumbled onto first, quite randomly while using the Get Satisfaction support (GSFN from now). I discovered Disqus shortly after that but since I had already taken IDC for a ride, I saw no reason to start all over again and Disqus was not also using GSFN so as weird as it sounds, that was a major reason for me at the start.

But of course that’s not a proper reason and I think it’s time for me to actually write  in detail why I preferred one over the other. And since I’m doing that, I thought I might as well make this my first meme and perhaps trigger others to explain for themselves why they use their current choice. This will hopefully create a body of opinions which might give bloggers enough information about each option from all sides of the argument, to make an informed decision.

So the rules of the Comment Wars meme are the following:

  1. Declare which system you prefer and perhaps give a short history of your decision.
  2. List the reasons of why you prefer you current system choice over the direct competitor (If you’re using IDC, your competitor is Disqus and the other way around).
  3. (Optionally) list the reasons why you prefer your current system over your blog’s default comment system (WordPress, Blogger or Typepad most likely). If you’re still using your default system, instead list the reasons why you consider it superior to both IDC and Disqus.
  4. Link to the person who tagged you for this meme.
  5. Link to any other people who are using any third-party comment system of whom you care to know why they chose as they did.  You can also link to any people who are still using the built-in comment system and you want to know why. Make sure to leave them a comment or send an email to inform them that they have been tagged.

So without further ado

Why I prefer Intense Debate over Disqus

Some Horrible Threading in Disqus
Some Horrible Threading in Disqus

1. The threading looks and works much better

The original thing that drew me to IDC was the capability to have threaded comments and this is still the thing that breaks or makes the deal for me. IDC threads simply look natural, with the little arrow pointing to the reply below, with the reply being just a tad to the right (so as to allow a lot of threading before you run out of space) and where the end result just looks natural.

On the other hand, Disqus threading, to me always looked ugly. Blocky comments which simply begun below and quite a bit indented which had the result of quickly running out of space. This became painfully obvious when I participated in a lengthy discussion through disqus and after the 13th reply, it stared becoming very annoying to continue (sample on the right)

On the contrary, in the Division by Zero, I’ve held a 30 deep-thread going without any major inconvenience. Granted, it helps that I have a variable width template (why waste screen real-estate) but it is mostly because of the way IDC conserves space and builds the thread.

It would be impossible to hold a 130-reply thread going without good layout and the fact that I did and it’s actually readable from a visitor’s point of view, is a major success.

The only thing missing (from both systems) is a way to connect a reply to the parent comment, but IDC already has the collapse thread function and I know they’re working on better solutions.

2. They seem to innovate in the correct direction

While both systems have taken a generally similar path in features, and even though IDC came later to the party, IDC seems much more full in features that Disqus. I’ve been seeing a lot of new features such as the recent ability to paginate comments in order to keep the page load fast, or the capability to keep your wordpress comments synced both ways with IDC.

I do not know what the recent innovations of Disqus have been to tell the truth as I don’t pay attention to them so I can’t really compare the relevant speed they advance. A quick look at their blog tells me they do provide a lot of good stuff as well but I get the impression that they are more interested in making more fancy features rather than strengthen and make the comments themselves as good and solid as possible.

3. Email notifications rock

By now, I’ve gotten email notifications for replies by both systems (and from builtin solutions) and I can safely say that IDC was the best for the following reasons.

  • They send a notification immediately after a reply is posted to a thread below your comment. That is, if you leave a comment and someone replies to it, you get a notification. If, after 3 days, someone replies to the reply to your comment, you are still notified, as this is continuing from a point you raised. I find this great to keep a conversation live and going1.
    On the other side, Disqus seems to send notifications only every 30 minutes or so (thus some times passes before you get informed that you got a reply, and by then you might have gone to do something else) and then you only get notifications if someone responds directly to your comment. You don’t get informed if someone continues the discussion that you started.
  • The email notification includes your response to that comment as well, so you can immediately see the context of what they are replying to. This is quite important as it’s very often that I do not remember what I was saying at the time.
  • It allows you to reply by email. Granted, so does Disqus, but not the built-in systems.

4. They are (now) owned by Automattic.

This is more of a personal preference than anything else but it really made my day when I learned about it. To clarify, Automattic are the makers of WordPress, the Blogging software the Division by Zer0 stands on and, for me, is the best you can use. That IDC is now backed by the skills and expertise of those people gives me much optimism about the future.

And since WordPress is a Free Software, you never know, perhaps we’ll be able to convince the IDC people to finally liberate their code (it’s for their own good after all 😉 )

To tell you the truth, I can foresee Disqus being acquired by WordPress’ rival in the blogging battlefield: Blogger/Blogspot, or more accurately, Google. If this happens, things will get…interesting.

5. They use Get Satisfaction and their support guys are top-notch

GSFN has become one of my favourite places to seek support and it was actually how I came to discover IDC as I explained at the start. Their support guys are still active over there and they generally provide excellent support (although a few times I did go for weeks without solution). I’ve had issues which were reported only by me actually looked by a developer to find a solution very quickly. Although some times I really felt like pulling out my luxurious hair, eventually a solution was found and the than all was right in the world again. But no matter what, very rarely will you find a support person volunteer to help you scour your blog for possible problems just to make sure that everything is ok.

Unfortunately I do not know how quick the Disqus support is but the fact that they use their own support forum generally does not make me happy.

Another big benefit of GSFN is the ability to separate ideas from other support issues and get an idea of how many other people want the same idea to happen. Quite a few of the things I’ve proposed in the past have already been implemented and the devs generally pay attention to what their userbase asks for. This counts.

6. They integrate very well with WordPress

At the moment of speaking, the IDC wordpress plugin merges very well with the platform. Not only can you manage your comments in the same way as before (bulk moderation etc), but it also gives you some extra functionality, like the ability to reply to comments from within WordPress moderation or filter by author.

I won’t claim that the plugin is perfect as I have suffered quite a bit through it (I was testing it since the alpha) but I can safely say that for most people it should work flawlessly and if you have a problem they’ll be able to fix it for you quickly 😉

And with these six points, I finish my reasons on why I prefer IDC over disqus. Very shortly now, I’m going to present…

Why I prefer IDC over WordPress’ built-in comments

1. IDC has threading

As I said, this is a deal-maker for me. While wordpress can achieve threading with plugins and the newest 2.7 has it built-in by default, in my site it never looked nice and you could not thread more than once (or the theme broke and I couldn’t fix it). IDC worked out of the box, and much much better than I could ever imagine. Indeed, I was so impressed with the Threading capabilities of IDC that I could now change my Comment policy to allow discussions to flow much better.

2. Email Notifications

While wordpress can do this with plugins again, it doesn’t do email replies.

3. I can keep my site is less bloated

WordPress can indeed handle email notifications and threading and whatnot but all of these are extra code that needs CPU power to run and on a shared hosting like mine, every little bit counts. Granted, IDC hasn’t been the fastest kid on the block until now, but recently the devs put it on a diet and with some new comment organization features, they’ve made it much faster to load.

That means I can get all these functions and anything more the developers cook up, without having to worry about updating 3- or 4 different plugins which might break each other or slowdown the site.

Resolution

In my eyes, IDC is and will remain the better choice for most people who want something superior than what comes with the box. I’m certain that the competition with Disqus will remain heated but this only benefits us all in the long run

Below you will find a poll where you can vote, as a blogger or as a commenter, which system you prefer. If you take part in the meme, feel free to link here for others so that we may get a bigger view.

[poll id=”4″]

And finally, to tag some people to get some opinions and spread this meme. I’ve tried to tag a nice spread of systems to get various opinions on this.

Anyone else who is reading this, feel free to take part as well and let us know why you chose as you did. let the Comment Wars begin!

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  1. It’s been a while since I got such a notification as I generally comment on my own blog where I get an email for everything. Last time I remember, this functionality was the case but it may have changed since []

Why Socialists must learn from the Free Software movement

redtux
Image by redtux2000 via Flickr

Socialism is a very difficult thing to achieve. Up until now there have been two attempted paths towards reaching that goal: Revolution and Reformism. Neither has succeeded. The first path (usually) fell victim to counter-revolution and nowadays lacks enough traction in its necessary base, the working class. The second path always gets corrupted and sidetracked too much and simply ends up perpetuating the status quo while keeping the name.

There is however one method which not only has not been attempted yet but also shows considerable promise of success. The peer-organised, distributed, lead-by-example method of Free Software.

For those not familiar with the history of the Free Software movement, the basic thing you need to be aware of is that it was initiated in a completely hostile environment (of propriertary software), without any help “from-above”. It was simply based on a simple ruleset that ensured that the fruits of this effort would not be corrupted or misappropriated and thus lead to fragmentation. The GPL.

Thus, there was no need for leaders1 or sponsors.

This result-oriented method has been a tremendous and monumental success. From an obscure hacker’s hobby in universities and basements, in 20 short years it has become a force to be reckoned with, respected and supported by major software players while still ensuring that they cannot abuse it for their own ends.

I believe there is here a method that not only has not yet been attempted but perhaps might be the key to finally breaking the stranglehold of Capitalism.

The method is simply to work within the system. Show people how much better Socialism can work and then, once they have given it a try for practical reasons, introduce them to the ideology behind it.

Now do not be alarmed. I am not talking about reformism but about subversion. Let me explain:

The Free Software movement is based on Copyright law. It gains power and utility by using the same system it was created to oppose! How does it achieve this? By placing additional terms and restrictions on its supporters in order to ensure that the effort they put towards the movement will always remain with the movement and not leave with them. Like a Judo master, it uses the considerable power of the system to defeat it.

Supporters come because the development method of Open Source is simply superior, it is easy to join, progressive and free. Then, not all of them, but a sufficient amount get to hear about the philosophy behind it, adopt it and continue spreading it. And guess what. It not only worked but this socialistic culture has spread outside of Software (See Wikipedia, Creative Commons etc).

To put things into perspective, lets see how the current two paths to Socialism would have worked when attempting to achieve a Free Software world.

  • Revolution: The Software developers would forcibly or simply arbitrarily take the source code of the programs they had been hired to write and distribute it to their peers. This would of course trigger a “counter-revolution” where the software bourgeois would attempt to stop such a unaccepted distribution.
  • Reformism: The Software developers would attempt to become company executives or shareholders with the purpose in mind to liberate the source code to their peers when they had enough power. Unfortunately, not only power corrupts but the people in charge would never allow one who is incorruptible to achieve power.

Not only would it have been extremely difficult for either of these methods to succeed (as has been the case with similar Socialist movements) but without having a GPL to back them up, simply releasing the source into public domain would allow the effort to be subverted by the remaining active forces, thereby giving them a competitive advantage over our (alternative universe) free software movement.

I hope you’re still with me.

So how can socialism use a similar method? How about working within Capitalism? Here’s a rough idea

  • Create a constitution of similar ideals to the GPL that is a legally binding contract. The whole point of this constitution would be to prevent the labour put into Socialism to be turned against it. For example, have the clause that once a person becomes a member, he agrees to redirect all wealth acquired as a member back to the group. He retains previous wealth (so if at any point he decides to leave, he can be as when he first joined). Thus while a member, he eschews private property.
  • Create a commune based on this constitution. People joining this commune will have their future acquired wealth redirected back to this commune which should then ensure that individual members have a much higher standard of living on the bottom end than any other system. If the commune has rules such a direct democracy and the like, based on Socialist ideology, it should also ensure that it is not corrupted.
  • Because of the superior bottom level of the commune, more people living in the bottom end of the current society will wish to join. Such individuals can easily then be monitored to make sure that they follow the constitution and rules and slowly bring them into the ideology so that they follow the rules on their own volition.
  • To preserve direct democracy, Communes that become too large should be able to split and create smaller ones. A clause in the constitution could be that any number of people can leave the commune with a direct percentage of the current wealth provided they create a new commune under the same constitution. Thus the number of people living in such communes could increase without necessitating the formation of a state system within.

Slowly, though such a system more and more communes would form until it becomes the obvious choice for the proletariat to belong in one for their own security. People could still choose to stay outside, but they would be at a competitive disadvantage. Once these communes start owning enterprises and reap their own surplus value, they will be capable of stealing the lifeblood of Capitalism. Labour.

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  1. While there are some recognisable figures in the movement, they are no more leaders than Marx or Engels were []