Just Cloud is simply Just Shit

If you are one of the millions of people who apparently “earned” a “free” Just Cloud 1GB by having an account somewhere else (Dotster, for example), you know what I am talking about: the dozens of emails flooding your inbox, despite unsubscribes and in flagrant disregard of, you know, the idea that opt-in is the way to go.

2014-08-27 11_44_45-You Have Free Cloud Storage - jluster@gmail.com - Gmail

Jamie Heathorn, my “personal account manager”, is apparently very concerned for my well being, sending me near-daily emails reminding me that I am just one step away from adding a free Gigabyte to my collection of cloud accounts. Sure, I have a few TB on Google Drive. Sure, I have earned (but never used, for a multitude of reasons) quite a bit of Box, DropBox, and other storage quotas. And, yes, I am running an OwnCloud server on a Digital Ocean droplet, but that Gigabyte REALLY makes a difference.

2014-08-27 11_48_44-Cloud Storage Reminder - jluster@gmail.com - Gmail

When Jamie Heathorn didn’t stop emailing me despite unsubscribe requests and a very polite email asking them to kindly disembowel themselves and feed their entrails to the pigs I did a little research. Just Cloud is, of course, just another upsell business. Get a “free” Gig, get nagged to upgrade, get nagged to back up your whole system in which case you’ll get nagged to upgrade again. That stuff.

2014-08-27 11_48_59-Protect Your Files In The Cloud - jluster@gmail.com - Gmail

Frequent mentions of JustCloud charging up to $210 from unsuspecting subscribers who had their credit card on file and missed the “automatically increase my quota unless I state I don’t want this via email or fax” provision in the TOS. Scare-emails using words such as “flagged for being over quota” and evoking the crash monster to drive people to purchase expensive and rather limited cloud storage.

2014-08-27 11_49_31-Jonas, activate your free account - jluster@gmail.com - Gmail

Cloud Storage is hot. That means it pays off to pay off comparison sites, sell a 14 day trial (which automatically becomes the most expensive option) as “free 1GB,” and to offer lucrative referral schemes to places like Hostgator, Doster, and others.

2014-08-27 11_50_44-Cloud Storage Activation - jluster@gmail.com - Gmail


Martine Reicharts is Wrong about The Right To Be Forgotten

On GigaOm:

“Search engines such as Google and other affected companies complain loudly. But they should remember this: handling citizens’ personal data brings huge economic benefits to them. [...] Those who try to use distorted notions of the right to be forgotten to discredit the reform proposals are playing false. We must not fall for this,” said Reicharts in her speech.

… I am somewhat speechless.

censorshipThe thing is, I don’t believe Google (or Bing/Microsoft, Yahoo!, whomever) is distorting this debate as much as tiptoeing around the truth. Much as I believe Michael Doepfner (Axel Springer) to be a whiny loser in his “Open Letter” to Google (the one where he accuses Google of trying to become a fascist Supercountry in which transparent citizen are forced to labor in the mines of ad dollars for Mountain View right before he admits that he’s just sore about not being the one who does it), he drives an important point home: being visible on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other search engines and content indices is the only way forward for journalists today.

The right to be forgotten isn’t a search engine problem. It’s a censorship problem. One in which the old video camera debate in Europe finds its revival online. To refresh the collective memory: in 2011 a court in France ruled that a video shot by a Greek journalist in Paris during a protest was inadmissible in court and could not be shown publicly. The clip showed a man shoving, punching, and sexually assaulting a woman slightly off view but still very much in the public eye. The video was shot as part of a documentation of the demonstration and sideline violence, not specifically to target the man. The accused’s right to privacy, even for acts committed in the public eye, the court ruled, trumped the right of the public to know and the right of the victim to be made whole. As a result the man (whose name is edited everywhere to simply be “P.”) was given a six month suspended sentence for one punch he admitted – a shorter term than the recovery of his victim.

censorshipIn a sense the Right to Be Forgotten is simply the same. Our right to “edit” the truth and stifle journalistic reporting via the Google version of a gag order or super injunction trumps the right of journalists to inform and the right of the public to know. Supporters of the ruling point out that newspapers can still print, websites can still display. They conveniently ignore the truth Doepfner points out in his otherwise flawed Open Letter – without being on Google, Bing, and Yahoo and without being linked from Facebook and Twitter (who are rarely mentioned but essentially also searchable indexes and therefore theoretically affected) you might as well not have written it.

The least Google can do (and does) is inform me as the journalist and the public at large that I am being censored by an individual with a specific interest in doing so. Be it a “mindless hooligan” who stole and assaulted people, a child molester, or a disgraced Merrill Lynch executive.

Reicharts’ idea of the Internet as a personal playground for advertisers and sellers of wares but not a carrier of news and information reflects poorly and accurately on the vibe in Europe.

In the Churn of Time we’re Just the Chaff

It’s great how the world keeps turning and things change.

No ten years ago online publications rallied against traditional media and fought to become relevant. Today traditional media rallies against online publishing and fights to stay relevant.

Twelve years ago Axel Springer got its new CEO Michael Doepfner (former Editor in Chief of Die Welt) who proclaimed that digital was a crapshoot, the Internet irrelevant, and print was here to stay. Today the company is “completing its remarketing into a Digital Agency” after having bought a dozen or so failing online media, affiliate marketing, and SEO companies. Doepfner pens an open letter in which he proclaims he’s scared of the Neofascists at Google who want to establish a Supercountry in which transparent citizen are milked for ad cash.

Nine years ago Amazon acquired a few eBook and digital content companies. European publishers like Hachette laughed about the upstart investing into a doomed model because everyone loves books, printers and typesetters and book stores won’t ever go away, and besides eBooks are hard to read. Today Hachette finds itself in a war of the middlemen with Amazon, hurting both consumers and creators (coin and content) in the process because they can’t agree who gets to keep the main share of their filched goods.

Those things aren’t revolutions. They’re evolutions. Uncontested and monopolizing former kings of the jungle like Springer or Hachette are embroiled in a struggle against the new predator, equally savage, equally unconcerned, but evolved.

Saving your current Doc as PDF on Drive from Google Docs

docsapp4Whenever I write obsessively into the night I follow a simple ritual before shutting off my computer and heading to bed: the tedious last step of downloading whatever current work is done to PDF, re-uploading it into a folder, setting permissions for viewing, and inviting the right people to see it.

Because I am never averse to spending a day and a half learning something to shave off ten minutes in total from a task I figured I could do better and have it automated. And here is how the saving directly to PDF on Drive worked for me:

1. Add a new Script to your Document on Drive

[box type="bio"] Update: If you’re in the US you could also use Google Cloud Print. I prefer this approach because it also allows me to add further conversions down the road but the GCP way is clearly easier and more native.[/box]

In your document go to Tools -> Script Editor and name your new script something nice. I call mine Martha because that’s a nice name. You could call yours Henry or Snuffles or “Converter Script” or so.

Paste this into the script body (when you add a new script it’ll ask you what kind, just choose “Blank” or delete whatever is already in the text area):

Save that.

2. Try it out

docsapp2Close the original document and reopen it. I am aware of a bug with Google Apps Script that will throw a non-recoverable error on first open. Simply prevent JavaScript from opening more dialogues, close the document, and re-open it. On second (and subsequent, even if you edit the code above again) open this bug won’t trigger anymore. It will ask you for permission to manage your documents, that’s so we can actually save something.

docsapp3You should now have a new menu entry called Publish. Clicking on it will bring up an “are you sure” dialogue which you could remove if you want to save two clicks.

The folder is hardcoded as “Converted to PDF” inside the macro, change that or simply throw in a requester. You could also get the doc’s current folder and use that, I went with the “one folder to rule them all” method. Since Google Drive goes by ID and not file name you can easily save the same named file multiple times, which means the date I am appending is more for my own edification and to find a specific version than to prevent overwriting.

3. There is no Step 3

That’s it. Head into your Converted to PDF folder, share and notify. Saves one upload, a grand total of ten seconds, but who would let a little fact like that get into the way of our exploration of new tools?

Open Places Steals Photos (and they’ve got lots of company)

Liz Hamill Scott is a prolific photographer of nifty places. She’s traveled to Big Sur and to Los Gatos and everywhere in between where she takes pictures like the one below.

2014-08-02 11_44_51-Open Places _ Los Gatos Creek Trail

There’s only one problem: she isn’t. And Trazzlers/Open Places knows about it. Why? Because I told them, numerous times, that I do not consent to my 2003 image, which is not available under a Creative Commons license, being used with someone else’s attribution attached to it.

Even if it had been, Trazzlers violates everything there is about Creative Commons (my stuff is all BY-NC-SA, which means it has to be attributed, can not be commercially used, and must be shared alike). Moreover, Trazzlers builds Open Spaces to “make our editorially selected and vetted content available free to nonprofits, public radio stations, parks, schools, tourism bureaus, publications, and other approved organizations.”

“Share alike” does not mean “Share any way you wish.”

Why am I whining about one, eleven year old, image? Because this isn’t just an image. It’s a systemic issue with companies such as Trazzler who peruse, abuse, and reshare content without explicit attributions and regard for the license the original work was published under. Far as I can tell, the picture has since appeared in sales brochures like this one from Colliers Parrish, a Silicon Valley real estate company, homophobic screeds by the Calvary Korean Baptist Church, and the Vasona Park Association. All either not attributed at all or attributed to Liz Hamill Scott.

Violations of Flickr’s ToS aside (is Flickr even relevant enough anymore for anyone to give a shit about their ToS? Nevertheless, ToS is ToS) which requires a link back, this is just one of many images of mine and everyone else which have taken on a life of their own.