Hi humans. I am officially done with the first week of classes for the 2012 spring semester. This past Monday was probably one of the strangest days I’ve had in a while. Seeing as it had been over a month since I had last gone to classes, I somehow forgot where the Sewell Social Sciences Building was, and accidentally went the wrong way out of my apartment. After walking an extra seven unnecessary blocks, I finally made it to my 9:55 AM class, Methods of Sociological Inquiry. My sociological methods class meets three times a week. I actually transferred into this section at the last minute from a different sociological methods section because the other section had an instructor I had previously, and I knew that instructor to be a bit disorganized, uncohesive, and monotone. The instructor for my new section (in which I’m enrolled now) had a familiar-sounding name, and I realized that was because he was a teaching assistant for a different legal studies class that I took last academic year. The class seems a bit odd, and I’m not quite sure how to think of it yet. The instructor seems like a good person, and appears to be relatively young. A majority of the final grade is composed of group projects, which usually doesn’t turn out too well for me because I tend to work better independently than I do collaboratively, but it does have the advantage of not having to be too concerned about exams. After sociological methods, I went to Introduction to Social Psychology, a few doors down. Not being that far of a walk, I arrived in class extremely early into a sizzling hot lecture hall (which, after this entire week, still feels like a furnace). Several minutes later, more and more people filed into the hall; one person came into the lecture hall and sat to my left. Apparently she thought it would be an excellent idea to keep on whipping her hair at me and hitting me in the face. After a few times, I asked her, “Is that necessary?” She replied, “oh my God, I’m so sorry!” and stopped. After two minutes, the hair whipping resumed. The topic of social psychology interests me a lot and this is probably one of my most anticipated courses, but I’m slightly concerned about the instructor. He has an extremely strict no-electronics policy, which is fine because he distributes print-outs of his Powerpoints on which we can take notes, but it creates a more tense and uncomfortable environment knowing that the instructor prefers to run his class in a stricter and more authoritarian manner. Based off the three lectures from this week, he also doesn’t really seem like someone who has high-action lectures. He is relatively older than most other instructors, which works as justification for not being as action-packed, but it seems as if he doesn’t sufficiently energize himself and his students during lecture. After my first two classes of the day, I went back to my apartment to buy some Jimmy John’s for lunch. After finishing my sandwich, I went to the bus stop to get a ride back to main campus. But the bus driver thought it would be an excellent idea to skip the stop at which I was waiting. This time, I didn’t have a chance to ask “Is that necessary?” I walked my way up a monster hill of a street we like to call Charter Street and made it to my next class, the discussion portion of my social psychology course. This discussion meets once a week, and it wasn’t eventful enough for me to get a good impression about what it is going to be like and how the teaching assistant is. The following day, on Tuesday, I woke up at 8:00 AM, took a shower, ate some waffles, and went to my first class, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse. Before the idea comes into your mind, no, I am not taking this course because I need help dealing with a drug problem; this is a required course for the criminal justice minor. The ridiculous thing about this course is that it’s in the Biochemistry building. I found out later on in the week that one of my friends is taking an Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies course in the Psychology building. I still don’t understand why they’re taking random students and random classes and randomly putting them in the Psychology building and overflooding it, then not having enough space for actual psychology students and throwing them in the Biochemistry building on the other side of campus. A few hours later, I went to my fourth and final actual class (more on “actual class” later), Psychology of Child Development. The instructor of this course seems to always be really excited, and it was apparent even though she was really sick and lost her voice. One thing that I’m disappointed about in this course is the instructor’s illogical focus on class participation. There are over 200 students in the lecture hall, and the instructor seems adamant about having all of us speak during lecture multiple times throughout the school year. Class participation is great for discussion sections where there are 20 people per classroom, but I don’t think this is going to work out very well for the class of over 200 students. This schedule basically repeated until Friday, when I had my Music in Performance class for the second semester in a row, the one-credit repeatable humanities class that’s nicknamed “clap for credit.” If you don’t remember from me explaining it last semester, this class is basically where you go into a concert hall, listen to music for 50 minutes, clap, take an extremely easy final exam at the end of the year, and get a credit. This is my second repetition of this course, and I’ll be taking it again next semester so it will essentially take up three credits of humanities and I won’t have to take an actual real humanities class where you have to do real work. That’s going to be all for today; thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday today, and I’ll see you in a few days.
Hi humans. In an attempt to make my blog posts better quality, I inadvertently made them extremely long and text heavy for the past several days. So, I decided to do a small photo dump from the past few weeks to change things up. This first picture was taken on January 6 while my mom and I were driving to our family business to open. We saw a spherical rainbow in the sky, so I tried to take a picture of it, but the camera on my iPod Touch wasn’t good enough to pick up the subtle colors. My mom told me to keep on trying because she insisted that it would eventually work. So here’s my proof to my mom. It didn’t work. Later that day, I met up with Ed Lam to go to lunch. After we were done eating, we went back to his house, then walked over to a near-by nature reserve. The only problem is, the previous day during tae kwon do training, I accidentally kicked someone’s elbow while sparring and had a severe limp. Ed thought this was hilarious and stayed behind me so he could make fun of my walking. We filmed some footage for a video, but we didn’t have enough interesting content, so I ended up not making a video and just taking stillframes from the footage; the following picture is one of them. This is Ed doing parkour. … Actually, this is Ed hopping onto a boulder, jumping one foot into the air, doing a half-spin, and yelling “PARKOUR” as loud as he can while carrying a stick. This is Ed holding a stick up to my nose so I can look like Pinocchio. About a week later on January 12, a massive snowstorm swept through our neighborhood. It was the first real snowstorm of the season (which is unusual because there are usually harsh blizzards in December, but December this year was relatively tranquil). This photograph was taken at our family business; it’s our front parking lot. We didn’t really have that many customers throughout the day, and most of the cars in the parking lot are owned by people who work at or own the businesses in our building. I ended up spending the night at our business (which is a laundromat, for those who don’t know already) because it wasn’t worth the risk driving 15 miles (24 kilometers) to go home and possibly get into a collision because of poor road conditions. And no, I did not sleep on the floor or on top of washing machines; we have a couch inside our office.
Hi humans. If you haven’t noticed already, a lot of websites on the Internet, including big ones like Reddit and Wikipedia, are participating in a black-out to protest SOPA. Even The Badger Herald, the place where I work, shut down their website for the day. Ever since information about SOPA and other related bills surfaced, a lot of people have been requesting a blog post with my opinions, seeing as I am a content producer and would be directly affected. When I received my first request back in November, I felt as if I did not know enough about the bills and held off; I still do not think I know enough about them to fully support my opinions, but today still seems like an appropriate day to write about this because of the black-outs. First of all, we’ll start with the basics in case you have been (insert cliché about living beneath an object that I can’t remember here) (yes, I am bad at remembering clichés). The main purpose of these new bills is to stop online piracy. The people who create content are suffering because there are many people who do not legally purchase copies of digital media, and instead steal it by downloading it from unauthorized places (a popular example being the Pirate Bay; screenshot of the website shown below) without paying the content creator. The argument of if the content creators are actually suffering or if they already have enough money is another issue about which I do not yet have a well-supported opinion. The bill seems like something that would be the moral and correct thing to do, and a lot of people, including myself, agree. However, even those who do not torrent or steal copyrighted content are opposing the bill because of the methods it proposes to use in order to stop piracy. Instead of doing somewhat of an obvious thing and raiding the servers hosting torrent hubs like the Pirate Bay, they are instead targeting websites who link to copyrighted content without consent. For example, if I were to put a link to watch Inception online for free, this law would allow the producers and copyright holders of Inception to alert law enforcement and force my website to be blocked from being accessed. The real problem arises from user-contributed content. If I put a link to Inception, I deserve to be shut down, but what if one of my readers did? What if comments were enabled on my website (which, at the moment, they are not on most pages), and one of my readers decides to put a link to watch Inception for free online? Regardless of who did it, my website would still be blocked. This puts collaborative websites (such as Facebook and YouTube, where the community is the one posting all the content) at great risk because they have millions of users, and some illegal content is prone to be posted somewhere and go unnoticed by moderators. This discourages people from creating such websites. If this bill was passed before the creation of Facebook or YouTube, there is a chance that these websites might have never been born due to the possibility of the founders fearing that these websites would cause them to get into legal trouble. This stops the advancement of technology and puts a developmental halt on our society. So overall, the essence of my opinion is that the idea behind SOPA and PIPA are good, but the way in which the bills plan on fulfilling their goals are not.
Hi humans. Earlier this week, YouTube published a blog post outlining some updates they were intending to publish onto their website. http://youtubecreator.blogspot.com/2012/01/upcoming-improvements-to-accuracy-of.html If you don’t want to read the entire blog post, the main idea of the update is to update subscriber counts so inactive and invalid accounts are no longer included in the tally of subscribers. For example, if someone has 100 subscribers, but 10 of those people deleted their accounts and another 10 of those people no longer use YouTube and have not signed in to YouTube for a long time, this individual’s subscriber count would fall from 100 to 80. Seeing as I have a moderately strong and relatively historical presence on YouTube, some of my friends, readers, and subscribers have suggested that I write a blog post about this new update expressing my opinions. First, I think it is important to look past what YouTube wrote in their blog post and take a look at their intentions, then consider the people who are opposing this change and look at their intentions as well. I think YouTube’s intention for this update is pretty obvious – they want to make sure the subscriber count is a reliable measurement of a channel’s success, and want to avoid people abusing the subscription system and inflating it using methods that breach the terms of service. For the naïve who do not know already, yes, there are people who pay professional companies to increase their subscriber counts so it appears like they have more subscribers than they really do. As of today, searching for “buy YouTube subscribers” on Google yields about 63,600,000 (63.6 million) results; some of the results show companies that sell subscribers for as little as 10¢ each. Just from this information, it seems like the only people who would oppose this update would be people who have used malicious methods to increase their subscriber count; if the updates rolled out, all their fake subscribers would be removed and they would be back on square one. However, people who have legitimately earned all of their subscribers are opposing this as well. The main justification they have is that removing inactive or deleted accounts essentially means they are removing old success. The subscribers that they earned a long time ago would not transfer over, and video makers want their success to be a cumulative measure of the things they did in the past as well as current success in the present. It seemed as if YouTube actually listened to the opinions of the video makers and decided to reconsider their decision. A day after they initially released the blog post, they posted an update saying that they would postpone rolling out the changes of removing inactive and deleted accounts from subscription counts, but they said they would still roll out a system that would prevent people from continuing to abuse the subscription system. Oddly, even though they said they would not cut subscription counts, it happened anyway. Someone I know who recently reached the 100,000 subscriber milestone fell back down to 99,000. The second most subscribed channel on YouTube supposedly lost hundreds of thousands of subscribers (but they were past the 5 million mark, so it wasn’t too drastic). I lost about 80 subscribers – I was at about 3200 on the 11th, but fell down to the low 3100s on the 12th. My opinion about this whole issue is of support. It has always pained me when people who make terrible videos become moderately well-known (and sometimes even make money off of their videos) because they use methods that break the terms of service. For example, someone can buy thousands of views for their videos from a professional company. If they enable pre-roll advertisements on their videos, the amount of money they make off of those advertisements from the thousands of views far exceeds the amount of money they need to spend purchasing the thousands of views in the first place. Once advertisers figure out that there are fake people watching their advertisements, they are not going to want to advertise on YouTube anymore, which then negatively affects those who are using YouTube properly to make money, as they will not have enough well-paying advertisements to show on their videos. One thing that I do think is a down side to this update is the shock value it will give to people who lose subscribers. For me, it was not much of a deal, because most of my subscribers were real and I only lost about 80. However, sometimes, people with more fragile emotions might be discouraged if they notice that they dropped below a milestone (such as the example above of a YouTuber dropping below 100,000) and lose the motivation and drive for continuing production. Thus, I think a way to mitigate this is to have a subscriber count freeze rather than updating the public subscriber count. For example, if someone had 110,000 subscribers but dropped down to 99,000 real subscribers, their public subscriber count would show 110,000 subscribers and freeze at that number until their real subscriber count made it back up to 110,000. Only then would it start to increase again. This would be primarily beneficial for people who have been targets of subscriber count inflation by their fans – they had no intention to break the terms of service, but were victimized anyway because of others outside their control. I think that popularity on YouTube has always been a hot and volatile topic, and I’m interested to see how this ends up within the next few days and weeks.
Hi humans. Sometime this past week, my parents went to an electronics store and purchased a Bluetooth earbud. The earbud cost a little bit over $20, but there was a $20 rebate, so it was almost free except for tax and the gasoline required to drive to the store. Normally, when you purchase a product that has a corresponding rebate, you receive the rebate form so you can fill it out and mail it to the manufacturer. Oddly, for this rebate, we had to go to the store’s website and print the form ourselves. When I went to print the rebate form, I noticed that it was a PDF with a huge picture of the earbud and a red background. The form only had about four lines for a name, address, and phone number, but the instructions said that the information must be filled out on the original rebate form (which was the PDF I was looking at). If you haven’t noticed the problem already, in order to claim this $20 rebate, I would have to waste tons of printer ink by printing out this unnecessarily colorful piece of paper. The worst part is, I have an ink jet printer at home, and not a roller or a toner printer, which means, if I were to print this rebate form at home, I would end up with a sheet of paper drenched and dripping wet with ink. Being the resourceful person I am, I realized that if I were to instead take this PDF file to the local public library, I could print it for 10¢ and not waste any ink at home. So, I downloaded the PDF file, emailed it to myself, and drove a few kilometers over to the library. You think my troubles are coming to an end? I’m actually just getting started. Upon entering the public library (which was recently remodeled in a way such that half the library now looks brand new while half the library still looks ancient), I navigated my way over to the row of computers. I moved the mouse around a little bit, but couldn’t get it to unlock, and got a message that I had to make a reservation first. Not knowing where to make a reservation, I went over to the adult services desk to ask for help. I stood in line behind an old woman who was apparently having trouble with every aspect of her life at the same time and needed three people to help her at once. After waiting about five minutes, another library employee came over to me and offered to help. She led me over to a random computer with no keyboard and told me to scan my library card to make a reservation. I asked her why they had a reservation system in place when they could just have people type in their library card numbers directly into the computer they wished to use, and she replied that the library gets extremely busy and they need to use the reservation system to keep the system running smoothly. I looked over to the computers; there were about 12 computers total, and only four of them were in use. It was the evening of a weekday when you would expect it to be most busy, yet two-thirds of the computers were empty. I looked back at the library employee who was helping me, and she appeared to make a conscious effort to ignore the fact that a reservation system was completely unnecessary. As expected, my reservation time started right away. The ridiculous part was that instead of placing me on a computer where I wouldn’t have to sit next to anybody so I could have my own personal space, it assigned me to a computer in between a large old man and an aisle everyone had to pass to get to the non-fiction section of the library. After frustratingly making my way over to my assigned computer and opening up an Internet browser as the old man next to me watched in curiosity, I logged in to my email to open up the PDF file so I could print it and get out of the library as soon as possible. Logging in itself took about two minutes because the Internet was so slow; on top of that, I have two-step authentication in case someone hacks my password, so I had an extra page to go through. After finally opening up the email, I went to download the PDF. File size: 0.8 MB. Time remaining: 9 minutes. The download speed was fluctuating between 1 and 2 KB/s. For those of you who are unfamiliar with file sizes and Internet download speeds, let me put this simply for you: THAT IS A HUGE FILE FOR A ONE-PAGE PDF, AND THIS INTERNET IS SLOWER THAN DIAL-UP FROM TEN YEARS AGO. After patiently staring at the computer monitor for nine minutes while the old man to my left and about a hundred passerbys to my right glanced at what I was doing, the PDF file finally finished downloading and I successfully opened it. I sent the print job to the printer that corresponded with what I thought was the printer near the adult service desk, locked my computer, and went over to pick up my document. I inserted 10¢ into the printer and waited. Nothing happened. As if the reservation system wasn’t complex enough, the library thought it would also be a good idea to make it such that if you want to print something, you have to enable the printing job from another separate computer (again with no keyboard) before it begins to process. After about 20 minutes, I finally got my one page printed and I walked out of the library. I don’t know why people think it’s a great idea to make things eight times harder than they should be.
Hi humans. That’s Not How Internet Works A few days ago while my family and I were eating lunch, my mom received a phone call from one of our relatives telling us that she had sent us a copy of scanned documentation that we wanted to see via email. About ten minutes later, after finishing lunch, we opened up my mom’s account and saw that we did not get the email. My mom called my relative back and told her that we did not receive the email. My relative’s response: “Oh, it must still be on its way, then.” Follow-up to “Twitter! Stop adding random tweets to my favorites list!” About a month or so ago, I put a note in my blog saying that I was having issues with Twitter randomly adding tweets to my favorites list. Once in a while, people would ask me why a particular bland tweet was in my favorites list, and I would have no response because I would not recall ever favoriting the tweet in question. I asked people to respond to my question if and only if they knew a definite answer to my issue, and that ended up not happening. I got an unnecessarily large response, with most people saying “maybe you accidentally clicked the Favorite button and forgot” or “maybe you have a terrible memory.” Nobody gave me a remotely plausible suggestion. Earlier today, just by chance, I noticed that hitting the F key while reading a tweet in your web browser will favorite it. I also noticed that all the tweets that recently appeared in my favorites list have been tweets for which I clicked the Detail link, which brings up the tweet on its own page and activates the F keyboard shortcut for favoriting. Taking into consideration the fact that I have an overactive left index finger and accidentally hit the F key a lot, the keyboard shortcut is the reason why I have accidentally been favoriting tweets. I’m not 100% sure if that’s the true reason or not, but it seems like the most plausible explanation (and more reasonable than me intentionally favoriting a tweet and forgetting that I did it, over and over again. Correction Credit Last for today, I want to give a shout-out to Arianne for submitting a detailed correction for my website. In my blog post from October 31, 2011, there was a broken link that was supposed to point to a page on the Daily Post on WordPress.com. Instead of the URL working properly, it linked to an internal page on my website that did not exist. The reason for this error was the fact that instead of using straight apostrophes when wrapping the URL, I accidentally used curly apostrophes (because I had originally written the post in Microsoft Word) and forgot to change them to straight apostrophes before publishing it as a PHP file.
Hi humans. Late yesterday night, I tweeted about my website disappearing into thin air. In case you missed it, here are the tweets:
A good handful of people have been asking me how exactly you “lose” a website (and on a side note, another good handful have taken this opportunity to persuade me to switch to their host, which I’m not going to do), so I decided to outline what happened that caused my website to disappear.
A while back, I signed up for Cloudflare, which is a service webmasters can use to enhance security on their websites. One of the things Cloudflare does is reroute your traffic through their servers, which helps block malicious users. On top of that, Cloudflare gives you the option to store copies of static files on their local servers so data spends less time traveling to visitors and loading times decrease.
One of the downsides of Cloudflare is that it’s not quite easy to set up if you’re not thorougly familiar with your server’s set-up, and once it does get set up, there are a lot of things that you have to change during your normal usage, such as using the “direct” subdomain when accessing ports, and using the “ftp” subdomain when accessing FTP (rather than just using your regular domain name). Each of these individual services must be documented within Cloudflare, and if one of them isn’t properly added in your Cloudflare domain settings, it will not work properly. For example, if the IP address of your web host’s server is not set properly, Cloudflare will not work properly.
Keeping this in mind, and knowing that my web host switched servers, I knew that I would eventually have to change the settings in my Cloudflare domain settings. Trying to prevent any downtime at all, I updated the IP address to that of the new server as soon as possible. Unfortunately, just changing the IP address is not enough for it to continue working properly, and apparently there was something else I had to change that I did not know about. Shortly after updating the IP address, my website went down.
From this point is when I basically “lost” my website.
Seeing as Cloudflare was no longer able to find my website at the provided IP address, it started serving a cached version of my pages and showed an alert that said my website was offline. After fiddling around with my domain name settings some more, I had the faint idea that I possibly was not supposed to update my IP address on my own, and that Cloudflare would do it automatically. So, I reverted my changes and switched my IP address back to the old one.
That didn’t work either.
I knew that my website was somewhere on the Internet, but I wasn’t able to find out its IP address so I wasn’t able to figure out where I would go to access it. To make things worse, there’s this thing called DNS cache, where the link between the domain name and the IP address is cached so changes don’t update globally in real-time. Basically, I was forced into a trial-and-error situation, but between each trial I had to wait anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours to figure out if the trial had worked; to make things even worse, if it did not work, I would have no idea if it either was still updating settings, or if it had already failed to work.
At this point, I was getting extremely frustrated, so I removed my website entirely from Cloudflare and started from scratch. I added my domain to my account as if it were my first time using Cloudflare, and went through the initial set-up wizard so Cloudflare could detect my website’s configuration itself.
But that would be too easy.
After Cloudflare successfully alerted me that Cloudflare was offline in a Cloudception-like manner, I raged a little bit, went to the kitchen to get myself a snack, figured out how terrible aged cheese tastes, itched the top of my head a little bit, then came back to see if Cloudflare was back up.
Knowing my luck, you would probably expect me to say “it wasn’t,” but surprisingly, it actually was back up.
I ran the initial set-up wizard again, waited a little under a minute, and got my results. Cloudflare’s conclusion? It couldn’t find my website either. It asked me to finish setting up the configuration myself.
After almost-literally-but-not-quite falling out of my chair, I removed all traces of Cloudflare from my website, changed my nameservers back to those that point directly to my web host, made a face at my laptop screen, then went to sleep. I figured that if I try this hard and still can’t find my website, it can go die of dehydration.
When I checked again this morning, like an abandoned cat making its way back home, my website reappeared out of nowhere and worked fine. And, like an abandoned cat, I couldn’t really ask it where it had been.
So that basically sums up this story, as well as the story of my life: try really hard to figure something out, epic fail and take a nap or go to sleep in frustration, then notice the next day that there was a pathetically easy solution to the problem and realize that I wasted several hours the previous day.
So my web host switched servers today, and in the process, I literally lost my website.
— Adam (@Parkzer) January 5, 2012
It’s floating around somewhere on the Internet and I can’t find it.
— Adam (@Parkzer) January 5, 2012