Tag Archives: rants

Quitting IntenseDebate

That’s it. I think I’m done. I’ve had a pretty good relationship with IntenseDebate’s services on my various websites for quite a while now. Sure, there have been hiccups and periodic issues from time to time, but that’s the nature of online technologies, especially ones that are always under constant development. As WordPress has grown and become more powerful, so did IntenseDebate, and as one of Automattic’s services, I had high hopes that it would continue to grow and develop and become a tool as useful as WordPress always has been for me.

But the honeymoon is over. After a couple of years using the service, I have become increasingly frustrated by the chronic problems with IntenseDebate. Comments that users, including myself, submit will sometimes randomly fail to display on my sites, despite showing up in my IntenseDebate dashboard. I have submitted scads of problem reports to IntenseDebate’s support, including direct links to the missing comments. Support will fix those comments, but then we’ll just end up having to repeat the process with random future comments. Months of reporting and dealing with this problem has yielded up no satisfactory solution from IntenseDebate’s developers.

To add insult to injury, I discovered lately that IntenseDebate will now no longer allow me to remain logged in to any of my sites so that I can reply to comments or administrate comments directly on my own sites. I started using IntenseDebate when Automattic acquired them exactly because it was such an easy system to use and it greatly enhanced my ability to have discussions with readers. Now, I’m finding it to be far more of a liability and a hindrance to said discussion than a help — and I’m getting zero satisfaction from IntenseDebate’s supposed support system.

Frankly, I think IntenseDebate’s developers have given up the project as a lost cause and just haven’t bothered to inform their users that they aren’t working on it anymore. This is unfortunate because I’ve always been pretty happy with Automattic’s various projects. WordPress has always been far and away my favorite tool for website development, and I use bbPress almost exclusively now for my forum system (when I use one), despite the fact that it hasn’t undergone any real major development in several years. (I realize that it’s now in a 1.0 alpha plugin form for WordPress, but that isn’t particularly useful to me at the moment.) Automattic also has several other services that are just fantastic, like Gravatar and VaultPress, so I had really hoped they would get their collective act together with IntenseDebate, get it under development again, and really iron out some of these bugs that have so plagued the system for so many months now.

Apparently, this is simply not to be. The only recent post on the “developers” blog has simply been an item on how to hide guest commenting. Yay, exciting.

So, I wash my hands of IntenseDebate. I’m done with it, at least for now and at least until someone decides it’s a worthwhile project to pick up again. Who knows? Maybe Disqus has put IntenseDebate out of business. I just wish they’d let us, their users, know so that we can actually move on.

Maybe it’s time to go check out Disqus. Are they actually still under development?

Credit Scores Are Bullshit

Credit Scores Are Bullshit“I used to think a credit score was all about your ability to pay, but it’s clear now it’s more about how profitable you will be to banks.” I have very little doubt about this. It became clear to me a few years ago that credit cards companies are really little more than legitimized scam artists designed to keep the maximum number of people in the greatest amount of debt so that CEOs can get rich off the backs of everyone else. It doesn’t make sense that the more wisely you handle your money, the lower your credit score gets, but that’s the way the system seems to be designed to work. Personally, I’d rather have a low credit score than be in perpetual hock to everyone and their uncle. (Source: BoingBoing)

Ahead Stop – xkcd

As usual, xkcd knocks it out of the park. Just as my wife; I’ve complained out this very thing several times before.

What troubles me is that, in all likelihood, a bunch of people must have sat around a table somewhere debating over the best way to lay these signs down on the pavement. On the one hand, I can kind of see their point — it would make some sort of sense that people would read the first word they come to. But it’s clear to me that someone neglected to adequately test this idea in a focus group or what-have-you because what they failed to consider is how deeply ingrained the Western proclivity is to read from top to bottom, left to right.

You’d think someone would have figured this out by now.

We Need Better Leaders

It’s incidents like “this one”:http://www.boingboing.net/2008/04/29/7yearold-boy-removed.html that demonstrate to me that there is a general sense of paranoia in American culture these days that borders on insanity. In the article linked above, you have a father who mistakenly ordered a hard lemonade for his 7-year-old son, followed by the hysteria of the ballpark guard and the local judicial system. This case is demonstrative of the fact that parents are considered villains until proven innocent, at least in the eyes of our legal system.

Having worked briefly in the social services system, I know there are parents out there who are either negligent or deliberately abusive (and sometimes both); so the existence of a social services system is both justified and necessary. But what I think the current set of laws forgets is that parents are human and sometimes make genuine, honest mistakes – as the father in this case seems to have done. But rather than deal with this as a mistake, the courts overreacted and demonized the father, immediately assuming the worst and raised his case to a ridiculous level that seems, to me, to be completely unnecessary.

This sort of thing goes right along with the current trend of political correctness in our society that people are now afraid of making smart and right decisions in favor of making stupid, politically correct decisions that will, in theory, offend the least number of people. It makes me wonder at how such people ever got to be our leaders, and it frightens me not a little bit that we’ve given them so much power over our day-to-day lives. Common sense, critical thinking, and wisdom seem to be skills lost on the vast majority of people in power nowadays, and what we’re left with are spineless puppets who would rather cater to poll numbers and public opinion[1]. It makes me afraid, very afraid.

fn1(footnotes). Don’t get me wrong – I do want our leaders to pay attention to what the people want, to an extent. We do, after all, elect the leaders that we hope will have our best interests in mind. But when you end up with leaders who are faced with the kind of foolishness presented in this case, and who won’t act on with a certain level of wisdom, then I question whether said leader should be sitting in that particular seat of power.

Superfluity in Capitalism

I will never cease to be amazed by the amount of crap goods out there for sale, as for example, this “mustache comb necklace”:http://store.makoollovesyou.com/products/148-Mustache-Comb-Necklace. In sterling silver. For $120. And that people will actually waste their money and _buy_ these things. We truly live in a luxurious economy where 1) someone would even conceive of a concept like this as a viable product, and 2) where consumers could look at that product and say to themselves, “Hey, I really want that. In fact, I think I _need_ it. And hey, look! Here’s a fat wad of cash I don’t need for, say, food or utilities or whatever. Must. Buy. Stupid, ridiculous. Lip-ferret comb.” And they then adopt that thousand-yard zombie stare of the hopeless consumer slave.

I hope I’m not the only person who’s disgusted by the wastefulness of this growing trend in American consumerism.

IQ Tests That Really Aren’t

I’m kind of annoyed by all the so-called intelligence tests that keep popping up on Facebook. Most of these tests cover topics like celebrities, TV shows and movies, music, etc. – essentially topics involving entertainment and popular media in US culture. There are several things about these ‘tests’ that annoy me:

  1. Entertainment is a stupid metric for an intelligence test. The only thing that entertainment surveys actually measure is how much of your time is spent watching TV, listening to music radio stations, or reading celebrity gossip. There are a number of high IQ societies that serve up an IQ test that covers all areas of knowledge, ranging across math, science, literature, history, current events, and yes, even entertainment. But the entertainment questions are just a small subset of the total test. Most of the weight is placed on all the other areas of the test. So, ‘IQ tests’ that use entertainment as the sole field for testing one’s intelligence are just plain stupid.
  2. On the technical side of survey design, all of these ‘IQ tests’ on Facebook are way too short. A good survey will run anywhere from 50-300 questions, depending on the scope of the data needed. Generally speaking, the more questions you have, the greater the level of accuracy you will get. Very few of these Facebook tests go beyond 20 questions (and most barely break 10).
  3. True intelligence tests also go through a rigorous set of reliability and validity tests. The reliability tests help ensure that the test consistently measures what it’s supposed to and that it is internally consistent. Validity tests check to see if the survey generalizes to the survey population, that it actually gathers useful and accurate information. You can bet that none of these Facebook IQ tests have undergone that sort of process.

I know, I know – most people just take these tests because they’re fun to do, and I’m probably over-analyzing things. I guess, as someone from a field of study where surveys are part of what I do, I get a little bit bugged by these casual IQ tests that don’t actually measure anything useful, primarily because most of the people who take them actually think that they _are_ IQ tests and take the final scores at least somewhat seriously. It’s misleading, and I find that mildly irritating. Call them what they really are – quizzes that test your knowledge about popular entertainment.

Care Less or More?

Ack! People, people – it’s “I _couldn’t_ care less,” not “I _could_ care less.” The former states that there is no more care to be given, that you really don’t care at all and that you can’t possible care any less than you do because you are already completely devoid of care. The latter says that there _is_ still some care there, that it _is_ possible to care less than you currently do by saying that you _could_ care less. See the difference?

Yeah, yeah, losing battle, yada yada. I’ll shut up now.