The Brazilian wave

Aside from the hype and dearth of useful ideas, social software has exposed some interesting trends that I didn’t know existed. I know I’m not alone in this, but I’m fascinated by a trend that has been going on for about a year and shows no signs of stopping: Brazilians are dominating social software networks.

I guess it makes sense when you think about it. They’ve got a country with fairly free laws that promote creativity. While they’re generally poor on a per capita basis, they have the largest online population in South America.

Recently, Orkut put them neck and neck with Americans on the system and new language tools were added so you could basically cruise the site entirely within groups that posted in just Brazilian Portuguese, or just English. Fotolog had the famous case of Brazilian cam girls competing neck and neck with American photographers last summer. I suspect even with pricing changes at Fotolog, the Brazilians won out in terms of membership numbers since then. Ever since Globo’s Blogger install launched a couple years ago, the service has skyrocketed in user numbers. This person claims Brazil is likely to be the second largest group of bloggers after Americans.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of Brazilian users and the democratic nature of these networks, you see Brazil outpacing the participation and number of Americans. The virtual world is relatively new and doesn’t have many limitations beyond the obstacles of getting online in the first place, so the world is on an even playing field so to speak. I find it fascinating that in this new, more open, and more equal environment, Brazil is doing so well. I don’t know what it means for the future of Brazil or America, both online and offline, but it’s certainly an interesting trend worth watching.

Get thee to firefox asap

Everyday there seems to be a new windows Internet Explorer bug or exploit that introduces a new virus into potentially millions of computers, but this new one takes the cake. Thanks to IE’s security holes, someone can install a bug on your system that furishes them with your banking passwords. And IE is still the most popular web browser on earth. This is totally and completely insane.

If you don’t already use Firefox as your default browser in Windows, download it right now and make it your default — for your own personal safety and the safety of your investments.

Attention Oregonians

A nice neigborhood cop pulled me over today to remind me that as of tonight at midnight, most Oregon school zones will be 20mph 24 hours a day. The cop mentioned that while he was just giving me a word of warning, after midnight he would start writing tickets for it.

The new law could be for child safety, but it could also be an easy excuse to write more tickets. A rule like that makes me think Oregon cities might be looking for new sources of revenue. Are there really that many kids getting hit by cars after midnight in school zones? Do a lot of kids hang out after midnight at schools of all places?

How to kill a linkfarm

As much fun as it is to run PVRblog, recently it’s been a chore. Last week, someone sent me an email congratulating me on acheiving a pagerank of 9/10. I had no idea and I guess that’s nice and all (and surprising, given that the site is less than a year old), but it’s turned into a giant honeypot for spammers. I would venture to guess there aren’t any other 9/10 pagerank sites that allow you to submit information that results in a link to your site.

After waking up and deleting half a dozen posts every morning for the past several weeks (and banning their IPs), today I noticed even legit comment posters were tweaking their posting names to reflect a better google ranking. Instead of putting “steve” down as their name, their name would read something more like “info on pvr hardware” which would link to their site. When a feature gets abused by even those that should know better, it’s time to do something about it.

I’ve considered turning off comments, and that’s often what people do, but in this case I’m removing the URL request on comment forms and I’m no longer linking to anything from a commentor’s name on the site, including all back archives. I had HTML turned on for comments, but in the last hour that I’ve had name/urls turned off, I’ve already received a few new spam comments, using HTML in the comment fields. So that’ll be coming off soon too.

I noticed at a few weblogs, new comments don’t have email or URL entry forms, and comments get posted with just names. I always wondered why, but now I know.

I don’t use RSS readers… until now

After hearing news of Apple adding feed reading to Safari, I was a bit skeptical. As much as I like reading weblogs, I hate using RSS readers. Readers have a lot of basic problems: putting a count on every feed and item like weblogs are suddenly my work inbox that I have to keep down to zero, the counts are recorded by the program, so jumping from one computer to another means you lose count of your feeds, and viewing comments or the rest of a message requires jumping to a browser anyway. Personally I use an update montior, and track the newly updated sites with a sidebar.

But after seeing this quicktime demo of the Safari reader, it just might be the first one I ever use. Gone are the counts on everything telling me how many more posts I must read. In its place is something more akin to Kinja or LiveJournal: you get a universal home page of all the recent items you are interested in. The “personal newspaper” metaphor is one that has been thrown around for years, but few of the RSS readers offer it.

While this new feature isn’t perfect (it still ties me to Safari running on a single computer), the display of all feeds on a single page and lack of incessant counting will probably be enough to make me switch over.



Today I went on a 50 mile ride, finishing it in just over three hours. The last time I rode anything similar was 8 years ago, back in college. I was surprised the ride went so well, considering I basically got up off the couch and started riding 10-15 miles every couple days, starting just a couple months ago.

Now I’m thinking that riding the entire Oregon Coast isn’t an impossible task to accomplish in a few more months of training.

Shoot people but don’t share files with them

This is insane. When you compare the proposed INDUCE act, which would make it illegal to create anything remotely copyright infringing and allow companies to bring civil suits against programmers, with pending gun legislation that would make it impossible for anyone to sue a gun company in a civil setting. So making a program that allows folks to trade files which may or may not be illegal will carry stiffer penalties, while a company making a cheap “saturday night special” gun designed to kill or maim humans at the lowest price point will be legally protected.

We do indeed live in strange times in which intellectual property seems to be more sacred than human life.

Indeed. [via aaronsw]

Supersized PR con

Last year, when I heard that TechCentralStation was a lobbying group that participated in some shady campaigns disguised as journalism, I didn’t pay it much mind, since beyond simple politics, it didn’t seem to result in a spate of bad articles there. Well, I guess that time has passed, when I found their concerted effort to discredit Morgan Spurlock’s film Supersize Me.

Looks like some whacky conservative outfit even tried to replicate Supersize Me, but with tons of exercise and different choices to somehow show McDonalds was healthy.

update: Oh perfect, TechCentralStation receives funding from McDonalds, among other corporations.

Gmail problem solved

Sweet! After trying a couple registry hacks that didn’t quite work, this program did what I wanted. It opens a new window with just the new message window populated (without the rest of the gmail “chrome”) but I’m sure Google will create some sort of toolbar extension that does the same.