Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Yahoo Mail has gotten really slow and buggy lately

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has promised to focus on improving Yahoo’s core services.
She needs to crack some heads over Yahoo Mail, which has gotten really slow and buggy lately.
I’ll click on an email and get a loading error. (See above photo. Click image for larger view.) This is happening a lot.
Or I’ll click on a message and nothing will happen at first. Then after a second or two delay the function will work. For instance, I was deleting an email and nothing happened, so I clicked delete again. Then after a delay, it deleted two messages instead of the one. I had to go into the trash folder to save that second message.
The tech pundits are right -- Google’s Gmail has become a better service. Yahoo had better get its act together on this.

Update May 30, 2013: Another screenshot of a Yahoo Mail fail.


Update Aug. 6, 2013: Yahoo Mail glitches continue. Here’s yet another screenshot.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Tumblr terminated my account, killed my three blogs

Tumblr’s draconian enforcement of Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaints resulted in the death of my three Tumblr blogs today.
The same day Yahoo announced its plan to buy Tumblr for $1.1 billion and pledged to treat its users with respect, they summarily terminated my account for alleged DMCA violations.
Apparently Tumblr has a two-strikes-and-you’re-out rule. At least it did in my case.
Tumblr was exceptionally swift in shutting down my three blogs, two of which were never the subject of any DMCA complaints. I received my initial notification of a DMCA complaint at 1:36 p.m. EDT today and my account was terminated less than three hours later, at 3:31 p.m. I was away from my computer and could not properly respond to the complaint until this evening.
Here’s the background on my case.
In December 2012, I started a Tumblr blog called LFL Wardrobe Malfunctions. The purpose of the blog was to draw attention to the comically non-functional uniforms worn by players in the Legends Football League, formerly called the Lingerie Football League. Players in this women’s football league routinely have their bikini tops and bottoms pulled down by tacklers.
I scanned the Web and aggregated examples of LFL wardrobe malfunctions as a journalistic endeavor for my non-commercial blog. I’d post the photos and give credit to the photographers when able and provide links back to their other photos. I acted as a curator. On all my blogs, I point users to source material, whether information or artwork whenever possible.
In February, Josh Schaefer, a sports-action and event photojournalist based in Saskatoon, a city in Saskatchewan, Canada, complained about two Canadian LFL photos that I posted. He objected to my using his photos for my educational project. I reached out to Schaefer via email, told him about my project and tried to get him to withdraw his complaint. He wanted no part of it.
The photos in question featured big logos for JoshSchaeferPhotography.com. I provided links back to his photo sets, which include scores of photos from Canadian LFL games. My two selections were but a tiny sample of his work. And they were arguably permissible under copyright law for news-gathering and educational purposes to discuss the sexist nature of the LFL.
I should have filed a counter claim then against the take-down, but I let it slide.
After educating myself about fair use under U.S. copyright law, I decided to experiment with “transformative works.” In this fair-use exemption, an original work is transformed by adding new expression or meaning. Value is added by creating new information, new aesthetics, new insights, and understandings, according to Stanford University.
I eventually took three Schaefer LFL photos cropped them for effect and added big funny text to draw attention to problems with LFL uniforms. I then posted them to my LFL Wardrobe Malfunctions blog.
Schaefer complained about my posting of these three transformative works.
His two complaints over the past four months were treated like five complaints and Tumblr compliance employees quickly terminated my account for “multiple uncontested DMCA copyright notifications.” Like I said, I didn’t have time to contest the latest complaints until after my Tumblr account had been terminated.
This time I sent Tumblr a counter notification to the DMCA complaint. I contested the take-down and asked for my account to be reinstated.
I said the posts in question contained photo art that clearly falls under fair-use provisions of copyright law.
The photos in question are protected speech because they are “transformative works.” In the three cases cited, only a portion of the original photo was used, with commentary text added to the photo to parody the original subject matter. This type of fair use is legal and commonplace online today from Perez Hilton and Cheezberger LOLs to Tumblr’s own Texts from Hilary and McKayla Is Not Impressed.
Also, the posting of these transformed works will not affect the market for Schaefer’s original photographs or deprive him of income.
Innocent victims of Tumblr’s brutal account termination were my two other Tumblr blogs. One was my attempt at an Internet meme in the vein of Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street focused on the 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike called Hot Chicago Teachers on Strike.
The other was my commentary on the absurdity of TSA screening procedures called Celebrities vs. the TSA. It aggregated photos of well-known celebrities like actresses Halle Berry and Megan Fox being subjected to full-body pat downs and other indignities in the name of airport security. Compiling those photographs was a huge undertaking and provided a useful index for people interested in how little common sense the TSA uses when it conducts passenger screenings.
Writing about my first run-in with Tumblr’s copyright cops in February, I noted how messed up their handling of DMCA complaints was.
Instead of just removing the photos in question, Tumblr deleted the posts that included them. So, they not only took down the photos, they also deleted my research. That research included information about the players involved, the game, date and location, as well as weblinks back to the original photo sets and more. That information was mine and wasn’t subject to a copyright take-down.
In writing about Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr on Sunday, I said Tumblr “need to fix its heavy-handed response to alleged copyright violations.” That goes double today.
Tumblr should at least give me the option of downloading all of my Tumblr posts so I can transfer them to WordPress or some other blogging service. Right now, all of my work is locked up in some digital dungeon.

Photo: What my Tumblr blog looks like today.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Will Yahoo ruin Tumblr?

Yahoo is poised to acquire Tumblr, the multimedia blogging platform-slash-social network. And there’s a lot of hand-wringing about what Yahoo ownership would do to the popular website.
The big question for me is whether Yahoo under CEO Marissa Mayer is different from the Yahoo of old. Historically, Yahoo has a poor track record of managing acquisitions. It has purchased companies with interesting technologies or businesses and then neglected them.
The last time Yahoo bought a popular blogging service, it spent $3.5 billion for GeoCities in 1999 and shut it down 10 years later. If it had been on the ball and kept innovating, it could have created something like Tumblr itself.
I had three websites on GeoCities to post personal photos, but I stopped using the service when I kept running into the site’s meager data storage and data transfer limits. GeoCities didn’t change with the times and acted like it was still in the dial-up Internet era until the end.
Today I have three websites on Tumblr, which doesn’t have data storage and bandwidth limits.
Mayer has continued to cut Yahoo services since becoming chief executive. Thankfully I didn’t really use any of those.
If news reports are true, Yahoo will pay $1.1 billion for Tumblr. The acquisition would give Yahoo a hip, cool Web service and a younger audience to target with advertising. Tumblr is on the verge of running out of money and needs an exit strategy.
I won’t mind if Yahoo puts more ads on Tumblr. I understand that someone has to pay the bills for such a service. The key will be to run ads that aren’t obtrusive.
At the same time, Yahoo will need to continue improving Tumblr. In particular, Tumblr needs a better search function and better ways to manage posts, such as the ability to add, delete and edit tags from a central interface of posts.
Tumblr also need to fix its heavy-handed response to alleged copyright violations.
Tumblr also needs to address its “porn problem.” (Bloomberg Businessweek and AVN weighed in on this.) I don’t think this will be too difficult if handled in the right way. All Tumblr blogs that feature nudity or sexual content should carry a warning screen before people can enter, much like Google does with Blogger. (See photo below.)
My advice to Yahoo about Tumblr is to keep innovating and try not to piss off the users who made the site successful to begin with.


Friday, May 17, 2013

10 celebrity-related Tumblr blogs

Continuing my tour of interesting websites, here are 10 celebrity-related Tumblr blogs.

Awesome People Hanging Out Together


Awesome People Hanging Out Together features photos of celebrities just casually spending time with each other like it’s no big deal.

Awesome People Reading


Awesome People Reading runs photos of celebrities reading books, newspapers, etc.

Rides a Bike


Rides a Bike features photos of celebrities and public figures riding bicycles.

Mugshot Doppelganger


Mugshot Doppelganger features 1920s mug shots merged with modern-day celebrity mug shots. The photos are the work of Michael Jason Enriquez.

Celebrity Close-Up


Celebrity Close-Up features extreme close-up photos of actors, singers and other public figures. The results are often not flattering.

Rappers Doing Normal Shit


Rappers Doing Normal Shit posts photos of rappers doing everyday things, just like you and me.

Victoria’s Secret Babes


Victoria’s Secret Babes features photos and GIFs of Victoria’s Secret models.

I Am Kelly Brook


The official Tumblr page of Kelly Brook, featuring photos of the vivacious British model.

Kate Upton


The official Tumblr page of model Kate Upton.

Rihanna Glam


Pop music star Rihanna has lots of fans on Tumblr. Rihanna Glam and Hell Yeah Rihanna Fenty are two blogs that post a lot of photos and GIFs.

Photos (from top): Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger; Mick Jagger, Catherine Deneuve and Andy Warhol; Marlon Brando reading; Grace Kelly riding a bike; Lindsay Lohan mug shot merged with 1920s mug shot; Katy Perry close up; Jay-Z on the New York subway; Candice Swanepoel; Kelly Brook; Kate Upton; and Rihanna.

Favorite websites in review, part 6

These websites have been featured on Tech-media-tainment and bear the TMT stamp of approval.
This is the sixth set of 25 favorite websites.

126. Bed Bug Registry (bedbugregistry.com)
127. TripAdvisor (tripadvisor.com)
128. The Worst Room (theworstroom.tumblr.com)
129. The Brokers with Hands on Their Faces Blog (brokershandsontheirfacesblog.tumblr.com)
130. Reasons My Son Is Crying (reasonsmysoniscrying.tumblr.com)
131. Comic Sans Project (comicsansproject.tumblr.com)
132. Does Papyrus Belong Here? (doespapyrusbelonghere.tumblr.com)
133. National Geographic Found (natgeofound.tumblr.com)
134. New York License Lady (newyorklicenselady.tumblr.com)
135. Andrew’s Little Instructions (andrewslittleinstructions.tumblr.com)
136. Brand Spirit (brandspirit.tumblr.com)
137. If Business Insider Was Around When … (ifbusinessinsiderwasaroundwhen.tumblr.com)
138. Someone Should Start A Tumblr (someoneshouldstarta.tumblr.com)
139. Context-Free Patent Art (contextfreepatentart.tumblr.com)
140. Life Advice from Machines (lifeadvicefrommachines.tumblr.com)
141. We Never Look Up (weneverlookup.tumblr.com)
142. Pictures of Hipsters Taking Pictures of Food (pohtpof.tumblr.com)
143. The Tudor Crowd (thetutorcrowd.tumblr.com)
144. The Pregnant Husband (pregnanthusband.tumblr.com)
145. WTF, Evolution? (wtfevolution.tumblr.com)
146. Kate Middleton for the Win (katemiddletonforthewin.tumblr.com)
147. Models Who Can’t Decide (modelswhocantdecide.tumblr.com)
148. Celebrity Pussy (celebritypussy.tumblr.com)
149. Cats. Where they do not belong. (getoutoftherecat.tumblr.com)
150. Cat GIF Page (catgifpage.com)

Photo: Actress Jennifer Lawrence from Celebrity Pussy.

Update (Feb. 17, 2014): Kate Middleton for the Win hasn’t had a new post since June 25, 2013, and the blog has changed its focus since then.
Andrew’s Little Instructions has changed its focus and the editor has removed all the fun content that I liked so much.

Update (June 15, 2014):  Andrew’s Little Instructions is now offline entirely.
Bed Bug Registry is offline.

Update (Feb. 28, 2015): Bed Bug Registry is back online.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fun websites for cat lovers

I’m a cat person. And thankfully the Internet is rife by funny cat photos and videos. Here are some entertaining cat-related websites.

Celebrity Pussy

Photos of celebrities with cats, naturally. If you thought something different, you’re a pervert.

Cats. Where they do not belong.

Photos of cats in sinks, boxes, baskets and elsewhere they don’t belong.

Cat GIF Page

Short video clips, or GIFs, of cats doing funny things.

News Cats GIFs

Short videos of cats reacting to news situations. News Cats GIFs is the work of Ivan Lajara, life editor of the Daily Freeman of Kingston, N.Y.

The Fluffington Post

The Fluffington Post section on Kitties provides your daily dose of cuteness.

Lolcats

No list of entertaining cat websites would be complete without Lolcats. Lolcats, a Cheezburger website, offers photos and GIFs of cats with funny captions.

Photos (from top down): Actresses Minka Kelly, January Jones and Famke Janssen with their feline friends from Celebrity Pussy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

20 fun Tumblr blogs

Continuing my discussion of Tumblr, here are 20 fun and interesting blogs on the service.

1. The Worst Room

The Worst Room is described as “a blog about trying to find affordable housing in New York City.”
The Worst Room got a nice write-up recently on the Laughing Squid.

2. The Brokers with Hands on Their Faces Blog


The Brokers with Hands on Their Faces Blog shows pictures of Wall Street traders with their hands on their faces in shock, dismay or depression.
It’s very similar in theme to Sad Guys on Trading Floors, another Tumblr photo blog.

3. Reasons My Son Is Crying

Reasons My Son Is Crying was started by a father documenting all the silly reasons his young son breaks into tears.
Conan O’Brien parodied the site with Reasons My Talk Show Host Is Crying.

4. Comic Sans Project

The Comic Sans Project sees what the world would look like if companies started using the maligned font comic sans for their logos.
The Huffington Post and Brandflakes for Breakfast each wrote about the website.

5. Does Papyrus Belong Here?

Another font-centric website is Does Papyrus Belong Here?
The answer is always no, according to the website.

6. National Geographic Found

Photos from the National Geographic archives.

7. New York License Lady

New York License Lady is described as “an adventure in stock photography” by its creator Jason Feifer.
The same woman’s photo shows up on everything from hair color products to insurance ads.

8. Andrew’s Little Instructions


Andrew’s Little Instructions features pages from a “Life’s Little Instruction” calendar modified with smart-aleck remarks by Andrew Hamer.

9. Brand Spirit


Brand Spirit is an art experiment where familiar branded products are painted white.
“Every day for 100 days, I will paint one branded object white, removing all visual branding, reducing the object to its purest form,” the artist wrote.
The project ran from March 12 to June 19, 2012.

10. If Business Insider Was Around When …

If Business Insider Was Around When … is a blog that imagines how Henry Blodget’s Business Insider online news service would have covered major news stories of the past.
Hint: the website is not a fan of Business Insider’s style of journalism.

11. Someone Should Start A Tumblr


David Friedman compiled Tumblr blog ideas from suggestions people made on Twitter.
The blog ran from Jan. 21 to March 6, 2013, when Friedman announced that the meme had run its course after 115 posts.

12. Context-Free Patent Art

Context-Free Patent Art publishes “art culled from a wealth of video game-related patents and patent applications, presented without explanation.”

13. Life Advice from Machines


Life Advice from Machines turns lines from instruction manuals into sage advice for everyday living.

14. We Never Look Up

Photos of people looking down at their smartphones and tablets.

15. Pictures of Hipsters Taking Pictures of Food

Another self-explanatory Tumblr blog title.
“Documenting the phenomenon of people taking pictures of food they did not themselves cook. Food at restaurants. Food at parties. Food at backyard BBQs,” the blog description says.

16. The Tutor Crowd


The Tutor Crowd spreads the message of proper spelling and grammar by correcting London’s graffiti.

17. The Pregnant Husband

An expectant father documents life with his pregnant wife through GIFs.
See article by the Huffington Post.

18. WTF, Evolution?

“Honoring natural selection’s most baffling creations,” the blog description says.

19. Kate Middleton for the Win


Photos of Kate Middleton with snarky captions.

20. Models Who Can’t Decide

Another “adventure in stock photography” from Jason Feifer, Fast Company senior editor and creator of Internet memes.
See article on Models Who Can’t Decide in the Huffington Post. Man, HuffPo writes a lot about Internet memes.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

10 newsworthy Tumblr blogs

Tumblr is chock full of entertaining diversions. The multimedia blogging platform is the go-to site for creating Internet memes.
What follows is a list of some of those memes. Some are still active, while others have reached their end of life.

1. Texts From Hillary

This Internet meme lasted one week (April 5-11, 2012) and included just 32 posts. The blog features funny captions with pictures of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton texting people from her phone.
Texts From Hillary earned a ton of recognition from the mainstream press and helped to humanize its subject by giving her a sense of humor and a certain cool factor. It even gave her 2016 presidential election hopes a boost.
Last month, Texts from Hillary was voted best Tumblr blog of 2012. (See earlier articles about the blog in Politico, ABC News, Talking Points Memo and NBC’s Today.)

2. RomCom

Another 2012 political blog, RomCom, Photoshopped Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney into the movie posters of various romantic comedies.

3. McKayla Is Not Impressed

McKayla Is Not Impressed is a good example of a blog that became an Internet meme, but continued well after its freshness date. It should have had a short, bright life during and just after the 2012 Summer Olympics.
It started on Aug. 7 with photos of a disappointed McKayla Maroney, a U.S. gymnast, Photoshopped next to a host of marvels and looking “not impressed.” It ended on Sept. 13, after 166 posts. (Two newsworthy follow-up posts came later.)

4. Predditors

An enterprising Reddit user came up with an interesting way to combat the website’s “creep shot” posters, guys who post up-skirt and down-blouse photos of unsuspecting women. She outed the men by name on a Tumblr blog called Predditors.
However, the blog is no longer available, either because its creator took it down or Tumblr decided it violated its terms. See coverage of the blog at the Huffington Post and Jezebel.

5. ‘Nice Guys’ of OKCupid

Another Tumblr blog taken down after creating a stir was ‘Nice Guys’ of OKCupid. It reprinted the dating profiles of supposedly “nice guys” who sounded anything but nice. The men all described themselves as “nice guys” but then proceeded to write about the things they hated about women.
See coverage by the Huffington Post.

6. Boys Clubs

The Boys Clubs blog shines a light on “corners of the world where women have yet to tread,” including the management ranks of Apple, Netflix, Philip Morris International, American Bankers Association, etc.
See article by the Huffington Post.

7. Tech Companies That Only Hire Men

A similarly themed blog, Tech Companies That Only Hire Men, posts the sexist employment listings of technology firms. These ads describe the male job candidate that they’re looking for.
See coverage by the Huffington Post.

8. Actual Facebook Graph Searches 

Tom Scott raised privacy concerns about Facebook’s new Graph Search feature by showing what was possible to uncover with it. He was able to search and discover “Married people who like prostitutes” and “Islamic men interested in men who live in Tehran, Iran” by using the technology to search Facebook profiles.

9. The Amazing iOS 6 Maps

A website showing the many flaws of Apple’s iOS 6 Maps software.

10. White Men Wearing Google Glass

A Tumblr blog showing the demographic similarity of people who wear Google Glass.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New LFL uniforms, same wardrobe malfunctions

When the LFL women’s football league changed its uniforms from lingerie to sports bras and shorts, one thing didn’t change – wardrobe malfunctions during games.
I foolishly thought that the Legends Football League, formerly the Lingerie Football League, made the uniform switch in part to prevent such accidental nudity. But that’s not the case, as Italian blog Very Special Girls reports.
Very Special Girls has become the go-to source for the latest LFL wardrobe malfunctions. It keeps an eagle-eye out for exposed butts and breasts during LFL games. The website observed three boob flashes during two games so far this season.

Photo: Atlanta Steam quarterback Brittany Morgan had her bra pulled up during a game April 13, 2013, against the Omaha Heart. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Documenting my life on Twitter

Most of my posts on Twitter are to share weblinks to news articles. But occasionally I’ll tweet something personal or make a pithy observation.
In April 2011, I compiled a sampling of the latter from my first two years on Twitter. I wanted to see what parts of my life I was documenting on Twitter. With this post, I’ll cover the next two years of my Twitter posts.
Many of the personal posts included photos, but I won’t run those here.

Living in Connecticut 

Rainy day in CT, so took the family to see “Rio.” The kids liked it and that’s all that matters. $36 for 4 tickets, $20 for concessions. (April 16, 2011)

At New Canaan, CT, library to hear ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer speak. (May 1, 2011)

Just plucked two ticks off my daughter. The scourge of Connecticut ticks continues. (May 14, 2011)

Moving to Virginia 

Stopped to see the Liberty Bell on the drive from Conn. to Va. Beautiful day in Philly. (Aug. 19, 2011)

Seeing Tysons Corner, McLean and Vienna, Va., for the 1st time in 12 yrs. I hardly recognized the area where I used to live. (Aug. 19, 2011)

Moving into new house in Vienna, Va., today. As usual, I think we have too much stuff. (Aug. 23, 2011)

5.9 magnitude earthquake in Va. Typical overreaction in DC. (Aug. 23, 2011)

Vintage Chicago Bears glasses survive another move. If only the team were as tough. (Aug. 27, 2011)

Glad I’m not in New Canaan, CT, now. 70% of village without power, many roads closed. Been there, done that too many times. (Aug. 28, 2011)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Crazy idea: Pop stars should offer matinee performances

At 50, I’m still a fan of popular music. But I’m not so thrilled about staying out late at concerts.
Earlier this week, I saw Rihanna in concert at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., and didn’t get home until 12:30 a.m. If it had been a club show, I would have been out much later.
That got me thinking. Broadway shows have matinees. Why couldn’t pop music performers?
It wouldn’t even have to be the full-on show. These could be scaled-down productions, without dancers, fancy lighting, video backdrops and sets. It could be just the singer and her band or the singer and acoustic accompaniment. (Remember “MTV Unplugged”?)
These shows could be targeted at younger fans, parents and older fans. They could be advertised as clean shows without explicit lyrics. The performers would do the radio versions of their hits, just like they would for broadcast television. That would make parents happy. These stripped-down matinees could be sold as “family-friendly shows.”
Instead of a 90-minute production, it could be a 60-minute show with the performer doing hit songs as well as deep cuts from their albums. They would be low-key events, with the singer in casual clothes and sitting on a stool, possibly engaging in conversation with fans.
The matinees could be held in a smaller venue, something more exclusive, for which a premium could be charged.
They wouldn’t have an opening act. Maybe a DJ spinning tracks. Or a local radio station could host them.
I think they’d be very popular.

Photos: Sexy shots of Rihanna from GQ magazine

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