Hah, that's funny: The word "ginormous" made it into this year's update of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, two years after it made first place in an online poll for the "favorite word not in the dictionary".

They define it as:

extremely large, HUMONGOUS


(via bb)

Update: As a reader points out, it only wasn't in Merriam-Webster (an American dictionary) yet -- while it has been British slang for a long time and thus can be found in the Oxford dictionaries. Thanks, Ian!

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I need to admit: I was mentally prepared for a phone meeting later tonight. I forgot it's the Fourth of July...

Well, I guess: Happy Independence Day then, Americans! :)

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I recently mentioned flickr's questionable take on German laws by heavily restricting their German users' access to all pictures marked "moderate" or "restricted" on their service. While they recently removed the restriction for "moderated" pictures, a lot of users have lost trust in the service, mainly for their apparent inability to communicate with their user base and their failure to discuss significant changes before they happen.

Many paying users (the "against censorship" group on flickr has about 13.000 members) are considering not to prolong their "pro" accounts there, and are looking for other alternative photo sites on the web. In other words, flickr has harmed its reputation as a definitive address for photo sharing on the Internet, much to the delight of their competition.

One of the services that seems to have benefit the most is Ipernity, a quite young French photo sharing site. They currently get "700 new users a day", says their CEO Christian Conti (link, [German]). I got myself an account as well, to try it out until my flickr pro account expires at the end of the year and I need to make a decision where to keep my stuff in the future.

Ipernity is a "flickr clone", which is pretty obvious when you compare the looks of the two pages: flickr Ipernity Still, Ipernity has several points worth mentioning distinguishing it from the Yahoo product:

  • Ipernity allows you to share not only pictures but also videos and audio files. This comes in very very handy when you happen to take a little video with your digital camera, or if you want to share a song with your friends. I, for example, uploaded the German national anthem for my non-German friends to hear, if they like.
  • Ipernity features a blog. Of course, a lot of us have blogs already, but it makes it easy for people who don't, to publish their thoughts and illustrate them with their own photos right away.
  • It has a bunch of nice features, such as a variety of upload possibilities (including direct URL download or ZIP file upload), which leaves little to be desired.
  • Users can customize their personal pages. This is clearly myspace-like (and I admit I don't think I will do that) but many people seem to like it.

However, there are also some drawbacks:

  • Ipernity doesn't have groups yet. This feature is apparently "coming soon", though. (Update: It's here, see below)
  • Sometimes (yet very rarely) the site's localization is sketchy: I stumbled across a button once that said "Oui", in the English language version I am using. But actually, that made me smile rather than frown upon the apparently missing translation.
  • The upload restriction for the "pro" accounts is one gigabyte per month. That's a lot, but for real "power users", that might not be enough.
  • At last, while their user base is growing rapidly, the community is nowhere near as big as flickr.

All in all, Ipernity is a pretty good alternative to flickr: Its major advantage is that it brings together what belongs together: Audio, video, pictures and blog entries, with comments, ratings, favorites and of course RSS feeds etc. all over the place. There is an aspect of community orientation and interactiveness that flickr seems to have lost out of its sight since it was acquired by the big Y. Ipernity may have a small user base only at the moment, but they are growing constantly and arguably, a few thousand active users are better than a million not caring.

Still, Ipernity's future remains open: Will they be able to pay for their growing infrastructure/bandwidth, etc.? Can they scale their service in a manner painless for the users? And if/when they move into the focus of some big company looking for the next acquisition for their Web 2.0 portfolio, will they keep their integrity even if they sell?

The bottom line is: flickr has shown us in Europe what not to do with a Web 2.0 company. Now there are competitors out there that have more features, are more community-friendly and have been given an "invitation" by flickr to do a lot of things better.

If people like the Ipernity guys actually jump at this chance, and how they'll perform, is one of the most exciting questions on the web in the near future and something I'll certainly watch closely.

Update: A while ago, ipernity has released a group feature that works nicely and has since gained many users. Go take a look!

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Today, I decided to give my blog a new look -- mostly because I was tired of the old, white, colorless layout. After a little while, I found a nice one in the Wordpress theme directory (so, props to the guy who designed this :) )

Old (left) vs. new (right):

This blog’s old look This blog’s new look

If you find something not working, or you want to let me know that the new layout sucks even more than the old one ;) feel free to leave a comment.

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ABC news has a list of 100 blogs they "love".

Asa's "Firefox and more" is one of them. Congrats, Asa!

Sadly, the ABC people don't link to a single blog on their list, as kottke already mentioned. (Incidentally, he's on the list himself.)

So yeah, maybe somebody should give them a hyperlinks 101. But apart from that, the list is pretty well done --with no apparent surprises-- but a good one to look at if you want to know who the cool guys are.

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Flickr: UnavailableWhen flickr recently stopped showing "moderate" (possibly offensive) and "restricted" (not for children, or your mom) pictures in Germany, people started complaining about arbitrary censorship. Yahoo!/flickr responded, this was due to strong age verification laws in Germany.

Now Friedemann Schindler, head of jugendschutz.net (which is the German government's initiative for youth protection on the Internet), responded to yahoo's claims, arguing that yahoo's "solution" "exceeds the legal requirements", because as a hosting provider, they are only required to remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence. (Which is exactly what I said about the situation in an earlier post).

A while ago, flickr responded to the censorship claims by allowing Germans to remove the "moderate" restriction in the preferences, while "restricted" stays filtered for German accounts. While this is a step into the right direction (at least we can see average vacation photos again!), at times flickr still looks like this (yes, this is a real screenshot): Grayed out pictures on flickr

If flickr wants to be (or become) "family friendly", I appreciate them banning hard pornography pictures from their platform (this is --really-- not what flickr is for). But this is a change that has to happen in the upload policies (and be enforced accordingly) and not by implementing a highly flawed filtering mechanism that relies on the uploaders' feelings about their own pictures.

After all, while yahoo keeps hiding many entirely harmless pictures from all Germans' sights, other --legally much more critial-- pictures, for example of WW2-nuts reenacting Third Reich scenes, stay unfiltered and readily available for the general public.

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As always on my blog, I am speaking for myself only.

Yesterday, flickr launched their German service and at the same time, disabled access to pictures marked as "moderate" as well as "restricted".

Think, flickr!

flickr (speaking through staff member heather) justifies this as follows: "The central problem is that Germany has much more stringent age verification laws than its neighboring countries and specifies much harsher penalties, including jail time, for those with direct responsibility"

flickr users in Germany (and surrounding countries) complain about flickr's censorship policy.

What seems to have happened here is a misinterpretation of German law. (But please remember that IANAL, I am only spending 20% of my studies on law, not 100%)<!--more--> The law they are probably refering to is § 184 in the German criminal law ("spreading pornographic material"). According to this, someone is to be fined, or punished with a jail sentence of up to a year for showing/giving/selling pornographic material to a minor. This is the case on the internet as well, unless there are "effective measures" in place to keep minors from accessing the material.

There are several notes to make: In order for this law to be applicable, the content in question has to be pornography. The German definition for pornography is rather restrictive: It is material exclusively or most predominantly intended to cause sexual arousal in the viewer. This means that events like "Nipplegate" (and photos of them) are a non-issue here, legally (just like in many other places in the world). Also for example, showing a woman in the shower, as a TV commercial for shower gel, is perfectly acceptable. When it comes to act photography, the distinction is harder of course but the decision leans towards "art" if the aesthetic aspects of a picture are emphasized (art is protected by the German constitution).

Moreover, according to a commentary on the law in question, for a content provider on the internet (like flickr) to get punished, it is not enough if they could have assumed there might be such content on their page. Instead, positive knowledge is required, i.e. they need to know about a particular illegal picture, (probably) leaving them with the option to take it down ASAP when they find it or are informed about it.

In any case, "Possibly not suitable for the general public", which is the requirement for flickr's "moderate" setting, is about as far away from these requirements as it gets. Even "restricted" pictures (in flickr terms: "content you probably wouldn't show to your mum, and definitely shouldn't be seen by kids") are at least not generally violating German laws (quite the contrary, I assume).

Based on this, it doesn't seem surprising to me that a lot of paying, German customers (like me) are quite upset about flickr's most unprofessional way to handle a possible legal issue: by deciding to block many, many entirely harmless pictures from their sight. Some of the users even threaten to leave flickr very soon if they don't solve the problem within the next fourtysomething hours:

Flickr censorship: Full Stop. And while I am not as strict about the "two days" as others, I am certainly not going to prolong my flickr "pro" account if this absolutely unacceptable content filtering stays in place.

I think we can at least expect Yahoo to pick up a phone and call a German lawyer who can explain the law to them. When I look at how much their official statements sound like "we will all go to jail!", they can't possibly have done that.

And worst of all, at the moment, Yahoo/flickr is massively damaging the reputation of the German legal system in the world by making people believe the core of the problem is Germany's fault ("Oh Germany. Here we tried so hard to get past the whole "Hitler" thing and then we were so proud of you for tearing down your big ol' wall, but now you come up with this and we have to be worried all over again." is one of the nicer quotes here).

I hope this text helped some of my international friends (and other interested readers) understand the issue some more and maybe it keeps them from getting a wrong impression about Germany and its laws.

(Note, again, I am not a lawyer so none of this is legal advice.)

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If Apple was Target, Microsoft would be Wal-Mart.

Joel on Software about Font Rendering on Windows vs. OS X. Interesting how their different algorithms sacrifice font character for crispness and vice versa.

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So yeah, another day, another blog meme, and this one seriously is on the cheesy side but fair enough: I am C++. ;)

You are C++. You are very popular and open to suggestions.  Many have tried to be like you, but haven't been successful
Which Programming Language are You?

I am not sure if that's a good or a bad thing -- especially considering I haven't coded in C++ in, well, forever. The closest I've got in the last years was Java cause most programming assignments in my university are in Java. And whenever I can choose freely, let's just put it like that: C++ is usually not on top of my list.

Now, which one are you?

(via binblog and JP (who is Prolog: talk about weird programming languages!))

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Sun’s engagement in OpenOffice.orgI'm delighted to hear that Sun announced today joining the Mac OSX port of OpenOffice.org.

Sun, who founded the OpenOffice project by open-sourcing the StarOffice program code shortly after they acquired its former vendor StarDivision, are going this way due to the increasing use of Macs. They write:

Why is Sun joining the Mac porting project? If you look around at conferences and airport lounges, you will notice that more and more people are using Apple notebooks these days. Apple has a significant market share in the desktop space. We are supporting this port because of the interest and activity of the community wanting this port.

I am very glad to see this happen as it makes a native "aqua" port of OpenOffice much more likely to happen in this century than it was ever before.

And since most people at Mozilla are using Macs these days, this seems to be something to look forward to for a whole bunch of people.

(via TUAW)

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