Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Now for some technical stuff. The good news is that I’m very, deeply sorry about the deplorable visual quality of this site. The bad news is that this here little “renovators delight” in front of your sore eyes is probably going to take at least the rest of my life to get it looking even semi-professional. Yes my computer skills really are THAT bad, especially when combined with the very limited support offered by Blogger.

But actually, I think that this is more a case of “Care Factor? – Zero! I’ve actually just had my computer skills put to the test, and in a quite serious way. Funnily enough, the nasty thing I had to get rid of from my computer was some residue left after downloading a “something”.EXE from LiveJournal.com. Yes, that wholesome-sounding site, that I heard of through the “recommended sites” sidebar of a feature article on blogs in my local newspaper. I went to the site, downloaded what I thought was going to be some free software to help me polish-up this blog, then a prompt came up, asking for my money. So far, nothing too much out of the ordinary here.

But then, when I declined to pay (what I was downloading just seemed rather amateurish, even from the LiveJournal.com front page), I was left with “LiveJournal” crap lingering all over my computer. Over a week, I deleted LiveJournal stuff – some “program” files, others not – through about fifteen re-starts, and about thirty separate delete clicks (though some of these seemed to be just “babies” that sprung up from one of the program files when I deleted something else that smelled of LiveJournal in any way).

Anyway, now it’s gone! And I am never going to touch LiveJournal, or anything remotely to do with it, again. I don’t think what I “got” was a virus, but it was definitely a scam. Of course, on the LiveJournal.com site, there are the usual disclaimers about “no responsibility for viruses, etc”. Well, that’s all fair enough at a glance – but this is actually not about some overworked geek who unwittingly donates bugged-up, amateur software to the world. The LiveJournal software, despite all appearances, is definitely very professional – it basically captures your desktop, without corrupting your data, but with enough of an annoyance factor to make many people (I am sure) just give in, and pay up, as much to make the crap go away, as to get the product, such as it is.

Thinking about it, LiveJournal’s website front page now makes perfect sense:

"If you're totally new to the site and just want to sign-up without paying, we understand your frustration. However, very few people just stumble upon the site... nearly everybody that signs up does so because a friend referred them. To be able to use LiveJournal, you either have to be introduced by an existing member of the community, or get a paying account ($25 per year)”.

Now call me a cynic, but when a *commercial* website pretends to be some kind of closed community, something is immediately wrong. This wrongness-factor doubles when you’re talking about something as scaleable (the bigger the “community”, the more pure profit) as Web-delivered software.

So in conclusion, I don’t care how “good”, or “easy to use” LiveJournal is. The whole sick outfit makes Amway, and its multi-level marketing methods, look positively wholesome. If LiveJournal’s people did door-to-door sales, and you chose not to buy, the salesperson would get you by leaving a fake prosthetic foot superglued in your doorway (so your door won’t shut) as their pleasant little corporate calling card.

Not sure how to put my email address into the page proper; so for any comments, writs, etc – here’s the spam-trap version: pauljwatson at hot*m*a*i*l d#t c#m

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