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4th March 2011

The 10 Best YouTube Video’s (Even Better Than That Other List You Read)

Filed under: Internet,Jokes — Alex Holt @ 9:48 pm

Right, I know you read about all these other lists of “top 10 videos ever” blah-blah! But seriously. They never seem to satisfy me. They always leave out the ones that I think were freakin’ amazing. So, in true “OMG! Sum1 on the Intert00bs is wong!!one!”… here is my subtle attempt at bashing them.

Firstly, an honorable mention for Numa Numa –  a classic bizarre video from long before the realms of YouTube! Additionally – Charlie and Susan Boyle (both of the YouTube era), although not my favourites – do get a hat tip for being interesting for a watch at least once.

But now, in reverse order – the top 10!

10 – Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring: Banana Phone!

This is truely, truely the most frusting song on the internet. Once you’ve heard it, you cannot get it out of your head for the rest of the day.

9 – Mario A Capella

A group effort showing a bunch of people singing the Super Mario tune, providing all the parts and the entertainment – with none of the expensive woodwind section

8 – Leeeeeeeroy Jeeeeenkins!

Ask any World Of Warcraft player if they have heard of Leeroy Jenkins and 99% will say yes. So utterly famous he appeared in a recent update and you can now get an in-game achievement with his name.

7 – Rick Rolling!

A meme of the most annoying type. Used normally to trick people into listening to it – I’m offering it to you this time with a warning: This video contains Rick Astley.

6 – Boo. Hahahahahaha! Baby

This quite simply makes you smile and is one of the rare videos on the internet that doesn’t involve laughing at someone else’s expense.

5 – Star Wars Kid

The original is amazing! But then there are loads of follow ups (particularly good is the light saber adaption). He became so famous that the Internet bought him a Macbook and Lucas Arts gave him a role in one of the Star Wars films. Epic!

4 – The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

If I’m not mistaken, the first full 1080P YouTube video (be sure to set it to HD before you watch!) – and it’s awesome. I’m a fan of the Muppet’s and Queen separately, so when this came out – my head exploded.

3 – The Ultimate Showdown (of Ultimate Destiny)

From the era of Flash comes this bizarre storyline accompaniment to what appears to be a celebrity-apocalypse. Very fun and very tongue in cheek.

2 – Terry Tate: Office Quarterback

Sensationally funny! I have long since campaigned to get a guy like this into every workplace. Up to yet, I’ve been 100% unsuccessful – but I have not given up hope!

1 – The Evolution of Dance

This guy can SERIOUSLY dance. I don’t mean in a crappy Britain’s Got Talent kinda way! The best few minutes of your day – watch it! It’s the best video in the entire interwebs!

20th November 2010

OpenID is NOT an ex-parrot!

Filed under: Human Factors,Usability,Websites — Tags: , — Alex Holt @ 2:01 pm

I’ve read a few Tweets recently that OpenID might be dead. Poppycock! OpenID is alive and kicking and as strong, if not stronger, than ever before.

An ex-parrot

What is OpenID? OpenID is a means of identifying that someone who’s visiting your site is the same person as someone who’s already been here. The was traditionally with Usernames and Passwords. If you successfully signed in, we assumed you were the same person. OpenID provides that level of authentication. It basically sends back a little message from the provider (e.g. Google) saying “Yo dude, not spoken in a while, but this customer you asked me about? Well it’s <INSERTGUIDHERE>. Just go ahead and log them straight in or create them a new account”. I now don’t need to store passwords as a website – this is great news!

Rob Conory (of Tekpub) recently wrote a very excellent article “Open ID Is A Nightmare” in which he proceeds to outline his case for why OpenID is turning into a nightmare for him. It’s an entertainingly written article in Rob’s quirky style that outlines his viewpoints as both a developer and as a business owner. The latter point, as he goes on to say, is the key criteria in why he’s reached the point he’s at at the moment.

A friend of mine was offering a ton of solutions to my Open ID woes over Skype the other day – insisting that it’s worth “investing in for the long run – the kinks will get worked out”. I sort of agree as a dev – as a business owner I couldn’t give a rat’s ass.

He is smart guy and has a number of very relevant points that anyone considering using OpenID should be thinking about. He had a number of OpenID unrelated issues (RPXNow downtime), but they all contributed to the main gripe he had about things: customers were unable to get into his site, a site they’ve paid to get access to. This is a key point. People are PAYING to watch the content over at Tekpub and through no fault of his own, they were unable to get in. The problem is easily wafted away, waving your hands in the air and saying “this is a user problem!”. The user created an account and then forgot which provider they logged in with in the first place! What fools! Let us all gather around a camp fire, eat sausages and laugh at their pathetic attempts at life. Except – lets not forget Tekpub’s audience. It’s techies. It’s developers. It’s people like us. If WE are capable of getting confused and lost as to what is going on – then the anecdotal ”mum” is going to struggle a hell of a lot more.

The bonus and one of the driving forces behind OpenID is the supposed “reduced friction” when creating an account with a site. As Rob points out, there is the issue because we can effectively get so little back from the OpenID Provider, that we’d be unable to dig out the account from the mass of other accounts with no additional data. The users account is effectively orphaned until they remember the provider they signed up with. Locked out and angry.

This debate took a whole other level of LOL when Scott Hanselman tweeted:

Is OpenID dead? Poor usability to blame?

For some bizarre reason, the Twittersphere decided that that was neither a question, but an official announcement from Microsoft that OpenID was about to fail. When in reality, it was in relation to Rob’s above post. Humourous to those unaffected, but I can imagine quite irritating and stressful to Scott.

What is wrong with OpenID?

OpenID is fantastic at doing what it’s does, but there is definitely room for improvement. Maybe not in OpenID itself, but in the way it is implemented. Some of the key things that I personally think developers need to consider when designing a login system that uses OpenID are:

  • Each Account should be able to have more than one Login method attached to it.
    This is something I think people have inherited from years gone by. Traditionally, an account has a Username and a password, and nowadays maybe an OpenID field too. In reality, the user should have the ability to add whatever authentication methods your site allows, to their account. A one-to-many relationship from Accounts to Logins. E.g. I might sign up with my Google account, then decide later that I want to create a Username and Password for whatever reason. Then a bit later, I spot you have Facebook Connect as an option – cool, I’ll attach my Facebook account to this site too. Now where am I? I have 3 ways of getting into my account. That’s great news – that’s a lot easier for me as as long as I guess one of them randomly when I’m prompted – I’m sorted.
  • Upgraded accounts require more information.
    The low barrier to entry should be set for standard users, but the minute you decide you want to upgrade them (make them a moderator or take payment for a service from them), you should require more information to make sure you can trace things when issues arise. Requiring this would have given Rob the facility to offer a “forgotten your password?” function on his login page that would solve the issue that paying customers couldn’t get in.
  • The ability to merge accounts.
    Unfortunately, people have lots of different accounts around the internet. They will probably, as Rob did when trying to access StackOverflow, get into your site using the wrong one and in the process, create a brand new account. In theory, what they wanted to do was log in as the correct one and then maybe add this new provider to their list of available logins. This is a tricky problem to solve, but it’s doable. You want to offer the option for a user to merge their two accounts, copying whatever appropriate data to their primary account. If you can achieve this, then you’re giving the users the ability to solve their own problems – great! And even if they don’t, you have a nice UI for doing it on their behalf.
  • “WTF does OpenID mean?”
    Seriously. I’m have no ready solution for this problem – but people don’t know what OpenID is and that’s because it’s techie. We probably need to drop the OpenID words from headings to merely part of the description for clarification, when displaying our Authentication Options. People should just be offered the choice of which site they want to authenticate via: Google, Yahoo!, Facebook or whatever. The issue still remains that people don’t exactly understand still what it means that they are being “authenticated by Facebook”. Half of them won’t care that they don’t know, but for the other half, you probably want to re-assure them of what it is that they are allowing you to do. I don’t want some random site I’ve just stumbled upon telling everyone on Facebook that I’ve done XYZ on website ABC. I think the OpenID selector is good – but is it perfect? Not really – it works for me and is very simple to use – but it doesn’t answer any questions you might have as a customer. As a developer, you need to do that. You need to ease their fears.

If I was creating a site now, would I use OpenID? ABSO-FRICKIN’-LUTELY! It’s great and makes it so easy to actually log into to a site. If I can transfer that ease-of-access to the customer, while not freaking them out – then I’m onto a winner! Is OpenID an ex-parrot? Not at all – it’s here for the foreseeable future in my opinion. And that is a great thing!

24th January 2010

Blog posts redirecting to homepage

Filed under: Hosting,Wordpress — Tags: , — Alex Holt @ 3:30 pm

Over the last week or two, I hadn’t spotted but my blog posts were all redirecting to my homepage. This is due to my stupidity. Plain and simple. I didn’t check once the website had completed its move across hosting providers and the URL redirecting had failed.

However, it was fairly simple. When I visited the Permalink settings within WordPress, it came up with the following warning:

If your .htaccess file were writable, we could do this automatically, but it isn’t so these are the mod_rewrite rules you should have in your .htaccess file. Click in the field and press CTRL + a to select all.

To fix it, it was just as easy – do exactly as it says. I updated my .htaccess file to include the following text.

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
  RewriteEngine On
  RewriteBase /blog/
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
  RewriteRule . /blog/index.php [L]
</IfModule>

This probably wouldn’t have been such an issue, but the change of hosting provider (from GoDaddy to NearlyFreeSpeech.net) was basically going from a Windows box to a Unix box.

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