• Blocking quiz / test apps from accessing your Facebook information

Here’s what I posted on Facebook recently

Your friends are the weakest link, mine too

Every time I spot that you’ve taken some test on Facebook and shared your results here I block the app that you used. This is because, when you authorise the app to interact with your page, it is then able to interact with mine* (and can, I assume from the wording below, access non-public information). Which I’d rather it didn’t. Obviously I will miss some because Fb won’t show me everything.

How to block apps etc https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=blocking

*because you can see my page and the app can access what you can access

Screenshot 2017-11-16 00.56.06.png

If you scroll down that page there are several options for blocking or restricting various things. At the time of writing (Nov 2017) the list is

  • Restricted list
  • Block users
  • Block messages
  • Block app invites
  • Block event invitations
  • Block apps
  • Block pages

The last two are particularly useful for dodgy looking quizzes and tests. As far as I can tell when your friends take a test they authorise the app to access their page. Their page can access all your info, so my supposition is that the app can access all your info too. This is borne out in the format of the help text Facebook uses to clarify what happens when you block an app (in the picture above) – “Once you block an aapp, it can no longer contact you or get non-public information about you through Facebook.” Hmm, the ‘non-public information’ bit made me wonder, so I have blocked – over the years – over 260 of these apps I think, here is my full list.

It’s very simple to block, just start typing the name of the offending app and autofill options will appear (if not you’d need to visit the app’s page and see if you can work out who is behind it). If an app doesn’t show up in the Block Apps dialogue box try it in the Block Pages option lower down.

Of course once someone’s authorised an app it’s already (presumably) been able to harvest some of your info so you can request that individual app owners remove that data by contacting the developer directly. I have not done this, I probably should.. but…

Further reading

 

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• How can I/we persuade employers to set up a /jobs redirect from their homepage?

If an organisation…

  • employs people and
  • has a website…

…then I think it would be great if they made

https://www.companywebsite.com/jobs

redirect to wherever they keep their vacancies page. This would let visitors to any organisation’s site type /jobs at the end of the homepage and find out about opportunities.

An example is https://cern.ch/jobs which autoredirects to https://jobs.web.cern.ch/

Websites often move their vacancies pages around during site overhauls but companies also use different terms to refer to jobs (vacancies, employment, career, recruitment, opportunities, work with us, work for us etc) – this can mean a few search attempts before uncovering it (assuming it’s there, smaller orgs might not have one).

If you like this idea please share with organisations. I’d love it if this could be the industry default 🙂

How to set up a redirect
Ironically, for a mildly tech-ish blogger, I am not particularly confident in advising how to do this. The method I’ve used for an old website may not be ‘best practice’ but it did work. That method used the refresh redirect and the code looked like this

Screenshot 2017-11-12 01.16.05
The W3Schools website lets you try out some html to achieve this effect and once you’re happy with it you can copy the code to your own site.

This site says that you shouldn’t use the refresh redirect though as it can cause problems if your website visitor uses the back button. It recommends instead using HTTP redirects. The 123 registration site has information (and example text) on how to do that.

Wikipedia has super-detailed information on URL redirection. I’m hoping that people who maintain organisation’s websites know more about this and can set this sort of thing up fairly easily.

• How to download Audioboom posts as mp3s

Audioboom is no longer supporting free accounts, they will not delete your content for three years though so don’t panic (yet). However at the end of October 2017 they’ll make all free accounts private, so if you have your sound-posts embedded in other places then they’ll no longer work. They will help you migrate your RSS feeds (more info here) though.

This embedded post of mine will presumably stop working properly in a month or so…

Of course Audioboom are entitled to start charging and restrict services from non-payers, it’s just a bit frustrating for individuals (who own the content) and the wider internet which suffers when embedded audio files disappear on websites along with comments. Basically this ‘breaks the internet’ a bit.

Here’s one way of downloading any Audioboom sound file, as an mp3. I’m investigating better solutions for people with lots of files. Below that are suggestions on how to share them online again.

1a. How to download any Audioboom file as an mp3

  1. Visit the page of the sound file, eg here’s one of mine
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.29.46
  2. Add .mp3 to the end of the URL in the address bar, press enter – this automatically changes the page to an mp3 player page
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.30.46
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.32.09
  3. Hover over the play icon (it goes blue) and right-click Save Audio As…
    Screenshot 2017-09-02 14.33.06
  4. Repeat for other files
  5. If you have a lot of files (I have 85 clips to download) there’s probably a more efficient way (I don’t know it yet but will gladly link if I hear of it). I have emailed Audioboom support to ask them support@audioboom.com

There are some techy suggestions on Twitter which include uncovering them from iTunes by subscribing to the podcast RSS. To be honest I’m looking for a ‘Download archive’ button as on Twitter 🙂

1b. Additional information on downloading

  1. You can also download the image that accompanied your ‘boom’ (or ‘boo’ as they used to be called when the service was Audioboo) with right-click Save as too OR hover over the pic and take a screenshot, that way you’ll get an image of the little soundwave, that also gives information.
  2. For completists you might want to number your sound files and have an accompanying readme.txt type of file that includes info about the date originally published and the hashtags.

2. Where to put your files now you’ve downloaded them
You can upload sound files as a video (static image) to YouTube. WordPress also lets you pay £80 a year for the ability to upload more files than the basic ones (without it you can’t upload sound files, only embed them from somewhere else).

Background

• Hate seeing other people’s likes on Twitter? Some options to try

I follow over 2,000 people on Twitter so obviously I don’t see every one of their tweets, but I can live with that. If I need to catch up with someone’s tweets I can look at their profile. Twitter went through a phase of showing me ‘things you’ve missed’ while I’d been away, which was annoying. There’s also an option where you can be shown the ‘best’ tweets rather than the straightforward reverse-order chronological timeline. Fiddling about unnecessarily.

More recently Twitter’s started sharing, in your main timeline, tweets that other people have liked. Ironically I don’t think anyone likes this, I hate it. Even though some of the tweets are pretty good it really annoys me. Liking or favouriting on Twitter has usually been a semi-public act, in that you can go and look at someone’s likes if you wish, but otherwise they’re not ‘surfaced’ to your timeline, and now they are. I vaguely remember Twitter having an Activity tab where it showed what your friends were liking but it was short-lived.

No-one’s found an option that lets you switch this off (which is odd given that you can select options for almost everything else that Twitter displays) but here are a couple of suggestions.

1. AdBlock Plus with Element Hiding Helper
It’s the Element Hiding Helper that does the heavy lifting here, although AdBlock Plus by itself gets rid of the sponsored tweets. Generally I don’t really mind sponsored tweets (I’m happy for Twitter to advertise to me) but I’m not interested in who to follow or trends and the additional bolt-on lets me get rid of that.

When you see a tweet that’s been inserted into your timeline because someone’s liked it call up the Element Hiding Helper. It lets you select an area containing the offending tweet (be careful not to select too much, or too little) and remove it from view. It might take a few attempts to catch all the slightly different variants (oh there are variants!) but I’ve found it to be very successful. You can also wipe out Moments, Trends, Who To Follow panels from around the main timeline and you can eliminate things inside the timeline too.

Here’s what my page looks like. I’ve got rid of Moments and the Analytics panel. On other pages you’d see the lack of Trends and Who to follow…

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.28.42

Here’s a clip of what I see on my mentions (for privacy I’ve not shown any tweets as some are from locked accounts). There’s a white panel containing tweets in the middle and two lovely clear grey panels on either side, with nothing in them at all 🙂

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.32.07.png

2. Dismiss every liked tweet with ‘I don’t like this tweet’
Every tweet has a small arrow to the top right with options in (highlighted in blue below). For these liked tweets one of the options is ‘I don’t like this tweet’ or ‘show me less of this’ (not seen in the example below because it’s a different type of tweet) – select that and after a few times apparently the annoyance will go away.

I don’t use this method myself in case it causes problems for the person who’s tweet has been liked but it seems to work, though takes longer (and one advantage is that it does actually tell Twitter you don’t like it whereas my preferred method gives no feedback).

Picture below is illustrative. Because it wasn’t promoted to me as a ‘someone liked this’ the “I don’t like this” option isn’t available from the drop-down menu, but that’s where you’d find it if you had one of these tweets in your timeline.

Screenshot 2017-07-27 00.36.02.png

If you know of other methods, let’s have ’em.

 

 

 

• President Trump is being sued for blocking people, but the lawsuit makes no sense (to me)

NB: I am not a lawyer.

Some people are suing President Trump because he’s blocked them on Twitter. They argue that doing this stops them from reading or replying to his tweets and, by extension, means that their opinion cannot be made available to others who are reading the thread.

This is not true.

While I am not a supporter of President Trump this lawsuit appears to be based on a misunderstanding of what Twitter’s block actually means (to be fair this misunderstanding is very widespread). Perhaps if I were a lawyer I’d see some merit in the lawsuit but it currently eludes me, it seems to me to be daft, incoherent and wrong.

A block from an otherwise unlocked / public account wouldn’t stop anyone from reading the tweets or even replying to them (though locking the account certainly would).

Reading tweets from someone who’s blocked you, while logged in
If a user has blocked you simply search for their tweets (eg from:realdonaldtrump). I’ve tested this using a work account that blocked my personal account and it works on desktop Twitter, Tweetdeck, several iPhone apps, Dabr.co.uk and probably most Twitter platforms and apps.

Enthusiasts could set up an account with IFTTT and have any public account’s tweets emailed to them, or they could use another account to create a website widget which relays the tweets there.

Replying to tweets from someone who’s blocked you, while logged in
On desktop Twitter you need to click on the speech bubble icon to bring up the reply window (see the pics below). If you click on the tweet itself you’ll be taken to the ‘you are blocked’ page. On all the other platforms I’ve tested, including Tweetdeck, you can click on the tweet and reply to it.

Everyone else clicking on the tweet you’re replying to can see your reply*.

Viewing a “this tweet is unavailable” tweet that’s quote-RTed by someone else
In this scenario I’d simply right-click, open in private browsing window where you can view the tweet while not logged in. You can reply to the person who quoted the tweet while logged in to the regular browser window.

If an account blocks you can they see your tweets? Yes they can, though as your tweets aren’t delivered to them they won’t see them unless they want to. So, practically speaking, this might be ‘no’.

If anyone wishes to ‘not see tweets from someone’ while ‘avoiding being sued for blocking them’ then I strongly suggest MUTE as the better choice. If you are not following an account then MUTING them stops any tweets they send you from arriving. They don’t know they’re muted and can read and reply to your tweets (which others can see, but you won’t).

On desktop and iPhone Twitter (I’ve not tested other apps) you can arrange your settings to that you’ll only see tweets from accounts that you follow, which is basically the equivalent of muting everyone except accounts you follow. Again, no-one else knows.

*Twitter doesn’t show all replies
I don’t know how Twitter determines which tweets it will or won’t show, it may be algorithmic or it may be based on other users flagging up tweets as offensive. Occasionally in a thread I see ‘view more tweets, including those that may contain offensive content’ and they’re rarely all that offensive. Even if Mr Trump hadn’t blocked your account your replies to him might not be shown to him.

Worked example, with pictures
I’ve just blocked myself (@jobrodie) using one of my old work accounts @chi_med. The pictures below show me what I see / don’t see, and how I can reply to the tweet of an account that’s blocked me.

chimedblock01
Fig 1. @chi_med has blocked @jobrodie. When I’m logged in as @jobrodie I see a ‘you are blocked’ page if I try and look at @chi_med’s profile

 

chimedblock02
Fig 2. While logged in as @jobrodie I’ve searched for tweets from @chi_med by typing from:chi_med into the search bar, the results are clearly visible. Note the small speech bubble at the bottom left of every tweet – that will let me reply to the tweet.

 

chimedblock03
Fig 3. This is what I see if I click on one of the tweets (instead of the speech bubble to reply) – I’m taken back to the ‘you are blocked’ page from Fig 1, this is its URL.

 

chimedblock04
Fig 4. Clicking the speech bubble brings up a reply window.

 

chimedblock05
Fig 5. I’m not logged in, but the tweet from @chi_med now displays my reply – visible to all.
chimedblock06
Fig 6. How the tweet looks when I’m logged in as @chi_med. I can see that there has been a reply (see the little ‘1’ next to the speech bubble) but I can’t see what the tweet says because I’ve blocked the account that sent it. Others would see the tweet though.

 

 

How to add a reference to Wikipedia

Usually I use ProveIt, an in-Wikipedia editing support tool that makes it easier to reference information added to the encyclopedia. It’s not working at the moment (doesn’t seem to be related to my Ad Blocker) which means I have to do it manually.

Sadly this just makes me want to punch everything and then throw it out the window – Wikipedia has the worst user interface I’ve ever encountered. It’s comically bad and the fact that the site devotes many, many pages to how to do simple tasks on Wikipedia is indicative. Having said that I definitely have Stockholm Syndrome for the site and love it unconditionally. Tragic.

Here, for my benefit and perhaps yours, is a screenshot of how a reference looks in-action, then a screenshot of it broken into its component parts and a text version for me to copy and paste and update with new information for a new reference. What a fiddly fiddle.

casinoroyaleref

,casinoroyaleref2

{{
cite web
|
url=http://www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/events/2017/casino-royale-in-concert/
|
title=Royal Albert Hall presents Casino Royale in Concert World Premiere
|
publisher=Royal Albert Hall
|
date=17 May 2017
|
accessdate=21 May 2017
}}


 

How to ‘pipe’ a reference

Another thing I always having to sodding well look up is how to point to something that needs disambiguating. Wikipedia’s guide to how to make a Piped Link (which involves one of these | ).

[[train station|station]] displays as station but links to the train station Wikipedia article. Also [[Name of Film (1968 film)|Name of Film]]


How to add bullet points
It’s literally a * in front of the line – this is also used to indent your comment if you’re replying to someone on a talk page.