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Bad Moon Rising

Entry 1610 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash

Thingamablog's newest logo This blog has been made with Thingamablog that recently resurfaced with a new beta version after nearly two years silence.

Since September Thingamablog, TAMB for short, has issued four beta versions in the 1.5 series and hopefully we will see a RC (release candidate) soon, but as there are still some bugs to sort out, it can still take a little while.

The strong point about TAMB is that it creates static webpages that behave like a dynamic blog. Although all hosting companies offer php and MySQL enabled servers nowadays you usually have to pay (extra) to have database access, at least in my country.

From the big web providers in Belgium, Belgacom offers a free blogging solution (on their Skynet portal) but not on the webspace they’re giving away with each subscription. The other major host Telenet experimented with a blogging portal in 2005 but decided to stop as there are (too) many free blogging solutions out there.

In a recent interview on Uhusnest, Bob Tandlinger, the developer of TAMB, shares some of his viewpoints about TAMB and I happen to share most of these as well. Here are some excerpts, but of course you are all invited to check the complete interview.

Uhu: Some people might say that TamB is a bit "old school", without online database handling like in wordpress or serendipity.
Bob: I would agree completely :) But I'd also say that being “old school” isn't always a bad thing. I think we sometimes forget just how much easier and straightforward things were back in the day. Wordpress, for instance, has a ton of plug-ins for just about anything imaginable, which is great. However, with all this flexibility comes quite a few headaches as well. (…) Now, I'm not saying all this endless customization is inherently a bad thing. But the fact is that the vast majority of people simply do not care and do not want bothered with it. If someone just wants to set up a blog to make a few posts every month, is all that -really- necessary?

Other quotes from Bob Tandlinger in the same interview:

# I think this is the niche that Thingamablog fills. An easy to use blogging platform that you are in complete control over.
# It's fairly easy to use and has a small learning curve. If you can use an email client, you can use Thingamablog.
# It works anywhere regardless of what is supported on the server side. If you can FTP to it, Thingamablog will most likely work with it.
# It's easy to experiment with and make blogs look how you want. No need to learn a new programming language just to edit a template. The template syntax is straight forward easy to understand.
# You can maintain multiple blogs on multiple different servers from a single program.

# Your blog data lives on your computer, not on some server in the cloud. (This is either a good thing or not depending on your point of view.)

Call it old fashioned but I like to keep my data by myself and if something goes wrong, I’ll be to blame. If you buy a new PC nowadays you see more and more that the computer companies give away some free backup or storage room on their servers. I think this is a bit uncanny and I smell a certain inconsistency realising that the same people who write Amnesty International letters will have their letters hosted on a Chinese or Korean server.

Not that American servers are more trustworthy, in the aftermath of nine eleven some measures were taken that catapulted freedom of speech back to the same level as, let’s say, the German Democratic Republic. Ok, the previous sentence is a bit exaggerated but there are some conservative forces at work that would like to see it happen. Little by little, little mice are nibbling at our freedom, a bite (byte?) at the time, and even Barack Obama is not able to put a halt on it, i.e. his recent decision that freedom of speech will exclude blasphemous expressions.

The European Union decided in 2006 (and they had been trying since 2002, BTW) that all telecommunication providers will be obliged to keep the records of phone and internet traffic for a period from 6 to 24 months (Belgium will probably implement this law next year and has decided to use the longest data retention period).

One of the common clichés to make these kind of laws accepted by the general public is the notion that innocent people have got nothing to hide, implying that people who do object against privacy intrusion implicitly have and are – by definition – guilty of state unfriendly and even hostile behaviour.

This platitude has been neatly analysed by Daniel J. Solove in his essay 'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy. It is a very good and interesting read but you don’t need to wait for the conclusion on page 28 to realise that it is a false premise.

By accepting the nothing to hide argument ”you are saying that it’s OK for the government to infringe on the rights of potentially millions of your fellow Americans, possibly ruining their lives in the process. (…) It basically equates to “I don’t care what happens, so long as it doesn’t happen to me.” (BJ Horn, as quoted in the essay.)

And so this entry that started as a celebration for the blogging software Thingamablog turned into a rant after all.

Thingamablog’s tagline goes like this …because everyone has got something to say… This little prick would like to add: …while you still can…

If you download Thingamablog be sure to take the right version. At the Sourceforge download page you can only find TAMB 1.06 (official) and TAMB 1.1.6 (beta), but these date from 2007. The download link to the 1.5 series can be found here and it actually points to beta 4.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in these as well: The Great Belgian Firewall and Other Assorted Stories...