Tag Archives: livejournal

LJProxy: From friend-locked LiveJournal posts to Google Reader

I have been on Live­Jour­nal since 2001.  I have had a Per­ma­nent Account since 2005.  Many of my friends have used it for sim­i­lar amounts of time.  In the past few years, I have migrated my post­ing and read­ing off of Live­Jour­nal.  I do most of my blog read­ing through Google Reader, but still have a num­ber of peo­ple I want to follow­ on LiveJour­nal.  They often post friends-only entries that are not acces­si­ble from within Google Reader (really, from nowhere out­side of LiveJournal).  What I really want is a way to get each of my Live­Jour­nal friend groups as a feed that con­tains both pub­lic and pro­tected entries.  This is what LJProxy was designed to do.

LJProxy is a PHP-based web appli­ca­tion that you run on your own server.  Server require­ments are light (look at the project page for details) and instal­la­tion is easy.  This server acts as a proxy between LiveJournal and Google Reader.

I threw this together over the week­end and have run it long enough now that I feel con­fi­dent that it at least does not have any egre­gious bugs, so am releas­ing it as a GPL’ed Open Source project.

Exact details, instal­la­tion, theory,security con­cerns, and down­loads are on the project page at http://netninja.com/projects/ljproxy/

Posted in: Code Projects

Goodbye, my LiveJournal friends, for-EVAR!

Yes, this post’s title invokes and evokes rule 1 of the Blogdonts that [info]sub­sti­tute posted years ago:

1. [Do not] announce your depar­ture or hia­tus to the world. “Goodbye my Internet Friends Forever” is always a mis­take. If you want to leave or go on a break, just do so. When you announce it, peo­ple feel that you’re beg­ging for com­pli­ments. Also, if you don’t absolutely mean it, you look like a total idiot when you come back the next day and post that “What Pokemon are you” quiz. And if you’re try­ing to avoid evil stalk­ers, you just gave them free infor­ma­tion; don’t ever do that!

The real­ity of things is that I have not looked at my LiveJournal friends page since October 5th. This is not through con­scious deci­sion (“good­bye, my LJ friends for­ever!”), but mainly due to con­ve­nience, work­flow, and wan­ing inter­est. That’s not to say that I am dis­in­ter­ested in what folks have to say over there — I just do not always think about it and when I do, it almost doesn’t seem worth the effort of log­ging in, nav­i­gat­ing around, and read­ing the large back­log of missed posts. I am not giv­ing up on LiveJournal; I just find that it is less and less rel­e­vant to my inter­ests.

I started writ­ing about my life in this thing called “a blog,” short for “web log,” back in August of 2001 after being intro­duced to the con­cept by [info]burn­ingskyz. It caught on like wild­fire in my social group. We all joined LiveJournal and wrote about all vari­ety of things. As RSS became more mature, I started using my journal’s friend list as a way of read­ing other blogs. Eventually, I got myself a proper RSS reader and migrated those feeds out of LiveJournal — split­ting my read­ing time between reader and jour­nal. These days, my online read­ing time is mainly split between Google Reader and Twitter, with a touch of Facebook on the side. After toy­ing with LiveJournal’s poorly thought out OpenID imple­men­ta­tion (flawed in that I could read pro­tected entries but not com­ment on them), my online writ­ing moved com­pletely to my site (syn­di­cated to LJ via [info]brianenigma_rss).  LJ read­ing and writ­ing sim­ply dropped by the way­side.

I have sub­scribed to a few people’s jour­nals with Google Reader, which is nice but not a com­plete replace­ment for read­ing LiveJournal. One of the fea­tures that is unique to LJ — and used by many of my friends — is the abil­ity to post things as friend-locked entries. Obviously, these do not appear in the RSS feed, and so I never see them in Google Reader. I know of no easy way around this. A cou­ple of months ago, some­one posted a squir­rely lit­tle Perl script to JWZ’s jour­nal that gets an RSS feed of all of your friends (not the default group or other sub-groups, but every­thing). The out­put of that script would then have to be a public-ish RSS feed for Google Reader to ingest, and that com­pletely sub­verts the con­cept of posts being friend-locked by mak­ing them pub­lic enough for Google to see. Given the choice of turn­ing people’s friend-locked entries to pub­lic (in a hid­den feed some­where, but still tech­ni­cally pub­lic) and sim­ply not read­ing LJ via Reader, I am choos­ing the lat­ter.

So that is my long-winded way of say­ing LiveJournal has got­ten old and while I have not com­pletely given up on it yet, the real­ity is that is has been a month and a half since I looked at it. Goodbye, my LiveJournal friends for another month and a half. See you in the new year.

✻ ✼ ✻

P.S. If some­one really does know how to get LJ friend groups, includ­ing pro­tected entries, into Google Reader, then you are an amaz­ing per­son and must share this infor­ma­tion post-haste! Mainly, I am look­ing for a solu­tion with the fol­low­ing fea­tures:

  • Allows me to view pro­tected entries within Google Reader, prefer­ably with an indi­ca­tor that the post is pub­lic ver­sus pro­tected
  • Doesn’t require me to divulge a pass­word in plain­text (for instance, within a URL para­me­ter that can be seen in proxy logs, in OPML exports, or handed over to a 3rd party server/service)
  • Understands LiveJournal groups. I have groups defined on LJ for California, PDX, ARGs, and what­not. As I dis­cover and add new peo­ple on LJ, I really do not want to have to man­u­ally add them to the right groups on both LJ and Google Reader. I know myself and know I’ll for­get an update.  They will quickly get out of sync.

Tagging the 2001 archives

I have had a blog for a while — since 2001, to be exact. It was not always WordPress, but started out hosted on LiveJournal. In April of 2007, I migrated the posts (but not the com­ments, unfor­tu­nately) to the new sys­tem. The migra­tion went as best as could be expected, but I later learned that a lot of for­mat­ting was busted. Arbitrary line­breaks were inserted through­out posts. Paragraph breaks were miss­ing. There was not even a 1:1 map­ping between the two sys­tems. LiveJournal had per-post user icons that WordPress does not under­stand. WordPress has cat­e­gories, which are absent from LiveJournal. Since that import, both sys­tems added tag­ging capa­bil­i­ties, but none of the older posts con­tained tag data.

Overall, this is a minor back­ground annoy­ance — but I found it resur­fac­ing more fre­quently. Specifically, every so often I would go back to look at the [pre­ten­tious and awk­ward] first post so that I could tell peo­ple how long I’ve been blog­ging. The whole lack of para­graphs and for­mat­ting in that post kept eat­ing at me, espe­cially con­sid­er­ing it should have been for­mat­ted like a mock screen­play. So I fixed it. And then I went to the next entry and fixed that one. And so on.

This week­end, I fixed up all of 2001 (which is only a few months because I started blog­ging in August). It is entirely anal-retentive. The for­mat­ting and adding of tags and cat­e­gories is not much of a value-add to the site, but it does make me happy know­ing that they are prop­erly orga­nized and cat­a­loged. Now that I have done 2001, I guess I should prob­a­bly con­tinue onward into 2002.

Migrating from LiveJournal to WordPress

corporate AmericaAs many peo­ple no doubt are aware: LiveJournal laid off over half their staff. 20 out of 28 peo­ple were let go. Consequently, I have read a lot of people’s LJ blog entries that are hys­ter­i­cal freak­outs. I’m not sure it’s time for peo­ple to freak out yet, but it prob­a­bly is time to think about a pos­si­ble Plan B. The LiveJournal sit­u­a­tion isn’t like JournalSpace’s sud­den and instant clo­sure because they for­got to keep back­ups. If any­thing, it will be a slow spi­ral toward death. They’re likely to cut fea­tures to min­i­mize band­width and resource uti­liza­tion. They’ll likely increase the vis­i­bil­ity and inva­sive­ness of ads to increase rev­enue. They may get bought by some­one who can fig­ure out how they can make a profit (though it didn’t hap­pen with Six Apart nor the Russian com­pany.) It won’t be a sud­den clo­sure, but a slow tran­si­tion to being less and less usable.

It used to be that only peo­ple who are a lit­tle more techie could get a domain name and install a blog such as WordPress. These days, most hosts (I know of Dreamhost and GoDaddy for sure) have one-click installs that do all the techie work for you. I might also add that, once installed, WordPress has an option to import all your posts from LiveJournal. This makes a good backup of your con­tent (if not the com­ments them­selves.) The com­ments take a bit more techie work to import.

Once you’re sit­u­ated on your WordPress blog, there is a great lit­tle plu­gin that lets you cross-post new blog entries on your WordPress site over to LiveJournal. It is quite con­fig­urable and lets you enable com­ments on LJ or dis­able com­ments (forc­ing peo­ple to fol­low the com­ment links back to your home jour­nal for post­ing.) I ran this plu­gin for a lit­tle while, but gave up on it for esthetic rea­sons.

Migrating from LiveJournal to WordPress is quite easy. I did it back in April of 2007 when every­one was hys­ter­i­cal over LiveJournal for polit­i­cal (as opposed to the cur­rent finan­cial) rea­sons and haven’t looked back. I’ll gladly answer any migra­tion or gen­eral WordPress ques­tions folks might have.

Alternately, I’ve seen peo­ple start blog­ging over on social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace because they have the pri­vacy and friend-lock func­tion­al­ity sim­i­lar to LJ, but these are plat­forms that are even less open than LiveJournal. With your own blog, you have own­er­ship of the data and can use and export it how­ever you want. LiveJournal has gen­er­ously added an export func­tion that lets you grab your entries and com­ments. Facebook and MySpace, on the other hand, leave your con­tent trapped on their servers. There is no easy way to extract it. Caveat emp­tor.

Posted in: Dear Diary

LJ Cleaner Greasemonkey Script

If any­one is inter­ested, I wrote a Greasemonkey script that removes Delicious and Twitter cross-posts from your LJ friends page. It does not com­pletely remove them, but col­lapses them into a sin­gle place­holder line. You are then able to click through to the post and see the con­tent. In that way, it’s like an enforced lj-cut tag. The script is prob­a­bly not aware of every sin­gle kind of cross-posting app out there, but it is at least aware of the few that seem to dom­i­nate my friend list. Additionally, it should work for just about any style you could be using because it homes in on attrib­utes of the post con­tent rather than rely­ing on style-specific for­mat­ting.

Now I can go back to re-friending peo­ple (or, at least, mov­ing them from the posts-I-care-about-to-crap-posts-ratio-is-too-low group to a group I might actu­ally look at.)

Posted in: Code Dear Diary

Another LiveJournal Account Change

So this whole OpenID-through-LiveJournal thing isn’t work­ing out. To their credit LiveJournal has done a lot to sup­port OpenID, but they’re not doing enough. Their OpenID sup­port is still half-baked. I thought I would show my sup­port by being an early adopter and bear­ing with it, but that has not worked.

(Skip to the next para­graph to avoid the tech talk...) There is a tech­ni­cal design flaw with OpenID that is eas­ily worked around in imple­men­ta­tion, but LJ has decided not to do so at this time. Because OpenID is decen­tral­ized by design, any­one can set up an OpenID server, cre­ate hun­dreds of spammy accounts, and post crap every­where. Other online ser­vices (for exam­ple Blogger and WordPress) deal with it by using spam detec­tion. If some­thing looks spammy, it either gets out­right pre­vented or flagged for mod­er­a­tion. This has the added bonus that it works for every­thing, not just OpenID. It detects spam in anony­mous com­ments, in “burner” accounts (where peo­ple sign up, post spam, then never use the account again) and so on. LiveJournal, on the other hand, assumes all OpenID accounts are spam­ming scum and there­fore lim­its what they can do. I can’t post links in com­ments. I can’t post pic­tures in com­ments. I can’t post embed­ded media. People can’t even prop­erly link to me, as Ariock found out when he tried to use the “lj-user” tag. OpenID accounts are third-class cit­i­zens, behind paid accounts, behind free accounts, and just above anony­mous spam­mers. LJ could solve the prob­lem by intro­duc­ing spam fil­ter­ing (which would also help fil­ter spam from anony­mous accounts.) This basi­cally black­lists cer­tain kinds of posts. Or even eas­ier, they could hook up the OpenID accounts to their e-commerce sys­tem so that OpenID peo­ple could have paid accounts. This would basi­cally whitelist the peo­ple who paid. But no. LiveJournal con­tin­ues to do noth­ing.

So what is going to hap­pen? Posts will con­tinue to be pub­lished on the [info]brianenigma_rss feed. My read­ing and com­ment­ing on LJ will switch from [info]netninja.com to [info]BrianEnigma.

What does this mean to you? Probably noth­ing. If you are on LiveJournal and have me on your friend list as the OpenID netninja.com, you prob­a­bly also have my orig­i­nal BrianEnigma account on there, too. I don’t think my OpenID account has col­lected any new fol­low­ers that were not on the first account.

In which JiveUrinal is asymmetrically f’ed up

LiveJournal really con­fuses me some­times. I read and com­ment on people’s jour­nals using my [info]netninja.com OpenID account. My actual blog gets syn­di­cated there by the [info]brianenigma_rss pseudo-account. It seems that LiveJournal, even though it is act­ing like an RSS reader, allows peo­ple to com­ment on its local copies of RSS arti­cles. This morn­ing, Kim pointed out to me that peo­ple have been respond­ing to my posts on LiveJournal and I have had no clue that this has been occur­ring because nobody really “owns” brianenigma_rss so “you have new com­ments” noti­fi­ca­tion emails do not get sent. That’s a bit annoy­ing, but I guess I can deal with it.

So I want to respond to some of these com­ments. But it turns out that when I go to do this, I am told that OpenID users are not autho­rized to reply to RSS entries and am pre­vented from doing so. Does this seem messed up to any­one else, or is it just me? My OpenID blog feeds LiveJournal con­tent and I am able to use OpenID to reply to the jour­nal entries of LiveJournal users, but am unable to use OpenID to reply to my own blog’s RSS entries on LJ?

So any­way, this all came up because I tried to respond to TheBruce’s com­ment. And because I can’t respond to it within LJ, I guess I’ll just have to post it:

Thanks for the heads-up! I tracked down a copy if IE7 on someone’s machine at work today and fixed the CSS and image glitch. I guess that’s why I stopped being a pro­fes­sional web devel­oper 8-ish years ago. Well, that and the dot-bomb.

For future ref­er­ence, I rarely check com­ments on LiveJornal’s RSS copy of my blog posts. I only saw this (and a pre­vi­ous com­ment from Krystyn) today because Kim pointed them out to me. I’m not sure how many oth­ers I may have missed. Truth be told, I’m actu­ally a lit­tle con­fused as to why LJ even lets folks write responses to RSS. The “(n com­ments)” image is a link that takes you to the blog’s actual com­ment page. Maybe I should tweak my tem­plate to make that a lit­tle less ambigu­ous.

LJ Comments

Dear LiveJournal peeps,
There are many of you (I’ve specif­i­cally run into this with sakkara­noush and torgo_x) who have jour­nals that don’t allow OpenID peo­ple to leave com­ments. You’ve friended me and so I can see pro­tected entries, but I’m unable to write a com­ment. Looking through the FAQ, I see this info:

Currently on LiveJournal, OpenID com­ments count as anony­mous com­ments for the pur­pose of allow­ing com­ments and as com­ments from reg­is­tered users for the pur­poses of screen­ing com­ments. To allow OpenID com­ments, a user must also set his or her account to allow anony­mous com­ments. There is no way to allow a spe­cific OpenID account to com­ment with­out enabling anony­mous com­ment­ing.

It looks like you need to go to your “Comment Settings” and then “Enable com­ment­ing from Everybody.” Optionally, you can enable screen­ing. Or you can do noth­ing at all and your jour­nal remains read-only for me.

LiveJournal and OpenID

Well, I think I’m tak­ing a huge step that I’ve been con­tem­plat­ing for a long time and finally decided to jump into. Those of you on LiveJournal might notice a new friend request later this week­end. That request will not be from a reg­u­lar user, but one with a weird lit­tle orange “I” next to the name: OpenID Logo The name asso­ci­ated with the account is “netninja.com.” This is me tak­ing another step away from LiveJournal. Lots of peo­ple com­plained the last few time LJ f’ed up: when they sus­pended accounts based on neb­u­lous con­cepts of “adult” con­tent, when they silently dropped the free-non-ad-supported account level. Lots of peo­ple said “I’m clos­ing my account.” I am not aware of any­one that did. There was that laugh­able “strike” that was about as effec­tive as every­one not buy­ing gas on a par­tic­u­lar day, but that was it. I have always thought of myself as an early adopter, so con­sider this to be me trail­blaz­ing a path away from LJ that oth­ers can later fol­low. It’s not a cold-turkey “I quit,” but is a big step away. I joined LiveJournal in 2001. It was pretty cutting-edge back then. The devel­op­ers had cool ideas and imple­mented them. Seven years later, LJ just feels stag­nant. Decisions are made by an unseen com­mit­tee inside of a Russian cor­po­ra­tion. New and cutting-edge ideas don’t seem to be sur­fac­ing. Lots of new themes are avail­able and there are increas­ingly more ways for some­one else to mon­e­tize my con­tent, but that’s about all I see. As a result, I’m tak­ing yet another step away from LiveJournal. The first step was to set up my own blog and con­fig­ure it to cross-post to LJ. This step involves OpenID and drop­ping that cross-posting.

This OpenID account does not mean that I will stop par­tic­i­pat­ing in the LiveJournal com­mu­nity. I can’t write jour­nal posts with OpenID, but in all other regards it acts as a reg­u­lar free account. I can be friended and unfriended. I can read pro­tected posts. I can write com­ments. I can even have a hand­ful of user icons. I’m not leav­ing LiveJournal–I’m just chang­ing how I access it.

LiveJournal users will also notice that my cross-posting to http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/ will cease to func­tion in a few days. While the syn­di­ca­tion never actu­ally broke and the code behind it was quite solid, the solu­tion has always seemed a lit­tle too “string and seal­ing wax” to me. The estab­lished norm for that sort of cross-posting has always been RSS. You’ll always be able to read entries directly at Netninja, you’ll always be able to sub­scribe to the RSS, and because an RSS feed is avail­able, you can see those entries directly in LJ by adding brianenigma_rss as a friend.

In Summary

* The UserBrianEnigma account is being dep­re­cated.
* My new LiveJournal login will be OpenIDnetninja.com. I’ll be read­ing and com­ment­ing.
* My posts will be avail­able on LiveJournal at RSSbrianenigma_rss

Posted in: Dear Diary

Micro Blogs?

Dear Internet,

I am not cer­tain that I under­stand why peo­ple have both a blog (e.g. LiveJournal) and a microblog (e.g. Tumblr). Why not just make small posts in your reg­u­lar blog?

Sincerely,
Brian

P.S. For the pur­poses of this post, I am con­sid­er­ing Twitter to be less of a microblog and more of a com­mu­ni­ca­tions medium (because every­one pretty much uses it with SMS any­way.)

Posted in: Dear Diary Questions