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Of Robots And Teapots; Web Geeks Are Not Without A Sense Of Humour

There's a line from the first Matrix movie, the only really good one out of the trilogy, where Morpheus says earnestly to Neo ... fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony. It's time to add a corollary to this quote, along the lines of web geeks, it seems, are not without a sense of humour.

Last year, it was the web geeks who run the web servers for Yelp and Last.fm sticking Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics into their respective site's robots.txt file. Sadly, it looks like Yelp's robots.txt is now unfunny and businesslike, but Last.fm's subversion of this file is still there.

Now The Metropolitan Police Want Your Phone's Data

As a relatively prolific user of social networks and social media I generate a fair amount of data. Whilst I'm wary of what the social networks do with the data I generate, I appreciate that there's no such thing as a free lunch and the data I generate contributes towards the revenue that keeps these services alive. There's an uneasy tension that exists between big data and my data. I applaud services which allow me to retain or get back the data I put into them; Facebook, I'm looking at you here. I frown in a disapproving manner at services that make it challenging to get my data back without recourse to some coding; Foursquare and Flickr, I'm looking at you here. I'm quietly furious, yet continue to use services which are valuable to me but make it downright impossible to get my data back; Twitter, I'm fixing you with my steely gaze here.

Bending WP Biographia To Your Will; A Configuration Guide

WP Biographia has grown and matured quite a bit since it was first released. A quick glance through the multiple releases of the code that make up the plugin tells me that in v1.0, the plugin was 761 lines of PHP code and 46 lines of CSS. Now in v3.1, that's increased to 2944 lines of PHP, 92 lines of JavaScript and 174 lines of CSS.

But more importantly, as the plugin has grown and changed and more and more features have been added, so have the number of configuration settings, from 22 in v1.0 to 43 in v3.1. While most people seem to use the plugin out of the box, with little or no customisation, if you do want to take full advantage of all that the plugin has to offer, this means you need to roll up your sleeves and trawl through all of the plugin's settings, which can be a daunting task at times.

So with this in mind, assuming you've installed and activated the plugin, here's a step by step and screen by screen guide to bending WP Biographia to your will.

On UK Censorship (And Robert Heinlein)

There are many things I'm not going to comment on here. I'm not going to comment on whether we live in a democracy in the UK or not, nor whether it's democratic or not to block access to a particular web site on the sole say-so of an industry body. I'm not going to comment on whether this web site blocking is enabled by legislation that was effectively rushed onto the statute books despite strong protest from the UK tech community and without that community having the opportunity to present their side of the case. I'm not going to comment on whether such sites really do destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists or whether any evidence to support such views has been presented. I'm not going to comment on the apparent hypocracy of blocking a web site which hosts links to content which may or may not be infrininging copyright and intellectual property yet not block a web site which actively hosts content which may or may not be infringing.

Gary's Law Of Conference Failure

I wasn't at WhereCamp EU in Amsterdam recently. At least, I wasn't there in person, but according to Mark Iliffe and Giuseppe Sollazzo I was certainly there in spirit. You see, at WhereCamp EU in Berlin last year I was doing what I usually do at conferences; watching a talk, laptop on lap, live Tweeting furiously. This particular talk contained a live demo and a backing track of Arthur Conley's Sweet Soul Music. What could possibly go wrong?