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Technology

Bissell Home Page 20th Anniversary

Bissell Home Page in 1995 - See live demo here
Bissell Home Page in 1995 – See live demo here

 

Hard to believe that the Bissells have had a homepage on the web for 20 years! Rich and I both love technology. When we got married in 1992, he had a Compac computer and I had an Apple IIc. But it wasn’t until 1993 that we first went online with a second-hand Radio Shack computer and a 2400 baud modem.

We first connected to the Internet using Prodigy Internet Service, which was basically just email and Newsgroups. We’ve always loved to stay on the cutting edge of technology, so it wasn’t long before we upgraded to speedy 14.4Kpbs and 28.9Kbps modems.

Around 1994-95 we moved to a Packard Bell computer and AOL with a 56K modem. Now we were really hooked. This was around the time when the World Wide Web really took off. I started networking with parents of kids with special needs via AOL’s user groups. One of my new Internet friends had her own website and I thought that was pretty cool. So, I started to build my own site.

Back in the mid-1990’s there was no easy way to build a website. There was no software and sites like GeoCities were virtually unknown. In fact, most people didn’t even know what a homepage was. I built our first website using raw HTML code and a plain text editor and hosted it on AOLs server.

At that time, the web was very slow and space and even internet time was expensive. AOL charged by the minute and graphics had to be very small in order to load at a reasonable speed.

Here is what our first website looked like in 1995: Bissell Home Page. This was state of the art at the time and the animated mailbox was super cool! Animated graphics (GIFs) were about the only thing that moved on the web at that time.

Our site has continued to evolve. Over the years I’ve used website building software including FrontPage, Dreamweaver and Expression Web. At this time I’m using WordPress content management software. I’ve also moved from many different Internet service providers and hosting companies.

Part of the fun of the Internet and technology in general is that it’s always changing and there are always new things to learn.

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Youtube.com

YouTube

I have had enough of Youtube and their clueless copyright bots. Youtube uses a 3rd party program to police videos for copyright infringement. These programs simply match the video and audio of what’s being played against what’s already copyrighted and block the content automatically, unaware of the nuances of fair use laws.

Fair use allows people other than the copyright owner to copy part or, in some circumstances, all of a copyrighted work, even where the copyright holder has not given permission. So examples of this include using movie clips for Criticism & Commentary. Since Rubber Duck Theater often reviews movies, almost all of our episodes have been flagged by youtubes algorithmic copyright cops.

Each episode gets a message like: “Your video may include content that is owned by a third party.” You can try challenging this objection, which I’ve found to be useless or you can “acknowledged third party content”, which places annoying ads on the video at the very least. Sometimes the video is completely blocked from viewers.

Rubber Duck Theater does not have a single legitimate copywrite infringement, yet youtube has marked our channel as “Not in a good standing”.

Now, all of our new episodes are being rejected (length of video is too long). They have limited uploaded videos to 15 minutes and I can’t change this because we are “Not in a good Standing” with youtube! Seriously!

Youtube needs to fix their overactive copyright policing. Until then you’ll find full episodes of Rubber Duck Theater on Vimeo and also embedded in this website.

On another note; I’ve stopped using Amazon to serve up the videos because of buggy video players; some people were having trouble viewing the videos via Amazon. It’s easier and works better to embed Vimeo files.

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Rubber Duck Website

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After Blip.tv gave most of it’s members the boot (see previous post), we had to find a new host for Rubber Duck Theater. We set up an account on YouTube, but YouTube is over-the-top with their copy write filters and either places ads on videos or blocks them entirely even for videos that don’t actually break any copy write laws. When you do movie reviews, you are allowed to use small snipits of movies. You can challenge YouTube, but that’s a nuisance. We did manage to upload 42 of our 45 episodes so far, but still not the best solution.

We then tried Vimeo. Their free account was useless because there was only enough space for a couple of videos, even though our online episodes are only between 300-400MB each. So we paid $60 for their “Plus” account, but this account only allows users to upload 5GB per week. A time consuming task uploading 45 episodes. But we are up to episode #31 as of today, and so far no copy write issues like YouTube. Vimeo also has a pro account, but it’s more than we want to spend for our public access non-profit videos.

Then we thought why not host the videos ourselves and not deal with these video sharing sites? We already have several hosting accounts for various projects. But this can really put a strain on hosting bandwidth. Our best solution so far is to host the actual videos on Amazon’s servers. Amazon offers lots of server space and very it’s very inexpensive. So, we’ve uploaded our episodes to an Amazon Web Service (AWS) “S3” account and linked the videos to this blog powered by WordPress on a 1and1.com hosting account. It’s nice to have full control over our content and no annoying ads to deal with.

Our Community TV station is also working on videos on demand, so we hope to have our show at graftontv.org as well. Still more work to do on this site and also need to update our Facebook account, which is all linked to blip.tv. So, that is where we are at now.

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Blip.tv

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For three years we’ve been hosting Rubber Duck Theater (RDT) on blip.tv. Forty four episodes have been hosted on Blip and linked to other sites around the web like Facebook, Twitter and our personal blogs. Last month out of the blue, I got the following message from Blip:

Over the past year, Blip has been conducting an ongoing review of our content library, removing accounts that don’t meet our Terms of Service. As part of this effort, your account has been flagged for removal on November 7, 2013, and new uploads have been disabled as of today.

I thought there must be some mistake as RDT does not brake any Terms of Service! I emailed Blip to try to clear up this error and got this reply:

Blip requires that all its videos be part of a high quality, episodic, original web series. Please refer to Section 11 of Blip’s Terms of Service for more information about prohibited content:

11. Prohibited Content: Videos that are not part of a high quality, original episodic web series can be removed at Blip’s sole discretion.

In other words, we don’t like your stuff and we can remove whatever we don’t like. How rude and insulting!

Well, after a bit of research it turns out that Blip has actually snubbed over 80% of it’s users! Seems Blip has decided only to keep their big money making “Core Webseries” producers while giving the boot to it’s “lesser” accounts who actually helped to make them successful.

Obviously, Blip can do what ever it wants, but it’s the way they did it that is annoying. Basically Blip is telling users we don’t care about you and we can do whatever we want. Here is the canned reply that many users got from Blip:

“We suggest moving to a more general platform such as YouTube or Vimeo for your needs.”

So, to anyone who cares, I hereby boycott blip.tv / blip.com and ask you to do the same. They don’t care about their users, all they care about is making money for themselves.

Now begins the work of moving 3 years worth of videos to a new host and fixing hundreds of links. Thanks Blip…NOT!

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