Discussion:
It just doesn't stop: SFgate.com hosing itself in a death spiral
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Thad Floryan
2014-05-16 04:06:04 UTC
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Two new things today:

1. spyware, wanting one's location; see this pic (146kB):

Loading Image...

examine the dropdown from top-bar.

2. "brightcove.com" -- wouldn't let sfgate.com load so I had to
add brightcove.com to the hosts file:

# auto-start video sites used by SFGate beginning Sept. 2011
# they can't be stopped so this will do it for us. :-)
# New shit in 2014 to ignore e.g., brightcove since it wouldn't
# let sfgate.com load -- idiots.
#
127.0.0.1 embed.newsinc.com assets.newsinc.com analytics.newsinc.com
127.0.0.1 truveo.com
127.0.0.1 xml.truveo.com
127.0.0.1 www.truveo.com
127.0.0.1 brightcove.com

even though I had these entries already in the hosts file:

127.0.0.1 brightcove.112.2o7.net
127.0.0.1 goku.brightcove.com
127.0.0.1 sdc.brightcove.com

The Chronicle drove away its hardcopy daily subscription readers
with ever-increasing prices (noting I subscribed since 1966 until
a few years ago), then they dumped their great home-brew comment
system for the world's worst piece of steaming pig shit Viafoura
out of Canada's cess pools:

http://viafoura.com/

and now it's the idiots from Brightcove, another hot steaming pile
of Boston pig poop video crapola driving away the online viewers:

http://www.brightcove.com/

I suppose SFgate.com is pursuing a death wish.

Thad
Peter Lawrence
2014-05-16 17:41:42 UTC
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Post by Thad Floryan
The Chronicle drove away its hardcopy daily subscription readers
with ever-increasing prices (noting I subscribed since 1966 until
a few years ago)...
They were losing money. What were they supposed to do? Keep subscription
prices low and lose even *more* money?

When their main source of income (ads, especially what once was a huge
classified ad section) dropped precipitously, where else could they get
additional income to stay afloat?


- Peter
Thad Floryan
2014-05-16 22:43:00 UTC
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Post by Peter Lawrence
Post by Thad Floryan
The Chronicle drove away its hardcopy daily subscription readers
with ever-increasing prices (noting I subscribed since 1966 until
a few years ago)...
They were losing money. What were they supposed to do? Keep
subscription prices low and lose even *more* money?
Hi Peter,

6 months before I refused to renew my annual subscription because
the price more than doubled from the previous year and was getting
close to the subscription price for the New York Times, the folks
at Hearst/Chronicle did this:

- moved to a new printing facility in, IIRC, Fremont,

- purchased all brand-new SOTA printing presses,

- contracted for and begin printing on specially-coated paper
which was far superior to standard newsprint and was a wee
bit narrower, and

- changed the printing inks to a new formulation that would not
rub off onto one's hands like that from normal newspapers and
tabloids does.

Those changes cost a FORTUNE and I assume Hearst expects to be in
business printing newspapers for a long time to come -- I wish them
success.
Post by Peter Lawrence
When their main source of income (ads, especially what once was a huge
classified ad section) dropped precipitously, where else could they get
additional income to stay afloat?
SFgate began charging for access to http://www.sfchronicle.com/ leaving
the remnants and droppings at http://www.sfgate.com/ with all the important
articles appearing up to a week earlier on sfchronicle.com than sfgate.com

I believe they still charge for sfchronicle.com but I don't see a price
schedule on their home page.

They also charge for the e-edition of the "chronicle".

One could successfully argue the era of the printed newspaper is gone, but
there are still 10000s of printed daily/weekly newspapers around the world
including many daily/weekly ones here in the Bay Area that I see in stands
at the post offices, inside pizza parlors, and more.

Yeah, I miss the crossword and other puzzles in the printed edition (though
I think "some" of them are online), but I wasn't going to pay $500/year for
them especially given the quality of the editorial content of the Chronicle
which has deteriorated from its heydays.

SFgate must be getting a "cut" of the "Daily Deals" email I receive every day,
so that's some additional income. They clearly have ads on their websites so
that must generate "some" income as do ads on Google's franchises.

Books are still being printed so hardcopy publishing, per se, isn't going away
anytime soon but I wonder how much profit there is in the $3/each I recently
paid for new books at Amazon.

Again, I wish the Chronicle success, but some of the recent disasters on their
website leave me with a bad feeling about their long-term prospects.

And putting things into perspective, the San Jose Mercury News is a pale
shadow of the former publication -- the alleged "newspaper of Silicon Valley"
doesn't even have the weekly COMPUTING that it used to have which is one of
the main reasons I canceled my subscription cancelling before the Chronicle.

Thad
Tak Nakamoto
2014-05-16 23:59:38 UTC
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Post by Thad Floryan
They also charge for the e-edition of the "chronicle".
We subscribe the SF Chronicle using their "Ultimate Access" promotion. For
about $12/month we get access to all their sites and get a hardcopy Sunday
delivery. We read the daily paper on a Kindle HD from a pdf file. That pdf
file is supposed to exactly duplicate their daily hardcopy. It is not a
complete duplicate. The Chron or their contractor seems to be having trouble
converting some charts like TV listings and other content like Legal
Notices. These areas are sometimes blank. But the pdfs do have what I want
first thing in the morning in my local daily paper: the full comic pages.
The actual news content is ever more limited but for $12/month, I find it
tolerable.

I will note that there are hiccups in downloading the pdf file. Sometimes it
works without a glitch and sometimes it takes many tries to get a valid pdf
file. I've complained to the Chron many times. They say that they're working
on it.

Tak Nakamoto
Thad Floryan
2014-05-17 00:37:15 UTC
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Post by Tak Nakamoto
Post by Thad Floryan
They also charge for the e-edition of the "chronicle".
We subscribe the SF Chronicle using their "Ultimate Access" promotion. For
about $12/month we get access to all their sites and get a hardcopy Sunday
delivery. We read the daily paper on a Kindle HD from a pdf file. That pdf
file is supposed to exactly duplicate their daily hardcopy. It is not a
complete duplicate. The Chron or their contractor seems to be having trouble
converting some charts like TV listings
Hi Tak,

Though I watch almost no TV due to all the ads and "adornment" flanking
and obscuring the main program and with programs being shorter due to all
the in-line commercials, these are the best Bay Area OTA TV listings I've
found:

http://tvlistings.aol.com/listings/ca/san-francisco/over-the-air/94162

http://www.titantv.com/

I'm sure there are other listings for cable and satellite networks.
Post by Tak Nakamoto
[...] But the pdfs do have what I want
first thing in the morning in my local daily paper: the full comic pages.
I miss the comics, but they are online at SFgate and other sites and there's
also these I check daily:

http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/
http://abstrusegoose.com/
http://xkcd.com/
http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page
Post by Tak Nakamoto
The actual news content is ever more limited but for $12/month, I find it
tolerable.
At least you have a choice. :-)
Post by Tak Nakamoto
I will note that there are hiccups in downloading the pdf file. Sometimes it
works without a glitch and sometimes it takes many tries to get a valid pdf
file. I've complained to the Chron many times. They say that they're working
on it.
Now that's odd. A PDF is "just" data and should be transferable like anything
else. Perhaps the issue is a Kindle PDF reader problem? Just guessing as I
don't have such devices though I'm not lacking in computing resources or any
media presentations: 2 HD THX home theaters handling VHS, LaserDisc and DVD;
four complete full-featured audio systems; and many other "toys", and three
HD-Radio systems with one of them on 24 hours/day in my home office tuned to
KISQ 98.1 HD-2 with music that used to be featured on KKSF (formerly 104.5) as
"smooth jazz". In my car I listen to KCSM ("jazz") since there's no convenient
HD-Radio kit for my car (2001 Oldsmobile Aurora) that I've found yet that will
properly interface with the car's electronics noting everything is networked
in the car.

Thad
Tak Nakamoto
2014-05-17 04:19:40 UTC
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Post by Thad Floryan
Now that's odd. A PDF is "just" data and should be transferable like anything
else.

No, it has to do with the internal processes of the SF Chronicle or their
contractor (Olivesoft in Colorado) in generating a pdf file. From what I've
been able to de-cipher, the server(s) that send out the pdfs to Chron
subscribers generate a new pdf file on the fly each time that there is a
download request. This would be the same process that they would use to
download a pdf of a specific page or specific article upon subscriber
request. There does not seem to exist a whole pdf file of a whole daily
paper available on their server when a subscriber requests it. The servers
processes to generate large, complex pdfs appears to be broken. The files
are large. Today it was about 40 mB. On Mondays, Tuesdays it is about 23 mB.

I don't know what data that the Chronicle (or their contractor) is basing
their pdf generation upon. In any event the conversion process is not
consistent. And they appear to be having trouble generating specific types
of content like tabular listings.

When I ask for a download, the downloads tend to fail at different points
though that is not apparent to my browser. The failed downloaded files show
up as wildly different sizes on my computer. Chrome's (and Internet
Explorer's) ftp function shows the file to be complete. The pdf readers
(internal to Chrome or independently Adobe) however won't open the file
indicating that the file is incomplete. The Chron's server is sending a
spurious E.O.F. (end of file) marker terminating the download. When other
file downloads from other companies' servers. are incomplete, both Chrome
and Internet Explorer indicate a download failure or at least a stall. So,
the problem is on the Chronicle's end.

I don't download directly to my Kindle. I download the pdf file to my
kitchen desktop which is hardwired to my router for the fastest connection.
When the download is complete, I transfer the pdf to my Kindle via usb
cable. When things are working smoothly, this whole process is finished
before I pour out my first cup of coffee and add sugar and cream. When there
are problems in downloading the Chron pdf, it takes forever. I've had to try
over 35 times in a single morning to get a usable file.

The SF Chronicle has technical problems.


Tak Nakamoto
Thad Floryan
2014-05-18 05:23:37 UTC
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Post by Tak Nakamoto
Post by Thad Floryan
Now that's odd. A PDF is "just" data and should be transferable like
anything else.
No, it has to do with the internal processes of the SF Chronicle or their
contractor (Olivesoft in Colorado) in generating a pdf file.
Hi Tak,

Ah, it's becoming clear now where the problem lies: data processing and
not a PDF download per se.
Post by Tak Nakamoto
[...]
I don't download directly to my Kindle. I download the pdf file to my
kitchen desktop which is hardwired to my router for the fastest connection.
When the download is complete, I transfer the pdf to my Kindle via usb
cable. When things are working smoothly, this whole process is finished
before I pour out my first cup of coffee and add sugar and cream. When there
are problems in downloading the Chron pdf, it takes forever. I've had to try
over 35 times in a single morning to get a usable file.
The SF Chronicle has technical problems.
That I can believe reflecting on the very poor decisions being made
at SFGate regarding Reader Comments and auto-starting videos hogging
the CPU even on multi-core systems and the recent remake which doesn't
even reveal anymore the last update date/time of the home page and many
other gotchas.

They must have laid off their previously competent IT staff which is a
shame; I communicated numerous times with Alana Nguyen, their IT guru
and webmaster, and she always responded nicely to my comments/suggestions.

Thad
Thad Floryan
2014-05-19 06:39:02 UTC
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Another TLD that needs to be blocked in the hosts file
to load SFgate pages -- this is becoming tedious and is
new for the evening of Sunday 18 May 2014:

127.0.0.1 perfectmarket.com

What is wrong with SFGate? Made a pact with Satan or sumtin'?

Thad
David Kaye
2014-05-17 01:24:21 UTC
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Post by Peter Lawrence
They were losing money. What were they supposed to do? Keep subscription
prices low and lose even *more* money?
Indeed, up until a couple years ago the SF Chronicle was losing $1 million a
MONTH (yes, over $50 million a year). Unfortunately, gutting the news
department was a poor choice because the resulting product has gotten worse
and worse.

In fact, the Chron has gotten so small they've shut down their printing
plants and now contract out their printing, and they're now leasing out
space in the Chron building. The newsroom from the days of "His Girl
Friday" no longer exists.

Nan Tucker McAvoy was wise to sell of KRON and the Chron when she did and
start an olive farm instead. She caught the end of the eras for both on-air
TV and newspapers, and picked up a new era of gourmet olive oil. Very
smart.




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David Kaye
2014-05-17 01:19:29 UTC
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Post by Thad Floryan
2. "brightcove.com" -- wouldn't let sfgate.com load so I had to
Odd. I was asked about giving out my location both on the NYTimes and
SFGate websites, and I clicked the X each time. I haven't been bothered
since. Looking over a log of my connections, the only time I see
brightcove.com appear is when I specifically went to the website after your
post. The companion URLs haven't appeared, either.

I'm using AdBlock Plus, if that makes any difference.




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sms
2014-05-31 05:43:05 UTC
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Post by Thad Floryan
http://thadlabs.com/PIX/sfgate_crapola_20140515.jpg
examine the dropdown from top-bar.
2. "brightcove.com" -- wouldn't let sfgate.com load so I had to
# auto-start video sites used by SFGate beginning Sept. 2011
# they can't be stopped so this will do it for us. :-)
# New shit in 2014 to ignore e.g., brightcove since it wouldn't
# let sfgate.com load -- idiots.
#
127.0.0.1 embed.newsinc.com assets.newsinc.com analytics.newsinc.com
127.0.0.1 truveo.com
127.0.0.1 xml.truveo.com
127.0.0.1 www.truveo.com
127.0.0.1 brightcove.com
127.0.0.1 brightcove.112.2o7.net
127.0.0.1 goku.brightcove.com
127.0.0.1 sdc.brightcove.com
The Chronicle drove away its hardcopy daily subscription readers
with ever-increasing prices (noting I subscribed since 1966 until
a few years ago), then they dumped their great home-brew comment
system for the world's worst piece of steaming pig shit Viafoura
<snip>

I tried to log in to comment on a story but I could never log in. I
tried resetting the password and it would not let me. I tried creating
an account and it insisted that I already had one. Must be my hosts file
or Ghostery. No great loss.
Thad Floryan
2014-06-01 00:25:54 UTC
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Post by sms
Post by Thad Floryan
http://thadlabs.com/PIX/sfgate_crapola_20140515.jpg
examine the dropdown from top-bar.
2. "brightcove.com" -- wouldn't let sfgate.com load so I had to
[...]
The Chronicle drove away its hardcopy daily subscription readers
with ever-increasing prices (noting I subscribed since 1966 until
a few years ago), then they dumped their great home-brew comment
system for the world's worst piece of steaming pig shit Viafoura
<snip>
I tried to log in to comment on a story but I could never log in. I
tried resetting the password and it would not let me. I tried creating
an account and it insisted that I already had one. Must be my hosts file
or Ghostery. No great loss.
Hi Steven,

I agree. After ViaFoura infected SFGate in mid-October 2013 I haven't
even bothered attempting to log back into SFGate since ViaFoura is
totally useless -- among other things one can no longer thumbs-down
comments which is still permitted to do at the LA Times, the New York
Times, and many other more-or-less "good" newspaper sites.

It appears Hearst/Chronicle must've laid off their competent IT staff.

If you recall, I recently posted I had been in contact with their IT
guru and webmaster, Alana Nguyen, and she was receptive to both ideas
and suggestions but that was before the ViaFoura crap -- I suspect she
and her very competent staff are no longer associated with SFGate which
is a big loss for everyone especially given the recent "gotchas" at the
sfgate.com site.

Thad
k***@gmail.com
2018-07-29 04:25:13 UTC
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I MISS HERB CAEN TREMENDOUSLY!!!!

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