How To (Post Comments On) Youtube
Without Google+

"Free Will," a faustian original

The Intro
(skip if you want to the hacks)

Been playing the role of 'mouse' in Google's little cat-and- mouse game that has seemed to be the scheduled entertainment in the topiary maze that is teh interwebs.  Not a role for which I signed up, not I was ever completely comfortable with. My darker moments transform the topiary maze to that scene from the Shining: encircled, the privacy conscious end user (that could be you or I, Gentle Reader) is unable to keep tabs on all the shenanigans and cahoots and evil underhandedness.  

I keep finding myself given no choice that to hack my way out, and grateful I know how.  (See?  The topiary metaphor works, now, doesn't it?)  More grateful that faceless corporations are not Stephen King's demonic hedge-animals  -- (yet?  to me?) -- or that I've woken up before that point...  so far...

The Hacks

I have so far avoided Google+ only very very carefully.  The only time Google has been more sneaky was when it posed as the OS X operating system to get authorization to enable third party cookies in Safari.  Correction, and possible confession:  that was the only time that I know of -- because they were caught ;  and it may only have come to my attention --  because it applied to me.

Very carefully has meant:
  • read everything
  • don't click on anything
  • especially click on nothing 
    • in a popup
    • in an email (exception below)
To this I used to add these methodologies which are specific to avoiding Google+ while signed into Youtube:
  • try to use a different browser for Youtube
  • when hit with that annoying popup, refresh the page (I click the address bar and hit return, not wanting to risk an accidental 'enter' tat may be taken as a 'yes' by the popup).
  • to upload a video, move fast:
    • sign in to Google accounts, 
    • open a new tab, 
    • go to Youtube
    • click upload before the page loads 
  • or you can just get the corresponding URLs from the source and enter them directly.  I was thinking of making a form for this, but, as you shall soon see, it is no longer as relevant...
click to enlarge
The Bad News

All of that worked until very recently, when all of a sudden, bad news. the Google sign-in page was different. The Youtube head of that hydra seemed to be informing me me that only by upgrading to Google+ could I hope to enjoy the privilege of commenting on a video -- even if it was a reply to a comment posted on my own.

A bit of cursory, uh, ...googling, told me no different.  Techcrunch, Engadget, CNET, all interpreting Google's new wording alike.  Though each of course responded from their own particular agenda,  almost all the sources on that first page of hits shared a virtually identical basic assumption, and each appeared to take that assumption fully for granted:  that  Youtube comments were now predicated upon surrendering to the inexorable force of nature that was Google+.

The Good News

The following worked for September and part of October for me, and may still work for you, since I doubt this policy is rolled out synchronously:
  • follow the link sent to your email to reply to comments 
  • compose a reply, and
  • post it
If everything goes well, as it has for me, no popup will appear until you are done -- in which case one of the above evasive techniques may work.

This however does not work if you want to do more than reply to a comment.  Furthermore, though replying and uploading may be possible, one begins to feel like a second class netizen, what with all the dodging and refreshing....  This I only realize with the hindsight that comes from:

The Better News

So good I made it into its own post. Everyone will be most happy: the answer is innocent, and right in front of you.  In fact I am more dismayed, not by my own having missed it, but by its having been missed by so many whose business it is to be tech savvy, above.

I first discovered it in the process of one of the workarounds, above. I had disabled page styles (the command for which, by the way, is usually listed in the browser's menu bar under 'develop' or 'view,' sometimes 'tools') to post a comment -- it worked where more exotic approaches had had no effect -- and lo and behold I saw the words "opt out" in the source.

It seems there was a little 'x' there all along -- I re-enabled styles and yes indeed.  Not a trick 'x,' it remained true to its purpose, thanking me as it hustled the micro-management-obssessive Google away, so as to keep me out its reach.   Thanking me several times in fact.

The Seemingly Much Better News

Google implied it would be leaving me alone for a while, and I have had no problems since.  That was yesterday.  I would have screenshots of the opt out 'x', but I didn't take them or save the source, and now it seems impossible to reproduce.  I am certainly not complaining

The Actually Not So Much Better News

Google has promised it would be back.


Be seeing you.

Dear Google: I do NOT want to be on Google Plus (unless)

Nazi book burning memorial, Göttingen. Photo by chrisjtse on Flickr.
Dear Google:

I do NOT want to be on Google Plus unless you fix your policy with regard to psudonyms.  I hope I can succeed in this, or find some solution to our mutual benefit.  My optimism is flagging, however; it seems you miss the main point.

Pseudonymity is a right.  Privacy is precious.  Please do not continue on in this manner, forcing me to have to find a workaround to use my own Youtube account.  This is silly.  And sad.

Here are a couple authors who have said it better than I feel I can at the moment:

Google+ and the right to use an alias 
Bruce Byfield
Linux Magazine

While it is true that many trolls are anonymous, in this day of free accounts like Gmail's, registering a plausible-sounding pseudonym is as easy as registering a legal name. The same goes for spammers, as a look through your Trash folder at the end of a day can easily prove.

Perhaps those who never use a pseudonym might think about the issue as many do about privacy: If you are doing nothing wrong, then why do you need privacy or a pseudonym?

Well, to start with, under the law of the United States and many other countries, using an alias is completely legal so long as you are not using it to commit fraud. A few other restrictions apply in many jurisdictions -- for instance, you generally can't use an alias to cause confusion between you and a celebrity, or use an obscene or racist name. However, generally speaking, even common law names (ones that are not officially registered, but are widely used) take on a certain legal acceptance, just as a common law relationship assumes many of the privileges and obligations of a registered marriage.

Even more importantly, the right to use a pseudonym can be a protection for a surprisingly wide variety of people. A recent article begun by Skud on the Geek Feminism wiki entitled "Who Is Harmed by a 'Real Name' Policy?" gives so many examples that it immediately convinced me that my fuzzy, unexamined thoughts about pseudonyms needed to be revised.

With the help of reader comments and revisions, Skud lists dozens of people who might benefit from using a pseudonym. They include people who face discrimination, bullying, harassment or assault, including women and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) people, and people with disabilities and other minorities. Others include people with non-mainstream views, survivors of abuse, victims of crimes, those accused of crimes, political dissidents, whistle-blowers, the famous seeking anonymity, or people whose online activity is limited as a condition of their employment.

For these and other legitimate reasons, tens of thousands -- possibly millions -- might choose a pseudonym. And whether anyone thinks they should, in many countries they have a right to, regardless of whether Google employees or anyone else thinks they should. It's really that simple.
And let's not even go into the fact that anonymous writing has a long and often honorable history, such as the debates over the American Constitution that resulted in the Federalist Papers.

As Skud summarized to me, to all appearances, "Google's names policy is short-sighted and discriminatory, and their processes and communication about it are a complete train wreck."
Yet, despite the short-terms problems it is causing many people, perhaps Google's name policy will be a long-term, indirect benefit. Especially if Google refuses to back down or clarify, these events may make people think twice before entrusting their on-line future to Google or to any other corporation via cloud services.

Even more importantly, it may alert other people -- as it did me -- to why the use of pseudonyms online is not a fringe concern. Instead, it's a right that should be defended by anyone who cares about the freedom of the Internet.

Read more

Who Are We?
George Washington 
Washington's Blog

Numerous people have asked us who writes Washington's Blog and why we write under a pen name.
In fact, some of the leading writers have used pen names.

As one of the best financial writers - Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge - points out (edited slightly for readability):
Though often maligned (typically by those frustrated by an inability to engage in ad hominem attacks), anonymous speech has a long and storied history in the United States. Used by the likes of Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens) to criticize common ignorance, and perhaps most famously by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay (aka publius) to write the Federalist Papers, we think ourselves in good company in using one or another nom de plume.

Particularly in light of an emerging trend against vocalizing public dissent in the United States, we believe in the critical importance of anonymity and its role in dissident speech.

Like the Economist magazine, we also believe that keeping authorship anonymous moves the focus of discussion to the content of speech and away from the speaker - as it should be. We believe not only that you should be comfortable with anonymous speech in such an environment, but that you should be suspicious of any speech that isn't.
I am a busy professional, a former adjunct professor, an American and a family man. I am post-partisan: I don't think either the Republican or Democratic parties represent the interests of the people as opposed to the big banks, major corporations, and the military-industrial complex.

But my background is less important than the fact that I provide links to document everything I say, so you can check its accuracy for yourself.

Read more

Wikipedia unhelpfully says "Pseudonyms are most usually adopted to hide an individual's real identity.... A pseudonym may also be used for purely personal reasons when an individual feels the context and content of the exchange offer no reason, legal or otherwise, to provide their given or legal name.[citation needed]." While the matter of that may be true, I find the color borders on offense; I would edit it, but the edit button is curiously missing for the first section of their entry.  (I hope that has something to do with how many times I have posted, and is not for some darker reason. )

Doubtless you know all this, having indexed it.  Perhaps you will listen.

"Wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen." Quote by Heinrich Heine, Nazi book burning memorial, Göttingen.  Photo by David Little Reynard on Flikr.

Be seeing you.

NSA Spying:
Proof We Had Proof As Far Back As

Even farther, if I remember right.  Back before the Dawn of Internet Time, before the tubes cooled. When information was passed down, in a careful oral tradition, among the marginalized, the weirdos and the anarchists, the then-nowhere-near-fashionable geeks and the no-longer-hip hippies, the bikers, the hyper-intellectuals, the artists, the Wiccans, and the freaks: gathering around campfires and in smoking circles, on blankets at concerts in Central Park, in tents on government land, and on threadbare couches and carpets in front of episodes of Millenium and reruns of the X files.

But here, here we have proof we told you so. Back then, so there.


Thanks to JYA of Cryptome, as always.  

Be seeing you.

M.W.K.P.A. | democracy(childhood)'s end, a poem

This edition of Music What Kicketh Political Ass brings you a bit of Faustian verse, not even my best, but I trust it will do...

Originally published over at the blog less traveled, 
Lets Do And Say We Did
with my other verse.

Be seeing you.

Your Browser Can't Let You Do That, Dave.

That's right, Gentle Reader.  
W3C has this to tell us hapless end-users: 
"Enjoy the freedom to view source while you can."

W3C green-lights adding DRM to 
the Web's standards, 
says it's OK for your browser to say "I can't let you do that, Dave"
by Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
Here's the bad news: the World Wide Web Consortium is going ahead with its plan to add DRM to HTML5, setting the stage for browsers that are designed to disobey their owners and to keep secrets from them so they can't be forced to do as they're told. 
... now that it's kosher to contemplate locking up browsers against their owners, we'll see every kind of control-freakery come out of the woodwork, from flags that prevent "View Source" to restricting embedded fonts to preventing image downloading to Javascript that you can't save and run offline. Indeed, some of this stuff is already underway ...
Read more

I wonder if they will let us if we pay more? 
Funny how morality can be bought. Who would we pay? and other such thoughts until finally I realize what madness this is.

Dear W3C: You're Nuts! Sincerely, The End Users
Dear W3C: You're NUTS! -Sincerely, The End-Users.

Be seeing you.