Sunday, August 14

verizon i hate you / r.i.p. flickr

I’ve been fighting with Verizon Wireless, because I went to cancel the service on a hotspot I bought from them a while back, and suddenly discovered a contract with a $90 early-termination fee for the device, which I’m pretty sure the sales rep told me wouldn’t be a thing, and blah blah blah. I am I, angry customer.

I’ve already spent more time, translated to billable hours, on this problem than just eating the fee would have cost me. By the time you’re swearing at people working sales for the phone company, you’ve lost twice: Once for being an asshole to somebody with a shit job, and once because making you into the asshole is clearly a designed function of the shit job in question.

Verizon is, of course, a perfectly infuriating sort of low-stakes antagonist: Implacably stupid as an institution, relentlessly mediocre in its functions, and yet structured with a sort of perverse genius for avoiding non-predatory modes of interaction. Are you a customer of Verizon? Ok: You’ve entered an arrangement where you’re still the sucker even if you know you’re the sucker.

Anyhow. I’ll pay the “you were stupid enough to engage our services” tax one way or another, fees or waiting out the contract or what-have-you. But my newfound determination to actually stop giving Verizon money does coincide with their parent company’s recent buyout of Yahoo.

Yahoo, some years back, engulfed flickr and ruined it. This was already a pretty good object lesson (lesson umpteen thousand of ∞) in how centralized, proprietary services inevitably fail their users. Falling into the undead hands of a re-coalescing chunk of Ma Bell just moves it from the set of internet things I’m sad about into the set of internet things I can assume are actively hostile to me and the public at large.

So, aside from never giving flickr money again, what to do?

I guess I’ll start hosting photos on my own website. I’ve been messing with a Python script for making gallery pages, which is not too hard a thing to write and actually kind of fun. The results aren’t amazing, but I think I can get them looking ok, eventually.

More interesting: I keep this site in a git repository, which isn’t really a very good way to store lots of large-ish files (like photos). So I finally got around to trying out git-annex, a toolset which lets you manage large files with git without actually storing the underlying data directly in the repo and its history. It took me a while to start getting my head around the basics, but I think it’s going to be a decent way to push image files around.

Edit: For notes on a similar process, see Tyler’s recent (ab)Using Git Notes.