Simple mirroring crawlers like
wget --mirror no longer works
wget --mirrorused to work very well, and you could easily get a static snapshot of most websites. The way it worked was extracting and following all links, like
<script src=''>, and
<link rel='stylesheet' href=''>. When you think about it - there weren't that many kinds of links.
@importare so prevalent, it's harder to find a website without them than one with them. In theory wget could be patched to get it back to supporting 90% of websites, but unfortunately nobody seems to care, and it's in C, not the most popular language amongst Web developers.
With most modern browsers and tabbed browsing it's not even that simple to open different instances of a browser, and switch settings per instance, you'd need to use Firefox for normal browsing, Opera for some extra privacy, and Safari for porn, or something like that.
Email spam is no longer a problemI don't mean there's no more spam, there's plenty of it - but good web email clients
got just unreasonably good at filtering it into Spam folders, something none of desktop-based solutions of 5 years ago could do. So nobody needs to obfuscate their email address any more. I don't think spammers really cared about obfuscation anyway, do you think they're too dumb to use regular expression like
/@|\s*\[\s*at\s*\]\s*/i? Putting your email address in captcha would work a lot better, but pretty much nothing supported it anyway.
Anyway I don't care any more, and I don't see why anybody else would. My email address is
Tomasz.Wegrzanowski@gmail.comand you can send more viagra ads to my Spam folder if you want to.
Life of honest bot makers is harderIn just a few short years Captcha infected the entire Internet. They don't give any protection against people who make money on breaking your website - Indian captcha breakers cost something like a dollar per 1000 captchas, and if that didn't work specialized computer algorithms seem to be catching up with human solvers quickly enough.
The main result of captchas is making life harder for honest bot makers like me. Yes, I like screenscrapping sites and extracting fun info from them. Do you think I made the list of most popular blog posts on this sidebar by manually entering data into OpenCalc spreadsheet? No, I just screenscrapped Google Analytics, Delicious, and Blogger to get all relevant data - fortunately they weren't captcha-protected.
People like me cannot really afford to spend time finding and contracting Indian captcha breakers, it only makes sense for high volume for profit operations like spammers. It's ironic that this alleged anti-spam measure hurts spammers very little, and hurts honest bot makers a lot. I guess disabled people are not big fans of it, and neither are normal people who fail half of the captchas already, and will fail 80% soon if the trend in captcha complexity continues.
Sensible ideas get abused a lotIf you want to register or change password you need to enter your new password. To make sure nobody sees it it's invisible, but then it's easy to make a typo. It's not a big deal during login, as you can always retry, but it would be really annoying if you made a typo during registration and couldn't login at all.
So a perfectly sensible idea was to make you enter your password twice. You're unlikely to do the same typo twice, so you're protected against both onlookers and mistakes. So who was the first asshole who thought it's a good idea to make people repeat their email address?
Another thing that really annoys me are websites that require captchas for anything else than potentially spammable actions. Some forums want captchas for search, how stupid is that? It's pure usability breaker, making human action harder at no benefit whatsoever.
While I'm at it, let me whine about Xbox Live registration. They use double-entered invisible password just like any website - except that Xbox360 doesn't have a keyboard, so they use big highlighted virtual keyboard on the screen, so every onlooker sees your password anyway.
Geographical restrictions are harder to bypassWeb used to be full of open proxies, so limiting viewers by country wasnt't really working. Unfortunately most proxies got closed because of spammers, and now it's really hard to access Pandora or Comedy Central from UK IP address. Pandora is the only such service that I care about, if I wanted Colbert Report so badly I could always use Bittorrent. Unfortunately the fascist music industry forced Pandora to introduce this and all other restrictions, and none of Pandora alternatives are even close, and believe me I tried many of them.
It's such a shame because Pandora is the best thing to happen to music since Audio Galaxy, which was also great in the same way of making meaningful music recommendations. I'm surprised Pandora is still alive even in their restricted form, it must really piss off some people at the record industry that some innovation is happening in spite of all their efforts to supress it.
Internet is a much milder placePeople used to trick others into clicking links to goatse.cx and other shock sites. Now it's Rick Astley. Even 4chan which not that long ago was full of gore and borderline kiddie porn is fascinated by a cute hyperactive girl from Gaia Online. Torrent sites are no longer about kinky porn - they're mostly about downloading TV series so you can watch them without following TV schedules, just a more convenient version of TiVo.
There are no ads on the InternetIt's funny because pretty much everything on the Internet is ad-supported, yet nobody has to watch ads unless they choose to, by not installing an ad-blocker. Ads started as fairly reasonable static links and banners that nobody cared about. So ad companies in their greed and stupidity moved to animated banners, flash, popups, popunders, and abused users so much that a great backlash emerged, and now all ads are gone, even the most meaningful and least annoying ones like Google text ads.
I like this example of consumers taking control over things. In pretty much everything else big corporations abuse their powers and force consumers into following their ways, while governments passively stand by or even help the abusers. For example banks can charge you extra fees whenever they want to, and it's up to you to challenge them. Who gave them that right? Why cannot consumers charge bank fees for crappy service for symmetry? Such abuses are really common, and consumers rarely stand up against them. I cannot really think of any case other than ad blocking where it worked.
Most of these processes have been happening slowly and quietly in the background, but over years they made Internet into a very different place from what it used to be.