Category: Site News and Announcements

Updates on policies or other administrative stuff.

A Note About Photos

I’ve just added a note to the Privacy Policy that bears some explanation.

Ate Up With Motor has lots of photos. Most of them were taken in public places, sometimes by people other than me — at car shows, on the street, and so forth. Inevitably, some of those photos have people in the background. Now, generally, under U.S. law, this kind of editorial usage is not a big deal, since people in public places usually don’t have a “reasonable expectation of privacy”; otherwise, newspapers and news shows could never run crowd shots. However, under the EU’s new GDPR directive and associated local law, any recognizable image of a natural person may be considered personally identifying information, which becomes messy.

The plain reality is this: I usually do not have any reasonable way to know the identities of people who may be visible in the backgrounds of photos (especially in big crowds), nor am I usually able to associate their images with any other information I might have about them. If you’re a regular visitor to Ate Up With Motor and you popped up in the background of some photo taken at a car show five years ago, I probably don’t know it! Also, while some photographers make an effort to obscure the faces of bystanders — I started doing this with my own photos about seven years ago — that isn’t always possible, or successful. (I’ve seen a number of photos where the photographer or editor overlooked the face of someone leaning out a window in the background or something like that.) If a photo isn’t mine, I may not have the right to modify it in that way, and even if I do, the original online source may still have the unmodified, un-obscured original. There’s not usually anything I can do about that.

So, all I can reasonably do is note in the Privacy Policy that this is something that may occasionally happen, and ask that if you see yourself (or some information about you) in a photo and feel bothered by it, you contact me to discuss how best I can alleviate your concerns. Also, please understand that if you request your information under the GDPR, I probably don’t have any way to associate your comments or other data with the tiny figure in the background of a car show photo!

A comment on comments

While fussing with the Terms of Use to go along with the GDPR stuff, I realized I should update the Comment Policy regarding changing or deleting comments. Normally, after you post a comment, WordPress gives you a window of 15 minutes in which you can edit or delete the comment. However, since I have comments moderated, these options generally aren’t available.

So, if you have a previously published comment you’d like to change or remove, the simplest thing to do is to reply to it, asking me to change or delete it. Your reply goes into the moderation queue, so I will see the request and can easily figure out which comment you’re talking about.

If you ask for an edit rather than a deletion, just please try to be clear whether you want me to publish your reply or just change the original comment.

Pardon Our Dust

Throughout this week and perhaps for at least the next few days, you may encounter some odd stuff on Ate Up With Motor, such as different privacy notice banners. This is because I’m still trying to update things for greater compliance with the European GDPR rules taking effect on Friday. Unfortunately, there is no one plugin or tool that provides all the functionality I need, and many are in a rudimentary state as their developers scramble to get them working properly as half the world’s WordPress users have a simultaneous meltdown. Some of the work therefore involves a high level of technical complexity that is at the ragged limits of my understanding (if the phrase “function hooks” leaves you scratching your head, you’re not alone!). Some things I don’t know how to do, and entities to whom I’ve reached out with technical support questions are all swamped. I’m hoping that by next week, I’ll have it in some kind of workable order, but there’s an awful lot. My apologies for the inconvenience!

ETA: I also want to apologize for the “our privacy policy has changed” prompt screen that keeps coming up. One of the GDPR’s requirements is that if the policy changes in any substantive way (“substantive” meaning basically anything other than fixing a spelling or punctuation error), you MUST prompt users to review and consent to the policy again. This is well-meaning, but obviously can get very frustrating for visitors.

Privacy update

I’ve updated the site Privacy Policy regarding Google Analytics, which Google is now updating based on a new EU privacy law. The gist as I understand it is this: As of May 25, 2018, Google is introducing new data retention settings that determine how long Google Analytics will retain the data it gathers for the site. I’ve set it to automatically delete data after 26 months.

I’ve also clarified that although Google Analytics has a User-ID tool that can attempt to identify a unique user across devices, I have deliberately never enabled that tool. I’ve now disabled the setting to include the Users metric in the analytics reports. (I’ve never looked at that tab in the reports, so I’m not entirely sure if it was even putting anything there with User-ID turned off.)

To be candid, I am not comfortable with online tracking and analytics services except of the most rudimentary sort. I need to know aggregate data — e.g., how many people visited the site last month — and it’s often helpful for me to see where referral traffic is coming from, but I don’t consider it appropriate or ethical for websites to develop behavioral profiles of their users. I’m a writer, not an intelligence officer or a cop!

If you have any questions about the policy or Ate Up With Motor’s use of analytics, please let me know via comment or the Contact Form. Also, if you have specific concerns or recommendations regarding Google Analytics settings (which I must confess are often at the ragged edge of my technical understanding), I am certainly open to suggestions.

Update Your Bookmarks

As you might have noticed, I have implemented an SSL (secure socket layer) certificate on the site, so the address bar in your browser should now say https rather than http — hopefully without any little yellow triangles or other warning indicators.

I decided to go to HTTPS for four reasons: 1) Search engines are beginning to favor secure sites over ones that are unencrypted; 2) it’s better for security; 3) it’s better for your privacy; and 4) it’s better for my privacy.

The caveat is that setting up HTTPS is complicated even if you are a computer nerd, which I most assuredly am not. It appears things are now working properly and non-secure (http) links are automatically redirecting to secure ones (https), as they should be, but there may be other hiccups I haven’t yet noticed. If you experience any problems, such as your browser warning you that parts of the page are not secure (what’s called a “mixed content” error), please let me know (and be sure to specify what browser you’re using!).

In the meantime, if you have bookmarks to Ate Up With Motor or to specific pages or articles, I would recommend that you update them to the new https addresses at your convenience. Again, the old links should still redirect, but going directly to the secure versions will help the site run faster and encourage search engines to get on the same page.

CarStories Podcast

Recently, I went over to the Petersen Automotive Museum to record a podcast with the CarStories crew and take a tour of the Petersen vault. You can now hear the podcast at the CarStories website or via iTunes.

The website I mentioned in the podcast (which was an inspiration for Ate Up With Motor as regards format and approach) is Greg Goebel’s excellent Vectors. It doesn’t deal with automotive topics, but he’s covered a wide range of other technologies, including many aircraft, spacecraft, and a lot more. I highly recommend it, although be forewarned: If you’re on deadline, get your work done before you get sucked into the site!

New Article Possibility

I’ve been working on two additional articles. One is another, shorter technical piece as a followup to the previous articles. The other leading possibility is the first-generation (1971–1977 A20/A35) Toyota Celica.

To that end, I will need to gather more photos of the Celica as well as its cousin, the A10/A15/A30 Toyota Carina, the rival Mitsubishi Colt GTO and first-generation Nissan Silvia (a.k.a. Datsun 200SX), and ideally one or two of the early Mazda Savanna (RX-3) coupe.

If you’d like to help with pictures, please let me know via the Contact Form. Thanks!

Hydra-Matic, Dynaflow, Powerglide, and New Content! (Well, sort of.)

As you probably all know, I’ve been working for months on an extensive revamp of the second part of my 2010 article on GM’s early automatics, covering Dynaflow, Powerglide, their successors (including Twin Turbine Dynaflow, Turboglide, and Dual-Path Turbine Drive), and the later generations of Hydra-Matic. That revamp is now done.

The article has been almost completely rewritten, adding a lot of new information (more than doubling its length in the process) and incorporating a lot of corrections. Unlike the previous version, I’ve made a concerted effort to explain the mechanics of each of the 14 transmissions discussed.

This is the newly revised piece, covering Dynaflow, the early Powerglide, Controlled Coupling Hydra-Matic, Roto Hydra-Matic, Turboglide, and others. If you somehow missed the revamped Part 1, this is the history of the first-generation Hydra-Matic.

Yet another…

At the risk of further trying everyone’s patience while waiting for new content, I am pained to announce yet further tinkering with the Privacy Policy to better reflect the current range of embedded content. The reason I keep making these announcements is that the policy as written called for me to announce “material” changes (not counting my fussing with minor details like fixing typographical mistakes). To reduce the amount of policy-related posts, I have added a new Policy Update Minder to the right sidebar, which will show the effective dates of the current versions of the policies so you can review any changes at your convenience. I will now do this instead of taking up a lot of real estate with posts about it (although I may still announce something that constitutes a really big change).

For various reasons, there has been a dearth of new content in recent months, although I spent a while making a lot of housekeeping changes to older articles, fixing factual errors, and the like, and I am still working on the update of the Dynaflow/later Hydra-Matic article that will likely be the next major article. (As with the first part of the Hydra-Matic article, I have been going through a lot of technical documents and patent literature to get the workings of these things straight, which is complicated by there being so many different transmissions.)

I realize that it is frustrating for regular readers, but I recognize that I get a lot of “long-tail” traffic of people coming to articles months or years after the fact, and I’ve had the unhappy experience before of seeing other people innocently repeat factual errors I’ve made, which is part of why I get caught up in trying to get it right. I know this flies in the face of the “hit post and move on” philosophy of most web content, however, so I appreciate your patience, however strained!

Comment spam

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be experimenting with some new anti-spam tactics. My existing solution, which had been working pretty well, now has some serious shortcomings following the most recent update to the content management system, so I’m going to need to try something different. (I get hundreds of obvious spam comments every day and having my email inbox flooded with spam comment notifications every few minutes is not fun!)

Since I’m going to have to resort to a certain amount of trial and error, there may be some oddities with commenting or the forms. If you have problems or encounter something strange when leaving a comment or submitting a form, please let me know. I’m very concerned that spam prevention not present an irritation or accessibility problem for my sapient readers.

Going along with this, I decided it would be prudent to clarify some of the language in the comments and contact forms sections of the Privacy Policy. The gist is unchanged (that the website may use information associated with your comment or form submission — some of which is or could potentially be personally identifiable — to confirm that you’re a human user and not some kind of bot or automated script), but I wanted to make clear that the website may conduct those tests in a variety of different ways. (At present, I’m not sure what the final method(s) may end up being.) ETA: For your convenience, the Privacy Policy now has a recent revision log, too.

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Except as otherwise noted, all text and images are copyright © Aaron Severson dba Ate Up With Motor. (Terms of Use – Reprint/Reuse Policy) Trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners and are used here for informational/nominative purposes.