For more than a year I’ve been thinking about redesigning the blog. I know, I know, I haven’t really blogged that much of late, but still, I’ve been giving it some thought.
Given that this is a not-for-profit venture that’s really more for me than anyone else—though I truly appreciate your patronage—I could not justify paying someone to do the redesign for me, though I have numerous friends I would love to have do it for me.
The redesign thought process had me examine my blogging platform as well. I’ve been with Movable Type for quite a while, nearly a decade. This blog is currently on version 4.2 of the software, with 5.1 on the cusp of release. Were I to stay with Movable Type, it would behoove me to upgrade, and take on the learning curve of the changes made with version 5.
WordPress, of course, is the hot ticket in the blogging world right now, and has an impressive and extensive theme ecosystem, making a redesign a theoretically simpler affair. My friend Tom has been using Tumblr for two years, and has been pretty happy with it, the service’s massive outage five months ago notwithstanding.
It was precisely Tumblr’s outage, and my Type A-control freak personality, which had me pushing Tumblr and similar service Posterous to the bottom of my choices.
Then there was the decision of export/import. Did I want to take nine years worth of Movable Type blog posts and import them into a new blogging system?
Conveniently, I had another domain name I could use. Since assuming the Retrophisch moniker, I’ve had the .net and .org domains pointing to the .com. About two years ago, I had the bright idea to seek out a shortened domain, one ending in .ch. This necessitated a visit to the Swiss registrar SWITCH, as at the time no U.S.-based registrar was offering Swiss domain purchases. In a matter of minutes, retrophis.ch was mine. It, too, went up as a redirect to the original retrophisch.com.
Now, I find myself with a domain different enough, yet still the same, I could simply “flip the switch” with: start over, with no importing. The old blog will reside as it always has, and go into archival mode.
So one part of the decision-making process was done. Now, back to the question of the engine, the content management system, or CMS, as it’s called. I ended up leaning toward Posterous, then Control-Freak Me decided on WordPress.
Only it was not to be: WordPress’ “famous five-minute install” went off without a hitch, but I kept running into a glitch with the setup. While Control-Freak Me was running this down, I-Just-Want-To-Post-Content Me was getting really annoyed, and went off exploring other options yet again.
Finally, I decided to move to Tumblr. Yes, there is a chance the service will go down again. Yet there’s just as much of a chance of a flash flood taking out my friend Jim’s server where this site resides. Stuff happens.
So from this moment forward, new stuff will be there, at Retrophis.ch. Point your browsers, and feed readers if that’s how you roll, there. This joint’s being boxed up and rolled off into the giant Internet storage warehouse.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you over at the new digs.
Wow. Seven years as of yesterday.
Seven years ago, I had a great job. A career in IT.
Seven years ago, we hadn’t been in our new house even a full year.
Seven years ago, we were churchless.
Seven years ago, we were childless.
Now, I do not have a career in IT, but I do have a job: being a stay-at-home dad. And it’s awesome.
Now, we’ve been in the house nearly eight years.
Now, we have two wonderful boys, six and thirteen months. They are absolute joys.
I’m blogging less. Twittering more. Chasing a little guy all around the house. Having fun.
It’s not all a bed of roses, but there are more ups than downs, and I thank God for all of these blessings.
Today marks the conclusion of six years of blogging at Retrophisch.
Two thousand, two hundred, sixty-three entries.
Two thousand, two hundred, sixty-three bits of myself, revealed for passers-by. Two thousand, two hundred, sixty-three things I thought you might find interesting. Or funny. Or serious enough to care about. Or to do something about. Or just for me to think about. Or to do something about.
Now to press forward in to the next six…
So today marks the eighth year I’ve done the blogging thing. I won’t go in to any great recap, as I did two years ago. (And I completely failed to note the seventh blogoversary last year.) Needless to say, some things have remained the same, and some things have changed quite a bit.
For one, I’m blogging less, mostly because of Twitter, and if you want to know what I’m up to, or what I’m thinking, in short snippets, you should definitely follow my Twitter account. For another, I’m paying slightly less attention to politics, which used to constitute a good amount of posts. Finally, some days, I just don’t feel like I have much to say in a blog form, so why bother with some drivel to the blog that’s better suited for the 140-character limitation of Twitter, or not for public consumption at all?
Still, I have hopes for more thoughtful posts. I just don’t know when those might begin appearing, though I can guarantee it will be some time in the next eight years… 8^)
Oh, did I forget to mention my wife’s become a blogger?
And that she did so last year?
Well, that takes me out of the running for Husband of the Year™.
(And if you think that’s all I’ve done to take myself out of the running, I have some beachfront property in Scottsdale I’d like to talk to you about.) <rimshot> But enough about me…
The missus began blogging last May as an outlet for the angst and excitement she felt as a result of our seeking to add to our family through adoption. She’s also been talking about our struggles with infertility as we seek to add to our family on our own. At some point she began sharing little tidbits about our life at home, missing her mom, and other things outside the realm of adoption, and I suggested a name change for the blog.
In private conversations with friends, nearly all online, I’ve often referred to our home in general, and the study, from where I compute, in particular, as “the Phisch Bowl”. Seeing how I have no intention whatsoever of allowing the fish (phisch?) meme, courtesy of my anagramed moniker, to die, my abrupt suggestion to her was, “Life from the Phisch Bowl”. So there you go.
A small word of warning. The missus tends to use some shorthand and acronyms she’s picked up from motherhood/pregnancy/infertility forums over the years, and some might not be readily decipherable. Trust me, there was a time when I was constantly asking her what this acronym or that one meant. Should you need similar help, drop me a line, or better yet, drop the missus a line over on her blog, and ask her. Better still, just drop her a line and say hi.
Her latest post also deals with an issue near and dear to our hearts. Once again, Kel will be participating in the March of Dimes’ March for Babies, formerly known as WalkAmerica. Due to a commitment with the little phisch, I won’t be walking this year, but Kelly will, and she’s raising funds.
(Much to my chagrin, she’s already raised more funds for this than I need in total for my mission trip to Juarez, to build houses for the poor there, in June. This includes monies from my own mother, who was asked, along with several friends and family members, to support my trip prior to Kelly beginning her fund-raising. Hrmmm. Perhaps I should outsource my own fund-raising to the missus, since we all know she is far, far more charming a person than I….)
So, drop by her blog and say hi, and if you’re led, help us with the March for Babies.
I love you, sweetheart.
So I got off my duff and finally got around to putting in to place the redesign (realignment?) of the blog that I’ve sat on for the better part of two years. Those of you who normally read the blog from the RSS feed can click over to see the new look. (If you care, that is.) Those of you who read the blog by actually going to it may have noticed the new look over the past couple of days. (Or maybe not, and if that’s the case, I’m left to wonder whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing.)
One thing you might notice on the main page is the Twitter section at the top, marked “Recently”. If you are a regular reader of the blog, you may have noticed that my blogging has taken a huge dive in recent months, with most posts consisting of the daily links posting from my del.icio.us account. The reason for that is I’m doing a lot of micro-blogging over on my Twitter account. I say micro-blogging, because Twitter limits each post to 140 characters. (This is largely due to the number of character one can put in to a SMS message, and Twitter has excellent SMS compatibility.) So now you when you visit this blog, you can also see my latest on Twitter.
There’s further tweaking ahead. I likely won’t leave all of those links in the sidebar. They’ll get spun off to a separate page, like the reading list and photos. I’d like to integrate a linkblog in to the main page, a la John Gruber and other bloggers, instead of relying on my del.icio.us account to automatically spit them out each morning. The linkblog would allow more immediate posting, and any comments about the link wouldn’t be limited to del.icio.us’s text field.
The biggest tweak, however, will be under the hood, as I upgrade to Movable Type 4. Hopefully, this will be transparent to you, dear reader, but will empower me and make my blogging life easier in the long run. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another two years for these various tweaks to be made reality.
I have quite a few people to thank for their input and help over the past two years. So many, in fact, that I dare not name them all here out of fear of leaving someone out. Needless to say, those of you who fall in to this category know who are. You occupy prime positions in my instant-messaging buddy list and e-mail address book. You are my friends, and for putting up with my endless questions of “How does this look?” and “What do you think of this?”, or the myriad times when I failed to even ask a question and just IMed you a link with no backgrounding of any sort on my part, you have my sincerest thanks.
If you absolutely hate the new look of the blog, well, that’s your opinion, and you should place any blame for your dislike firmly at my feet. If you absolutely love the new look, it’s because of the wonderful people, mentioned above, who took time out of their lives to share part of mine with me.
Oh, and if you happen to be nostalgic for the old look, you can still find it here, for a little while.
My favorite blogging client has now been revved to version 2. I’ve been using MarsEdit ever since original developer Brent Simmons rolled out the 1.0 product, and I’ve been very happy with it. A couple of months ago, I began beta-testing new owner Daniel Jalkut’s upgrade of the client, and wow, was I ever blown away. Brent never really had the time to devote to MarsEdit, what with the popularity of NetNewsWire, and Daniel has definitely taken MarsEdit to the next level.
One thing I’ve noticed, being on the beta test lists of a few independent and small-shop Mac developers, is the level of responsiveness from those developers. You’re talking directly with the individual responsible for the product, not some project manager or mid-level flunky who really doesn’t get what’s going on with the application. Daniel is no exception, encouraging great participation from those on the beta list, and he always maintains a professional, and very friendly, attitude. It sounds like the the upgrade release is a hit so far, and no wonder, because MarsEdit 2 is a great product.
Great job, Daniel!
(The obvious answer is “Flash sucks, that’s why”.)
We all know that the iPhone doesn’t include Flash. Various theories have been aired.
I have a theory that I haven’t heard yet: Flash wasn’t included because it crashes so much.
I detest Flash. It’s a resource hog, and there are very few Flash-based sites that are well designed to begin with. I hope Google moves YouTube to H.264 video for the “regular” Internet, not just for the iPhone’s access.
Roughly Drafted makes the case that the iPhone is a threat to Flash, as well as to Windows Media and Real. Why? Because H.264 is an standard video codec that doesn’t rely on a software processor, for one. In laymen’s terms, by using H.264, your system doesn’t have to work as hard, because it likely has a hardware processor capable of decoding H.264 without having to hit your general processing unit, which means you get more battery life, use less power, etc.
If you’re a content provider, you don’t have to worry about providing multiple video formats. You can simply output a single, MPEG-based H.264 video that you know users won’t have to have a plug-in for, like Flash, Windows Media, or Real. The other upside is that you don’t have to pay any licensing fees for those three formats, either. Sounds like a win-win to me.
[Wave of the phin to Lee for the Roughly Drafted link, via IM.]
I believe genealogy fascinates a lot of people. We’ve all thought about “Where did I come from?” Most of us have no memories of family beyond our grandparents, maybe our great-grandparents. (I was able to know two of my great-grandmothers, both on my dad’s side, as a child.)
I came across Geni through some random blog readings, and I started a family tree with myself, in the hope I can help my son understand our family history a bit when he gets older.
The cool thing about Geni is that as you add people to your tree, you can invite them to sign up for the site (it’s free, at least for now), and they can add to their own tree, which in turn adds to yours. Think of it as MySpace meets the family tree, social networking making genealogy more practical. After all, my dad knows a lot more about his grandparents and great-grandparents than I do, and he can add a lot more information himself that I might not even think of.
I won’t go in to the whole spiel, because why say what’s already been said? Suffice to say, postings of a certain nature will increase in frequency here, because they are no longer being posted there. Links which appeared in the side bar there will be appearing in the side bar here. Some of you won’t care, some of you will. That’s just the way it is.
I’d love to know if my friends have accounts, so I can add you as a friend to mine, and please feel free to add me as a friend to yours. Ping me via IM, drop me an e-mail, or leave a comment.
One cool thing Twitter did last week was they created a Macworld account. By adding this account as a friend, you could follow the postings of those at Macworld Expo as Steve announced the latest and greatest tech from our favorite fruit company. There were so many messages coming in to Twitter through AOL Instant Messenger that Twitter exceeded its allowable AIM traffic, and that service was unavailable for about a day. (To clarify, you couldn’t post to Twitter via AIM; Twitter and AIM were each unaffected.)
You can post to Twitter via your Twitter page, by instant message (Jabber or AIM), or by text message from your mobile phone. (Text message charges from your mobile provider apply, but there’s no charge from Twitter.) If you’re a Mac user, you can also use Maury McCown’s TwitterPost, or the just-released-today Twitterrific from those aforementioned boys at the Iconfactory. Both apps are freeware.
So the question remains, what are you doing?
I’d say something pithy like, “All the news you can use in one spot”, but for quite a few folks, it may not, in fact, be all the news they could use, and it may not include all of the news they may want to use. Be that as it may: The News Right Now.
TNRN is a news aggregator which combines “Old Media” with “The Blogs”, their titles, not mine. The sources are divided on the page, with the former being on top, and the latter on the bottom. There are preferences to switch this, and to even exclude one or the other from being displayed. Another preference to tweak is the displaying of news by the source, or by topic, by source being the default. These preferences are in handy drop-down menus at the top of the page.
In the Old Media wing, one can find the headlines from The Wall Street Journal, the AP, Reuters, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, WSJ’s OpinionJournal, Philly’s Inquirer, the LA Times, the Washington Times, and a few others.
The Blogs range from Washington Monthly to The Corner (National Review), The American Prospect to Townhall.com, Eschaton and the Daily Kos to Instapundit and Hugh Hewitt. Joshua Micah Marshall, The Plank, Michelle Malkin, Power Line, and Ed Morrissey round out the featured bloggers.
There is no way to delete or add an individual news source or blog, but for a lot of folks who may engage several of these sites per day, The News Right Now is a good way to get an overview of the latest news from a single source.
My thanks to my small—very small—but loyal band of readers. You all should comment more!
As of today, Paul Stamatiou has been blogging for a year. Congrats, Stammy!
For you baseball aficionados, Tiff has a great story on what happened when she gave tickets to some coworkers, and how they thanked her.
If you read this blog mainly through my news feed, please note that I’m now using FeedBurner to supply the site’s RSS feed. The old feed is still operational, and will remain so for a while, but I would like to discontinue it in the near future.
So in your news reader of choice, please update the Retrophisch news feed:
You can also click on the feed link on the main page, or the RSS button in Safari’s address bar, or that of your auto feed-detecting browser of choice.
Dear God in Heaven.
[Via Firewheel Design.]
It wasn’t much of a first post, just kind of a “Hello, world, this is me…” sort of thing. Really feeble, looking back on it now. But it’s been six years; the blogging portion of my self is now a first grader. Though, given how rapidly the pace moves in the blogosphere, I’m sure we have something akin to dog-years multiplication to determine the “true” age of our blog-selves.
A lot changes in six years.
Since that first post on August 1, 2000, there have been four national elections, including two presidential elections. The first was bitterly contested, though even so, still showed the world how the rule of law can prevail and the change of power in a nation can be handled without violence and bloodshed. Our nation was brutally attacked on September 11, 2001, and a vast majority of our citizens finally realized the fact that we had been at war with radical Islam for more than two decades. I pray we continue to realize that fact, and what it means to maintain resolve for the next two decades.
Six years ago, not too many people had heard of Google, now officially a verb as well as a proper noun. Now, it has supplanted Yahoo as the number-one search destination on the Internet, though the latter still reigns as the top portal site. Microsoft has managed to ship only one new version of its flagship operating system. In six years. One.
Steve Jobs’ return to Apple has reversed the company’s fortune. Though our favorite fruit company may not be shipping any more Macintosh units now than it was prior to Jobs coming back, it has changed the face of the computing and music industries. The iMac. The G4. The G5. iTunes. The iPod.
Six years ago, the words “Macintosh” and “Intel” would never be found in the same sentence together, except for a Mac zealot excoriating the chip maker, or vice versa. Even more outlandish would have been the notion of a dual-boot Macintosh: one that can run the Mac OS or Windows. Pull that off, Michael Dell.
The weblog has become a serious element of what is called “New Media”, the power of the blog leading to, among other things, the exposure of Jayson Blair as a fraud, the ouster of Trent Lott as Senate Majority Leader, and, ultimately, the end of Dan Rather’s career as a major network news anchor. Web designers and programmers are able to do things now they could only dream about six years ago, as we witness the rise of “Web 2.0”. Six years ago, RSS (define it however you will) wasn’t a blip on anyone’s radar, and Atom wasn’t even a seed in the minds of its creators, yet today “feeds” are an integral part of the online experience.
Six years ago, my wife and I hadn’t really been on a vacation in the previous five years. Since then, we’ve been to the Hawaiian Islands three times, Santa Fe, San Francisco, New York, the mountains of Arkansas, New England, and Wyoming. Six years ago, I was beginning to renew a love with photography, thanks to my first digital camera. My father planted the seed of this love, giving me his old 35mm camera when I went on the yearbook staff my senior year in high school. I was looking through my senior year book a month or so ago, and was fascinated by the number of photographs therein that were mine. Now, I don’t have to wait for photos to be printed to display them.
Six years ago, I was still in the beginnings of online friendships that are now deeper than I thought could be, having met, in person, these guys only a few times. Lee, Michael, Rob: my life is richer because of your being in it. I have invested in new friendships, and hope to grow some more.
Six years ago, a guy at the office was just a coworker who happened to be a fellow Christian. Today, he is a close friend, who helped me come in from the cold, get grounded and real about my faith. He helped me rediscover a love for baseball I had left behind in college, and has been a steady confidant. FranX, you embody the principal of iron sharpening iron, and I cannot tell you how much I value our friendship.
Six years ago we were in one house, in another city within the DFW metroplex. Today, we’re in a bigger house, in a slightly smaller town next to the city we used to live in. Six years ago, close friends from college were a fifteen-minute drive from our old house; today, they’re a two-minute walk away. We have new friends, who have changed our lives in profound ways, as we have witnessed the births of children, the failures in marriage, and the changing of jobs, both for them as well as ourselves.
Six years ago, my wife was on the road to partnership in a major Dallas law firm. Now, she’s working for the subsidiary of a Fortune 500, an in-house counsel with better hours and quality of life. Six years ago, I was employed by a Fortune 100 telecommunications company. Now, I’m three years past being laid off from that same company, the skill sets I thrived on there deteriorating as I struggle within myself to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I left behind coworkers who had become more than that, they were friends, and I thank God I am still able to keep in touch with them, even if for the most part it is through instant messages and e-mail.
Six years ago, my wife and I were beginning the long, hard road to become parents. Three years ago, we were handed a little miracle, and I mean that in every sense of the word: born nine weeks early, you would never know it to look at our son today. We are truly blessed.
Six years ago, we were still wandering in the wilderness of faith. We did not have a church home, and my walk with God consisted mainly of reading Christian literature and listening to Christian-branded music. Thanks to some of those new friends mentioned above, we now have a place to call home, and my own walk has been deepened as a result.
Six years ago, I was not as happy as I am now. I like to think I was pretty happy then, but in six years I’ve grown in many ways (while staying pretty juvenile in others). I am closer to my Lord, I am closer to my wife—my best friend and love, who puts up with and accepts me—and I am closer to friends, of which there are more today than before. I have this beautiful little boy in my life whom I love more than I ever thought was possible to love another human being.
Jobs come and jobs go. One career is left for one in another field. Scenery changes. Technology changes. The majority of the people in your life will pass before your eyes as if vapor. Six years ago, I didn’t have as clear of a focus on the really important things of life, and today I do.
A lot changes in six years.
I’m so looking forward to the next six.
The iPod cases from ifrogz look very nice. I like the customizable aspects of the design, but would love to be able to upload my own image for the Screenz. A Retrophisch-branded iPod case in “Gun Metal” Wrapz and “Thick Black” Bandz would rock.
Amazon Grocery is now out of beta after more than 200,000 people have used it to shop for food staples.
So the calendar feature for Backpack launched today. I like how easy it is to add items to the calendar, and I realize this is a 1.0 release (Note to Google: it’s not a beta.), but I’m greatly disappointed it didn’t roll out with repeating events as part of the feature set. I was looking forward to using iCal solely as the desktop conduit between an online calendar I can access anywhere, and my mobile devices with which I would like to sync calendar events.
Sure, I can do that with Google Calendar, but I’m already in Backpack so much, and I like 37signals’ implementation and interface better. Besides repeating events, other features I’d like to see added in a future update, ranked in order of personal importance:
Events added to Backpack’s Calendar do not show the scheduled time within the calendar. Mark Gallagher notes this in the announcement’s comments, because to see an event’s time, you have to click on the event, instead of just being able to glance at the calendar and seeing all of the times in context.
The ability to toggle the time on the reminder. For some events, I need more than 30 minutes notice, my parents’ anniversary, for instance, which I need a few days notice so I can buy a card and put it in the mail to them. Yes, I know I can use Backpack’s Reminders feature for this, but it would be more productive to have this built in to the Calendar side of the house. It seems like overkill, and double work, for me to enter the event of my parents’ anniversary in to the calendar, then have to switch over and enter a separate reminder to buy a card days in advance.
Commenter “D” notes: “Quick hack to get repeating events: enter them as reminders and then subscribe to your reminder feed within calendar.” This is working well for me, so far, but then you’ll get in to the situation of all of your reminders being in a single calendar, when you would like to have reminders in different calendars: Personal, Work, Pet, and so on.
In the Backpack Calendar forums, 37signals’ own Jason Friedman notes that they weren’t happy with the repeating events implementation, and decided not to include it the 1.0 release. So at least for now, the best way to get this function is D’s suggestion, but it’s nice to know it is being worked on, and we can expect it in the future. I hope this upcoming implementation allows for the setting of a time other than thirty minutes before.
Single, all-day events should be displayed in the same way as multiple-day events. This was a suggestion by Ryan Christensen in the announcement’s comments. This would distinguish the all-day event, like my aforementioned parents’ anniversary, from a time-specific event, like “Give the dog his heartworm pill at noon”.
To-do list implementation for the calendar. Again, from the comments to the announcement, Jeff Croft asks about this, specifically that supported by the iCalendar format. Probably ninety-five percent of what I personally use Backpack for is some sort of to-do list. For short-term stuff, I would love to see this implemented in the Calendar, but have lived without it this far. I would much rather see 37signals devote developer time to repeating events and print styles, something they still need for Backpack’s regular pages.
All in all, the Calendar function in Backpack is simple and elegant, and on par with what I would expect from 37signals. It took them two and a half months to arrive at this point; I hope the next two and a half months result in usability improvements which put the Backpack Calendar over the top.
Mucho gracias to sysadmin extraordinaire Jim, who was up late last night with the server transition.
There is nothing like a fast server on a fast pipe to give you the warm fuzzies in your little geek heart.
We’re moving servers, thanks to the efforts of Jim, our sysadmin extraordinaire, so this site and its related entities will be unavailable for a while, beginning around 8 PM CST this evening. This includes e-mail, so if you try to send anything to my e-mail address at this domain after 8 PM, you may want to wait until tomorrow.
If you’d like a first-person account of the Hezbollah attacks on Israel, and the Israeli response, head over to David Dolan’s site and subscribe to his e-mail list.
David is a Christian pastor and author who has been resident in Israel for many years. Last year, David spoke at our church, and even for someone like me, who has followed the Mideast conflict, and the region’s history, for many years, it was eye-opening.
Lee perfectly sums up my feelings on MySpace.
I love the build names for Ubuntu Linux: “Breezy Badger”, “Dapper Drake”. Are they all alliteral?
Though I don’t do nearly enough of either, I love hiking and camping, and could see myself as a flashpacker.
Stephen H. Wildstrom has the latest idiotic move by the recording industry, which is suing XM Satellite Radio over its Inno portable receiver/recorder. Even though there’s no way to get the XM-specific music files off the Inno (yet), and despite the millions and millions of dollars in royalties XM already pays the music industry, the Inno is obviously a threat to the future of music as we know it and it must be stopped.
In other news, consumers welcomed more artists as the latter left the major music labels…
Entrepreneurs should check out the WSJ’s StartupJournal.
Per Paul Stamatio, as if you needed thirty-six other reasons.
Guy mentions the web telephony service Jajah, which looks interesting, especially when compared to Skype. Unlike the latter, Jajah doesn’t require you to download any software, and you use your own phone.
This is just about as dead-simple telephony as you can get. You enter your phone number, then the number you’re calling, then hit the Call button. Your phone rings, you answer, then it rings the number you’re calling. That’s it.
So, like Skype, you can call internationally really cheap. Unlike Skype, you can dial Guadalajara, then chat on your mobile with the golf pro who took three strokes off your game, all while you drive to your local course.
Personally, I’ve never had much use for Skype. I haven’t called internationally in ten years, easy. Calls within the borders of the U.S. are covered adequately by my mobile phone plan. And if I were calling internationally, I may not want to be tied to the computer when doing so. Should I have the need, I can certainly see myself favoring Jajah.
Speaking of Tom, he’s authored a great paper as part of the Master’s program he’s enrolled in. Titled “Weblogs, Pamphlets and Public Citizens: Changing Modern Media”, in which he compares the citizen journalists of today’s blogosphere to the pamphleteers of pre-Revolutionary War America. I got a sneak peek during the drafting and editing phase, and I think it’s really good.
Some choice quotes:
The effects of blogs in a new media environment are twofold: Weblogs cover stories that their mainstream media counterparts, for editorial reasons or other gatekeeping practices common in modern professional media, omit or miss entirely; and weblogs also bring to bear an ever-vigilant group of diverse problem solvers that fact-check the work of many reporters and journalists in the mass-media arena. This makes the blogosphere an excellent addendum to mass media, operating as both appendix and errata to the main compendium of stories that the mass media puts into the public sphere using trained reporters and journalists.
As technology had advanced further, producing Really Simple Syndication (RSS), a distribution method that allows for easy and automatic syndication of new additions to weblogs, it has become possible for a consumer of media to add weblogs to their daily news diet. This allows for readers to mix and match their media, creating a new media outlet that is personally tailored to their interests and to their pursuits. Using an RSS-reader application on a personal computer, a sports fan can have a forty-page sports section and a one page local section, or a political junkie can have page after page of differing commentary from a variety of sources. The reader becomes their own editor and gatekeeper, combining multiple weblogs and conventional media sources, which have also adopted RSS, into their own personal fountain of news and commentary.
If you’ve read Dan Gillmor’s We The Media and/or Hugh Hewitt’s Blog, some of Tom’s piece will sound familiar, especially in that he cites the former as a source, but I say the familiarity makes Tom’s arguments stronger. Good work, my friend!
Stop wandering aimlessly through that phone tree, and get a human on the line.
Love coffee? Love cafes, but don’t want to support the corporate monstrosity? Then use Delocator to find local shops near you. And please, if you know of a local cafe that’s not listed on Delocator, add it!
[Waves of the phin to John, Paul, and John at FD.]
While I think it’s probably the third-best browser for Mac OS X, I would have to say Firefox is the best browser for those who insist on using Windows. Some of the more rabid Firefox fans are making their own commercials for the browser. Give Me The Soap is my favorite.
[With a wave of the phin to dealnews.]
Cableyoyo’s new Pop is a good idea, but most folks I know with iPods keep them in some sort of case.
What happens when you shove an iPod Shuffle in to a NES controller?
[Via IM from Lawson.]
Lee has no sense of adventure.
Memo to Skip Bertman, Director of Athletics, Louisiana State University: in the future, Final Four-bound teams are not allowed to come back to Baton Rouge prior to the semi-final game. Apparently, there’s something in the water that results in “chucking”, better known as “the shooting of bricks”.
It was painful enough watching the men’s team lose the game last night due to their inability to put the ball in the basket (as opposed to UCLA’s winning by making it difficult for the Tigers to do so), but the ladies seemed to have the same problem tonight against Duke, a team which was making it difficult for the Tigers to put the ball in the basket.
Two shots at a championship, two shots blown. Kudos to UCLA and Duke. There’s always next year.
And it’s baseball season.
I’m sure some of you will respond to this revelation with a “Well, duh!”, but CompuServe is still around.
One of the ladies in our minichurch has a cs.com e-mail address, and suddenly curious as to what that domain was, I punched it in to Safari’s address box. Lo and behold, it’s CompuServe.
Which is now owned by Netscape.
Which is owned by AOL Time Warner.
[Wave of the phin to Dan.]
Guy Kawasaki has a new blog.
37signals is doing something a bit differently with the Backpack affiliate program: you don’t actually receive cash, but rather credit toward your own Backpack account. Theoretically, your own Backpack usage could be completely free if enough people sign up for a paid plan through your referral link.
You can use this link to sign up for and use the Backpack web service. The default plan is free, so it doesn’t cost you a thing to try the service out. Backpack affiliates don’t make a dime unless you upgrade from the free plan to one of the paid plans, which start at a mere five dollars a month. (This is the plan I am currently on.) Continued use of Backpack is one more reason I will likely not renew my .Mac subscription next year.
I just wish the affiliate program had been up and running last month, when I upgraded. Then Tom, who got me hooked on Backpack to begin with, could have earned some coin.
Backpack won’t be for everyone, just as with any other tool, but as with any other tool, you won’t know if you’ll like it unless you try it.
Do not leave your Gmail In box open in your browser window, as it inevitably will consume mass amounts of real and virtual memory. Get in, do what you have to do, and get out.
Adam Engst details the plan for retiring the Info-Mac Network, noting that it has outlived its usefulness given the Internet’s current climate.
The retirement will not be immediate, though the ceasing of new software acceptance will be. The Info-Mac server will remain online for a few months, as mirror sites make the necessary decisions regarding supporting the now-frozen archive. If you want your very own mirror of the Info-Mac archives, you’ll need a mere seven gigabytes of storage and a simple Unix command.
You have to love the ode to Douglas Adams on Tim Berners-Lee’s new blog. (Hint: bottom of the page.)
[A wave of the phin to John.]
Now that Yahoo! has absorbed another social-software site, maybe del.icio.us’s import feature will get fixed. I’m hesitant to really dive in to the service, or Furl, until one of them can import all of the bookmarks I have loaded in my browser.
[Big wave of the phin to Lee for the pointers to the feed links.]
With thanks to John for the post title and link:
As if it weren’t enough that Rich is responsible for two of the applications I use the most each day, he is a fellow scotch and peanut butter lover. Rich, drop me a line when you’re in Dallas; there’s 12-year Glenfiddich Special Reserve in the pantry.
If you care to get Retrophisch posts via e-mail, now you can, thanks to Bloglet. Scroll down, and look for the Bloglet subscription box in the right-side column. Enter your e-mail address, hit the subscribe button, and that’s it. Enjoy!
Three years. One thousand, two hundred and eighty-seven posts.
Need to send an e-mail to a loved one’s or friend’s mobile phone, but can’t remember the confusing email@example.com e-mail address wireless services set up? Use Teleflip, a free service. You can use it from any e-mail client or web-based e-mail. Just send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, and that’s it. Be sure to use all ten of the phone’s numbers.
(Note that any fees your wireless provider charges for receiving e-mail/text messages to your phone will still apply.)
When John Gruber released Markdown in to the wild, I was intrigued, and soon after, made the switch from Textile to Markdown, and I’ve used it for online formatting ever since. Like Merlin, I’ve found myself using Markdown syntax in other areas, but unlike Merlin, only while typing.
Now I want to have my cake and eat it, too: Markdown for Backpack & Writeboard.
After using the latter for a couple of days, I e-mailed 37signals with my request. I figured it would be something not-too-hard (I hesitate to use the phrase “fairly easy,” because I am, for the most part, totally clueless about backend web server type stuff) for them to implement Markdown formatting for Writeboard. My suggestion was to make it a preference a user could select, leaving Textile as the default.
The reply I received from 37signals honcho Jason Fried was encouraging. While he made no promise as to future implementation (not surprising, standard fare), it does sound like something they’ll toss around the conference table. A whiff of hope is better than none at all.
Google’s version of Bloglines, Google Reader, is now available as a public beta. The first feed I put in was for Jon’s GoogleRumors, since that’s where I found out Google Reader was live. I echo Jon’s sentiments, and will also note, based on my own feed, that Google Reader doesn’t recognize HTML tags in post titles. It doesn’t seem as zippy as Gmail does, either.
I’ll keep my eye on it, but it won’t be replacing NetNewsWire for me any time soon.
No, the Defense Department isn’t shuttering personal blogs of soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, but it is asking them to be more careful. I can understand the frustration some of our active-duty milbloggers must feel, but for security reasons, it is better to err on the side of caution and not post something the enemy could potentially use and exploit.
If you’ve spent any time on the Ranchero beta lists, exchanged e-mail with Brent, or read his blog posts on development, you know Mr. Simmons does not go off half-cocked with major business and development decisions. Despite Tom’s dislike of NewsGator, I’m sure Brent and Sheila were quite careful with whom they chose to sell NetNewsWire. After all, this company is Brent’s new employer. He would have to be convinced the company would foster the sort of development environment in which he would have the freedom to make NetNewsWire all it could be.
As he notes, there are things he’s wanted to do with NNW that he has been able to not get to, having to deal with the business and support aspects of being an independent software developer. By going in-house with NewsGator, Brent is now free from those other constraints, absent anything he may wish to do on the side with Ranchero’s other products that NewsGator did not purchase. With regard to NetNewsWire, all Brent has to worry about right now is programming. One would reasonably believe this is a Very Good Thing™.
I have no opinion about NewsGator, as a company or with regard to any of its products. They have never been on my radar before. Perhaps Tom knows something I do not, but again, I believe Brent would have done his research regarding the company before making such a commitment.
With regard to selling out to Apple, I don’t see that ever happening. Apple’s nod to RSS is the feature built in to Safari. I don’t see a standalone news reader in Apple’s future, nor do I see Apple devoting the depth of features you can find in NetNewsWire in to the RSS cabinet of Safari.
In the end, it appears this is a good thing for the Simmons, and a good thing for Mac users. NetNewsWire simply rules the news reader market, on any platform. No doubt this is the number-one reason NewsGator was interested in it, and I don’t see any other product, much less an open-source initiative, knocking it from that perch any time soon.
Gruber points out that Ranchero Software has sold NetNewsWire to NewsGator. Big, big news in the Macintosh community it is. It appears this is a good move for Brent and Sheila Simmons, and will not affect NetNewsWire aficionados, yours truly included. I am a little concerned about MarsEdit, which Brent says, in the above-linked interview, they are searching for a new home for.
I’m sure Brent will take some heat from certain zealots in the Mac blogosphere and beyond, but he will get none from me. He and Sheila have to do what’s best for them, and by throwing in with NewsGator, it would appear the sky is suddenly the limit. Our best wishes to the Simmons, and we eagerly await the next version of NetNewsWire!
Writeboard, the latest web service from 37signals, is now live. Think of Writeboard as a web-based whiteboard that can save all of your edits as you share with other users, and you can use Writeboard solo, too. Backpack users can attach writeboards to their backpack pages. The Writeboard web service is completely free.
I’m definitely going to look in to this more, as I agree with the 37signals gang: “Wikis are icky.”
I’ve disabled TrackBack on this blog and on Godblog. Two reasons have brought about this change. First, the TrackBack spammers have gotten out of control. SpamLookup is heading them all off at the pass, and none are getting published (thanks, moderation pref), but it’s taking up too much of my time to moderate them to Junk status and delete.
Second, I can count on one hand the number of folks who have trackbacked to Retrophisch, and on two hands the number of times they have done so. I sincerely appreciate these, but for the two handfuls of legitimate pings I’m getting, it’s not worth keeping open and dealing with the spam. Godblog’s managed only a single trackback, so the same logic applies.
This will not prevent me from giving trackback love to those who deserve it. Comments are still open and their use encouraged.
Note to self: do not join the clueless Authors Guild.
I echo Gruber’s sentiments regarding the decision of the Authors Guild to sue Google over Google Print. For one, an author can choose to exclude his work in a fairly simple process. Second, as an aspiring author, were I to publish a book, I would love to see it read by as many people as possible. If Google Print helped me accomplish that, so much the better.
Congratulations to Michael Hyatt, who is going to have to change the graphic on his blog after his promotion yesterday.
(What Mr. Hyatt doesn’t know, is that when I finally get around to writing my Christian-worldview technothriller, I will relentlessly harass him to publish it. So keep that between us, okay?)
Seriously, though, Mr. Hyatt has big shoes to fill, and we wish him the best and will keep him in our prayers. Sure, all businesses exist to make money, but my view is that Christian businesses, and notably in this case, a publishing house, exist for a higher purpose as well.
I’m already up and running on it with AdiumX, so I guess iChat will be taking a hike, and my fun balloons won’t be used in the future. (Can anyone point me to a reasonable substitute for Adium?) If you want to jaw via Jabber courtesy of Google, use my site name at gmail dot com, but you have to have a Gmail account to play along. Let me know if you’d like an invitation via the e-mail address noted in the previous sentence.
That’s web whacker, not weed whacker. The latter is taken care of by our Black & Decker Grass Hog.
A friend is looking for a Mac- or Java-based web whacker/sucker program for a project. According to what he’s tried so far:
The project in question is taking a dynamically-generated web site (which does not output HTML files), whacking/sucking it to a local machine in HTML format, then moving it offsite to another web server.
Please leave suggestions in the comments. Thanks!
Secure online storage and file sharing. Eight bucks a month gets you 4 gigs. No bandwidth charges, no contract. Nifty.
[Via Todd Dominey.]
At least that’s what VitalSource is hoping you’ll do: buy eBooks from them in the same way people buy music from the iTunes Music Store. James Duncan Davidson just finished the new version of their client application, which looks pretty nice.
I, for one, cannot get in to the whole eBook thing. I have a few PDF-based books that I use for reference material, and I’ve read Cory Doctorow’s books in electronic format, but the latter is really because I’m unemployed and have to do what I can on the cheap. I much prefer the dead-tree edition of literature still.
I finally attempted, once again, to set up POP access to my Gmail account in Mailsmith. I used all of the settings found on the Configuring other mail clients page, made sure to check “Leave Mail on Server”, and like any good technology, it all just works.
This past Monday marked the 5th anniversary of my first-ever blog post. Egads.
Have more frequent-flyer miles than you know what to do with? Well, transfer some to me! I’ve got to get back to the islands!
Seriously, if you have more miles than you think you’re going to use any time soon, here are some web sites that might be able to help:
MileDonor.com: up to 80 charities accepting point donations from 17 different airline programs
Points.com: trade in your miles, buy yourself an Iced Mocha Frappicino Grande. Or a new jacket.
People from time zones west of here should iChat me immediately. Especially if they’re twentysomething women who like to tell weirdo Internet writers how great they are all the time.
Middle-aged men pretending to be twentysomething women are okay too, as long as it’s convincing. You let it slip just once that you’re actually a forty-seven year old tire salesman who’s sitting in his enormous store-brand boxers with a Gateway on his lap, and the whole fucking thing is just ruined.
At least I can go to sleep tonight with something truly funny rolling around in my head. Come on, people, tip the man.
Kevin Hale of Particletree offers up some XHTML + CSS templates so you can get your next web design project quickly off the ground. Already in my bookmarks, and will definitely be a starting point for me in the future.
[With a wave of the fin to Jon.]
I have been lamenting the fact that I did not go with a Flickr Pro account a few months back, instead opting for another service. At the time, it was probably the reasonable decision, as the Flickr Pro accounts didn’t have all of the amenities they do now.
So I had actually been considering anteing up for the Flickr Pro account, because I realized I would use it more than the other service.
Tonight, out of the blue, during an IM conversation, Eric offers me a free-for-a-year Flickr Pro account he was given as a in-beta Flickr Pro account holder. “Problem” solved!
However, even though I am filled with gratitude for Eric’s generosity, he doesn’t want word getting out. He’s trying for that curmudgeon rep, and if he appears all nice and everything, that will never happen. So make sure you don’t link to this post any where. Maybe you shouldn’t even be reading it. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing it. Maybe I should delete it…
I happened to look at my archives page a moment ago, and noticed that in any given month, I have never cracked triple digits with the number of monthly posts. The closest I have come was 94 posts in February 2003. I just found this interesting, and thought I would share.
Actually, his blog is two years old. Happy Blogiversary, my friend!
Six Apart announced an update to the TypeKey service, one of which is that you can now choose to remain logged in to TypeKey for up to 2 weeks. For those of you who may have held off registering with TypeKey because you hated having to log in every couple of hours to comment on someone’s blog, now you no longer have that excuse.
I use TypeKey registration for my blogs, though it is not required. Should you choose to comment without signing in via TypeKey, your comment will simply remain in limbo until I approve it. TypeKey registration is simple, fast, and free.
Jon has provided a great way to look up CD info on Amazon. I’ve already got it bookmarked in my mobile.
Why is it that any time I look at the recommendations Amazon puts forth for my viewing pleasure, half of them are already on my wish list? You would think that with all of the web services, back-end stuff Amazon is in to these days, they would have devised a system where the recommendations I’m shown contain nothing that is on my wish list.
Update, 11:00 PM CST: So I put my money where my mouth is and sent an e-mail with my suggestion to Amazon’s General Questions box. I did get a response, but it seems to be of the form letter type. One thing it mentions is tweaking the recommendations, and I looked in to that.
The problem here is that I can see the items on my wish list that are included in the recommendations. There is a box next to each item that is checked, and the caption reads “Use to make recommendations”. My issue here is, I want Amazon to use this type of item to make future recommendations, but I don’t want this specifc item to show up in my recommendations. So do I uncheck the box or not?
John Gruber notes that the Microsoft fonts typically associated with and installed with Internet Explorer are still present in Mac OS X Tiger. Good news for web designers, and all those who appreciate a good font; Verdana and Georgia are among my favorites in their respective categories. Verdana is my default web and e-mail reading font, and I generally use Georgia for all of my styled text editing. As a matter of fact, it’s the font my resume is set in.
Stephen O’Grady has assembled a good introductory article for those who may not have gotten in to the blog-reading thing. For those of you reading this right now, this site is a blog, so you’re already reading at least one.
[Via Michael Hyatt.]
I am in the process of looking for a permanent residence on the web for my digital photos. I’m a little tired of the do-it-yourself routine I’ve been experimenting with, and I’m not looking forward to having to oversee yet another software backend, such as Gallery.
The photo set you can see at Flickr took me about five minutes to create. Granted, most of the hard work was already done in iPhoto (photo titles and captions). I used FlickrExport by Fraser Speirs to upload directly from iPhoto to my Flickr account. I uploaded the full-sized images, so my free Flickr account is currently full.
I had been looking at SmugMug, but now am having second thoughts, and am seriously considering upgrading to a Pro account with Flickr. More to come…
Mozilla offspring Camino has a new site. I like the new look, and downloaded the latest nightly build. Maybe it will be more stable on my system than 0.8.2. I really want to use Camino more, as I feel it’s faster than Safari on my systems, but it doesn’t seem as stable when it comes to running out of real RAM and having to subsist on virtual memory.
UPDATE, 10:30 PM CST: After downloading and installing the latest nightly build, I happened across the site again, and was greeted with this banner near the top of the main page:
Fun, fun, fun!
An example of “practice what you preach”?
I am not referring to an airline hijacking.
After further investigation, we learned that most of this extra bandwidth is going toward serving up various JPEGS to other sites. In other words, rather than downloading the desktop pictures we offer to our readers each month, and hosting it on their own server, people are linking directly to the file on our server for display on their sites. They are hijacking these images, and our bandwidth. This is nothing new. It’s just never happened on such a large scale before with any site I’ve been involved in.
People, this is not cool. First off, those desktop pictures are the copyrighted property of a photographer or artist who graciously donated their use to ATPM, and subsequently to our readers, as desktop pictures. This means if you want to use said picture on your web site, or any other medium, you should be contacting that photographer or artist for permission. Second, if said photographer or artist grants you permission for usage, you then host the picture on your own site. To link to the picture directly on ATPM means you are stealing our bandwidth, and driving up our costs.
We are not a for-profit publication. Our staff is all-volunteer, from the top down. Any moneys generated from ads and sponsorships goes in to our hosting costs, and after ten consecutive years of publication, those costs can be considerable. Thus, bandwidth is not something we can afford to give away, and certainly not at the rate of an extra 17 GB every month.
If you are one of the many persons out there linking directly to one of our pictures, please stop. You are violating legitimate copyright and stealing bandwidth from a group of people who do something each month out of love and joy.
So there you have it. Yet another reason to hate Flash.
Am I the only one who doesn’t get the whole del.icio.us craze?
So I just left a comment, in reply to one left by Raena, and a thought occurred to me: If I’m logged in to my Movable Type installation already, why can’t I already be logged in to my TypeKey account as well? It just seems silly to have to go through a separate login procedure to leave comments on my own blog.
Speaking of Movable Type, the web site has undergone somewhat of a makeover, and the old .org domain redirects to the link just noted. The new menu across the top left reflects all of Six Apart’s products, including the newly-purchased LiveJournal.
Thanks to inspiration from Lee, and code from Chris, I have the master archive index page I’ve been wanting. You will note there is no longer a monthly archive list in the sidebar. You can always get to the site archives by clicking on that “Archives” button in the navigation menu at the top right of each page.
Enormously, incredibly stupid. Michael was right. I was insane. I am man enough to admit such.
No more blogging at Godblog or digitalpembroke. (I do not link to the former because that domain will eventually go bye-bye, but do to the latter because I will keep it; it was my first domain, my first blog, my online baby.)
So while Retrophisch will maintain its focus on Macs and technology, items that were previously reserved for the above blogs, plus the already-retired Ludichris and Forty Caliber, may find their way here as well. Fear not, dear reader. Those other blogs were woefully underposted to begin with, which was what led to their retirement. You will not see a sudden influx of firearms or political-based postings. There are other bloggers doing a far better job than I on those topics. Yeah, there are bloggers doing a far better job on pretty much any topic I choose to cover. So I’m an egomaniacal narcissist at heart. All bloggers are. ;-)
Tom notes logging in to his Gmail account this morning, and finding 50 invitations to offer to others. This prompted me to do the same, wondering if I would also have 50 invites, seeing as how the last time I looked at my Gmail account, I still had 4 from the previous 6 given to me still available.
Sure enough, there’s the little box, just like Tom has in his post, with 50 invites ready to go. How am I supposed to get rid of this many invites? Has Gmail already reached a saturation level, and it’s not even out of its invitation-only beta program?
Maybe it’s just me; I have a fairly close-knit group of online friends, with a slightly larger group of acquaintances. Everyone in these two groups who wants a Gmail account already has one. Heck, the reason I have a Gmail account is because one of my friends pointed me to a post by Tom offering Gmail invites back when they were hard to come by, and this is how he and I began chatting. (FYI: my winning funny is #2 in the comments.)
I’ve had a hard enough time unloading the last six invites Google gave me. I’ve joined Gmail for the Troops, but have yet to unload any invites that way. My own attempt to have fun while giving out invites met with one whole reader taking me up on the offer. So now I’ve got 50 invites. Want one?
Everyone seems to be linking to The Register’s interview with a link spammer. This is what caught my attention:
“The hardest form to spam is that which requires manual authentication such as captchas. Or those where you have to reply to an email, click on a link in it; though that can be automated too. Those where you have to register and click on links, they’re hard as well. And if you change the folder names where things usually reside, that’s a challenge, because you just gather lists of installations’ folder names.”
So now you see why I’m using TypeKey.
His Gruberness has written, on behalf and with the input of, Six Apart, a comprehensive guide on weblog comment spam. This has given me some ideas for moving forward, though since I have instituted comment registration via TypeKey, I haven’t had a comment spam problem. Registration through TypeKey is free, easy, and fast, and it allows you to comment on any site which supports the protocol.
Anyone else out there find the 2004 Year-End Google Zeitgeist to be a total yawner?
I have come to the conclusion—and many of you may be wondering what took me so long—that Amazon’s search engine could be vastly improved. Viz: I enter “Politically Incorrect Guide to American History” in the search field, with the pull-down menu set to Books. In the first page of results, nada. By inserting “The” at the beginning of the search phrase, the book pops up as the number one item returned. One would think that the search phrase I originally entered would have been enough.
Likewise, I entered “Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World” in the search field, again with Books selected in the pull-down menu, and again, got nothing returned in the first page of results. I entered the author’s name, “Wesley J. Smith,” and his tome appears as the first search result. Only it has a capital “A” in the title. Again, the original search phrase should have been enough for Amazon’s search engine to figure out what I wanted.
So some of you may have noticed the site was down earlier this evening for about an hour. My sysadmin pulled the plug, so to speak, because those scum of the ‘net were hammering our server so badly, Apache may as well have been under a true DoS attack. I am referring, of course, to comment spammers.
So, henceforth, we’re going to try comment registration. It’s free, doesn’t cost you anything but a few moments of time over at TypeKey. With your TypeKey login, you can comment on any site that supports the protocol. (Nearly all of these will be those that use Movable Type or TypePad.) I’m sorry it’s come to this, but as with most things, a few bad apples ruin the whole barrel.
Wes points to this analysis of Firefox by Adam Kalsey, which I think is brilliant. I am an Internet power user, and I still see no compelling reason to use Firefox, though I heartily use its kissing cousin, Camino.
In the software requirements field there’s a problem called transference — transferring your understanding and world view onto that of the users. When you are dealing with understanding the requirements of a user, need to be very careful not to make assumptions about them. The easiest and most common assumption is that the user is in some ways similar to you or to other people you know. That’s because it’s a lot easier to identify with people with whom you have something in common. That transference of knowledge is what many of the commenters below are doing. Because of their advanced level of knowledge and the level of their friends and colleagues it is difficult for them understand and believe that there is such an enormous gap between them and the average user.
It’s not that these users are stupid. They just don’t realize that they have an alternative to Internet Explorer. Many don’t know that they have an alternative when it comes to connecting to the Internet. That blue E is the thing that they’ve always used. In order to switch they’re going to need to have a compelling reason. They’re going to need to be told not that they need a new browser or they should stop using IE, but that the way they currently use the internet is unsafe and that Firefox will solve that for them.
But before that happens, Firefox needs to be bulletproof enough that my 64 year old father in law can install it and manage it himself. He managed to install Weatherbug, Hotshots, Hotbar, and a host of other adware, so understanding how to install software isn’t the problem. The problem is that Firefox as it currently exists and is marketed isn’t as compelling as those applications. Each of the aforementioned tools provides some very real perceived benefit to the average consumer.
I convinced my wife to try Firefox after hearing her complain for the umpteetnth time about pop-up ads in IE. So I took care of the download, installation, importation of her IE favorites, and put a Firefox shortcut on her XP desktop.
The first mistake I made was not taking the IE shortcut off the desktop. She continues to use IE nearly as often as Firefox. My second “mistake” was installing Service Pack 2 for XP. Actually, that wasn’t the second mistake; the second mistake was telling my wife that SP2 enabled pop-up blocking in IE. In its current form, I’m not holding out much hope for Firefox’s continued use on our Windows box, because the biggest perceived value of Firefox to my spouse has been overcome by Microsoft.
Adware and spyware continues to be a concern, but we have tools installed to kill those. The problem I’m having with convincing my wife to continue to use Firefox is that it helps to prevent their installation in the first place. I need to begin by taking that IE icon off the desktop.
The previous entry marked number 800 for this now two-year-old blog. Despite it being noted on my calendar, I completely missed the two-year anniversary of retrophisch.com on the tenth of this month. So, two milestones this month, and here’s to many more to come.
I discovered these desktops by co2metal, aka Andy, while cruising through ResExcellence last week. Now, I’m not nearly in to the whole GUI customization thing as I used to be. I don’t really bother with custom icons any more, and more often than not, you’ll find my desktop pictures to be photos from our vacations or of our little one.
Yet I’m drawn to Andy’s abstract and fractal creations. I’m thinking of making a custom Mac OS X screen saver with selections from his gallery. I hope Andy doesn’t mind!
Hearty congratulations go out to Friend of the Phisch™ Jon Gales, who is featured in the November issue of Business 2.0! (The issue in question is for November 2004, just getting to subscribers, and hitting news stands soon.)
My favorite n3rdling is all grown up. Kudos to Jon for putting his nose to the grindstone, making his mark on the ‘Net, and living his dream job!
So after deliberating over whether or not to eliminate categories—and thank you so much for all those comments with feedback—I have decided to can the categories on this and all of my blogs. (Seriously, I do thank those few who did weigh in on the issue, either through comments, e-mail, or instant message.)
I feel Raena summed it up best in an IM: “Seeing as how you have the uber blog empire, I wonder whether it’s worth using categories either. If you were using one blog for all that stuff, then yeah.”
After replying that she flattered me—while I’m running five separate public blogs, I in no way feel I have a “blog empire” a la my favorite n3rdling—Raena then stated the obvious, which I suppose I hadn’t really considered: “Seriously, though. You have separate blogs for separate interests, so I don’t see that categories are as much of a concern.”
She’s right. Initially, everything was posted under Retrophisch, and categories were a necessity. No longer, however. With the different blogs for different interests, categories within each blog seemed nitpickish and maybe even a wee bit obsessive-complusive. Yeah, I think we can do away with anything obsessive-compulsive…
While I will no longer be posting within categories, the old category pages are still there, if you know how to find them, or you previously linked to or bookmarked them.
In the first 17 hours of October 2004, these are the Top 10 Search Phrases for retrophisch.com:
That is the question.
I have wondered, of late, if I should continue to bother. If I shouldn’t just stop categorizing, and kill all current categories. As a blogger, some times it is downright annoying trying to categorize a post. If a category doesn’t yet exist, you have to create one. If you create one, then you may go months without a post assigned to that category again.
I have found, as a blog reader, that I really don’t pay attention to categories on others’ sites. If I discover a new blog, and want to read more than just the post that brought me there, I usually go in reverse chronological order, rather than sorting through categories.
I know some of my fellow bloggers out there utilize categories, and some do not. I’m looking for both bloggers and blog readers to weigh in on this issue. Leave your thoughts, pro or con (or both), in the comments.
Have you head the radio ad from Register.com with the two guys, “We lost the client because we didn’t have a web site”? What utter tripe. Apparently, Register.com doesn’t have a clue how an actual sales meeting would work.
If I am a sales person, already in a client’s office, meeting face to face, half the battle is already won. I am the face of my company, especially if the company is my own. I have full knowledge and pricing of my company’s products, and can show examples to the client in question. Presumably, on my business card will be an e-mail address of some kind, so the client can get in touch with me in some manner other than by phone. If said client—who has met me, seen my examples, been given a catalog, brochure, or other marketing materials, as well as my prices—then decides to not buy my products or services simply because I do not have a web site, then said client is insane.
If by not having a web site means one would not have an e-mail address, then Register.com should note that in their commercial. The whole thing is nonsense, and really annoys me each time I have to hear it. And for crying out loud, don’t pay Register.com twenty bucks when you can go to GoDaddy and register a domain name for nine dollars.
Top 10 search phrases for retrophisch.com for the first three days of September:
The Web Standards Project has started a new campaign, called Browse Happy, as an attempt to get people to switch from the unsafe, non-pop-up ad blocking, inherently security unconscious, Internet Explorer.
I recently installed Firefox on to my wife’s PC, and showed her how it blocks the pop-up ads that annoy her with IE usage. It was a snap to install, and it brought over all of her bookmarks, preferences, etc. from IE. Not to mention that Safari, Camino, Firefox, and Mozilla all tend to be more standards-supporting than IE. Do yourself a favor and find an alternate browser. Do web developers everywhere a favor and find an alternate browser, so we don’t have to keep coding for more than one type. (I’m looking at you, Internet Explorer.)
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has broken the 100 million-song barrier.
I’m still shaking my head over this one. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before someone comes up with Texas blogger schwag. (No, it won’t be me.)
(With a nod to David)
Comments are back, so Chris P., you can now comment on my GarageBand-created track.
The solution? Turns out I had a blank line in my Movable Type banned IP list for retrophisch.com. This was blocking all IPs from posting. Deleted the blank, rebuilt the site just for good measure, and happy comment spamming days are here again.
Thanks to the many posters in the Movable Type Support Forums for commenting on their own comment problems. One of those forum members pointed me to the solution.
For some reason, no one is able to post comments at the moment. Not even myself. “You do not have permission…”
It is under investigation.
Why is it that Amazon.com’s recommendation system isn’t smart enough to figure out that it doesn’t need to recommend something to me that’s already in my wish list?
Declan McCullagh discusses his reservations about Google’s in-private-beta Gmail system. His privacy concerns are well-founded, but I’m sure a lot of people are willing to give up a bit of privacy for something that would have as much perceived value as a free gig of e-mail space.
Should Gmail open to the public as is, I can still see myself signing up for it, though my usage of it would be limited to a certain scope. In other words, I would be my own privacy protection, and that may be the best users can hope for.
So looking at Lee’s setup had me thinking that my blog could use a little more color, so I jumped on the button bandwagon. You can see my own button-mania in the link section to the left.
Huge kudos and thanks to my favorite code babe, Raena, for the buttons for my own web sites, as well as the buttons for Michael’s SpamSieve, ATPM, John Gruber’s Markdown, and Darwin. Feel free to steal and use on your own sites.
The Mac Marginalization report at MacInTouch has seen a spurt of activity in recent days, notably about certain web sites not working with Safari or other non-IE browsers. In today’s postings, MacInTouch reader “Steve” suggests:
Safari users often are subjected to annoying web page redirection to inform them that their browser is not supported. Microsoft’s subversion of web standards deserves a similar tactic: “Your browser does not adhere to international web standards. Please contact Microsoft support to request standards compliance so that we can provide a better web experience for everyone. You will be redirected to our non-standard pages momentarily…”
If every web page handled MSIE this way, the stream of customer support inquiries might eventually annoy Microsoft enough that they would clean up their act.
While I highly doubt the latter would ever happen, it is amusing to consider the former nonetheless. Windoze users reading this, and other web standards-composing web sites, would do well to look to Firefox/Mozilla.
Next month, my wife will be leading her firm at the annual March of Dimes WalkAmerica in Dallas. She has registered to raise money for the event, and we’re asking for donations, which you can contribute by going to the web site set up just for her: http://www.walkamerica.org/KLTTX.
Our son, now a healthy 7-month old, was born 9 weeks premature and spent 6 weeks in the Neonatal ICU. During that time, we witnessed the good things done by the March of Dimes first hand. We’d appreciate any support you can give to this great event. Thanks!
Lee has suspended blogging at dtpbylee.com, and has opened Second Initial. He has a kick-butt layout thanks to our favorite code babe, Raena, and guessing is now open on the significance of the domain name.
Congrats, my friend!
In an endeavor to fully separate the personal from the tech talk, per the rejection of my Google AdSense application, consider this the formal announcement of the re-opening of my original weblog, digitalpembroke. The process for moving over all photo albums, reading lists, etc. is in progress.
Yes, Michael, I am quite insane.
If you’ve actually been hitting the site over the past couple of days rather than reading posts via RSS feeds, you will have noticed the new look. To go along with the new look is something of a new mandate I gave myself.
Retrophisch refocuses its coverage on the Mac world and technology in general, with a few bits of personal fun, like my observations on college football (Geaux Tigers!) and hockey, thrown in. From this point forward, I’m shifting the following topics to respective blogs:
All sites carry a common layout that identifies them as the Retrophisch Family of Blogs™, and all of the above sites link to the others. There may be some crossover posting, going on, as religious liberties might well be discussed on both Godblog and Ludichris, just as firearms freedoms could be discussed on both Ludichris and Forty Caliber. But for the most part, each will remain distinct from the others.
I wanted to do this both for myself and those of you kind enough to frequent my site. I have felt that perhaps I was trying to cover too much in one site, and, heck, I’ve had the domains just sitting around waiting to be used.
I must send out major thanks to Raena for her invaluable assistance in getting the backend code tweaked and the CSS working right. Thanks also to Jon, Lee, Michael, and anyone else I may have bugged over the past few months about taking a look and helping me with items that were wrong. Errors in the content are purely my own.
I’m still working on code for some of the auxiliary pages, so, yes, I know the Photos and Read pages don’t share the same layout. I likely won’t touch the Photo albums until the Trotts & Co. release Movable Type Pro, which will feature photo album creation. (Yes, I know about Gallery and myriad other such products, but I’ve issues with trying to get them to work, and I can only guess how well the whole album thing will work in MT Pro, so I’m content to wait.)
Comments on the new look are welcome and appreciated, as are any bug reports readers may feel necessary.
My friends Jim and Lissa have gone live with their new site, appropriately titled, Jim and Lissa. I’m going to miss seeing Jim at work each day, but at least there’s AIM.
Congrats, you two. You are welcome to pool, and the pool, any time.
So some yahoo is now comment spamming in random posts about discount life insurance. Congratulations, ingrate. Get a new IP, because you’ve been banned.
Granted, I’m flattered that you think my blog is so popular to be spam-worthy for you to waste time on. Moron.
I check my email this morning, and what do I find but some idiot has uploaded penis enlargement spam into the comments section of one of my posts (from October 2002, no less).
Comment deleted, IP banned. Don’t you morons have anything better to do?
SuperToad has redesigned the Pond, giving up his home-baked PHP model for a site generated by PostNuke. At least this way, his PHP knowledge doesn’t go to waste.
Now if I could just talk him in to another font for his logo… ;-)
Marc Marshall brings up the excellent point that Microsoft has come full circle with regard to Internet Explorer. His is the last post in Macintouch’s Browser Future report for today:
The bottom line in this situation is this: For the past several years, Microsoft gave away a free browser to kill the competition, and succeeded. Now, they have stopped development of their standalone product, and are giving people exactly three choices to get their “standard” product: 1) Buy Windows. 2) Use MSN for Internet access. 3) Pay them $10/month or $80 per year. No free options, no free upgrades.
The price is higher than Opera or Omni’s paid competition, and you don’t have a free option, and you have an ongoing fee. In fact, if MS starts charging annual licensing for Windows, there will be no lifetime-licence-purchasable version of IE. This sounds like exactly the sort of consumer hostile situation that monopolies create, and governments are supposed to protect us from.
Now that they’ve pretty much saturated the market, Microsoft has been scrambling on how to consistently generate revenue. They have long discussed subscription software licensing, and this situation with IE appears to be the first shot across the bow. Unfortunately, I do not forsee the mass sheep of Windows and IE/Mac users torpedoing the Microsoft Bismarck any time soon.
Speaking of the dress-code-aware genius that is Dan Benjamin (is that enough, Dan?), he offers up some delectable food for thought on the discontinuation of standalone IE development for the Mac. I say standalone, because it seems that IE will continue on in MSN for Mac OS X.
Zeldman sums it all up rather well.
From here, as it has for several weeks now, it looks like a period of technological stasis and dormancy yawns ahead. Undoubtedly the less popular browsers will continue to improve. They may even gain in market share. But few of us will be able to take advantage of their sophisticated standards support if most of the market continues to use an unchanged year 2000 browser.
But enough, and enough, and enough. We are glad of the latest versions of Opera, Mozilla, Konqueror, Safari, and Omniweb. But on this grey and rainy day, this news of a kind of death brings no warmth. To Tantek and Jimmy and their colleagues on the IE/Mac team: for what you achieved on behalf of web standards and usability, much respect.
When it arrived, IE5/Mac was the standard for web browsers. It shamed Netscape. Complacency and stagnant development, however, have left it behind technologically. Zeldman mentions reasons people switched from IE to Camino or Safari; I switched for all the reasons he discusses, including that it’s one less Microsoft application on my system. There are choices people, and they’re better than the “standard.”
There are now some screenshots of the TypePad interface up at the main site, including the photo albums feature. Having just recently moved over some of my own photos, this is interesting. I may hold off on any more conversion/moving until after TypePad pricing is announced and/or it goes live.
IE/Win doesn’t fully support the PNG graphics format, and Zeldman points to an online petition that is now just shy of 7,000 signatures. (Yours truly is #6977.) Every modern web browser with the exception of IE/Win has full PNG support built in, including beta browsers Safari and Camino. Please sign the petition and let’s hope Microsoft will listen; they’ve only been promising this since IE 4.
So I had put off two minor projects for the site for a while: a colophon, and moving all my photos from my .Mac account over to this domain. As of now, those two projects have been finished. More photos will be forthcoming, as I will likely move the photo albums from my old domain over to this one, so that everything is in one place. Permanent links to both are in the new Navigate tabbed menu at the top
sub-menu to the right. Enjoy!
I don’t know what it is, but sometimes I get this minimalist bug. So yesterday I decided to kill the parchment background (thanks again, Lee!) and just go with white. Helps save on the bandwidth for dial-up users as well.
Also, I added in a dotted separation line for the banner title and description at the top. I really like the way the site looks in IE 5/Mac. I just wish it looked as good in Camino and Safari. I’m soliciting feedback on this new addition, so leave a comment!
Zeldman calls it. Disney is not your friend.
See, back in 1998 I became the owner of a South American woolly monkey, whom I named Paco, with the intention of training him to assist in my freelance graphic design work. Everyone told me this was a terrible idea, that it would not work, that at the very least I would need a chimpanzee or orangutan, that a mere monkey would never be able to do graphic design. I was unswayed. Do you know how much food chimpanzees and orangutans eat? And for chrissakes, an orangutan can beat you up—I’ve seen those Clint Eastwood movies, those [BLEEP]ers can pack a punch. I do not need to be coldcocked by my lower-primate assistant. What I wanted was a monkey, a loyal friend who, when otherwise unoccupied, could sit on my shoulder and pick crumbs out of my hair.
Gibson ruminates on how everyone now can have their own mediated persona, thanks to the meme of the weblog.
Thanks to Mark Newhouse’s article on Unix fonts, I was inspired to revisit the fonts called for in the site’s CSS style sheet. Now, OS X users should be greeted by Lucida Grande at 11 px for for the main text font. All others will see Verdana, Geneva, Lucida, Helvetica, or Arial, in that order. Lucida is really there for any Unix readers that may happen by (say hello in the comments!). If you’re a Windoze user, and all you’re getting is Arial, then reinstall IE to see about getting Verdana loaded; it’s a much, much, much better screen font than Arial, and I’m not just saying that because my site looks better in it. Others will as well.
Froogle, currently in beta, is a Google project for product price comparison.
Raena and I don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of stuff, but she’s a fellow Mac-head and ATPM staffer, so she can’t be all bad, can she? ;)
Anyway, she’s been blogging a while…
So I think enough changes have been made to the site within the past few weeks to warrant a full version upgrade. :)
Inspired by re-reading Robin Williams’ The Mac Is Not A Typewriter, I chose a monospaced typewriter font and created a new banner logo, as well as a new tagline graphic. Thanks to Michael for assistance in finding the font. The new retrophisch logo next to the name banner has been ready for a while, and my heartfelt thanks to my friend Francisco for producing what I could only envision in bad sketches. The aforementioned Macintosh book classic also inspired me to move to smart punctuation, and was reinforced by Lee’s doing so on his own site. As previously mentioned, John Gruber’s SmartyPants provides this.
Lee created the parchment-ish background picture for me, and I am grateful. Michael and Lee both provided assistance with behind-the-scenes MT, HTML, RSS, and CSS stuff, and they have my thanks. Brian has inspired me to add a bulletin board to the site; I envision having respective private boards for my family and my fellow ATPM staffers. I hope to have those up in the very near future.
Anu of the A.W.A.D. list is now gleaning example text from books found at Questia, an online library. It is a subscription-based service, though you can search for free. It appears, from the comments, at least, to be a real boon to researchers of all levels.
Lee’s blogging! Welcome to the weird and wacky world of the blog, bro. :)
Ok, so now I’m worried.
A few weeks back, I noticed that Gunnery.Net had dropped off the ‘net. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, as I figured Marv might have been moving hosts, having domain issues, etc.
Last week I started digging around; I noticed all of Marv’s domains (at least the 4 others I knew about) were off-line as well. All email to any address I ever had for him come back as undeliverable.
Now I haven’t spoken to Marv over the phone since before I stopped helping edit Gunnery.Net, but I decided to give him a ring. Disconnected 866 number. Disconnected long-distance business number. Hmmmm. Ok, I can understand killing the 866 number, those things cost major dough. I can even understand killing the biz number if he wasn’t using it any more.
Then today, disconnected unlisted home number (what can I say, he trusted me). Like I said, now I’m worried. Marvin Stenhammar was in the U.S. Special Forces in the 1980s; he was forced to retire due to a severe injury and a degenerative bone disease. Lucky for Marv, he married a Norse goddess of a doctor, who looked after him when she wasn’t at the hospital. Did they move? Or something worse?
I can’t head over to the SIG-L email list and poke around; the email list about SIG firearms Marv and I met on no longer exists. Or if it does, it’s on a different email server that I have been unable to google. I’ve googled Marv’s name and domains and have come up with squat, at least as far anything recent is concerned.
If you know of whom I speak, and you have information, please drop me a line at: retrophisch at retrophisch.com (sorry, anti-spam measure). I’d just like to know, you know?
Thanks to code deciphering from Michael, you can now see the categories I use for my posts at the bottom of each post. If you click on the category link, you’ll get a page that displays all previous posts in that category. MT rules.
Like myself, Michael (never Mike, always Michael) is using Movable Type to drive his blog, though he’s doing a much better job in getting the HTML that MT produces to validate. Now if I could just fix my MT templates to look as good in
Chimera Camino/Mozilla as they do in IE.
For crying out loud, now I have to worry about spam links showing up in my blog. Spammers are now stuffing blogs’ referral logs—a list that automatically updates links to sites that have linked to them—with links to sales pitches and porn sites. Yet more proof why spammers and the marketing companies that support them are the scum of the ‘net. (Thanks, Lee!)
I remarked to my buddy Brian that “retrophisch” sounded like something out of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, since it reminds me of “babelfish” from that series. Brian responded with a definition, based upon the one for the babelfish:
retrophisch: n. Living organism which is placed in the auditory canal of intelligent life forms. Used as a universal translator. Disadvantage: Translates to pure Anglo-Saxon English, hence the prefix “retro.”
Jim McKenna and John Lieberman have begun a campaign to send back 1 million CDs to snail mail spammer AOL. Just send Jim and John any AOL CDs you have received (yes, at your own expense), and when they collect 1 million of them, they plan to drive to AOL headquarters and dump the load at the front door.
AOL is not the only ISP that engages in this practice — AT&T and Earthlink are guilty, as well as others — but AOL is by far the worst abuser. Most people who receive the AOL CDs in the mail, or in a magazine, just toss them. The campaign is to simply ask AOL to stop sending out unsolicited CDs and contributing to more waste in landfills. Address info is at the aforementioned site.
Further blogging at digitalpembroke.com is now suspended. That site will be undergoing extensive redesign and reorganization, and will essentially be used for non-blogging purposes. So from now on, stop by retrophisch.com for the blogging goodness you’ve come to know and love!