Archive for October, 2003

I always like a good divination

October 31, 2003

Careful what you ask the oracle. You might not like the answer. I asked the Rune Caster today “Will it lift?” referring to a pall of gloom that’s beset me lately. The cast runes were encouraging:


Isa – Cessation of energy, freezing an issue where it stands, cooling relationships, separation, division.


Algiz – Protection, fortunate influences, fate on your side, victory and success, good luck and personal strength.


Tir – Victory, leadership, success over other competitors, increase in finances, virility and passion (especially for men).

Hey, it beats the newspaper horoscopes.

What is HFC and why did it send me $4000?

October 31, 2003

Oh wait, the check is a loan. Isn’t HFC, like, household finance or something? Now they just send you something that looks like a check and starts generating interest the moment you don’t put it through the shredder? Why don’t they just send me crack and get on with it?


October 30, 2003

Six years ago today I started a project of writing something live on the web every day. Back then we called that keeping an online journal or diary. Over time, what I was doing evolved, influenced by the software that started appearing, into something more closely resembling blogging.
In fact, Breathing Room was preceded (by one week) by a crisis log called The Daily Barbie that was my response to a threatened lawsuit from Mattel against my online ‘zine for hosting one of the versions of Mark Napier’s The Distorted Barbie. (Interesting sidenote: The online community reacted to this threat with store-and-forward “permanently dynamic mirror” of the artwork, exactly the way the Diebold memos are being circulated – see the first comment to this post from Lessig’s blog.)
I hadn’t yet worked out the last-entry-first convention, but during the two months (October and November, 1997) that I provided day-by-day live coverage of the threat letter and my response to it (along with links to legal documents and news coverage), I was given a glimpse of the power of the living web. Small wonder that I started my daily-writing project just a week later.
Now, I can’t claim six years of blogging. I’ve taken two long hiatuses (though neither rivals David Weinberger’s longest), and didn’t even manage a full year of daily entries before I determined that posting something every day was a good goal but not realistic or even entirely healthy.
My most recent sustained period of blogging began in January of 2002, when I set up a LiveJournal account (I had tried Blogger but not gotten much traction with it, for whatever reason – I think it was 2000 then and I was focused on making money before the tulipmania waned entirely). When I started RFB in July of last year, that kicked things up a notch.
Now, I am transitioning RFB into a group weblog, the better to cover the beat and relieve me of daily blogging-about-blogging (which leads to burnout, believe me). I realize that most of my friends and readers in the blog world know me through this Blogistan blog, and many link to it using my name as the linktext. I’ve always maintained a separate personal weblog, but haven’t generally promoted it as assiduously, as I expect it to be mainly of interest to people who know me personally or like my writing enough to want to read it regardless of the topic.
In time I’ve started a political weblog (which also has multiple contributors) and morphed my Memewatch site into a link log – the most fun, quick, and easy form of blogging, if you ask me. I’ve experimented with heavy use of categories and uncategorized blogging, and of course these multiple blogs. Now that I’ve set up monolog to capture all my online logging in one place. It’s probably the link I’d recommend associating with my name, but I’m not going to fight inertia.
I think Blogistan will get cooler with multiple voices. I’m still waiting for a response from one of the people I’ve asked to contribute, but I should be able to announce the contributors soon. One is already helping me work out the new template requirements (to provide bylines and author pages).
Breathing Room had an index of first lines (I was really into right-justification at the time), and I’ve always liked the “found poetry” effect a bunch of headings can make. (People often assume that the start page of this hyperstory is a poem, for example. [That background is so ugly! –ed. I know, I know.] Maybe someday, when I get Breathing Room (which was handcoded, static pages) imported into X-POLLEN, I’ll use Global Listings plug-in for MT to build a master list of all of my blog entries ever (well, aside from the ones at experimental, one-off blogs that haven’t been imported, but whatever). I think it might be cool.

Happy birthday to me

October 30, 2003

Wow, I don’t seem 39. When did I get so old?
This also marks the sixth anniversary of my first blog post (except we didn’t call them blogs back them, you young whippersnappers – it was more like an online diary). I can’t really claim six straight years of blogging, though, because there were two hiatuses (hiati?) in there of around a year each, circa 1999 and 2001.
I was smart to start on my birthday, though, because it means I don’t have to keep track of a separate “blogiversary.”
We had a party last weekend when the insane heatwave was still on. The last big birthday party I had was ten years ago. I now have a tradition of saluting the ‘9 year of each decade. Big difference in ten years. The party was a lot less rowdy, a lot more about quiet conversation and a lot less about loud music. One similarity is that each time I forgot to or was unable to get around to taking any pictures.
Now the weather has cooled off, thank goodness. There were even clouds in the sky again yesterday. What a relief. I don’t do well with the hot, dry east winds.

Tuesday is 'Luskin is a stalker' day

October 30, 2003

According to Tom Tomorrow, Neal Pollack is declaring this coming Tuesday (November 4, I believe, “Luskin is a stalker” day.
Oh, and Tom (or whomever maintains your blog for you), your RSS feed stalled out some time in September.

If you don't have a feed, you're not in my blogroll

October 29, 2003

I’ve been having a devil of a time getting Radio to update the relevant include, so I finally did it manually, and now my blogroll is synchronized with my actual current syndicated-feed subscription list (at least within a few days).
I’m using NetNewsWire as my newsfeed client (and for manually posting links and quotations to various Movable Type and TypePad blogs) and Radio to power my webpage aggregator and to build the publicly viewable Mediajunkie page. Mediajunkie doesn’t reflect every feed. Some are just too noisy or obscure, and others have a policy of not being “final” until 10 pm, so I don’t want to risk auto-reposting content that may be later disavowed.
It was also very hard to get Radio to import my more up-to-date subscriptions even after I exported them as OPML from NetNewsWire. It seemed to import them but then did not update the relevant files for quite some time, finally so after multiple restarts and reboots.
It’s so much easier to subscribe to feeds in NNW. I just drag the XML link directly into the client; in fact, directly into one of my category folders (current categories: Link Chains, Interesting People, Politics and Media, Geeks and Toys, Headlines and Pointers – but none of these show up in the Radio-driven side of things).
I also merged my political subscriptions with my other ones, although some of these didn’t have RSS feeds, and if you don’t have a feed, you’re not in my blogroll.
I still have my blogrolls set up but I’m not really using them right now, aside from the one for Well bloggers.
I’d like to note to the good people of Backup Brain that they were in my subscriptions all along and have now been restored to my blogroll.
Others once removed have been readded, now that I am calm enough to shake-my-head-and-skip instead of getting riled up, when a bit of flamebait is floated for effect.
Others have fallen by the wayside. My list is too long and unweildy right now. I need better sorting and filtering tools, but it will have to do for now. It’s not easy being a media junkie.

Blogger threatened by lawyer

October 29, 2003

I’m too busy this week to keep up with all the juicy weblog gossip and topics du jour, so I’ll just point you to Rogers Cadenhead’s coverage at his Workbench blog of this emerging story:

Atrios, the pseudonymous publisher of the liberal political weblog Eschaton, has been contacted by the attorney of National Review contributor and weblogger Donald Luskin, who warns that “further legal action” will be taken if weblog entries and user comments about Luskin are not removed:

You recently linked to Mr. Luskin’s October 7, 2003, posting on his website entitled “Face To Face With Evil,” in which he chronicles his attendance at a lecture and book signing presented by Paul Krugman. You chose the unfortunate caption “Diary of a Stalker” for your link. More importantly, your readers, in responding to your invitation to comment, have posted numerous libelous statements regarding Mr. Luskin. Picking up on the theme you introduced, several have made false assertions that Mr. Luskin has committed the crime of stalking. Such a statement constitutes libel per se, an actionable tort subjecting both the author and the publisher to liability for both actual and punitive damages.

Atrios has written entries critical of Luskin on Oct. 7 and Oct. 10, which of course makes him responsible for anything anyone else wrote about the incredibly thin-skinned Luskin on his Web site.

He’s been called a stalker by Paul Krugman and Glenn Reynolds also, so read them now before Luskin spends thousands of dollars to scrub the Web clean of figurative insults. [Workbench]

Documenting DeanSpace

October 28, 2003

So much for downtime. My FrontPage book is in the can (but still needs a website), and the revision of my Dreamweaver book proceeds a pace, ably handled for the most part by my new coauthor, Lucinda Dykes. My next major project is more than a month a away.
Mostly I’ve been writing fiction lately, but I’ve also been looking for ways to get involved in the upcoming presidential campagin and I’ve decided to support Dean in the Democratic primaries, so I went to the #deanspace irc channel at a while back and ran into Zach Rosen, one of the key techies in the campaign’s Burlington, VT, headquarters, and offered my services.
Zach tells me that what they really need help with is documentation for the DeanSpace software, an adaptation of the open-source Drupal community weblog application.
I had been meaning to try DeanSpace out lately. There’s an East Bay for Dean website but no Oakland for Dean site yet, so I figured that was a good one to launch and also use as a testbed. (I could also help the eb4dean people migrate to DeanSpace at some point if they want to – they aren’t using weblog software yet and have no RSS feed, I believe, although they’re making very good use of email alerts so far.)
One of the key reasons why the Dean campaign is offering DeanSpace is to bake the syndication right in. Dean sites are welcome to use any content management system (CMS) they want, but if they can generate a syndicated feed and especially if they can republish incoming feeds selectively or automatically (as you can do with Radio, as I do at Mediajunkie), then the potential for weaving together the various nodes of the Dean campaign grassroots online presence grows exponentially.
So, here’s my plan:

  1. Install the current DeanSpace version (0.95) and set up with it, noting any problems or questions that arise during the process.
  2. Study the current documentation and look for areas in need of improvement or supplementing. I figure we need a glossary, a feature reference, and a series of illustrated step-by-step tutorials, also probably a FAQ, a troubleshooting guide, and a place for users to ask questions on an ongoing basis.
  3. Introduce myself to the people already working on the documentation, learn what their priorities are, and find ways to be of service to the overall process.
  4. Start writing, editing, and proofreading.

If any RFB readers have experience installing DeanSpace or Drupal or have questions about this kind of CMS, please feel free let me know, ask questions, make suggestions.

Cranky soup

October 27, 2003

When we run out of stuff at home, when we remember, we write it up on the whiteboard magnetically attached to the fridge, so next time I go shopping, if I remember to check the whiteboard, I can remember to get whatever it is we’ve run out of, on top of the usual stuff I always get, like half ‘n’ half and juice oranges and cat fud.
So we ran out of laundry soap, I guess, a week or so ago, and B wrote it up on the fridge. Out of the corner of my eye I could have sworn it read “Cranky Soup.”
Will you be having a cup or a bowl, sir?

Song for Ben and Mena

October 27, 2003

Shannon Campbell wrote a song called Your Own Dot Org for Ben and Mena Trott (the founders of Six Apart) at the behest of Joi Ito. You can download it from Shannon’s site, Pet Rock Star.
Here’s the chorus:

you’re unbelievably adorably cute
benevolent, witty, and brilliant to boot
you’re a stupid fool with your own dot org
you’re a day late and a dollar short

How’s that for inbred geekiness? Listening to it now, I realize that if people don’t know the self-deprecating names of Ben and Mena’s now somewhat neglected weblogs, then the chorus could sounds a tad harsh. Obviously, it’s all delivered with loving kindness.