Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just a quick note to say “way-to-go” to Matt Mullenweg and the whole WordPress community team on the new release of WordPress 3.0 – This is a huge release!

The merger of single- and multi-user versions is great. So cool to watch WordPress grow over time. I remember eating lunch with Matt at a Gnomedex conference back in the day. Good guy.

I plan to move to WordPress sometime in the future for this weblog, but the whole “keep the link, content and search engine indexing” thing demands some careful planning that I have not had a chance to do yet. Anyone a pro in migrating from dasBlog to WordPress and making it actually work? I love dasBlog, and it’s been really good to me, but it feels like time for a change.



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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, June 17, 2010 9:49:06 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, July 20, 2008

A couple weeks ago I mentioned the release of Identi.ca, a social networking/microblogging site built on an open platform and allowing federation. Today, a beta release of Twhirl, one of the more popular clients used on the Twitter microblogging service as well as a couple others, adds support for Identi.ca and includes "push" support. Many of us who have come to like Indenti.ca are very happy.

That means Twhirl doesn't have to pole (read: overwhelm) the Identi.ca servers to see if you have any new items to read. Instead the servers just let you client know there's new content and pass it along. It works using the jabber/instant messaging interface (identi.ca sends it's push messages to your jabber account, and you tell Twhirl how to log into your IM account).

This is pretty darned smart (and takes a couple steps to set up). It's something that Twitter could probably use on their service to potentially reduce load (although I cannot say for sure that a push service would actually reduce the issues related to overloading of their servers).

Read more about it at CNET or grab the latest beta of Twhirl with Identi.ca support from this link.



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Blogging | Tech
Sunday, July 20, 2008 10:38:41 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Tired of relying on well-funded commercial software companies testing their software on you while you come to truly rely on it, with little to no control?

Well, the world is (potentially) changing.

If you're - for example - a Twitter user, you might be interested in checking out Identi.ca, a brand-new open-source platform for microblogging. Press release below.

I can be found at http://identi.ca/greghughes - Check it out.

Control Yourself, Inc. launches Identi.ca, the Open Microblogging Service (July 2nd, 2008)

Montreal, Quebec-based Control Yourself, Inc. today launched Identi.ca, the open microblogging service. Users can post short messages about themselves to Identi.ca, which are then broadcast to friends in their social network using instant messages (IM), RSS feeds, and the Web.

Identi.ca is similar to existing microblogging sites such as Twitter, Jaiku, or Pownce. Unlike those services, Identi.ca’s underlying software is available under an Open Source license. Identi.ca is also the first service to support OpenMicroBlogging, a standard for exchanging short messages between microblogging sites. Identi.ca also makes public user data available under a Creative Commons license in standard formats.

“Too many existing social networks keep users locked in to their services,” says Evan Prodromou, president of Control Yourself. “With an Open Source code base, and support for standard data exchange formats, we are giving users back the autonomy to control their own social Web presence.”

Response from initial testers has been enthusiastic, both for the software’s design and functionality, as well as the site’s openness. “It makes me feel alive again to see the resurgence of free/open on the web,” said Jon Phillips, Community Manager with Creative Commons in San Francisco, CA.

Control Yourself will grow the service exponentially throughout 2008, adding features such cell phone text messaging (SMS) and multilingual support in its next software release.

Link to the original press release: Control Yourself



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Blogging | Tech
Wednesday, July 02, 2008 1:11:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, June 30, 2008

I've really missed Windows Live Writer since I starting using my Macbook Air so much. Even though I have it in a Fusion virtual machine running Windows, I find I rarely use it since it uses the VM's filesystem (not the Mac's), and copying stuff onto the Mac clipoard and then pasting into a Windows virtualized app is not what one might wish.

I was pleasantly surprised to run across a Mac app called Blogo, which I am using to write this post. It's nowhere near as feature-rich as Live Writer, but Blogo is a great start on a WYSIWYG editor with many of the bells and whistles. I pointed it at my blog home page during setup, with very little hope it would auto-discover my blog settings, but I was pleasantly surprised. Up popped a dialog asking for my username ad password, and once I provided it, there on the screen was my list of blog posts pulled straight from the server's API (which I seem to recall emulates the Blogger API). Very nice.

Blogo has a funny icon logo, is available as a free 21-day trial, and after that it's $25. There are a few key features missing that might make me pause when it comes to shelling out the cash. Specifically there is no spell checking (I'd like to see red underlines and inline corrections with the right-click action), selecting text and trying to drag it around doesn't work, the image editor is fairly limited, and it doesn't seem to pull my list of existing categories. Plus you cannot edit the HTML it creates (yet) and pasting multimedia content inline doesn't seem to work well. But as I said, it's a great start. If you have a Mac and you're frustrated with other blogging apps, you should check it out.

It's the best WYSIWG mac client I've found so far, so it earns a spot on my Mac's Dock. I will be keeping up with this editor's progress with high hopes, and am encouraged there may yet me a Mac blogging client to rival WLW.

We can hope!



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Apple | Blogging | Tech
Monday, June 30, 2008 5:59:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Apologies to web viewers for the temporary disruption here - I have changed the design template for this blog to a new one (thanks to Anthony Bouch at http://www.58bits.com/ for letting me borrow) and plan to leave it live for 24-48 hours to see how it impacts visits, clicks and retention times in the stats.

I want to make a change since my old template is, well, old. And because Scott harasses me for it a couple times a year. But the template I have been using for a few years now works very well and so I have not made the final decision to move away from it just yet. My plan is to play with this one some and work toward a design that is as effective performance-wise as the old template, but one that looks nicer.

Anyhow, just wanted to send out a quick "sorry" for regular readers of the blog via the web for the cliche "under construction" phase. Be sure to let me know what you think works and what doesn't for you.



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Tuesday, June 17, 2008 9:04:29 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, April 17, 2008

One of the main reasons I decided I would buy the MacBook Air recently was that I knew I would be able to run Windows on it, either in a bootable install or in a virtual machine. In fact there is really one main app that I use all the time on Windows that I just can't get for the Mac, but that's a topic for another post. I'm quite happy with the Air - It's a great machine and  I have to admit that OS X has grown on me.

I bought a copy of VMWare Fusion after doing my required research. Compatibility with OSes and a variety of different features/capabilities put it at the top of my list for a virtualization host. I have a couple copies of Windows Server 2003 lying around here that I never broke the shrink wrap on, so I built a trimmed down virtual machine for use on the Mac.

In fact, I built three of them. But every time I installed a new VM and got it up and running, every time I restarted the machine VMWare would simply quit, die, crash - console and all. No running process and nothing on the screen.

Long story short, I searched and searched and searched and then went to the VMWare user forums, where I found a note about issues people have been having with Fusion and the MacBook Air when using the Air's external DVD drive. Apparently because I was unplugging the DVD drive and then restarting the machine without it attached, Fusion was somehow wigging out (my term) and closing unexpectedly.

After reconfiguring the VM in Fusion's control panel to no longer show the missing drive as "connected," the VM fires right up and works. Hopefully this is something VMWare will address in it's next Fusion update. It's tough keeping up with the nuances of new hardware, to be sure, so looking forward to a fix. In the meanwhile, manually removing the DVD drive in the VM's settings works like a charm.



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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, April 17, 2008 2:16:56 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I discovered (via iPhone Atlas) a new web app that lets you specify any well-formed RSS feed, which it converts to an iPhone-formatted and friendly list of headlines - sliding animations and all. My site's feed can be seen by clicking here.


You can just click on over and add your feed. It takes seconds. This geeral idea could translate into some pretty cool blog themes if someone wanted to tackle it.


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Apple | Blogging | Mobile | RSS Stuff
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 9:57:45 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, March 20, 2008

Guy Kawasaki and a couple of his friends recently fired up a site/service called Alltop, which displays a variety of popular topical areas in which various popular blog/news feeds are aggregated. Think of each of the topical sites as a one-stop-information-shop. High-level topics include the categories of Work, Living, People, Interests, Culture, Geekery, Good and News. On his blog Guy describes it as:

Alltop... a news aggregation site that provides “all the top” stories for forty of the most popular topics on the Web. The headlines and first paragraph of the five most recent stories from forty to eighty sources for each topic are displayed. Alltop stories are refreshed approximately every ten minutes.

The interface is clean and easy to read - lots of information on alltop-windowsthe page. Mouse over a headline and see the first few sentences of the article. Click the headline to go to the original site and read the full article or post.

I'm privileged to be among the bloggers whose sites are listed on the Windows Alltop news site (at http://windows.alltop.com/), along with a list of information sites and authors which - truth be told - I am amazed to be paired with. I mean, glancing at the site right now, I'm on the page between Ed Bott and the IEBlog. If I work hard enough at it, I can only hope to provide the types and quality of information you get from the other sites in the list.

Check out Alltop. Lots of good stuff there.



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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, March 20, 2008 11:55:06 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, February 09, 2008

I don't think I have actually mentioned it here before (oops), but I use Twitter on a semi-regular basis to jot down PocketTweets Screenshot (click for the site)thoughts, post my "status" and keep an eye on what some other people are doing. My Twitter name is greghughes (go figure), so feel free to add me to your follow list, or whatever. :)

Twitter has a mobile client (at m.twitter.com, but note that it only works on a mobile device) that works, but it's pretty basic and feature-incomplete. So, since I had some time this evening I decided to look around for software (to run on the PC) and web-based (for the iPhone) clients.

I found a few options, including a really nice web-based client specifically made for the iPhone (or the iPod Touch) called PocketTweets, which is clean in appearance and includes pretty much all the Twitter functionality. I can post my own Twitter updates (called "Tweets"), send replies to others, or anything else on Twitter I might want. It's certainly better than any of the other clients I found. Very cool.

Next I need to find a good Windows client that won't crash when run on a 64-bit OS. I've been using Snitter, which is pretty okay but doesn't quite work (update) reliably enough in my experience and I'm not much of a fan of bright and contrasty color schemes. Any ideas?



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Blogging | Mobile | Tech
Saturday, February 09, 2008 8:12:38 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, August 31, 2007

My friend Brad Pierce is in the middle of his trip around the world (literally), where he is doing the whole trip on the surface - no airplanes. He's crossed the United States, then the Atlantic, and is in Europe as I write this. Paris to be specific. It's a lifelong dream of his, and he left the familiar world behind to live that dream. I am a lot proud and a little envious. :)

You can keep tabs on Brad's travels at http://www.peopleinpassing.com/, where he is logging his experiences and posting some photos as he goes. Brad is also a talented photographer.

He says 5-6 months or more are still left to go, and the path is one that gets determined on the fly. It's a trip with it's bumps, which is really a critical part of the great experience in Brad's book. Great stuff, man.



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Friday, August 31, 2007 9:24:03 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Minutes ago and well in time for the Tuesday release goal on the West Coast, Omar released dasBlog v2.0 on Sourceforge, which as Scott mentioned a few days ago runs under the .NET framework v2 and supports medium trust deployment.

dasblogbannerimagedasBlogv2.0releas.0andmediumtrustsupport_1387E/dasblogbannerimage_2.png" width="500" border="0">

Downloads can be found dasBlogv2.0releas.0andmediumtrustsupport_1387E/dasblogbannerimage.png" target="_blank">here for source and compiled web files.

I'll upgrade soon (when I can find enough free minutes, probably later in the week). The dasBlog dev team is also pushing ahead with a version that will take advantage of the .NET 3.5 framework and should be very, very cool as well. So, lots there now and lots more to come!

I'll update here with details (or more likely a link to someone else's details list) soon.



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Blogging | Tech
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 9:27:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, June 27, 2007

dasBlogv1.9.7releasefinal.NE.1version_8FF9/image.png" target="_blank">imagedasBlogv1.9.7releasefinal.NE.1version_8FF9/image_thumb.png" width="240" align="right" border="0"> Scott posts about the latest dasBlog release, v1.9.7, which you can download and use now. He also discusses the pending (within a week) release of dasBlog v2.0, which will be compiled using the 2.0 .NET framework, and even additional versions planned under framework v3.5. Lots happening in dasBlog land. 

Among the new, improved and changed stuff in v1.9.7 (the below list is quoted from Scott's blog):

  • Fixed a metric buttload of bugs (ed: Scott's word, not mine, heh)
  • Taken in more patches from the public than any other release (Thanks public!)
  • Category and Home Page Paging Macros
  • LiveComment Preview (thanks SubText!)
  • Emailed Daily Activity Reports
  • Windows Live Writer Custom Integration
  • Support for Akismet Comment Spam Support
    • Go get a WordPress account, without a blog, and use the API key they'll send you.
  • Optionally show comments on the Permalink Page
  • Even more performance gains (4x+) in the Macro engine
  • New Internationalized Languages, including Swedish (Thanks Per Salmi!)
    • This brings our total supported language count up to 15! Although we can ALWAYS use more, and we really need double-checkers and updaters to put in localized strings for some of the new features!
  • Support for Blogging directly from Word 2007
  • Many fixes in our Blogger API and MetaWebLog API support
  • Better detection of referrals from Search Engines
  • CSS fixes and additions like highlighting of the Blog Author's comments
    • Make the comment email address match the email address in sitesecurity.config for this feature.
  • DHTML Timeline of Posts from the MIT Simile project
  • Support for SMTP Servers like Gmail for notifications
  • New themes
  • Support for THREE Rich Editors - FreeTextBox, FCKEditor and TinyMCE (in DasBlog Contrib, see the source)


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Blogging | Tech
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 9:25:43 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, June 17, 2007

Kent Newsome started a "help me rebuild my feed list" project recently, and I was pinged to contribute a short list.

This is an update on my swivel feeds experiment, in which I ask bloggers I read to help me rebuild my reading list.  I've had a great response so far, and my new reading list is coming together nicely, with a diverse and interesting mix of bloggers.

A good list has formed and when all is said and done he plans to create an OPML list to share.

Here are my five (or so) blogs for the recommendation list. I've tried to find ones that I would recommend highly but which are not already on Kent's list (there is one repeat though). Also, ones where the author published often. They're all listed for their own individual reasons, and no - not all of them are tech-related. Three of these people I have met in person, one I have interacted with on the 'net, and one I have only read. All get my attention in FeedDemon.

  • Rory Blyth - Often described in the past as a train wreck in progress, mostly his blog is just plain real - sometimes very much so. And he's a great writer.
  • Trevin Chow - A Microsoftie I know and appreciate, he's worked on a number of cool products and projects.
  • Adam Gaffin - He writes quick and topical links at computerworld.com on pretty much a daily basis.
  • Scott Adams - Yes, the author of Dilbert and a couple very good books. Scott's blog is incredibly smart and funny and smart and sarcastic and smart and ... Well, just go read it. I'd be shocked if you were not to become a regular.
  • Scott Hanselman - Yeah, he's already on Kent's list but let's face it, Scott's top notch and his blog bears repeating.

Of course, I subscribe to a lot more than those five, but they are among the ones I look at and read new content on nearly every day.



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Sunday, June 17, 2007 11:39:46 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, May 11, 2007

You know the best way to get a real grasp of how many people read your blog? Just stop posting. They'll come out of the woodwork with questions...

"Hey I noticed you haven't written much on your blog recently - everything okay?"

"What happened? Nothing new recently."

"Did you stop blogging or something"

"When are you going to start writing again?"

... and on and on. Which is nice. So thanks to all of those who have asked. I am alive and fairly well, thank you very much.

I've been pretty tied up at my job lately, with an even-more-than-usual workload. Between that and all the related (and unrelated) travel, any available time to think and write has been quite scarce. Then add in the fact that Richard and I have been working on our new IT podcast, RunAs Radio, and the situation gets even tighter.

But I am still here, so thanks for the thoughts and there is more to come.



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Friday, May 11, 2007 7:09:04 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, March 15, 2007
Hosting & Servers at GoDaddy.com

Let me start by saying I really like GoDaddy.

A while back, I migrated this blog from a shared web hosting environment to a virtual dedicated server at GoDaddy. Now, before I gripe a bit about the performance, let me say one thing. What I bought from GoDaddy is exactly what I got. They guarantee something like 384MB of RAM for their Windows VDS's, and my blog plus mail server regularly exceeds that amount. My fault.

What that means is that when the host that houses my virtual server is under heavy load from the various virtual machines it's managing, the available RAM allocated to my virtual machine could drop as low as the guaranteed 384MB level. Needless to say, if that happens and my apps need more, things might crash. Especially those apps that are already running in RAM at the time the allocation changes.

And that's what has been happening on my server. Plus, I have discovered it's getting quite expensive.

As I mentioned in my last entry, my blog typically pulls in around $80 a day or so from ad clicks. Well, this afternoon I had a few minutes to breathe at work and I discovered my server had been offline most of the day. My ad revenue for today is less than $30 as a result. Do that a few times a month and adds up pretty quickly.

So, I've decided that I will once again be moving, this time to a GoDaddy physical dedicated server on its own hardware - an Intel Core 2 Duo running at 2.13 GHz, with 2GB RAM, dual 120GB drive in a RAID array, a Cisco PIX 501 firewall and the works. The reliability and uptime of dedicated hardware is easily justified by saving all the lost revenue from the current system, so it just makes good sense to do this. It's true what they say: You get what you pay for.

At any rate, the downtime during the transition will probably be far less than the downtime each time the current server fails. Maybe I should install this copy of Exchange I have lying around here and really get things humming. Hmm....



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Blogging | Random Stuff | Tech
Thursday, March 15, 2007 8:18:29 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Over at problogger, I recently (well, actually it was several weeks ago - I am just now using a long flight from Chicago to finish this post) ran across a post entitled "Does AdSense Suck for Bloggers?" where Darren Rowse points to Guy Kawasaki (who started a popular blog called "How to Change the World" in 2006) and the New Web Order blog, which editorializes a bit further on Guy's experiences.

A bit of a high-profile slam on AdSense was taking place in these venues, which is unfortunate because Guy's experiences are not the same as everyone's. I'd venture to say that his experience may in fact be similar to the majority of people who just "give AdSense a try" without putting any serious effort into it. But Guy's blog was never optimized in terms of layout for AdSense advertising and his page content is not exactly optimal for context-sensitive advertising either. Now, he writes about many things (and quite well, by the way) and I truly enjoy his blog, but the fact of the matter is that there are a few things he could have done to improve his click-through rate and revenue. Not to mention the fact that his blog is still relatively new - it's only a year old. These things take time, the creation of contextual content and careful design. And the kinds of changes I am referring to would not necessarily have required trashing the layout or skimping/compromising on the author's writing style.

Go read Guy's post about his experience, and then take a look below at mine, to illustrate that it's not just about being famous or high up in technorati's listings when it comes to having a successful experience with AdSense. Being famous or well-known can help, of course, but it's really about how many web site visitors you get, whether the ads are contextually relevant, and how many of the people who visit your site actually click the ads to reach to the content they provide. I'm far from famous, and I am certainly not too well-known (thank goodness). But my revenues from AdSense on one single web site continues to amaze me.

Note: I am providing some information here that other people may not feel comfortable sharing about their own sites and experiences. That's fine, but I have no reason to hide any of this information. My point is to illustrate that AdSense can and does work, and to provide some evidence as well as a little balance to the "AdSense sucks" argument.

In mid-2006, my page views numbers were somewhere in the 8,000 per day range. Later in the year,  it's climbed to well over 10,000 a day, and is now well over 15,000 page views a day on most days - often in the 20-30,000 range.

So - for posterity's sake and for conversational comparison, here are some stats for the year 2006 on greghughes.net, per Google's system counters (which vary from and are slightly lower than my own internal stats counters, but I think being conservative is a good thing when looking at these values). Note that I cannot post publicly my account's actual click-though rate or other numbers due to Google's AdSense terms of service, which I respect. Also, I ran this article (pre-edits) by the AdSense support team before posting, just to make sure I am not crossing any lines. I have no desire to fall victim to the rather terse and stern terms of service that Google rightfully has on its program. They said I was good to go.

What I can tell you is that my click-though rate is relatively high compared to typical site averages, and that through testing I have proven to myself and others that the high rate is a direct result of effective placement and design of the ads themselves, in combination with site layout and design tweaks.

The 2006 stats for this site (greghughes.net):

  • 2,355,059 page views for an average of approximately 6,450/day average (using some very conservative counters to be sure). Note that today I average more than 20,000 per day - a significant difference. As you'd expect, that difference is reflected in the total number of clicks per day and the daily revenue numbers.
  • 264 posts for the year generated significantly less comments and trackbacks than Guy's blog did - and that's one difference in being famous and high-profile - people link and talk back to you more if you have some celebrity following like many of the A-listers do. Note that perhaps more important than how many posts and comments I had in 2006 are the other 1,107 posts that I made between this blog's inaugural post in 2003 and the end of 2005. Those posts still generate a significant amount of interest and traffic from search engines - many thousands of visits a day.
  • Again speaking conservatively, several hundred people regularly grab the RSS feeds. Again, this is a huge difference from Guy's RSS subscription count (I'm on the low end of the spectrum). His subscriber count via RSS is in the thousands - and this is also an indicator of why his traffic may not be driving much revenue. It's been proven that RSS feeds are not the better advertising medium. People just don't click as much. However, I should say that my friend Scott has seen some good results in his RSS advertising.
  • Total advertising revenue for 2006: approximately $8,700.00, which is significantly higher than Guy's revenue, and let's face, it - no one really knows me from a hole in the ground. It's also worth pointing out that the 2006 amount is for the full year, which includes a good six to seven months of significantly lower monthly revenue before I made some critical design changes to the page layout in about August. In fact, $1800.00 of the year's total came in December alone and my revenue values have been increasing consistently over time. Only time will tell, though. You never know what might drop or raise your numbers. Hopefully not this post, heh. For comparison purposes, my January 2007 revenue was over $2000.00 and it looks like February will close out at about $1700.00.
  • Again, I have intentionally left out any mention of metrics other than how many page views occur and the total payment amounts, because Google is pretty strict about not sharing other metrics like click-though ratios, cpm, etc.
  • As an aside, it's worth saying that for those who are not yet familiar with the process of IRS Form 1099 income, this is not all free money. You do have to pay taxes on it, and it's treated as income for an individual, so be prepared to set a large chunk aside for tax time each month. Keep that in mind and be sure to evaluate whether you should be running AdSense as an individual or as a business entity. Depending on your situation, there may be one option that's better than the other. you may want to consult a good CPA on an hourly basis to give you some advice. That tax hit, ouch!

There's a lot more that goes into making AdSense work than just dropping ads on the page and getting a few (or a lot of) people to look at your site. Sure, you have to drive traffic to your site content in order to get clicks. But ad positioning, relevance of the ads, the actual content of your site, and a number of other critical design and configuration elements play a major role in the failure or success of your advertising. The fact of the matter is, if you have a lot of distracting, flashy, graphical stuff on your pages, the ads will not get clicked nearly as much. Why? People just won't look at them nearly as much. It's that simple. 

For example, I used to have a picture of myself in the header of every page on my site, but one day I decided to remove it just to see what impact that would have on my ad clicks (specifically the click-through rate). I suspected that the picture was competing visually with the ads, resulting in less clicks. Sure enough, click-through nearly doubled as soon as I removed my mug-shot from the page template. Visual competition with your ads equates to distraction (you can think of it as visual aerobics - like watching a tennis game from side court), which means less clicks, which in turn means less revenue. Not a very complicated formula.

So, let me leave you with this - Despite the occasional popular, cliche rant in the blogosphere, AdSense most certainly and definitely does not suck for bloggers if you have patience, use it thoughtfully and apply it well. If you don't believe me, ask Joel Comm, the AdSense guru. If his AdSense Secrets is the bible of AdSense, then he is the prophet who can lead you to the promised land (forgive the analogy, sorry), but only if you actually follow his suggestions - all of them, even the ones you don't really want to. Remember - it's just a web site, so you can always put it back the way it was if you don't like the changes you make. You will have to experiment and try new things. Joel can tell you pretty much everything you need to know and a whole lot more. If I was to put some real and substantial time applying even more of his suggestions and those of others to this blog and maybe another one or two topical sites, I could quite possibly quit my day job.

But hey, I am certainly not planning to do that. I like my work and blogging is more of a passion for me than a vocation. I consider myself lucky: I'm certainly glad to have a revenue stream that makes it easy for me to justify using a dedicated host server and which pays for itself quite well (and then some). I'm also financially able to do more charitable giving in my community and in the world, which is important to me. It's a pretty darned good deal, no doubt about it. And I don't even have to do all that much to make it work - the content I've already written over the past few years seems to appeal to a wide audience, so they come here to find what they're looking for. Because the ads are relevant to what they're researching they sometimes click. All I really have to do is continue to write about the things that interest me and hope that others will remain interested, too.

By the way, I am certainly not the only beneficiary of my advertising success. It's a good deal for Google and it's advertisers, too: The better the ad performance on my site, the more effective their customer's ad campaigns. We all win.

Here are a few resources for learning about AdSense and making it work. These are the ones I used, in addition to a few acquaintances who made suggestions here and there:



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Tuesday, March 06, 2007 9:14:40 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, December 25, 2006
People who have noticed the site's been unavailable recently will understand why I'm making some changes here. While DNS propogation completes the availability of the site may be a little whacky, since you might be bounced between two servers for a little while. Not much I can do about that, but it will all be better very soon. I've moved this site to a dedicated host server, since the traffic and web server hits are too much for the shared hosting environment it's been on up 'til this point.

Sorry for the mess.

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Blogging | Random Stuff
Monday, December 25, 2006 11:38:49 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, October 04, 2006

(the one where I ponder the personalness (or is it personality? (both?)) of blogs and notice how level the playing field really is...)

I was glancing at Techmeme.com this evening to see what I have been missing the past day or so, and I started browsing the names of the weblogs listed there. I noticed mine was listed, which was pretty cool, and a whole slew of others. For those that don't know, Techmeme lists current online news and blog entries about - you guessed it - technology. Where a topical post appears, the author is attributed and when others write about the same topic, those weblogs or news sites will sometimes also get listed under the main entry. You can click on each one and see what each author has to say about the topic at hand. It's really very slick, and it's all automated. You can blame Gabe Rivera for it's creation. It's really pretty much virtual ice cream for a geek's hungry mind.

Anyhow, as I was passing through Techmeme during my end-of-day, finally-got-home-from-work, just-have-to-see-what-the-rest-of-the-world-is-thinking time, I realized that not many people with tech blogs use their own names in the title. That got me to thinking that tech blogs are often "properties" by name, rather than direct representations of the people that author them, which is interesting to me since one of the things I like best about blogs is that they are uniquely personal.

Then it also occurred to me that except for certain specific blogs I already know (Engadget, TechCrunch, big names like that), I am naturally drawn to blogs that have someone's name in them. I had not thought about it before, but often I want to know what other people think about something. So, I guess when I see a person's name, I am drawn in. Interesting.

SO I went back and looked for examples at TechMeme. There are some people names scattered around. My name is right there, listed as "greg hughes." Robert's is listed as "Scobleizer," which is a play on his name. And Ed Bott's name is part of his weblog's title. But look at all these other names - most are some pithy or cool geeky blog name. Here's a partial representation of what's on there this evening:

Download Squad, Engadget, TechBlog, The PC Doctor, Ed Bott's Windows Expertise, Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog, Guardian Unlimited, Silicon Valley Sleuth, Blackfriars' Marketing, Tech Digest, Ed Bott's Microsoft Report, Microsoft News Tracker, Gearlog, Slashdot, Under The Stairs, TechCrunch, Search Engine Journal, Office Evolution, Download Squad, Screenwerk, ContentBlogger, InsideGoogle, Black Voices, paidContent.org, 21talks, GigaOM, robhyndman.com, Between the Lines, Silicon Valley Watcher, Good Morning Silicon Valley, Valleywag, Googling Google, Search Engine Journal, Google Blogoscoped, Download Squad, Mashable!, Digital Inspiration, Google Operating System, digg, Scobleizer, Beet.TV, AdJab, IP Democracy, TechEffect, Search Engine Journal, ClickZ News Blog, Bloggers Blog, Digital Micro-Markets, Techdirt, rexblog, CNNMoney.com, E-consultancy, Web Worker Daily, StrayPackets, rexblog, greg hughes, Gadgetopia, Scripting News, digg...

Quite the mix of properties, blogs, new sites, names and sources there. Also quite a group to be associated with, to be honest. Often individuals who post on personal weblogs are listed right alongside pro bloggers from big organizations and companies. That's proof that the playing field is as level as you care to make it. Listed in the same context as CNN Money, Todd Bishop, Michael Arrington and Om Malik? That's a level field, alright. Heh.

And another thought... I find that even though I subscribe to Techmeme via RSS, I prefer reading and using it via the browser because of the way it positions and presents information on the page. You just don't get the same dimensional organization in RSS, and not everything works best in "river mode."

Do you read Techmeme? You should. Really.



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Blogging | Tech
Wednesday, October 04, 2006 8:52:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, September 20, 2006

There's no point in droning on and on about this one - Scott Hanselman is 100% correct when he proclaims:

"I say this: IE7 and Office 2007 not supporting Basic or Digest Authentication out of the box for accessing secure feeds will negatively affect adoption of RSS more than any other failing of the spec since its inception. It will slow adoption down at every level; it will make it harder for Financial Institutions to justify it and it will flummox internal Enterprises who don't have completely NTLM/AD infrastructure."

He discusses this in the context of using RSS to securely retrieve feeds for banking data, for example. Sure, there are many points to ponder regarding the retrieval and storage of likely sensitive information, but in the end this is something that will be needed, and would be useful now for many uses.

Do you think this functionality is important? Scott does and so do I. Read his post, Accessing Private and Authenticated Feeds - Why it's important, and say something - in the comments here on this blog, on Scott's blog, on the IE Blog, on your blog.



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Blogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
Wednesday, September 20, 2006 3:44:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Just downloaded Windows Live Writer, a blog publishing tool that was released in Beta by Microsoft while I was on vacation. Omar was using it (without being able to say exactly what he was using) and said to keep an eye out, someone was releasing a sweet blog authoring tool, and this is it. I am writing this post after a very fast and automagical installation of the Live Writer software.

Windows Live Writer Screenshot

Wow, that was cool, pasting that image in the window... Finally, a blog authoring package that lets me copy an image to the clipboard without saving it and then lets me CTRL-V to paste it into the editing window, without having to save the image on the clipboard as a file - and drop-shadows to boot!

And, if all works well, I will be able to post this to my dasBlog weblog without using FTP for the images, using the metaweblog API enhancements in dasBlog.

There's lots of great little features. Check it out and try it out.



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Blogging | Tech
Tuesday, August 22, 2006 7:16:25 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, August 03, 2006

I just downloaded and installed Zoundry's Blog Writer over lunch, a free and ultra-feature-filled blog editor. This thing is slick! I am writing this post with the new editor.

I think I found my new blog editing app that I have been dreaming of for so long. At least it's going to get a real trial run. I have fought with Rocketpost so many times (it has never worked for me, and the authors don't seem to answer email anymore), and while I love BlogJet, the feature set in Zoundry is pretty incredible.

I'll write more about it tonight, after I get a chance to play around with it some more.

zoundry1.JPGUPDATE: I am having a hard time getting the app to play nicely with my web hosts's FTP. Seems to upload image files, but the "test" mechanism says it does not work correctly, which is kind of strange. I have filed a post on the support forums, we'll see how that goes. I can upload images, as witnessed at right...

UPDATE AGAIN: One super cool feature I noticed was that Zoundry totally used the newly-implemented blog autodiscovery calabilities that have recently been baked into dasBlog by Omar. None of the old manually setting up and remembering the URL for the blogger API or any of that stuff. Nice!!



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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, August 03, 2006 10:04:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I have a tendency to bleed a little on this blog, meaning I grab the latest source code version and compile it myself to run it on the server almost all the time. The last official release of dasBlog (which is an open-source .NET blogging server application) was v1.8 and it was born nearly a year ago (wow, that long?). But for those who compile it themselves from source, it's been changing regularly over the past year and we've been enjoying the trickle-flow of feature enhancements.

And sometime soon now, says Scott, the official dasBlog v1.9 release will be out.

v1.9 will include some significant feature enhancements. Here is a mostly complete list (at least at this point -- the list is blatantly stolen from Scott's blog):

  • Much better multi-user/blogger support including a Top Posters macro and total comments - from Christoph De Baene
  • TagCloud - from Scott
  • Huge (100x+) speedup in Macro execution - from Scott
  • Support for If-Not-Modified to speed up execution, improve RSS bandwidth and CPU cycles - from Scott
  • Direct Feedburner Support with 301 redirection for RSS and Atom feeds. Don't lose a single subscriber. We're the only blog with direct support for Feedburner and Feedflare I believe. - from Scott
  • Delete comments directly from your mail reader - from Omar
  • New themes out of the box, 18 at last count - from Many Folks
  • New XML-RPC support for newMediaObject - from Omar and Giuseppe Dipietro
  • New support for RSD so client software can autoconfigure itself - from Omar
  • Pluggable Rich Text Editor, choose from FreeTextBox or FCKEditor or write your own adapter - from Josh Flanagan
  • Support for CoComment - from Scott
  • Organized source, build, and packing for clarity - from Josh Flanagan
  • New Feed Icons - from Omar
  • Automatic disabling of Comments after a certain number of days. Also manual "close comments" support - from Omar
  • ContentLookAhead show future dated posts - from Josh Flanagan
  • Other misc fixes and suggestions from Tomas Restrepo, Jason Follas, Rene Lebherz and Steven Rockarts. Added entry CPU usage optimizations from George V. Reilly.
  • Better strings and support for Portuguese, Turkish and Vietnamese from Ph?m Ð?c H?i.

If you're a sourceforge nut, know how to use Subversion and want to compile it yourself, go for it. Or wait a bit longer for the release. I am running the latest code on this weblog, and it's pretty darned slick.



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Blogging | Tech
Wednesday, August 02, 2006 9:57:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Gnomedex discussion took place earlier in the conference about sharing intimately personal things on weblogs and in public forums. There was a lot of other stuff in the conversation, too - but what I took away from it was the "what do you write about, why, and is it a good idea?" theme.

Some people are a truly and completely open book (crime, sex and all) on the Internet, while others who used to be quite open in their blogging have since changed and have pulled all the personal stuff back in, only writing about things that are not descriptive of real life. Kids these days (that's my old dude comment for the week) seem to post all kinds of things that some find both shocking and concerning.

For my part, I write both. I would never write about certain things that are definitley best kept private, and there are a number of specific things that happen in my life which I choose not to post here. But people do sometimes comment about things I write that are quite personal. It really doesn't take courage (people often say "I wish I had the courage to..."), just some common sense and a desire to think things through sometimes, which I find works out well by writing.

I often write (both the personal and the tech stuff) to clear my plugged up brain so I can sleep better. So I guess whatever comes out just comes out. With a filter. Like it or not. Good or bad.



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Blogging | GnomeDex | Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Saturday, July 01, 2006 8:59:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, June 17, 2006

What podcasts do you listen to? Which ones actually keep you coming back?

Honestly, there are so few podcasts out there that I can stand to listen to anymore. I deleted a whole slew of podcast subscriptions the other day because I felt like I was wasting massive amounts of time on those occasions when I did listen, and because many of them have simply turned me off completely and therefore got skipped over and never listened to (and honestly that's most of them).

What are my pet peeves? Okay, here's my harsh list for what will cause me to kill the audio before the podcaster even gets started.

  • Any podcast that opens with anything even remotely like "your speakers are about to blow up" or "warning, "the sound you're about to hear may cause damage." Give me a break. Everyone says that, and the only potential damage is me pushing a pencil through my ear to drown out the un-original intro.
  • Don't say "welcome to the world of (anything)." That's as lame as the movie trailers that start with "In a world..." People laugh and cringe at the same time. And it's sad when cringing is accompanied by uncomfortable laughter.
  • Open your show with "blahblah podcast" plus the date and then never use the word podcast ever again. Use of the word "podcast" more than once in any single sentence, or in more than one sentence in a row should be a felony. Agh. I know it's a freakin' podcast, it's not like it magically found its way onto my computer - I had to do all kinds of work to find it and access it. Tell me something I don't know and (here comes the 'o' word again) original.
  • As much as it might mean to you, chances are nobody else especially wants you to pontificate about how you and your girlfriend celebrated her 31st birthday this past weekend. In fact, your girlfriend probably doesn't want you saying it either...
  • Podcasts about podcasting. Uh, yeah.
  • Crappy indie music. Note that I have nothing against independent music if it's good. But any music that's bad (indie or otherwise) is bound to drive away listeners. The operative word is 'crappy.' If you played "We Built This City" on your podcast opener, I'd probably click the 'Close' button, too.
  • Repetition
  • Repetition
  • Repetition
  • Seriously, you don't need a blog entry with the same copy/paste text on the page for every episode. I'm reading to see what's different, not what's the same. I already unsubscribed from the podcast, don't tempt me to do the same with the blog.
  • Snot noises (sniffling, etc). Seriously, blow your nose or take a decongestant or something.
  • "So I thought I would talk about something like that and so ummm yeah so uh I am going to talk about that now..." GAH!

They can't all be that bad...

Anyhow, my new goal is to find 10 awesome podcasts that attract, deserve and retain my attention. Let me know if you have suggestions.



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Random Stuff
Saturday, June 17, 2006 10:14:26 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, June 07, 2006

http://www.zachbraff.com/

Sure, he's had the Garden State blog going with an occasional post here and there for a while, but Zach Braff - one of the few actors I can actually stand to listen to (actually I think he's a rather good, decent, funny cool person) for more than five minutes at a time - has started a new blog with video and text entries. Check it out.

Needs RSS though.



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Wednesday, June 07, 2006 7:58:02 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, June 05, 2006

JK posted a cool picture that turns out to be a visual representation of his weblog. So, I went to the site that creates them and made one of my own (click the image below to view full-size):

greghughes.net site graphical representation

Color Legend:

blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags



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Monday, June 05, 2006 9:20:32 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, May 15, 2006

I had to go to the Seattle area for my three-month post-op followup with my surgeon today. My back is in great shape he says (more x-rays were made today that look pretty darned cool), and the doc thanked me for doing so well. Heheh... I think maybe he had a lot to do with that, though. So I thanked him, again, for helping me get my life back. I owe him a lot.

After my appointment with the doc, I drive the ten minutes from the hospital over to the Microsoft campus and met up face-to-face with my online acquaintance, Trevin Chow. He's on the Windows Live ID team there, and I've always though he was a good guy. Come to find out I was right - we had fun meting and discussing a variety of things. And Trevin, thanks for the coffee!

Shameless plug time: Go read Trevin's blog - it's well worth the read. And, of course, subscribe. Here, let me make it easy for you: Subscribe to Trevin's RSS feed.

It was especially fun because although we'd never met face-to-face, it was much like the natural continuation of a conversation. Trevin emailed me this afternoon in reply to my saying thanks and said, "Your personality oozes into your blog, so you weren't a surprise in any way :) " Well, I hope it's not an infection, or we're all doomed... Heh...

Seriously though - that's exactly the impression I got from him. Glad to have met ya, Trevin. And he'll laugh that I posted all this, heheh...

Random Side-bar: Trevin has his motorcycle endorsement, but he's smart enough (read: much smarter than I) not to buy one because a couple people he knows have been in bad motorcycle accidents recently. I worry about that, too. If you ever ride a motorcycle, you must pretend you're invisible on the road - others simply will not see you. And even then, there's no guarantees.

So... Who was the last person you met, whom you met first online, but eventually caught up with face to face? And, who is the one person you've met online, but not met face to face, whom you'd most like to meet in person?



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Blogging | Personal Stories | Random Stuff | Tech
Monday, May 15, 2006 7:42:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, May 08, 2006

I lucked out last night - big time. We dropped by the Best Buy store in Beaverton (that's Oregon) after a fun day hanging out at OMSI and cruising Portland, just in case by some random chance they had any of the complete Xbox 360 kits around (as opposed to the "core" system version). Sure enough, a hand-made sign inside the door read "Xbox 360's in stock!"

We headed back to the place where they have the consoles, and sure enough, there were about 15 white and green boxes stacked behind the table. So I bought two - one for me at home and one for work, where all the people that work for me can play during breaks (I have been promising them one for quite awhile now - they work hard, they should play hard now and then). Added a few games and extra controllers, and walked out poor (for what it's worth, the funds have been set aside for some time waiting for a store to stock them and for me to show up before they got bought up), but also a bit excited and with a feeling of accomplishment. Finally!

I hooked mine up at home last night. I played Battlefield 2 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted. I also got Quake 4, but have not played it yet. Maybe tonight. The graphics, digital sound and animation on this thing are all freakin' A-MA-ZING.

And today, my Xbox 360 decided to start blogging. Yes, seriously. My console has it's own blog. Go figure. I guess new posts will start showing up soon. And you thought those blogging Aibos were cool eh? Nahhh... Heh.

I have to say, this is one seriously nice gaming and home entertainment console. Projected on my wall at 120 inches, that's some serious game play, and of course DVD movies look and sound great, too. I need to fire up the Media Center PC (need to fix a hard drive issue first) and tie these things together - that will be a killer combo for sure.

(Thanks, Trevin for the blogging link)



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Blogging | Geek Out | Random Stuff
Monday, May 08, 2006 7:53:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, April 01, 2006

The other day one of my coworkers, Brent, asked me if I've given up blogging.

No, Mr. Sarcasm - I have not. But with the recent wholesale replacement of part of my spine, plus travel, work, a variety of stressors, the need to rest and a ton of other things, I have not been writing much here lately.

I have a lot to write about, though - eventually. I just need to get better caught up with life. Heck, we're losing an hour of sleep tonight. That doesn't help any!

So don't worry. I'm not dead yet.



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Blogging | Personal Stories | Random Stuff
Saturday, April 01, 2006 10:00:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, March 17, 2006

I haven't posted much recently because I have been out of pocket quite a bit, and during the few days I've been in town and functioning normally, it's been quite busy for me. So, even though this blog's been quiet, I have quite a few things stacked up and waiting to be written. I'll get to them soon. Plus I think the slow down in writing is good for me for a little while. Creativity recuperation you might say.

Hopefully they'll have WiFi on the flight to Europe this weekend - that would make it easy to catch back up some. And easier to get some work done.

Meanwhile, I went and saw Scott Willis, one of our past IT interns where I work, in his school's performance of An Ideal Husband (by Oscar Wilde). Had a good time, and I am once again amazed at what young people can do all on their own when simply provided the opportunity and support when requested.

More to come soon. Hopefully some pics from Germany, too.



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Thursday, March 16, 2006 11:38:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, February 19, 2006

If you have not yet checked out BlogCode.com, I'd suggest you give it a try. It allows you to submit your blog, answer a few category ranking questions, and then see which other blogs are most like yours.

Alternatively, you can browse their listing for other blogs that have been "coded," look for your favorite blogs, and see other blogs that are similar.

The idea is that the blogs listed might be ones you'd like to read. Certainly there are other uses, as well.

I coded my blog the other day, and below are the closest-matched weblogs (as of the date this post is published) relative to the greghughes.net weblog. Per the folks at BlogCode.com, an 80% or better match is considered a very high score. Many of these blogs I already read or have read before, and some are new and unknown to me. I'll definitely have something to look around at for a while now.

Blog Name/URL
(click each for blogcode results)
BlogCode
Match
Scobleizer (http://scobleizer.wordpress.com/)
79.22 %
TechCrunch (http://www.techcrunch.com)
78.21 %
Agylen (http://agylen.com/)
77.96 %
Kevin Harder (http://kevinharder.com/blogs/kevin)
76.72 %
Ben Metcalfe Blog (http://benmetcalfe.com/blog/)
76.71 %
EvilSpudBoy (http://www.evilspudboy.net/)
76.43 %
Licence to Roam (http://blog.bibrik.com)
76.25 %
Newest Industry, The (http://newestindustry.org)
76.18 %
NeoThermic.com -- The well of information
(http://www.neothermic.com)
75.95 %
FreeCashSpace
(http://blog.freecashspace.com/index.html)
75.93 %
A Venture Forth (http://aventureforth.com)
75.89 %
Solution Watch (http://www.solutionwatch.com)
75.81 %
blogging.wurk.net (http://blogging.wurk.net)
75.64 %
Life On The Wicked Stage: Act 2
(http://wickedstageact2.typepad.com/)
75.43 %
PHOSITA ::: an IP law blog!
(http://www.okpatents.com/phosita)
75.36 %
07Designs (http://www.07designs.com/)
75.12 %
Sunday Bytes (http://sundaybytes.com)
74.68 %
The Daily ACK (http://www.babilim.co.uk/blog/)
74.34 %
inluminent.com (http://inluminent.com)
74.29 %
adverblog (http://www.adverblog.com)
74.28 %
mathewingram.com/work
(http://www.mathewingram.com/work)
74.26 %
integrating developer process
(http://idp.shmarya.net)
74.24 %
View from the Isle
(http://blog.larixconsulting.com/)
74.09 %
disambiguity (http://www.disambiguity.com)
73.72 %
Brandopia (http://brandopia.blogspot.com)
73.71 %
Creative Tech Writer, The
(http://www.creativetechwriter.com)
73.65 %
Church Tech Matters (http://churchtechmatters.com)
73.62 %
Larry Borsato (http://www.larryborsato.com)
73.56 %
Linickx.com (http://www.linickx.com/blog)
73.49 %
brilliantdays.com (http://brilliantdays.com)
73.49 %
LaughingMeme (http://laughingmeme.org)
73.40 %
Superaff: The Affiliate Marketing Blog
(http://superaff.com)
73.34 %
rexblog (http://www.rexblog.com)
73.30 %
Keith`s Inklings (http://talideon.com/weblog/)
73.29 %
Seven Degrees (http://sevendegrees.blogspot.com/)
73.27 %
StartupBoy.com - Journal
(http://www.startupboy.com)
73.04 %
Vinny Carpenter`s blog
(http://www.j2eegeek.com/blog)
73.00 %
A View Inside My Head
(http://jasonf-blog.blogspot.com)
72.96 %
michael parekh on IT (http://mp.blogs.com)
72.79 %
Ninefish Tales (http://www.ninefish.com/blog)
72.54 %



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Blogging | Tech
Sunday, February 19, 2006 3:03:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, February 12, 2006

This world's really not a very fair place.

Robert Scoble called "foul" on the whole Google GMail for domains story yesterday, which has since engendered a whole set of responses to his post, in both his comments and on a number of other weblogs. For what it's worth, like Robert and others, when I saw the Gmail for domains news spread I also wondered where the heck everyone was when MSN did the Windows Live Custom Domains thing (heck, they day it was announced back in November I set up a domain on it and wrote about it here on this weblog). So yeah, Microsoft already did it, and did it quite well for the record. And I guess maybe you could say it went mostly unnoticed, if you want. Not sure I'd agree, but that's debatable. You could also say that hey, it's not about the domains, it's about the GMail (which, face it, people love).

The fact is, Google is in the spotlight right now, and all the people sitting out here in the audience are paying close attention. Google plays it smart - they tend to hold new ideas somewhat close and secret, and then kick them out the door and into the pool one day to see if they'll sink or swim. This they call a "beta." Microsoft has done a little of the same, but not in quite the same way. Google is a company that has - quite effectively - captured the eyes, ears and imaginations of a huge and hungry audience, so it's no real surprise when the company does something new and people talk a lot about it. Apple's another example of a company that's capturing audience attention cycles. Microsoft, while having made great strides in terms of being viewed by the greater audience as a creative, agile and "imagineering" company, still has a bit of an uphill battle to fight with some in the audience. But things are much better than, say, a year ago. That's progress.

It's also important to understand that the audience wants a Google character - the colorful, mysterious yet well-known underdog that you're are not quite sure about, who gets the attention of everyone in the room every time he (or she) walks through the door. It's a good gig for an actor like Google to land at this point in its career, and the audition's been a tough one. Microsoft, on the other hand, is more like the established, experienced character actor. The audience knows what to expect and many even like the character, who's gained in popularity recently due to some decent films and scripts. But the character actor mold is a hard one to break out of and the scripts have changed. It takes a great vehicle to get the audience's attention, and even then the proof is in the performance. Only then can you win over a whole new audience. It can happen, but it sure can be difficult.

Anyhow, bad analogies aside, where the debate starts to break down and turn sideways is when suggestions of AdSense ethical hipocracy and bought motivations are tossed around. According to that theory, I'm beholden to Google because I run AdSense ads? Or is that only if I write about Google's new services and run AdSense ads? What if I use Google as my main search engine? What if I have a Gmail account? Seriously, people... Let's think for a few minutes about AdSense and blogging and influence and being beholden to anyone.

I have AdSense ads on my weblog. It's pretty obvious. And my ads earn more than the couple of bucks a day that some others have mentioned (substantially more, by following a few basic design and placement rules - worth checking out). But just because my AdSense ads made a notable dent in my tax return refund this year, that doesn't mean I am in any way influenced by or beholden to Google. I think Google's a cool company that's doing some very interesting things, but anyone who knows me is perfectly aware that Microsoft is a company I have many ties to, and that their products are ones I have leveraged extensively. The fact that I have AdSense ads on my site is indicative of only one thing: that they are there. If I wanted, I could choose some other ad vendor, and there are plenty of others out there.

In fact, from what I hear, Microsoft's coming out with something similar to AdSense... So, if I switch over to that program and drop AdSense from my weblog, does that mean if I then write about Microsoft products and skip over Google's stuff that I would be bowing down to the Microsoft money? Should Google employee bloggers complain out loud if that happens? Would they? Questions worth pondering.

Heck, if I switched to a Microsoft-provided ad program, I'd likely be accused of being too one sided, not enough fair-and-balanced in my overall approach. But then again, that whole equal-time thing was thrown out years ago.

Look, people have opinions, and not everyone has mine. I actually kind of like it that way.

I write about things that capture my attention and things I believe in. I don't really give a damn who's ads are running where, or whether it's Microsoft, Google or any other company that's serving them up. And Google doesn't seem to care what I write about, and I don't even think about it when it comes time to author a weblog post. In almost every case, I believe others operate in pretty much the same way. I was one of those people who wrote about the Windows Live Custom Domains when that service was released, but I didn't have to. I haven't had a chance yet to see what Google has to offer in it's new service, but when I do get to see it I'll probably comment about that here, as well. We'll see if it captures my attention.

On average, people are generally smarter and more ethical than we want to give them credit for when our feelings are hurt. The group-think mentality that occurs in the blogosphere is an interesting phenomenon, and can even be problematic. And it goes both ways. Group think leads to closed lines of thought partners, and if one thinks there's undue influence from AdSense, one might want to look instead at the influence that comes from the same closed groups of bloggers feeding each other like ideas and thoughts all the time.

And then if you think that's bad, get a group of opinionated bloggers together in a room, raise a controversial point, and in my experience the problem can get even bigger. Much bigger. But it sure is a lot of fun to stand back and watch. Heh.

Speaking more generally and stepping back from this particular debate, realize blogs are complicated things under the hood - in the content. They're really only conversational in that there's a way to respond (in comments or on your own blog). But in terms of mimicking a face-to-face conversation, I've noticed more and more recently that there's no opportunity to stop somebody in their tracks and to challenge their point before their foot gets lodged in their teeth. It's more often a speech platform with a method for the reader to write a quick letter to the editor. Not that it's a bad model - I love it. But it does lend itself to rants (hence my weblog URL) and diatribes when authors use them for that purpose. Sometimes that means grandstanding, not conversation. At least we have comments, on most blogs.

And let me say this: Robert's not entirely wrong about this whole mess. I don't always agree with him, but I like him and he's a smart guy - and he has a valid point to make. The positioning of the new Google service as being ground-breaking or even substantially original was not well researched and was simply incomplete in reporting and writing. Is the world giving Google credit for something Microsoft did? Well, maybe, but not really. They're definitely talking about what Google's been up to. Did they miss part of the story? Yeah, they sure did, but more important than drummed up hypotheses about whether or not bloggers are influenced by small-potatoes advertising is the fundamental question: Why isn't Microsoft getting more attention when it does great things? I know people who work on the teams that didn't et the credit in this situation, and I agree - someone needs to cry foul. But not with weak advertising ethics accusations. That just muddies the waters and takes the conversation to the point of nastiness.

I like the way Reeves confronted the same issue on the MailCall blog maintained by HotMail team members:

"Working for Microsoft in Silicon Valley can be a surreal experience.  Just the other day I ordered cheeseburger and the person serving me my lunch asked me if I knew that Google had invented the idea of cheesy meat between two slices of bread three years ago… and it's been in beta ever since. :-)  Yeah, yeah, perhaps I’m being dramatic but sometimes I feel like Google is going to overshadow Al Gore and get credit for inventing the Internet.

"Joke as I may, it does get to me every once in a while...especially when we've been working like crazy on something, already have it in market, have gotten great customer response, but everybody thinks someone else did it first."

My opinion? Microsoft has a lot of people who worked hard and delivered a product that Google later released a remarkably similar version of (with less features), and the Microsoft people didn't get notice. And they should be. But none of this was likely brought on by financial influence - real or assumed, big or small - from Google-provided advertising.

One problem in this particular situation might be that Microsoft's product is called "Windows Live Custom Domains." Now, I know what the WLCD service is and how cool it is, but only because I went and looked. Not from the name. The fact that I have to acronymize it is one clue that the name could be better. It doesn't say "email and instant messaging services" to me. And yes I know there's a bit more to it than mail and IM. Google calls theirs "GMail for your domain." That's a name I can quickly get my brain around. In the "Don't Make Me Think" department, Google creates and names most things quite aptly.

Now we can just wait to see if Google will start telling us how they're "innovating" with all these "borrowed" ideas of theirs. Heh... Now wouldn't that be perfect?

At any rate, in my opinion it's really not a question of ethics this time around. It is a question of audience, actors, script and venue. It's a question of who's paying attention to whom, and why. And sometimes that hurts.

Get my attention, and I'll tell others. Heck, I already do. And you don't even have to pay me.



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Sunday, February 12, 2006 1:08:13 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, February 05, 2006

Co-comment-logoAll the virtual world's a-buzz with commentary and conversation (ironically, since a lot of the commentary is out of the reach of the service for now) about coComment, a coolio and not-yet-fully-released "Web-2.0" online service that let's you track comments make on blogs everywhere. Or at least it will at some point - only a few blogging platforms are supported right now (and the software this weblog runs on, dasBlog, is unfortunately not one of them), so it's very much hit and miss as to whether or not you can use it, but the promise of an interesting future is certainly there.

I'm using coComment now, and it's pretty cool. You can sign up at the site (look for the "Get Notified" section on the home page), and they're trying to get new invitations sent out as soon as they can.The coComment web site is well designed and the core feature/functionality is a sharp idea. I will say that it's a bit clunky in terms of how the actual user commenting experience works. You have to think about it too much, which is not so good... It puts an extra graphical "button" with your name onto the page that you have to click first, before you click the actual comment submission button. The new button falls to the right of the submit button, so it's a lot like being forced to read right to left and it just doesn't look very clickable - It's just counterintuitive.

You have to click the little blue icon with your name on it first

Brian Benzinger wrote a little GreaseMonkey script that automates the sign-in for FireFox users - It's very nice and you can get it on this page. Otherwise you have to use a "bookmarklet link" to activate the service on any given comment page - another layer of abstraction that would be nice to avoid somehow.

But hey, it is pre-v1.0, so... Anyhow, it would be especially nice if the authors and some creative blog software creators made it even more usable.

It does solve a few problems, mainly being able to find your conversations in the blogosph -- uh, on blogs. Two other things it does is, 1) it allows you to embed a little bit of code in your blog template to display comments that you've made on other blogs, and 2) it allows you to subscribe to a RSS or ATOM feed with all your tracked comments in one place. Adoption will depend on how many blog software authors get into the mix and how many blogs the coComment people decide to try to tackle themselves, I suppose.

Note that, while it's a great start, the real test will be whether everyone will sign up - since that appears to be a requirement in order to actually track everything that might matter. Is there not a better way to do this? Does the RSS comment capability/spec not go far enough?

From their site:

Coming soon..

For advanced bloggers who would like to more fully integrate coComment features in their own blog, coComment will offer:

The ability to add elements of the coComment service to blogs based on non-standard blogging platforms in order to ease the usage of coComment for commenters (automated capture).

The ability to customize the appearance (eg colors, fonts, etc.) of coComment elements, in order to better suit your tastes and needs.



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Sunday, February 05, 2006 1:21:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, January 05, 2006

After something like two and a half years of blogging, another calendar year comes to an end. Here's a list of some of my favorites from 2005. A bit belated, since we're already five days into the new year, but what the heck. Why do this? Because I can, of course.

Here are 12 of my favorites - chosen from the 754 blog entries for 2005. And typically not-too-tech-related, I just noticed:



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Thursday, January 05, 2006 9:26:37 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Scott and Chris reminded me that there's a nifty feature in dasBlog that lets me put all the headlines from this weblog for 2005 on one page in a calendar-like view. So, here ya go:

Every single post from the year, listed in a chronological calendar view. All 754 of them. Wow, now that's scary.



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Thursday, January 05, 2006 9:08:20 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, December 26, 2005

Plagiarism sucks, and Om Malik's weblog was apparently being copied verbatim, images and all, and repurposed sans-attribution on another site that was serving up ads and (potentially) making money. I've had this happen to me a few times in the past year or so, and in some cases found the only way to fight it was to quote the DMCA in an email to the host. Lord knows asking Google to hold them accountable for their terms of service did not work in my case - Google just wrote back and said "we can't do anything." Plus the bad guys were repurposing content from a whole slew of other sites. Lazy jerks.

By the way - this is really not exactly a trivial deal for many blog authors and publishers. I know when it happens to me, I chase it down and take it seriously. No lawyers needed - I am pretty good at that stuff and have some legal and courtroom experience, so why not put it to use eh? The ads on my site pay for my web hosting and my Internet access each month, and then some, so I have a little more than just an ego interest in what I choose to write and post.

Anyhow, below is an email I used last year to resolve a plagiarism problem involving full content from this web site. It's blunt, direct, complete and it worked. Also, note that this letter followed multiple attempts to get the site owner to remove plagiarized content. I'm posting the email letter here simply for the benefit of anyone who might become a victim of blog plagiarism and wants access to some ideas that have worked for others in the past.

And by the way - make sure you have a copyright statement and maybe a Creative Commons license on your main page that states what people can and cannot do with your blog content (mine's at the bottom of every page - it says people can repurpose it with attribution and for non-commercial purposes). It can't hurt to do this, and it helps set reasonable expectations and ground-rules for well-behaved people, while it can also be ammo for the ill-behaved later on...

Note that the problem I tackled with the below email was resolved within 4 hours of the email being sent to the hosting provider (the site owner never responded), and it happened a year and a half ago, so please don't go harassing anyone - this is just posted here to help people who might end up in a similar situation.

Where you see the word "(-- edited --)" below, I have removed identifying information to protect the innocent as well as those who complied with the requests to remove the offending content.

[via tech.memeorandum.com]

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:  ACTION REQUIRED: Illegal use of copyrighted content by one of your customers for commercial purposes
Date:  Sun, 3 Apr 2005 17:18:51 -0700

NOTICE: IF YOU ARE THE OWNER, OPERATOR OR HOSTING PROVIDER OF THE “MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO” DOMAIN, THIS IS A CEASE AND DESIST LETTER REQUIRING YOU TO IMMEDIATELY CEASE REPUBLISHING CONTENT OR ALLOWING/ENABLING CONTENT TO BE REPUBLISHED, WHICH IS SOURCED FROM THE “GREGHUGHES.NET” DOMAIN.

The owner of the web site(s) located on your servers/network at the below IP address and domain name is stealing and republishing - via an automated web-server application that gathers an XML feed - content owned and copyrighted by Greg Hughes at http://www.greghughes.net:

216.7.187.20 (MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO)

The following ARIN information identifies (-- edited --) Holdings, LLC (which is a corporation in Colorado) and (-- edited --).com (which appears to be a possibly defunct operation) as owners of the IP address/block in question:

Location: United States [City: Loveland, Colorado]

NOTE: More information appears to be available at NET-216-7-186-0-1.

(-- edited --) Holdings, LLC D393LLC-DC-INVERNESS6 (NET-216-7-160-0-1)
                                  216.7.160.0 - 216.7.191.255
(-- edited --).com VONOC-216-7-186-0-23 (NET-216-7-186-0-1)
                                  216.7.186.0 - 216.7.187.255
 
# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2005-04-02 19:10
# Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.

The person(s) running the web site at MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO have been contacted in the past via the “contact” form on the web site and told to stop repurposing this content, specifically because they have not obtained permission and because they are profiting from advertising revenue from said web site. This activity constitutes theft of intellectual property under copyright laws and the DMCA. The information being sourced is copyrighted as indicated on the web site, and is not in the public domain for re-use. The party(ies) associated with MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO have not responded to repeated contacts and requests to cease use of the copyrighted material.

We have sent a CEASE AND DESIST letter to the parties once again today (April 3, 2004) through their web site contact form at http://www.microsoft-dotnet-technology.info/contact.asp. At this time we request that you remove the offending web sites and pages from your servers, as they are clearly in violation of the common acceptable use provisions of the parties to this email:

http://www.(-- edited --).com/acceptable-use.asp#copyright

IN ADDITION, the same person(s) appear to be sourcing copyrighted material for commercial use from Yahoo!, Search Engine Watch, moreover.com, the Kansas City Public Library, National Geographic News, about.com, and Web Hosting News. Unless the situation is rectified immediately we will also be contacting those persons and companies to advise them of the misuse of the copyrighted property and data.

The WHOIS information on record for the domain in question is:

Domain ID:D8436219-LRMS
Domain Name:MICROSOFT-DOTNET-TECHNOLOGY.INFO
Created On:27-Nov-2004 15:34:17 UTC
Last Updated On:27-Nov-2004 15:34:20 UTC
Expiration Date:27-Nov-2005 15:34:17 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:R136-LRMS
Status:ACTIVE
Status:OK
Registrant ID:C7727838-LRMS
Registrant Name (-- edited --)
Registrant Organization:(-- edited --)
Registrant Street1:(-- edited --)
Registrant City:(-- edited --)
Registrant State/Province:Gujarat
Registrant Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Registrant Country:IN
Registrant Phone:(-- edited --)
Registrant (-- edited --)
Admin ID:C7727839-LRMS
Admin Name:(-- edited --)
Admin Organization:(-- edited --)
Admin Street1:(-- edited --)
Admin City:Ahmedabad
Admin State/Province:Gujarat
Admin Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Admin Country:IN
Admin Phone:(-- edited --)
Admin (-- edited --)
Billing ID:C7727840-LRMS
Billing Name:(-- edited --)
Billing Organization:(-- edited --)
Billing Street1:(-- edited --)
Billing City:Ahmedabad
Billing State/Province:Gujarat
Billing Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Billing Country:IN
Billing Phone:(-- edited --)
Billing (-- edited --)
Tech ID:C7727841-LRMS
Tech Name:(-- edited --)
Tech Organization:(-- edited --)
Tech Street1:(-- edited --)
Tech City:Ahmedabad
Tech State/Province:Gujarat
Tech Postal Code:(-- edited --)
Tech Country:IN
Tech Phone:(-- edited --)
Tech (-- edited --)
Name Server:VOB1.(-- edited --).COM
Name Server:VOB2.(-- edited --).COM

(Note: I edited the names and other identifying infomration from the WHOIS record at the request of the person listed in the contact sections of the record becuase they asked me to do so. While the information is accurate as it was originally posted, it serves no useful purpose to keep that person's phone and other information here and the orginal issue was resolved, so I agreed to make the change).



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Monday, December 26, 2005 9:21:05 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, December 18, 2005

Not sure how I missed it, but sometime last week or so BlogJet was upgraded to version 1.6.1. I have been using this tool for well over a year now to post almost all my weblog entries. There are others out there, and some are getting close, but BlogJet is simple and works well.

What's new? Lots of enhancements. Posting to MSN Spaces sites for one thing, and more. While there are still some features left on my wish-list, this is a great upgrade. Here's the list from the BlogJet weblog:

NEW FEATURES

BUG FIXES

  • Work-around for WordPress and TypePad date/time issue.
  • Now BlogJet can work via proxy with authentication.
  • Fixed issue with FTP proxy.
  • Fixed double trackbacks in TypePad and Movable Type
  • FTP password encryption.
  • Fixed: Insert Link window didn’t remove automatically http:// when inserting https:// of ftp:// links.
  • Fixed “Cannot focus a disabled or invisible window”.
  • Fixed: error message when posting with image selected.
  • New connection core.
  • Lots of other bug fixes…


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Sunday, December 18, 2005 8:07:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, December 08, 2005

My coworker, Brent Strange, has just started a Quality Assurance (QA) blog. Brent's what I would call a QA expert (he amazes me from time to time for sure) and he does terrific quality work, so I am looking forward to what he says and thinks on it.

Here is his introductory post, and he's already started adding new content. And it's another dasBlog weblog, which is cool. Nice template, too.

This will be one to watch. Subscribed.



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Thursday, December 08, 2005 8:46:49 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, November 19, 2005

Want to instantly turn off a blogger? Ask them to link to you without a compelling reason. Seriously. Unless it's a truly compelling and timely topic, never ask for a link. If you do, prepare to be ignored.

Robert Scoble wrote a short-but-right-on-target post today that I can totally relate to. And keep in mind, my blog is like 1/100th of what his is from an attention perspective, so the impact of blatant link begging on me is nothing even close to what it is for him, I'm certain.

Like Robert, I've also been getting a lot of emails and even a few phone calls recently from PR people, bloggers, marketers and other people who don't quite "get it" asking me to write about specific things on my blog. Some have even gone so far as to offer something in return as payment. At first I just laughed and tried to figure out why anyone would actually take the time to ask me to write, then I looked at my pageviews and did some fuzzy math in my head. Okay, so lots of people read the content on this site, that's cool. Not as nearly as many as the big guys, but a lot nonetheless. My AdSense income amazes me more than anyone. But my voice is mine, and it's not for sale.

I'm not saying I don't want to hear about cool stuff - send it on. What I am saying is if your request takes the form of "will you please link to this?" or "hey you should link to this" or "you should write about this for me," I'm really not interested. Of course, if you think something is really cool and it catches my eye, too (and you're not pulling a fast one or crying wolf), I'm going to be interested.

I've gone so far as to reply to one or two of the more truly blatant, entitlement-laden requests with words like "I don't take requests" or "Sorry, I don't do performance blogging." Most of them I just ignore and immediately file in the electronic circular file. It's not that I don't want to hear about good and cool stuff. I just don't want to be anyone's hired or begged PR publisher.

PR people often operate in the old-skool world (been there in a prior career), one where lazy print writers looking for something new to write about love to get calls from PR agencies with some pre-written copy that can be regurgitated or copied verbatim and published. Bloggers don't work that way. If you (hypothetically) send me a book to review, I will try to read it when my schedule allows and if it catches my interest. If I find it especially compelling I might write about it. If I don't like it, I'll most likely just let it go. If it's really, really bad, I might just write about that, too. But probably not - I prefer to emphasize the positive here. So, unlike the print world, there' some risk involved. One thing's for sure: There's no promise or guarantee I'll write anything. And if the request is to take a book or software or anything else in turn for a guaranteed review, don't ask. I'm not for hire. Some people have asked if they would have a chance to respond to anything negative before I write it. I tell them no, but that my blog has comments and if they have a blog (they should), they can always participate in the conversation. It's amazing how many people that puts a stop to. Heh.

I agree with Robert's suggestion. If you see something cool and want me to blog about it, send me a link and tell me what's got your interest and why. I don't care whether it's a link to your site and your comments or if it's pointing to the original info, or whatever.

Now, don't let me scare you away. I write about many things - stuff I care about. Some of it I discover by reading something someone else wrote or sent to me. If I happen to have the same level of interest as you when you show me something, I might take you up on the info. Conversely, if you specifically ask a blogger to link to you for selfish reasons, prepare to be ignored unless it's something very special and urgent.

I've written almost nothing all week until today, partly because I got tired of these calls and emails with blatant requests. It's not fun. It feels like work, and that's one thing this blog is not. Plus, I have been pretty busy recently with my job and life. We all need a break now and then.

Anyhow, Robert - you got that one right, man.



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Saturday, November 19, 2005 5:00:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, November 14, 2005

Google_anIf you've used Urchin's web site analytics package in the past, you're familiar with the detailed reporting it can do from a web site marketing and usability standpoint. It's been considered one of the luxury stats packages for some time. Well, Google bought Urchin recently, and today announced that they have now morphed the Urchin software into the Google Analytics service, and that it's available for free. Yes - that's right - free:

"Google Analytics is absolutely free! We're very pleased to be able to offer this web analytics solution for no charge, allowing anyone with a website to track conversion data, analyze the flow of visitors through their site, and identify elements of their site that could be changed to improve visitor retention.

"This free version is limited to 5 million pageviews a month - however, users with an active Google AdWords account are given unlimited pageview tracking. In addition, Google Analytics is completely integrated into the AdWords front-end and with your AdWords campaign, making it easy to track your AdWords ROI."

Well, I won't be risking five million page views a month anytime soon, so I figured I'd sign up and check it out. And for those who are interested in running the software in-house, it's still available for purchase, don't worry.

Understandably, the service is up and down a bit this morning. Things were going well for me til about 5:30am Pacific time today, when everything on the Google Analytics site suddenly went into the ether. After a few minutes of hung browsers and dead pages, a "maintenance" page appeared. Well, that makes sense - it's a brand new service at launch, so I am sure there are several kinks to work out.

UPDATE: As of Tuesday at about noon, I am more than 30 hours into my 12-hour wait period to start seeing stats from my web site, which checks out okay by the service (meaning the code if there and working). Still no data to view. Hmmm...

No worries - By the time the maintenance started, I'd already received my code from Google that has to be entered into every web page. The code consists of a few lines to be added to the <head> section of each web page on your site, which loads a .js (JavaScript) file from their Urchin servers. That's how they do the tracking work. So, you'll get information about page views and routes taken through the site, how people found your site, visitor geographic locations, etc. But you won't get information about files like images that are directly loaded from your server without accessing web pages containing the code (so it's a marketing and web site tracking.usability tool, as opposed to a complete traffic and monitoring tool like one would want to use for security monitoring - worth noting).

On top of the free stats service, anyone who uses Google's AdWords services on their sites gets the added benefit of AdWords integration into the Analytics services:

"If you have an AdWords account, you can use Google Analytics directly from the AdWords interface. Google Analytics is the only product that can automatically provide AdWords ROI metrics, without you having to import cost data or add tracking information to keywords. Of course, Google Analytics tracks all of your non-AdWords initiatives as well."

Google's hard at work for sure, spending that cash in some smart ways. Makes me wonder how many new things we should expect to see from the company next year - I bet it's a lot.



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Monday, November 14, 2005 4:59:02 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bit-shit-shiftThe other day my co-worker Matt (a truly-all-around-good-guy who will almost certainly laugh (I sure hope) and turn bright red (like I certainly would) when he reads this) wrote on his blog that he was...

"...curious where I would rank if you searched for "bit-shift". So I loaded up my favorite web browser, pointed it towards google and off I went. Was I on the first page...Nope. Page two you say? Notta. When I loaded up page three I was beginning to get depressed. But Wait! There at the bottom of the page, second to the last link was Bit-Shit.Net. Woohoo! At least I beat out a link to an Intel article on 64 bit-shifting, HA! Take that Intel."

Heh. The emphasis in the above quote is mine. You see, the funny thing is that Matt made a similar slip (typo? psychological? Hmmm...) a couple weeks ago in a blog post, which I dutifully pointed out (in person), and which he promptly changed before I could do a screen-grab and post it here for all to see. I'm not sure why he has a recurring problem typing "shift," but I am sure it's pretty darn funny from a reader's perspective. No spell checker maybe? Or is that word allowed in the spelling dictionary? Heh... All in good fun here, Matt. I don't think he'd ever purposely type that word. Must be a deep subconscious thing.

Anyhow, hopefully some post linkage here will help drive a little search-engine-bot attention to Matt's site, where (by the way) he's writing about interesting thoughts of his and whatnot. I've subscribed to his feed and added him to the blogroll over there on the side of this page somewhere. Google indexing and ranking is driven by many things, especially inbound links. So, check out his blog. I like his writing style - some of my favorite weblogs are the ones that follow whatever happens to be on the author's mind at the time. Now all we have to do is get Matt to stop thinking about sh... Oh, never mind. Hah! (Just kiddin' ya there Matthew ).

So - What can we learn from this? Simple, really: Accidentally type about poop, someone notices, and hopefully it generates a little more traffic to your site. And it just goes to show, at it's core the universe really is awfully entropic.

Or maybe the lesson is something more like "type sh*t once, shame on you. type sh*t twice, shame on... well... you."

Thanks for the fun fodder there, bud.



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Saturday, November 12, 2005 10:07:46 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The security geek in me is a happy guy today. The Anti-Malware product team at Microsoft has fired up their new blog. They're "the team responsible for building Microsoft's antivirus and anti-spyware technology (along with anti-rootkit, anti-bot, and other stuff)." Malware, for those who are not yet familiar with the term, is short for "Malicious Software."

"We already have two pieces of technology our technology shipping: the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, which helps to remove some of the most prevalent malware from a user's machine. We also are shipping a beta of the Windows AntiSpyware technology. We'll talk more about these in future blog posts. We also have a bunch of other cool stuff in the pipelines."

This will be one worth watching, I imagine. The security threat landscape has eroded, changed and reshaped itself significantly in the past year, and things are only getting more and more complicated. So, it's good to see the face of a critical team in Redmond and to have some insight into what they're addressing.

Subscribed.



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Blogging | IT Security | Tech
Wednesday, November 02, 2005 8:15:13 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Pumpkin-carving-patterns-tazCan you tell it's almost Halloween? I can. And I can also tell how much traffic one little blog article can drive. My stats for the past few days are awash with Google and other searches landing people on this site for pumpkin carving patterns, since I wrote about a great deal I found and how to get them them the other day. Here's a small, partial listing of a small portion of the search referrers for pumpkin carving, taken from today's web traffic stats on this site:

 
pumpkin carving patterns (www.google.com) 34
free pumpkin patterns (www.google.com) 29
pumpkin patterns (www.google.com) 29
free pumpkin stencils (www.google.com) 21
free pumpkin carving patterns (www.google.com) 13
pumpkin patterns (www.google.ca) 11
pumpkin patterns (www.google.com) 11
free pumpkin patterns (www.google.com) 11
pumpkin designs (www.google.com) 10
free pumpkin carving stencils (www.google.com) 10
pumpkin stencil (www.google.com) 10
free pumpkin stencils (www.google.ca) 9
free pumpkin patterns (www.google.ca) 9
pumpkin carving pattern (www.google.com) 9

And it just keeps going from there, too. Hundreds of similar search combinations and terms in addition to those. Definitely noticing the increase in the number of visits (still a small drop in the bucket, but interesting to see).



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Wednesday, October 26, 2005 3:32:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, October 23, 2005

Unless, of course, you die today... In which case, you probably don't care much about this right now.

     Blogging-headstone

Hugh over at gapingvoid.com writes hilarious (and often poignant) cartoons on the backs of business cards. Come of them are decidedly off-color, granted - but they're worth looking at as long as you don't have easily offended sensitivities or something.

Oh and many of the designs are available as T-Shirts and BlogCards.



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Blogging | Humor
Sunday, October 23, 2005 3:46:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Google-toothIt must be true. I read it on the Internet. On a blog even.

It looked pretty convincing, really. Someone started a blog called Google Tooth in September, under the guise of being Google's first live-in, on-site dentist. A plausible possibility, when you consider the benefits Google offers its employees.

But it's not for-real.

Google has already confirmed it's a fake, but the real fun is in figuring it out without asking the newest Internet giant for their two cents on the matter. Of course, the one group you can count on to do just that is a bunch of weblog readers. Not to mention real Google employees.

The most obvious tell-tale giveaway was an image that was posted on the Google Tooth blog, ostensibly of the new office space (click the image below to go to the blog entry):

       GoogleToothOfficeFake

Nice use of color and open space, eh? Only problem with the image is this photo from the SUNY Stony Brook web server (click the image to load it from the sunysb.edu server):

       DentalOffice

Amazing and uncanny resemblance. What do you figure the odds are?

This was a harmless enough - and even amusing - fake blog. Don't be surprised though if it ends up rubbing some people the wrong way. Fake blogs threaten some and amuse others. I thought it was creative and funny.

But people do get fooled:

Or maybe it's real and the trick is that people are saying it's not real, but what they're saying is actually the part that's not real.

Yeah, that's it.



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Wednesday, October 12, 2005 7:42:18 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, September 14, 2005

G_bsrch_logoGoogle has launched their Google Blog Search -and its good stuff. One of the best things in my book is that you get a list of highly-relevant weblogs before you get the text search results.

Some searches:



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Blogging | Tech
Wednesday, September 14, 2005 9:20:06 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, September 03, 2005

BootsfilmsnipThere's really nothing quite like first-hand experience when it comes to seeing what's happening in distant places. Let's face it - the mainstream media cuts things into little chunks that remove the full context of the place and situation, trying (usually without much success) to replace it with an explanation, usually written by one or two people.

In your mind, choose one or two people you know at random. Now imagine sending those two random people into a war zone with a camera and a microphone and telling them to accurately and completely convey what's happening, without personal bias. Would you tend to trust what they have to say? Yeah, me either.

That's what interests me most about Boots In Baghdad Films, a vlog that contains video posts (using audioblog.com's videoblogging capabilities) shot by soldiers on the ground in Iraq. It's first-hand video of real situations. It's not that soldiers are without any bias - but the soldiers and their experiences are part of what's happening, which makes this video much more real than anything on TV, and the few videos posted on this site have an unedited honesty that I appreciate. Note that there's some colorful language in some of the video shots - that's to be expected, I think.

Hopefully the content will continue to grow, but of course not for one day longer than the people filming it need to be there.

(via Eric Rice)



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Saturday, September 03, 2005 1:50:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, August 17, 2005

That pesky msnbot/1.0 is a pretty busy bot today. That's MSN Search's spidering robot. I've had more than 10,000 hits from it today, and a friend with another blog has had about 4,000. These numbers are way larger than normal.

Hmmm... Something coming soon from MSN Search maybe? We'll see!

UPDATE: Looking at my web server log details, it looks like the spidering that's going on is touching mainly a whole lot of RSS content. Main feeds and category feeds are being pulled frequently. Is MSN Search pushing the RSS envelope? With RSS going native to the OS, this might make some real sense?

ANOTHER UPDATE: A member of the MSNBot Team (who, by the way, responded post-haste to a question I sent through, uh, channels) asked me to volunteer some of my web server logs earlier today and the traffic's dropped off since. Maybe it was just a little behavior problem (that happens). Interesting!



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Blogging | Tech
Wednesday, August 17, 2005 5:55:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, August 15, 2005

His weblog may not be an official Microsoft site - it's his own site, a place to publish his own opinions - but the fact is, Robert Scoble's a Microsoft blogger, albeit "unofficial."

And one Microsoft site - Microsoft for Business and Organizations - has published an article called "Agent of Transformation," where Robert is interviewed about corporate blogging.

61422_scoble_top

Good read. It's also linked from Microsoft's Executive Circle. Interesting, really - Robert's an insider, of course, but he speaks his mind from time to time - He's been known to express opinions critical of Microsoft's products and positions if that's where he stands. So, it's also interesting to see Microsoft publishing interviews with Robert to talk about how corporate blogging benefits business.

"So there are times when we are having an online conversation out in public, which is fascinating and scary. It's like living naked. Sometimes it's not all that pleasant. We both believe very strongly in transparency and believe that it makes you make better decisions overall."

He also talks about being a smart business blogger. It's worth a look for anyone interested in the blogging world, and for anyone who blogs about - or for - work. Read the interview here.

And... Coming up in September, Scoble's gonna be webcasting:

Robert Scoble on Blogging - September 21, 11:30 AM Pacific Time. Catch this webcast with Microsoft's most well-known blogger, Robert Scoble, and learn how to build your own blog presence, brand, and traffic.



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Blogging
Monday, August 15, 2005 5:02:11 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, August 13, 2005

Eagerly anticipated and full of great new features and enhancements, dasBlog v1.8 has been officially released.

Scott covers the details and pontificates the important readme file information on his blog. Here's a list of many of the cool new features:

New Features of Note

  • Anti-Spam Features
    • Automatic Referral and Trackback blacklist update
    • CAPTCHA for non-admin users (Font warping has also been increased in this version)
    • Logging and display of Comment IP addresses and resolved Hostnames for Admins
    • DasBlogUpgrader can strip spam from existing content folders
    • Support for rel="nofollow"
    • Ability to delete referrals and trackbacks directly from the Admin UI
  • Security Features
    • HttpOnly cookies
    • Admin access auditing
    • SMTP Authentication for outgoing mail
  • Syndication Features
    • Improved RSS Comments support for SharpReader and RSS Bandit
    • Upgraded Atom support from 0.3 to Valid Atom 1.0. ATOM Syndication permalink changes but 301 is issued.
    • RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0 validates via FeedValidator.
    • Ability to mark entries as "syndicated" or not. Entries can appear on the site but not in RSS/Atom.
    • New between RC1 and Gold: Plugable, configurable pinging of Blog Search engines like pubsub and technorati.
  • Performance Features
    • Search Highlighting is optional now
    • Referrals are logged but not stored in XML by default. Configurable.
      (This has huge performance benefits for high traffic sites.)
    • DasBlog Upgrader can optionally remove all referrals.
      (Again with high traffic sites some folks had 5meg XML files full of referrals)
    • Theme templates are now cached in memory.
  • Installation Features
    • New VBS for IIS permissions and VDir creation
    • Support for running under ASP.NET 2.0
    • Support for running on Win2k 2003 without changing permissions when impersonation is enabled
  • Content Features
    • Ability to pre- and post-date entries
    • Permalinks based on Title and Date optional: 2005/06/06/title.aspx
    • Latest build of Free Text Box including ability to upgrade FTB without upgrading DasBlog.
    • Text Editor (FTB) supports IE7
    • Text Editor (FTB) supports FireFox
    • Blog Statistics macro
    • Mail-To-Weblog continues to improves. Works with Thunderbird.
  • Extensibility Features
    • Custom Macro Plugin model without recompiling DasBlog (see the source for the example custom macro)
  • Theme Features
    • DasBlog now ships with 16 themes and a Theme Combo to change between them.
    • New theme.manifest file makes themes and image assets more portable.


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Blogging | Tech
Saturday, August 13, 2005 7:22:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, August 07, 2005

Here's a shameless plug of my very own... I guest-co-hosted the Tablet PC Show with James Kendrick today, filling in for the one and only (and much-better-at-this-than-me) Marc Orchant. It's been published, so check it out if you like:

The TABLET PC Show #19 (MP3 - 21MB - 60min)

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE

Marc Orchant was away but guest co-host Greg Hughes graciously stepped in and we have an action packed show. Greg fills us in on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet PC that he’s been lucky enough to use for the past month so anyone interested in this fine convertible (or those anxiously awaiting delivery) will get some good information to take away. After the break we shift focus to the hot topic of the week, WindowsVista Beta 1, and round up the information that is starting to emerge from those brave enough to install it on a Tablet PC. Enjoy the show and as always we appreciate your feedback! (We missed you Marc!)

The Tablet PC Show #19 (MP3 - 20.9MB - 61min)
LISTEN HERE

00:00 Intro- Greg Hughes & James Kendrick

05:45 Greg has a Lenovo ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC

25:00 The Podcast Network

26:00 WindowsVista Beta 1 information roundup

eWeek- will your Tablet run Vista?
Random Elements- Colin Walker installs the beta
Greg punches a cat in the face
IE7 panning with a pen
Tablet PC team has a blog
Speech recognition- command and dictation fused
Ink Analysis in Vista

60:00 Wrap up



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tablet PC | Tech
Sunday, August 07, 2005 9:44:21 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Just couple quick links to some cool new stuff.

Microsoft's Tablet PC team has started blogging - very nice. Check it out:

http://blogs.technet.com/tabletpc/

The Tablet PC Avalon (a.k.a. "Windows Presentation Framework") team has also started blogging:

http://blogs.technet.com/tavalon/

Two blogs that look to be worth watching, and I've subscribed to both.



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Blogging | Tablet PC | Tech
Sunday, August 07, 2005 3:24:29 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, July 15, 2005

Come geek out this weekend. Bring a friend, your audio gear and a camera (or just yourself if that's easier), and lets do some podcasting and videoblogging as the Podcast and Videoblog Roadshow comes to Portland, Oregon. It happens Saturday at noon downtown.

Podcasting, videoblogging, audioblogging, etc. Get creative. Fun stuff. 

All the obligatory W's: 

See ya there.



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Geek Out | Tech
Friday, July 15, 2005 9:20:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, June 10, 2005

A new beta version of Technorati - the web-based service that "brings you what’s happening on the web right now" - is available at http://beta.technorati.com/, and it looks darn nice. I like the new look and user interface (the search "options" feature is great for new users), and it seems to work quite well. You can learn what's new on the Technorati beta weblog.

Support for tags, more search options, personalization and watchlists are some of the new functionality in the beta version.

Technorati is currently tracking 11.1 million sites and 1.1 billion links. That's a lot. Tons of information to be had, and not it's easier than ever to do.



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Blogging
Friday, June 10, 2005 4:43:25 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, June 03, 2005

Blogjet_mainscreenI use BlogJet to post nearly all my weblog entries - it's a great client-side application that connects to pretty much every blog package you can think of. So, you can write your blog posts locally, include and resize images, format to your heart's content, etc., and then post to your weblog software when you're ready. You can also edit your blog posts. I'm writing this post in BlogJet now - so this would be a BlogJet post about BlogJet.

It'll also record audio, check spelling, and insert "what's playing" info. It creates context menu items that allow you to "BlogJet This" and adds a web browser action button.

Anyhow, BlogJet is cool and awesome. You can get the v6.1 Beta 1 version here.

For complete BlogJet info, go to http://blogjet.com/

 



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Blogging | Tech
Friday, June 03, 2005 10:17:48 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Blogging is reaching new heights. While Scoble's blogging from the seat of an airliner with WiFi on a trip to Europe on his way to a geek dinner (sounds like fun), a group of 20 police officers and companion climbers are slowly but steadily audioblogging their way to the rugged summits of Denali in Alaska (20,320 feet) and Humphreys Peak in Arizona (12,634 feet).

Using a satellite phone in Alaska and mobile phones in Arizona, the officers are calling in to a special phone number at audioblog.com, which immediately posts their voice recordings to the Climbers' Weblog at copsontop.com.

Both teams will strive this weekend to summit the mountains as a memorial to honor the lives, service and sacrifices of police officers Eric White and Jason Wolfe, both of the Phoenix, Arizona Police Department. Officers White and Wolfe were killed in the line of duty on August 28, 2004, while searching for a suspect who had just shot another man in the chest.

The officers are members and representatives of Cops on Top, a non-profit organization of police officers and others who execute memorial expeditions to remember peace officers killed in the line of duty. The audioblogging technology enables the teams to document their progress in real time, and to reach the families and friends of those fallen officers who are honored on each expedition.



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Helping Others | Tech
Friday, June 03, 2005 8:25:11 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo! has posted his company's new corporate employee blogging guidelines. There's a PDF file linked from his post, along with his comments.

Blogging policies are (I think) a good thing for companies to have. Why? Because they set the stage with the proper expectations right up front, before a problem can begin. People often benefit from having the context predefined, so they know what's cool and what's not.

In other words, having a good policy enables people much more than it restricts them. That's why I'm glad my company has a blogging policy, anyhow.

More and more companies are going beyond allowing their employees to blog, and are enabling and encouraging it. What's your company doing?



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Blogging
Tuesday, May 31, 2005 10:00:38 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, May 30, 2005

Andy and Angie have a cool weblog where some of their great pictures are displayed. They also have an online photo gallery that you can check out. There's real talent here: great use of light and digital editing for enhancement purposes (as opposed to completely altering a scene to be something it's not). There are also some cool macro insect pictures, nice landscapes and original desktop wallpapers available.

In one post, Andy explains how he edits an original digital image to get from this:

Cloudy_01-2005.05.07-15.34.37

to this:

CloudPond_050505-2005.05.07-15.34.53

Same original image, but a very different end result. How did he do it? Go read his weblog to find out.

Note that the images are all copyrighted under a Creative Commons non-commercial use license by Andy Purviance.



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Blogging | Photography | Random Stuff
Monday, May 30, 2005 4:38:40 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, May 17, 2005

There are plenty of opinions about placing ads in RSS and ATOM feeds, but regardless of the opinions, AdSense users can now apply to get AdSense for Feeds, which will allow them to place small ads in their RSS feeds.

I'll likely set it up to see how it works (I am kinda curious), and time will tell whether or not I'll want to keep it. Probably keep. We'll see.



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Blogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
Tuesday, May 17, 2005 7:23:09 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, April 21, 2005

Mindjet1The Mindjet team, the people who create and publish the MindManager software that can be so useful for organizing thoughts, ideas and plans, recently started blogging:

"The Mindjet team is now blogging! Visit our new Mindjet blog at: http://blog.mindjet.com/ to read and comment on regularly updated discussions about our journey through the world of visualizing information. Gain insight into Mindjet's goals and read featured commentary from the diverse and creative team pioneering Mindjet's efforts.

"Discussions could range from technology to philosophy and even unique uses for MindManager software. So please join us at the blog."

They've even posted a MindManager map that contains hyperlinks to some of their favorite blogs on information visualization, collaboration and related fields, as well as their RSS feeds. Interesting idea.



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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, April 21, 2005 7:43:23 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Paul Bausch asks:

Has anyone put rel="nofollow" on the back of a t-shirt yet?

Well, yeah. Sure. And now it's even spelled correctly. Click if ya want one.

nofollow
(corrected the lingo, changed the shirt, oops!)



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Blogging | Humor | Random Stuff
Wednesday, April 06, 2005 9:34:39 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, April 03, 2005

I decided today to check out WB Editor 2, a blog-posting and editing app that's available for Windows. It's darn-right cool.

Unfortunately, some of the XML-RPC functions don't want to work with dasBlog, even though that's the specific software I designated when I set up the blog account in the program interface. So, I can upload the screenshot here with the tool - I'll have to add those manually.

I have to say, I really like the user interface - it's quite well-polished and allows easy access to all sort of functionality. So, I'll be contacting the author to find out what's up with the dasBlog glitches and we'll see what can be done to help there.

At any rate, if you are a Windows user and you would like a better/different way to post to your weblog than the simple web text entry UI, you might want to check out WB Editor 2 and see what you think.

(Thumbnails added with another tool I like called BlogJet - click to view full-size images)

Wbedit

Wbedit2

Wbedit3



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Blogging | Tech
Sunday, April 03, 2005 7:35:28 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, March 28, 2005

SPAT_CitJourReportAs I was checking out a few of the ways the earthquake that happened earlier today is being covered, I happened upon something I had not noticed before: MSNBC.com has a whole section of Citizen Journalism:

http://cj.msnbc.com

It's not quite completely run by and written by plain-old citizen journalists, but it's still cool. MSNBC employees collect stories and letters sent to cj@msnbc.com and from there they publish the content.

Cool idea. Interesting reads.



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Blogging
Monday, March 28, 2005 8:33:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, March 24, 2005

Forgive the headline please, Robert. It's all in good humor. 

In a completely understandable and laudable move, Robert Scoble has announced he's decided to give up publishing to his linkblog, in order to have more time for more important things in life. You know, important things like family and friends. Good for him!

All things in moderation - That's a lesson I know I've had to learn from time to time. The truth of the matter is that sometimes the best way to manage over 1000 weblogs a day is - well - to not manage over 1000 weblogs a day. Or at least to manage them less. I know I just cut my own RSS subscriptions back drastically last weekend, so I am back down around 300 feeds now from something like 700 before the surgery. It took a drastic slash across my RSS reader, but it needed to be done.

Of course, the demise of Robert's link blog is also a bit of a bummer in a way, since for many it's been a regular source of great links and information - or even more often for me, links to links to links...

Multi-layer clickthroughs from Robert's linkblog have always been valuable to me. More often than not I will read something he posts on the linkblog, and that will entice me to click through to the linked author, and from there I will uncover more interesting things and links to other interesting people.

But it's completely understandable that when you find you're spending anywhere from 8% to 33% of your day linking to and for others (sleep time included), a selection of robots just might do an effective enough job of what up til now has been a very human endeavor. Maybe. Those services show me what I am looking for based on what I put into them. The difference with the "human aggregator," so to speak, is that I am often pointed to things I would never have looked for. Of course, there are also other services existing and coming that will help people see what others are reading and how popular items are, in order to find things of interest. I hope those don't work out to be the electronic version of the high-school popularity contest, but we'll see.

So, when Robert points to a few popular search and aggregation services as alternatives to his link blog, I can't help but think of the perfect tongue-in-cheek name for them as a collective replacement for Robert's link blog...

"Robot Scoble"

(Yeah, you have to read it carefully. Spelling counts.)

Says Robert:

"I've been looking at my link blog, and the requests lately about it, and I've decided just to stop doing it.

"Why? Well, there are so many other ways for you to find cool new blogs now. Pubsub. Bloglines. Technorati. Feedster. NewsGator (Greg Reinacker reminded me again that NewsGator has a really cool set of online services including a search engine)."

Robert's right, but again it's worth pointing out that the human factor is part of what makes his linkblog so valuable - I think many people liked it because they appreciate the "Scoble Filter" - you don't get that with automation. Well, not quite yet anyhow.

At the same time, it had to be painful to maintain, with well over a hundred entries some days, and since Robert says he may still post a little bit there from time to time, hopefully we will still get a few Robert Scoble Human Filter links now and then.

Hey, there's always his regular weblog. In fact, chances are his Scobleizer weblog will just become a better place for information - kind of a quality over quantity thing.

By the way, in the linkblog department - Jeremy Zawodny's linkblog is another I subscribe to and enjoy, but it is quite different than Robert's.



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Blogging
Thursday, March 24, 2005 2:44:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, March 21, 2005

Jeremy Wright and Mike Hillyer have just launched a new weblog called "The Wealthy Blogger," with the tagline "Money Management Blogging from two Decidedly Un-Wealthy Bloggers."

It looks like a great new site where conversations can take place about the pains of credit, debt and money management. It's a topic many people should be interested in, whether they actually are or not.

Anyhow, after reading a pre-release entry on the subject of credit card companies and the draining of today's college student population, I had some thoughts, which I posted there as a comment and am cross-posting here (slightly edited, but I have had more time to think about it since I originally posted my comments - see below).

But that's not really the point - go check out the site - I think it will be well worth our collective time as the site grows. I've subscribed.

Anyhow, here is me quoting myself (weird eh?) talking about my view of the reality of "borrowing" money... (edited and enhanced)

To get you started, please remember one very important thing. Behind the spin and sales lines, there are only two types of people in the world:

  • People who buy money (often mistakenly called "borrowers")
  • People who sell money (often mistakenly called "lenders")

That said, here are my comments:

Looking even beyond just the credit card companies, *no* company that "lends" you money is doing you a favor. That's like saying the car salesman is doing you a favor by letting you buy a car.

The fact of the matter is that when you get a home loan, a credit card, a personal loan, or charge to an installment account, *you* are the customer.

People need to realize that: When you take out this kind of loan, you are buying money. You are the customer and the lender is the one who is selling you the money in order to make a profit. No lender does anyone a favor, even if it feels like that's what's happening. Just like with the car salesman, the idea is to make it *feel* like it's a favor. But in reality, the profits are theirs. They do those things necessary to maximize their profits and minimize their losses, just like any other business.

Would you pay $100 in cash for $20 worth of groceries? If you put it on a card, that's possibly what you're doing, unless you pay your full balances within one or two months.

It used to be that credit cards were held and used for emergencies. Now people use them like they're free money, without thinking. That's too bad, because unless you happen to have a very astute credit mind and the ability to pay off everything you charge within the grace period, you're borrowing from sharks.

I know two young guys, about 20 to 22 years old, both of whom got credit cards and immediately ran them up buying fancy new computer equipment. One of them talked to me about it before he did it, and I advised him against it, but he did it anyhow. The other acted on his own without advice. Now they're both listening, after realizing how big a deal it is. I explained to both that it would take 30 years (or more with the high rates their cards had) to pay off a computer that would be outdated in one or two years if they made minimum payments. I told them about the virtues of saving and having cash on hand.

Credit cards are evil for most things, but they can be a blessing for a few things: Purchase protection for big-ticket items is nice to have, and rental car coverage is a good benefit if you travel. But some of the check cards with a logo of the major companies on it will give you similar benefits.

Which brings me to my final point: If you like using credit cards just because they are convenient and because you can use them to buy things online, you're probably using the wrong kind of card. Shop around for a ATM/Debit/Check/Visa-or-MasterCard type of card, and make sure you get one from a bank that offers the features you want.

Finally - a reminder: Whether it's a credit-card loan or another kind, the APR of the loan is what determines how much you are paying on an annual basis (compounded - which means you pay interest on the accumulated interest, too, and not just the dollar amount you originally borrowed) for the money you are buying from the lender. Yes - I said *you are buying* money from a lender, and how much you'll pay depends on how long it takes you to pay it off. It's as simple as that. Credit cards are a big-money business for lenders and are a big-loss pig of a deal for borrowers.

If you have to borrow, like for a car or home purchase, you should always shop for money the same way (or more diligently than) you shop for gas, cars, clothes, airline tickets, electronics, homes and whatnot. No lender is ever doing you a favor - they are selling you money, and they are doing so at a profit. Don't ever forget that.

See that? I did learn something, after all.



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Monday, March 21, 2005 8:54:50 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, March 14, 2005

bookthisblog.comA guy named Matt has an idea. He reads blogs, and realized that sometimes he'd like to have an analog version - like one on paper with a cover and bound on the left.

And so, he come up with bookthisblog.com

That's a cool idea, I think. There are a few blogs I'd really like to read on paper, one's that I'd hang onto for sure, such as:

I'm sure I'll think of others. Plus, I'd like to be able to "burn" my own blog as a book now and then, maybe once a year, just for keepsake purposes. My family would probably like it, too. And there are megabloggers who I am sure would find a use.

There *is* a lot to be said for something you can hold in your hands, something of physical substance. Cool idea, Matt - Make it happen!



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Monday, March 14, 2005 8:43:31 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Via HineSight: On Nightline this evening, the subject matter will be blogs and bloggers and blogging.

Is it just a fad? Is it simply a medium? Is it a revolution? Is it nothing, really? It all depends who you ask. It will be interesting to see what Nightline's take is...

Tonight's piece is a fascinating one. Turns out that as John and producer Elissa Rubin were conducting interviews with bloggers, they were being blogged. The bloggers had some interesting opinions, to say the least. And as this program airs (and this e-mail is read by viewers), there's no doubt that bloggers will blog about it...

Umm, yeah. Heh.

So what are blogs? Turns out that although 8 million have created blogs, 62 percent of Americans who use the Internet don't know what a blog is. That's according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. And in an age where blogs are fundamentally changing the nature of news, we thought we'd tell you the story about the beast of blogging...

Check your local ABC affiliate's listings, but it's probably right after your late news.

http://hinessight.blogs.com/hinessight/2005/03/blogging_focus_.html



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Blogging
Tuesday, March 08, 2005 12:39:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Jeremy Wright has posed a weblog entry discussing ethics and blogging. It's an interesting start to what should be (and needs to be) an ongoing conversation.

Jeremy starts with a discussion of the premise that bloggers are not ethical.

My take? It's very simple in my little world and point of view: Honesty, authenticity, objectivity and credibility are qualities that all people should strive for, regardless of their profession or avocation. It's not so much about the blogger vs. the journalist - these qualities apply across the board. It's about doing the right thing, and doing it the right way. It's about responsibility.

I've been both a journalist (several years ago) and a blogger. Ethics has been central to every job I have ever worked in: Journalist, police officer, security professional.

I get Jeremy's points, and agree with what he says in large part. There are, however, certain minor points with which I disagree (surprise, surprise, heh). I don't believe ethics was born of capitalistic need (early ethics was a Greek endeavor, and only a couple of ethical views like Marxism and social ecology are actually tied to economic or financial systems), and I tend to disagree with the idea that applying journalistic standards to blogging doesn't work. Rather, I think it can work - but that there's more to both sides of the equation than just journalistic standards, and that trying to oversimplify the discussion or pigeon-hole any aspect of it is a mistake. It's always tempting to try to divvy up different behavior characteristics and assign each of them to their own neat little groups, but it's never that simple.

Jeremy offers his own opinions and positions, and they are certainly worth reading and will hopefully start readers thinking about what ethics means to them in terms of blogging and publishing information in general:

"At the end of the day, the only thing we as creators of the written word have is that which our audience gives us - their eyes, their ears and their minds. And to violate that trust is the cardinal sin of everyone who values the written word. Be they blogger, journalist, poet or playwright.

"So protect your words, protect your readers and honor the trust you have been given. By doing so you will be the best journalist or blogger you can be."

Jeremy's article can be found here. Read. Comment. Write. Converse.

EDIT: Blog Resource has more comments here, as does Fifteen Seconds. And more yet - A Blogger's Code of Ethics, over ay Cyber Journalist.



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Tuesday, March 01, 2005 11:06:05 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, February 20, 2005

Jon Stewart - comedy non-news guy - and team take a funny look at blogs, the blogosphere, blogging, journalism and government. You don't have to agree with his political positions to get the humor on his show, for sure.

It's hillarious.

Stephen Colbert, a.k.a. Ted Hitler, on Bloggers:

"They have no credibility. All they have is facts. Spare me."

Heh...

View the video segment here.
(Note: Some content probably not very good for kids.)



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Blogging | Humor
Sunday, February 20, 2005 1:11:15 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, January 21, 2005

Jeremy Zawodny points out the Blogger's Bill of Rights and gives his opinion on the matter. He doesn't like it. Neither do I. It's just another example of people making something out of nothing, and trying to avoid personal responsibility in the good name of free speech. Here's where I speak up and say why I think it's crap, too...

Now, I'm a fairly outspoken person. I've also had a tendency in the past to open my big mouth, say exactly what I think, and then go into another room to extract my foot from my esophagus. But when I stick my foot in my mouth, I am keenly aware that it's my foot, it's my mouth and it's my choice - regardless of whether or not I thought it through ahead of time. Whether or not I was correct isn't relevant. You can be correct every time, but that doesn't necessarily make you right.

People, this is all about responsibility and ownership. You want to say something? Fine, but ya gotta own it, like it or not.

Let's define a couple of terms for the purposes of the discussion:

  • Consequences: The results of something one chooses to do, or not to do. All choices have results, both good and bad. Some of those results impact the chooser, some impact others.
  • Speech: Pretty much any form of communication - collective, individual or otherwise - in a variety of forms. In this context, we'll keep it somewhat simple (since we are talking about individual weblogs) and say it's an individual's written or spoken words.

Okay so - Right up front I'll say this: There is no special, magical set of rights that bloggers can (or should) expect, not with regard to employers, husbands/wives, boyfriends/girlfriends, coworkers, friends, family members, governments, or anyone else. The idea that blogs are somehow special or different and should be treated differently is arrogant and probably and indicator of the root of the problem - people think they are entitled to say whatever they want, however they want, with no consequences. Sorry, Charlie. Ain't happening.

  • Your right to free speech does not apply to the specific medium in which you exercise it. Speech is protected in certain circumstances, in certain locations, regardless of the form that speech takes. You have no more right to expect protection on a blog than anywhere else. Your rights are reasonable to expect, but when your exercising of your rights infringes upon the rights of another, you're crossing a line.
  • If you shoot off your mouth on your weblog, it's not an ollie-ollie-oxen-free home-base super-top-secret say-anything-I-want kind of thing. You are responsible for what you say, at the time you say it.
  • Speech is behavior. In a previous career I was always amazed at the idiots who thought if they could just get their car into the driveway, they were safe, regardless of the level of alcohol in their blood while there were on the street that got them to their driveways. It's not where you land, it's who and what you affect along the way.
  • Your speech is your speech, and with it come consequences. If you choose to say or write something on a weblog, keep in mind, it's speech in a public place and you are making a choice, and with that choice comes certain consequences. Your choices may impact others (coworkers and employers), and as a result, the very second you post your words, you choose to accept all of the consequences of that speech, regardless of whether or not you have taken the time to think about said consequences.
  • Your employer can hire and fire based on the quality of your behavior and how it impacts business, your performance, personalities, coworkers, morale, anything. You should remember this before you post on your weblog for everyone to read. And comment on. And quote. And read again. And copy/paste/email to your coworkers and your boss and his/her boss. And to end up on the Wayback Machine.

It's not about who yells the loudest or who thinks/knows they're right. What it is about is being responsible for oneself and thinking ahead about the impact of exercising one's right to free speech.

One important aspect of thinking ahead is considering the consequences and weighing the risks. Preferably before speaking. But if you don't take the time to do that, it shouldn't be (and isn't) someone else's problem.

Anyhow, that's about all I have to say about that.



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Blogging | Things that Suck
Friday, January 21, 2005 9:19:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Scott and Omar have announced the release of dasBlog Community Edition v1.7. There's lots of new features and improvements in this version, and best of all, it's open source and free of charge. I have had the privilege of running it in various dev stages over the past few weeks, and yesterday one of my blogs running the v1.7 pre-release software got Slashdotted without as much as a hiccup, so I think it will hold up just fine under pressure.

In fact, this weblog was Slashdotted last year while running v1.6 (with a super-heavy traffic load that day), and it help up quite well - the slashdot traffic overran the NIC well before the app ever had a chance to choke. Considering that dasBlogCE v1.7 has a slew of big-time performance enhancements over v1.6, you can pretty well rest assured it's built to handle a serious load.



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Blogging | Tech
Tuesday, January 18, 2005 8:16:04 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, January 17, 2005

The Cops on Top web site and weblog - where a group of mountaineering expedition team members currently climbing Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro are calling in via Satellite phone to record instant audio blog posts - got slashdotted a little while ago. That, of course, means the web server (which is the same one this web site runs on) may be under heavy load for a while.

And by the way - the expedition team made it to the summit of Kilimanjaro today!

You know, I used to blame Rory for everything. I'm starting to wonder if maybe I should be blaming Scott instead...

Luckily it's the middle of the night here in the states, but we'll see what happens when people wake up in the US and start checking out their /. and getting their geek/nerd fix after a weekend of dealing with their girlfriends/wives. Heh.

Related Links:



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Monday, January 17, 2005 4:45:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, January 13, 2005

I’ve been an audioblog.com customer for some time, and have always liked their product. I have not used it much in the past, but recently I found a perfect use for their service.

Cops on Top has a team of 13 climbers – police officers and a couple civilians – in Africa on Mt. Kilimanjaro, making a climb to the summit of Africa’s biggest mountain in memory of fallen Officer Isaac Espinoza of the San Francisco Police Department.

They have a satellite phone with them, and are calling in audio blog updates using the sat phone. As soon as they call in an update, it’s posted instantly to the Cops on Top web site’s climbers weblog.

Imagine that – technology now allows a group of people in the furthest corners of the world to instantly file an audio recording update to a web site, so people everywhere can know what’s happening, right now.

I had a configuration problem the other day as I was trying to get the service running for the Cops in Top site, and Eric over at audioblog.com helped out and made a quick fix that allowed us to solve the issue and get the service working. Righ then, right there, solved the problem and made sure it was working for me. True service. Nice.

If you’re geeky and have a blog, give audioblog.com a try – it’s nifty stuff and works well.



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
Thursday, January 13, 2005 9:41:47 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, January 10, 2005

I have been testing development and release builds of dasBlog 1.7 for the past week or so. There are a few of us running it on our live sites to make sure everything’s working as expected and to provide real-world feedback.

This version – spearheaded by developers Omar and Scott and incorporating the work of several others – simply rocks.

There are a large number of performance improvements (it’s a lot faster and uses less resources on the server) and feature additions/enhancements. You can read about all the changes on the dasBlog wiki page for v1.7. Some of my favorites are the ability to post drafts without actually publishing to the live site, RSS 2.0 enclosures, referral spam protection,

One thing that I just added to this site with the latest build is live support for the Movable Type Blacklist, which is another mechanism to kill referral spam before it happens. There’s also the ability to block referrers from being listed by keyword. It’s all pretty cool.

It’ll be done soon, and when it is you’ll want to check it out, regardless of whether you currently use dasBlog.



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Blogging | Tech
Monday, January 10, 2005 8:52:38 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Adam Gaffin, who publishes Network World Fusion’s Compendium (RSS feed here: RSS feed), has announced that Network World’s weekly interviews are now available a la Podcast – as a RSS 2.0 feed with enclosures.

So, point your feed reader or podcast client over to the RSS feed podcast feed at http://www.nwfusion.com/podcasts/radio.xml and partake of the quality content – these are quite good interviews and recordings, especially for IT pro’s and people who want to learn more about IT in the home and office.



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Blogging | Tech
Monday, January 10, 2005 3:46:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Here is a point of view I tend to agree with, with regard to business and blogging… It’s not just what you say at work that can get you fired, and companies can employ (or not) based on a number of aspects of a person’s life. If you’re a blogger, these thoughts over at the Blog Your Way weblog are worth reading and taking into account:

Blog Your Way » My thoughts on being fired for blogging

There have been a lot of posts lately about being dooced (fired for blogging). Dooce (Heather) was the first to be fired almost three years ago and thousands have been fired since then. It seems that many more will follow. What was the common denominator in the majority of them? Discretion…and not thinking about the possible reaction to their posts.



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Blogging
Monday, January 10, 2005 3:36:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, January 07, 2005

To make creating weblog entries simple, fast and easy, I use a tool called BlogJet. Dmitri (the author) has just released v1.5 of the program:

BlogJet 1.5 Final Release

Great news – BlogJet 1.5 is available now. It’s a huge improvement over previous versions – it has slightly better user interface, more features, support for more blog services and CMS and it’s more stable.

BlogJet 1.5 is the free update for registered users.

Download it now!

Full release notes are here.



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Blogging | Tech
Friday, January 07, 2005 9:16:56 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, January 06, 2005

My gnome friend Brandon Watts jumped on the proverbial horse and rode straight out the barn on his first PodCast earlier today. And all in all, he did a fine job.

If you have not heard about Brandon before, here's a little info:

  • He wrote his own programming language for beginners, called Leopard, a couple years ago.
  • He's 18 years old now.
  • He's wicked smart.
  • He writes for Lockergnome and has had his writing featured in a variety of print and online media.
  • He has a pretty darn good radio voice.
  • He has a blog.

Check out his podacst (for the uninitiated, podcasting's this new thing that all the kids are doing with MP3 files and easy-to-use-and-distribute audio shows). Let him know what you think.



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AudioBlogging | Blogging
Thursday, January 06, 2005 11:49:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Okay, I will make one prediction for 2005. Why not, it’s all the rage, ya know:

PREDICTION:  Robert Scoble will go broke before February 1, 2005.

Why? Because at $5 a pop, it’s going to get awful expensive! Great cause, though.



greghughes.net weblog


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Blogging | Humor
Wednesday, January 05, 2005 10:39:10 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Scoble on blogging at Microsoft and assumptions that might be made by people on the outside:

“… They think someone has "spun" Bill Gates into believing blogging is good for Microsoft.

“Please, if you're gonna say something like that, warn me not to be drinking water when it comes online.

“I wish I could tell you why that made me laugh. Let's just say the skepticism is misplaced. You don't get 1300 to 1500 people doing ANYTHING at a company without some very explicit decisions made at the very top of the company. Think about that one for a while.”



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Blogging
Tuesday, January 04, 2005 5:04:18 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Sunday, January 02, 2005

The 2005 List of Banished Words has been released.

Sadly/Happily (depending on your personal opinion/position), among the words formally banished this year by Lake Superior State University is “Blog.” LSSU’s 30th annual list describes the term and its reasons for banishment as folows:

BLOG – and its variations, including blogger, blogged, blogging, blogosphere. Many who nominated it were unsure of the meaning. Sounds like something your mother would slap you for saying.

  • “Sounds like a Viking’s drink that’s better than grog, or a technique to kill a frog.” Teri Vaughn, Anaheim, Calif.
  • “Maybe it’s something that would be stuck in my toilet.” – Adrian Whittaker, Dundalk, Ontario.
  • “I think the words ‘journal’ and ‘diary’ need to come back.” – T. J. Allen, Shreveport, La.

Also banned – and I have to agree with this one, it just bugs the crap outa me every time I hear it – is “Webinar,” which is described on the list this way:

WEBINAR – for ‘seminar on the web.’

  • “It’s silly. Next we’ll have a Dutch ‘dunch’ … bring your own lunch for a digital lunch meeting.” – Karen Nolan, Charlotte, NC.

AMEN Karen! But better watch out what you say in public, someone will hear it and the next thing you know, instant mareting-speak… Dutch dunch. Heh…

LSSU has been compiling the list since 1976, choosing from nominations sent from around the world. This year, words and phrases were pulled from more than 2,000 nominations. Most were sent through the school’s website: www.lssu.edu/banished. LSSU accepts nominations for the List of Banished Words throughout the year. To submit your nomination for the 2006 list, go to www.lssu.edu/banished.

(found via Doc Searls, Über blogger extraorinaire)



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Blogging | Humor | Random Stuff
Sunday, January 02, 2005 2:30:06 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, December 31, 2004

Blogging is not just about personal journals and random rants. It’s become a viable commercial venture, as well – whether the purists like it or not. I get a lot of great information from commercial blogs and bloggish web sites. Now there’s an awards program to recognize business blog, and you can nominate your favorites now:

Welcome to the 2005 Business Blogging Awards, presented by InsideBlogging! As business blogging has taken off in 2004, and looks to explode in 2005, we figured it was time to inaugurate some fun awards to reward all those hard-working business bloggers. After all, we can’t have the online diarists have all the fun, can we?

Here’s how the awards will work:

  • We’re accepting nominations until January 24. Anyone can nominate any blogger in any category
  • Additionally, feel free to suggest new categories if there’s one you’d like to see
  • To nominate a blogger, simply place a comment in the nominations thread. Feel free to nominate as many blogs as you’d like (including your own) for as many categories as you’d like
  • A panel of judges will whittle the nominee list for each category down to a minimum of three and a maximum of six nominees
  • Voting will open at 12:00pm PST on January 26. You’ll be able to vote once per day per category
  • Voting will continue until 12:00pm PST on February 9
  • Winners will be announced on February 10. Winners will be contacted by email

(via ensight)



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Blogging | Tech
Friday, December 31, 2004 2:38:34 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, December 30, 2004

From Mitch Wagner, writing at Security Pipeline:

“For Sanjay Senanayake, a documentary producer in Sri Lanka, the tsunami this week was the start of a sometimes-exhilarating, sometimes-horrifying adventure. He chronicled his travels through the disaster areas using mobile-phone text-messaging and blogs.”

Read the security pipeline article here, and read Sanjay’s weblog SMS and mobile phone entries here at the ChiensSansFrontiers weblog. It’s another very real real look at what’s happening.


Remember: Do whatever you can to help. If you have not yet given to support relief efforts, please stop and ask yourself if there is a truly good reason keeping you from doing so. Then click to a site and make a donation, no matter how small. It’s easy to give in many ways. It takes just a couple of minutes, and regardless of how much you can give, it will make a very real difference.

Recently Apple, Microsoft, eBay and PayPal all put up links to pages that let you find ways to contribute. You can also give through Amazon.com, and Google has a web page up with links to places you can give.

Make something happen – that is your part in this. We all have a role, and let’s all make sure we all do the best we can.



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Blogging | Helping Others
Thursday, December 30, 2004 9:15:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Eric Rice interviewed me Wednesday afternoon, to get just one simple blogger guy’s perspective on the blogosphere and the process of giving to the relief efforts needed so badly in South Asia after the tsunamis and earthquakes that have devastated so many people in that region. It was the AdSense donation idea that sparked the interview, but we talked about other aspects of the blogosphere and its collective reaction to the tragedy, as well.

Thanks to Eric for taking the time to do a podcast about something that’s very important: those things we can do now to help others in need.

Download the podcast (an MP3 audio file) from EricRice.com and see links there for a few places you can go to offer your help, as well.



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Helping Others
Wednesday, December 29, 2004 10:30:34 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, December 23, 2004

Omar Shahine has been working on dasBlog v1.7, and on his weblog he says he’s working to release the new version by the end of the year. Nice!

Lots of cool new features, some of which I am running here that were built up by Scott Hanselman. Check out Omar’s progress announcement, Scott’s changes, and the v1.7 wiki page for more info.

Can’t wait!



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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, December 23, 2004 11:45:15 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Tuesday, December 21, 2004

John Dvorak posts a great little article for people new to the blogosphere: Understanding and Reading a Blog (for Newcomers).

(via BlogWrite for CEOs)



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Blogging
Tuesday, December 21, 2004 10:37:51 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, December 20, 2004

“Give me fuel, give me fire…”

Robert Scoble turned some heads and offended some technology “sensibilities” this weekend with a few posts on his weblog, including this one, which apparently ticked off more than just a few people because – among other things – Scoble used the terms “open source” and “Microsoft” and “leader” in the same breath.

I’ll admit, when I read the entry (and a couple others he wrote that day), the first thing that went through my mind was “Now that’s a real can of worms.” In fact, about the time I finished reading the article, I saw Robert pop up on my screen via IM toast. So, I clicked and mentioned what I was thinking:

Greg Hughes    cans o worms ;)
Robert Scoble  You think?
Robert Scoble  Might as well get them out in the open.
Greg Hughes    yeah but its a good thing

All day Sunday (and no doubt since then as well) people complained about what Scoble wrote. There are also a few lonely souls that have something positive to say. Robert, true to form, has linked to his detractors on his blog. As far as I’m concerned, everyone’s at least a little bit right. But, even more important than who’s right and who’s wrong is the fact that what Scoble did here should make people stand up and look around. Not just at what he’s saying, but also about how and where he’s saying it, and to whom it’s addressed.

And if something comes of it, well look out – Because nothing breeds adoption like success.

It’s important enough to pay attention to, so I am going to ramble on here stream-of-consciousness style about what Robert wrote. You’ll have to go to his web site to read the original entries…

Scoble: Dear Bill Gates: can we create an interesting music player?

This blog entry – “Another letter to Bill Gates” – suggested that Microsoft should open-source the development of a new Windows Media hardware device, to be designed and built by a community in order to go to market before back-to-school next year. It would compete with the iPod. It’s a damn interesting idea. It has merit, whether or not its realistic. I’d like to see what he’s suggesting become a real product, one way or another.

But you know, it doesn’t need to be realistic. Think about it – The fact that someone can work for that company, write an open letter to one of its leaders on a public web site, and apparently not fear repercussions (or maybe he does but writes what’s on his mind anyhow) is definitely worth noting. This isn’t same-old-same-old. It’s not what we’ve seen elsewhere. It’s – get this – innovative and new.

That blog entry irked many, in part because Robert suggested that Microsoft succeeds as a leader in the open source realm. I think he was referring to Channel 9, where he works – It’s a Microsoft web site community (and a very successful one at that). That community sort of embraces the open source marketing concept and does, in fact, succeed at what it sets out to do.

The thing that bothered me the most about Robert’s weblog entry wasn’t the product/community design/develop/market idea, or the fact that Robert associated Microsoft with the open source “movement,” a comparison that many people would (and did) freak out over in disagreement. No problems there – That’s healthy. It started a powerful conversation. That’s why it’s a good thing. It’s marketing, and its working. It’s not really about being right or wrong, nearly as much as it is about just being there.

Honestly, what bothered me the most about what Robert wrote was this one line:

“Start a weblog. NOW. Get the person who runs the team to start a blog. NOW. Or fire him/her. I'm serious.”

Ouch. I have no problem with starting a blog to fire up a project and make it as open as possible, if that’s the goal. But I was more than a little surprised to see Robert advocate even the idea of firing someone because they won’t write a weblog. That’s a thin line over which I am not so sure Microsoft should tread. Fire them? Weblogs are one tool among many to market and communicate products. I know we’re all big into the whole blog-as-marketing-tool thing, but firing someone because they won’t blog – I don’t think so. It would be better not to hire someone into the project position in the first place than to fire someone for not blogging. I hope the Kool-Aid’s not getting too strong, man. :-)

Were you really that serious, Robert?

Scoble Again: Linux user advocates switching from Windows

In another entry, Scoble essentially scolded a *nix sys admin who wrote another “open letter” – this one apparently addressed to the whole world – for his suggestion that people should move now from Windows to Linux. It’s not an innovative idea, this whole “switch” thing – I think it’s been done before.

This article and resultant responses of the community were a little harder to swallow - on all sides of the argument. It did make me stop and think though – quite a bit. I considered putting my thoughts over in Scoble’s weblog comments, but instead I’ll just put them here. You should go read the original entry on Scoble’s weblog first, or this response won’t make too much sense:

It's clear the author of the "open letter" spends his time using Linux. Five hours to clean a Windows system simply means he was not familiar – and he alludes to that in his letter. It takes Robert an hour or so to do the same thing because he's done it before. Apples and oranges here.

Hard to prevent spyware? Maybe, maybe not. Want to know where to spend your family security time and money? How about education? For example: http://alwaysuseprotection.com/Book/intro/toc.htm

About Windows Apps - There *are* alternatives to MS Office, Photoshop, Illustrator, et al. Ink? Yeah, well honestly I use two Tablet PCs and Ink is the last thing I'd hold over Linux's head at this point. Or just run the MS apps (some of them anyhow) on Linux with WINE. I don't do that (I like Windows myself, and I use a number of programs that won’t cooperate with Wine), but others do.

About problems running as admin - While it's a perfectly valid point to say that not running as admin would solve many problems, it will *not* solve all of them. However, Microsoft would do well to introduce a paradigm-shift level of change in this regard, and force the user context as restricted as possible, with some usable, easy-to-understand tools that would allow the user to specify elevated privileges for certain tasks, like installing software for example. Not some add-on stuff - it needs to be built in and intuitive. I like power-toys as much as the next guy, but this is important - BUILD IT IN and make it work the way it should. And build these changes and tools not only into future versions of the OS, but also as installable patches to ALL the past versions (the 32-bit ones, anyhow). Seriously. It's worth the investment.

Linux is not a threat in the bad sense of the word - rather it's a healthy marketplace competitor. Competition makes for healthy companies/teams. The fact is, Linux would not be what it is today if Microsoft was not part of the landscape; neither would Microsoft be what it is today without Linux in the world. Same goes for Apple and a bunch of others. The loss of any of thee players would be bad for all the others, plain and simple.

Complaining for the purpose of getting people to change their personal behavior more often than not just doesn't work. But complaining to get companies to change their products - now that's another story. But be ready to support and defend your argument, and think through the gaps before you start.

The unfortunate thing about many people today is that rather than voicing reasonable complaints and making rational, well-formed suggestions to solve problems, they instead take the route of whining loudly and then looking around to see if anyone is talking about their whining. “Did you hear what so-and-so said???”

A blog doesn't *make* a person a Voice - it just *gives* them one. There are plenty of bloggers who have blown that opportunity. Truth be told, I'm getting pretty tired of the whiny people. Maybe RSS 2.1 needs a whiner filter field or something. Umm, no pun intended - Sorry, Dave.

And as far as relative costs of Linux vs. Windows, if my company had a dime for every time I had to listen to someone pitch a half-baked argument advocating switching from Windows, or to Linux, or whatever - Well let's just say they'd owe me a great big honkin' bonus check. It’s not all about the cost of the OS itself. There are many other factors to consider. I am pretty darn happy with the computer systems we have now. I can fix spyware problems and secure computers - but I can't make an operating system more friendly, usable by non-geeks, or centrally manageable.

I'm a huge fan on the secure-by-default methodology that Linux and OS-X leverage - but it should never replace a good, solid security config, check and review. Assume nothing, check everything. Of course, I can’t very well expect my mom to secure her own computer, and she’s seriously asked for a gift of one year worth of tech support for Christmas. I told her she has to cover the travel – she lives more than 1300 miles away.

And before anyone starts the "but Linux is so much better now than it used to be" thing, just save the speech til it's ready. I use Linux here and there, I stay familiar with it and how its progressed, and while I like it a lot it's not ready for what I need from a desktop operating system to use in business today. Servers yes, desktops no. And that's okay. I don't need better, I need done. I know some will argue it is done – I just don’t agree there, and the definition of “done” will vary from person to person, depending on their specifc needs.

For some, Linux is better. For others, it’s not. That won’t be changing anytime soon.

Ultimately, computer arguments have fallen victim to the same problem that plagues every other form of discussion in today's world: People assume it has to be all one way or all another. It's not a black-and-white world we live in, though. Believe it or not, Linux, Apple and Windows can all co-exist peacefully, and will continue to make each other better over time as a result.

Ahh the continued one-sided mantra rants of a clueless generation...

Meanwhile, I’m willing to push Microsoft to continue to improve their products – which is something they need to do. I’ll continue to use Linux in those places where it works best for me – typically in security applications and certain server environments. On the desktop and on most servers it’s Windows, centrally managed and patched automatically and reliably. Our users know what they’re using. And spyware? Well, it’s really not that hard a problem to solve for me. Once you know how, anyway.

But Microsoft truly needs to do something about it, and needs to do so now.

Clearly, something about this works. Look, I wrote all about what I think. Others have done the same. Something’s happening here.

Somebody look what’s goin’ down…



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Blogging | Tech
Monday, December 20, 2004 11:47:15 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, December 17, 2004

Scott Hanselman has been working on some very cool updates to a private build of the current version of dasBlog (the blog software this site runs on), and last night he and I stayed up late plugging his new build into my weblog site and his. We did some tuning and troubleshooting (he tuned, and I took direction and troubleshooted/shot/sha– eh, whatever…), and got to where things are looking pretty darn nice.

The net effect of the changes is significantly improved performance and some new functionality for site owners.

It’s faster. Big time. Between the dasBlog changes and cleaning a few things up in my blog template, the site is loading well over ten times faster than it was 24 hours ago. Wow. Scott’s blog is also running on the new bits, and its much faster, too.

Before anyone asks, it’s a private build, and it’s not mine to give away. Scott said that “if its righteous,” Omar will take a look at it for possible inclusion into dasBlog v1.7.

I won’t pretend to understand the guts of it (that’s Excellent Programmer Scott’s job), but here are a few of the new things he’s implemented (in my words, not his, so forgive me if it’s in not-too-programmerish terms):

  • Speed Improvements: Site content that used to be cached on the file system in blogdata.xml, categoryCache.xml, and entryCache.xml are now stored and manipulated in memory, which means no more of the thrash-and-wait disk IO associated with those files, and therefore a faster application requiring less overhead. Category pages are incredibly fast now. My RSS loads faster in the reader. Speed, speed speed…
  • New Config Setting: Blocks unwanted referrers by keyword, and logs the action taken along with the matching keyword. Does not count as a referral or visit in stats.
  • New Config Setting: Send an HTTP 404 response (page not found) to blocked referrerals.
  • New Config Setting: Enable Captcha for comments. Captcha is the tool that creates an image with numbers and letters that you have to type into a form field when submitting comments on the site. It’s purpose is to prevent comment spamming, and it is now integrated directly into dasBlog.
  • New Configuration File: Block access to the weblog application by IP address by adding them to blockedips.cfg.
  • HTTP Compression Changes: Makes larger pages transfer and load faster.
  • New activity logging features: Logging of dasBlog application activity is enhanced with things like source IP addresses for referrals (in case you want to block it or look it up), keywords used on referral filtering, refused referrals, and I am sure a bunch of others.

It’s all so super fast, slick and nifty, but then again that’s exactly what I’d expect from Scott. He’s wicked smart and more than just a little driven. ;-)

It’s such a bonus to have friends around that you can learn so much from and who can make such cool things work. Thanks as always to Scott, and woo-hoo for dasBlog!



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Tech | Blogging
Friday, December 17, 2004 7:13:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Over on it’s GotDotNet workspace, you can download the Collutions cBlog package, a custom site definition for SharePoint released under a Shared Source license. The cBlog package creates a blogging environment on the Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) platform. WSS ships as a free web server add-on/enhancement to Windows Server 2003.

This is interesting stuff. Jim Duncan’s sample blog is viewable online, and is a real, working blog that appears to be dedicated to the development and discussion of the cBlog custom site definition itself, at least so far.

Looks like Jim has already created an  RSS  2.0 Feed  for the WSS cBlog, too. Subscribed!

Going to have to look into this one further…



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Blogging | SharePoint | Tech
Wednesday, December 15, 2004 9:14:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, December 08, 2004

For the past few months now I have had Google AdSense ads (four of them in a vertical stack format) way down deep on the page in the right-side nav section of this weblog. You’d be safe to say they were buried, way “below the fold.” In other words, the worst possible place to stick ads that you want people to click on.

I put the ads there after Chris Pirillo pontificated on the wonders of AdSense - on his site, to me in person, to me in email, to me in instant messaging conversations. He groks the stuff.

Yesterday I got a “hey here’s some new info about your AdSense account” email from the AdSense people, which reminded me of that fact that I even had the ads on my site at all (yeah, they were that far down on the page). I’m a little lazy about that kind of stuff. In fact, I had not checked on the stats for my AdSense account in some time, and so I was a bit surprised to find I had almost $80 worth of ad revenues in my account. Hmmm…

So, being the smart guy I am, I decided maybe there actually was something to this AdSense stuff. Late last night I changed my ad layout design from four ads to just two, made it a horizontal layout, and moved them to the top of the page - into a much higher-profile placement.

The results? Well, just today, I had nearly $10 in click-through revenues – and today was a (relatively) slow traffic day on the site. In other words, by simply moving the ads and making them fit in a little better, in just one day I brought in about an eighth of the total ad revenue from the past four months. That’s hard to beat, no matter how you look at it:

    • Click-through Rate:   3.4% today     0.2% per day average
    • Click-though Count:   36 today       1 per day average
    • Daily Earnings:       $9.42 today    $0.43 per day average

Of course, I emailed Chris and told him about my little experiment in ad placement and the results, and his reply was what exactly I expected:

“Told ya so.”

Heh. Yeah, he sure did.



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Blogging
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 11:32:27 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, December 04, 2004

Most any blog that’s been Googled, Slashdotted, or Engadgeted – or for that matter pretty much anything that drives traffic to a site – has seen the effects of referral spam. It SUCKS. Porn and marketing sites create a fake link to your blog entry, which results in a link to their web site (usually and unpleasant and unwelcome one) showing up in your referral list for that entry. Your readers click a link and get porn tossed right in their faces. Ugh.

With dasBlog, the only way I had to effectively battle this (I am a victim of referral spam for sure) was to turn off referral displays on my blog. I don’t want that, but this is a family-friendly site for the most part, so keeping the nasty out was important.

But last night Scott Hanselman, a friend and co-worker, sent me a new little C# 2005 Express project ZIP file, told me to compile it, and to try it out. He just built it for himself, and passed it on for me to use.

No more referral spam!

UPDATE: While I was able to kill the nasty referrer links, I have again removed referral listings from the blog for a while, because I have one particular weblog entry that has so many hundreds of referrers, it will crash the browser when you try to load it with referrers showing… But that’s a whole different issue…

Since then, Scott has posted the project source file on his blog, too, so any dasBlog users that need it can take advantage. He plans to make it a little more elegant in the future, but this is a great start!

Scott Hanselman, YOU’RE MY HEEEROOOO. :-)



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Blogging | Tech | Things that Suck
Saturday, December 04, 2004 11:42:40 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, December 03, 2004

Blogcast 1.0 - Click for moreEric Rice is thinking hard, pondering what it will take to make Blogcast 1.0 happen, and posts his thoughts over on his weblog.

What will Podcasting’s future hold? What about video? Other forms of multimedia communication? Delivery methods? How can it be made more usable and accessible to new and experienced users alike?

I’m in. Multimedia communication by individuals online is just barely getting started, and this is the place to be for those who are interested in what the future will hold.

And besides, Eric’s a cool guy and a conference he drives is sure to be a hit. Plus he already made up a cool logo. :-)



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Blogging | Geek Out | Tech
Friday, December 03, 2004 9:17:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

According to my just-arrived daily Google News Alert, Robert and I were both quoted (semi-syndicated, actually) today in the Boston Herald, with regard to our comments on MSN Spaces.

Funny, I didn’t actually think the two of us were at opposite ends of the spectrum, opinion-wise. In fact, I actually tend to agree with Robert, in that I would not use MSN Spaces as my primary blogging tool.

(Not that what I think matters all that much, but hey, it’s an honor to be quoted. And I’m a bit embarrassed – for Robert, that is – that I was quoted in the same breath as Scoble. He deserves better company, really.)

Sidebar: I find it fairly interesting that I am essentially blogging about tools that are used for blogging, then the newspaper quotes me in a story talking about blogging tools, using my blog as a journalistic source, and I am now back on the same blog, posting about the fact that this blog was (in a small way) used as a news source. Blogs as sources. Brain freeze. Ouch.

But I do like MSN spaces, not so much for me as for someone like my mom or a friend who’s maybe not quite so… computerified. It’s great for someone not quite so geeky as me, and who has no real desire to get any nerdier. I run my weblog on dasBlog, a .NET application that I installed, customized and run on my web host. My mom can’t conceptualize that, let alone actually do it.

Uh, sorry Mom – You’re terrific. I just needed a good example. :-)

And it looks like that’s what MSN is thinking about with this product. From the Herald’s story:

"We think what we'll do is attract people who maybe have heard of blogging but never would have gone out and created their own blog," said Brooke Richardson, lead product manager for MSN Communications Services. "What we really focused on was making it easy to set up so newbies could get into the space."

So – for the average entry-level user, MSN Spaces is a pretty darn good thing.

For the record, so are other online hosted services like Blogger. And there’s the community-oriented Livejournal, which is actually where I started blogging back in the day. They’re a Portland-based company and a pretty darn cool group of people.



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Blogging | Tech
Friday, December 03, 2004 8:39:15 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, December 02, 2004

More about MSN Spaces... Robert Scoble pointed out a couple of videos they posted to the Channel 9 web site showing the MSN Spaces people and technology:

Robert (in his typical and valued own-worst-critic style) also points out that while Spaces does what it does pretty well, it's not really the tool for him. I think I agree, but I also believe, similar to Livejournal, that MSN Spaces is great for non-technical people looking to communicate online in this form.

A friend of mine, Chris Cook, who has his own computer support and technology business, just created his first blog on MSN Spaces. Looks like I need to add yet another feed to my RSS reader... Cool!



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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, December 02, 2004 1:48:24 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Wednesday, December 01, 2004

MSN Spaces has just been launched. It’s pretty darn cool, and essentially it’s a fairly complete blogging tool from Microsoft/MSN. You’ll need a Passport account, but other than that, you just sign up and go for it.

In less than 10 minutes, I created and configured a weblog, posted to it, changed a bunch of setting and the layout, posted to it from my mobile device, and added a picture or two via the MSN photo upload control. RSS 2.0 syndication is included (but no standard RSS orange button, or use of the term “RSS” – interesting).

Not a bad start, will be interesting to see it evolve!

Within a fraction of a second after I submitted my request to create my Space, this email arrived in my grungy little Hotmail in-box:

Spaces

Congratulations!
You have created your own space on MSN Spaces.

Here is the web address for your space:

http://spaces.msn.com/members/greghughes/

To go to your new space now, use the above address.

To help protect your privacy, do not include any personal information (for example, your address, phone numbers, Social Security number, or credit card information) on your space.

Go to MSN Spaces
Go to your personal space

The layouts are about what you'd expect (nothing earthshattering, but solid and works well), and a number of standard templates are available:



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Blogging | Tech
Wednesday, December 01, 2004 8:31:57 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

Jeremy Wright, a talented and well-known blogger, is auctioning himself on eBay:

“What do I get with this auction?

“This auction allows you to utilize this blogger for 3 months. He will produce between 5-10 posts a week. In addition, the blogger will work with you to see what potential there is for blogging for you and your company - in effect acting as a blogging consultant for you for the period.

“If it is a fit, the blogger is happy to negotiate a deal to make the position a more permanent contract position for a reasonable fee.

“Note: I have explained my reasons for doing this more fully at my blog.”



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Wednesday, December 01, 2004 2:32:11 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, November 29, 2004

I took a short week off and flew down to San Diego, to hang out with some cool friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, and just got back home. I had a great time. We did the Sea World thing, hit the tattoo shop, went crazy on hotel boxing matches and swimming in the coldest freakin' pool ever in Southern California, ate Thanksgiving dinner, all the good stuff. Many people (even family) have been trying to reach me and probably wondering why they have not heard back from me for a week or two – Sorry to everyone, I was gone and badly (but necessarily) distracted, and that’s pretty much why.

I am not sure why, but for some strange reason, pretty much every time I go away to any place where I won’t be using a computer for more than a day or two (as well as at other random, unpredictable times) my blog software installation (dasBlog) freaks out and starts creating zero–byte XML content files on the server with wonky dates, which effectively renders kaput dasBlog’s ability to render any content for the site. Hence, the blog goes bye-bye, or at least everything except the theme shell does. That happened again while I was away, but it’s back to normal (if you can call it that) now.

I know this unusual problem has been seen before on other people’s dasBlog driven weblogs, but only very rarely and without any real ability to reliably reproduce the problem. If anyone has the same problem (where you have to go and delete the bad files to make your site start working again) please let me know, and maybe we can figure out why its happening.

It could very easilly be a change I made, but since I know of at least one other person who has experienced the same issue, I'll throw out the question... There are a few things I can think of about my blog that are non-stock, and I am not sure whether or not they might be related:

  • Older content on the site was created programatically using a home-grown tool that a friend cooked up while I watched and learned.
  • I have modified the search stuff a little in the template
  • I have definitely modified the site template itself, quite a bit
  • Any other changes I can think of were made after the problem started happening


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Blogging | Tech
Monday, November 29, 2004 8:16:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, November 20, 2004

Just a quick hit list off the top of my head this morning of things I would like to change or add to my blog app (which is dasBlog, by the way):

  • Email notifications on a scheduled basis – I used to like getting an email on my blackberry when someone linked to my blog from another web site (a referrer notification), but then things took off, and I had to turn it off due to the enormous volume of email. If I could schedule an hourly or daily summary that would be sent via email, that would be great. Note that I still want to get my comment email like I do now – as soon as they are posted – so I can continue to reply via email if needed, or at least see what’s going on. I would also like to specify different email addresses for different items – like one for referrers, one for comments, etc., if I want to.
  • Better statistics – dasBlog lets me see what’s been happening today (well, actually, more like today on my calendar but data available based on someone else’s time zone, which is kinda weird). It would be nice to see aggregated stats that I can sort through in whatever way I like.
  • Multi-user posting support would be nice, not so much for this blog but for another one I am planning.
  • SQL server option for data storage.
  • Templates 100% CSS, and some of the hard-coded stuff to move out into the templates. I’d like to be able to specify what the “Comments” link says, or to be able to apply the link associated with that function to a graphic on my page (like the one next to the comments link below, for example – you can’t click the image, just the text, since I can’t seem to figure out a way in the templates to add the href to the image).
  • IP logging in the event log for the user viewing the page.
  • IP logging with comments in the app.


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Blogging | Random Stuff
Saturday, November 20, 2004 11:38:04 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

BlogJet v1.2 beta has been released for download. As a paid user for many many months, I am excited to see this coming. A few bugs to work out, but it’s nice to see new stuff!

BlogJet is a windows app that allows to you quickly and easily post to your blog, including text, images and files. New features being worked on in the beta include a properties page that lets you do time and date adjustment, summaries, pings, comments and trackbacks in the UI. Not working for me on the first computer I installed it on, but hey its a first-beta. Can’t wait for the functionality. Very cool.



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Blogging | Tech
Saturday, November 20, 2004 11:16:47 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, November 19, 2004

Our world, it is a-changin' ...

The folks over at audioblog.com have recently released a beta of their new videoblogging browser-based service to their users. It's super-sweet, and works great. Nice job!

What will this kind of capability mean down the road for personal Internet broadcasting and media in general? Only time will tell, but the possibilities seem endless.

Of course, videos of me talking to inanimate objects about the technology itself from my kitchen are not exactly great examples of effective content planning... But hey, it's a geek-out kinda thing, ya know?



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Geek Out | Tech
Friday, November 19, 2004 12:33:53 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, November 12, 2004

Thanks to my friend Scott, I made a few enhancements to my dasBlog weblog app that drives this site. I'll leave all of them active for a while to see how they work. If you have thoughts, feel free to leave them here as a comment on this post.

  • As of a few minutes ago, I enabled GZIP HTTP compression for site content (which matters a lot more to me in the bandwidth-saving area than it does to anyone else).
  • I also added an object to the comment pages here that requires anyone who wants to post a comment to read the text from an image on the page and enter the text on a text box. This will help reduce the comment spam that comes and goes on this site.
  • Finally, I downloaded the latest dasBlog web core DLL as posted on the GotDotNet workspace, which enabled me to add a NewsGator ranking object to each blog post.


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Blogging | Tech
Friday, November 12, 2004 10:43:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Monday, November 08, 2004

Fredrik at corporateblogging.info has created a Corporate Blogging Primer, in which he has organized much of his sites content into a single PDF document that can be easily read and used for, well, whatvever you need it for. I think it's kind of funny to consense a blogging primer into a PDF file, but I can see the purpose in the corporate world - it's just not quite a dogfood thing to do is all. :-)

His definition of a corporate blog?

"A corporate blog is a blog published by or with the support of an organization to reach that organization's goals."

It's pretty well done. The contents include:

  • Corporate Blog—A Definition
  • The Nature of Blogs
  • Reasons for Corporate Blogging
  • Six Types of Corporate Blogs
  • Read Blogs
  • Publish Blogs
  • 14 Steps to Your Business Blog
  • What Corporate Bloggers Say
  • Testimonials
  • More corporate blogs
  • Blogs to read
  • About & Copyright

Get the free PDF file from here.

Of course, you should always check out other resources as well, like Robert's Corporate Weblog Manifesto for one, if you are thinking about blogging in the business world. Remember that a teeny-tiny bit of good, reasonable, simple forethought and planning can make blogging a very positive and useful thing for business.



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Blogging
Monday, November 08, 2004 7:52:42 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Saturday, November 06, 2004

Robert Scoble opened the session on Overload - or as he coined it in the opening conversation, "Information Pressure." He deals with 950+ RSS feeds that he has subscribed to, and so he's a good person to have guide the discussion on this topic.

What a great session.

There are already 4.5 million blogs out there. Overload is inevitable for many. Everyone has limits. They're different for each of us.

For my part, I have to manage my RSS feeds regularly. I am subscribed to more than 500 in total. I move them, reclassify them, and occasionally (but rarely) even unsubscribe to ones that have not met my needs or expectations, and I also have a section in my RSS reader for those feeds I want to keep track of, but which I don't put in my higher-priority list. They are my general dumping ground categories, if you will - good enough to watch now and then when I have time, but not part of my daily chores.

But then there are my high-priority feeds, and there are a couple hundred of those. I deal with my primary RSS feeds daily - usually several times a day. I get critical information I need for my work delivered to me in RSS throughout the day. It's reliable, fast and goes with me. It just works. It's lightweight. I can use it the way I want.

But that is exactly what makes it easy to get overloaded. Make something that really, really works, and people like me with use the hell out of it, sometimes to the point of making it less usable.

Scoble asks an excellent question - What about people who read only say 20 feeds? Why not more? One good answer: "If I save 20 minutes not reading feeds, that's 20 minutes I can spend looking at a sunset." Or maybe a sunrise. How true. ;-)

Which makes me think - maybe we could convince Nick Bradbury (who is the author of FeedDemon) to consider providing a way to see what feeds I have not read in a given period of time, those that have not posted in x days or weeks, those that are no longer there, and report that info to me and then let me act on it. Also let me report on the opposite - what feeds are really really active? I'd want to be able to move any of them, mark them, delete them, or a combination of the above. Kind of a little clean-up wizard. Hmmmm... Is this what attention.xml does?

Robert makes what seems like it should be an obvious suggestion, but is a good one to hear: Write better headlines. Tell me what it's about. A head line of "GAHHHH!" does nothing for me when what the article is about is something like "I had a really frustrating day at work today." Or something like that.

Or maybe attention.xml should do this, as one person suggested: "Here's the list of people I don't pay attention to anymore."

A tangent topic of "what do you use your blog for" came up (and for some reason Robert said my name when he showed the crowd his feed aggregator - thanks for the plug, heh). Interesting topic. Blogs are used for all sorts of things: Personal memory catalogs, culture development and coming together of people with similar interests, espousing opinion, publishing fact, conversing and replacing letter writing, you name it.

And thanks to Robert for asking for people at the conference to stand at the mic who had not spoken yet. Nice job guiding and maintaining the focus of the conversation without controlling the session too much. I like it when I hear Robert say, "That's for all of you to decide, right?" and "What else would you like to talk about?" (photo by Doc Searls)

Brainstorming ideas on overload:

  • Social networking worked into bloglines - show me recommendations based on who I read, ability to browse the network of content.
  • Eric Rice says - with these ideas, are we risking going away from that peer-to-peer distributed model, away from the model we were trying to reject?
  • What goes on between the time when an idea has an idea and when I read it - content producer can filter, linkers can filter when they describe and link, governments in same places might filter, services can filter, and the end user can filter content. How do we find information unfiltered without overload? Can it be done?
  • A certain Zen acceptance that there might be something you won't see - don't give in to the pressure to give in to the anal-retentive obsession to read and see everything.
  • Thought that the major overlaid is not the number of blogs, but the comments, which ones are by smart comments, which are on topic, which are tolls, etc.
  • Podcasts control the browser. (Note: This is an idea I have already given to a team I am working with, but MP3 won't do it. Windows Media will, but that's not open).
  • There's a problem in the room and in the blogosphere in general with blogaholism. It's causing a lot of problems, solve it like a medical condition? (hmmm)

By the way, it's hard to say enough time how much Doug Kaye and ITConversations rule. I can't be there, but I can be there. Nice - thanks.



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Blogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
Saturday, November 06, 2004 11:51:28 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  

And she's right.

I am listening to a live windows media feed from BloggerCon about podcasting (I am not there because I needed to stay home for other things, so I canceled my trip).

Adam Curry says (paraphrased) don't think you can change the name, it's a done deal. He's right (unfortunately). No one thought ahead about the name, or not far enough ahead. Or there was an agenda to use the name for any of a number of reasons. Or it's a good name because it's catchy and immediately invokes interest when you hear or read it. Whatever. I *still* think we need to get away from the name when we think up new additions to this technology, just to make sure people don't assume it's just for the iPod. Because like it or not, they do.

For the creator, this is personal Internet broadcasting. For the end users, it's simply audio aggregation with a magical ability to get the files on your computer and/or portable audio device of choice.

And it's in its infancy as far as time alive and maturity of technology. John Dvorak was at least partially right. It pretty much sucks for the average user. At least right now.

But it will get better.

Take a look at early technology being developed specifically for aggregating mp3 and other enclosures and tying into, say, Windows Media player. I have had the personal experience of providing input and being involved in making suggestions for Doppler, a program that is 100% focused on doing just that.

Adam points out that there is no all-in-one solution for the podcaster. We are far from having that available.

Which means by next week someone will have written it. :-)



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AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
Saturday, November 06, 2004 10:17:09 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Thursday, November 04, 2004

Turns out I'm going to have to skip BloggerCon this weekend, and so I just canceled my spot so someone else can have it. It's too bad, and was a tough decision - I signed up when it was first announced - but I'll just use the airline credit for something else over the holidays I am sure. It's just been a little too much all at once in terms of travel (I've been out of town recently much more than in), and I need to take care of business at home instead.

I'll listen to the MP3s after the fact, and the webcasts if they're available. I regret I won't be there to converse and say hi to friends, though.

Next year.



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Blogging | Random Stuff
Thursday, November 04, 2004 10:02:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
 Friday, October 01, 2004

I'm at Gnomedex, in the "Maximize your blogging potential" panel session, listening to all these guys talk. The conversation quickly moved to multimedia content and delivery as well as devices and tools. Here are some of my observations, paraphrasing the speakers.

  • Adam Kalsey (Moderator)

    Adam went from 200 page views a month to thousands a day because he wrote about relevant things that mattered to people. If you're posting content to the web, you have a goal in mind. If you get slashdotted because its interesting to others, but you decide you can't afford it, you'll stop doing it.

    On multimedia blogging, he noted that if its going to take off, things like indexing and searching of multimedia formats will have to happen.

    In the keyword filtering department as a way to deal with too much content, he points out that keyword searches are not always the best way to deal with selecting information, because of the fact that what I think are relevant keywords may not agree with the way the author wrote the content.

  • Robert Scoble

    Microsoft employee and internal button pusher, Robert's well-known and got his job at Microsoft in no small part because of his blog. He started blogging because he was running a conference and wanted to document it. He wants to know, "What's undiscovered here?"

    "Something has happened in the past month." He notes that PODCasting has taken off all of a sudden. Robert consumes about 900+ feeds a day, compromising about 2000 blogs (some feeds combined). How is he going to deal with 1000 audioblogs a day? With audio he can only consume 2 or 3 shows a night, so becoming a star is a harder things to do.

    For text feeds, he's like his news aggregator to start building keyword searches automatically, based on his reading behavior.

  • Nick Bradbury

    Nick is a (great) shareware author of three rather famous pieces of software, and uses blogging for personal and business use.  His FeedDemon software is what I use as my content aggregator for tons of blogs and other content sources. He says the biggest problem with information now is that there's some much info out there now that you can't deal with it all, so you don't necessarily know what you're missing. I agree. I'd pay good money for something that would help me see what I need and want to see, inside the content I already subscribe to.

  • Ross Rader

    Ross of Blogware says its a pain to do all these different blogging things. The whole Web 2.0 movement should be about making things useful. Lots of utilities are great, but if Dad can't use it?

    Audio and other multimedia blogging shows that the Internet is continuing to change and that it's important to give these things a chance and to see where it goes.

    Enclosures are binary attachments to a syndication feed, and you can determine when that attachment gets downloaded (send it to me between 2 and 5 am).

    Ross also distinguished between managed and unmanaged content, and pointed out that the goal is to get people involved in the creation of content, and making it available and usable by others. If you want to publish your content, you can do it, in your own place.

  • Jason Shellen

    Jason works at Blogger, one of the huge blogging services, owned by Google. He noted that the San Francisco web design community was one of the first adopters of the technology, because it provided the ability to remove the focus from "I am going to create a page" to "I am going to write about something." Blogger/Google has started to address the "How do I do more than write text" with audioblogger.com and Picasa/Hello/BloggerBot.

    "I'm going to go out on a limb and say everything shouldn't be in a blog."

    Jason sees blogging and formats as continuing to grow and expand, and that the forms of media, he expects, will change over time. But he wants to have the ability to use the new media formats on the device of choice.

    Timeliness of blogs: There is a time factor to all of this. Everything has a time and date. Email has this too, as does IM. He notes that there is a need for a tool that will "bring me all the stuff that's important to me."

  • Dave Taylor

    Dave writes several blogs, and sees blogs as content and data management systems. He uses one web log to hold a Q&A of common questions he gets from people. He emphasizes the fact that he sees it not as a cool HTML thing, but rather as being all about the content.

    "I can publish with anything and boom, I'm out there just like anyone who has a multi-million-dollar marketing department."

    Thoughts from others in the audience:

    Scott with Feedster talked about enclosure feeds (images, video clips, porn enclosures are common). He notes that the one constant of new media is that when porn starts to become available on a new media format or mechanism, that form of media will succeed. He also pointed out feedstertv.com, which deals with enclosures on RSS feeds.

    On the next steps with categories, filtering, automation, etc: "RSS is the web services we've been waiting for, let's make it DO something."

    The TiVo suggestions metaphor: Letting the machine tell me what I want to watch usually produces garbage.

    The whole date-based/time-based thing with weblogs is what makes things tough for old stuff. Adding categories, internal or site-restricted search engines. It's a publisher's decision what tools to use to organize information.

    ----

    The focus of the discussion seemed to settle on multimedia blogging, then multimedia content in general, and what that means to the blogging universe. PODcasting and audioblogging is taking the place of drive-time radio content. Radio broadcasting 's future is in question. ReplayRadio is a new service available to time-shift talk radio content.

    Ultimately the answer to most of the questions that came up seems to be "better tools."

    Eventually a question was asked about how many people in the audience deal with information overload, and how people deal with the volume. The mix was interesting to see. Some seem to be in a place where their RSS aggregator has consumed their lives. I'm just the opposite - RSS saves me tons of time every day in my job. For others, it takes up time. Apparently it depends on what you do and how you use it.

    This was a great session.



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    AudioBlogging | Blogging | GnomeDex | RSS Stuff
    Friday, October 01, 2004 11:36:11 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Wednesday, September 29, 2004

    Arrived in South Lake Tahoe this afternoon, and have already started meeting a lot of cool people, some of whom I have interacted with in the past, and a few new acquaintances as well.

    Who I met today:

    A bunch of great people. We talked geek stuff, politics, constitutional law, you name it (your typical tech conference fodder of course). I helped stuff bags for the attendees. Putting on a conference like this is a ton of work, something very few people actually understand, especially when you're a small company or organization running a show labor-of-love style. And that's what this is - there's no huge up-sell to come out of this, it's all about getting together, geeking out and learning from each other.

    Quality is what this is all about, and the more I speak to people about it, the more excited I am to be here. I'd choose a conference like this, with a killer crew of really smart and talented people, over a thousand-attendee marketing fest any day, month or year.



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    Blogging | GnomeDex
    Wednesday, September 29, 2004 9:37:20 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Friday, September 24, 2004

    I swear to God, I just heard Robert Scoble schooling Michael Savage on his talk radio show about what blogs are and why people write web logs. So cool!

    And here I am driving down the road at 70 ... Uh I mean 60 55 miles an hour blogging about it Blackberry-style, heh. Moblog yo!

    Cool stuff, Robert. Amazing new world we live in - You read on someone's web site that they listen to talk radio. It's a web site I read in order to learn and stay up-to-date in my field. A couple days later, I'm driving home and I hear (what I think was) the author (Scoble) on talk radio, talking about blogging. Nice.



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    Blogging | Random Stuff
    Friday, September 24, 2004 5:48:45 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Thursday, September 23, 2004

    I know he didn't mean to (so I won't act all flattered or smug or anything), but Robert Scoble just sort of summed up the better part of my topic/category list for this-here-blog of mine, over on his blog...

    I thought it would be interesting to compare his list of cool upcoming topics for the future to what's categorized or searchable right now on my site. So, I did just that and have added the links, below. Not a bad start, and it points out to me where I am falling shorter than I had realized in my content. Hey Robert, thanks for the copy. :-)

    “For the next 18 months, where are the business opportunities going to lie? Tablet PC. Bigtime. Windows Media Center. Gonna be a big deal. SmartPhones. Wanna watch how fast the Motorola MPX220 sells when it's released in the next few months? Xbox Live. You only need to say one number and everyone knows exactly the Xbox thing I'm talking about: "2." Visual Studio 2005. Tons of stuff coming there. MSN has a whole raft of things up their sleeves. And we haven't even started talking about BizTalk, SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server, 64-bit Windows, SBS, CRM, LiveMeeting, and OneNote, among other things.”

    It also gives me a gut-check on my existing blog categories. Here they are, with the ones that apply to this posting checked:



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    Blogging | Mobile | Office 2003 | OneNote | SharePoint | Tablet PC | Tech | Windows Media Technology
    Thursday, September 23, 2004 6:51:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Saturday, September 11, 2004

    Wow, the hits just went through the /. roof. My article with pics on breaking down the Rio Carbon got posted on slashdot.org [link]. I have changed the pics in the article to make them smaller (clicking the smaller version now loads the larger image), as the bandwidth was challenging the NIC in the server. Good thing I didn't do what someone thought I did. I also made some changes to my fat-fingered apostrophes to settle down the grammar-police crowd. :)

    My blogging software, dasBlog (a .net-based app running on Windows 2003 by the way, hehehe), has held up quite well under the /. traffic load. I'll put together stats and post them for other dasBlog users, once this all dies down. My service provider, Stormhosts, held up very well, too.

    Number of unique *.slashdot.org web sessions on Saturday: 20,358

    The graphs of bandwidth used are pretty interesting - note the trafffic before the spike is for all web sites on that shared web server - after that it's pretty much all mine:

    Here are some numbers showing unique user sessions per hour - meaning it's how many actual visitors hit the site per hour. Saturday is usually pretty darn slow day, but not this time, and the number/size of of images on the page being loaded was a real challenge:

    6am  57
    7am  65
    8am  54
    9am  68
    10am 74
    11am 102
    12pm 3321
    1pm  5069
    2pm  3360
    3pm  2661
    4pm  2196
    5pm  1721
    6pm  1477
    7pm  1279
    8pm  1239
    9pm  1157
    10pm 1063
    11pm 702
    Some more numbers...
                        11SEP04    Daily Avg
    Sessions 26,030 1,792
    Pageviews 52,522 4,280

    Hits 639,524 8,754 
    Bytes Transferred 13.49 GB 175.35 MB

    Note that RSS was about four to five times my Saturday normal at 4,426 sessions (about twice a normal weekday count), but at a very light bandwidth requirement. Score one more for RSS. Quick, someone write a manifesto! ;-)

    So anyhow, I would like to formally apologize to my service provider, Stormhosts. Well, not really apologize per se - more like shoot them a big HAHAHA! ;-) Good test for your systems I guess eh? Their systems held up very nicely, and when I emailed them just in case alert as soon as I knew what was about to happen**, they got right on IM with me. We watched the performance counters together. Great service from those guys, as always. Recommended.

    ** Mandatory educational content: Many sites over time have fallen victim to the Slashdot Effect, a term used to describe the very common and overwhelming onslaught of sudden traffic to a web site and the resulting failure of said server. It's typical for web servers to simply choke under the load. At some point, I don't remember when, slashdot started releasing new items to their subscriber base for a short while before they release it to their general public web site. This informal early warning system allows just enough time for their notably large number of subscribers to hammer your server, with just enough time left over for you to panic and send an email to your personal web site's unsuspecting service provider that reads something like “HOLY CRAP LOOK OUT!” The slashdot subscriber visits that precede the general onslaught generally include such friendly comments left on a blog as, “What a really cool/lame story. Oh, and by the way - you're about to get slashdotted.”



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    Blogging | Random Stuff
    Saturday, September 11, 2004 9:28:38 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Wednesday, September 08, 2004

    I subscribe and post updates from my weblog to a site that aggregates Oregon weblogs, called orblogs.com. If you're from the area and/or are interested in the wide variety of opinions and thoughts that make up the blogging community in Oregon, you should check it out.

    It looks like as sometime recently they have a RSS 2.0 XML feed available. It showed up in my referrers this evening. Not sure how I missed that, but it's a welcome addition to the site.

    Yay! Publication dates!!



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    Blogging | Random Stuff | RSS Stuff
    Tuesday, September 07, 2004 11:21:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Friday, September 03, 2004

    If you run any version of dasBlog, this is important to you.

    Thanks to Bliz for letting me know to update my dasBlog installation. A new patch is available to fix an issue with all previous versions that can allow a malicious person to gain access to your user credentials for the dasBlog app (but not the system).



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    Blogging | IT Security | Tech
    Friday, September 03, 2004 6:11:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Sunday, August 22, 2004

    If you use MSN Messenger and want to get an alert when this site is updated, use this link to register your Microsoft Passport account for greghughes.net alerts:

    I've also added the icon to the right nav in the syndication section.

    How did I do this? Bloggers can (for the time being at least) sign up for free alerting for their readers at MessageCast. Once signed up with a Microsoft Passport account, alert subscribers will be notified via their chosen methods (Messenger, mobile device, email) when you post a new entry to your blog. The service simply checks your RSS feeds and sends an alert when it sees new items have been added.

    Note that this is a free service to the blogger, and is ad-supported on the reader's end.




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    Blogging | Tech
    Saturday, August 21, 2004 11:07:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Thursday, August 19, 2004

    Robert Scoble recently opened up a little contest that has people sending him new CSS files for his blog to alter the layout into something different. He says he's going to try to change it every couple of days and try out some designs til he sees what looks good.

    Before:

    After:

     

    Nice. :-)



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    Blogging | Random Stuff
    Thursday, August 19, 2004 12:40:45 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Thursday, August 12, 2004

    Seemingly random post, I know, but Citizen Dmitri's web log site is great looking and has some very cool functionality. I've spent considerable time just refreshing and browsing to look at the pictures that make up the site and its entries. If you're a visual person, check it out.

    A little while back I started doing a custom layout for my site, but ran out of time pretty quickly. This one puts the spark back in me to think about that again.



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    Blogging | Random Stuff
    Thursday, August 12, 2004 7:34:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Monday, August 09, 2004

    Tom posts about a couple of common sense things to do when designing your blog web page to make it more usable for those people who read your site on a mobile device.

    I actually view a number of blogs on my Blackberry hand-held, which has a pretty darn small piece of real estate for a screen. But, in HTML content mode (AKA RBRO mode) it's workable. I can even log onto secure web sites with form-based logon fields and fill out forms and submit content to other web sites.

    I agree with Tom's suggestions about what the little things are that can make a big difference to the mobile user when laying out your pages. Of course, you could always design a WML/WAP version of your web site, and if you do 100% CSS it's all about order, not layout. At any rate, the point is that it's a good idea to think about the many users of your site, and how they consume your content - and for the average blogger, basic layout changes are about all one is going to take on.



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    Blogging | Mobile
    Monday, August 09, 2004 8:01:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Friday, July 09, 2004

    Microsoft embraced blogging and open discussion some time ago. Now not only do they allow/encourage their employees to blog about their work and express their own opinions, they've moved all the greatness that is Microsoft-employee-blogging right onto their corporate web site. And they've completely embraced RSS as a delivery mechanism. Practically all their community content is available in RSS feeds. Nice.

    From Microsoft's Community site:

    We just launched the Microsoft Community Blogs Portal, a searchable listing of blogs by Microsoft employees, categorized by product or technology topic. The project also makes it easier for pages across Microsoft.com to publish lists of relevant blogs and posts from those blogs.

    This project was intended to answer one of the key pieces of feedback we get from customers about our blogging efforts to date. As people posted in response to Scoble's question about Microsoft blogs, it’s sometimes hard to find blogs about a particular technology or product that we make, even on a site like blogs.msdn.com which only has full time Microsoft employees blogging. Our answer to that is to ask our bloggers to categorize their RSS feeds (and to indicate whether they’re writing for a technical audience or a more general readership). The blog portal then makes those blogs available for consumption.

    The project also provides ways for blog content to be automatically incorporated into pages on Microsoft.com. We’ve already been doing this, in a proof of concept way, on MSDN in the developer centers, but the process has been very manual. This should make it much easier for all our site managers to incorporate blogs.

    A nice side effect of the project is the ability to search across all of the registered RSS feeds. So if you aren’t able to find something using regular Microsoft.com search but you think one of our bloggers might have written about it, you can search across all the registered posts from the portal.

    Oh yeah, about RSS. A second project which launched yesterday, called Smart Components 2.0, also allows these contextually relevant lists of posts and blogs to be re-published via RSS. What’s that mean? In a nutshell, every one of the blog recent posts components contains a white on orange RSS badge linking to an RSS feed that is scoped to the same content set as the component. The one on the blog portal has an RSS feed of the fifty most recent posts from all registered Microsoft blogs. If I’m on the Exchange community site, there will now be an RSS feed that aggregates posts from registered bloggers who write about Exchange. And we aren’t just RSS-enabling blog content. With the new code that we deployed yesterday, all sorts of smart components on our sites, including lists of newsgroup content, upcoming chats and webcasts, knowledge base articles, and security bulletins now emit RSS.

    Finally, what we shipped yesterday was a portal and a toolbox for our site managers to incorporate these features into their sites. We’ll point to uses of the new components as they go live and spread Microsoft blogs and RSS across Microsoft.com. We’ll also write specifics about some of the other new features in the Smart Components 2.0 release.

    (Bonus: there are some interesting hidden features in the blog portal.)

    ADDED 7/11/04: It's definitely worth noting that despite the “revolutionary” apearance (to some) of Microsoft suddenly being “open,” that's not really the case. I have always been able to talk in depth with many people at Microsoft about the things that I do in my line of work, and they have always been quite open and helpful - both in terms of providing me information I need, and in terms of collecting information from me in order to make sure they're building relevant products.

    Josh Allen has a similar opinion:

    People at Microsoft blog because they tend to be open, independent, and communicative; not the other way 'round.  Blogs do provide evidence that Microsoft is just a bunch of normal people like any other company; but the blogging isn't the cause of this normalcy -- it's just a new way to communicate that reality.



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    Blogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
    Friday, July 09, 2004 7:29:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Sunday, July 04, 2004

    I woke up this morning, bright and early, and was getting ready to head out the door. I decided to check my email real quick, and BAM! ... Tons of referral tracking notifications, all from the same porn URL - So, it looks like someone referral-spammed by blog last night. I just removed all the bad listings, and have been trying to think of a way to prevent this from happening again. I'm coming up short in the ideas department, with the exception of the obvious: turning off referral tracking. I really don't want to do that, though.

    It's the first time in quite a number of months that the site has been online, so I'll leave them on and see what happens in the future. Anyone have any bright ideas about preventing referral-listing spamming? Hey - I guess I should just be glad it's not comment spam!



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    Blogging | Things that Suck
    Sunday, July 04, 2004 7:10:23 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Wednesday, June 23, 2004

    Robert's playing mind games! He's right though - pretty amazing that such a large company can keep things secret:

    Another quiet launch coming?

    In the .NET show Jeff Sandquist says that the days of the quiet launch on the blogosphere are probably over. Oh yeah?

    There's some really cool stuff coming next week that hasn't been leaked yet. It's really shocking that Microsoft can still keep a secret. But my fingers are itching. Twitching. Convulsing.

    Damn, it's hard to keep a secret. Especially this one (I've been keeping it for a couple of months under threat of career ruin). No, it's not about blogging or RSS either. Well, see ya next week.

    Quiet launch? Oh, sure, just between me and my closest friends. Get the Slashdot-compliant server ready. :-)



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    Blogging | Random Stuff
    Wednesday, June 23, 2004 7:03:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Thursday, June 17, 2004
    Scott and I sat down over lunch today and he (once again) proved his l33t development skills, all while teaching me some new stuff... In the end, we had the new RSS Feed to dasBlog Content Converter to show for our (primarily his) efforts.

    From Scott's site:

    Greg Hughes once had a LiveJournal Blog and the only remnant of his blog was an RSS Feed/Archive.  Now that he runs dasBlog he wanted to move his old content forward into dasBlog.  So, we googled a bit and couldn't find a tool that would take an RSS (2.0) feed as input and put the entries into dasBlog.

    So we made one over lunch, and here it is: RSStoDasBlog.zip (219.29 KB)

    RSStoDasBlog.exe MyRssFile.xml "C:\documents and settings\whatever\dasblog\content"

    Use it like this by pointing it to the RSS file and your (local) dasBlog content folder.  It will create all the needed dayentry.xml files for you to upload to your remote blog.  It will also (I think) take an http:// url to an RSS file and could be used to (possible as a service?) steal RSS and mirror them in dasBlog.  Thanks to Jerry (Chris) Maguire's RSS Framework that showed up first in Google and saved me the time of running XSD.exe on an RSS XML schema. Apparently he has even newer stuff on his site.  It's got a few more moving parts than I think it needs to, but it did the job with a few changes that I marked with my initials; SDH.

    Thanks to Scott both for teaching me and for helping me get the content migrated over. I'm a lame IT-management-type of guy, not a coder, but it was truly fun to learn a little something and to find that I was able to follow what he was showing me. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Scott's probably the best technical speaker/teacher I have ever met. I'm lucky to work with a number of really creative people that also happen to be really, really smart.

    Speaking of really creative and smart people, Travis is now a MSDBA in addition to being a MCSD - which is both very cool and a big deal (not mention quite an accomplishment). Not many have the MCSD certification, and even fewer have both. Congrats, Trav!



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    Blogging | RSS Stuff | Tech
    Thursday, June 17, 2004 3:55:55 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Tuesday, June 15, 2004

    Looks like pretty much all the free blogs at weblogs.com (about 3000 of them) are gone. Userland's apparently not especially interested in hosting free sites (they're a commercial enterprise after all), and Dave Winer, who really got the free thing going back in the day, has actually been buying servers himself recently and moving the sites over. But the weblogs.com migration and hosting is much more difficult than can be handled by Dave for free, so he's had to pull the plug. Performance problems and other issues (DNS nightmares for sub-domains, for example) have not been manageable, so the other evening, Dave posted this entry, recorded this audioblog entry, and decided he had to turn off the free service. So, he did. People who have sites hosted there can post a comment on this page with the URL of their site, and Dave promises to send the contents of all requested sites on July 1st. For complete information, listen to the audio entry. Dave explains it all there.

    "This is not a company here, this is a person"
    Dave Winer has provided, or through Userland has been involved in providing, a free service for many years. Unfortunately, he's faced with a difficult personal health situation and had to make a decision. It would have been much better if there was some reasonable period during which people could have downloaded their own information, but we're past that point now. Dave's a somewhat controversial (to some) and outspoken guy, but he's human like the rest of us, and hey - four years of free hosting... Regardless of the situation today, he's got to take care of himself, and IMO he deserves the community's gratitude for all the years of good and free blogging service (I even had one set up for a while back in the beginning). For my part, I wish him well and hope his heath improves and that he's able to focus better on the more important aspects of his life. As nice as it is to do for others, one must take care of one's self first in order to be available to others. Dave's done a lot for the community in the past, and regardless of the present situation, we can at least tell him thank you:

        Hey Dave - Thanks! (and good luck)



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    Blogging
    Tuesday, June 15, 2004 7:02:18 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Saturday, June 12, 2004

    A friend turned me on to a program last week called BlogJet. It's a nifty little program that allows you to post to and maintain content on a web log. Any one of a number of blog software apps are supported, including:

     Blogger
     b2
     BlogHarbor
     Blogware
     DasBlog
     DeadJournal
     LiveJournal
     Lockergnome.net
     MovableType
     pMachine
     Squarespace
     TypePad
     .Text
     WordPress
    Blogger API
    MetaWeblog API

    So pretty much anyone should be able to take advantage of it. I use it with my dasBlog server, and I am taking advantage of the fact that it can FTP pictures (EDIT: See below) to my server at the time I post the entries. It even logs me in and allows me to edit past posts by downloading them from the server for me, and will also download my posting categories and let me assign them in the program before I publish a new or edited post. In addition, it includes a simple audio recorder, and with it one can make audio recordings with the microphone and instantly post them with a link in the blog entry.

    The WYSIWYG editor includes spell checking and a library of high-color emoticons/smilies  that it will automatically upload when if and when you use them in a post. On top of all that, since I use FeedDemon, I get the added benefit of making BlogJet my default blogging tool in that program, which means fast and easy blogging from my RSS reader, as well as from within IE ("BlogJet This!").

    EDIT: Jim Blizzard decided to give BlogJet a try, too. He had to do some futzing around to get the FTP uploads to work, and I thought I should point out that I also had some issues getting the FTP portion of the program to behave as I expeced it to, but it's worth the extra effort. Perhaps they'll make some additional improvements in that area in future versions (First suggestion: let me choose active or passive FTP mode in the account wizard; Second suggestion: while it's cool to be able to load and choose from my blog categories on a new post, unfortunately existing posts that I load from history don't load with the category info intact, which gets confusing and messy. )



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    AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
    Saturday, June 12, 2004 10:16:50 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Monday, June 07, 2004

    The Blogosphere just got a whole new solar system. Sun Microsystems has turned on employee-written blogs for the outside world to read.

    What's the slant, the position, the purpose, the goal? None, apparently:

    “This space is accessible to any Sun employee to write about anything.”

    Woah. Cool.



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    Blogging | Tech
    Sunday, June 06, 2004 11:04:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Tuesday, June 01, 2004

    Need to figure out how to automagically ping this site's XML-RPC interface (rpc.pingomatic.com) on all new dasBlog posts. One ping to them results in 12 pings to various other listings. That could speed some things up. Kewl...

    http://wordpress.org/development/archives/2004/05/23/pingomatic-and-site/

    dasBlog lets me ping Weblogs.com and blo.gs on update, but at first glance I don't see anywhere that I can specify other services to ping - so will need to look into this.



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    Blogging | Tech
    Monday, May 31, 2004 11:07:06 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Monday, May 31, 2004

    A friend who's started a blog. This could be scary! ;-)

    Looks like first post is about video cards. Now, knowing Dave, who woulda thunk it??? Dave, hardware? Nahhhh...



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    Blogging | Random Stuff
    Monday, May 31, 2004 5:16:10 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    “This fixes a critical problem where your blog cache can get corrupted. Just drop the enclosed DLL into your /bin folder and that's it.”

    New web site files and setup MSIs also posted there.



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    Blogging | Tech
    Tuesday, May 25, 2004 10:33:05 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  

    Seems like after updating to dasBlog 1.6 the emails normally sent when referrals and comments are made are pretty much hit-and-miss. Sometimes email gets sent, other times not. Or is it just my imagination? Anyone using v1.6 that's seen this behavior?

    EDIT: since the hot-fix, problem seems to be resolved.



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    Blogging | Tech
    Tuesday, May 25, 2004 9:43:16 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Saturday, May 22, 2004

    Scott built himself a couple of nifty calendar views to extend dasBlog ther other day - Monthly and yearly views. Cool stuff, check it out if you're a dasBlogger, especially if you type a lot of blog entries and want to be able to visualize them differently than you can now. Scott hints that he'll make them generally available soon.



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    Blogging | Tech
    Saturday, May 22, 2004 3:45:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Tuesday, May 18, 2004

    There are a few things, some of them admittedly old-skool, that I want my Blog to be able to do. I don’t imagine they’re all that complicated, but here they are:

    1. Allow people to sign up for email notifications when I add a new item or modify an existing one – Email alerts, so to speak. I can get alerts when people post comments or trackback or refer, etc. and I want to go the other way on a subscription basis.
    2. Similarly, allow someone – at the time they reply to a post – to choose whether or not they want to receive email notifications of any subsequent comments on the same post.
    3. Allow [CategoryName] in any post method’s subject line to auto-add to an existing category (which works in email-posting now, but don’t think it does in Movable Type API, etc.)
    4. Allow a post-classification and user-registration system so that people who are signed up can see all public and private posts, and people who are anonymous on the site only see the posts that are viewable by general public.

    That’s actually about it. I may think of more later, but other than that, dasBlog does pretty much everything I want and need it to do.



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    Blogging
    Tuesday, May 18, 2004 3:01:46 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Monday, May 10, 2004

    Earlier I posted my first audio blog entry. This is just a quick note about how to set up audioblog.com to post directly to dasBlog...

    It's really pretty simple: I used the Blogger-API capability of dasBlog (you'll need to turn it on in your config) and directed audioblog.com to publish my blog entries use the Movable Type option. You could specify XML-RPC, but if you do you won't get the headlines properly translated into dasBlog, so Movable Type is the one that works best. Very cool that dasBlog allows you to post this way, and even more cool that audioblog.com appears to properly emulate Movable Type when posting. When I tried to use another audio blogging service (AudBlog), it didn't play well with the Blogger API - But audioblog.com works like a charm.



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    AudioBlogging | Blogging
    Monday, May 10, 2004 9:34:47 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  

    Three cheers for audioblog.com - I signed up to test their new service last night, and today I got an email with my new account info. Within 5 minutes I'd posted my first test audio blog entry. Their service is smooth, it works (other services out there are glitchy at best in my recent experience), and it's very well designed. Quite cool. Just imagine what you can do with this kind of service. From any computer or phone you can post audio blog messages in real time. You can record up to an hour at a shot, and if you want to go longer than that, you can chain multiple recordings together into a play-list. Wow - this is great!

    Update: Looks like they went live today! $4.95 a month for unlimited recording and up to 1GB of audio data transfer a month - very nice. See their Service Features page for more info.

    Also check out the interview with the creator of audioblog.com, Eric Rice at ITConversations.



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    AudioBlogging | Blogging | Tech
    Monday, May 10, 2004 7:31:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Sunday, May 09, 2004

    There are a number of technological leaps I have not yet made, many of which are pretty commonplace nowadays. Most who know me look at me as one of those guys who's always first to acquire and use new technology, but in some cases that's just not true.

    Here are a few facts about me and technology adoption, and where I see myself in the near future with regard to each:

    • I don't own an MP3 player - In fact, I never have. Sure I've listened to MP3s on my computer before (but not nearly as much as everyone else I know). I have not jumped on the MP3 wagon yet. I do digital media for sure - I've run Windows Media servers at work for a few years now, I have a hacked TiVo at home and have even put together my own PVR before, and I've used a Pocket PC and Smartphone in the past (both of which can play MP3s with Mobile Windows Media Player), but never have I actually owned an MP3 player. My boss once told me about how he uses audible.com, which is a cool service where you can download electronic books and stuff. That may be what eventually gets me to buy one. We'll see. iPods are looking pretty cool to me.
    • I don't yet do IP telephony - This is an area I was exploring earlier today, and it's what got me thinking about the things I have not yet bought into. I was researching Vonage phone service and features, after I started playing with the idea of audio blogging (Maybe you can see the connection, I know it's a stretch, but that's how I got from virtual-there to virtual-here, so to speak). This is something I am seriously considering trying out. Vonage not only now allows you to have a IP phone bridge device for your normal phone to plug into, they also support installing and using a software phone on the laptop (or whatever computer you like). I like the idea of being able to travel and have my phone ring on my laptop when I am logged in. They also have some cool voice mail features, including delivery of voice mails as email attachments and the ability to access your voice mail on the web. Now, how cool is that?
    • Picture/Audio/Video Blogging - I know this is not exactly something that everyone's doing, but when it comes to my list of things I think I should have done by now, this is definitely on it. I've wanted to do picture blogging for some time, but I don't have a camera phone (I use a blackberry phone since that's what really meets my hectic needs and work-style). The idea of being able to record an audio blog entry, however, is pretty cool to me - and if I could combine a camera-phone image with called-in audio recording and post them together, well that would be really cool. I'm definitely looking into this. Not sure what practical use it has, but it sounds like fun to me. Oh, and it has to work with dasBlog, which has a number of interfaces for getting remotely submitted blog entries created. For audio blogging on the road, I am looking at AudioBlog.com (Looks awesome and just went into closed beta release - I've applied) and AudBlog.com (which I have already tried, and while it's kind of cool, it just doesn't seem to work too well for my needs - and it's a bit limited in terms of what you get for the buck). Fun stuff, coming soon I hope.
    • Windows XP Media Center PC - I have been saying I want to get a Media Center PC for quite a while now, but still have not done so. With the new possibilities created by Microsoft's planned releases of new networked/connected Media Center “extender” devices, the level of desire has been continually increasing on my part. I need to buy a new computer for home anyhow (mine's pretty much dead), but I guess my only fear is that before too long some new OS and the accompanying mega-hardware requirements will replace what's on the market now. I dunno - I'll have to keep thinking about this one.


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    Blogging | Tech | Windows Media Technology
    Sunday, May 09, 2004 4:26:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Tuesday, May 04, 2004

    It's faster, it's fixed up, it's super cool and stuff.

    Omar says dasBlog v1.6.4121.0 has been posted to the GotDotNet workspace (note - takes forever to load, be patient). So you can download it, install it, use it, and enjoy it. There's nifty easy installers for the whole thing, ZIPs with just the upgrade files, packaged source code - you choose how and what you want to do. Instructions are here.

    I upgraded last night, and the site runs faster and there's some cool fixes as well as new/improved functionality. For complete info about the changes, see the release notes.

    Now all I have to do is get around to translating my blog entried from my old LiveJournal from back in the day to dasBlog. In my spare time. :-P

    If you run it, get it. If you don't and you're looking to start a blog of your own, this is the stuff. Need a place to host yours? Email me, maybe I can help.



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    Blogging | Tech
    Tuesday, May 04, 2004 7:56:41 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Monday, April 26, 2004

    Rory Blyth, who is one of the funniest and (he said seriously) most thought-provoking people I have ever read, is one year old today. Or, rather, his blog is one year old.

    And to celebrate, he chronicles his favorite posts from the first year.

    (I can't believe the assFeed machine still works. Cooool. :-))

    If you have not had the pleasure of reading Rory's unique perspective on the world, you're missing out.

    But if you get hooked like I did, don't blame me.

    Blame Rory. ;-)



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    Blogging | Humor
    Monday, April 26, 2004 8:43:18 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Saturday, April 24, 2004

    EDIT/UPDATE: After originally posting this, I was able to work around and resolve the problem. By reducing the formatting being done both in OneNote and Word/Outlook during HTML conversion, I was able to get a relatively normal blog entry to work the way I expected. It is posted here.

    Before I get too far into this, let me say that the OneNote Service Pack 1 Preview is, for al intents and purposes, awesome. Keep in mind I am trying to do something with OneNote (specifically blogging) that it was not really built to do. Plus, it’s a preview release, so no one can expect perfection.

    Anyhow - OneNote SP1 Preview didn’t quite format my test blog entry in a way I was hoping, so I need to play with it and see what’s up. I’ve tried two posts, and the first one was definitely the worst of the two, but the second one was only somewhat better. Unfortunately, for some reason OneNote decides on its own to convert text into graphics. Not so good:

    Second try resulted in a smaller mess, but still not workable At least most (but not all) of the typed text was formatted as text in the second try. In the first one, 95% of the text was converted to a graphical format:

    So, time to figure out how to change the behavior!



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    Blogging | OneNote
    Saturday, April 24, 2004 11:15:52 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Saturday, April 17, 2004

    I was catching up on blog reading and noticed Jim Blizzard points to Infopath training now available on MSDN. Very cool. I need this. For those who don't know, Infopath is basically an Office 2003 app that allows you to create and use XML forms - it's a pretty powerful front end. Sharepoint 2003 supports it, too, as do a few workflow tools that are offered by third-party channel partners.

    He also points to a day-log session on April 21 in Portland being put on by Microsoft called “BizTalk Server 2004: Developing the Integrated Enterprise.” Registered.

    I've never attended a Portland Nerd Dinner before, but as much blog reading as I am doing by the participants, and since I am sure Scott will be going (he's tried to get me to go before), I might just stop in and see what its about.



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    Blogging | Office 2003 | SharePoint | Tech
    Saturday, April 17, 2004 8:03:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Monday, April 05, 2004

    Check it out - something new has been released from the MSFT secrecy stronghold and has suddenly hit the 'net for all to see. And it's pretty darn cool.

    http://channel9.msdn.com/

    This is cool stuff - it's all about the conversation.

    Anyhow, this is a new idea, and it looks to be promising. It shows how thoughts and ideas are just as important as techniques and skills.



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    Blogging | Tech
    Monday, April 05, 2004 10:40:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Thursday, March 18, 2004

    I've never met Rory and he just moved from Portland, but he's funnier than heck to read, and when he said to TP (like as in Tee-Pee) Chris Sells' blog - since Chris is out of town - well, I obliged (as have many others). Unfortunately, in my creative translation I managed to make the page scroll to the right about the same distance as it scrolls up and down... OOPS. :-)



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    Blogging
    Thursday, March 18, 2004 9:41:34 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Sunday, March 14, 2004

    KC Lemson, who works on the Exchange team at Microsoft, asks if there are any IT bloggers out there who are actually blogging about IT. She's soliciting links from anyone who does, or from people who know of good ones, to see if it would be worthwhile to put together a list.

    I think that's a great idea. There are tons of blogs by developers and about specific products, etc., but not that many that are about IT operations and management. I hope this takes off, and it's already made me think a bit about some things that I could be blogging that I have thus far ignored.



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    Blogging | Tech
    Sunday, March 14, 2004 10:31:05 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Monday, February 23, 2004

    I decided I should set up a stats program and see who's visiting this web site, what's being read, stuff like that. Granted, one day's worth of stats are not much to go on, but there are some interesting things that came out of the first day or so of statistics gathering.

    First is the search phrases that people typed into their favorite search engine (Google is by far the most common one used to link to my site in the stats) and then clicked through to find this site:

    created with microsoft office onenote 28 63.6 %
    greg hughes 4 9 %
    xml office 2003 bill coan 2 4.5 %
    word documents have no teeth 1 2.2 %
    twins portland oregon 1 2.2 %
    how did the united states get oregon 1 2.2 %
    spinning tires ice hill blog 1 2.2 %
    onenote tab .net control 1 2.2 %
    acer c300 problems 1 2.2 %
    houses sold on deer island oregon 1 2.2 %
    onenote blog 1 2.2 %
    ie toolbar visual studio 1 2.2 %
    open in new window ms04-004 1 2.2 %

    “twins portland oregon????” Hmmmmmm.... ;-)

    Keywords list:

    office 30 14.8 %
    onenote 30 14.8 %
    with 28 13.8 %
    microsoft 28 13.8 %
    created 28 13.8 %
    greg 4 1.9 %
    hughes 4 1.9 %
    oregon 3 1.4 %
    xml 2 0.9 %
    coan 2 0.9 %
    blog 2 0.9 %
    bill 2 0.9 %
    2003 2 0.9 %

    Fascinating stuff, really. Other interesting figures that amaze me (not):

    • 14% of the people who viewed the site added the page to their favorites (I have no idea how this gets logged, but I guess it does). 
    • I'm indexed by a whole bunch of search engines - many of which I never heard of.
    • A lot of people who view my site content do so via the RSS feed. Only one or two people appear to be syndicating the site via the Atom feed.
    • My OneNote blogging entries are popular, and people are also clicking on the OneNote .one and .wma audio files.
    • I am nowhere close to reaching my bandwidth usage limit, so if you need a site hosted and you happen to know me personally, feel free to ask - I have a reseller account and so far I don't charge my friends. :-) Oh, and you can use your own domain name or piggyback on one of several I have registered. And if you want to register one, you can do so here for only $10, and the customer service is at least ten times better than [cough cough] Verisign/Netsol [cough hack cough].


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    Blogging | RSS Stuff
    Monday, February 23, 2004 9:51:31 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Monday, February 09, 2004

    More kudos to Scott and also to Stuart - Thanks to them I now have colored search results in dasBlog... Try it out in the search box over there in the menu bar. It makes the page that dasBlog spits out more meaningful, for sure.

    One thing I noticed it does though - and I will have to bug someone to help me figure this one out - is that if you search for text that is, say, part of a URL, the results get returned as well. Need to adjust so if you search for XML, for example, it doesn't return results where “XML” is in some part of the blog entry other than the displayed body text.

    But hey - highlighting is nice. :-)



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    Blogging
    Monday, February 09, 2004 11:29:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Friday, February 06, 2004

    In an earlier post, I manually attached a linked OneNote audio recording to the OneNote HTML email, which was then sent to my mail server in order to auto-generate a blog entry. I had to manually attach the audio file, because (I assumed) OneNote would not do it. (I've been playing more and more with OneNote's sharing capabilities both on the SharePoint platform and by leveraging the emails it can create, for Blogging or otherwise...)

    I was wrong in my assumption: While it's true that the out-of-the-box settings don't attach a linked audio file, you can turn that ability on in one of two places - either in OneNote's Options/E-mail section, or you can use Windows Group Policy to set it for an entire organization (along with literally hundreds of other common settings).

    To do this via group policy, you just enable the policy, and then activate the setting. Once you do this, the policy is propagated to all clients on the domain to which that policy applies:

    If you don't have group policy (or if you have it but just don't use it - in which case see below), you can go to the OneNote Options dialog, choose the E-mail section and just check the appropriate box.

    SideNote (pun intended): Practically ALL of OneNote's options can be controlled though group policy, along with a huge number of settings for the rest of the Office 2003 System family of applications - not to mention Windows domain policies. If you are running Group Policy and Office 2003, you need to take advantage of this - it makes things consistent and fast, two things IT groups love and need. Remember - group policies are not just for operating system settings - they are also available for a number of other applications.



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    Blogging | OneNote | Tech
    Friday, February 06, 2004 10:00:12 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Tuesday, February 03, 2004

    I added a link to Chris Pratley in my blogroll, because his is one blog I find myself re-reading recently. Chris is Group Program Manager for Office Authoring Services, and is one of the main forces (among several I am sure) behind OneNote. Microsoft employees have started public blogging like mad recently, and Chris is one of the new additions - thank goodness! It's great to see program managers and other non-programmers blogging now (not to discount the developers - that's great too!).

    Side note: It was a discussion on Chris' blog and similar discussions elsewhere concerning OneNote and blogging that made me realize you can blog from OneNote, if you want to. So, I figured I would just try it and see - and it worked for the most part. And now it seems to be catching on a little bit - which is kinda cool. While it's far from a complete list due to Google lag, it will be interesting to see if the results of this search change much over time (assumes people will leave the OneNote footer in there of course). Already several bloggers have started using OneNote to post blog messages, and hopefully some of them will make the Google index eventually.

    Now, for what it's worth, this is far from perfect, and may not even fit the semi-purists definition of “good.“ And I know DonXML and Phillip Rieck would call it a “kludge” (and would be absolutely correct in saying so), but still, it's a valid “coolio” option for some. My vote is to open up OneNote's publishing features to include true XML output capability, as well as a cleaner email format - and do it in a way that would enable the code purists as well as the multimedia people to do their respective things. Maybe even a plug-in sort of capability? And when I say publish, I mean publish text and images to the blog, put the .wma audio files on the Windows Media server with the matching .asx file on the web server, ship it to the Wiki, and on the SharePoint server, and on and on... I have a specific list of what I mean, feature-functionality-wise, and sometime soon I might just need to put that onto paper.

    Er, I mean into Ink. :-)



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    Blogging | OneNote | Tech
    Tuesday, February 03, 2004 7:08:41 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Monday, February 02, 2004

    Monday, February 02, 2004

    11:21 PM

     

    Audio recording started: 11:21 PM Monday, February 02, 2004

     

     

     

    Created with Microsoft Office OneNote 2003
    One place for all your notes

    Download: Blogging One note and Audio.one
    Download: Blogging One note and audio.WMA

    Note: Seems to work - added the windows media file as a second email attachment, and dasBlog seems to handle posting that just fine - so now I know from actual experience that more than one attachment definitely works for the MailToWeblog functionality in dasBlog. :)

    Oh - and I think I have just reached a new plane of geek existence - recording the same lame thing I type, and them posting it as an audio recording to the web - heheheh... /me is sooo lame.



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    Blogging | OneNote
    Monday, February 02, 2004 11:27:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  

    Well, as mentioned earlier, was having some problems getting blogged .one files to work, and guessed it might be a MIME type issue. Turns out that was the case, so it was a simple fix, and now any blog entry made with OneNote will include the attached original .one file on the blog entry, so people can load the original file in OneNote if they like. COOL!

    It just took Allen, my friendly neighborhood web hosting provider (I recommend them highly and the price, my friends, is right), to patiently point me in the right direction as far as setting up the new MIME type (turns out I was able to do it myself, and for the record it's “.one” mapped to “OneNote” in IIS).



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    Blogging | OneNote | Tech
    Monday, February 02, 2004 9:43:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
    #  
     Saturday, January 31, 2004

    Very Interesting - more on OneNote blogging trials

    Saturday, January 31, 2004

    5:25 PM

     

    So, this is cool - it basically works. I do see that the .one file is not properly attached, and unfortunately I can't figure a way for OneNote to make a selection of text hyperlinked. Instead it just lets you paste the link in (which it then links correctly: http://www.greghughes.net/rant/default.aspx).

     

    So I guess I should try to paste an image in, see what that looks like. After all, if you're gonna blog from OneNote, might as well take it to the next level, eh?

     

     

    (I should probably leave here soon, since Tim's waiting for me in Seattle, hahahah… Nah, blogging is more important… :) )

     

    Handwriting too eh? NIFTY!

     

    So - for those of you wishing you could blog from OneNote - You can!

     

    More to come later - need to try voice recordings/annotations, make the .one files actually work (probably a dasBlog or a server MIME type change, I would guess), and figure out how to hyperlink text somehow. Oh and see how things like highlighting text and stuff comes out.

     

    Created with Microsoft Office OneNote 2003
    One place for all your notes

    Download: Very Interesting - more one OneN.one



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    Blogging | OneNote | Tech
    Saturday, January 31, 2004 5:41:34 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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    Blog entry directly from OneNote

    Saturday, January 31, 2004

    5:16 PM

     

    So, I have seen a number of people wishing in various blog comments here and there that they could create blog entries directly from OneNote. So, I am trying that here, not knowing whether it will actually work or not. :)

     

    In theory, it should: I am typing this in OneNote (will have to try handwriting next if this works), and I'll do just as I have in the past as far as posting directly from the TabletPC using inked content: I’ll use OneNote's Outlook 2003 integration to convert automatically to HTML and send a properly-formatted to the dasBlog software on my server.

     

    Will be interesting to see what happens!

     

    Edit: Some inspiration here. :)

     

    Created with Microsoft Office OneNote 2003
    One place for all your notes

    Download: Blog entry directly from OneNote.one



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    Blogging | OneNote | Tech
    Saturday, January 31, 2004 5:23:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Thursday, January 22, 2004

    Over on the Tablet PC Questions web site, it was pointed out that I did not give much detail when I recently mentioned I can post to my blog with inked content, etc. from my Tablet PC with no software other than Outlook and the blog software. Valid point.

    <Handwritten content>

    No keyboard is needed either. Unfortunately sometimes (see above), magical handwriting spellcheck would be nice. All of the text’s recognized from my mediocre handwriting. And that’s about all there is to it. Minor formatting changes can be made on the web application if necessary, after the item has been posted.

    One thing I need to figure out is the why and how of getting what appears to be a single line feed in Outlook to carry over to the web entry. If I hit Return twice in Outlook, it puts one blank line between paragraphs. But on the website it ends up being four blank lines. Minor details. At any rate, this entry was just made entirely without the aid of a keyboard, for what its worth.

    By the way, the Microsoft Snipping tool power toy for the Tablet PC, which I used to quickly grab the above portion of a screen in the dasBlog setup for mail posting, is super cool. If you have a tablet and have not tried it, you're really missing something.



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    Blogging | Tablet PC | Tech
    Thursday, January 22, 2004 8:53:02 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Saturday, January 17, 2004

    I've added a few blog entry categories on the right side, each with their own RSS feed, for those who are interested in being organized or just ignoring certain stuff.

    If you're wondering what RSS is, go and download a program like Feed Demon, install and run it, then click on the  link under “Syndication” on the right-side of this page, and check it out. Once you get an idea how it works, you’re sure to get hooked.

    By the way - Feed Demon is not free, but it's worth every penny. You can try it for a month. If you want to opt for something that cost less (like as in nothing), you might check out this instead. If you don't already have the .NET framework installed, you'll need to get that too.



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    Blogging | Tech | RSS Stuff
    Saturday, January 17, 2004 11:42:14 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Sunday, January 11, 2004

    I was blog surfing here, meaning hopping from the blog of someone I know to some blog they had linked, and through several iterations of that process, whenever something seems like it might be interesting (sounds kinda like “my sister's girlfriend's cousin's brother's second-grade teacher's daughter, eh?). Sometimes you find things you can't help but read and tell others about. Some of those things are, well, just wrong. Others I can post to my blog. :-)

    So, here is one I can post, and you gotta read this. But first, for the record, how I got there:

    I'm reading an RSS feed from Tom's Adventures in Troubleshooting web site (and no, I don't know him, but someone else somewhere has his site linked and it was interesting to me). Tom had a comment (link above) about a problem Julia is having on her web site (which I am respectfully not linking to because I know there are a number of younger readers of my blog and the language is a little too colorful for those people). Julia, in the midst of her troubles, consulted an attorney named Adam Rosman, who practices law in Washington, D.C. and apparently worked in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Staff Secretary in 2000-2001. Cool. Makes me wonder if he likes to watch The West Wing, too? I mean, he worked there. Can you watch a TV version after actually working there?

    So anyhow, that's the end of the surfing trail, because Adam Rosman's web site contains a truly-interesting article he wrote entitled “A LEGAL ANALYSIS OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS - Gandalf as Torturer: The "Ticking Bomb" Terrorist and Due Process in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.”

    Hahahah, that's cool. :-)

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    Blogging | Humor
    Sunday, January 11, 2004 10:17:04 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Friday, January 09, 2004

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    Blogging | Tech
    Friday, January 09, 2004 1:46:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Monday, December 29, 2003

    I’ve been using the new Acer c300 Tablet PC for a few weeks now, and am ready to make some educated comments. First of all:

    <Handwritten content>

    Seriously, I am using this computer much more than my old notebook, and it beats the snot out of the old Compaq tablet we picked up a year ago. Tablet PC hardware has matured into a viable set of devices that can compete with other computers on the market. It behaves like a decent business notebook, but converts quickly to slate mode when needed. I am authoring this entry completely with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition’s handwriting recognition - no keyboard - and no wires thanks to the Centrino chipset. Cool stuff, and on top of that I’ve been sitting here using the computer on battery and wireless network for a few hours and still have plenty of battery life left to go.

    <Handwritten content>

    Of course it also needs to be practical and useful, and I have found myself tending to take better notes when I need them. I am also taking notes at times and places I never did before.

    The Acer is well-built, with a larger than typical screen/slate (about 14 inches compared to the more common 10 to 12). The digitizer is fast and works very well. I was pleasantly surprised when the unit arrived to find it ships with a built-in smart card slot and two cards. Without a valid card the computer will not start. Of course, you can do all the other Windows tricks with the smartcard, as well.

    The case is sturdy, the wireless is fast and reliable (802.11b) and I can’t find anything to complain about. The pen stows neatly in the screen frame, and the unit has a built-in DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, which is very nice if you are looking to completely replace a laptop computer (that’s my goal). We will be doing some application performance testing over the next week or two, and that will determine if this unit is ready for prime time. I think it will do well.

    The more thing: When Gateway announced price drops for its tablet machine a couple of weeks ago, Acer followed suit and knocked something like $400 off the list price, so the cost for the tablet is now comparable to that of a similarly equipped standard notebook. That makes it much more reasonable to consider the Tablet PC for business purchase.



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    Blogging | Tablet PC | Tech
    Monday, December 29, 2003 10:57:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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     Sunday, December 28, 2003

    <Handwritten content>
    Nice - Tablet PCs can actually be useful, I am finding this out. This may not be the best example, but it does show how a little ingenuity and taking a little time to make things work together can change the way things are used. Not that this is an original idea - quite the contrary - but while others are out there writing special programs to do this, I just used existing programs with features that - when combined - allow this to happen. And, I thought of it and executed it in a matter of 30 minutes. All I need is my Tablet PC, Outlook 2003 installed, dasBlog on the server side, and finally a wired or wireless Internet connection, and I can do this. It's nifty. :-)

    Technology certainly continues to grow and change.



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    Blogging | Tablet PC
    Sunday, December 28, 2003 7:12:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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    Testing my first post made via an email message to the new weblog. dasBlog now allows you to post with an html email, which is very cool for those of us that use Outlook a lot. Supposedly you can also post inline images – very nice!

    I can see lots of possible applications for this, especially at work - avoids having to send an email and publish the content to a web site separately, and on top of that, RSS syndication of the post as well…. /me *drools*

    Well – We shall see – if this post shows up on the site, it actually works and we are good to go!

    - g



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    Blogging
    Sunday, December 28, 2003 6:34:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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