Chris Pirillo
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Cell Phone Overkill

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Victoria, Victoria

Alas, this week is winding down. We’re on our way to Victoria, British Columbia - that’s in Canada, for all of you who aren’t familiar with the name or territory. I’ve only been on the outskirts of Victoria, spending most of my BC time in Vancouver. I hear they have wonderful gardens in Victoria, actually - but I’m not sure if we’re scheduled to see any of ‘em. Ponzi’s signed us up for some kind of tour and “high tea.” Guess that means we’ll be riding around in a bus with our pinkis extended? I wouldn’t mind traipsing through Victoria’s gardens, actually - it must be a shutterbug’s paradise. There’s not a cloud in the sky this morning - nothing but ocean outside our stateroom window. We have a western view for the moment, and that scenery won’t likely change until the evening hours when we roll into port.

I’m sipping my way through an espresso in the Neptune lounge again. It’s bitter, but at least it’s keeping me from getting a caffeine headache. My body has treated me rather well this week. I got slapped with dizziness only once, after a shot of Southern Comfort and a few puffs of a cigar late one night. I didn’t get seasick, and I never really felt the need to recouperate in the middle of the day. The schedule is a little wonky on this, the last day of our Alaskan cruise. Everything winds down not long after we return to the ship from our Victorian excursion. Passengers are expected to be fully packed by Midnight, placing tagged luggage outside their respective rooms well before our arrival time of 7am. All things considered, I’m happy to be returning home in the morning - we’ll have a full weekend to catch up and prepare ourselves for the coming week.

Ah, vacation. You’re almost over! Thank you for delivering wonderful experiences and fantastic company. Holland America did fine by me, too - especially with wireless Internet availability (which came to me courtesy of Pluggd). I didn’t capture our time in audio, but I did take plenty of photos - and this trip was certainly a visual smorgasbord. Would I recommend an Alaska cruise to anybody? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

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Catch Me, Ketchikan

I’m disappointed. I mean, here we are in Alaska, and Ted Stevens has not stopped by to say hello. That’s the least he could do for me, considering CNN put the InterTubes bLaugh in one of their segments the other day! I was sorting through my spam remotely (through VNC to my home computer) when I saw a message from captured the video for me to see it second-hand. The quality isn’t amazing, but it seems that in the broadcast, they kept our sponsor’s message (the GoDaddy coupon code “bLaugh”) intact. Freakin’ sweet! I wonder if we’re anywhere near Ted’s place today?

Ponzi couldn’t wait to hit Ketchikan today, although her window for shopping will be relatively short. We docked in the early morning hours and will be departing before 1pm. I’ve been playing the “lazy card” for most of this week, and today is no exception. I could hear the seaplanes buzzing a few hundred feet away, but that wasn’t enough to wake me from my slumber. It’s a bit overcast in this port, which is exactly how I like it. I’m chilling in the ship’s library right now (though it’s far from quiet here). Ponzi’s on shore, no doubt looking for sales and specials and more ways to ensure that our suitcases will get the honorable “HEAVY” tag slapped upon them before transport. I’m just glad she didn’t force me to tag along; I really can’t stand shopping if I don’t know what I want or have nothing specific to attain. She, on the other hand, has some kind of “buy” instinct. Is there a pill for that?

We’ll be back in Seattle on Saturday morning. The concierge asked if the latest departure time would be okay. 10am? Fine by me. We’re honestly in no rush. That said, I’m very much looking forward to returning to an “always on” Internet connection. I’m thankful that Pluggd stepped in to sponsor our connectivity while on board Holland America’s Oosterdam, but those moments are fleeting. It’ll be far better to post photos after I’ve had a chance to sort through them and pick out the best ones. The text summations are sufficient, considering we really haven’t done many touristy things in Alaska. I almost wish we could stay another week. Almost.

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How to Get Your Ass Fired

A Scathing Email Error…

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Sitting in Sitka

I can’t remember falling asleep last night. It’s not like we had a very active day (though I did crash early the night before after another round of fine cigars and cognac). Ponzi was up late, ordering chocolate cake and a club sandwich from room service after Midnight. I woke up to the sound of the ship’s activities director, telling us that we had finally arrived at Sitka. I didn’t want to get out of bed - it was too comfortable. What’s there to do in Sitka? Not much, as we would come to discover.

According to reports, there were a few stores in town - and Ponzi’s sale magnet was spinning wildly (she had it implanted a few months ago). We finished watching the morning movie, ate our breakfast in bed, and prepared ourselves for a small adventure in Sitka. This is where Alaska became a member of the United States - a good reason to go ashore via tender. We didn’t even grab a cup of coffee before heading out!

On the streets of Sitka, we found several stores. Before too long, however, we found ourselves dining at the Raven Room. I ordered the reindeer sausage sandwich and an Alaskan ale - and I’d heartily recommend both. We stopped by the post office to mail a few postcards, moseyed down the block to pick up two breve mochas, and continued to window shop our way to exhaustion. Two hours seemed like four, and I was ready to head back to the ship for a game of Scrabble and leisure time on our verandah. Didn’t get to tour Castle Hill, but at least we can say that we were there.

Spam checked, bLaugh read, reports written (courtesy of Pluggd). Time to play afternoon bingo and snack on some gourmet cheese.

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Hubbard Glacier

We never actually pulled up to a port yesterday. Hubbard glacier was to be admired from afar - and admired, it was. I’ll cover the experience in tonight’s Lockergnome report - an afternoon that will be forever etched in memory. I never thought something in nature could be so… naturally amazing. I spend my life looking for artificial creations and virtual pleasures, so this formation of snow and ice was a breath of fresh air (literally). I enjoyed watching it for well over three hours - without once thinking of the time, without once feeling bored or restless. I will return one day, mark my words.

Ponzi and I played casual all the way through the evening, though we did miss another opportunity for group trivia and bingo. I’ve got a few more cruise tips to add to my list, and I think Ponzi’s got a few of her own. Holland America still strikes me as one of the better cruise companies around - in Alaska or otherwise. Being able to connect to the Internet in the middle of the day is nice, too - thanks, Pluggd!

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Blocking Skype

You aggitatin’ my dots? Turns out, Holland America is blocking Skype - wholesale. I went to download the VoIP client, only to be met with a message (on saying that it was blocked. I can only assume they’re blocking Skype traffic, too - considering they charge (no joke) over $7 per minute for voice calls from your room phone. It ain’t cheap to communicate on a cruise ship. I’ve got Google Talk installed, so I might try dialing through that in a few minutes - assuming they’re not going to cut in on the call. So much for recording a conversation with Pluggd from sea.

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Alaska Cruise Tips

Alaska Cruise Tips

  1. If you don’t have kids or grey hair, you’re in a minority.
  2. They will feed you until your stomach explodes; pace yourself!
  3. Cruise ship “Classes” are nothing more than sales pitches.
  4. If you can’t get a suite with a verandah, keep saving your pennies until you can.
  5. Plan on doing separate activites from your travel mate frequently.
  6. It’s cold in the morning. (NSFW)
  7. Formal wear isn’t required, but suggested for a more complete experience.
  8. Recharge your electronics every evening, bring spares.
  9. Don’t plan something for every minute of every day.
  10. Get to know your staff; be kind to people and they should be kind to you in return.

And, of course, do you best to line up a ship that has an Internet connection (though I doubt I’d be able to use it much if I wasn’t able to find Pluggd as a sponsor). Maybe if I keep my thinking cap on long enough, I can extend this list to 50 general cruise tips I’ve picked up on my journeys at sea?

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The Alaskan Adventure Continues

The world could be ending right now and I wouldn’t know it. Sure, we have satellite television on board - but the time we’ve spent in our suite has been minimal. Internet access is a premium, so I haven’t spent much of my time catching up with the news online. I’m largely unplugged this week (ironic, as Pluggd is keeping me connected to the Internet for the duration of this voyage). Yes, this week wouldn’t be half as much fun if I wasn’t able to log on and post updates near real-time. And as far as I’m concerned, a couple of times a day is just about as close to “immediate” as you get on the high seas. We haven’t been boarded by pirates yet, though.

Ponzi and I had a wicked time in Juneau yesterday, coptering halfway across the city to land on a glacier. There sits a modest dogsled training camp - populated by over 300 dogs and a dozen mushers. We walked amongst Iditerod champions and hopefuls in the early afternoon hours - but when they took us on a short run “around the block,” we were smack dab in the middle of the action. Certainly, the teams didn’t open up all the way. It was a first for us, though. I’m surprised the weather was relatively temperate, especially at the higher altitude. Even so, I’m glad we picked up suede gloves in downtown Juneau earlier (miles away from and well below the dogsled adventure).

What goes up must come down, and so another helicopter returned us to less-icy ground. The views from the air were spectacular. On the bus ride back to “the city,” we spotted an American Eagle - another first for both Ponzi and myself. I snapped a few pictures through the tinted glass, so I’m afraid the images won’t be crystal clear. When we returned to Juneau’s downtown shopping district, Ponzi wanted to hop out and poke around - but I was ready to eat (as we hadn’t hda a nibble since breakfast). I’m pretty predictable when it comes to my “I hate to shop” attitude, so we shuttled our way back to the Oosterdam for a relaxing afternoon.

Today? We’re visiting the largest glacier in North America.

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Do you know Juneau?

Today marks the first day we’ll be stepping off the ship. We’re in Juneau, Alaska - ready to embark on our first dogsledding adventure! I hope to have a few good photos from that excursion. We haven’t quite yet docked for the day, though the views outside our stateroom window have been absolutely amazing. It’s been like watching a long, scrolling postcard from the time we woke up a few hours ago until now. It’s true what they say - the landscape is pretty amazing. The weather is pretty temperate right now, too - haven’t seen a single iceberg float by. I’m a little disappointed that we won’t be touching the Arctic Ocean before turning around and heading back south. It would’ve been “cool” to say that I had been there.

I guess Alaska loves tourists - given the amount of primping and priming the cruise shopping director is giving us through the ship’s closed-network video channel. Ponzi can’t wait to hit the shops, if only to find a totem pole “face” that we can hang on our wall at home. She’s also looking forward to finding a few tanzanite pieces. I think I’m spelling that correctly? I guess it’s a gem that’s native to the area. Maybe I can convince her to go panning for gold at some point during this trip? I did it once in Colorado when I was a kid, turning up a gold flake or two (planted for the kiddies, no doubt).

Thanks again to Pluggd for giving us the opportunity to get online during this cruise on Holland America’s Oosterdam!

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A Morning on the Cruise

Despite weathering a relatively restless night, I feel refreshed. The bed was comfortable enough, with two twin mattresses akimbo, 250 count sheets, and soft pillows. However, my sense of balance kept me from enjoying a peaceful sleep. I think I’m finally getting my sea legs, though. At least, I hope! It’s most difficult to manage when I can’t see the horizon. The temperature outside? Chilly, but certainly tolerable with thicker clothing. Despite the cool climate, We opted to dine on the verandah for breakfast this morning - the view was oceanic and the company kept us warm. Ponzi and I have a private space just outside our stateroom. Despite the weak coffee, they did bring us heavy cream (per our written request). We’re now getting ready to enjoy our day on board, with Ponzi hot to attend a couple of classes (even though some of them are designed to teach you how to buy more junk that you don’t really need).

Last night, Ponzi and I decided to get a nice cigar and sip cognac in the Oak Room on the upper deck of the Oosterdam. Neither of us smoke, and we really don’t drink, either - but it was an “experience” nonetheless. I took a few more photos, though I might wait to upload my favorites at the end of the day. Tried to help a mergers and aquisitions lawyer with his wireless connection a few minutes ago - seems I can never escape this lot. Coffee’s good in the Neptune room (though I had to bring in the heavy cream from breakfast). Gotta check my email now… and again, thank the gang at Pluggd for enabling us to get online and check in with friends on our journey to Alaska.

The Internet connection on this Holland America liner, itself, is flaky - and not very trustworthy. For some reason or another, Akismet crapped at at some point in the past 24 hours, and I can’t load a full page to clear ~250 junk comments from my legit queue. Argh! Ooooh, now I sound like a pirate.

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Alaska, Ho!

We’re finally aboard the Holland America cruise liner! Yes, right now - on a wireless Internet connection. Thanks again to Pluggd for providing the ability for us to get online and post updates. I’ve only been aboard for a couple of hours, but… I’m beyond impressed. Our room is absolutely amazing - and we’ll be able to eat breakfast every morning on our “private” verandah. We’ve got cocktails with the ship’s captain right before dinner - so the fun hasn’t even begun. No, seriously - Holland America is teh shiz. Puts Royal Carribean to shame! Oh man, everything’s so clean. I think this is the first vacation I’ve ever taken when I didn’t want to leave the room.

However, as was explained to me beforehand, Ponzi and I are the only people on board who aren’t members of AARP. Ronni and Millie would certainly blend in with the crowd. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? Let’s get a whole bunch of bloggers together and crash a cruise. It’s gotta be a Holland America cruise, though - wow. I’m just blown away by our room.

There are WiFi locations scattered throughout the cruise liner - including down the hall on deck 7 (where we’re staying). Gotta check in with the concierge, too - they’re giving us complimentary DVDs! Oh man, I never wanna go home. Hey Ponzi? Can we stay another week? I’ve already started to upload our photos from the trip (although the Flickr upload tool is acting weird). I think it has something to do with the connection’s caching mechanism. Stay tuned!

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The SEO Industry is Full of Snakes

All SEOs / SEMs are Spammers

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Our Alaska Cruise Schedule

As noted in my cruise ship report, we have a general schedule for our Holland America [ms Oosterdam] cruise:

  • Sat: Arrive at terminal at 1:00pm
  • Sat: Depart from terminal at 4:00pm
  • Sun: At sea all day
  • Mon: Juneau from 11:00am to 9:00pm
  • Tue: Hubbard Glacier from 12:00pm to 5:00pm
  • Wed: Sitka from 7:00am to 6:00pm
  • Thu: Ketchikan from 7:00am to 1:00pm
  • Fri: Victoria from 6:00pm to 11:59pm
  • Sat: Return to Seattle at 7:00am

Anything we “must” do (besides dogsledding, which is happening earlier in the week). I just asked Pluggd if they wanted to do a few Skypecasts - so, keep your ears on for a couple of audio updates!

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Social Bookmarking Button Madness

Okay, I understand the need to make it easier for your visitors to bookmark sites on their favorite Web service(s), but enough is enough. I keep finding Digg and icons on sites and pages where they just… don’t… belong! Seriously, has deployed a set on every single page. Yeah, because answers are just so digg’able. Whatever.

These buttons are annoying more than anything else, serving to show the world just how unpopular your content really is - and I believe that there’s no direct correlation between the number of social bookmarking buttons you place on your page(s) has any direct impact on the number of times those page(s) have been stored in the respective services. Moreover, if a user is really passionate about their selected service, they likely already have a toolbar or bookmarklet installed - further rendering the cacophony of buttons moot!

I had ‘em on my site for a little while, then got rid of ‘em. They were wasting space and bandwidth - as they’re probably doing on your site right now, too. The only way I might consider bringing them back is if a smart plugin and matching icon are developed. Even then, their future is questionable.

My shit just isn’t important enough to be bookmarked - and neither is 99.9% of the galaxy’s. It’s not that I don’t want it to be bookmarked, shared, or saved - just that I don’t think the buttons are helping anybody, especially if they’re being deployed as they are by the marketing idiots at One or two buttons are somewhat more tolerable, but where does the madness end? Aren’t you leaving out the people who don’t use Digg or by not putting their icons next to the others?

Prove to me that by placing social bookmarking icons on a site, you will see a noticable increase in the page’s / site’s actual social bookmarkings. I don’t believe it, and I’m getting quite tired of seeing them everywhere. Gah! I swear my next post won’t be so negative.

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Outlook Evolution

Evolution finally runs on Windows! Looks like they released something a few months ago, although it just hit my radar this afternoon (in an email from Matt Hartley). “Evolution is an incredibly versatile email / calendar / PIM that took the Linux world by storm a few years ago.” I’m excited that there’s been some movement forward on this project, but I’m disappointed that Evolution for Win32 sports a nasty-ass UI. Of course, if Linux developers are trying to be more like Microsoft by making inconsistent and aesthetically-challenged interfaces, they’re succeeding. Here’s to hoping that Outlook 2007 won’t suck as much.

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Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud - EC2

Don’t ask me what I’m doing up at 3am - but I’ve gotta tell you about an email I just received from AWS (Amazon Web Services). The message didn’t say that I was under embargo, so…

This is a short note to let you know about a limited beta of our newest web service: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Since the beta will be very limited, we’re only e-mailing a select group of developers at this point who have been making Amazon Web Services requests in the past month.

Amazon EC2 is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Just as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) enables storage in the cloud, Amazon EC2 enables “compute” in the cloud. Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.

At this stage, we’re only accepting a limited number of beta customers, so if you’re interested in Amazon EC2, we recommend you move fast. If you find that our beta is full by the time you sign up, please accept our apologies and stay ready. As soon as we can accommodate more participants, we will e-mail those of you who have given us your e-mail addresses and you’ll have another chance to try Amazon EC2…

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John Mark Karr Eats Candy!

Ponzi’s returned from her hiatus, it seems - aided by a desktop publishing tool (no, not Windows Live Writer - which I believe is still at the “barely noteworthy” stage). She’s really upset about this whole John Mark Karr situation - not because of what he may have done, but because of the way the media is covering what he had for dinner on the plane. Even if Karr didn’t kill JonBenet Ramsey, he’s still a dickwad - and the media are even bigger dickwads for spending so much time talking about this dickwad.

THIS JUST IN! John Mark Karr has eaten a Tootsie Roll. I repeat, John Mark Karr - who has been proven innocent and guilty and innocent again by us - has now ingested a Tootsie Rool. For more on this situation, we turn to our candy correspondent in Colorado, Julie Flappingums. Julie, does this mean that Tootsie Rolls are the candies preferred by dickwads? Will John Mark Karr’s intestinal tract reject or embrace the Tootsie Roll? Will candy sales slip because of this? Interesting. Thanks, Julie - keep up the good work. And now back to the War in Iraq - brought to you by Massengill.

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The Politics of Security

Online Security is important. Flickr users in China, Iran, and Iraq feel the same way I do - though Microsoft employees in Lebanon and Israel don’t (since they’re all on the Mac). An Online Search for the keyword yeilds few results, so perhaps we’re in need of more Education - or more Firefox Advertising from the Bush Administration?

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Cancel Napster

Hey, Napster? Thanks for making it an absolute pain in the ass to cancel our account - yet another reason to abandon your service. I had to call a phone number to tell you that I wanted to quit. Why?

  • MTV’s new URGE service is far less problematic. Far less.
  • I really like the Clix, and URGE works better with it.
  • Napster’s software continues to suck ass.
  • You made me call a number to cancel service. I hate that. Really.
  • URGE is the future, Napster is still living in the past.

Windows Media Player 1l… is still far from impressive. Don’t swallow the hype when you see it, please? WMP11 is better than WMP10 - but “less shitty” is not an honorable benchmark. They continue to ignore user interface inconsistencies and feedback from Windows Media’s most ardent supporters - including MVPs, who were seemingly marginalized during 11’s development process.

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