Tue, 11 Apr 2006

I Am Usually A Patient Man, But...

The half-human/half-SIMCard organisms behind me here at Panera have both been on their mobile phones continuously for the last 90 minutes (which makes you wonder why they even bother sitting together.) At 3x normal conversational volume. And not in English (which shouldn't matter, but paradoxically it makes them even harder to tune out.) This particular cafe is short of AC outlets or I would have moved an hour ago...

:: 19:52
:: /opinion/peeve | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 18 Dec 2005

1997 Wants Its Magazine Section Back

tired: An “expert” complaining about the accuracy of a Wikipedia article in a blog entry.

wired: That same “expert” taking the opportunity to fix the inaccuracy himself/herself on the Wikipedia page, or raising the issue in the entry’s “talk” page.

:: 09:34
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Fri, 11 Mar 2005

Single Quote, Sniped Out Of Context

"Apple lost their connect to their most loyal users when they killed the clones, that was the low point, and since then have steadily reconnected, although it's doubtful if they even understand this." -- Scripting News

Not tackling the rest of the essay, but I couldn't agree with this one less. Granted that this was 10 years and many brain cells ago, but my contemporary recollection is that the "most loyal users" were quite aware that the then-existing Mac OS licensing (cloning) program was causing the company to hemmorage money, and that to continue it as it was would have meant that there would be no Apple Computer company after some distressingly brief period of time. Fast cheap beige boxes with no operating system to run on them was the ultimate projected endpoint.

:: 17:55
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Wed, 29 Sep 2004

Wholly Unconvinced by Audioblogging

...or, as Mr. Pilgrim wrote, "blogging becoming an inaccessible, google-hostile bandwidth hog"

I can see where being able to take a few blogposts with you on your morning jog or plugged into the car radio during your morning commute might appeal, but I think there are better ways to spend that precious ear-time.

Otherwise, though, I find audioblog posts completely useless and annoying.

They're attention-greedy

I can skim a written blog post, even a long one, in a few seconds and get a pretty good idea of what it's on about. If it really tickles my fancy, I can sit down, read it in depth, and maybe even comment on it or link to it in a couple of minutes.

Audio posts are impossible to quickly review. If a person posts a 10 minute audio blog entry, to really get anything from it (meaning: to be able to comment on it meaningfully), you have to listen to the whole thing in sequence. Most people are lousy public speakers (myself included). They repeat themselves, they stumble over words, they clear their throats too much, they cough in your ear, they lose the plot and start to babble, whatever.

Stop it. You're being greedy with the most precious resource the modern plugged-in person has these days: time.

Search-engine hostile

Not much to explain here. Search engines don't index the sound of you harumphing and tapping your pen on your keyboard. Next.

Feedback hostile

Admittedly probably not much of an issue for the typical soapboxer, but taking part in conversational blogging (comments, trackbacks, Technorati follow-fu) relies on people having convenient chunks of text to quote, link to, and refute. Exactly how does anyone link to that bit during minute 17 of your audio post (after the donut sprinkles fall on the microphone but before the sound of your cat knocking over your spittoon) where you make some technical point that definitely, positively needs refuting?

I had many more words written for this post, but then I read Maciej Cegłowski's audioblogging manifesto, which covered most of the salient points, so, unlike a lot of audiobloggers, I'm going to be brief and respect your time.

addendum: Coincidentally, today's word of the day is "harangue". Heh.

:: 08:12
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 21 Jun 2004

Online Loyalty Oaths

Let's, collectively, get over ourselves.

During last weekend’s shenaningans, I noticed a curious and distressing idea pop up a few times. Because there’s nothing I love more than a drastic oversimplification, I’ll refer to it as the “Online Loyalty Oath”. Briefly, there were a number of posts that basically boiled down to:

“If you were a real friend and not a total coward, you’d join in and yell a those people over there that were mean to me.”

or (alternate formulation)

“Didn’t you see the completely insulting thing that person wrote? Why didn’t you join in and publicly condemn it?”

If there’s one thing the Slashdot trolls did get right, it’s the idea that the degree of self-absorbption on display in blogs is something to be pitied, embarassed by, and, yes, ridiculed.

Look, if the empty boilerplate people always recite about the true deep meaning (hic) of blogging (the old “unfiltered voice of an individual” hogwash that even I might have been a big enough, class A1 sucka to believe at one point) means anything, any damn thing at all, it’s that, really, we (aw, sheesh), we aren’t obligated to say anything. If my text editor’s open and I see you taking a hit from an asshole, hey, I might throw you a virtual heavy-metal-goat-head sign of support. I may solemnly clasp my hand over my heart and wish you well. Maybe I’ll just open another window and download some cat pictures.

I read about half of the weekend’s ugliest posts while sitting in front of my keyboard with a pretty seven-month old girl cooing in the crook of my arm. Do you know how little I cared about giving anyone an ego stroke at that moment?

:: 17:17
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 24 May 2004

Little. Orange. Stupid.

That icon really does suck.

Robert Scoble: Why can’t you all use the XML icon?

  • Ugly. Really, really ugly. Has anyone ever designed a site that looked better because it had a scrunched up, retangular orange turd with all caps, unkerned white Arial Bold sitting on it? I mean, really, orange and white?

  • Inaccurate. Imprecise. Yes, syndicated feeds are XML. So are about a dozen other things you might reasonably find linked on a modern weblog.

  • Bright orange screams “click me”, right? What happens if the user clicks it? Well, depending on what content type the feed is being served with, whether the publisher has styled the feed with XSLT or not, which browser the user is visiting with, and about a dozen other variables beyond the publisher’s and the reader’s control:

    1. The reader is presented with a screenful of unreadable gibberish, with redundant bits of the weblog content he was looking at just a second ago embedded in it. Reader thinks she’s broken something.

    2. The browser silently downloads the feed into the reader’s download directory, where it is instantly buried amongst the other 400 files already there, never to be seen again.

    3. The reader is presented with the same content on the weblog page, but styled differently. The reader thinks “what the hell was the point of that?”

Listen, I’m going to type r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y…

Feed autodiscovery is the only thing that makes sense.

If your aggregator can’t handle it, throw it out and get a new one. If your publishing software can’t handle serving it, join the rest of us here in the 21st century and get some software that does. If you need to serve multiple feeds (full content versus excerpts, or comments, or whatever), explain that inline (with, gasp, text) or on a separate “Feeds” page.

But for heaven’s sake, don’t try to shame the rest of us into foisting any more copies of that 36 x 14 abortion on the world.

:: 11:34
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Fri, 21 May 2004


Well, duh.
Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.

-- Beckett

I've really been on a "the fewer words, the better" kick for a while now, at least in my informal writing. Yes, of course I'm lazy, but I think it might go a little deeper than that. Writing, for me, is usually an immediate response to "an itch", something that's on the tip of my tongue right now that needs to be said. If I don't record the thing I'm thinking of within a couple of minutes of that initial impulse, it's unlikely to happen at all.

This is good and bad.

Good because the flab, the verbal frippery, and the cute tricks tend not to survive the self-editing process. Bad because I tackle very few things in depth, and sometimes the things you omit leave you backtracking days later, trying to explain what you really meant when you quoted that marginally in-context bit of text without an iota of explanation.

Just saying.

:: 17:05
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sat, 15 May 2004


:: 14:24
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 10 May 2004

Cigarette Brands

Taking easy shots at smoking.

Yesterday we were out and were supposed to pick up 3 packs of cigarettes for a friend as a favor. What was funny(?) was that this person was very particular about the brand. “I want the (Brand I Refuse To Give Any Google Juice) 100s, in a box.” They had to be in a hard box, not a soft pack, and they had to be 100s, not the normal length ones, and the brand had to be BIRTGAGJ.

We stopped at the gas station, asked for “3 packs of BIRTGAGJs, 100s, in a box”, and headed on our way. When we got to our friend’s house, we found that the attendant had given us 3 packs of BIRTGAGJs, regular length, in a box, and our friend was crestfallen.

I took them back and exchanged them with no problem.

The question I have for smokers here is “whuh?” Is there really that major a difference between the brands? Getting (uncomfortably?) blunt here, does it matter what kind of gun the bullet that splatters your brains on the wall behind you came from?

Slow, stinky, expensive suicide with brand loyalty?

:: 09:21
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 05 Apr 2004

Don't Be That Guy


It's been said before, but it's worth repeating, that a blog isn't a conversation. The blogger links, pontificates, dissembles, or whatever, and if he's feeling froggy maybe he enables comments and/or trackbacks. She's under no obligation to do so, of course. When you pay the rent, you make the rules.

That's a great thing. Even if you don't want to pay for a hosted service, there are places that will host your rants for free. Get it all off your chest, nucking go futs, you know the drill.

Despite efforts and advice to the contrary, I allowed myself to get sucked into one of the blogging world's reigning permathreads, and quite simply, I got trolled. A certain individual, who notably doesn't have a weblog of his own, pushed my buttons like a maestro in the comments of a third person's weblog. I should have known better -- I've been there before.

If you're gonna pick a fight, don't do it in the comments on someone else's blog. That's like camping out in somebody else's backyard and taking a stinky steamer under his window. It's just rude. Start your own blog.

Don't be that guy.

:: 10:50
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
::Comments (0)

Wed, 04 Feb 2004

How I Learned To Write Backwards

edit: The Scripting.com validator has been revised and now works like the other validators running on the same codebase. Cool. Thanks.

Blogging format inside baseball. Skip this post if you have a life...

Here's a great idea: take an existing, format neutral validator, remove functionality, add bugs (e.g. bogus non-well-formedness errors), and pass confusing information back to the users of the service (read the comments).

If you're going to indulge in a pissing contest, you should be extra careful not to get any on your shoes.

:: 08:30
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Fri, 12 Dec 2003

Atom Presentation

Next time someone tells you that Atom should just adopt RSS as a feed format, or that underspecification is close enough for horseshoes and hand-grenades, or whatever, bonk 'em in the gums with this. I wish I could have seen the full presentation.

:: 18:25
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Mon, 08 Dec 2003

Not Learning From The Past. At all.

Oh boy, one more god-knows-what listening for god-knows-who to send god-knows-what-unchecked-bytes to god-knows-which high port. Let's not, and say we did, m'kay?

:: 09:34
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Thu, 04 Dec 2003

The Voice of Reason

Once again, leave it to Sam Ruby to gracefully and succinctly provide some much needed moderation and wisdom amidst the sturm und drang.

In other Atom news, this looks terribly clever, though I really don't have time to play with it now. One immediately apparent issue is that it doesn't play unless you have client side XSLT happening in your browser, which rules out Safari and quite a few other browsers, but it looks like static rendering would be trivial to handle with an external script that called your favorite external XSLT engine from your language of choice.

:: 11:14
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Wed, 03 Dec 2003


All worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there. [+]

Subsequent work should happen in modules, using namespaces, and in completely new syndication formats, with new names. [+]


:: 21:29
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Wed, 29 Oct 2003

Novice Users and Personal Sysadmins

I can't recommend this entry (and the associated comments) highly enough. I visited some of the issues discussed here a few months ago, and if anything the issues raised are even more problematic now than they were then. via Mark Pilgrim

:: 13:34
:: /opinion/technology | [+]
::Comments (0)

Fri, 10 Oct 2003

People I Saw Yesterday, But Dared Not Approach

in order of appearance

  • The mouthy pregnant woman who verbally excoriated the older woman who had the temerity to sit down next to her on the completely full bus, even though she'd draped her less than svelte frame across both adjacent seats to discourage such a thing. After witnessing her (loudly, oh, so loudly) complain, in colorful, yet barely parseable language about this dread infraction, I wondered how miserable it must be to go through life with that much of a chip on your shoulder, and I said a silent prayer for the as yet unborn future victim of years of verbal abuse.
  • The guy with the Jheri curl mullet.
  • The woman with two small children, a boy (about 5) and a little blonde girl (about 6 or 7.) The woman and her son were walking towards and past me, the little girl was about 15 or 20 feet behind, on crutches. with her right leg extended in front of her. The woman told the boy he could pick something out when they got to the store, then yelled back at the little girl to "hurry up." The girl looked a little wounded, then tried gamely to speed up her awkward three-legged pace. I felt a little part of her world die.

Please $UNIVERSAL_LIFEFORCE, more bad hairdos, and less people who scream at others over trivia.

:: 19:34
:: /opinion/ruminations | [+]
::Comments (0)

Sun, 07 Sep 2003

Peeve: Horn-blowers

I'm sitting in my living room, with all the doors and windows open, because it's frankly a beautiful day. The breeze is blowing across my face, the sun is high in the sky, my dog's asleep and I'm a million miles away from it all... and then some mouth-breather in a rolling barge pulls in front of the house three doors down and leans on their car horn. For a long time. They wait a few seconds, then they lean on the horn again. They get no response, so they pull their land-barge away from the house. I give them the nastiest glare allowed by law as they drive off.

Here's a thought: slowly lower the greasy Doritos from your lips, get your fat, lazy, American ass out of the muthafuggin' car, walk the five or ten meters to the front of the house and knock on the door. There, now, that didn't kill you, did it?

:: 14:59
:: /opinion/local | [+]
::Comments (0)

I hear what you’re saying but I just don’t care.