Shut Down

I’m decommissioning a server box that I’ve had for 5 years now. It’s kind of a scary proposition. I’m downloading the final backup just before shutting it down for good. I probably have several gigabytes of worthless crap, but it is worth it if it saves some 4 KB file that turns out to be needed later on.

That server is the one that ran this blog for most of its lifetime. Leaving it is kind of like moving out of a house. Most of what you own is crap but you move it all for fear of missing something you want to keep. Goodbye EV1 server box, formerly the RackShack server box. You served me well, but better before you were bought by the Planet.

Coffee Break’s Over, Back On Your Head

After the worthwhile insanity of CREATE South and then the less fun insanity of the day job and home repair, there has not been much blogging here in almost a month. Add to that the server woes of recent days, and everything has been underproductive and overdramatic. If you can see this post, that means you’re now on the newer new host. More on that unpleasant topic later.

Blogging is like any form of discipline. When you do it regularly it seems unnatural not to do it and when you go too long without it, then it seems weird to return. I have a Google Reader queue full of stuff I have starred to return to later so I really need to get back and blog some of this crap. I hope to be crazy prolific in upcoming days. Keep me honest, y’all!

Moving Again

I was warned about DreamHost and I didn’t listen. After this blog being effectively down for the last 4 days, I have pulled the plug on DreamHost. At least the service took a dump for me a few days before my 97 day guarantee was up, not after. More later, right now I’m worn out from migrating sites from DreamHost to HostGator. Sigh.

New Media and Journalism, Round 127

Here’s an interesting post from Dan Conover in which he riffs on some Tweets of mine about new media and the press. My original impetus for writing those tweets was my cynicism and disbelief of any “received wisdom” about our election and primary. When any talking head on TV makes a statement about something that isn’t verifiable, such as “event X will hurt candidate Y” I just don’t believe it. I think most (not all) of those people believe what they are saying to be true but most of them believe it because they have been gamed in one way or another. That was my point about blogs, not that they are wonderful intrinsically or impossible to be gamed but that it is cost and time prohibitive to buy the opinions of a million or even a thousand bloggers.

Interestingly, on the same day I listened to the episode of The Gang where Mike Arrington came on and was talking shit with Dan Farber. Most of it was pro-wrestling style theatrics but there were some actual substantive bits that showed the difference in their approaches. I have to say that Arrington has hit the point where his motives and goals for himself and his empire horrify me. I might be a special case in that I really don’t care at all about Tech Crunch. I talked to Arrington about AmigoFish back in November 2005 and I subscribed to Tech Crunch around that time. By February I had dropped it because I just didn’t care about 98% of the things and companies they post about. The only reason I stuck around was to see if they posted about my site, and when it never happened I got bored and left. As a property, Tech Crunch holds no interest for me. When Arrington talks about rolling up “A-list blogs” and making a network out of it, I don’t see what value it holds for anyone on my side of the feed reader. It makes him money, but why should I care?

I do know the guy I talked to the day after Thanksgiving in 2005 seemed awfully different from the guy on the Gang. It seems like success has gone to his head, and he’s gotten high off his own tailpipe fumes for some time. When he talks about the value Tech Crunch brings vs Cnet, he sounds like a CEO talking about the value of outsourcing to some country with lax labor and environmental policies. What he is selling as his advantage the fact that he gets to do the same thing and even try to sell to the same advertisers but without playing by the standard rules of big j Journalism.

For me, there is no difference between Tech Crunch and Valleywag. They are both Silicon Alley porn of one form or another, and that’s a subject that holds no sex appeal to me. Even if I cared about the subject matter, the presentation and drama around it would reduce the value to nil for me. Most of the promise of new media melts away when it becomes yet another mechanism to disseminate and reinforce cults of personality. “Bob” save us all from blog celebrities.

First WordPress 2.5 Impressions

So far so good on the WordPress upgrade and host migration. Ideally, one would be doing these things in smaller, more manageable pieces rather than all at once, but I had no choice. Once WP 2.5 was released, I no longer had the option of installing an older version with the Dreamhost installer so I just did it myself in a weird mishmash of the automatic and manual. It seems to have worked.

Thus far only one person has mentioned having any problems commenting, and that person also had a success so I’m not sure if it was just a fluke. The “Your user agent string has changed” error has not come back, so that’s great. I think I’ve figured out the WP tagging and added in a cloud and a bit for my themes to display them. There are old posts that I have tags in Ecto but not WordPress. If I find some giant bank of time, I might go and resubmit all the old posts. Don’t hold breath.

More later, my food is here. Mmmm, gyro platter!

Update: My woes with the password continue. I couldn’t submit this post at lunchtime. I have to keep resetting the password of my ‘dave’ user and I don’t know why. I’ll save it, all will be fine and then the next time I go to use it, “incorrect password.” That is really getting to be a big drag fast.

What’s my blog readability?

Via Ben  on Twitter I saw this link to the blog readability test. I did it, went to copy the badge and noticed a link at the bottom to some cash advance text link. Are you kidding me? Was that a mistake or is critics rant really trying to pull some kind of scumbaggy fast one on us stupid stupid bloggers? I took that damn thing out but jesus, folks. High and outside.
cash advance

ConvergeSouth Eve

I’m engaging in the ritual I pretty much always do the night before I go to any sort of blogging or new media conference: I’m doing laundry. Isn’t that what everyone does? I see that Dan Conover is “crogging”, ie cramming by trying to read the blogs of lots of other attendees. Will he be reading this entry? Oh, the recursion! Last year I set up a CS metafeed at BlogDigger but this year I just didn’t get around to it. Actually, the list from last year is still alive, although not necessarily a perfect reflection of this year’s attendees.

I think tomorrow I might try an experiment in live blogging. I haven’t ever done that before, and will abandon it in a heartbeat if it becomes a drag. My main deal there is to hang out and spend time with people so that takes priority but I will try to record what I’m hearing in the sessions as I can. I’m also bringing the recording gear so I might do a little interviewing of my colleagues, although I will probably wait until Saturday to unpack it. Tomorrow will probably have a long walk from the parking lot to the building, so I don’t plan on lugging the Marantz for that.

I’m really excited and actually have butterflies in my stomach about the whole deal. I can’t wait to see y’all!

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Blogging in Busy Times

Fellow Grand Strand blogger Andre muses about his light blogging when his day job is crushing him. I’m right there with you brother. When I look back at my posts over the last few months, it’s way heavy with tiny trivial quick hits.

I really prefer to once a week at the very least stretch my legs on a longer post with deeper thoughts on whatever subject is top of mind to me. I find that those sort of posts are the ones that get linked to and passed around, thus increasing my “authority” in that Technorati/Google sort of way. It’s not like I’m on a quota system per se or feel like I need a certain status, but mainly those posts are fun to write. They provide the most overall satisfaction per writing calorie burned. The problem is that they require the most time as well, and when life is thrashing they are never top priority. Maybe this weekend at ConvergeSouth will provide me with a transfusion of blogging vitality and help alter my priority balance equation. Here’s hoping so, at the very least.

Let’s Get Together and Feel Alright

Later today, I’ll be getting together with some of my compatriot Myrtle Beach area bloggers at the Liberty Taproom for our periodic meetup. If you want to come, there is still time. It looks like around 8 or so people have RSVP’d so our attendance trend is upward as you’d hope it would be.

Next week, I’ll be going to Greensboro for ConvergeSouth. Ed Cone has noticed I’m coming at the very least. It’s funny to unwind it but when I walked in to ConvergeSouth 2005 and started talking to Ed about 20 seconds in, I had only met him a single time for a minute or two at BloggerCon in Palo Alto. It felt like he was an old friend, which is kind of what my ConvergeSouth experience was like. A lot of people who I had only read online and never met in person treated me like old friends and felt like that to me. That’s a rarity in this life, and I can’t wait to go get another slice of that. See you there.

Where Else I Blog

You’d think as nonprolific as I’ve been on this blog lately, I wouldn’t need other blogs to spread myself thin upon but there are some out there nonetheless. I’ve been doing some work trying to get the group blog Grand Strand Bloggers kickstarted. Roger Yale posted there a few days ago, officially making it not just me. Woohoo! Tomorrow I hope to make my first Low Country Blogs style roundup post.

Also I have a blog for my AmigoFish project. I’ve just recently implemented tagging in AmigoFish, by far the most requested feature of the last year, and on the blog you can read about the behind the scenes work, my recent data cleanup woes and even my thinking in adding a new ad provider to the site. If you like that sort of thing, than that’s the blog for you. Enjoy!

Myrtle Beach Blogger Meetup

Don’t forget, you Grand Strand area new media aficionados: we are having another Grand Strand blogger meetup this Saturday at the Liberty Taproom. More details here, and if you are coming or even just thinking about coming please leave an RSVP comment on that post. We have a whole blog there just for the blogging community in our area, so let’s cut wild in a nerdy blogtopia.

Blogstipation

For much of the last two months, I’ve been so busy that blogging has been something that has been deferred or intermittent. This weekend that is not the case but I found that I had so much stuff I wanted to write and talk about and even discuss in podcasts that it kind of froze me. I ended up doing none of it.

The pattern I most like for myself is to post a few times a day, shorter bits and links to interesting things I’ve ran across on the web. A few times a week I like to write up a longer essay style post and maybe once a week or so I like to have a big long essay on some subject that is interesting me. I don’t believe that I’ve come anywhere close to that the entirety of this summer.

It’s certainly not for lack of subjects. My list of things I want to post about is getting ever longer, my starred items in Google Reader (which is how I signify I want to come back to it) has had 100 items added in the last month and must be over 500 total by now. If anything, that’s kind of the problem. I need to pick a thing or two and just go for it. This is the kind of stuff I preach, not getting bogged down by life, so I need to practice it myself.

Weekly Surge and Grand Strand Bloggers

Last week I talked to Roger Yale for the local paper The Weekly Surge. It is the Myrtle Beach version of the Creative Loafing style outfit. We talked about the day job, about podcasting and blogging and the like. Out of a 30 minute conversation, he wrote 1200 works and that will probably get cut so who knows how much will make it in. It is not live at the moment (lunchtime on Thursday), but it will be published in the Working 4 A Living column. The paper publishes today, so I imagine at some point last week’s guy will get replaced with my smiling visage. (Update: The column with me in it is live at that link!)

Roger asked me for a place to direct readers who are interested in future meetups of bloggers in the area. I got back to him too slowly to make the column, but I set up the site Grand Strand Bloggers. We arranged the last meetup via an ad hoc email list of us just CC’ing each other and hitting reply all. That doesn’t scale too well, so I’d like to direct people to the new site for information and participation. I’d also like to invite anyone in the Grand Strand that is a blogger to submit your link to us, so we can add you to the blogroll. I know there are more than 5 of us out there, it’s just a matter of finding each other. If you are interested in blogging at that site, let me know and I’ll hook you up with author permission to write your own posts. I don’t want it to be an extension of me, this should be more of a group effort.

Credit where it is due, I was inspired to do this sort of thing by the work Dan Conover, Janet Edens, Heather et al have done with the Lowcountry Blogs. It was my jealousy of what they were achieving down there that made me want to get the first blogger meet up together, and I want to do the same thing with the site. So you Myrtle Beach area bloggers and citizen media stars, participate on the site by blogging if you so desire, by commenting, by submitting links and coming and hanging out at our next in person meet up. We live in a fantastic little place, so let’s share that with the world.

Anatomy of a Joke Gone Wrong

Chuck Olsen dissects the timeline of him making a joke that was then taken seriously by people (including me.) I saw Andrew Baron’s original post, and made a post that basically said “WTF?” About an hour later I reread Drew’s post and noticed that it originated from a Twitter, at which point I posted an update that said “Uh Oh.” An hour or two after that, Scoble left me a comment saying it was bogus at which I posted an update that said “Oh Shit.” I apologized to Robert for my part in the whole thing, both on the original post and via email. The low point of the whole deal is two part: I had my name mentioned in Valleywag and I was tricked into opening Valleywag in my web browser. Now I can no longer stick with my claim that I’ve never once looked at it. Like Olsen says, if it were not for Valleywag, the whole thing would have been up and over in a few hours but now it got fanned into something more. Boy, I’ll be glad when my Technorati vanity search stops turning up the quote “Andrew Baron and Dave Slusher are full of shit…”

As I read Chuck’s explanatory post, his basic point is “People should have known from the context it was a joke.” I’m not a Twitter user, and in fact that message from Chuck is the very first Twitter I’ve ever looked at. As a novice to the whole thing, it was news to me that Twitters even have a context. I sort of thought the whole point was the opposite.

Chuck also runs through the reasons why people should have known it was absurd that John Furrier would tell him such information. I know John well enough to say hi and shake his hand whenever I see him, and I know Chuck from his work but not personally. That he was the person who had the info first seemed odd to me, but not impossible. How do I know that Chuck isn’t John’s best friend from college or something? If your joke in an ephemeral medium requires lots of context and personal knowledge to even understand that it is a joke, you might be in trouble. I do like Eric Rice’s comment (the first one on that post) that this whole kerfuffle is a dry run for someone who really does have malicious intent injecting some crap into the blogsphere via Twitter. Time to think this through while the stakes are pretty low.

As an aside, having now finally loaded the Twitter website and gotten a glimpse of what it’s all about, I am even more perplexed that people care so much about it. Personally, there is no one on this planet that I’m that interested about the minutiae of their moment to moment life that is not already in my house. All I could think about as I was looking at the Twitters or Tweets or whatever they are was this thought: “They abandoned Odeo because of this piece of dreck? Holy christ, that is one sad statement.” The probability that I’d sign up and use it has dropped from low to zero.

Welcome Back, Domain Name

That was all I needed. Apparently either GoDaddy hasn’t been emailing notices about the expiration of my domain name or I haven’t been getting them because until I got an email from Garrick Van Buren over my lunch hour, I had no idea that evilgeniuschronicles.org had expired on 7/26. Yikes! When it hit that 5 day point, as the entry expired out of DNS caches people began getting the bad entry, I assume pointing to some parking page. Fear not, gentle readers, I’m still here. A few dollars later everything is back in business. I renewed for 3 years this time, so hopefully I won’t forget when it rolls around in 2010. That also makes realize that I missed my 5 year blog-iversary. I made my first post on July 27, 2002. Woo hoo! I either am disciplined and have longevity or am completely nuts. Interpretations might vary where you place me on that scale.

Thoughts on Selling Out

My motto on selling out is an old chestnut on this blog and podcast by now. For the record it is “There is no such thing as selling out, only selling too cheap.” In my most recent podcast I played the clip of Henry Rollins on the subject which has fleshed out my thinking some. Add in the most recent furor over blogospheric integrity, this time with Arrington at the center, latest in a series of endless furors over who is selling out. Here is my updated stance:

Selling out is doing the work you don’t really want to do, or work that you aren’t proud of. It is still selling out no matter how little you get from it or how pure the sponsor is.

It is not selling out to do the work you want to do and that you are proud of. It is still not selling out no matter how much you get and how sleazy the sponsor is.

If you hack out some work you don’t care about and get paid off with a Happy Meal, you sold out. You compromised your integrity and not even for a paycheck. Lose-lose, cabron. If you did the same work you were going to anyway, and the sleaziest scumbag in the world paid you a million to do it, you did not sell out. You played the player, created your work and got rich for it. Win-win, daddyo.

This is why I thought the previous tempest in a chamber pot about PayPerPost was misplaced. It’s not about the money, it’s about the creator and the work. If someone is creating work that matters to them and me and they can soak some company for it in the process, carry on sailor. In fact, wasn’t Mike Arrington one of the prime finger pointers about the loss of integrity in the blogosphere in that go around and isn’t he the current whipping boy? I am not really following the brouhaha closely because I’ve long since stopped caring about such things. It’s the most self-correcting system possible. When someone turns shill and stops providing value to you in reading them, you take your attention elsewhere. If they overplay their hand, they erode their own value and audience and no one will pay them to shill anymore. No hand-wringing is necessary by anyone, it just works.

To slightly paraphrase the Rollins quote “So what if someone is paying bloggers and trying to sell you something using their credibility? You saw through it, right? Because you aren’t a fucking moron, right?”

Dogs and Podcasts


Sometimes Google Ads are really good at catching the gestalt of a blog. As I loaded up the page to look at Mike Dunn’s recent comment on a dog post, this is what I saw. Dogs and podcasts. Yep, that’s pretty much what my last week has been.

Grand Strand Blogger Meetup NEW DAY – This Sunday

I pulled the plug on the original date for the Grand Strand Blogger meetup because for one I had dog care issues and for another, it was unbearably poor form to hold it on Father’s Day. Even though no one seemed to mind, I just didn’t like the idea so we scooched it one week back. If you are driving distance and want to come, please do and invite your friends. You need not blog or podcast or videoblog, even having a vague interest that you might want to one day is enough. Just come.

Here again is the announcement:
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In the spirit of ongoing attempts to crystallize a blogger community here in the Grand Strand, I’m organizing a get together. If you are a blogger, podcaster, videoblogger or interested in any of the above, come and hang out with us. Here are the specifics:

Sunday June 24th at 3 PM, Bummz at 2003 N. Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach, SC
Phone number of the joint: 843-916-9111
Google Map to the restaurant

We’ll be at a table outside as close to the beach as we can get. If you are interested in coming, please send me a non-binding RSVP via email just so I can keep you abreast of logistics and make sure we have enough table space reserved. Feel free to forward this information around, tell your friends, tell your neighbors, blog about it yourself. Bloggers now do this kind of thing all the time in Charleston, and we’re as good as those people. Just like they found out in Charleston that when they got together they had a critical mass they didn’t realize existed, let’s try to get the same thing going in our part of the state. Let’s rock!

Another Blogger Down In a Drive-By

I follow Jesus’ General regularly, which does in blogospheric fashion the same schtick as Stephen Colbert, ironically making fun of conservatives by trying to be a hyper-extreme version of them. A few days ago, he made this post that references this post at Nashville is Talking. In it, NiT blogger Brittney referenced a really hateful post about the very recently departed Steve Gilliard. As it unfolded for those of us (like myself) unfamiliar with NiT, Brittney is a liberal blogger and was citing a post by one of her blogging enemies for its ironic value. Many people gave her a big load of shit about how not putting in any disavowal of the post was a tacit approval of the words. Ultimately, Brittney resigned and even JC Christian feels a little bad about it. I agree that she made a mistake not qualifying the post. The whole thing would have been different if she had prefaced it with two words: “Oh my.” JC seems to still insist that she should have apologized. Franky, I think she screwed up by not commenting but that’s not anything that requires an apology to anyone and it is a shame she resigned over the whole incident.

I recap all this to get to a few points of my own. One is that I feel that regardless how big a dick the original poster was and how great a man Steve Gilliard was, the many people who gave as their reason for disapproval that “it was disrespectful to talk ill of a man who wasn’t even buried yet” is invalid. As some pointed out, no one was held to that standard for Falwell that I saw. I myself waited about 12 hours before I made my own disrespectful snarky post about his death. So, I don’t find that a particularly compelling reason for outrage unless you apply it across the board even-handedly.

The other is that most of the trouble in blogs seems to involve drive-bys. I think the lowest ebbs I’ve ever had with this blog involved swarms of drive-bys coming by, people who never had heard of me 5 minutes ago making lots of imputations about who I am, what I do and why, how I think. In one ugly case, that person was a fairly well known science fiction writer/blogger and someone I had on my list of people to interview for Voices in My Head. Afterwards, I couldn’t think about said writer without getting pissed off so I just scratched said name off my list. Another was when I had the horrible taste to say that Ze Frank didn’t do so much for me. It got linked from the Ze Fanboy Funtime forum and brought a lot of people in to tell me how stupid I was or how little taste I have. The most personally troubling was when my post about the flooding in New Orleans become a top Google hit for “New Orleans jokes”. I found people leaving comments about how Americans deserved this while people were still in the process of drowning in their own attics to be as bad a day as I’ve ever had with this blog. I did the jujitsu of adding an Apache rule forwarding anyone with that search string in their HTTP_REFERER to the Red Cross donation page when I couldn’t take it anymore.

All of this goes to say that drive-bys are fun for bringing new readers by, but can really be damaging when a mob of them come in with torches or pitchforks. Merely having an agenda can be sufficient. I write with context, reference things I’ve said previously, make assumptions that most of the people reading any post have read other things I’ve written. That will always fail for someone new to me with that post, but in the main I think the assumption holds most of the time for most of the people. When you happen on something outrageous on a site with which you are unfamiliar, impose a waiting period. Read more than just that one post. Dig a little before you deploy the outrage siege weaponry. Life is short and hard, so take a minute to give people a break now and then. You might be sparing someone an unnecessarily bad day.