I took a vacation from the Internet this weekend. I found that a) I receive a tremendous amount of email that builds up after only two days if I'm not there to weed through it, and b) my weekends seem a lot longer when I'm not sitting on the couch with my laptop.
I didn't get to finish a little project I had been working on, but I've found that I really don't care all that much after all.
My new favorite place to go for lunch is Fresh In The Box. If you're in the LA area and want insanely good tasting food made to order, you have to try this place out.
Read through the site and you'll get a sense of what the restaurant is like. JPop bubbling from the kitchen, and out front there's Hip-Hop streaming out of an XM radio that sits next to Japanese artwork.
Note the link for jobs is the only thing that's written in Japanese.
All this hullabaloo over robots.txt destroying the web is crazy! I mean, why can't I decide what content on my server search engines can index? I think in five years we'll all forget about how they "destroyed the web" by allowing people robots.txt restrictions.
Seriously, describing content is cool. Cool!
Sometimes I feel bad because I can't write these long billowing posts about technology. I wish I had some good opinions on stuff like nofollow or atom/rss poop. But to me it's all just more toys. So thanks everyone for making more toys that might come in handy later if I need them for something cool.
The other day someone said they thought they liked it better in the "good old days" when the web was wild. I don't get that at all. I think the web just gets better. More toys for me to play with. Standards and co-operation. I don't make rollovers by hand anymore. I don't parse query strings by hand. Right this minute I'm in the middle of making a little toy that lets me do something I thought would be fun. I couldn't have done this in 1998 without writing my own web server.
Anyway, I probably embrace new stuff too much. I like new stuff. New stuff means it might be better stuff. I just can't be a grouch about the future because then I wouldn't have any fun.
I'm testing this explanation by Josh on how to auto-publish del.icio.us links through TypePad. There will be some mistake posts. Please excuse the mess.
Today at work someone signed an email with "Have A Happy MLK Day!" I'm not even certain what that means.
Standing in the home furnishings department of Sears, deciding which sewing machine I'm going to buy, while at the same time covering my ears and averting my eyes from every television showing the NFL playoff game I'm recording at home.
I can't decide if it's because I'm getting old or because I live in California, but when the waitress (at the sports bar where "the guys" were watching the game and drinking beer) asked me if I wanted any food, I skipped past the fried cheese, fried onions, and nachos to the fruit plate.
And a side of yogurt for dipping.
While driving home from work today I realized I have always been wrong about something. I don't believe in luck anymore. For a long time I thought that some people were lucky and some people were unfortunate. But it occurred to me that all people are equal. Those who look for good things to happen to them usually find them, and people who look for bad things to happen to them are never disappointed.
Nobody is charmed and nobody is cursed.
I don't know why that didn't occur to me before, but it's actually affected me enough that I wanted to write it down.
I actually went to a physical record store and bought CDs. Used CDs no less. Very rare for me since I spend my life in front of a computer.
While checking out, and probably due to having two Minders albums and some Dub Narcotic EPs, I got this promo CD single. I've never been a fan of Apples in Stereo but I do like this song. More on Ulysses.
They're playing today at Amoeba Records in LA.
While contemplating how I'm going to use my new iPod shuffle, I came across this cassette adapter ("with a brain", they say). Use the controls on your cassette player to control your iPod. One of the reasons I stopped listening to my iPod in the car was having to fumble for the device to move about. Now I can use the controls that are on my steering wheel.
Having lunches with friends you don't see very often is always an eye opening experience. Among the things Justin and I discovered over tamales was that TKPal isn't the bad name that I thought it was--at least not to journalists.
"You think it's good?" I asked. "It's just the letters from TypeKey glued onto the back-end of PayPal."
"Oh," he said. "I thought it was 'tk' like in journalism where a section or title of a page is 'to come', it's abbreviated 'tk' for some reason."
I actually knew this, because of the Breeders album called "Title TK" that Kim explained on 120 Minutes was an old journalism abbreviation. She hadn't come up with a title for her album (god knows she had enough time) so she just said to leave it "Title TK".
Anyway, good tamales were eaten and conversation was great. I really needed that.
That, in itself, is a pretty neat feature. Yay Ranchero.
So this morning I notice a new playlist in my iTunes. "It's Dave Winer!" I think to myself and happily start it up. Technology!
It's not that it isn't good, it's that Dave sounds like I'd think Jerry Garcia would sound. I don't want to listen to Jerry Garcia. I'm not making fun of Dave, I'm just pointing out that audio adds too many variables for me. Sound of the voice. Background noise. Ums. Uhs. NPR has me spoiled.
But yes also it isn't good. I really didn't pay attention to what he was saying, just how it was being delivered. I think podcasting is a cool use of technology, but so are LRADs.
It's just not something I can get excited about. Ranchero making it happen, yes, listening to random thoughts, not so much. I'm sure for Dave it's pretty damn cool to be able to do it, but it's not my thing.
Technology! I'm living it.
If you were thinking about integrating TKPal with your Movable Type blog, his wrapper is going to make it a heck of a lot easier to price each piece of content.
I probably have a list of ten or twenty things that either I regret or think about every so often. I was wondering the other day what would happen if I ever did sort them out. They are small things, nothing too important, just stuff I wonder about.
For example, in my third year of High School we had a substitute English for three weeks. For some reason everyone in the class instantly hated him (either due to his being an overly vocal libertarian, or just being the sort of person who would be an overly vocal libertarian, I don't know for sure, either way he was a prick). Nobody in the class listened to him, we would come to English class and just sit around for 45 minutes until it was time to go. This was an honors class, so it wasn't like we were troubled kids, the guy just rubbed us the wrong way with his discussion of personal freedoms and choices which had nothing to do with literature.
So at one point he decided to assign us to read a book. He said it was his favorite book and it was VERY funny. He went on for several minutes about how funny the book was and how much he loved it. He passed out copies to everyone and I remember reading the first few pages in which people were preparing for a fête. There was also something about a bomb in the cake, I think. I might be wrong.
The word "fête" is important, however, because I remember grabbing my dictionary to find out what a "fête" was. Either way the bell rang or he started going on about how freedom was an illusion wrapped in a riddle or something and I decided to read something else.
If this rings a bell, please send me an email. I'd like to read this book.
(If it turns out this is a book by Ayn Rand please don't bother.)
I've moved the wiki to /guide on Everything TypeKey (Gordon says "Don't name your wikis "Wiki"). There are a few reasons why I'm moving it, but chief among them is the fact that I couldn't reliably get a robots.txt file in the wiki software to protect against bots rolling things back, on top of that it seemed that nothing on the site was getting indexed for search.
I'll be redirecting the RSS feeds to the new ones via mod_rewrite, but please change them in your readers as well.
Also, I'd like to offer my services to anyone contemplating or trying to get TypeKey running in their project. I figure if you get 20 people to sign up to TypeKey that's 20 people who will be receptive to seeing it in my projects. The most negative reactions to TKPal or Dropcash or have always been the use of TypeKey.
I like the new Apple product box art. They remind me of that moment during the opening of The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show when Rocky and Bullwinkle were being re-incarnated or "grown" back to the surface of the earth after being killed--what the heck was up with that intro? Anyway, yeah, 70's cartoons and illustrations. Earth tones, felt, macramé plant holders hanging over the toilet. Good stuff.
Nothing released today is something I need, but it's always nice to see them really hitting that switcher market hard. The use of the word "mini" reminds me of BMW's plan to introduce people to the BMW family of cars early with their own "mini".
I like the ¢ sign. If you want to help bring it back, please use ¢ in your HTML.
If you're on a Mac, just type alt+4 which is the $ when shifted key.
If you're on a PC I think you type alt+0162.
I just turned live some new TKPal code with some great updates from Bill Zeller. He wrote a database class that generalizes the functions through drivers. So now there is a flat file option as well as a MySQL option.
I updated the instructions as well. If you previously downloaded the code, please go back and download again. Remember: you can always go back as often as you wish and download as many times as you wish.
I've been tracking my small updates to TKPal at Simpleform but I should mention here that Grouphug.us has gone and implemented TKPal site-wide. Pay once and get access to comment on any confession you wish.
Bill Zeller sent me a whopper of an update tonight that abstracts the database with a nice class so a number of databases will be able to be plugged in. My next goal is to get SQLite running with that class.
Once TKPal development has settled down, I'll be rolling out some TKPal uses. One of the great things about the system is it gives people who have thought of implementing some kind of PayPal functionality on their site some real code they can extend—all for the bargain price of $1.
Matt's post about Internet-wide comments reminds me of an idea I would like TypeKey to implement.
I like to build things on top of TypeKey, but I find myself having to always make a database to save random bits of information about the users. For example, if I've made a site where I had subscriptions I'd have to have a bit in a database to mark who has paid and who hasn't. I could rig a folder of stub files to tell me that, but that seems messy.
What I would like to see is TypeKey adopt something not unlike my PS2 memory card. Any site implementing TypeKey would have the ability to save data directly to someone's TypeKey account in any schema they wish. An API sitting in front of the TypeKey could be as simple as:
$has_paid = $tk->LoadData("has_paid");
Maybe sites with larger space requirements could pay for more "blocks" so that more data could be saved and retreived.
I guess I'm releasing TKPal tonight. Though I think it still needs work. Anyone interested in testing it is invited to download the files and have a go with it. I don't think it works exactly how I want it to, but I could probably spend some time tweaking it and not get it right. I really should streamline it a bit more.
Anyway, if it doesn't make sense to you, ignore it. It's just some code that allows you to sell portions of your web pages using TypeKey and PayPal. Most people won't have the requirements to install it on their computer, but those that do now have a little head start in implementing a system for doing that. Or at least an example of how one was done.
I don't really have any other way of releasing something like this for testing purposes, but that's what this is for now. I wouldn't implement this on your server yet.
My friend Dakota sent this to me. It's the sort of thing Dakota would send me. Dakota sometimes just sends me emails that say,"What are you doing?" I always resist the urge to say "Emailing my friend Dakota, what are you doing?" because I know what his reply would be.
I would like Microsoft Office to have a single document. If I were to create a "new" document and start typing "To:" the document would morph into an email, providing an address book link to the right of "To:". It seems to me like auto-correction could be configured to detect not what we type but where in the document we type it.
A list would morph into an Excel spreadsheet. Word documents and Powerpoint would be detected by adding and arranging pages. Visio diagrams spawn from using the mouse to drop points and figures.
Basically what I'm saying is I was just in Word and I thought I was in Entourage and I hit command-N and I got a Word Document and I wanted an email and yes I write things like this instead of just command switching to Entourage.
I also spent ten minutes trying to sub-title this document "Living in ______" where the _____ was another parody of the Anything Box song "Living In Oblivion". If you don't know what I'm talking about you are either too young or had better musical taste than me.
I'm a programmer. I mean, I think of myself as one, even though I've been promoted up a bit to a Director Of Something Or Other And Stuff. When people ask me what I do, I say I'm a programmer ('computer programmer' if it's the sort of person who might assume 'television programmer', though anyone looking at me and thinking 'television programmer' probably hates television).
A few years back Po Bronson apparently wrote a book called "What Should I Do With My Life?" that keeps popping up in my brain. I didn't actually read Po Bronson's book called "What Should I Do With My Life?", I merely noted that someone paid Po Bronson, some book printing people, and some marketing people to make and sell this book called "What Should I Do With My Life?" Follow that with all these bloggers talking about Po Bronson's book (can you tell I like that name? Po.) and well, I can pretty much guess it was a pretty good book about people wondering what they were going to do with their lives and Po offering some solutions on what they could do, and possibly what he decided to do (hint: get into self-help books, people seem to think "self-help" still counts as "self" if you pay someone to help you via a book for $14.95 instead of an actual session with someone who my be able to "help" you realize you're cheap and can't take advice from strangers in person.)
So the point I was trying to make, or at least what I was trying to talk about is that I don't think I can be a programmer (or Director Of Something Or Other And Stuff) for the rest of my life. I don't think I have it in me. I keep thinking about Po Bronson's book title and then about my own life and my lineage (Barbers, Field Laborers) and I think, "This isn't me. Who wants to sit in front of a computer while the world goes on outside? Not me. Not for very long."
(I may have added the "Not for very long." to possibly preserve the mystery of my timetable from whichever coworkers think googling other coworkers is an insanely great idea. Hello, Matt P.!)
I do make things for a living. Web sites that show up in magazines! But I don't think it's the type of thing I want to tell my kids or grandkids I made. "Yes, see, I made this web site...uh, a web site was..uh..I was a television programmer..." I think it's fine for now, but it's just not me. I was not born to program. I am a college dropout who fell into programming because people were paying programmers insane amounts of money to do problem solving which is something I've always enjoyed doing. I am a good problem solver, but I don't get all rubbery over traversing linked lists in a minimum amount of steps. In fact, I hate Star Trek. Programming is a way to solve problems and not get sunburns or cataracts like my grandparents so it's probably why I keep doing it. Now I am a manager and it's actually pretty fulfilling work, but saying "BEING A MANAGER IS FULFILLING WORK!" is kind of like saying, "BEING A EUNUCH IS FULFILLING WORK!" For now I enjoy the feeling of having a team and getting things done and motivating people and serving people but at the end of the day you can't really hold that in your hand and admire it. (Not that I spend late nights holding things in my hand and admiring them.)
I've always been somewhat clever with physical things. Making things. I'm flirting with buying a sewing machine. In fact, I will be buying one soon if I can get some money together. I'm going to try it out though. I'm looking at my bag, the one I carry around is fine, but it just doesn't want to do what I want it to do and it seems like I'm carrying a bag that a person who carries books around would carry. And we've already established I don't buy books, I remember book titles. No, I carry guitar tuners, a laptop that is too big for my bag, a metronome, an iPod (not really, I'm lying, I never carry my iPod around with me because as I pointed out earlier I am always at a computer), a voice recorder, pens, guitar straps, CD-Rs, you probably get the idea. I carry junk, but it seems like all the bags I see that carry junk have flowers on them. Not even cool flowers with lasers, but pretty flowers with no lasers.
Do I want to make bags for a living? Probably not. But the idea of making something like a bag I'd like is incredibly attractive. The idea of making ANYTHING I can carry and show someone and show off is far more interesting to me than a website or bit of code.
I made several resolutions this year. One resolution was to start writing and exploring my thoughts more. What do I want to do with my life? I don't know. But this year I'd really like to find out.
Note to potential book publishers who want me to buy their books: don't name them things like "What Do I Want To Do With My Life?" because I will assume it's a book about what people can do with their lives and I will just wait for people to talk about it at parties and I'll nod my head, pretending to have read it and every time it's my turn to talk about my favorite part in the book I'll take a bite of a cracker and let them skip my turn. A better title is "What Color Is Your Parachute?" which is on a similar subject but holy crap they have "parachute" right in the title. How exciting is that? Why is there a parachute? Did someone jump out of a plane? Of course they did! They are going to die! Or wait, is this a conversation between two parachutists getting ready to jump? Is one hitting on the other? If I had to buy my own parachute I'd want a clear one because of birds.
It's fun to see people use things in ways you didn't really intend. With this new thing I'm getting ready to release, I keep coming up with different ways to use it, but I'm sure someone will surprise me like David has.
I'm on the cusp of releasing something I think is pretty cool, so I've been writing and re-writing it to make sure it works how I want it to. One of the last steps has been deciding how to license it.
I have to admit I don't spend very much of my time thinking about licenses since I very rarely release open sourced code for use or example. I find the whole matter kind of boring (except for the 2 days after seeing Lessig speak or reading some of Doctorow's work for the EFF), and so it feels something like choosing car insurance.
I'm not writing the next great word processor, it's just a couple hundred lines of PHP to help people sell content on the web, and so that is bloody awful, and that is probably more my style. I can see why people just © and move on with things.
Along with books, CDs, and DVDs, I tend to buy a lot of t-shirts since they fall in that sweet $15-25 range. Jason not only blogs the shirts, but he tells you the price, and whether they accept PayPal or not. (Dear people who sell shirts, use PayPal)
I renewed a bunch of my domains recently and I realized I tend to launch sites around this time of the year (December/January). I think slow work weeks, cold weather, and new toys get the creative juices flowing.