May 2003

From Dave Winer on his Harvard Blog site: What Makes a Weblog a Weblog? Dave is a Harvard Fellow teaching weblogs. He was also a prime mover and shaker behind various weblog technologies and major products like Manila and Radio.

To me, a weblog is a simple way to publish words to a worldwide audience. Publishing was always the fifth part of the Writing Process, and now it’s attainable without having to enter Scholastic writing competitions or submit your stuff to the school literary magazine. For adults (or anyone), it gives you a way to express yourself, and even if no one reads it, a way to help you organize your thoughts. Weblogs rock.

No post until later–The Columbia Drive-in calls with Finding Nemo and Daddy Day Care!

Perhaps I should slow down with the war stories. Their aura may be catching up with me. Then again, I always said life with me was never dull.

As I gathered the kids into the car to go to day care this morning, I found that I couldn’t start the car. Literally. I couldn’t turn the key in the ignition. As I pulled it out to reseat it, the problem became obvious: a third of the key was gone, broken off.

I began to pull the steering column apart, but then thought better of it and tried the key again. Desperate and persistent key jiggling eventually paid off, and I managed to start the car. My one thought: what if the rest of the key is broken off in the lock?

I dropped the kids off at day care (leaving the car running), and then parked it at work. At the end of the day, I managed to turn the key in the ignition after some extended effort, and drove home.

Luckily, my wife’s key worked in the ignition, so either the broken piece wasn’t in the lock or it disintegrated under my withering gaze. I went out immediately and had a couple of extra keys made.

Extra points to anyone who notices the small oddity in this story….

It’s late, I’ve been working all week on crunch stuff from work, I could be knocking out work stuff right now, but forget that–I have a war story begging to be told.

A friend of mine from Denny’s Restaurants, Fran Wooters, mentioned that I haven’t posted a war story from Denny’s. Man, where to start? There are so many, and I’ve ended up in the hospital from one of them. For some reason, the first one that asks to be told is a mild one–at least, if you consider strip-o-grams to be mild.

As I finished the last Denny’s entry on the back room strip-o-gram, Whose Line Is It Anyway on the television presented Wayne Brady with a sketch involving what else but a strip-o-gram?

Huh. Weird. That’s synchronicity for you.

This post just tests Frequency’s ability to post to MovableType.

Hey, it works! Frequency rocks yet again.

Well, my experiment with the weblog writing tool Movable Type proved more successful than I anticipated. I’ve used Radio Userland since I began this weblog in early 2002, but I’ve always been open to other blogging tools. Blogger showed promise, but MT has everything I want (at least so far).

Last night I exported all of my posts from Radio and imported them into my Movable Type system. Now everything is in Movable Type–I brought the system live just after midnight, and you’re reading it right now. It was that easy. I thought it would take a few days or weeks, but boom–it’s done. You may not notice much of a difference on the surface, but under the hood, everything’s changed.

The only real glitch in the move was that all my posts came over dated as 1902 and 1903 entries. Wow. It was a little surreal to see that I apparently posted to this weblog one hundred years ago. I had to correct them before I went any further. Go figure.

Welcome to SplitFocus on Movable Type!

I love my job, and I honestly look forward to work each day. I do have one minor rant about it, however. My technology systems are so integrated into virtually everything the district does that my team is involved with almost everything in the district. Even worse, we’re thought to be involved in things for which we have no logical (or actual) responsiblity.

It’s become a sad fact that people who have dropped the ball on a project will sometimes try to blame the technology involved. I then have to go on an “obstacle clarification operation” to point out the true flaws in someone’s project. They kick and scream all the way, because it usually exposes their own balldropping. I also have to do this in such a way that they can save face and get back on the job to get the thing done right (like they should have done in the first place instead of blaming technology). What a weary waste of my time!

Technology seems to be the mystical force of this age. People blame it for things like they used to blame the rain and thunder gods for storms. It’s become the automatic scapegoat and whipping dog for poorly managed projects everywhere. Can’t people just own up to their own actions? Hey, I make lots of mistakes, all the time–just ask my wife. But my secret weapon seems to be saying I’m sorry, fixing it, and moving on. I kid you not–people are at a loss for words when I take responsibility for something and apologize. It really deflates them and takes all the argument out of them. Moving on from there and fixing things is easy then. Why don’t more people try it? It’s a big timesaver, believe me.

The other problem in my organization is the drive to define everything as technology. I get you a computer. Then I’m supposed to get you a power surge protector? OK, I can see a justification for that. What? You want a table for the computer? That’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it? What? No we don’t buy you a chair to go with that. No, I wouldn’t define that as technology. No, I don’t buy you paper for the printer. Paper is a warehouse item that they’ve stocked for forty years–you can get it from them. No, it’s not considered technology. Really.

Why is my department responsible for almost every initiative in the district, no matter how mundane or unrelated to technology? It’s actually true that someone once thought we were accountable for the copy paper the district supplies for printers. We have nothing to do with consumables.

We would probably be held responsible for toilet paper if someone could tie it to technology.

Dave Winer on Scripting News wrote about his realization that weblogs weren’t inherently better than professional publications.

I’m not sure why this was a surprise to him. It isn’t to me. I like weblogs because of their immediacy and intimacy. I feel like I get more of the people behind the print with weblogs. I would never, however, blindly trust a weblog more than a professional publication. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust either of them without filtering the news myself and checking multiple sources.

The act of reading does not relieve us of the act of critically thinking about what we have read.

I see as much bias in a weblog as I see in other publications. I think the best thing about weblogs is that I can more easily identify an author’s particular leanings. Try comparing Talking Points Memo to The Daily Dish, to pick two random examples.

Slashdot has a good newsbit and discussion over the possibility of smart phones replacing PDAs.

I think this is likely. If I can get a phone to replace my PDA, I will go for it in a minute. Why carry two devices when I could just carry one?

The Slashdot conspiracy group has a good time with this one–“I will never put my information on a device that can be spied on by the outside world every time I make a phone call!”

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