Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

23Aug/05Off

Uneasy Money

I've been thinking a little bit about the conflict or whatever you'd like to call it between Shelley Powers and Phil Ringnalda about the difference between spamvertising (ie. playing Google's page ranking algorithm) on more commercial sites (like O'Reilly sites which as anal retentive as I might be about it I am still a little hesitant to term 'commercial') and a person's weblog.

This is one of those sticky ones but I think part of what influences my sympathy towards and acceptance of Shelly's use of sketchy advertising is that her site is indeed a weblog that attributes credit to a single author presumably speaking with her own voice instead of O'Reilly that publishes tech books by a fairly large number of people and their portal sites which also feature writing by people who are pretty damn credible within the context of their area of specialty. In a weird way I think the idea that the writer might need some financial assistance actually adds a little bit of credibility to a weblog where an established and well known/respected publisher like O'Reilly looks like a schmuck when doing it.

Another thing that comes to mind is that O'Reilly using this kind of advertising drags their authors into seeming endorsement or at least gives you the weird feeling that a) maybe royalties ain't what they should be or b) maybe all those books on controlling spam (this is the part where I stick in the disclaimer about knowing the difference between filling your inbox full of annoying shit and playing the search engine game which is almost as old as search engines themselves) aren't as sincere as they might have been. It sounds like I'm completely full of shit but that didn't change the fact that it feels that way to me even when facts and prior knowledge tell me I'm totally full of shit. I guess, in the end, it is a public relations issue that needs to be addressed by people who buy O'Reilly books and use their websites. That is my 1 3/4 cents written between help calls to pass ten minutes.

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17Aug/05Off

Being Terrible And Inventive About It Isn’t The Same Thing As Being Good

I'm tired from a couple of days of relatively hard work and not hardly enough sleep. Sitting in front of a functional computer is rather novel. I'm still puttering away at the zombie game bit by tiny little bit and I've learned a whole lot about PHP while puttering. I thought that trying to program a game in an unfamiliar language would be an interesting/insanely frustrating approach to learning its ins and outs. I'm really wishing that PHP had some kind of internal DATEDIFF type function. I ended up hacking together my own (which sucked) and later swiping one from a better implementation posted by a user at PHP.net. I sort of forget where one stops and the other begins.

I received and plowed through both of Brian Keene's zombie books (The Rising and City of the Dead) at the rate of one per day -- a little like all day suckers that want to kill and eat you. I'm not sure that I particularly like how his living dead rules function but the books are solidly entertaining and far better than most of the other novels in this genre. For $7, as opposed to the $30+ The Rising was going for before the second edition, it's a bargain in terms of entertainment weighed against the embarrassment of reading zombie fiction voraciously.

The huge water cooler scene about Google versus Yahoo in terms of public relations bullshit versus tangible numbers is the hole in your head controversy of this fleeting, fleeting moment that you will never get back. Of course they're going to twist numbers. Google is still winning for me if only because the top results of any given search aren't polluted with paid placements. If you're going to give the search engine thing another whirl why not try to be a better fucking search engine. Tacking all the geegaws in the world onto the exterior of a search engine that sucks isn't going to keep more people around. You want people interested in non-geekiness to play around with your toys then make the site less cumbersome and evasive. Less is the new new more.

Question for the perverts: Does anyone know where the term 'slash fiction' came from? I was trying to explain the general concept to someone the other day and that was the great unanswerable question that stumped me. In fact, I was a little surprised the first time that it crossed my radar screen when I was intending to search for Slashcode. I don't understand the context of its derivation and eventually that dearth of knowledge about people who want to read about comic book characters participting in light bondage will drive me insane. It probably isn't the best question to shout out into the void but then again the filtration system on Team Murder has been broken for a very, very long time.

Filed under: General 1 Comment
10Aug/05Off

Art, Art, Cut A Fart

I live in Denver a city that despite its size sports some of the most poorly executed and imitative graffiti I've ever seen. I did a fair amount of the aforementioned ten years back and have one of the products of those weird late night scheming sessions tattooed on the inside of my forearm so I hope I'm not coming off as some kind of fuss-budget-ish would be art critic. I'm having a hard time deciding how I really feel about Street Art Blows in part because I can't really figure out where the people behind it are coming from. Some of what they've said I empathize with and cautiously endorse. Saying that, though, completely removes me from the crap equation and I threw up a whole lot of crap ten years ago. While I was figuring out what the hell I was doing and wanted to do folks like Twist, Mr. Element, and Reminisce were covering the walls of San Francisco and Oakland with totally incredible stuff. I did a lot of absolute trash with Krylon as well as with stickers and wheat pasted posters. It's embarrassing now although I can't recall the contents of most from memory but I'll never take it back. Some of it did look like bad advertising design or involved the manipulation of elements of those things with little or no context provided for the, ehm, patron of the street.

Of course, 'street art' is going to suck. It has an extremely low cost of entry. It isn't like graffiti where a couple stupid mistakes will get your ass kicked or at very least your shitty anime-influenced Shogun throw up crossed out. That's why fifteen year olds with access to a color inkjet printer are making stickers and why 'guerilla marketing' has become the 'tits' for all the recently minted marketing assholes. I think the misunderstanding of the context of graffiti and its derivatives is near total and no one, other than some other guy plastering up stickers critical of your shit, that you respect is going to really criticize you. There isn't any need to validate the seeming need to proliferate an endless number of mind numbingly dull imitations other things -- you're reading proof right now that this (among something like a hojillion others) is not unique to street art. Weblogs even have the same division down amateur (or whatever) lines delineated by things like LiveJournal and then there are the ever increasing number of marketeers spouting the word 'blog' like the marketeers before them were spouting 'multimedia' when this generation was in junior high school.

The point that I'm trying to make is that trying to give context to street art practioners is a weird way to address its terrible-ness. Folks who throw up stickers and posters don't have anything invested (other than time and money which are pretty relative) in what they're doing and I can't imagine that efforts like Street Art Blows will do much other than generate some mindshare buzz for more grounded street art and possibly making its creators feel a little better. Neither of those is a bad thing but I'm not sure that the intended recipients of the message are ever going to get it.

Filed under: General 1 Comment
7Aug/05Off

Both Kinds: Ashford AND Simpson

I'm foolishly happy right now over something that probably no one else in the universe could care about. I finally managed to track down another copy of the only guitar I actually like. Unfortunately, most people who play guitar are easily awed by things that are pretty (sometimes the expense of functionality but mainly by getting sucker punched right in the wallet) or 'collectable.' This makes the Gibson Challenger one of those weird guitars that is neither collectable nor that much to look at. Given that they were only manufactured for a couple of years (and the ones I like were only made for one year -- 1983) and were inexpensive new they tend to take up space in attics instead of actually being put to use. I guess people also assume that they're not valuable because the finish Gibson used on these guitars checks like crazy and they will never look slick again without an expensive refinish. All of that said (and not said well through the haze of a hangover), I'm very happy to have another one. The more greenish of the two (on the right) is the one I've dragged around with me for the past nine or so years and the more metallic of the two is the new one. It is kind of sad that it won't stay that pretty for much longer.

Filed under: General, Photos 9 Comments
5Aug/05Off

Cleaning Out The Temporary Bookmarks

Some things:

I'm pretty reluctant to speculate on what The Mozilla Corporation means but it still seems a little odd to me. I understand the need to publicly account for profit but that is entirely legal as a "not-for-profit" entity that doesn't have any of the weird restrictions and obligations that make actual non-profit status such a pain in the ass. They do allude to profit generating activities in the reorganization FAQ without mentioning what those might be. That is almost worrisome but I'm pretty content to wait on that one. Hell, this could be another potential for a code fork if stupid decisions are made. What makes me more confident than anything else is that the Corporation is made of the same body of people who have been steering things all along. This might be a public relations change more than anything else and probably easier to explain than trying to delineate the differences between not-for-profit and non-profit status. I really hope that it doesn't lead to major changes that will make any difference to people outside of the project as screwing things up when they've built so much momentum and positive response from the general public would be a squandering of ideas and work that belongs in the dot com bubble.

The FCC decision to reclassify DSL service as an "information service" instead of an extension of POTS is a little more alarming. You wouldn't have to read much background to realize that this is a pretty blatant move to try to erase the leads of a bunch of ISPs that offer service over price by leasing lines from the telcos. It's a little reminiscent of the pile of crap they tried to hand us in the early 1990's with 'data lines' with the excuse that modem traffic somehow put more stress on the trunks than voice traffic which if you know anything about TCP/IP is exactly ass backwards. We've got a whole lot of work to do once this administration is out of power restoring business opportunity to those who aren't old money in the business world because the transparent efforts to keep in the family economically is really damaging for those who want to launch new businesses. I wonder what would've happened to the Bells if an administration protective of railroad company rights had been in power...MCI would've been the most powerful telco company. We live in strange and terrible times.

Django looks like a pretty cool framework. Of course, I say this from the perspective of someone who has delved no further into the topic than reading about the features. It also helps that it's Python based and extensible without a permission note from Sun or whatever. Ruby on Rails is completely owning this area right now so I'm glad to see that other folks are stepping up to the plate and trying to get Python doing its magic on web servers where it is actually strong and often overlooked.

Mighty Mouse. I was wondering when Apple was going to make a Winmodem. Bleh. Software controlled. Bleh.

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1Aug/05Off

A Lot Of Late And A Little Never…


A few more that are mainly random. I like the picture of the Korean flag at night the most of them as I had to use the zoom which doesn't work particularly well at night and the graininess of it adds to the weirdness of the photo. I am obviously not a photographer but I enjoy messing around with the limited number of features my camera does have.

Filed under: General, Photos 1 Comment