How to Use the New Newsome.Org

OK, our migration to WordPress, which was documented here, is complete, and I am very happy with the results.  In sum, I think the new look and the new functionality rocks.

But, as a blog partially targeted to grownups who don’t necessarily live in Google Reader or on Facebook or Twitter, we have a lot of readers who consume our content the old fashioned way.  By coming to the web site and clicking around.

I’ve had a few questions, so here’s a rundown on how to use the new layout.

image

First, what hasn’t changed.  The newest content, across all Categories, is still located in the middle column, with the newest post at the top.  This has not changed- it was the same way in the prior layout.

Categories

But now, there are additional options, if you want to filter your content.  You can slice and dice content several ways.  First, by Category.  Note the horizontal menu between the red header and the gray line at the top of the page: Home, Tech, Music, Life, How to, etc.

Let’s say you want to read only our music content.  Click on that link in the top menu, and the center content will display only our music content, with the newest content at the top.  Same with Tech, Life and How to (our tech tutorials).  If you want to hear our podcasts, there’s the Podcast link.

Media, which has two sub-categories, is the place to go for photographs or videos.

Finally, there is an About page for those who want to know more about me and a Contact page, where you can send me an email or leave me a voice mail.

In sum, the default Home page has the same content as our old layout, but there are now topical options that display specific kinds of content.

More Ways to Find Good Stuff

Categories are great, but there are even more ways to drill down to the content you want.

See the box in the right hand column with tabs: Popular, Latest, Comments and Tags.  Popular shows the recent posts that have the most discussion (e.g., comments, reactions, etc.).  Latest shows a quick list of our latest posts.  Comments displays the most recent discussions that have occurred in comments to posts.  And finally, Tags are a clickable index where you can click on a topic and get only content about that topic.  If you are looking for something very specific, the Tags tab is the place to start.

You Can Read Content in a RSS Reader

Another option is to read our content in a feed reader, such as Google Reader.  We have our main RSS feed, which has the same form and content as always.  Additionally, there are Category-specific RSS feeds near the top of each Category page.

Or Via Email

If you’d rather avoid the whole web-business and don’t use a feed reader, there’s the option to have a single email delivered straight to your inbox every night, with all of our posts for that day included.  To subscribe by email, click on the link in the left column of the page.

What About the Sidebars?

There are a lot of extra goodies in the two side columns.

On the left hand side, we have a Menu of Newsome.Org content; links to my pages on the various social networks and photo and video sites; links to our excellent, hand-crafted Pandora radio stations (take a listen, you’ll like them); and hand-picked music and book recommendations (which are linked  to Amazon, where you can buy and download them or have them mailed with just a couple of clicks).

On the right hand side is the tabbed content box described above; a search box, where you can search Newsome.Org and see what others have recently searched for (that list is also clickable); a list of my latest Twitter posts; and some of my Flickr photos (click for the larger versions).

That’s it.

We’ve made it easy to find the content you’re looking for.  Enjoy.  Leave us a comment and tell us what you think!

Tossing the Disqus

Or how I overcame Disqus and Blogger and by sheer force of will installed the Disqus commenting system on my remotely hosted, FTP published, highly customized Blogger blog template.

disqus

Whew.  OK, listen up ’cause I’m gonna tell you a sad story.

I have been watching Disqus for months, and considering trying to install it here at Newsome.Org.  Since I have a remotely hosted, FTP published, highly customized blog template and a Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat (not really, but I’m punch drunk), both one of which I publish via Blogger, it was hard.  Now when I say it was hard, what I mean is that is was really, absolutely, just about impossibly, freaking hard.

So here’s how I did it.  All of this assumes you have registered at Disqus and have an account to use.  If this confuses you, move to Step 2 and skip Steps 1 and 3-7.

Step 1: Unsuccessfully Seek Help

First I tried the various options suggested by the Minimalist-inspired Disqus help pages.  I tried to manually upload my template, which I knew wouldn’t work.  I tried to manually add the code via these instructions.  No go.  I googled around looking for something to show me the way.  Nada.

Next I emailed Disqus to see if there was any other documentation I could look at.  I got a prompt response, telling me I should use a different blog template, thereby simultaneously experiencing both an epic instance of the tail trying to wag the dog as well as another reminder that I’m not as cool as my friend Louis.  I know that, of course, but I generally blame it on age.  Whatever the half-life of cool is, I have to be 2-3 half lives older than him.  If Dave Winer had invented the internet back when I was a young man, I’d be Robert Scoble and Louis Gray combined, baby.  Of course if I’d had the internet as a kid, I’d also be degreeless, homeless and living under a bridge somewhere.  In fact, the only technology we had when I was a kid were tractors and the phone.  And both got me in lots of trouble lots of times.  Generally when I should have been walking those four snowy miles to and from school.  And all that.

Anyway, after respectfully passing on Disqus’s suggestion that I demolish my blog and rebuild it just so I could use their application and pulling my bruised ego together, I got to work.

Step 2: Drink Some Bourbon

Locate a bottle of bourbon.  Open it, take a big gulp.  Place it within easy reach of your keyboard.

Step 3: Add the Standard Disqus Header

Add the standard Disqus header right before the </body> tag:

<!– Begin Disqus Header–>
<script type=”text/javascript”>
//<![CDATA[
(function() {
var links = document.getElementsByTagName(‘a’);
var query = ‘?’;
for(var i = 0; i < links.length; i++) {
if(links[i].href.indexOf(‘#disqus_thread’) >= 0) {
query += ‘url’ + i + ‘=’ + encodeURIComponent(links[i].href) + ‘&’;
}
}
document.write(‘<script charset=”utf-8″ type=”text/javascript” src=”http://disqus.com/forums/myusername/get_num_replies.js&#8217; + query + ‘”></’ +

‘script>’);
})();
//]]>
</script>
<!– End Disqus Header->

Step 4: Create the New Comment Link

Here’s where I had to start figuring stuff out on my own.  I changed the code at the end of the blogPost <div> to:

<$BlogItemBody$>
<div class=”byline”>
Posted by <$BlogItemAuthorNickname$> @ <$BlogItemDateTime$> |
<a href=”<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>”>Permalink</a> |
<a href=”<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>”>Leave Comment</a>

I did it that way so it would show both a Permalink and an obvious “Leave a Comment” link.  Yes, they go to the same place, but I want to make it easy for people to find the place to write a comment.

Step 5: Display the Comment Count

In my “Discuss” links, I changed the code to:

Discuss:
<a class=”comment-link” href=”<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>#disqus_thread”>View Comments</a> |
<BlogItemCommentsEnabled><a class=”comment-link” href=”<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>#comments”><$BlogItemCommentCount$> Pre-Disqus Comments</a></BlogItemCommentsEnabled> |
<a href=”
http://search.blogger.com/blogsearch?q=link:<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>” target=”_blank”>Inbound Links</a>
<br />

The <BlogItemCommentsEnabled>/Pre-Disqus Comments part was required to preserve my existing comments (see Step 6 below).

The only other change was to add the required #disqus_thread after the Permalink URL.

NOTE: This is before the <ItemPage> tag.  I want new commenters to use Disqus.

Step 6: Preserve Your Existing Comments

That got me up and running, with one gigantic problem.  I have lots and lots of existing comments, and inexplicably there doesn’t seem to be a ready-made way to import Blogger comments into Disqus.  Obviously, Disqus should spend some of that mad coin to write one.  I saw some roundabout ways that might work, but they were on the wrong side of the possible benefit – time required – likely result calculation.

So I needed to preserve my existing comments in place.

After some trial and horror, I ended up with this:

<ItemPage>
<BlogItemCommentsEnabled>
<a name=”comments”></a>
<h4><$BlogItemCommentCount$> Comment(s):</h4>

<BlogItemComments>
<a name=”<$BlogCommentNumber$>”></a>

<p class=”comment-body”>
<$BlogCommentBody$>
</p>

<p class=”comment-data”>
By <$BlogCommentAuthor$>, at
<a href=”#<$BlogCommentNumber$>”>
<$BlogCommentDateTime$></a>
<$BlogCommentDeleteIcon$>
<br />
**************************
</p>
</BlogItemCommen
ts
>

</BlogItemCommentsEnabled>
</p>

<div id=”disqus_thread”></div><script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://disqus.com/forums/newsome/embed.js&#8221;></script><noscript><a href=http://myusername.disqus.com/?url=ref>View the discussion thread.</a></noscript>
</div></div>
</ItemPage>

All of that brain damage does three things.  It displays my previous comments (recall the “Pre-Disqus Comments” code I added in Step 5).  It’s not ideal to have two Comments linkcounts, but you need to let people know those previous comments are still in place.  It removes (i.e., doesn’t contain) the code that creates the Blogger “Leave a Comment” link (because I want new commenters to use Disqus).  And it displays the Disqus comment box and comments underneath the previous comments.

NOTE:  All of this is within the <ItemPage> tags, because we only want the comments and the Disqus comment box to appear on the item pages, which are sometimes referred to as post pages.  Or, in the case of uninspired writing, ghost towns.

Step 7: Update Your Blog Via Blogger

After updating my blog, which takes forever (come on Blogger, please get a handle on the disintegrating Blogger/FTP experience), I have Disqus comments, while preserving my previous comments.

If needed, repeat Step 2.

So there you have it.  I hope this is helpful to someone.

Now, why not leave a comment and reward an old, un-cool man’s effort!

Drinking from a Fire Hose: In Defense of RSS

There’s lots of talk today about how RSS is dead, and whatnot.  Let me set things straight.

firehoseFirst of all, as a practical matter, RSS has never been alive.  Ask anyone other than a hard core geek (like me) what RSS is and they won’t have any earthly idea.  RSS is probably the most useful tool on the internet, but regular people don’t use it.  Why?  Because no one has figured out how to make money pushing RSS feeds, and so the informal brotherhood of mercenary content producers (e.g., old media and big new media) don’t embrace it.  In fact, they really don’t want you to use it.  They’d rather force you to their web sites where they can serve those ads you never click on, but that advertisers still pay for.

It’s the desire for money once again screwing up something beautiful.  The environment, professional sports, our computers, etc.

This conspiracy to kill RSS is just one more attempt to prolong the death of an antiquated system.  It’s the same sort of battle the record label cartel is waging against the digital distribution of music.  In the case of RSS, the system they are desperately trying to save is the one in which the provider selects and aggregates content, either on paper or a website, and the consumer accesses that content at the provider’s place.  Where the experience is tightly controlled, complete with ads, etc.  Under the new system, which will be much better for the consumer once it matures a little, the consumer selects both the content and the package, and then accesses it wherever he or she wants: internet browser, phone, RSS reader, Facebook, etc.  Of those choices, the RSS reader is currently the best choice, by far.

Why?

It is easy to use.  It’s free.  It has archival and search features. You can organize it any way you want.  There are tons of ways to slice, dice and organize your feeds.  Only the fishy smelling partial feeds used as bait by those trying to keep control of the experience detract from what would otherwise be a nearly perfect experience.

A perfect experience that the brotherhood is trying to ignore and the attention deficient bloggerati are trying to replace.

Many are boldly stating that, while simultaneously saving the entire world, Twitter is the best way to get our news in 2009.  There’s a lot wrong with that argument, but I’ll settle for three gigantic and obvious flaws:

1. Twitter is nothing more than a shared partial RSS feed.  Other than a headline, every bit of the content one consumes via Twitter is located elsewhere.    Someone tosses you a scrap, but to get the meat, you have to take a walk- usually right back to one of the brotherhood’s sites.  If you don’t think this has something to do with old media’s love affair with Twitter, you’re not watching closely.

2. Twitter has no meaningful archival value.  The ability to save a big pile of “Favorites” takes us back at least a decade, to the era of chaotic browser bookmarks.  Nobody, other than the deeply Twitter-addicted, sits in front of his or her computer all day staring at Twitter, which means that if you aren’t staring at the screen when something happens, that something will soon drift away on a river of quotes, links, self-promotion and spam.  If you have any meaningful number of Twitter follows, that breaking news story that Robert Scoble talks about will be buried in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.  Meanwhile, your RSS feeds wait patiently for you in Google Reader, nestled in topical folders (paging Evernote) and ready to be read by you, on your timetable.

3. Twitter’s search capabilities are rudimentary at best.  You can search your feeds via Google Reader (and no doubt other feed readers) in just about any manner you can think of.

Now, about that real time thing.  I have complained loud and long that RSS needs to be faster.  But when I talk about slow, I’m talking hours.  The difference between two hours and 15 minutes is one thing.  The difference between 15 minutes and 5 minutes is another.

And about this single criteria speed assumption. . .

Why are people assuming that faster is always the goal?  That more is better?  I don’t know about you, but I’m not really in a race to find out some piece of news before anyone else.  If you’re a gossip hound and you get your news from any online source, you’ll have plenty of time to blab to those who still wait for the TV news or morning paper.  And if you’re just someone who wants to stay informed, why do you need instant?  And if you demand instant, what price are you paying in terms of the experience?

It’s like skipping the movie to watch the credits, in fast forward.  Maybe it saves you a little time, but at great detriment to the experience.

Once again, there are way too many people drinking the Twitter Kool-Aid- apparently from a fire hose.

If RSS is really dead, it’s the brotherhood that killed it, not Twitter or any other flavor of the week.  People need to wake up and realize before it’s too late that RSS is the best thing going.  It is the single best way for users to take maximum control of the content and presentation of their news, simply because the man doesn’t own RSS.  The people do.

The man doesn’t like RSS because it’s disruptive of the establishment.  We can kill it, but if we do we’ll be sorry.

So what’s it going to be, the man or the people?

Is It Time for Anonymous Bloggers to Cowboy Up?

I’ve been trying hard not to comment about the ridiculous Skankgate business.  But today my resolve was broken by the final straw.

cowboyupHere’s the background as I understand it.  Some anonymous blogger calls some model a skank (among many other things), the alleged skank considers suing said anonymous blogger and subpoenas Google (who hosted said blogger’s blog for free) for said blogger’s particulars.  Google notifies said anonymous blogger of the subpoena to allow said anonymous blogger to challenge the subpoena, which said anonymous blogger does and fails.  Under court order, Google provides said anonymous blogger’s name to the alleged skank.

Then, rather than defend the alleged skank’s claim, either under some truth as a defense theory, by playing the much misunderstood First Amendment card or otherwise, the no-longer anonymous blogger decides to sue Google for $15 million.

Are you kidding me?

Read carefully.  It’s not the person who was called a skank who’s suing Google.  It’s the person who said it, somehow claiming that Google should have ignored the subpoena in the name of preserving that person’s ability to say seemingly anything behind a self-granted cloak of anonymity.  It’s like the schoolyard bully suing a teacher for pulling him off a weakling.  In other words, it’s backwards.  And illogical.

Some seem to be confusing anonymity with immunity.  Some might say this suit is some combination of offense as a good defense, a bad aim and a money grab.

My issue is not the truth or untruth of what was said.  Who cares- there are laws to deal with that.  My issue is with someone who wants to make all sorts of allegations about someone else, but is unwilling to stand up and say “yeah, I said it.”  And it’s not like this situation involved a single skank reference amid scads of other content and opinion.  According to a  report at Wired, the no-longer anonymous blogger:

published only five posts, all devoted to attacking [the alleged skank], a 37-year-old who has reportedly modeled for Australian Vogue, Georgio Armani and Versace. In the posts, [the alleged skank] was called a “psychotic, lying, whoring . . . skank” and an “old hag,” and was depicted as a desperate “fortysomething” who was past her prime.

As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t want to take credit for it, then don’t cross any legal lines when you crap all over someone.  I have the same respect for anonymous bloggers who attack people as I do for the those who write on bathroom walls.  That sort of thing makes Twitter seem like the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Robert X. Cringely notes in a PCWorld article that “if anonymous speech on the Internet is no longer anonymous, some people will simply stop speaking.” To which I and the rest of the sane world say “so freaking what?”  The mathematical value of some anonymous, tossed-up Blogger blog or some scathing anonymous blog comment is very close to zero.

And, again, no one is saying you can’t be anonymous- the hair trigger First Amendment police tend to get confused about this.  Even the generally reliable Techdirt seems to be misinterpreting the right of free speech as an absolute right to be anonymous, which it is not (though Techdirt did come down on the side of logic with respect to the suit against Google).  If you want to write anonymously, no one can or should stop you, and the very legitimate protection of anonymous speech requires scrutiny before removing the cloak of anonymity.  But if you defame someone, you can’t simply hide behind your self-granted anonymity.  To argue otherwise is to turn the law- and common sense- on its head.

Privacy expert  Dan Solove says:

The Internet shouldn’t mean that people have unbridled freedom to do things they wouldn’t do before without repercussions. We have an unprecedented power to broadcast something to the entire world. Never before in history have you had the power to do this without the aid of the mainstream media.

An interesting footnote.  Upon learning of the no-longer anonymous blogger’s identity, the alleged skank says, “I just dialed her up. I said no more lawyers, it’s OK. I forgive you.”

I say if you want to talk trash about people, cowboy up and say it to their face.

A Profile on Profiles

During the podcast the other night, Dave and I talked a little about public, online profiles.  We experimented a little with our Google Profiles, and wondered about the best way to create and manage a central profile.  The idea is to create and manage something approximating an online card and short biography.  I’ve done some more thinking about it and here’s what I’ve concluded.

Assumptions

First, a couple of assumptions.  Like every other part of our online lives, the sheer number of locations where you can create and maintain a profile can lead to dilution and/or a Sisyphean task of trying to keep everything reasonably fresh and current.  For that reason, I decided I to create one central profile page, and then link to it from the various locations where I maintain a presence.  I’m already spread too thin as far as the so-called social networks go, so I don’t want to add another service just to manage a profile page.  For example, I have an abandoned Linkedin account.  While Linkedin may be (but probably isn’t) the coolest thing since Doug Sahm, over time I want to consolidate- not further distribute- my online presence.

As an aside, those of you who have reached out to me via Linkedin- it’s not personal.  I’d love to connect with you.  Just not there.  Maybe via Facebook?

So, what options did I look at?

Google Profiles

I started out at my Google Profile, since that’s the service Dave and I were exploring.  The immediately obvious problem is the inflexibility of both layout and content.  You can add links to your various online locations and email addresses and phone numbers, but only in a structured, inflexible way.  I don’t want to directly display my email address and phone numbers.  Rather, I want to use a script to hide my email address from spambots, and a Google Voice link for telephone calls.

After a little work, here’s the best Google Profile I could come up with.

image
Click to enlarge

Not good enough.  One of the best and worst things about Google is the policy that lets employees spend company time on pet projects.  The results are a few apps that are super-cool and a lot that seem tossed together and forgotten.  For every must-use Google application, there are scores of ignored or abandoned apps along the information superhighway.

So I decided to abandon my Google Profile.  Once I choose my profile location, I’ll simply put a note on my Google Profile directing people to it.

Facebook

Many people would tell you that Facebook is designed to be precisely the sort of pre-packaged profile I am looking for, and for many people Facebook has become their de facto online profile.  But that won’t work for me.

For one thing, all Facebook content is locked away behind Facebook’s walls, and not easily accessible to the world at large.  Sure, you can sort of create a public profile.  And I guess you can make some of your information public.  But one look at how you do it sent me into a tailspin of frustration.

image
Click to enlarge

Once again, Facebook’s layout and navigation structure, which only a dedicated crackhead could love, thwarts an attempt at doing anything creative.  So, I’ll leave my Facebook profile in place for those who want to remain in Pelbarigan, and add a pointer to my chosen profile location for those who want to venture outside the walls and run with the Shumai axemen.

Yahoo

I didn’t even know Yahoo had a public profile page, but once I happened across it, I was initially impressed.  While pre-packaged, it seems more robust than Google Profiles, and more intuitive than the quagmire at Facebook.

To begin with, it has a blank to fill in your typical user name, after which it will try to locate your online content.

image

It only searches some sites, but it quickly found my Twitter, Last.fm (abandoned), StumbleUpon (never used), Picasa (never used), YouTube and Webshots (abandoned) accounts.  I got an error message when I tried to add some of them to my Yahoo Profile.

image

The more I worked with it, the less impressed I was.  I don’t see a way to manage your URL, so your Yahoo Profile ends up at some URL like http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/K6PWN5TRB7AQ344YDMPCIP5HWM.  That’s crazy.  And at the end of the day, you get something that looks like this.

image

Which I guess means that Yahoo has its own walls.  I could have looked into this further, but I decided to just go on living my life.

FriendFeed, Twitter, Etc.

FriendFeed isn’t really set up for the creation of a full profile.  It’s more about content consolidation and being assimilated by the Borg-like Facebook.  Same with Twitter.  I briefly looked at a few other choices.

At the end of the day, that leaves three choices: Google Profiles, Facebook or- you know where this is going- the big, scary web.  You remember the web.  It’s that thing we killed AOL to get to.  That thing that, in a move that would make Tom Sawyer proud, Web 2.0 developers are trying to make us afraid of, so we’ll create content they can use to get rich.

The Big, Scary Web

Much like my experience with Headline News pages, it became very clear that the web is the best place to create and maintain a public profile.  You have total control of the design and content of the page.  For a few dollars a year, you can register and own a domain (yourname.com, etc.).  It’s a better, more flexible and more effective choice.

Here’s mine, and here’s how I built it.

First, I used the same CSS, look and feel as the rest of Newsome.Org, for harmony and branding purposes, and added the standard menu.

Then I hacked a Flickr script to display three random photos every time the page is opened.  This gives the visitor an immediate visual image of who I am.

Next, I found a script that rotates my profile photo.  I have four photos in the rotation, but you can have as many as you want.  I added links to all of my content elsewhere: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, Flickr, YouTube, Qik, my Content Pile and even my day job.

In the middle, I added a short narrative, and a list of upcoming speeches.  I added contact links: a script for email (again, to avoid the spambots) and a Google Voice link for voicemail.  I did not put my phone number on the page, because anyone who has a legitimate reason to call me and doesn’t already have my number won’t mind leaving a message on Google Voice.

On the right, I added education and experience information.  This is not a business page or a resume, so I didn’t add anything about my job experience beyond the summary in the short narrative.

That’s all there was to it, and I’m convinced that this is a better option than managing my profile within the confines of some third party network.  Plus, when I want to add something, I can do it easily without restriction.

All I had to do afterwards was add pointers in my various social network profiles to my handmade profile page.

It’s too bad so many people are leaving the flexible and accessible internet for the faux security of the so-called social networks.  Maybe history does repeat itself, and we’re back in the Compuserve and AOL era.

Regardless, I think a central, web based profile, linked from your various other locations, is the most effective and efficient way to maintain a current online profile.

Free Pre: Baby x Baby in the Gillmor Nursery

I used to love the Gillmor Gang, but I don’t listen to it much anymore, because I have come full circle and once again think that too many of the core participants are intentionally non-inclusive.  I’m not talking about on the podcast; I’m talking about on the internet.  Too many of those guys treat the social networks as a stage where they can engage in dramatic dialog with one another, while the great audience watches in admiration.

And I have said over and over that Mike Arrington needs a lesson in personal brand maintenance.  Petulant jerk is not the image I’d go for.

And I have not and probably won’t watch the rest of the latest Gillmor Gang podcast, so there may be things leading up to this brouhaha that I don’t know about.

And, finally, I don’t have and have no plans to get a Palm Pre.

Having said all that, unless there’s a lot more to the story, Leo Laporte was a massive baby for throwing a gigantic temper tantrum just because Mike asked him if he paid for his Pre.  It’s a fair and legitimate question.  A simple yes or no would have sufficed.

When I have been asked to preview phones and other mobile devices in the past, I have never been required to return them.  Generally, after the review period expires, you can keep the device, but you have to pay for a calling plan, etc. if you want to use it.  It’s probably different for high profile devices like the iPhone and the Pre.  Maybe you do have to return it.  I don’t know anything about some “wink and nod” deal where you get a letter requiring that you return it, with no one actually expecting that you will.  If that happens, it’s even worse, in my opinion, than getting one completely free.  Once someone in that situation says he or she didn’t get the device for free, it takes the issue from the realm of an omission to the realm of a lie.

Again, I know nothing about this practice, and I certainly know nothing of the terms under which Leo got his Pre.  I’ll assume he got a review unit and always intended to and will return it.

In other words, I’m not examining Leo’s integrity, because I don’t really know him and have no personal basis to doubt it (or vouch for it).  What I am interested in is the epic meltdown he had on this podcast.

There is some evidence in the comments to the TechCrunch post that Mike may have been poking at Leo for some time.  I don’t know if that’s right or not, but it’s certainly possible given the way Mike relates to most people.  But I’m pretty sure that no one forces Leo to do those podcasts.  And I’m pretty sure the fact that Mike can be a jerk is not a secret.

And, ignoring for a moment the source, it was a relevant question.  Not that Mike was necessarily looking out for truth and justice.

There is another question- about what Mike was worried about at the beginning: journalistic standards or that Leo got a free Pre and he didn’t.  Questioning someone’s integrity is serious business, which is probably what set Leo off.  But, again, a better response would have been “no, I didn’t get it free.  What are you implying.”  In all likelihood Mike would have hung himself with some tirade, while Leo sat back and watched.

But then again, what do I know.  I’m not smart enough to converse with these dudes.  I’m just in the audience, watching a couple of babies fight.

Can anyone spare a pacifier?

Sound Migration: Announcing GoodSongs.Com

As I noted the other day, I need a new place to work my music jones.  Blip.fm is in the process of being murdered by the music industry and my tech pals don’t want to be inundated with music here at Newsome.Org.  So what’s a lover of the bayou to do?

Develop a new platform to share some great music, of course.  Welcome to GoodSongs.Com!

image

It’s such a crazy, crazy feeling,
I get weak in the knees,
My poor old head is a reelin’,
As I go deep into the funnel of love.

By combining the Tumblr page I mentioned the other day with a previously dormant top level domain I’ve owned for a decade or so, doing some template work and adding a nice java-based music player, I’ve come up with what I believe is the perfect music recommendation site.  If you’re into alt. country, country rock, blues or just good music in general, you’ll like GoodSongs.Com.  Give it a listen.  Subscribe to the feed.  Buy the great, off the beaten path music you’ll hear there.  Tell your friends.  Send me your music so I can add it to the playlist.

They said, Do you remember when you saw her last,
I said, Her skin is cinnamon, her skin is cinnamon.

Note the music player at the bottom of the page.  It won’t play the audio for the videos, but it will play all of the audio posts in a playlist fashion, with music player controls.

image
Click on that link to start the playlist

There will be quite a bit of integration between GoodSongs.Com and Newsome.Org, but the flow of music will be greater over there.  For years, I have received a steady flow of music via email and snail mail from artists looking for exposure here or on Rancho Radio, our popular alt. country radio station.  I plan to share a lot of that music at GoodSongs.Com, along with links to Amazon and other stores where you can buy this excellent music.  There are a lot of people making the kind of fantastic music that doesn’t get played boring, ad-infested mainstream radio.  I plan to be an advocate for that music, but I need your help.

Let’s play this one out, until it explodes,
Into a thousand tiny pieces,
What’s the story universe,
You are melody in numbers.

Send me music.  Buy the music I feature.  Wear glasses if you need ’em.  And all that.

You know the bottle ain’t to blame and I ain’t trying to,
It don’t make you do a thing it just lets you,
When I’m six feet underground, I’ll need a drink or two,
And I’ll sure miss you.

Enjoy.  And tell your friends.

The Line Forms Here: How the Man Controls the Social Networking Game

Toss a bunch of nerds in a room and I guess generations of nerd conditioning combine with nerd DNA and compel them to form a line and then apply their Trekkie logic to sorting and resorting each other.  It’s like a supercharged version of that video of those two rats.  Actually, that’s not right.  Those rats are funny and you can tell by their expressions that they know they’re acting stupid.  There’s nothing funny about nerd self-sorting.  Boring, yes.  Sad, maybe.  Funny, not so much.

So why in the world someone would want to slice and dice their Friend-fracking-feed is completely beyond me.  It’s bad enough that I actually have a FriendFeed.  God, spare me the unmitigated embarrassment of ever talking about my FriendFeed stats.  If I ever start yammering on about the clicking average of my FriendFeed with readers in Tweeting position, please taze me bro’ and take me straight to man-camp for an immediate stones transplant.

But there must be a lot of people who, astonishingly, care about this sort of thing, because there seem to be tracking apps for everything.  In fact, I guarantee you that somewhere as we speak some pasty geek is working feverishly on a fantasy social networking league.  With the first pick in the first round, the Cucamonga Slide Rules take Robert Scoble.

The not-so-hot stove league is not limited to FriendFeed.

You can track your Twitter use various ways.  You can theoretically analyze your RSS subscribers (except, of course, for the fact that Feedburner is utterly and completely broken).  I guess if you have the time, you can spend 24 hours a day pouring over your social networking post and commenting percentage.  Of course that would be profoundly boring, but you could do it.  I guess some people do.

But here’s the thing.  The fundamental purpose of most self-policed lines is to allow those at the front to better their position at the expense of those who can be initially shoved to the back.  School children to sports pages- it’s all about the line these days.  There is- or at least used to be- a fuzzy correlation between line position and success, and so people latched on to the only objective criteria available and suddenly the place in line became the goal, as opposed to the result of achieving some more legitimate goal.  In online endeavors, the line often takes the form of traffic, evidenced by subscriber numbers, page views, etc.  So people want to find a shortcut to the goal- more traffic.  Why work to grow your readership when you can just spam people with the latest get more Twitter followers scam?

And of course as soon as the line is formed, the focus turns to guarding one’s position in the line.  And the entire system becomes a giant tug of war, often at the expense of merit or content.  Or logic.

Adding to the chaos are the ranking/listing algorithms that people trot out to validate their position in the line.  No matter how you dress it up, most of these allegedly analytical algorithms eventually come down to the same thing: popularity.  Popularity has been the stand-in for authority and value on the internet since Dave Winer invented it.  Not only is that a faulty and debilitating correlation, all of these algorithms that spit out the same oligarchical list propagate the falsely established order at the expense of those whose authority is eclipsed by their exclusion.  Stated another way, popularity does not equate to authority.  To say otherwise is to confuse People Magazine with an encyclopedia.

Python incoming.  Surely we all agree that strange applications lyin’ in internets distributin’ lists is no basis for a system of social networking.  Supreme social worth derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical statistical hegemony.

People simply don’t need some algorithm or starter list to tell them who is interesting or who they should read or follow online.  People are perfectly capable of finding content they like without a helpful nudge from the establishment.  The whole idea of suggested reading lists and their ilk- which as noted are usually based on popularity, which is another word for the status quo- are just a confidence trick.

Designed to allow the man to control the game.

Shooting the Bird: More on the Blog Publishing Problem

I’m working with some good folks at Microsoft to resolve the photo publishing problem I wrote about the other day.

This is a test post from another computer, but over the same internet connection.

birdftp

There is (or is not) my little test photo.

Initially the photo would post to the Blogger photo server (which I don’t generally use), but not to my server.  I got this error:

(Publishing Error) A publishing error occurred: 200 Type okay.
227 Entering Passive Mode (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
150 Data connection accepted from xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; transfer starting.

So I tried to post on my laptop, using an ATT wireless card.

It worked (there is the long awaited photo).

Which means the problem is caused by my network.  Hmmm.  Let’s see if it’s my computer or my internet connection. . .

Here’s another photo- this time I’m posting on my desktop, but using the ATT wireless card.

ftperror321

This also worked, which means that the problem resides in my internet connection, not on my computer, not in Live Writer and not on my web server.

I’ve narrowed it down, but I’m not sure where to go from here.  I guess I need to look at the router settings.

When I disable my router’s firewall, the photos publish correctly.  But I obviously don’t want to permanently disable my firewall, so I need to configure my router to allow Live Writer to publish these pictures.  It’s odd that Live Writer can publish the text of the post (via Blogger) but not photos.  It’s also odd that I can publish photos via an FTP client, but not via Live Writer.

Frustrating Live Writer – Blogger FTP Problem

All of the sudden, when I publish a blog post with pictures in it, Live Writer is unable to transfer the pictures to my server via FTP.  When I try to do so, I get the following error.  I have a screen cap below, but Live Writer replaced the picture with the word “ftperror,” which is the name of the picture I am trying unsuccessfully to post.


      I had to upload this picture to Photobucket
and then link to it. What a pain in the ass.

I can tell by looking on my server that Live Writer is creating a directory on my server the way it is supposed to, and there is an appropriately named file in the directory, but the size of the file is 0 bytes.  I used a jpeg for the screen cap below to confirm that it’s not a png problem.  It’s not, as Live Writer replaced that screen cap with its name too.


Here lies the symptom, but what is the problem?

Sometimes the 0 Filesize is a permissions problem, so I tried changing the permissions in the target folder on my server.  No dice.  So I restored the permissions to their previous levels.

For some reason, I’m starting to think this may have something to do with the way Live Writer names the image files.

I was able to upload the files via FileZilla, my FTP application, without a problem.  This indicates that the problem resides within Live Writer.  I tried to test that theory by uploading some pictures to my Photobucket account via Live Writer.  No dice.  Same error message, but I couldn’t get any FTP client to display the proper directory on Photobucket- the connection times out when trying to retrieve the directory listing.  So I don’t know for sure.

Here’s my test picture, so I can keep trying until I figure out how to fix this nightmare.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that I think Live Writer is the most useful and feature perfect application out there.  I have become very reliant on it, so I need to fix this problem.

birds42
If you can see this image,
I have fixed the problem.

The mysterious thing is that I didn’t change any settings prior to the problem arising.  On the one hand, it’s strange that Live Writer can post blog posts, but not pictures.  But my blog posts are published to my server via Blogger, whereas the pictures are set up to post directly to my server via FTP.  I deleted all the FTP information in the Live Writer blog account settings a couple of times and reentered it.  Live Writer was able to access the directories on my server at that point.  Somehow, when it tries to transfer the picture file, something goes wrong.

This makes the formerly simple process of publishing a blog post very difficult.  It requires me to separately upload the pictures and then link to them.  It was much easier to upload the pictures at the same time I publish the blog post.  Little pain in the ass problems like this that suddenly spring up for no apparent reason drive me crazy.

But my devotion to Live Writer requires that I continue looking for a solution.  Time for a Twitter SOS.