mm397: Blast from the Past! No. 25

May 31, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

The Family MUDGE is happily celebrating the graduation of our youngest scholar with a party that will have taken prep time and cleanup time and party time, leaving no blogging time. So, as one must blog daily, we present the following in fulfillment of the obligation.

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted September 9, 2007, and originally titled “Process, again”.

MUDGE’S Musings

Couple of months ago, we wrote about the process of blogging, as we understood it after about 2½ months of consistent posting.

Not sure that understanding has increased, although the consistency has remained. At least in frequency, if not quality.

The quality thing can always be improved.

Received a modest number of hits in the past four months; averages about 16 per day, day in and out. A couple of times about 90. A bunch of times, a loyal few. Some of the early weeks — totaled 20.

Thanks, loyal few!

Where do those statistics come from, you may wonder? From our weblog host, WordPress.com.

What a terrific organization! Hosting at this site is free. Support has been superlative.

Read the rest of this entry »

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mm297: 9,000

February 26, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

5000-alt

1000-dollar-US-bill-front

1000

1000-alt2

1000-alt

Not dollars, yen, pounds, rupees, tolars, etc. You.

WordPress.com, those absolutely wonderful folks who provide safe harbor for over 2½-million bloggers, is good enough to keep track of page hits.

And, as I write this, this infinitesimal nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has received just over 9,000 hits in the 9½ months of its active lifetime.

That number represents a blink of a fraction of an hour for many blog sites out there, but it’s a significant number for yr (justifiably) humble svt.

So, I’m grateful.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm222: Social networks — Encyclopedic, Careeric, Blogic

December 14, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s all about making connections, here at Left-Handed Complement. Once again, several threads have appeared from different directions, just in time to create the fabric of post no. 222.

Encyclopedic

First, two entries noted Google’s new contender for encyclopedia of choice, Knol, challenging Wikipedia. The straight story from, where else, NYTimes:

google

Google Develops Wikipedia Rival

By JEREMY KIRK, IDG News Service\London Bureau, IDG

Google is developing an online publishing platform where people can write entries on subjects they know, an idea that’s close to Wikipedia’s user-contributed encyclopedia but with key differences.

The project, which is in an invitation-only beta stage, lets users create clean-looking Web pages with their photo and write entries on, for example, insomnia. Those entries are called “knols” for “unit of knowledge,” Google said.

Google wants the knols to develop into a deep repository of knowledge, covering topics such as geography, history and entertainment.

The target of this new community is not only Wikipedia, but also Yahoo “Answers.” And they’ve coined new nomenclature (don’t you just love the English language?), “knols.”

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Google Develops Wikipedia Rival – New York Times

Poking around some of our usual suspects, i.e., our blogroll2 , Machinist blog at Salon.com weighed in on Google’s new adventure with some useful analysis. Does the world need another encyclopedia? The folks behind Squidoo and Mahalo think so in their own unique ways (if less scholarly, in this observer’s opinion), and now so does the web’s 8,000,000-lb. gorilla.

Truthiness showdown: Google’s “Knol” vs. Wikipedia

Having just written a book about how digital technology is changing cultural ideas about truth — shameless plug: to be released mid-March from Wiley; pre-order here — I’m fascinated by Google’s announcement, late yesterday, of a Wikipedia-like application called Knol.

Knol’s goal, writes Udi Manber, Google’s engineering chief, in a blog post, is “to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it.” The system, which is currently running in an invitation-only beta, offers free Web hosting space and editing tools to allow anyone to write up a page about whatever they like. Google is calling each article a “knol,” which it says stands for a “unit of knowledge.”

Experts contributing knols will not be anonymous, or aggregated, says Machinist’s Farhad Manjoo, but rather will contribute separately and openly to create what Google hopes will become collective knowledge, and perhaps, maybe, wisdom, the pinnacle of the knowledge pyramid (anyone still care about knowledge management? data, information, knowledge, wisdom).

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Machinist: Tech Blog, Tech News, Technology Articles – Salon

And of course, Google will sell and place advertising, to be shared with the article authors.

Imagine advertising in the margins of the 30 printed volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Well that’s why Larry Page and Sergey Brin are $zillionaires, and yr (justifiably) humble svt is so humble…

Careeric*

(*New coinage!) Several posts ago, while noting Facebook’s stumble over its intrusive Beacon privacy-blasting tool, we mentioned LinkedIn in passing, as a site we (still very much in the world of Web 0.79, much less 2.0!) participate in rather desultorily.

I’ve got 41 people in my network, which LinkedIn tells me expands to “41,700+” (their friends — astounding!) and “2,563,400+” for their friends (science fiction).

MUDGE doesn’t know if he wants to know that many people.

But, besides accreting millions of supposed contacts, what is one supposed to do at LinkedIn. David Kirkpatrick, senior editor at Fortune magazine, tells us he was in precisely the same boat (of course, MUDGE likes to think of himself as extraordinarily unusual, so for senior editors to have had similar feelings makes one uneasy!):

linkedin

Why you’ll finally use LinkedIn

The buttoned-down social network has a new CEO, a growing membership, and an increasingly-useful set of features.

By David Kirkpatrick, senior editor

NEW YORK (Fortune) — For years, I’ve been befuddled by LinkedIn. I knew it was supposed to be the social network for work, but to me it was like war. “What is it good for?” I asked myself repeatedly, even as I occasionally poked around and accepted requests to link with people. I belonged to it, but I really didn’t know why.

The other day I had a chance to sit down with LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye, who’s been on the job since February. He told me about a few changes that Linkedin subsequently announced (VentureBeat has a good description of them.). And his PR person upgraded me to what would otherwise be a paid account. (It can be $20 to $200 per month.)

Who knew that LinkedIn charged anything? I’ve been a member for more than five years, and have never been solicited, until tonight when I poked around a bit after reading Kirkpatrick’s story, and the link to VentureBeat clipped above. LinkedIn is getting more ambitious about its available tools, as you’ll see.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Why you’ll finally use LinkedIn – Dec. 14, 2007

Most intriguing. But here’s a concern:

(Nye recited the depressing figure that only 30 percent of LinkedIn’s members have read any business magazine in the last 30 days.)

Hey, LinkedIn, I’m picking up the slack on that one, with my subscriptions and devotional readership of Business Week and the best magazine on the planet, The Economist!

But if only 30% of those 2,563,400+ third degrees in MUDGE‘s network read business magazines, one has to be concerned about how useful the 70% business illiterates of them might be when the day comes that I am expelled from HCA (the Heart of Corporate America, not its real name, as constant reader will recall) and I have to network for real. Down to a mere 769,020 viable networkers. Not nearly enough to find viable employment for this overaged supernumerary.

Sigh.

Blogic**

(**More new coinage, from the fertile tidal pool of MUDGEdom.) This third leg of today’s tripod has to do with the social network of bloggers, who gather under that extraordinary circus tent called WordPress.

I can’t be complimentary enough about WordPress. The first-ranked member of MUDGE‘s Blogging Process Hall of Fame©, as unveiled here, and anointed here, WordPress has been a resourceful and supportive, and most breathtakingly cost effective blogging host.

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has been hosted there from absolute day one; in fact, it was mention of its free site (where? at Lifehacker?) that provided the spark that, several months later, burst into this vigorous flame of daily commentary.

This week Anne Zelenka, writing in the always useful GigaOm, presented her observation that WordPress is not merely a host for nearly 2,000,000 blogs (!), but a social network in and of itself.

wordpress1

The Next Social Network: WordPress

Anne Zelenka, Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 3:45 PM PT

Could open-source blogging platform WordPress serve as your next social networking profile? Chris Messina, co-founder of Citizen Agency, thinks so. He’s started a project called DiSo, for distributed social networking, that aims to “build a social network with its skin inside out.” DiSo will first look to WordPress as its foundation.

This could be the next step towards the unified social graph that some technologists wish for. WordPress suits the purpose because it provides a person-centric way of coming online, offers an extensible architecture, and already has some features — such as an OpenID and a blogroll plugin — that can be pressed into social networking service. And its users represent exactly the sort of audience that might appreciate the permanent, relatively public identity that DiSo aims to offer.

The contrast is with the MySpace and Facebook paradigm. Zelenka argues that those sites provide a space for one online, but it’s not one’s own space. Not “person-centric.”

Clark was responding to an ongoing conversation launched by blogger and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod, who proposed that blogging is far more important to him than social networking. Bloggers including Stowe Boyd and Darren Rowse seconded the idea. This growing disenchantment with social networking and return to blogging suggests that in the future we could see a migration, at least among tech bloggers, towards more distributed social networking — along the lines of what Messina envisions.

This is all rather esoteric, but interesting all the same.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Next Social Network: WordPress – GigaOM

As we’ve discussed above, and before, this writer came to the creative end of the web quite late. While for many years a consumer, only in the past seven months have I been a content creator. Never was tempted by MySpace (we’ll let MUDGElet No. 3 enjoy his age appropriate time there); only a bit tempted by Facebook (as discussed previously); and the jury is still out on the value to me of LinkedIn; but I feel I’ve found a home (lonely as it is, but she always has told me that it’s quality not quantity that matters) here at WordPress, among 2,000,000 fellow bloggers.

Maybe Chris Messina of DiSo is on to something.

So, there’s our tripod of social networking. Encyclopedic, careeric, blogic. An icky stretch, right?

Google’s Knol, LinkedIn and WordPress. Hope it came together for you, the way it did for me.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm135: Process, again

September 10, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Couple of months ago, we wrote about the process of blogging, as we understood it after about 2½ months of consistent posting.

Not sure that understanding has increased, although the consistency has remained. At least in frequency, if not quality.

The quality thing can always be improved.

Received a modest number of hits in the past four months; averages about 16 per day, day in and out. A couple of times about 90. A bunch of times, a loyal few. Some of the early weeks — totaled 20.

Thanks, loyal few!

Where do those statistics come from, you may wonder? From our weblog host, WordPress.com.

What a terrific organization! Hosting at this site is free. Support has been superlative.

Two examples: Recently registered at a site that promised to promote this blog. (Early days yet and the jury is still out — so a more complete mention will wait for a future process episode.)

L-HC was rejected. Why? They reported that L-HC was not interpreted correctly due to a bug (go figure!) in Internet Explorer v6. We never saw it, because we run v7 at the CurmudgeonDungeon (say that 10 times quickly!).

At work next day, pulled up the site on the office PC (something we try not to do because we’re not at all sure that freedom of expression in a blogging context exists there) to verify the issue; sure enough, the sidebar contents fell to the very bottom of the lengthy page. A very ugly look.

So, I contacted WordPress support. Got a prompt answer: Yes, it’s a bug in IE6, usually caused by graphic elements of excessive width in the main panel. Maximum such width for our theme, Contempt (wonderfully appropriate for a curmudgeon — and one of WordPress’ most popular themes) was stated as 460 pixels.

Thus, I needed to go back into the bowels of history to find the offending post(s). A big task, that took some time to get to (this is supposed to be a hobby, right?).

Finally, a couple of weeks later got around to rooting around in the past, a job made reasonably easy by WordPress and a member of MUDGE‘s Blogging Process Hall of Fame, Windows Live Writer.

Found a couple of potential offending graphics, resized them with an ancient, paid for version of Paint Shop Pro, and all seemed okay in IE6. Reapplied to the promotion site, was accepted this time, and am gradually figuring out what makes that site tick.

But the point: the rapid response from WordPress support, considering that their census of blogs they host is up substantially from last reported on 21-July-2007:

wordpress7721

Take a look at today’s stat:

wordpress7909

A 20% increase in 50 days!

And yet, got an answer within hours to my query.

Last weekend, WordPress was experiencing some kind of problem, because several posts did not land cleanly. The result, a lack of synchronization between Windows Live Writer and the blog on WordPress. Thought it was me.

Sent off a query. Got a response within hours seeking further information. Replied with a clarification of the incident, and received a response to the reply within a very short time, promising some research.

Received another response shortly, admitting a WordPress.com server timing issue, since repaired, and all has been well since.

The point is not that they had an issue on their side. The point is, with nearly 1.5million sites, they still could respond so promptly, courteously and effectively.

Thus we proudly announce an update to MUDGE‘s Blogging Process Hall of Fame:

blogginghallv2

WordPress.com has vaulted to the top of MUDGE‘s list, not to make any less of numbers two and three, used to great effect every post.

And, the price for the entire suite is right: $0.00. Can’t beat that!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm114: Ghost Inc.’s Ghost: The Everywhere OS

August 24, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

So, you must understand that, while I most proudly wear the badge of curMUDGEon, I also wear other hats in life, not the least of which is nerd, gearhead, geek: technologyRus

So, limited by the towering constraints of my threadbare checking account, I like to try new technical products, especially here on the web where so much is “free” (monetarily speaking, at any rate).

[BTW, speaking of free, in every glorious aspect of the concept, here’s an appreciative Happy Birthday to WordPress, wordpress Left-Handed Complement’s safe harbor (i.e., blogging host). You guys make this peculiar activity I find myself obsessing over fun, while doing the impossible, making MUDGE look sort of polished. Thanks! And I got the tee-shirt — it’s so red! Happy 2nd Birthday, WordPress, a zillion more!]

So, encountering this story today, you might imagine that I was intrigued. It’s new! It’s so goddamn new that it’s Alpha! A new low for yours truly.

So, check it out:

computerworld

August 20, 2007 (Computerworld)Ghost Inc. Ghost
Ghost is founded on the passionate belief that the Windows and Mac model of your operating system — with your precious applications and data all walled inside one physical computer — is obsolete,” says Ghost’s creator, Zvi Schreiber.

The Global Hosted Operating System, or Ghost, is the logical next step in a trend to move applications and files from client computers to the Internet, says Schreiber. It is a Web-hosted image of your desktop or laptop — a virtual computer that can be accessed by any client device via a Web browser.

Ghost doesn’t require software upgrades or patches for user machines, and it’s always backed up. But its key selling point is the mobility and device-independence it offers users, says Schreiber, CEO of start-up Ghost Inc. in New York. “Young people do a lot of computing at school, and business people don’t want to carry their laptops everywhere,” he says. “People want to get their computing environment from anywhere.”

So, of course, I signed up. Take a look at the rest of the CW story, and bop on back for my early impressions.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Ghost Inc.’s Ghost: The Everywhere OS

So, after a very brief registration process (and don’t doubt it, these times are increasingly very PC [politically correct, I have to specify in the light of today’s topic!] — for the second time today, I was offered the option of selecting as a password reminder my father’s middle name, absolutely a first, and at two different [Ghost, and a bank!] sites in the same day!), I found myself looking at the G.ho.st desktop.

ghostdesk

The flower actually looks clearer and crisper in this much reduced image than full size on the screen, where it’s supposed to make an impression, I’m thinking, rather than be too distracting.

One early off-putter: Ghost opens up a new Firefox window, behavior I’m not thrilled with, much preferring the tabbed browsing model. And this is a totally separate entity, seemingly Flash 9, so the usual Firefox right-click context menu items are not available, and of course, moving on the desktop is a sluggish process.

The notice at the left was tempting:

ghoststoragetip

Tried this; it seemed to work; but I’m supposing that the storage they refer to is additional/different from the desktop, since I couldn’t seem to find them from there after I had dragged and dropped a couple of files. But, perhaps the FTP site is stand-alone?

And after I created a folder on the desktop, but it wouldn’t allow me to drag a file there from windows.

So, that exhausts my patience for new stuff today. It’s alpha, so the promised applications aren’t there yet; looks like there’s a browser to explore, Google access, etc., to be tried out at a less fatigued hour.

By the way, anyone else remember YouOS, a very similar concept, which also seems to be running on Amazon Web Services, and was launched earlier this year (I’m thinking). When I just found my link to look at it after many months, it seems to have become quite austere, but it’s certainly the same principle. This screen cap hardly does it justice, but there wasn’t that much to see, folks:

youOS

The concept is intriguing. We already have a lot of computer independence, thanks to the web. I can access my personal email from my PCs at the office; from my daughter’s laptop in L.A., from a hotel room in Boston — anywhere I can run a browser (and remember the link!). If my ponderously snail-paced employer ever launches the capability of providing web access to corporate mail (very scary for us, believe me), then I’m even more independent.

And though I don’t need the service, Google Documents & Spreadsheets provides PC-independent access to (reasonably) useful everyday software.

Finally, there are those 4GB flash memory sticks with the U3 “operating system” that in theory allows you to take your environment into any PC with a free USB port — and when you leave, you (supposedly) have left no trace of your presence on the host. Haven’t proven that one.

So, is Ghost a solution in search of a problem that has already largely been solved?

Maybe we’ll learn more as they head into beta (imagine them being reckless enough to allow me into an alpha!).

So, that’s technologyRus for today, kids. Don’t try this at home (surely you have better, and more productive things to do, like seeing what’s up with your Facebook account).

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE