Monday, May 09, 2005


Giveaway: Radio UserLand Kick Start
We adopted a kitten from the humane society nine months ago who thinks he's a dog, and there's nothing he likes more than the taste of a computer book. A stack of them make an excellent scratching post, as I learned when he shredded a dozen copies ofHow to Use the Internet Eighth Edition.

This situation adds urgency to my need to give away more of my books, before they become either out-of-date or drenched with saliva.

I'm giving away four author's copies ofRadio UserLand Kick Start, each in new condition and completely untouched by my catdog.

If you'd like to win one, post a comment on thisWorkbenchentry or write about it on your weblog, linking to itspermalinkso I don't overlook it. I'll pay the postage to anywhere that I can send it for under $10.

Kick Startcovers everything you need to get started with Radio UserLand, an Internet content management and programming tool that makes it simple to publish your own weblog, develop web services, and collect information from thousands of Internet sites. Severalsample chapterscan be read online.

During mylast book giveaway, I awarded an extra copy to the person with the most inventive reason for wanting one. If I can scare up a fifth copy, I'll do that again here.

That's Quite a Spectacle
Whenever a character in a movie is a by-the-book square who never got over the end of the 1950s, he wears plastic-top, metal-rim eyeglasses. Tom Hanks donned them inCatch Me If You Can, and you can't make a film about Malcolm X, NASA, or the JFK assassination without ordering them in bulk.

The glasses are especially effective if the buttoned-up wearer is one bad day from a total nervous breakdown, like the downsized defense contractor D-FENS, who rampages across Los Angeles to protest incivility inFalling Down.

I wrote about these glasseslast yearwhen I heard the only manufacturer, ArtCraft NewYork, was discontinuing the style. This was crushing news -- I step on my pair of Clubman Art-Rim frames at least twice a year and can barely see through a SuperGlue smudge in one lens.

Since then, I've heard from an executive at Shuron, the company thatinvented the style in 1941and sold more than 17 million of them by 1970:

The Ronsir was in many movies and worn by many actors/celebrities -- Kevin Costner, Denzel Washington, Vince Lombardi, Nicholas Cage, and many others. The Ronsir is not going away.

Because I keep directing people to Shuron when they ask about the glasses, the company is sending me a free pair, which I believe makes me the world's first blogger/spokesmodel. I'm spending this weekend trying to come up with my ownBlue Steel.



Everybody Carl Jung Tonight
Avoicemail messagereceived last week:

Hey, it'sMancow, we're trying to get you on the radio show here. It's an Illinois guy, he probably knows this show. But he got the pope's web site. And the story is he's going to turn it into a porno ...

I didn't get this message soon enough to return his call. I suspect that if he heard my actual plans forBenedictXVI.Com, I would have been a great disappointment to him.

WashingtonPost.Com reporter David McGuire wrote afollowup storyyesterday about how the domain has been donated to the charityModest Needswhile we await the Vatican.

I'm glad that Modest Needs founder Keith Taylor was able to put something together so quickly April 21 -- 90 percent of the 410,000 visits to BenedictXVI.Com were made by Sunday morning, and traffic has slowed to around 9,000 visits a day. (Taylor may be seeing more traffic directly on the charity'sBenedictXVI.Com page.)

Jacopo di Trani, the owner ofBenedict16.com, offers aJungian analysisof why he seeks financial reward and I chose the approval of my Catholic grandmother:

I think that C.G.Jung will say that Cadenhead primary function are his"thoughts", and his last function are his"sensations", and that my primary function is my"intuition", and my last function are my"feelings". I think (do you agree?); so it's very predictable that from all this popedomain-story I'll earn more and more cash than he will ever get . Even if he was the first (he registered his domain the 1st april, against my 14 april), even if he is the most famous (but not in czech sites!), and even if search engines give more traffic to his domain than to mine. I have only a better brandable domain and more real hair - but I'll get more cash than you, Rogers. It's only logic.

I can't address his theory. I majored in journalism -- the only way I would've learned about Jung was if I interviewed him for the school paper. In retrospect, I should have spent less time skipping classes in college to watchGeneral Hospital.

But I will concede the point about his hair.

To Dream the Impossible Dream
Lifetime to-do list:

  1. Writehands-on tutorialfor beginning Java programmers who want to teach self language in no more than 21 days
  2. Successfully predict next pope's name
  3. End TV news segment with segueway back to anchors
  4. Be insulted in no less than five languages by total strangers
  5. Do more to helpworthy charity
  6. Become a professionally ranked tennis player.

My uncle Paul wanted to become John McEnroe as a teen, and we've disagreed for years over whether I could become ranked if I devoted myself to tennis instead of web surfing and fatty foods.

I figured if the rankings went low enough -- the ATP Tourgoes to 1307-- I might have a shot.

Paul thinks I'm an idiot, but I haven't given up the dream. At the very least, I might draw a match somewhere against a ranked pro who had to withdraw due to injury or illness.

Nestor Bricenowatch your back!


I tookBuzzword.Comoffline for several hours this morning to compact the databases and perform some other server maintenance. I'm tempting fate by saying this, but so far, so good.

We're nearing the one-year anniversary of the server, which became the home for 3,000 longtime Weblogs.Com bloggers last June. I have some ambitious plans to mark the occasion, but for now my priority is to keep theactive bloggersrunning smoothly and bring all of UserLand'supgradesonline.

UserLand has a new version of Manila, the software hosting these weblogs, inbeta release. There are a bunch of new features, among them a better way for bloggers to manage visitor comments and trackback.

All-Podcast, All-the-Time Radio
A San Francisco radio station is going to start airing nothing but user-submitted podcasts beginning on May 16. The station, which calls itselfKYOU Open Source Radio, will broadcast on 1550-AM/San Francisco and the Internet.

Submitted podcasts must be 60 megabytes or less in size and can be in any format. The categories on thesubmission formdemonstrate how strange this is likely to be -- traditional fare like news, sports and politics is mixed with over-the-road trucking, sex and wiffleball.

This could be one of the great wheels-off radio experiments of all-time -- at least until earnest liberal San Franciscans fill it with local community news, activism and independent music.

The station sounds like a good opportunity for Jacksonville webloggerTodd Smith, who devotes his site toAmericana musicand has a Saturday morning show about the music on alocal college station.

Give Me an E!
The Texas House has approved legislation toban sexually suggestive routinesby school cheerleaders:

"Girls can get out and do all of these overly sexually performances and we applaud them and that's not right,"said Democratic Rep.Al Edwardsof Houston, who filed the legislation.

Edwards argued that lascivious exhibitions are a distraction for high school students that result in pregnancies, high school dropouts, contraction of AIDS and herpes and"cutting off their youthful life at an early age."

If Edwards hopes to turn the thoughts of teens away from sex, he'll have to restrict a lot more than an NC-17 rendition of"Rock Steady."He seems to have forgotten what it was like after the adolescent change of life known asPeter Brady, which turns the entire world into a lascivious exhibition.

When I was a teen, a legislator trying to protect me from knocking up a dropout would have banned all of the following:

  • The time Laura Dumais fell into my arms and my left wrist inadvertently reached second base
  • Drawing theShe-Hulknaked
  • A breeze of at least three knots
  • Role-playing a female NPC with a charisma score of 15 or better inAdvanced Dungeons&Dragons
  • The scene inThe Sword and the Sorcerorwhere Kathleen Beller had to be lathered in oil to prepare for her wedding
  • Phoebe Cates

Good times.

Boy Meets Girl, Girl Seeks Bob
An e-mailer asksWorkbenchfor relationship advice:

... it's me and my boyfriends anniversary coming up and he always seems to somehow mention it and say how he wants it and I thought it would be a great thing to give him, no matter how weird it sounds. But I think it would be something he would enjoy, or like at least. I've looked around in all shops that could have a chance of selling older software but there aren't many where I live, I've looked around on eBay too but have had no luck, do you know where I could get it?

I don't know who's luckier -- the guy whose girlfriend would hunt down a copy of Microsoft Bob for their anniversary, or the woman whose boyfriend has such great taste in social interface software.

I'm one of the only people who has gone on record with my love forMicrosoft Bob, the mid-'90s product that has unjustly come to be known as one of the greatestdisastersin software history.

The only place I can find him iseBay, where a few go on sale each month and usually can be nabbed for under $25.

Over the last eight years, I've used eBay to find the original software, the Bob Plus Pack,Great Greetings for Boband the only two computer books written for the software:At Home With BobandMicrosoft Bob. A third book,Microsoft Bob for Dummies, was cancelled by Wiley prior to publication, robbing technical literature of a book that would have been an enduring classic.

I also acquired some great swag on eBay -- a Bob coffee mug, key chain, long-distance card, T-shirt, pin, and baseball cap -- and nearly talked a former Microsoft freelancer into selling me the documentation for companies developing Bob add-on products (he feared, perhaps correctly, that it would constitute industrial espionage).

The swag auctions higher than the software, because I am not the only imbecile willing to blow as much as $50 on Bobabilia.

Scripting the Future
Dave Winer turned 50 today, and he asked for links toScripting Newsin lieu of presents.

I've had a chance to get to know Dave in recent years, first through his work and then through his visits to Northeast Florida, an area he prowled as a kid with his uncle, theGreat VavaVoom.

VavaVoom lived in Crescent Beach, a laid-back town south of St. Augustine, back when it could still be described as a"hippie commune."Today, suburbanites like me are scaring them off, subdividing the bucolic area into the kind of well-manicured, community covenant-ruled neighborhood that the feds shipped Steve Martin to inMy Blue Heaven.

Dave's had a unique impact on the technology that drives weblogging, creating or cocreatingRSS,XML-RPC,OPML, and theMetaWeblog API; developing the web content management softwareManila,Radio UserLand, andFrontier; and evangelizing the strange idea that millions of people would be blogging.

I can't decide whether he's prescient or he just makes his predictions come true by dragging the rest of us along. A May 1999 post he made to theXML-DEV mailing listshows how far ahead he saw this stuff:

RSS is an XML-based format that represents what we in the Frontier community call a"weblog". It's frequently updated site that points to stories on and off-site, that identifies an audience and feeds links to them. Until RSS came along the only format people were using was HTML. RSS changed that. ...

We're doing easy to use software to develop and maintain weblog sites, and of course they will all aggregate using the next generation of RSS and today's RSS. Who knows in what perverted ways this content will flow around the net? I'm totally looking forward to the creative chaos that's coming!

Back then, I thought weblogging was a fad that would receive aWiredcover story and an ignominious fate, likepush technology and the Zippies.

Shows what I know. Here's to another decade of perverting the flow of content around the Internet. Happy birthday, Dave!

Close But No Cigar
I publish several web sites that run advertising sold byBlogAds, a broker that has been a financial boon to hundreds of weblogs.

I rejected an ad today from a site that sells Cuban cigars. The site claims that it's legal for Americans to import two boxes, but the language of the site's frequently asked questions page gives me the willies:

The original embargo on Cuban products has been revised by the US Dept of Justice to allow importation of small quantities when returning from a licensed trip to Cuba. This revision was extended to the public who are now allowed to import up to 2 boxes for personal use. There is no formal regulations that outlines the ability for US residents to import Cuban Cigars. There have been thousands of customers importing Cuban Cigars for personal use in the US and there is no history of anyone being prosecuted. Also, it has become a common practice among celebrities, military personnel, politicians and even law enforcement.

AU.S. Treasury brochure on the Cuba embargoseems pretty clear on the subject, stating that Americans can't even buy Cuban products while in foreign countries.

I rejected anabsinthe adlast year over similar qualms. When I saw that Google wasn't selling text ads for absinthe, I decided to adopt the same policy.

A Google search for the phraseCuban cigarsfinds only onecigar sellerin the sponsored ads, and that company won't export to the U.S.

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