so this is how I could finally thwart the deer (without harming them)
beautifully simple design made from essentially garbage
Hell of a costume OH YEAH
New Creative Commons movie!
I've never used stencils to create a design on a pumpkin before, but after I watched a friend do it the other day while my freehand pumpkin came out looking like crap, I realized it was worth the time and effort, and wasn't too difficult.
I searched all over last night for good designs and I have to say Zombie Pumpkins wins hands down on stencil design quality. There's a paypal access thing (you can pay whatever you feel like from $2 on up for unlimited access for this halloween season) but after I chipped in a fiver, I got a password and could print anything I wanted. The site also has loads of helpful tips.
This was my first stencil, done in about 15 minutes:
and I was happy with the results. Then I tried something more difficult. It took about 45min and a lot more patience:
Dad, if you're reading this, this is that invite I sent you a few weeks back that you never used. Sign up and email me your Vox blog URL when you're done.
Thanks Mena, Ben, and the rest of the Six Apart crew for building this app. It is going to literally make many people's lives better.
I've been playing with Outside.in for a few minutes (here is the Portland feed), and my first thought was that this is exactly what friends told me to do in 2000. MetaFilter was just taking off being barely a year old, and San Francisco friends urged me to make city-specific local news hubs that interested people could find links and news for and post to. Tom Coates had a great write up in fall of 2000 asking for precisely this. I was (and still am) too busy to take on such an effort, but it's good to see someone trying to pick up the reins and try it.
I'm surprised they didn't use CityName.outside.in URLs instead of outside.in/City_Name though.
I unpacked my new Blackberry Pearl a few hours ago and after running all over the web trying to solve basic problems, I figured I should do a roundup of the basics here for other mac users, since I couldn't find all this info in one place.
Last year I moved into a new house with a big backyard, but the yard faces directly south, so it bakes in the summertime. I decided to find a local architect to help build a small shade patio off the back, and in the process I learned a lot about how far-reaching copyright law hits everyday people.
Lessig kicked off the annual Creative Commons Funding Drive today and I've added a button to this site and kicked in $100 (mostly to get the t-shirt). I'm almost at the one year mark since I left CC but I still love and support the work they're doing. Lessig's letter describes the insane growth over the past four years -- I'm really proud to have been a part of that and I'm happy to see it continue to flourish.
I was running some errands and figured I'd drop by my local Gamestop around 1pm to reserve a spot for a new Wii. I live in the middle of nowhere and the pre-order launch was only on a few sites as a rumor so I figured it'd be no problem. The controller looks really innovative and the games look fun but I didn't think there'd be any mass appeal for it.
The guy working there said there was a line at the opening of the store today, and they hit their limit of 20 pre-orders after just a few minutes. I think it's time for pre-order pre-ordering so I could have snagged one of those pre-order slots.
Philip Greenspun, owner of a Cirrus SR20 himself has a great post speculating on what happened in today's crash in Manhattan. What many assume was terrorism or suicide might have just been a couple minor mistakes resulting in the bad crash.
Like the original iPod thread at macrumors, I love reading last year's announcement of YouTube getting funded. Post GooTube deal, Sequoia's $11.5 million invested netted them $495 million in return. With that in mind, these quotes from the post and linked blogs are great:
"The Web 2.0 funding frenzy is in full effect."
"People on the street in Montana arenâ€™t talking about [YouTube]â€¦ It will be some years out before general people become users."
"...emerging land of absurdity where a live prototype that can be replicated in 90 days, that has no business model or revenue is considered a business."
This past summer, I finally started using Quicken and running a budget to see where all my money was going. The most important thing I learned was that I wasted a lot of money buying lame junk I didn't need so I stopped. I cut back on spending but realized I still buy stuff that works well and should probably write up a few reviews of the best stuff. I was kicking around the idea of doing an entire site devoted to these reviews, but instead, I'll just make a category ("Crap I love") for this and do them occasionally on this blog. Now on with the review.
Muck Boots (Hoser Mid)
"Gardening" is a misnomer. It's hard work -- yard work. And doing work for hours is no fun if you're not comfortable. This year I knew I'd be doing a ton of work converting my weed-filled blank backyard into an attractive multi-use outdoor space. So I splurged on good tools and good clothing, knowing I'd be spending many hours using both. Part of that was getting some Muck Boots, in this case, I got what they call the "Hoser Mid" (heh heh).
Muck Boots are kind of expensive, starting at around $50 for low-top clog things and going up to around $100 for knee-high boots. The gardening versions have nice soft soles that curve with your feet and the higher sides are made of neoprene like a wetsuit, so if you get them wet, you'll stay warm.
In the past, I've worn cheap plastic/rubber industrial knee-high boots you can get for $20 at a hardware store, and I have the blisters to show for it. I was never comfortable in the cheap boots because they had no arch and never quite fit right. The interior of those boots was like a radial tire and would quickly cause hotspots on my ankles. I hated wearing them and only reserved them for times it was really muddy and I had short chores to do.
Contrasting it with the Muck Boots, these things are like the Air Jordans of gardening shoes. I actually look forward to wearing them because they remind me of a really comfy pair of Merrell slip-ons I have. The arch is high and since the boots are soft, they bend easy with my feet and ankles so I never get blisters or pain. The bottom half of the boots are rubberized and after spending the last four months moving several tons of soil, bark, and gravel, I haven't seen any tears or even much wearing down.
If you dread yard work but need to do a lot of it, I implore you to give Muck Boots a try. Check out the whole line on their site and especially the gardening section. Since I'm in a rainy part of the country, the scrub or hoser boots were key and have worked out great, but I'm sure the lower ones would work just as well in a dry climate.
Holy crap, the rumors were true: Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion
I'm really happy about this and think it's a good thing. Like I said last month, YouTube offers a fundamental shift in how video is shared online and provided a free hosting outlet for millions of people. YouTube proved that broadband and video can actually work and it doesn't have to cost every producer an arm and a leg. The rest is all details, though I understand profits and lawsuits over IP are pretty big details.
I would put this purchase up there with the Blogger deal. Google saw this app that provided a huge shift in how people interact online and snapped it up. Same with Writely, same with Picasa (though I'm sure they wanted Flickr back when it was independent). Google used to just be a search company but now they're looking more like a very smart media company buying up all the best-of-breed services.
I do wonder how on earth they'll fold YouTube into Google. If they just merged the YT content into Google Video, all the personality and social aspects of YouTube would be lost, but if it stays independent, then they have two brands offering much of the same product competing for engineering and legal resources.
Congrats to the YouTube team and kudos to Google for snatching it up and keeping bandwidth costs at zero for young filmmakers.
A week or so ago, I ran into Dethroner in my web surfing and I was instantly hooked. There was attitude, great original tips, pointers to cool stuff I hadn't seen anywhere else, and there was tons of it. I soon realized it was written by one of my favorite writers, longtime former editor of Gizmodo, Joel Johnson.
I knew he took off from Gawker Media recently and I wanted to know more about what he was working on these days and how he was finding the time and motivation to do Dethroner, so I chatted him up a couple days ago to get the scoop. Joel didn't mind that I wanted to publish it directly from our chat, so here it follows.
If you haven't checked out Dethroner, by all means add the feed to your reader and follow along. For me it hits just the right spot between fashion maven and sports jock, between fine wine and homemade beer, and between step-by-step tutorials and basic tips. I can already tell the site is going to go far and anyone looking to support themselves by blogging should take notice because this is exactly how it is done.
Matt Haughey: What prompted you to start dethroner?
Joel Johnson: A couple of stand-out reasons: I really wanted a place that I could archive a lot of the little bits of wisdom that come into play as a man, but in a way that actually encouraged interaction and even dissent from other guys. Also, I wanted to see if it were possible for a single writer to run a quasi-professional, daily-updated site and actually make a living at it.
MH: It clearly looks like something you should be doing professionally. Are you ok with it making nothing at first? How long do you project until it starts paying for your time writing it?
JJ: I better be okay with it, because there's no real projection of when I might actually turn a profit. I'm sort of internally budgeted about six months, but there's no math behind that. My needs are pretty modest, though; It'd be nice if it paid my rent, but there's a lot of satisfaction in just starting my own little micro-business, even if it's never going to be anything more than what it is right now.
In fact, I sort of hope it doesn't get super-big.... well, maybe not ever, but not for a while. I like things when they're small and just getting started.
MH: So how do you find the motivation for it? I know lots of people (myself included) that might leave a professional writing gig with a book, blog, or magazine and say "fuck this mere pittance they're paying me, I'll do it on my own, and it'll be better, and I'll have complete control and make way more money" but then they can never muster the energy to even begin. This is why I wanted to talk to you -- you have come out of the gate just killing it! And I can't imagine what it takes to muster up that kind of productivity and motivation.
JJ: See, that's so funny to me, because I feel like I'm just barely puttering along.
MH: Really? I signed up to read the feed and I'm amazed by how much original content is popping up every day. It's almost too much, but it's useful and good.
JJ: I've come to realize that I'm a pretty fast writer, which helps. I also am extremely self-critical, so if I don't get six posts up a day I feel like I'm a horrible person.
Also, the more you blog, the better and faster you get. (Which applies to all writing, sure, but so much of what is important about blogging is just getting it out there and worrying about polish later. Or never.)
Suffice it to say, I'm glad to hear that you're not feeling like it's lacking!
MH: Do you want to talk about Gawker at all? How and why did you leave Gizmodo, and what else are you doing these days?
JJ: Sure, it's no big secret. I actually left Gizmodo (and Gawker Media) about a year ago, having pretty much lathered myself into a minor psychic meltdown. I was writing 20 to 30 posts a day, on average, plus managing a couple of interns and fielding public relations calls and emails. I hadn't taken a vacation in a year-and-a-half. When I finally did, I didn't really feel like coming back, so after a couple of weeks I threw in the towel.
Then Lock and Nick enticed me with a low-pressure job starting The Consumerist a few months later, which was a site I'd always wanted to do. (Bad customer service crawls up my urethra and lays eggs in my scrotal justice sack.) Then I ended up getting promoted to Executive Editor, Technology, running Kotaku, Lifehacker, Consumerist, and - yes - Gizmodo. After a few months of that I just sort of realized I didn't like working at Gawker, for various reasons. So I quit.
(Geez, this is getting epic.)
So now! I'm spending most of my mornings working on Dethroner and my afternoons working for Wired as a consultant.
MH: That's awesome. I spent the summer working on a talk about Pro Blogging for a Living and talking to friends about how they could do it and I always need good examples of great writers with good ideas that can create a business from thin air, and Dethroner looks perfect for that.
Also, I like that most of your content is original, it's not just a shopping guide or links, it's like "here's how to use these things and feed yourself and clothe yourself and be a better person."
JJ: I feel pretty strongly that people are missing the whole fucking point of blogs and micro-publishing.
MH: That's what I hammered Nick and Lock on whenever we talked about Lifehacker -- that it was pointless as a link blog to cool stuff, that it should be a source of new information instead.
JJ: Gawker, god love them, is part of the problem, because everybody thinks you need to grow your site into some huge vertical behemoth. But if you talk to Nick, even he will remind you that Gawker.com and Gizmodo.com started out as little niche sites, not magazine fighters.
I started Dethroner with a $20/month hosted plan, a logo I made in 15 minutes in Illustrator, and a free CMS. Granted, I've got a lot of blogging experience, but nothing I'm doing is rocket science. It all boils down to just putting up good content on a consistent basis, but nevertheless people think you need VC and an ad campaign and press releases and all this other horseshit just to start a professional blog these days.
(When obviously all you need is a really high horse.)
MH: Yep. That's what I keep telling people, that you can do this on the side at first if you're passionate about it and have the motivation to write everyday and that taking money is rarely necessary. Thanks for taking the time to talk.
JJ: Thanks for the encouraging words. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
I've been meaning to redesign this site for a while, to set aside more screen space for writing, both to make it easier to read longer pieces for readers but also to help me focus more on just plain old writing instead of all the other junk I used to keep here. As I sat down to think about how I could wipe out what I had and start over again visually, I kept coming back to all the cool Wordpress themes I've seen lately, including the one you see powering this site.
Now, I would consider Ben and Mena Trott to be pretty close friends and I've helped write a book on Movable Type tweaking. I still use it for several other sites and don't plan on changing, but when it comes to personal websites, I've always wished for a simple way to share MT templates either through actual files or the API. I've requested it from SixApart for the past 3+ years and in the meantime, Wordpress came along with Themes and eventually every good web designer that wanted to see their work shared with millions flocked to it and started offering up downloadable Themes.
A few months ago when I was praising Vox I said I never wanted to work on another blog template file again and I was serious about that. Wordpress has a great theme system and while I think editing php templates is an even worse idea than custom Blogger/MT tag templates, I don't have to thanks to the thousands of free theme packs available online. I was somewhat reluctant to jump to Wordpress until I saw some 2.0 screenshots and heard good things from longtime MT-using friends. The last time I used WP, I had a lot of problems with the admin editing backend. I noticed a few things have been fixed but a lot of things still got stuck.
Here's a list of hang-ups I found when converting over. Some might read these and feel it's nitpicking or criticism, but I consider these bug reports:
After seeing dozens of them fly by every single day, I'm starting to think it's just lazy headline writing that gets promoted up thanks to our nanosecond attention-span RSS readin' latte drinkin' ruby on rails codin' getting things done task managin' nerd culture.
Cool it with the lists. Feel free to use real paragraphs and explain stuff. I have time.