Monthly Archives: November 2005

An interesting blogging experiment

Shel Israel, to whom I’ve linked before, has decided to reverse the flow of ideas at his blog. Instead of his pontificating about what he thinks, he’s listening, which is to say he has begun posting a series of open-ended questions that he hopes to get people to comment on. Since he is seeking diversity in points of view, this is one of those opportunities to speak your mind in which you can’t be wrong.

So far Shel has posted 4 questions, the last one being yesterday. They are:

  1. From where you are, what do you think the world will look like ten years from today?
  2. What are you or are you not thankful for?
  3. What scares you?
  4. What or who do you trust?

If you are interested in being heard, go over and speak your mind.

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The Zoo

This morning, for the first time ever, I got up early and went out into the zoo that is called Black Friday for the inaugural day of the shopping season for the Christmas holidays. As I approached the Best Buy store near my home at around 5:45 a.m., I could see that finding a parking place in their lot would be a frustrating, if not an impossible task, so I parked in the Lowe’s parking lot near by. The doors were scheduled to open at 5:00 a.m. and I had hoped to be there in line for that opening, but my best laid plans, like those of mice and men before me, went awry. Even at 5:45 a.m. when I arrived there was a queue that stretched the length of the building, outside the store, awaiting permission just to go inside and partake of the bountiful bargains awaiting us there.

While huddled in the 28 degree weather (with the wind chill in the teens), I learned from one of my fellow bargain hunters that the people who were at the front of the line when the store opened had arrived at 8:30 p.m. the night before. Around 2:00 a.m., employees from the store had come outside and begun giving out vouchers for the most sought-after items, and by 4:00 a.m. all of the most coveted things were already sold. Since I was already up and in line, I decided to go ahead and wait to see if what I wanted was still available. The wait outside in the cold was only about 45 minutes and finally I was admitted inside the hallowed halls of Best Buy.

Once inside I found that the SanDisk MP3 players I wanted were already sold out. However, I was able to get a couple of SD memory cards and a Compact Flash memory card, which were some of the items on my shopping list, and I got into the line to pay for my purchases. That took another 45 minutes of winding through the dark recesses of the store on my way to the cash registers. After paying for my purchases, I asked one of the employees, somewhat sarcastically I’ll admit, whether there was a line to leave the store. To my amazement there wasn’t, so I made my way out, found my car and returned home to my first cup of coffee.

I’ve learned a good lesson from this visit to the zoo. Don’t do it! Sure, I found some things cheaper than I could have gotten them at another time, but any savings I may have gotten from standing in the freezing cold at that God-awful hour may be offset by the potential medical bills for treating the pneumonia I may develop as a result of my shopping experience.

A word of advice to those of you who may expect a Christmas gift from me in the future. Create a wish list at some online store and send me a link to it. All my future shopping will be done on Cyber Monday, not on Black Friday.

e-Gratitude

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”Cicero

For me, there is much to be grateful for this year. Of course, there are all the “usual suspects” such as health, wealth, and happiness and the love of family, the companionship of friends, and even the kindness of strangers. And at this time of year such things flood the mind. In prior years, I have ennumerated a lot of random things that I acknowledged I was thankful for, but this year, I thought I’d focus on things in the online world for which I am immensely grateful. So put on your surfing duds and hang on for the ride.

In December of 2004 I was finally successful in talking my friend Paul Moor, who lives in Berlin, into getting himself a headset and downloading Skype, and since that time he and I have had an almost daily conversation over Skype that often lasts from 30 minutes to over an hour. During these conversations, I am treated to his relating the tales of his life with some notable people and through some eventful times. Seldom does a conversation pass that I don’t learn something new that I hadn’t known before. So Skype is one of the top items on my list of electronic blessings.

This year has brought me a number of new e-Friends, which is to say people whom I know primarily through our contact on the Internet. I know I’ll fail to list some so I’ll apologize in advance to those whom I leave out. I don’t mean to slight you, because I value you all. But among my new e-Friends this year are James Prudente, the author of MixCastLive, Tom Simpson, the webmaster at WebfeedCentral and a fellow MixCastLive beta tester, Colm Smyth, an Irish software designer and blogger whose commitment to commenting at the blogs he visited has fostered an e-friendship between us, David Steele, who is an old friend but a new blogger, and Shel Israel, who is perhaps most famous for being the co-author with Robert Scoble of the upcoming book on business blogging, Naked Conversations. And those are just a few of the new acquaintenances I’ve made this year. I am also grateful for the many old friends and family with whom I maintain contact through the Internet.

I am also grateful for the discoveries I have made on the Internet that provide constant entertainment and education. Among the ones I have really enjoyed this year are Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Flickr, WordPress, the Gimp, Feeddemon, TightVNC, No-IP, Flock, Firefox, and Mememorandum (Tech), which only barely scratches the surface.

And I’ve enjoyed and am grateful for the opportunity to continue this experiment in blogging, now into my fourth year. I am excited about the potential it offers for collaboration with others and for meeting new friends. I am hopeful about the ill-defined but exciting opportunity that the so-called “Web 2.0” presents. I’m delighted and grateful for the many, many contributions to the general good that the Open Source movement has made. And I’m awed by the fact that so many of the contributors to that movement are in their late teens and early twenties. But I am encouraged that many who are my age and older are learning to use this new and marvelous tool we call the Internet.

For all of the conflict, suffering and strife that exists in the world and in this country, I think this is a great time to be alive and to be sharing in the progress we’re making together. My hope is that we learn from the things that collaboration online has taught us and that somehow we are able to do a better job of translating that into the real world of concrete reality.

Hope and despair about the future

It’s rare that I write anything on this blog that I think is really important for you to read. Today is an exception.

What I’ve written in this post isn’t the important part; it’s the links that I have provided that I think are important. So I encourage you to read them all, in their entirety. If you do, you’ll have devoted a considerable amount of your time to following my suggestion, but you’ll be rewarded, I think, with a better understanding of the issues facing the future of the Internet.

First, let me begin with what I think is the hopeful part. David Isenberg posted an editorial, written by the Managing Editor of the Falmouth Enterprise, Janice Walford, on November 8, 2005, about the establishment of a municipal wireless network by a town in Massachusetts. I recommend you read all of it, but here are the first few paragraphs …

Just as many families are taking a hard look at their monthly expenses for cell phones, Internet access, and the like, small towns and large cities are also seeking ways to trim their “communications� budgets.

The town of Pepperell, for example, with a population of 11,000, hopes to save $30,000 a year on its Internet access and cell phone bills, which equates to about 60 percent of its communications budget.

This savings will be accomplished by switching from the broadband service, offered by cable and telephone companies, to a wireless computer network, owned and operated by the town.

isen.blog

Who is David Isenberg, you ask? Well, here is an introduction for you from his bio page …

In 1997, David S. Isenberg wrote an essay entitled, The Rise of the Stupid Network: Why the Intelligent Network was a Good Idea Once but isn’t Anymore. In it, Isenberg (then a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Laboratories) examined the technological bases of the existing telecom business model, laid out how the communications business would be changed by new technologies, foresaw today’s cataclysms, and imagined tomorrow’s new network.

LongBio:isen.com

Mr. Isenberg’s 1997 essay, which is easy to read and understand and provides an excellent foundation for what follows even further in this post, begins with this blurb …

Why the Intelligent Network was once a good idea,
but isn’t anymore. One telephone company nerd’s
odd perspective on the changing value proposition

Stupid Network

On November 16, 2005, Doc Searls made this comment on his blog …

I’ve spent much of the last two weeks writing an essay that just went up at Linux Journal: Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes. It’s probably the longest post I’ve ever put up on the Web. It’s certainly the most important. And not just to me.

The Doc Searls Weblog : Wednesday, November 16, 2005

And in his lengthy, but in my opinion important, post on Linux Journal, he lays out the three scenarios he foresees, in which he makes a call to actions that I support …

We’re hearing tales of two scenarios–one pessimistic, one optimistic–for the future of the Net. If the paranoids are right, the Net’s toast. If they’re not, it will be because we fought to save it, perhaps in a new way we haven’t talked about before. Davids, meet your Goliaths.

Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes | Linux Journal

An update on Carole’s condition

I have just gotten off the phone with Carole, my ex-wife, who just yesterday completed the last of her 33 radiation treatments for breast cancer. She had the radiation after completing chemotherapy, so all of the immediate treatments related to the cancer that was discovered and removed surgically from her left breast have now been completed.

She is doing well and will now embark on a 5-year course of treatment with an experimental drug to prevent a recurrence. Since she is participating in an experimental treatment program, she won’t know whether she is receiving the experimental drug or Tamoxifen, but she does know that she will not be receiving a placebo.

I would like to thank all of you who have expressed your concern and interest in her progress both for your interest and for your prayers, as I’m sure she would too. She has an appointment this coming Monday with her oncologist to assess her progress at the 60-day point after having completed chemotherapy. She will, of course, maintain contact and regular checkups with her physicians to monitor her progress and her health.

I am certainly thankful that she has tolerated the treatments as well as she has and that she is beyond what I hope will be the worst part of this experience.

An update on Carole’s condition

I have just gotten off the phone with Carole, my ex-wife, who just yesterday completed the last of her 33 radiation treatments for breast cancer. She had the radiation after completing chemotherapy, so all of the immediate treatments related to the cancer that was discovered and removed surgically from her left breast have now been completed.

She is doing well and will now embark on a 5-year course of treatment with an experimental drug to prevent a recurrence. Since she is participating in an experimental treatment program, she won’t know whether she is receiving the experimental drug or Tamoxifen, but she does know that she will not be receiving a placebo.

I would like to thank all of you who have expressed your concern and interest in her progress both for your interest and for your prayers, as I’m sure she would too. She has an appointment this coming Monday with her oncologist to assess her progress at the 60-day point after having completed chemotherapy. She will, of course, maintain contact and regular checkups with her physicians to monitor her progress and her health.

I am certainly thankful that she has tolerated the treatments as well as she has and that she is beyond what I hope will be the worst part of this experience.

Revisiting why I blog

Yesterday I tried to enter this post but for some reason it wasn’t saved, so I am trying again.

As I was visiting some of the sites that I visit frequently, I noticed a post by Shel Israel over at It Seems to Me in which he was doing his best imitation of that Danish prince of indecision as he pondered whether this blog of his was meant to be. Here are a couple of his comments that caught my attention.

He said …

Sometimes I get a good deal of feedback–pro or con. Usually I’m deafened by the silence the blogosphere gives me.

ItSeemstoMe: Repositioning ItSeemstoMe Yet Again

And then he added …

I angst that over on Naked, Robert and I have given specific advice about how blog successfully: Do it often, be brief and stay focused. Here, I skip entire weeks, then blog in binges. I climb soap boxes, am occassionally as long-winded as a marathon runner and the dirty little secret is I love it.

ItSeemstoMe: Repositioning ItSeemstoMe Yet Again

I posted a comment there that I’ll repeat here, because it points out again some of my own thoughts about blogging. I said …

“When I came here to “catch up” on you and what you were saying, I did so via a newsreader, which is how I usually read you. I’m not sure how that behavior affects your rankings.

This post led me to actually open your site, in my newsreader (FeedDemon), to make a comment, because my blog is also all over the place, mostly focused on technology, but frequently about whatever is in my consciousness at that time. I post to “share myself” with those who care to read what I write. Like a lot of writers, I write to “get it out of me” more than because the world needs to hear it. I’m always surprised, though pleased I confess, when I learn that someone has read it.

In reading this blog of yours, I feel I’ve gotten to know you personally, and I think that is reason enough to blog, even if it doesn’t meet the criteria for becoming a highly ranked blogger. So from my perspective, I hope you’ll continue to write about your travels, your point of view, and yes, even about your dogs and cats.”

I think we bloggers sometimes get caught up in the competitiveness that is all around us and is exemplified in the so-called blogosphere by where we rank according to Technorati or some other tool that measures our popularity. I, for one, really don’t care about that. I’m resigned to writing, as I said above, “to get it out of me” and to make it available to whomever (or should that be “whoever”?) chooses to read it. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy it when people leave comments or send me email saying that they’ve read a piece or maybe even enjoyed it. It just means that I don’t have any delusions of grandeur about being an “A-List” blogger. There are far more people like me who have a blog for family and friends and who may be discovered by a small circle of others than there are those, like Robert Scoble or even Shel Israel, who are read by everybody. Frankly, I think that’s okay. I enjoy doing it, and that is enough for me.