What? No nomination?

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I see that none of you nominated me in any of the categories at the 2004 Weblog Awards including the technical category. Or the photoblog category. Or in the “Small Mammal” category, which I think I was last time I looked.

Luckily there’s no ‘hiking weblog’ category, or you’d all be dirt right now.

Somehow, and it was tough I was so crushed, I have managed to swallow my disappointment and have gone out and cast votes for other people who were nominated –Molly and Meg for technical (taking turns daily), Meryl Yourish in her category, Feministe in her’s. If you’re nominated and I know you, holler and I’ll vote for you, too. Do remember, though, that this is the same award last year that created a separate category just for women bloggers, leading to one of my better posts: Best Blog with a Female Spirit.

The 2004 Weblogging Awards is put on by the Wizbang weblog, known far and wide for its even handed coverage of politics. Yup, the only weblog more balanced is Little Green Footballs, who I have no doubt will win best blog.

(The Greenies are legendary in their fanatical devotion to Charles – look at how they screwed up Wikipedia.)

However, I think the awards are missing one category: The Mr. Rogers as Warblogger Award. This award would be for the person whose weblog writing best represents a weblog written by Mr. Rogers…if he were a warblogger.

Oh, hello Iraq. Boys and Girls, this is Iraq. Can we all sing hello to Iraq?

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine.
Could you be mine.
It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty
Would you be mine.
Could you be mine.
I have always wanted to have a neighbor
Just like you.
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood
With you, so
Let’s make the most of this beautiful day
Since we’re together,
We might as well say,
“Would you be mine, could you be mine,
Won’t you be, my neighbor?”
Won’t you please?
Won’t you please?
Please won’t you be
My neighbor?”

Welcome, neighbor, to this, neighborhood. You know how I like freedom. I’d like to talk to you about freedom. We usually talk over there on the couch, so let’s just go there. [gets up, sits over on the couch] Our special talking place. This talk is called “Fighting Terrorism and making the world safe for people like you and me.”

And for this award, I’d like to nominate Jeff Jarvis and the entire Spirt of America: Friends of Iraq campaign. I’ll even donate a red, white, and blue sweater as prize.


When open source is like bad sex

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Earlier, in response to designer demands for programmers to be more responsive to users, I wrote a post titled Open Source is Like Sex. In it I said that the users need to think about being less passive–to meet the techs half way.

Of course, when the users say, “Come on honey, I’m ready to rock and roll”, it would help if the developers don’t respond with, “Not now, I’m not in the mood.”

This new writing is related to the earlier post about the vulnerability found in WordPress 1.2.1 and 1.3 that would allow anyone to change a person’s siteurl value just by entering a bad URL into a browser. This can render a site unreadable, and even unusable; luckily though, it was a relatively easy hole to plug.

That WordPress, like all software, has bugs is nothing new and no big deal. There is no such thing as ‘perfect’ software, and you can spend the next twenty years jumping from weblogging tool to weblogging tool and still manage to stub your nose or your toes hopping into bed with each new hope of the moment. Perfection isn’t going to happen and the most that you can hope for is reliability, and that the tool doesn’t actively get in your way when you’re trying to write.

In their relationship with developers, users can meet them half way by understanding that shit happens. They can help with testing, by reporting the bugs, and by maintaining a sense of humor when things don’t quite go right. And yes, being grateful for the software, especially when it’s ‘free’. However, the developers also have a responsibility back to the user: to fix bugs, as soon as possible; to let users know about potential problems; and above all, to be respectful of the application’s users and their concerns.

That’s why I am disappointed about the events surrounding the siteurl bug – not because of the bug, but because of what happened before and after. It was best summed up by what one of the WordPress support forum moderators, podz said, “When decisions are made, we will no doubt be told.”

And that about sums up the entire communication about this whole problem.

You know, if I had even a tiny fraction of the enthusiastic users that WordPress has, with any of my ideas and efforts, I’d damn near cry in delight. Ask any developer and they’ll tell you the same thing: sure you can write code for yourself, but its more fun when others want to use it.

If users shouldn’t take developers for granted, the reverse should also be true: we should never take those who use our software for granted. Sometimes ‘free’ software developers forget that they truly are being paid for their time and their efforts; users are paying them with interest, with gratitude, and with trust.


Hiking packets

I have a set of hikes I want to go on this winter, but it’s going to be difficult going on all of them if the weather continues so erratically. Weather Underground is normally fairly accurate, but lately, when the forecasters promise sun, we get rain; and when we expect clouds, we get sunshine. Like today.

If the weather breaks, I then have to scramble through my books to see which hike I want– am I up for a tough one or an easy one–and directions to the location and and since most of the hikes are at least an hour away, and the sun sets at 4pm, I lose the opportunity.

Being a geek, and therefore fussy and tweaky, with a love of organizing information into bit buckets, I devised a system of hiking packets: manila envelopes, each containing referential material (description of hike, location and driving directions, and any trail guides) about a specific hike. These envelopes are then marked with their region, difficulty and length of hike.

Now, when the weather is right, depending on the amount of time before sunset and my energy level, I grab one of the envelopes, pull out the direction sheet for how to get to the location, grab my cameras and head for the car.

No more dithering. Better yet, I won’t know which hike I’ve grabbed until I open the envelope, so each trip will begin with its own small adventure.



From what I can see in the stores, this year’s big Christmas item is going to be small, digital music devices — iPods and the like. I’ve looked at them, but anything as small as most of them would be just waiting for me to lose it. Besides I rarely listen to music when I’m out hiking, and my car and home stereos work fine elsewhere, so I really don’t need another new gadget.

That’s not to say I haven’t been exploring the wonders of digital music, as I finally did get around to getting an account for iTunes. I had a tune running through my head for a song rarely played on the radio, and I thought I would see if the store had it. It did, in a couple of variations..and then some.

I’ve since downloaded enough songs to burn my very first digital music CD–an eclectic mix of songs from the last several decades, all single songs I really like that were included on mediocre albums. After listening to it on my home stereo system, my car audio system and with a ten year old CD player that refuses to die, I found the quality to be surprisingly good. I will probably never buy another music CD again.