Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Monday, December 15, 2008

Check Me Out Over at the Network Solutions Blog (with some bonus features for my Twitter post)

For the past few weeks, I've been doing some blogging over at the Network Solutions blog, Solutions Are Power. (I'd met blog honcho Shashi Bellamkonda at a Twitter meetup last year, and stayed in touch through various DC tech events since then.)

I'm blogging about social media and online community topics (naturally), with a particular focus on how it can affect small business. (And I mean real small business, not just social media consultants.) So naturally, there's some potential overlap with stuff I've been known to write about here. (Not the dumb things. Well, not my dumb things.)

For example, a few of the posts I've done over there, started out as drafts in my head that were going to be used here, but I never got around to doing.

Take my "Twitter: I Was Doing It Wrong" entry. I'd been sitting on it for a few months and not getting anywhere with it, when I found a new hook and used it for the NetSol blog. Book it. Done. Well, with a few tweaks:

* Twitter Priority: I left out the idea of Twitter posters prefacing their posts with a number on a set scale (say 1-4), so that recipients could filter to the level of posts they wanted to see from any particular person. (Remember, even if I know and like you, I don't necessarily care about the trivial emphemera of what you're doing right now... or even if I do, I don't need to know it in real-time).

An example scale would be:

1 - Your standard bullshit update of no consequence (that is to say, a normal Twitter post)
2 - Your standard bullshit update, except with your location
3 - An update where you're specifically trying to share information you think might be interesting or useful to others (say, a traffic disruption, celebrity sighting, or miscreants setting off fireworks inside the Metro)
4 - An update where you're explicitly requesting a reply from people (like a question)

Throw in a 5, for truly extraordinary, emergency circumstances (e.g. "help, i'm in egypt getting arrested.")

Since it would depend on people's ability to honestly self-categorize their own Twitter posts -- well, let's just say I'm not holding my breath on this idea.

* On my Facebook/Twitter persona: A while back, one of my Facebook friends asked me why I was out partying all the time. When I asked why she thought that, she said that it was the impression she got from looking at my Facebook status.

My Facebook status comes from Twitter (via TwitterSync) -- I don't update it any other way. And at that time, I only updated Twitter when I was out and about. Which is why my friend thought I was just partying non-stop.

Anyway, check out my entries (and, heck, the other entries, too) on the NetSol blog if you like, and drop a comment and say hi over there.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

You Can't Spell "Mullet" Without "Me"

So here's a followup to my mullet photo and associated blog entry -- a Flickr user found the photo I posted from 1992, and used it to better illustrate the multifaceted nature of the mullet in its wikipedia entry:

Let's see the Encyclopedia Britannica try to match this kind of credibility.

The edit was made with no prompting from me, but of course it has my full support, for however long it lasts.

While we're on the subject of goofy pictures of me (and really, when aren't we?), here's a photo of me at the 2008 Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race -- a reporter for the Baltimore Metromix took it and asked me, "If you had a kinetic sculpture, what would it be?"


I'm fortunate that this photo made it online, as I didn't manage to take any pictures of myself or my costume (such as it is).

The photo was taken in Patterson Park, just outside of the sand obstacle. I'm wearing a Nomex flightsuit that I picked up from a military surplus sale (I wore it one other time, on Halloween) -- it's a 34 short, and a little snug. I was worried that it was going to give me the dreaded front wedgie, but it was apparently okay.

It came with Air Force Academy insignia, which I left on. The cardboard grin is official race Spectator equipment; on the other backpack strap is an orange safety whistle. The dog tags are really geeky and I'll talk about them some other time. The red Running Man cap is AIM swag from April's Tech Cocktail DC 2 (I wore it because it was red -- no other endorsement is implied), and of course I have my skating wristguards on.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

John Scalzi Killed Me

I'd known this was coming for some time, and I'd managed not to think about it, but I finally have to acknowledge my shocking, inescapable fate:

John Scalzi killed me.

Adding insult to homicide, he had my carcass butchered, essentially turning me into a pile of steaks.

All this (including a hinted-at love triangle) happens between pages 131 and 139 of the third book in his Colonial Union trilogy (as good a name for it as any), The Last Colony:

Me, engrossed in pages 131-139 of John Scalzi's The Last Colony

I finally got around to reading it (it came out spring of 2007) -- I'd started it over the weekend and just finished it now.

I'd known he was going to kill me (or at least a character who shared my name), and as a matter of fact, he had even asked me for permission before doing it. Which I of course granted gladly.

Why did he kill me? I guess you can say it's my own fault. I can even point to the exact date: July 11, 2006. In my capacity as AOL Journals Editor, I'd had the pleasure of working with Scalzi (one does not manage Scalzi -- one can only hope to contain him), a contract blogger for some Journals-related programming.

I'd made a joke about the opening sentence of his prior novel (second in the trilogy), The Ghost Brigades, and this was his way of responding. It's right there in the comments:
"That's it. I'm naming a character after you in the book I'm writing now. And then I'm going to have him eaten by nefarious aliens. Just you WAIT."
He also thanks me in the acknowledgments (page 319). Yay.

As to the book itself -- if I were the type of person to call something "a cracking good read," I would. Scalzi does have a tendency in his works to give his protagonists enormous influence in shaping events and outcomes, ultimately remolding the worlds (and even universes) in which they live. In the hands of a less-capable writer, it might drift into Mary Sue territory, but he makes it work.

Also, as other critics have noted, the subplot that kills me kind of vanishes after it occurs. To be fair, it's overtaken by larger plot elements, such as the looming extermination of the human race. Though, if I were less charitable and significantly more egocentric, I might think that John, spent after sating his bloodlust by killing me off, dropped it to move on to more interesting things.

(I can say this as an accomplished writer, myself. Though I tend towards essays and even shorter-form works [like captions and promo blurbs]. And I'm pretty weak in character development. And I have no experience trying to maintain a story arc or coherent plot. And I'm not so good at crafting realistic dialog. And I've never actually published anything. Nor tried to. But other than that I'm a fully qualified book critic.)

Anyway, if you want to see me get eviscerated and served up like a subprime cut of beef, go buy The Last Colony.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Just in Time for the January DC Blogger Meetup: My New Cards

Reminder: the January Washington Blogger Meetup is tomorrow, Wednesday, January 16, 7pm at RFD, across the street from the Verizon Center (come earlier if you want to load up on happy hour drink specials).

Early attendance estimates look strong -- must be New Year's resolutions. Please join us -- all are welcome.

Just in time, too, I'll have a fresh batch of business personal calling cards:

You wouldn't believe how hard it was to get that phone number.

I'd been working on the design for a while (such as it is -- as you can see, even when it comes to graphics, I work in text), but I only got around to ordering them after I got a VistaPrint coupon in a recent Amazon order.

I ordered 500 cards, plus a self-inking address stamper, and some Joelogon post-its that I don't need (except as filler to get to $25 and free shipping).

It was mostly in the nature of an experiment and I was expecting the worst (which is why I didn't spring for the premium card stock), but I have to tell you: I was pleasantly surprised by the results. The very first card was miscut (there was a white border showing on one edge), but the rest look fine.

I'd ordered them on January 10th, they shipped on the 12th, and got here today (the 15th). I was pleased, which shows that it's all about managing expectations, since the note on free ("Slow") shipping said up to 21 days.

As to the design (such as it is):

* The ASCII face is not, strictly speaking, a logo -- it's just something I've been using in my mail .sig since the 90s. Nor is it really supposed to be me, I guess. Though it has glasses and looked slightly more like me when my hair was short and spiky.

* The blue is just... blue. It's a web-safe blue, though. (It's also not as spotty as the photo suggests.)

* This came to me late in the game, but I tried to put the viewable stuff next to the eyeglasses, and the ways you could "speak" to me next to the mouth. Though I didn't want to load up the card with too many Web 2.0 companies (especially since I try to sign up as joelogon whenever I can -- hence the "etc." I probably should have listed Twitter, though. Facebook, too.)

I probably should have tried harder to line up each facial element with its associated info, but I wanted to keep the spacing even to make it more readable. Which was more important than a metaphor of dubious utility.

* I stayed with a matte finish, and kept the back side's background plain white. Mostly because it was cheaper that way, but I like being able to write notes on people's business cards ("knows so-and-so," "hound mercilessly," "avoid at all costs," etc.), so I wanted to make it easy to do this.

I've already given one to a former cow-orker I ran into this afternoon at the coffee shop; we'll see how long it takes to get rid of the other 499. Come to tomorrow's meetup and I'll give you one.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Do Have: Podcast Interview. Do Not Have: Goddamned Philly Accent

So last month, I did a phone interview for SFSU campus radio show and podcast No One's Listening. You might know the host, Irene McGee, from MTV's Real World: Seattle (You know, Irene? Curly hair. Lyme disease. Got slapped.)

The show focuses on media issues, and they wanted to talk with someone from AOL on blog and social media etiquette. So they ended up with me.

(This was actually my second-ever work-related phone interview; my first phoner was back in September, 2005, talking about an AOL survey about blogging trends and motivations, though it was for print-only.)

Anyway, I did the interview. It went about 10 minutes and I think I did okay -- you can listen to my segment online here.

(I posted a full writeup in one of my work blogs -- I'm basically repeating it -- but I hadn't gotten around to talking about it here. I did mention it at the last DC Bloggers' Happy Hour. Evidently, one of my resolutions for 2007 is to do more self-promotion.)

It was fairly basic stuff. We looked at each other's blogs, discovered a mutual liking of The Pogues' Fairytale of New York, talked about some etiquette items specific to blogs, then meandered over to discussing profiles and other social media.

I probably should have gotten in a few more plugs for stuff, but I'm generally happy with what I said. After all, I can regurgitate the conventional wisdom on this community stuff with the best of them (be transparent, be authentic, be responsive, etc) and I've given this kind of spiel internally a bunch of times.

However, how I said what I said needs some work. I was too close to the phone mike, so my b's and p's were popping (guess I need a pop filter), yet I was still too soft in spots. Plus, I talked over the host a few times. So I need to work on my delivery.

However, one problem I do not have is any sort of harsh regional accent. I speak pure, flat mid-Atlantic American English. So I don't care what any damn Web site quiz says -- I do not have a goddammed Philly accent:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I was originally prompted to take the quiz by one of Gene Weingarten's weekly chats (now on haitus).

Obviously, I must have misunderstood the quiz questions, or otherwise answered them incorrectly. (I took the quiz twice, though -- same result both times.)

If you've never spoken to me, you have the interview podcast audio to listen to, so you can judge for yourself.

Finally, Happy New Year.

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