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Mar
28
2005
0 comments
The kiddles got The Incredibles DVD for Easter. We saw it in the theatre, and watched it again tonight -- and after the kids went to bed, we had to visit the Special Features features of the DVD. Those nearly always rock.

We were rather disappointed at the 'deleted scenes' part, but the short "Mr. Incredible & Pals" was worth it.

Also, there's a featurette by Sarah Vowell -- I already posted about her part in the movie -- called Vowellet, juxtaposing the Vowell's 'day job' as a writer with her voice-over work as a superhero. To use the same sentence uttered by nearly everyone else mentioning this short, "Fans of This American Life will get a kick out of it." I just like Vowell's style; I can identify with her more than Sedaris, were I to use them as a line drawn separating types of TAL listeners.

It's true, though: the short is a nice production by Vowell, whether you're familiar with her history or not. She brings up that playing a superhero is something that doesn't require a paragraph of explanation to convince someone to appreciate it, unlike her new book. I don't need the convincing; Vowell rocks anyway, whether she can turn invisible or is merely writing about the violent deaths of presidents.

After an hour we are down to the Not-So-Special Features, and are skipping over the Boringly Unspecial Features. "Are we going to go work, or go to bed?" the wifey asks.

"We should go work," I said, remote in hand, flipping through the menus and screens.

"You're going to masturbate to Sarah Vowell again, aren't you?"

Mar
23
2005
0 comments
Several years ago, I stopped shaving daily. I didn't really feel the need; I wasn't bothered by a little scraggly growth, it didn't affect my job, so it didn't matter. A year or two after that, I started shaving my head; at first, I kept it very short, shaving it once or twice a week. Then I started growing it longer, and spacing shavings further apart. Now I shave my face about once every week and a half, and my head every two weeks or so.

The net effect is that my "look" changes almost daily now. If I have someplace important to be, I'll shave both at the same time: then I'm "Business Derek." It changes slowly, almost imperceptably, starting with shadowing on my cheeks. When my hair is very short, it sticks up pretty much all over, but as it grows out ir begins to turn, laying in different directions, passing through stages of "Ready For Bed Derek" and "Weekend Derek" and "College Student Derek" and "Gap Model Derek". I suppose the variance gives me a "troubled artist" look overall, and that doesn't disappoint me. I like this sort of change, plus I don't feel pressure to sustain a static vision of how Derek is supposed to appear.

This morning I looked in the mirror. My cheeks and neck are invisible under a layer of thick, dark whiskers. My hair is quite long (for my head; maybe an inch) and it's sticking up in every direction. Today's look is "Crazy Derek."

Mar
20
2005
0 comments
Last night I dreamt I was a disenfranchized teenager. I was in high school, and I hated it. I delivered chinese food after school, and I didn't try very hard. I stopped to doodle in my notebook while on a delivery, let the food get cold, didn't really care about the customer when I gave it to them. I drove a crappy little 1980s Japanese car. I dressed crappy. I met some people who I could tell were my friends, but I wasn't very interested in talking to them.

It was everything that I can't really be in real life, which is really what dreams are for. Ask my wife; I freak out over the possiblity of disappointing a customer (and my lack of resources makes this happen more than I'd like), and I'm hardly disenfranchized. I think I can do anything, simply by deciding I can do it...there's a lot of things I don't want to do, but not from lack of ability. And, when I doodle, there's probably a good reason for it, and it's done at the appropriate time. This dream gave me a glimpse of an imaginary world where I've got the skills and talents of someone completely unlike me....unfortunately, it was a one-eighty from a Superman dream.

Anyways, at some point in the dream I upgraded to a beat-up 1960s blue pickup with a genie-lift on the back. When I came back from dropping off some cold chinese food I didn't care about, I got in my truck -- to find out I had left it running and in gear. Stepping on the gas crashed the truck into the car cross from it, then pushed it into a SUV on the other side.

Turns out that the SUV belonged to Freddie Prinze Jr, who was more surprised than anything at what happened. I, on the other hand, realized I didn't have any insurance on my truck. I talked Freddie out of calling police, and wrote down the insurance information for my recently-sold japanese car on a strip of paper and handed it to him.

Dream Derek is a big asshole sometimes.

Mar
17
2005
2 comments
Today marks one year since I lost my job. I didn't write about it immediately when it happened, preferring to actually take stock in what my options were before getting into things.

Turns out, the best option was to just keep doing everything I already was doing -- part of why I left Lincoln was because I didn't have enough spare time to work a 9-to-5 job. So, here's a recap:

First task was to restore & further establish existing businesses; my freelancing, Deanna's websites ravaged by her divorce, and other project we'd started.

Next, we incoporated, came up with profit producing business models, and did our best to keep money flowing on eBay. eBay wasn't as reliable as we'd hoped, resulting in my delivering pizzas for a couple months (which, again, I left because I didn't have enough spare time for an outside job)

Which brings us to now: We're no longer relying on eBay for profit (although it will still figure in our business), and moving on to our "sex sells" set of websites. Money revolves around naughtiness, right? It's not exactly 'porn;' more focused on erotica and sexuality, two things becoming vogue in many different mediums, from fashion magazines to talk shows to movies. The mechanics of Sex-Kitten is controlled by us and we get most of the profit for hosting & writing the site code. Tit-Elation is up next, hopefully launched by the end of this month: a subscription-based site, customers getting a quarterly digest and/or online access, edited by some S~K writers we know well.

What's next? We've got things in line, more products, more sites, more than I can get into here. The first year was tough, trying to rely on hobbies to sustain us, but we're moving towards being a "Real" business. We've told ourselves 2005 is the year we genuinely make money, and it certainly looks like we will.

Mar
15
2005
2 comments
A site has just appeared in my referrer logs: BlogSearch.info. In fact, my profile page is the direct linker -- and if you check the url, I'm identified as "id=1". Wow, I thought to myself, Number One? How'd I get that amazing position? Was I the first blog they thought of when setting up the database? Was I recommended first? Who would assign me the pinnacle of site IDs?

I tried to browse the site a little, but it's afflicted with database errors, so it took me a while, but I think I found the reason I was picked as numero uno!

Actually, a computer picked me as #1. The reason: 1 is sorted with higher priority, alphabetically, than anything else....11 is higher than aa, 111 is higher than aaa...and so forth. So 11111001111 is the very first item in their alphabetically-sorted database. *sigh* At least I can call myself #1, but I pray nobody asks why.

Mar
9
2005
0 comments
I must say, fellow programmers, that RSS sucks. Sure, I put RSS back up on this site, I fit it into Sex~Kitten's updates...not too bad. simple construction, very easy to interpret visually, most of it could be created in a text editor without any special training.

Then, Gracie and I got talking about what RSS is, and she indicated she'd like an aggregator on her website. Sure, I said. If I can create the RSS XML, then I can use PHP's XML reading process and decode RSS just as easy, right?

Fuck that.

Now, I'm not one to swear in this blog, but my god, could the various fragments of RSS be any more incompatible? The way dates are saved is the absolute worst, especially when sorting for recent content is important -- you can't just ignore them, like creator information. Then, the actual blog content is stored in numerous different ways. Some places use namespaces, which messes up my tagreading. Stupid me, I even decided I should add Atom RSS support -- now, if that wasn't the stupidest thing ever.

So, just from my recent ramblings, here's my decisions:

  • Atom sucks. The use of attributes instead of making it the element's content is a horrible thing, especially when you end up with an empty element in the end. LINK tag, I'm pointing at you -- the URL is more important than being relegated to an attribute. Next, the date format is 'broken' from a standards point of view, even though I approve of the multiple date options. Then, you have a TITLE element, and the URL has a TITLE attribute? Which do you want us to use? There's the other useless incompatiblities...why change ITEM from standard RSS to ENTRY? It's not like you use ITEM someplace else important.
  • Don't use namespaces. A simple RSS feed should not need to have namespace definitions. I believe MoveableType is the culprit of this, as well as Them.Ws Feeds. The date element was flawed like Atom is in both the them.ws and MT feeds, and the way namespaces is used breaks the other elements.
  • The basics of RSS 0.92 and RSS 2.0 are close enough to be backwards-compatible for the important info; these required no debugging on my part. Thank you Livejournal, whose rss feeds (add "/data/rss" to the end of the Livejournal URL) are simple, clean, and nearly human readable all by themselves. Make is easy, and you'll attract users
  • Overall, dates are the most misused things: Date elements are nonstandard, sites leave them out, and the date format isn't standard. Next is the use of tags and elements with in "content" elements - one, it affects parsing if you have a tag in your text, without a closing tag. Also, you don't know where the feed is going - don't screw up their formatting with your HTML -- strip out tags before creating the RSS feed. And, finally, don't use fancy non-ANSI/ASCII characters. By the time they're downloaded, saved someplace, then formatted for reading, they're gonna look ugly.

Why is there RSS splintering anyway? If the purpose of RSS is to distribute your blog/news content in a universally standard format that's easily readable by anyone with a reader, then just use the freakin' standard elements. If you want to create a RSS feed that fits your own purposes, then add your own elements and leave existing ones alone (LiveJournal does this nicely, too). It's a lot easier for programmers to ignore superfluous elements than to try and learn the umteen different elements that all mean the same damn thing.

Mar
1
2005
0 comments
D and I are excited: we've come up with something that's potentially revolutionary in the use of the internet.

We drive to Wisconsin a lot; usually twice a month. That's a 8-hour drive each way, resulting in a lot of chit-chat time. Since we're in business together, that's usually the topic. We'll fill pages of notebook paper with random thoughts, wild brainstorming, and detailed notes on this and that.

Over the past two trips, we came up with something that could change the face of the internet, but I'm not prepared to talk about it yet. It's all full of XML and ecommerce and the web and software clients and fun stuff.

The most amazing thing is: it won't make us a dime. There's no profit for us in it. If it does turn out to change the face of e-commerce, it could add to our online sales, but other than that, it's really no advantage to us...

...except to know that we give something new to the online community. Like the Napster guy, or the Google inventors, or Linus Torvalds, or Tim Berners-Lee. Or all the people who came up with network standards and white-papers that were never adopted, or brainstormers that came up with impractically great things that never saw the light of day.

Most of our business stuff lights our fuse because we've figured out profitable business models. This is different -- it's the satisfaction of invention, and nothing else. It's talking about the theoretical, over and over, until there's too much practicality to pretend it's a theory. It's fantasizing to the point of creation, then getting out the hammer and nails and doing it, simply to get it done. It's carving away everything that's just a block of marble, leaving only the beautiful woman's figure in place. There's an excitement in creation for creation's sake, and we're feeling it. Even if it turns out that our idea sucks, we'll still have created something that started as a vague concept. Creation is the fun part.



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