New digs…

Not for me directly or anything like that, but after a problem I was having with my last web hosting provider failed to be resolved, I decided to hell with it, I'll move on. So anyway, the 'new digs' refers simply to the fact it's the same blog here, and the same parent-level website above the blog, but it's on a new and different set of hardware through a different service.

Here's hoping this'll work out better. If nothing else, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than where I was.

For what it's worth though, I'm still waaaaay too busy for regular blogging.

Posted in Just stuff | Comments Off on New digs…


Looks like I was correct. Over the weekend, John Aravosis announced that he was indeed leaving blogging. As I said in my previous post, this isn't surprising.

Ten years ago, it was possible to really make a splash in what was then this newfangled mode of online advocacy called 'blogging.' It was a major deal, the ability to share with readers all kinds of information, hence there's been a blog for just about everything you can think of, from the mainstream to the sublime to the bizarre.

Right around the time of the 2007 economic crash though and in the year or so following, the revenue streams just dried up. I think in large part due to market saturation. I also believe that web advertising entered a negative feedback loop, whereby irritating and intrusive advertising is driving people away from websites. I've tried not to use my ad blocking add-ons on websites I wish to support, but when something is flashing, animated, has audio, or otherwise is has all the charm of a hyper-glycemic toddler demanding attention be paid, I'll turn on the filters.

So what do websites do in response? Some do as I would recommend and offer paid subscription options (provided they're reasonably priced). Others just jam more ads on the page…which causes more readers to leave and/or to turn on advertising filters. Leading to lower revenues, etc.

Anyway, John's landed a job at the U.N., where I'm sure he'll do wonderfully. I wish him all the best of good fortune. As for whether I'll stick around at AmericaBlog as a commenter, perhaps. I'll give the youngsters a chance.

(Still leaving comments off for now…)

Posted in Commentary, Just stuff | Comments Off on Yep…

Back again

Well, it was fun writing for a while for a 'real' blog over there at AmericaBlog for a little over a year, but life got in the way. One was I ended up with WAY too much work in 2014 and so couldn't keep up a regular posting pace. I'm still pretty busy with the business — but it's good. I have some terrific clients. And paying the bills is always a good thing.

The other reason is it seems clear the original owner and proprietor, John Aravosis, hasn't been able to keep the place humming, despite tremendous effort on his part. As he pointed out on numerous occasions over there, there was a golden time of sustainable blog advertising revenue, such that he didn't need to do anything but concentrate on the blog. But with the economic crash in 2009, after that, he says ad revenues never recovered. (Judging from the proliferation of increasingly intrusive ads on the blog, compensating that way isn't helping enough either. I will confess to using Ad Block on some of the worst offenders. Website owners/publishers: The surest way to make me turn on ad-blocking is to use animated ads, especially ones that ought to be labeled with epilepsy warnings.)

Whatever the full background (which I don't have), traffic there is slowly dying off, as is posting frequency. As I write this, other than a single post from John back on 24 February, he hasn't made any other appearances in over a month. (Used to be he posted daily, at minimum, often lots more). Based on my own experiences, this sort of drop-off usually presages a significant and imminent change in direction.

There are a few new faces, usually one-off posts from guests, but going through the recent history, there's just one blogger posting almost daily there…and although he's a quite bright young man and a college senior studying politics, I have to say his style just isn't to my tastes. (More often than not, I find myself disagreeing with his points. Also his perspective is as a 'millennial' whereas I can remember seeing LBJ on TV when I was a kid.) Thus even the idea of continuing to hang out in the comments on AmericaBlog has lost its luster.

The upside is a few of my bigger marquis posts did generate some notariety, and I was told I'd even attracted some positive notice at a certain Pennsylvania Avenue residence. (Ego-strokes = good.) It was fun while I could do it, but all good things, etc. It was clear enough to me though that by last summer, AmericaBlog itself was fading and traffic was falling off. It's sad, but it's really hard to make blogging into a job, especially if you want a website that is far more than a simple free template on an inexpensive hosting service, like my own personal blog here.

Online, there's this thing called the "Good Bye Cruel World" (GBCW — no, it's not nearly as dire as that sounds) post, where someone will ostentatiously make a huge deal about their departure from a particular online locale. I'm not going to do that on AmericaBlog. Personally, I figure I'll do the same thing I did when I stopped writing formal posts: Just stop going there, stop spending time in the comments arguing the same points with the same people over and over. Only in this case, I'm not going to fool myself into thinking, "Oh, I'll go back to it as soon as the work eases up." I might, I might not, but I'd rather not commit to one or the other. (Leaning strongly 'not' right now though, an affinity which has been increasing even as John's posts all but stopped.)

One of the real problems I'd had is that writing for a professional blog is way different than this personal stuff. I had to research my posts. Back up every point. I took pride in my research and linked sources, but this takes time and effort, which when my paying work kicked up, I just didn't have the hours to spend doing. Moreover, due to weirdness in AmericaBlog's advertising code, I couldn't edit a published post to correct any mistake I may have made. I made a few doozies, too… including one not long ago when I wrote a hasty and off-hand comment (not a post, just a Disqus comment) about my disdain for reality TV shows, how most of them are either scripted or phony, said some unresearched misconceptions about one particular guy who does his own show, "Survivorman", and inadvertently pissed off someone I actually have a great deal of respect for, Les Stroud. I apologized profusely to Mr. Stroud for my errors in both fact and judgment, but I remain very unhappy that I wasn't asked if I wanted to edit my comment or research what I'd said before it was turned into a post on AmericaBlog. The consequence of this was any remaining desire I might've had to write impromptu quick opinion posts pretty much burned out completely.

I'm human; I say stupid shit sometimes. But I'd rather my hot-headed foolishness at least have the relative anonymity of obscurity.

What I am going to do is come back here to my own old stomping grounds. Maybe put a little time into fixing things up. This is a very old blog template, for example, although at least the 'back of the house' code remains up-to-date thanks to WordPress. Maybe post a little more often. I do know that some friends and family members keep track of me through this here li'l blog — mainly because I do NOT do Facebook or Google+ — so I thought I'd just post this quick status. I'm going to leave comments turned off for this post though until I'm sure whether or not I'm going to be here regularly. I don't want to have to deal with spam, which is all that started showing up after a while when I stopped posting here.

If you do happen to want to contact me, feel free to use the Contact form. If I start posting regularly again, I'll re-open comments on those posts and leave them open for about a month or so from original publication date on the post.

As for AmericaBlog, it was fun. Definitely had some good ego boosts. But sometimes the party is over before all the guests realize it, and I'd rather come back here.

Still another nice thing about being back home? I can just finish up this post, hit the Publish button, and not think twice about it. I was also able to pull up Edit and add lots more thoughts and make a few corrections. Including mentioning I have this novel that, given how self-publishing works these days, I might just make a go of putting out there.

No doubt the manuscript needs a good edit, but I think it's a decent story…

Posted in Commentary, Just stuff | Comments Off on Back again


Since I'm posting here but very rarely and spending most of my online time either blogging over at AmericaBlog or working or whatever, the recommendation for reaching me is to use the contact form on this site, or else email me directly if you happen to know my address. (Ain't gonna post it here though, because I don't want the 'bots to harvest it.)

Posted in Just stuff | Comments Off on Suggestion–


Anyway, I'm blogging over on these days.

Much more enjoyable to have hundreds, if not thousands of readers.

Posted in Just stuff | 25 Comments

Boston bombing

Open message to the perpetrators: I don't know who you are or what your cause might be or what you think your justifications for your act of horrific violence might have been. I don't care. Nobody cares. You will never win because there are more good people than there are of you.

Want some evidence? Watch the videos and see how many people run toward the explosions, to help the wounded.

One thing I do know: There is a special place in Hell waiting for you. You are a monster.

Posted in Commentary, Editorial, News | Comments Off on Boston bombing

9 years and counting: Opportunity

I just saw in the news how the Opportunity rover on Mars just entered into its 10th year of operation, with what its NASA operators say is still remarkably good electronic and mechanical health.

That's 108 months. Both it and it's twin rover, Spirit (which sadly stopped operating in March 2010) were expected to survive only for a three month mission. It was thought both would become covered with dust during the Martian winter and run out of juice — but they didn't.

To do the math for ya, Opportunity has lasted 36 times longer than its original mission. And to put that in perspective, given an average life expectancy for Americans born recently of 78 years, that'd be the equivalent of surviving 2808 years — and still being reasonably healthy.

We've definitely gotten our science-dollars worth out of those little rovers.

Posted in News | 1 Comment

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention…

…that we've moved, and thus the little weather widget in the right-side column now reports from our new weather station location in Tijeras, NM.

We're both really, really hoping this is the last relocation for a very long time.

Posted in Life in New Mexico | Comments Off on Oh yeah, I forgot to mention…

A few things…

First of all, gonna… well, not exactly eat crow, but issue a correction.

I did, in fact, get Windows 8 Pro and installed it on my system, and I only find it about 33% sucky. Best fix of all was to add Start8 from Stardock, which I was able to get free because I subscribe to their OpenDesktop program. It does feel a little bit faster, but I wouldn't say the difference is huge, especially since I already had SSD acceleration on my system drive. Why did I go for it? The price. Microsoft was offering the upgrade to Win8 Pro for just $40 and I couldn't pass it up, not when the usual upgrade price will go up to around $130 (system builder DVD) to nearly $300 (full retail version) after the first of the year. (Guessing based on Win 7 Pro pricing.)

Start8 is a lifesaver, by the way, and between it and Tweak8, I barely know that the horrible Metro/Modern UI even exists. My system boots up straight to the desktop, no muss, no unlocking, and most of all, the Windows keys on my keyboard bring up the traditional Start menu.

I can hardly wait until Stardock comes out with a Win 8 compatible version of WindowBlinds, a UI customization program that lets you 'skin' your windows however you like. I really, really dislike how Microsquishy made it all but impossible (for now) to truly customize the look and feel of the desktop.

Second item: We hateses iTunes 11.0. Loaded it up, then couldn't find anything. Finally got the sidebar and status bar re-enabled. But then they dumped the dynamic playlists in favor of their new "Playing Next" feature. With 10.7, if I shuffle a playlist, I can see right there on the screen what's coming next. For 11.0? I have to go click on little icon on the UI, which'll show the list, but it's not persistent. I also didn't realize that in fact I do use the old 'coverflow' feature — and Apple dumped that, too. Nothing to replace it; it's just gone. Meanwhile, the ONLY place in the entire display that consistently shows what is currently playing is at the top of the screen, in the little player area. The browse lists don't update or shift to the currently playing song, overall making the new iTunes LESS usable, informative, and dynamic than the previous version. So I downgraded to 10.7, restored the library, and turned off automatic updates. Maybe I'll take a look again in a few months or so, see if Apple has relented at all on the klunkiness of the design.

Third item: Damn Mozilla…and thank you, Mozilla, for 'End of Lifing' Thunderbird, the open-source mail application with which I've had a longstanding love/hate relationship. Early on, it was the perfect replacement (for me anyway) for Microsoft Outlook. To my thinking, it was also a hell of a lot safer because it didn't store everything in a single humongous mail file. But over the years, they've broken more things than they fixed, and added UI elements and features that made it less usable. They were also fast-tracking releases over the previous couple of years — and this had the extra effect of constantly causing add-ons to be declared incompatible. Adding new accounts became a nightmare. And apparently not long ago, Mozilla announced it was ending development. To be sure, Thunderbird still works, but in addition to no new development, this also means the existing problems and bugs are likely not to be fixed. This latest release (17.0) broke my news feeds — now none of them will do anything but load the full web page when what I want is summaries.

Anyway, long story short, I decided to give Postbox a try — and I mostly like it. True, I've had to lose a few add-on features, but on the other hand, it's fast and seems really stable. Plus its interface is sufficiently like T-bird (has some of the core code), it's not like it's a complete shock to use. Nice thing is they've been dropping the price like crazy — used to be $30/license, now during the holidays it's only $7.

Posted in Reviews, Technology | 4 Comments

Windows 8…

These are just my opinions here, but I'm feeling a bit of deja vu here regarding Windows 8 and the new Microsoft Surface tablets.

The Surface reminds me of the Zune, which was a product line intended to compete directly with iTunes and the iPod. It made a bit of a splash, but never really caught on. Thing is, the Surface costs essentially the same as an iPad, and even though in fair disclosure I do not especially like Apple computing products, I think Apple's iOS user interface is way, way, WAY more usable than the fluorescent-pastel atrocity which is Windows 'Modern' (renamed from 'Metro' probably because of all the reviews out there from people saying they hate it).

And Windows 8 itself? Maybe it's quicker than Windows 7, but honestly, with an Intel SSD boost for my main hard drive, my boot time is only about 20 seconds anyway — and I have a fully customizeable UI that doesn't make my eyes want to bleed every time I look at it.

As I mentioned in another post, I beta tested Office 365, the successor to Office 2010 — and I hated it. All the visual cues and sharp contrast I was used to in Office 2010 (and 2007 and 2003) were gone, replaced with a washed-out low-contrast white-gray windowed interface that literally added time to my ability to locate frequently used functions.

Here's the thing that Apple recognized that Microsoft seems utterly oblivious about: Desktop/laptop work and touchscreen use are different. This should translate into different UI designs — which Apple has done and Microsoft has chosen to reject.

People working with a traditional computer and doing more than one thing at a time actually like and prefer multiple windows and a UI that makes it easy to locate and use frequently accessed applications and functions. There's lots more screen real estate available and a good UI will take advantage of it — especially for people with multiple monitors. You can take the icons and give them unique, identifiable shapes and labels.

Those using tablets have different needs and are usually doing just one thing at a time. There, if not for the inherent ugliness of color choices and user-antagonistic decision to make all the Metro 'tiles' look pretty much the same, the Win8 UI almost makes sense. But as others have already noted, there is much more you have to remember, such as where the hot-spots are on the screen so you can access functions.

Once more: So not an iPad fan here. I don't even own one. But I have friends who do own them, have had a chance to play with an iPad for several hours and generally liked the experience. My main barrier to entry is the expense and the fact I'd have to spend even more to come close to matching the application software base I've built up over the years for my Windows desktop systems.

While I don't think Windows 8 will be the disaster Microsoft BOB was, I do believe the comparisons with Vista are inevitable — only in this case, instead of Vista's well-documented functionality flaws, it's the human interaction and usability factors. Just as one anecdotal point of data, when Win 7 was coming out, I immediately began upgrading my Vista systems to it.

I have no such plan for Win 8.

Posted in Reviews, Technology | Comments Off on Windows 8…