Tag Archives: Jason Kottke

How uncool is Movable Type?

Jason Snell looks at Movable Type which powers Daring Fireball, Kottke.org and other great weblogs but has fallen behind WordPress is power and ease of use.

So does it matter that I use Movable Type on this site? Probably not, since the entire point of the site is the content on the pages, not how it was made. But I’m struck that the analogy of software being like pop music is even more apt than I thought. In the App Store, we see apps that become hits and climb the charts. Is this because it’s a natural way to think of software, or because the iTunes infrastructure was built for music sales and then adapted to cover software too?

Regardless, it turns out that software can also be considered uncool, even if it still works. Not only is Movable Type uncool—the equivalent of ’80s hair metal, but the language it’s written in, Perl, is supremely uncool. Like, New Kids on the Block uncool. The razzing John Siracusa takes about being a Perl developer isn’t really because Perl is old, or bad, but because it’s just not what the cool kids are talking about. The world has moved on.

And yet, sometimes that old stuff still works, and is still the best tool for the job. And that’s why, at least for right now, this site is built on software that was initially released 14 years ago and given its last major update five years ago. We’ll use it until it doesn’t make sense to use it anymore.

Busting the Mattress Racket

I have been emailing and texting this post to everyone that I know is buying a new mattress or bed so I thought I should post it here.

Is there a more maddening industry? They confuse us with silly product names (the Sealy Posturepedic Crown Jewel Fletcher Ultra Plush Pillowtop or the Sealy Posturepedic Crown Jewel Brookmere Plush?). They flummox us with bogus science (“pocketed coils”? “Microtek foundations”? “Fiberlux”?). And they weigh us down with useless features (silk damask ticking?). It’s like buying a used car, and almost as expensive — I’ve seen mattresses going for $7,000. What’s a consumer to do?

The secret to mattress shopping is that the product is basically a commodity. The mattress biz is 99-percent marketing. So just buy the cheapest thing you can stand and be done with it, because they’re pretty much all the same. And that’s all you need to know. But do read on — the world of sleep products is quite fascinating, and I’d like to share it with you.

A couple of years ago Wendy and I bought a 2 inch think memory foam mattress topper.  Our mattress was starting to wear out and instead of getting a new one, we got one of these.  For $100, we get the best sleep we have ever gotten.   The only bad thing is that the dog likes to sleep on it now and won’t get down.

Turning 10

JordonCooper.com is a decade old todayTen years ago today I published my first post on this site.  I wasn’t sure if this blogging thing was going to last but since then I have posted more then 11,000 times to the site and the traffic has grown quite a bit.  There hasn’t been many changes to the site.  It was first powered by Blogger, then Blogger Pro, and then back to plain Blogger again after Google purchased it.  After 8000 posts, I moved the site to WordPress.

I started to post here because Andrew Careaga wrote a book called e-vangelism back in the early days of the interweb and he published a newsletter that talked about technology and faith.  I never read the book (sorry Andrew) but I did read the newsletter.  In it he talked about Blogger and how you could use it to keep a church website updated.  That is how I discovered Blogger and the rest has been history.  When I started blogging, there was Andrew Jones, Rudy Carrasco and myself blogging about the church and theological issues.  Other than them I learned a lot from Doc Searls, AKMA, Jason Kottke, Caterina Fake, Jeneanne Sessum, and Rebecca Blood.

I am not really sure why I keep posting here.  There never was a plan behind it.  I had no ambitions to be a thought leader, create a movement, make money, or achieve fame.  What I wanted was a place to explore ideas, keep track of interesting things and later on, share things with friends.  Hopefully I have done that.

I have also made some enemies.  One city councillor continues to block me on Twitter and called me an “first class asshole” over some comments I made last summer, one prominent Christian leader threatened to sue over comments, I think it’s a contributing factor for why my dad and I haven’t talked in eight years and more than one former colleague has questioned my Christianity over my more liberal views.   Still the site has brought more joy than angst so it’s all good.

There has been a lot of friends made as well.  Too many to list but thanks for the emails, comments, tweets, and time spent together over the last decade.   Hopefully there is an interesting link or two in the future.  Of course with entire companies moving from the open web to closed Facebook, I am now quite a bit behind the times but that’s the story of my life.

The StarPhoenixNot sure what the future brings.  I am writing a weekly column now at The StarPhoenix so some of my longer (and better written pieces) will be posted there.  I’ll still be posting links, sports (including my scheme to purchase the L.A. Dodgers) and some photos as well.

Thanks to everyone who reads this rather odd collection of links, rants, and articles.  You have been the ones that have made this so much fun.

The New York Times Meets Dooce

The paper of record profiles Heather Armstrong.  Here is how it started.

She is the only blogger on the latest Forbes list of the Most Influential Women in Media, coming in at No. 26, which is 25 slots behind Oprah, but just one slot behind Tina Brown. Her site brings in an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 a month or more — and that’s not even counting the revenue from her two books, healthy speaking fees and the contracts she signed to promote Verizon and appear on HGTV. She won’t confirm her income (“We’re a privately held company and don’t reveal our financials”). But the sales rep for Federated Media, the agency that sells ads for Dooce, calls Armstrong “one of our most successful bloggers,” then notes a few beats later in our conversation that “our most successful bloggers can gross $1 million.”

By talking about poop and spit up. And stomach viruses and washing-machine repairs. And home design, and high-strung dogs, and reality television, and sewer-line disasters, and chiropractor visits. And countless other banalities of one mother’s eclectic life that, for some reason, hundreds of thousands of strangers tune in, regularly, to read.

I lost my job today. My direct boss and the human-resources representative pulled me into one of three relatively tiny conference rooms and informed me that the company no longer had any use for me. Essentially, they explained, they didn’t like what I had expressed on my Web site. I got fired because of dooce.com. FEB. 26, 2002

Today the sleek headquarters of Blurbodoocery Inc. — the corporate identity of Heather and Jon Armstrong’s company — is on the 1,000-square-foot third floor of their sprawling six-bedroom home on a cul-de-sac in Salt Lake City, where they have lived since June.

In one corner is the glass-walled office of their newest employee, John LaCaze, who came aboard a few months before that move, and whose job description — everything from answering e-mail to ordering lunch to making sure that time is not wasted because, after all, it is money — has earned him the nickname “Tyrant” on Heather’s blog. Next to LaCaze’s office is the studio, equipped for audio and video. In the center are Jon and Heather’s work spaces, each dominated by two enormous computer monitors and an array of cartoons and kitsch.

Next to the door of the office is etched “Heather B. Armstrong, President,” but by her desk is a nameplate that reads “Heather Hamilton.” That was who she was in February 2001 when she wrote her very first Dooce post. She was 25, with a degree in English from Brigham Young University and a job at a start-up in L.A. “In those days when you said you had a blog, people thought you had a venereal disease,” she says now.

Dooce was a nickname that grew out of an inside joke — a takeoff of “dude.” Unlike many bloggers (particularly women) whose initial goal was to update family living far away, her postings were never meant for her relatives. She wrote of the liberation she felt leaving her parents’ Mormonism behind, of sex and caffeine, of dating and work. In the summer of 2001, Armstrong’s site was receiving 58 hits a day. On a whim she e-mailed Jason Kottke, one of the earliest online aggregators (whose own site was still a hobby and had not yet become kottke.org) and asked him for technical advice. He linked to Dooce, and her readership leapt to 2,000 daily hits.

The Three Year Old Camera

Jason Kottke has a great post on the results of giving his three year old a camera for Christmas.

But often the camera is a tool for him. Yesterday morning we were trying to build a boat out of blocks…"the same as we built last week," Ollie said to me. I couldn’t remember how we’d built the boat last week and Ollie couldn’t really describe it or duplicate it by himself. "We should have taken a picture of it. Then we would remember," he said. And a couple of weeks ago, his toy computer (basically a glorified Speak N’ Spell) ran out of batteries and when he came running in to the kitchen to tell me, he held up his camera with a photo of the computer in question, "see Daddy, the screen’s not working"…as if I wasn’t going to take his word for it.

After I tweeted about the camera, a number of people asked what setup we were using. We had an old Powershot SD450 laying around, so we gave him that instead of buying a kids camera. Ollie’s three and a half now and pretty conscientious; he doesn’t throw stuff around or smash things so we figured we could trust him with an actual camera. And for the most part, he’s been really good with it. He puts the cord around his wrist so the camera won’t fall on the floor if it slips out of his hands. For the first few days, he was accidentally sticking his fingers in the lens area and that caused the little shutter that covers the lens when the camera is off to stick a little bit, but he stopped doing that and learned how to fix the sticky shutter himself. He sometimes gets stuck in a weird menu after pushing too many buttons, but mostly he knows how to get in and out of the menus. He knows how to use the zoom and can shoot videos. He also can tell when the battery is running out and knows how to remove the battery to recharge it. Giving an "adult" camera to a three-year-old may seem like a recipe for confusion and broken electronics, but I’m continually amazed at kids’ thirst for knowledge and empowered responsibility.

For the automatic uploading to Flickr, we put an Eye-Fi card in the camera. The Eye-Fi is a regular SD memory card with built-in wireless networking…the low-end 4GB card is only $45 on Amazon. And you can link the card to a Flickr account so that when the camera is on and in range of a trusted wifi network, the photos are automatically uploaded. Pretty simple once you get it set up.

How the H1N1 Vaccine is Made

Jason Kottke has a great post on how the H1N1 vaccine is made.

The most striking feature of the H1N1 flu vaccine manufacturing process is the 1,200,000,000 chicken eggs required to make the 3 billion doses of vaccine that may be required worldwide. There are entire chicken farms in the US and around the world dedicated to producing eggs for the purpose of incubating influenza viruses for use in vaccines. No wonder it takes six months from start to finish. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Of course as complicated as it is to find 1,200,000,000 eggs to make the vaccine, those eggs don’t work nearly as well as they had hoped.

Side note. You may have noticed that the H1N1 vaccine has been difficult to find in some places around the US. The vaccine manufacturers have said that the Pandemic H1N1/09 virus when combined with the standard laboratory virus does not grow as fast in the eggs as they anticipated. The batches of antigens from each egg have been smaller than expected, up to five or even ten times smaller in some cases. Hence the slow rollout of the vaccine.