So my experimentation with Ghost as a new blogging platform is, for now at least, dead. My conclusion: I didn’t want to be stuck running the behind-the-scenes of another blogging platform, which is what I was doing with my own installation of Ghost on DigitalOcean. And yet I didn’t want to pony up for a Ghost Pro installation while I would still be paying for my existing setup, where I have more than just this blog and email.
So for now, staying put with WordPress on Dreamhost. My installation is pretty lean as it is, and I’m used to it. I do plan to migrate from the .com to the .net, because it just fits with the online moniker.
If you are new to blogging, however, and are looking for a fast, easy to use, and worry-free platform, I would recommend giving Ghost a look. Should my needs change in the future where I think they would best be served by moving to Ghost Pro, that is definitely the direction I would move.
Occasionally, those follow-a-link-from-a-link-from-a-link blog trains land you in a thought pattern that ends up in a situation of “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” And so I have arrived at disabling all comments on the blog. Jon Saddington’s post convinced me to take the plunge, and I even used the plug-in he suggested. Took less than three minutes. Easy.
Why do this? I don’t expect a lot of comments, for one. I don’t post often enough for conversations to happen, unlike my friend Michael’s blog. Second, I don’t need another time-wasting distraction that is approving or not approving comments, or going through the ones marked as spam looking for false positives. If there is a need for reader interaction to take place, they can hit me up on any of the major social platforms, or use the contact form linked at the top of the page. Finally, this blog should be about me writing what I want to write, not writing what I think people want me to write. Disabling comments helps that focus to happen.
And now I have one less thing to worry about.
Retrophisch.com lives again. I have wandered aimlessly in the wilds of the Internet for far too long. It was finally time to own up to one of my mantras regarding one’s online presence: own your own domain, own your own content.
When last we left this site, I had eschewed WordPress for Tumblr. Given one of the constants of life is change, it was only a matter of time before WordPress evolved to the point where I would make the leap. And it was so easy. I wonder why I took so long to do this. (Oh, right, life with three boys, and being hockey dad, Cub Scout dad, swim dad, golf dad…)
I have had a Dreamhost account for a few years. The only real use it had been seeing was serving up email for my oldest, on one of the domains I registered for him a decade or so prior. When the server this blog and its predecessor had been living on suffered a catastrophic hardware failure, it was time to make the move to Dreamhost full time and relaunch. So here we are.
WordPress installation on Dreamhost was a snap with their One-Click Install. Importing my Movable Type archive went seamlessly. Well, seamlessly after I figured out I needed to install and turn on Markdown plugins for some of its and the Tumblr archive’s posts to look as they should. Said Tumblr archive followed soon after. My Tumblr site remains up, so long as Tumblr survives as a corporate entity. Should that fail at some point, the posts live on here. Which is the whole point: owning my own content.
Years ago, Michael Hyatt blogged how he looked at his online presence as revolving around his blog/site. That was home base. Everything else—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, what have you—were simply outposts. They were never to be one’s only online presence. While this resonated with me, having had an online presence before any of these companies came into existence, I stumbled in hewing to it. Nevertheless, thanks to catastrophic hardware failures, corporate buyouts, and creepy corporate policies, I began anew to prepare myself to giving up one or more of those entities should I feel the need arise.
Manton Reece reiterated, repeatedly, that which Hyatt promoted, and I internalized: own your own content. Manton left Twitter in 2012, but didn’t stop with posting tweets. He just did so on his own blog, in the form of snippets, or micro posts. This eventually led him to launch Micro.blog on Kickstarter two years ago. I backed this project, and was among the hundreds of original tenants of the Micro.blog ecosystem. I mainly set it up as the own-my-own-content side of my social media. You’d see these same posts on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere, but they lived on Micro.blog first. This became my default online presence.
Yet there was still a sense of unease behind it. Yes, it was a service I was paying for. I was the customer, not some corporation paying Manton for all my info so they could sell ads to me. You know, exactly what Twitter and Facebook do. But it still felt like another layer to deal with. It was better than what I was doing before, and I continue to enjoy the community aspects of Micro.blog, but it didn’t feel like home.
Now those posts will reside here. I ran into an issue importing my Micro.blog feed, and I’m working with Manton to resolve it. Those will cross-post to Micro.blog, and thus to Twitter (and Mastodon, for what it’s worth).
There’s still a lot of cleanup to do on the older posts. I’ve gotten through 2002 as of this post going up, which means there’s a long way to go, but it’s worth it to me.
I do not plan to delete old posts. Some of these I’ve read and winced. My thinking has changed on some issues in more than a decade since these old posts were published. With others, maybe I could have been nicer and less sarcastic. (Hey, I said maybe.) But they are what they were at that time in my life.
Much thanks is due to Webmistress and CSS master Raena for assistance in getting things looking just the way I wanted, and to Michael for bits of advice on WordPress, Dreamhost, and importing content.
Because I can. Because I want to. Because I determined I am going to own my online presence and not outsource it to others. You may not feel this way. That’s cool. But this is the way I want it for me.
Own your own domain. Own your own email. Own your own content.
A few years ago, when I was throwing around the idea for a new logo, a new tagline appeared in my mind: Navigating the waters of faith, family, and fiction. While that isn’t displayed overtly on the side, it is embedded in the code. So those areas will be my focus, along with the tech and nerdery I’ve long been involved with.
In the latter vein, I already have a draft about Mac portables going, based upon some recent experience, recent news, and recent blog posts by others.
I hope you stick around!
To quote one George Constanza:
“Greetings, people. Greetings. Greetings and salutations. What a beautiful day for a ball game. Let’s play two!”
And what a beautiful day for a new blog launch. Why? The full explanation is at the old blog; I won’t take up space rehashing it all here.
More to come here, and soon…
For more than a year I've been thinking about redesigning the blog. I know, I know, I haven't really blogged that much of late, but still, I've been giving it some thought. Given that this is a not-for-profit venture that's really more for me than anyone else--though I truly appreciate your patronage--I could not justify paying someone to do the redesign for me, though I have numerous friends I would love to have do it for me. The redesign thought process had me examine my blogging platform as well. I've been with Movable Type for quite a while, nearly a decade. This blog is currently on version 4.2 of the software, with 5.1 on the cusp of release. Were I to stay with Movable Type, it would behoove me to upgrade, and take on the learning curve of the changes made with version 5. WordPress, of course, is the hot ticket in the blogging world right now, and has an impressive and extensive theme ecosystem, making a redesign a theoretically simpler affair. My friend Tom has been using Tumblr for two years, and has been pretty happy with it, the service's massive outage five months ago notwithstanding. It was precisely Tumblr's outage, and my Type A-control freak personality, which had me pushing Tumblr and similar service Posterous to the bottom of my choices. Then there was the decision of export/import. Did I want to take nine years worth of Movable Type blog posts and import them into a new blogging system? Conveniently, I had another domain name I could use. Since assuming the Retrophisch moniker, I've had the .net and .org domains pointing to the .com. About two years ago, I had the bright idea to seek out a shortened domain, one ending in .ch. This necessitated a visit to the Swiss registrar SWITCH, as at the time no U.S.-based registrar was offering Swiss domain purchases. In a matter of minutes, retrophis.ch was mine. It, too, went up as a redirect to the original retrophisch.com. Now, I find myself with a domain different enough, yet still the same, I could simply "flip the switch" with: start over, with no importing. The old blog will reside as it always has, and go into archival mode. So one part of the decision-making process was done. Now, back to the question of the engine, the content management system, or CMS, as it's called. I ended up leaning toward Posterous, then Control-Freak Me decided on WordPress. Only it was not to be: WordPress' "famous five-minute install" went off without a hitch, but I kept running into a glitch with the setup. While Control-Freak Me was running this down, I-Just-Want-To-Post-Content Me was getting really annoyed, and went off exploring other options yet again. Finally, I decided to move to Tumblr. Yes, there is a chance the service will go down again. Yet there's just as much of a chance of a flash flood taking out my friend Jim's server where this site resides. Stuff happens. So from this moment forward, new stuff will be there, at Retrophis.ch. Point your browsers, and feed readers if that's how you roll, there. This joint's being boxed up and rolled off into the giant Internet storage warehouse. Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you over at the new digs.
Wow. Seven years as of yesterday. Seven years ago, I had a great job. A career in IT. Seven years ago, we hadn't been in our new house even a full year. Seven years ago, we were churchless. Seven years ago, we were childless. Now, I do not have a career in IT, but I do have a job: being a stay-at-home dad. And it's awesome. Now, we've been in the house nearly eight years. Now, not only do we have a church, but that church has given me my best friend, and yet another purpose: leading some of our collegians in Bible study. Now, we have two wonderful boys, six and thirteen months. They are absolute joys. I'm blogging less. Twittering more. Chasing a little guy all around the house. Having fun. It's not all a bed of roses, but there are more ups than downs, and I thank God for all of these blessings.
Today marks the conclusion of six years of blogging at Retrophisch. Two thousand, two hundred, sixty-three entries. Two thousand, two hundred, sixty-three bits of myself, revealed for passers-by. Two thousand, two hundred, sixty-three things I thought you might find interesting. Or funny. Or serious enough to care about. Or to do something about. Or just for me to think about. Or to do something about. Now to press forward in to the next six...
So today marks the eighth year I've done the blogging thing. I won't go in to any great recap, as I did two years ago. (And I completely failed to note the seventh blogoversary last year.) Needless to say, some things have remained the same, and some things have changed quite a bit. For one, I'm blogging less, mostly because of Twitter, and if you want to know what I'm up to, or what I'm thinking, in short snippets, you should definitely follow my Twitter account. For another, I'm paying slightly less attention to politics, which used to constitute a good amount of posts. Finally, some days, I just don't feel like I have much to say in a blog form, so why bother with some drivel to the blog that's better suited for the 140-character limitation of Twitter, or not for public consumption at all? Still, I have hopes for more thoughtful posts. I just don't know when those might begin appearing, though I can guarantee it will be some time in the next eight years... 8^)
Oh, did I forget to mention my wife's become a blogger? And that she did so last year? Whoops. Well, that takes me out of the running for Husband of the Year™. (And if you think that's all I've done to take myself out of the running, I have some beachfront property in Scottsdale I'd like to talk to you about.) <rimshot> But enough about me... The missus began blogging last May as an outlet for the angst and excitement she felt as a result of our seeking to add to our family through adoption. She's also been talking about our struggles with infertility as we seek to add to our family on our own. At some point she began sharing little tidbits about our life at home, missing her mom, and other things outside the realm of adoption, and I suggested a name change for the blog. In private conversations with friends, nearly all online, I've often referred to our home in general, and the study, from where I compute, in particular, as "the Phisch Bowl". Seeing how I have no intention whatsoever of allowing the fish (phisch?) meme, courtesy of my anagramed moniker, to die, my abrupt suggestion to her was, "Life from the Phisch Bowl". So there you go. A small word of warning. The missus tends to use some shorthand and acronyms she's picked up from motherhood/pregnancy/infertility forums over the years, and some might not be readily decipherable. Trust me, there was a time when I was constantly asking her what this acronym or that one meant. Should you need similar help, drop me a line, or better yet, drop the missus a line over on her blog, and ask her. Better still, just drop her a line and say hi. Her latest post also deals with an issue near and dear to our hearts. Once again, Kel will be participating in the March of Dimes' March for Babies, formerly known as WalkAmerica. Due to a commitment with the little phisch, I won't be walking this year, but Kelly will, and she's raising funds. (Much to my chagrin, she's already raised more funds for this than I need in total for my mission trip to Juarez, to build houses for the poor there, in June. This includes monies from my own mother, who was asked, along with several friends and family members, to support my trip prior to Kelly beginning her fund-raising. Hrmmm. Perhaps I should outsource my own fund-raising to the missus, since we all know she is far, far more charming a person than I....) So, drop by her blog and say hi, and if you're led, help us with the March for Babies. I love you, sweetheart.
So I got off my duff and finally got around to putting in to place the redesign (realignment?) of the blog that I've sat on for the better part of two years. Those of you who normally read the blog from the RSS feed can click over to see the new look. (If you care, that is.) Those of you who read the blog by actually going to it may have noticed the new look over the past couple of days. (Or maybe not, and if that's the case, I'm left to wonder whether or not that's a good thing or a bad thing.) One thing you might notice on the main page is the Twitter section at the top, marked "Recently". If you are a regular reader of the blog, you may have noticed that my blogging has taken a huge dive in recent months, with most posts consisting of the daily links posting from my del.icio.us account. The reason for that is I'm doing a lot of micro-blogging over on my Twitter account. I say micro-blogging, because Twitter limits each post to 140 characters. (This is largely due to the number of character one can put in to a SMS message, and Twitter has excellent SMS compatibility.) So now you when you visit this blog, you can also see my latest on Twitter. There's further tweaking ahead. I likely won't leave all of those links in the sidebar. They'll get spun off to a separate page, like the reading list and photos. I'd like to integrate a linkblog in to the main page, a la John Gruber and other bloggers, instead of relying on my del.icio.us account to automatically spit them out each morning. The linkblog would allow more immediate posting, and any comments about the link wouldn't be limited to del.icio.us's text field. The biggest tweak, however, will be under the hood, as I upgrade to Movable Type 4. Hopefully, this will be transparent to you, dear reader, but will empower me and make my blogging life easier in the long run. Let's hope it doesn't take another two years for these various tweaks to be made reality. I have quite a few people to thank for their input and help over the past two years. So many, in fact, that I dare not name them all here out of fear of leaving someone out. Needless to say, those of you who fall in to this category know who are. You occupy prime positions in my instant-messaging buddy list and e-mail address book. You are my friends, and for putting up with my endless questions of "How does this look?" and "What do you think of this?", or the myriad times when I failed to even ask a question and just IMed you a link with no backgrounding of any sort on my part, you have my sincerest thanks. If you absolutely hate the new look of the blog, well, that's your opinion, and you should place any blame for your dislike firmly at my feet. If you absolutely love the new look, it's because of the wonderful people, mentioned above, who took time out of their lives to share part of mine with me. Oh, and if you happen to be nostalgic for the old look, you can still find it here, for a little while.
My favorite blogging client has now been revved to version 2. I've been using MarsEdit ever since original developer Brent Simmons rolled out the 1.0 product, and I've been very happy with it. A couple of months ago, I began beta-testing new owner Daniel Jalkut's upgrade of the client, and wow, was I ever blown away. Brent never really had the time to devote to MarsEdit, what with the popularity of NetNewsWire, and Daniel has definitely taken MarsEdit to the next level. One thing I've noticed, being on the beta test lists of a few independent and small-shop Mac developers, is the level of responsiveness from those developers. You're talking directly with the individual responsible for the product, not some project manager or mid-level flunky who really doesn't get what's going on with the application. Daniel is no exception, encouraging great participation from those on the beta list, and he always maintains a professional, and very friendly, attitude. It sounds like the the upgrade release is a hit so far, and no wonder, because MarsEdit 2 is a great product. Great job, Daniel!
(The obvious answer is "Flash sucks, that's why".) Brent Simmons:
We all know that the iPhone doesn’t include Flash. Various theories have been aired.
I have a theory that I haven’t heard yet: Flash wasn’t included because it crashes so much. I detest Flash. It's a resource hog, and there are very few Flash-based sites that are well designed to begin with. I hope Google moves YouTube to H.264 video for the "regular" Internet, not just for the iPhone's access. Roughly Drafted makes the case that the iPhone is a threat to Flash, as well as to Windows Media and Real. Why? Because H.264 is an standard video codec that doesn't rely on a software processor, for one. In laymen's terms, by using H.264, your system doesn't have to work as hard, because it likely has a hardware processor capable of decoding H.264 without having to hit your general processing unit, which means you get more battery life, use less power, etc. If you're a content provider, you don't have to worry about providing multiple video formats. You can simply output a single, MPEG-based H.264 video that you know users won't have to have a plug-in for, like Flash, Windows Media, or Real. The other upside is that you don't have to pay any licensing fees for those three formats, either. Sounds like a win-win to me. [Wave of the phin to Lee for the Roughly Drafted link, via IM.]
I believe genealogy fascinates a lot of people. We've all thought about "Where did I come from?" Most of us have no memories of family beyond our grandparents, maybe our great-grandparents. (I was able to know two of my great-grandmothers, both on my dad's side, as a child.) I came across Geni through some random blog readings, and I started a family tree with myself, in the hope I can help my son understand our family history a bit when he gets older. The cool thing about Geni is that as you add people to your tree, you can invite them to sign up for the site (it's free, at least for now), and they can add to their own tree, which in turn adds to yours. Think of it as MySpace meets the family tree, social networking making genealogy more practical. After all, my dad knows a lot more about his grandparents and great-grandparents than I do, and he can add a lot more information himself that I might not even think of.
I won't go in to the whole spiel, because why say what's already been said? Suffice to say, postings of a certain nature will increase in frequency here, because they are no longer being posted there. Links which appeared in the side bar there will be appearing in the side bar here. Some of you won't care, some of you will. That's just the way it is.
I confess I've been sucked in to the world of Twitter. It's kind of addictive, watching what folks like John Gruber, the Iconfactory boys, Maury McCown, and even Darth Vader, are up to. I'd love to know if my friends have accounts, so I can add you as a friend to mine, and please feel free to add me as a friend to yours. Ping me via IM, drop me an e-mail, or leave a comment. One cool thing Twitter did last week was they created a Macworld account. By adding this account as a friend, you could follow the postings of those at Macworld Expo as Steve announced the latest and greatest tech from our favorite fruit company. There were so many messages coming in to Twitter through AOL Instant Messenger that Twitter exceeded its allowable AIM traffic, and that service was unavailable for about a day. (To clarify, you couldn't post to Twitter via AIM; Twitter and AIM were each unaffected.) You can post to Twitter via your Twitter page, by instant message (Jabber or AIM), or by text message from your mobile phone. (Text message charges from your mobile provider apply, but there's no charge from Twitter.) If you're a Mac user, you can also use Maury McCown's TwitterPost, or the just-released-today Twitterrific from those aforementioned boys at the Iconfactory. Both apps are freeware. So the question remains, what are you doing?
I'd say something pithy like, "All the news you can use in one spot", but for quite a few folks, it may not, in fact, be all the news they could use, and it may not include all of the news they may want to use. Be that as it may: The News Right Now. TNRN is a news aggregator which combines "Old Media" with "The Blogs", their titles, not mine. The sources are divided on the page, with the former being on top, and the latter on the bottom. There are preferences to switch this, and to even exclude one or the other from being displayed. Another preference to tweak is the displaying of news by the source, or by topic, by source being the default. These preferences are in handy drop-down menus at the top of the page. In the Old Media wing, one can find the headlines from The Wall Street Journal, the AP, Reuters, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, WSJ's OpinionJournal, Philly's Inquirer, the LA Times, the Washington Times, and a few others. The Blogs range from Washington Monthly to The Corner (National Review), The American Prospect to Townhall.com, Eschaton and the Daily Kos to Instapundit and Hugh Hewitt. Joshua Micah Marshall, The Plank, Michelle Malkin, Power Line, and Ed Morrissey round out the featured bloggers. There is no way to delete or add an individual news source or blog, but for a lot of folks who may engage several of these sites per day, The News Right Now is a good way to get an overview of the latest news from a single source.
Four years ago today, the first post appeared, and a new blog was born. I moved my blogging efforts from my first site to this one, and I've been here ever since. Well, this and another place or two. My thanks to my small--very small--but loyal band of readers. You all should comment more!
As of today, Paul Stamatiou has been blogging for a year. Congrats, Stammy!
If you read this blog mainly through my news feed, please note that I'm now using FeedBurner to supply the site's RSS feed. The old feed is still operational, and will remain so for a while, but I would like to discontinue it in the near future. So in your news reader of choice, please update the Retrophisch news feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/retrophisch. You can also click on the feed link on the main page, or the RSS button in Safari's address bar, or that of your auto feed-detecting browser of choice.
Michael has announced that C-Command now has forums for all of its products. I helped him do some testing with the forum boards--which means we spent about ten minutes on it--and if you're a SpamSieve or DropDMG user, I hope to see you around the virtual water cooler.
It wasn't much of a first post, just kind of a "Hello, world, this is me..." sort of thing. Really feeble, looking back on it now. But it's been six years; the blogging portion of my self is now a first grader. Though, given how rapidly the pace moves in the blogosphere, I'm sure we have something akin to dog-years multiplication to determine the "true" age of our blog-selves. A lot changes in six years. Since that first post on August 1, 2000, there have been four national elections, including two presidential elections. The first was bitterly contested, though even so, still showed the world how the rule of law can prevail and the change of power in a nation can be handled without violence and bloodshed. Our nation was brutally attacked on September 11, 2001, and a vast majority of our citizens finally realized the fact that we had been at war with radical Islam for more than two decades. I pray we continue to realize that fact, and what it means to maintain resolve for the next two decades. Six years ago, not too many people had heard of Google, now officially a verb as well as a proper noun. Now, it has supplanted Yahoo as the number-one search destination on the Internet, though the latter still reigns as the top portal site. Microsoft has managed to ship only one new version of its flagship operating system. In six years. One. Steve Jobs' return to Apple has reversed the company's fortune. Though our favorite fruit company may not be shipping any more Macintosh units now than it was prior to Jobs coming back, it has changed the face of the computing and music industries. The iMac. The G4. The G5. iTunes. The iPod. Six years ago, the words "Macintosh" and "Intel" would never be found in the same sentence together, except for a Mac zealot excoriating the chip maker, or vice versa. Even more outlandish would have been the notion of a dual-boot Macintosh: one that can run the Mac OS or Windows. Pull that off, Michael Dell. The weblog has become a serious element of what is called "New Media", the power of the blog leading to, among other things, the exposure of Jayson Blair as a fraud, the ouster of Trent Lott as Senate Majority Leader, and, ultimately, the end of Dan Rather's career as a major network news anchor. Web designers and programmers are able to do things now they could only dream about six years ago, as we witness the rise of "Web 2.0". Six years ago, RSS (define it however you will) wasn't a blip on anyone's radar, and Atom wasn't even a seed in the minds of its creators, yet today "feeds" are an integral part of the online experience. Six years ago, I had one site. Today, besides this one, I maintain two others. Six years ago, my wife and I hadn't really been on a vacation in the previous five years. Since then, we've been to the Hawaiian Islands three times, Santa Fe, San Francisco, New York, the mountains of Arkansas, New England, and Wyoming. Six years ago, I was beginning to renew a love with photography, thanks to my first digital camera. My father planted the seed of this love, giving me his old 35mm camera when I went on the yearbook staff my senior year in high school. I was looking through my senior year book a month or so ago, and was fascinated by the number of photographs therein that were mine. Now, I don't have to wait for photos to be printed to display them. Six years ago, I was still in the beginnings of online friendships that are now deeper than I thought could be, having met, in person, these guys only a few times. Lee, Michael, Rob: my life is richer because of your being in it. I have invested in new friendships, and hope to grow some more. Six years ago, a guy at the office was just a coworker who happened to be a fellow Christian. Today, he is a close friend, who helped me come in from the cold, get grounded and real about my faith. He helped me rediscover a love for baseball I had left behind in college, and has been a steady confidant. FranX, you embody the principal of iron sharpening iron, and I cannot tell you how much I value our friendship. Six years ago we were in one house, in another city within the DFW metroplex. Today, we're in a bigger house, in a slightly smaller town next to the city we used to live in. Six years ago, close friends from college were a fifteen-minute drive from our old house; today, they're a two-minute walk away. We have new friends, who have changed our lives in profound ways, as we have witnessed the births of children, the failures in marriage, and the changing of jobs, both for them as well as ourselves. Six years ago, my wife was on the road to partnership in a major Dallas law firm. Now, she's working for the subsidiary of a Fortune 500, an in-house counsel with better hours and quality of life. Six years ago, I was employed by a Fortune 100 telecommunications company. Now, I'm three years past being laid off from that same company, the skill sets I thrived on there deteriorating as I struggle within myself to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I left behind coworkers who had become more than that, they were friends, and I thank God I am still able to keep in touch with them, even if for the most part it is through instant messages and e-mail. Six years ago, my wife and I were beginning the long, hard road to become parents. Three years ago, we were handed a little miracle, and I mean that in every sense of the word: born nine weeks early, you would never know it to look at our son today. We are truly blessed. Six years ago, we were still wandering in the wilderness of faith. We did not have a church home, and my walk with God consisted mainly of reading Christian literature and listening to Christian-branded music. Thanks to some of those new friends mentioned above, we now have a place to call home, and my own walk has been deepened as a result. Six years ago, I was not as happy as I am now. I like to think I was pretty happy then, but in six years I've grown in many ways (while staying pretty juvenile in others). I am closer to my Lord, I am closer to my wife--my best friend and love, who puts up with and accepts me--and I am closer to friends, of which there are more today than before. I have this beautiful little boy in my life whom I love more than I ever thought was possible to love another human being. Jobs come and jobs go. One career is left for one in another field. Scenery changes. Technology changes. The majority of the people in your life will pass before your eyes as if vapor. Six years ago, I didn't have as clear of a focus on the really important things of life, and today I do. A lot changes in six years. I'm so looking forward to the next six.
The iPod cases from ifrogz look very nice. I like the customizable aspects of the design, but would love to be able to upload my own image for the Screenz. A Retrophisch-branded iPod case in "Gun Metal" Wrapz and "Thick Black" Bandz would rock.
Amazon Grocery is now out of beta after more than 200,000 people have used it to shop for food staples.
So the calendar feature for Backpack launched today. I like how easy it is to add items to the calendar, and I realize this is a 1.0 release (Note to Google: it's not a beta.), but I'm greatly disappointed it didn't roll out with repeating events as part of the feature set. I was looking forward to using iCal solely as the desktop conduit between an online calendar I can access anywhere, and my mobile devices with which I would like to sync calendar events.
Sure, I can do that with Google Calendar, but I'm already in Backpack so much, and I like 37signals' implementation and interface better. Besides repeating events, other features I'd like to see added in a future update, ranked in order of personal importance:
+ Events added to Backpack's Calendar do not show the scheduled time within the calendar. Mark Gallagher notes this in the announcement's comments, because to see an event's time, you have to click on the event, instead of just being able to glance at the calendar and seeing all of the times in context.
+ The ability to toggle the time on the reminder. For some events, I need more than 30 minutes notice, my parents' anniversary, for instance, which I need a few days notice so I can buy a card and put it in the mail to them. Yes, I know I can use Backpack's Reminders feature for this, but it would be more productive to have this built in to the Calendar side of the house. It seems like overkill, and double work, for me to enter the event of my parents' anniversary in to the calendar, then have to switch over and enter a separate reminder to buy a card days in advance.
Commenter "D" notes: "Quick hack to get repeating events: enter them as reminders and then subscribe to your reminder feed within calendar." This is working well for me, so far, but then you'll get in to the situation of all of your reminders being in a single calendar, when you would like to have reminders in different calendars: Personal, Work, Pet, and so on.
In the Backpack Calendar forums, 37signals' own Jason Friedman notes that they weren't happy with the repeating events implementation, and decided not to include it the 1.0 release. So at least for now, the best way to get this function is D's suggestion, but it's nice to know it is being worked on, and we can expect it in the future. I hope this upcoming implementation allows for the setting of a time other than thirty minutes before. + Single, all-day events should be displayed in the same way as multiple-day events. This was a suggestion by Ryan Christensen in the announcement's comments. This would distinguish the all-day event, like my aforementioned parents' anniversary, from a time-specific event, like "Give the dog his heartworm pill at noon". + To-do list implementation for the calendar. Again, from the comments to the announcement, Jeff Croft asks about this, specifically that supported by the iCalendar format. Probably ninety-five percent of what I personally use Backpack for is some sort of to-do list. For short-term stuff, I would love to see this implemented in the Calendar, but have lived without it this far. I would much rather see 37signals devote developer time to repeating events and print styles, something they still need for Backpack's regular pages. All in all, the Calendar function in Backpack is simple and elegant, and on par with what I would expect from 37signals. It took them two and a half months to arrive at this point; I hope the next two and a half months result in usability improvements which put the Backpack Calendar over the top.
Mucho gracias to sysadmin extraordinaire Jim, who was up late last night with the server transition. There is nothing like a fast server on a fast pipe to give you the warm fuzzies in your little geek heart.
We're moving servers, thanks to the efforts of Jim, our sysadmin extraordinaire, so this site and its related entities will be unavailable for a while, beginning around 8 PM CST this evening. This includes e-mail, so if you try to send anything to my e-mail address at this domain after 8 PM, you may want to wait until tomorrow.