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February 2005 Archive

More hand-wringing

posted by DL Byron on February 20, 2005

The persistent, self-obsessed, blog-ethics hand-wringing continues (we’re about due for a Calacanis rant on this) this week with a somewhat rambling and derivative article from JD Lasica’s that concludes, “Just don’t call yourself a journalist when you’re cashing that check.” Dear J.D., “I’m not a journalist. Nor do I play on one TV.” This call for credibility and ethics criticism seems to always come from the journalist side of blogging, a side that is coincidentally under attack from the blogopshere. Another volley in that attack occurred this week with Jeff Gannon, a Blog Cabin Republican, being outed as a fake reporter and gay porn star. I hope JD et al watches the Daily Show’s take on blogging and hears Steve Colbert say, “They have no credibility, all they have is facts.”

What I wonder, considering business blogging and ethics, is when will a company get taken down by the blogosphere? Will the next Enron be exposed by corporatecorruption.com? Possibly, but until then, companies will hopefully learn from the blogosphere and not publish sites like Wal-Mart facts.

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A blogging component

posted by DL Byron on February 20, 2005

Earlier in the week, a request came for Marqui to, "find some leads," and I responded

"And there's the thing. I think if Marqui had a blogging component, the referrals would roll in. Businesses want to talk to me about blogging, not CMS, but then blogging is a CMS, but Marqui is not a blog engine (an enigma wrapped inside a riddle). So, roll out the Marqui Blogging Module, using an API and phat referrals, at least from me, are more likely. What's missing in the corporate blog install and what comes up in every convo I have with business, is how to manage all of that blogging. There's no managed communication workflow with a blog. Incredibly simple publishing yes, but nothing is managed."

Well, the emails flowed for a while after that and the next day the PI ran a story in their VC notebook on corporate blogging and a product called Blog Unit, which is not to be confused with the blogging subsidiary of the G-Unit -- note to marketing departments, I wouldn't market any product with "Unit" in the name, as those gangstas are very likely to kick your VC-funded, white, geeky ass. An interesting aside on the article, check the blogging Nexus: GM, Boeing, Sun, Clip-n-Seal, Scoble, Anil Dash and more.

The Blog Unit offers controlled blogging and most be targeted to the clueless Vice President of Stupidness, much like the Ministry of Silly Walks. When I said managed, I meant, fit into your campaigns, or communications channel, or editorial schedule -- that's what Marqui does. You can not and should not control blogging. Marqui is addressing their blogging component and is promising a response. At the least, as the Head Lemur noted, their system should publish an RSS feed.

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Molly's Mac

posted by DL Byron on February 16, 2005

Any day now Molly’s new mac should arrive. She told me last week that she’d finally ordered a new PowerBook. A few weeks earlier, I’d watched her switch decision, or “epiphany,” go down. We were sitting next to each other at the Blog Business Summit and she absolutely could not get her PC to connect to the WiFi network. She spent most of the morning cursing, turning it off and on, editing the registery, card in and out, etc., and said, “damn it, I should just get a mac.” Of course, I said, “yes you should!”

Like my other friends that have switched, I don’t think she cared too much about the operating system or loyalty to one platform or the other. Citing her iPod, she just wanted a well-engineered product that works. I hope she reports on her progress with the new PowerBook. We’ll see each other again at SXSW and then Web Design World.

Mac buying tips:

  • Apple offers educational discounts
  • Amazon runs various specials and rebates on Apple's products
  • Your mac will ship with everything you need for the basics. Watch for another posts on developer applications.

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Eric Rice Posted a Photo

posted by DL Byron on February 15, 2005

GeorgeAnd he said so 15 times. I just noticed that in my RSS reader. Nick had complained about link and photo RSS feeds earlier in the week with his post, Show me the content! I like Eric, he’s a rockstar pimp, I'm sure his friend George pictured in that photo is cool, and I set all of Eric's links to rel=”follow”, but I don’t really need to know that he’s posted 15 photos a day. I hadn’t yet ripped on del.ici.ous, but there’s another example of a time suck. Social bookmarking and photo sharing ceases to be fun, when it sucks up bandwidth and is post after post of, “cool link,” or “me with this other blogger.”

If you want to post away on that, cool with me, I'm just not sure there's value in that for an RSS feed. At least, give your subscribers a choice and that's got to be the next feature blogs need to offer: Custom RSS feeds (see Apple's example). Pick and choose from what you want on the site. Like for Scoble, I can filter out all of the nonstop Tablet PC plug posts, or not get Eric's Daily photo, or read just what Zeldman thinks is cool for the day and not ALA posts, etc.

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Inexcusable Sloppy Code

posted by DL Byron on February 11, 2005

The Lincoln Bicentennial site is up and powered by Marqui. I was interested in the site, to check Marqui’s code, and see what their system is outputting. For a company that gets blogging and the blogosphere, they sure don’t get Standards-based design or valid code. I’m normally not a standards-nazi, but viewed the source and checked the validation. A note to Marqui’s developers, just because you declare an XHTML document type, doesn’t mean the document is. I can excuse using tables for layout, ok, probably banged it out quickly, but the lack of character encoding, mixed tags, and more is just plain sloppy.

While Marqui maybe helping their client to educate the public about Abraham Lincoln’s accomplishments, they’re certainly not doing anything for them with that code.

I've been evangelizing Standards-based design for years and sites like that just make me sigh. What are we not doing as evangelists to get the word out to a CMS developer that character encoding is important?

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A Passion for Plastics

posted by DL Byron on February 11, 2005

After the Blog Business Summit, Jon Lunddal Froda and Jesper Bindslev from the Copenhagen Business School interviewed me. We discussed blogging, product blogs, and more. At the end Jon asked me, “why the Passion for Plastics?” Good question and I responded that it’s because we made a product, launched it, people responded, and actually bought it. If it had been a failure, you wouldn’t be hearing me talk about it so much.

That passion is also discussed in the March issue of Fast Company. The article about Clip-n-Seal (subscription or access code required for 30 days) discusses our successes with blogging and how you have to be authentic on your blog. Being authentic is being passionate and vice versa. That goes for plastics or whatever you blog.

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PainJunkie Experiences Pain

posted by DL Byron on February 09, 2005

The painjunkie blogs on his experiences buying a Trek Bicycle. I'm sure many have had a similar experience and I've often wondered about how some bike shops stay in business, but disagree that bike shops are notorious for being unfriendly. You need to find a shop that still has a passion, like Elliott Bay Bicycles, where my Custom Davidsons are made or Bicycles West, where I buy the Treks that I race on. The problem shops are indicative of the industry, which has had it's problems, but it's recovering and chugging along nicely now. I've worked in bike shops and suspect that Painjunkie maybe a pain to work with and if that's correct, he's the shopper that wants everything you don't have on the sales floor and wants to talk about it all day and then buy it mail order. As his slogan states, "nothing is fun until it hurts." I wonder how hard it is to sell to PainJunkie, especially if he isn't having fun unless it hurts.

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10 security Updates today

posted by DL Byron on February 09, 2005

Today I checked on the security updates for my PC. I'd seen a news item that a new batch was available. I use the PC for testing and the one applications that I can't get to work on my Mac (Polar's Heart Rate monitor software, it run's great on VPC, but the USB doesn't correct.) There's 10 updates, yep, 10. What are we at now, 300 patches so far for XP?

Credit to the hard working crew at MS for getting those out, they're the ones in sleeping bags, the ones that use free pop and snacks to survive all night sessions, but I've always wondered at what point would MS customers experience patch fatigue. What does annoy me is the few times I start the pc first thing that happens is that the security center tells me a patch is waiting. Great, that ten minutes, turned into an hour.

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Born Magazine needs your help

posted by DL Byron on February 08, 2005

Almost 3 years ago a friend forwarded me a job posting from a Seattle based freelance list. The posting was from Byron, and he was looking for some Flash help. We ended up doing that project, then many more (launching Clip-n-Seal, doing the web site for the Blog Business Summit and a bunch of other things).

The friend that forwarded me Byron's email that fateful day was Gabe Kean, so it seems appropriate to post a recent message from Gabe here:

"The volunteers and staff of Born thank you for your continued support during our eight years of experimenting with collaborative arts. Our newest, most ambitious endeavor opens this spring, and we need your support more than ever."

Opening in March, "Help Wanted: Collaborations in Art" combines the talents of accomplished visual artists, writers, architects, filmmakers, graphic designers, cartoonists and other creative minds to develop an interactive art show that promises to inspire dedicated Born followers and introduce new audiences to our unique, collaborative concept.

Born is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and donations are tax deductable.

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posted by DL Byron on February 07, 2005

Apparently, John Gruber's influence isn't as vast as I'd expected. In 2003, he posted at length on the uselessness of TrackBacks, concluding that, "linking should be enough," and there's a site called Technorati that'll show you who is linking to your post -- check the link cosmos on this post. All you do is link like you do (of course, without a nofollow rel attribute) and Technorati does the rest, puts it in context to who's linking, who's linking to them, little photos, and more.

Trackback is notoriously difficult to explain and I've always pointed people to Gruber's post or cited Molly's, "talking with two cans on a piece of string," analogy. His post made sense to me. He vowed to never use trackbacks, I agreed, and figured everyone else would. Well, that's not been the case. Readers on the Blog Business Summit site complained and I turned them on for their benefit. I then checked blogs that use trackbacks, scrolled down the list to see all the pings, and quipped to Jason in an instant message they should be called, "Crapbacks." He said, "I've never understood them. Still don't. Yeah, they're crap."

Hey, "Me Too!"

Bloggers trackback to say, "hey, me too on that post," and then a blog cites those posts. In itself that's not crap, but check the Six Apart post on NoFollow and you'll see trackback after trackback. Then click through to find more trackbacks of the trackback, irrelevant trackbacks, and a bonus "spamback." That's crap because you've just added to the page scroll, it's not ranked by authority, most recent, and in Movable Type's case, that page has to be rebuilt to display new pings. Now compare that page of trackbacks to a Technorati result. Ah yes, much mo' betta.

Ping less, Post More

The reason to ping a blog and say, "Hey, me too!" is for page rank, but now that's squashed for sites that use NoFollow. View source on Six Apart's post and you'll see all those trackback pings are coded to not be followed. If you're pings are not being followed, what good are they? They're not. It's much easier, faster, and better to do what Gruber recommended two years ago. Just post more, link, and let the search engines do the rest.

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Davidson Titanium Frame

posted by DL Byron on February 06, 2005

small frame The old "D" is on sale at eBay. It was a tough choice, the Davidson was my first custom bicycle and I'm attached to it. The attachment was even stronger when I brought it home from the shop all cleaned, polished, and with new decals. I rode that bike many miles, including a tour of Alaska, and sold it to downsize my collection. I had another custom Davidson built, specifically to tour and ride in the rain. When I stop racing, I'll have another built. It'll be another love bike, like the first Davidson was.

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An About Page

posted by DL Byron on February 05, 2005

I chatted with Tara Smith from Marqui earlier in the week about blog design. Besides my suggestions to tweak this and that on their blog, move this around and more, I noted that an about page is very important on a blog. During our presentation at the Blog Business Summit, Keith said the same thing. When blogging, the reader needs to know who you are. A good example is Churbuck's site. He posted on how much money some bloggers are making and I thought, "huh, who is this guy? Is he credible? Where did he get this info?" He is credible, but it took me about 7 clicks to figure that out.

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Izadora Duncan BlairChalmers

posted by DL Byron on February 05, 2005

Izzy was born to Rob the Roy and Zannestar on February 1, 2005 at 3:15AM. She weighed in at 8lbs 4oz and measured 21" long! Zanne wrote and said, "she is our sweetest dream come true." A few pictures are up, with more to follow.

Rob and Zanne are good friends from way back, back in the day when this site was about net.art. We'll see them soon, next month, in NYC. We'll also see Baby Ava and the Zeldmans.

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Why Does Windows Still Suck?

posted by DL Byron on February 05, 2005

Writing a passionate article for the San Francisco Gate, Mark Morford asks, "Why Does Windows Still Suck? Why do PC users put up with so many viruses and worms? Why isn't everyone on a Mac?" Mark asserts that there is a better way to compute and is puzzled as to why hordes of consumer aren't revolting in the streets, or the Redmond campus, over Windows. Well, consumers don't usually picket your store or campus, they just go somewhere else and I think there's a quiet revolution going on. I've switched, my developer friends have switched, Apple's retail stores are full, the Mac Mini is selling out, and Apple's brand is stronger than ever.

More people are switching because they're just tired of Windows and realize there has to be a better way. This isn't about Mac v PC any longer, but a product that's broken vs one that works. As my latest friend to switch said, "I don't care if it's Windows, Mac, Linux, or Joe Bob's OS, I just want it to work, not crash, and not continously need security updates." Right on. I can't disagree with that.

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NewsFire 1.0

posted by DL Byron on February 05, 2005

David Watanabe announced NewsFire 1.0 this morning (or night in Australia). I'd posted earlier on RSS in general and how NewsFire is the first reader that actually worked really well for me. Besides the "minimalist yet expressive user interface," NewsFire is built to power through hundreds of feeds with your keyboard. The best way to understand the interface is to just download it and watch how it continuously reorganizes itself based on the feed count.

A tip on using NewsFire with Safari is to set your Safari preference to, "Open links from applications in a new tab." Then set NewsFire preference to, "Open Web Browser Behind the NewsFire Window" and you're opening all the links you want to read into new tabs.

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SXSW and Currents9influenced

posted by DL Byron on February 03, 2005

I’ll be speaking at SXSW and Currents9influenced in the next few months and I’m really excited about both events. In planning, but not yet announced, are more events.

SXSW Interactive Festival

I’ll moderate a How to Build Your Brand with Blogs panel at SXSW Interactive, March 12 – 16, Austin Texas. The panel will be a discussion with the experts. Learn how the panel participants built or extended their brands with blogs. They’ll discuss their successes, failures, customers, Public Relations, and politics. A lively Q/A is expected with many tips, strategies, and lessons learned.


Sponsored by AIGA/Seattle, May 20th, Seattle, WA. Currents9influenced (say it all at once, three times) seeks to provide creative programming that unites designers of various, multi-faceted disciplines for a one-day event at the Seattle Art Museum. A major theme of the conference will be for the presenters to trace and identify the paths of their creative inspiration — the currents of their past. Each stream, connection, influence and experience has undoubtedly shaped what they do. I’ll speak about blogging your portfolio and Standards-based design.


Webvisions 2005, July 15, Portland, Oregon.

Web Design World, March 21 – 23, San Francisco, California.

Read more on our speaking page.

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Questions and Answers

posted by DL Byron on February 02, 2005

I get asked a few questions frequently and created a Q/A section on our site to answer them. Wondering what the deal is with the one name, what those initials stand for, or what dreeping is? The Q/A should answer your questions. Still wondering something? Contact us and I'll respond.

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The Trip to Macworld

posted by DL Byron on February 01, 2005

Macworld A highlight of the trip to Macworld Expo a few weeks ago was visiting Six Apart's offices. It reminded me of the dotcoms, just the good parts, and it was a very good, happening vibe. Being there felt like I was on the verge of something bigger. We talked about TypePad and Movable Type and the Blog Business Summit. I was at Macworld to support Steve's tech session on Blogging and he was on. He got the crowd fired up and it reinforced that we need to show more nuts and bolts, the how to design blogs.

It was my first time at Macworld and man do I have good timing. I touched the Mac Mini, iPod Shuffle, and huddled with the Mac faithful. It's a good time to evangelize the Mac platform and the trip inspired this new Switch2Mac category on this blog.

2 years ago I switched full time to a Mac and haven't looked back. I'd always used both: PC at work and Mac at home. Not anymore. I know 3 confirmed switchers and one more on the way. As I wrote in the Importance of the Mac Mini, users are just exhausted by their PCs and ready for something better. Switcher number 4 absolutely could not get his PC to make a video (see It's raining sideways - ha-ha dance). Enter iLife. More on that in the next post.

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