Copyright ©1997-2011 Glenn Fleishman except as noted otherwise. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact Glenn Fleishman at glenn at glennf.com. Photo © 2008 Laurence Chen; used with permission.
Turning technology from mumbo-jumbo into rich tasty gumbo
Reuters test?: One hopes this is Reuters testing, not someone gaming the Reuters system.
I’m finding more and more in my life that I feel like writing about and which just won’t find its way into my blog.
First category: bad things that don’t need to be aired in a public forum and which often involve other people. I can talk about this stuff in meatspace; the blog-arena isn’t appropriate for whole chunks of things happenings right now.
Second category: private stuff that I don’t want archived forever on the Web.
Third category: professional developments that involve NDAs or various amounts of privacy.
As my life seems more and more full of those three items, my blog will be reduced to specific professional observations. The more full, the less to blog.
I just understood a strange thing I was seeing in my blog comments from time to time: someone would post an inane or short unrelated comment on an older post. It hit me what they’re doing.
If you rank high on Google — i.e., have good Whuffie from other sites — then posting a comment with the URL of your horrible, bad Whuffie site means you magically inherit my Whuffie in part. Foo. I’m not sure how to prevent that, although I’m sure Google’s algorithms account for at least part of this effect.
I’ve written quite a lot in the past about the problem of distinguishing people with the same name who have written books. Alex Beam wrote a dead-on, accurate, funny column about the problem.
The difficulty is that book information is all about the ISBN, not about normalizing and aggregating other factors. I’ve been working for years isbn.nu to improve on this problem, but it’s a hard task for a single human being because it requires so much information and so much manual work to figure out which books belong to which authors.
There are moments in one’s professional life when you have to let out a big burst of air you’ve been holding in. I just let one of those out.
My first business feature appears in tomorrow (Monday’s) New York Times, focusing on a Wi-Fi hot spot builder and issues related to offering broadband service in business locations.
I started writing as a freelancer for the Circuits section of the Times back in 1998, while nearing the end of treatment for cancer. My first piece, just over five years ago, was about using the Internet to research the disease that I had fought. (And won!)
Over the last five years, I’ve written a variety of Circuits pieces: more features longer ago, and more blurbs and short articles lately, as the advertising crunch took pages away from the section, putting more emphasis on staff writers. I’ve also been writing very wee (50 to 200 word) business briefs for a summary called Technology Briefings that runs Tuesday through Friday in the business section. Because of my interest in wireless networking, those tend to revolve around Wi-Fi announcements: I’ve written four or five in the last few weeks about McDonald’s, Marriott, and others.
The piece that appears tomorrow and is online tonight was weeks of work, lots of interviews, many drafts, lots of sweat. I wanted to nail the subject matter and the numbers. I believe I did so, but I’m sure my email box tomorrow will tell me what others think of the job I did.
When my wife and I got married up in Port Townsend, Washington, last September — nearly a year ago! — we took a break to have lunch by ourselves in the middle of the three-day weekend we’d planned and many of our friends came to enjoy.
We headed into town to a sushi place we’d visited a few months earlier on one of our reconnaissance trips for the wedding. The place wasn’t very busy and we got a warm welcome from the chef, so we sat at the sushi bar.
The chef was incredibly personable, and made us great sushi, and we started talking to him. Why were we in town? Oh, for a wedding. Whose wedding? Um, ours. Yours! By the way, he says, he’s also a photographer and does a lot of weddings. We told him about our plan to have our friends, some of whom are professional art photographers and serious amateurs, take pictures and collect them all. (I’m still editing the 800+ photos that came out of the event, with a deadline of our anniversary for getting them online.) The technical director of the venue we were using loaned us a backdrop from his days as a professional photographer, even.
The chef, Joshua, says, well, you know I have this setup with a pressure-bulb that I use at weddings that’s really popular. People take pictures of themselves. Wow, cool, we say, what a neat idea. We talk, we eat. You know, he says, I’d be happy to loan it to you. I could just run it up to Fort Worden (a neat place where we stayed and had the ceremony and other events).
No, no, we say, too generous. Really? Okay, well, that’s incredibly kind of you. We eat more (yes we ate a lot of sushi, including a Popeye roll: spinach and tempura in a roll). We talk more. Why don’t I just come up there and run it for you? You’re kidding. No, I’d like to do it.
Okay then! Bring your girlfriend. We’ll feed you, please come.
And so Joshua and his girlfriend came, and they were both a delight. Great people, wonderful company, and what a great set of circumstances.
We’ve stayed in intermittent touch: Joshua went off to build yurts in Hawaii for a while; Port Townsend is full of people with lots and lots of abilities, and he’s not unique in that regard, just unique as a person.
Just got email from him with lovely parallelism: he and his girlfriend (fiancee!) are getting married two weeks after our anniversary. We’re invited, how cool, and he wonders…would we like to run the photo booth? Of course, of course, and if I were talented enough, I’d bring sushi, too, shaped like a yurt.
And, yes, Port Townsend is the nicest place on the planet. We have more stories, too, but this is the best and the warmest. Did we invite strangers to our wedding? No. To quote an old Will Rogers-ish sentiment, they were friends we hadn’t yet met.
I own computerauthor.com, registered some time ago for purposes now murky — maybe to set up subdomains for computer book authors, or some such. I’ve been renewing the domain, but can’t see a reason to pay for it for another year. Anybody interesting in paying a very small amount for their own (good) purposes? I’ve sold a lot of domains for a lot of money, but I’m really looking for a good home for the puppy.
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