Category: Tech Page 1 of 3

WordPress 5 and me

The fact that this post exists and that you can see it is a win.

As of yesterday it was only half a victory, because none of the links worked, but I got something together today.

See, I have this site set up in a weird way. [Prepare for a slightly technical explanation.] In the early days of WordPress, if you wanted to keep your root directory tidy, you could install the files in a “wordpress” directory and have the URL be the root directory. That’s pretty funny now, given what a disaster my root directory currently is.

Anyway, the decision I made to do that in 2007, on this, the site of my first WordPress install, seems to have introduced some complications 11 years later. I was having problems with permalinks and .htaccess, but I seem to have ironed them out with a fresh install, a nice new theme designed by someone else, and a final .htaccess modification to ensure old URLs work.

The next question is this: will I update the site now that it’s relatively stable again? No one knows.

Big ideas

This list of vague but big ideas that a particular venture capitalist would like to fund is almost four years old. Though a certain number of the problems have been solved in the interim to some extent, a great many of them are still pending.

I guess the common thread is to figure out what people want and then figure out a way to give it to them, easier and cheaper than someone else can…. or find some way to make some intermediate step easier.

I’m at a point where I want to start using my brains to innovate something new, rather than solve some variation of the same five trivial problems over and over again, which is basically what I’ve been doing for the last nine years.

* * *

Oh, also, happy new year — this is my first blog entry in 2012, as January already nears an end! 2011 was my best year in a long, long time, filled with positive changes, and 2012 is going to be even better. A little over a week ago I celebrated six months with Dawn and I’m looking forward to many, many more. Sometime this year, maybe sooner rather than later, I’ll be living in San Francisco. Woo hoo!

RIP Steve Jobs

Not much to say but that a visionary man is gone, and that I wrote and published this blog entry on my iPhone.

iPads, cash, and the U.S. government

I have absolutely no need for an iPad. Where it would fit between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro is a very small space indeed. However, being an Apple fanboy in general, I just read this article about the iPad’s total domination of the tablet market. One paragraph really stood out.

With its cash reserves—I’m sure [you’ve] seen the reports [that] indicate Apple has more cash than our own government and now we learn Apple is more valuable than the 32 biggest euro banks combined—Apple could outlast all of them without breaking a ledger page sweat.

Oh. No, I hadn’t seen those reports. Indeed, CNN says:

According to the latest statement from the U.S. Treasury, the government had an operating cash balance Wednesday of $73.8 billion. That’s still a lot of money, but it’s less than what Steve Jobs has lying around.

Tech juggernaut Apple had a whopping $76.2 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of June, according to its last earnings report. Unlike the U.S. government, which is scrambling to avoid defaulting on its debt, Apple takes in more money than it spends.

“We don’t let the cash burn a hole in the pocket or make stupid acquisitions,” CEO Jobs said last fall. “We’d like to continue to keep our powder dry because we think there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future.”

Offering Uncle Sam a short-term loan is probably not one of them.

Probably not, indeed. But the imaginative CNN writer offered another possibility in the lede: “Maybe the cash-strapped U.S. government should start selling iPads.”

Sorry, that’s all wrong. That would be silly! The reverse is a much better idea: Maybe Apple should take over all the operations of the U.S. government. Apple couldn’t do much worse, could they? I have more faith in Steve Jobs than I do in Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court combined, and my wild guess is that a majority of Americans do, too.

Should I start a petition drive? (No. No, I shouldn’t.)

Hello WordCamp visitors

You may notice that I seldom post on this blog. Recently acquired fans have raved about the content, however, so perhaps I will be inspired to post more. Usually what happens at WordCamp is that I post a couple of live blogs and then let the site slowly wither throughout the year, until I start writing a really long comment on SFGate or something, after which I realize “this belongs on the blog!” and post it here.

Strangely or not, I do similar things to plants; plus points for consistency, I suppose.

Apparently more than 20,000 people make a living with WordPress, according to the (very general) presentation I’m in right now. Including this site, I have four WordPress sites in production that I built (and sometimes designed): the CLCV Education Fund, the Brainwash Drive-in Bike-in Walk-in Movie Festival (in Oakland September 3, 9, and 10!), the San Francisco Improv Festival (didn’t design but coded the theme — their opening night is next Thursday!), and the one you’re on right now.

Got any questions about design, or creating custom themes, or installing WordPress? Let me know.

iPhone 3G + iOS 4 = no good.

When I got my iPhone 4, my iPhone 3G became my new “iPod touch” (essentially). Though it only has 16 gigs of storage, it has better games and a nicer interface (and of course a much nicer screen) than my increasingly irrelevant 60 GB iPod classic. (I can hardly believe I watched half of season 2 of LOST on that tiny screen. However, if this rises to the level of “interesting” or approaches being a “problem,” it simply demonstrates how good my life is overall.)

In any case, “upgrading” the iPhone 3G to iOS 4 was probably a mistake (though I didn’t know it at the time). It is extremely slow at doing most things (the hardware is just not good enough to run the new OS). Luckily the 3G is no longer my phone and just hangs out in the bathroom, waiting to play music while I’m in the shower.

Lifehacker (which I’m starting to get a little bit addicted to) has tips for how to make iOS 4 usable on the iPhone 3G (or at worst how to downgrade it to iOS 3.1.3), since this issue is widespread.

"My iphone is exceedingly slow," the homeless man said.

[ flickr commons ]

“Super Mario Bros. Crossover” flash game – Play as Mega Man??

Oh, my. Just visit:

It’s a Flash version of the classic Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo, except that you can play as Mega Man, the guy from Contra, Samus from Metroid, etc. etc. It really works.

Note (to all, including self): do not play at work.

Hello, new WordCamp friends

Thank you for randomly clicking on my name. (Perhaps you enjoyed my Gravatar.)

WordPress is great, isn’t it? It allows me to blather inanely about a wide variety of topics without having to upload an HTML file in an FTP program every time I get the urge to write. (That’s how this site used to work.)

Anyway, enjoy your visit.

What is wrong with

This payphrase thing is ridiculous. Who came up with this crap?

As if I want to pay for my Amazon purchases by entering the phrase “Jason’s Romantic Mistakes.” Are they kidding? These are some other winning suggestions:

  • Jason’s Implied Trip
  • Jason’s Idealistic Trip
  • Jason’s Eccentric Personality
  • Political Misunderstandings
  • Jason’s Extreme Pedantry (fair enough)
  • Jason’s Unconventional Work
  • Jason’s Precise Function
  • Jason’s Only Function (seriously?)
  • Jason’s Buoyant Manner
  • Jason’s Exotic Character
  • Sanguine Countenance
  • Forceful Eagerness
  • Maintenance Person
  • Eager Swell
  • Jason’s Rebellious Lifestyle
  • Unruly Consumption
  • Jason’s Personal Norm
  • Moderate Pals
  • Cellular Personality
  • Possibly Personality
  • Jason’s Hopeful Poems

etc., etc. Seriously, what?

UPDATE: As of 2/20/2012, Amazon Payphrases were (perhaps predictably) no more.

WordCamp SF 2009 – what I learned from Tim Ferriss

I figured I should break each session into its own blog entry. It’s going to take a little time to finish all of them since some of my notes are on the iPhone (since emailed to self) and the rest are on paper (starting the moment the phone died).

Here’s a random sampling of what I learned during Tim Ferriss‘s session at WordCamp San Francisco 2009, today at UCSF Mission Bay.

Tim Ferriss’s tips on blogging and SEO:

  • Don’t call your categories “Categories.” Call them “Topics.” They’ll get clicked on a lot more.
  • Don’t put your all-time most popular posts on your home page, because they will just stay your all-time more popular posts. Show your most popular posts from the last 30 days (rolling).
  • Publishing your twitter feed with a link to twitter results in a mass exodus, especially for new users.
  • If you are monetizing, RSS is less and less relevant especially with microblogging tools.
  • if you come from an outside link to his site, the date on older posts is de-emphasized, because new users are biased towards fresher content. I think that’s what he said.
  • Consider including “total read time” on each of your posts (using 250 words per minute as the standard for estimating)
  • Being a good writer is less important than finding your own voice. Tim says that Mark Cuban says to write about what you’re passionate about.
  • People are bad at predicting what they’re going to like.
  • Figure out when your best synthesis time is, and write then. Tim (a Princeton man) has a glass of wine and some yerba mate. YMMV. My Wisconsin roots make my approximation of that a beer and a cup of coffee.
  • For important posts, edit by hand. Cut 20% of the word count each time.
  • Ignore SEO in the first draft of any blog posts. (I do this mainly because I ignore SEO all the time). Use the Google keyword tool to find out what other phrases you should be including in your post.
  • Ensure that posts can only be described one way (that is, keep each post on one topic). Why? So that when people link to any given post, they are using the same words to describe it. Bingo.
  • When you’re making video for the web, the amount of time you spend on it is NOT proportional to its future success. Sometimes the quickest, most spontaneous stuff gets the most attention. Alongside the video, include “bonus” content (so that it’s indexable). This is some brilliant stuff that should be obvious.
  • Stumbleupon is a cheap source of high quality traffic.
  • Don’t be too topical. Don’t chase the news. That’s boring.
  • Tim blogs in short, long, and micro form. Different sites for different forms.
  • This was probably the most important thing he said: “Think big but play often. Take fun seriously!” Your blog should not be a source of stress.
  • “Trying to please every stranger in the world is the path to misery.”-Tim Ferriss
  • “If you’re having fun, you’re not wasting time — you’re not being productive, but you’re not wasting time.”

There’s a lot there.

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