Tag Archives: Technology

Pittsburgh-area bloggers, unite!

The Post-Gazette has a nice feature today on blogging in Pittsburgh. They explain blogging pretty well. They also mention several interesting local sites, although they fail to provide links to any of them.

Fortunately, the article mentions Tube City Online (UPDATE: OK, so TCO isn’t mentioned after all … I’m not sure how I found it. I must have been on a mad clicking frenzy. Just lucky, I guess.), which maintains a list of Pittsburgh-area blogs. Compared to the blog circles in NYC or San Francisco, the ‘Burghian blogosphere looks laughably small. The situation isn’t helped by the Tube City list being incomplete: no Inner Bitch, no Pixel Stupor, no Brilliant Mistakes. (Inner Bitch has a more thorough blogroll of local blogs than I do: check it out.)

I’m sure we’d all benefit from a focused blog collective, like NYC Bloggers. I’ve meant for some time to search out local blogs, and this seems a great occasion to start.

UPDATE: Bill Toland, the author of the Post-Gazette article, emailed to say that the links in the article have now been activated, so one can hop directly to the blogs mentioned therein. I see also that the PG website is featuring the article on their home page, in the “Hot Picks” column. Nice exposure for everyone involved.

How to, and why

I’d been thinking of creating a section for Closkey.com about how and why to create a weblog. It turns out that I don’t need to, as the Guardian Online has already written one.

Of particular interest are Rebecca Blood’s comment on what blogs are and are not, Neil McIntosh and Jane Perrone’s glossary of blogging terminology (which they say they will be updating over time), and Neil McIntosh’s brief overview of how to choose weblog software and set a blog up.

Nice to see Hugh MacLeod’s blogging cartoons featured through all the articles as well.

The iPod Paradox

Izzy Grinspan in The Village Voice reflects on why a device that is most often used solo engenders feelings of community.

I’m not ready to go swapping my little green buddy with anyone yet. I haven’t had the chance to use it enough, to fill it with all the right songs, to build a history of use, to have a comfort level with it yet. It wouldn’t show enough of my musical taste to anyone now. Maybe in a few weeks. Of course this presupposes that there’s anyone I could swap with … not at all guaranteed in a small town in western PA. Sigh.

(Article link thanks to Rob Walker’s Journal of Murketing.)

Curiouser and curiouser

Exactly the result I would hope for: My Book Quiz Match is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which is one of my all-time favorite books.

You’re Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland!
by Lewis Carroll

After stumbling down the wrong turn in life, you’ve had your mind opened to a number of strange and curious things. As life grows curiouser and curiouser, you have to ask yourself what’s real and what’s the picture of illusion. Little is coming to your aid in discerning fantasy from fact, but the line between them is so blurry that it’s starting not to matter. Be careful around rabbit holes and those who smile to much, and just avoid hat shops altogether.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

(Link via The Elegant Variation.)

Mine is on the FedEx truck on its way to my house right now!

Apple Computer Inc. said on Tuesday it has received 100,000 orders for its iPod mini digital music player, which goes on sale on Friday at Apple’s retail outlets, its online store and through resellers.

I’ve been tracking the progress of mine, which I preordered the day they were announced. (The geekist thing I’ve done in a long while, I think.) FedEx picked it up in Pan Chiao City, Taiwan, on Monday, took it to CKS International Airport, flew it to Anchorage, and then sent it to Indianapolis. There it was hung up for a few hours yesterday; the comment on FedEx said, “Regulatory Agency Clearance Delay.” This morning it was on a plane to Pittsburgh at 5:30am. At 8:14 it arrived at the FedEx sort facility in Cranberry Township, and at 8:25 it was on the truck headed to Butler.

Several thoughts:

1. FedEx has amazing information systems and is absolutely unbeatable in processing packages.

2. I was surprised that the tracking started in Taiwan. I had expected that a big bin of these mini iPods would be sent from the factory to somewhere in the middle of the US and packaged and shipped from here. Not the case. I wonder if the fact that I had mine engraved made a difference: Perhaps all the iPods destined for the retail stores and for orders placed now were sent in bulk, and this is part of why they won’t be available until tomorrow. Actually, I bet that shipments for various retail outlets were packaged and shipped directly from Taiwan as well, so it’s a modified sort of bulk shipment. All of this speaks to the efficiency and cost controls of FedEx’s systems.

3. I don’t actually know how to rip songs from CDs, so I have a bit of a learning curve ahead of me. I’ve been holding off from buying an MP3 player, trying to avoid buying too early and finding myself stuck with one I didn’t like. I assume it’s not hard to learn, but my schedule lately is so full I don’t know when I’m going to have time to come up to speed. My hope is that the interfaces are intuitive enough that there’s little learning anyway.

4. But what will I load first??

UPDATE: It’s here! I have successfully programmed the time and date. The packaging is very clean and cool and Apple-ish. A sticker on the front of the thing warned me, in four languages: “Don’t steal music.”

I am using all my willpower — which is not a lot, sadly — not to load music onto it until I get more work done today. If I can clean up the paperwork littering my office and put in two hours of web work, I’ll consider it a success.

If you can’t post something nice, don’t post anything at all

Here’s an excellent, carefully thought and worded post on corporate blogging. I wasn’t sure at first what “corporate blogging” might be, but it turns out to be blogging from a company standpoint (as opposed to an individual’s standpoint). It’s what I’m recommending my web clients to consider … although so far all of them have said they haven’t the time, that they can’t commit to making daily or even weekly updates to a website, no matter how convenient the means of updating might be. I’m afraid they’re being short-sighted: Quick daily updates would keep their clients interested and aware of their products/services and help differentiate them (my clients) from the pack.

Then again, I have trouble getting to allt he tasks on my plate, so I also see the inherent problem in adding a new service that requires frequent attention.

Here also is Scoble’s Corporate Weblog Manifesto. The points are mainly focused on technology companies (because they’re the ones most likely to try weblogs at this stage) but they apply as well to companies providing other products and services.

(Both links courtesy of the delightful gapingvoid.)

Gaming the system

A system error makes clear what everyone expected but couldn’t demonstrate: Writers and their friends anonymously give their own works high reviews on Amazon.

“Close observers of Amazon.com noticed something peculiar this week: the company’s Canadian site had suddenly revealed the identities of thousands of people who had anonymously posted book reviews on the United States site under signatures like “a reader from New York.”

“The weeklong glitch, which Amazon fixed after outed reviewers complained, provided a rare glimpse at how writers and readers are wielding the online reviews as a tool to promote or pan a book