You Can Go Home Again

wordpress-logo-simplified-rgbI’m back home.

For years I ran this site as a self-hosted WordPress blog. Nearly a decade, in fact.

I set up Leoville in September, 2007 as a refugee from Vox (remember that?) That was the blogging platform that convinced me to own my own content. Many of the missing pictures and links on this site were left behind in the migration from Vox. They’re lost forever. (If anyone at Six Apart knows where the Vox content is warehoused let me know!)

Prior to Vox I had used every blogging platform under the sun (including Grey Matter, Blogger, Movable Type, and Typepad). But WordPress was the best. I won’t go into the reasons I moved away, but I’m very happy to be back. And the advantages of using wordpress.com instead of self-hosting are guaranteed to keep me here for a long time.

Disclaimer: WordPress.com is a sponsor on my TWiT network. 

 

 

Hello Squarespace

I should have done this ages ago.

My only excuse is that I wanted to know the ins-and-outs of WordPress, so I used a self-hosted WordPress installation for my personal blog. 99% of the activity on that blog was behind the scenes: constantly updating WordPress to fix security holes and bugs. I have wearied of the self-hosting treadmill.

The history of Leoville is long and checkered. I started blogging in early 2001 with a long lost Perl CGI blog program called Grey Matter (footnote – Noah Grey was a pioneer in blogging. He’s still posting on Tumblr.) My first posts are lost forever, but the earliest post I still have is here.

I was promiscuous. I tried Blogger, Moveable Type, Vox, Posterous, WordPress, and a couple of other long ago forgotten platforms. Each transition shed images and links, but for the most part the text has survived. The bigger threat to this blog came from Twitter (and Jaiku, Pownce, and Plurk). Like many others I was seduced by the ease and speed of micro-blogging and let this blog lie fallow.

But as I look back through 14 years of posts I realize that this is the best record of my temporarary infatuations with the technology of the month. From moblogging to Instagram, MySpace to Moveable Type, I fell for them all. And probably will continue to do so. But at least this record of it all will remain safe here at Squarespace.

I still have some of the missing images stored elsewhere including Posthaven – the lifeboat built for people cast adrift by Yahoo’s sinking of the good ship Posterous. I wish I could say the same for pictures left on TextAmerica and Picplz. Lesson learned: keep your stuff on your platform or risk losing it. (I’m not the only one learning this lesson as it turns out .)

I’ll try to fill in some of the missing gaps here. But inevitably Leoville will be only an imperfect record of the second half of my life, from age 45 onward. I hope there’s a lot more left, and with the help of Squarespace perhaps even some of it will survive. For my own entertainment if no one else’s.

Buzz Kill

Was you ever stung by a dead bee?Something happened tonight that made me question everything I’ve done with social media since I first joined Twitter in late 2006.
You know me – I’m a complete web whore. I sign up for every site, try every web app, use every service I can find. It’s my job, but I also love doing it. I believe in the Internet as a communication tool. I love trying the myriad new ways people are using it to connect and I believed that social media specifically had some magic new potential to bring us together.

When Google announced Buzz last year I was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. I welcomed a competitor to Twitter that had the community features I loved in Friendfeed and Jaiku, and I thought Google had the best chance to create a second generation social network. I defended Google for its initial privacy stumbles and I began to use Buzz exclusively, replacing Twitter, Friendfeed, and Facebook. I built a following of over 17,000 people. I was happy.

Then last night I noticed that my Buzzes were no longer showing up on Twitter (I use a service called Buzz Can Tweet that has been pretty reliably rebroadcasting my Buzz posts to Twitter.) I looked more closely at my Buzz feed and noticed that there had been considerably less engagement over the past few weeks. Then I noticed that I wasn’t seeing my posts in my Buzz timeline at all. A little deeper investigation showed that nothing I had posted on Buzz had gone public since August 6. Nothing. Fifteen posts buried, including show notes from a week’s worth of TWiT podcasts.

Maybe I did something wrong to my Google settings. Maybe I flipped some obscure switch. I am completely willing to take the blame here. But I am also taking away a hugely important lesson.

No one noticed.

Not even me.

It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.

Thank God the content I deem most important, my Internet and broadcast radio shows, still stand. I believe in what I’m doing there, and have been very fortunate to have found an audience. I’m pretty sure I would have heard from people if there had been 16 days of dead silence there. Hell, if we miss one show I get hundreds of emails. But I feel like I’ve woken up to a bad social media dream in terms of the content I’ve put in others’ hands. It’s been lost, and apparently no one was even paying attention to it in the first place.

I should have been posting it here all along. Had I been doing so I’d have something to show for it. A record of my life for the last few years at the very least. But I ignored my blog and ran off with the sexy, shiny microblogs. Well no more. I’m sorry for having neglected you Leoville. From now on when I post a picture of a particularly delicious sandwich I’m posting it here. When I complain that Sookie is back with Bill, you’ll hear it here first. And the show notes for my shows will go here, too.

Social media, I gave you the best years of my life, but never again. I know where I am wanted. Screw you Google Buzz. You broke my heart.

Boo Ya

68d93be700edec53fdcf153335d87ef5.jpgI’m posting little audio blog bits from my Asia trip via a new service called AudioBoo. Chris Marquardt recommended it – he’s using it for a daily photo tip podcast called “Daily Photo Tips with Chris.” – and Bobby Llew and Stephen Fry are also doing some cool stuff with it. AudioBoo makes it easy to post from the iPhone. Regular listeners can subscribe via iTunes to get my boos automatically, just like a real podcast.
It’s such an easy way to blog I might keep doing it after I get back. Here’s a boo player for you, too.

http://boos.audioboo.fm/swf/playlist_player_orbit.swf

Boo ya later!

Happy Birthday To Me

Today the Leoville.com blog turns seven.
Over the years it’s been running on Blogger, GreyMatter, Movable Type, Expression Engine, Vox, and now, I’m very happy to say, WordPress. It’s been so much fun, and when I look back at the old posts I realize what a long, strange decade it’s been!

There will be no cake. The cake is a lie.

Site Redesign

Yep, something does look a little different around here. I’ve moved Leoville.com to WordPress (it was PMWiki) and integrated it with my blog (which I moved to WordPress a few months ago).
This new template is Brian Gardner’s Revolution and it makes magazine-style pages like this possible, making WordPress suitable for web sites as well as blogs.

I’m sure you’ll find numerous bugs, both cosmetic and serious. Please let me know when you find something off (you can leave a comment on this post). I’ll be tweaking the site for the next few days and weeks. Thanks for visiting!

Caution: Man Working

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and it’s getting crazier.
I just got back from New Haven where I was serving on a Yale University advisory committee working on a strategy for online distribution. This week Yale announced that it’s putting seven courses online complete with lectures (video and audio), transcripts, problem sets, and solutions, but that’s just the beginning. Yale is committed to offering free access to many of its assets. Bravo!

It’s a great honor to be asked to help with this task along with luminaries (and fellow Yalies) like David Pogue, Mitch Kapor, Real Networks’ Rob Glaser, EA’s Bing Gordon, and my ’77 classmate Donna Dubinsky of Claris, Palm, Handspring, and Numenta.

While at Yale I did my radio show from its beautiful CMI2 broadcast center. Thanks to Paul Lawrence and his team for hosting me. And to Yale’s associate secretary, Stephanie Schwartz, for smoothing my way in New Haven.

Spending five days in Connecticut means I have to jam three weeks of podcast production into three days, because next week I head to Vancouver to tape 15 more Lab with Leo episodes. Then I come back to do the radio show the following weekend.

Christmas Eve, Jennifer, Abby, Henry and I are flying to Rhode Island for Christmas with my mom and sister. Two days later we fly to Egypt to see the Pyramids. This has been a dream of mine for years and is literally the trip of a lifetime. We’ll be gone and completely out of touch until January 7. I think our hotel has Internet access, however, so I’ll try to post pictures and video from the trip as we go.

This crazy schedule is already impacting some of the shows.

  • Because I was in New Haven doing the radio show last weekend, I don’t have a recording of the audio. That means there will be no Tech Guy netcast for December 8 and 9. Sorry.
  • As you may have noticed, there was no TWiT this week, but we’ll do two more this year on December 17 and 24 (if I can get a cast together).
  • The other news-based shows, MacBreak Weekly and Windows Weekly – will slow down, too. We should have new shows next week, but then it’s two weeks off. Both shows will be back the week of January 6 and watch for special Macworld Expo coverage the week of January 14 on MacBreak Weekly.
  • We’re taking this week off on The Daily Giz Wiz but we’ll have all new shows through the rest of the holiday season.
  • There’ll be a new net@nite this week, but then we’re taking the rest of the year off. We’ll return January 9.

Dane will be here posting the shows while I’m overseas, so everything should come out on time. He’s much more reliable than I am.

I am also working on a redesign of the blog and Leoville.com. The new design will merge them both. It’s based on the very nice Revolution theme by Brian Gardner that makes WordPress as suitable for a magazine style site as a blog. I’ll probably put the new sites up in the next day or two and will be tweaking them until I leave. Please pardon the construction dust.

One thing the new design will do is move my Twitter Tweets out of the main blog. (All together now… Yay!) They’ll still be here, but they won’t fill the page with 140 character drivel.

It will also put the blog back into the main Leoville site where it belongs. You can still go to leoville.com/blog, but leoville.com will work, too.

Finally, InBusiness.tv has posted my Blogworld keynote address from last month on Brightcove. Six Apart’s Anil Dash begins the talk with a survey of Google’s Open Social platform; I start around 15 minutes in.

http://www.brightcove.tv/playerswf

As we wrap up 2007 I want to take a moment to thank you. This year has been a watershed for me both personally and professionally, and none of it could have happened without the love and support of my family. That means Jennifer, Abby, and Henry, of course, but it also means you, my extended family.

I have so very many friends, those with whom I create the shows, and those of you who watch, listen, and collaborate. None of this could have happened without your encouragement and support. Thanks so very much.

Happy holidays. I hope you find your heart’s desire in 2008. Thanks to you, I already have.

Blogworld Recap

Vegas Blogworld Day 1 059 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpgI’m back from Las Vegas toting the usual sore throat from the dry air and ciggy smoke, and a Best Podcast award for TWiT from the Weblog Awards. Thanks for all your votes! (And thanks to Tris Hussey for taking all the pictures here.)
Despite my fears the speech went well. For some reason this particular talk really worried me. Fortunately, all that flop sweat pushed me to do more than my usual amount of reading and preparation and I had enough information in my head to wing it. I debated whether to create a Keynote presentation, but with pros like Craig Syverson in the audience I really feel less and less inclined to make slides. I have zero graphic ability and standards are so high these days that I generally prefer to rely on words alone.

I don’t know if there are any recordings of the speech but if I can track one down I’ll post it here. I should have recorded it myself – sorry! I don’t have anything to share except my bibliography.

Yochai Benkler’s Wealth of Networks is a deep book about the “networked information economy.” It’s published by the Yale University Press, but you can also download all 575 pages online. One key quote from Benkler:

Attention in the networked environment is more dependent on being interesting to an engaged group of people than it is in the mass-media environment, where moderate interest to large numbers of weakly engaged viewers is preferable.

For the science of network topologies I relied on Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s fascinating Linked. His insights into how networks form are very useful in understanding how attention flows on the net.

I also drew from a number of inspiring essays on ChangeThis. In particular Dean Brenner’s To Inform or To Persuade?, Mark Penn and E. Kinney Zalesne’s Just 1%: The Power of Microtrends, and Scott Schwertly’s Presentation Revolution: Changing the Way the World Does Presentations. ChangeThis is a remarkable site full of stimulating ideas. Highly recommended.

And thanks to Douglas Volk for this quote (which I paraphrased):

What’s fun and vital about the blogosphere is not that it doesn’t speak with the questionably unified (“smothered”?) voice of mass culture, but that individual bloggers only need to speak for themselves and about their own personal interests, and don’t need to triangulate themselves against any distinct or nebulous center; it doesn’t matter who’s paying attention and who isn’t, even when lots of people are paying attention! Each blogger is a gravitational center, great or small, but there’s no sun they’re all orbiting around.

Thanks to everyone who attended the talk – it was a full house despite the hour. You were a great audience. Bloggers, Vloggers, or Podcasters, we are all transforming media for the better.

Leo and Justine's panelFinally, a note on the kerfuffle over my session right after my talk. The session was billed as “The Cult of Blogging” and was supposed to feature A-list bloggers Om Malik and Mike Arrington. Om’s back was hurt and he couldn’t make it. Mike didn’t show either but there’s some disagreement about why. You can read Mike’s story on CrunchNotes, and Rick Calvert’s explanation at the BlogWorld site.

Apparently I inadvertently ignited a tiny controversy for saying that Mike had “forgotten” his commitment. I apologize for that – but after all as the guy who did show up I had to say something and that’s what the organizers had told me. The good news is that up-and-coming A-lister Justine Ezarik filled in admirably and I think the attendees got a lot of good and useful information, even if they didn’t get to hear from Om and Mike.

2007 Weblog Awards

Best Podcast - The 2007 Weblog Awards.jpgI’m not usually one to lobby for votes, but I would appreciate your vote for TWiT as best podcast in the Weblog awards. You can vote once per day through November 8. The award will be handed out at BlogWorld Expo at the end of the week.
While you’re there you might want to vote for your favorite weblogs, too!

Don’t do it for me. Do it for Dvorak. I don’t think he would like being beaten by the Glen and Helen Show.

Windows Live Writer Wrocks

Made with MarsEdit I usually use Daniel Jalkut’s MarsEdit on the Mac to edit my posts here. It’s a sweet little program that works with Blogger, WordPress, Movable Type, and most other blogging platforms. It allows offline editing, and greatly simplifies posting images from Flickr and so forth. I used Ecto for this for years – it’s still around and works on Windows and Mac – but MarsEdit 2 is my tool of choice on the Mac.
A number of friends have been raving to me about the free Windows Live Writer (WLW), though, so I decided to try it this evening. Wow!

For all the things Microsoft has done wrong (cough Vista cough), Windows Live Writer really is done right. It’s designed for Microsoft’s own blogging platforms, of course, but it also supports WordPress, Blogger, and the usual suspects.

Sample Map
Sample Map

WLW gives you a live preview based on the actual blog style sheets – impressive – supports embedding of pictures, video, maps, and more, and best of all supports plug-ins so other blogger/programmers can extend it (with Flickr support, for example).

The picture embedding interface is an example of how rich this program is. It doesn’t just upload an image and insert the relevant HTML, it has built-in picture editing tools, too. You can add a drop shadow or photo frame, resize, rotate, and adjust contrast. Or add special effects like sepia toning, watermarks, and more. All without leaving WLW.

There are some negatives. WLW embeds a lot of HTML into posts, which means they’re harder to read if you edit them with WordPress’s own editor. And some of the layout defaults aren’t great (notice the left justified “Sample Map” above). But considering this is only beta 3 there aren’t many rough edges.

I’ve always been really impressed by the Windows Live tools – these guys may be doing the best programming at Microsoft. At least there’s some consolation for those of you stuck working in Windows, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Daniel doesn’t add some of these features to Mars Edit, too, which will make Mac folks a little less envious.

A Little Help Here

I love the “This Day In Leoville History” plug-in. On a blog like this with nearly seven years worth of posts it’s fun to go back in time. But you’ve probably noticed that a number of the entries are 404: file not found. They’re there, it’s just that they have punctuation in the title. For some reason WordPress can see the entries, but the links don’t work.
For example, today you’ll see “2001: I’ve been farked” – something about the apostrophe throws off the permalink. The actual page is there but I can’t link to it.

Anyone have any experience with this? Got a fix? Maybe some sort of MySQL script to encode the non-text entities? Or a change to the default encoding? I’d appreciate any help you could offer. It’s kinda bugging me.

UPDATE: Ben had the right idea. I was using “pretty” permalinks that had the post title in the link. I changed it to year/month/day/post_id and that fixed the problem. Thanks for all your solutions!!