All Posts Tagged ‘blogging

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★ Since 2011

Late last year I decided to pull my sleeves up and give this blog a bit more attention. I looked at my namesake and decided it could be so much more. I opened textwrangler, learnt how to inspect and architect CSS, and most importantly got back into the habit of writing. I didn’t have any goals for the writing, apart from consistency and some fuzzy thoughts around quality. Aiming for achievable targets does help, as progress and success on those fronts is highly tangible and it feels good. I like writing on here, I never really know what form it is going to take and I like that it will grow and flex over time. I set myself a target of one post per day, and so far I’ve managed to write two. On some days I write more, and when I don’t feel inspired I’m happy to let it be. I’ve only gone a few days without feeling compelled to jot something down here, and I’m genuinely surprised with how much more I feel like writing – compared to, say tweeting. It feels like home, my place to scrawl and sketch thoughts. No pressure at all.

My dashboard tells me I’ve written 220~ posts on jasonmcdermott.net. I’m not inclined to archive and move on, but I honestly feel that anything written before November 2011 was the old site, and this new site has much bigger ambitions. I’m almost at 100 posts in the new jasonmcdermott.net, and I don’t intend on slowing down.

I’m really enjoying it, and I think you might enjoy it too. There’s been a lot of press about code year lately, and I think it’s well deserved. But I also think there’s a lot to be said for a counter proposal – blog something. Writing daily, no matter how inane or brief, massages that muscle and helps keep that part of your brain in shape. If half the people who were considering learning to code, instead considered learning how to write, it would be incredible. I view around 10 bloggers to be my trusted sources of reliable information, insight and review – but I want more! The more there are involved in this new medium, the higher the bar will be for all.

Are you blogging? If so, where are you hiding? I want to know who you are, I want to read your stories and I want to learn a little bit more about the world through your lens. 2011 was a good year, but 2012 is going to be bigger, badder and blogger.

(ugh I know that was terrible, but I couldn’t resist. It’s my property, I can do what I want! Seriously though, it won’t happen again.)

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★ Warning: Upcoming Churn

I’ve hosted jasonmcdermott.net on MyDomain.com for the last 4 years, and I’ve been fairly happy with their service. It was a breeze to set up the jasonmcdermott.net gmail hosted account, and their web hosting seemed quite nice and simple to use (aside from a few stumbles starting up wikis and wordpress the wrong way..). Very recently I started using justhost.com to host a few other websites (on wordpress) and was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was. No longer did I need to configure databases, the server-side install was a breeze and the automatic tools made life much easier. It all seemed so much nicer than my cludgy install over here and I started thinking of greener grasses elsewhere.

This past week I took the plunge. I’ve churned from MyDomain to just host. The thing that got me to churn in the end was the apparent inability for MyDomain to upgrade my account to php5 from 4. This resulted in the latest WordPress (3.3 at time of writing) refusing installation, and a bunch of useful plugins throwing fatal errors. So I’ve decided to up roots and move on over to justhost. I can foresee a number of problems in doing so, and I wouldnt be surprised if this site sees some minimal amount of downtime. In the long run its worth it. All the old links should still work just fine, and the feed won’t be affected (I’m fairly sure of that). I thought I ought to warn you of the downtime and leave you with the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing that I’m thinking of all of you.

I’ll keep on writing here in the meantime, I’m not even sure when the churn will happen and how painful it will be. We’ll soon see!

[update] I’m reposting this as the churn has happened and I lost a few old articles. Goes to show you can never be too careful backing up your site..

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★ the bigger picture

A bit of a small train of thought piece coming up.  This was inspired by these two posts by Marco Arment.

I’m glad I follow people like MarcoMichael & Jason. They’re writers who take a longer view on life, industry and on this whole blogging thing, and in many ways have been doing this for a long time.

Certainly longer than I have. It really helps, seeing others who’re facing conceptual struggles I can relate to, and taking a stance on what they’re all about. Even if they don’t know specifically what they’re producing (or perhaps that’s actually the point, that what’s being made can’t be labelled so easily), they’re prepared to stick to the core goals of the site. The blog is the internet representation of their interests, so it shouldn’t be one dimensional. It shouldn’t fit into a sound-bite. It shouldn’t make things easy for google to stick ads into. Life doesn’t fit into small boxes, and their writing reflects this.

I don’t know what the specific goals are for this place.  In previous versions it’s been a wiki, a blog, a folio site and back to a blog.  I didn’t feel that comfortable having a polished, finished piece of work on display.  I’m not a web designer, nor do I code in html.  I see this place as a spot to pen my thoughts without fear nor favour.  It doesn’t work to any agenda other than to put it all down as it happens.  I hope to have the level of reflection, thought and foresight found elsewhere, but I also don’t want to hold myself to a standard I will need to grow.

One of my goals is to keep at it, though.  I do see the importance of persevering.   I’ve had too many half-hearted goes at making this thing sing.  This time feels good, as I’m not doing it for anyone else.

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★ Mind the door on your way out

I’m actually quite sad to say this, but I’ve decided to shut down comments on this blog. On one hand I’m disappointed to do this, as the potential for worthwhile discussion and conversation is incredibly interesting to me, however on the other hand maintaining and removing spam comments just doesn’t seem worthwhile.  Even given the tiny amount of traffic this blog sees, the amount of effort that goes into maintaining my spam inbox seems unnecessarily high.  I know there are better spam filters which I could look to — but to be honest, I’d much rather put my time and effort into finding interesting things to share, and thinking about how these things might affect people’s lives.  This is the unstated purpose of the blog, and as nice as it is to receive comments, I can see more value in other uses of my time.

A bunch of other, really smart people have made similar decisions, and I look to their example and reasoning.  They have more lofty visions of inspiring you to write considered thoughts yourself.  Whilst I share their vision, I can honestly say this is a selfish decision.  I do hope you’re engaged by what I write, and that you’re inspired to take a position on the matter yourself.  You’re more than welcome to do the same as I do – write about it and share your thoughts with the world.   Send me a link, share your thoughts over twitter, host your own webspace – I don’t mind.  Leaving comments on my blog, however, is no longer an option.  If you’re one of the few who do choose to leave comments on my page (you’re more than likely to be software rather than human, so I don’t fully know why I would bother addressing you at all..), you’ll be sorely missed.  For the rest of you, feel free to get in touch via any other media you choose.

Now, back to your usual programming..

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journal-ism

Today I spent some time going through earlier posts, making small tweaks or edits to image sizes – bringing the site back up to date with the new theme (courtesy of subtraction.com). Something that came to mind during this was that I haven’t been using this site as a sketchpad or notebook as much as I should. Tracing my mindspace through those earlier posts was quite fun, even the ideas I’d written even as little as 6 months ago seem so alien to me now – which is somewhat fascinating considering it’s all so open and public. The immediate comparison this draws is that of the private diary or journal.

Two very different writing positions emerge;

  • Write down ideas (which often feel quaint at a later time) in a private journal or diary, possibly withholding private thoughts or ideas not yet ‘finished’, or
  • Write it all down, in the aim of joining this community of thinkers collectively working out what to do with this crazy world.

Which is more productive, more useful, more inspiring or which makes you feel happier? All very difficult questions to answer decisively, since we’re talking about personal preference, so I think the criteria for ‘better’ in this case needs to be regarding what happens to the ideas or information contained within. What happens to the gems, those sketches and ideas wrapped up in these journals – be they bound or ‘pressed’?

In my experience, pocket journals are an absolute pleasure to scratch away in, all those project ideas, sketches for potential designs and even secrets such as the meaning of X – but after all that the pocket journals get filed away, shelved, thrown out. All those thoughts – as dated and meaningless to us now – are lost and never reemerge. So to this end, my pocket journal is both a blessing and a curse. I don’t think I could ever do away with a pen and piece of paper – it’s just too important to go without – but the text/image journal surely has a place. Which, in short I suppose, is why I (occasionally) maintain this blog. Now the private journal (imagine for a moment, that Corbusier’s sketches or Eisenman’s diaries had been made available) is the published journal, complete with inner thoughts, misspellings and newly formed ideas.

The diary is also distributed, indexed by Google, out there for all to see. Why is this worth writing about? What does this change in the way the mind works?This has a number of effects, one of which I’d like to spend some time on. This is that the translation from paper journal to web journal means my notes and sketches don’t get lost! They get filed, tagged, categorised, slugged, indexed and even searched for – meaning it’s much more difficult for me to not be able to find for that thing I was thinking about last year and maybe even last decade (not just yet, but in a years’ time I’ll be able to test this one out). Furthermore it’s possible for others to find these thoughts, which may even prompt a response or conversation.It’s not too hard to see the benefits to this, in the sense of important information retrieval. This week I had a meeting with a client and at the last possible minute (before it became too unimportant to worry about any further) I remembered that I could retrieve a portfolio piece illustrate a point, from one part of this blog. Suddenly these incidental notes, ideas and occasional examples are the easiest examples of my work to find and display – which is not a trivial thing at all.

These days I have as much trouble locating or finding my things as I did before the digital trend took off (the main difference being that now I have more of them, or at least more copies). To mediate this, lately I’ve been dabbling with the more trivial pieces of cloud computing – I write all of my emails online, I write and edit using google docs and I store my photos on flickr (yes, hardly using the potential of cloud computing, I know). Whilst these elements might seem minor they certainly have had an impact on the way I operate. I now use dropbox to store my commonly used and referenced files, which means that I can find them anywhere. I use google to index my own filesystem in gmail and now the pages on my own site.

I will one day make the upgrade to synced contacts and all those other geeky things which I always thought should be effortless and never seem to be. It all points towards a life spent on the web rather than a life spent off. Just think of a life augmented by elements of ‘reality’ (kicking a ball, laying on the grass or getting some sun) rather than the other way around. It’s all fascinating to consider and seems in many ways to be already here — rather than some distant future possibility.

I want to leave this post with a few concluding thoughts;

  1. I will from now on be posting more unfinished ideas, thoughts and notes here
  2. This will be for both my reference and yours, and
  3. I’ll be revisiting this post in 6 months time to ponder more on how things have changed.