Firefox 4 App Tab

TFirefox 4 App Tabhe App tabs in Firefox 4 was a feature I hadn’t seen until this handy post from Freshbooks passed through Reeder. It was immediately one of those “how awesome is that moments.” I live in Basecamp, so that was my immediate thought. But then, oh, yeah, Pinboard, and Instapaper. Now I’m looking for other sites I routinely visit daily to add.

Speaking of Firefox 4, I was literally a day away from looking at switching to Chrome as my everyday browser, but I checked out the release candidate and pleasantly surprised by the difference. A few days later it was formally released, and I’m no longer looking to switch.

Have you found any hidden gem features in Firefox 4?

Tunesday – Neko Case

Perhaps today’s Tunesday was inspired by the plethora of tweets I’ve seen from her the past few days (to raise money to help students with creative writing), coupled with a beautiful woman I recently met giving me “bonus points” for liking Neko Case. Or it’s just that I love Neko Case’s voice.

I’ve had a love affair with her voice for about 8 years, since I first heard Porchlight from the soundtrack to Slaughter Rule.

At the time, I was working 100hr weeks, and rarely had time to find music outside of emusic.com, but I was able to get my hands on Furnace Room Lullaby. And while I didn’t race out to buy more of her music, I often came back to that album. A couple of years later Fox Confessor Brings the Flood was released, and if I wasn’t smitten (mind you, I’d probably never even seen her photo, it was purely the soul and emotion of her voice, not some school boy crush on a pretty face – though I now know that’s the case too).

Margaret vs Pauline immediately joined my heavy rotation list, and is still on one of my favorite play lists. Since then I’ve acquired The Virginian, an earlier recording, as well as what I think is her latest recording, Middle Cyclone.

Unfortunately, by the time i discovered she was playing in Orlando a little over a year ago, the show was sold out. I’m anxiously awaiting the next opportunity, in the meantime I leave you with Star Witness off of Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, from the aforementioned sold out show in Orlando, Florida December of ‘09.

Neko Case – Star Witness

Miklb.com Turns 6

I Birthday Cakeknew it was right around this time, but it seems that this little slice of the web turned 6 this weekend, as did my twisting adventure of making a living building web sites. Seems like yesterday still I was purchasing my first tiny plan from A Small Orange and installing WordPress 1.2. Now I have 2 different VPS’s, manage 100’s of WordPress sites for work on a dedicated server (managed, I’m not that much a masochist), and moved onto Habari for my personal sites. Ironically or not, those that started Habari were some of the very ones that welcomed me into WordPress and were the ones that probably have helped me the most to get where I’ve gotten today.

So I’d like to share this virtual cake particularly with Chis J Davis, as the first theme I tore apart to customize was one of his (among many others down the road), Owen Winkler for the many plugins I used to get started as well as the many hours of tutelage over the years on a variety of subjects, and Scott Merrill, because in addition to his many plugins and welcoming nature, his patience in helping walk me through setting up my first VPS.

There are many, many more who’ve helped me through these past six years I couldn’t begin to name them all, but please know I’m eternally grateful to each and every one.

Tables For Layout: Now Conforming

In case you’ve been lost in all of the SXSWi hullabaloo, or just neck deep in work like myself, it seems the W3C HTML Working Group has decided using role=presentation on a table element is now conforming. So it seems after 5 years of fighting this out in the trenches, per one rebuttal to the proposal:

Over the past decade or more, Web designers have been moving away from tables for layout. For a while, limitations in the market leading Web browser made this somewhat impractical for sites with complicated flexible layouts that had to be compatible with a broad range of user agents, but this is no longer the case, and new sites can avoid using tables without difficulty. Old sites won’t change, but old sites are not affected by changes to conformance criteria, since they already exist. Conformance criteria only affect actively developed sites, and those can move away from tables (and many avoid using tables at all).

The counter argument from the working group:

This assertion does not mention a specific example. By contrast the authors of the proposal to make

conforming cite gmail, facebook, yahoo mail, numerous IBM applications, and toolkits such as DOJO and YUI. As each of these are actively maintained, we find that there was insufficient evidence provided to back up this assertion.

So Facebook prevails (again)? God help us all.

Towards a Responsive Design

I am not sure I had really paid attention to the term responsive design when I started the redesign for this site. I just knew I wanted something that would be as readable on an iPhone as it was on my large desktop monitor. I made some conscious decisions to remove a bunch of extraneous elements not for the mobile viewing, but I simply wanted to focus attention on what ever it was I was writing about. Sidebars full of links, tweets, buttons and badges might have been novel 6 years ago when I started this site, but not so important to me now.

I also wanted to learn more about HTML5 and CSS3. For my own site, I’m completely not interested in supporting old browsers, save for using a HTML5 polyfill for < IE 9. If someone is using IE 6, they probably don’t have much interest in what I’m sharing anyway. So I played with some max-widths and widths based on percentage until I found something that worked for me. Perhaps that’s not the best way to approach it, as the site really should be about those visiting, but I guess I made an assumption my browsers/screen resolutions/mobile devices were common enough that if it looked OK to me, it should look OK to visitors. Up until today, I was fairly happy with what I had come up with, save for the Youtube videos I’ve been posting. I have been experimenting with using the HTML5 iframe wrapper Youtube offers, and choosing a very large version of the video. Which wasn’t working out for smaller screens.

But as I’m studying more about the advanced concepts of responsive design and using media queries, I ran across Ethan Marcotte’s fluid images post. Lo and behold, I set

iframe {max-width: 100%}

and my video posts scale along with the surrounding content.

I’m not sure I will mess with this site anytime soon code or design wise, but I do intend to experiment with using the Less Framework and possibly the intriguing context aware responsive images script over on my cooking site, which is a blueprint based grid design spun off of the markup of this site. I don’t think it would take much to convert the grid to the Less Framework. I may think about a design that’s not quite as similar to this in the process.

Regardless of the direction, I’d like to thank Kevin Zurawel for his WordCamp Miami session on responsive design and piquing my interest on the subject even more.

On Twitter Clients and Their Change in TOS

Update: The plot thickens. Sean Coates pointed out on Twitter this morning that the Twitter API announcement has been pulled, with no obvious response. Most of the mailing list message is still available in an article in the Guardian.

First, I’m not a developer of software. I make websites. I use Twitter. A lot sometimes. I have found the reaction to Twitter’s curious announcement in the change in their terms of service interesting. Granted, most reactions I have read are from developer types, so it may be biased. The sentiment could be summed up in a tweet I saw today, “Twitter: from #dickbar to #dickmove”. That basically Twitter added a new “feature” in their most recent mobile app that absolutely no one liked and users were abuzz with suggestions for other clients. Rather than listen to these users (granted, they did release a minor update that apparently mitigates to a degree the trending bar, coined by Gruber the dickbar) they simply decided to post to a mailing list telling developers to not plan on being able to create alternate clients. Poor timing? Possibly. They very well could have been planning this announcement for some time. Still seems odd.

But what if they had challenged themselves internally? “We are going to make such a kick ass experience for the desktop, mobile and web, users won’t bother with these imitators.” They could have looked at who was doing great things with the iPhone and the desktop and simply hired them to make their product better. Listened to their users to see what features these other clients were offering and make them better. Isn’t that what free-market competition should be all about? Not, “hey, thanks for helping build up our user base, now go screw yourselves.”

Ultimately, Twitter really reminded me that I don’t pay for it, so I can’t really bitch about it, and should remember my goal of Less Twitter, more me..

Tunesday: Crooked Fingers

While revisiting the Avett Bros tonight in my music library, the next band was Archers of Loaf, which got me to thinking what was Eric Bachmann’s subsequent project up to? So I Googled them and discovered they’re going to be in Tampa February 26.

One of the seminal shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in Ybor City (or any where for that matter) was a Crooked Fingers show at the New World Brewery. It was one of the coldest nights, particularly that late in winter I’ve ever known. Due to some circumstances beyond my understanding, they had to play New World, and because of the cold, had to play inside. One thing led to another, sound issues, I don’t know, but the band played, literally, on the bar unplugged. Mind you, there might have been 50 people tops in the place that night, but if you ask anyone now, they were there. I mean, if you’ve ever been inside that bar, it’s not big. They were standing on the bar, moving from as you enter counter clock-wise until they finished up the set in front of the jukebox. If the cliché “epic” could better be applied, I’m not sure where.

I’ve gathered more of their music over the years, still find myself listening to the Archers of Loaf’s All the Nation’s Airports and am stoked to see a where a serious song writer’s taken his craft.

Geography Lesson Compliments of SW Air

I like to pride myself on knowing this little country of the USA pretty well. I’ve driven back and forth, up and down, and just about everywhere in between. I would have thought I knew every town that an airline like Southwest Air would service. That is until today. The “ding” alert was for Harlingen. Not only did I not know where that was, I hadn’t even ever heard of the town. But thankfully to the power of Google, I now know it’s a border town in SE Texas. South of both Corpus Christ and San Antonio.

View Larger Map

I’m guessing then that SW Air is offering cheap flights to a border town of Mexico because there’s a stampede of people looking to tempt fate and head into Monterrey to dodge banditos for some cheap black market Viagra. (Actually, I’m guessing it’s really for spring breakers heading to South Padre Island.)

Tunesday – The Grammy Edition: Arcade Fire

For those of you watching the Grammy’s (or just following along on Twitter) and not familiar with Arcade Fire, winner of the Grammy for best album (not to be confused with “record”) of the year, I give you the song that sold me off their first major recording.

Also, I’d like to note and ask, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t planned they’d play another song to close out the show, and the quote from the lead singer after winning, “We’re going to play another song because we like music,” was one of the best digs at the Grammy’s I’ve heard.

Bachmann Rewrites WWII History

I clicked over to CNN this evening to catch the Bachmann response to the President’s State of the Union speech. It’s the car crash scenario – no matter how ugly it is, you can’t look away. What got me though was this line, “yet this picture immortalizes the victory of young GIs over the incursion against the Japanese,” as she had the iconic image of the Marine’s raising the US flag.

Wait, did I hear that right? The “incursion against the Japanese”? I rewound the DVR 3 times to make sure I didn’t hear her wrong. Nope, she went on to say, “to symbolize all of America coming together to beat back a totalitarian aggressor.” What totalitarian aggressor does she think they fought back? Hitler?

Listening to the pundits afterward, the only thing they talked about was the oddness of a second, “unofficial” Republican response. Or the fact that the camera that CNN used wasn’t the one that Bachmann was looking into. DID YOU NOT HEAR HER REWRITE WORLD WAR II HISTORY?

So I thought, maybe I didn’t hear her say that, and sought out to check. Nope, sure enough, CNN has a transcript of the Bachmann response, and it’s right there.

Check the video yourself, (do yourself a favor and fast forward to the 5:45 mark).

While looking for this, I also read that earlier today she also rewrote some other American history by saying the founding fathers fought to end slavery. You know, by getting them counted as 3/5 a person and all.

I’d be very curious to hear what a Tea Party veteran, particularly a WWII vet has to say about their official spokesperson saying they helped save the Japanese.

Tunesday: Band of Horses

I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to truly discover Band of Horses. I’d owned Infinite Arms for a while, just hadn’t really listened to it. Perhaps it was the fact that Funeral is on the jukebox of my favorite dive bar, and the girlfriend of one of my close friends played it over and over after he committed suicide. What ever the case, I’ve recently been digging into their music and lyrics, and the vibe they put out really is speaking to me these days.

This live acoustic version of Factory is a perfect example. They were recently on Austin City Limits (The National were on the same show), and now I really want to experience them live. Several years ago they played a SPoT show at the outdoor amphitheater in the Cuban Club, and from my porch in Ybor Heights I could hear them great. The band shell seemed to direct the music right over the interstate onto my porch. But I simply didn’t have the same appreciation for their sound as I do today. Can’t wait for them to get back from Europe and travel the states again.

An Epiphany: How to Finally Resurrect My Cooking Blog

There are probably 6 of you who know me either in real life or online who read my tweets/blog that know that A)I was a chef in another life, B) I have a cooking blog.

Every 9 months or so, I get these grand ambitions to resurrect the blog, but my grandiose visions overwhelm the realities of my daily life, and they never transpire. That’s not to say that I don’t still love food, that I don’t every day in my current profession as a guy who makes and manages web sites (do they still call it webmaster?) use my experiences as a chef, both in the work place dealing with people and changing focus at the drop of a dime, as well as the art itself. It’s ephemeral, here today, gone in 20 minutes, a delicate balance between art and science.Still Life-ish

The epiphany is, keep it simple stupid. It may not surprise 4 of you 6 that I read weekly the Miami Herald, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times food sections as well as our local über cool food writer Jeff Houck. Not to mention the many tweets and links that come through my streams weekly. I often want to share these, with a short anecdote, or comment. That’s what a couple of my favorite bloggers – Gruber and Kottke – do already. It was really the basis of blogging 6-7 years ago. Then, just maybe then, I won’t feel the overwhelming (self imposed) pressure to write long form. Those can just occur naturally.

My question to the 3 of you still reading this? I should probably not push these to my regular Twitter account, right? I should just tell folks about the re-positioning once it’s done, and let them subscribe to the feed. Possibly create a new Twitter account to push those updates to those who prefer to use Twitter instead of Atom feeds for updates? Should I link directly to the source article, ala Gruber, or simply link in the post with my anecdote ala Kottke?

And full disclaimer, I do have advertising on that site, that despite it’s languishing in purgatory, pays for a significant amount of my hosting costs. That has nothing to do with my desire to kick start the site however, but just want to be clear, ads will continue on the site.

Justin Townes Earle -Live Tonight in Tampa

When you’re the son of Steve Earle and your name sake is Townes Van Zandt, you’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill. Listening to his last two albums, especially the latest, Harlem River Blues, I think he’s stepped into them quite nicely. He’s playing live at the Crow Bar in Ybor tonight. If you don’t have plans, you should now.

Olbermann – Baseball Historian Extraordinaire

I’ve said it before on Twitter, regardless of what you think of his political leanings or on air persona, Keith Olbermann is one of the most interesting baseball historians/fans I’ve read. Regularly during the baseball season Olbermann waxes on both current and past baseball events on his Baseball Nerd blog. I’m not sure I’ve read a better example than his latest This Just In…From 1984, showing a possibly never before seen page from a periodical of the time with images of a long lost championship game. The fact he can give players names and anecdotes for many of those involved lends to the grainy images from a bygone era. The juxtaposed image from the periodical with one of his own snapshots from the ‘09 World Series truly brings the past and present of baseball together brilliantly (despite it being the Yankees). I highly recommend subscribing to the blog if you are a true lover of baseball.

Transmit & Textmate No Longer Sitting in a Tree

For years, my work tools/flow has primarily consisted of using Transmit for for (S)FTP, and TextMate for all file editing save for CSS files, for which I use CSSEdit. It worked like a charm. I could be on 3 different servers, jumping from issue to issue, project to project, and never miss a beat. Now I know my hard core programmer friends will say I should be using something like VIM, which I’d love to be that guy, but my skills at modifying PHP would never allow me to work like that. I like the code completion, syntax highlighting, and pretty GUI of a desktop app.

So this little work flow had become second nature. I never really thought about it anymore. For those not familiar with TextMate, associated files in a project open in tabs, ala browsers. Otherwise, they are simply each a new window. Originally I was using the Muffin Research tutorial on how to get the temp Transmit files in a TextMate project. With the excellent update to version 4 of Transmit, a new tutorial surfaced dealing with the new way temp files were handled. I followed along, things worked great. Until now.

After a recent update to Transmit, I realized the temp files were no longer opening as a project in TextMate. I tweeted about it, and soon after someone from Panic asked me to send a support email. I enthusiastically did, hoping I had missed something. Unfortunately, the reply was:

Hi Michael, unfortunately I can’t guarantee that this functionality will return. It’s not something that’s supported by the ODB Editor suite. Really, this is a feature that needs to be added to TextMate in the same way that browsers can be told to open new windows in tabs.

I politely replied that TextMate does have that feature, the associated files just need to be in a project. Once again, the response was that I should open a feature request ticket with TextMate that files open as tabs regardless of being associated with a project, followed by

We fixed a legitimate bug with editing files in BBEdit and this was an unintended side-effect. However, it’s unfair of you to claim that this was a supported feature of Transmit as it relied on accessing a hidden cache folder in order to function.

There was an additional suggestion along the way that I could mount the remote servers using the built in MacFUSE technology as folders on my desktop. I’m not inclined to use that for my work server however.

Additionally, I was offered a refund if rolling back to 4.1.1 wasn’t an option. Certainly I do not want to be stuck with that version forever, but in the meantime I’ve rolled back so I can continue on my current work flow, while investigating other options. I’ve downloaded Panic’s Coda application, which is an svn client, FTP and file editor all rolled into one (plus terminal). I had tested it on its initial release, and didn’t find it anywhere near my existing setup. I’ve not used it enough in its current form to know if it’s mature enough to compete. Certainly I’m not a heavy programmer, so a lot of times TextMate can be overkill. I look forward to testing it further.

In an ideal world, there would be a simple way for Transmit to store the temp files as in the past where TextMate can easily find them as a project. Or TextMate 2 drops overnight and has built in support for opening files unassociated with a project as tabs. I’m certainly open to suggestions.

Lastly, let me be clear. I did not mean to imply this was a “supported” feature, rather it just worked. James, the Panic support person who corresponded with me over this issue was nothing but professional, polite and honest. Refreshingly honest. They make a great product, one that has almost seamlessly fit into my system without even noticing it most days. I sincerely appreciate their offer of refunding my purchase. That was never my goal. I’ve gotten far more value out of my purchase of that application to ever accept the refund, regardless of my ultimate direction. I just want the perfect marriage back.

Transmit & Textmate No Longer Sitting in a Tree

For years, my work tools/flow has primarily consisted of using Transmit for for (S)FTP, and TextMate for all file editing save for CSS files, for which I use CSSEdit. It worked like a charm. I could be on 3 different servers, jumping from issue to issue, project to project, and never miss a beat. Now I know my hard core programmer friends will say I should be using something like VIM, which I’d love to be that guy, but my skills at modifying PHP would never allow me to work like that. I like the code completion, syntax highlighting, and pretty GUI of a desktop app.

So this little work flow had become second nature. I never really thought about it anymore. For those not familiar with TextMate, associated files in a project open in tabs, ala browsers. Otherwise, they are simply each a new window. Originally I was using the Muffin Research tutorial on how to get the temp Transmit files in a TextMate project. With the excellent update to version 4 of Transmit, a new tutorial surfaced dealing with the new way temp files were handled. I followed along, things worked great. Until now.

After a recent update to Transmit, I realized the temp files were no longer opening as a project in TextMate. I tweeted about it, and soon after someone from Panic asked me to send a support email. I enthusiastically did, hoping I had missed something. Unfortunately, the reply was:

Hi Michael, unfortunately I can’t guarantee that this functionality will return. It’s not something that’s supported by the ODB Editor suite. Really, this is a feature that needs to be added to TextMate in the same way that browsers can be told to open new windows in tabs.

I politely replied that TextMate does have that feature, the associated files just need to be in a project. Once again, the response was that I should open a feature request ticket with TextMate that files open as tabs regardless of being associated with a project, followed by

We fixed a legitimate bug with editing files in BBEdit and this was an unintended side-effect. However, it’s unfair of you to claim that this was a supported feature of Transmit as it relied on accessing a hidden cache folder in order to function.

There was an additional suggestion along the way that I could mount the remote servers using the built in MacFUSE technology as folders on my desktop. I’m not inclined to use that for my work server however.

Additionally, I was offered a refund if rolling back to 4.1.1 wasn’t an option. Certainly I do not want to be stuck with that version forever, but in the meantime I’ve rolled back so I can continue on my current work flow, while investigating other options. I’ve downloaded Panic’s Coda application, which is an svn client, FTP and file editor all rolled into one (plus terminal). I had tested it on its initial release, and didn’t find it anywhere near my existing setup. I’ve not used it enough in its current form to know if it’s mature enough to compete. Certainly I’m not a heavy programmer, so a lot of times TextMate can be overkill. I look forward to testing it further.

In an ideal world, there would be a simple way for Transmit to store the temp files as in the past where TextMate can easily find them as a project. Or TextMate 2 drops overnight and has built in support for opening files unassociated with a project as tabs. I’m certainly open to suggestions.

Lastly, let me be clear. I did not mean to imply this was a “supported” feature, rather it just worked. James, the Panic support person who corresponded with me over this issue was nothing but professional, polite and honest. Refreshingly honest. They make a great product, one that has almost seamlessly fit into my system without even noticing it most days. I sincerely appreciate their offer of refunding my purchase. That was never my goal. I’ve gotten far more value out of my purchase of that application to ever accept the refund, regardless of my ultimate direction. I just want the perfect marriage back.

Help Cigar City Brewing Keep it’s Tasting Room

Cigar City BrewingA plea from Cigar City Brewing came across my Twitter feed this morning via The Independent – Tampa. This is a perfect example of why I am going to start using my blog more and not just Twitter. Sure, I could retweet the link, say 3-4 words on it, but I want to fully comment on the situation.

The nutshell, the Tampa City Council failed to make permanent the wet zoning license and extend the hours for the tasting room of Cigar City Brewing. I’ve watched enough city council meetings to know this is generally a no brainer for a business like this that has had zero incidents. But for those that don’t live in Tampa or not as familiar, the owner of the CCB’s father has some high profile businesses that have clashed with the city for years. These city council members are punishing the son for issues they may have with the father. I know this because I watched the original city council meeting when they went for their license and zoning originally. They didn’t trust that this would be a legitimate business. Or at least those were the implications. That somehow this would all be a ruse to get some kind wet zoning and turn into some other type of business.

Little does the backwards uninformed who failed to vote on this know, but Cigar City Brewing is known nationally, internationally if you include Canada. Their beers are recognized and respected amongst some of the biggest and best micro-breweries. Shutting down the tasting room, or at the least minimizing it’s ability to do business, is a travesty and yet another sign of how far Tampa really is behind the times.

So if you are a craft beer fan not in Tampa, perhaps follow one of the links from the CCB site and tell a council member about your support for the art and the quality of the beer from CCB. If you do live in the city limits, please tell Ms. Miller, Rev. Scott (who is running for mayor? really you’d not want a world class business like this to not succeed?) and Mr. Stokes (oh, on second thought I will run for city council after telling you I wouldn’t) that not supporting this permanent license is a travesty and a disservice to the city.

Tunesday – The Late Edition – Whiskeytown / Gram Parsons

When I was going through a really bad breakup about 10 years ago, a friend gave me two CD’s. Ryan Adam’s Heartbreaker and Whiskeytown’s Whiskeytown. I still turn to those two recordings when things are going bad. Adam’s lyrics and voice strike a distinct nerve with me, and is the perfect companion to a bottle of bourbon and introspection.

I came across this video of Whiskeytown covering the Gram Parson song “A Song for You”, and it resonates for many of the same reasons.

This isn’t a video, rather the original by Graham Parsons with Emmylou Harris set to some great old photos of Florida and Georgia (Parsons was born in Winter Haven, FL). This too struck a nerve.

Only in the last few years have I begun to really appreciate Parsons, but rediscovering this song will certainly spur me on to learn more.

On a side note, the woman playing fiddle in Whiskeytown, Caitlin Cary is awesome in her own right. If you haven’t listened to a more current project she’s in, Tres Chicas, or any of her solo stuff, I highly recommend seeking it out.

Less Twitter, More Me

The first blog post I read about moving away from Twitter & microblogging began my thinking of how I might do the same. I came into the “blogging culture” late in the game, so I didn’t have as much an identity as some.

However, lately I’ve been feeling more and more my microblogging platform of choice, Twitter, was becoming increasingly ephemeral. I was conditioning myself to minimize my thoughts due to some arbitrary constraint. Not to mention, I didn’t have my own reference point. Sure, I use
Instapaper
& Pinboard, but I did not have a chronological reference to what I was thinking and feeling. Not to mention a real reference point of meaningful information I felt important to file away for posterity.

So today launches a new direction for Michael B, one where I do not question if I can get my point across in a finite set of characters, if my use of UTF-8 character encoding will translate to other platforms. Where I can come back a year later and the data will be mine, easily reached, in a database of my own management. No worries if I post a picture if someone will sell it, if my words will be broadcast to ears to which I’ll never know.

I don’t mean to say I will not be verbose (which I am) or that I’ve mastered some modern day Strunk & White, rather I will not feel confined. And to which I will feel free.

Also, I will genuinely get back to the root of why I fell in love with publishing on the web, and hopefully make some, albeit small, mark on the face of web publishing.

This is just but the first iteration of the new site. I hope to integrate some of the third-party services that I previously shared on this domain, and still feel an important way of expressing fully who I am, but I needed to make the move now, and fill in the important pieces as I move forward once again.

I’m quite happy this is (not valid due to old content) HTML 5 with generous dashes of CSS 3. I hope to expand on both and as I learned my first go around with self-publishing on the web – learning is doing. (Update: I was going to switch the videos to the experimental Youtube HTML5 embed code, however unfortunately the videos had been taken down. I also found additional typos in the same post. The home page is now currently valid HTML5)

Beyond Barcamp Tampa Bay

This past weekend was the 3rd Barcamp Tampa Bay. Afterwords, Peter Radizeski one of the original organizers tweeted “how do we keep the community talking between BarCamps?”, to which my answer was that I believe the key is to foster the “mini” communities that come together at Barcamps, and that cross pollination amongst the smaller communities will keep the discussions going. To which Peter replied he didn’t think the cross pollination was working. I respect all of the work that Peter has done to help build Tampa Bay tech communities. I think we move in slightly different “mini” communities, so perhaps there are some that don’t cross over as much as others, but I will say in the 2 years since BarCamp 2008, I genuinely believe that it is happening. Perhaps not as fast as some would like, but it wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know a single person in real life working with WordPress, web development or web technologies in the Tampa Bay area.

I was someone who had switched careers, was working from home freelancing, and all of my interaction was online. I used to joke that I had more friends in the industry overseas than I did in the Bay area. Now that is not the case. Perhaps partly from the proliferation of services like Twitter, but I now know real live human beings living in the Bay area who work with similar technologies as myself. That circle grows larger every time I attend a local event, be it Barcamp or more recently, the local WordPress User Group. I don’t get to hang out with these people as much as I’d like, but that’s the case with my friends not in the industry too. Life just gets in the way.

I do think there is a responsibility for those who want to see a more thriving community locally to as I said, foster the smaller communities and try and bring the Barcamp sharing and nurturing mentality to their smaller circles. Perhaps it’s time someone reaches out to Ryan and the Florida Creatives to start an active, local chapter to help bring the smaller communities together. Maybe there’s another umbrella organization that just hasn’t been started. Are people put off by the term “creative”? I honestly don’t have the answer. I know earlier this year myself and several others discussed what possible umbrella organization could help achieve this, and nothing came of it. Maybe it’s time to revisit the conversation in a broader scope? I was speaking with an organizer of BarCamp Sarasota and they do events year round under the BarCamp moniker. Is BarCamp evolving from the DIY stick-it-to-the-man un-conference into a “brand” that people can associate with and can be that umbrella? Again, I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but certainly would love to see the discussion continue, and will continue to make efforts in my smaller circles to build a local community of web technologist for the Tampa Bay area.

Shooting Manual with the Canon SX-20 IS

I picked up a Canon SX-20 IS several months back, but due to a variety of reasons, I’d not really taken it out yet and started shooting pictures with it. Nor have I done much digital photography using manual settings, so today I set out to remedy that. I’m a complete novice when it comes to fully understanding aperture, shutter speed and ISO speeds, but I’m determined to learn. So far the Canon SX-20 seems to be the perfect place to start. With that said, this is by no means a review of the camera as I’m completely not qualified to comment on what is right or wrong with the camera. I chose it based on feedback from a couple of amateur photographers whose knowledge of photography I respect. They both had the SX-10, and based on the features and cost, the SX-20 seemed not to be too far from what the SX-10 offered.

Today I primarily tried to just get used to adjusting the f-stop and shutter speed to get a good balance. I primarily stuck with 400 and 800 for ISO. Having never used a digital camera to adjust these settings, it certainly seemed like a good starting point for getting familiar with the controls. All and all, by the end of the walk along the board walk at Lettuce Lake Park, I was feeling fairly comfortable with the controls and adjusting the two settings. I’m still getting familiar with finding objects in the viewer when trying to locate a specific object (like a certain flower or the Cuban Yellow Warbler). Certainly something with practice I’m sure I’ll get the hang of. I also need to pay more attention to my light source, but for having not picked up the camera in several months, I think I got a few good picks, which is probably more of a testament of the camera than my abilities at this point. I am however confident that this camera will be a great learning tool as well as have the ability to capture some nice images. Now I can’t wait to read up a little more on balancing ISO with shutter speed and f-stop, as well as just get out and take more pictures. Next time I’m thinking about a more urban setting like Ybor.

You can view a few more from the set of pics I took today.

Note: These are completely untouched with any post processing. I really want to see the original image so as to compare as I continue to learn.

Jeff Norton Inspired Me

I was a quasi punk teenager when I first traveled to Hyde Park to experience “art”. Sure, I’d done the Ybor thing, but this was high end stuff as far as I had experienced it. A live performance of actors was way more than seeing Black Flag do 3 songs then run off stage. This was School of Night. I honestly don’t remember the skits, but I do remember Jeff and another actor doing a scene from a Sam Shepard piece ( I think it was from True West).

As I grew older, I took advantage of the opportunities to experience Jeff’s larger performances with troupes like American Stage. During this time, I was introduced to Jeff through a mutual acquaintance. He was humble, brooding. Everything I had pictured an artist to be. I was jealous.

I thought him an older but kindred spirit, not a celebrity. He was an artist. I got a glimpse of a genius. Someone who was so comfortable with his art; perhaps tortured in the fact that he was such a craftsman of his art that he could perform it in a burgh such as Tampa. He trusted that there were like minded souls who also parked their tent in this god-forsaken mosquito ridden peninsula of peninsulas a genuine art scene would evolve. I know I cooked food with that same passion. I regret I didn’t stay true to my own passion…

I for one apologize for being so shortsighted I didn’t realize it sooner–yes, I wanted a dynamic, brilliant local scene. And there is one. Theatre, food, dance… it’s all there. Maybe not how I envisioned it because I wanted brilliance such as Jeff’s to be national news, and in my youth I lost my vision.

However, in the twilight of my own perspective, and in the sunset of the passing of Jeff Norton, I reflect on that first night in a little corner bistro at Howard and Azeele, and pray that the baton of pure passion and art will continued to be passed.

God speed Jeff Norton, god speed.

Austin: Why don’t you just try another neighborhood, all right?
Lee: What’sa’ matta with this neighborhood? This is a great neighborhood. Lush. Good class a’ people…”

From True West

(ed. note) This post contained two videos of Jeff, which have since been removed from Youtube. I respect their decision

On Second Thought… Thinking Before Sending

I tweeted Monday “having a scratch text file to cut and paste stuff you want to think about before sending/posting/saying is one of my better ideas…”. This elicited a couple of responses, a bit to my surprise, as I was basically saying it out loud to myself as a reminder to use this principal. I have all too often fired off an email, tweet, forum response, or comment on a post full of knee jerk reaction, emotion and haste. Only to regret it as soon as I hit send, wishing I had thought through the ramifications of the response.

I wanted to clarify a bit on how/why I do this. As I’ve said, the main reason is if I have this unsaved text file already open, then I can quickly cut and paste the response to this file, move on to what ever it was I was doing before writing the response, and revisit later. This is different than crafting thought out responses in advance of posting or replying, which as Sean suggested in one of the responses to use Notational Velocity. I have well documented my love of Notational Velocity, and do indeed use it in this scenario. These are thoughts that I ruminate over, that I want to save even after posting or sending.

I also didn’t mean to suggest that this was some ground breaking idea or that it might be completely original. It is simply something that I have found works for me and prevents me from putting my foot in my mouth or worse. It allows me to get something off my chest and get the emotional element on paper, but move on without any ramifications. If after some period of time I still feel the need to respond to what ever it is, I can go back to this file, pull the relevant elements out the response, and temper the emotional aspects and pragmatically respond. However, if after some time, I feel the response is unwarranted or moot, I simply let it go. Having it as an unsaved file, I then figuratively “let it go” by closing the file without saving. For what ever reason, I feel if I save the file, I’m somehow hanging onto these thoughts which I’ve already deemed unworthy of sending. Hanging onto these thoughts, whether figuratively or literally, I find unhealthy for myself. They simply are added baggage to an already overfull luggage rack in my mind.

Thoughts on the Oil Spill

For those that don’t know me that well, I’m a Florida native, raised on the west coast my whole life. Much of my childhood and teen years were spent in or on the water – fishing, canoeing, hanging at the beach and everything in between. The Florida of my childhood is very much a distant memory due to the inevitable growth in population, however the beaches and bay still are very much special places. No matter how bad things seem to get, an afternoon wading the flats fishing or a day at the beach – watching porpoises bobbing along feeding in a channel, a manatee grazing on a grass bed a few feet away, seeing an osprey fly by with a whole mackerel clutched in its talons – and my day to day worries melt away and I’m reminded why I’ve never ventured far away from this part of the globe. (Note, I observed all three of those encounters just this past Friday and Saturday.

Now, all of this is in jeopardy due to an out of control oil rig out in the gulf, spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil a day with no end in sight. So far, luck has been on the people of the gulf’s side, with currents from the Mississippi keeping the oil stationary for the most part. However, we also know that this won’t last forever, and scientist warn that when, not if, the oil moves into the gulf currents, an environmental catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude will effect at least some portions of Florida, if not not the entire coast, possibly even getting caught in currents that move it all the way to the east coast. Even if this doesn’t directly impact the Tampa Bay area, the shear nature of the migratory aspect of many of the species of the gulf, the oil spill will ultimately have consequences on my beloved waters. And with hurricane season less than a month away, reports say the well might not be capped for several months, there’s no telling how a storm could effect things.

There has been much discussion the last few years about opening up Florida’s west coast to off shore drilling, including allowing rigs as close as 5 miles from shore. If this well had been that close, there wouldn’t even be discussion about where the effect would be felt. We’d be seeing scenes on the news very much like the ones from the Exxon Valdez accident – egrets and herons coated in oil, shores awash in dead fish and sea life bathed in globs of crude oil. That still very well may be played out somewhere along the coast. How in good conscience then could anyone support such a move? I think Bill Maher sums up my feelings on this the best.“Every asshole who ever chanted ‘Drill baby drill’ should have to report to the Gulf coast today for cleanup duty”. The facts are clear about how much oil is even in the gulf and how little benefit the U.S. would experience from such drilling, not to mention how far off in the future we would even see this minute impact. In that amount of time I think we can find an alternate energy source that would have less environmental impact and provide the same amount of energy.

There’s a joke making the rounds on Twitter today,

“Large Air Spill at Wind Farm. No threats reported. Some claim to enjoy the breeze.”

I’d certainly trade a thousand windmills silhouetting one of our picturesque sunsets to avoid another catastrophe such as this one. I’d just want assurances that Halliburton doesn’t have anything to do with them.

Twitter, Tweetie and What is Next?

Just wanted to jot down some thoughts on the news that came out Friday that Twitter had acquired Tweetie, the mobile/desktop Twitter client.

I’m not a developer, so I don’t have any skin in the game, but I do use the service, have paid for Tweetie for the iPhone, and am constantly looking for the perfect OS X desktop client. Thus far, Nambu has been my app of choice, suffering through the many iterations during beta testing to the point it’s a pretty damn good choice. I’d probably pay $15 for it if were to come to that.

My first thoughts on the matter is that Twitter is still looking to monetize, they can’t go on sucking up VC forever. Certainly selling mobile apps isn’t the way they’re going to go, they’ve already said as I understand it that they will release the next version as free (at least that’s what I think I read).

There’s been much debate in the past about how this would happen, and I genuinely think they are finally preparing for advertising. Certainly this deal had to be in the works prior to the iAds announcement, with Steve Jobs lambasting current mobile ads, and outlining that monetizing search on the mobile platform as being a poor business model, but it is what got me thinking this way. Why else would Twitter be buying up mobile/desktop clients to give away free if they weren’t preparing to have inline ads in time lines? Or offering a freemium model to have ad-free time lines? I’m not suggesting they would use iAds, rather their own inline advertising. Similar to how Twitteriffic does now in it’s free versions.

Certainly this is all just conjecture on my part, but not one that I’ve seen discussed in the fallout from Friday’s announcement. Simply wanted to put it down in writing so I would stop wandering off on the subject every time I read about the transaction.

UPDATE
Well, that didn’t take long to come true – NY Times – Twitter to Make Money with Ads. As I said last night in a tweet, it certainly wasn’t prophetic, as there had been much speculation on how Twitter would monetize and advertising was one way discussed, but calling it the morning of the announcement with little other speculation that I’m aware of, must earn me some kind of geek merit badge?

So it seems by snagging the best mobile clients for themselves, if they do wind up doing revenue sharing for inline ads, they cut out the middle man on a popular platform.

Note Taking Nirvana?

notebook collectionLike most, I’ve struggled with note taking and mind dumping solutions. I’m easily caught up in chasing the productivity pr0n, looking for the perfect system (hell, I gues by writing this post, I’m still doing that). At first glance however, with the discovery of my most recent set of tools, I believe I’ve found the most streamlined, cohesive solution yet.

My most recent excursion in a single note taking solution was EverNote. Certainly versatile, perhaps too so, and it never felt like the right fit. It was just too something. I wanted a no frills solution that I could easily access my notes from my desktop, laptop and on the go (currently using an iPhone). Certainly EverNote fits that bill, but again, too cumbersome and too busy.

A little while ago, I stumbled on a Habari plugin, SimplyNoted, which interfaced with an iPhone app SimpleNote. Quite an elegant little app/plugin, I could take notes on my phone and be able to pull them up in a Habari Silo, and turn them into a blog post, etc. Nice, but my iPhone isn’t the only place I take notes or want to do a brain dump. So it’s lingered on the second page of my phone, starring at me, taunting me to use it. Then the other day, the always with a great idea Merlin Mann, resurrecting his invaluable 43folders website, posted a screenshot and short post about his workflow.

Wait, did I just read about something syncing with SimpleNote? Sure enough, Merlin was espousing the virtues of an app he’d been using, and how it now syncs with SimpleNote. Notational Velocity is a no frills, desktop application (is there a mobile, I didn’t look) that snycs with SimpleNote, quietly saving behind the scenes,with plenty of keyboard shortcuts but no fluff. It gets out of the way and makes it easy to just jot notes, brain dump, or I’m sure in the hands of someone like Merlin, far, far more. But for this simple guy, it was the missing link to being able to have an app on my Macs that did all the things that SimpleNote could do.

So far in two days of using it, it’s been more usable than any other system I’ve tried. I was able to bang out some thoughts before bed on my laptop, both gather links for this post as well as some outlined thoughts (yeah, this was actually thought out), as well as some ideas for some work I had to do today. I was able to grab those notes when I hit the desktop this morning without doing anything, add to them, and then pick them back up on the laptop later in the day to finish up the writing I needed to do for my new job. After dinner, I was able to then login to the admin of the blog, start a new post, open the SimplyNoted silo, and bang, all of my links and notes were there to write a post. I can’t count how many events I’ve been to the past year that I took notes at either in EverNote or with TiddlyWiki, but never got around to copying them over to writing a post. I look forward to this being the missing link between thinking about blogging, and blogging. Time will tell.

Sharing Flickr Photos on Twitter With an iPhone

tweetie screenshotAs great a mobile device I think the iPhone is, there was one thing I couldn’t do with it that I wanted without fuss – easily upload a photo from the phone and post the picture to Twitter via my Flickr account. Prior to the 2.0 OS, you couldn’t even copy and paste a URL, but even after you could, it just wasn’t as quick and convenient as most tasks are on an iPhone. Sure, you can use one of the 3rd party services like yFrog or TwitPic, which might be fine for a throw away snapshot you don’t really care about, but if it’s something you’d like to reference in the future, or have control over how and where it’s used, they simply don’t seem like a good option. I merely wanted to snap a photo, enter a title, tap a button or two, and the photo upload to a Flickr set and automatically post to Twitter. Enter Flickit.

It wasn’t evident when I first starting using the app how to accomplish this. Even after I explored the app and found in the default metadata settings an option to post to Twitter or your blog, I didn’t see how to actually enter my Twitter credentials within the app. I then thought perhaps it was a Flickr setting, and looked into the settings for Flickr for the ability to connect to Twitter. Again, I didn’t see any obvious option.

Finally, I emailed the developer to inquire how exactly to accomplish this. Maybe it was just me, but the solution certainly didn’t seem intuitive, which isn’t usually the norm with Flickr. You have to go to your account->extending flickr->your blogs->edit. From the dropdown, you can then select Twitter as the type of weblog you have. Then within Flickit, in the aforementioned settings->default metadata, you can choose to autopost to Twitter, in addition to setting defaults for title, tags, description, sets and groups. You do have the choice within Flickit to not post to Twitter on individual uploads by altering the setting for that image, so you are not locked into tweeting every upload.

Now, you can easily snap a photo, even from within the app, quickly upload it to Flickr, and it will post the title and URL of the photo’s Flickr page to Twitter. Still not the same as a Twitter client harnessing the Flickr API and allowing you to write a full tweet, upload the image, and embed the URL like they do with the other 3rd party apps, but it sure beats using 3 apps and cutting and pasting a link, or compromising in choice of image hosting. Oh, and did I mention Flickit is free?

Speaking of Flickr and iPhone

the birds

I posted this to Twitter yesterday, but was quite pleased with how it turned out, and just wanted to post it up on this here blog. I used the “magazine” option in the iPhone app Camera Bag. It was just before sunset, when this huge flock of crows flew into the neighborhood and lighted in a big oak tree across the street. The neighbor was cleaning out his garage at the time, and every time he took stuff out of the garage and threw it into the garbage can, the tree would explode with cawing birds that would swirl around the trees. I just happened to be sitting on the porch with phone in hand as it was happening and snapped a few shots. I’m occasionally surprised by the quality of pics a mobile phone, and the iPhone in particular can take. I still remember my first digital camera only being 1.3 megapixel and the size of a small refrigerator.