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The answer to the blog feedback problem is not more weblog-ese

The talk that’s all the rage on everyone else’s weblog tonight is reader feedback. Dave Winer’s tired of keeping track of where he’s been and checking back for replies.
He doesn’t like the idea of comments as RSS feeds. It clogs up his aggregators, he says. To which I say there are days when I visit a blog and the most interesting stuff there is the reader comments. That’s the case here at least twice a month. If b2 doesn’t offer a comments RSS feed soon, I just might have to code one myself.

Winer proposed an alternate solution that made my head hurt. Way too complicated. The beauty of the comments system is its simplicity. Readers see something, they type in their name and a comment, hit a button, and it’s done. Who wants another username and password to remember? Who’s going to tell everyone they need one? There’s already way too much weblog-ese running around. Pingbacks, trackbacks, RSS, Googlejuice. Even the word “weblog” itself. Why are we always trying to make things more complicated? I’m convinced that 20% of my readers, in spite of my best efforts, think I have one page–some post I made ages ago about some hot topic, like Sotec laptops or eMachines upgrades. They read the accumulated replies, write their own, and think it’s a user forum. Many thank me for providing a place for them to ask questions or vent. Some of them venture out into my Weblog at large. Many never do.

I’m sure more weblog-ese is going to help these people tremendously.

The b2 gang has a solution to Winer’s problem as well. They’re developing a model, utilizing mature and existing Internet standards, that lets you subscribe to a post. Tick the box when you comment, then if somebody replies, you get the reply via–hold your breath–e-mail. I think most people assume comments systems work that way anyway. Set up an e-mail address that you use for comments and only for comments, and you’ve got your solution.

I’m sure that’s way too simple though. It always is.

Rethinking Movable Type and b2

A very interesting discussion today made me re-think the importance of a content management system such as Movable Type or b2.
I was talking with two people whom I expected would be among the last to even consider dropping their long-standing practice of creating their daily writings with FrontPage and moving to a CMS approach. (Saying their names would be name dropping and it’s irrelevant.) Their questions made me really question what the advantages to this system are. That’s good.

Products like Radio Userland and Trellix are really just a step beyond FrontPage, in my estimation. They’re designed for journals, rather than general purpose Web design, which probably makes them faster and easier to use and certainly cheaper. But you still get flat, static files. Radio will allow readers to navigate by date, so they can quickly get to last Tuesday’s entry–assuming that for some reason they already know they want to read last Tuesday’s entry. (Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t.)

Manila and Blogger move all of Radio Userland’s work to the server and gives you an integrated search engine, which is one more step in the right direction.

But a true content management system takes a reader’s daily entries, stores them in a database, and then when a reader asks for the content, generates HTML to send them. Movable Type does this generation in advance; b2 does it on the fly. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches; it’s not worth dwelling on.

What b2 and Movable Type give you over static pages is significant. Maybe you like what I wrote Thursday about video editing and you want to read more stuff like it. Well, I happen to have a category called video. Click on it and you get everything I’ve ever written and put into that category. When I post new content, I just tell the system what category to put it in, and it does the rest of the work for me.

Also, b2 and Movable Type make it significantly easier to gain traffic from search engines like Google. Once an entry falls off the current front page (usually set to show a week’s worth of entries), it gets its own page for time and eternity. One day’s entry is much easier for a visitor to make sense of than seven days’ worth. Individual entries can be titled appropriately, which makes Google rank it higher than pages that aren’t titled. Both of these make a reader more likely to visit.

Since b2 and Movable Type use databases, it’s easy to query the database for similar content. It’s easy to display current content. When someone visits this page, even if they grab a story that’s four years old, they get the same sidebar as my current page, which contains recent stories of note. If one of those stories grabs the visitor’s attention, I’m more likely to turn that visitor into a regular reader.

It’s also fairly easy to make b2 or Movable Type display links to the last few entries in the same category at the bottom of an entry. (I really need to implement this.) Imagine if someone likes my video editing story, gets to the end, and sees links to five more stories like it? Do you think the reader is more likely to click on one of those links than s/he is to go looking for something else like it? If the reader has to go looking on his or her own, I’m probably out of the picture. It’s easier to go back to Google. But if the reader reads another story or two of mine, I get more chances to get my hook in.

One advantage for me–this was a terrible turn-off for one of the others, as he keeps tight control on other people’s content on his site, and that’s one of the things his readers really like–is the comments system. I like leaving all of my content open to all for comment. I get very little e-mail and sometimes other people answer questions for me. That’s not necessarily a plus. At least it’s easy to turn off the feature entirely.

There are some less-obvious benefits as well. Both b2 and Movable Type offer newsfeeds–small, downloadable XML files that programs can download and use to display headlines off your site, complete with links to the full story. News aggregators are becoming popular among certain segments of the Internet community; already a significant portion of my traffic is newsfeed-related. This allows people to keep my newest stuff on their desktop or display it on their own Web pages–almost like the ill-fated PointCast, only this time likely to succeed just because there isn’t a necessary business model. This feature makes keeping up with my site, or a large number of sites like mine, trivial.

One advantage to me since I spent a weekend or so setting up a CMS for the first time has been that I don’t spend any time editing HTML anymore, short of inserting hyperlinks and inserting emphasis. I write, and that’s it. Some days I can write my entry in 15-20 minutes. On those days, I spend about 15-20 minutes on my site, unless it’s been a heavy comments day, because I just write in my preferred tool of the day, copy and paste it into b2, click a button, and within a few seconds, my new stuff is live.

Another advantage to me is traffic. Having entries small enough for people to link to and small enough to facilitate locating search terms quickly, Google treats me very well. This month, over 26% of my total traffic is coming from Google. (By comparison, 31% of my traffic comes from bookmarks.) And I’m not even doing everything I can–yet–to kiss up to Google. And since there are plenty of links on the sidebar to content that’s either fresh or compelling by some past measure, chances are someone will click on at least one other entry here, which gives me two chances–not just one–to turn that visitor into a regular reader.

If you’re currently using a tool like FrontPage or Trellix or Radio Userland to create your daily journal/blog/whatever you want to call it, you ought to give a full, complete, content management system-type program like Movable Type or b2 a look. Movable Type is easier to set up, but if you have programming ability, b2’s setup will allow you more flexibility on your site output.

Migrating a lot of existing content can be a pain. You can look at doing what I did–operating the sites in parallel, leaving the old content up and running but putting the new content in b2/Movable Type–or you can try to enlist some help in getting the old content moved in. Even if the old content stays put, it remains no less accessible than it is now. The new content just becomes much easier to navigate and cross-reference and mine for the juiciest bits.

But no matter how painful the changeover, I believe the categorization, the dynamic nature of the front page, and the ease in finding older content of interest will only increase your readership. It certainly has for me.

This is a blog

News flash: This is a blog.

It appears that some people who post their news and opinions online on a daily or occasional basis have problems with the label “weblog” or “blog” and want to distance themselves from it as much as possible.

The argument invariably goes like this: Bloggers aren’t serious. The barrier for entry is low; one need not have much technical knowledge to get started, and since the barrier for entry is low, a blogger may not necessarily be a professional anything, and, by some opinions, might not be qualified to say much of anything. So the people who do what bloggers do but reject the label, presumably because they want to be taken more seriously, try to distance themselves from the phenomenon.

It’s similar in a way to my typical argument against talk radio. Most of the people whose opinions matter to me don’t have time to be calling in to radio talk shows.

The difference, I think, between blogs and talk radio is the way you filter through the stuff you care about. You can’t really do that with stuff that’s broadcast to you, other than blindly fumbling through station presets, but there’s no guarantee that the guy talking on the next station is going to have anything better to say than the one you came from.

Finding the good blogs is much easier. Visit a site like and click on the most popular link. Search for a blog you read and like, and you can find out what blogs are “related” to it, based on what other blogs people who track that blog also track. You can go here to find some blogs that people who like my stuff also like.

And almost every blog–including mine, now–has a blogroll: a list of blogs the owner reads and recommends personally. See the same blog on multiple blogrolls, and you’ll start to get an idea who regularly has compelling things to say.

Or you can use Google. Google searches blogs just like it searches any other Web site. So far this month, more of my traffic comes from Google than from any other way. I have no way of knowing how many people who stumble upon this site from Google become daily visitors. That depends on whether I consistently deliver content that’s meaningful to them. It has nothing to do with what I call myself.

And getting back to the argument that serious professionals don’t blog, if the likes of San Jose Mercury columnist Dan Gillmor, professors Lawrence Lessig and Ed Felten, software pioneers Dan Bricklin and Ray Ozzie, InfoWorld columnist Jon Udell, and former Byte columnist Scot Hacker aren’t serious professionals, then frankly I don’t know who is. I’d be flattered to ever be mentioned in the same sentence as any one of them.

Compare their work to that of one large blog-like community, some of whose members violently reject the blog label as too amateurish. There you’ll find people who post new content every few months or so (or who have abandoned their sites altogether), or you’ll find people who talk about their household chores or their pets or what they ate for dinner as often as they talk about serious, professional matters.

And if you examine the typical blog versus the typical daynotes site, most blogs have sophisticated navigation, comments systems, archiving, integrated search, categorization, centralized notification (so you can visit one place, such as, set up a list of favorites, and find out when your favorite sites have updated) and other niceties that make it easier to sift through the information they contain. That’s rare in the daynotes circuit. But without those niceties, given a few years’ worth of entries, the information contained inside can be at once substantial and overwhelming. Wisdom and insights are nice things, but they’re worthless if you can’t find them.

To compare the two aforementioned lists is to invite a butt-kicking. Who looks amateurish now?

Let’s face it: “blog” or “weblog” is just a word. Nothing else. To use a pretentious metaphor, you don’t see Rolls-Royce distancing itself from the word “car” just because they don’t want to be associated with Kia uses the label now and Yugo used the label in the past. Rolls-Royce raises the bar and Yugo definitely lowered it. But both products are machines with four wheels, an engine, and seats, designed for transportation.

Whatever the label, you’re talking about someone who keeps a journal online for all comers to read, and whatever the label, there’s no guarantee who has or doesn’t have compelling things to say.

A b2 user looks longingly at Movable Type

This web site is in crisis mode.
I’ve been talking the past few days with a lot of people about blogging systems. I’ve worked with a lot of them. Since 1999, I’ve gone from static pages to Manilla to Greymatter to b2, and now, I’m thinking about another move, this time to Movable Type.

At the time I made each move, each of the solutions I chose made sense.

I really liked Manilla’s calendar and I really liked having something take care of the content management for me. I moved to Greymatter from Manilla after had one too many service outages. (I didn’t like its slow speed either. But for what I was paying for it, I couldn’t exactly complain.) Greymatter did everything Manilla would do for me, and it usually did it faster and better.

Greymatter was abandoned right around the time I started using it. But at the time it was the market leader, as far as blogs you ran on your own servers went. I kept on using it for a good while because it was certainly good enough for what I wanted to do, and because it was super-easy to set up. I was too chicken at the time to try anything that would require PHP and MySQL, because at the time, setting up Apache, PHP and MySQL wasn’t exactly child’s play. (It’s still not quite child’s play but it’s a whole lot easier now than it used to be.)

Greymatter remained good enough until one of my posts here got a hundred or so responses. Posting comments to that post became unbearably slow.

So I switched to b2. Fundamentally, b2 was pretty good. Since it wasn’t serving up static pages it wasn’t as fast as Greymatter, but when it came to handling comments, it processed the 219th comment just as quickly as it processed the first. And having a database backend opened up all sorts of new possibilities, like the Top 10 lists on the sidebar (courtesy of Steve DeLassus). And b2 had all the basics right (and still does).

When I switched to b2, a handful of people were using a new package called Movable Type. But b2 had the ability to import a Greymatter site. And Movable Type was written in Perl, like Greymatter, and didn’t appear to use a database backend, so it didn’t appear to be a solution to my problem.

Today, Movable Type does use a MySQL backend. And Movable Type can do all sorts of cool stuff, like pingbacks, and referrer autolinks. Those are cool. If someone writes about something I write and they link to it, as soon as someone follows the link, the link appears at the bottom of my entry. Sure, comments accomplish much the same thing, but this builds community and it gives prolific blogs lots of Googlejuice.

And there’s a six-part series that tells how to use Movable Type to implement absolutely every good idea I’ve ever had about a Weblog but usually couldn’t figure out how to do. There are also some ideas there I never conceived of.

In some cases, b2 just doesn’t have the functionality. In some cases (like the linkbacks), it’s so easy to add to b2 even I can do it. In other cases, like assigning multiple categories to a post, it’s difficult. I don’t doubt b2 will eventually get most of this functionality. But when someone else has the momentum, what to do? Do I want to forever be playing catch-up?

And that’s my struggle. Changing tools is always at least a little bit painful, because links and bookmarks go dead. So I do it only when it’s overwhelmingly worthwhile.

Movable Type will allow you to put links to related entries automatically. Movable Type will help you build meaningful metatags so search engines know what to do with you (MSN had no idea what to do with me for the longest time–I re-coded my page design a couple of weeks ago just to accomodate them). MT will allow you to tell it how much to put into your RSS feed (which I’m sure will draw cheers from the poor folks who are currently pulling down the entire story all the time).

MT doesn’t have karma voting, like Greymatter did (and I had Steve add to b2). I like it but I can live without it. I can probably get the same functionality from page reads. Or I can just code up a “best of” page by hand, using page reads, feedback, and gut feeling as my criteria.

The skinny: I’m torn on whether I should migrate. I stand to gain an awful lot. The main reason I have to stay with what I have is Steve’s custom code, which he worked awfully hard to produce, and some of it gives functionality that MT doesn’t currently have. Then again, for all I know it might not be all that hard to adapt his code to work with MT.

I know Charlie thought long and hard about switching. He’s one of the people I’ve been talking with. And I suspected he would be the first to switch. The biggest surprise to me when he did was that it took him until past 3 p.m. today to do it.

And I can tell you this. If I were starting from scratch, I’d use Movable Type. I doubt I’d even look at anything else.

apt-get install aclue

My boss called a meeting mid-week last week, and if all goes well, there’ll be some changes at work. That’s a very good thing.
I deliberately don’t write about work very often, and only in vague terms when I do, because some things I wrote about work in the past came back to bite me.

I’ve thought blogs were a very useful tool for a long time. When I started my career in 1997, I found myself gravitating towards some embryonic blog-like sites that offered technical information. Eventually enough people egged me into starting one myself. I found myself posting the solutions to my technical problems there, since searching there was much easier than with any tools we had at work. It’s a good way to work in the public eye and solicit ideas and feedback.

Well, my boss took notice. I blog, and so does one of my coworkers (I hesitate to mention him by name, as it might give away my employer, which I’d still rather not do). He visits from time to time, though the only time he’s tried to post a comment, my DSL connection went down (he naturally asked what I was doing to sabotage IE).

At the meeting, where we were talking about new ways to do things, he asked me point-blank to “Set up a weblog like you and [the guy in the cube next to me] have.”

So this morning I asked my mentor in the cube next to me for a MySQL account on one of our Linux servers. Then I installed Movable Type, mostly because both of us have heard great things about it but neither of us (so far) has been willing to risk everything by switching to it. (I know it’s not free for commercial use; call this “evaluation.” For all I know we’ll end up using b2, which is under the GPL, because for internal, intranet purposes, I don’t know that MT offers anything that b2 doesn’t. But if the boss decides he wants us to go live with MT, we’ll fork over the $150.)

The idea is, we can all log onto the blog at the end of the day and write down any significant things we did. Along the way, hopefully we’ll all learn something. And, as far as I can tell, we won’t block our clients from seeing the blog either. That way they can catch a glimpse into what we do. They won’t understand it all (I know I won’t understand all the VMS stuff on there, and the VMS guys may not understand all the NT stuff) but they’ll see something.

We talked about the cluetrain philosophy a little bit. Essentially, both of us understand it as the idea of being completely open, or at least as open as possible, with the customer. Let them see the internal operations. Let them make suggestions. Let them participate in the design of the product or service.

And I think that’s good up to a point.

Robert Lutz, one of the executives who turned Chrysler around before Daimler-Benz bought the automaker and ran it into the ground, wrote a marketing book called Guts: The Seven Laws of Business That Made Chrysler the World’s Hottest Car Company. I’ve got a copy of it on my shelf at work. One of the chapters of the book is titled, “The Customer Isn’t Always Right.” He argued that customers will follow trends and not necessarily tell the truth. Put out a survey asking people if they’d like a heated cupholder in their car, and most of them will say, yes, they’d love a heated cupholder. Everybody knows that a heated cupholder is a useless gadget no one will use, it won’t work right, and it’ll increase the cost of the car without adding any value, but nobody wants to look cheap.

Lutz argued that experts should make decisions. Since cars are the love of Lutz’s life, Lutz knows how to make killer cars. Lutz observed that the redesigned Dodge Ram pickup elicited extreme reactions. People either loved it or hated it. 70% of respondents loved it; 30% of respondents said they’d never go near the thing. Lutz argued that their then-current design had roughly 30% marketshare, so if half the people who said they loved it bought one, they’d gain 5%. So they brought it to market, and gained marketshare.

I suspect the biggest reason why the cluetrain philosophy works is that it helps to make you experts. See enough opinions, and you’ll learn how to recognize the good ones. When you’re clueless, the cluetrain people are right and you look like geniuses. Eventually, you stop being clueless, and at that point, Lutz is right.

The main reason I’m excited about having a blog in place at work isn’t because blogs in IT are trendy and popular and glitzy. (I’d still be using an Amiga if I could get a 68060 accelerator and a Zorro II Ethernet board without spending a grand.) I’m excited about blogs because I think it’ll get us a clue.

My boss typed apt-get install aclue at work today. I don’t think that’ll get us anything. Bgirwf that blog doesn’t get us a clue, I don’t think anything will.

The truth about Butch and Eddie

An Internet myth, propogated mostly by e-mail, of course, came to my attention recently. It’s a touching story, widely circulated. It’s even been reprinted in Navy newsletters and in newspapers.
It concerned the story of Ed “Butch” O’Hare.

If the name sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Butch O’Hare was one of the earliest heroes of World War II, and the Navy’s first ace. An ace, if you’re not familiar with aviation, is someone who shot down at least five enemy planes. But you probably know the name for another reason. We’ll get to that.

Pulled from his young wife and infant daughter at age 28 on the day after Pearl Harbor, O’Hare found himself flying Grumman Wildcats off of aircraft carriers, a real-life “Top Gun” against the Japanese. He even looked the part.

On February 20, 1942, O’Hare was stationed on the aircraft carrier Lexington, on a dangerous mission trying to penetrate enemy waters. A Japanese spyplane spotted the carrier and radioed back before U.S. fire could shoot it down. Soon, nine Japanese bombers were on their way. Six Grumman Wildcats took off, in a desperate effort to save the carrier.

Flying in a V formation, only two of the Wildcats were in position to get to the bombers. Those two planes happened to be O’Hare and his wingman. Two against nine. To make matters worse, O’Hare’s wingman’s guns jammed. He turned away, leaving O’Hare to take on the nine bombers alone. He dove into the bombers at full speed and took aim at the last bomber in the formation, tearing its engine off with a burst of machine gun fire. Playing to his strengths as a marksman and his plane’s ability to take lots of bullets and stay in the air (about the only redeeming quality the Wildcat had), he flew within 20-30 yards of the enemy planes and kept shooting until he ran out of ammunition. He downed five of the nine bombers and damaged several others. O’Hare’s bravery bought the rest of his formation some time, and they came in and shot down three more of the bombers. The Japanese managed to drop a few bombs, but none of them hit their target.

The real story isn’t quite how the e-mail forward tells it, but O’Hare did save his ship. This was important, seeing as Pearl Harbor was not even two and a half months before. We weren’t exactly overflowing with ships. For his heroics, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and awarded the highest decoration of this country, the Congressional Medal of Honor. He also got a little braise from FDR, who called O’Hare’s actions “one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation.”

In 1943, O’Hare was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Gold Star, some of the Navy’s highest honors, for further heroics in combat.

In Nov. 1943, O’Hare volunteered to participate in a risky night mission. O’Hare and another pilot would fly Grumman Hellcats in formation behind a radar-equipped Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber. The Avenger would spot the enemy bombers and lead them to them, then the pilots would pick off the planes by following their exhaust.

It didn’t go as planned. The Avenger spotted two Japanese Betty bombers and somehow shot them down. Continuing for more than an hour, they looked for more. Suddenly the Avenger spotted a bomber behind the two Hellcats. The Avenger’s rear gunner fired. Moments later, O’Hare failed to respond on his radio.

No one knows whether the Avenger’s target was actually O’Hare’s Hellcat, or whether the Japanese bomber got lucky and shot O’Hare down, or whether O’Hare lost control of his plane taking evasive action. He was never seen again. A year later, O’Hare was officially declared dead.

O’Hare’s home town decided to reward his war heroics. But O’Hare wasn’t from just any town. O’Hare grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Chicago had an airport named Orchard Field. The editor of the Chicago Tribune led a movement to rename the airport, which ended in success in 1949. Orchard Field is now known as O’Hare International Airport. You’ve probably heard of it.

Eddie was a seedy character. He was a lawyer and a businessman. His biggest client and business partner was a used furniture dealer named Al Capone. Of course, Capone was into more than just furniture. Eddie ran Capone’s track and kept him out of trouble, successfully.

Eddie’s one love in life was his son and his two daughters.

The e-mail says Eddie had a change of heart and wanted to give his son an example. That’s hard to say, because by the time Eddie had his supposed change of heart, his little boy was 18. He graduated from Western Military Academy in 1932. In 1933, Eddie’s son went on to the US Naval Academy.

But for one reason or another, Eddie fessed up and told the Feds a few things. A few things about Al Capone, in fact. Some speculate he did it in order to get his son into the Naval Academy.

Whatever his motivation, within a few years Eddie’s son was a sailor in the Navy and Al Capone was in jail for income tax evasion. Did Eddie know he’d pay with his life? Doubtful. Eddie had a new girlfriend and was going to marry her as soon as they found a priest who’d do the ceremony.

In Nov. 1939, Eddie was gunned down by Capone’s men, gangland-style.

Supposedly, Eddie was carrying this following poem, clipped from a magazine, in his pocket when he died:

The clock of life is wound but once
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.
Now is the only time you own.
Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time.
For the clock may soon be still.

Eddie’s son came home for the funeral, and afterward, he returned to Pensacola, where he had been learning how to fly.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Eddie’s son was Butch O’Hare.

The sad thing about this e-mail is that the real story is so much better.

Oh yeah, and even though Butch O’Hare grew up on Chicago’s South Side, Eddie O’Hare was from St. Louis and got his start here, and Butch O’Hare was born here.

Impressions of Netscape 6

I’ll be back in a bit. With preliminary impressions of Netscape 6. My notes on it are at work, but I’ll give you the overall. I’m thinking C+. It worked OK for me and it was fast. There were things about it that annoyed me though. I very badly want to use a non-Microsoft product, because I detest Microsoft, but IE has a couple of features that save me a lot of keystrokes and I have to think of that.

Assuming it manages to install, chances are there’ll be things about it you like. The things that bother me most are features that Netscape used to have but now don’t. But for basic browsing it’s much better than its predecessors.

I’ll get the rest of the details up here within a few hours.

My notes on Netscape 6. This is pretty rough, but I don’t have time to pretty it up.

Speed: Good. Very comparable to IE in most regards and sometimes faster, though still not as fast when rendering nested tables. On a P2/350 it’s hard to tell a difference. Program loads very slowly however (20+ seconds on that P2/350).

Stability: So-so if you can manage to get it installed. Installation problems galore; seemed stable under NT4 once I got it running. Under heavy use it didn’t crash on me once. However, numerous attempts to get Java plug-in working failed. I never did get it to install on a Mac G3 running OS 8.6.

Features: Stop animations feature is gone and sorely missed. Makes me mouse more than IE does. IE-like backspace is there; ctrl-enter is not and autocomplete is Netscape 4-like rather than IE like, forcing more keystrokes. I wish they’d focus more on usability, speed and stability and less on eye candy. Text enlargement doesn’t trigger window scrollbar or margin resizing when needed, so if you enlarge the text, you’ll lose the edge of the screen.

The ctrl-l-accessible Open Location box doesn’t use any autocomplete at all.

What’s Related moves from the navigation bar to the sidebar, where it’s tempting to turn off to save screen space.

Built-in search tool turns the sidebar back on if you turned it off. Annoying–don’t throw out your bookmarks to Google and Altavista yet.

No longer any fast, easy way to toggle images on/off

No longer forces you to install everything under the sun, which is very nice. Good to be able to get just a browser if you want.

Memory usage: disappointing. Used anywhere from 18-28 megs during initial testing. It’d be so nice to nuke the #$%& eye candy and get that memory usage down.

The verdict: I’m pretty happy with how the Gecko rendering engine turned out. But as soon as K-Meleon comes of age, chances are I’ll switch to that because it’s so much leaner and meaner. (Mozilla’s plagued by the same eye candy garbage, and until we all have 2-GHz processors and a gig of RAM and 15K RPM hard drives on our desktops, I’m mostly interested in having something that works fast. That means giving up some inessential whiz-bang stuff.)

And if you missed it… I posted an update late yesterday. It was too important to wait until this morning.


From: “bill cavanaugh” <>
I just followed the Daynotes link to your site. I couldn’t help but notice:

“Farquhar’s Law. I should have some t-shirts made with this on it. Repeat after me. Cable connections are the last thing most people check. Make them the first thing you check.”

This has been one of (actually, I think the first) Pournelle’s Laws for a couple of decades.


Aw man, I thought I stole that fair and square from PC/Computing way back when it was still a magazine kind of worth reading.

Well, hopefully there’s some other stuff on the site useful to you that isn’t stolen from someone who stole it from Jerry Pournelle.


From: “Curtis Horn” <>
Subject: Fwd: FIC VA-503+ and K6-III+

I read what Peter said, and you are right, I got the K6-III because my other option is a k6-2, and we all know that on chip cache is better than on board, even at 100Mhz.  And it wasn’t that much more expensive than getting a k6-2.

I haven’t had the chance to upgrade the bios, but I did find it.  The other issue is that the bios chip is soldered on so I have to do it right and back up the old bios.  I’ll have some time this weekend, when I’m going to put the hard drive in.

This may sound weird but ever since I got a job that has me work on computer sometimes I feel less enthusiastic about doing it at home.  Right now I have 3 computers that I have to put NT Images on, and one has to have a second network card (for a bnc connector).  Thanks allot for the help.


By all means take all proper precautions. It’s always a shame to ruin a motherboard because of something as simple as a BIOS upgrade. (I’ve got a dead Abit IT5H under my desk. Great board. I have no idea what I did that killed it, and that’s a shame because I could drop a Cyrix MII in it along with all the 72-pin SIMMs I could scrounge up and a 7200 rpm hard drive and it’d still be a fantastic workaday machine.)

What you say about not wanting to work on PCs after you get home actually makes a lot of sense. I resemble that remark! My main station’s Antec 300W power supply blew over the summer. The PC sat there in pieces for a couple of months because I just didn’t feel like working on it after doing that kind of stuff all day at work. I finally got around to swapping in another power supply a couple of weeks ago. I messed up my Linux firewall around the same time that power supply blew. I didn’t get around to fixing it until this weekend. Writing is relaxing to me because I don’t do it all day. Back when I was paying for college by selling my soul working as a salesman in a consumer electronics store, I found working on PCs relaxing.

I’m glad I could help.