Kickstarting

February 10, 2014

KSlogoOne of the problems with restarting posting is that there are so many things I intend to post about. Kickstarter is more appropriate than most for the restarting phase. KS is “a funding platform for creative projects.”

I have backed a few projects on KS, most of them in the Tabletop Gaming category (i.e. boardgames or cardgames, videogames go in the category next door). One of my first was Eight-Minute Empire: Legends. As its KS project page shows, it met its funding goal of $10,000, and so was produced. It also met several stretch goals, attracting over $40,000 in funding. So I feel a little foolish that one of my reasons for funding was to make sure this worthy project got produced. Another reason was to get an early copy. Yet another was to get extra boards, and so I went up to the funding level at which they were included.

TanStatesMore recently, I backed Tangram States, in the Illustration category. I’ve always been fascinated by maps, and this one seems particularly cool.

Kickstarter is an example of crowdfunding (links to Wikipedia and to Forbes). Comments on KS, or on crowdfunding in general, are welcome…

Frozen

January 30, 2014

Frozen is the word because:

  • It describes this site, to which I made only two posts in 2013.
  • It describes the DC area, which has been below freezing point for a while.
  • I loved the movie of that name.

frozen-flowerHere’s Olaf the snowman enjoying a flower, and the prospect of warmer weather.

It’s due to get warmer round here too. I may well take the kids to Whitetail for skiiing on Sunday. I expect higher temperatures than we’ve had recently (>40 F, not many in C, but at least >0). I also expect lower numbers of people than usual on a weekend (I think that some sports event is taking place that day).

This site will come out of hibernation, or whatever it was. Unfrozen sounds like a good title for tomorrow’s post.

Happy 10th birthday, WordPress! And same to you, ReadWrite! Here are a couple of “open letters” celebrating WordPress’s 10th: fanmail on RW; and a love letter from Matt Mullenweg to his baby, now all grown up.

10 years ago (according to my memory, and the rather more reliable Wikipedia):

  • WordPress was Matt (and Mike Little)’s transformation of the open source b2/cafelog software.
  • RW was Read/Write Web, which was Richard MacManus. It’s one of those blogs that was started by an excellent writer, who I sometimes selfishly wish was still the main writer, and mainly writing).
  • I was living in Boston, and had no kids and no blogs.

Since then, WordPress has grown in ways too numerous to mention here and RW has long been a media property or suchlike. I am now in in the DC area, and have two kids, one of whom is nearly as old as WP and RWW.

Here’s to further good decades for WP, RW, me – and you, dear reader(s).

Aaron Swartz is dead. It appears that he took his own life. He was facing prosecution, and the possibility of jail time. I didn’t know him personally, but I am grateful for much of what he accomplished in his too-short life. I knew of him best for his co-founding of Reddit, but obituaries and other accounts of his life show that his energy and achievements went far beyond software development and entrepreneurship.

One of the outcomes of Aaron’s death has been a petition to remove from office Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, “for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz.” The petition is directed to the Obama administration, which appointed Ortiz.

I have signed the petition. I did not do so lightly. It first occurred to me to sign when I read the following quote from Ortiz in a recent Guardian article.

Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away.

My reaction was (and is) that if Ortiz said this in the context of the Aaron Swartz case, I don’t want her anywhere near such a case. It is alleged that he copied documents. Copying documents, leaving the originals intact, is not the same sort of taking as stealing money, leaving the victim poorer. To introduce a economic term, copies of documents are not rivalrous goods.

Notice the if in the previous paragraph. It occurred to me that Ortiz may have been misquoted. I didn’t want to jump to the conclusion that she had said something so ridiculous. So I Googled the above quote. One of the many sources I found for it was a web page with the title “USDOJ: US Attorney’s Office – District of Massachusetts”. So the web site of Ortiz’s own organization “credits” her with that exact quote.

My objection to Ortiz as US Attorney is manyfold. First, she is actually responsible for the ridiculous statement quoted above. Second, she sought to have someone convicted of a felony and imprisoned on that ridiculous basis. I’ll stop here, partly because I am in no position to measure Ortiz’s share of the blame for Aaron’s death.

The edge between the front yard and the road is buried under a long, fairly deep pile of leaves. This photo gives some idea of the pile, and a better idea of how much I enjoyed moving the leaves from various parts of the yard to the pile. I won’t even be this happy if the county doesn’t come and collect the leaves before we get a strong wind that spreads the leaves back over the yard.

The photo also shows that I haven’t shaved for more than two weeks. I wasn’t planning to participate in Mowvember, but my shaver gave up the ghost around Halloween. I’m not sure whether the beard will survive the month, let alone make it to the new year.

What do you think? (Here’s a photo of a beardless Andrew, if it helps.)

I didn’t give up blogging, I just didn’t post for almost four months. I last posted just after the big summer storm, when we lost power, and got it back on the 4th of July. So I hardly blogged at all between Independence Day and Election Day.

Today’s election was the first in which I was eligible to vote as a US citizen. I did so accompanied by my kids.

Voting is good, and blogging is good. Will the outcome of the election be good? Or rather, for whom will it be good?

Re-Dependence Day

July 8, 2012

The strong and sudden (but not unexpected) storm of Friday June 29 damaged trees, power lines, and hence electricity supply.

A tree fell right across the road opposite our house in Bethesda, but a lane was cleared by a midnight(ish) chainsaw. I assume that the people wielding the chainsaw really needed to get somewhere. The image in this post doesn’t show that tree (another one does), but it’s my best photo of the storm and its effects.

We were without power for a little under five days. So yes, that means that it came back on Independence Day. It feels like re-dependence day, since we are so dependent on electricity, and take it so much for granted. A few reactions to the power cut:

  • We reacted to it in different ways. My daughter (Maddie, 8) saw the bright side of not having electricity for the fridge: perhaps we’d have to eat out more.
  • The iPad (iPad 2) held its charge very well.
  • I really missed the internet, and not just for its fun side. I keep my main to-do list on 37signals‘ Backpack, which is great when its assumption that the internet is always there holds true.
  • There are many tall trees round here. That’s great, trees are wonderful, but they are not good neighbors for power lines. We missed the air conditioning during the heatwave (definitions vary, but we met all of the definitions provided at Wikipedia),but it would have been even worse without the shade provided by the tall trees. Then again, that shade means that we wouldn’t get as much out of solar panels on the roof as the temperatures would suggest.
  • If the people who used a chainsaw outside our house at midnight are reading this, you are forgiven. You probably needed to get somewhere, and the fallen tree was blocking the only way out.

How do you feel about dependence on electricity? Are you in fact dependent on it? Do you take a steady supply of electricity for granted? (I did, for most of my life, until I moved to Maryland.)

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