Back to Livejournal

I did a bit of posting in Livejournal’s community related to my hometown and received more comments that I accumulated at in a couple of years. The posts are in Russian, but I believe they will be interesting to a significant portion of my readers, especially the comment part where I debate merits (or lack thereof) of speedos, man purses, and other things.

Одесские наблюдения



Два вопроса


The rest of you please enjoy these two pictures from one of the posts:


When I attended a party thrown by Joel Spolsky at his apartment, I got to browse through his library. Joel’s library was somewhat bigger and better organized than mine, but with a significant overlap: on almost every shelf I encountered at least several books that I already had or had in my wishlist.

Keeping a large library is something that I feel a little guilty about. Living space is precious and books take up a lot of it. One of my livejournal friends told me that he does not keep more than a small bookshelf of books at home (although he reads more than I do). Once he’s done with a book he either sells it at Half Price Books or gives it to a friend or acquaintance.

So why do I keep all the books? Besides the obvious vanity: look how sophisticated and edjumacated I am, there are other, more subtle reasons. When I was little, my father had an even bigger library. It was a great: exploring hundreds of books right at home was a great joy. My bed was located right under a huge bookshelf – if I wanted some bedtime reading all I had to do was to stretch my hand.

Joel put it best that evening: he feels that if somebody would read all the books that he has read, that person would start thinking similarly. A library is a sort of a mind dump, a memex chain. It becomes a part of who you are. Giving my library up would be extremely difficult for me. Call it the collector’s instinct, a fetish – it does not matter. Some poor people just are attached to physical books.

One of the reasons I got a job at TV Guide was because at the time it purchased two most promising eBook companies, NuvoMedia and Softbook. It thought that the electronic revolution would finally happen and we’d be reading from small electronic tablets, like on Star Trek. I do love paper books, but the promise of instant gratification and the library in a chip that was promised to us so long ago was even more tempting.

Sadly, the two companies were deprived of resources and smothered. I still think that the tablet reader is in our near future, and the Sony eInk tablet is a step in the right direction, although I am so displeased with Sony for a number of reasons (about which I’ll rant some other time) that I refuse to buy any of their products. In any case, my former co-worker Martin Eberhard, the founder of NuvoMedia (maker of the more successful and practical RocketBook) is now building awesome electric cars. I really wish I had a chance to interact with him at TVG — I share his fascination with Tesla and world changing technologies.

Since the ebook revolution is not coming any time soon, I finally decided to do something about keeping my books organized and joined LibraryThing. LibraryThing is a great online tool that allows you to create a catalog of your books by either typing in an ISBN number or book title. The interface is super usable. To make cataloging even faster I dug out my good ‘ol CueCat that I “declawed” back in the day. Seeing how crappy it was, I broke down and bought a real usb laser barcode scanner off eBay. It works like a charm – there’s a rotating laser inside and everything. Indeed, you get what you pay for.

I simply scan the barcode (if there’s one) or type in the title, add a tag that contains a shelf number – and that’s it. Now if I need to find a book I can simply search for it and find out which shelf it’s on. I don’t really need a more exact location. So far I’ve entered about 250 books. This covers the kitchen, bathroom and a couple of shelves in the living room. Altogether I have 2 Ikea Billys in the living room, 2 in one bedroom and 3 in another. In my estimation there should be at least 2000 books in my library, although a friend of mine thinks that it’s more like 1000. We’ll see who’s right once I’ll finish the catalog. My friend estimated (conservatively) that I spent about $5 per book, so my books must have cost me $5-10K. I feel kind of like Carrie from Sex and the City who had about $40K worth of Blahniks in her closet. Update

Last couple of weeks were rather stressful for me, thus no posts lately. I would like to break that non-posting streak and work on my site a bit as well.

First order of business – following antonme’s suggestion I installed MTLJPost plugin which will duplicate my posts in my Livejournal making dprogrammer_rss unnecessary. I will be turning off MT’s commenting feature and directing all commenters to Livejournal. I am too lazy to install the threaded comments hack in MT, and there seems to be almost no comment spam in Livejournal. I still need to do a lot of work on MT templates – the layout I have right now is rather ugly and not very usable.

I pretty much achieved what I wanted on the ad front – in about 30 days I’ve earned $7.99 with 1.8% clicthrough rate and $2.49 CPM. That’s a Fair und Balanced newspaper for every weekday! CPM by the way is a mysterious marketing term which means Cost Per Mil, where Mil (or Roman numeral M) stands not for Million but for for 10^3.

This cornucopia of revenue should be of course offset by my hosting costs, taxes and a purchase of $227.00 (+$5 s&h) Gretag McBeth Eye-One (aka i1) monitor color calibration thingy from an advertiser that google ads showed in my post. This might actually be the first time I ever bought anything from an online ad. Oh, Eye-One is outstanding. I will write a review sometime, but it’s definitely the way to go.

Top 10 Reasons Why Deadprogrammer Left Livejournal

1) Old entries are hard to get to: “back n entries” works only for a while, after that you need to go day by day. Which makes paging through a blog that is not updated daily a nightmare.

2) Can’t run ads.

3) The degenerate “friends” system with it’s stupid add/remove politics. It’s better to read stuff in an aggregator.

4) Livejournal is widely known for drama and teenage angst. Having a Livejournal blog is similar to having an AOL email – it doesn’t matter that the famous hacker JWZ has one. People will still think that you are a loser.

5) No categories. You have to keep a separate journal if you want to give your readers an ability to read only stuff that interests them. I want to write some entries in Russian, but do not want to have a separate journal for that. Also some of my readers might be interested in my photos, but not in what I think about Livejournal.

6) Constant outages, lost posts, slowness and other technical fun. What else can you expect if you share your servers with a million teenagers frantically refreshing their “friends lists”.

7) No trackback.

8) Image hosting that is still in beta, but a fully released “phonepost” system that instead of using MP3 format uses OGG. I spent a couple of hours trying to find a player that would actually play these files when I click on them, but for the most part miserably failed. Those are a couple of hours of my life that I’ll never get back. I mean, what the hell is wrong? You click on a file, the player opens, but doesn’t play anything. You click play button – nothing. You click again…. Arrrgh, it’s driving me nuts!

9) No web logs – you have no idea how many people actually read your stuff. The only indicators that you might have are how many “friends” you have and how many comments you get (both of which are poor indicators). Since you can’t run JavaScript, you can’t have a reliable third party tracker either. I’ve had a visitor from at my new shiny (well, not so shiny yet) MT based site, and I would not have know that if it was still at Livejournal. Hey, Northrop Grumman reader, who are you?

10) If you set an article with a future date in Livejournal, instead of showing up if your readers lists normally, it sometimes disappears. There’s a bug there somewhere.

Livejournal does have a superior comment system, but since I don’t get too many comments it doesn’t matter that much.

Did you expect the Spanish Inquisition? No? Well, nobody does. But it brings you 11th reason:

11) No integrated search.

First Post!

I finally installed MovableType, converted my Livejournal entries and created a very rough preliminary design featuring a graphic made for me on commission by the very talented Jesse Reklaw of Slow Wave fame.

The masthead, secondary pages, xml feeds and all the shiny features like categories, pings, trackback, etc still need a lot of work. This is why I suggest you don’t subscribe to XML feeds yet – there likely to be a lot of change in them.

MovableType has a feature for timing the release of entries that actually works well (unlike Livejournal’s) and since I write posts in bursts on weekends, I’ll try to time them so that they will spread through the week, making an almost daily blog.

I have a few dozen topics for posts right now, but I am also working on (my photography portfolio), organizing my notes (of which I have a few notebooks), finishing, working on a few other interesting projects. Since I have a day job, the progress is slow.

Livejournal Shivered Me Timbers A Bit More Than Needed

Avast, me hearties! This probably be the last post in me scurvy Livejournal. I’ve finally decided to make like all the cool pirates and board good ship Movable Type.  I also plan on using a news aggregatarrr instad of scurvy Livejournal bucko list.  While the bilge sysadmins at my hosting provider scurry to install all the necessary perl booty there will a small break in me posts.  I will  post some updates as smartly as possible. If ye have any sea wisdom about MT,  I’d be glad to hear it.

Happy TLPD,
Cap’n Deadprogrammer