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All about making a living writing on the internets & plenty more that comes up along the way.

July 4, 2013 at 9:24am
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The Tunguska explosion explained!  →

The nature of this spectacular event has been a delicious puzzle for most of my life, one of the best of my personal X files. I remember the feeling of awe when I first learned about it as a kid; a mighty explosion without any apparent cause was both impressive and spooky. WHAT did this to Siberia? Why couldn’t we find any evidence? Could it be aliens? (I wondered that about almost anything unexplained for the first half of my life!) Tunguska was one of the things that sparked my interest in astronomy, which turned into a lifelong hobby (though I haven’t done much with a telescope since moving to Vancouver).

Of course, for a long time, the Tunguska “mystery” has really just been “comet or not?” — a good puzzle, but not so exotic. And, holy crap, now we finally know: NOT. The reason there was no evidence of the meteor for so long was that it was blown to microscopic smithereens. It just took a bunch of decades and some modern methods to find them.

For nice icing on the story cake, the Tunguska impact was of pretty much exactly the same type as the Chelyabinsk meteor earlier this year … just way, way bigger.

June 1, 2013 at 1:48pm
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I’m back on Tumblr! 6 reasons why WordPress sucked for me

I’m back on Tumblr. I tried WordPress for about five months. I didn’t like it much. Because reasons:

  • Plugin madness: you can do almost anything with WordPress plugins, but the interaction of many complex parts results in much techfoolery.
  • Wordpress post formats were the feature I needed the most, but they are janky and undocumented, and all bets are off if you install a theme. (Even if I’d found a theme with post format conventions that I liked, I would’ve had to re-jigger hundreds of old posts to play by the theme’s rules.)
  • I tried to disable comments at first … and then discovered I’d failed a few weeks later than I had a backlog of thousands (!) of spam comments … which could not be conveniently deleted. Niiiice.
  • The media manager is beastly. And then one day, somehow, all my media disappeared — a disaster I never really fully recovered from. There were still a bunch of posts with missing images when I abandoned ship.
  • With great power comes great responsibility. Security hassles are practically synonymous with a self-hosted WordPress blog. Required: a learning curve, some manual hardening steps, a least a couple security plugins, and update vigilance. Configure a plugin wrong or forget to update, and you could be right fucked.
  • The dashboard often failed to load with styles, even on a good, fast server. And even when it worked, it was laggy and fussy. I found posting friction to be high, particularly compared to the lean, mean little custom CMS I’m used to working with for the SaveYourself.ca blog.

Truly, anything is possible with WordPress, and I’ll miss some options I truly wanted — but it turns out I did not want total power at the expense of convenience, not even close. I was at the mercy of a very complex system that often screwed up in utterly cryptic ways. Although I have the chops to troubleshoot crap like that, I do not have the time — not for this blog, which does not butter my bread.

February 9, 2013 at 9:06am
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To My 66 Tumblr Followers,

I am leaving! After very casually, slowly earning 66 followers here — whoa! outta control! — I am abandoning the account and setting up a WordPress blog over on PaulIngraham.com. Why?

Tumblr has a (known) issue with Canadian subdomains that was a real problem for me. After a couple years without a fix, I’m fed up.

For professional reasons, I have a strong interest in messing around with WordPress. It’s a platform I need to use and know.

And I have a weird, niggling discomfort with Tumblr’s social networkyness.

Nothing profound.

See you over at PaulIngraham.com

February 3, 2013 at 8:32am
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Reblogged from 9gag

(Source: 9gag, via zenmonkey)

January 16, 2013 at 11:37am
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KEURIG FAIL

I think I’m just about done with the Keurig coffee-maker experiment. It has come up with about a half dozen interesting ways to screw up. Particularly un-charming is its habit of spewing a 2–3 tablespoons of cold water out of the spout just before it starts producing coffee. It does this quite erratically. It will do it three times in a week, and it’s fine for a month. You just never know when it’s going to ruin a cup of coffee that way.

I could just barely accept the wastefulness of the thing if it was actually reliable and convenient … but it’s not.

I’m afraid I just can’t recommend them. I think it’s probably back to a French press now.

KEURIG FAIL

I think I’m just about done with the Keurig coffee-maker experiment. It has come up with about a half dozen interesting ways to screw up. Particularly un-charming is its habit of spewing a 2–3 tablespoons of cold water out of the spout just before it starts producing coffee. It does this quite erratically. It will do it three times in a week, and it’s fine for a month. You just never know when it’s going to ruin a cup of coffee that way.

I could just barely accept the wastefulness of the thing if it was actually reliable and convenient … but it’s not.

I’m afraid I just can’t recommend them. I think it’s probably back to a French press now.

January 14, 2013 at 7:30pm
254,630 notes
Reblogged from cineraria

(Source: cineraria, via zenmonkey)

January 12, 2013 at 4:45pm
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Don’t you just love services that make it amazingly tricky to unsubscribe from email notifications, alerts & marketing drivel?

— no one ever

3:35pm
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Most writing is too long & the most common reason is that it’s not written for the reader’s benefit.

— 

~ Neuroskeptic

I’m going to make my Mac remind me of that every 20 minutes for the rest of my life. I am afraid I am guilty of generating wordage as “a record of my learning process.” I always plan to edit out the learning curve-y stuff, but …

(Source: neuroskeptic.blogspot.ca)

January 11, 2013 at 7:42pm
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Missing Game of Thrones? Get a fix. They’re all good, but his Varys is perfect.

7:42pm
835 notes
Reblogged from newyorker

(via zenmonkey)