Wanderings

Anything you dream is fiction,
and anything you accomplish is science,
the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
- Ray Bradbury
November 30th, 2007

Static Movement is Back

Chris registered a new domain for her zine. The old domain name expired and she lost it because the person who registered it is out of the picture. I thought that Stat-Mo was gone for good, but she is busy reviving it.

BTW Chris is looking for short stories and asked me to let everyone know (this means you Jim) that she need stories to get the zine up and running again. Static Movement is not a paying market, but there are a good number of people who read it.






November 29th, 2007

Buggy PayPal Debit Card Browser Plugin

I signed up to beta test the PayPal Debit card. It allowed you to pay online with a PayPal credit card that instantly debits your PayPal account. I used this because I had a small balance in my account from FreeNameAStar.com.

Recently it asked me to upgrade. I clicked OK. I should have known that there was something wrong when it kept asking me to upgrade every morning. After about a week it finally installed a new browser extension in FireFox.

The new PayPal add-in is dreadful. It has crashed FireFox 6 times today. It keeps reporting that Google.com is a Phishing site. It can’t find my forms to fill in the account number. My browser runs impossibly slow when I have multiple windows open.

I decided to sh-can PayPal, but the Uninstall button is grayed out in the FireFox add-in menu. It won’t let me uninstall.

I didn’t want to do a complete install because I figured that I would use IE when the time came to actually use the service. I had to go into my Firefox configuration files to delete the lines that load the add-in.

This is a shame because I really wanted to use the PayPal debit card to do my Christmas shopping. I have had to use my real plastic credit card today and I don’t want Erica to see what I am buying.

Perhaps it is my bad attitude, but I like t think that the code for the new PayPal thingy was developed at an offshore programming sweatshop. Not that American coders aren’t capable of crashing my computer (I’ve done it myself more than once), but it seems that there was a quality control issue in the software that was not addressed. Somebody let it ship with major bugs. This sounds like a programming shop that said “Sure we tested it.” just to get their money. I hope PayPal put a stop on the check.






November 29th, 2007

Space Christmas Cards, Holiday Science Fiction Themes


Just in time for Christmas, I got my SF Card site working again. The hosting company made some security changes that broke the site so I had to fiddle with the code to get it working. Somehow H.P. Lovecraft broke and I lost his image. I will look at my home backups to see if there is anything there. The backup disk here doesn’t have a clean version of old Howard. I need a backup from December of last year.

If you know an artist who has a humorous (or not) Christmas image, I want to add it to the list. I have asked several artists at Renderosity.com about using their images, but so far I am being ignored. I am looking through my cute cat picture archive to see if there is a good one for the list.

Space Christmas Cards, Holiday Science Fiction Themes






November 28th, 2007

Web Promotion and Creating Buzz

I was talking to Dave here at work who fools with websites the way I do. He is the only person that I ever talked to who knows anything about Google Page Rank. His brother has an interesting website called GloFish.com. GloFish are controversial. They are genetically altered fish that glow in the dark. There are people who think that this is against God’s plan. They ignore the fact that modern domestic animals have been genetically altered over tens of thousands of years of selective breeding. They object that the alteration was done using gene splicing rather than selectively breeding and culling over a long period of time.

Dave’s brother’s website is controversial and has a Google page rank of 5.

Dave’s photography site has a Google page rank of 5 because he has a link off his brother’s page. My pages have all recently been dropped down to 3 from 4 because of changes in the Google algorithm. I still get more traffic than his site or his brother’s site – go figger.

Chris B. has restarted her eZine StaticMovement.com. She was able to get the nicer, simpler domain name and I helped her get it up and running with the old website’s data. She needs to get the word out that’s she’s back.

J has decided on a name for his book, which I think is good one. He is putting his latest batch of short stories together and will publish it using the Nomadic Delirium Press imprint. This is similar to something that I am thinking about doing, but I keep getting stumped with the cover art.

There was a recent question at Speculations about Buzz Generators. I checked on these and they are ad agencies that flood the world with press releases and assist with advertising.

My mind has been cooking all of these separate factoids and I am concerned that there are very few good ways to promote a special interested, very focused, website. J. needs to promote his book. I need to promote my software. Chris needs to promote her site. Dave needs to promote his projects.

I have no solution yet, but I have been thinking. The non-internet solution to promoting a new product, book or idea was the press release. There is no such animal on the internet. Buzz is generated through Digg.com, BoingBoing.com, SlashDot.org, Del.icio.us or YouTube.com. There should be a simple and free way to get buzz for the internet.

This is a dangerous idea. Google penalizes anything that it thinks is not an “organic” link. My site HarpLinks.com actually hurts me, I think. I joined a link farm last year and I know that it hurt me. I love webrings and they bring traffic, but are a low end solution and build up slowly.

Every time I come up with an idea, I find a reason why it won’t work. I need a way of generating content that will result in links to target sites, but in an organic way. I need to do this on a smaller scale than Digg and the other big link sites. I have tried Squidoo.com and Ever.com with poor results. Despite their advertising, they do not generate any traffic. Squidoo.com has 300,000 lenses and few of these get any visitors other than their authors.

J. has been exploring MySpace and some writer buzz sites. I don’t know if he has made any sales from the effort. Dave swears that a programmer who makes a FaceBook app can succeed. I made some WidgetBox apps for my sports sites that people can put on their blogs and I had reasonable results (at least while the baseball pennant race was hot).

I am not sure where to go. If anyone has any method of internet promotion that has had better than average results and is free (or very cheap) let me know in the comments.

In the mean time, I’ll make a “read a story” and “Name a Star” widget for FaceBook and see if anyone clicks them.






November 26th, 2007

Aleister Crowley is Back

Chemical Wedding, a movie about the reincarnation of Aleister Crowley, has finished shooting. Crowley is an interesting figure. He does come of as quite insane, though, the more your read about him. The movie was written by Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden.

Dickinson is not the first rocker to be inspired by Crowley, who died in 1947. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was a big collector of Crowley’s writings and even bought his Scottish estate. Ozzy Oosbourne, meanwhile, eulogized him in the song “Mr. Crowley”.

E. Jim has some Aleister Crowley references on his site. I have read some Crowley, but I am not a fan of the man. I recently saw some mp3 files of early 20th century wax recordings of Crowley reading some of his poetry and performing part of a mystical play. They are short and difficult to listen to, but the mesmerizing power of his voice can still be heard through the static and noise.

I used to own a book Magick in Theory and Practice by Crowley. This is actually part of his magnum opus. Magick IV. I found some of it distasteful, especially where he describes the best ways to acquire street urchins for sacrifice on the alter. His sex Magick stuff was creepy.

The part of Magick that I liked was the description of creating a magical sword. One must be dropped naked in the woods and survive without help of any tool other than ones made oneself. This is total self sufficiency. You must build a fire, mine ore, smelt the ore and create the sword or knife on a self-built forge without any kind of help or tool that you haven’t made yourself. The result will be a tool that is totally made by oneself. It contains a piece of your soul. This is is a fascinating idea. I doubt that Crowley actually did this, though. It isn’t easy, and I think that from what we know about him, he would have given up early.

Crowley, known as the Witch of Soho and The Wickedest Man In the World seems to have made his living by shocking people. He pissed off almost all of the occult leaders of his day and he was hated by the established religions. Today he comes across as a narcissistic fool.

Crowley is a great influence on modern fantasy and horror literature. A movie about the man would probably cash in at the box office.






November 26th, 2007

Dreams

I had a night of dreams. I think that the cats kept waking me up out of deep sleep so I spent more time in REM. Gracie curled up under my arm and Ollie slept on my legs. Max was restless and needed reassuring all night long.

It started with my reoccurring work anxiety dream. I was wearing a suit and tie and trying to find the coffee room and my desk. It was reminiscent of working at Lockheed Martin. I wound up lost on roads in Maryland, which is one of my common dream elements. I used to go to Washington DC quite a bit on business and I never did find a good way into downtown DC. I was riding a bicycle on crowed highways, when I wound up in a glass and steel building. I’ve dreamed about this place before and it must have been some place where I’ve interviewed because I keep coming back to it, but I’ve never worked there.

The odd thing is that I wound up in a British Sci-Fi show reminiscent of Dr. Who. The show’s plot and premise where so detailed that at first I thought that I must actually be remembering something that I’d seen on TV.

I was in a group of six or seven people being led by a Doctor Who type character. There was a glowing ball of light that orbited the Earth once every hour or so. When it came around, all of the characters had to hold hands and the lighted ball transported them to a new reality. If you were not holding hands with the Doctor you were left behind. On each episode some people were left behind and new people were added. Each new world had a different challenge. I came aboard escaping from the job interview nightmare. I traveled once with the doctor to a world where everyone lives in cubicles and managed to escape the next time the ball appeared to a wooded glen where I was left behind chopping wood with my grandfather.

I woke up fully convinced that I had been dreaming an existing TV show, but soon realized that it was just part of the dream. I had ideas for a series of short stories using the concept before I completely woke up and realized that it was kind of dumb. The story was TV-ish, but not particularly interesting and I may have dreamed of the “Port Key” used in Potter stories (I am listening to the “goblet of fire” again) and a story (I can’t remember who wrote it) about a character that is switching realities in search of his own home world. The story influenced me when I was about 15 and I wrote a story with a similar premise back then. It is probably in one of my old notebooks and I should look for it.

Work anxiety is all too real, again. I am at work now, avoiding coding and trying not to think about all the things on my plate. Since several people have left my group and have not been replaced, I am doing my best to take up the slack. Some of the programmers are not producing much and I am working with them in self defense, trying to get them more productive.

I have several good story ideas partially finished, but I don’t have time to work on them. I am praying that my online money making schemes finally pay off, but I am far away from retiring.

I suppose I will be dreaming again tonight of traffic jams in Baltimore.






November 24th, 2007

Why I hate Java

I tried to log into the Commission Junction site this morning and got this error:

500 Servlet Exception: “500 Servlet Exception java.lang.NullPointerException: null buffer || null address”

I really hate Java, especially the bloated frameworks that are being created like struts. The error dumped with a “Stack Trace” and I could see their whole class structure. Java and struts are used to save on the programming end, but they cost on the hardware end in terms of support and extra capacity. Managers who go this route, save time on the development process and then pay for it for the lifetime of the project.

But I am a Java programmer. Monday I will be back at work writing similar crap, but still arguing against needless levels of abstraction. Simplify! is my war cry. I feel sorry for the programmers that are being called in right now to fix this error. They are losing their holiday rest because of bad management decisions.






November 21st, 2007

Little Walter in MensVogue.com

I found a mention of this in Harp-L, a harmonica player’s list. I don’t know why a harp player is reading Men’s Vogue fashion blog, so I didn’t put this on my harp pages.

Little Walter is the very best Harmonica Player ever, and he looks relaxed and and dressed for a little better than a dive like Theresa’s. I’ve sat at tables just like that in a few rundown Blues bars in Chicago.

Actually, except for the hat, I like his outfit.

Legendary Blues musician Little Walter defines sixties cool. Its the soul version of classic menswear. Theresa’s Lounge, Chicago, IL, early sixties.






November 21st, 2007

Collective Perception

Large collection of odd images. It’s like the guy put anything that caught his eye here. I’ve seen just about all of them before, but it is interesting to wander through these.

The net affect is what Bruce Sterling called eyeball kicks – the mandalas that you see when you press your palms on your eyes.

Collective Perception






November 20th, 2007

Astrology vrs. Astronomy

I added the ability to choose an astrological house in FreeNameAStar.com. This has been a gold mine. Someone, however, complained that their star was nowhere near the right constellation. I checked and it was indeed off. I disabled the Astrology option.

I have never had any belief in astrology. I added the option because many people requested it. I will not turn down an extra $4 from people who do believe in astrology. It is a harmless belief as things go unless you are a President of the United States and rely in an astrologer for advice.

After doing research I found out out that astrology is a few thousand years old and the stars have moved a bit since it started out. The Earth wobbles on its way around the sun and there has been a “precession of the equinoxes”. As a result, an astronomer will tell you that a star is in Pisces, when an astrologer will tell you that it is in Aires. If you actually look at the sky, you can see that the astronomer is right. The astrologer is using a chart that is a few dozen centuries out of date.

I now have a FAQ (frequently asked questions) section to the website where I answer this issue and other points about naming stars.






November 19th, 2007

Clarkstown rated second-safest community in national study

I live in the town of Clarkstown. The organization is State-> county-> town-> village-> unincorporated village.

I live in West Nyack, an unincorporated village in Clarkstown. West Nyack used to be called Clarksville, but they renamed it to be associated with the more affluent incorporated village of Nyack.

The Clarks of Clarkstown and Clarksville are among my ancestors and some are buried in the cemetery next to my house.

It’s funny that the FBI thinks that my town is the second safest in the country. 25 years ago our house was robbed and we lost a lot of family heirlooms.

Clarkstown rated second-safest community in national study






November 19th, 2007

Am I an eCommerce Consultant?

I recently was contacted by a harmonica manufacturer (THE harmonica manufacturer). They are rolling out some new products and they want to generate buzz. They wanted to put their banner on my pages, but they don’t want to spend much.

I put a test up on a few pages over the weekend and it generated enough traffic to blow their website out of the water. They must have used a real bargain basement hosting company.

I have offered them some advice, but so far they are ignoring me and continue to go down what is obviously the wrong road.

I don’t call myself a marketing professional, but I have taken half a dozen graduate level marketing courses. I think a lot about promoting my own sites. I have frequent articles here about monetizing my websites. I teach web site optimization, SEO, and E-commerce in the course I teach at night. I worked on IBM’s eCommerce suite. I helped write some of the early versions of a PayPal type site. I have been running several eCommerce sites for about ten years now.

I am thinking about labeling myself as an eCommerce consultant. I look around and the so-called experts all seem to have less experience than myself. Is this a new career?

On second thought, probably not. I would rather just retire and write my novel.






November 18th, 2007

Gracie and the Turkeys


We have had a small flock of wild turkeys visiting. I bought stale bread at the bakery and I have been feeding them. I took some pictures and Gracie decided to check out these ugly beasts.



Gracie decided that these things might be dangerous.

They chased her back up onto the deck.






November 18th, 2007

Fall in New England

These pictures are from a trip Erica and I took trip up to Connecticut to buy some apples.
Click on an image to see the original HUGE image.