89 Tag Lines

The system that powers this weblog was recently upgraded with a new open-source weblog platform (because the world needed one more). What separates this weblog system from all of the others? The clever name: Blörg.

In the process of the upgrade, I’ve retired the randomly rotating tag-line/sub-title in the header of the site. Looking through the tag-lines in the old database, we accumulated 89 phrases. Most are insipid, however, I do think there are some flashes of accidental genius amongst the stupidity, embarrassing earnestness, and inside jokes.

For posterity, here are the 89 Acts of Volition weblog tags lines, all used at some point in the last five years:

  • machine readable
  • There’s nothing funny about Comic Sans.
  • The Axis of Awesome
  • Standing on the shoulders of giants
  • Not too strong in the maths.
  • Equal parts consumption and production
  • ad hoc ad hominem ad nauseam
  • Truths, albeit insignificant.
  • Hack the Casbah
  • AOL Keyword: Awesome
  • grace over karma
  • My ass is as smart as any.
  • I hate Winnipeg
  • “Tune the FM in to static and pretend its the sea” ― John K. Samson, The Weakerthans
  • be the change that you wish to see in the world
  • end-times = near
  • Objectivity is a lie.
  • Up with Metric Time! 10 Hours a Day!
  • It’s hip to be square.
  • Hey, that’s a spade!
  • if ($road==’diverged in yellow wood’ && $road==’less traveled’) { $the_difference=’all made’ }
  • I’m tired – let’s bring back that whole slacker thing.
  • It’s all about the Pentiums, baby!
  • “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” ― Henry David Thoreau
  • Everyone loves the future.
  • alt.total.loser
  • Jesus was a punk.
  • Quit while you’re ahead.
  • Adhocracy Now!
  • my virtual cup runneth over
  • My mom cleans my house.
  • extra ordinary
  • get rich slow
  • Great is the enemy of good
  • zip zap zipadee doo
  • Better. Brighter. Tougher.
  • all about alliteration
  • bah, humbug
  • want amidst plenty
  • I like to meat new people.
  • They pelted us with rocks and garbage!
  • I’m your internet hero.
  • Robots are people too
  • Spammers go to hell
  • Where quality of life is measured in MHz
  • I only wear free t-shirts
  • Dupe! No Digg!
  • Ok, this is lame.
  • Terrorists Win!
  • It’s never been a better time to be a nerd.
  • It’s still morning on the Internet
  • I figured out what’s wrong with life: it’s other people.
  • Stupidity is much the same the world over.
  • Language can be unsuitable for younger viewers. Use caution – they are our future.
  • Now with more links.
  • Relax. Take your pants off.
  • Lately, the only thing keeping me from being a serial killer is my distaste for manual labour.
  • Pamplemousse. Biftek. Poutine. Dindon. Chauve-souris.
  • What are you going to do about apathy? Not much.
  • Virtual thoughts.
  • A site for, but not about, endorsed by, or even moderately related to, Phil Hartman. R.I.P.
  • Not, in any way, affiliated with Chicken Soup for the Soul.
  • Random Thoughts. Pumpernickel, for example.
  • Formatted text from (un)formatted minds.
  • Insert snappy subtitle here.
  • Everything in its right place.
  • Driven by contempt for you the reader.
  • Are we being sarcastic? We don’t even know anymore.
  • sarcasm is cowardly
  • Be excellent to each other.
  • Publishing without deadlines since August, 2000.
  • beware the fish
  • Gazing at your navel.
  • Pioneering the utopian one-pair-of-shoes-per-person future.
  • Save often, kids.
  • No coins please.
  • Nascent guruism
  • You can’t coach height.
  • The human head weighs eight pounds.
  • may cause shrinkage
  • Who’s the bully now!?
  • We promise nothing.
  • A good chew and peanuts too.
  • kind of like that Alanis Morissette song
  • Free Sklyarov!
  • Like waggling a big beef in front of a hungry dog.
  • Was it Eliot’s toilet I saw?
  • So Say We All

Today in (My) History

Inspired by Peter Rukavina’s post in which he looks through the history of his weblog on November 19th, I would like to do the same:

November 19, 2003
Like Peter, I was celebrating the launch my friend and co-work, Daniel Burka’s weblog Delta Tango Bravo. My witty post title: “DeltaTangoBravo.com? Roger that.” It’s been a great site since – especially when Daniel talks about me.
November 18, 2002
I didn’t post anything on Nov 19th in 2002, but on the 18th I posted a reply to Joel Spolsky’s Law of Leaky Abstractions. My clever post title: “Abstract Abstractions”
November 19, 2001
I posted about a Windows XP billboard that had been hacked to read “Suddenly Everything Sucks”, which also made for a great post title. The site I linked to no longer has the image, but they were kind and wise enough to link to a new location for the photo.
November 19, 2000
In 2000, when this weblog was only a few months old, I posted about CBC Newsworld’s Alternative Election Debate. This alternative TV debate included many of the fringe parties not included in the primary televised debate, including the Community Party, The Marijuana Party, and The Natural Law Party. Boring post title, with lame all-lowercase capitalization: “tonight: the real debate”.

It’s fun to look back. Thanks Peter.


Wayward Comments

If you’ve noticed some odd reader comments here on Acts of Volition in the last little while, rest assured that we’re as confused as you are.

Starting about a month ago, comments started showing up here on Acts of Volition on old posts, where the were no other comments, or the conversations were long dead. Perhaps you’ve noticed some of the more peculiar comments, including: odd letters to Bill Gates, weird robot talk, a Korn fan named jimmibob, and strangest of all, some crazy-ass comments on the death of Biggie Smalls (removed because they were offensive).

The nature of the comments makes it clear that the posters aren’t at all familiar with the nature and content of the site and conversations that go on here. I’m glad to welcome new people to the site, but these replies feel more like people driving by and yelling out their window than sending a note or dropping by for a chat.

My best guess as to why this has started happening all of the sudden is some change in the way Google is indexing the site. We did recently redesign this site with a URL scheme that’s a bit more friendly to search engine indexers. Still, I don’t see this kind of behaviour on other sites (or maybe I just haven’t seen it).

I don’t want to close comments down on old posts. Some readers may come along with pertinent links or comments on old posts – they should be able to add them. I guess we’ll just to grin and bear it.


The ultimate Weblogging system?

User interface critic and man-about-New Zealand, Matthew Thomas has outlined his view of the The ultimate Weblogging system. We’ve run our system against his checklist.

Good points all around. We ran our weblogging system against his list – citing where we’ve met his requirements and where we have not. While we are missing a fair number, I think we’ve done very well considering that our system was not built with the intention to be marketed or used by others. For example, you can pretty quickly rule out a Blogger import system by asking the three eventual end-users of your system, “Does anyone here use Blogger?”.

Some of the points are things I hadn’t considered and will be implemented thanks to Thomas’ suggestion (RSS feeds for categories, in particular).

I would encourage those with weblogging systems intended for wider use run their own system against this checklist as we have done here.

Here’s my annotated version of Matthew Thomas’ list:
(Note: grey text is from Matthew Thomas’ original post, bold text is our own. When I say “nope”, I’m not disagreeing; I’m saying that we don’t meet that given requirement.)

  • Forward compatibility

    • License under the GPL (minimizing lock-in, architecture rot, and wasted development effort). (nope – we’re a bit tied down here due to our reliance on proprietary code)
    • Work with at least one Free database (e.g. mySQL). (nope, but PostgreSQL support may be coming)
    • In case of emergencies, allow entries to be exported to XML. (nope)
    • Use entirely non-crufty URIs. (check)
      • Give individual entries URIs (permalinks) of the form http://base/2003/05/02/oneMeaningfulWordFromTheTitle. (close, we have the word archives in there, though I think we’ve hit the mark – 6 for 6 on this list – down with linkrot! Also, we’re generating an automatic “shortname” for the URL based on the title, but it is human-editable in case the robot’s suggestion doesn’t work out.)
        • No irrelevant system-specific cruft (e.g. mt-static/, msgReader$, or weblog.cgi). (check)
        • No ? characters, so all entries get indexed by search engines. (check)
        • No irrelevant filetype-specific cruft (e.g. .html, .php, or .xml). (check)
        • Every entry is on its own page, not just an internal anchor on a daily/weekly archive (which makes search engines and statistics tools less useful). (check)
        • Net effect: Even with a stupidly worded inbound link (e.g. “I came across this”), a reader can tell a lot about an entry (host, date, and hint at subject) from glancing at its URI. (check)
        • Something Thomas didn’t mention: support for the old URLs of imported content – we’re handling the old ColdFusion based URLs from two years of Acts of Volition transparently.
      • Give daily archives URIs of the form http://base/2003/05/02/. (we don’ have daily archives)
      • Give monthly archives URIs of the form http://base/2003/05/. (close enough)
      • Give yearly archives URIs of the form http://base/2003/. (close enough)
      • Give category archives URIs of the form http://base/name-of-category/2003/05/, etc. (close enough)
      • Theory: URL as UI, Cool URIs don’t change.
      • Practice: Making clean URLs with Apache and PHP.
  • Metadata
    • Each entry has a title, a category string, contents, time posted (auto-generated), and one or more objects (e.g. images). (not quite)
    • Invite (but do not require) the author to provide a summary for any item longer than n words, for use in mobile editions and RSS feeds. (no, but we are generating relatively good automated summaries with a brief excerpt, and word count – human-written summaries coming soon)
    • Categories are faceted. I may categorize an entry by subject, by current location (integrating with GPS devices), by mood, and so on. (nope)
    • Each category facet can be hierarchical. (For example, an “interface design” subject category could be subdivided into “desktop application design”, “Web design”, “appliance design”, and “signage and artifact design”.) (we didn’t think this was necessary for our humble blog, but it is a good point)
    • Invite (but do not require) an author to subdivide a category whenever it collects more than n entries (rather than forcing them to be architecture astronauts specifying all their categories at the beginning). (nope)
    • An entry may have multiple values for each category facet. (For example, one post might be about both CSS specifications and buggy Web browsers.) (check)
    • Why does all this need to scale so deeply? Because when you’ve been keeping a Weblog for twenty or thirty years, and you can’t remember any semi-unique words you used in a particular entry, finding it will be horribly difficult, and you’ll need all the semantic help you can get. (interesting – Stuart Brand would be proud).
  • Syndication
    • Provide an RSS feed for the Weblog as a whole. (check)
    • Provide an RSS feed for any category. (great idea! – coming soon)
      • Because of the faceting, category feeds will need to be dynamically generated, but they should still send correct caching responses. (we are not caching)
    • Automatically ping Weblogs.com. (check)
    • Automatically convert Slashdotted entries to static pages, and switch back to dynamic generation once the traffic subsides. (oh, to be slashdotted… nope)
    • Integrate support for Creative Commons licenses. (not yet)
  • Management
    • Web interface. (check)
    • Native LinuxSTEP interface. (huh?)
    • Accept entries from software on any other platform or device, using the metaWeblog API. (not yet)
    • Accept entries sent by e-mail. (nope)
    • Make it easy to send entries from a mobile phone (e.g. by replicating the features of Textile). (nope)

  • Backward compatibility

    • Import entries from Blogger, Radio, Manila, Movable Type etc. (not automatically, but if you are a database wiz…)
    • Keep URLs the same for legacy entries, while still allowing control over their appearance. (check)

New feature: Recently Referred Visitors

Based on Dean Allen’s Refer code, the new Recently Referred Visitors feature lists the last 50 visitors to Acts of Volition who have been recently referred to our site. The user’s domain/IP, the referring site/page/URL, and the destination page/URL are all displayed.

Warning, it can be addictive. At the height of my Mac-punditry-fame this past week, I couldn’t keep up with the referrals. There’s something spooky about seeing people visiting your site from navy.mil and boeing.com.

Thanks to Mad Mike for setting it up and Deal Allen for releasing the original Refer code.

Meanwhile, in the land of our weblog engine, we answer some questions about selling it (sorta/kinda) and two new sites go up using the system: GenX at 40 and The Daily Commute. That’s in addition to CEOBlues.com and newrecruit. Look for more in the days and weeks to come.