Tag Archives: geek

Kirtsy.com and the Future of Web Software

For the first few months of our marriage, my wife Sara would ask me how I could possibly spend so much time surfing on the internet. Recently I found out this wasn’t a complaint, but an actual question about how to find good stuff to read on the web. I told her that I frequent sites like Digg.com and Fark.com to receive the latest news about technology, video games and STAR WARS! In other words, sites that would not interest Sara in the slightest.

The state of affairs continued until I found an article on Digg called “Top Five Reasons Why I Want Digg for Girls”. It basically outlined what I had thought when I had tried to introduce Sara to news aggregate sites. Most of them are sausage parties, populated by nerds who try to break the site for no other than a surplus of time on their hands. You’re unlikely to find articles about non-geeky arts and crafts, parenting or anything else relevant to women. Considering how much of the publishing sector is created by and for women, having web software like Digg and making it completely male oriented is like building a Saturn V Rocket and using it as a Christmas tree. It seemed like the author had pointed out ripe territory for revolution, but many commentors pointed out that the revolution had already happened at www.kirtsy.com.

Intrigued I headed down there and was taken by surprise by how nice the interface is. It’s just 9 self-explanatory categories, and you don’t even have to join to give a “kirtsy” since the site measures the click-through count, not just votes from registered users. What’s more, the users don’t seem to use misleading headlines like “Bike Seat Cuts Off the Nose to Save the Penis!” in order to garner votes.

Now, I’m still going to use sites like Digg and Fark for most of my link hunting needs, but it’s really nice to know that a site like this exists. For one thing, it proves that lines of code and a server don’t make a software package any more than a truckload of hamburger meat and a suitcase full of money makes a McDonald’s. It’s amazing that you can create a news aggregate site that functions like Digg and have it come off as being completely different. It’s a tribute to the human element in software design. And what does Sara think of Kirtsy? Let’s just say she curses my name now that she knows how to waste time on the internet!

Gaming Pod and other Useless Milestones

Looking at this computer setup, I can’t tell if I should be impressed or frightened for the person who built it. The Link goes to more pictures. What do you think?

Link

In case you were counting, this is my 100th post.

Watchmen Trailer


The trailer for Watchmen just came out. All I have to say is: Holy Crap.

I loved the comic, and the movie looks like it wants to reproduce the immersiveness of the comic’s alternate 1980’s. I don’t care what anyone says, I’m catching this one in the theaters.

That being said, there is no way there can be a good GI Joe live action movie, but I’ll get to that in another post.

Wordcamp Fraser Valley 2008

I hadn’t been able to talk “shop” in over a month, so I headed on down to Wordcamp Fraser Valley 2008 at the Cascade Casino in Langley. It was basically a free conference for wordpress, the software I use to create this site. This blog is more than just what you see here. It’s a complex system of scripts that make sure my blog shows up on google, archives posts, keeps my comments free of spam, and all sorts of stuff I would otherwise have no time for.

Coming into this conference, I had no idea how popular this software was, and how many people were interested in it. About 100 people showed up to take in the speakers and the networking. Even my brother Jon was on hand to get some tips on how to manage his websites.

The evening started off with a talk about the basics from Raul from hummingbird604.com, who had recently imported his site from blogger to wordpress. The customization features of wordpress makes it by and large superior to other blogging platforms.

Next we had a talk from Gary Jones of bluefur.com discussing the pros and cons of business blogging. Basically, keeping your site updated with new content, brings customers back to your site, and gives you a chance to show off your knowledge about the your business’ industry.

Kulpreet Singh dispelled some of the hype about wordpress security issues, and gave some very helpful tips on how to locate and block hackers. Rebecca Bolwitt of Miss604.com gave a talk on how to modify your wordpress theme into any graphic configuration.

Finally there was a lecture from John Chow of Johnchow.com about evil ways to increase your site traffic. Mr. Chow was able to monetize a blog on his ramblings about internet marketing, cars and fine dining. Now his blog makes over $40,000 a month for him in advertising. It kind of gives a rambling generalist blog like this one hope for the future.

The evening was a great success overall. If there was any room for improvement, I would suggest that they make more time for networking. A 20 minute intermission is nice, but it doesn’t give you time to meet everyone when there’s about 100 people in the room. Failing that, a link exchange would be nice. I’d love to learn more about bloggers in the Fraser Valley. I’m also more inclined to comment if I can put a face to a name, so this would drive up traffic for everyone.

Science Fiction, Double Feature

At 6:30 this morning I said good-bye to my wife, who is going to camp on Gibson island with her school until Wednesday. Herding 150 kids onto a ferry may seem like a daunting task, but I’ve seen her handle a room full of kids. After 5 years of performing what they call “classroom management”, she carries herself with confidence and authority in situations where most of us would be hesitating and later cowering in a corner pleading the children to leave us alone. Nonetheless, I will at the ready Wednesday night with Sara’s favorite magazine and ice cream.

As the day drew on I realized that if I had to contend with an empty house much longer, I would be fashioning a life sized replacement Sara out of throw pillows and misplaced cashews. So I opted for a movie night out. Science fiction double feature, as the old song goes. The features in question being Indiana Jones and the Incredible Hulk.

If you haven’t seen the new Indy movie yet, for God’s sake go. It’ a fun ride and if you have problems digesting the paranormal stuff, it’s important to note that this is the movie franchise that chased for and found a fully functional Ark of the covenant, Holy Grail and Indian Sankara stones. After studying the Hollywood development process and being part of a few other development processes myself, I think I’m way less nit-picky about movies. And it feels great. I had a lot of fun tonight. I didn’t exactly leave my brain in the parking lot, but I forgave a lot of the missteps I would’ve called out at a different time in my life. In summary it’s Indiana Jones movie. Go and have fun.

In between the two movies I noticed a couple of things. Namely a couple with a newborn. Walking into the Incredible Hulk. It was like I was in the middle of some sophomore comedian’s joke routine in between the sticky floors and the guy yammering on his cell phone. However, that baby stayed silent throughout the entire picture. Perhaps the bass of the movie has a soothing effect, I don’t know. But if I didn’t see the kid myself at the end of the movie, I would’ve thought that the stroller and bassinet were merely an ingenious snack smuggling system.

Anyway, about the Incredible Hulk. You know, the original movie seems to get worse every time I hear about it. It won’t be long before there’s an article about how the original Hulk was so bad that people emerged from the theatre with their eyes bleeding and screaming in tongues. I enjoyed the original, and no amount of pompous hipster bitching is going to change that. So quit it already.

That being said, this is the better film. It starts off with Bruce Banner on the run, just like in the TV series and the better part of the comic series. This movie has a better grip on what it is to be Banner and the Hulk. Edward Norton is perfectly cast. His loneliness is portrayed as genuinely heartbreaking. When he turns into the Hulk, the smashing is fun and perfectly satisfying. And then there’s the integration with the Marvel Universe at large. Captain America! The Avengers! Tony Stark! Oh my God! I’m geeking out to eleven!!

Okay it seems I have issues, and I’m not talking about Amazing Spiderman #563. But the truth is, I wonder why the idea of cross-overs wasn’t brought up sooner in the process, like right after X-men and Spider-man were verifiable hits. We now know that such cross-overs would make money no matter what the quality of the actual movie is. Aliens vs. Predator is a good case in point. However, a quick imdb.com search reveals to us the tangled web (no pun intended) of movie rights attached to all of the major Marvel properties. Everything was held back by traditional corporate short-sightedness and the simple panicky nature of deals that are worth potential billions. Now, an Avengers movie would be a huge step forward, but I think a redefinition of the block-buster is in order, particularly for the digital age.

Imagine, if you will, a group of film school drop-outs who got sick of shooting dying flowers in time lapse and set out to re-engineer the summer blockbuster. Armed with the latest digital tools they are able to super-impose over reality with the skill of renaissance painters. Budgets are no problem when you can create whole cities within a computer the size of a large toaster. The scripts contain multi-layered story-lines that take trilogies to carry out, but the central conflicts are simple and read easy up on the screen. The actors are complete unknowns, but they have enough method training to meld completely into their blue-screen surroundings. The movies are distributed instantly over torrent networks at $10 a download. It’s played simultaneously in theaters in “road-show” style events, where the cast and crew can go on tour and meet their audience. Tickets to these shows are sold over social networking programs. With 200 of your closest friends, the premier suddenly becomes the event of the summer. Say, is anyone taking this down?