Here I am again, sitting in front of a CMS and – just like always – having a hard time deciding if I want to exit the CMS and start hacking up this theme or making another of my own – and not actually write anything right now because who cares. But that is a selfish stance. If I everyone acted that way, nothing would ever get done. Harry Potter would have have been written, the project management plan for the Apollo missions would have never been completed. And perhaps most importantly, those Kesha songs don’t write themselves.
Why did I go?
My previous 2 sites the2001.com and wakeboardreport.com were hosted with a friend who purchased his own business-level internet line. Looking back I am guessing it was an early Verizon FiOS Business Internet Package – he never specified. He then took an almost exotically-fast machine (2006), with something bananas like 2GB of ram (whaaat?) and installed whatever he needed to install but nevermind that – it handled everything and I had shell access to it. We’re talking all non-virtualized, real-deal stuff here, part appserver, part database, part balance loader, part security watchdog. You’re thinking, “all on one machine though? I don’t think that’s going to work.” Sure. Wait. What. Why. What could go wrong? I’ll come back to that. He subletted it to his pals and I jumped at the chance to use his machine as my own storage unit, media server, t-shirt store and sports journalism soapbox. And instead of putting up a couple of Hello World pages and quietly fading into obscurity on my 20$ a year hosting cost, instead I set up Movable Type, PostNuke, PHPNuke, a bunch of Perl monstrosities, invited EVERYONE to my party and then did a spectacularly bad job of maintaining any of it . So, especially with regard to those PHP products, I paid dear when it all exploded.
Exploded? Ok, one night, I was hacked. I spent the next day fixing it all, removing their… let’s call it “material”. No images. Just text links but someone really had to mine the deep web to find some of the stuff they were trying to promote because none of it – NONE – would have been considered legal and this is in a time when the internet was in full swing and is basically current-state in terms of legality. I wish I was just talking porn links and stuff like that. This was all, way, way worse and to be honest – it was pretty embarassing.
Even for me.
**Cough**. As well as removing this material, I spent a lot of time changing passwords and doing whatever else I could think of to bolster my sites and my content. But about a month later I was hacked again in a way that was so much more serious. It made the first attack seem like a spitball, where the follow-up attack was to take the Gatling Gun from the front of an A-10 Thunderbolt and point it at a loaf of bread and just let it sit there for 5 minutes with the trigger pressed. At one point, someone had gone into the forums on the2001.com and placed those same links (again, the titles alone of which would make you put your jail shoes on, and start looking out the window to see if the feds are at your door yet just because “you read that”) absolutely everywhere on my database-driven, hugely complex web sites with tens of thousands of editable files. They put the links at the most deeply nested places possible. I had thousands of users on that site and there were tens-of-thousands of threads in the forum. Each profile had 10-15 field alone that were “populated” with “material”. I fixed the first hack in a few hours. The second hack, I spent about 7 hours and timed myself. I had fixed about .013% of the problems and it was absolutely a manual process and couldn’t be anything else. But I only cried a little bit. At that time, I was engaged in a very awesome editorial post with Fox Sports/FUEL TV covering all of their wakeboarding news & features and had a large following there, so The Wakeboard Report blog didn’t really die and I sent the users of The2001.com to CorrectCraftFan.com and PlanetNautique.com because the support they’d find there was on par with what I could offer.
That did mark the death of both sites because while I let the2001.com lapse naturally, I intended to bring wakeboardreport.com back to life and did not manage it. While otherwise engaged, I let the domain lapse and it was scooped up later by an absolute bottom feeder, worst-of-the-worst domain squatter and it’s now owned by a company out of Bahrain. Really.
Why am I back?
I’m back because I’m just interested in writing again. I am doing work for a company out of Albuquerque, NM that’s led by a person who hasn’t let his interest in technology slow or stop and I find it motivational. Though my job day-to-day does not involve reading cool articles on Wikipedia and reposting them here, seeing people really interested in technology has been enough to have whetted my interest and I see a good example set daily. So I decided to suit up again and share what I find exciting or cool because I like that. My static web site gives a clue as to what you might find here. Interesting technology news, new products, advancements in medicine or space technology – or even telling you that I found the perfect replacement for my dying laptop are some of the things you might find here. My guess is that I’ll get a lot more more specialized (and modernized) than what is in that list. However, right now I have no idea other than I like a lot of stuff on a daily basis and find that I want to say something about it but I don’t want to say it on Facebook or Twitter.
Also, incidentally, Internet stuff has gone off and got interesting again. Lately I can’t open Reddit or the Wikipedia Random page (what’s up Lídice) without winding up 45 minutes later, 22 tabs open in Chrome, Google Earth giving my laptop an atomic wedgie and grinding the rest of my computer’s resources into the ground. There was a period of time there when I found that the absolute glut of Tedx Talks, microblogging platforms and soc-mo-loc, or is it local-sosh-mobe, or – wait – moba#socia#loca – right there was where I stopped looking. I said hey – you go figure this out and I’ll come back when this is all over, because I hate it and it’s like watching a couple of street dogs fight over a sun-scorched chicken wing.
During that down time, it isn’t that I didn’t care – or that I wasn’t watching – or that I wasn’t constantly playing with new technology or educating myself. In a sense, I needed something to really get interesting to pull me out of this oversaturated, “birthday cake with no milk” rich and yet completely hollow mass of tech platforms & apps. If anything the ONE thing that pulled me out of the doldrums is Google Earth.
Google Earth. Google Earth is a program that comes as close to perfect as I can imagine one can become (and yet I know it will still improve). This summer they released a new set of maps that is so stunning that I actually invite company upstairs to my computer to show them this new imagery blown across 2 beautiful monitors. I haven’t done anything like that since I wanted to show kids from my neighborhood how fast I can play Spider Fighter on the Atari 2600 (except I’d only pretend letting them play, and secretly I’d give them controller #2 while that was actually unplugged and I was playing Spider Fighter under my Oakland Raiders hoodie with controller #1). Sorry Keith.
A colleague I once worked with made the point that Excel is the greatest program ever created by the hands of mankind. He was a lot of fun, that guy. But I think he was extremely close to being right. Entire companies – even industries like Web Analytics and arguably speculative finance are based off the capabilities of spreadsheets but they existed thousands of years before computers came into being (sure, they were called ledgers but the Romans had them!). It’s an interesting thought experiment – what is the single greatest piece of software ever. Naturally my mind goes to web browsers for putting the sum of human knowledge at your fingertips. Or My Talking Tom, or Bonzi Buddy. Or even Bonzi Buddy’s Bonzi Buddy Manager, or that thing you could get where a person would walk back and forth across the top of a window and gesture at you sometimes just to remind you that you matter to her. I never actually had that one, but no. To me, it’s Google Earth. If it existed a thousand years ago, it would have totally reshaped history – not just the borders of Nations. To me there’s no greater compliment I can heap on a piece of software than to say its availability would have reshaped history if it were available at another time. I know that Google Earth is certainly one of the largest in terms of effort and the amount of fingerprints on the source code. And that it is only made possible by taxpayer dollars, a veritable swarm of satellites, the entire International Space Station, thousands of engineers and GIS mappers, cartographers, physicists etc. But still. It is so spectacular now that I can’t help but raise it up the way Rafiki held Pumba up in The Lion King, and just start screaming, “Oh my God!!!”
I do want my posts to all have a call-to-action of some kind, a point. Here is my first link, and I am basking in major reflective glory this time: Download Google Earth if you don’t already have it.
Thank you for reading. None of my posts will be this rambling or this long – and please allow me this one weird one. I had a lot of stuff to cover.