Numbering (#1)

Interesting. Having spent years as a journalist thinking about the importance of the audience before setting whorls to keys (who am I speaking to, how much do they already know, how interested are they, should they be, in the information to be conveyed, context-context-context etc) there’s now a touch of self-reflexive performance anxiety. A chosen audience, a newly-designed stage and then a lacuna with the curtain failing to rise. It’s the whole predictable “why and for whom” blogging rumination reframed in a miniature mostly self-circumscribed space. Broadcast and narrowcast.

But that’s all I’m going to say on the subject. (At the moment. There can be no guarantee that it won’t enter, stage right, at some future date. Performance again, you see. Thank goodness I don’t have a dick.)

I’m counting a lot, again. This is usually a bad sign. Stairs. Walking anywhere – paces. Turning on the tap – onethousand-twothousand-threethousand – while the water jug goes from empty to full. Or indeed whilst pouring out, from full to empty. Any activity is susceptible to this notation. Cycling. Typing. Breath-holding. Eating. You name it, I can count (to) it.

This was in the past a self-soothing (anti-anxiety) strategy. Occupying the mind with the metronomic beat of passing numerals, instants of safety, moments when the badness is kept at bay. I shall count! Incant! (Surely there must be a verb to incant. But how disturbing its homophony with “in cant”. Perhaps it is better described as incounting I shall, I will, incount. Apparently whether I like it or not.)

So there they are. The numbers, the grains of sand slipping through the constriction from the fear of now to the – could it be? – safety of then.

The particularly perplexing paradox of this present presentation is that, on examination, that which is being held at bay is entirely opaque. Or, to attempt to be slightly more transparent, I can’t see the shit for the numbers. I don’t feel anxious. Nor depressed. Let alone desperate. What is it against which soothing is required?

Perhaps awareness is enough, explication unnecessary.

There’s no RSS feed

There’s a rather unsatisfactory discussion of this lack here. Unsatisfactory because the late Vox allowed RSS subscription to private blogs with the clever addition of some form of verification in the feed URL.

Subscription is possible via email (there should be a link in the comment box) or through the wordpress.com dashboard thusly:

no rss

But like I say the posts here will probably mostly be navel-gazing and navelless content will probably be cross-posted to twistedrib so there won’t be much to miss.

And I’m annoyed now – having changed the notification email address from some random google account I have about my person to the recently acquired and (astonishingly to me) as yet unclaimed frizzyLogic version of the same I discover my comment avatar is no longer round, yellow, drugged-up and manically smiling with matching mad hair. It looks, at least the small version I see in the tool bar, like a puce pine tree with a tail. Humph.

Community and collaboration

Is it, I wonder, possible to have one without the other? if they were venn diagrammed would the circles entirely overlap or are there aspects of each independent of the other? at the moment of collaboration does a community spark into being, however short-lived? is it possible to have community, of any sort, entirely without collaboration?

This past weekend I benefited from the area enclosed by the arcs where the venn circles quite definitely overlap in two different ways simultaneously.

Firstly there was the computer. The old (2002) 17″ flat panel iMac which, having served me well was moved to the rather less tender care of the boys when I got my laptop. When we got back from our holiday it died. Wouldn’t boot up at all. The boys were, understandably, upset at the thought of losing access to… whatever it is they access. All we could get was a white screen with a grey apple in the middle and, while elegant and understated, it was rather unvarying and inflexible.

Grey

After hours of effort including hair-pulling, zapping things, unscrewing base plates, swearing and suchlike I’d advanced to being able to open the CD drive and hearing the startup sound. And had discovered that, search as I might, I could find every other installation disc for every other programme for every other computer in the history of the world except, of course, the one I needed.

Enter the geeks. One reassures me that it’s a software not hardware problem and the other sends out a tweet-o-s asking if anyone in her network (community?) had a copy of the appropriate disc they could lend a complete stranger. Less than 20 minutes later and offers have flowed in from across the globe.

You might be thinking that fine tweets butter no parsnips, but you’d be wrong. As instantly as is possible within the confines of the UK postal system I actually have a copy of the said disc in the letterbox, in the CD drive and soon after in my (ok, the boys’) computer.

magic happening

thankyouthankyouthankyou! to the wonderful person who came to the aid of someone they’d never met on the other side of the country. Look! It works! It works!

Soft-centred

And by a happy deliberance (what’s the opposite of a coincidence if it isn’t a deliberance?) the picture displayed in the browser on the computer is of the other, parallel, example of collaborative communitarian gorgeousness, namely my hap blanket.

As knitters will readily grasp this project had, because of the frequent changes from one yarn colour to another, quite a lot of ends to darn in. As my nearest and dearest will testify I loath and detest darning in (in particular, and sewing in general) with such a passion that it can mean I knit all the bits of a project and then fail to do the last bits that turn it from heaps of crumpled fabric into a functional finished thing.

Not so this blanket. Because, being aware of my sore affliction, the aforementioned pixeldiva and the also-present Erzebel plonked themselves on either side of the reluctant darner on the sofa, got out their needles and sewed in those ends. Such are the dimensions of the thing (more than three feet square) we could all stitch at the same time. And pix probably twittered about the computer disc simultaneously too. It adds a further layer of speciality to a project already dripping with wonderful associations (and Scottish rain).

Awesomeness abounds, unbounded.

Let’s hear it for the girls

From Shelley (who’s on it) a link to NxE’s list of the 50 most influential ‘female’ [sic] bloggers.

Fantastic to see Rebecca MacKinnon high up on the list citing her co-founding of Global Voices Online as the prime reason for her influence (although it would have been even better if they’d spelled her name correctly).

What really made me laugh, though, was a line in the entry for the similarly highly-ranked Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka Yarn Harlot about whom it is said “known as the “Knitting Sensei”, Pearl-McPhee might not be the most important figure to everyone”…. Uh, right. Whereas of course all the others on the list are?

I still take great pleasure in the fact that the biggest hit spike this blog ever received, by far, was not due to linkage from any A-list sites/bloggers but from a knitting-and-baking blog entirely unlisted on Technorati and similar arbiters of rank. “Influence”, so far as I am aware, is not a phenomenon confined to technology, gossip and politics.

Let's hear it for the girls

From Shelley (who’s on it) a link to NxE’s list of the 50 most influential ‘female’ [sic] bloggers.

Fantastic to see Rebecca MacKinnon high up on the list citing her co-founding of Global Voices Online as the prime reason for her influence (although it would have been even better if they’d spelled her name correctly).

What really made me laugh, though, was a line in the entry for the similarly highly-ranked Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka Yarn Harlot about whom it is said “known as the “Knitting Sensei”, Pearl-McPhee might not be the most important figure to everyone”…. Uh, right. Whereas of course all the others on the list are?

I still take great pleasure in the fact that the biggest hit spike this blog ever received, by far, was not due to linkage from any A-list sites/bloggers but from a knitting-and-baking blog entirely unlisted on Technorati and similar arbiters of rank. “Influence”, so far as I am aware, is not a phenomenon confined to technology, gossip and politics.

Contact!

I’ve added the fab cforms II plugin so now we have contact! without the requirement of a crowded disco room or a man with an oily rag swinging a propellor. In fact all that’s necessary is to click on the tab labelled, helpfully, “Contact” to the left at the top of the page just below the banner picture. I’ve done this because I may occasionally protect posts with a password and if you want the password in order to read the post the contact form is at your service to ask for it.

UPDATE: cforms II didn’t work, but Secure & Accessible PHP Contact Form v2.0 is doing the trick.

Small niggly things

On the plus side: I’ve worked out a way of having the icons I want at the top of the stacks in the mac dock, inspired by a recent post on lifehacker.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the suggested method of adding drawer overlay icons to work. So after a bit of googling I downloaded the freeware programme Micon, made a new folder called “0000” in each stacked folder which had the usual blank folder icon, ensured all folders were arranged by name and then replaced each blank 0000 icon by an appropriate informative icon.

Voila.

dock icons

It required a restart, btw, to get the new icons to appear in the dock.

So that’s good. The default behaviour of the stack icons has been pissing me off for ages.

On the annoyingly-neither-here-nor-there side: the “post del.icio.us links to blog” thingy isn’t working. Hasn’t been for weeks. So I reactivated the sidebar feed after deciding that my public links are so for a reason – because I hope they’ll be useful or interesting to other people.

But. Butbutbutbutbut. What’s with the encoding issue? why does a perfectly ordinary, run-of-the-mill and obviously frequently-employed in the circumstances ” get rendered as & quot ; (without the spaces)? I changed the output encoding of the feed from UTF-8 to ISO-8859-1 but that hasn’t made the slightest difference. And I know bugger all about encoding anyway.

So that’s annoying because a problem, which is inexplicable in the first place (why should the del.iciou.us thing stop working anyway?) has been addressed, although not entirely surmounted since there are still not blog posts, and that partial solution contains another annoyance.

Bah.

The last niggle is also in the annoyingly-neither-here-nor-there side: the internet connection. After the modem fritzed I was lucky enough to get hold of another. I can now surf, tethered by an ethernet cable to the replacement ADSL modem in question. However, try what I may, I cannot get the modem to talk to the airport.

Both are old models of their kind, both now discontinued. But I know for a fact that they used to converse merrily. The sound of their chatter filled the house, more or less, apart from the upstairs room at the back. I know this because this is the model of modem I had before the previous model of modem which recently fritzed.

But what is the problem, you might cry. You have the internets. You are, at this very moment, demonstrating that fact by adding more crud to them. Well yes indeed. However I may be all right, but the Spawn are not. Gone is their independent access to the iTunes store, cheat sites for console games, facebook, club penguin, the BBC iPlayer and no doubt sundry other destinations. So my poor pooter is much in demand and has become the focus of sundry disputes.

I have, in my efforts to resolve this problem, updated the firmware of the modem, downdated the firmware of the airport, downloaded the pre-Leopard version of the airport admin utility for graphite and snow so I can continue to talk to the downdated airport. I have a feeling that the solution to the problem may be hinted at somewhere in this page but I can’t actually understand it.

In a previous life I would have thought fuck it and bought a single replacement for both knackered-but-not-yet-dead items, but in this life it’s not an option. So if anyone knows how to make a D-Link DSL-300G+ ADSL modem connect to an apple AirPort Extreme Snow to give lovely wi-fi yumminess I’d be hugely grateful if they’d let me know the secret. In words of one syllable that I can understand. With illustrations. Please.

Sigh.

UPDATE: It works! It works!! It works!!! I don’t know who Rod Hagen is, but I think I love him and want to have his babies. Not only is his avatar a small white puppy, he also, back in 2003, posted crystal-clear, step-by-step instructions on how to make a 300G talk to an AirPort Extreme. Dear Rod Hagan, you have made two boys (and their mother) very happy. Thank you.

Full catastrophe blogging

Switched on the sockets yesterday and dammit, no internet. Looked at the router. The ADSL light was not on. It must, therefore, be a fault on the line. Because after all I’d only replaced the router a few months ago.

After a series of conversations with a series of representatives of a series of companies which shamefully ranged from overly patient to curt to downright rude on my part and actually taking the damn router and plugging it into F’s ADSL line I finally grasped the dreadful truth. There was nothing wrong with my line. The router was well and truly, utterly, totally fritzed.

Immediate descent into catastrophe mode. I don’t have any money. I can’t afford a new router. How much do routers cost anyway? I can’t find out because I don’t have the internet. I haven’t kept the receipt. I won’t be able to get it mended/replaced. Oh fuck-shit-bollocks disaster. Woe, alas, alack. Wail. Moan.

By the time the children came home from school I’d calmed down a bit and was able to point out, when they realised the full horror of not having all episodes of The Simpsons and South Park permanently available for immediate viewing, that I was being quite brave about the situation myself. However after series of helpful suggestions from the Spawn – “is it plugged in?” “is it switched on?” “have you checked the cables?” – I did advise them with some asperity to believe me when I said I’d tried absolutely everything possible to rectify the situation. At this point the suggestion was made by a-Spawn-who-shall-remain-numberless that I sell my one and only family treasure, a small clock, in order to buy a new router.

By this morning I was regarding lack of internet access as a form of spiritual discipline. Like a hair shirt or self flagellation. I was considering various schemes to raise money for a router and viewing the time taken to do so as a therapeutic online fast. I even began wondering whether I should cancel my broadband altogether (clear saving) and sustain online life through the free wifi at the café round the corner. But of course just as there’s no such thing as a free lunch there’s no such thing as free café wifi. There’s a password on the network now and the cheapest drink is £1.65. So that would be 12 or so trips to the café a month during its opening hours for the length of time it takes to consume, however slowly, an espresso, versus 24-hour unlimited access at home. Not such a clear saving after all, then.

Whilst sipping one of the aforementioned espresso extremely slowly and downloading e-mails for later off-line consumption I bemoaned my routeless fate to A. But far from troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries I was in fact addressing someone who had, tucked away in a drawer, a fully-working but surplus-to-requirements router. Now what are the chances of that? I mean really. With the utter crapulous fragility of your average router how many people have a spare one that actually works? And how many of them live around the corner from me?

Thus it is, dear reader, that after a vicious but expected and mercifully brief struggle with the configuring business here I am, floating along the strands of the interwebbing like a butterfly in a hothouse full of sugar bottles. But I’m a butterfly that knows how lucky it is. Unless of course I’m wrong in assuming that butterflies don’t have that level of consciousness.

Blogging is good for you

I bet this is all over everywhere, given the subject matter, but I’ve only seen it on Mind Hacks.

Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not…

Some hospitals have started hosting patient-authored blogs on their Web sites as clinicians begin to recognize the therapeutic value. Unlike a bedside journal, blogging offers the added benefit of receptive readers in similar situations, Morgan explains: “Individuals are connecting to one another and witnessing each other’s expressions—the basis for forming a community.

As a self-medicating blogger I say *yay* for scientists catching up.

However as a pathological producer and consumer of web2.0 (or whatever it’s called at the moment) I say *grrrrrr* for epic del.icio.us auto-link-to-blog fail.

This is the sort of story I’d delish in the knowledge that it’d appear on the blog. Only that knowledge, already challenged by a previous unexplained outage of the automated system, is now cowering in the corner reduced to hope more than expectation.

Luckily I know the ideal way to deal with my pain and frustration at this terrible situation. I write about it.