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from an old thing (history of kirk.is)

Yesterday I mentioned finishing up a yearlong "quote format" cleanup project on my blog - I had a daily morning ritual of using its "this date on the blog" tool, usually while I was still lying in bed. It was a great excuse to take in the depth of my almost-two-decades blogging in project and I think I miss the habit already...

I also mentioned doing an internal reconfiguration that was too boring to talk about - and that's not untrue but thinking about why I had to do it triggered thinking about the general history of my longest-running personal project...

My first blog-like thing was a series of text files on my PalmPilot, which I called KHftCEA or Kirk's Home for the Chronically Easily Amused - it wasn't designed to be public but eventually I posted it online. It ran from spring 1997 until the start of my blogging at the 2000/2001 turnover.

So I switched to "writing online". (The first entry says "Maybe I'll use spellcheck" - I forgot that used to not be integrated into browsers!) Each day's entry on my early blog was a single file, but I quickly started to use "of the Moment" (Quote of the Moment, Link of the Moment, etc) headers to create sub-entries. And almost immediately in the activity it became a practice to at least have something up every single day.

A sidenote, from 2003-2013 a daily comments section on my site formed a bit of community - I graphed its rise and fall after clearing out the enormous amounts of link spam that ended up swamping it.

Another - quite literal - sidenote was Dylan's Pointless Sidebar - in 2002 I gave part of the site to be a microblog for my BFF Dylan... in 2004 (slightly to Dylan's annoyance) I let our mutual friend Sarah add entries, and then later that year opened it up to all of the site regulars, and that enhanced my site until it wound down in 2008 or so - right around when Facebook and twitter were really picking up steam.

It looks like May of 2008 I dabbled in using twitter (come to think of it, for a while I used the old "KHftCEA" name as my twitter handle) but because my blog was always my permanent archive I built some tools to mirror (easily if still manually) what I was putting on twitter onto my blog (These days, I still tend to repost most of my content on Facebook, since despite its well-known flaws, it's the only place that lets me post the longer form stuff and have comment threads about it with people I know in real life.)

Anway. Eventually I stopped posting much to twitter, but the tools I made for the mirroring were better suited to the blog updates I was doing - content-specific forms for quotes or retweets or image uploads, with only the "long form" writing still placed in the old files structure

So every day's entry had two parts: the long form section, if any (like a big photo gallery or rambling essay) and the smaller links and quotes for the day, broken up my little horizontal rule markers. My big activity yesterday was to internally merge the two sections, so that even days with both types of section would just have one file. The only change that should be visible to users is that on old entries, the "of the Moment" subheaders are still present but they now have the same horizontal rule markers breaking them up.

Yeesh. This went on longer than I expected. Which is kind of appropriate for a blog that has run 19 years, and that I hope to keep on for many decades to come. (Yikes, I just scared myself typing that! I do have a psychological hangup where it's hard for me to stop doing something once I get committed to it, it always feels like too harsh of a refutation of my earlier self. That's what fixed mindset and not having a real intuitive belief in personal growth will get you-- for worse or, often, better.)
When I come across people who describe San Francisco as a leftist/communist nightmare, I just laugh.

San Francisco is a right-wing technocratic dystopian nightmare with a veneer of superficial progressivism not so thinly veiling far-right, ultra-capitalist social darwinism.

from comments on kisrael

So from 2003-2013 or so this site had a comments section - it acted as a bit of a social hub, with a medium-small group of folks I knew from real life or just online commenting on the entry or just having little dialogs there.

But then comment spammers figured out how to post, and it got overwhelmed with the crap. I tried a few restrictions to block it (disallowing links, even) but still, the bots would post post post-- mostly just to gauge if they could, I guess.

Two decades in, and this blog's archive is increasingly important to me -
(skimming the On This Day page is a frequent mid-workday getaway) and I was getting frustrated with the bogus comment counts, so I made a tool to help me zip through and ditch all the damn spam.

I had already purged some of the most egregious days of spam (hey if one spam comment is good, 138 nearly identical comments must be better right?) but there was plenty remaining- At the start, I had 24035 comments in all (over 4048 different days), but only 7507 did I figure were human or close enough (covering 2072 different days).

It was interesting skimming so much old conversation... sympathy through a divorce, advice on dieting, appreciation of vacation photos, and just general rambling. I forgot how much I used to hear from folks like Jesse Lex and LAN3.

But, probably independent of the spam, the site had a rise and fall as a social nexus, I decided to graph it out:

This is very similar to a chart plotting the rise and fall of poems sent to my loveblender.com site:

It's not an apples to apples comparison, in part because the comment section had such a later start.

Overall I think the decline in interactions on my blog-ish sites corresponds to the the rise of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, etc - I've written about that on my devblog. Basically, it's super tough for an individual site or writer (especially ones who aren't trying to do it for a living) to compete with the ability to grab a lot of people's stuff and put it into a single stream.
Onion: Explanation Of Board Game Rules Peppered With Reassurances That It Will Be Fun - I am the friends, not the "Area Man" in this scenario.

from December 27, 2015

The new look and feel of kirk.is! Still a little bit of a work in progress...
Post from the Future! Using the wayback machine here are some snapshots about the look and feel of my blog:




from 5000 days - a foolish consistency!

Today represents my 5000th entry on this site as a blog! I started in the final days of the year 2000.

(As usual, I used my Date Toy tool to count the days for me. Man-- 5000... I remember celebrating my personal 10,000th day in 2001, I had a little party, "K10K". Crazy to think I've been doing this site for half as long as that.

Yesterday I did a search, and found I had only missed 5 days (each of the 5 now have placeholders) -- 2011.07.07, 2013.03.16, 2013.05.04, 2013.05.08, and 2013.05.13. (Not sure why last May was so rough!) Of course, I had missed previous entries, but had already backfilled them, generally within a day or two.

I wish I had something bigger in mind to celebrate the occasion. Like it would be a perfect time to bring it to a close, or maybe move it to tumblr. (The homebrew nature of the digital underbelly of the site is amusing to me... it's pretty good, actually, I drag and drop images to upload things to my edit tool and everything.)

The site (then http://kisrael.com/ ) had existed for a while before, but I decided to jump on this whole new "blog" bandwagon I'd been enjoying with other people. Some of it was moving the quote journal I kept on my old Palm Pilot (remember them?) to a place it was more readily shared.

For a while, in the mid-2000s, this place was a little online hub for some of my friends and family. I think FB sucked the air out of the room for that - it's difficult for one site by one person to be as compelling as a site that will stitch together a single page from LOTS of friends and family. And then spammers came and overran my humble little homebrew comments system, and I've since shut it down.

In that same era I alwso enjoyed a guest-run sidebar -- first Dylan's Sidebar, then Dylan and Sarah's, then The Sidebar of the People.

Over the years the content changed as well... the current site is (usually) less chatty than the old days. Early on I started using the "of the Moment" framing for individual things, which I guess got dropped a while back when I started putting twitter/tumblr like "short form links and quotes and images" in a special "of the Moment" box. The "real entry" / "of the Moment" dichotomy still exists, but it doesn't mean very much anymore.

I sometimes wish I had a tag system or somesuch to separate the wheat from the chaff here- make it easy for me to pick out my personal projects and "good photo days" (or special theme days like monthly musical roundups or One Second Everydays) and rambling essays from all the days of random quotes and links. I guess that's what I was doing with my Best-Of page, but it hasn't been updated for years.

One reason I've been slow to switch to tumblr, with its laudable community sharing culture, is giving up feeding this site's retrospect feature, where I can see what I posted on this date going back over the years. It was awesome 4 or 5 years ago, but now I admit the view is long... 14 plus years of material (it covers the 4 years or so of my Palm Pilot journal as well) is a bit too much.

So I dunno. I guess I'll just keep on keeping on, regardless of a nagging suspicion how my Foolish Consistency with it reflects a psychological disfunction, that changing course would reflect a rebuttal and rejection of my former self... I wish I had an easier time embracing the concept of personal change and growth. On the other hand, I still enjoy having this blog, and I refer to it quite often, and am grateful how useful it is for digging up half-remembered anecdotes and quotes and links.

5000... yeesh!

from meta! the history and turning points of kisrael

So I've decided its time for me to shift this blog once again, and indulge in some self-absorbed reflection...

I started keeping a "quote journal" in early 1997... it was a series of text notes on my Palm Pilot (loved that thing) and I called it KHftCEA, or "Kirk's Home for the Chronically Easily Amused". (It was never really meant to be public, but some time after letting a few close friends into its digital pages I decided to post the whole thing online.)

In late-2000/early-2001 I decided to start one of those new-fangled Weblog (or "'blog" for short) things. (For a few weeks I kept up both web and Palm, but then the Palm version seemed redundant, and I dropped it.) Pretty quickly the blog morphed into its regular format: a "clever" title, a general paragraph of chatter, then a series of "____ of the Moment" entries. And it was very important for me (I called it a secular spiritual practice) to put up something interesting every day, as well as act as a bit of a hub for some of my friends.

Meanwhile, Facebook happened. I think Facebook has had more of a change on how people socialize on the Internet than any other website, including Google (there were always search engines, just not as good) and Youtube (the scale of Youtube still astounds, and it was a new fun online activity, but not as social.) I'd say Facebook has drained away much of the importance of my site as a way of finding and sharing interesting stuff, since FB is more egalitarian, and has a much better comment and community sense. (I prefer to "blame" facebook for the shift away from people commenting on my site (as well as the decompression of Loveblender after some explosive growth) over thinking people just don't like me as much as they used to...)

Of course, Twitter also happened. Twitter also has a back-and-forth aspect that my site lacks, but I still like having kisrael as my "site of record" so in 2008 I established an "of the Moment" section to more easily mirror what I was twittering. Soon after that, I shifted the main part of each entry into a "one interesting thing a day" mode, often a video or big image from someone else, or a project I had worked on.

So now I'm thinking of getting rid of the "one big thing". I'll still post stuff as I find it, but I'll stop hoarding stuff away to post on a rainy day, and I hope the site will become more immediate, more in the moment like my early Palm stuff.

Again, I'm not sure how many people will even notice the change... I don't know how many folks come here for regular entertainment (In which case Facebook and 22 Words are probably better bets, with a little BoingBoing thrown in.) I'll still be posting interesting links and videos as I find them, and we can just take it from there...
Tommy, Tommy, everything is connected and everything matters. There is not an atom in our bodies that has not been forged in the furnace of the sun -- now isn't that cool?
I ♥ Huckabees

http://www.walkscore.com/ - cool way of getting a feel for how walkable a neighborhood is.
Someone is aiming to be geek daddy of the year:

I love how well paced (and cleverly animated) the video is... it really tells a sweet story.
Xcode is so weirdly difficult. I want to add a new .js file to a phonegap project... put in anywhere but the project root? UNPOSSIBLE!
Those one-piece metal bend/flex snap hair barrettes are great things to fidget with, like external knuckles to crack over and over.
http://www.thisismyjam.com/kirkjerk - Yeah, co-opted an overplayed but "I Got You" is amazing
Why should a man give a woman a useless diamond engagement ring when he could buy her a nice big potato, which she could at least eat?
Geoffrey Miller

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

Man, I have never heard a whole stadium united in the a chant of "BULL-$#!7" Wacky calls both ways in the Pats/Ravens game.

from over does it

So I decided to hunker down and do the blog/twitter redesign I've been thinking of.

The overall goal was to bring combine the spontaneity that I had on my old Palm journal (and had rediscovered with Twitter) into the daily update and archive feel of kisrael.com proper. Twitter-as-sidebar was always a bit of a hack, I could display the last X entries, there was no way for a site user to comment on a specific tweet, and I've been realizing that relying on Twitter as a permanent archive is a very dicey proposition.

I mentioned Kate pointing out the tumbleblog format to me, and the similarities with my style here. I do link thinking in terms of having an "anchored" or "slantwise" tumbleblog, though given how few people know what a tumbleblog is, it's not all that useful.

So. Designwise I had two aims:
1. Give each daily entry its own "sidebar", with quick, random thoughts updated throughout a day.
2. Remove the current site sidebar as being visually confusing by tucking it into some dropdown menus.

So I worked and worked and came up with this: (click to view 'for real')

The problem is kind of apparent; if the main content or the sidebar content is much longer than the other part, there's a lot of ugly blank space.

I was pretty happy with the way the icons look, and the functionality of the dropdown menus (shown here - that's not what you see when the page loads) but still I despaired; the sidebar looks terrible, why couldn't I have just kept the old format entirely, just adding lots of "of the Moment"s throughout the day?

So this was my next idea:

I was relieved that this seemed to work fairly well! It would even make sense if either the "anchor" or the quick posts weren't up yet.

Ok, so now that I've learned quick updates go under and not to the side of the anchors, does the old sidebar have advantages in bringing potentially interesting content forward?


But I like my icons... they are pretty nice looking... maybe I could use them to bring more attention to the old "spotlight" stuff (half of which are technically other sites) while keeping the sidebars...


That's not too bad. Tucking the sidebar into the icons leads to a cleaner, almost minimalist site... having the sidebar out in the open shows that I've tried to put lots of neat stuff here, that it has content beyond the tumbleblog part.

So if you get the chance, click through, or just look at the screenshots, and let me know what you find most appealing, and why. I guess I'd ask to try to look with "fresh eyes", I know that the more icon-centric, no-sidebar designs might be at a disadvantage because they are unfamilar.

"We are not water resistant" --Catholic spokesman on the increasing phenomenon of non-celibate priests
It seems like sites and services (gmail, facebook, etc) are forgetting me more often. And with all of them I signed up with a different e-mail.
Wow. A Sugar Glider might not be what you think it is. But so cute! Worth googling.

from obomberman

In the comments for yesterday's minimalist entry, I got this:
I think your New Year's Resolution should be to not blog the entire year. I double-dog-dare you.
--A concerned individual
Whoa, whoa, WHOA there, you don't go straight to double-dog-dares!

Heh, well, "concerned individual" (oy, pseudo-anonymity is so odd) this week at least I'm concerned too, but mostly with how I've been so obsessed with this "Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts" building game... times I've legitimately ducked out of work for a scratchy/stuff cold, I've been wrestling with this games interesting set of building/driving challenges rather than resting... In fact, that obsession explains why some of the entries have been a bit more sparse the past few days, I'm not quite as thorough with my own daily web-browsing rounds.

But would a hiatus from blogging be helpful? Watching my mom browse I realize Twitter could potentially step in for letting folks know I'm still alive, and how I'm feeling, and captures some of what I think is funny. So the idea of pausing the site isn't as remote as it once was, though I think Twitter's message length limitations are a bit too sharp to fully stand-in.

But what would the benefit be? Would I focus more on the other parts of life, maybe do a better job of life-management in general? There are certainly many aspects of what I do that deserve more and more careful attention than they're getting, but I don't think they get less attention because of this site. Being a web-junky, yes. (Actually, that's a side benefit of my current short 'bout of hardcore game obsession; it's reminding me that I don't have to let myself be constantly distracted by the websites I like in order to keep up with them and the world.)

cmg followed up that comment with:
I don't think he could stand the fact that he might have to go without attention
But... seriously, that's not why I do this site as a daily practice. I mean it is, in part, but it's an extension of something I was doing with a Palm Pilot before I expected anyone to read it -- I want to bear witness to the world, from the meaningful and thought-provoking to the just plain goofy and fun.

I do ride the coattails of those people actually doing interesting things to show them to people who don't share my web habits, but the attention I receive is just icing. (And besides, except when people comment, online or in person, I have little idea of who or how many are actually following this page.)

Like I've said before, a central reason I blog daily is so that I can look back at the footprints from every day. I dig the site's "retrospect" feature on the sidebar, that shows me what I was thinking this date over the past decade or so.

Going back to the original suggestion, a better resolution for the year: no more damn muffins from Soup'r-Salad in the morning, the things aren't that great anyway, just convenient. Maybe I'll start this morning.

Exchange of the Moment
Takashi wrote:
shnozlak wrote:
shrugtheironteacup wrote:
It was fun to hear about this while trapped in Northern Idaho. You end up watching the coverage on Fox News all day while various relatives filter through your grandmother's house and share with you their opinions on why they think this happened, now.

My relatives have taught me that this happened because Obama.

That more things like this will happen because Obama.

That "the week before he's sworn in there'll be stuff blowing up all over the world."

Conclusion: Obama.
I dont follow.
I think the point here is
SO like ...Obomberman

Gave to the WBUR fundraiser, in part for the "Not For Tourists" Boston Guide, also so the nagging - while continuing - won't feel so bad.
Disliking the new embedded youtube search box... bad enough on the "click to play" screen, but why when paused or ff'ing? Sucks.
Way back when I used to think Shirley MacLaine might be a bit evil 'cause of the New Age stuff. (Now based on the wiki page, she was cute!)
Reviving old Iced Tea maker at work - no more 25 cent cans of diet coke for me - science lesson: ice can chill hot liquid in real time

from may fuel of psychotic intensity - special collector's edition

(1 comment)
So, uh, hi -- this is the commentary track for the special collector's edition of yesterday's kisrael. I'm Kirk, I write and make and arrange pretty much all of the site-- so here we go.

Announcement: I will never be able to spell "seperately" correctly on the first try. The problem may be phonetic.

That was just a little thing from my backlog, I didn't really have a lot to say, but I like starting off with a comment in my own voice, instead of diving into the links or whatever. Maybe I should've talked about Joe Torre. I probably wouldn't even notice how often I get that word wrong if it wasn't for the spellcheck Firefox throws in there.

That is all.

Just trying to make the pointlessness of it into self-conscious joke.

Inexplicable Objects of the Moment
You know, not to long before I wrote this I was talking about how few injokes the site has, but this is one of them. I steal links from Bill the Splut all the time. He used to do the "InExOb", or Inexplicable Object of the Week, so this was kind of a shout out to that. Actually, if you Google on "InExOb" my name shows up on the first page of results, where he thanks me for some online poll script I had written for him.

Hmm. When did fire alarms start spouting sideburns? Oh, and: ewww. (Taken in the Arlington Street Station hallway.)
Yeah, that was pretty gross. I kind of like "Oh, and: ewww", as if it took a second for a visceral reaction of disgust to set in. Still: the sideburns were pretty cool.

USE THIS PRODUCT MAY MAKE ENGLISH NOT TO SO GOOD! (Taken at the South End 7-11 magazine rack.)
I was on a sort of kind of not-really double date with Jonathan at the time, and this one gal he's gone out with, and her friend from back in Texas. I guess more hanging out. We did a lousy job buying drinks. That whole "go dutch? offer to pay?" is such a potential minefield of miscommunication.

I think of the whole "parody of the idiots around us" shtick here as kind of a Bill the Splut homage, he does it really well.

Special Deleted Scenes of the Moment

So, making fun of badly written signs, the "WRAPER" thing. But it seems a little mean spirited, and wasn't that funny, so I left it out.

This was a photo I took for my Photo Composition class, trying to think about light, and exposure, stuff like that. The teacher seemed to dig it, the negative space of the buildings, but I've posted pictures like it before that I like better, like this summer at Davis Square, and in Chicago. Plus I kind of had a "square cropping" theme going with the other photos, and so it didn't make the cut.

Music of the Moment
All of the Beatles' LPs condensed into an hour of extremely weird and fast music.
This is a BoingBoing link, but frankly I still so many links from there that sometimes I get shy about the proper attribution, lest people think I'm just a BoingBoingFilter. It was a good link though, I also liked the other soundclips of what happens if you reverse the speedup, a lot of the information gets dropped and so it sounds really funky.

Anyway, that wraps it up. Hope you enjoyed a little behind-the-scenes look at kisrael, and maybe we'll see you on tomorrow's entry!