On friction, and ownership

Some time ago, I was going back and forth on my choice of blogging platform. (Totally a #FirstWorldProblem.) WordPress was working fine, but felt heavy, which to be fair, it has become in some ways, at least for my own use. Not that that should detract from its versatility as a content management system, but it felt like a little too much for a personal blog.

Photo of MacBook Pro in a gray room, by Blake Connally on Unsplash

Retrophisch.net was living here on Micro.blog, and while I was treating this as my main blog, it was essentially being mirrored over at Retrophisch.com, run by the aforementioned WordPress. Mid-May, I stopped doing that, committing myself to Micro.blog going forward.

Well, kinda. More on that in just a moment.

I have a future plan, months down the road, for retrophisch.com as a professional site. More on that when those plans come to fruition. I think in the mean time it may become just a landing page or a one-page personal site, a la what you find at About.me and other such sites/services.

I flirted briefly with moving Retrophisch.net to Blot.im. I love the simplicity of text files and images synced from a Dropbox folder. This was directly related to my earlier post about decoupling the domain from Micro.blog. And by the time you’re reading this, the domain should be reconnected, because I’m staying put.

In the end, moving from Micro.blog to Blot was simply trading one kind of friction for another, and the tradeoffs ultimately weren’t worth it to me. There were some minor things design-wise I wanted to do, and moving from the Kiko theme to Matt Langford’s Tiny Theme for Micro.blog allowed me to do those in short order. Matt is very active with the theme’s development, and has made all sorts of customizations possible, so I’m set for the road ahead.

Own your own domain, own your own space

I have long been an advocate for this concept: have your own domain name, and own your own space on the Internet. Own your own email. Stake out a homestead. Sure, you can use other services—you can see the ones I’m on at the bottom of each page on this site—but ultimately, everything is on your home base. Those in the know call this POSSE, which stands for Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.

So yes, micro posts and photos you may see here you may also see on my Twitter or Instagram feeds, but they were here first, and even if those services were extinguished tomorrow, my posts remain here.

This is, after all, a personal blog, my little corner of the Internet. And thanks to the work Manton has done with Micro.blog, it’s a lot like blogging was in the early days, only without the hassle of hand-coding the HTML & CSS yourself (unless you feel like tweaking things). So my posts can just be posts, without a title, should I feel like they don’t warrant one, because that’s how it was back in the hand-coding days. (The dates for each post contain a permalink for the post.)

There’s still a lot of work to do. Lots of clean-up from imports I never did, and this is ongoing as time allows, what with work and family. But the place has been given a new paint job and tidied up a bit, so we can keep cleaning up the basement. 😃


Very shortly will be decoupling the retrophisch.net domain from my Micro.blog account. Part of an online presence reorganization I’m undertaking.

I’m not sure how this might affect those who follow this account purely on RSS, so you may want to check in over the next few days to see what’s what.


According to the calendar, retrophisch.com is now old enough to legally drink.


For those following along via RSS: I will be decoupling retrophisch.net as the domain for my Micro.blog site (explanation forthcoming). I’m not sure how that may affect the RSS feed, so be advised. And thanks for continuing to read!


Staying put

MacBook Pro on top of brown table Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

So my experimentation with Ghost as a new blogging platform is, for now at least, dead. My conclusion: I didn’t want to be stuck running the behind-the-scenes of another blogging platform, which is what I was doing with my own installation of Ghost on DigitalOcean. And yet I didn’t want to pony up for a Ghost Pro installation while I would still be paying for my existing setup, where I have more than just this blog and email.

So for now, staying put with WordPress on Dreamhost. My installation is pretty lean as it is, and I’m used to it. I do plan to migrate from the .com to the .net, because it just fits with the online moniker.

If you are new to blogging, however, and are looking for a fast, easy to use, and worry-free platform, I would recommend giving Ghost a look. Should my needs change in the future where I think they would best be served by moving to Ghost Pro, that is definitely the direction I would move.


So long, comments

Occasionally, those follow-a-link-from-a-link-from-a-link blog trains land you in a thought pattern that ends up in a situation of “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?” And so I have arrived at disabling all comments on the blog. Jon Saddington’s post convinced me to take the plunge, and I even used the plug-in he suggested. Took less than three minutes. Easy.

Why do this? I don’t expect a lot of comments, for one. I don’t post often enough for conversations to happen, unlike my friend Michael’s blog. Second, I don’t need another time-wasting distraction that is approving or not approving comments, or going through the ones marked as spam looking for false positives. If there is a need for reader interaction to take place, they can hit me up on any of the major social platforms, or use the contact form linked at the top of the page. Finally, this blog should be about me writing what I want to write, not writing what I think people want me to write. Disabling comments helps that focus to happen.

And now I have one less thing to worry about.


Hello, again, early 2019 edition

Retrophisch.com lives again. I have wandered aimlessly in the wilds of the Internet for far too long. It was finally time to own up to one of my mantras regarding one’s online presence: own your own domain, own your own content.

History, and the way forward

When last we left this site, I had eschewed WordPress for Tumblr. Given one of the constants of life is change, it was only a matter of time before WordPress evolved to the point where I would make the leap. And it was so easy. I wonder why I took so long to do this. (Oh, right, life with three boys, and being hockey dad, Cub Scout dad, swim dad, golf dad…)

I have had a Dreamhost account for a few years. The only real use it had been seeing was serving up email for my oldest, on one of the domains I registered for him a decade or so prior. When the server this blog and its predecessor had been living on suffered a catastrophic hardware failure, it was time to make the move to Dreamhost full time and relaunch. So here we are.

WordPress installation on Dreamhost was a snap with their One-Click Install. Importing my Movable Type archive went seamlessly. Well, seamlessly after I figured out I needed to install and turn on Markdown plugins for some of its and the Tumblr archive’s posts to look as they should. Said Tumblr archive followed soon after. My Tumblr site remains up, so long as Tumblr survives as a corporate entity. Should that fail at some point, the posts live on here. Which is the whole point: owning my own content.

Years ago, Michael Hyatt blogged how he looked at his online presence as revolving around his blog/site. That was home base. Everything else—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, what have you—were simply outposts. They were never to be one’s only online presence. While this resonated with me, having had an online presence before any of these companies came into existence, I stumbled in hewing to it. Nevertheless, thanks to catastrophic hardware failures, corporate buyouts, and creepy corporate policies, I began anew to prepare myself to giving up one or more of those entities should I feel the need arise.

Manton Reece reiterated, repeatedly, that which Hyatt promoted, and I internalized: own your own content. Manton left Twitter in 2012, but didn’t stop with posting tweets. He just did so on his own blog, in the form of snippets, or micro posts. This eventually led him to launch Micro.blog on Kickstarter two years ago. I backed this project, and was among the hundreds of original tenants of the Micro.blog ecosystem. I mainly set it up as the own-my-own-content side of my social media. You’d see these same posts on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere, but they lived on Micro.blog first. This became my default online presence.

Yet there was still a sense of unease behind it. Yes, it was a service I was paying for. I was the customer, not some corporation paying Manton for all my info so they could sell ads to me. You know, exactly what Twitter and Facebook do. But it still felt like another layer to deal with. It was better than what I was doing before, and I continue to enjoy the community aspects of Micro.blog, but it didn’t feel like home.

Now those posts will reside here. I ran into an issue importing my Micro.blog feed, and I’m working with Manton to resolve it. Those will cross-post to Micro.blog, and thus to Twitter (and Mastodon, for what it’s worth).

There’s still a lot of cleanup to do on the older posts. I’ve gotten through 2002 as of this post going up, which means there’s a long way to go, but it’s worth it to me.

I do not plan to delete old posts. Some of these I’ve read and winced. My thinking has changed on some issues in more than a decade since these old posts were published. With others, maybe I could have been nicer and less sarcastic. (Hey, I said maybe.) But they are what they were at that time in my life.

Much thanks is due to Webmistress and CSS master Raena for assistance in getting things looking just the way I wanted, and to Michael for bits of advice on WordPress, Dreamhost, and importing content.

Why do all this?

Because I can. Because I want to. Because I determined I am going to own my online presence and not outsource it to others. You may not feel this way. That’s cool. But this is the way I want it for me.

Own your own domain. Own your own email. Own your own content.

So what's next?

A few years ago, when I was throwing around the idea for a new logo, a new tagline appeared in my mind: Navigating the waters of faith, family, and fiction. While that isn’t displayed overtly on the side, it is embedded in the code. So those areas will be my focus, along with the tech and nerdery I’ve long been involved with.

In the latter vein, I already have a draft about Mac portables going, based upon some recent experience, recent news, and recent blog posts by others.

I hope you stick around!


"Greetings, people. Greetings."

To quote one George Constanza:

“Greetings, people. Greetings. Greetings and salutations. What a beautiful day for a ball game. Let’s play two!”

And what a beautiful day for a new blog launch. Why? The full explanation is at the old blog; I won’t take up space rehashing it all here.

More to come here, and soon…


Retrophisch is dead. Long live Retrophisch.

For more than a year I've been thinking about redesigning the blog. I know, I know, I haven't really blogged that much of late, but still, I've been giving it some thought. Given that this is a not-for-profit venture that's really more for me than anyone else--though I truly appreciate your patronage--I could not justify paying someone to do the redesign for me, though I have numerous friends I would love to have do it for me. The redesign thought process had me examine my blogging platform as well. I've been with Movable Type for quite a while, nearly a decade. This blog is currently on version 4.2 of the software, with 5.1 on the cusp of release. Were I to stay with Movable Type, it would behoove me to upgrade, and take on the learning curve of the changes made with version 5. WordPress, of course, is the hot ticket in the blogging world right now, and has an impressive and extensive theme ecosystem, making a redesign a theoretically simpler affair. My friend Tom has been using Tumblr for two years, and has been pretty happy with it, the service's massive outage five months ago notwithstanding. It was precisely Tumblr's outage, and my Type A-control freak personality, which had me pushing Tumblr and similar service Posterous to the bottom of my choices. Then there was the decision of export/import. Did I want to take nine years worth of Movable Type blog posts and import them into a new blogging system? Conveniently, I had another domain name I could use. Since assuming the Retrophisch moniker, I've had the .net and .org domains pointing to the .com. About two years ago, I had the bright idea to seek out a shortened domain, one ending in .ch. This necessitated a visit to the Swiss registrar SWITCH, as at the time no U.S.-based registrar was offering Swiss domain purchases. In a matter of minutes, retrophis.ch was mine. It, too, went up as a redirect to the original retrophisch.com. Now, I find myself with a domain different enough, yet still the same, I could simply "flip the switch" with: start over, with no importing. The old blog will reside as it always has, and go into archival mode. So one part of the decision-making process was done. Now, back to the question of the engine, the content management system, or CMS, as it's called. I ended up leaning toward Posterous, then Control-Freak Me decided on WordPress. Only it was not to be: WordPress' "famous five-minute install" went off without a hitch, but I kept running into a glitch with the setup. While Control-Freak Me was running this down, I-Just-Want-To-Post-Content Me was getting really annoyed, and went off exploring other options yet again. Finally, I decided to move to Tumblr. Yes, there is a chance the service will go down again. Yet there's just as much of a chance of a flash flood taking out my friend Jim's server where this site resides. Stuff happens. So from this moment forward, new stuff will be there, at Retrophis.ch. Point your browsers, and feed readers if that's how you roll, there. This joint's being boxed up and rolled off into the giant Internet storage warehouse. Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you over at the new digs.


Seven

Wow. Seven years as of yesterday. Seven years ago, I had a great job. A career in IT. Seven years ago, we hadn't been in our new house even a full year. Seven years ago, we were churchless. Seven years ago, we were childless. Now, I do not have a career in IT, but I do have a job: being a stay-at-home dad. And it's awesome. Now, we've been in the house nearly eight years. Now, not only do we have a church, but that church has given me my best friend, and yet another purpose: leading some of our collegians in Bible study. Now, we have two wonderful boys, six and thirteen months. They are absolute joys. I'm blogging less. Twittering more. Chasing a little guy all around the house. Having fun. It's not all a bed of roses, but there are more ups than downs, and I thank God for all of these blessings.


Six

Today marks the conclusion of six years of blogging at Retrophisch. Two thousand, two hundred, sixty-three entries. Two thousand, two hundred, sixty-three bits of myself, revealed for passers-by. Two thousand, two hundred, sixty-three things I thought you might find interesting. Or funny. Or serious enough to care about. Or to do something about. Or just for me to think about. Or to do something about. Now to press forward in to the next six...



Life from the Phisch Bowl

Oh, did I forget to mention my wife's become a blogger? And that she did so last year? Whoops. Well, that takes me out of the running for Husband of the Year™. (And if you think that's all I've done to take myself out of the running, I have some beachfront property in Scottsdale I'd like to talk to you about.) <rimshot> But enough about me... The missus began blogging last May as an outlet for the angst and excitement she felt as a result of our seeking to add to our family through adoption. She's also been talking about our struggles with infertility as we seek to add to our family on our own. At some point she began sharing little tidbits about our life at home, missing her mom, and other things outside the realm of adoption, and I suggested a name change for the blog. In private conversations with friends, nearly all online, I've often referred to our home in general, and the study, from where I compute, in particular, as "the Phisch Bowl". Seeing how I have no intention whatsoever of allowing the fish (phisch?) meme, courtesy of my anagramed moniker, to die, my abrupt suggestion to her was, "Life from the Phisch Bowl". So there you go. A small word of warning. The missus tends to use some shorthand and acronyms she's picked up from motherhood/pregnancy/infertility forums over the years, and some might not be readily decipherable. Trust me, there was a time when I was constantly asking her what this acronym or that one meant. Should you need similar help, drop me a line, or better yet, drop the missus a line over on her blog, and ask her. Better still, just drop her a line and say hi. Her latest post also deals with an issue near and dear to our hearts. Once again, Kel will be participating in the March of Dimes' March for Babies, formerly known as WalkAmerica. Due to a commitment with the little phisch, I won't be walking this year, but Kelly will, and she's raising funds. (Much to my chagrin, she's already raised more funds for this than I need in total for my mission trip to Juarez, to build houses for the poor there, in June. This includes monies from my own mother, who was asked, along with several friends and family members, to support my trip prior to Kelly beginning her fund-raising. Hrmmm. Perhaps I should outsource my own fund-raising to the missus, since we all know she is far, far more charming a person than I....) So, drop by her blog and say hi, and if you're led, help us with the March for Babies. I love you, sweetheart.



MarsEdit 2

My favorite blogging client has now been revved to version 2. I've been using MarsEdit ever since original developer Brent Simmons rolled out the 1.0 product, and I've been very happy with it. A couple of months ago, I began beta-testing new owner Daniel Jalkut's upgrade of the client, and wow, was I ever blown away. Brent never really had the time to devote to MarsEdit, what with the popularity of NetNewsWire, and Daniel has definitely taken MarsEdit to the next level. One thing I've noticed, being on the beta test lists of a few independent and small-shop Mac developers, is the level of responsiveness from those developers. You're talking directly with the individual responsible for the product, not some project manager or mid-level flunky who really doesn't get what's going on with the application. Daniel is no exception, encouraging great participation from those on the beta list, and he always maintains a professional, and very friendly, attitude. It sounds like the the upgrade release is a hit so far, and no wonder, because MarsEdit 2 is a great product. Great job, Daniel!


Why the iPhone Doesn't Include Flash

(The obvious answer is "Flash sucks, that's why".) Brent Simmons:

We all know that the iPhone doesn’t include Flash. Various theories have been aired.

I have a theory that I haven’t heard yet: Flash wasn’t included because it crashes so much. I detest Flash. It's a resource hog, and there are very few Flash-based sites that are well designed to begin with. I hope Google moves YouTube to H.264 video for the "regular" Internet, not just for the iPhone's access. Roughly Drafted makes the case that the iPhone is a threat to Flash, as well as to Windows Media and Real. Why? Because H.264 is an standard video codec that doesn't rely on a software processor, for one. In laymen's terms, by using H.264, your system doesn't have to work as hard, because it likely has a hardware processor capable of decoding H.264 without having to hit your general processing unit, which means you get more battery life, use less power, etc. If you're a content provider, you don't have to worry about providing multiple video formats. You can simply output a single, MPEG-based H.264 video that you know users won't have to have a plug-in for, like Flash, Windows Media, or Real. The other upside is that you don't have to pay any licensing fees for those three formats, either. Sounds like a win-win to me. [Wave of the phin to Lee for the Roughly Drafted link, via IM.]


Genealogy meets social networking

I believe genealogy fascinates a lot of people. We've all thought about "Where did I come from?" Most of us have no memories of family beyond our grandparents, maybe our great-grandparents. (I was able to know two of my great-grandmothers, both on my dad's side, as a child.) I came across Geni through some random blog readings, and I started a family tree with myself, in the hope I can help my son understand our family history a bit when he gets older. The cool thing about Geni is that as you add people to your tree, you can invite them to sign up for the site (it's free, at least for now), and they can add to their own tree, which in turn adds to yours. Think of it as MySpace meets the family tree, social networking making genealogy more practical. After all, my dad knows a lot more about his grandparents and great-grandparents than I do, and he can add a lot more information himself that I might not even think of.


Rearranging the furniture

I won't go in to the whole spiel, because why say what's already been said? Suffice to say, postings of a certain nature will increase in frequency here, because they are no longer being posted there. Links which appeared in the side bar there will be appearing in the side bar here. Some of you won't care, some of you will. That's just the way it is.


It's Twitterrific!

I confess I've been sucked in to the world of Twitter. It's kind of addictive, watching what folks like John Gruber, the Iconfactory boys, Maury McCown, and even Darth Vader, are up to. I'd love to know if my friends have accounts, so I can add you as a friend to mine, and please feel free to add me as a friend to yours. Ping me via IM, drop me an e-mail, or leave a comment. One cool thing Twitter did last week was they created a Macworld account. By adding this account as a friend, you could follow the postings of those at Macworld Expo as Steve announced the latest and greatest tech from our favorite fruit company. There were so many messages coming in to Twitter through AOL Instant Messenger that Twitter exceeded its allowable AIM traffic, and that service was unavailable for about a day. (To clarify, you couldn't post to Twitter via AIM; Twitter and AIM were each unaffected.) You can post to Twitter via your Twitter page, by instant message (Jabber or AIM), or by text message from your mobile phone. (Text message charges from your mobile provider apply, but there's no charge from Twitter.) If you're a Mac user, you can also use Maury McCown's TwitterPost, or the just-released-today Twitterrific from those aforementioned boys at the Iconfactory. Both apps are freeware. So the question remains, what are you doing?


The News Right Now

I'd say something pithy like, "All the news you can use in one spot", but for quite a few folks, it may not, in fact, be all the news they could use, and it may not include all of the news they may want to use. Be that as it may: The News Right Now. TNRN is a news aggregator which combines "Old Media" with "The Blogs", their titles, not mine. The sources are divided on the page, with the former being on top, and the latter on the bottom. There are preferences to switch this, and to even exclude one or the other from being displayed. Another preference to tweak is the displaying of news by the source, or by topic, by source being the default. These preferences are in handy drop-down menus at the top of the page. In the Old Media wing, one can find the headlines from The Wall Street Journal, the AP, Reuters, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, WSJ's OpinionJournal, Philly's Inquirer, the LA Times, the Washington Times, and a few others. The Blogs range from Washington Monthly to The Corner (National Review), The American Prospect to Townhall.com, Eschaton and the Daily Kos to Instapundit and Hugh Hewitt. Joshua Micah Marshall, The Plank, Michelle Malkin, Power Line, and Ed Morrissey round out the featured bloggers. There is no way to delete or add an individual news source or blog, but for a lot of folks who may engage several of these sites per day, The News Right Now is a good way to get an overview of the latest news from a single source.