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04/30/05 05:14 - ID#36566

You know you're with...

... a (mega cute) research scientist when he asks if you're heterosexual. I had to think about it for a minute. That one threw me.

Oh yeah, he is too. Well I'm glad we got that straightened out. haha.


Oh, you've got green eyes
Oh, you've got blue eyes
Oh, you've got grey eyes


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04/26/05 05:02 - ID#36565

correction

There are no other comprehensive directories like that already localized for Alameda. Sure, you can find the same information by putting in the right search criteria in various other directories. But not all of it from any one online directory.


[inlink]twisted,207[/inlink]

Ok, I'm wrong. These guys do a pretty good job of it.

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04/24/05 08:00 - ID#36564

regret?

I felt like such an outsider peering in at a science experiment.

[inlink]paul,3250[/inlink]

It's so weird you put it like that. Yesterday morning I tuned into the public transphere audio stream and after listening for a bit I was poised to "submit a live Question to the participants." (I just can't resist trying every damn thing (e:Paul) makes no matter how much I might say otherwise. I guess I'm as full of sh!t about the reasons I won't do things as he is about the reasons he does do things.) Anyway, even as I was phrasing my question and thinking it might seem cool to get one from the west coast in real time, this feeling that keeps coming up lately hit me like a ton of bricks. What the hell am I doing here?

The feeling of connection [inlink]ajay,335[/inlink]is great. But did I have to connect to a community that physically exists 2,675 miles away? That just seems stupid.

Ok, so a virtual community doesn't have to exist in the same physical space or time (zone). Still, the original intention of (e:strip) was "to counteract the negative effects on local community that have resulted from a move toward the globalization of communication via the internet." Ouch. There's that ton of bricks again. Not because it clearly puts me out of bounds, but because I completely agree with it. That statement kept me from joining for about a week(?) until I finally embraced some really good advice someone happened to throw my way right then. Don't say "no" to yourself.

I don't really expect any of you hedonists to get that, but it was pretty radical for me. And it fit in with a realization I'd recently had myself, which is really the point of this post (Finally! you say) - I'd rather regret having done something than regret not having done it.

Well, I wish I could wrap this up into a nice life-affirming platitude of some kind, but I still really don't know what it means. If I figure it out, you will of course be the first to know.

Oh yeah, one more thing -

Seeing an idea I originally had get done, and done better by someone else is an experience I've had many times. It always feels like the universe telling me how much I suck. Oh well. [inlink]paul,3252[/inlink]


I first read that in (e:jafafahots)' journal. He should have hired some offshore programmers [inlink]paul,3222[/inlink] to put in the 5,475 [inlink]paul,3152[/inlink] hours it took to build the site. Oh wait, (e:Paul) is cheaper. ;-)


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04/16/05 06:11 - ID#36562

The Master Plan

So the basic idea is to include a directory of community resources and local businesses on the Alamedalink site. The Community Resource section (Alameda) would have listings for the local libraries, animal shelter, theater groups, bike advocacy group, utility companies, etc. The local Business sections (Food, Shop, Services) would have listings for local restaurants, stores, and services (dentists, barbershops, realtors, plumbers, etc.) The directory is completely separate from journals - like Food is now on (e:strip).

Why? Because it's useful information anybody who lives in Alameda might want to be able to find in one place online. There are no other comprehensive directories like that already localized for Alameda. Sure, you can find the same information by putting in the right search criteria in various other directories. But not all of it from any one online directory. These two try, but just look at them for cryin' out loud.

Of course the real reason is to ultimately have the site generate a profit, or at the very least, cover it's expenses. Before everybody strings me up and throws me out as an (e:) heretic, what I'm talking about here doesn't impact the current journal experience any more than having the Food link at the top of (e:strip) does. Besides, since this all (theoretically) would happen 3000k miles away from you all there's no risk of having your sensibilities insulted by the proximity of capitalism.

With that in mind, here's the plan:

What? I'll create a basic listing (name, address, phone number, googlemap) for all the community resources and businesses for free. Having a comprehensive directory means one-stop online lookup for users, and other search engines should turn up the site as a result for any Alameda community resource or business. It also provides a critical mass of Alameda information (a worthwhile destination in itself) paired with a built-in audience of journal readers and writers. (I am not using them! It works both ways! Get over it!) With timely community-minded content regularly updated on the home page and included on the calendar.

So with their target audience actively using the site or finding it through searches, local businesses might see the benefits of paying for an expanded listing in the directory. That means their free listing gets upgraded to include a link to their website (if they have one) and any number of pages hosted on the site (choosing from a range of predefined templates or even custom design pages linked to from their directory listing).

Lots of Alameda businesses don't have a website, don't know how to go about getting a website, and wouldn't know how to maintain it if they had one. And if they did get one, you'd just end up with one more outdated site adrift in cyberspace waiting for a search engine to find it. Plus, it would cost a lot more than an expanded business listing which could be easily updated by them (or by me) and is anchored in the safe and cozy Alamedalink community. See how much sense that makes?

And Alameda is the kind of community where the local businesses really are part of the community. I'm not sure yet where this would fit in but I could see asking the local [inlink]twisted,76[/inlink] hardware store to start a (e:Handyman) journal with seasonal tips and maybe an "Ask the expert" link for users to submit their questions. Same thing with the local garden center, etc.

There are also a lot of local businesses that host events - book store readings, jewelery-making at bead stores, conversation cafes , etc. "Commercial" though they may be, I'd like to see those events on the calendar as well.

I especially want to encourage community groups to start journals so I can feature their posts on the home page and so they can add their events to the calendar themselves - theatrical productions, animal adoptions, children's story hour, etc. I'm thinking of giving non-profit groups free or discounted expanded listings, especially to get the directory portion going. Does that redeem me in any way? ;-)

Eventually I'd like to allow some direct interaction between users and businesses. Let users rate and recommend restaurants, shops and service providers. Let expanded listings pay for an optional link to invite users to subscribe to their email list, which would be maintained through the site and link back to the their listing on the site.

I'd also like to give non-business users a place to have a virtual marketplace - kind of like craigslist, except posters would be known members of the site. Temporary listings (like yard sales, roommate wanted, ticket swap, etc.) would be free. If you want to host a persistent page (much like the expanded business listings) you can pay a fee and have your own virtual store (or whatever) on the site. Could be useful for artists and individual contractors who don't want to get lost in the business directory.

Eventually, I would also like to let users create their own "sub-group" on the site where they can set up their own by-subscription email lists and post information visible only to other members of that group - the Parent Teacher Organization, the Little League, the Doris Court neighborhood watch, etc.

There's more, but that's enough for now. On to the $65M question....

How? Well, that's a great question. I'm building a "static" business directory right now, and Paul has given me the ok to take a stab at building a dynamic one by learning PHP and MySQL. He's a bit more optimistic about how long that would take me than I am. ;-) If I don't get to it first, he says he can do it as soon as he's got time. Since he's already got about 29 projects on his list not counting his thesis, it could be a while. I'd better start learning PHP and MySQL.

Paul has already coded the advertising module, so that's in place. But I don't want to have advertising anywhere except in the business directory, so I still need that first.

I also want to assure everybody that (e:strip) is NOT part of any of this experiment in capitalism. I actually thought it could be a win win win situation to see if all the work (e:Paul) put into (e:strip) could possibly pay off at some point, get me a "job" I might actually want, and give something to the community. Seemed like a good idea in theory. I hope I'm not just being naive.

A Note on non-censorship:

Having advertising on the site DEFINITELY would not change what people can or cannot put in their journals. This is a blog site, not a newspaper. Welcome to the brave new world of reality reporting. If an advertiser wants to pull their ad because of something someone writes in their journal, I'll happily give them their money back. End of story. If they suck that bad I probably don't want them advertising on the site anyway. If this egalitarian approach is abused by either side (advertisers setting it up to get out of paying, users blatantly trashing advertisers for no real reason - both of which I don't see happening, certainly not enough to put the concept in jeopardy), I would handle that on a per-case basis.

Even if some crackpot wants to trash every advertiser on the site on a regular basis, people are going to figure that out and ignore it. And like I said, valid complaints - however often - would be welcome. It's not like every business on the island sucks - then I'd be in trouble. But then why the hell would I be living here? ;-)

The part I'm not so sure about yet (still thinking it through) is user ratings and "recommendations" (I chose the term intentionally) on paid expanded business listings. That could be a little hard for a business to take, but I have some thoughts about it. Would be very interested to hear other opinions.

For Stores and Services I'm thinking of using the "Recommendations" label. If a store sucks, just don't recommend it. If a service/service provider sucks, we could be getting into public slander and I really don't want to go there. Although I think it's definitely valuable to hear from someone who had a bad experience with the plumber you're about to hire. So maybe the Services section gets "Referrals" which is an anonymous way to contact the person to get the referral offline. Maybe both get ratings too so you have a clue if a store/service is bad. Since ratings would be averaged, presumably the majority opinion would weigh into it. Harder to argue with that.

As for Restaurants, I think they would get "Reviews" and whatever your experience is - good, bad, or indifferent - that's what you write. I might have to intervene occasionally and ask someone to give a restaurant a second chance, or go there myself to write a more recent review based on my own experience. But occasional bad days/service is the nature of the business. Again, the restaurant can choose to not pay for an expanded listing. But they're going to be fair game either way.

Thoughts?

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04/15/05 10:34 - ID#36561

?


image

image

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04/15/05 05:49 - ID#36560

unwriting history

And if google [inlink]paul,3219[/inlink] doesn't have it, the internet archive might. Although I wonder if google has started keeping their own internet archive? that would be interesting. maybe it's time to get out before this all goes on my permanent record.

Ok, bike ride time.

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Category: family

04/15/05 03:20 - ID#36559

extension

Here's a little story for tax day.

Maybe it's because I'm the oldest kid in my family but it never dawned on me I would have to do my own taxes some day, even though I started working in high school. Dad always did my taxes because he claimed me as a dependent. Well, I'll never forget the first year I mailed him my w2s after going to college and working in Boston for a year. He mailed them right back, untouched, no note, no nothing. I was stunned. Dad's pretty funny that way. He almost always has some succinct or witty comment to make, even if it's just to spruce up your lunchbag (could be why my brother stopped taking lunches in high school). But if he doesn't have anything to say, he doesn't feel compelled to explain himself. And really why should he?

Here's another Dad story while I'm at it. When I left for college, Dad equipped me with one of his old hammers and a screwdriver. He also took me out to the family car and showed me how to put on the spare tire. First he did it, then he had me to it. I didn't have a car at the time and wouldn't for years. But that experience came in very handy once I did.

p.s. - speaking of extensions, as long as this Oracle gig goes as planned I guess I can give myself a 3-month reprieve before I have to either start generating some regular income or take drastic measures. Maybe I'll lay out my plan for alamedalink here some day and see what you think. Otherwise I'll have to start a third blog to talk about it. That would be ironic.

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Category: work

04/14/05 07:00 - ID#36558

Will Work for Food

Since my last "real" contract job with PeopleSoft got nixed [inlink]twisted,107[/inlink] the day before I was supposed to start (because Oracle bought them), I didn't want to jinx my chances this time by saying something too soon. But I officially started a one month contract at Oracle today. Although with all the paperwork they made me fill out I'm feeling slightly paranoid about it. Apparently they verify all your previous places of employment and job titles, plus do a credit check to verify your past addresses (all for a one month contract, mind you). And I'd better wait until this contract is over to develop my FAX-Spam annihilator, since I had to sign something saying Oracle might have the legal rights to any Innovations (capitalization theirs) I make while I'm working for them. So no Innovations from me! Sorry!

On the bright side, I already got a $10/hour raise!

Here are some (cell phone) pictures of the Oracle campus. It looks like a cross between the Emerald City and something out of a sci-fi flick. And I thought PeopleSoft [inlink]twisted,93[/inlink] was swanky!

image

image

AND they have a bunch of great cafes onsite . We chose Cafe 600 for lunch today. It was crawling with engineers. Naturally I begged to be allowed to work onsite, but contractors are supposed to work from home so no dice. In the past I would have preferred that anyway, but now I already spend way too much time alone in front of my computer at home. Sigh.

image
The line at the Indian Station at Cafe 600

image
Well worth the short wait. I hope I'm not violating the non-disclosure agreement I signed by revealing the cafe's daily special.


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04/13/05 12:53 - ID#36557

thanks for nothing

I will suggest you to please contact to your concern webmaster inorder to change the title of your blogger.Since now this issue is related to the scripting one.We do not provide technical support on the scripting issue.So please contact to your webmaster regarding to this issue.Thanks.

- iPowerweb (alleged) technical support

They actually do respond fairly quickly. Too bad half the time it sounds like a tech support madlib.

Unrelated, except for the annoyance factor: somebody should invent a way to respond to unwelcome FAX calls made to your non-FAX phone number. Couldn't somebody just post the audio handshake signal for whatever FAX protocol could take these suckers down and out for an hour or two? I am so sick of getting FAX calls to my home phone number. I am on the do not call list and have filed countless complaints. It was working so well for a while too.


FAX Follow-up:

Just registered with Junkfax.org . The final question on their registration form was "Your junk fax horror story:"

I started getting junk faxes at my home phone number which is on the do not call list. I finally hooked a fax machine to my home line and I've collected 10 junk faxes since March 7th, the most recent one coming in at 4:56AM this morning. I have told them this number is on the do not call list and asked to be permanently taken off their fax list, and filed a do not call complaint each time. The worst offender is 866-807-8303 who I asked to remove me on 3/23, again on 3/29, 3/31 and 4/6. I want to nail that guy.


I feel empowered already. Thanks (e:Ajay).


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04/11/05 11:24 - ID#36556

Hot hot hot-lanta

My youngest brother lives in Hot-lanta [inlink]robin,374[/inlink] (at least until he moves to Chicago this summer for grad school), so I too have done the underground, CNN, Centennial Olympic Park, and Stone Mountain - on the Fourth of July no less! Oh yes - quite the Southern patriotic experience.

And I'm not just teasing. ;-)

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