You have, most likely, landed in the wrong place. I know it’s the wrong place because this blog, or whatever it is, consciously violates most rules for a successful blog.
If you simply want to find out if there is anything here that interests you, try starting with What’s Here? below.
Once Upon A Time
Once upon a time there was a boy who was abandoned by his parents. A kindly old turtle couple took him in and raised him as their own. They had had about 30,000 children of their own. Those kids, however, had left home young and most had gotten eaten or run over before making it to the sea.
The old turtle couple worried about their adopted biped more than the others. With no hard shell his chance of survival was surely low. So they raised the boy with the unturtley preference to live deep inland, away from things that eat you. Or so they thought, knowing little of the sharks that cruise the land.
Despite their vow that he would be different, they imbued him with a turtley tendency to slow and steady persistence. This served him well in his life as a historian, editor and builder of websites. After many slow and steady years, he got a PhD. He met a nice human girl. They moved to the mountains, far from the sea where things eat the slow and steady.
As a builder of websites, he built several. Some were for others. Some were for himself. One day he looked about the interwebs and found litter everywhere. A great cyberspace garbage gyre. Some of it was his. Neglected websites with outdated information.
He decided that he would no longer spread his garbage around. He would keep it one place (with two exceptions*). You have found that place. What is here follows little reason, but I hope has just a little rhyme nevertheless. Enjoy!
*The exceptions, you do not ask but are going to be told anyway? One is for his vacation rental in Yosemite. The other is his site about the trails and wildflowers of Yosemite. The latter is one of those sites in a state of deep neglect.
This blog is my workshop, not my storefront, my gym, not my portfolio.
Originally, this was mostly a place to record “techy” type of stuff — Drupal, SEO, things like that. But I noticed that I’m often interested in writing other things. So this blog is a hodge-podge. The top-level categories are consciously obscure because this is supposed to be fun, not work.
I come to my nerdery honestly. I once even knew PDP-11 assembly language. I run some websites. I’ve contributed patches to the Drupal project. I’ve spoken at Pubcon. That doesn’t even count my nature nerd credentials or a career as a paleographer. Here you find things like:
- Viewing unlabelled Gmail.
- Recovering from a bad Photoshop CS3 install. Obsolete (I think). I never thought anyone would need this, but it got hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pageviews per month and may have saved some lives in its time.
- Limiting daily bandwidth on a home router. We need this because of our satellite internet. I never thought it would be a popular article.
- Thoughts on the usability of mega menus.
- Stopping spam coments in Drupal.
- Copywriting for scholars. The late Ted Ulle picked this up and used it for his course on marketing for a research group at a Boston-area college.
Sometimes I like to spout off. On rare occasions I even gather some off-the-shelf facts first (for custom made facts, see under Fragments). A few odds and ends (mostly odds) from my life as a historian as well. Maybe the odd bit on health and fitness. Perspectives include things like:
- 212: The Extra Degree of Bullshit because I found out about the ridiculously wrong 212 Degrees thing.
- Ice Cream For Dinner which is my graduation speech that nobody ever invited me to give, but which I would like all seventeen year-olds to know.
- John Calvin’s War on Christmas, which is my answer to the Sean Hannity insanity (yes, based on real quotes from Calvin).
- Hitler vs Bush — there are quotes floating around the web purporting to show parallels between a Hitler speech and a Bush speech. Typically, though, nobody cites sources and as near as I can tell, that’s because the Hitler quote is made up. I ranked #1 in Google for “Bush is evil” for a few years, but come on people. Bush isn’t Hitler.
Fragments are the random things that come into my head or possibly collected from elsewhere (like the Jeremiah Johnson quotes). If this blog is, in general, a celebration of random, Fragments are the finest in random.
- Jeremiah Johnson quotes. Watch your topknot
- Bowling deaths double — satire of bad statistical reporting.
- Tom versus Las Vegas — how to tell us apart
- Sarah’s Watch — an experiment in fiction using the Hemingway App.
Stop Reading Now!
This is not the kind of blog that lends itself to subscribers and RSS feeds and, well, regular readers. Which means that if there’s one thing here that interests you, that’s no evidence that there’s a second thing here that interests you. So what’s the point? It might be easier to start with the many purposes RBT does NOT serve. It does not seek to
- make money
- find clients
- sell anything
- get you to click on ads
- focus on a “niche”
- position myself as an authority on anything
- attract lots of readers
The last one must, of course, be false. Why make this public if I don’t want readers? In other words…
Why not just use Evernote?
Good question. One of my first posts was about an installation mess with Photoshop CS3. I couldn’t complete the install or delete the partial install. Fixing it required several reboots. I wanted to store the info in a place I could access while my machine rebooted. Dropbox and Evernote didn’t exist yet. Logical solution? Put it on RBT which had little else at the time.
Then came my first big surprise.
I thought this obscure problem would never happen to anyone else. The article was just for me. But then that page got thousands of views and dozens of comments and thankful emails even after Photoshop had moved on to CS4 and even CS5.
Bernie even suggested I may have saved him from taking a razor to his throat after two days of frustration.
Lesson: nothing is so obscure that there isn’t another person who finds it interesting.
So my commonplace book of things I want to remember is shared.
That part is easy to explain. Ads are annoying and have never brought in enough to be worth the trouble.
I have no qualms about recommending a product and no qualms about collecting commission. I am writing this on the desktop version of the Hemingway app. I don’t get a commission, but I recommend buying it.
If I could get a commission on it, I’d be quite happy to do so. I have nothing against money. The point is simply writing without borders with no expectation of secondary reward.
Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow…. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem… You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
— Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without A Country, “Here is a lesson in creative writing,” p. 24
Writing Without Borders?
Do a search on how to be a successful blogger. The most common advice is to find a niche and stick to it. Become an authority on something. Many even suggest finding a product that you think will be profitable and then blog on that and nothing else.
Writing without borders is the opposite. I have usually written about “techy” things like Drupal, SEO and things like that. Drupal development is okay, but when writing without borders, bad fiction is okay too. Who knows, there could be singing.
The purpose of RBT is to exercise my brain and keep thoughts I want to keep. It is of course also a place to share those thoughts.
My second surprise.
Somewhat to my surprise, the most popular posts have usually been on “off-topic” topics. Posts where I’m not an expert, per se, but where I just feel like spouting off. They have been more of the random things that pop into my head. Favorite quotes from Jeremiah Johnson. The 212 Degrees of Bullshit. Stuff like that.
Now you see, perhaps, a contradiction. If I’m writing without borders, why do I care which posts are popular? Mmm… perhaps I’m not being honest. But generally, the fact that people have enjoyed those posts is a consequence, not a goal. I veered off-topic because it was fun. So perhaps it’s no surprise that what I found fun to write is more fun for people to read.