Archives for November 2009

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Lately I've been pondering what to do with this blog.

When I started blogging I was coming out of a period where I had much to say and few avenues to say it. Blogging felt like such a liberation and I feel I got a lot out of the experience. In the intervening years my blog went up and down but always ticked along. But the last year has been very different.

Here's a little history. I start blogging in May 2002.

YearPosts written
2002620
2003597
2004429
2005372
2006391
2007275
2008196
200945

Those first 8 months were a pretty furious exploration of a new medium. It was, perhaps, inevitable I couldn't maintain that kind of pace especially as I started writing more and re-posting less. I think I maintained a healthy pace through most of 2008 and then my writing fell off a cliff.

In 2009 I have written only 45 posts which is considerably less than the number I would write some months in previous years. What happened?

  • I took up music seriously as a hobby
  • I got Twitter

In January I started taking weekly piano lessons and threw myself into making music as a hobby. I'm a classic hobbyist I suppose but with some aspirations to progress beyond my little spare bedroom cum office/studio.

With music & music tech taking up so much of my time my former interests in technology, learning, km began to whither. I'm still interested in those things but as a practitioner rather than a practitioner-observer. That is I am using the technology, learning things, working out how to learn & remember rather than studying or building tools for such things.

This means that less of my time is spent in what I would call abstract thought and more on practical matters. When I am learning to play a blues accompaniment style it's an active task. When I am trying to make a phase shifting looper in Reaktor it's an active task. These things do not seem to lend themselves so easily to being written about.

The second major factor is that, as my output has dwindled, it has tended to be more life stuff and, since I am by nature a private individual, that means more the frustrations and irritations I need to release. Twitter has turned out to be a marvellously useful release value for me and far more effective than blogging for that purpose. For the most part even this use of my blog has died off.

The combination of these factors lead to a ~90% drop in output. Last month I began, seriously, to consider shutting the blog down altogether. But a couple of things have made me reconsider and think about restarting it in some new form.

The first year of any new phase of your life I think can be overwhelming. In this year (or a little over) I have uploaded 62 "tracks" to alonetone.com where I share my music. Some pieces are musical, some are semi-musical, some are outright experiments with sound. I'm proud of what I have achieved in a year but under no illusions about it. I've also:

  • gone from not being able to find middle-C on a piano to being able to play a solo piece by Philip Glass and several blues accompaniment styles
  • released one MIDI sequencer and built others
  • learning some basic arrangement, mixing, and production skills
  • started building my own instruments & effects in Reaktor

I am starting to feel the stirrings of having something to say about what I am doing and where I am headed. So my thoughts turn back to my blog as a way of doing that.

When I was knee deep in blogging writing my own blogging software made sense. I wanted to experiment with the platform and the only way to do that with any efficacy was to have my own. Today it seems entirely inappropriate as I know I am never going to go back and finish any of the features that would have made it interesting. Today my own blogging software is a burden.

So I have a couple of choices to make:

  • A clean break with the past, orphan/archive the 2925 posts I wrote and start afresh? Or continue but with a new focus/theme?
  • What software should I use?
27/11/2009 10:19 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments:
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Google lets me down again

So it appears that the Google Apps for Domains I use for my domain 'mattmower.com' is broken. Although I can login to the admin interface any attempt to access the inbox reports a 502 "temporary server error". Googles definition of "temporary" is a bit loose since this has been going on for at least 24 hours now.

It's not bouncing mail so I've some hope it's not entirely lost but it's also not delivering it so I've no real idea. Maybe it's just being forwarded to the great /dev/null in the sky. I had some important ongoing email conversations which have now abruptly stopped and I've no idea if there were responses. That makes me super happy.

Google's idea of help is a useless FAQ backed up by a confusing morass of "themed" forums. The forum names are something of a misnomer though as they should, more properly, be the circles of hell that they are.

I'm quite angry but mostly with myself for trusting something so important to me as my email to a company like Google. Why did I do this? Because Google Apps for Domains is available for free and is pretty convenient. This turns out to be a big mistake.

I suppose it's unfair to complain about the support for a free product. But if I don't expect to be able to get direct support what is also missing are tools to report a problem so that you actually know that there is acknowledgement that there is a problem.

For example I am getting 502 server errors. It would be nice to report it and know that google know they are getting 502 server errors and that this would be dealt with. For a free product that would be enough. Posting about it on a forum with no idea if anyone from Google will ever actually read the message is not. That fits my definition of a shitty service.

I could, I suppose, upgrade to the $50/user "enterprise" edition of GAfD but I've little confidence in Google right now or the idea that it would be $50 well spent. I'm more inclined to sever all my dependencies on Google. They're not a company I like or wish to rely on. Lesson learned.

My options appear to be to look for a mail hosting company who specialise in small business (I'm not but that most closely fits my requirements and spending power) or start hosting my email myself. The latter I am loathe to do because I know that road contains more potential heartache than where I am now.

What a crock of shit.

01/11/2009 13:19 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments: