Monthly Archives: January 2008

Can You Guess Where I am Going?

New Luggage

It is official, the Urbanista Diaries Around the World Mobile Relay Adventure with the Nokia N82 started on Fri. Jan. 11th when Mr. Devin Ballentina departed from his home in Curacao for New York City. Jay Montano takes over in Singapore. Then me. Then Ryan Gallagher.
Can you guess where I am going?
Hint #1 : I went last Monday and got the full round of vaccinations plus some malaria pills. Yes, Ms. I love all things cold is going to the tropics.
Hint #2 : I had to get a visa and it was outsourced by the nation in question’s embassy to an outsourcer in San Francisco (I kid you not, this gave me hours of amusement).
Hint #3 : While parts of this nation’s society are in technological hyper-drive, much of the nation remains staunchly conservative and I will to be respectful buy at least 2 items of their traditional clothing before I leave within 15 miles of my house to wear while I am there.

Feed Readers, Please Read!

I know that at least 1/2 if not 2/3rds of my regular readers here use a feed reader to view this blog. Or so says my log files.
Hello folks who read this blog via an RSS, RDF, or Atom feed! Please read the following, click through to the actual post and comment. I have enabled anonymous comments so that I can have your input.
I love you. Thanks for being faithful. I have been trying through the upgrade to Movable Type 4.0 to make sure that y’all have everything you need to read the posts on this blog. Now I would like a vote…
I appreciate how a feed reader makes life easier, but I would like to change my feeds to excerpts only with a link to the full post. Why?
1) Gesault: I love the merging of image / design / text / code of the internet. Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen is conceived as a loving attempt to combine text, my mobile photography, with my web design. When viewed through a feed reader, unless the css is fully rendered, you are only getting a small portion of the whole.
I look forward to see how folks have combined imagery and design with there content. I generally use a feed reader to let me know when an update has happened then I connect to the actual post so I can see it in its native environment rather than the white and grey of my feed reader.
Do you really like your blog reading in the sterile environment of a feed reader or do you like to see what the blogger has for the whole visual / textual package? Or are many of the blogs on your reading list so poorly designed that the feed reader is a sight for traumatized eyes?
2) Parasites: I have been having a problem lately with unscrupulous humans or bots scraping my full feeds and using my content in their blogs without any proper credit or citation.
I would like to nip this in the bud by only providing an excerpt rather than a full feed. But first I would like to elicit the opinion of my regular readers…
3) Due to image stealing I have put further restrictions on how my images can be used in my feeds via anti-hotlinking .htaccess scripts. I am sorry to my readers who view this in Google Reader, as the images are not coming through at all. On those posts, please click through to see the image.
Vote with your comments and let me know… Do you want a full feed or an excerpt that you click through to is ok?
I would like to weigh your votes with my own desire to have this blog viewed in its native format as well as discourage lazy shits who steal. Let me know… ;o)

What I did Today….

Photo taken by Ms. Jen just a few minutes ago with her MacBook Pro’s iSight camera.

In early May, I moved my essential furniture and lifebits into my new apartment. In late summer, I finally returned to both my storage room and the loft in my brother’s garage to get the rest of the boxes, but I did not have time to get it all.
Today, eight months after I moved in, I went to my brothers and to my storage room for Round III of the move in process. Only one problem, I am already out of room of which to place books and kitchen stuff. Anyone who knows me in person knows that I mostly own books and kitchen stuff. The rest is all superfluous.
I need to open the boxes tomorrow, sort, put things away or desperately look for somewhere to stuff all of it. Hopefully, there will be no black widows lurking in a box, like there was in one of the book boxes in the late summer. I will have hairspray ready if there is one.
Hairspray is a much better solution to black widow extermination then the time one caught me unawares with lighter fluid in my hand. It was pissed to have been forced to exit its nice dark charcoal bag cavern and was coming at me, so I poured the lighter fluid on the charcoal and spider. The spider kept moving, albeit slowly drenched in lighter fluid, I found the click-click lighter and put flame to coals and spider. Spider was pissed and not giving up. So, more lighter fluid was poured on the fire and a column of flame shot up at least 15 feet.
Two lessons from this adventure:
1) Make sure you seal your charcoal bag up before putting it back into a black widow infested garage.
2) Never, ever, never put more lighter fluid on a fire. Bad idea.
Needless to say, I did not see the spider after that. I was missing some eyebrows and the backyard elm tree was missing some leaves, but hey the spider was gone.
Now I use hairspray (very effective on black widow spiders) or Scruffy’s anti-flea spray (less effective then lighter fluid sans flame) when opening boxes that have been living in my brother’s garage loft and no flames whatsoever.

Vagabond or Freelancer?

At dinner last night, it came out that various members of my family think I am a vagabond.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, a vagabond.
In my seven years and four months as a freelance web designer and developer, there have been many ups and downs to working as a “consultant” rather than cube farming as an employee at an established company. Over the years, I have attempted to solve many of the major pitfalls of freelancing by purchasing my own health in-sewer-ants (Kaiser), opening my own 401k, and working at even-ing out the cash flow, etc., but I never thought of public perception as a pitfall of freelancing.
In web design and development, I know more folks who are freelance than who work at a company. Of the friends who do work at a firm / corporations, I only know of one who is truly satisfied and the others keep talking of going back to freelancing or at least entertain the idea of it or are jealous of friends who are freelance. Of my freelance friends, many of us toy with the idea of steady cube farming, but instead have started to form informal partnerships with other freelancers or small design/dev firms to have greater reach than just one person could.
But to be called a vagabond. Really.
Now to be fair the person who said this is in their late 80s / early 90s and this may be a generational gap issue and a lack of understanding of contemporary work practices & realitites more than an insult, but I was still surprised.
In the web design & dev world, I am a moderate stay at home freelancer compared to some of my compatriots who are on the conference speaking circuit or have clients spread far & wide. I do get out and about a couple of times a year, be it for conference speaking, conference attendance, or just plain travel. Heck, I haven’t even reached the gold status, let alone platinum super-flyer, with my frequent flyer program.
How can I be a vagabond if I am not even recognized by my fave airline as a frequent frequent flyer?
All jokes aside, I have reached the stage of life of which in some folks’ expectation I should have bought a house, started a family, and otherwise “settled down”. So when the news hit the family that I would be spending a great deal of the month of February trotting about on the Nokia Urbanista Diaries project… vagabond!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I will be out and about from Feb. 6th to 24th participating in the Urbanista Diaries project / challenge with Nokia N82. Now one of the glories of having a freelance web design career is that I can say “Yes!” to Nokia and not have to worry about not having enough vacation time. As a freelancer, I just need to get my work done, give warning to my clients and folks I contract with, and then off I go.
More on my destinations in a bit… I first need to find my tin cup, red kerchief, a hobo hat, and suspenders of which to deck myself out for my trip!