It’s not about the price tag

But it is about the tag. Or tags.

Back in the day, you just blogged and put it in a category. Then came the ability to throw a single post into multiple categories. Then… I’m not sure when, maybe with livejournal or similar sites, we started tagging posts with moods. “happy” wasn’t a category, but you’d have posts in many categories tagged as such. Over time, tags became more formalized, and with Web 2.0 and SEO (that’s Search Engine Optimization for the uninitiated) they became more important than categories.

Much like I still often refer to this place as a “weblog” instead of a “blog”, I tend to resist change, mostly because I hate change for changes sake. If it has purpose though… well, after years of ignoring the tagging features of the blog software’s I’ve used, I’ve finally caved in. This site will now be tagged.

To assist me with this, I’ve installed an auto-tagging plugin and this morning I ran it on all the old posts to see how it would do. It did horribly. And now I’m too lazy to spend too much time fixing it. It created over 4,000 tags for my just over 1,400 posts, and some of them are really stupid. I installed a second plugin that recommended I erase about 2,900 of those tags, and I did. However, going forward, I’ll spend the effort to better police the auto-tagging and make corrections as appropriate. In the meantime, enjoy the word cloud on my blog over on the right entitled “Partly Cloudy”. If I enjoy the tags, I’ll get a better plugin for them later.

And in order to spice up this otherwise boring post, enjoy this music video:

From A to Zed

Around six months ago, I wrote about the CDC embracing the zombie apocalypse as a teaching tool for disaster preparedness. Some people laugh at stuff like this, but as I said then, as I’ve said for a long time, and as I continue to say, if you are prepared for zombies then you are prepared for just about anything.

Since then I’ve had their little badge up on my site and I hope people take it to heart. Seriously, just the simple act of having a flashlight with batteries (or one that doesn’t need batteries), a radio, some food, some water and a plan just puts you in a great position to handle even minor things, not to mention when a storm rips through and the power is out for a few days.

Randomly, earlier this week, I clicked that link myself, just to make sure it still worked, and was rewarded with finding out that they’ve made some changes.

Now, in addition to their one sheet about zombies and links to other disaster preparation information, they’ve put up a short graphic novel, Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic. It is available as a PDF from their site. I love that the CDC is doing this, and I hope they keep doing it.

Perhaps they need a page that uses werewolves to illustrate how to handle animal bites…

I Like Blogs

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since I maintain one, but I like blogs. The main reason I like them is that most blogs update daily, as in once a day. Maybe every once in a while a blogger gets prolific and updates twice a day, but there will also be days they don’t update at all. I can even manage to stomach sites that get enough popularity that they have multiple writers and updates start becoming more frequent, mainly because each writer often has their own voice.

What I hate is when sites become popular enough to be profitable and suddenly the RSS feed gets clogged with blurb posts that are little more than saying “Hey, there is a piece of news from somewhere else and here is a link.” I don’t subscribe to a lot of sites other people live and die by because of this. So many of them just don’t put forth the effort. A new thing gets announced and 90% or more of the sites post a “Look! New thing!” entry that just links to some other site (often a similar post that links to somewhere else – I mean, seriously guys, if you learn about the new thing from another site and not the source, please link to the source and thank the site, don’t link to the site, that’s a waste of everyone’s time). No commentary, no story, just a link and a place for people to comment.

If you are going to repost news, have the courtesy to think up an opinion on it, or the decency to do a daily or weekly wrap up of links so that it comes in one post and not twenty-seven. By posting every little bit of news or announcement or cool thing on its own with no meat of your own, you are saying that you don’t value my time, just your post count and my traffic. Which is why you lose my traffic.

My blog isn’t very popular. I’ve got maybe seventy or so people who read frequently enough to be tracked, and mostly it’s because, I admit, my content isn’t all that exciting. A few people like it enough to keep coming back, but that’s it. If I wanted to get more readers, I would post more content and work on making the content I do post better. I wouldn’t increase frequency with shit posts linking to other places with hot topics that will drive up my page rank in hopes that more people visit. But the latter seems to be what many sites do. They increase quantity without increasing or even maintaining quality, popularity over substance, and a number of other “this instead of that” scenarios.

I suppose it comes down to preferring opinions over news, especially since so many news sites are really announcement sites, posting headlines without substance. Anyway, back to the blogs…

The Disaster Disaster Recovery Plan

Mushroom CloudOnce upon a time, I worked for a company that put out a mandate of updating our disaster recovery plans.  Seeing as how most of the company didn’t have them, it really meant creating disaster recovery plans.  Due to a confluence of events, I happened to be the senior guy in our department who wasn’t a manager, and so it fell to me to craft our plans.

As with any good company, we did have some preparations in place even if we didn’t have a formal plan.  We had an off site backup data center which we could switch over to should a service at the primary site go offline.  And in that site we had an approximate copy of our primary site.  Approximate in that the intention of the backup site was to limp the company along until the primary site could be restored, not in that the backup could become the new primary.  So where the primary site had 3 servers doing a task, the backup site had 1, enough to do the job but not enough to do it without frustration.

So there began a series of meetings between departments as we began updating and creating our recovery plans, budgets were outlined and all the ducks were put in a row.  In one of these meetings, I noticed a flaw in one of the other department’s plans.  I brought it up, but since I’d only been there a year and was dealing with people who’d been with the company for 5, 10, even 25 years, I was ignored.  I was told, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”  To that end, I decided to be sure I was right.  I began researching the other plans and looking for flaws.

My own department’s plan was simple: money.  We needed to spend the money to duplicate our server functions.  I called the companies we licensed software from and got the okay and licenses to maintain a fail-over site without spending any more money on licenses.  I wrote up hardware orders so that where we had 3 servers doing a task at the primary location we would have 3 servers waiting to take over if the primary failed.  My plan done, I had plenty of time to look at other people’s work.  So I did, and I made a nuisance of myself, sending emails and showing up for meetings I wasn’t invited to in an effort to actually make our company’s disaster recovery capable of recovery.  Eventually, I got told to stop.  The message was clear.  I was to focus on my own plan and leave everyone else alone.

I dove back into my disaster recovery plan.  You see, because of the flaws in the other plans, my original plan wouldn’t work.  It had to be redone.  I went to my boss and made one request.  On presentation day, I wanted to go last.

The day came to show off our new plans.  I sat in the back and waited through each department.  One by one they went to the podium and showed charts and laid out plans that illustrated they were well on their way to being ready, each department patting themselves on the back.  Finally, it was my turn.  I got up and started handing out my plan.  It was very short.  A cover sheet and then just two pieces of paper beneath that.  As I made my way through the room people began muttering to each other.  I got to the podium and said, “If you will turn to page one of the packet I’ve handed out you will clearly see the full extent of my disaster recovery plan.”

It was a copy of my resume.

“If the primary data center were to go offline, I would, in reaction to this disaster, begin sending out copies of my resume in an effort to find another job, because I certainly wouldn’t want to work here anymore.”  I could see my boss turning red with rage.  I could also see the managers for other departments shooting dirty looks at me.  Then I opened up my PowerPoint presentation.  I quickly showed the single page of my real disaster recovery plan: buy servers, install software, use extra license keys I’d already obtained.  Then I showed how my plan would still fail due to a flaw in Department X’s plan.  Then I showed that without fixing another flaw in Department Y’s plan, Departments A, B and C would fail.  And then I showed how Department M had overlooked a critical piece of hardware for which there was no backup and rendered everyone moot because the only working mainframe terminal in the backup site would be the one hooked directly to the mainframe.  Their plan actually had them unhooking a piece of equipment, loading it on a truck, and driving it nearly two thousand miles to the backup site, rather than actually purchasing a duplicate – probably because it was extremely expensive.  “So, as you can clearly see, my only reasonable course of action – since I was instructed not to involve myself in the affairs of other departments – is to find another job.”

The fallout from that meeting was huge.  First, I got yelled at.  Then, I got apologized to as they discovered I was right.  Eventually, new plans were drawn up and big money was spent, but our recovery plan was actually capable of recovering from disaster.  To date, that company has not had a disaster from which recovery was needed, but that’s not the point.  The point is that each and every department concerned themselves only with their own particular areas and no one had been assigned the task of looking at the places where they relied on another department.  Each one was happy to be able to say “We have a back up for our functions” and didn’t bother to examine if slot where their tab was supposed to insert was being covered, they just assumed it was someone else’s responsibility and it would be handled.

Since then, I’ve always tried to make sure I keep an eye on the big picture when I do things.  And I try to be open to suggestions and/or criticism from others on the off-chance that I’ve missed something big because I’m too close to it.  Outside that, there is no point to this story other than I just like to share it.

Movie Round-Up: December 23rd, 2010

This week’s Movie Round-Up is all messed up.  Two of these movies opened yesterday and one opens on Saturday, with nothing opening on Friday and me posting on Thursday… oh well… let’s get on with it…

Gulliver’s Travels: (official site)

I want to mock this film.  I tend to dislike when Jack Black is all Jack-Black-ing out, making faces and saying silly nonsense.  But I watch this trailer and am reminded that it’s by the same people who did Night at the Museum which was such a fun movie, and this movie looks fun too.  It is highly unlikely that I’ll go see this in the theater for $10, let alone pay $13 to see it in 3D, but I can easily see myself watching this at home at some point and feeling good about it.

Little Fockers: (official site)

I tolerated Meet the Parents.  I disliked Meet the Fockers.  I’m now willing to openly hate Little Fockers.

True Grit: (official site)

Having completely come to terms with the fact that Hollywood is content with turning out remakes and sequel, I first saw this trailer with an open mind… and it was blown away.  Early reviews of this film are heaping praises on the little girl and on the film overall, and it makes me very excited.  I will, somehow, manage to see this movie.  Soon.  If for no other reason than because I can’t let Jonah Hex be the last western I’ve seen on the big screen.  That must be rectified.

Also, Black Swan goes wider this week and might actually be playing in a theater near you…

Movie Round-Up: December 17th, 2010

How Do You Know Black Tron Fighter Yogi Swan: Bear LegacyYogi Bear: (official site)

I suppose it was inevitable.  Hollywood is either remaking, updating or finally bringing to the big screen every idea someone else already had.  Watching the trailer for this movie does not make me want to see it at all.  I suppose if I had kids my view might be different, but I don’t so it isn’t.  If I ever see this movie it will be on accident or under heavy protest.

Tron: Legacy: (official site)

It’s about damn time.  That’s right, after I rail against Hollywood not having any new ideas I’m going to applaud them for finally making a sequel to Tron.  I don’t have rose colored glasses on.  I know the original was silly, plagued with bad dialog and the special effects might have looked fantastic to an eight year old kid but were actually pretty awful, but the fact remains that it was deeply influential to me.  I mean, I grew up to be a programmer.  It was the shell of the idea of Tron that was so good, that something special was going on inside computers, and I’m excited that it is being revisited.  I worry, however that it might be too late.  No, we haven’t invented full-on virtual reality yet, but unless the movie is hiding some big surprises it doesn’t look to have advanced much further than the 1982 shell of the original: there is a world inside the machines where programs fight for survival.  But ultimately it doesn’t matter.  I’ve been itching for a sequel to Tron for so long that there is almost nothing that will stop me from seeing this film.  Not rain, nor sleet, nor bad reviews.  This weekend, Tron: Legacy will be seen.

How Do You Know: (official site)

Paul Rudd is one of those actors that I’ll see practically any movie he does.  Reese Witherspoon too.  The only thing this movie has against it is Owen Wilson.  I just can’t stand him.  Nonetheless, this movie looks pretty good.  Since I’ll be seeing Tron, I doubt I’ll make it to see this movie this weekend, but I’ll gladly see it later on at some point.  If you aren’t seeing Tron and you aren’t a kid, this would be a good movie to spend your $10 on.

Black Swan: (official site)

Someone I know, after seeing this movie, described it thusly: I love it when people get tricked into seeing a horror film.  For people who don’t watch trailers to avoid spoilers, this description fits because on the surface the film is about a ballet dancer who is getting older (but by no means old) who is struggling with possibly losing her place in the company (and more) to a younger dancer.  But if you’ve seen the trailer, then you know that isn’t the whole story.  The thriller and horror elements are what draws me to Black Swan… well, that and I’ve been told there is a hot sex scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.  Since I’m unsure I could drag the wife to see it in the theater, I probably won’t, but I’ve already put this in my Netflix queue.

The Fighter: (official site)

I’m a sucker for underdog sports films, and this one looks to be real good.  With so much else fighting for my box office dollar, I doubt this will be something I see in the theater, but I’ll happily see it later on, and I’m sure that I’ll wish I’d seen it sooner.

Movie Round-Up: December 10th, 2010

The Narnian Tourist: The Voyage of the Dawn TreaderThe Tourist: (official site)

It might be just me, but I’ve been kinda over Angelina Jolie for quite some time.  I have seen movies of hers that I enjoy and even that I find her work perfectly fine, but she just isn’t a draw.  I won’t go see a movie just because she’s in it.  Johnny Depp, on the other hand, I’ll watch in just about anything.  Even so, something about this movie isn’t pulling me in.  The trailer just doesn’t excite me and make me want to go spend $10 to see it.  As such, I’ll probably wait for Netflix.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: (official site)

Like many people, the Narnia stories were part of my growing up.  Not a huge part, mind you, because I only started reading the books a few times and never finished, but I do distinctly remember seeing some version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on TV, either broadcast, HBO or VHS.  I digress… the point is, I was very excited to see the first film, and I loved it.  The second film, however, was lackluster at best.  It was… boring.  The trailer for this third installment looks a bit more exciting, but we’ll have to see if they have managed to avoid the pitfalls of the last film.  Then again, this book is more popular than the last, so there are probably more people wanting to see it.  If I do go to the theater, I’ll likely pass on seeing it in 3D.  To date, none of the films where the 3D is done in post production have impressed me.  The ones filmed with 3D cameras have been quite good, and of course animated films that are rendered in 3D work also.  However, post production 3D just looks like a cleaner version of the old 3D, where depth doesn’t feel like true depth, but instead like there are different layers of flatness, as if everything is moving cardboard cutouts positioned differing distances from the camera.  It ends up feeling like a gimmick rather than that the filmmakers felt that 3D was the best way to tell the story.  It distracts from the film instead of adding to it.  So, yeah… probably worth going to see, but in 2D to save the extra $3.

Movie Round-Up: December 3rd, 2010

The Warrior's WayThe Warrior’s Way: (official site)

Next year the movies will be invaded by Cowboys & Aliens.  This year we get Cowboys & Ninjas.  This movie looks absolutely ridiculous, and that may be the thing that makes it a success.  I mean, the story is about a ninja assassin who is ordered to kill a baby that is the last member of a particular family.  He refuses and flees to America where he hides in a small town until the ninjas catch up with him to finish the job, kill the baby and kill him for his betrayal.  I highly doubt that I’ll go to the theater to see this movie, but it will make the top of my Netflix list because this movie must be seen.

The Round-Up posts are less fun when only one movie comes out.  Less photoshopping involved…

A Week of Tweets on 2010-11-28

  • It's not how many times you get knocked down. It's how many times you get back up. #
  • Get up! (Get on up!) #
  • Is today over yet? #
  • @massively I'd love to comment on the new design, but I can't login since the change. It appears to work, but I remain logged out. #
  • If I can't see content on your site without paging down, the best you'll get is an RSS subscription so I don't have to see your site. #
  • @grimthorn He was simply employing the new Extra Enhanced Pat Down Procedure. in reply to grimthorn #
  • Remember, the Blob can't stand cold. #
  • … and Kevin Dillon. The Blob also can't stand Kevin Dillon. #
  • Hey Wednesday. Thanks for the flat tire. Now, cut that shit out. I mean it. #
  • I should stop planning to get out of debt. Each time I do, life smacks me with more unexpected bills. #
  • I need the names of apocalyptic movies that happen during the Christmas season… go! #
  • Caught a ride with a trickster and a javelin man to a town down by the sea… #
  • I hate that we live in a world where spam continues because it works. *sigh* Please, stop clicking on the links they send you. #
  • the AC in my car stopped working. On the bright side, the heater started working. #putofftilspring #
  • people already lined up outside Best Buy for Black Friday. Insanity. #betterdealsonline #
  • turkey, ham, corn, peas, rice, broccoli, rolls, jello, cookies, pound cake… all in my belly. #happythanksgiving #

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Movie Round-Up: November 19th, 2010

Harry Potter and the Next Three Days, Part 1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1: (official site)

The entire world is going to see this movie over the next couple of weeks.  Except maybe me.  The movies have been good in this series, and I enjoyed the books.  But the final book was definitely the weakest in the entire run for me.  They had an opportunity to cut all the lame boring parts and shoot a tight two and half hour action packed film… their decision to break the book into two movies leads me to believe that all the boring, stomping around in the woods parts remain.  So I’ve lost a bunch of my desire to shell out the big bucks to see this on the big screen.  Even more so since I have to wait eight months to see the other half of this film.  I could be wrong.  This could wind up being a great film, but I’m willing to wait and see before I see it.

The Next Three Days: (official site)

This is the story of a man and his wife.  She is accused of murder and goes to prison.  He doesn’t believe she is guilty and decides to break her out.  Beyond that I know nothing of this film.  I had a chance to go to a screening for it, but ended up unable to attend.  I will say that I think this looks to be very good and I really want to go see it.  Especially with Russel Crowe and Elizabeth Banks playing the leads because I have really enjoyed a lot of both of their work.