Pride and the old-school blogger
Friday, Dec 08, 2006
When I started blogging on Fury in 1997 it was by hand: editing an HTML file, copying and pasting the last entry and replacing the content. Later on, around 1999, I wrote a content management system (okay, okay, 'blog engine') to handle posting and rendering, partly because I wanted to have the flexibility to add functionality however I saw fit, but mostly because there was almost no blogging software out there. Greymatter was pretty darned new, and Blogger wouldn't be launched for another few months.

Since that initial launch I added many features such as comments, multiple-inclusion categories (later dubbed 'tags'), themes and on-page analytics, months or years before they were incorporated into mainstream blog software.

That 'make' ('makeshift' would be more appropriate) spirit has continued even though the time I have available to work on this tech has dropped to almost nothing in the last few years. In the meantime there are so many elegant packaged solutions for so many of the problems older blogs face. It's hard for a stubborn old coot to put down a few of his tools and admit that the finely crafted new-fangled stuff is just as good -- if not better -- and certainly a lot cheaper (time=money) than the old-fashioned way.

While I'm not ready to move Fury to a mainstream blogging platform (I still have some ideas on the nature and framework of blogging that aren't in line with most CMSes), I'm starting with baby steps. Tonight I routed Fury's RSS feed to be handled by Feedburner. The first step to making a better site is understanding what you have, and along with MeasureMap, FeedBurner is a great tool for seeing not just the amount, but the nature of the traffic this site gets.

What does that mean to you, loyal reader? Nuthin'. You shouldn't see any change as the result of this shift. The old RSS urls redirect without a fare-thee-well, and things should just hum along like they always have, only maybe a little better.

Well, I've got a kitten sleeping on my typing arm now, so I'd best be off...
Jane Espenson wrote this Friday's Battlestar Galactica
Wednesday, Dec 06, 2006
Jane Espenson, who has written for many great shows including Buffy and Gilmore Girls, wrote the episode of Battlestar Galactica that's airing this Friday, December 8th.

For those unfamiliar familiar with her work, Jane has an amazing writing style and sense of nuance and metaphor. Among other triumphs, she was one of four writers of "Conversations with Dead People", a Buffy episode which won the 2003 Hugo Award for 'Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form'.

Considering the hit-or-miss nature of BSG episodes (who wrote those few episodes late last season that blew everyone away?) this is virtually assured of being the don't-miss episode of a generally weaker season.
Thursday, Nov 02, 2006
I ordered a new iPod Shuffle a month ago. Taking advantage of the free engraving, I chose '[this is good]'.

Last Monday it shipped from Suzhou Prefecture in China's Jinchang District and I got it this evening. Rather, I got someone's shuffle:


Fraggle Rock movie in the works
Friday, Oct 20, 2006
CNN reports that the Jim Henson Company is making a Movie version of Fraggle Rock!

I wouldn't say I'm a superfan, but let's just say that I code-named one of my work projects 'Doozer' and have a Cotterpin statuette on the shelf in my cube.

NBC show eschews reality programming. NBC eschews show in favor of reality programming
Thursday, Oct 19, 2006
For those of you who haven't been watching 'Studio 60' (you should, and if you missed it you still can for free), it centers around the behind the scenes operations of an SNL-like show, and the influences from the operation of the parent network, clearly supposed to be NBC. A significant portion of this week's plot dealt with the new network's president overriding her chairman by opting not to bid on a morally depraved reality TV show and trying to woo a young director to bring his high-minded new series to her network instead of HBO. In the end she prevails (the new director opts to go with her network as a direct response to her passing on the reality show), and sets the network on a course of responsible, quality programming, differentiating itself from the reality-shock shows taking root in other networks.

In a case of life thumbing its nose at art (on many levels) NBC yesterday announced that they're cutting their workforce significantly and focusing production efforts on several new reality-TV shows. As expected by anyone with a cynical sense of poetic irony, Studio 60 is likely to be shelved in favor of such a show, as its initially strong ratings seem to be suffering as the season continues. Apparently viewers are dissatisfied by the idea of Matthew Perry as a comedy writer who himself isn't as funny as he was in Friends.

Perhaps they should change Studio 60 into an actual reality show about the inner workings behind SNL. Heck, it could air on Saturday nights as SNL's lead-in show.
I'll be your best friend...
Thursday, Oct 05, 2006
Strange that we promise to be someone's best friend in exchange for their doing us a favor. Being someone's best friend is easy. It requires only that that other person do us a favor and then place us above all their other friends. It's not even exclusive. You could go to 10 people and promise to be their best friend if they do something for you, and there's no contradiction because you could be their best friend, so long as they're not all your best friend.

"You'll be my best friend if you..." is a much more balance deal, since it's an actual give and take. Not that inadvertent semantic reversals ever got in the way of language evolution. I'm sure a lot of people (myself included) could care less about it. Could you?

Breaking cycles
Thursday, Sep 28, 2006
Over the last week or so I've been really in to breaking cycles. ZeFrank has an excellent vodcast explaining the concept of breaking cycles, but the gist is that by identifying the patterns you follow and deliberately departing from them you can gain new insights, new perspectives, and generally feel more alive.

The concept is well-grounded in science, and has applications everywhere. When you buy a new car the dealer tells you to keep it under 80 for the first thousand miles, and also says you should vary your speed. Keeping an engine at the same speed when it's new (keeping it in a constrained cycle) optimizes the engine for that speed, and makes it worse at other speeds. Breaking that cycle early on makes the engine perform better across its entire range.

The same is true for you and me. Wake up early, stay up late. Or if you're me, go to bed early and sleep in. Throw yourself off and see how you recover. Drive to work a different way. Eat someplace new. Say something out of your comfort zone. Eat breakfast for dinner. Pick a direction and just drive until you're someplace you haven't been.

Of course, by breaking cycles you may end up settling in to new cycles, and that can be fun too. Vacations are just a major cycle break, and when you're someplace new you don't have any cycles there so you're breaking new ground every moment. This is why some people like to stay close to their hotel or the TV or the internet when they're someplace completely foreign. It's a pipeline into their cycle.

Do you use a feed reader? Ditch your subscriptions and start fresh (saving an OPML file first, if you're paranoid). Changing your inputs to get new ideas will churn your brain in a good way. If you read CNN, try reading MSNBC. Gizmodo? Try Engadget. Or try not reading anything digital for a week and see what happens. I promise the world won't fall apart for your not watching it.

Have a friend come in and pick new season passes for your TiVo. Better yet, swap boxes with them for a month, then swap back and see what you change.

Not all cycle changes are voluntary. Most aren't. When my father died three years ago it threw me entirely off my axis and I never settled down until I was in an entirely new place and an entirely new life. Two weeks ago my sister disappeared. Using every resource I knew to track down her whereabouts, throwing plans to the wind and focusing on this new unexpected task broke my cycle and when I came back to work while waiting to hear word I walked around a place that felt completely foreign. Recognizable for what it was but as if it was passed through an equalizer, muted and amplified in different wavelengths. My sister turned out to be fine (at a wilderness workshop I didn't know about) but the cycle turbulence persisted.

Throwing yourself off balance makes you learn how to regain it faster. Dropping yourself into new situations helps you deal with the unexpected ones. Several friends of mine are thinking about or actively trying to have their first child, probably the biggest cycle-shifter there is.

I don't think I'm ready to find a new orbit (or create a moon) any time soon, but I'd like to live like I'm in a foreign country when I'm at home, and see what's hiding just outside my cycles.

California Assembly legislates Pluto's status
Thursday, Sep 07, 2006
At first I was infuriated at the state legislature's presumption that they can pass (nay, overrule) scientific decisions, then I read the full act condemning the stripping of Pluto's planetary status. Here it is in plain text on the site, so you know it's real.

Looks like our legislature does have a sense of humor after all. Excerpt:

WHEREAS, The deletion of Pluto as a planet is a hasty, ill-considered scientific heresy similar to questioning the Copernican theory, drawing maps of a round world, and proving the existence of the time and space continuum; and

WHEREAS, The downgrading of Pluto reduces the number of planets available for legislative leaders to hide redistricting legislation and other inconvenient political reform measures; and

WHEREAS, The California Legislature, in the closing days of the 2005-06 session, has been considering few matters important to the future of California, and the status of Pluto takes precedence and is worthy of this body's immediate attention; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, That the Assembly hereby condemns the International Astronomical Union's decision to strip Pluto of its planetary status for its tremendous impact on the people of California and the state's long term fiscal health; and be it further

Resolved, That the Assembly Clerk shall send a copy of the resolution to the International Astronomical Union and to any Californian who, believing that his or her legislator is addressing the problems that threaten the future of the Golden State, requests a copy of the resolution.
HOW TO: Take Unique Fireworks Photos - By Rachel Fisher
Saturday, Jul 01, 2006
So I recently shut down my written blog because I only ever seem to post in my photo blog, but now I suddenly have something to say so Kevin is being nice enough to post for me.

I've been getting a lot of hits and emails about my past fireworks photographs as Kevin got them linked up to another "HOW TO take pix of fireworks" that showed up in Boing Boing. So I started thinking about how I take my more alternative fireworks shots. So I wrote up a HOW-TO for the experimental fireworks photographer:

Step 1: Pick the fireworks display you want to photograph. This is as important as anything you do once you get there. The key to choosing your display is not how big the display will be but rather where you can be in relation to the fireworks.

Big huge city displays are beautiful, but you often get so stuck in the crowd with no real room to adjust and no way to get to that perfect vantage point that you want. Don't get me wrong, I loved when I lived in Pittsburgh going to the Point and cramming in with everyone else for the display � but photography-wise I would be better catching one of the many smaller displays that the city does through out the year simply because I can get a better location.

On the 4th I choose a display that's a little less urban. When you are trying to play with the light patterns of fireworks it doesn't really matter how big bloom is, because you are going to crop in anyway. Additionally the more middle-sized fireworks don't have to go up as high so you are closer to them.

Step 2: Pick your spot! Find a hill, an island a dock whatever you can but make sure that you have some elbow room and if possible a place to lay out a blanket and lay down. Its easier on the neck and if you can find a nice spot as close as you are allowed to the fireworks so that they are nearly on top of you then that upward angle is really just perfect.

Step 3: Try a few things out at the beginning. Don't start fancy; just get a feel for the general area that the fireworks are going off at. Frame up an area in the sky and just pan (follow) the firework from its shoot off point up to the place where it explodes. Chek the result on your camera and see where the firework takes you. Rather than capturing a still shot of its life, let it be active, let it have a life of its own.

Step 4: TRY EVERYTHING! Once you have a feel for it, just play with things. Pan, change your zoom every 5 minutes or so. Try something slightly out of focus, change your aperture, try different lengths of exposure. Anything you can think of. Try it and see what happens. They aren't all going to turn out, but who cares, its about having fun and the surprise of what you have created once you get a chance to see the pics.

Bonus Step: Let your camera DANCE!!! Don't be traditional here, you are playing with light and what it can do, you don't need to stay still. One of my favorite shots from last year, "Fire Flower" was made because I pointed the camera in the general direction of the exploding firework, I took it away from my eyes and then I just traced designs in the air with my camera. The combination of the movement of the firework and the movement of my hand made for a really fun shot.

Overall just have fun! Enjoy the fireworks for the moment and hopefully you will capture something new too!

Would the real John Doe please stand up?
Friday, Jun 16, 2006
Creepy is when you're waiting for your delayed flight to board and the P.A. system comes on to say that if John Doe doesn't check in for his flight within the next five minutes he'll lose his seat, and five minutes later I get to page 29 of 'jPod' where we're introduced to the character who had his name legally changed to John Doe.

Hi, I'm Kevin Fox.
I've been blogging at since 1998.
I can be reached at .

I also have a resume.


I'm co-founder in
a fantastic startup fulfilling the promise of the Internet of Things.

The Imp is a computer and wi-fi connection smaller and cheaper than a memory card.

Find out more.

We're also hiring.


I post most frequently on Twitter as @kfury and on Google Plus.


I've led design at Mozilla Labs, designed Gmail 1.0, Google Reader 2.0, FriendFeed, and a few special projects at Facebook.

©2012 Kevin Fox