public domain image via fithfath.com, from the book Tidens naturlÃ¦re (Nature of time) by Poul la Cour, 1903
public domain image via fithfath.com, from the book Tidens naturlÃ¦re (Nature of time) by Poul la Cour, 1903
(This isn’t a real post.)
WARNING: “The following post contains graphic violence, strong language, nudity, and adult situations.”
Not this post you’re reading, but the next one. The post after this one. It may not be there yet. (If it’s not — phew — I warned you ahead of time.)
The warning isn’t completely true.
But the wording occurred to me as I wrote this, remembering the old HBO warning from the ’80s. It was like a blinking sign for aggressive and horny teenagers as we feverishly perused the guide: “This is the good stuff.” *
To clarify the warning:
So, for the post, not this post, but the post after this one:
There is this cursing business, as mentioned. But, it is essential for the post. I assure you it will be quite artistic and highbrow. You may point out that using naughty language is nothing new for my blog, and that I frequently rely on juvenile crudities here, and you may wonder: why the warning now?
Well, it will be right there in the title of the post, for one thing. Perhaps NSFW, depending on your working environment. (But again, no “dirty” pictures. No pictures at all, other than the usual stunning mental imagery I create for you.) I’ve previously managed to keep the post titles more family friendly, with the most borderline being, “That’s Bulshytt,” which was actually a thoroughly scholarly entry. With this forthcoming post title, it was necessary to lead with the obscenity. It had to be done. It’s not gratuitous in the least.
I just thought I should warn you, although on second thought, it’s clear that you’re all mature and sophisticated enough to handle this without my explanations, so: never mind. (I shouldn’t even publish this; I’m afraid it will dilute the impact of my bold, daring, strongly worded post.)
If you’re reading this post via email or feed reader, please stop doing that and click on through to visit and admire the new site design.
Are you here? What do you think?
“Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb.”
I’m sorry… what did you say?
“It looks a lot like the old theme, minus the sidebar.” (That’s you. That’s the hurtful thing you just said.)
Well, yes, that might be the most noticeable thing. But what about all the white space improvements? And…
Hey. Setting aside the myriad less-visible renovations, subtracting a column is a huge change, don’t you think? It might not be the “960 Grid System” or whatever, but going from two columns to one column is a big hairy deal, wouldn’t you say?
Go on. Say it. Say it now.
“Maybe,” you say, but you sound unconvinced. You’ve hardly noticed the difference. (Maybe because the old sidebar was so elegantly minimal.)
You go on: “Isn’t this about a two minute change? Delete the call to
get_sidebar(). There. You’re done.”
Why are you being so hostile?
A lot of sidebar paraphernalia could be harmlessly jettisoned on most sites, including this one, but I had to find new homes for the about, archives, and subscription links. They’re special, as you can see from their new placement at the top of the page.
A search box used to be on the side, and there needs to be a way to search this place, but that can go on the archives page. That’s what the archives are for: robes, candles, seeking. That kind of thing.
And there was the Creative Commons license. This is important to me, to let you know I’m freely sharing my work, but the license can go at the bottom of the page. People either won’t care about it, or if they do, they’ll be able to find it easily enough there. (Or on the policies page, which, sadly, is still here. It’s one of my least favorite pages. There are minimal changes there. Don’t waste your time looking at it. I’m not even going to link to it here.)
Random Quotes have been demoted to the footer. I love this feature, but it is, and should be, kind of a minor, um, side note. A little diversion to be stumbled upon.
There’s a whole new page for subscriptions. This is very exciting. I wanted a place to expound on the many convenient options for staying current with my voluminous output. I’ve attempted to make this new page entertaining for you. (I think about you and your needs as a reader all the time.)
If you haven’t read the “about” and archives pages before, they’re a hoot. I highly recommend them. They’ve been updated along with the new theme. And the archives page now explains the new “collection” feature. You’ll want to read about that.
That creaky old sidebar started it.
I was thinking about how things are moving to “mobile,” and I wanted to create a mobile version of the site that would hide the sidebar. But then it seemed easier and more enlightened to try for a single design that looks decent on all devices.
As much as that’s possible, anyway. On my one mobile browser, the Kindle Fire, it starts zoomed out on the new layout, leaving unneeded margins on the left and right. It doesn’t look bad, but it could be better. I keep forgetting to borrow someone’s smartphone to see how the site looks there. Are you reading this on a small screen? Does it look okay? Does it look… awesome?
Along with the removal of the sidebar and dispersal of its population, I’ve spent many joy-filled hours tinkering with other elements of the layout, with my primary goal being to offer a streamlined experience for reading the crap I shovel onto this thing. If you’re going to eat shit, I’m sure you’d rather it be nicely presented.
My growing use of Instapaper and reading on the Kindle has contributed to this focus on “just the words.” Both writing them and reading them. There’s so much junk piled around the words we read online. You’re liable to step on a rusty nail and get tetanus.
While working on the site update, I found Marco Arment’s site. He’s the creator of Instapaper. His site provided additional inspiration for a sparer look. (Thanks, Marco, for Instapaper and for your good taste.)
And I’m producing many new words to pour into this vessel.
Real Soon Now…
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Gee, I really like visiting the Moving to Freedom web site and reading the many entertaining and educational posts there, but I wish I could also read it as an ebook. Specifically, as an ebook on my Amazon Kindle compatible device. That would be so cool.”
If that sounds like you, then today your dream has come true. Moving to Freedom, Waypoint #1 is here.
With all the posting activity around here the past couple of months, and in recognition of the extremely high quality of many of those posts, I decided it would be thoughtful of me to bundle things up into a nice 12,000 word package in time for the holidays, and offer it for only $0.99!
Fourteen posts are included, mostly from the past two months, along with an exclusive, all new introduction. Your favorites are all there: “Reverend Blue Jeans,” “Energize Me,” and more. And don’t forget, there’s the new introduction.
For you regulars, I’m sure you understand that purchasing a copy is required, whether or not you have a Kindle or other device. It’s only a buck. Throw some coins in the hat, brothers and sisters.
The last time I tried publishing an ebook, I described a simple, elegant plan, vaguely pyramidal in shape, where each of you would persuade five friends to buy a copy, and so on. I must not have explained it well, because I think I’ve sold all of five copies total of that book. I appreciate the massive show of support — I really do — but I think we can do better this time.
I was surprised and delighted that my publisher put some effort into the product description. It will read better in context on the book’s amazon.com page, but here’s a copy for posterity:
“Waypoint #1″ is a collection of fourteen posts from the “Moving to Freedom” blog that will change your life. When you’re through with it, twelve thousand words will have passed through your brain. They will affect you in some way.
What are people saying about this certain-to-be-seminal, or at the very least, sternutative work? We’ve conducted dozens of “man in the coffee shop” interviews to find out.
Jess from Philadelphia said, “I really identified with the blogger’s struggle against the corporate power structure. No one should be denied blue jean freedom. Denim power, man!”
“I will never look at cutlery and cutlery-related procedures the same again,” said Emily from Austin.
From a Starbucks in Otswego, Ganadeep said, “Although coffee is my life, the blogger opened my eyes to the possibilities of energy drinks.”
Sebastian from Los Angeles: “I think the bowling mechanic represents the alienation of the technology caretaker role.”
Jim from Indianapolis said, “It could have used more drugs, and definitely needs more sex. The one about knot tying was probably my favorite.”
Anya from Carlsbad: “I think Waypoint #1 is a thinly veiled yet brilliant deconstruction of the Generation X ethos.”
Francesca from Denver: “I wanted to hear more about Thanksgiving. The blogger claims to love spending time with his family, but I sensed some tension beneath the surface. Maybe Waypoint #2 will get us closer to the truth with a Christmas post.”
Mark from Boston: “I’ve never heard of the Ryan Montbleau Band and they’re supposedly from around here. I think the blogger just made them up.”
Or even better, experience it for the first time if you missed it before. The story is still “free as in freedom and beer,” and you can read it on the web starting here, but you’ll want to buy a copy, of course. It’s only $0.99!
I may experiment with more platforms, but the Kindle seemed like the best place to start. I’m sure many of you reading this have a Kindle or other device that will display Amazon’s ebooks, and after you buy your own copy, I’m counting on each of you to convince five of your friends to buy a copy, and they in turn will insist that five of their friends buy a copy, and so on, until I can quit my day job and focus on providing you with a quality content stream.
The book is available at:
This web site is five years old today.
You’re reading post number 352. (
Many Most of them have been “meh,” so there’s no need to check out the archives if you’re late to the party.)
A million unique visitors have come through the doors. Mostly these are Google searchers landing on the technical posts that I’ve said I’m not going to do anymore.
Thanks to everyone for your patronage, but especially to you regulars who keep coming around despite erratic posting, both in terms of regularity and content. (And quality.) Still, there is only one month where I failed to post something, and I’m going to count that as a blogging victory.
I’m not going to write about what comes next. Back in April I wrote about how I had “turned pro” and was doing all this writing and making progress on another fiction story, and I had all these great plans, and then that all fell apart.
So I’ll just do whatever it is I’m going to do here, whether it’s business as usual or something new and awesome or nothing ever again. (Although I still like what I wrote at the end of that other post…)
in the sand…”
– Martin Sexton
I’m still here.
I’ve been writing.
I wish I had another short story to share, but the work in progress has grown lengthy. Please anticipate it eagerly, but with patience.
And don’t take “lengthy” as a promise or threat about the finished product. I might lop off half the words or more before I’m done. Most of them probably suck anyway.
In the meantime, you can read “Sudden Acceleration” and “Federated & Amalgamated” again. I hope you will accept them as tolerable efforts from a beginner learning his craft. If you don’t care for them, it’s important to remember that I’ll get better. You must keep reading and follow my career development with interest.
I’ve been helped in my writing efforts by the discovery of The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. Since I’ve long recognized Resistance as the oppressor, I immediately identified with Steven’s labeling of the enemy as… Resistance. I’m still a lazy, self-loathing procrastinator, but with Pressfield’s help, I’ve “turned pro.”
I don’t really want to write about the writing, realizing it might be tedious for you, but I also don’t want to let April pass without a post. I’ve determined that one post per month is the minimum feeding requirement to keep this thing alive. (And it prevents unsightly holes in the archives month grid.)
Here’s my plan:
I’m going to keep writing and sharing my words freely. Writing every day and publishing at least once per month. For your part, please copy and share the words if you like them. (“Copying is an act of love!“) (Link love also appreciated.)
I came up with the domain name of “Moving to Freedom” for this site as a nod to my desire to move from using proprietary software to free software. I still like the name because it works for just about anything. We can always aspire to greater freedom in different areas of our lives.
I want to find that freedom in words. And sentences of dubious grammatical correctness. And poorly constructed paragraphs. I want to tell stories that matter to me, or simply amuse me, and with any luck, you too.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll be with me, helping on this new move.
First, everything is still here!
Second, check out the new look! (If you’re reading this in your feed reader or email, it’s totally worth your time to stop by.)
After 3.7 years of “Moving to Freedom v1.0,” I’ve done some redecorating. I think the new design is amazingly cool, but I’m counting on you to let me know if I’m wrong.
So what’s behind this change? I think Martin Sexton best explains it, in the lyrics to “Women and Wine”:
Last night I woke to the sound of a dream on fire
Burning a ring around my golden cage
Flames hissed a chorus that said changes to come
I downed a drink for comfort, but came up with rage
Oh, wait. I guess that doesn’t explain anything. But I love that passage.
And there are changes to come. If all goes well, I’ll be announcing something new for movingtofreedom.org on Wednesday. Please come back then! In the meantime, and in the ongoing time, this site will still be concerned with advocacy of free software and free culture.
As a kind of “light recap,” and to ease the transition for my legion of dedicated readers, and to provide some point of entry for future freedom seekers, I’m creating this post as a place to dump a bunch of stuff that used to be on the sidebars of the site. If you’re new to free software and free culture, or you want a guided tour over some of the highlights of the first 3.7 years, it might be worth poking around here a bit.
There is a new links page that currently has all the links that used to be on the front page sidebar. Some of those sites are much better starting points for free love.
If you enjoyed the YARQs that used to appear at the bottom of the sidebars, they’re still here on the revamped random quote page! With many more quotes and excerpts added recently.
The policies and contact pages are still functional and boring. Well, maybe the disclaimer is worth a look. And I’ve added several new pictures to the policies page which might be fun to scroll through. And the contact page links to a page about crypto and key signing that I decided to keep as being educational and useful.
The archives pages have been expanded and improved. (I think.)
I’ve always linked to Richard Stallman’s book, Free Software, Free Society. The essays are all available online, but I like having the book. Richard’s writings and achievements have been a great inspiration to me, and it was an honor to meet him in person a couple of years ago. He is a great man.
Here are some popular tech posts. (With popularity being measured by Google Search traffic.) The “Remote Desktop with VNC” post has been the most-visited page on this site, with 163,000 unique pageviews to date, as measured by Google Analytics. The EncFS post is in third place with 32,000 views.
And here’s the old “MTF” truck logo, probably retired now:
Here is a post with photos from Santorini, Greece, taken by my sister. For a long time the top photo was on the front page of Google image results for Greece and/or Santorini, leading to a flood of visitors. Apparently a lot of people search for Greece and/or Santorini. To date, the image shown here has received 80,000 unique pageviews, which puts it in second place for most visited on this site. (Thanks, Stacy, for sharing these great shots!)
I get a fair amount of traffic from Google Image Search. What tends to happen is that after a while, other web sites copy the pictures and then they start showing up higher in the search results. (Once in a while they will attribute the photo and link back to me, but not that often.) :-)
One of the new features on this site is that when you browse archive pages, posts in the photos category will show the image on the index page instead of making you click through to the post, so it’s easier to browse through the photos now. Take a look! My photos are all free as in free speech. (And there are a few by others that are only free as in you may non-commercially share them.)
Thank you for reading!
(And remember to visit again on Wednesday!)
This is prompted in part by Tony Lawrence, who has been wondering about the accuracy of his feed subscriber count and today asked for comments from his feed readers as a kind of survey of actual readers. (Tony in turn was prompted by: Dear Reader, Who Are You?)
Well, I’m curious also: How many people out there are actually reading this site? I know at least one of my sisters is subscribed and a regular reader.* How about the rest of you?
Please leave a comment with this post and tell me if you’re a regular (or even irregular) reader, and if you follow the feed or just pop in from time to time. Or maybe you visit only when I flog a post on Twitter? (Like this one.)
Comment moderation is on, so responses might not show up right away. Anonymous comments are fine if you’re shy or in the witness protection program.
I should confess that I have another appeal for help coming up in the near future. This first one is the easier request, so you’ll want to jump right on it. Then you can see how you feel about the next imposition. Maybe it will be more palatable after warming up here.
So, please, speak! Thank you!
* To be fair, I’m sure both of my sisters are loyal readers. I was just considering playing them against each other.
I try to make standards-compliant web pages here at movingtofreedom.org. It appeals to my petty, detail-oriented side. The compiler in me loves it when W3C or xmllint or tidy reports a valid web page. A pass from xmllint or tidy, or the green “valid” result from W3C is like a pat on the head. Good boy!
Why do I use XHTML for this place? Because that’s what WordPress templates were using when I started this site in 2006. I’m sure that’s still the case today, although some searching tells me it doesn’t have to be that way. XHTML seemed like the thing to do three years ago and I was happy to learn about it and conform to the transitional XHTML doctype. I wasn’t so excited about the strict doctype, but figured that was a concern for another day.
(Tangentially, an obscure poem recently made me aware of standards upheaval on the horizon involving the death of XHTML 2 and the emergence of HTML 5. I was surprised — although I shouldn’t have been! — about all of the passion and anger around this topic.)
Anyway, this post isn’t to talk about competing web standards. I only vaguely understand what’s at stake anyway. I just wanted to point out that while I proudly display the W3C validation link on each page here, I have to acknowledge that I fall short of compliance. In order to embed YouTube videos in my pages so that they will show up on the page in my Firefox installation on Ubuntu, and show up in my feed on Google Reader, I’ve made an exception to include (*gasp*) invalid XHTML transitional markup.
No big whoop, really, although it bothers me to claim valid XHTML on every page when I know that isn’t always the case. I’m just posting this so I can link to it from the sidebar as a kind of validation disclaimer.