Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Posted by Sam at 12:26 AM | tags: life, coffee
As a teenager, I always assumed that I'd spend at least one night in jail before I hit 30. I don't really know why I thought this. It's like the assumption that I'll have kids one day. It's ambiguous enough that any combination of variables could lead, perhaps accidentally, to that end. Hopefully, not accidentally in the latter scenario, but I think my point is clear.
I knew that violence wasn't going to land me in jail (pacifism is an understatement when describing my demeanor). I wasn't going to steal anything either. That's just not my modus operandi. Secretly, my hope was that I'd be doing something revolutionary... like standing up to the man, or breaking down the walls of social injustice, or proudly wearing a Dead Kennedys' "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" t-shirt (fond memories of high school... I miss you, Walsh). More realistically, it's likely to be something totally stupid and harmless that gets me thrown in the slammer. Oh, I don't know... breaking into some abandoned mental institution, or possibly trespassing through the inner bowels of a prodigious ivy league campus come to mind. Let's hope it's not a charge of "drunk and disorderly" though. That would be... um, embarrassing? Or would it be cool? No no... embarrassing. Although...
Now, at this point, I'm sure you're expecting me to write something like, "Well, I finally did it. I spent the night in jail!" No such luck. I wish that I had a story that exciting to share. I did however, come very close. How close? Ummm... not that close.
I got my name taken down by campus security for stealing cups from the beloved campus Starbucks and busting into the faculty cafeteria thingy to make some coffee.
It was last Sunday. The campus was just starting to wake from the holiday break, yet the cafeteria and the Starbucks and the other mini-cafe were all still slumbering peacefully. And... well... I needed some coffee. Big time. I knew that the faculty cafeteria has this magical, single-serving, coffee dispenser machine of magnificence. I sort of jimmied open the door, and there it was: my dark-roasted destiny. As I approached, I found that there was a severe lack of cupage. No cups were to be found anywhere. And that's when I was hit with the brilliant scheme of hopping the Starbucks counter and yoinking a cup or two.
I recognized a slight hesitation before I vaulted the counter (more like walked casually around the counter... but where's the drama in that?). It was my conscience... and it was soon silenced by the pangs of caffeine withdrawal. I got my cups without incident and moseyed on to the faculty cafe. Humming pleasantly to myself as the coffee machine did its thing, I hardly heard the door open behind me. There was nowhere to run. There was nowhere to hide. In no time flat, I found myself face to face with the most gosh-darn nicest security guard that I've ever encountered. In fact, he felt so bad about having to take my name down that he let me keep the coffee. He even asked if I needed any sugar.
And there you have it. My run-in with the law. That's the closest I've been (since Jagermeister Night '01 (Berkeley, CA)) to spending the night in jail. I've still got a few more years to meet my night-in-jail-before-I'm-30 deadline though. Wish me luck... I guess.
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Saturday, November 26, 2005
What the Hell Is a Souffle?
Posted by Sam at 3:58 PM | tags: life
Fine fine fine. I'll blog about Thanksgiving. Every blogger this side of the Grand Wallingford Galactic Tool Emporium has something to say about Thanksgiving. So... me too!
As stated one year prior, turkey doesn't do it for me. I just can't get excited about a giant bloated bird carcass steaming patiently on the Thanksgiving table. I know, I know... that contradicts everything you know about me thus far. Typically, my fondness for the carcass has no peer. But... well, birds are icky! Gross! Blech! Anyway, what did do it for me this year was a goopy mound of sugary bliss disguised as a side dish. It was made with love by my amazing pal, former housemate, and comrade in the war on romance: Sarah. It was called sweet potato souffle. I have no idea what a souffle is. Nor do I care. What I do know is that it was smothered in butter, sugar, marshmallow, and yes, love (in the purely non-tangible sense, of course). The souffle was overflowing with pure melted liquid awesome (no, not Jagermeister). Mmm... marshmallow... I could eat sweet potato souffle every day for the rest of my life... which, if I did, would probably only amount to a couple of days... a couple of sugar-coated, euphoria-filled days. But alas, only a couple of them. Honestly though, it might be worth it.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Scattered, Pre-Coffee, Morning Introspection
Posted by Sam at 11:05 AM | tags: life
I dreamt that I gave my little sister a Polaroid camera as a wedding gift. She responded politely, but it was obvious that she was disappointed.
It was snowing (just a wee bit) on the way to work today! Yea! I heart snow!
I can't wait till it's cold enough to freeze my beard. I love that.
Slowly, over the past three workdays, I've been creating my very own army of little paper monsters... whom I've dubbed "friends." My co-workers think I'm insane. They don't know the half of it.
I've started a flickr photo group entitled, Orange is the fastest color... To quote myself: "This group is devoted to the proliferation of the color orange (the fastest color) in its purest form: the bicycle. Please consider contributing a photograph of your homebrew orange bicycle to this flickr group. It's time we, as a community, band together and unite! Lovers of the orange bicycle need no longer lurk in the shadows. Our time has come! Our day is now! Our bicycles are orange!" Membership is burgeoning. Who knew the orange bicycle would have such a devoted following?
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for the Autobots and their undying commitment to the obliteration of evil and the protection of mankind... no matter what the cost. Those Decepticons sure are a sour lot... aren't they? I just hate them so much! Maybe not Soundwave though... I have a feeling that he's just misunderstood.
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Monday, November 21, 2005
Art Is Dead
Posted by Sam at 11:58 AM | tags: life
No, art isn't dead. I'm just old.
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Friday, November 18, 2005
The Disappearing Gwar Post
Posted by Sam at 4:32 PM | tags: sambot, blogging
Firstly, thanks to all who commented, emailed, and offered their support through this trying and troubling time. The way the blogosphere came together on this one was really heartwarming. This calls for a group hug. Ummm... I don't know... hug your computer or something.
The legacy of the elusive Gwar post (the story thus far):
Let me see if I can paint an accurate picture of the world during the time of this tragedy. The year was 2005. It was a cold and blustery November, as I recall. I had just finished a monstrous post about tagging and categories that, I'm sure, bored the living bejesus out of my three regular readers (hi mom!). I had been putting it off for as long as possible, but it was inevitable... I had to write a follow-up post at some point. But how could I gracefully bring the quality of posts back down to the regular sam bot dot com standards? I had outdone myself... or so I had thought.
And then the solution hit me... like an epiphany... of pain. In fact, the sensation was not unlike a good-morning-kick-to-the-groin; sharp and jarring, yet eye-opening and spiritual. I would bring the quality back down by introducing a Gwar analogy. Perfect!
And so it was done. And there was much rejoicing.
And then it disappeared off of Bloggers server. And there was probably much more rejoicing... but none by me.
And so it was reposted. Yea!
And then it disappeared. Boo!
And so it was reposted. Yea!
And then it disappeared. Boo!
And then there was bean dip (for some reason). Yea! Which brings us to now... where we stand on the cusp of a momentous event. Here, for the fourth and final time, I am going to post the notorious Gwar post. Read it while you can, because ten minutes from now, it is likely to disappear into the void.
So, without further adieu, I give you the Gwar post:
Bringing the Bar Back Down. Way Down.
(originally posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 at 12:36 a.m.)
I'd hate to be the band scheduled to play following Gwar's set. It's not that Gwar is an amazing pack of musicians... no, quite the contrary. It's more the question of how one could possibly follow an act like theirs? I mean Oderus Urungus, Gwar's frontman, comes on stage looking like Conan the Barbarian dipped in acid, vomited on by satan, and then treated to a shopping spree at the local Hot Topic. The band, during their set, spews gallons of (presumably fake) blood onto the audience, sends fans through the "meat grinder," and lights stuff on fire! Honestly... how do you follow that!?
Similarly, how do I follow a post like the last one? It was like a zillion words long, full of academic splendor, and included the perfect accompanying photo! I suppose, I'll have to be content with a post such as this. Instead of writing Pulitzer Prize winning phases like, "the current state of excitement amongst information organizationophiles," I'll have to be satisfied with intellectually devoid articulations such as, "dipped in acid, vomited on by satan, and then treated to a shopping spree at the local Hot Topic."
It's comforting to know that here, at sam bot dot com, raising the bar only leads to a temporary predicament. Just give it some time and I'll bring that bar back down... way down.
An important and relevant addition to the above post: Gwar blogs! Each member (in character) maintains a blog on their site. Click to read:
Oderus Urungus's blog
Flattus Maximus's blog
Beefcake the Mighty's blog
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Thursday, November 17, 2005
Bean Dip of the Apocalypse
Posted by Sam at 9:37 PM | tags: sambot, blogging
Conspiracy theorist, blogger, and advocate of the anti-corn movement, Nacho Intolerant, writes, "Could you have been flagged...This is a relatively new feature on blogger. I have not employed it, and frankly, have no idea what sort of events it puts into motion." She goes on to speculate that "the Freemasons and Clear Channel may be invloved." I wonder if her doomsaying has any legitimacy to it? After all, it was sam bot dot com, in all it's controversial glory, that put me on the National Do Not fly list (unconfirmed... but what else could it be? I'm a threat to the establishment. That's so punk rock!).
Blogger hasn't responded to my whining... and I doubt that they will. But here is what Blogger has to say about the "Flag" button: "This feature is called "Flag As Objectionable" and it's accessible via the Blogger Navbar. The "Flag?" button allows the blogging community to easily note questionable content..." Questionable content? Blogger, oh please... What could possibly be considered questionable about the Gwar post? Satan vomiting on Conan the Barbarian? That's not questionable. Tasteless, perhaps... but definitely not questionable.
What's questionable is Blogger's inclusion of such a feature* (ummm... hello? Freedom of speech?). But who knows? Maybe I haven't been flagged. Maybe it is a blatant act of censorship, as the Nomad suggests. Jim, however, has experienced similar annoyances (Jim, what do your two disappearing posts, and my Gwar post have in common?). He recommends reposting from scratch. I'll give it one more try.
Hmmm... so what could it be? Could the culprit be the Freemasons? No, they've got secret organizations to run. Clear Channel? Those monopolistic good ol' boys have a populous to manipulate... sam bot dot com speaks to the underground! I'm no threat to them... or am I?
Okay. I know what's really going on here. Someone on the Blogger team got fake blood in their eye at a Gwar show. Ever since then, they've sought to destroy the blogs of those who endorse Gwar and support the Scumdogs of the Universe.
I can see through the lies... and the truth ain't pretty. Ain't pretty at all.
* To their credit, Blogger does put the following opening statement in front of their Flagging info page: "The Flag button is not censorship and it cannot be manipulated by angry mobs. Political dissent? Incendiary opinions? Just plain crazy? Bring it on." It's comforting to know that Blogger is on the side of the "just plain crazy." If that's truly the case, sam bot dot com will always have a home at Blogger.
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Bean Dip... Part II
Posted by Sam at 12:05 PM | tags: sambot, blogging
So now what? The last test post worked flawlessly. What's the deal with my Gwar post then!? Is there something in it that Blogger doesn't like? What could it be? Is Blogger just anti-Gwar?
For those of you who haven't been following this tragedy, this here's what's been a'happenin': I post an entry about Gwar (still to be found on my server here). Ten of your earth minutes later, while attempting to leave a comment (yes, I leave comments on my own blog. It makes me feel as though I have a rich and fascinating social life), I find that Blogger has removed the post from their servers... after they have successfully posted it to my blog! Wha!? I repost the entry. Everything is working splendidly. And then, ten minutes later, it's gone! I repeated this process thrice. And all
thrice times three times yielded the same result. So, in an effort to pinpoint the problem, I posted that test post yesterday. If it fails, then clearly something is wrong with Blogger. If it succeeds, then something is wrong with my Gwar post.
If you'll notice, yesterday's post is still active and recognized by Blogger. Therefore, the problem lies somewhere within the Gwar post. But where!?
I summon the collective knowledge of the blogosphere. Help!
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Posted by Sam at 10:50 PM | tags: sambot, blogging
What's wrong with you Blogger!? Why do you remove my Gwar post from your server, 10 minutes after you successfully post it? Sorry to all of you who have tried to post a comment. Blogger thinks the post doesn't exist.
Consider this post to be a test. If Blogger successfully publishes this... and it stays on their server for more than 10 minutes, I'll know that there is something wacky with my Gwar post (what the heck could it be!?). If, however, this post disappears too, then I'll know it's all Blogger's fault... and I'll be that much closer to becoming a Wordpress user.
Blogger has frustrated me in the past. They've always redeemed themselves though. Nothing beats 'em for ease of use. And, at the end of the day, that's what matters. Right? Or is it bean dip? "Blogger, where's my bean dip?" says my housemate, Carrie. "Blogger owes you bean dip!" Thanks Carrie. Thanks for getting my back on this one... I think.
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Categories Are Dead, Long Live the Tag!
Posted by Sam at 7:46 PM | tags: blogging, technology, sambot
One of, if not the, biggest frustration for any hardcore Blogger user, is Blogger's refusal to offer categories within an otherwise kick-ass and criticism-free blogging service. (How's that for a summary, intro, sentence thingy?)
Categories, when deployed appropriately, are a very slick addition to any blogger's arsenal. In a nutshell, they allow a singular blog to house entries ranging in a variety of topics. The blog, of course, will contain a main page which acts as a dumping ground for all of the author's posts. Maybe "dumping ground" isn't the most accurate language to use here. The main page, more precisely, acts as an unfiltered stream of all the author's posts, aggregated into one source. The author can then assign a category to each post and, in addition to being featured on the main page, the entry will be found on that category's page. The blogging service is intelligent enough to handle the main stream as well as multiple categories comprised of posts found therein. Neato!
Let's take a look at sam bot dot com. Here, I post about a wide variety of immensely rich and infinitely fascinating subject matter. Yes, infinitely fascinating. In any given month, I can be found to write about Opeth, coffee, Apple, coffee, technology, and coffee. Clearly, you as a devoted reader, are infinitely fascinated in everything that I write... but, for the sake of argument, let's say that you are simply interested in enjoying my thoughts about Apple Computers. Well, dear reader, you're in luck. It just so happens that in this imaginary scenario, I have established a category for all of my posts where the subject matter falls within the realm of Apple Computers. You can now ignore everything else that I post about and simply focus on Apple by reading only that category. And, if I'm a sophisticated blogger, which I am, I would have established an RSS feed just for that category... 'cause I'm just that kind of guy.
Some popular blogging services that offer a categories option are Wordpress, Movabletype, Typepad... Note the glaring omission of Blogger amongst that list. Grrr... Frustrating.
What's a devoted Blogger user to do? Well, this is where tags come in. Yet, this isn't simply the entrance of tags as an alternative to categories. No, it's more of an argument as to why tags are better suited for this particular application (quite possibly yours as well) and, maybe to a lesser but more dramatic degree, why tags are the wave of the future and the current state of excitement amongst information organizationophiles! (So I made up the word "organizationophile." It's not the first time, nor will it be the last.)
So, what are tags, why are they useful, and how do I use 'em? Slow down there, champ! Let's take this one step at a time.
Essentially, tags are one word labels designated by a human (this is important... more on this later) to describe an object. Imagine this all-too-comfy chair that I'm sitting in right now. If I were to apply tags to it, they might be: furniture, leather, comfy. It's up to me, really. You might sit in the same chair and tag it with: chair, brown, ugly. That's your prerogative.
What makes tags tremendously useful is their inherent organizational functionality. I can tag one post with as many tags as I deem relevant. Later on, when I (or a reader) would like to see what I've written concerning a certain topic, they need only click that tag, and voila! Up comes a comprehensive list of every post that I've tagged with that topic. What's more, is that I can cross-reference those bad boys! Yessiree! I can see what posts I have written containing any combination of tags. That's power. I'd like to see your wack-ass categories do that!
Tags are more than an organizationophile's dream come true. They are a rock solid connection to the rest of the blogosphere and yes, the internet as well. With services like del.icio.us (social, taggable, bookmarking... patience, more info to follow), your tags combine with the 30 thousand (as of December 3, 2004) other del.icio.us users out there to generate a huge cloud of tags. So, if this chair that I'm sitting in was a webpage, and I truly did tag it with furniture, leather, and comfy, I could then click the tag comfy and I would enjoy a barrage of links to other objects (in this case webpages) that del.icio.us users have also tagged as comfy. Cross reference a few tags and, theoretically, I should be left with a comprehensive listing of user tagged webpages that are completely relevant to my query.
Let's jump back for a moment. Remember our frustration with Blogger and their refusal to include categories within their service? Well, this whole tag thing
solves provides a viable, and in many ways, more appropriate solution to the lack of categories provided by Blogger. This post, tagged with blogging, technology, and sambot, is now linked (via del.icio.us) to every other post that I have written tagged with any of those tags! So, clicking on blogging brings up all of my posts concerning blogging. Add technology to that query, and you'll find all of the posts that I have tagged with both blogging and technology. But wait, there's more! Remove from that query, the stipulation that all tags must have been entered by me, and you'll get every webpage that has ever been tagged by any del.icio.us user with the tags blogging and technology. My posts will be within that vast list. I am now a functioning part of what the web considers blogging and technology. I'm connected. I am a recognized, categorized, and active component of this amorphous information container known as the web. That's immense. That's raw. That's unfiltered and unrestrained super mega-awesomeness!
As a practical example of a tag integrated blog, please consider sam bot dot com. Notice that in the upper right corner of every page, there can be found a list of tags that I am apt to apply to any given post. Of course, I can apply as many and whatever tags that I want. However, those tags represent the most frequently reoccurring topics. That list may grow, and hopefully it will. (One thing to note at this point: I installed the tag feature on this blog just about a week ago. I did go back and tag the last few posts. Obviously, all future posts will be tagged. Past posts... well, maybe I'll tag some of the more noteworthy entries. We'll see...)
When you click a tag, you are automagically transported to the del.icio.us page that houses all of my posts (along with any other items) sporting that tag. From there, you can click a link from the list and zap back to sambot and enjoy the post you clicked on! However, that's not all you can do. When visiting a specific tag's del.icio.us page, you can choose to subscribe to that tag's RSS feed... just like those elitist, rat bastards... er... what I mean is, those swell bloggers who employ categories within their blogs. Um... moving on.
There are a fistful of ways to start tagging your blog. As stated, sam bot dot com is using del.icio.us... it's simple, clean, widely-used, and free (another similar option might be to use Technorati... not what I am looking for, but good luck to you!). I am using a bookmarklet (which can be found here) that automatically inserts the necessary code into my blogger entry as I'm posting. After I post, I simply tag my post's page with the appropriate tags in del.icio.us. That's all there is to it. Well, that's all there is to my half-assed version anyway. Hey, it gets the job done.
Clearly, I am a proponent of the tag system. However, the most intriguing, and quite possibly the most backwards bit about the tag revolution, is the necessary level of human involvement found therein. In an online culture such as this, which we exuberantly inhabit, the human touch is oft disregarded as an antiquated ideal... especially concerning new technologies. Conversely, tagging's success is wholly dependent on that level of human involvement. Back to the chair example: If a computer were to attempt to tag this chair, it might be able to hit "furniture" and "leather." But what about "comfy?" No way. A computer has no concept of comfort. It is this necessary human ingredient that enables tags to break the boundaries of the technology of which it is so highly integrated. The potential power of tags as an organizational method is fully dependent on this human component.
Tagging. It's the wave of the future. Ride that wave, baby! Ride it all the way to shore! Or something... I don't know. I've never surfed a day in my life.
Would you like to know more?
del.icio.us - Learn more about del.icio.us' awesomeness
flickr - taggable, online photo management and sharing application
FreshBlog - 3 ways to use del.icio.us for categories in blogger
beelerspace - Us.ef.ul, A beginner's guide to The Next Big Thing
Quick Online Tips - Absolutely Del.icio.us - Complete Tool Collection
Lorelle on WordPress - Categories versus Tags - What's the Difference and Which One?
Wikepedia - Learn about tags (see also: taxonomy)
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Friday, November 04, 2005
Posted by Sam at 3:08 AM | tags: audio, dark
Graduate school, shmaduate school... I've learned everything I'll ever need to know from Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt. Really. Watch this stunning video clip (shot by yours truly, at The Palladium in Worcester, MA on 10/30/05), as the audience and I learn some crucial life skills... death metal style!
Thanks Opeth. You've saved me a lot of money in college loans!
Click here to watch the clip (right-click to download).
UPDATE 1: Some Windows users are reporting problems viewing the file. If you are among them, simply download the latest version of Quicktime. But, for those of you reluctant to install Apple software, I have encoded a larger-file-size, crappier-looking, yet PeeCee-friendly .avi for your perusal. Click here to give it a go. Enjoy!
UPDATE 2: From an anonymous commenter, "To listen to my interview with Opeth's Peter Lindgren, done the night of this show, listen to my radio show, Black Night Meditations on Tuesday the 8th. http://220.127.116.11:8004/." More information about the show and the station can be found at the Portsmith Community Radio site. The show starts at 10 p.m. Can't wait!
UPDATE 3: Opeth is scheduled to guest on tomorrow's Headbanger's Ball (MTV2, 10 p.m.). Hmmm... it would be really swell if some awesome individual DVRed this show and posted a link to the download (or Torrent) in the comments section of this post. That would be simply spectacular...
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