Monthly Archives: January 2006

Jon + Josh = Progress

Two ex-AnyDevice folks now moving in two different directions, but hey, they still know me! And now you can get to know them too. That’s right, I’m pleased to announce two new interviews: Josh Marinacci and Jon Gordon. Sidney, if you’re out there, just a little more patience please – now that these two interviews are done I can focus on some questions for you.

James Kochalka Interview is online!

Well James set a world record with the fastest reply ever to my interview questions. I just finished formatting the page and have uploaded it to the Books By People I Know site. I also received interview answers from Jon Gordon and Josh Marinacci, but I’m too tired to put them up tonight. Okay, I was a bit of a slacker today and got a real late start, but it was sooo nice outside that I had to get some fresh air. I am completely unrepentant in this matter.

So watch for Josh and Jon to join the ranks of the interviewed, plus I’m working up questions for Sidney. After that I’m going to focus more on getting the Books by People You know section put together. I’m still auditioning tools, but I may just have to get un-rusty, roll up my sleeves and write some code myself! Ack!

Rising through the ranks

Thanks to all of my friends who voted, the BbPIK site is now number 70 on the PixelsUSA site! You can still vote if you have the itch. Who knows? Maybe we can make the top ten!

In other news Josh has given me a heads-up that he is almost done with the interview questions so with any luck I might be able to post interview number 2 this weekend.

Finally – I just sent my interview questions to James Kochalka along with one special guest question (pretty cool huh?). I’ll be excited to get his replies. I’m hoping he’ll draw something for us!

Shameless Self-Promotion

So apparently because I bought one square on the Million Dollar Home Page the Books by People I Know web site is also listed on a site called PixelsUSA. That site is basically a popularity contest for links from the Million Dollar Home Page where visitors can vote for their favorite from amongst the many of us who contributed to Mr. Tew’s success. As of this writing, the BbPIK site is ranked number 159, which puts it on page two of the listing. I think it can make page one, but it is going to take more votes. Soooo… if you wouldn’t mind, and you enjoy this site, please vote for it at http://www.pixelsusa.com/www.booksbypeopleiknow.com

Thanks!!!

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Did you see that? Well how could you? It’s all happening behind the scenes. Yes, I’m working on more additions and improvements to this site, but, unfortunately, none of them are ready to be posted yet. I’ve now sent interview questions to Josh Marinacci and to Jon Gordon and I’ve gotten another commitment for an interview from Sidney Pike!

Sidney has also sent me some extra goodies — press info, reviews, etc. So I’ll be working to add those items to the site over the next few days.

But wait there is more! At least there is more coming. I’ve been looking into tools to organize a “Books By People YOU know” section for the site. I’ve spent some time over the weekend fiddling with Pligg, an open-source web application based on Digg. If you are not familiar with Digg you should really check it out, it is habit-forming. So far I haven’t been able to get Pligg to work properly, and I suspect that it is overkill for what I have in mind, but I am going to keep noodling with it for a while longer before I decide. If anyone out there has set it up successfully in a subdirectory instead of a root domain I’d love to know how you did it! :)

I’m also poking around Sourceforge a lot lately looking for different web goodies to see if any inspire me to add something interesting. There are definitely a lot of cool options for bulletin boards and content management systems. Hopefully you can stand being patient a bit longer while I do my R and D (that’s research and dawdling) — hopefully I’ll come up with some additions that are worth the wait.

Glitches

Ack! My Associate-o-matic trial expired! As I’ve mentioned before, I used a product from Associate-o-matic to build my store. It is a an engine written in PHP that manages the interaction with Amazon’s web service. It was dead-simple to install and offers a whole lot of flexibility in the configuration. I really am very pleased with the results. Perhaps someday if this project gains some popularity or I need some really unique functionality, I may get ambitious and try to write my own wrappers for the web service, but for now this product is awesome! But I digress, the point of today’s post was that I had let my 30-day trial expire without upgrading. I’ve corrected that now, but I had at least a 24 hour gap where the store was unreachable. What is particularly annoying is that I think I actually had a little spike in traffic yesterday, ergo, ACK!

Slacking

I’m a little behind on this project. This entry is way overdue and I am still working on questions for more upcoming interviews. Little things like work are slowing me down a little, but truth be told I’ve been burning up a whole bunch of my cycles doing nothing but web surfing. You see part of my goal with this project is to try to get familiar with Web 2.0 tools, terminology, techniques and (gasp) culture. If I were really with-it I would call it Web-twenny like the folks at SilverOrange do. Of course I wouldn’t have known that hip little moniker if I hadn’t developed a serious jones in the last few weeks for a daily (okay hourly) fix of Digg.

It was while poking around Digg that I learned about Clouds, a way of displaying keywords as links where both the size of the font and the location on the page have signifigance i.e. a larger font on a keyword higher up on the page indicates a link that is both recent and popular. I was particularly pleased with myself when I surfed my way over to another new site TagWorld. This web-twenny site looks to be a blend of MySpace and Flickr, but why I was pleased with myself was that upon viewing the page I immediately recognized the subsection in the bottom center of the page as a cluster of Cloud links – if I hadn’t been slacking off skimming web sites I wouldn’t have understood that this wasn’t just a bit of random weirdness for the sake of some web designer’s idiosyncratic sense of style, but actually a very efficient way of organizing information for a quick digestible glance. The metaphor is like a dashboard that is also a control panel.

Now I realize that the web is lousy with Slashdotters and Diggers and MySpacers, etc. who think this stuff is old hat, but I’ve been playing around with wireless middleware and voicexml technology for the last few years and it almost feels like a whole bunch of new stuff snuck up on me while I was looking over there. That’s one of the great things about the web: you’ve got to watch it cause if you turn your back on it for a second a zillion new microcultures will spring up and subvert your expectations, or at least leave you wondering how come a million people know about this new site or that meme before you do, which is especially galling when you are the only one in your family who knows how to program the VCR. :)

Reading

It is fundamental – when one puts up a site about books there is no escaping it – one must do a little reading. Currently I’m reading Mother Wore a Helmet and other Tales of Lasterday a charming morsel of a book by my cousin Jonas. Basically it is a selection of memoirs from various stages of the author’s life. I’m in the home stretch now and it has been interesting to learn family tidbits that I never knew and to get a much more intimate portrait of a person that I’ve known all my life, but only from the very narrow vantage point of being the offspring of a cousin. From where I sit, these pages from my cousin’s life are like stepping into a time machine – experiences are sometimes quaint, sometimes strange, but the emotions, anxieties, and humor are all easily identified with — I just can’t imagine driving all around New England without an ATM card and a cell phone. Hurrah for progress! I guess.

One of my chores that I need to get to soon is to post ordering info for the book. It is not available from Amazon so orders will need to be done the old-fashioned way.

Jonas speaks!

I was too excited last night so I stayed up late and formatted the Q & A with Cousin Jonas! I like the way it turned out and I’m looking forward to adding an excerpt from his latest book.

These interviews are an interesting problem because the connecting thread between the authors is highly idiosyncratic (ie me). So the questions have to be very specifically targeted. I thought about coming up with a subset of questions that I could use with everybody like they do on “Inside the Actor’s Studio”, but I decided I’ll just wing it for now and see what I end up with after the first few are done.

Working on it

I have another interview commitment! James Kochalka said he would answer some questions. I’m trying to convince him to draw a little for the interview – keep your fingers crossed!

In other news my cousin Jonas has sent his answers back, so now the onus is on me to come up with a layout and link them to the BbPIK site. Also, I’ve scored some permission to pull content from a couple of blogs that are related to the site. Look for snippets from Joshua Marinacci’s blog and Kochalkaholic! Hopefully there will be more RSS content soon.