Combs Spouts Off

"It's my opinion and it's very true."

Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Been down so long…

Posted by Richard on September 17, 2014

Pro Tip: If you haven’t posted anything to your blog in a long time, it might be a while before you or anybody else notices that it’s down.

Several days ago, after hearing about yet another big data breach, I went through a “damn, I haven’t changed passwords in quite a while” fret and started changing a bunch of them. Including the one for the MySQL database user associated with this blog.

Which leads to another Pro Tip: If you change the database user password, you’d better change the password in your wp-config.php file to match, or WordPress won’t be able to connect to its database.

Sigh …

(HT to David Aitken for giving me the heads-up.)

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Zombyboy is back

Posted by Richard on June 24, 2012

On Friday, the first new post in more than a year appeared on ResurrectionSong. It was Zombyboy announcing his new site, PolicyZ. Because he wanted to “do exactly the same thing somewhere else.”

Check it out, it’s a slick-looking site (very different from ResurrectionSong), and judging from the first few posts, he is doing the same thing: writing good posts about lots of different interesting stuff. Highly recommended.

Jed (via email; he’s still on hiatus) is already pushing for a celebratory Blogger Bash — in this case a Zomby Bash. Stay tuned.

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Hello again, world!

Posted by Richard on December 28, 2011

Welcome to the new home of Combs Spouts Off. Blog-City is shutting down at the end of the year, so I’ve relocated to my very own domain, hosted by DreamHost. Please update your bookmarks (you do have me bookmarked, don’t you?).

My friend Jed, who knows much more about such things than I do, is helping with the move. All the Combs Spouts Off archives are here — you can browse or search them using the widgets in the left sidebar. Other sidebar items, like my (long-neglected) blogroll, will be appearing in the next few days. The comments haven’t been successfully moved yet, and I’m not sure they can be.

In my waning weeks at Blog-City, I posted nothing. I won’t bore you with a lengthy explanation of the reasons (excuses) for that, but rest assured that I’ll be spouting off again in my new home. I hope you’ll visit from time to time — and toss me a comment or two when you can. If the comments on old posts can’t be recovered, I guess I need to start accumulating some new ones. 🙂

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Text is better than video

Posted by Richard on July 12, 2010

Heartless Libertarian (who recently returned from a one-year deployment to Afghanistan; welcome back, man!) wondered if he was alone in this:

I'm sorry, but I hate video blogs.

No offense to the fine folks at PJTV, but please, if you've got something to say, use the keyboard and write it out. I can read faster than you can talk (not to mention I can read it at work without attracting attention) and my mind won't wander off nearly as quickly from the written word.

Please…less v-logging, more blogging.

I'll second that. Yes, there are some things for which video is better than text. And yes, I've enjoyed some of the stuff people like Steve Green and Bill Whittle have done on PJTV. But that said, I'm a text guy — which makes me a Neanderthal, I suppose (heck, I'm old enough to be a Neanderthal).

Video is better at holding my attention than audio alone (sorry, folks, but I'm just not ever going to download and listen to those podcasts), assuming it's well done (and yes, the PJTV stuff is usually very well done). But for most news and information material, I'd prefer to see it in print. Or see the video and also have access to a transcript (yes, I realize that's a lot of additional work).

For one thing, print is much easier to excerpt for a blog post or an email to friends. With video, you end up saying things like, "Hey, David, check out . The first part won't interest you, but the part from 6:41 to 8:54 is relevant to what we were talking about yesterday." Lame. Awkward. And more likely to be ignored by David.

For another, I'd much rather reread a paragraph of text, think about it, and reread it again than try to do the same by repeatedly backing up and replaying portions of a video. It's also easier to compare a piece of text to another piece of text. 

Video has certain advantages, given the right material and presenter. You get nuances and shades of meaning that you just can't get from written material alone. And of course, video is the only way to present things like "We Con the World." 

But if your video is just some talking head reading a script, how about instead of the video, or in addition to the video, you post the script?

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Blog may be down for a few hours

Posted by Richard on September 12, 2009

Blog-City is going to do some database maintenance, and they said to "expect some down time during 9am – 1pm on Sunday 13th September." They didn't specify a time zone (they're in Scotland), but I'm guessing it's UTC (or what we old fogeys still think of as Greenwich Mean Time), which is 6 hours ahead of Mountain Daylight Time. So it may all be over by the time most of us get up. 

But if you're unable to read this post, that may be the reason. 🙂

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FreeColorado.com wins top Sam Adams award

Posted by Richard on April 7, 2009

Ari Armstrong's FreeColorado.com has won the highest honor in this year's Samuel Adams Alliance Sammie Awards competition, the "Modern-Day Sam Adams Award." Armstrong's award, according to the Sam Adams Alliance, is significant and noteworthy:

Armstrong wins the $10,000 prize for his relentless—and ubiquitous—defense of free markets and individual liberty in the state of Colorado. He is author of FreeColorado.com and a columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press. In the last year, Ari’s work has been published in the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post Online, and featured on numerous radio and television news programs. 

According to FreeColorado.com, the Sammie Awards will be presented later this month by luminaries of the pro-freedom movement: 

Armstrong will receive his "Golden Sammie" April 18 in Chicago. Presenting the awards will be Michelle Malkin, Stephen Moore, John Fund, Jonathan Hoenig, Mary Katharine, and Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher.

In his entry, Armstrong summarized his "food stamp" diets of 2007 and 2009, his fight against political correctness (as with the "bitch slap" controversy of 2008), his work on health policy, and various other projects.

Armstrong said, "I congratulate the other winners and look forward to learning from their example. I thank the Sam Adams Alliance for recognizing the important work for liberty done at the regional level. Finally, I thank my fellow liberty activists in Colorado — especially my wife — for teaching me so much about liberty, individual rights, and free markets, and how to advocate those values through intellectual activism. This award is for you, my brothers and sisters in liberty."

Armstrong founded FreeColorado.com (then co-freedom.com) in late 1998, before the term "blog" had been coined.

My heartiest congratulations to Ari, a most deserving recipient of this award. He is an intelligent, articulate, and passionate advocate of the freedom philosophy, and I'm proud to have worked with him in the Libertarian Party of Colorado in the years that I was active in that organization. Bravo, Ari!

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Tardy reminder

Posted by Richard on January 14, 2009

On last Friday's post about the Sunday rally in support of Israel, I added a "Remind Me" button (removed when I updated after the rally) which theoretically enabled readers to get an email reminder of the event from YourLi.st. Either I screwed up when I created it or there's a problem with their service — I got my email reminder for Sunday's rally on Tuesday afternoon.

If you tried the reminder service and got the same less-than-useful result, I'm sorry. OTOH, maybe it worked properly for you. Either way, if you used it, please let me know the result (in the comments or by email to rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom). Maybe it was just me.

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Blog typing

Posted by Richard on December 2, 2008

Are you familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Jungian psychological types on which this personality inventory is based? I took the MBTI back in the mid-80s, and I've been looking for my results — with no luck, I'm afraid.

I'm pretty certain my outcome was INTP. But I recall being right on the borderline of one axis — probably P-J, but maybe S-N. Myers-Briggs theory, however, says you clearly prefer one or the other, and a borderline result represents an ambiguous score, not ambiguity on your part. IIRC, the counselor who administered and interpreted my MBTI (a co-worker who knew me) was quite certain I was really an INTP (if I remember that correctly).

So why did I search for my results and bring this up? Well, someone recently pointed me to an interesting web site called Typealyzer. You enter a blog URL, and they scan the site and determine the type of the blogger. According to Typealyzer, Combs Spouts Off is an ISTP blog. 

Interesting stuff. I went through a bunch of the non-group blogs (for obvious reasons) in my blogroll, and I found several ISTPs and even more INTPs and INTJs. There were only a couple of Fs and almost no E-anythings.

A lot of bloggers are introverted thinkers — who would have guessed? 🙂

Try plugging in a few of your favorites.

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Words to live by

Posted by Richard on November 14, 2008

From Instapundit:

This is the blogosphere — if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong!

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The ecosystem is a mess

Posted by Richard on September 1, 2008

Those of you who pay attention to my TTLB Ecosystem ranking (see right sidebar) may be wondering how I went from a Large Mammal to a Wiggly Worm in such short order. Well, the ecosystem rankings have gone all to hell. The rankings are currently filled with dead sites you've never heard of and 403 Forbidden pages from Blogspot. I searched for my blog and couldn't find it. I searched for Instapundit and couldn't find that either!

I don't know if this is a temporary problem, or if N.Z. Bear has simply abandoned the project, or if it's something else. If anyone has a clue, let me know.

UPDATE (9/2): Well, the ecosystem seems to be back to normal, so I suppose it was just a temporary problem with the MySQL database as Jed suggested in the comments. But the Ubercarnival and Hot Topics still aren't working, which is a shame.

Anyway, the dead blogs and 403s are gone, the bigwigs like Daily Kos, Instapundit, and Michelle Malkin are back where they belong, and I'm back to my "rightful" place in the lower half of the Large Mammals contingent. I wouldn't mind going back to Maurauding Marsupial, really, because I like this picture of one of those: 

Tasmanian devil

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Baldilocks vs. Obama

Posted by Richard on August 21, 2008

Baldilocks has been in my blogroll since early in the history of this blog. I followed a link to a post of hers, liked it, and kept reading. I haven't dropped by lately (there are just too many good blogs to keep up with), which is a shame. I'd forgotten Juliette's military background regarding Russia, so I missed some good posts (like this and this and this and this) about the Georgia situation. Including this valuable observation: it's about tribalism.

What brought my attention back to Baldilocks was an Instapundit link to a fascinating LA Weekly story about her. I knew she was of Kenyan heritage, but I had no idea of the remarkable parallels with Barack Obama. You simply must read that story

One of the points of the story is how Juliette has decided to fulfill the promise that Obama broke to the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School in the village where his father was born. I was moved by the story and especially by the school's disappointment after Obama's visit and promises.

Juliette has started a non-profit organization to provide the support that Obama promised, but failed to provide. But she hasn't exactly made it easy to find the site for the non-profit. (Juliette, would it be that difficult to put a link in your sidebar??) If, like me, you're motivated by the LA Weekly story to contribute, go here. And thanks for helping!

UPDATE: The link is there now, in the left sidebar under "Special Features." Go and contribute! 

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Are AP stories warrantied?

Posted by Richard on June 20, 2008

If you read any blogs at all, you've probably heard about the AP copyright kerfuffle. First, the AP went after the left-wing blog Drudge Retort for posting excerpts (33 to 79 words) from AP stories. Now, they want you to pay for permission to post excerpts, and the fee schedule starts at 5-25 words ($12.50). Apparently, the concept of fair use is utterly unknown to them.

They have a whole menu (with submenus!) of usage categories and fees. To check it out, go to this interesting story (which I don't dare tell you about because I might use the same words they do) and click Reuse Options above the headline (which I can't quote because it's more than five words). Select Post on Your Website… (that's four words; can't tell you the other two), and on the submenu, scroll down and select Excerpt for Web Use (whew, only four words in that one). Hey, they offer educational and non-profit discounts!

It must be nice being a really big-time blogger who rates media attention, because you can play turnabout. With a little effort, Michelle Malkin found two instances in the last two months when an AP story quoted something from her blog. Since their stories are published in many places, she's calculated (using their fee schedule) that they owe her and one of her commenters $132,125.

Allahpundit wondered:

What’s their game here, seriously? They’re turning themselves into laughingstocks and blogosphere pariahs while drumming up business for Reuters and AFP. If they’re trying to establish some sort of bright line beyond which excerpts can’t go without triggering infringement, then why not just lay down some reasonable-ish policy — two paragraphs maximum, say — and wait for someone to violate it, then sue to see if a court will enforce it? (Suspected answer: Because the court probably won’t and the AP knows it.) I’m mystified by their thought process.

But commenter Tantor had some really great questions about the AP policy:

If you buy words from a story by AP that turns out to be of defective quality or enemy propaganda presented as truth, what is their refund policy? Do you get your money back if the story is fake? Or maybe free words from some story in the future that is true? How long do you have to wait for a true story to appear?

What about fake photos? If AP foists some photoshopped photos from some terrorist sympathizer on you as absolutely true, do you get your money back?

I’ve got a lot of questions about this.

I believe that in many states there is an implied warranty of "fitness and merchantability" even if the seller doesn't offer an explicit warranty. I hope the people who find that they've bought "reuse" rights to one of the AP's many fake news stories will look into that.

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For some reason, Google likes me

Posted by Richard on May 23, 2008

I don't spend a lot of time looking at my site stats, but I know I get a lot of hits from Google searches. Occasionally, I take a quick look and see if there are any interesting ones, and I've always been pleasantly surprised by my Google rankings. But tonight, I spotted one that really blew me away.

A visitor arrived via a Google search for one of the most memorable quotes of the last several decades: "Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Out of curiosity, I clicked the referring Google link. I was astonished. My post commemorating the 20th anniversary of Reagan's Brandenburg Gate speech is ranked number 5 — after wikipedia.org, reaganfoundation.org, usgovinfo.about.com, and quotedb.com.

Wow. It's hard to believe I deserve that high a ranking, but thank you, Google!

(BTW, if you're old enough to remember the Soviet bloc, go read the speech excerpt I posted and refresh your memory. See if it doesn't bring tears to your eyes. You youngsters too — if you know even a bit about the geopolitical situation at the time, I think you'll appreciate what a remarkable and significant speech that was. Pay attention especially to the part about "the practical importance of liberty." Damn, I miss Reagan.)

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Blogging with a grammatical focus

Posted by Richard on April 16, 2008

My blog would undoubtedly attract more readers if (besides posting more regularly and frequently) I were more focused — posting on one topic, not 20 or 30. But that's just not me. I may go through periods of focus on a topic, but eventually my attention — and therefore my posting — turns elsewhere.

I recently encountered a few examples of truly focused blogging, however. As something of a language maven with a prescriptivist bent, I admire the single-minded dedication these bloggers exhibit:

Typo Hunt Across America — The chronicles of a road trip across America by the Typo Eradication Advancement League (TEAL), making this a better world one typo correction at a time.

The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks — This one's even more narrowly focused. No broad grammar focus, no quest to make corrections. Just pictures of "signs" with "inappropriate" quotation marks and "snarky" comments about "them."

Apostrophe Abuse — Another blog dedicated to a single punctuation mark. Apparently one of several that rail against the greengrocer's apostrophe and other inappropriate sprinklings of apostrophes.

If you're into writing and language, and especially if you're the nitpicky compulsive editor type, you'll get a kick out of these.

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Samsphere Colorado

Posted by Richard on April 11, 2008

Are you a Colorado blogger? Have you ever thought about blogging, but don't know how to get started? Would you like to know more about blogging and get some advice from successful, liberty-oriented Colorado bloggers? On Saturday, April 19, the Sam Adams Alliance is presenting Samsphere Colorado, an all-day event at the Adam's Mark Hotel in downtown Denver.

Samsphere is a new media forum, hosted by the Sam Adams Alliance, where bloggers and e-activists from across the country can gather together to network and share ideas.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Heavy-weight (and awesomely weird) national blogger Jeff Goldstein
  • Independence Institute President Jon Caldara (one of the smartest and funniest people on the Colorado political scene)
  • The Denver Post's David Harsanyi (whose columns are the best thing about that rag, and whose new book, The Nanny State, I'm really looking forward to reading)

With a lineup like that, Samsphere Colorado is worth far more than the price of admission — which is only $20 (cash or check at the door), including lunch.

If you're a blogger, or remotely interested in blogging, you won't want to miss the Blogging 101 presentation and other blogging workshops, either. Afterward, at the Happy Hour, you can hobnob with big-time bloggers (and small fry like me) and take bets on whether Goldstein remains sober and civil. 😉

Click the banner in the left sidebar (or the link above) to sign up now! There's only room for about 50 attendees, so reserve your place now. And look for me at the event — I'll be the bearded curmudgeon.

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