Archive: Posts about About This Site
April 18th, 2011, 5 Comments »
You’re on the gravel road now. And so it seemed like a good time to write and thank you for our relationship over the past decade or so. Though we see each other from time to time in real life, we’ve mostly talked through the mediums of our blogs. A couple of years ago I checked, and at the time you were the most frequent commenter on this site. That’s surely still the case.
One of the reasons I started writing on this site was to talk about ideas. Was that also the case for PenMachine.com? I suspect so. I have so enjoyed our online conversation and debate. It’s been respectful, vigorous and thought-provoking. Those exchanges are the thing I’ll miss most when you, far too soon, step into the clearing at the end of the road.
So many others have said it, but I’ve admired the clarity and bravery with which you’ve faced these terminal travails. May these last weeks or months be as comfortable and bright as they can be. And, in your passing, may you be surrounded by friends, family and sunlight.
5 Comments »
February 27th, 2011, 10 Comments »
The other day I had a meeting with a professional person, a freelancer who worked in an industry tangentially connected to the Web. We organized the meeting via email, and I noticed with dismay that he had a Compuserve email address, as in Wayne.Gretzky@compuserve.com. This an old-school American internet service provider–a Canadian equivalent might be Shaw or Uniserve.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’m an email snob. When I get an email from a self-employed professional and it comes from Gmail, Hotmail and the like, and not their own domain, I get a little judgey.
It suggests to me, in a small way, that the person isn’t really serious about marketing their own business.
I asked around amongst my web-savvy friends, and they all confessed to a similar bias. Call it snobbery, call it elitist–there’s at least a hint of the business card scene from American Psycho here–but it seems to be a widely-held opinion, at least among webophiles.
On occasion, I give talks at universities and colleges, and participate in informational interviews. One of the pieces of advice I give to all students, wherever they intend to work, is to establish some kind of web presence for themselves. You are, after all, what the Internet says you are, so it’s best to own a piece of that presence. I just read Gina Trapani’s post about the importance of a ‘nameplate site’.
Differentiate yourself from the pack
So why don’t freelancers get their own domain for their email accounts?
- They don’t consider having a generic email address an issue.
- They’re aware of this perception, and they don’t care.
- They don’t know how cheap and easy it is to set up your own email (and web) domain.
If you wish to be self-employed and work full-time (as opposed to a hobbyist or part-time position) in 2011, you need a simple website and a branded email address. Not only does it look to us web snobs that you’re serious about what you’re doing, but it will also differentiate you from a bunch of freelancers who haven’t taken these steps.
I randomly happened upon Victoria Bushnell’s website. She’s apparently a freelance writer and editor, and she’s got a simple, good-looking website. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about it, and it doesn’t have to be updated often, but it certainly exudes professionalism.
The retort to my advice is usually “but I get lots of work with no website and my plain old Gmail account”. That’s all well and good–I forget to bring business cards to events sometimes, and I still may get work out of them. However, are you getting the best possible work you could? If not, then there’s room for improvement, and a branded email address and simple website seems like low-hanging fruit.
Three steps and you’re done
So, how do you get started?
- Register your preferred domain. I use NameCheap. Pick something simple, like your full name, or your company name.
- Set up your email using Google Apps for Domains, which enables you to use Gmail with @yourdomain.com. Here are detailed instructions on how to do that.
- Create a simple website. I’d recommend using WordPress.com, and then connecting your domain with your new site. In fact, you may just wish to start with WordPress.com by registering your domain there.
10 Comments »
January 17th, 2011, 17 Comments »
For the year of 2011, I’m living Canadian.
For 12 months, I will only buy Canadian products, eat Canadian food and consume Canadian media. I’m documenting my progress through this website, and hope to publish a book about my project in 2012.
Why am I doing this? From the website’s page of rarely-asked questions:
My reasons are three-fold.
- It’s a way to trick myself into being more thoughtful about what I consume. Have you ever tried manually tracking every single expense you incur for a month or two? You become hyper-aware of your spending. This project works the same way. And maybe I can inspire a few others to think about how they consume.
- I’m curious, and I like research. I hope that this living Canadian vein is a deep vein to tap.
- I’m a bit of a patriot.
Also, I’ve always wanted to try one of those stunt journalism projects, like No Impact Man or The Year of Living Biblically.
It should be fun. As per this post, I’m adding a category of Canadian products and services each month, so the effect is cumulative. Things are pretty easy now–month #1 is ‘household goods’, but they’re going to be weird and uncomfortable in six or eight months.
A side effect of One Year, One Canadian is that I’ll be writing fewer posts for this site. I’ll be writing about a lot of the same sort of random stuff over there, so I hope you’ll find some of that engaging. I won’t be abandoning this site for the year, but I will be dialing down the post frequency.
Here’s the 12-step program for my project. Which do you think will be the most difficult month for me?
17 Comments »
November 22nd, 2010, 5 Comments »
This weekend I saw Harry Potter 7a, the penultimate film in the Harry Potter movie franchise. It’s fair to characterize it as “Harry, Ron and Hermione carry the One Ring to the Cracks of Doom”. That is, there’s a great deal of walking, camping and soul-searching in the movie. I didn’t mind, as the three leading actors have matured into decent performers, and the movie’s quiet second act is kind of a pleasure. Plus, the fewer of those idiotic wand battles, the better.
I’ve read the books, and seen all the previous movies, but I had a couple of questions that arose out of watching this film:
- Are there no defensive spells? Every magical battle is choreographed as if the wizards are wielding Uzis. Surely somebody would’ve some kind of mystic riot shield or Kevlar.
- Besides flaying Harry, what is Valdemort’s end game? What does a world ruled by Voldemort look like?
- Why isn’t Harry more powerful? At one point in this movie, he’s confronted by some low-level ‘snatchers’, and flees like the French army. Doesn’t he have enough Jedi powers to take on some wand-wielding riffraff
5 Comments »
November 10th, 2010, Comments Off
I’m officially one-third of the way through my Novembeard. I gotta say that, thus far, I’m pretty unexcited about this whole beard thing. I’m already looking forward to the end of the month when I can shave it off and return to my clean-shaven ways.
In the meantime, though, prostate cancer research needs your cashola. Thus far I’ve raised $365, but that’s a good distance away from my goal of $1000.
So, I’m going to sweeten the offer. If you donate at least $25, you get your choice of a copy of our book (signed by the authors, with five copies available in English, Portuguese and, soonish, Polish) or one of these fancy t-shirts from Threadless. Click for a close-up and to examine my ten days of facial hair:
I have these t-shirts because I belong to Threadless’s t-shirt-a-month club. I’ve liked most of the shirts I received, but these two are a little too purple or a little too yellow for my liking. Both are size men’ large, and brand new.
Just make a donation, and then email me (darren at darrenbarefoot fullstop com) and tell me what you want. Thanks to everyone who has donated already, and please, won’t somebody think of the prostates?
UPDATE: The t-shirts are spoken for–thanks for the donations!
October 22nd, 2010, 2 Comments »
I spotted this today in the bakery section at Thrifty Foods in Victoria. It seemed fundamentally wrong. I can’t get behind the willy-nilly fusing of holiday traditions.
What’s next? Victoria Day egg nog? Remembrance Day pumpkins?
2 Comments »
August 29th, 2010, 5 Comments »
As you may have noticed, I (or rather my designer) have added Facebook Like and a Twitter, uh, Tweet button in the upper-right of each blog post. I really haven’t made any changes to this site’s design for a couple of years, so I thought it was high time to try these out.
If you’re so inclined, please try the buttons out. I’m going to post something tomorrow which will be, I think, more shareable than this boring note. If you love, hate or are indifferent to them, let me know.
5 Comments »
August 6th, 2010, 4 Comments »
I really liked the little thesis behind this Slate piece by Mark Oppenheimer. It’s the sort of thing I wish I’d thought of myself:
Remember when you could tell a lot about a guy by what cassette tapes–Journey or the Smiths?–littered the floor of his used station wagon? No more, because now the music of our lives is stored on MP3 players and iPhones. Our important papers live on hard drives or in the computing cloud, and DVDs are becoming obsolete, as we stream movies on demand. One by one, the meaningful artifacts that we used to scatter about our apartments and cars, disclosing our habits to any visitor, are vanishing from sight.
I’ve said it before, but in my youth, when somebody greeted somebody else wearing a, uh, Walkman, they’d frequently ask them “what are you listening to?” I regularly encounter people while wearing headphones, and nobody asks me that. Do they already know that my taste in music is abhorrent?
On a related note, I’ve always thought that big public art galleries would be exceptional places to meet members of the opposite sex. There always seem to be lots of people standing alone looking at the art. They’re likely to be interesting people because, hey, they’re in an art gallery. On top of all that, there are conversation starters hung all over the walls. In the context of Oppenheimer’s article, galleries are one of the remaining ‘public’ media consumption channels.
4 Comments »