It's Just this Little Chromium Switch Here

Weblogging and commentary by Chip Rosenthal

Growing up in No Reading

No Reading street sign(Today is the Day of Giving for the Holidailies Charity Project. Please consider showing your support for Holidailies or my site by making a small donation ($12 suggested) to First Book, an organization that provides books to children in low-income families.)

I'm a big advocate of literacy, which is odd considering how little reading I do these days.

Well, that's not really correct. I actually do a lot of reading. It's just that my reading tends to be either online or technical books. I don't seem to do much recreational or non-technical book reading.

As a child I was much more of an avid reader. I remember the old public library in the town square. The entire bottom floor was children's books. My mother used to take me regularly. During the summer, I would always join the reading club, and I'd fill my reading card without fail.

My Favorite Linux Distro

Today's Holidailies writing prompt is, "What is your favorite Linux distribution?" Seeing that I'm the person who contributed that prompt (albeit kind of in jest) I suppose I should answer it.

I don't have just one favorite Linux distribution. My favorite depends on the application.

For desktop systems, I am using the Kubuntu Linux distribution. It's a variant of the widely used Ubuntu Linux distribution. I like the Ubuntu family of distributions because of the robust development activity and the large number of applications available. I'm using Kubuntu on my main workstation chinacat, my laptop hepcat, and my living room media computer coldsnap. It's a good fit for all those situations.

Holidailies Charity Project: First Book

First Book logoWe are in our final week of Holidailies 2007.

Earlier in the month, I posted an announcement about the Holidailies Charity Project. I explained how Jette and I saw this as an opportunity for the online writing community to come together and act in a small but coordinated way to do some good. I invited your response to and comments on the idea.

Many Holidailies participants offered support and excellent ideas. Jette posted a summary of the responses.

The Proposal

Based on the comments offered, Jette and I propose First Book as the designated recipient for the Holidailies Charity Project 2007.

Rate Link Patch

I mentioned last week that I added a "rate this post" feature to my blog using the Drupal fivestar module.

There is a serious usability issue with this module. If you don't show the rating widget on the article teaser then visitors probably won't know there is a rating feature, and so there may not be a lot of rating activity. (The teaser is the first few paragraphs of the entry, displayed on the blog page.)

Comments work similarly to ratings. You have to click through to the full article to leave a comment, just as you do a rating. This, however, doesn't present the same problem as article ratings. First, visitors tend to know that if a blog supports comments, you have to click through to the full article to access the comments. Article ratings aren't a common feature, so visitors don't expect them.

Merry Whatever-It-Is

I don't celebrate Christmas. My relationship to Christmas is somewhat akin to my relationship with Canadian Independence Day. They are perfectly fine holidays and I totally support their celebration. But they aren't my holidays. Please don't ask me to participate. I'll just observe respectfully from a distance.

In years past, I quietly spent the holiday season working on personal projects. While the rest of the world was busy with its holiday rituals, I had a rare opportunity to carve out a week or two for work on some new software or house project or something.

Things changed a couple years back when started dating my now-wife. She does observe Christmas and it's important to her. In years past, she's traveled back to be with her family, sometimes taking me along, other times leaving me in Austin to work on my projects. Even when I traveled with her I didn't really have to observe the holiday. I just tagged along and acted the gracious guest while others celebrated.

This year it's different. For the first time, we decided to spend our holiday season together alone. I couldn't do nothing, for that would be denying my wife her holiday, which was important to her.

Northcross Wal-Mart gets the Go-Ahead

Responsible Growth for Northcross (RG4N) logoFor the past year, I've been working with a group called Responsible Growth for Northcross (RG4N), trying to block the development of a huge, two story Wal-Mart supercenter (and adjacent three story parking garage) in my neighborhood. Back over a year ago, the City quietly gave site plan approval without any public hearings. RG4N sued the City and the developer over that approval, citing four problems with the process and asking the judge to throw out the site plan approval. The case was heard back in November.

Last Friday, the judge returned her decision, and it was pretty devastating. She ruled against RG4N on every one of the four claims.

Her decision spoke mostly about the "garden center" issue. The RG4N claim was that an outdoor garden center was a so-called accessory use not permitted by the site zoning, and there should have been a public hearing to allow the variance.

Trail of Grief

Trail of Lights, Zilker Park, AustinI've been in Austin for eighteen years. I've passed up the annual Trail of Lights festival seventeen times. Last night I broke that record, and I'm kind of sorry I did.

It certainly is as big and as beautiful as everybody says—maybe more so. The problem is that it's also just as crowded as everybody says—maybe more so. So, rather than being a relaxed stroll in the park, taking in all the wonderful sights, it feels to me more like a mile long death march—one where you are constantly being rolled over by baby carriages and people too busy texting to watch where they are going.

I give a lot of credit to Cap Metro and PARD for managing the huge crowds as well as they do.

Thanksgiving on the Beach

photo of Jette and I at Nubble Lighthouse, York Beach, MaineAs we approach the December holiday season, it seemed like a good time to post a photo from the holiday last month. Jette and I did a four state tour of New England over the Thanksgiving holiday.

This photograph was taken at the Nubble Lighthouse in York Beach, Maine. The beach is a tourist town. It has an oceanside boardwalk. Its condos and cottages are filled during the summer by visitors from nearby New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

At this time of the year, the town is mostly deserted. When we went to the blues bar or Chinese restaurant, the only places open on the boardwalk at that time, it seemed like the sparse crowd was all locals.

We were in York Beach for a couple of quiet days. No phone, no cable, no Internet. We did have a couple of DVDs we could watch at night, but it was mostly a time of enforced quiet, which was nice.

Rate this Post

Thanks to Holidailies, I've been blogging a lot lately. I think I've had some pretty good posts. Unfortunately, I think those posts are getting harder for people to find, given the overall amount of posting activity.

I thought it might be nice to highlight some of the more interesting posts. One approach would be for me to flag the posts that I thought deserved attention. Another is to let my readers decide which posts are more interesting.

Since I recently moved to the Drupal content management system, it's possible for me to add new functions to the site such as content rating. So, the other day I added the fivestar module so visitors could rate my blog posts. Then, I setup a custom view of the most popular blog posts.

Nintendo Spam

The following message dropped into my mailbox earlier today:

To: www [at] unicom [dot] com
From: Nintendo <nintendo [at] nintendo-news [dot] com>
Subject: Score Big this Holiday Season with Great Games for Wii and Nintendo DS!
Reply-To: Nintendo <nintendo [dot] RDEIA [dot] 28048 [at] nintendo-news [dot] com>

Click here to view this message in living color:
http://view.ed4.net/v/...

To ensure ongoing optimal receipt of these communications,
please add our 'From' address (nintendo [at] nintendo-news [dot] com)
to your Address Book. Thank You.

************************************************************

HOLIDAY NEWSLETTER
DECEMBER 2007
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It's amazing that in this day and age, major companies like Nintendo still haven't gotten the clue that spam is bad.