December 12, 2007

Warning

I just thought I'd point out that this blog is coming back to life soon.

Facebook, you were lovely, and perhaps having you as a place to put the total trivia which used to clog up this place will up the quality of my blogging. But the endless apps - and finally the bloody 'mohammed the bear is travelling' message - just did me in.

Enough.

I'm going to try and be more serious about being not that serious. And this is the place for me to start doing it again.

(I also lay the blame partly at the feet of bloody Ranchero, who when selling out rather lost the plot on upgrade and maintenance paths. I lost my install of MarsEdit during the sudden new hard disk incident a while back, and braving the web-based interface to MovableType has taken a while. And if I haven't visited your blog for a while - apologies - I lost NetNewsWire in the same crash.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2007

Not just there for the trivial things in life

Sorry, been a bit quiet here. Like everyone else, I have been totally immersimg myself in Facebook as a means of self-expression recently.

Particularly using the mobile version m.facebook.com, which I hugely recommend, it's even easier to put up slightly witty trivia about yourself - maintaining the illusion that your life is more intersting than it really is. Digital melodrama.

But while looking through my friends list, one status message stood out today:

[person x*] is in love with his wife.

And I thought, that's it. Simple stuff that matters. Substance and sincerity. We don't see enough of that on facebook. And perhaps we need to be reminded to save ourselves from our own worst tendencies.

* The anonymity's probably not really needed here, but just in case.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2007

All Gone A Bit Quiet

It's odd that, at a time when I'm spending most of my time thinking about the web, I have absolutely no time to look at the bloody thing. That's big projects for you.

I'm down to one blog I regularly read, a weekly look at flickr, and the rest of the non-work time goes on children, sleep and a tiny bit of piano practice - in that order.

I even doubt I'm going to get a chance to my Frost* remix this side of Christmas.

Still, thanks to all that ARPA planning, I'm sure the internet will still be here when I finally make it back. I'm just not sure who will own it by then.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2006

One Hobby at a Time

So that was the last piano lesson for the near future.

With our impending arrival (three weeks and counting) I'm not going to have time to do much piano practice, and I'm now old enough to realise that blagging your way through piano lessons where you've not done any work since last week is embarrassing for both of you. So no lessons until the new year...at the earliest.

However, as running through Rachmaninov preludes while a tiny person is trying to teach themselves how to sleep isn't going to be so wise, this does mean that my few spare moments might actually be spent in the coming-a-close-second hobby - pissing around on the net.

So look forward to slightly more regular updates here...

(And if any kind people can help me debug my perl blackberry email parser, that'll help too)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2006

Ta

Thanks to all of you who've updated your RSS feed URL to the new feedburner address. Much appreciated.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

I am a vain man...

So if you are getting this blog through RSS, any chance you can change your feed URL to

http://feeds.feedburner.com/BlatantOptimism

that would be lovely.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2006

Going with the flow

So once again I've had the email from pair.com, saying that due to excessive server load, they've had to turn off mt-tb.cgi, the bit of perl in movabletype that deals with trackbacks. The spam level had got to the point where it was hobbling the server.

And, you know, I don't think I'll be turning it back on again.

Stuff it.

So I'll clean up the >3K bits of spam to date, and then just concentrate on blogging rather than continually cleaning out this sodding database. Perhaps if you write something nice about something I've said - now I have the time to say it - you'd drop me an email. Like in the olden days.

(I once heard a spurious theory that the dinosaurs died out because they just couldn't be arsed any more. I know how they feel.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2006

Meow - posting from work blackberry - work continues

Sadly the blogberry is still ongoing.

My work exchange server sends the email as multipart mime, and tacks a whopping great legal disclaimer on the end.

None of which is handled by meow at the moment.

So, after some VERY crap Perl programming from me, expected behaviour should be resumed.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2006

Going a bit crazy with blogging interfaces now

Finally got round to 99% setting up meow, so I can finally blog by emailing from the blackberry. A cool bit of software, even if the installation is a bit too hardcore for someone like me. (One error just wouldn't go away, but I couldn't be bothered to look up the syntax difference between a hash so I could work out why an undef value was appearing. It's late, after all.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:43 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2006

Juxtaposition

Ah, how sweet it must have been for Euan to both link to a fab FT article about his work and to announce his departure from the beeb on the same day.

He'll be missed. And welcomed. Fingers crossed for you Euan!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2005

Thoroughly deserved

Huge congratulations to Euan, who has just won 'Information Professional Of The Year'.

As he was one of the primary catalysts for this very blog, I hope that didn't count against him...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

As Easy As Riding A...

I've been aware this time has to come sooner or later. I've known it's due for about a month. But now it's finally upon me. I am morally obliged to revive this blog, and even then I'm a few days late.

Over the last few months, I've been increasingly struck that this URL has become:

I'm sure there are plenty of people who'd argue that a blog is nobody's business buy my own, and I can update it as often as I'd like, but to be honest they don't come here that often any more.

It's not that I haven't wanted to, or lost faith in blogging per se, but Real Life has very very much got in the way, and there's been a fair bit going on that I've not been able to blog about. Some of it is work stuff that was confidential, even if quite interesting; some of it is work stuff that I wanted to talk about but knew it was too dull; other kind-of-at-home stuff I've had very very very strong opinions on, but it's technically Not My Business. (It involved the other half and her employer.)

So by the time all of that has been dealt with over the dinner table of an evening, there's not too much time left for the critical path of:

1) Turn on computer
2) Go and look at internet
3) Look at Flickr and see what friends have been up to
4) Look at Blogroll and see what friends are thinking about
5) Log in to movable type
6) Clear out comment/trackback spam
7) Find something new and interesting to talk about - preferably involving a link to something *somewhere* online
8) Post it

Normally I'll make it to about 3 or 4 and then the lure of playing the piano (or is it the stress of having a lesson where I've not done enough practice) will drag me away from the laptop and then to bed.

Even if I've specifically thought of something I want to talk about I tend to be so knackered I get distracted along the way.

Essentially, in purely digital terms, my relationship with The Internet has got less interesting. I don't visit it, and it doesn't visit me. Even not being the top Tom Dolan in Google any more didn't faze me that much. (He's got an olympic gold, he deserves it more anyway)

But a bunch of things have just changed, and so I'm kind of back.

Hello.

Can we just see how it goes please?

Anyway, thing number 1: My job has got much more interesting and I'm actually enjoying it for the first time since Milia back in February.
i) My new(ish) boss has stopped Trying To Be A Boss, because she's emigrating in Spring, and is much nicer for it. I'm doing far more now than I was before. Go figure.
ii) I've got a new business unit to set up from the scraps of some bits and bobs that don't quite belong anywhere else ('head of shit' as the late and wonderful Jon Lewin used to say). I LOVE doing this.
iii) I've got someone working for me on the big project who's bright and learning loads and has opinions and is taking enough work away for me to have some space to think once more

Thing number 2: I've started having lunchbreaks. Even if they're at my desk, time for me is just wonderful. Particularly with a nice fat internet connection. See 1,iii above.

Thing number 3: The high maintenance 'situation' now doesn't seem to need constant maintenance any more

So, I was kind of drifting back towards blogging anyway. But then something trully terrifying happened.

As of last week, I was suddenly in an anthology of blogging called '2005: blogged'. It's, like, a real book that's in print and that you can buy in the shops.

And ironically, for all my stressing about not having something deep and insightful to say, it was for a short throwaway piece with some whimsy and perhaps a bit of subtext.

Which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that I should stop being so worried about comparing myself to other bloggers (most of whom weren't in the anthology*) and just get on with being myself and posting any old nonsense.

So, with the exception of this long, egocentric and overdetailed post, let the waffling commence once more!

(And no, I'm not going to tell you which post, you will have to read the book or the archives for that)

Tom

* which is admittedly a selective list, not being in it doesn't mean you're not good and I'm not saying 'ner ner ner', just that I'm not beating *myself* up about it any more.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 18, 2005

"Each with its own very slow Flash site"

Yay. Starzine made it into Guardian Online

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2005

Hell it'll do.

More work on this later. At the moment this blog is a tool, not for creative self-expression and artistry. Perhaps mirroring my own life experiences.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Builders Are In

It's late at night. Or is it early in the morning. And I can't sleep through stress. Roll on end of July when all is done and dusted!

However this does mean that
(a) I've done some boring braindump things about the stress
(b) I've finally got round to looking at why the comments have stopped working on the blog since I did the upgrade.

For better or worse, they now are.

Big thanks to this article on elise.com which explained that you need to add the domain of your blog to your typekey setup, not the blog url or the MT app installation URL as the Typekey form would indicate.

Unfortunately, one side effect of this is that you have to completely strip down all your templates and start again when you upgrade from MT2 to MT3. Half-arsed measures just don't work.

So the blogroll, flickr links etc etc will be arriving over the next few days as I get time...I haven't forgotten you all. And like the design, it probably all needed an upgrade anyway.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 15, 2005

It had to be too good to be true...

I was quite impressed by MT-Blacklist and all the Typekey nonsense, and how it was protecting my blog so effectively. Sadly it turns out not to be the bed of roses I thought it was.

The reason I've not received any comment spam turns out to be because commenting doesn't work *at all* at the moment.

So apologies to the few that may have tried.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2005

Descender Retourner Arriver Partir

Hello.

There have been no posts here for ages. I've been a busy boy. And the little time I've had to myself and the laptop has been spent mopping up blogspam.

But as a result of a week off I've finally got round to stumping up for MovableType 3, installing it, and clearing out over a thousand bits of crap that were still on the list of things to do one day.

Things should be picking up around here soon, so hopefully you'll feel like leaving some comments. But all that newfangled TypeKey registration stuff will be in the way of you doing so.

Talking of newfangled, I'm going to be emailing various online chums and colleagues to find out what's been going on in the last year. I'll probably put the email up here too in case passers-by feel like leaving their thoughts...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 12, 2004

Blog Comment Spam Becomes an Epidemic

Like lots of people, I run Movable Type. Like lots of people who run Movable Type and at least one inbound link, I've also found it necessary to install mt-blacklist to keep the blogspam down to a sensible level.

OK, so it's a pain in the arse to have to do the clearout of a couple of hundred emails once a new one slips through the net, but at least I've got a tool to make the process relatively painless.

Until now.

Yesterday, I got an email from the monitoring system at the otherwise lovely pair.com saying that they'd turned off the mt-comments.cgi script on my server space because (and I paraphrase) it was hammering the servers into submission. I needed to check their AUP before I changed the privs back to 755.

However, the cumulative effect over the whole of pair has been huge. In order to check if there was anything I should do about it, over and above hoping another attack did the same, I searched on Google for "pair.com mt-comments.cgi". And back came page after page after page after page of blogs which are now indexed as having their comments not available. All pair.com Movable Type instances have been hit - cumulatively the blog spammers had added up to a massive Denial Of Service attack.

goodbyemt-comments.gif

I guess this means it's time to upgrade to MT3 and get typekey. (And yes, I did pay money for this one). At least the exchange rate is in my favour at the moment...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 16, 2004

A brewing conspiracy...

Is it me, or is Matt Jones slowly building momentum towards a full-on photo-based DOS attack on flickr?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 09, 2004

Hello there

A big welcome to MonkeyX to both the blogroll and place of work.

There's always the point where you stop being the person in your place of work who knows most about something - I am now no longer the person who knows most about blogs. Which is probably for the best given that I've barely ventured out into the wider web in the last six months...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 20, 2004

Responsibility by remote control

I'm not a big stats-watcher, not least because I don't ever get big stats. However, I'm caught in a strange mixture of troubled and proud as the powerpoint of "Shit I'm A Manager" has been slowly moving up my stats summary - and today broke 200 downloads.

If I'd done it for fame (and sadly the other two talks *were* proposed to show how damn clever I was - perhaps Dave et al spotted that) I'd be running round the house going "yessssssssss-ah!".

Instead I just sit here hoping it wasn't all bollocks and that I haven't sent everyone to their various dooms.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:15 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 02, 2004

I spy...

Rumblings and movement back over on Naomi's Blog

I have to admit I'm rather taken with the idea of the bookblog. I've occasionally wondered about taking the whole linklog/books/cds thing that is miked in among the left-hand nav and turning it into a set of SSI'd sub-blogs.

Of course, this was before MovableType announced their new pricing structure...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2004

Drawing the Line

After a fair bit of consideration, I think I'm probably not going to be going to the Loic Lemeur blog meetup thing.

There are some people I'd like to see, and some interesting people to meet, but

1) It'll mean I don't see Daisy awake this evening, and now she's sleeping through the night the window when she is awake and I am at home is tiny.
2) There will be other times, and it's not like I'm going to miss the world changing irrevocably if I'm not there.

It feels odd, after so many years of fighting to be at the centre of things, often if I didn't know why, to just let this go without having a compelling reason and having agonised about it for weeks. But fundamentally, I Just Don't Feel Like It.

(However, I must admit I am considering having a select pre-drinks at Century for a few chums if they're up for it)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 29, 2004

Too much f***ing perspective.

In the past couple of years, we've been spoon-fed the self-important aggrandisements of blogging as journalism, blogging as diaries, blogging as community, blogging as ; yet to my knowledge, there have never been articles on blogging as gardening, blogging as DIY, blogging as popular TV sitcom or blogging as high art.

Vaughan's off on (a very timely) one.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Garlic and Docs

Well, I hope to be having a night out this Saturday meeting Euan and Doc Searls in town.

(Hopefully it'll be a small gathering and we can decamp to Century for food. But I've gone and blogged it now. Damn.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

Yawn. Standard Blogging Crisis no 4.

I'm thinking of giving this up.

Or perhaps starting again.

I no longer know why this is, or what.

(Writing which may, of course, suddenly give me a new lease of life)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:31 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

March 30, 2004

Comments working again.

Way. And Yoo.

(For the few people that ever actually post comments here...)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2004

The Joy Slightly More Fettered After All...

As Piers has pointed out, the reason why I've now stopped getting comment spam is because MT-Blacklist has broken my comments system.

Arse.

Normal service will be resumed...at some stage.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 07, 2004

I think I need my borders

For the last little while, I've been waiting for The Real Story to start over on VanessaWithoutBorders.

Vanessa was at Banff back in '02 and was a self-proclaimed 'New York Hipster' who was trying to work out what it was all about - what she was going to do with herself as the novelty of noomeeja and countless burningman festivals wore thin.

And she's just arrived in Sierra Leone to try and make a difference and it sounds like she's had to hit the ground running...

There is no one here in Koidu, or in the country at large, who has been unaffected by the war. Almost everyone I meet has lost a parent, child, or spouse. Or they have walked for hundreds of miles in flight, often losing family along the way. One security guard told me in casual conversation, ďmy wife was slaughtered by the rebels. I donít have new wife because I donít want her to be bad to my small children.Ē In our own house in Freetown our houseman, Abu, walked all the way from to Koidu to Freetown, a total of over 200 miles, after the rebels came and burned his boutiques and house. He has gone from owning businesses to ironing our clothes and washing our dishes. But in todayís Sierra Leone, heís just thankful to find work. His story is here is a common one.

Vanessa - best of luck. I'm watching, as they say, this space.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2004

And they say the internet has no memory...

From Tim Ireland's 'Universal Church of the Interactive Network' public holidays page.

Day of Incomplete Packages
(29th October)
Celebrating the occasion of the first packets sent by Charley Kline at UCLA as he tried logging into SRI (the first attempt resulted in the system crashing as the letter 'G' of 'LOGIN' was entered). The incomplete section of a gift is traditionally given to loved ones on this day, with the remainder following within three.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 08, 2003

A whole new world out there...

There's something really invigorating about discovering a blog that has virtually *no* entries on its blogroll that you know.

In fact, there's only one - Tom Watson.

But no Plasticbag, no The Obvious, no Boing Boing, no Oblomovka, no meish, no Guardian.

We think we're the entire of the link cosmos, but actually we're just one groove among many.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 06, 2003

Xmas Cards

These fabulous poor-taste Lance Arthur Xmas Cards deserve to one day be in print.

Via whereveryouare

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 03, 2003

I'd go along with some of this...

Shelley Powers has produced a list of men who should win the women's writing Best Weblog Award

Via The (nominated) Obvious?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 02, 2003

Lucky Escape

Thankfully I managed to escape the lens of the funjunkie photographers at the UK Webloggers' Xmas Party. I'm in the corner of a few pics in my Psychocowboy t-shirt, but no full frontal for me.

The one thing the pics reminded me of, and this is something nobody else has mentioned yet, is just how damn *hot* it was when everybody first got there. I remember having to mop my brow, and I wasn't alone in being very soggy indeed.

Good night though.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 01, 2003

Coming of Age

Today I set my mum up with a blog.

It was marvellous doing all the "we'll start you off with blogger, and then you can end up on movable type once you've got used to it", and watching her excitment at the possibilities it's opening up...

She's a writer, so the developing a voice, an online persona, is something she's relishing. I think it's going to end up as a cross between the TLS and Lemony Snicket, but who knows.

Link once she's settled in.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:52 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Recovering.

Gosh, I drank more gin and tonics than I thought at the bloggers xmas party the other night. But huge thanks to Rich Wild for organising it.

Will write up more once I've found where I put the PDA when I got in...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 28, 2003

More awards

I'm considering starting the Blatant Optimism "Best British Phone Call" awards. If you have made a phone call recently and would like to be considered, please let me know.

I'll need a tape of the call, details of who it was between, and the time it occured. It'll help if lots of other people talked about the phone call, or you quoted lots of other people *in* your phone call.

Obviously, to have just one award would be stupid, covering such a huge category. We'll be breaking it up into the following categories:

Best Under-18 Call
Best Technical Support or Advocacy Call
Best phone call about phone calls
Best short call
MPs that have used a telephone (Special award)
Nicest voice or ringtone

Sorry to spring this on everyone at such short notice. It'll derail the conversation at the bloggers Xmas party even further!

(Ta to Tom, Mo, Meg.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 27, 2003

Aesoppy sod

Vaughan's telling fables.


Once upon a time, there lived an unremarkable moth.

"Do you know something?" said the moth, asking himself a rhetorical question as he mused on the complexities of life. "I've been captivated by the light of that candle for what seems like forever. Like a moth to a flame, indeed. But now I look at it again, I really don't know what I found so fascinating. It's just a flickering light, and not a very impressive one at that."

I won't spoil the ending.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2003

PORN!

Interesting article about fake blogs that are actually porn sites - so people won't delete the comment spam and their rank will go up in google.

(Sorry, that may have been in greek to some of you... :-)

Via paranoidfish

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2003

Hurrah for Denise, Cal, Tom and the new person whose name I've forgotten

It's Secret Santa time!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2003

Coming Along Nicely

Vaughan WhereverYouAre's list of 100 Things about himself generated by his readers has now hit 80 and he's gone public. Only 20 more to go...

(There's a certain amount of fun to be had in trying to work out which facts went with which blogger too...er, if you actually read them too much. If you have a decent blog/life balance then you probably wouldn't bother.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 30, 2003

What a way to go...

Matt Jones says a beautiful farewell to London

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Help Wanted

I urge any occasional readers of Vaughan's fab Wherever You Are to toddle over and help him out on his Audience-generated 'About Me' section.

I submitted one that was true, and another that was just utterly utterly false. But he's still got 50-odd to go!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2003

No more viagra or penis enlargement

As a way of combatting the rise of comment-spam (posting links to your own sites in popular blogs to up their ranking in Google) the cunning Yoz has posted seven quick tips for a spam-free blog.

I'm a long way down the power-law, so it's rarely a problem for me (though certain posts get it a *lot*) but even so I'll be implementing his 'tip 6' so that I can delete spam comments directly from the 'you have comments' notification email.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:55 PM | TrackBack

October 15, 2003

Will Linklogs Improve Signal-to-Noise?

It may be that I'm just busier. It may be that I'm just going through a lot of changes at the moment and the purpose of this blog isn't clear. (Vaughan, what number Standard Blogging Crisis is that?) But one thing is for certain, I'm posting a *hell* of a lot less to the main area of this blog these days.

The main reason is the grey box to the left of the homepage.

Quite often I've found interesting things online, and thought "ooooh, I'd better put that in the blog" as much for myself as for public consumption. But because it's in public view I've felt obliged to justify it in some way. And one thought leads to another, and I'm off in an essay.

The linklog frees me from that responsibility, and as a side-effect divorces me from the opportunity offered by those random connections.

So now, if I post something in this blog, I Have To Mean It.

I have to know what I'm going to say in advance.

This, for someone who thinks (in home-mode) by exploring these random links as I go, and is often as suprised as anyone that something of consequence comes out of it, may just be too much like hard work.

Or perhaps it's an opportunity?

Anyway, I have to wonder how this is going to affect the wider blogging community once they realise that all they have to do is #include another instance of MT.

Will the inane chatter so derided by blogging critics start to dry up? Will we finally be freed from the curse of the "Steve likes cheese. I like cheese too" post? Or will we go too far, leaving the world of blogging to become a drier, more boring, less intimate and personal space? Will it, and I'm not sure this is a sentence I'm comfortable with, become more like traditional media?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack