September 2008 Archives

Hypertext=Hypermind

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Okay, this is not going to be as critical of hypertext as I thought it would be.  The thing is, it took me three tries to 'read' The Heist.  The first time was when I was at home.  I read through the introduction and scanned through as a first-time observer of the medium.  The second attempt was made a couple of hours before this entry, which was created after the final try.  The first two times, I felt bombarded with links; it was like a choose-your-own-ending novel, but with three different choices on every page.  This made it harder to concentrate on the prose of the novel, and I found myself asking which link will be the best one to choose instead of what will happen next.

The last time, I was able to read four or five pages before I lost my concentration.  Which brings me to my next point: the hypertext does not compensate for poor writing.  I have not read Mr. Sorrells' other books, so I do not know what his style is, but he miss the mark with this work.  The characters and the plot are hackneyed, and offer little separation from the bank robbery archetype.  The language is just below the level of a trucker's but still above that of Stephen King, and yes, it does make a differnce if you use five f-bombs per sentence in any creative work.  The author seems content to use the links to create a shifting viewpoint, even though this feat can be achieved with a tradition novel.  I would argue that a book such as As I Lay Dying does the same thing to a better extent, without the distracting effect of having a web browser.  It captures the characters mindset as a whole, while The Heist only captures certain thoughts.  To increase my contempt for the style, Sorrells uses the nihilistic minimalistic style where that refuses to take a stance on anything; you do not find out the author's opinions on police, criminals, robberies, etc.  The author portrays everyone in the world as a jerk, but everything else is done for show.  In this sense, Sorrells outdoes Stephen King.

I should not be too critical of Walter Sorrells though.  At the time, this novel (I think he tells us not to call it that in the introduction, but I do not know what else to refer to it as).  In 1995, the year that this was written, I had not even heard of the internet.  This was obviously written with the excitement about using new technology, and less with the idea that the readers attention should be held.  I found that the longer things went on, the smaller my attention span was, and the more my mind started racing.  I just started scanning for links that would get me to the end as fast as possible, and that is why I do not like this medium for writing fiction.  There is something about reading a book that keeps me from peeking at the ending.  Even in a book like Kilian's, where I am not too heavily involved, I did not skip one page, like I did with The Heist.  It scares me, as an author, how easy it is to do on the internet.

Crawford Kilian tells us in the end of Writing for the Web 3.0 that the best way to learn is from experience.  It is my sincerest hope that Walter Sorrells has learned from the experience of writing this book.

And now for some dinner.

The not so Beginning of a New Book

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Last night, being the nerdy college student that I am, I finished reading the Kilian text instead of watching the Steelers game.  Overall, I felt that it was good to hear some of the ideas that I  already knew repeated and others that I instinctively knew told clearly.  However, I did tire of the orientation, information, action mantra much in the same way as Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind jaded my opinion on Asia, automation, and abundance in 200 pages.  I think that my pet peeve is people wasting paper, time, and energy publishing a book that is over 100 pages long, when in reality it could be thirty and have the same impact.

Most of the FAQ section pertained to issues that did not and will not affect me since I do not want to be a teacher, nor do I want to be a teacher who teaches the internet.

The blog chapter could be useful in the future, but for now I wish to write about whatever I feel like, and whatever I need to do for EL236.  I did realize that I had a pot luck idea about what a blog was when I started the course.  I thought that it would specialize in one are of our choice, then we would blog about a current event, form an opinion, and then attempt to motivate our readers to act on that opinion.  It really has not been that way.  A lot of what I have been doing is just putting ideas, about anything and everything, down on paper.  I have been half-heartedly trying to find my voice through these responses, which makes me wonder how much paper people use finding their voices, and if we can ever run out of space on the internet?

Chapter 8 had some good points.  "Yet manipulating readers by appealing to their fears is not deeply disrespectful (140)."  That is not one of them.  I think that if that statement were true, then every science fiction/horror writer has committed a terrible crime.  Fear is one of the only ways that your argument gets through to people.  If Frankenstein was a fluffy, pink bunny that went around picking daisies to give to old ladies as he helped them cross the street, Mary Shelley's novel would not force us to question how far is too far in science.  Even if it is unethical, how unethical is writing about people dying when compared to people dying in real life when a crazy scientist releases a superresistant virus.  I think that you have to ask yourself how much you want to change people's thought processes and behaviors (which is what persuasion is) if you do not resort to scare tactics.

I think that this book is fair on my rating of usefulness.  It keeps you from making a total fool out of yourself when writing your first website, but I think that Kilian says it best when he says that experimentation is the best teacher for the web.

Now to read more fun blogs.

Corporate America

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"A corporate websit reflects the consensus of a formal group [...] about how it ought to present itself."

I hope to God that I never have to design a website for anyone else, let alone a company or government agency.  First of all, I write becuase I can say what I want to say, without having other's ideas take precedence over mine as they do in spoken conversation.  Secondly, I hope to never deal with so many people designing the same thing, that it becomes a Frankensite of everyone's best ideas.

I think that Kilian brings up some good points, however.  Talk to the people running the site, explain your problems and ideas to them.  Hopefully they are willing to try out different ideas.  That is about it for this chapter.  Since I have no experience with the corporate sector, the points he makes are moot.  I only hope that if I need them some day, my memory will not fail me.

Memory won't fail me when creating a trackback for EL236, the best writing for the internet class that Seton Hill has to offer.

Spell Checking Made Fun

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I'm glad that this chapter was first, because I have a lot to say about it.

"Your style checker can also give you a sense of the reading level of your text."-Kilian

I read these two chapters this morning, and then edited an essay that is due on Tuesday.  Don't yawn!  This preamble is going somewhere.  Anyway, after I finished with the essay, I was using the spell checker (for MS Word) when an idea hit my.  I turned on the "Readability Statistics" on under "Options" is the checker.  I had a little bit of fun going through some of my recent essays and writings to see how the fared with the two most popular formulas.

Most of the stuff I write falls into the 7-8 grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale.  One was as high as 9.5, or so, while one was as low as 6.5.  I am ashamed to say that the latter was the novel that I have been working on in my spare time.  On those lovely researchers reading ease scores (which almost never matched up evenly), I scored in the 65-80 range.  The closer you are to one hundred, the easier it is to read your work.  The irony is that on the paper that I wrote at a 9.5 grade level, got a score in the upper 80's, while my free lance novel scored in the low sixties to redeem itself a little.

The final interesting thing that word does is checking for the passive voice.  I am proud to say (I think) that most of my papers averaged 12-15% in the passive voice, since I have no experience weeding those insidious sentences out of my paragraphs.  One of my papers, for Thinking and Writing, had 25% in the passive, which works out to almost two sentences a paragraph written in that voice.  I am proud to say that my novel thrived in this category with 6%.  Now that I have posted all of this personal information, I hope that people do not start coming in and saying, "I only had 1% in the passive voice.  Take that Jed." 

I feel like such a nerd for doing all of this, but I do think that it is neat how word does this for me.  I wonder if English majors had to memorize those two formulas back in the age before computers; they certainly look nasty.

One final thing that I found to be funny from the Wikipedia article (it is the same as the two links above, so it would be redundant to link again).  "The lowest grade level score in theory is -3.4, but, since there are few real passages that have every sentence consisting of a single one-syllable word, this rarely occurs in practice. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss comes close, averaging 5.7 words per sentence and 1.02 syllables per word, with a grade level of -1.3. (Most of the 812 words are monosyllabic; "anywhere," which occurs eight times, is the only exception.)"  Interesting!

Hopefully the EL236 site has a higher score than that.

Chapter Four

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After writing God-only-knows-how-many of these blogs this week, I am starting to do the exact opposite of this chapter's title.  I do not really have the mental capacity to organize my ideas very clearly tonight, so they will be long-winded and boring.

The section about activating the passive had already been known to me; Stephen King's book 'On Writing' speaks of this at great length (along with making the statement that the road to hell is paved with adverbs).  Most of the other statements that Kilian makes were already known to me, whether I practice them is another story.

The one thing that I had never heard of was the Anglo-Saxon vs. Greco-Latin words.  Of course, as a future author, I tend to stray in the direction of Latin words because they sound much nicer to the ear.  For example, I have always abhorred the usage of folks (A.S. word) because it sounds too hick-ish; people (G.L. word) is much better and more intelligent in sound.  Sorry I copied that one from the book, but it is near and dear to my heart.  I do, however, realize that some words might be egregiously long for the internet, and will aid in the loss of readers, so there is no sense in using them.  I do not know that it is the best idea to just dumb down you text, which I do feel is what happens, just because some readers might not understand them, but I am only a freshman who knows little about the English language or the internet.

So are you an Anglo-Saxon (boo) or a Greco-Latin?

A link to the course site, written in an entirely blaze fashion?  What is this world coming to?

Synthesizing Info while Sick

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The first thing that I noticed about the third chapter is that it constantly talks of fitting paragraphs into nice little chunks...while the paragraph is twenty pages long.  I am not insinuating anything by this, it's just an observation that I had.

I thought that this chapter was often preaching to the choir for me.  Anyone who saw the comment on the course website from earlier in this week will attest to the fact that I can produce a nice blurb every now and then.  Just for the record, no puppies were sad or harmed in the making of that comment.

There was a lot of information in this section, but I will try to keep this blog down to a reasonable size since I am not feeling real great (or coherent) right now.  The one thing that really stood out to me, in my literary ignorance, was that it is accepted and even encouraged to put bulleted lists on the internet.  I am from the school of thought that you put everything into well organized paragraphs and sentences.  This book has really taught me to question everything when it comes to writing for the web.

One final thing that made me say "Aha" was the section on the studies of how people scan a website.  I always noticed that there was a banner at the top, a navbar down the side, and text justified to the left of most pages, I just never consciously thought about it.  And while I'm thinking about it, I usually tend to become irate when websites do not follow this template on their homepages.

I have to move on to the next chapter so I can get some rest.  Keep talking, and I will keep answering.

Click here for the chance to win a trip to EL236!

Bipartisan? and some other junk.

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I read some blogs of others, which I rarely do before writing my own, and I noticed that a lot of people were talking of the bipartisan nature of Sen. Kukovich's visit.  I did not really see things that way.  First of all, he is currently serving under Gov. Rendell, so that diminishes the bias of the presentation in my eyes.  Secondly, and this I really noticed when he was speaking of the labor, it seemed like many of the figures that he employed were just tweaked slightly in favor of the current administration.

I also did and did not find his answer to the question of financial aid favorable.  On the one hand, giving capital to both public and private universities sounds good, but he would not go into specifics about what that would entail, as every good politician does.  I also think that it is not a wise decision to putt all of our economic eggs in the basket of manufacturing and blue-collar jobs.  Don't get me wrong, we need more of an emphasis in those fields than what we have now, but if we focus solely on them while neglecting the financial needs of our college students is a recipe for disaster.  All of our teachers had to go to college for at least four years at one time or another in their lives, and I'd be willing to bet that many of them received many grants and loans from both the state and the federal level of government.  I don't necessarily think that Sen. Kukovich was talking about entirely removing loans and grants at all, but I think he tends to place a higher value on the manufacturing jobs than I do.  And he would be unwise to do anything else considering the constituency he deals with.

I also disagree with his statement that you can understand the candidates' positions by watching the news every night.  Over the summer (I obviously do not have the time now) I watched a lot of the news every day.  I do not know that I could tell you the differences in candidates plans for 'change'.  They all have positions, but they do not tell you exactly what it is they are thinking  of doing when in office.  I think that it why so many people are apathetic towards voting.  We want to hold our public officials accountable, but they speak in the vaguest of terms so that anything that occurs, be it accidental or purposeful, is spun out of control on both sides of the aisle. 

These are some of the things (along with finding a ride to the polls) that I am struggling with as a first-time voter, and I do not know how well Allen Kukovich did in helping to resolve these issues.

Here we go again!

Understanding

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I would have told you that you were insane if you said that I would become tolerant of the internet one day.  But then things came up.  I became a freshman in college this fall, and became enrolled in EL236.  This class teaches us how to write for electronic mediums such as blogs and webpages.  What you are about to read now is a compilation, a clipshow in words if you will, of the things I have blogged about, and how I have learned from them.  I would say that the biggest thing I have learned already is that the internet is now the slow piece of crap that gives me headaches at home.  The internet has some interesting and academic uses, such as this blog, that I never knew about before taking this class.  I am beginning to learn how to put myself in user's shoes to make my own content better.  So let's roll the footage on my first ever clipshow.

I think that it is fitting that we start with my first ever blog; it seems funny now, I never bothered to go back and put the link in.  After getting over my nostalgia, I will move on to the coverage category.

The "How to Write Effective E-Mail" response was probably the first entry that really covered what I was supposed to read, well; until then, I would pick a quote and make the whole quote a link.  The troll article is another example of early blogging with adequate coverage.  I am also choosing to include the first blog I wrote regarding the issue of cycling even though it does not have a trackback to the course website since I wrote it for personal enjoyment, or something like that.  Finally, there is my response to the Stephenson article, which is one of my weaker entries, but it fulfills the criteria for this category.  This is the category that irks me on other people's blogs, because a lot of people do not leave a link back to the course site, so I have to hit the back button four or five times to return to where I was.  I always try to post a link to the course website, because that is where most of my traffic comes from, and it also acts as an anchor for my entries themselves (while allowing me to show my sense of humor).

I think that all of my blogs have been posted on time.  There is one from the Castro text because I posted it two days before the class met.  I have always tried to post my writings before because the internet is a fast medium, and you need to be faster to get results.  I have always tried to be within the first five posts or so to get comments, but that does not always work in my favor.  I guess that this is one area that I could improve on because I was having trouble finding the linking comments that were left early.  I cannot say that I have ever written anything after class, but the above blog is the only time, aside from the Killian blogs, that I blogged with more than twelve hours to spare, and those are better suited for other areas of the portfolio.

I think that the biggest thing that I learned, as far as blogging goes, is to respond to people's comments.  Early on, the blog about teachers and their MySpace pages drew a lot of attention, but the chatter quickly died away.  Then, thanks to some witty statements (at the expense of small canines everywhere), I received something like thirteen comments on my last three blogs.  Two of them are designed for the Kilian text, which is pretty good since ther hasn't been what I would call a wealth of information to talk about.  I have responded to the comments, so I will see if the conversation continues, or if I was a little slow in getting back to the people.  I do not think I was, because, as I was copying the URL for my links, I received another comment.

There are several entries that stand out (such as this one itself) because of the amount of though and work that went into them.  Obviously, the blog about spamming and comment filters appears in this category because of the amount of research and sheer number of links embedded in it.  I also think that another cycling entry deserves mention here; it does not have any links in it, but I think it says a lot about the style and philosophy I try to bring to my arguments.  I also think this one, on the negativity a lot of people (myself included) bring to their blogging, is a decent piece of writing considering it was the beginning of the year and I did not know what I was doing.  Finally, I have chosen to include my opinions on the use of texting abbreviations in formal papers because I think I draw two or three intelligent analogies to support my argument.  As a whole, I try to write with the same level of content that I would for a regular paper, without such a high tone that comes across as prudish on the internet.

Finally, there are my comments.  I try to leave comments that are critical, in the sense that I am trying to look at what the person is saying, and judging how my opinions fit in with those statements.  I think this one, from pretty early in the year on Kevin Hinton's blog, is where I received ideas on what good commenting should be.  I also think that during the Castro text, I tried to use my proficiency in the first two readings to help other people.  Here is one final comment that I chose to post because I had trouble writing about this issue on my own blog, but when I looked at other people's it gave me some ideas.

Here is some of my other work that I did not feel was strong enough to include in any particular category:

There are a few more blogs, but these ones are the best representatives of the work that I do.

I was a little leery of this course right before school was about to begin.  I was not sure that I would like working with the internet, and I had the vague premonition that it would involve programming of some sort.  I went around saying that Dr. Jerz talked me into doing this course at summer orientation, since he was my advisor.  A funny thing happened on the way from there to here; I actually started understanding the internet.  I discovered that all of my frustration with it was due to the fact that I really did not understand how to do more than click on a link and send an e-mail.  Now I have a general idea for how to send professional e-mail, upload a personal website, and express my ideas on the internet in gradually better ways.  Though the title is supposed to emphasize what I feel I have accomplished, I believe that it is a great injustice to make my title more specific than that.  I have learned a wide variety of skill for the electronic world.  I realize that this is just one of four portfolios that we must complete, so I do not want to use up all of my ideas, but I think that it should be explained why I feel my accomplishments are so broad.

It is after midnight, so the course website is out partying on the internet.  It has earned its amnesty for today. 

Chunking v. Scrolling: Round 1

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Are you a chunker or a scroller?  That should be a question in a personality test.  It would tell you a lot about a person, namely how imaptient they are, but it is as much as a lot of other tests base themselves on.

I can see both sides on the issue of chunking.  It does take up a lot less space, and holds your attention better, but it also comes at the loss of carity and depth.  I am also left wondering if chunking is just one paragraph per page, or if it is just paragraphs broken up with extra space in between, a la our blogs.

If it is just one paragraph per page, than that leaves open the possibility of overcrowding your website if you have too much to say.

While I can understand the reasons behind why our text is the way it is on the internet, I still like to see propper paragraphs with indentations flowing on endlessly no matter how tough it is on the eyes.

I did not find much to comment on in the section, other than what I have already written.  It is beyond the point where the book has that "new book smell" (even though it was already used), but not at the point where we, the readers have enough background to be able to go into the specifics of web writing.

I'm still waiting for those comments to come pouring in, but look at how many comments there are here.

The Beginning of a New Book

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I finished my first reading of the Kilian book, which I am finding to be quite interesting.  This is the first time I have been able to see this class helping me outside of the university.  Who can't learn to write a little less, especially coming from the man who wrote a 703 word essay last night.  I could also see myself when Kilian says about users will hit the back button immediately if they do not see something that they like.  I have done that many times, usually if the website is all text.  For me, the internet needs to have some pictures (I'm still not accustomed to watching videos, since I never had high speed internet until a month ago.

I also found the idea that reference books like encyclopedias are hypertext.  I always thought, since the word was exposed to me at the beginning of the year, that it referred to something that was solely electronic.  It makes sense that you see a dictionary definition that says "See #%$..." (not profanity) and go to the word.  You don't have to read all the words, or any of the pages in between, which is what you are doing in a link on the internet.

I also think that it is interesting that the internet was founded to spread information.  I guess because I have never seen the internet's drab cousins like Usenet, I see the internet as something that is more flashy and vibrant than academic discussions carried out across the globe.

Finally, I agree that it is harder to read text on the computer than it is on paper.  Even with the fact that it ruins the hypertext aspect of the internet, I would still rather print an article out and read it later, than read it and find all of the hyperlinks.

What do you think? I would like to hear your ideas, instead of having to go looking for them.

Looking for persuasive, interactive content? (I did not just read that off the cover of the book.)

What Should I Allow You to Say?

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If you read my last entry (which you did not, or I would have more comments), you read my closing statement that said that I would allow all (clean) comments on my blog.  Originally I had planned to say that any comment would be allowed, but I had visions of profanity and innuendo being posted for all the world to see for eternity, so I retracted my original statement in favor of its more conservative alternative.

But the whole experience started a train of thought over the weekend (which means that I thought about it when I had five minutes of free time, not often).  Thanks to Dr. Jerz, I now know about the joys of trolls and their disemvoweled martyrs.  The idea of Firefox's YouTube Snob, however was new to me, so I decided to do a little more research on the subject.

There was surprisingly little information regarding the subject of comment filters; I had expected there to be more on the YouTube Snob than the latest update for the application.  As I discovered from Andrew Sullivan though, comment filters are notoriously unreliable.  Apparently the smallest implication of profanity or, and this surprised me, a URL causes the filter to flip out.  I should have known, because of Dr. Jerz's explanation of the captchas from earlier in the year.

The problem that I am having is that I have no experience commenting on anything outside the context of this class, so I consequentially have no experience with comment filters.  I have very little experience with spam e-mails.  The whole issue regarding unwanted and excessive messages seems to be covered up quite heavily on Google.  To makes things more complicated a search for the word "spam" does not distinguish between the internet phenomenon and the food, as I discovered, but both have quite helpful websites.  For instance, did you know that spam (the food) is made with chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, and has only 170 calories per serving.

In all seriousness, the size and scope of the internet can be mind boggling.  Top Ten Reviews says that 12.4 billion spam e-mails a day - two years ago.  That meant that the average person received 6 spam e-mails a day or 2,200 a year at a cost of $255 million dollars to non-corporation internet users, and the amount of spam was supposed to climb 63% in 2007.

Or you can look at things from Robert Soloway's point of view: he was arrested for sending, self-admittedly, billions of spam e-mails.  I only say this because he was featured on the Today Show, and it shows just how rich the 'spammers' are becoming.

As a whole, not just on the toppic of spamming, I never understood the other, darker side of the internet before I took this course.  I would never have thought that things could get so out of hand on some websites that they would remove any trace of URLs, or that people could make millions illegally just by sending e-mails.  But I think that the lesson we can take away from these internet horror stories is to take the advice of Jon Postel and conservatively give away information of any kind, while consuming as much information from the internet as is healthy for a person to do so.

As for the things that I noticed particularly about comment blockers and spamming, there is this to say: don't do it, please.  It just ruins the internet for everyone.  It think the Sullivan article opened my eyes the most because it shows how little free speach everyone has after a small group of people overstep their bounds.  Making a simple mistake like putting a space in the middle of the word 'planet' or organizing your words in a way that puts three simple letters together will tear your comment to shreds.  Spamming is no different; you can put the spam blocker on, but it will also block those e-mails that are useful (or necessary to college students) that are sent to a group of people.

So perhaps we should add another clause to Postel's Law: if you overstep the bounds of releasing conservative information, you will affect the most simple (or simplest, I'm not sure which is proper) task of everyday users in ways you cannot imagine.

Thank you for listening to my ravings; you may now return to a more reputable site.

 

They're Evil?

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"If you believe in this (as I used to) and if you apply it to the topic of smileys, you arrive at the conclusion that smiley users are lazy writers who could get along just fine without smileys if only they took the trouble to revise and edit their work a little bit, to make the meaning clearer." -Neal Stephenson

This continues my chosen ambiguity on the issue of the smiley. 

I have a hard time feeling sympathy for the smiley when I have English teachers, turned professors this fall, harping on me at every corner, and every time I become a slight bit complacent in my writing, to be more specific.  Egregiously specific, if you will.

Of course, on the other side of the issue is time.  If I am writing something around five papers a week (I'm behind the times, so I consider any written work completed for school to be a paper), I do not have the time to proofread the rough draft, make a second draft, proofread that draft, make a third draft, edit that one, and come to a perfect final work.  Maybe it would make my writing fabulous, it certainly would not hurt me as much as turning in a rough draft with a brief spell check, but I really do not have the time to execute a rigorous writing schedule such as that.

If there is one thing to come out of this discussion on emoticons, it is that it drives home the idea of how meticulous you should be about writing.  Whether it is a hastily written blog or the term paper you have edited to the point that it is unrecognizable anymore, you should always be contemplating the words that you are randomly dispersing on the page.  It could be because I am lazy today, but I do not think that it is coincidental that most of these editorials deal with the issue of clarity in online work.

I do not think that the smiley is a panacea, as most of these articles lead us to believe.  I cannot post racial slurs on my blog with a smiley after the phrase, and expect people to just pass it off as a joke.  The smiley does not always denote what can be taken humorously, however it does denote what someone wants to be taken as a joke for various reasons.

As always, these are my own views, so please feel free to comment.  I will allow every (clean) comment to remain.

Happy birthday emoticons.  Blow out the cake! ;-O Cake

Where I Stand on Emoticons

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"Many people have denounced the very idea of the smiley face, pointing out that good writers should have no need to explicitly label their humorous comments. Shakespeare and Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain got along just fine without this. And by labeling the remarks that are not meant to be taken seriously, we spoil the joke. In satirical writing, half the fun is in never being quite sure whether the author is serious or not." -Scott Fahlman

I never have use for emoticons in my writing because I am so serious.  In all seriousness though, I am unsure of the stance to take on smileys.

On the one side of the issue, I like the element of ambiguity that sarcams gives to my writing.  It makes me feel better about writing knowing that English teachers and professors have a hard time pinning me down to something and telling their future classes, "Fetterman was a proponent of the 'Give Bikes the Vote' movement."  Of course, that assumes that I will write something that English scholars feel compelled to talk of for years to come, but that is beside the point.  Oscar Wilde said that it was the artists aim to both conceal and reveal the intent behind his or her work, and that is one approach I have taken toward my writing.

The problem begins when this sarcasm carries over to my school work, which is supposed to be clear and concise.  I do not remember exactly what paper it was on, but I made one of my silly little puns that everyone loves.  Upon receiving said paper back in Seminar in Thinking and Writing, I noticed that Dr. Arnzen had written "You are so sarcastic" in the margin.  But the honest-to-God, scare-the-pants-off-me moral of the story is this: I did not realize what I was doing when I wrote the sentence.  I have a problem that I did not admit.  Welcome to SA: Sarcasmaholics Anonymous.  Hi, I'm Jed, and I have had a problem with sarcasm for about four years now.

Maybe a good solution is to put some emoticons in my online writing.  At the very least, it would make me aware of when I should tone down the "humor" of my writing.  But then I have to worry about confusing myself, so I do not know what to say.

I think that the only thing that can be said is that emoticons stink... :-)  Figure that one out.

And when you do, visit the place that is overflowing with the innocent humor of emoticons.

I Love Germans in Cycling

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If you read my last blog, you know that I of course was somewhat wrong in my Vuelta prediction, which I think we all saw coming but did not want to admit it.  Alberto Contador is in the drivers seat yet again (I wonder why they did not let him compete in France?)

I also read an article on Velonews.com that caught my eye.  Apparently the Germans are complaining about what the return of Lance Armstrong will do for the image of the sport.

"For us, Armstrong is a piece of the past we don't want to see again," Rolf-Dieter Ganz, head of communications at ARD, told Sunday's edition of Die Welt.

I wonder why it represents that.  Could it be the fact that in something like five of Lance's seven Tours, a German rider (mostly Jan Ullrich) finished in second place.  I don't know why, but I love rubbing that in.

The article goes on to insinuate that the benevolent broadcasters are worried about Armstrong's return because they are unsure that he is riding clean.  Did I get this right?  The Germans are unsure about someone riding clean?!  Where was this desire to improve the image of cycling when the Deutsch Telekom team was dominating every race while using EPO in the mid '90's?  Where was it when the loveable Ulle became ensnared in the Puerto scandal two years ago?  Don't slander a proud champion who has never tested positive for a banned substance.  I think that people like Rolf-Dieter Ganz are the reason that Lance is returning to the sport; he is just plain sick of people saying that he was not riding clean. 

Maybe, before blaming American cycling, you should take a look inside at the legacy of the East German schools.  That could answer a lot about the image crisis in Germany, and why these channels are so afraid to broadcast cycling.  Who knows? 

Newbies of the World Unite

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I do not have an account with a social networking website, so I do not feel that I am gathering the same meaning from this article as other people.  I guess that I felt more with the other side of Dr. Jerz's Blog.  It reminds me of how I felt (and still feel) starting out college.  No one is telling me if what I am doing is right or wrong, so I am silently yelling at people "I have never posted before, and I hope that I am doing this correctly."  I can also understand how the upperclassmen feel with my unknowing friends and I cavorting about campus without understanding the etiquette of the Universtiy. -)  That is the way things work though, one group has all of the knowledge and seeks to keep that knowledge and power by whatever means are necessary.  Eventually, ideas spread to the population at large, much to the discontentment of those who were once in charge.  I believe this concept is referred to as cultural diffusion, and it is almost a given that it will happen.

I am disgusted with the poor level of writing in this blog, so I will cough it up as one of the few duds that I have had since starting this experience.  Comment if you feel the need to poke fun at me.

This is payback for all those times that I made fun of the course website.

Looking for a Leader

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I know that I should be doing other work, but I think that I have regretably become  addicted to blogging about cycling.

The thing is, while I was writing last night, I was checking up on the Vuelta.  Today is another rest day, which I always forget in the Grand Tours, so there is nothing special to write about.  Or is there?

Tomorrow's stage promises to be decisive, according to all the mystical cycling pundits, setting up either Carlos Sastre or Alberto Contador as the champion of Spain.  Did I miss something?  First of all, Sastre is over a minute and a half back, not leaving him with much of a shot to do anything against Contador, probably the best all around rider in cycling today.

For the record I do think that Alberto will win, but you cannot discount Levi Leipheimer either.  He's got a lot of clout, and he's triumphed over Contador, his teammate, in two of the biggest time trials in the last year.  First it was the final time trial in the '07 Tour, where the American took almost 45 seconds out of Contador's lead in one day to finish within a half a minute of the Spaniard.  Then it was the same situation in Beijing this summer as Lepheimer outkicked the two time Grand Tour champ for Olympic bronze. 

I'm not saying that he will become the first American to win the 'Tour' of Spain, but if anyone can do it, Levi can.  After all, excluding the time trialing ability, Leipheimer has the advantage just from the 18 seconds that he holds over Contador at this moment.  Those are 18 seconds that he does not need to make up (or add on) in stage 20 next week.  But the thing is, there's no reason to think that Leipheimer is the favorite either, because Egoi Martinez holds an eleven second lead over him.  Apparently he does not have the climbing ability to match Contador, just like Carlos Sastre did not have the ability to match the superior time trialing ability of Cadel Evans.

All I'm saying is that we don't know who will be the next champion.  Contador could very easily crush all of the riders on the Angliru tomorrow, or he could just as easily get a flat on the 23% grades and lose two or three minutes himself.  We just don't know what will happen tomorrow, and we cannot base the future on the past.  So while you are sitting at your TV, watching the final Grand Tour of the year, most likely with commentary that is not in English, remember that if a leader shows signs of weakness, it will be exploited no matter how many climbing jerseys or Alpe d'Huez victories they have in the past.

Over at last!!!!!!!!!!

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I know that it is not good to use that many exclamations, but I am so happy over the completion of the Castro text that I cannot write correctly.  It took me three days to figure out this last section, and even now, fifty minutes before class, I do not know how to make the "p" elements of the main division italicised.  I think that it becomes hard to read only itlaics after a while anyway.  The biggest trouble that I had was making the margin between the paragraphs and the nav bar.  After that, I think that I was so stressed out that I just kept making a bunch of stupid mistakes.  Never fear, all of this is over until Monday, when I have to take the group html quiz.

And now for a website that eats html like it is a bowl full of Lucky Charms.

A Face You Can Trust

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"Our team is a long-term proposition, so in terms of what happens next year, and where people's attention is, in some ways I think Lance coming back is good. Now a guy like Christian Vande Velde has the chance to actually beat, mano a mano, a sports legend, and that could elevate him, and our team, to a place in the public eye we never could have been elevated to if this hadn't happened. It gives us an opportunity to prove how good Christian Vande Velde and the team actually are. It's going to force us to up our game. If we can rise to the occasion it's a good opportunity for us." Jonathan Vaughters on Velonews.com

Lance is back!  I'm almost hesitant to say this, but he (allegedly) headlines an Astana squad that contains the likes of two time Grand Tour champion Alberto Contador, perennial powerhouse Andreas Kloden, and the best American rider until this week, Levi Leipheimer.  This is the team that has won eight out of the last ten Tours de France, and is well on its way to owning three out of the last six Grand Tours if things continue the way they are going in the Vuelta a Espana.  If the whole Armstrong deal goes through, and assuming that Astana is the place he is going to, Astana will be a team that no one else can match...Or will it be?

I wasn't sure when I read the quote above, whether it was the smartest thing to call out the man who has won the most Tours.  And all of them in a row, if that means anything.  It seems crazier when you are the head of a Continental Tour team, a full level below Astana's stomping grounds.  But for Jonathan Vaughters, this was just another perfectly executed break away in the world that goes on while the bikes sleep.

In the spring of 2007, you would be hard pressed to find someone who had heard of the Slipstream-Chipoltle team save for the die hard fans of the sport.  I myself only heard of it from a small blip in Bicycling Magazine.  Then came a well placed attack in the U.S. Open of Cycling (Where did it go?) that led to a second place finish in the only nationally televised bike race of the year.  While the Tour was having fiascos with Vino and Chicken, Vaughters was quietly signing stars like David Millar, David Zabriskie, and Christian Vande Velde.  It is also hard to forget that Slipstream was not even considered a top level team at the beginning of this year, having to fight their way into France with gutsy riding in the Tour of California and Paris-Nice that sometimes worked against them.  Now they are a force with staying power, something very rare in cycling.

But for all of their exploits on the road, it is the lab that has given Slipstream its permanence.  Vaughters is really the champion of internal testing for doping, not instituting it out of shame for the past, like CSC and T-Mobile did, but just for the simple pride to be able to say that his riders were the first that could be certifiably clean.  It is this kind of feeling that cycling fans are looking for.  They bring all of the excitement of a Ricco or Basso attack while removing the doubt and suspension of disbelief.  It is okay to trust cyclists again.

This is not the first time I have looked at a Vaughters quote and ghasped at his brash, cocky style of delivery.  I'm a Tom Danielson fan, but when he said that Tom was putting out the power to ride with anyone in Europe, I was more than a little skeptical.  It takes me a second to realize that this is what I like so much about him.  He has this air of apathy, that he is going to attack, that he might not have the best riders to do so, or attack in the best spot, but he does not care one way or the other.  Maybe it is from the fact that he has nothing to hide that he attacks so much; there will not be the doubt that some other teams would face riding the way that Slipstream does.  It does not matter, because Jonathan Vaughters has engineered a team that is here to stay from its days of anonimity as TIAA-CREF.  And he refuses to use the hackneyed mantras of game time decisions and "We'll see about his performance".  No, if you have a slight shot, Vaughters will talk about you like Eddie Merckx.

You might be asking me why I keep saying that Slipstream is here to stay.  Well its because they have done something nobody has done in the sport of late, and are no longer Slipstream.  In June, just before the tour and much to my annoyance, Slipstream-Chipoltle became Garmin-Chipoltle, losing their stylish pink and orange, argyle jerseys.  The fashionistas' loss is cycling's gain when you consider some of the other names that are no longer in the sport.  Phonak fell in after Landis' demise (I still say that the French framed him).  Lance Armstrong's own Discovery Channel Team folded months after winning their eighth tour in nine years (I still say that they gave up too soon, but that is material for another entry).  Just in the last two months three teams have crashed due to lack of sponsorship: Credit Agricole, Barloworld, and Gerolsteiner, and maybe a fourth if you can figure out what is going on with Saunier-Duval Prodir Scott American Beef.  Slipstream's story is unique because it is one of the few teams in the last few years to bring a new sponsor into the sport, not cling to the old one for years like Rabobank and not fold after a few when in limbo for a few months like the traitorous Tailwind Sports squad (I will not hide my bitterness about how American cycling was screwed over that day).

There's an ample amount of information out there to make me trust in what Vaughters says, even if it does make me cringe.  The question is when he talks about Vande Velde beating Armstrong head to head, dare we believe him?

Irrevocably Destroyed

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I guess that all of my excuses for hating the internet with every fiber of my being are no longer acceptible.  The only problem that I see arising is that I will not be able to remember the exact steps to create my page from scratch.  And there is the fact that my images will not pad, but that is barely a blip on the radar compared to everything else that I have accomplished.

Tonight's only major problem was the fact that I did not save the brand new homepage file before attempting to load it into the browser.  Consequently, all of the changes I was making refused to appear.  But even that would have sorted itself out when I attempted to close the document.

If anyone needs help, just leave a comment, and I will try to help you with my little experience.  I check the comments of my blog because I'm vain like that, and my e-mail because I feel like I am missing something.  Also, if anyone does know how to get the padding-left and padding-right to work in the css document let me know.  Peace out :-) and victory is mine!!!!!!!!

Take that, internet.

Thank You Network!!!

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Well, I had a brief scare this morning, when the network was down for about half an hour.  This taught me two valuable lessons not in the Castro text.  First, I should have written this blog last night when I finished working on my link page, because you never know when the network will fall.  Also, I should have saved my work to both my flash and I drive to insure that I have something to show for class.

As for the assigned text, I thought it was helpful.  I did well creating my webpage, even though I looked directly at the book to do everything.  The only problem that I had was the "&rdquo" command.  I forgot the semicolon after it, and the browser displayed the characters that I had written in notepad.  Other than that, I feel that html is pretty self-explanatory, I just need to do a lot of practice to rember the exact steps to set things up. 

Peace out :-) and say thank you to your deity of choice that we have working internet access.

I won't poke fun at the course websit today.  EL236

This hurts you more than this hurts me. Part two.

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Does anyone ever get annoyed by my twisted little puns?

a good joke2.htm

This hurts you more than this hurts me.

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I feel like this should have some plain writing to work.

a good joke.txt

Lots of Fun-for You, not Me

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I haven't really made it a secret that I think that the internet, and all computers along with it, should be tossed into a burning pit and sent straight to Hell.  Well this exercise was no different.  I understood how to do all of the tasks, the instructions were well written and I knew where everything was, but all of the different styles, formats, and file extensions drive me nuts.  And to top things off, since I am unfamiliar with html, I wrote a buch of stupid things on my fist plage from scratch.  I actually started to understand html but I still did not want to stray too far from the page that Dr. Jerz set up because I was afraid I would damage the page irreparably.

I think my annoyance is derived from the fact that computers are designed to make really simple, stupid tasks, go really fast.  If that is the case, then why do they make me feel so dumb?  It's like the techies say, most of the problems with a computer are user error.  I get the feeling that all of the techies out there are laughing at me, so I will give you guys the puchline of the joke: my first html page.

This is the title of your page.htm or test.htm, but that is not what I saved it under.  Enjoy.

Also, Levi Leipheimer, an American, is wearing gold in the Veulta after winning the first individual time trial.  If you don't know what any of this means, you should visit VeloNews.com here.  Peace out :-)

The course site: so good, cats ask for it by name.

Before you Click!!!

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Do the risque pages matter if teacher performance is not hindered and if students, parents and school officials don't see them?

When Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web

I do think that it matters, because every employer has the right to choose the person they see as fit for the job.  I don't think that you are fit to teach when you post mature pictures on your website or call mentally retarded kids "retards" when they are your own students.  I think that my favorite phrase since starting this course is the internet is transparent.  We must assume that all of the things we hide on the internet will be discovered sooner or later.

I know that I don't want my career to affect my personal life when I finally go out into the workplace, but I understand that there are certain things that I can do that will undermine my company's mission.  If I was a CIA agent, I could not post Top Secret weapon plans on the internet without losing my job.  Parents don't want to see their own kids with picture of these things on their personal pages let alone the people who are supposed to be setting an example for our children.

The problem with the internet is that it is permanent without the aid of personal feedback.  If a person says something off color in conversation, chances are someone tells that person that the joke went too far.  And even if everyone is thinking it, the sentence happened in a moment, and that is all people can hold against said person.  In the internet, no one says that things went too far, and to make things worse, things do not disappear from the realm of the web very easily.  A rash joke combined with a lapse in judgment can cause problems that last a lifetime.  It all comes back to think before you click.  Peace out :-)

The Course Site

The Internet is a Batman Villain

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"The question we have to answer is: How do we kill four of the world's six billion people in the most just way possible?" He seemed excited to have said this aloud.

The Trolls Among Us

I'm not Stephen King or Michael Crichton, as hard as that is to believe.  This experience of blogging has been so cool (I hate to use that word when I am writing something) because my words are potentially being read by anyone on the planet.  That is quite nice as a young writer; I can hone my skill with the pressure of being published, all while remaining relatively anonymous.  There is great power in this.

Like the cliche says, however, great power comes with great responsibility.  I would need to maintain some standards of conduct in my writing to get published, to get my word out to the general populace.  Not so with the internet.  There is no publishing company looking over my shoulder saying, "You can't say that sentence because the ramifications will harm our bottom line."  The only thing looking over my shoulder is my conscience, and that has enough trouble already without having to censor my writing.

This is where I am afraid.  For the first time in history, people who advocate atrocities can find each other.  There was always one bully on the playground, but there were enough individuals in between to keep the bullies from getting out of control.  Now all the bullies in the world can connect with each other without leaving the comfort of their own unique playground.

The internet is a Batman villain.  We all visit Two-Face every day.  We get our e-mail off of him, we keep up with friends and homework, all kinds of benign things while suburban housewives are inciting teenagers to commit suicide and people are ridiculed for their insecurities.  I'll admit that this is a little extreme, but if we are not vigilant, this is what will happen.  Twenty years ago you could have called the internet a microcosm.  Now with all of the people on the internet every hour, I would call the internet a cosm in itself and anything that can happen in reality can happen on the web.  If we do not check the behavior of these trolls we could have an informational Wild West on our hands, and these problems will be much harder to eradicate.

Just spend one minute the next time you are on your social networking site of choice, or whatever you do, remember that the internet is a Batman Villain.  Which face do you want to put forth?  Peace out :-)

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here...

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