How Many Phone Numbers Do You Know?

I was thinking this morning about what I might do if I lost my cellphone. Who could I call? Even though I have been taking steps to backup my life, and streamline the organization of my contacts, email, documents, etc., I haven’t reached the point where I have phone numbers synced to my computer’s address book. Though I have two backup drives, and regularly upload stuff to my web server and to GMail just to be safe, the one thing I have backed up nowhere is any sort of comprehensive contact list that includes phone numbers and addresses. Sure, I’ve got most of the email addresses stored in GMail, but that’s it.

Why? Well, partly because I haven’t found a way to do it that doesn’t require manually typing number after number into Apple’s Address Book, since I can’t figure out how to export the vCard from my phone, though I know how to do it in the opposite direction. Laziness, clearly.

And I realized this morning that losing my phone would be a huge problem. The information contained on it, and my SIM card exists nowhere else. How easy would it be to retrieve this information if lost? Well, let’s do an inventory of the phone numbers I have committed to memory.
  • My home phone number from childhood (inactive since 1997)
  • My best friend from childhood’s home phone number (inactive since 2000-ish)
  • My ex-girlfriend’s home phone number
  • My ex-bandmate’s home phone number(Just the drummer. As far as I know, only his parents use this anymore.)
  • My home number in Pahrump (now just my father’s number)
  • The second line in my home in Pahrump, which was used, fairly exclusively, for dial-up internet access (which I’m not sure my father still has)
  • My girlfriend’s old cellphone number (though I can find her new one through my account with T-mobile, now that we share a cell plan)
  • My Cape Cod-dwelling grandparents’ phone number
  • My work phone number
  • My apartment phone number
  • My cellphone number
  • 1-800-Metrocard
  • 911
And that’s it.

That leaves a ton of numbers I would have to recover (I have well over 150 stored in my phone). Most of my family, all of my friends, my roommate, all my clients, favorite restaurants, past employers, my doctor - not good.

Not good at all.

Do you memorize phone numbers anymore? Or have a written phonebook? Or computer backups of your contacts? Do you automatically sync? Or do the manual thing?

How much would you lose if you lost your phone?

Let me know in the comments.

Responding To Dave Winer

A response, bit by bit to Not looking for sympathy or anything posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 by Dave Winer.

Dave starts with a disclaimer. Disclaimers are good because they mean you can take back whatever you said if it will later benefit you. Disclaimer: Don’t yell at me, I have a disclaimer. Therefore the responsibility for what I have written is not mine. Don’t assume I mean what I say from here on. Thanks.
This turned into a long piece and I don't have time before a breakfast meeting to edit it. Please read this with a generous open mind. I mean well, please try to assume that. Thanks.
He goes on to say that he’s seen this stuff before. Like everybody. I appreciate that he doesn’t go into detail, because, as I said in a previous post, it just becomes a stupid “I’ve had it worse!” game.
Just want to get on the record as Michelle Malkin did yesterday, that the kind of abuse that Kathy Sierra reported is not anything new, it's been going on for a very long time. Without going into detail, because I've found that just creates more of the kind of crap we don't like.
Then things start to get interesting.
People aren't going to like this, but it's true -- when a woman asks for a riot she gets one, and almost no one comes to the defense of a man who is attacked. Who's more vulnerable? Well, honestly, it's not always a woman.
Is this true? I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t been entrenched in the blogosphere nearly as long as any of the main players in this (not even as a reader), but I have never seen anyone else come out against death threats in the way Kathy Sierra did. I’m sure people have, and this is his point. Even so, it is irrelevant. That Kathy’s blog post elicited such a strong reaction is a good thing, and it should be used as an opportunity to really question tricky stuff like internet conduct and anonymity. The scale has tipped, at last, and complaining that no one cared when you cried out adds nothing constructive to the conversation. Yes, it sucks, and I’m sorry for you, but have you considered it might have less to do with gender and more to do with Kathy, her writing style, and those who are part of her community of supporters? Maybe there’s something to the way she represents herself that encourages a more emotional attachment from her readers. It’s not right to try to diminish the seriousness of her situation by claiming that people only care because she’s a woman. Accept that people care, and are being vocal, and start doing something about it, so no one has to experience the same in the future. Leverage this exposure to everyone’s benefit.
Those who provided the riot Ms Sierra asked for, unknowingly, I'm sure, attacked at least one person whose health is pretty fragile. I wonder how y'all feel now that you know that. I wonder how you'd feel if that person died in the midst of the shitstorm. Someday if we don't change the herd mentality of the tech blogosphere, that is likely to happen. I don't want to be part of the herd on that day, that's why I won't join herds.
Now this is just stirring an already boiling pot. All you’re doing is creating a false situation to create a stronger sense of, “Oh shit, maybe we did something wrong.” Yes, it would suck if this “person” (I think you mean Jeneane?) were to die during all this. But I don’t see how this would be the mob’s fault. Here’s another “What If?” - what if Kathy were to be killed? Ooh...then who’d be wrong? See, these suppositions do nothing but get people started with a game of one-upmanship. What if she turned out to be Hitler? What if so-and-so ate little children? What if she were exposed as a Republican? It never ends.

That said, herd-joining is lame, yeah. And people can get hurt. The thing is, you’re already part of a herd, though. It’s the herd of “Not Saying Anything” - a herd that prevails all over the web, and through life, that, by its refusal to speak out against violence, implicitly supports it. This is the worst kind of herd - the one you don’t realize you are a part of, or don’t even know exists. It is the herd of institutional and systematic discrimination. It is the herd that feminists and civil rights activists find hardest to fight, because no one else acknowledges they’re there.
Yesterday I said I don't support the kinds of rules of conduct that Tim O'Reilly was calling for. Giving Tim the benefit of the doubt, I think he doesn't fully unerstand what was going on in the blogging world, and I'm not claiming I do either, but he was running a conference this week, and it couldn't have gotten very much of his attention. And you know what, that's a good thing, and we should all strive to keep our perspective, before we create the kind of fantastic graphic imagery that was created around this event.
Okay, fine. What rules of conduct do you propose? This is the discussion we need to start.
If anyone had a reason to want retribution against the "mean kids" -- I have it. They've been on my case for years. They're really nasty people. That's why I have some credibility when I tried to put the brakes on the mob. Next time, let's have some more people do that too.
Again, Dave, it sucks you have had to deal with the “mean kids.” And I think you’re right to encourage everyone to have some perspective. But it is important to get angry and shout a little bit, too. That’s how people know something needs changing. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s there to hear it, then who the hell cares?
To the credit of the mob, very few people attacked me for doing what I did. That's cause for hope! At least some sense of perspective remained.
Yup. Definitely. I think the mob was less crazy than people think. There were some exceptions, of course (particularly in the comments on Kathy’s post), but for the most part, everything I read was pretty civil, and seemed to emphasize that we ought not to jump to conclusions.
And out fo all that was said I think Doc nailed it -- we got used by a few trolls, and no one knows who they are. Everyone played a role in this, the people who stopped blogging, the people who threatened their friends, the people who called it a gang rape, and yes indeed, the mean kids. But they've paid enough. It's time to welcome them back into the blogging world, and in a few weeks, ask them to reflect on what they learned. These are all intelligent and creative people, who have acted badly. But they didn't deserve what they got.
We don’t know for sure what happened. So to say we were used by trolls seems a bit premature. Why and how did trolls get access to the blogs in question? Why weren’t their words immediately disowned by the people whose identities were presumably compromised? It’s true that the threatening emails Kathy received may have come from random trolls, and it’s possible that these incidents are all separate and unfortunately coincidental. But why was the picture of Kathy posted? Was that by anonymous hacker trolls, too? Why was it allowed on the blog? And the comments about Maryam Scoble? Who is “Joey?” A lot of questions need to be answered before we can say for certain that it was just trolls. I think it’s clear that some of the people involved in these sites are at least somewhat responsible. And that still doesn’t address the fact that it is this culture of hate speech that they encouraged which needs to be addressed.

Everyone did play a role in this. And that is precisely the point. Everyone should play a role, if we hope to get something done. I agree that we need to welcome these bloggers back into the community, and show them respect. They are intelligent people, and good writers, and important figures. And they should use this reputation (which has not been destroyed nearly as much as we/they think) to speak out against hateful and violent and misogynistic speech. I’m still not sure exactly what they “got” that they didn’t deserve. Were people mean to them? You reap what you sow, to an extent, but if they were being attacked (even defensively by Kathy’s supporters or trolls posing as supporters) it just shows even further how broken things are.
The time to act is way before it escalates into the kind of post that Kathy Sierra posted. There should be people who are willing to provide personal support to others who are ostracized this way -- and that support should be available regardless of gender, age, or other circumstances. I won't support anything that only offers support to women and not men, we must help unpopular people, even people who we think are mean. It's no crime to be unpopular, and you can measure our humanity by how good we are to people we don't like.
This I mostly agree with. There should be places to go. That there aren’t is the problem. That Kathy posted this on her blog should not be surprising. The people who read her blog support her and are part of her community. They are people who find her writing credible, her persona likeable, and her ideas compelling. They are people who care, and who are willing to listen to what she has to say. Blogs are, very often, an individual’s comfort zone. Kathy’s blog is the one place where she felt she could exercise some power against her attackers, and against those she thinks encourage such attacks. Everyone finds this strength somewhere - the police, a gun, their families, a diary. The popularity of Kathy’s blog has made more people aware of this incident than the million other times things like this have happened, but that doesn’t for a second mean she should have kept quiet.
Sometimes people say things that are designed to hurt other people. Locke, Sessum, Paynter and Head Lemur are the kinds of people who do that. I read yesterday that Denise Howell considers them friends. I've asked other people who do, like David Weinberger and AKMA how they can support that -- I asked when I was a target of their attacks. All I got was silence. I think people need to come to terms with that, and speak up whenever people say or do things designed to hurt other people. That's how we prevent explosions like the one we dealt with this week.
Yes. Keeping quiet is not cool.
So if we have a code of conduct, it can't just talk about how trolls behave, because truly we have no control over that. It should talk about responsible people whose names we know with reputations they care about -- what should they do when abuse happens? That is something we can do something about. There should be 18 steps before something like Kathy Sierra's post appears in the midst of the blogosphere, and it shouldn't come from teh person who has been victimized, someone else should stand up for them and explain what happened. For so many reasons this is a much better way to go, and I'm sure the victim would like it better too (I speak from experience).
Absolutely. Change starts with us. Right now.
You know there's nothing worse than being hunted and having no one care enough to speak up for you. That's what we need to work on folks. And when we solve this problem, we can go to work on Iraq -- because that's much heavier and much worse, but kind of the same thing. Why aren't we angry at all the wasted lives? I think we'll find the answer to that question is related to why we're so bad at dealing with situations like the one we tried to deal with this week.
Dave, you’ve come to the right conclusion. The conclusion that at issue here are agency, accountability, respect, responsibility, and openness. And that this isn’t just about blogging, isn’t just about the internet. It’s about everything. It is merely a symptom of much larger problems facing the world today.

Problems that it’s about damn time we start talking about. Louder than ever before.

For everything related to this controversy that I’ve written about this week, click here.

Kathy Sierra Audio Interview

ABC7 KGO-TV/DT has posted a lengthy audio interview that David Louie conducted with Kathy Sierra that is worth listening to (mp3 here). It doesn’t offer much new if you’ve been following this drama from the start, but it is a good recap, and we hear Kathy say she hopes this incident doesn’t lead to restrictions on free speech, but encourages individuals to speak out against violent and hateful speech in their communities as well as ask questions about the need for anonymity on the Net.

She says she is receiving even worse threats since she reported them. That sucks, but is totally expected.

It would be such a tragedy to lose her as a blogger. Already my Google Reader feels less sunny. Here’s some classic Kathy so you can see what we’re missing: One of us is smarter than all of us

How Fun Is Spending Money?

Seth Godin posted this great graphic about the pleasure we derive from a purchase versus the amount of money spent on it. He wonders if more companies might not start upping the “fun” factor of high-end purchases and offers the following as a wonderfully novel example:
What if a real estate broker hired a really personable ex-cheerleader/glee club member for $20 an hour to do nothing but sweat the details and be charming the entire time the closing was going on? Someone to run and get donuts and do xeroxing and get papers organized in advance... in the scheme of a million dollar purchase, not such a big deal, right?
Cheerleaders...hmm...kinda makes me wish I had that million right now.

I’m also conflicted about his whole graph - is it good or bad that Girl Scout Cookies cost more than Starbucks coffee?

Finally, does anyone know where I can get some Tagalongs (aka Peanut Butter Patties)? I mean, seriously. There’s no trans-fat anymore...

Kathy Sierra’s Personal Info Leaked

I’m still working on a long response to a post by David Winer this morning, but after seeing a Twitter update from Robert Scoble/Scobleizer stating that Kathy Sierra had added an update to her blog post with the accusations and description of the death threats she had been receiving, I immediately checked it out, and am now sharing her update in full below.

Apparently, her home address and social security number were posted by an anonymous commenter, moving her to close the comments (at 1165!) and post this:
Comments have now been closed [3/28/07, 6 PM] after someone posted personal data mixed with inaccurate information. It is the only comment I have removed from this thread. I wish to thank everyone for their support, but honestly--the high visibility and coverage of this one post has led to more trouble for me. Now, even people who had never heard of me are expressing hatred and creating new problems (posting my social security number and address, horrific lies about me, etc). I do want to clarify that I still do NOT know who made the photos and the posts from the two sites--the noose photo, not shown here, as well as the photo below--or who made the threatening comments on this blog. There is no evidence that the blog comments and the posts are by the same person or persons; and it is open to debate whether the photos (including the one not shown here--of the noose and my head) are threatening, or merely vile. The people I've named here as being participants on one or both of those sites have not denied their involvement with the sites (as owners or participants), but all have denied making either of the posts in question, although it was someone who had author priviliges on the blog, not a random commenter. This whole debate will have to continue elsewhere now. While I'm happy the topic is being discussed so vigorously, the more my name and this post is brought up, the more abuse I get in email or other blogs--and now that my address has been posted... Yes, I should have known that when I posted, and had I known the firestorm that would be created, I probably would have stayed silent. But my words here still stand. This is everything I know--and don't know--about the situation.]
This situation has started to die down, it seems (though it’s still number one on Technorati, even with Sanjaya right on her tail), with most of the major players having responded in some way. All that’s left now, it seems, is to wait for facts to emerge, and hope that things right themselves soon.

And, most importantly, let’s hope for the dialogue regarding hate speech and internet ethics more generally to continue, so the uproar that has swept the blogosphere this week will not be in vain. We must keep talking about what is right, and continue to speak out against violent, sexist, racist, and otherwise hateful remarks. Censoring them is not the answer, but neither is sitting back and letting things like this happen. It’s just not cool.

Tomorrow (30 March) is “Stop Cyberbullying Day” - let’s not wait that long.

10 Signs You’re An Axe Murderer

  1. You own a Windows PC
    Given that Windows controls 95% of the computer market, and a vast majority of axe murderers have computers for searching out their victims on MySpace, you’re much more likely to be an axe murderer who uses Microsoft Word than a MacHead (as crazy as they might be, it’s more of a crazy-weird, than crazy-homicidal). Sure, having Windows might not cause you to be an axe murderer, but it could work the other way around. Meaning, you, as an axe murderer might be inexplicably drawn to Windows. This is all there in the statistics - there should be no disputing this fact.
  2. You own an axe
    Not necessary, but very possible.
  3. Your mother is ugly
    That’s not really a sign. I’m just saying that. Dude, she is ugly.
  4. You listen to any of the following bands:
    Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Radiohead, Widespread Panic, The Grateful Dead, U2
  5. You are a vegan
    I mean seriously - eww. Meat eaters don’t kill with axes because they know they’ll be unable to salvage parts.
  6. You have a MySpace account using your real name
    Because you are sly enough to know that young girls won’t “friend” you if you don’t seem real and sketchy. Plus, everyone knows that law enforcement pays no attention to MySpace.
  7. You watched Gigli all the way through
    Dude, you know that’s just a major red flag. You could be more dangerous than Hitler.
  8. When you were little, you had a goldfish named “Goldy”
    Or some other animal named whatever color it was. Major no-no if your list of pets includes one named “Blackie”
  9. You’ve ever commented on a video on YouTube
    Creep. Copyright disrespecter. Pirate. Lost addict.
  10. You have, have ever had, or know someone who has a LiveJournal
    ’nuff said.

Some Thoughts On Kathy Sierra, Anonymity, Censorship, And Line Breaks In Blog Post Titles

Random thoughts on the Kathy Sierra scandal, anonymity, privacy, free speech, blogging, and the real world, in no particular order:
  • Vile speech like Kathy experienced is exactly that - vile. Heinous, disgusting, and wholly unnecessary.
  • It is not up to me, you, or the blogosphere to decide if what she experienced constitutes “protected speech” under the First Amendment. It is for the police, and the courts. Stop pretending you are Mr. Constitutional Law Superstar.
  • This kind of speech, and similar verbal (and visual) threats are widespread. This does not mean that her reaction is too strong. What if it were you? What if you had kids?
  • Gender is important. It’s not that we wouldn’t get infuriated if such threats were directed towards men - we would, and we should. But the truth is, to pretend that gender isn’t a factor in all this is to ignore a very real history of violence and discrimination that women have experienced, and do experience, even today.
  • What these assholes have to say is not worth listening to. But it is worth responding to.
  • This kind of speech is not symptomatic of the blogosphere, or even the internet. It is a human problem that spans all walks of life. Don’t believe me? Bring a tape recorder to work, or to the mechanic, or Wal-Mart, or high school. Ask your kids.
  • It is not censorship to speak loudly against thoughts you disagree with. But be careful of the tyranny of the majority.
  • The way we (bloggers, people, the media) treat celebrities is deplorable. Are we all really that jealous?
  • Those who have explained their roles in this scandal (Frank, Jeneane, and now HeadLemur) have not lost their reputations. You’ve strengthened them by being honest and open. The only people who assumed you were guilty never read your blogs in the first place.
  • Chris Locke, on the other hand, you have no one to blame but yourself. You are nothing but a child.
  • Free Speech depends on accountability.
  • Anonymity is an illusion.
  • Guns will not protect you.
  • No one else knows what will make you feel safe.
  • Mobs are dangerous. Let’s not forget, however, the most insidious silent mob of implied consent.
  • Michelle Malkin, and this pains me to say, is not very wrong this time. But she’s still falling into the “whose shit is deeper?” trap of comparing incidents of violence and threats. That gets us nowhere.
  • You control your own reputation. If you don’t - you lose, just like in business. Speak louder, speak truer, cry from the rooftops, own your identity. You wouldn’t let someone do it in real life - why would you online? Why would you just give up?
  • Blogging is Real Life.
  • Bloggers are Real People.
  • Ideas deserve respect.
  • If you think you have to be an asshole to get your point across, you’re missing something.
  • It might be funny to you to joke about black people, women, Jews, homosexuals, noobs, etc., but unless you’re willing to back up your joke with some serious discussion when confronted, it might be best to laugh on the inside.
  • You can’t hide behind masks.
  • Sharing openly is awesome.
  • The government has little to no place in all this, except to protect free speech. Not limit.
  • Have a heart. Use your head.
  • Sometimes it is enough to say, “I’m sorry.”
  • Sometimes you’re wrong. And that’s okay.
Oh, and line breaks in titles of blog posts are not cool.

Kathy Sierra - HeadLemur Responds

From Doc Searls (read his full post here)
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 07:25:52 -0700
From: alan herrell
To: Doc Searls
Subject: Kathy Sierra
(sorry I haven't written before this as I have been doing damage control for my clients)
I am writing this to you as the guy who can forward it to everybody that matters.
I am writing this from a new computer, using an email address that will be deleted at the end of this.
I am no longer me. My main machine despite my best efforts has been hacked, my accounts compromised including my email. and has been disconnected from the internet.
How did this happen? When did this happen? shit doc, i don't have a fucking clue. I thought i was pretty sharp. I guess not.
just about every online account that i have has been compromised. Most importantly my digital identity and user/password for typepad and wordpress. I have been doing damage control, for my clients. How the fuck i got to be part of this mess is revolting.
The Kathy Sierra mess is horrific. I am not who ever used my identity and my picture!!
I am sick beyond words over this whole episode. Kathy Sierra may not be on my top 10 list , but nobody deserves this filthy character assaination.
But everything I have written about her or anyone else has been in public.
Jesus Doc, In the ten years I have been online, i have never used any sort of screen name or hidden behind psedonyms.
I have always posted and written as me. I have prided myself on the fact that I stand behind everything I wrote. Blogging made it much better in keeping the dialogue public.
That folks think that this mess is the sort they believe I would do is disheartening.
I may not be the the most popular guy, but I like to think i have been honest. And I say again I have *always* done this publicly.
For Kathy and Maryam and anybody else I am deeply sorry. Nobody deserves this.
Whatever credibility I may have had is down the toilet. For this I am profoundly saddened.
I liked being who I was warts and all.
I have over the course of my time online met some of the brightest people that I would never have the abilty to sit across from to break bread or share coffee with from around the world. How wonderful is that.
In 1997 I wrote that I believed that the internet was the most important invention of the human race. I believe it even more today as I write this.
It will probably some time before I attempt to join the great conversation again, but, Please don't let bastards grind you down.
alan herrell the head lemur (retired)

Whoa. Things are just beginning to get interesting. Whoa.

Yahoo Mail To Offer Unlimited Storage

According to Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch, starting May 2007, Yahoo Mail will offer unlimited storage to all users. This is a huge swipe at Google’s GMail, which offers what now sounds like a tiny 2.8GB at the moment. Arrington says that the unlimited space is contingent on use consistent with “normal email practices,” which means it can’t be used for free online storage (in theory - but it could still be great for backing up, well, everything on your hard drive bit by bit).

I wonder where Yahoo got the guts (and the servers) to do something like this, and what kind of research they did to confirm this would be a good idea.

I also wonder what Google will do. I plan on sticking with them, after all. Because GMail, GMail Chat, Google Reader, Blogger, Google Analytics, Google Maps, Google Docs, Google Apps For Your Domain, Google Earth, and well, Google Search are amazing amazing amazing.

So yeah. Pretty big move, though. Glad to see Yahoo is still in the game.

Official Announcement on the Yahoo Blog here.

More On Kathy Sierra

This post is going to be more-or-less a recap of a bunch of the talk on the ongoing story about the alleged death threats on Kathy Sierra that I have taken in all day today. (Her original post is here, with hundreds of comments) There’s lots more out there, and I’m sure that even more will come to the surface as the week progresses, but for now, here’s some interesting reading (in absolutely no logical order).

Edit: There is a great post on Dave’s Educational Blog about this story, where he nicely assesses the strained relationship between free speech and censorship, and the problem with anonymity on the internet. It is one of the first truly even-handed responses I’ve read. Do check it out.

Now back to the regularly-scheduled recap:

Paul Ritchie - ChatRat
Note: He gets even more ugly than what I’m posting below. Check his blog if you’re feeling up to it.
L Ron Hubbard ring any bells? Smith and Rutherford perhaps? Helen Demidenko? How many more crap artists could I name before you stupid prats in the media get it through your damnably thick skulls that nothing beats research for a good story and the sooner this Sierra troll is highlighted for the lying cow that she is, the stupider she - and all of you - are going to look.

It's Wednesday morning in Australia. By Friday, you'll be blaming her for this outburst but what wreckage will you all leave in your collective wake? This stupid beat up is your creation because you've fallen for a beautiful ploy of a consummate liar.

Since you're all such a pack of gullible suckers, come over here and suck my motherfucking dick.
Listics - Frank Paynter
MeanKids was purposeful anarchy. I thought the people at MeanKids would create art and criticism, pointed and insulting satire, but not foster a climate of fear. Misogynistic postings at led me to try to moderate, but indeed the group there was of the “You Own Your Own Words” tradition, so moderating or central editorial control wouldn’t work. I tore the site down.


I don’t know what to say Kathy, except that I support you and I agree that misogynistic bullshit must not stand. I left a “take it down” comment but it’s in moderation. I’m going out to burn a pile of brush right now and I’ll be mulling over a post on transgressive art and personal boundaries. Meanwhile, I’m sure you know that for every bizarre asshole who resents you and your work, there are hundreds or thousands of us who admire you.
Scripting News - Dave Winer
I'll tell you what -- the mob that's going after them looks a lot more dangerous than they do. Locke and Paynter are pretty harmless, although they are nasty mofos, on the net (which is an important distinction). Sessum is a champion sexist male-basher, a real piece of work. I've never met her, and if I had the chance, I'd run the other way. Which is what I wish the mob of well-intentioned do-gooders would do.

On this one, I take the side of the mean kids, because no one else is, and I have a soft spot for people who are being attacked by a mob, no matter how pathetic they are.

RageBoy - Chris Locke
I did write two comments on the "Bob's Yer Uncle" site, which I am happy to repeat for the record: 1) "Kathy Sierra is a hopeless dipshit."; and 2) "The only 'passionate users' I know are crack heads." I do not like Kathy Sierra. I like her even less after her post of Monday. If she is waiting for me to apologize for something I did or said, she is going to have a very long wait.
BlogHer - Lisa Stone
For the record, I deeply disagree with the premise of sites like and others, and am surprised by the women and men who recommended and linked them from the beginning. To me, these sites are the of the blogosphere, a place where bitter cowards who don't have the courage to own their snark hide and spit. I disagree with Frank Paynter that the early posts were designed to be "mere anarchy". It looks to me as though the site devolved into being exactly what anyone who has ever seen that kind of site fester would expect.
Jeneane from ALLIED on Burningbird
I don't feel i can speak on this, though I wish I could. Legal statements have been used in emails that leave me unwilling to go beyond stating what I have on my blog. I'll state it again here–anything i have ever written about kathy has been on my own blog. I agree with much of what shelley has written here and thank her, and parts of what Frank has written on his blog as well.

My statements are and will be on my blog, the place I where I actually write stuff, when I know I can speak freely without legal consequence. There are important issues here to discuss, which shelley mentions — layers and layers of them.

I hope Kathy does find the commentor who has threatened her life and takes action to feel safe. And I hope she uses the same vigor to exonerate those whom she has inaccurately linked to those acts.
Nick Denton at ValleyWag
The facts won't help Locke much. A cry of misogynism pretty much shuts off debate. The marketing guru, an abrasive character by his own account, has no defenders. (Update: Dave Winer is one of the few who stands out against the chorus of cowardice.) The bloggers are behaving like a lynch mob, or a US president, looking for someone to string up, or a country to invade. Sierra is upset, traumatized, even; but it's Locke's reputation which will be, possibly quite unfairly, soiled by her accusation.
Burningbird - Shelley Powers
Do I think Kathy's life is in danger? From what she wrote? No. But it's not up to me to decide, I'm not her and I deal with things differently than she does. Doesn't mean I'm better or she's better–just different. As for fully interpreting this as a criminal act, it's up to the police since she's called them. But by calling the police, and writing her post, she's raised some very high stakes, which could end up causing a great deal of harm to some folks. She's created a posse, and from what I can see, not a lot of people have asked for context. Or care.

The email that Kathy received is separate from the posts. It was unfortunate that she combined these into a post. I'm concerned now that a lot of people are going to react and some folks, including Kathy, are going to get hurt–and no, I don't mean physically.
Alan Herrell - HeadLemur, who has quit blogging with this post
character assassination by image and psedonym
believe what you will
get some help
Doc Searls
This isn't far from the concern I had when some of the MeanKids creators approached me to participate a few weeks ago. I thought it wasn't a good idea, but didn't say anything. In fact, I don't think I visited the site after I failed to log into it before it launched. Wish I had. For what it's worth, I never heard of unclebobism, where bad stuff was also posted and which is now also down
And finally, AKMA, with some closing words
All these dimensions show, yet again, that whatever else is true, there’s no magic barrier that separates the Net from Real Life. Whether in flesh or in pixels, we’re continuously taking part in a venture with the highest stakes, in a medium with an exceptionally long memory and no guarantees of anonymity. What we do, we do in public even if we hold a domino in front of our features — the slandering, threatening, stalking, bullying and other gestures we make online had better be gestures whose consequences we stand by.

More on Techmeme

Oh yeah, and it was written up in the BBC

Posting Will Be Light Today

I am at home, recovering from some random sickness, so posting will be light, as advertised in the title. I plan to try to get something up this afternoon, but in the meantime, you should check my Twitter, as that is quite a bit lower-impact than actual blogging, and I should be able to update it regularly.

What I’m doing today, for sure, is following the development of the Kathy Sierra story I wrote about yesterday. You should definitely keep an eye on this, too, as it is becoming more and more complex as major players begin to respond. And not all with apologies.

Have a good day everyone. I hope the weather is beautiful where you are, and that you can spend some time outdoors to appreciate it (as sick as I am, I absolutely need to get outside to experience the near-80-degrees it is supposed to be in NYC today).

Absolutely Stunned: Support For Kathy Sierra

I just woke up from a nap that will hopefully help me become un-sick, and upon busting open my Google Reader, read some seriously disturbing and unsettling stuff.

Kathy Sierra, the wonderful blogger of Creating Passionate Users (far and above my favorite blog) and author of the “Head First” series of programming books has been receiving disgustingly misogynistic death threats over the last week, and they are coming from areas of the web trafficked by some of the most well-known bloggers.

Her account of this saga (which is graphic, but very much worth seeing) can be read on her blog, and there are a ton of blogs that link to it worth reading for their reactions. Scoble isn’t blogging in protest, and Seth Godin is saying this is further proof that anonymity on the web does nothing good.

I’m not sure how else to respond than to direct you to the story, and hope that Kathy can find the strength to continue to blog and be an inspiration to so many.

I never thought I could feel such love and compassion for someone I’ve never even met, but I do, and I am sickened that this behavior has somehow been encouraged by the rules and makeup of the Web. It’s something I almost would have expected in 1998, when the Internet was still young and unruly. But today - people know better. Or they fucking should. This is sick.

As Seth Godin says, “Isn’t it sad that misogyny is so common that there's even a word for it?’”

Julie Amero Sentencing This Week

The rescheduled sentencing hearing for Norwich substitute teacher Julie Amero, who was convicted of four counts of causing injury to a minor when her spyware and virus-infested classroom computer began spewing pornographic popups, is happening this Thursday, March 29. (I previously wrote about this story here and here.)

In yesterday’s Hartford Courant, news writer Rick Green gave a great recap of the whole story, including little details like Amero’s pregnancy, and her refusal of an offer of “accelerated rehabilitation” when attorney David Smith threatened, “You better think about taking AR or you are going to spend 18 years in jail.”

He ends by saying:
The school district and police department are not talking. Returning a call Friday morning, Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane declined to comment about the case.

But Kane, Smith and others connected to the case have been deluged - and widely ridiculed - by computer security experts who say critical evidence was not considered and officials are now searching for ways to avoid Thursday's sentencing. The state's attorney's office in Norwich is reconsidering its aggressive prosecution of Amero, sources close to the case say.

Smith, whose persuasive arguments convinced the jury of Amero's guilt, would say only that before next Thursday, things "could very well change." (Emphasis mine.)
Let’s hope things do change.

Here is some of the great (awful) response in the Norwich Bulletin (the fatally biased local paper I wouldn’t mind to see go under as a victim of the internet age), which pins the burden solely on Amero, even more or less saying that the facts are irrelevant and she should be held responsible for the failings of the school district (or - and this is something I’ve never heard mentioned - the possible impropriety of the young, first-year, male teacher whose computer was infected).

Besides, all of these so-called “injured” children spoke at the trial (read the full transcript here, which I uploaded to Scribd, an awesome new site), a couple years after the incident, and seem fine and dandy.

In the very least, these students are a whole lot less damaged than many of the adults in Norwich.

It All Falls Down

Reading this story in Salon reminds me of one thing that every single person ought to do in his or her lifetime:

Go to Las Vegas to see a casino demolished.

It is one of the most amazing sights you will ever witness. Believe me. The videos don’t quite do it justice. If you want to see the American Dream in action - this is where it’s at.

Felicia Is Gone. Who Cares?

Felicia was kicked off America’s Next Top Model tonight.

I don’t really care. Renee is awesome. Especially since she fully admits to being a bitch. Awesome.

Facebook Sneak Preview

This week I joined my first new group on Facebook in quite awhile. For the most part, I haven’t been much of an active participant on the site, only checking in from time to time to see what’s happening, and check messages/wall posts. But when I caught wind of the Facebook Sneak Preview group in the official Facebook blog, I decided it was worth checking out.

What they’ve done is create a forum for user feedback on new features their developers are working on. It is obviously done partially due to the unexpectedly negative response to the introduction of the News Feed last fall (read my account of the saga here), and should be applauded for its efforts.

But what are they thinking about rolling out these days?

According to the Facebook blog, these are the three biggest things:
  • A simplified design. For those of the Facebook old guard, you've watched the number of features on the site grow. The new design will bring the focus back to the core elements, so the links you use the most often are easiest to find, while the others have new sensible homes. This will also help beginners understand how to get started. The Profile page will be a little sleeker, with your status rearranged, quick links under the profile picture and a mini-er Mini-Feed.

  • A unified inbox. All of your messages and shares will be found in one unified inbox, and extra functionality will be added to each. Now, rather than commenting on a share, you reply to it, just like a message. Also you can now message several people at once, and they can reply to everyone on the thread, just like email.

  • Network pages. Every network will have a single page where you can see all the sweet stuff happening in each of your networks. You'll be able to browse the profiles of network members, check out interesting facts about the breakdown of people around you, and see popular activity like which videos are getting shared and which groups are growing. There will also be a new events calendar to find out what's going on in your network.
I like it. And here are some prototype screenshots, in case you can’t/don’t feel like joining the group.

I still like it better than MySpace, in case you were wondering.

The ProgRock Age of Advertising

Herd - the hidden truth about who we are wrote an awesome post about the problems in the advertising world today, comparing it to the advent of Progressive Rock in the 70s. These are the points he raises:
- the love of craft (and training people in it) at the expense of the tune or the riff.
- the even greater love of showing off/worshiping our craft (ditto)
- long solos (please God, shut up, already)
- even longer solos by the members of the band that shouldn't do solos (ditto)
- stadium gigs and inflated salaries (nuff said)
- concepts/ideas (and the worship their of)
- the belief that we are doing something important and meaningful (what?)
- Global jobs and global products (or is that inter-galactic?)
Check out the full article on Herd, as well as the HolyCow post he links to, which calls for a punk rock revolution in advertising.

I agree with much of what these guys wrote, particularly about stripping out the noise and reducing things to the essence of the message. But I’m not entirely convinced that things are Prog-Rock across the board. I mean, what is viral video if not the anti-Prog? Isn’t a large segment of the market gravitating towards the indie and the homegrown (and aren’t there at least a few major corporations starting to understand this)?

And what do we make of Google’s innovative AdSense - with its ultra-simple format (just text), and the ability (for the first time ever in the advertising world) to actually measure its effectiveness? While both Herd and HolyCow are on the money when it comes to describing the lame, pointlessly overwrought advertising so prevalent today on television in particular (and are otherwise GREAT blogs worth subscribing to), it seems to me that they might be too busy telling their friends how much Yes sucks that they haven’t noticed that the Clash (Google) is already playing some pretty important shows.

The future they are longing for might already be emerging in a major, major way.

The game is already changing. TV is dying. Let’s not mourn - let’s go see some ROCK.

How To Organize Your Music - Part 1

As promised in my post on Tuesday, “How Much Music Is Enough?,” this is the first part of a multi-part series called “How To Organize Your Music.” I have a ton of thoughts about this, and hope you can take away some great tips for taking control of your iTunes library and using it to its full potential.

This first segment is subtitled “How To Rate EVERYTHING.” Check it out below.

How to Rate Everything

The first super-important step to getting your music under control (whether your library contains 150, 1500, or even [like mine] 15,000+ songs) is to, you guessed it, rate everything.

Every last song.

First, recognize that this is going to take some time and a lot of effort, but it is so worth it. The feeling of scrolling through your library and seeing a ton of stars is awesome. Once you’ve done it - once you’ve rated every last track - adding new music is a breeze. Rating and categorizing becomes automatic. It’s part of your routine. But getting caught up is the hard part.

What Makes A 5-Star Song?

The single most important thing is to know what your ratings mean. If you waffle on this, you are finished. Decide what each star means, and stick to it. Trust me - this can be a deal-breaker.

Here, for reference and reflection, is what my ratings mean:

1 Star
I award a single star to every song that needs to be deleted or re-downloaded. I award it to duplicates, sound effects, holiday music (which also gets tagged with an identical genre), television theme songs, and related tracks that I only want played when I ask specifically for them. Since you can’t remove songs from your library by deleting them within playlists, giving them a 1-star rating lets you easily find them in your main library and kick them out for good. EDIT: Actually, you can do this. On a Mac, just hold down Option and press Delete. I figured this out several months back, but commenter Richard brought it to my attention as it pertained to this post. In any case, everything else I said is still relevant.

2 Stars
This is my least-used rating, but it does come in handy. For the most part, songs with two stars are the very short filler tracks that seem to pop up on a ton of albums these days. Naturally, these tracks are distracting on most occassions, but have their place, for example, if I want to listen to the entire album. I also use two stars for bad music. Why not delete these tracks, then? Well, because it’s not worth my time or energy, for one. It’s also cheaper, in the long run, to keep things than to delete them, as digital space gets less and less pricy. There’s also the off chance that I might need these awful tracks - for sharing with a friend, playing at an “awful music” party, or creating a mix for an evil ex, to mention a few possibilities. Better to have them all in one place so they don’t pop up unexpectedly, but can be used as a weapon if necessary. (And oh yes, Musical Theatre gets two stars.)

3 Stars
These songs make up the meat of my collection, but are closely rivaled in quantity by the 4-star tracks. I give out the 3-star rating to the mediocre tracks, the vast majority of my classical collection (except the great ones that receive more stars), and many of the “weird-but-important” tunes that make up my library. Three-star songs are songs that might deserve another listen-through and could potentially be boosted a level from time to time. Where a 4-star rating all but guarantees placement on my iPod, I’ll occassionally let some of these guys through for the hell of it, but almost never include them in party mixes. Additionally, I give 3-stars to some good tunes that just happen to be way too long (like 15 minutes or more), because they’re typically deadly for parties, and even deadlier in terms of filesize when filling your mp3 player.

4 Stars
If a track gets four stars, that means it is a winner, a song that I like to listen to. As simple as that - these are the tracks that I would keep if someone were to hold a gun to my head and force me to delete 10,000 tracks. The 4-star rating is pretty much the top rating I award (except as mentioned below). If I like it, it gets 4. These songs are the ones I use to make smart playlists for my iPod and for general listening. Not 4 stars - no deal. This is definitely the easiest category to populate. You know which tracks deserve this.

5 Stars
If four stars is the best, what about five stars? Well, five star songs can’t really be described, but everyone knows what they are. These are songs that, the minute they come on, get you excited. Like really excited. The songs you have strong feelings for because they remind you of moments in your life. Five-star songs are four-star songs that have transcended. They’re just special, and you would never think of going anywhere without them. Five-star songs make you cry, make you sing out loud, make you do generally crazy shit. These songs rock (even if they can be a little embarrassing from time to time). I typically shy away from using these songs in party mixes because sometimes things can get a little complicated and personal.

So that’s my system. Feel free to modify it for your uses, or tell me about your own system in the comments. As long as you have some relatively strict way to rate, you’re set.

Moving on, at last.

Rate Those Tunes Now

Now that you have your system set up, immediately check out your “Top 25 Most Played” playlist and rate all of them. Unless you mistakenly left iTunes on single-track repeat while you were gone for the weekend, you already know all of these songs very well, and know what they deserve. If a song on this list doesn’t get at least 4 stars, that would be weird.

Done? Good.

Now, take an hour (or half-hour, or three hours) and scroll through your library and rate things that jump out at you. Don’t stop to think for a second. Just breeze through, catching the albums that you catch, and give the tracks quick ratings. Again, the stuff you see will most likely be stuff you like, so don’t worry if you feel like you’re giving out a ton of stars.

The point is to find the good stuff, after all.

What I find helpful, after this once over, is to sort your library by date added, and make a new playlist with a ton of the most recent albums you’ve added (this works best with full albums, rather than individual tracks). I then stick this entire list on my iPod. The goal is to listen album by album, and rate every single track in that album. I do this on my morning and evening commute, and it has worked really well. You don’t have to listen to each song in its entirety (I sure don’t, but you’re welcome to), but just enough of it to give it a rating, depending on the amount of time you have and your degree of interest. The important thing is to stick with the album - no switching in the middle! And every time you sync your iPod, delete all the albums that have been rated from this playlist, and keep it up until your iPod is totally empty. Then rinse, refill, and repeat.

One super-quick tip if you have a Mac (sorry Windows-users): Get Quicksilver. Install the iTunes plugin. Set up keyboard shortcuts for, minimally, Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, and 1-star, 2-stars, 3-stars, 4-stars, and 5-stars (I use Option+Command+# to rate). This way you can control your tunes and rate tracks without leaving your current application. Don’t hesitate - do it. You’ll be glad you did.

Okay, Stop Reading and Get Rating

I think this about does it for now. I don’t want to bog you down with too much all at once. Hopefully this is enough to get started. I would love to hear your feedback in the comments, and any tips you might have for the other readers as well. What works for you? What doesn’t?

In my next post in this series, I’ll get more into specifics of playlist construction and other things that will help you continue to rate and sort your library effectively.

Remember, the ratings you award (and life itself, after all) are impermanent. You’ll want to change things over time, but give yourself this time. Don’t get too hung up on details initially. Just get it done. And enjoy the music.

Added Part 2 here!
And Part 3 here.

Signs Around Town: NYC

What does this even mean?

Did someone sue them saying, “Yo, now look here Miss Manager Sir. I bought this Big Mac Extra Value Meal and now there ain’t any seats for me to sit down and eat. I’m gonna sue your ass for making me think I could sit down, when really this restaurant is clogged up with a bunch of stupid skinny-ass high school girls from Alabama on the dance squad for the Thanksgiving Day Parade who ain’t even eating for crying out loud! Hell, maybe I can prove I was hit by a car while trying to cross the street and dig into my box of fries at the same time because of your negligence to provide seating or notification of its lack so I might prepare otherwise.”

And then they had to pay a couple million in damages?

Or is this just pre-emptive?

How Much Music Is Enough?

Marginal Revolution wrote again this morning about the Bach box (which I really want to get), but also pointed me to a great question: “How much music is enough?”

Jane Galt writes:
Currently, I've got about 1100 songs, which is fine, but not enough for me to achieve that sense of security that comes from knowing that you'll have something you want to listen to every single time you fire up your iPod.


But how many is enough? 1,100 is, as I can personally attest, well short of enough; every time I open iTunes there is something missing. So how far am I from achieving my goal of musical nirvana? 3,000? 5,000? More? I'm not asking when I'll stop needing new music; presumably, there will always be room in the inn. But when will I stop feeling that empty, yearning sensation every time I open a music player?
Definitely check out the rest of her post and the comments, for some interesting and funny insights.

But here are my thoughts, since you asked:
After losing some of my music when my iBook died (not all of it - I do back up!), I was actually blessed by being able to start over with my iTunes library. All the songs I had accumulated over the last several years were now on equal footing - zero plays, zero stars. Once I had restored what I backed up, I took to ripping albums I hadn’t ever ripped because of space constraints - now I had a much larger hard drive on my notebook, and two really huge LaCie external drives on which I decided I would now be storing my music. Why the external drives? Well I reasoned that there were two times I could be listening to music: in my room with my computer at my desk, or somewhere else where I would have my iPod. There’s nothing really between those two situations - no time where I would want to listen to music on my laptop while, say, in front of the TV. So I had a plan to rebuild and finally optimize my iTunes library to my listening habits. Later this week, I intend to post more about the system I use, and some tips for rating and organizing your music, but for now, we’re talking about size.

Just how big is my library?
Well, between my old CDs and mp3s, stuff from EMusic, and other sources, I managed to increase my library to its current size of 15,597 songs (Very nearly 80GB). That’s music from over 2,000 albums, spanning from Hayden and Bach and Bulgarian folk songs to Horse the Band, Bauhaus, and Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs. It is a lot of music, and no, I haven’t yet listened to every track (not even in part). However, in less than three months (and really only one diligent month with the system I came up with), I have over 7,000 of these songs rated and will have the entire library rated by May, I’m sure. Is it enough music, though?

No. Here’s why:
For me, music is - always has been - about discovery. It’s what used to be amazing about listening to the radio (before it became choked with ads and regurgitated the same 20 tunes) - a random song you’ve never heard before comes on and is just perfect, hits just the right chord, at that singular moment in time. The joy in subsequently figuring out the artist, buying the album, and then popping it in your CD player was unbeatable. Being the first, telling your friends, sharing the experience of listening to something new and life-changing - being surprised by something you didn’t know even existed - that is totally what music is about. Was about.

Was about?
Yeah, like it or not, our listening patterns have changed. With the introduction of mp3 players (more honestly, the iPod) we were all given incredible levels of control over what we listened to at any moment. It’s simply next in the progression from LP (moving the needle from track to track), to cassette (pressing FF and guessing), to CD (pressing next, but still limited to one album). Now, at your fingertips, there is the power to pick any song, play it for any length of time, and skip to another song, and keep skipping until you find what it is you want to listen to.

While there is great, great joy to be had in simply shuffling at random (the wild success of the iPod Shuffle definitely illustrates this), I think all will agree that it is not enough. Now that you have control, how can you resist the temptation to take control? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s set my iPod to shuffle during my morning commute, only to be aurally assaulted when a song by Melt Banana follows a song by Air. Likewise, who can deny the embarrassment and awkwardness when, in the midst of a tender, romantic, passionate make-out session, a Daniel Johnston tune pops up to destroy the moment entirely? (Note: I’m sure there are people in this world who love to make out to Daniel Johnston. That’s cool for them. Not for me.). Shuffling just isn’t practical, all the time. Part of the reason that radio used to work is that the playlists were hand-picked so that there could be surprises, but none like this:

A: Hey, guess what?
B: What?
A: Herpes! Are you surprised?
B: ...

Blind shuffling can actually be detrimental to your music listening habits, causing you to have unfortunate and negative reactions to music that, under some other circumstances, could be your favorite tune of the moment. Hating music is not cool. That’s why it is important to gain control over your library and use it to your advantage.

Zen and the Art of Exercising Control
It is only by exercising this control that one can begin to reduce (and this is the ultimate, Zen-like goal of all this). I don’t mean to reduce the overall size of the library - but to reduce it to little, digestible nuggets of relatedness. You can do this in a number of ways, and I’ll detail some of mine in a later post, but once you find a good system, and get your entire back catalog aligned with it, future additions to your library can be added easily and effectively. The important thing to keep in mind is this: you don’t have to listen to every single song all the way through to decide where it needs to go. Initially, the rating/sorting should be based on your immediate reaction to the song. As you live and grow with your music, you will find things that need to change. You will continue to be surprised, in a good way, by things that you own.

There’s an important balance to achieve in sorting your library. The level of detail radio stations and DJs pay to arranging their playlists is more than you ought to, typically. You will end up knowing too well what’s on each list, and could easily become bored. The point is to craft these lists to encourage moments of serendipity, moments of accidental harmony with life. To take control is not to control, but to guide. To create paths of flow.

How much music is enough music?
This is like asking “How much air is enough air?”

You can only breathe one breath at a time. But you can breathe every single moment of every single day for your entire life.

How much music is enough music? I don’t know...I haven’t made it there yet.