Weblogs Archives

Absolution 2005

My friend David writes, and I heartily concur,


I would like to. I really would. I like it and I like you.

But we're now well past the point where we can keep up with all the blogs worth reading from the people worth keeping up with.

I just can't do it any more.

I've been faking it for a while. Months. Maybe a year. If we've met and I look confused about something you told me, and if you said, "I blogged it," as if that should be explanation enough, I've made some excuse as if I read every one of your posts except that one.

The truth is, I probably haven't read your blog in weeks. Months maybe.

And I don't expect you to have read mine.

I don't want to lie any more. I don't want to feel guilty any more. So let me tell you flat out: There are too many blogs I like and too many people I like to making "keeping up" a reasonable expectation, any more than you should expect me to keep up with Pokemon characters or Bollywood movies. You shouldn't expect me to and I'm not going to feel guilty any longer about my failure.

I will read your blog on occasion, either because I've been thinking of you or because something reminded me of you. Maybe it'll be because you sent me an email pointing a post you think I'll enjoy. Go ahead! I'd love to hear from you.

But I hereby release you from thinking I expect you to keep up with my blog, and I preemptively release myself from your expectations.

Otherwise reading each other's blogs will become a joyless duty. And we're too good friends to do that to each other.

[This post written Saturday morning just before 10am, but posting deferred until Monday so as to provide more time for those people who aren't reading my blog a chance to see the announcement about the Carmina Burana production.]

Posted on June 27, 2005 at 08:00 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Posted on June 23, 2005 at 11:42 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

I am not a journalist, I'm a writer. 2005

"Folks, journalism is a craft. It takes a lot of time to learn to do well. There are rules, written and unwritten, that are applied. Laws that matter. Experience that you have to earn. Journalism - good journalism - is really, really hard.

Blogging, like you're reading now, is not hard. It's not supposed to be. A lot of people have worked very hard to make blogging as easy as typing a thought and hitting a button. That's the beauty of blogging - anyone can do it, about anything.

So again I say: Please, for the love of all that's good and holy, do NOT turn bloggers into journalists!"

Derek Powazek, Bloggers Don't Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Journalists

Posted on April 5, 2005 at 09:19 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (6)

Another year already 2004

How busy have I been? So busy that I didn't write a new essay for Discardia in September. So busy that I keep forgetting what day it is. So busy that I didn't post anything on Sunday to celebrate my blog's sixth birthday.

Happy birthday, MetaGrrrl!

(So busy that's all I'm gonna say right now!)

Posted on October 12, 2004 at 01:08 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Site Work 2004

Feeling focused this evening so I'm trying to tie off some loose ends with completing my migration from my old Movable Type site hosted by the excellent folks of Hurricane Electric. It's a time-consuming chore which I, unfortunately, only whittle away on from time to time as energy and geeky moods allow.

Currently cleaning up some November 1999 posts, fixing titles and confirming links still work.

Posted on October 6, 2004 at 09:24 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Stop. Design. 2004

I hit an odd rhythm this evening. After a delightful morning sleeping in and then puttering around the house - which is looking just great these days thanks to some furniture rearranging effected by my good housemate Chris - and an afternoon of friendly hanging out*, I found myself a little wiped out in the early evening. Partly it was being over-heated from my hike back up over the hill from Cole Valley, partly it's probably the low number of calories I'm consuming (running an approximately 500 calorie per day deficit most days as I lose weight on the hacker's diet), and partly it was just the option to flop out a little bit after a fairly intense week of work.

I decided that I was under no social obligation to attend the Annie Lin/Goh Nakamura show, as much as I enjoyed their last one. Having given myself permission to stay home, I puttered a bit on the computer (upgrading software and downloading NetNewsWire to give it a try) and thought about making dinner though the small snack I'd had at Reverie hadn't fully worn off.

Some time mid-evening - I wasn't paying attention to the clock - I decided to lie down for a nap. That felt so good that after an hour or so I decided to just go to sleep for the night....

...and woke up again at 11pm feeling great. I was refreshed and clear-minded, ready to get up and do things. So, I did. Dinner at midnight, watched some Simpsons, and a pleasant time reading the archives of Douglas Bowman's Stopdesign log. I always find his writing worth my time, but have been sporadic in reading the site. Since I was in a web design-y mood, want to dig deeper into Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and will be giving a presentation later this year on "Building a Business Case for Web Standards", reading his log from day 1 forward was the ideal place to spend my time. I've still only up to about a year and a half ago, but I expect it will go a little faster as I get into the range where I'm more likely to have read the posts while they were fresh.

One thing is definitely clear after spending over two hours on a single site: good design makes reading more enjoyable. Even something so simple as a link to the previous and next entries at the very bottom of the page makes a huge difference.

So, two changes on MetaGrrrl.com tonight:
1) a global search & replace to change all instances of unencoded ampersands to the proper & format for better accessibility and page validation;
2) the previous/next navigation links are now repeated at the bottom of the my individual entry archive pages.

Thanks, Doug.

*An afternoon in which I met Joel in person after an online friendship leading up to his 1000 mile bicycle ride down the coast from Seattle and, thanks to a suprise encounter on the street with Min Jung, we got to visit with a cool crowd of photobloggers at the lovely Reverie cafe in Cole Valley.

Posted on August 22, 2004 at 02:40 AM in friends & family, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

This is a post from ecto 2004

I'm giving ecto a try on the assumption it's the best way to understand its capabilities.

Speaking of second chances, I've also got a post half-written about Technorati's site improvements, but they were getting hammered from all the CNN/politics.technorati.com attention so I figure I'll check back later when I have more time (and/or don't feel so much like watching movies).

One thing I can see right off the bat is that ecto will allow me to easily adjust my post dates, solving my problem with filling in my pre-October-1998 history. Go, ecto!

(And damn if I ain't impressed with the interface just in the course of writing this first post. I thought Movable Type and TypePad were good, but this is a great power user setup!)

Posted on July 28, 2004 at 07:57 PM in tools, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

How I Use TypePad 2004

Though Mena's question was specifically about use of Movable Type, I thought I'd go ahead and answer the question too because I switched from Movable Type to use Six Apart's hosted solution, TypePad, and am finding it sufficient for my needs.

I have three weblogs: MetaGrrrl, Discardia, and a new one in development which is a conversion of a very old project to use of a content management system. About once every year or so I get a wild idea and start some new project. This often occurs right after SXSW. (I swear domain registration should have a breathalyzer and a 48-hour cooling off period... hey now, that'd be a cool site: dead domains. All those abandoned projects and wacky joke URLs and stuff people get all excited about and then never fully realize or do anything with... and it could be a group weblog or maybe anyone could add their little stories and... NO. Stop. Step away from the keyboard. ... See what I mean?) Anyhow, say 3 real weblogs plus the occasional litle side thing.

I have 7 TypeLists - which Movable Type folks would probably have to use another "weblog" for - of which 4 are now obsolete and in the process of being moved to regular posts (see Kottke Mode), 1 doesn't even need to be a TypeList and I should just hand code the rotating handful of entries, and two are legitimate ongoing uses (my Pals list used in my About page and the Other Discardian Writing list).

So, if I was MT instead of TypePad, I might max out at a dozen weblogs technically speaking (though I really only need 5) and 3 or 4 authors. Note that only 3 weblogs are distinct separate sites and thus count toware my license. I'd be fine with the Personal Edition at $70 and I'd be paying at least $25 a month to someone like Hurricane Electric to host it for me. Instead, I have a Pro TypePad account which costs $14.95 per month minus discounts (for switching to it during beta test and pre-paying). I'm a very happy Six Apart customer.

Posted on May 19, 2004 at 01:46 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Great Migration Continues 2004

Tonight as the wind blustered around outside, I put in another good chunk of time working on moving all my old website content into TypePad. There are now about 5 months of old Blogger posts to move in, assign titles and catagories to, and test links.

Then the entire history of the blog proper will be in one content management system. However there's also some side content that needs to be added. Some I've worked in already, but not by any means all. On the bright side, thanks to the new Files tab in TypePad I was able to very quickly confirm that I did already do the first cut on moving my old thesis pages in. This has been such a long, intermittant project I couldn't remember if I still had that chore ahead of me.

Getting all the migration done won't mean every post has had a title and category assigned, but at least I'll have it in one searchable, easy-to-backup location with a familiar and friendly interface for all my editing.

Posted on May 16, 2004 at 09:48 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

More comment spam 2004

Slept in this morning and so only caught the tail end of today's assault on my comments. Same pattern as yesterday - a bunch of Alexander Morozov/3FN.net sites - only this time on the theme of incest rather than beastiality. I deleted the 350 or so comments and hope that they were gone before Google's indexing 'bots came through. Then again, though, since this pattern has been going on for a while and is such a blatant attempt to jack search engine results, I wouldn't be surprised if most of the search engine sites have or are considering blocking these sites from appearing in results at all.

The only way to cure comment spamming and fake portals and bad keywording and all those other techniques is for them not to work in driving visitors to the promoted URLs. The responsibility for that lies with the search engine makers, though the rest of us can help by deleting the stupid content when it's under our control.

Blocking by IP won't work, I'm fairly well convinced. In the attacks on this site the originating IP changes every 10 or so comments and I'd not be surprised to find they belong to insecure servers the spammers are illegally using as origins, much as they would for mailing spam. (Thus the other thing we can do to protect the Web from these abuses is to keep any servers under our control very secure).

Posted on May 15, 2004 at 01:52 PM in warnings & kvetches, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Hammered with comment spam 2004

Oo, look how much attention I'm getting today.

You might want to block the following IP addresses from commenting on your websites:

I received many comment spams (mostly beastiality related) from each.

I'll delete the rest after we finish going over the evidence to see if we can trace the source.

If you've suffered a similar attack, please let me know. I'd like to put together some information for Google so they are aware of the probable search-result-jacking attempt.


Update: spam still rolling in. TypePad support working on the issue. Appears, based on the hosting of a commonly promoted domain, to be a certain much-loathed Russian spammer.

Given the rotating IP's, it's probably not worth adding them to your block lists. I'm hoping for a higher level door to slam closed against this crap.


Hmm, on the bright side, I'm accumulating a bit of interesting data of how these comment spammers work. I hope it will be helpful for blog software creators (most of whom are friends of mine) and the fine folks at Google and other search engines.

Posted on May 14, 2004 at 03:39 PM in warnings & kvetches, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (3)

Get a frickin' grip, MT bloggers. 2004

I can't believe the way people are freaking out over the fact that the next incarnation of Movable Type might actually cost money. For gawd's sakes folks, it's great software: compensate the people who make and maintain it. Or stick with the version you have. That's fine too.

And, really, it costs how much? $150 tops for personal use and that's 10 weblogs! For someone like me with 3 weblogs, it would cost $70. And, if I read the announcement right, I could apply the money I already paid for it - which I seem to recall being $50 because I was so impressed with the software - so it'd be $20 for the upgrade.

How much is other software which you might use every day? Quicken? $30-50 Microsoft Word? $200 Eudora? $50
But this isn't just like those other things, this is a communication device, so how much do you pay each month for, say, your internet connection? Or your mobile phone?

I think the Movable Type pricing is perfectly reasonable. Yes, SixApart will probably lose some "customers", but how useful are customer who think your product isn't worth paying for?

I pay for my software for the same reason I don't pirate music: I think craftspeople deserve to be able to make a living off what they do.

Posted on May 13, 2004 at 03:20 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (10)

Kottke mode (integrated lists & posts) 2004

Ever since Jason Kottke first moved his sidebar content into the main flow of his blog posts, I've been wanting to find a way to do that in Typepad. Today I woke up with the answer: abuse one of the other available fields and the conditional tagging possibilities of Movable Type.

Below this post [when it is viewed in the Month Archive view] is a little movie review of Rat. Notice how it's a small amount of content consisting of a pointer to something else online and a very short comment. In the past, I've had this sort of thing in the sidebar of the site, but that has the problem of introducing very recent content into my archive pages and distracting from the topic or time the page is supposed to focus on. It also plays merry hell with search engine results since words from these little mini-posts appear on the same page as the words in the archived posts and are assumed to be part of the same context when, in fact, they aren't.

So, how did I do it? I appropriated the "Extended" post field and it's conditional tags, made use of the Movable Type tag <MTElse> and applied some special styling.

Note: this approach requires use of Advanced Templates in Typepad.

For example, in my main index template, I now have:


<a id="a<$MTEntryID pad="1"$>"></a>


<div class="extended"><$MTEntryMore></div><div style="clear: both;"></div>


<MTWeblogPostIfShow field="date_header">
<h2><$MTEntryDate format_weblog_date="1"$></h2>

<MTWeblogPostIfShow field="post_title">
<h3><$MTEntryTitle$> <span class="fadeout"><$MTEntryDate format="%Y"$></span></h3>


<p class="posted">
Posted on <$MTEntryDate format="%B %e, %Y"$> at <$MTEntryDate format="%I:%M %p"$> <MTEntryIfCategories> in <MTEntryCategories glue=", "><MTBlogIfArchives archive_type="Category"><a href="<$MTCategoryArchiveLink$>"><$MTCategoryLabel$></a><MTElse><$MTCategoryLabel$></MTElse></MTBlogIfArchives></MTEntryCategories></MTEntryIfCategories> | <a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>">Permalink</a>
| <a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>#comments">Comments (<$MTEntryCommentCount$>)</a>
| <a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>#trackback">TrackBack (<$MTEntryTrackbackCount$>)</a>




and I've added these entries to my style sheet (some, admittedly, more in confused attempts to fix problems with the image floating out the bottom of the box than in answer to a specific design intent):

.extended {
border: 1px dotted red;
width: 75%;
margin-left: auto;
margin-right: auto;
padding: 3px;

.extended p {
text-align: left;

.extended img {
float: left;
margin: 2px;

I made similar changes to those in my main index template to my archive pages, but decided in those contexts I want the "posted..." line to appear so that people have access to commenting, trackbacks and permalinks. Visit the Memetic archive to see this.

Now I just need to make sure I didn't ever use that extended post format for an actual continuation of a post. Let me know if you ever spot something in this indented, dotted border style that isn't a little link or short media review, won't you? Ta.

I should also say thanks to Nikolai Nolan for assistance with using the CSS clear:both trick to make sure an image floated in one of these little mini-posts doesn't extend down beside the title for the next post. Unfortunately, I subsequently broke something. Anyone got an idea what I'm doing wrong with that image?(Oh and why won't CSS let me tell the image "don't impinge on anyone else's personal territory" instead of having to tell everybody else not to let the image bug them? Weird mental model, sez I, and fervently hope I've missed something along the way and it isn't that wacky.)

p.s. Note that since the Typelists only display the date and not exact time of entry creation, all these former Typelist items I'm migrating into the new format (i.e. all prior to today) have made up times.

Posted on May 8, 2004 at 02:57 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (4)

Posted on March 26, 2004 at 09:38 PM in Current Affairs, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

What Are You Lookin' At? 2004

Normally I get a hundred or two hundred hits a day on my website. Today I've gotten 450 so far. Only some of them are me working on this project, so what is going on?

Tell me (in the comments), what brings you to MetaGrrrl this fine day?

Posted on January 12, 2004 at 09:21 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (15)

Offloading Memories 2004

Steven Johnson has an interesting post from December about projects to extend our memories through storage of more of the data of our lives (e.g. all our email, phone calls, sites visited, etc.). It got me thinking about what I'm doing with this site and so I left a comment which, in the interest of preserving all my writing which I think is of any significance to telling my story, I reproduce here:

I'm finding as I begin the daunting task of filling in the rest of my life before the blog that not only would having more data be daunting, it would yield a less perceivable portrait of me. Filters can add value to data, I find, so I see a lot of benefit in the fact that while I have almost all my journals, many of the personal letters I ever received in my life, and lots & lots of other memorabilia, I do not have everything. What I saved, what survived the moves I made does reflect my perception of what is important to me and therefore contributes to a portrait of me.

I do wish I had every piece of real writing & art I ever did. Not the "Dear sir or madam, please close my account as I have now paid off the balance in full" stuff, but the creative writing pieces, the letters I sent (as opposed to the letters received many of which I have), the little art projects (sometime around 1990 I did this great little animation piece in Hypercard which I deeply regret having lost), etc.

It would also be great to have a picture of me from every month of my life and a picture of every place I ever went to school or lived or worked and a picture of everyone I've ever interacted with regularly. Pictures do bring back memories, which is to say, they remind me of stories and the stories is what I really want to preserve of my life.

(Cue Tim Burton's new movie "Big Fish"...)

Posted on January 7, 2004 at 09:24 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Productive Day 2004

It's been a good day. I didn't sleep too late. Visited with friends at Derek & Heather's brunch to welcome in the new year. Had a bit of a walk with Chris getting there & back. (Oh and I should mention we had a lovely long walk to a party on New Year's Eve). It was a beautiful day. Perhaps I should have been out in it, but I was able to get myself into a productive groove and so wound up spending most of the day and evening here at the computer.

Managed to get all my posts from November 1998 into TypePad. These were done pre-Blogger, so they had to be added by hand and I'd never gotten around to adding them into either Blogger or Movable Type. Given that the posts I was able to import from Blogger to Movable Type still have to have titles and categories added, it's not that much more work to add the whole post, but it's still time-consuming, especially since I've been taking the time to confirm that links still work and the images are migrated.

So, there's still December 1998 though the first half of August 1999 to put in from my hand-coding days. Then the Blogger stuff from August 1999 through March of 2000. After that I had gotten it all into Movable Type, which is made by the same fine folks who make TypePad and so all that migrated fine and much of it has titles and categories.

Oh and there's still all the side stuff; things I did which weren't part of the main blog. I've gotten a bit of that in, but there's still more to go.

Once I do all this, then I can weed through all the data on my old host, confirm I've got everything migrated and then I'll take it down. Given that I'm paying for the hosting, I might just pull the data off and close the account, but it's kind of handy to view it in situ with all the Movable Type code running. Assuming I can be a little tougher about making progress on this project, I'll probably still spend a couple hundred bucks on extra hosting. Oh well, as hobbies goes it's fairly cheap.

Posted on January 4, 2004 at 10:28 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Best Weblog of 1660 2004

Congratulations to Phil on completing the first year of publishing the diary of Samuel Pepys on the web! Lovely project, beautifully realized.

Posted on January 1, 2004 at 05:18 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

I wanna be more like Jason Kottke again, damn him. 2004

So, yes, I got all excited about these sidebar list things in TypePad (and earlier sidebar content in cruder form), but I've gotta say I really like what Jason's done with his site in integrating his links and media reviews in with his full size posts. Like the good designer he is, he talked about the decision and gave the rest of us the chance to learn from his process. (Kevin Fox is always really good about doing that on his site too). Guess I'll put in a TypePad enhancement request to be able to run in "Kottke mode".

Posted on January 1, 2004 at 04:31 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chronological Clarity 2003

I've just added an extra indicator of the year of each post to make things clearer in my category archives. Now that this weblog is over 5 years old and I'm backfilling posts about the rest of my life, I think it's helpful to have a little more context as you start to read a post. (This idea came to me when I was reading one entry and thinking "Boy, I hope they realize I wrote this over 20 years ago...")

Posted on December 6, 2003 at 03:37 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

5 years. 2003

I've been writing this weblog for half a decade. Go me!

(Yes, yes, the links are broken at the moment because I haven't moved a bunch of really old stuff to be archived here in TypePad. Just substitute my old Hurricane Electric account's IP,, for the www.metagrrrl.com when you get a Not Found message and it'll all be fine).

[December 22, 2003: This post has been noted by spammers and is getting repeated junk comments. I have closed commenting on it for that reason.]

Posted on October 10, 2003 at 08:49 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (9)

Where's the old site? 2003

Should you for some reason wish to access the old non-TypePad version of MetaGrrrl.com, it's still over there at Hurricane Electric and you can get to it at

Posted on September 16, 2003 at 11:26 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thanks again, Pyra 2003

I haven't used Blogger for several years, having switched to tools over which I have a lot more nitty gritty control, but the tools I do use wouldn't exist if it weren't for the groundbreaking work of the team at Pyra.

Thanks again to Meg, Ev and pb for bringing us blogging without hand-coding; for setting an early high standard in the attractiveness of the interface design of weblogging tools; for the permalink; for the webcam fun; for sticking it out in a basement office with peculiar neighbors and long hours and no financial reward.

Lest some naive person think the new kids on the block don't know their roots, note that while setting up the new office for for Six Apart, the company that makes Movable Type and TypePad, Anil Dash, the Vice President of Business Development, wore a Blogger t-shirt.

Posted on September 6, 2003 at 04:12 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

A monumental project 2003

As I mentioned before, I'm currently moving all the content from my old site into TypePad. This will give me the enormous benefit of having most everything personal I've written on the web contained in a single content management system for easier searching and archiving.

A good and achievable project, but, man, I gotta tell ya, almost 5 years* is a hell of a lot of content to move, assign titles & categories to, and check links for. I'm back in early 1999 right now and I'm afraid it's still not visible in the archives here in TypePad because all the posts are sitting in draft mode waiting for easier editing of dates. Fortunately, they won't have to wait long; according to the latest TypePad Features In Development list, this will be coming later this month.

Well, back to it. My labor for this Labor Day holiday is to try to get all of my pre-Blogger posts - the hand-coded stuff - into TypePad. There's still about 6 more months to put in, so I'm not sure it's a one day task, but I'll give it my best shot.

*Admittedly, everything after March 2000 was done in Movable Type, so the changes there are more minor and less urgent.

Posted on September 1, 2003 at 10:47 AM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Respecting My Elders 2003

Though I had a nice visit with my grandmother today, this post is actually about someone younger than me, but whom I consider to be my elder on the Web.

Justin Hall started his site in January 1994. He's been continuously contributing ever since.

My site would not be what it is without the inspiration he provided way back when. I wish I had more memory of when I first started surfing the web; perhaps this process of transferring old journal entries will reveal some insight about that.

Posted on August 16, 2003 at 10:48 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blog (noun) A weblog or similar brief journal usually containing links and commentary thereon. Term coined by Peter Merholz.

Visit Typepad or Blogger to start your own. (I began with hand coding, then switched to Blogger when it first became available, then to Movable Type when I wanted more control over my weblog and to have it hosted at a place of my choosing (Hurricane Electric). Since 06/2003 I've used Typepad, a hosted service built by the same folks who made Movable Type, which I love because I don't have to maintain the underlying system).

You may write to Dinah @ this domain.

Except where otherwise noted all content is copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Please do not repost my writing or other creations elsewhere. Instead, copy a tiny bit and link to the rest. Thanks! Images are copyright of their original creators. MetaGrrrl logo and photos by Dinah are copyright 1965-2018 Dinah Sanders. Inkspot Books and the Inkspot logo have been Service Marks of Dinah Sanders since 1993.