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Is This Real Life?

On Casual Friday in Serioustown

Context: this particular post was written a couple of weeks ago while the misses was away for a business trip and my work was exceedingly stressful. The commentary is, however, no less universal today than it was then.

Barring a stroke of pure genius, welcome to my ham-fisted introduction, pounded out beligerently on the keyboard well past my bed time on a school night. I'm tired, my head hurts, my eyes are extremely dry, and the cat will, not stop, jumping, into, my lap. At this point, it's hard to appreciate my tea or find the patience for studying Japanese, my physical circumstances simply don't permit my attitude a sliver of optimism or enthusiasm. Yet, at the same time, I cannot ignore that my perspective as a self-improvement junkie, aspiring polyglot (knower of many languages) welcomes the reluctant learning as a badge of honor; a moment when my willpower and intellectual curiosity won out over my physical circumstances.

You see, today was a difficult day. Besides the brow-beating a 9-to-5 work environment can regularly lay on unsuspecting victims, the absence of my paramour (business trip) has made maintenance of my usual (pardon the term) "swagger" exceedingly difficult. Physically drained, emotionally exhausted, and mentally taxed beyond my usual burn-the-bitch-at-both-ends work style, normal circumstances simply aren't what they would be in the right lighting. My persistent pesimism born of a physical inability to muster a smile makes crackers bland, tea uninteresting, and conversations labored.

On the flip side, my usual sunny demeanor has its benefits, pardoxically serving as a hindrance to my dispassionate evaluation of the world around me. The same day, viewed with a good night's sleep, a warm hug from mah bebe, and a fresh batch of esoteric albums to listen to would taste the same crackers with delight, sip the same tea with appreciation, and lead to joke after hilariously delivered joke (I'm a God damn delight). Unfortunately, what this means is that regardless of the circumstances, you and I both are bound and determined to have our subjective evaluations swayed more by our physiology than by the flavor of crackers in front of us (I'm really hungry and all we have are crackers).

SETT is now Live on Tynan.com

On Tynan

Sunday night was a scary time for me. After more than a year of work, SETT was ready to be deployed on Tynan.com. Well, maybe not "ready", exactly, but I was sick of putting it off. One line in a configuration file was changed, and my site switched from WordPress to SETT. And then... nothing happened. This was encouraging. The server didn't melt (although there is definitely some optimization that needs to be done), and importantly, most new visitors to my site didn't realize that anything was unusual. Eventually a few people realized that things were different and left feedback. Now, with five days of history, SETT is actually functioning as envisioned. It's an amazing experience to watch our baby start to crawl. Before I get into the details of what makes SETT unique and how to best use it, a quick disclaimer: this is alpha level software. Some parts of it are extremely polished and functional, while others are barely usable (person to person messaging, for example). Right now I don't need bug reports, because I already have a huge list of bugs that I'm working through. What I would LOVE from you is feedback on the experience. What is confusing? Where do you get stuck? What do you hate? What do you like? When designing SETT, we tried to consider the various groups of users that interact with a blog, and how to best serve them. For example, most of my readers are casual readers who stop by, read some posts, and leave. I want their experience to be nearly identical to any other blog-- there shouldn't be any new terminology or steps that they have to go through. The only changes we've made on the reader side are a wide content area for media like images and videos, well formatted text, and (for logged in users) indicators for whether or not they've read a post. For the average casual reader, this is a marginal improvement over a normal blog. Most of SETT's ambition lies with community members. I believe that until now, dedicated readers have been marginalized. I think that out of the 12,000 or so readers I have, there are hundreds who would love to be an important part of the community surrounding this blog, but aren't currently offered any tools to do so.  All SETT blogs have two sides to them: the front page and the community view. If you go back to the main page of this blog (click the header at the top) and then click "community" in the action bar, you'll see the posts that have been created by members of the community. This is similar to a forum or message board. Unlike a forum, I can promote any post to the front page with a single click. That's how Brian's post about Pina got there.  Besides creating original content, you can also vote things up or down. If you login or register for an account, you'll see voting arrows next to every post. Your votes help new readers see what this blog's best posts are, filter out spam, and indicate to me which community posts I should consider promoting to the front page. There's a lot more that's new with SETT, but I'll keep this short(ish) and let you explore. If you want to help SETT develop, please vote on stuff, leave comments, and create posts in the community section. Please do NOT link to this post (or blog) on any high traffic site just yet. My server can handle it until we implement caching.

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