Archive for November, 2008

New WordPress Plugin: Use Google Libraries 1.0

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Speed Up WordPress Using Google’s AJAX Libraries API

I’m happy to announce my new WordPress Plugin Use Google Libraries. This plugin loads a number of standard Javascript libraries used by WordPress from Google’s AJAX Libraries API CDN. What’s that?

The AJAX Libraries API is a content distribution network and loading architecture for the most popular, open source JavaScript libraries. […] Google works directly with the key stake holders for each library effort and accepts the latest stable versions as they are released. Once we host a release of a given library, we are committed to hosting that release indefinitely. […] We take the pain out of hosting the libraries, correctly setting cache headers, staying up to date with the most recent bug fixes, etc.

Or, in plain English, it should make your site load faster. It could also make other people’s sites load faster too, if they’re also using this plugin.

Supported Libraries

Any WordPress themes or plugins that load any of these libraries via enqueue_script() should automatically take advantage of Use Google Libraries.

Why not give it a try?

There’s nothing earth shattering here, but my goal was do one thing and do it well. You can read the documentation and download the plugin from the Use Google Libraries page in the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Taking a Moment to Ask Myself “Why?”

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Last month Mur Lafferty shared her confusion over a certain type of feedback she’d received from folks explaining in detail why they aren’t reading or listening to one of her works. I meant to comment, but my thoughts on the subject seemed fairly divergent from that of the other commenters and I held off. I’m currently re-reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, and parts of it brought Mur’s question back to mind. The two things collided, and here is the result. So while I’m not directly responding to Mur, without her post I may never have thought this through, and realized I once was “one of those people.”

This issue is up there with the people who tell me when they didn’t like a podcast or a story or a book. They’re entitled to their opinion, I certainly don’t begrudge them that, but I don’t understand why I need to know about it. Do they want me to edit? Never write something like that again? I don’t get it.

I think my major disconnect is I find myself making the assumption that these folks are offering this feedback not in the hopes that Mur will rewrite for them, but that it will in some way inform her future works. I can’t imagine if they’d written her off completely as not worthy of their time and attention that they’d email her at all. If I’m wrong about that, I don’t know what they want either.

Confessions of an Accidental Troll

Back in the late 90s1 I once set an author an email asking them why they insisted on doing something just to piss people off (it was a shared universe novel line, and I was far from alone in my concern). Part of the uproar centered around the fact that he was the only author at the time with the license to use certain critical characters, so there was a feeling that he was abusing this power.

Filled with “fan entitlement” of George-Lucas-killed-my-childhood proportions I tore into him. That email was not my finest hour.

The author send me a well thought out reply, which made me feel like an ass for the tone of my first email. He wanted fans to be able to enjoy his book, but he also had to tell his story his way. After some more friendly back and forth he asked for input in the form of research, letting me know that while he’d read and consider it he made no promises as to if it would change his story.

I can’t say for certain how much impact I had on the book overall, but he did say he found it helpful and made use of it. He even thanked me in the books acknowledgments.2

I really don’t know what I expected when I sent that email, and I don’t know what the author thought I expected, but his response seriously humbled me. In the end he wrote the book he wanted to write, gained a great deal of respect from me, and got some free research out of the bargain.

Never again would I send that type of email to anyone. But when I look back, the reason for sending it was that really I wanted to be able to enjoy his book, and from what I knew of it I wasn’t going to be able to. I like to think he saw that I acted like an ass because I cared strongly about something he also cared strongly about, and he was able to turn it around into something constructive.

Also, I no longer feel entitled to anything just because I’m a fan.3

I not saying anyone needs to react like he did, or that what he did was the best choice even. Instead I offer this as an example of this type of exchange, and an exploration of where my own opinions on the matter stem from.

  1. Yeah, we had email back in the dark ages. I used elm, and I liked it. Now get off my lawn! []
  2. If you’ve seen my name (mis-spelled Jason Penny) in the acknowledgments of a late 90s media tie in book, you know exactly what I’m talking about. []
  3. I still reserve the right to get angry at bad remakes. []

Tagged by Kate

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

I’ve been tagged by my friend Kate. It appears the rules are as follows:

  1. Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
  2. Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs
  4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

As a result you now get to read these seven random things about me1 :

  1. I’m worried about how good of a parent I am. Not for anything specific I’m doing wrong, because I could fix that. Hopefully this is one of those “if you’re worried about it, you don’t need to worry about it” type of things where a truly horrible parent wouldn’t give it a second thought.
  2. When things at home get well beyond crazy and I can’t think straight2 I close my eyes and chant “I’m a hermit. I live alone. None of you exist” until I feel calm.
  3. I listen to audiobooks/podcasts in the shower. I have for years. I have a shower CD/Radio unit, which is now usually used to listen to the iPod via an FM transmitter. You might think this would slow me down, since I’d get involved in the story and just stay in there, but the opposite it true. I used to drift off and loose track of time in the shower. Now I’m much more aware of the passage of time and it keeps me moving.
  4. In the PC vs. Mac battle I choose Unix. No I don’t run Linux on my desktop3 . Although Mac OS X is my current desktop of choice, I’m fine as long as I can run bash, grep, sed, and awk on a decent terminal4 .
  5. I still don’t know my addition and subtraction tables. Seriously. My brain does not do the memorizing by rote thing. By now the tricks I taught myself to get around this deficiency are so ingrained that seeing most numbers written out I instantly have the answer, but it’s not because I know the answer.5
  6. I have a strong dislike for public restrooms dating back the time a large drunk man6 busted in a stall door on me when I was a kid. Apparently it never occurred to this guy why the stall was locked until he saw me sitting there, which he and his buddies thought was totally hilarious. I did not. If there is a personal hell, mine is a bathroom stall with a busted lock in a high traffic restroom.
  7. My most recent form letter rejection from John Joseph Adams, assistant editor of The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy was nearly identical to my previous letter, with one exception7 : Instead of the familiar “Dear Mr. Penney”, it started with “Hey Jay”. I don’t know what, if anything, I should make of that, but I choose to see it in a positive light8 .

And here are the folks I’m tagging (but don’t feel obligated):

  1. Aren’t you lucky? []
  2. with three daughters this does happen from time to time []
  3. Not exclusively anyhow. I have a KVM switching between Fedora, Mac OS, and Windows XP []
  4. preferably with X11 support, and Emacs if I’m lucky []
  5. In something only marginally related, I used a Venn diagram for something at work the other day to optimize an algorithm. I guess it’s good that I know how, but it’s the first time I’ve ever used them outside a classroom. []
  6. In my memory he’s more of a giant, but I’m sure he was just a man. []
  7. aside from the title of the work []
  8. please allow me my illusions []

Dursin, you called it

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Hey buddy. I understand your frustration. Just thought I’d point out that you called this one four years ago.