Posted by: Dylan | September 20, 2010

An Unfortunate Announcement

So this weekend, I wrote a blog post for today. Lo and behold, WordPress didn’t want to let me publish it–it instead hung indefinitely when I clicked publish.

Since I returned to blogging, this isn’t the first time I’ve had this problem. In fact, it’s the third–which, for a site that’s had four new blog posts (one of which won’t see the light of day, at least not here) since I returned–is absolutely abysmal.

Originally, I assumed the problem had to do with using Word’s blogging plugin–something I tried on the first post. I didn’t copy/paste in from Word (which I know has been troublesome for a lot of people), mind you–I used their built in blogging features. Still, WordPress refused to let me schedule the post (in fact, that particular post still can’t be edited–I found a workaround to publish, but I can’t edit or tag it without causing WordPress to hang).

Fair enough, I thought. So the next article I did, I typed in manually. Again I had troubles, but this time I found the offending segment and fixed it. Annoying, but not horrible. WordPress, for some unknown reason, made me change my wording; oh well.

And the third article I did went without problems. I was hopeful that everything had been cleared up.

Not so. Not even close. This last article hates me for two quotes I put at the beginning of the article, both of which are essential to the article, without which the article doesn’t make sense, and which can’t be modified, because, well, they are quotes. And yes, I’ve tried deleting and retyping them. I’ve tried manually editing the HTML code instead of messing around with the WYSIWYG editor. I’ve tried everything–nothing works except removing the offending quotes.

So I don’t care if there is an explanation (though I would like one). I don’t care if WordPress has some sort of reason for not being able to accept my input. I’m done with this service. Back when I originally started using it, I thought it was fantastic (I had just moved over from Blogger). I don’t know where I’m going next, but I can tell you I won’t be staying. I gave WordPress a lot of chances, because I really do love the administrative features and interface. The point of a blogging service is to help the user publish their words–not to require them to change their words around and mess around with their paragraph order for a few hours trying to make a post. It’s already enough work to write these posts. I’m not going to spend more time then I need to getting them to work.

Goodbye, WordPress.

Posted by: Dylan | September 13, 2010

Creative Repetition

In these first few weeks of college, one of the things I’ve noticed is that it’s far less easy to settle into a routine than it ever was in high school or over the summer. By the fourth week of summer camp, I was completely prepared for everything that would happen—some new challenge might get thrown into the mix, but for the most part, every week was the same.

Of course, college schedules happen to differ a lot from the high school/summer norm—instead of having classes 9-3 every day, I’ll have entire blocks of time in the middle of the day with nothing, then my loathed 5-7PM or 7-9PM night classes. And yet, it is still a schedule; maybe not as easy to make routine, but still something that stays rather constant.

The issue isn’t that the classes don’t repeat—it’s that every day offers different opportunities and no two club meetings or tech talks or moments spent hanging out ever are quite the same. And the lesson to be learned from all of this—if there even is one (and there doesn’t always have to be)—is that repetition is evil. Doing the same thing over and over is boring and more importantly distracts from what we actually should be doing—constantly learning, growing, exploring, solving, and finding interesting problems. But is boring repetition unavoidable?

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Posted by: Dylan | August 30, 2010

The Laws of Thought

If you’ve been following technology news at all (or even just listening to the regular news), you’ve probably heard about Interval Licensing’s lawsuit of AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, and Yahoo for infringing on patents held by Interval Licensing (which the media has seized on reporting as a company belonging to Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, though this has little to do with the suits other than the oft-noted absence of Microsoft among the companies named in the suit). The patents cover a range of technologies, including alerts and notifications for users and browsers for navigating information, and most were filed in the first half of 2000.

I won’t be covering the suit itself in any more depth–after all, media outlets have that handled. Instead, I want to focus on the application of intellectual property laws to the digital age.

Intellectual property laws were developed originally to protect the creators of ideas from having these ideas stolen. The idea of intellectual property claims including copyrights, patents, and trademarks have existed for a while, but the common practice of having the majority of a company’s assets rooted in intellectual property claims was not commonplace until the latter half of the last century–evolving specifically around the same time as digital property and media laws began to emerge.

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Posted by: Dylan | August 20, 2010

Reboot

Chances are good that if you are reading this post right now, you are noticing one or more of three things:

1. This is the first post on my blog in nearly a year of inactivity.

2. A couple changes like the deletion of categories and the relabeling of tags have been made, and all the old posts have been archived.

3. This is probably my third apology for not posting more.

I’ll begin with an update on the last year. I’ve graduated high school and I am now a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Computer Science. I just moved in, and as the post schedule dictates (new post every Monday at 9:00 AM), anyone who jumped on the ball and noticed the new post will be reading this right as I start my first class.

Of course, there aren’t any regular readers of the blog because there aren’t any regular updates (two things that are about to change, and I promise this time). Anyone reading this is probably just someone who follows me on Twitter or a friend on Facebook—assuming I got those updates to work as well.

Even though I’ve just moved into college, I realized something—there is not, ever, a fresh start in life. That’s not to say we can’t make changes, but simply having everything we once had go away would destroy who we are as a person. College offers the opportunities that look like a fresh start: a brand new life on your own, complete freedom, etc. The catch is that there is a lot more to it than simply telling yourself you are going to start over. Just repeating it and letting old habits set in again is the reason people often give up on New Year’s resolutions, the reason people have trouble quitting an addictive habit like smoking or drinking, and the reason that so many attempts to do something new go by the wayside.

Of course, we forget that a fresh start isn’t actually what we are looking for anyway. Our past experienced—positive or negative—define us in many ways. What college does provide is a chance to reboot—to change things and refresh ideas and habits while still keeping the underlying personality. As a result, I’m rebooting this blog. The old posts aren’t gone—you can still find them—but there is no need to read them if you don’t want to. The blog’s theme remains the same: exploring technology and the hacker subculture (and the definition of the word hacker remains the same—people asking how to break in to systems aren’t listening and should read the about page).

However, in making these changes I realized something else: it is impossible to hierarchically organize most things. After all, life is complicated and messy. It isn’t impossible to organize, but the ways we are used to doing it are constantly changing. Not everything fits perfectly into one little box on a form. We live in an age where we can rethink how we organize—an age of using labels on your Gmail conversations instead of sorting single messages into Eudora folders. As a result, I’m forgoing the categories system and the old tag system I used in favor of a tag system that explains what a post is about (not what it mentions). This post is tagged “introduction,” but it’s not tagged “college” or “hacking” even though I mention those things because it’s not about those things (and it’s not tagged “post” because that would be way too general). All of the old posts that are archived now are gone from the tag system. Like I said, I’m not deleting the posts—they remain for anyone to read. They just aren’t the main part of this blog anymore, and as such, I’ve archived them and won’t be re-organizing them.

So welcome to the new Hacker Hideout. There will be a new post every Monday at 9:00 AM, and if that works out, maybe more often. I look forward to sharing my technological experiences and hope that you will stick around to listen—it’s going to be a fun trip.

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