Archives: “site news”



Since everyone else at work seems to be on the wordle tip, here’s mine. Seeing how I so very rarely post to this site any more (a mere nine posts including this one in all of 2008) I took the liberty of dumping the last 200 entries into Wordle to get a better idea of what I’ve been posting about over the past few years.

I’m kind of surprised how prominent Firefox is, but seeing how much I’ve posted about the optimized builds I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked. That said, besides that word no other themes seem to stand out, which is as good an indication as any of my rather fragmented attention span.

Back in the saddle

Not that anyone probably noticed, but the engine that powers the BeatnikPad (Movable Type) was having some major conniptions after I moved servers just over a week ago. Happily things seem to be working again, including comments, so one more thing is right in the world.

Since I have your attention, I wanted to confirm that there will be optimized Firefox 3 release builds available within a day or so of the official release (slated for June 17th, I believe). Firefox 3 has native form widgets built in (finally!) so there will be no more need for separate builds.

As this is a major release I definitely will build for all three platforms (G4, G5, and Intel) assuming the access I have to a G5 machine doesn’t go down.

So: web site is working again, Firefox 3 builds coming, and I am polishing off fairly complete instructions on how to build your own optimized copies of Firefox to follow soon afterwards.

That is all.

Back on the air

Hopefully the site should be back up for everyone — my DNS provider (ZoneEdit) was suffering under a major denial of service attack on a bunch of their nameservers for the past two days, but it seems to have been contained.

So, in brief:

  1. Yes, I’m aware that Firefox is available. Seeing how it’s only three days until Christmas and the fact that I’ll be away for a bit means it may take a while before I get to building some optimized builds. (Aside: oh dear god, they’ve added another decimal point — does this mean we’ll see version numbers like Firefox
  2. DID I JUST SAY THREE DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS?! (has short but vicious panic attack)
  3. It’s too damn warm here. It’s quite daunting to rouse the festive spirit when you’re walking around in a light fall jacket with nary a flake of snow to be found…

On that note, I better throw myself into some last minute “holycrapIhavenogiftsyet” Christmas shopping before it’s too late and everyone on my gift list gets Kraft Dinner and a hand-drawn facsimile of something they might have actually wanted.

Traffic Jam

24 hours of traffic courtesy (mostly) of, TUAW (twice),,, and looks like this:


And this includes around two hours of off-loading the brunt of Digg’s assault from this server onto my new Media Temple grid server account, so the actual numbers are much higher.

Total bandwidth so far? Nearly 400 gigabytes of data transferred, and still going.

A number of very nice people have emailed me asking if I accept donations. I really appreciate the sentiment, but I have a terabyte (!) of bandwidth with Media Temple so I’m not worried about bandwidth overages. Others have asked if I could seed these as torrents. At this point the frenzy is over so there shouldn’t be any problems downloading, but next time there’s a major release I’ll probably offer torrents to help spread out the traffic.

That said, I’d be a bad marketer if I didn’t point interested parties to download a free demo of Path Finder and give it a whirl. If it strikes your fancy, buy a copy - I will receive a portion of your purchase as Cocoatech is a client of mine.

Or don’t - either is just fine with me. I build my Firefox builds because it’s kind of interesting to me and it’s the best way I know how to give back to the mac community. The fact that people are downloading them and enjoying them is, cliché aside, reward enough.

Strange fascination, fascinating me

I wish I could remember where I read this, but one quote that has stuck with me since elementary school goes something like this:

“To live free and happily, you must give up boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice.”

(edit - it was author Richard Bach. Thank goodness for search engines.)

Life around here is going to get rather unboring (sorry, Ikea) quite quickly.

In just over seven days Renée leaves for a six-week business trip to Bogotá, Colombia. This is both very exciting and equally disturbing in a “freak my shit up” way. Colombia is, after all, a country where western tourism has been almost non-existent for so long it’s almost impossible to find maps for sale or travel information that doesn’t mention the FARC, paramilitary groups, or the Colombia drug cartels.

I’m going to be joining her at the end of June for a couple of weeks, so I’ll get to see first hand what life in Colombia is like. We’re both trying to be positive about it all, and from what I can tell the security situation in Bogotá is much better than, say, five years ago. I’m sure the trip will be uneventful and incredibly rewarding. But the unknownness of everything leaves me feeling more than a little queasy. I wish the newly revised Lonely Planet guide was available.

This will also be the longest that Renée and I have been separated since we started dating, which will be strange and lonely in itself.

Yahoo!Luckily, I will have my own new challenges and changes to keep me busy. I have just accepted a position with Yahoo! as an highfalutin Senior User Experience Designer working out of the Canadian office. My first day is in a couple of weeks.

It seems weird in a way to be moving back into full-time employment after living as a freelancer and consultant for so long; having the luxury of the occasional two hour lunch and bi-weekly “underpants-only” work days has definitely been pretty sweet. But it was time for something new.

There’s something beguiling about getting a chance to tackle some of the big-ass design challenges like those a huge media company like Yahoo! can provide. It doesn’t hurt one bit either that Yahoo has been getting involved with some really cool stuff as of late. So colour me jonesed.

As usual for this site, that’s probably most of what you’ll hear about my work. I don’t write about work very often (for obvious reasons) and this will probably be no different. But now you know.

I’ve been so busy lately I completely forgot to wish the BeatnikPad happy birthday. Last week marked five years since I started this site, and it’s been six and 1/2 years since I started self-publishing online. I had been hoping to roll out a redesign that I’ve been sitting on for ages as long-overdue birthday present — there’s nothing like some new duds to cheer up a slightly ignored friend — but alas, it’ll have to wait.

This year’s birthday resolutions: write more and ramble less (too late), crack more stupid jokes (because it feels good), post more photos, and redesign the damn site before Christmas is upon us. Come back next year to see how I do.

Comment subscriptions now available

Due to huge requests (okay, you can stop emailing me now) I have now set up a comment subscription system. You can now receive notifications via email whenever someone posts a new comment to an entry you’ve subscribed to. This is mostly for the benefit of anyone participating in one of the optimized Firefox comment threads, but it’s set up anywhere comments are turned on.

I’ve never used this plugin before, but I believe it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you get sick of receiving notifications you can unsubscribe and never receive another goddamn email from this site again. Ain’t technology grand?

Please let me know if this new feature is acting strange, rash, or in a self-destructive, unhelpful manner and I’ll be sure to give it a good talking to and send it to its room without any pudding.

Fall tweaking

If the page looks weird or broken, please refresh your web browser (hold down shift and hit the “reload” button). Thanks.

The current BeatnikPad design is over two years old and to be honest I’m absolutely sick of it. The code and structure of the site is getting crufty. too, and needs to be updated in so many ways it’s not funny. But I just don’t have the luxury of time to roll out any of the design ideas I have baking in Photoshop. So it’s tweaking time.

For now, just so I don’t groan every time I load the site, I’ve made some changes to alleviate the main things that were driving me nuts. I may have missed a page here and there, though, so please let me know if you find a page that doesn’t look right.

Update: I’ve added yet another weblog to the sidebar featuring MP3s and tunes I come across in my travels. There’s a lot of free music readily available out there, and this will spotlight the interesting stuff I find.

No surprise here: it’s called Found MP3 of the day. I’m such a music dweeb. If there’s enough interest, I’ll add a newsfeed, but for now I think I should get back to actual work.

More tweaking: I just made some changes to the way fonts are sized - let me know if they look very tiny or too big. Now, about that image map…

Four Years of the Pad

Holy crap. Four years of posting to and tending to and getting pissed off by this web site. Going from here to here to what you’re currently soaking in, and all the while musing and bitching and recording for some kind of virtual prosperity the various experiences of this particular carbon unit.

In that time, this site has introduced me to dozens of friends and acquaintances, followed me through two major relocations, listened patiently as I complained about my health and an endless parade of boring minutiae, helped me secure a multitude of consulting and design gigs, and made me feel guilty on numerous occasions when it languished unattended.

I originally started this site on a lark. I never expected it to last longer than a few months, or for anyone to care in the least about its contents. The fact that over a thousand of you come here daily and that you’re here reading this now is still incredibly surprising and inspiring.

Happy birthday, beatnikpad. Let’s go and get some tasty libations into you.

30,000 geeks can’t be wrong

Allow me to perform a little bit of self-evaluation:

I started posting my optimized Firefox builds on November 6th. The response and traffic have been pretty incredible, at least by this rather unassuming web site’s standards:


Since November 6th:

  1. The first builds were hosted on an unused 1and1 account, which had a monthly bandwidth allotment of 25 gigabytes. That was gone within 36 hours.
  2. I then moved the builds to my dotMac iDisk, and to Apple’s credit they’ve been up ever since. One of my clients (Cocoatech) let me mirror builds on their server, which helped alleviate the bandwidth crunch.
  3. Over 30,000 downloads in ten days, which is a low estimate as iDisk doesn’t offer stats, so I’m judging this 100% on exit linkage in my domain stats.
  4. I’m sitting at around 65,000 visits since I started posting builds, with the lion’s share of traffic (over 55,000) going to the build’s entry URL. To give you some context, I normally get around 15,000 unique visits in a month.
  5. No Slashdot (thank god), though I was kind of half-expecting it, seeing how this managed to make nearly all of the major mac sites.

The top referring domains? In order:

The only other post that even came close to attracting this much attention in the past was either the importing Gmail contacts post, or the Mac OS X software inventory post. And the latter was mainly due to the mighty Merlin Mann doing the Mac nerd linkup.

All in all, pretty neat, especially considering I thought there wouldn’t be a lot of interest in a build optimized for such a new processor as Apple’s G5.

Okay, enough self-examination. Back to listening to the new Stars album and some yummy ginger tea.


Comments aren’t working at the moment. I’ve upgraded to Movable Type 3.0, which has the new-fangled Typekey registration system to help prevent comment spam. The problem is, I’m finding the whole implementation of TypeKey very confusing. Hopefully comments will return very soon - right now you just get an error stating that you forgot to fill something in, even if all of the fields are filled out.

I won’t even talk about the new Movable Type pricing scheme, except to say that the pricing is pretty outrageous. It’s good that they still have a free version, but I’m starting to wonder if I should make the switch to WordPress. Hmmm.

Edit (14.05.04): Comments are now working, as I finally figured out how all of the new comment tags in MT3 are configured. Because Jay Allen’s MT-Blacklist plugin no longer works in MT3, I’ve turned comments moderation on. If you don’t have a TypeKey account, you’ll have to wait for me to okay your comment before it appears on the site. So sign up for a TypeKey account - it takes only a minute, is fast, free, secure, and your registration works for all TypeKey-enabled sites.

I’ve reconsidered (at least for now) the new MT3 pricing and am waiting to see what the response is from MT creator’s SixApart. There are over 500 trackbacks to Mena’s initial post on the pricing scheme, most of them negative, so I’m hoping they will reconsider the licensing.

I just slipped underneath the limbo stick for the free version (one author, max of three weblogs), so I’m going to use this for now and see how things shake out. Jason Kottke made some good observations on the new licensing, and Steven “Panic” Frank also had some pretty valid things to say:

I think I read somewhere on their site that their company now has something like 26 employees in total. My gut feeling is that this is at least 20 employees more than they need for their operation. It gives me nervous dot-com flashbacks.

I really hope I’m wrong about all of this, because I think they’re great folks and, although I haven’t played with 3.0 yet, I think they have a high quality product. I wish them nothing less than the best of luck with their venture, as I would for anyone starting-up a company. But I see a few warning signs in the road ahead, and I hope they’re able to navigate them.

Wholeheartedly agreed. I haven’t met Ben, Mena, Anil, or the rest of the SixApart gang, but everything I’ve heard and seen seems to show them as good people, who want to do good. Hopefully, this is all just a huge misstep and miscalculation, and the results of some rather public growing pains. I’m completely interested in seeing them make a living and profit from their work, but they need to offer realistic licensing fees. Time will tell.

Update (15.05.04): SixApart has posted some clarifications on the whole pricing / licensing issue. There still are some serious issues, but in general I think it’s a good step forward.

On that, Jay Allen posts:

On a more personal note, I must say this: Six Apart is not evil. They are people, just like you and I. What�s more, they are webloggers, just like you and I. Some of them have worked tirelessly on behalf of this community to make it a better place. They want to thrill and delight Movable Type users and at the same time establish a lasting business that will do so for some time to come.

They certainly didn�t deserve the kind of vitriolic anger and disparaging remarks levelled at them yesterday. It makes me sad to see people throw two and a half years of dedication out the window because of two pages on the internet

I generally agree. SixApart (and Ben and Mena) have “grown up” very publicly, and I think people need to just chill out. It’s only weblog software, folks.

Edit: (and this is the last I’m posting on this) Interview with Ben and Mena

Three Years (and the end of the toiling)

Today was a special day, for a couple of reasons:

gradCapFirst, the important: I am finished school. I marked nearly two hundred assignments in three bleary, headache-inducing days, starting Friday evening at 8pm, and working nearly straight through (with breaks for occasional nourishment and cat naps) until the wee hours of Monday morning. It was roughly 2am or so when I called it quits and wearily trundled my oatmeal-filled brain to bed.

I still have mountains of administrative work ahead of me, and my graduating class (the first!) of DMT and Graphic Design students are having an open house at the end of the week, so it’s not over yet. But now that we have completed the last week of classes, and I smashed through all of my marking (like the Hulk, but not as pensive), the bulk of my work is done.

The end of the school year is a gigantic, massive relief. I really do feel like I’ve been birthing gargantuan acorns out of both ears for the past eight months, and the pressure (and pain) of the whole process has finally started to abate. One thing I’ve learned throughout this is that a big part of teaching is:

  1. Overcoming dozens of completely different, often wildly conflicting personalities, sometimes simultaneously and for prolonged periods of time, and

  2. Overcoming one’s own personality day in, and day out.

#1 is very hard. Students come to class with all kinds of personal agendas, and not all of them pertain to the furthering of their own education. #2, however, is the most incredibly difficult of them all, especially for me.

Contrary to what some people may think, I am not an overwhelmingly social person. If I had to choose, I would throw my penny into the “introvert” fountain; I function adequately around people, but I would rather just be off by myself.

Teaching is inherently social. This is the conundrum, as I often do not feel social. But, I’ve come to realize that teaching is really just a job like any other, and I’ve gotten pretty good at turning on when I have to.

All of this said, though, I felt a pang of sadness on Friday as my students handed in their final projects and said good-bye for the summer. I’ve grown quite fond of most of them, and have come to really enjoy getting to know them and seeing them learn and grow as designers. The school will echo with their absence.

cupcakeBut, it’s time for some rest. We all deserve it.

The other important fact about today (well, at least important to me) is that today was the third anniversary of the BeatnikPad. Three years ago I signed up for a Blogger account, threw together a somewhat weak three-column design, and started adding my voice to the then slowly growing din of online narcissists writers.

This web site has lead to many good friendships with people from all over the world, helped me find gainful employment more than once, enabled me to learn new things about the web, design, and myself, and much more. Thanks, BeatnikPad, and happy birthday.

Return of the Grey Lady

greyLady.gifBecause I'm mildly stupid and completely sadistic, I took a break from marking today by rummaging through some of my old file archives on my hard drive. In a folder strangely marked Cheesy Puffs, I found a complete copy of the 2nd design of this site (the present one you're soaking in being #3), with all of the files exactly as they were the day before I pulled the site down for redesign.

That was the stupid part. The sadistic part was, instead of getting up from the computer and taking a long, invigorating walk like a good healthy boy should, I decided it was time to resurrect the "Grey Lady" and add it to the Retired Sites design graveyard. I'm incredibly nostalgic; it's a fatal flaw, sometimes.

So, yeah. For all two of you who complained about how you preferred the previous design to this one, it's back, warts and all. Say "welcome back" to retired site design #2.

Retired site design #1, the first design for this site, is still available for those of you who actually care about these kinds of things.


Well, that was interesting. Because of the hurricane, the power was knocked out at the Pennsylvania network centre that this site is hosted at for the past nine hours. Hopefully everything should be working now, though.

Zany updates

I've updated the instructions and the stylesheet for the ad blocking with CSS entry. The new and improved stylesheet incorporates the excellent wildcards found at the Mozilla Firebird page, hides form reset buttons (which are responsible for more than a few curses and scowls from being mistaken for submit), and improves the iframe and flash filters.

The other site-related nugget: what the heck is going on with the comments on the Dean Kamen Profile page? This rather uninspired article (that I wrote a couple of years ago when I worked at Sympatico) seems to consistently get more comments than any other post on this site.

The strangest thing is, people seem to think that they're communicating with Dean Kamen himself. One such person wrote:

"Dear Mr. Kamen, I heard about you from 60 minutes II with Dan Rather. I must say to you that I was highly overwhelmed."

People are strange. wink

(Edit: That explains a lot: the page in question is #1 at Google for dean kamen profile.)


I should be working on this mountain of marking I need to get done for Tuesday, but instead I succumbed to the lure of twiddling with my site and added something new.

Bagatelle (also available over to your right in the homepage sidebar) is me succumbing to the rampant spread of sidebar links. It's basically just stuff I come across that I thought was worth pointing out, but not worth posting an entire entry on.

As with anything that I only spend about two seconds posting to this site, your mileage will most definitely vary. Yes, there's a RSS feed.

(P.S. For those who are wondering: bagatelle is French for "trifling amount".)

Deux ans

I almost forgot to mention that today is the BeatnikPad's 2nd birthday. Happy birthday, BP!

On this day:

» One year ago

» Two years ago

As far as any anniversary resolutions, I plan to stick to the BeatnikPad guarantee, but that's about it so far. :)

Thanks for visiting, everyone!

Spring Renewal

Well, it's finally spring outside, or at least it seems like it is. I'm tentative, because Winnipeg's weather is completely unpredictable, and we could end up with another snowstorm in May. You always has to be prepared for the worst, I say.

That said, it's nice and sunny outside today, so I'm going to drag my butt out of this chair and get some fresh air. As you can see by the renovations, I've been sitting here getting the new redesign out the door. It's time to relax for a bit.

The entire site's layout is now basically table-free, with some exceptions, as I'm feeling too lazy to start digging through all of the old entries hunting for tables. The site should validate, however (for people who care about those kinds of things), and in general I think the site should work in all of the version 5+ modern browsers. Older browsers will get a stripped-down version that should still look okay - I hope.

What's left to do? Well, I plan to do a complete overhaul and redesign of the photography area when I find more time. And, I need to put up the old design into the retired sites area when I have a moment.

At some point, once I get the structure of the site cleaned up (god, it's a mess), I also want to give visitors the option of choosing from a few different layouts, one being very close to the old "grey" look. If you really dislike this layout (or really liked the old one), it will return, given time.

(Edit: Okay, so something is really, really buggered with IE 5 and IE 5.5 for Windows. I'm tired so I'm not going to fix it right now, but I am aware of it.)

Later: Okay, I think I got it - everything should be working now. <said with a glowing sense of accomplishment>

Movable Type + Textile

The new version of Movable Type is now available and installed on the site. The big new feature is support for text formatting plugins, which allow Web authors to easily mark up their text.

For example, by adding asterixes around text, it will displayed with strong emphasis. Chevron-type things mean superscript, and a blogging favourite, strikethrough, can be accomplished with simple dashes.

To get this loveliness, you'll need to install Master MT Plugin author Brad Choate's version of Textile, which is a port of an original idea by Dean Allen. And why wouldn't you? It's spiffy.

Safari vs. BeatnikPad: Fixed

Okay, I lied: I still have more Safari babbling in me.

After an hour of scratching my head in confusion, I finally figured out why the BeatnikPad wasn't rendering properly in 's Safari. For some stupid reason that I can't remember why, I had a position: relative; in the selector for the body in my stylesheet.

How can the body be positioned relatively? Relative to what, the Sea of Fecundity? Anyway, other browsers ignored this rule, but not Safari, which is why the page was coming up blank.

This just encourages me even more to tear down this poorly constructed frankenstein of a web site, and start over from scratch.


Well, went and released its own browser, and completely confounding expectation, they didn't use the Gecko rendering engine.

What does that mean? Well, that means that for some reason I haven't figured out yet, Safari will sometimes load the BeatnikPad homepage and display just the background image (of the lovely lady). Yet if I hit "reload" a bunch of times, the page contents will intermittently appear and vanish, like a really nasty shell game. A-troubleshootin' I go...

It's still in beta, so I can understand the flakiness, but damn! What's with that godawful brushed metal that insists on besmirching their applications with? Thank god there's Demetallizer.

Happy Birthday, MT

Happy Birthday, Movable Type.

And with that, Mena and Ben have released Movable Type 2.5. Seeing as how things are extra-geeky around the BeatnikPad these days, I've already upgraded to the new version, and have also added in the TrackBack functionality to the site.

A bunch of people have e-mailed me asking, "Why haven't you implemented Trackback on your Website? It's the wave of the webblogging future!" And the answer is, "Because I'm a lazy dog."

But, here it is. For those of you who have no idea what the heck Trackback is (or don't use Movable Type to power your Website), I apologize for stealing a minute from your life. It's back to regular programming (The Prince arrives!) tomorrow.

(PS: Don't forget to check out the booty-shaking Kung Log, which has been updated to support Movable Type 2.5's new XML-RPC implementation. Sweet.)

The Redesign Blues

I've got the redesign itch.

The present BeatnikPad design is quickly approaching its one year anniversary, and I'm jonesing to update it. Part of what I had promised myself I'd have finished already is a code update to separate the layout from the content, like I did with Renée's site. Everything would be XHTML for content, and cascading style sheets for layout, as it should be.

So, today I sat down and farted around with a few layout ideas. To be honest, I still really like the present design, but I was tossing around the possibility of retiring this look and feel and trying something new. If I'm going to rip apart the code I might as well put on a new coat of paint while I'm at it, right?

But I'm not 100% happy with what I've done, and I'm feeling rather indecisive. What do you think? I started off with this fairly clean layout, then tweaked it into this attempt, and then ended the morning with this minor revision.

Like any of them? Think I should stick with what I've got? Think they all suck? Hit me with your worst...

Server move

Ah, another season, another server.

In my constant quest for quality hosting, I've moved the BeatnikPad to a brand-spankin' new server. Tell me: does the site load quickly (or quicker) for you? From where I stand, it's smokin'!

Good intentions

You may notice a slimmed-down navigation for the BeatnikPad: I've done a bit of housecleaning. The old "Cultural Joy" section, while started with an abundance of good intentions, just became an albatross around my neck. The lack of tangible updates there mocked me every time I rebuilt its Movable Type pages, and the last update slipped off of the index page, leaving a big, empty hole.

So, I sent it to the place that Weblogs go when they die, and merged its entries into the main site. I have enough self-inflicted guilt in my life.

Oh, and while I was at it, I killed the moving stories pages, and did a bunch of other small changes. I really do think that moving stories was a great idea, but the response I received was somewhat underwhelming. I guess most of the folks that would have submitted pieces already talked about their move on their own site.

Those of you who did submit, a thousand thank-yous - I still plan to do something related to moving (and stories), so your submission will still be used (that is, unless you don't want it used anymore: if that's the case, Let me know).

I have a lot of good intentions for this site, and increasingly less time. The svelte, newly shorn BeatnikPad will be easier to handle, and help me sleep at night.


Updates will probably be scarce over the next week or so. I'm taking off for a bit of a vacation to Montreal (again) and won't be back around this neck of the woods until the first weekend of August.

I'll eat some bagels and mispronounce some French for you. While I'm away, check out the web love area for some compelling linkage... and keep smiling. Thanks for reading.

(Edit: Okay, I updated the web love area, just to make it worth your while. Well, maybe.)

Or your money back!

The BeatnikPad Money Back Guarantee

I, Neil Lee, being of righteous bluster and tangetial majesty, solemnly do swear that:

i) There will be no posts herein which mention the words "journalism", "blogging", and "the future of online writing" (or such babbleclop) in the context of the Web. That is, except for this one.

ii) There will be no speaking of myself in the third person, or utilizing the royal "we". At least, not very much.

iii) There will be no posts whatsoever which tells you, in no uncertain terms, "what abba member am I?", or "what Rat Pack member am I?" or "what disposable razor am I?", or even "what boreal lichen or mold am I?". I know that no one cares: not even me.

iv) If I ever post my "Blogger code", may I be whipped repeatedly with a large portrait of Jimmy Walker while wearing a rather gothic-looking pair of lederhosen. I mean, that's only one step away from telling everyone what my dexterity, strength, hit points, and charisma scores are. And that's frightening.

v) Posts about Star Trek (Next Generation or otherwise) are strictly prohibited. End of story. (Posts making fun of William Shatner are allowed, though.)

vi) I reserve the right to post images of my cats or any other animal I choose, as long as I balance it with an image elsewhere of something that kicks ass.

vii) Coming soon: more crankiness! More perturbed punditry! More riboflavin! Same great taste.

Your satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back. Every penny. On that you have my word.

We’re Back

After an unexpected switcheroo at the network centre, the BeatnikPad should be back on the air after a couple of hours of downtime. How perturbing.

Penmanship and Photos

Well, as you can see I've found a way to keep the Letter Project up on the home page (besides mentioning it in every damn post). We'll see how long I can handle looking at my godawful penmanship before I'm forced to swap it out for something less personally offensive... heh.

(Update: June 26, 11:52pm: The handwritten notice lasted exactly 23 hours, 50 minutes. I got sick of it pretty quick.)

Oh, and there's a new cutoff date for signup - it's July 7th (subject to being extended at my most fickle whims). See the Letter Project page for more details.

Out of curiousity, does anyone actually write anymore? As in cursive writing? Every single person I know either prints, or "cursive" prints - another way of saying, "they squash all of their printed letters together so it might as well be cursive". Perhaps that could a dying art, like letter writing, good conversations, those itsy-bitsy Japanese trees, and adding a P.S. at the bottom of correspondence...

At any rate, there'll be some more iPhoto movies coming very soon; I'm just trying to find suitable soundtracks for the photos and then I'll post them. Oh goody, goody, right?

The Letter Project: The proposal

Before the Internet and the instant gratification of e-mail came along, I used to write letters. Long ones.

I'd spend a full week or two working on a single letter for a friend, treating it more like finite journals. They were snapshots of what was happening at that moment when I was writing. They were, for all intensive purposes, very much like this journal.

Last December it was pointed out to me that a certain friend of mine and I had communicated more by e-mail than in person. That made a small part inside of me ache. I sat down that day and started writing a letter.

Letter writing has always felt like an inherently nostalgic act to me, made more so now because of the instantaneous nature of e-mail. No one writes letters anymore. I can say this with conviction because I know it to be true. I haven't received a bonafide letter in years.

Unlike these posts, and unlike e-mail, letters are permanent. They're intimate in a way that the Web possibly never will be; penmanship itself is a personal thing. I think we should write letters more often.

This is what I propose:

  1. You send me your name and address.
  2. I randomly pull names out of some receptacle (a hat, if no other is conveniently at hand)
  3. I send each participant a name and address.
  4. You then write that person a letter, and receive one from another participant.

I think there should be a particular subject for this first attempt, just so that everyone knows what's expected of them. The subject will be: "Something that happened today." Of course, the letter must be handwritten.</p.

It can be as long or as short as you want. It can be a personal letter, or it can be factual and indirect - the choice is up to you. If you like, you can post your letter on your site and send me the link so I can link to it... but that's also up to you. I think there should be a time limit of some kind, just so it doesn't drag forever. I'll set one once I see how many people are actually interested.

I have no idea if this will work, or if anyone will even be interested in this. It's something I've been thinking a lot about. Please spread the word; I'd love this to be a very large group endeavor. And send that info if you want to participate.

Update (June 26): I have set the cutoff date for round one (yes, there will be more, I think) to be July 7th. Why that date? I just got my cat to pick a date on the calender. And for those who worry about their privacy: I can't guarantee anything, as your address will be given to another person - that's the whole idea, anyway.... but think of it this way: if you registered a domain, your address is hanging out bare-assed for the whole Web to see with a WHOIS, anyway... so you might as well make some new friends with it (and get a letter in the mail, to boot).

I'll make sure not to match people who live within driving distance of each other, if that makes you feel better... does it?


From the "more-proof-Neil-is-regressing" department:

Just for the heck of it (and to give the BeatnikPad that dusty, archival library feel) I've started archiving past BeatnikPad designs.

Of course, there's only one so far (this site is only 13 months old, after all) but this does give me some incentive to put this site under the knife and retire this design - it's got a nice, cozy place to go. Hopefully it'll re-emerge shinier, prettier, with its wrinkles vanished into a taunt and trim complexion. Like Mary Tyler Moore or Joan Allen - though we can only dream of aging so gracefully.

Anyway, the journal content is updated, but the rest of the page is the way the site looked when I pulled it down last October for retooling. There's even a couple of MP3's on there... (as incentive, I suppose). Go and take a look if you're so inclined.

200 / Moulin Rouge!

Welcome to entry number 200 for the BeatnikPad Journal. Not really a major milestone, but I felt like pointing it out anyway.

moulinWoman.jpgNot a lot of posting action around here this week. I started my new job on Tuessday and have been sending the week re-acclimatizing myself to the new daily ritual. You know, getting up early, riding the bus, and actually working for a change instead of sitting on my butt, like I've done during my past two weeks away from the working world.

So far the new job is great, if you were curious. The folks I work with are definitely much more in the same headspace as I (ie. artsy-fartsy), and it's refreshing to be surrounded by students eager to learn new things. I think this will be a really fun, enlightening experience.

Speaking of artsy-fartsy, I watched Moulin Rouge! last night. Afterwards, I felt like getting all pretentious and verbose and critical, so I wrote up a rambling, somewhat pedantic review for it. It's now posted in the Cultural Joy section. Not that it was a joy, actually... but I thought it'd be better to post it there rather than here.

We’re Number One! No one cares!

The BeatnikPad is now the top result when you search for "Moving Stories" on Google. This, of course, points to the Moving Stories Project here at the 'Pad.

Now, if only people would actually submit an actual tale about a move they did, we'd be getting somewhere... <sigh>

[Update: May 10, 2002]: I just realized how utterly pitiful and lame this entry was. Took me long enough, huh?

Status: Nitpicky. Nostalgic.

As you may have noticed, I've moved a few things around, and fiddled with the BeatnikPad's style sheet. Again. All of this nitpickiness is just me trying to put off what I really should be doing now that I'm temporarily unemployed, and actually have personal fun time.

That is, of course, redesigning this site and moving it to full XHTML and style sheet positioning compliance, like my woefully under-posted and underdeveloped freelance site, and my girlfriend's personal Website. (Which, by the way, Renée has started updating again, now that she's also found more time. Go pay her a visit and give her a reason to make this a more permanent state of affairs...)

Now that I've been freed from the possibility of putting myself into a conflict of interest position with my old employer, I'm back on the prowl for freelance writing, Web design, and development gigs. That means I need to get off of my lazy glutes and actually start marketing myself again... which then means that I really should finish redesigning my portfolio and freelance site, theNonsuch.

But all I can think about is the fact that a year ago I was gallivanting around Europe with Renée, and trying to scheme up a way to get back out there. One thing's for sure: Rampant nostalgia can paralyze one into a dumbstruck haze - and I am a complete sucker for dwelling a bit too eagerly in the past.

Ah, heck. At least I'm posting more often.

Anniversary. Reflection.

Today is a special day.

First, a year ago today I added my small clamour to the journal community by launching this site. The 365 days which followed have been filled with an incredible amount of upheaval and tumultuous change.

(This is, were my life a tragically flawed, shark jumping sitcom, where I would launch into a "greatest hits" jaunt down memory lane. I would point out some of the many things that happened to me (and to us) in the last year, and coax out from the archives some choice posts, to remind everyone (and myself) just how extra-ordinary my life really is. How gauche.)

Today is also special because it's the last day at my old job. This marks the end, at least for now, of my life grappling with the corporate beast. Of course, almost everything could be construed as being corporate in some way, and my new job is no exception. But this is special for me because I never really felt 100% comfortable working for large corporations. My new job will have a direct, measurable, and hopefully positive affect on people's lives. And that makes me happy.

When I was a scrappy punk rock kid, the last thing in the world I would have expected I'd end up doing is working for big business. Yet living in Toronto, where it really does seem like everything revolves around making sure you've got enough cash to pay the rent that month, really changed a lot for me. It was that reality, coupled with my newfound career doing Web stuff, that lead me to the corporate life.

I'm grateful for the lessons I learned, and the opportunities that working in the corporate world gave me. It's time for a change.

Happy Birthday, BeatnikPad. And thank you for listening.

Introducing the BeatnikPad weekly roundup

With Oprah saying adieu to her long-running cash cow book club, where's a fella to find a good book these days?

beret!Okay, so I'm being facetious. Still, I love reading, music, and the movies (thus the literary / cinema inspired Website name)... and there's nothing better than word-of-mouth to find out about tidbits of cultural joy. In the interests of hopefully encouraging ya'll to share with me (and others) your latest tasty discovery, I hearby present the first of a series: The Weekly Roundup.

The Weekly Roundup will be a book, a CD, or a movie (or any combination of the three) that either you're enjoying, or recently enjoyed. It goes up every Friday, so if you're interested in participating (either by posting your own choices on your site, or posting them in the comments here), Friday is the day. Know about something delicious (or dastardly)? Share it with the me, and the BeatnikPad's visitors! Check out this week's selections.

P.S. Oh, and if you can think of a better name for this than the "Weekly Roundup" (which sounds more like something the police do when their bored, or something cowboys indulge in for sport) I'd be most appreciative. Feeling pretty uninspired today; as if that wasn't already obvious.

Reaching New Heights of Pretension

I'm trying out a bit of an experiment, which could prove rather embarrassing to my sense of self-esteem if people hate it. I've revamped and expanded the writing area to make room for different styles of writing besides the old articles I've written.

My goal: to write something new once a week, whether it's some short fiction, verse and/or poetry (oh-oh), or a longer non-fiction piece. Definitely let me know if it blows chunks, will you?


I'm back, with the lights of Montréal's Rue de St. Denis and the faces of my incredibly beautiful friends still glistening in my eyes. My creative battery is also feeling replenished and revitalized; expect travel photos, stories, and other such dazzlements soon.

Travelin’ Light

StewardessesWell, I'm off in eight hours for nine days of rest, relaxation, and mangling of Canada's second official language. Toronto, with its beautiful friends, detached cool, unending visual suprises, and wily bloggers... and Montréal, with its unending joie de vivre, gorgeous architecture, beguiling history, and kick-ass food. I am going to enjoy myself.

So, posts may be on the slim side for the next little while. I'm going to attempt to stay away from anything resembling a computer. Who am I kidding? Hope all is warm bathes, back rubs, and uncontrollable giggles... I'll miss you.



So things are goings to be a bit wonky for the next couple of days. Some weiner hacked into the server that the BeatnikPad lives on and destroyed everything. I had a backup, but only up until the end of January.

As far as this journal is now concerned, February 2002 never happened.

Please bear with me as I reconstruct what I can from google's cache and other sources. And if you should ever overhear a snot-nosed punk kid bragging about trashing someone's server, kick him in the groin as hard as you can.

Moral of this story: Just because your provider says, "We do backups!" doesn't mean that you don't have to. Blech.

One down, one to go


This site is now 100% XHTML 1.0 transitional compliant. Look, if you don't believe me, see for yourself.

Next up? Redoing the entire site completely in Cascading Style Sheets. Right now, all of the pretty boxes, form elements, and font styling are being beautified via a global stylesheet, but the structure of the page is held together using tables. All of this will change, given some time.

Why does any of this matter? Here: read this.

New digs

A new year brings yet another new home for the BeatnikPad. After all of the shenannigans with the pokey old Web host, I got impatient and fed up and moved the darn thing. I can be crankly like that. At least my friends think so.

Along with the new, hopefully faster server (it seems to working great for me, now), I've also reorganized the archives. For you, the change will mean nothing. But for those of you surfing in from a Search engine, you'll probably get a 404 or two until Google and company reindex the site. Sorry.

And so, with the giddy excitement of a palindromic year ahead of us, I wish you good health, good eating, and good times in 2002. Skold!

Is this thing on?

Welcome, Cool Stop readers!

Okay, so is the BeatnikPad loading fairly quickly for you? From my end, things are putt-putting along, and I've been hassling my Web host to check into it for a while. But you can never really know if it's your connection, or your host, or some guy along the ways in South Dakota whose homemade router sucks rocks.

Please, post a comment or let me know if the site is dragging its heels. Thanks!

New section added

Sometimes, when I’m feeling extra self-important and narcissistic, I fancy myself an adequate writer. In a fit of self-delusion (I mean, do you really care?), I’ve acted on these pipe dreams by posting a whack of writing I did when I worked at the hellacious Sympatico-Lycos. Some of it is okay, and some of it is bad. Either way, enjoy, and as always, comments and discouraging words are always welcome.

100 moments in time

Welcome to the 100th BeatnikPad entry. What were the BeatnikPad's first words? This dribble.

Life continues on in its chaotic and strangely comforting way. I'm heading to Toronto on Friday for a well deserved break from the stressbox that is work. Anyone out there want to meet up for some Gandhi roti, sushi, and coffees at Kalendar?


Just finished moving the BeatnikPad to a faster, hopefully more stable server, which seems to have cleared up the comments problem. Still, there may be problems - please, as always, let me know if something goes wonky on you.

Blogger begone!

All of the old site's postings from Blogger have now been imported, and can be found in the new Archives area. Blogger is an amazing tool, but I found it unreliable and a bit flaky, especially when it came to archives.

Hopefully this frankensteinian mish-mash of moveable type and some of my own code should do the trick... hopefully.


Welcome to the new (and hopefully improved) BeatnikPad! After weeks of procrastination, bungled attempts at Cascading Style Sheets, heartrending browser issues, and more than a little guilt, the site seems to finally be out the door.

Everything has been rebuilt from the ground up, and the site is now running on a brand new content management system... so there will be bugs. Please, if you find spelling mistakes, something that looks like it's not intentional (heh), or if the site totally blows up on you, let me know.

Many heartfelt thanks to everyone that sent encouraging e-mails. It constantly amazes me that there are people out there that find my babbling interesting. Your kind words are very much appreciated.

Alrighty then! Enjoy, and I hope that everything is uplifting sonatas in your corner of the world.

We can rebuild it

Re-groove: Just so you know, the BeatnikPad will be closing soon for a well-deserved redesign, and vigorous massaging of the, ahem, back-end. Once I’ve closed the site it shouldn’t take longer than a week to two weeks to relaunch. Just so you know.

I really need to redesign

I’m getting really sick of it - but I keep finding other things (usually work, sadly enough) to suck up the time… Well, dammit.


The comments have been fixed. Muchas gracias to Dan at DotComments for the helping hand, and the great script.


Having a problem with the comments script (notice how all of the earlier posts have 135 comments except for the one below? I’m not THAT popular, unfortunately.). I’ve found why it’s doing that… but I don’t have time right now to fix it. Tomorrow, tomorrow, and tomorrow.

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