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March 29, 2006

Beating up on 14 year olds and bragging about it.

Here is a rundown of some other blogger's analysis of the BattleCry Youth convention protests in San Francisco:

Private Radio San Francisco: the new totalitarianism

Cotillion: A Badge of Honor

Marturia.net - Liberals scared of teens?

If you would like to see the liberal bloggers viewpoint check out Technorati, as I don't want to link to them.

Their reaction is fairly comical. Basically the only complaint that is based on reality is that they disapprove of the "Battle" language. Grown men and women are shouting inflamatory names at teenagers who are praying, and we are supposed to think that the teens are the agressors? Then they brag about it on their websites. Beyond that, some of them suggest a Denial of Service attack should be initiated against Battlecry's website. Hint: When you verbally beat up on people who are on their knees praying, don't expect them to believe that there is no "Battle"

Nerd in Training

Julia and I watched the Nova episode on the DARPA challenge yesteryday. She seemed to really enjoy it. Which made me pretty happy. Another few years, and I can teach her to program Basic Stamps.

For those who don't know, the DARPA challenge was a contest to create vehicles that where capable of driving themselves over long distances through desert terrain. 5 vehicles managed to navigate a 120 miles course through the desert within 10 hours without human input. Last year's challenge was substantially less successful with all of then teams failing to finish.

Julia's analysis: "This is like The March of the Penguins but with Cars!

March 28, 2006

Sorry about that...

For one reason or another my Movable type stopped working properly, and in my troubleshooting I wound up postng the same entry 7 or 8 times... Grrrr....

Sorry if your RSS readers went nutty!

Josh

Purity is not welcome?

Purity is not welcome?

Looks like San Francisco is begining to realize that they did their city no favors by opposing a prayer convention of Junior high and High school students in thier city:

Intolerant City

Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was quoted telling counterprotesters Friday that the gathering Christians were "loud, they're obnoxious, they're disgusting and they should get out of San Francisco." On Monday, however, Leno struck a more reasoned tone, acknowledging that his rally cry was "not one of my prouder moments." He said the youth group was "welcome in San Francisco," even though he does worry that its religious rhetoric could "under a cloak of love" feed a "fearful world's appetite for hate."

The city supervisors passed a resolution condemning the convention. Checking Battle Cry's website, it appears that they are trying to encourage kids to stay off drugs, alcohol, and sex. Apparently the leaders in San Francisco find this offensive.

Not only did this create a huge wave of publicity for the organization. It also removed any doubt from validity of their message. This culture is opposed to our youth staying pure, and will fight to corrupt them in every avenue available: Television, Music, Internet, Advertizing, and now apparently City board resolutions.

I think that Battlecry's approach is very good. They are encouraging youth trust in God's promises and remain pure. They fight this battle one heart at a time. They also work to train these kids to become leaders in their community, loving other kids, and setting a pure example.

Thanks to Junglepop for the heads up.

Comment Contest: New City slogan for San Francisco?

A conversation

The other day I was leaving my church after doing some computer work, and a gentleman was waiting outside and asked me if I could give him a ride home. He was not somebody I knew, but was with another group that was using our facility that evening. I asked him where he needed to go, and it was about 2 miles in the opposite direction of where I was going. I sent an arrow prayer, and felt that I should give this guy a ride.

We got moving, and I tried to strike up a conversation. He asked some questions about the meeting that evening, which I knew very little about. After a few seconds of awkward silence, he said, "You know, I have a lot of fear issues."

"Really?" I asked. "What kinds of things are you afraid of?"

"I really can't put explain it. I am just afraid"

"We all have some fears" I said.

"You have fear too?"

"Well sure, everyone fears some things. I try to trust God to watch over me and protect, but sometimes I fear quite a bit. It is always a battle to remember that God is in control"

A few minutes passed.

"Am I going to Die?" my passenger asked.

He was a pretty clean cut guy. Tall, lean and well dressed. I could tell he smoked a lot of cigarettes, but other than that he seemed pretty healthy.

"We all die" I replied. "But you look like a pretty healthy guy, you probably still have quite a long life ahead of you. Is there something wrong?"

"No, I can't really explain it, I just think I am going to die."

He asked more questions about the meeting.. I told him a little about our church.

"Did I do something wrong?" he asked.

"Not that I heard about" I assured him.

As we neared his neighborhood, I got quite confused as to where he lived. He didn't give me very good directions.

He asked me again about fear, and I told him that I though the best way to deal with fear was to pray.

"You pray?" He asked.

"Yes I do."

"Who do you pray to?"

This question through me off a bit. I am not sure why. "I pray to my heavenly father, God. And my Savior Jesus. Do you know Jesus?"

"Yes" he said.

I was lost.. "Do you live on the other side of the river?" I asked. We where pretty much stuck on a one way road going across the river.

"No"

"Oops, I will turn around as soon as I can"

"Now I am getting worried." He replied. "Are you going to kill me?"

"No sir, I am your friend, Just trying to get you home safe."

Unsure that he really understood the point of our earlier conversation, I told him that if he trusted in Christ, he really didn't need to fear death. I told him that this life is hard, but God has work for us to do here. After we pass away in this world, we will live in a world without sin and disease, and our eternal life would be wonderful.

Shortly after this we arrived at his place, and parted ways.

Obviously this guy was a bit confused, but after reflecting and praying about this encounter a bit, I came to realize that his questions are the same as everyone else's.

"Did I do something wrong?" All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - Romans 3:23

"Am I going to die?" For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23

"Who do you pray to?" - You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:14

"I am afraid" - Perfect love drives out fear - 1 John 4:18

"Are you going to kill me?" Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. - Heb 12:14

Most people don't ask these questions, but they certainly are thinking them. To be honest, that last question crossed my mind a time or two during that trip.

God certainly used this gentleman to prepare me to be ready to answer these questions. I wonder who He will send my way next?

March 27, 2006

Student spends spring break at Wal Mart

I love Sociology majors... ( I married one)

Spring break at Wal-Mart

I have been on a couple of trips to walmart that seemed like that!

March 24, 2006

Energy doesn't come from pork. -- Arnold Kling

Much excitement and legislation is circulating regarding increasing Ethanol consumption in the US.

Carbon cloud over a green fuel | csmonitor.com

I am beginning to believe that we have all been had. There is quite a bit of controversy about it in the academic circles, but there is hardly any in the political circles. Farmers get to grow federally subsidized corn, and sell it to factories that have markets guaranteed for them by state regulations. Now it is beginning to look like Coal mines are going to get a chunk of the revenue.

The automaker's lobby has been bought off by the ability to count dual fuel vehicles as higher MPG vehicles than they really are. This allows the automakers to sell more low economy vehicles, and still remain under their regulated Corporate MPG limit.

If Ethanol where really an economically viable option, would a 51-71 cent per gallon subsidy really be necessary? That is the current government subsidy. (Through a fuel tax exemption).
There is still a lot of debate about how efficient Ethanol is to produce. The most recent studies indicate that it is efficient enough to be economical, but not efficient enough to be revolutionary. Previous studies indicated that you actually had to burn more energy in the production process than you received in the end product.

The other issue is a shortage farmland. It would take an enormous amount of farmland to create enough corn fuel our cars. Much more than is currently in production now. Brazil is the largest producer in Ethanol in the world, and they are plowing down Rainforests to make room for more farmland.

Anyway, there are lots of special interests who stand to profit from ethanol. I am not sure that there is a point however. It is not a solution for the energy shortage, and it is not very green, if it is green at all.

The way to solve the energy problem is pretty simple: Burn less fuel.

March 23, 2006

Reading with your kids.

Because I have owned my own business for quite a while, and have ordered packaging supplies before, sometimes I get some pretty unusual catalogs in the mail.

Most of these find quickly find the way into the trash, but today I found new use for one.

I read my Global industries catalog with Nathan, my 3 year old today. He loved it! They sell forklifts, carts, ladders, Material handling equipment, office furniture, packaging supplies and a random assortment of other things a 3 year old would have no need for.

It is funny how insightful he was, For example, as we flipped through the pages, he pointed out the Doctor's
Chair
I don't think I would have thought of that. He sure was right though. That was a doctor's chair.

I remember when I was a kid spending hours going through the Sears and Penny's catalogs. It was lots of fun. I wonder if my kid's inherited the same curiosity, or if this is a universal thing?

Local nostalgia

ICKS?
ICKS?,
originally uploaded by Patrick Q.
I bet every town has a place like Dicks. I was browsing through flickr the other day, and I ran across this photo, which triggers a river of memories.

Dicks is a hamburger stand that sits right at the heart of Spokane. It is an old fashioned place. You have to park your car and walk up to the window and place your order. Often it is very busy, and there are long lines. The cashiers take long orders from multiple customer at once, and don't seem to write anything down, but you seem to get your food. The parking lot is always overflowing with seagulls. There may be a picnic table or two, but for the most part I think people eat in their cars or get their food to go. There is no indoor or covered seating.

The food isn't anything to write home about. it is your typical greasy burger and fries. I don't think the food is the attraction.

I haven't eaten at Dick's in ages. Usually the only time I go there is when I am with friends from out of town. Everyone seems to have a Spokane memory revolving around this place for one reason or another.

So, open discussion time. What is the Dick's of your hometown? I am pretty sure every town has one!

March 22, 2006

Weird Aviation video.

Social Bookmarking

I have been using Blinklist for quite a while now, and it keeps growing on me. I had previously use del.icio.us, but never really got into it. Blinklist seemed a little more polished, and a little more explicit about how it could be used. I took some of their suggestions, and have not looked back.

I like the Tagging system that is emerging. I disliked the traditional hierarchical system of filing stuff for a long time. It seems that we spend a lot of time figuring out the perfect place to file something, and when we go to retrieve it, we have to go through the same process again, usually coming up with different conclusions. As a result, we are spending too much time filing, and too much time retrieving. Rather than trying to become more organized, it makes sense to me that we use computer technology to manage our disorder. That is what I feel the tagging system does.

One of the nice features of the social bookmarking is the ability to view my bookmarks from multiple computers. With Firefox, I can create a live bookmark to my Blinklist RSS feed, and even if I bookmarked something at home, It will show up at work. Or Vice versa.

The other neat thing is that I can watch what other people are bookmarking. If I notice someone else shares interests with my I can subscribe the rss feed on their bookmark page, and leach the good stuff out of their web browsing.

The only real downside right now is that a majority of the folks who use these are early adopters. As a result, there is Way too many links to stuff like Ruby, Ajax, and Linux, but there are substantially fewer links to things like Bible study sites, Aviation sites, and cooking sites..

If you are not a computer nerd, please sign up and share your normal links. It is really easy. (Really!_

March 17, 2006

Radical Giving

What would our world be like if this where not a infrequent enough that it became a national top story whenever it happened?

Pregnant Teen Waitress Gets $1,000 Tip - Yahoo! News

"It involved a lot more than good service at a great restaurant," Dogan told the Times. "I didn't need it. It helped someone who ... needed it. God put us there together. God answered my questions."

I think this is what it is all about. We should be no doubt that something is radically different about us.

Do you figure Amanda Newkirk feels loved? If the state had had to pick up her medical bills, do you figure she would have felt the same amount of love? It likely is a similar amount of money.

If Mrs. Dogan had spent the cash on new clothing it is doubtful that she would even remember spending the money a few months down the road. I doubt she forgets this!

Odd bible trivia.

The Word "Anger" is used 270 times in the NIV bible. 257 times in the old testement, and 13 times in the new testement. Two of the quotes in Hebrews are direct quotes of the Psalms.

In Mark 3:5, Christ is Angry about the legalism of the Pharisees. "He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored."

The word "Angry" has a simularly lopsided distribution being used 110 times in the old testement, and 10 times in the new. Most of the new testement references are either parables discribing people, or encouragement not to become angry.

Basically my understanding is that Anger is God's job, not ours.

Gonzaga Madness linkfest

So Spokane has been crazy for the last several months about the Gonzaga Bulldog basketball team.

I am still skeptical. While they have some very big winning streaks going on, Almost every game has been won by just a few points. Their opponents have been within 3 points in the final 2 minutes in almost all of their games. They might be able to get away with this against teams like St. Mary's and University of San Francisco, but now they are playing teams like Indiana, UCLA, and Memphis. Now is the time we see what they are really made of.

It is quite impressive to see what a good basketball program can do for a University. Gonzaga seemed to be pretty stagnant in the late nineties. But for the last six years, it seems like the massive construction cranes have been part of the skyline in that neighborhood.

Here is my dose of useless Gonzaga memories....

I used to spend hours in their libraries researching for Debate when I was in high school. They have a decent Law school, and as such, they have a pretty good law library. High school kids do seem a little out of place in the law libraries. Before Basketball, Gonzaga's Debate Team was quite a powerhouse. I went to debate camp there one summer. I considered pursuing a college debate program there, but decided it was fairly silly, as I was a pretty mediocre high school debater. As I remember it, all of the highly talented local debaters turned down the scholarship that they had available, so I might have had a shot had I applied.

I remember Debating in the courtroom of the Law school once. It was definately one of the coolest venues I have debated at. I believe I was doing Lincoln-Douglas at the time, although I was a Cross-Exer at heart

My sister went to college at Gonzaga, When she was not in France.

Bozarth MansionAndee and I got married on Gonzaga property. They have a retreat center up on the north side of town. The Bozarth Mansion. Here is a page describing the history of the building.

Last time I was on the campus, we went to see a free lecture by Arun Gandhi. I didn't see any publicity about this event at all, but soon after we got there, it became apparent that everyone in town wanted to be there. They had scheduled it for a 150 seat auditorum, but they had to move it to the 1100 seat Cathedral.

Gonzaga has been in the news this week because of a massive fire in some student housing complexes that they had been contructing.

Anyway, come Sunday, I may need to recruit my friend Peter, who is an Indiana Alumnus to do an Hoosier linkfest.

March 16, 2006

Geocaching

I really enjoy Geocaching. I have not had a chance to get out much, but spring is almost here, so I will likely hit the trails again.

Basically the way it works is that you get a GPS unit. I use the Garmin Legend, but any GPS works just fine. You then visit a website that lists Geocaches. Geocaching.com is the most common one, but there are some alternative sites to choose from as well.

You can usually enter the Zip code, or Coordinates of your location, and it will bring up a list of Caches near you. You can then upload these into your GPS and use it to navigate to the location.

Caches come in all shapes and sizes. Some are made out of altoids tins or 35mm canisters, but I have seen some as big as 5 gallon ice cream buckets. Often they are ammunition cans or tupperware containers. Sometimes they are cleverly concealed in an urban environment, while other times they hidden in the forest.

Geocachers take pride in being friends to the environment, as such, they don't hide caches in places where you have to disturb nature to find them. They are never buried. There is also a very strong "Cache In Trash Out" program. Geocachers like to leave the environment cleaner than it was before they came. Geocaches also should never be placed on private property without the owners permission.

Usually the Caches are filled with nothing of importance. McDonalds toys and souvineer type trinkets seem to be the most common prizes. Inside each cache is a logbook that you can sign. The typical protocol is that if you take something from a cache, you place something else as a prize for the next visitor. While I have seen caches with 100 dollar bills for prizes, most often the real prize is the location that the cache is hidden. This is especially cool when you are traveling. I have gone geocaching in Yakima, Portland, and the Oregon Coast, and I found some places that I never would have seen if a geocache hadn't lead me there. I have also found several Geocaches in Dishman hills, and Manito Park. Even locally you learn a lot about your neighborhood when you really take time to look at it!

So far, I have hidden One Geocache, up on Day Mountain in Mount Spokane State Park It is in an absolutely cool location, with a 300 degree view of Spokane and Stevens counties.

Geocaching is a relatively inexpensive hobby. You can get a GPS for under 100 dollars if you shop around. After tthe initial investment, your only expense is batteries to keep it running, and gas to get you to the neighborhood that it is hidden in. The kids love it as well.

Below is a photo of my kids and I after discovering a geocache .3 miles from our house.

Hacking on the blog again

Let me know if you notice anything astonishingly annoying. I am adding technorati tags to my individual archives and to my RSS feed. I am hoping that this will help improve traffic as well as adsense relevance...

I am always experimenting with something.

Josh

March 15, 2006

Two more days of diapers!

Nathan is still in diapers.. For the last year or so I have occasionally tried to talk him into meeting Mr. Potty, but he has always said "No" and acted really uncomfortable.

Last week I asked him if he was ready to go potty on the potty, and he said "In a while"

A few days later, I rephrased my request as a a more close ended question. "When do you want to start going potty on the potty?" His reply: "Saturday"

Only 2 more poopy diapers to change if we are lucky! I think he is old enough that it should be fairly easy.

March 12, 2006

Nathan is home.

Nathan got home yesterday, and is doing well. He was pretty much ready to go since Thursday morning, so it was a pretty big relief.

We quickly noticed that both children had grown accustomed to the 24 hour attention from an adult. Yesterday was not too fun in a discipline regard. They are starting to enjoy each other more today. Today I took the kids to the park, and then we went to the airport and watched airplanes take off and land. I saw a pretty little Kitfox take off. I saw that airplane at the airport a few weeks ago, but my kid's didn't have enough patience to see it fly that day. Today I was ready to go way before Nathan was, and Julia agreed that he could watch 3 more airplanes. I was going to allow one more, but let Julia be extra generous to her brother.

Anyway, Nathan is back up and around. We are keeping him out of the way of other kids for a few days so that he doesn't get sick again. I asked the doctor, and she said it was okay to treat him like he was well.

March 10, 2006

Hospital duty

Nathan had to stay at least one more night in the hospital. He just went to bed, and his O2 is staying up. He has been bouncing off the walls all day. I don't think anyone would know that this kid is sick if they saw him on the street. Usually when he has been sleeping, however the Oxygen saturation has been sinking a bit low. He just went to bed, and so far so good. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

I am spending the night with him, as I did yesterday. Sleep disturbances are a non-event for me. I experence them all of the time as a graveyard guy. So I give Andee the night off. It isn't too bad, as I am in range of the Spokane Hotzone, so I get 2 hours of internet connectivity for free. I also brought my Sporty's video so I can learn to fly airplanes again.. The bed is pretty lousy, and gettng woken up by nurses every couple hours isn't too much fun, but I will survive!

March 8, 2006

Nathan is sick

Nathan apple

Nathan is a bit sick today. He has been kinda down for the last week. Today Andee took him to the doctor and the doctor determined that he had the start of pnemonia. As soon as he got home the doctor called back and asked that we could bring him back to check his O2 saturation....

Anyway, his O2 saturation was too low, so he is spending the night at the hospital. Hopefully he will be better soon. He is being a really good sport.

Will evangelicals bolt the GOP?

"When Would Jesus Bolt?" by Amy Sullivan

I have been saying for quite a while that the Media has overblown the Evangelical church's relationship with the right. I believe that the Christian Right is bound to the GOP based on one or two non-negotiable issues. Once those issues are resolved or settled, all bets are off as far as who they will vote for.

There is a lot in the Republican platform that doesn't have much appeal from a Biblical worldview. There is quite a bit in the Democratic platform that does. I think most Christians would be significantly more liberal than the GOP, but they are not willing to sacrifice the lives of innocent unborn babies to aid the liberal social causes.

Political victory can cost you. Satisfied constituents are less committed constituents. Odd but true.

Fans conduct covert operations and espionage

rangelife Tells the tale of a pretty sophisticated psycological scam that Cal students pulled on Gabe Pruitt, a USC guard.

In the days prior to their season finale against USC, the Cal students obtained Mr. Pruitt's Instant messenger handle, and created a fictitous character "Victoria" to flirt with him. In the game when Pruitt stepped to the free throw line, the student section started chanting "VIC-TOR-IA" back to him, and then recited his phone number back to him in unison.

He missed the free throws.

There was a simular situation here is Spokane at Gonzaga. There was a lot of media uproar about the student taunting Daniel Kickert of St. Mary's with a "Brokeback Mountain" chant. The media never seemed to identify the reason for the taunt, but apparently some students had found a photo of Kickert kissing another guy floating around on the internet.

Anyway, I wonder if the NCAA is going to have to institute a technical foul for excessive espionage and covert operations?

Evil link

Okay, I am evil to post this, but here is a very addictive link!

Fastr A flickr game.

Idea is to guess what the photos have in common.

March 7, 2006

Sensory Deprivation Tanks

A few years ago, I tried a Sensory Deprivation Tank.

The concept is pretty neat. Basically it is a tub about 1 foot deep. 8 or so feel long and 5 or so feet wide. The tank is full of water that has been saturated with 800 pounds of Epsom salts. As a result, this water is considerably denser than normal water, and when you lay on it, you float.

The water is heated to 93.5 degrees, which is the approximate temperature of your skin. When you close the door on the tank, it is totally dark. The idea is that you lay suspended in the saltwater solution with nothing to see, hear, smell, taste or feel.

This sounds scary, but it really isn't too bad. The tank is pretty big, so claustrophobia really isn't an issue. I could reach both walls if I spread my arms, but I couldn't reach the ceiling. Once the lights go out and you relax a bit the space seems infinitely big.

There is all kinds of propaganda on the benefits of floating. I was pretty hyped up about it before I tried, and I figure that my expectations interfered a bit with my experience. My friend who went with me, did it just for kicks, and he thought it was the coolest thing ever. He really hadn't built up a lot of anticipation.

There are quite a few companies that manufacture sensory deprivation tanks or "Float Tanks". They seem to range from 5-20k in price. I have seen one guy who sells float tank plans. He claims that you can build your own for about 1000 dollars. I purchased his product, and it doesn't look too bad, although I would likely take a different approach if I where to build my own.

In many cities, there are places you can go to rent an hour or two of time in a float tank. Floatation.com has a pretty comprehensive list. I did my floating in Seattle at Floatzone.

Overall, I found the float tank experience to be quite relaxing. I spent an hour in there, and it was not long enough. I suspect that 1 hour would be enough most of the time, but on my first time, I spent the first 15 or 20 minutes observing what could be observed and watching my brain to see if it felt weird yet. After the initial curiosity wore off, It was relaxing in a way that I don't think can be emulated any other way. There where absolutely no external distractions.

While the float tanks are quite a rage among the new-agers, I don't think that their use is inappropriate for those of us with more traditional faiths. It is a quiet place.

I have been wanting to go back, but I rarely get to Seattle, and I have yet to find one in Spokane or North Idaho. I see that there are a few in the Portland area, so next time I am over there I might see if I can schedule an appointment. I would love to have one in my house, so I could get some compressed rest on some of the days when I don't get enough sleep.

March 4, 2006

Spring is here!

P1010296
P1010296,
originally uploaded by Sean Bergman.
Okay, well not in Spokane, but the flowers are blooming in the Portland Oregon area.

My friend Sean updated his blog with new pictures of his landscaping projects. ()

By the way, Flickr is a very good tool for photobloging. Sean hadn't updated his Blog very much because it was always a bit of a hassle to upload the photos. Now he can upload them to flickr, and just press the blog this button for each photo. It is much easier. I am also posting this from flickr.

In Spokane our flowers started to bloom, then we got more snow. Happens that way about every year.

March 3, 2006

Happy Birthday Julia

My Daughter Julia turns 5 today!

Joshnbaby

Julia was born way too early, and got to live in the NICU for the first 6 weeks after she was born. She is big, Strong, Smart, and enjoying Disneyland with her Grammee today.

Christmas 05

March 2, 2006

Because I know that Andee Reads this...

See, I am not the only one!

Via - Involutionary Madness

I can't get away with this at work.

WorldNetDaily: Snorer in the court? Ruth Bader Ginsburg snoozes

Update on the lonely house

I ate Potatoes O'Brien for dinner. I think I might be allergic to Tabasco sauce, as I the roof of my mouth break out in bumps after eating them. I doubt I am allergic to potatoes, but weirder things have happened.

I slept from about 8-4:30.. Wow! That was nice. Andee says that the van is running badly. That is not good news. I don't think Dodge makes good transmissions.

Been hacking on the blog a little bit. Added the annoying flickr photo stream in the left column. Let me know what you think. Also set it up so that I can schedule posts. Moveable type has the functionality built in, but you have to set up a Cron job on your server to trigger the updates periodically.

Played with the Google videos quite a bit. Aside from the graininess it seems to work fairly well.. That may be a useful feature for the church website too.

March 1, 2006

Enough posting already!

This is an oldy, but goody:

(I am testing the embedded google video thing)

Testing Scheduled post

This post should show up at 8:00 AM Pacific time.

We will see!

Cross one off my wishlist

Every time I have been to the bookstore lately, I have been drooling over the Asterisk: The Future of Telephony book. I built an asterisk box last year, and it has been working fairly well. Once I worked through the bugs, I haven't had to mess with it much. Still, there is a ton of stuff that I don't know. I learned what I needed to learn in order to get it working in the environment I had. I would like to know all about the different kinds of telephone lines, all of the different configuration options etc.. While I would like this, I have no need. In our current financial situation I can't justify investing in knowlege that I am not going to be putting to use.

Anyway, I was quite amazed and surprized to find this:

Asterisk Documentation Project - Project Information

I now have the entire book in a PDF format on my computer. Thanks O'Reilly, I owe you one!

Making internet money

I have never focused on making my blog profitable. (Rarely do I invest enough time to spell correctly) But as my budget tightens, I may try a little harder.

The first step is to get traffic to your site. I think the key to doing this is to say interesting things. If you want traffic, it is also wise to fill in the keywords section of your blogging software if it is available. I believe you get better attention from search engines if your blog is at the base of your domain. i.e. http://www.fingertoe.com Not http://www.fingertoe.com/jreighley/blog/ I am not certain about this, but It seems to hold true for my sites. You can do a ton of search engine optimization if you want, but I would start with the basics. Make sure that the words that people might be searching for are in your post.

I use google sitemap on this blog, and it seems to help them find my webpages. Basically you add a template to your Movable type Installation that generates a sitemap.xml file for google, so it knows what to look for on your webpage.

I believe that what makes the internet so outstanding, is that it serves markets that are too niche for traditional media to reach. It fills the role that magazines served in the past, but is more responsive, not having to wait for a publishing cycle to get information to the audience. As such, generally the audience of a webpage is going to have pretty narrow interests, and it is fairly easy to sell them stuff. For example people who search for and find a page about building bat houses are very likely to want to know how to build a bat house. If you can point them to a inexpensive resource that will help them do it, they are quite likely to check it out. If someone is searching for methods to solve sudoku puzzles, and they see an ad for how to solve sudoku puzzles, then they are fairly likely to check it out.

Amazon.com's associate's program is pretty effective for this. Basically you sign up and include your associates code in URL's linking to any page on Amazon.com's website. Anytime somebody follows one of your links, you get a commision on anything that they purchase. I prefer to use a simple text link when possible. If it looks like an ad, you lose credibility. If your content is really compelling, then your audience will want to explore more.

Google's adsense is also quite effective because they often serve ads that are quite relevant to your blog entry. I only include these ads on my individual entry pages, as I think that the topics on my blog are too diverse to draw the right niche. If I ran a Niche topic blog about VoIP or Asterisk or the like, I would be more inclined to put Ads on my frontpage. Unless they are relevant, Ads are annoying.

There are folks who make a living off of their blogs. I never expect or intend to do that. It would be nice to offset some of the costs however. I spend about 20 bucks per month on internet hosting, plus 55 bucks per month for High speed access. Based on my past experiences I am quite confident that enough revenue could be generated to offset a good chunk of that.