Puppy in ’08!

Steph just woke me up by talking in her sleep. I only caught one sentence: “Is there anything you want to say to your puppy before he runs for president?”

I could only come up with, “Good luck,” to which she responded, “I hope he doesn’t bite.” I guess that implies it’s Henson.

Net Neutrality – Act NOW!

You know I’m not very political on here. Sure, occasionally I throw out some flame bait and start a conversation, but I’m usually pretty neutral. Speaking of neutral (segue!), I want to call you to action on an issue that I think is one of the most important ones to hit politics in years.

If you ever do anything for me, ever, please visit this website and support Net Neutrality. If you fill in your info and write a letter on that page, it’ll automatically send your letter to your representatives. Slick! The vote is happening on the 9th, from what I’ve heard, so voice your opinions immediately. Don’t be lazy. Get off your mental duff for five minutes and help to change the future of the Internet permanently.

If you’re not sure what this is all about, watch this video to get up to speed.

I whipped this letter together. I hope it somehow hits home at least in adding to the volume of letters they’re getting, if not by making a point.

I never contact government officials. I don’t think I’ve attempted to contact a government official (via anything but a vote) for the last 5 or 6 years at least. But here I am. This is that important.

I’m really concerned about Net Neutrality. If companies can restrict access to websites and technologies that should be unrestricted, or change access due to exclusive business deals, the only one that wins is the company. Consumers lose, and they lose wholesale. There isn’t a single benefit to the consumer if the Net isn’t 100% neutral. Don’t let anyone tell you this is about child porn or terrorism or anything else–it isn’t. It’s about big companies that want to force me to pay more for what I already get free.

If none of that means anything to you, let me put it more simply: I won’t vote for anyone who lets them do that. I won’t vote for anyone who doesn’t make sure the Net remains neutral. This issue is a deal breaker for me.

Thanks!

Josh Lewis
Cupertino, CA

Inflammatory Words

"Frodo Failed! Bush got the ring."

I saw this bumper sticker today. It boggles my mind that people can be this petty and childish. Obviously this person wanted to share their opinion with traffic as quickly as possible since the election is still fairly new news. Dear motorist: Canada is only 1000 miles away. Drive there and get on with your life, or quit whining.

Is it wrong of me to say that? Is it wrong to want people to have intelligent discourse instead of mindlessly insulting the president? This doesn’t create intelligent discourse. This just creates blind hatred. This person should expend their energy in more useful ways.

Healing Iraq

I usually don’t comment on politics. You may have noticed that. I’m not going to stray far from that today, but I wanted to point you all towards a blog I’ve just discovered, written by a 24-year-old Iraqi dentist living in Baghdad who happens to speak English fluently. It’s called Healing Iraq. Especially notable is this entry, which I encourage everyone to read.

A quote to get you started, from his first entry (made only three days ago):

This is my first post. A bit about myself; My name is Zeyad. I’m 24, male. I live in Baghdad, Iraq. Also lived in the UK prior to the first Gulf war. I work as a dentist.

Unfortunately, there haven’t been enough Iraqis running weblogs lately. There are only five of them as far as I know. I took it upon myself to start a weblog and introduce other Iraqis to this new (to us at least) and exciting world. Internet use in Iraq is very low, compared to other countries in the region. But it is growing daily. And more and more Iraqis will be able to post what they think about whatever is happening in their country and the rest of the world. Their voice will be heard at last, now that they have nothing to fear from doing so.

Go, bookmark, and enjoy!

Zeldman, how do I love thee?

About three months ago, a friend of mine mentioned some guy named Jeffrey Zeldman to me. Said he had a book that I should really read because it was great. Apparently this Zeldman guy had insightful things to say about web design and the use of standards like XHTML and CSS. About a month ago I picked up the book.

Two weeks later, I almost changed careers.

I kid you not, this guy made me want to be a web designer more than anything else in my life. Steph was shocked how serious I was when she read an email I sent late one night to my parents. The reasons I didn’t go running for the digital hills were only that I love my current job and I realized that I’m simply not good enough at web design (yet) to make any money at it in the public sector. I think it’s something I will probably do avocationally (like this site) for quite some time until I become good enough at it that I could do it professionally, assuming that day comes.

Zeldman’s book took the tiny shreds of knowledge I had about HTML and CSS and expanded them mightily in such a way that after reading every chapter I was aching to go make a website and try the techniques he had shown me. The aching part might have come from the fact that I was exercising while reading the book, but that’s beside the point. If you author web pages, even if you use Dreamweaver or GoLive, you owe it to yourself and your viewers/users to read this book. Your sites will be slim and powerful. They will work well on every platform. You will feel sexy. Go pick it up.

I am incredibly excited about web design and where it may lead me and the rest of the world in the future. One of the things I love about web design stems logically from the fact that the Internet is awesome. As you’ve read in earlier entries of mine, I love the Internet. It amazes me what happens when minds collect in centralized locations. Some people call it "hive mind" (thanks Jeff!), and sometimes that’s appropriate. Here’s a blog entry about that topic.

But I’m not just talking about the novelty of having people vote on things to see how close we can come to a common "truth" using the power of all our combined minds. I’m saying that the Internet has become and will always be an extremely powerful method of communication from the masses to the masses, or more precisely, from the average man to almost anyone on the entire planet. That’s powerful.

Only in the last ten years of human history has the average person been able to speak his mind in such a way that it was instantly and freely accessible to everyone else without doing a lot of work. I pay $60 a year for this site. I learned a bit about HTML awhile back (it only takes a couple weeks to become fairly decent at it) and that’s about all it takes. Anybody can do this. It’s even easier with free tools like Movable Type, which is what I use to manage this blog. It’s brain-dead simple once you get the hang of it, and it’s becoming simpler every day.

This trend is absolutely unstoppable and it’s only going to get better from here. Think about how many times in history things would have been different and better if certain people had a voice. But they didn’t because they couldn’t. Those days are over everywhere the personal computer is available. And that is because of the medium of the Internet. I’m excited about web design because I can learn to wield that medium with power and skill. That’s amazing. It’s like learning to write all over again in some kind of magical book that can express more than I would be able to on regular paper. That continually amazes and excites me.

It’s a great time to be alive, and it’s an even greater time to be a geek.