Friday, 26 June 2009

How to Kill a Frozen Parallels Virtual Machine

Multiple projects have me using Windows more than I’m accustomed to, so I picked up a copy of Parallels and Windows Vista and loaded them up on the MacBook Pro.

My relationship with the MacBook Pro has been trying these past few weeks. Like an aged sitcom introducing a new character – this recent addition isn’t helping.

I found myself with a frozen Vista shutdown this afternoon, and for my own future reference here’s how to terminate a frozen Parallels Virtual Machine (from Parallels knowledgebase)

ps auxwww | grep prl

And grab the processes UUID of the process containing prl_vm_app and curly brackets (it’ll be obvious – especially if you’re only running one virtual machine)


sudo kill [The VM's UUID]

Easy., @font-face Service – Now in Private Preview

As I mentioned over at the Kernest blog, I sent out the first batch of emails announcing a sneak preview of Kernest – the @font-face, type-as-a-service project I’ve been working on.

If you’d like to check it out and give your blog a font upgrade, drop me an email and I’ll reply with a password.

The preview will be running until July 16th when I give a public demo at The Foundation– you’re invite. It’s free.

See you there.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

What’s Wrong with WordPress?

You know I’m a big fan of WordPress. For nearly 5 years, I’ve considered it the only online publishing platform worth considering.

I’ve built a number of plug-ins for it over the years(WP-iPodcatter, WP-iCal, WP-GotLucky, and WP-CaTT) of which I only use WP-iCal these days.

Since then, WordPress has taken off.

While they still have the 5-minute install, I feel much of the simplicity of the project has been lost.

While huge efforts have been made to make the admin side more usable and approachable, I’ve been having more and more technical issues with each successive upgrade.

Here’s a handful that come to mind immediately:

  • Auto-upgrading to WordPress 2.8 wiped out all 10 of my domains on that server (including my kids photoblog – the Grandparents are not pleased).
  • Even before then, auto-calculating the enclosure data on the podcast has been hit and miss for me (more miss when post is initially saved as a draft).
  • I’m not clear on the difference between Categories and Tags, and I prefer Categories. seems to prefer Tags.
  • No non-RSS/Atom outbound feeds (e.g. iCal, KML, JSON, etc) without use of plugins.
  • XML-RPC payload data is unreliable for me (again, Grandparents are not pleased).
  • Theme injection spam attacks regularly hiding links in my sites.
  • An increasing percentage of the WordPress community that seems just this side of spammers.
  • My WordPress URL Shortening Hack suddenly stopped working.

Now, I’ve no interest in migrating 5+ years of data – across countless installs – out of WordPress. Nor do I see another online publishing project as focused on simplicity, flexibility, and extensibility.

I also have no interest taking my chances on another destructive upgrade.

So, I’m experimenting with some ideas, and so far, I’m feeling optimistic. Launches at

MinnPost RealTimeAds

I’m pleased to announce the launch of – a advertising product now in beta testing at

Karl and I have been building and testing the system for a couple of months now and I’m quite happy with it on three of fronts;

  • It feels like it makes advertising approachable to people and organizations that haven’t considered it within reach before. Especially, extremely small and locallly-focused people.
  • It re-frames publications that already exist (Twitter feeds, blog feeds, etc) as text advertisements, cuz, you know, that’s what they are anyway.
  • It extends the real-time nature of Twitter outside of the Twitter silo, helping those people and organizations to get more mileage out of their tweets.

“Real-Time Ads runs on RSS. So, you use what you are already using-Twitter, Blogger, Tumblr, proprietary CMS, whatevs!” – Karl Pearson-Cater

Interested in trying it out? Give MinnPost a call: 612 455 6953.

Yes, the system uses a version of Cullect’s engine tuned for ad serving (verses feed reading).

For those of you following along, is Secret Project 09Q02A.

Here’s the official RealTimeAds announcement from MinnPost’s Joel Kramer

“Imagine a restaurant that can post its daily lunch special in the morning and then its dinner special in the afternoon. Or a sports team that can keep you up-to-date on its games and other team news. Or a store that could offer a coupon good only for today. Or a performance venue that can let you know whether tickets are available for tonight. Or a publisher or blogger who gives you his or her latest headline. ” – Joel Kramer, MinnPost

UPDATE 2: More from Joel Kramer, this time talking to the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

“We do believe Real-Time Ads will prove more valuable for advertising at a lower entry point.”

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Monday, 22 June 2009

What if Google Blocked Your Site?

“Yet, Google’s system makes no distinction between people who have malsites and people who get hacked and then fix their sites. Neither Google nor Twitter notified me at all, despite the fact that both have my email address via my respective accounts at those services, nor did they give me any fair warning to remedy the problem before they took action. Instead, they just treated me like a cybercriminal.” – Ian Bogost

While net neutrality advocates are focused on the bandwidth side of net neutrality, this is the fourth instance in the past couple months of Google causing collateral damage in the name of safety, and not-being-evil.

I’ll agree that malware is an issue that should be stopped early.

I’m just not sure how far away malware is from communism.

Ultimately, issues like this are why Google (and Twitter) needs a number of viable competitors.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Ban Helvetica

Attention web designers –

Ban Helvetica .com

Sure. Helvetica is a fine typeface.

Just stop using it in your CSS stylesheets. Or at least stop specifying it first. Second. Or third.

There are more readable, more appropriate, and more distinctive, available for your website.
If you must specify it, how about putting it on the other side of ‘sans serif‘?

Yes, the same goes for you – Arial, Georgia, Verdana, and Times New Roman.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A Good Project Eats Everything

I’m floored it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve written anything here. Feels more like 3 days.

I’ve been working with a number of very cool start-ups and Kernest is the only one I’m able to talk about. Thankfully, all 3 are on track to go public this month. And I hope at least one does so I can get that much closer to my 2009 goal of releasing 1 revenue-generating project every 6-months.

Since I’ve got a few minutes – and it’s June – let’s see how I’ve been doing on the rest of those goals:

Daily walks – yes.
Inbox Zero – no. not even close.
Weekly Project Review – no.
Banishing To Do lists – no.
A Monthly First Crack Podcast – I’m ahead 1 month and have 2 prepped for editing
Quarterly small project release – behind a project

On the big ideas: I’ve definitely spent more time writing code and with people. Only slightly more time reading books. Everything else has remained static.

That felt good. Glad I took this moment.

The title of this post comes from #9 on this list.