Introducing Daniel Karl Johnston

Introducing my new son Daniel Karl Johnston, born late last night at 9 lbs 3 oz. Here he is, some five minutes old, with his proud mama and papa.

Daniel in the delivery room

For those interested, I’ll post a photostream later with more pictures and details.

I also have some more big news to share, which I’ll post as soon as I get a breather. (I assure you, there are good reasons for my absences of late….)

“So you wanna start a blog?”

Since it’s now possible for newcomers to the blogging world to set up a Blogger or WordPress.com account in mere minutes without the slightest idea about what one is doing or why, it seems like 98% of the blogs on the Web boast but a half-dozen erratic posts before going dormant forever. Of those that are left, most offer only simple “my link for the day” posts, which of course are fine for friends or people of very similar interests, but not so much for the world at large.

Now that I’m in the process of starting a new blog (on Sherlock Holmes), I figured it was about time to write down and share a few of my wildly-scrawled ideas concerning how exactly I go about such a thing (or, how I occasionally help others in a consulting capacity to do the same).

Like most other things, I conceive of a blog as a project, to be given due consideration, planning and effort. As such, I brainstorm, write notes, prepare a vision, gather resources, construct initial timelines, experiment with form, evaluate delivery options, and so on, before I even think of doing that magic little incantation which causes the blog to appear. I’m not going to get into all of these here. What follows are rough notes, not a course. But first and foremost to keep in mind is the approach: a lacklustre preparation usually leads to a lacklustre site. On the other hand, all the preparatory time in the world won’t mean squat if you don’t have the discipline or wherewithal (or –*ahem*– ego) to keep it up.

A clear vision is the primary thing to keep in mind. Vision leads to purpose, purpose leads to motivation, motivation leads to regular posts, regular posts lead to regular readers. So what’s this thing of yours going to be? Is it going to be a site to explore or exploit a niche interest of yours? Is it going to help develop commercial opportunities? Is it a playground to learn new technologies or methods? Is it to provide feedback for a project or cause you’re involved with? Or is it an ego thing, where you’re going to post idle thoughts as you feel like it? If the latter, pay attention: remember the 98% of dormant blogs? Almost all of them fall into this category. Repeat after me: “I want this blog to ….” Fill in the blank. If you don’t have a coherent point or two, then you lack a vision with focus.

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Looking Forward to…

Big Things:

  • As-yet-unnamed Baby #2, seemingly hot on the heels of his or her older brother Conor
  • Spending more time with family, and especially happy little Conor and my significantly better half
  • A full-time, as-permanent-as-possible job that makes full use of my skills and allows me to grow, as opposed to short-term contract work (and if you have any leads for me… 😉 )
  • Restoring relationships with good friends who are too often lost in the endless shuffling of time and place
  • D*I*Y Planner v3, due out in about a month (whew)
  • A return to my more creative endeavours, including writing, art, photography and videography
  • Becoming more involved in local community groups where I can interface with real humans face-to-face

Small Things:

  • Finishing an online gallery for my wife
  • Finally teaching my mother how to use a computer (she wants to use it to find a man… *sigh*)
  • Dabbling once more in woodworking, or leatherworking, or bookbinding, or something else that makes use of my hands (and that preferably doesn’t involve a computer)
  • Hopping in the Jeep, exploring remote places, and hiking through rough terrain with my faithful hound and a camera
  • Making (and savouring) real sushi again
  • Delving more into information management software like Tinderbox and DEVONthink/DEVONagent
  • More video shooting and editing, and perhaps producing a reel or two
  • The new season of Battlestar Galactica — the only hour per week I actually want to spend in front of a TV

AMMT Mark II

WordPressYou might have noticed a few fresh changes to a million monkeys typing. It all comes as a result of upgrading to WordPress 2.0. For a while now, I’ve been hesitant to install the latest patches and upgrades to WP 1.5.x (yes, I know, I’ve been a naughty boy), since my theme was so heavily customised — it was an all-in-one file I originally made for WP 1.0, and quite a mess after being hauled reluctantly through several versions. This weekend, I decided to strap on the bungee cord, close my eyes, and jump. The actual database work and installation was seamless and smooth, but I didn’t see much point in pushing an antiquated theme that couldn’t take advantage of all the latest generation of WP goodness. Thus, with great trepidation, I grabbed a pre-existing theme with a superficial resemblance to the layout of AMMT —Blix by Sebastian Schmieg– and started creating my style sheets again from scratch.

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