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434 days and 20 hours

November 19, 2008 — 7 Comments

There’s a very simple explanation for my year-plus absence from etherfarm. This simple explanation has fifty-seven parts, the first three of which are described briefly below:

  • Work: In either of the last two years I’ve traveled more by air than the combined miles from my life prior. I work on a project which spans four countries and I manage a team with designers in three of them: California, Israel, and India. That’s a lot of time on the road (the wife likes to remind me it’s a little over 2 months of the year), so when I’m home, I really prefer spending time doing things other than being on the computer.
  • Ray: I can’t begin to describe how much I enjoy being a dad, and no small part of that is due to Ray himself. He’s at a pretty amazing age right now: his language synapses are on auto-fire and he has a curiosity about the world which I so wish I could bottle and consume as an anti-curmudgeon elixir. The kid has excess charm and can extract a smile from just about anything, including inanimate objects (e.g. myself after a work week from hell). Or semi-animate objects, such as this Dalek:
  • Everything Else: I gravitate towards people who immerse themselves in the rigor of being good at something which requires practice. In a “plug and play” world, the whole notion of practice seems quaint, outdated, and irrelevant. But not to me. I obsess. I strive for manual competence, a term whose origins and meaning I will describe in a future post.


    My current obsessions are photography and woodworking. In both, particularly in the last 2-3 years, I’ve eschewed automation wherever possible, instead developing hand skills and material knowledge which make me feel like I’m still relevant to the process. I’m not—or at least feel like I’m not—just holding up a photo-taking machine or shoving a board through a power tool. The results aren’t always spectacular, but with practice they improve. And with that improvement I very much feel a deeper, less mediated connection to the endeavor as a whole. But maybe I’ve just been in California too long.

There are other things, of course, which have resulted in a farm less tended. No shortage of people or obligations which claim time. No shortage of emergencies and non-emergencies at work and at home. No shortage of distractions and time-wasters. And of course there’s the perennial contemplation of whether or not whatever noise I contribute to this whole web thing has ever been worth it anyway.

For whatever reason, the last month or so has brought a small wave of “you haven’t updated your site in a long time…are you OK?” emails. So all this to say; don’t worry, I’m fine. In many respects, I’ve never been better, actually, and there’d be some sound logic in believing that fact and my absence from this site are not unrelated. That said, a certain etherfarm v5, baked from scratch, should be making an appearance in January.

Until then, catch up with me on the following packaged sites:

  • Flickr: Still find the UI incredibly frustrating, but I haven’t found a better or easier way to share and socialize photos.
  • <a href="”Facebook: Recent experiment. Liking it so far. Need to tweak the signal-to-noise ratio though.
  • LinkedIn: You know, the uber-pimp site.

pMachine is giving away a total of $15,000 in cash and prizes in their aptly-named $15,000 Web Design Shootout, and as if that wasn’t enough to prove they’re insane, they’ve invited me to be one of the judges. The panel of judges is a veritable who’s who of web design, and I’m both humbled and flattered to be considered a peer of such luminaries.

As many of you know, this site runs on pMachine’s ExpressionEngine. It’s as industrial-strength a content management system as you want it to be, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made over a year and a half ago. Whether you’ve recently published a site using a pMachine product, are looking to retool your current website, or put one up for the first time, you should fire up the downloads window of your browser and get crackin’!


April 12, 2004 — Leave a comment

For several years in a row I’ve used to file both my state and federal taxes, and for several years in a row I’ve been impressed with the services provides. You can file both your federal and state returns in one shot, using information from the federal form to fill out the state return (or–even better–information from your previous years’ returns), so the tedious repetition intrinsic to filing paper forms vanishes completely. You can choose to have your refunds (should you be so lucky) electronically deposited and you can track the processing of your return and the status of our refund/payment through the esmarttax site.

Another great web service which tracks the status of your tax payments can be found on this site (via

People with more complex taxes than my own should stick with a good accountant, preferably the kind with “surplus” parking receipts, if you know what I mean.

A warm welcome to those visiting from coolstop!

You’re visiting right in the middle of an ongoing narrative–posts from my recent travels to the Philippines.  Because visiting a website with an ongoing narrative can be a little discombobulating, etherfarm’s best of the cool designation has been impetus enough for me to raise the etherblog preservation society from the rubble of this site’s last redesign.

The etherblog preservation society lists favorite posts–my favorites, readers’ favorites, and “statistical anomaly” posts which for some reason or another caused a spike in the server logs. In other words, if etherfarm was a lounge singer whose career was twenty years past expired, the etherblog preservation society would be available on late-night informercials as The Very Best of the Etherblog.

Anyway, thanks for visiting. Enjoy your stay.