Consuming even more

The few people who pay any attention to my “currently reading” list on the sidebar may have noticed that it hadn’t changed in a while. It’s not because I’m a really slow reader, but because the site I use to update it, AllConsuming.net, was facing server problems. That was a minor annoyance to bloggers who use it and a major annoyance for Erik Benson, the site’s developer. The good news for the rest of us is that the crash inspired Erik to completely revamp the service with some great new features. He did this amazingly quickly, too.

When I first started using All Consuming back in September, 2003, I wrote that it made me “giddy with its niftyness.” Now the service is even niftier. Instead of being limited to a few predefined categories, users can organize their reading lists by creating their own sets of tags. For instance, I’m marking the books I’m currently reading with the tag “cbook” (for current book). I’ve set the single line of code that goes on the sidebar under “Currently Reading” to return only the books with that tag. This may sound complicated, but it’s pretty self-explanatory once you’ve set up an account with All Consuming.

So far, so what? The neat thing about the tags is that they can be anything a user wants them to be. If I want to display a list of economics books I like, I can give those books an “econ” tag and display them all by changing that one line of code and placing it wherever on my site I want to. It’s that easy.

The next improvement is the inclusion of music, movies, and other items available at Amazon; the old All Consuming was limited to books. By tagging the albums I’m currently listening to with “cmusic” and setting the code to display that tag, I added a “currently listening” section to my sidebar in a matter of minutes.

Another new feature is that each All Consuming account gets its own RSS feed. This makes it easy to keep up with what your friends or other bloggers are reading, listening to, etc. Just subscribe to their feeds and you’ll have automatic access to all the additions they make to their All Consuming accounts. Mine, for example, is http://www.allconsuming.net/person/JacobGrier/rss.

There are a few other positive changes, but those are the big three for me. Two of the old features I miss are the inclusion of the author (and now artist) on the individual items and the ability to use my Amazon Associates account when readers click on the links. Both of these are supposed to be added soon, along with some other goodies.

All Consuming is an excellent site that just got even better. Existing users’ data is saved; they just need to use the new code to get going with the new system. For bloggers who don’t yet publish reading/listening/viewing lists, All Consuming is probably the easiest way to add them. Sign up for the service here.

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Latte art and libertarian purity

I had a bit of a slow day at work on Friday so I decided to take a latte art photo. The result now graces the banner of this page, courtesy of code taken from Chad Wilcox’s Quiet Declarations. I plan on eventually switching the weblog over to WordPress and incorporating a larger picture, but felt like getting some kind of graphic element on the banner until then.

Speaking of Chad, I owe him my results on Prof. Bryan Caplan’s Libertarian Purity Test. I ended up about where I expected, my 62 out of 160 narrowly beating his 54. That puts me about even with Dan Drezner but well behind Radley’s 98 from last year and my old boss Justin Logan’s recent 115. I did, however, blow Stephen Bainbridge out of the water. As Chad says, “I don’t know what Professor Bainbridge was smoking when he scored a 24 — though judging from his score it probably wasn’t illegal.”

Gene Healy, who scored a 105, once mentioned another question to separate the libertarian men from the moderately free market boys: “Would you allow heroin to be sold out of a vending machine to a small child?” I posed the same question to a friend who asked if there would be an admissions test to get into Court’s and my most recent party, to which he responded with the most correctly capitalist answer possible…

“Only if the profit margin covers the risk.”

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My life in pictures

Thanks to Mr. Gintis, this website now has a very useful photo gallery to replace the hand-coded page I used to use. I posted a whole lot of new photos this weekend, so check them out here if you’re a friend, family member, curious reader, and/or stalker.

“Hey, that’s great, but when are you going to post a substantive update to your blog again?”

Lay off, man, I’ve been busy!

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Traffic on the rise

For reasons completely beyond my understanding, the jacobgrier.com domain received more than 11,000 visits last month (first time to break five digits) and today racked up its 100,000th lifetime visit. Thanks to everyone for choosing this site for getting help with the AIM virus, cheating on their William James paper, viewing pictures of Eli Manning, seeking advice on how to wear Uggs, looking for Mr. Blobby, and singing along to “Deutschland Uber Alles” (as indicated by this site’s most popular search phrases).

Time now for a celebratory burrito!

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Blog maintenance, pt. 2

I added a bunch of new sites to my already lengthy blogroll today. I also deleted some of the ones that weren’t updating, though I left a couple of those up as a display of hopeless optimism that they might blog again. Of the new ones, some are libertarian standards that I’ve only recently begun reading, while others are a bit different. Check the list if you’re looking for a few new ways to waste time at work.

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I need help

But you already knew that. More specifically, I need help with this site’s RSS feed. It looks terrible: no links, no pictures, no text formatting, no paragraph breaks. If anyone can tell me how to make my feed more user friendly for applications like Bloglines without having to upgrade to MT 3.0, I would much appreciate it. Email me at jacob-at-jacobgrier.com.

To give this post some relevance, here’s a link for you: an article on how Bloglines is helping to relieve the bandwidth problems caused by popular syndication feeds, in addition to launching a few new applications.

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Happy birthday to blog

Well, here we are, exactly one year from when I started keeping this weblog. 149 entries, 378 comments, and 1 Mr. Blobby later I’m happy with the way it has turned out. Thanks to everyone for reading, commenting, linking, and sending me stories. Thanks also to Adam for convincing me that MovableType was what this site needed and taking care of the technical side of things.

Updates have been sparse the last few weeks as I have been busy graduating, packing, moving, unpacking, repacking, moving again, working on my Fizbin drop, etc. I’ll be back in D. C. tonight and moved into the Clarendon apartment by early next week, so this site should pick up again soon.

Keep checking back, and I’ll keep updating in accordance with my three rules for good blogging:

Rule #1: Be meaningful.

Rule #2: If meaning is elusive, be amusing.

Rule #3: If meaning and amusement are both out of reach, be brief.

Cheers!

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Home for the holidays

The dearth of recent posts is due to my being on the road for the past week, but now I’m back home in Spring, TX for the next couple weeks (albeit with a malfunctioning router that limits my Net access). Anyone in town who wants to do something, be in touch (that includes people I may not have seen in years who just happen to have found this website. You know who you are).

In the meantime I’ve done some housecleaning on the sidebar, rearranging the links to other blogs in a more useful way, a la Stone. Notable changes include a corrected link to Will Wilkinson’s Fly Bottle and a long overdue link to Joanne McNeil’s weblog (currently on holiday hiatus).

More to come soon…

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Liberty blogs

Tonight I made some changes to the sidebar at the left. The main thing is the addition of a section of links to other (mostly) libertarian blogs, something I’ve been meaning to do for some time. There’s a lot of Cato people (Catoids) in there along with a few others, mostly in the D. C. area.

The tricky thing was to decide what to do with the overlap between this new section on the sidebar and the pre-existing “Friends” section. Since double-listing would be redundant and because it’s probably more useful to visitors to have all the libertarians in one listing, I decided to make the categories mutually exclusive. So if you run a libertarian blog, I guess we can never officially be friends. That also means Johan Norberg has been demoted from friend to libertarian (or maybe he’d consider that a promotion; I won’t ask him).

I’ve also added a few links in other categories lately, so take look around if it’s been a while. Today’s addition: Tony Packo’s online!

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If you blog it, they will come

This weekend this website (the blog and everything else on the domain) made it past the 1,000 visits in a month mark. I’d been expecting it to happen, but it came very close to falling painfully short.

Flashback to Thursday night, when I sat down at the computer to check the stats and see if the thousandth visit had occurred. The result? 999. Perfect; I just had to wait a little while, come back to check again, and then it would be celebration taco time.

But what did I see when I looked again? The server was down! So I sent an e-mail to Adam to tell him what a bastard he was for having a server that crashed at such an inopportune moment and then went off on my road trip not knowing when the site would be fixed.

Fortunately, I did come home to a working website. Adam’s bastardly status was revoked and the thousandth visit had been paid. In fact, as of this writing I’m up to 1,130 visits this month. This rapid growth is heartening for me, though I have to admit I find it surprising and even a little mystifying.

The increase in traffic has inspired me to revise the welcome page to give a better idea of what this site is about. It also includes my “Guide to Good Blogging.” (Not available in stores, act now!)

And Adam — thanks again for hosting the site and putting up with my lack of technical knowledge! I’m having fun with this.

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Going to Cato

The waiting is finally over: I received notice today that I have been accepted as an intern at the Cato Institute. Considering that I’d already bought two new suits and agreed to a lease, this is very good news. (I wasn’t being that presumptuous: if it hadn’t worked out I would have been very disappointed but stayed in the city and worked elsewhere. Besides, the suits still have the tags on them!)

I’ll find out soon what department I’ll be working in. On the application I listed my preferences as education, media relations, and Social Security, but I’ll be happy wherever I end up.

Also, this entry has been posted via an e-mail-to-blog gateway that my friend Adam Gintis has added to the site. This makes posting away from home even easier. Thanks, Adam!

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The first post – jumping on the bandwagon

After nearly a year spent using and updating a site built with MS FrontPage, I’ve leapt onto the bandwagon and converted my website to blog (short for weblog) format. Besides looking a lot better (see “My Other Pages” linked at the left), the Movable Type software adds many new features to the site: it’s easier to update, I can do it from any computer hooked up to the Internet, and it automatically archives everything posted.

More importantly, the new site is interactive, so feel free to add comments to anything posted. Now if I write something stupid, you can point that out in public instead of just sending me an e-mail!

I’ll continue to post links to articles and humor as I did on the old site, along with news, interesting finds on the Web, and mini-reviews of various things. With the greater ease of use and interactivity I’ll probably be updating it more frequently than I did in the past, too. Check back every once in a while, and I’ll do my best not to make it a complete waste of time.

Let me know what you think. Also, if you’ve got a homepage not linked on the left it’s not because I don’t like you, but because I don’t know about it. We can fix that with an e-mail.

Enjoy the site!

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