Oct 08

He’s alive!

Checking the GNO blogs this morning, I was astonished to see that Miles has begun posting to his blog again. This spurred me to do a little maintenance work on the Smooth Report site, something I haven’t done for months. I’ve improved the format of the archive list and added permalinks to individual posts. Unfortunately, archive links are still not working properly. I’m not sure why.
UPDATE: Archive links are fixed. The solution was to stop trying to keep the archive files in a subdirectory, and let Blogger put them in the same directory as the main page. Keeping them in a subdirectory is supported, if you believe the instructions on the Archiving tab of the Settings page — but I have never been able to make it work.

Sep 16

Blogger Pro for everyone!

In case you haven’t heard, Blogger has discontinued the subscription-only Blogger Pro service and rolled the Pro functions into the free version of Blogger. They’ve effectively made every Blogger user a Pro subscriber. This was cause for much rejoicing in my household, because it means Ruth and Ben now can spell-check their blog posts and give them titles. (I just finished helping them turn on the title field in the Blogger posting form, and add the BlogItemTitle tags to their templates so the titles will show up.)

As someone who paid cash for the Pro functionality, I suppose I could be annoyed that people who never paid anything are getting it all for free. But I’m delighted at this news. As longtime readers of this blog may recall, there was a time when I was worried about Blogger’s long-term survival and actually wanted to give them some money, but couldn’t figure out how to do it. When Blogger announced a premium version of its service that you could pay for, I subscribed immediately.

I got my money’s worth and then some. The official price for Blogger Pro was $50, but by signing up early, I got the introductory rate of $35. It was never clearly stated whether this was a lifetime subscription or would have to be renewed periodically, but I assumed it was annual. And at one point, Blogger was actually sending out renewal notices, because they mentioned them in a news item on their login page. But I never got one. (I subscribed in January of 2002, so a one-year subscription would have expired long ago.)

To mollify any Pro subscribers who are irritated at having paid for something that’s now free, Blogger is offering us all free sweatshirts. When I tried to fill out the form to have the shirt mailed to me, I found that the Pro database doesn’t recognize my login. I notified Blogger Customer Service of this, and they replied that they couldn’t find any record that I subscribed in the first place! That may explain why I never got a renewal notice — my subscription fell through the cracks somehow, and would presumably have continued forever if they hadn’t eliminated the Pro service. (It remains to be seen whether I’ll get a sweatshirt or not. Customer Service asked me for the last four digits of the credit card I paid with so that they could investigate further, and I haven’t heard back from them yet.)

In recent months, I had actually thought about upgrading Ruth and Ben to Pro status, but $100 seemed like a lot of money to pay for titles and a spell-checker. So I’m very pleased that they’re getting those things free of charge. We have Google to thank for this. Since they acquired Blogger last February, the servers have been upgraded, the new Dano interface has been unveiled, and now everyone’s a Pro! I don’t know what Google hopes to gain from all of this, but if they’re trying to generate goodwill, it’s certainly working on me.

But what if I want to show my appreciation? There’s no way to give Google any money! Oh, wait, there is. I can go to the Google Store and buy stuff. Should I get a beach towel? A golf umbrella? A lava lamp? I’m going to have to think about this. (The store has Blogger items, too. So if I don’t get a free sweatshirt, I can always buy one . . .)

UPDATE: I never did get my free sweatshirt.

Aug 06


It’s been over a month since my last post here, and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to return to regular blogging. This is not from lack of interest, but lack of time and energy. I’ve recently had five weekends in a row when I was either out of town, involved in all-day activities, or sick. I’ve found that this sort of thing does more than just screw up your weekends; it also pushes all of the usual weekend tasks like laundry and yard work into the weekday evenings, ensuring that you have no spare time at all. And to make life even more exciting, several of my projects at work have become quite demanding, causing me to stay late on weekday evenings.
Yeah, yeah. Nobody wants to read a litany of excuses. But I thought I should post something here to let my readers (assuming I still have any) know that I haven’t given up, and I will be back.
In the meantime, here’s a link to a bunny with pancakes on his head. His name is Oolong, and you can see him balancing lots of other things on his head at this site.

Mar 22


I’ve mentioned before that this site serves a dual purpose. It’s my blog, but it’s also my home page. By that I mean that in addition to posting my writings here, I also use this site to house the links to the other sites that I visit most often. That list of links over on the left side (what some bloggers refer to as their “blogroll”) is there not just because I recommend those sites to you (although I certainly do), but also because I read them regularly myself.
And as my blog-reading habits change, my blogroll evolves. Since redesigning this site a few weeks ago, I have reorganized those links twice, dropped a few because my interest in them had waned, and added new ones that I’ve discovered. For example, about two weeks ago I removed links to James Hudnall and Reason Hit & Run because I wasn’t reading them as much as I used to, and not enjoying them as much when I did. (This isn’t an expression of disapproval; they just have dropped out of my lineup of favorites. My blog-reading time is finite, and the less compelling blogs tend to get crowded out.) I added links to Charles Johnson, Russell Wardlow, and Tim Blair because I kept sneaking over to Stephen Green’s blog and using his blogroll to get to their blogs. And after reading Orson Scott Card‘s lucid analysis of the North Korea situation, I decided I wanted to keep an eye on his writings and added him to my blogroll too.
In the last few days, I’ve been doing more tweaking. I dropped Samizdata and added Susanna Cornett. I also added two sites devoted to news about the military action in Iraq — Breaking News: War in Iraq and The Command Post. I point this out not because anyone necessarily cares, but because these changes weren’t obvious, and those last two sites may prove useful if you’re following developments in the war.
My blogroll will continue to mutate whenever it thinks you’re not looking. I just thought I should warn you.
UPDATE: For example, since posting this entry earlier today, I’ve decided that the Breaking News site doesn’t measure up, and replaced it with CNN War Tracker.

Feb 19


As you can see, this blog has a new look. There are two reasons for the change. First, I was tired of the old template (especially the three-column layout, which wasted space and didn’t really make the blog easier to read). Second, I wanted to expand and reorganize the list of links. Those links aren’t here just to encourage you to check out the sites they point to — they’re also there because I use the blog as my own home page, and these are the sites that I go to most often. The new template is much better suited for a long list that breaks down into many categories. I’ll continue to tinker with the list as time passes; the new template makes it easy to add or subtract boxes as needed.
Whenever I’m thinking of renovating a blog, I go directly to BlogSkins and browse through the hundreds of excellent blog templates there. Today’s makeover consisted mainly of replacing one BlogSkin (Block Head) with another (Floating boxes). My recent makeover of the Smooth Report was made possible by a BlogSkin called Par Avion. I don’t have the graphic design talent or the HTML/CSS coding skill to create blog templates like these, but thanks to BlogSkins, I don’t have to.

Feb 17


I reported here on January 31 that Blogger was no longer able to publish any of my blogs that were hosted on Road Runner. Now I know why. The following was posted to the Blogger status page on February 3:

Unfortunately, it appears that RoadRunner is now blocking FTP from any non-RoadRunner IPs (including Blogger) to its home.nc.rr.com server where many RoadRunner users host their blogs. If this is affecting you, we encourage you to write to customercare@va.rr.com. We’ll keep up the pressure from our end and work on a solution.

So my ability to host my blogs on Road Runner was broken because Road Runner deliberately broke it. Wonderful. It’s a good thing that, thanks to Virgil, I had somewhere else that I could move those blogs. If Road Runner wanted to reduce my loyalty as a customer and make me more amenable to the idea of switching to another broadband ISP in the future, this was exactly the right way to do that.
At the very least, Road Runner should have warned its subscribers that it planned to start blocking FTP connections from external IPs, instead of just doing so and leaving subscribers to figure out why things like Blogger didn’t work any more. Some explanation of why it was doing this also be appreciated — assuming Road Runner cares at all about how its customers feel.

Jan 31

Technical difficulties

After two months without any updates to this blog, I finally decided to post something here . . . only to discover that I couldn’t. I don’t know exactly what has happened, but suddenly I can’t publish any of the blogs I maintain that are hosted on Road Runner. (Blogs that reside elsewhere, such as GNO Central, continue to work just fine.) As far as I can tell, Blogger can’t establish an FTP connection to Road Runner. But I can use an FTP client to connect to Road Runner manually, just like always. So this is some bizarre problem that only crops up when both Blogger and Road Runner are involved.

I will continue to look into this, but in the meantime, I have moved my blog from Road Runner to the GNO Central server so that it can be updated again. Normal posting (whatever that means) will resume shortly.

UPDATE: The mystery is solved.

Aug 14


I write this blog with no audience in mind beyond my family and friends, but apparently I do have other readers. This became clear today when I received an e-mail from Bruce Loebrich, a Durham blogger who had discovered my blog (he doesn’t recall how) and noticed that I live nearby. He informed me that there’s a monthly RTP Bloggers’ Lunch and invited me to the next one in early September. Other bloggers living in the area are likewise invited, so if you’re interested, send Bruce an e-mail. I’m definitely planning to attend.
Bruce’s note has me wondering: how many people I’ve never met are reading this blog? I can’t imagine that it’s very many, but (since I’ve never bothered to install a counter) I have no way to know unless I hear from you. Send me an e-mail and tell me how you discovered this blog — and what on earth possesses you to read it.

May 23


This blog’s original name, Scribings, was inspired by the Scribe Scroll feat in D&D. The word literally means “writings,” but it also suggests writing in a deliberate and careful fashion, as you would do if you were creating a scroll. (In 3rd Edition, one cannot create a scroll in less than a day, so it’s definitely a painstaking and time-consuming task.)
That’s what the name was supposed to communicate, but it has failed. When people mention this site to me in conversation, they almost always pronounce it “Scribblings.” I wince when I hear that, because it means rushed, sloppy writing — the exact opposite of what I had in mind. I’ve been thinking of changing the layout of the site anyway, so I may as well rename it at the same time.
“Logopolis” means “city of words.” I borrowed it from a classic Doctor Who episode that first aired in 1981 (it’s the last one in which Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor, appeared). The new look of this page is the result of applying a template called Block Head, courtesy of BlogSkins.com.
Historical note: Block Head only lasted until February 2003, when I changed the template again. I ditched the name “Logopolis” in May 2007.

Apr 07

Deer in the headlights

Yikes! Thanks to InstaPundit, my name and the URL of this blog are now posted on a site that gets tens of thousands of hits per day. This probably means that some InstaPundit readers will come here looking for distinguished commentary on a par with Dropscan Digest, Inappropriate Response, or Libertarian Samizdata. Boy, are they going to be disappointed. In my defense, I can only say that I never expected to find my name listed in such august company. Glenn Reynolds asked for e-mail from people who were inspired by him to start blogs of their own, and I responded just because I wanted him to know, not necessarily the whole world.
I started this blog as an outlet for random musings, and perhaps to amuse the few friends and family members who knew about it. Unlike most of the other blogs in Reynolds’s list, Scribings has been almost completely devoid of political commentary. This is not because I have no political opinions, but because I’m not sure anyone really cares what they are, and also because Reynolds and many other political bloggers (such as Virginia Postrel and Steven den Beste) are much better commentators than I could ever hope to be, and I despair of having anything worthwhile to add to their wisdom.
There are political issues I feel strongly about, though, and perhaps it’s time I started letting a little of that bleed into what I post here. I don’t have to make this blog a full-time political rant, but neither do I have to hide my politics as if they’re something to be ashamed of. I need to think about this.
Update: Now there’s a version of the list with hypertext links, including one that points straight here.