Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, March 18, 2021

It wasn’t hard to see this coming. The Business Experiment, an exercise in collaborative online business-building that I dumped on a couple of months back, shut down today due to all-around apathy.

The matter was put to a vote. But in corresponding with TBE founder Rob May, I found out that voter turnout was low — around a tenth of the high-water mark of registered users. Plus, considering the sputtering pace of progress, Rob and other members of the executive team were looking to kill what was becoming AskSpace almost from the start. So the way things were going, I think it would have shuttered up no matter what.

I already spewed my say on the deficiencies of the whole concept the last time. All I’ll add this time is two things:

- I can honestly say that I never had a solid grasp of just what the “wisdom of us”/AskSpace idea was supposed to do — not during the voting, and certainly not during the building process. That is, not until a week ago, when Rob casually mentioned that it was to be a business-expert answer service, ala the Answers services launched by Google and Yahoo!. I’d guess I’m not the only one who couldn’t interpret the basic mission statement — a heck of a problem if you’re trying to get people engaged.

- The root of this experiment was whether or not a broad democratic collaborative could put together and run a company. Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of the TBE attempt, I’d say the answer came with the vote to dismantle.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/18/2006 07:32:18 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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As much as I’d like to think that I can claim a working knowledge of the German language, the one year of it I took in college was so long ago, and so seldomly used since, that by now I can barely spell “kindergarten”.

To make matters worse, the one phrase I could always remember, and felt I could always fall back upon, is rarely heard in Deutschland, thanks to full-contact urban living:

Not that Germans are intrinsically rude. No, mostly they’ve just learned to come to terms with more day-to-day physical contact that many of us. Walking down the street can often feel like a rugby scrum… Occasionally Germans go looking for physical contact. This writer was jabbed decisively in the ribs by a bitter old lady wanting to clear space for her grandson to watch a parade. (No Entschuldigung was forthcoming.)

If someone draws blood, of course, the magic word might be uttered.

Better pack the hockey pads for the next visit to Berlin…

The full phrase that’s burned into my brain — thanks to a thoroughly cheesy language-instruction video — is: “Entschuldigung sie bitte; wo ist die Kirche?”. That translates to, “Excuse me, please; where is the church?” That would take care of Sundays in Stuttgart, but I’d be stuck for the rest of the week.

(I’m more or less improvising with the title of this post; it should translate into “Don’t excuse me, please”. But no guarantee on that. My apologies to my German visitors for any linguistic offense.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/18/2006 05:42:39 PM
Category: Society
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trying
This past Wednesday’s “Jump Start” strip made use of a grammatical annoyance that I would be happy to see die: The “try and/try to” goof.

Replace “try and” (I will try and fix it) with “try to” (I will try to fix it). Some grammarians label “try and” as incorrect when really it is just very informal and best used in conversation. “Try to” is standard usage and appropriate for all levels of formality in both speech and writing.

Actually, I don’t fully accept this definition. Saying “try and” unintentionally separates the message into components: “I’ll try and call her”, if taken according to literal word choice, means “I’ll try ____ ” (something undefined) “and then I’ll call her.” Really doesn’t make any sense, colloquially or otherwise. It’s not like you’re saving a syllable by used “and” in place of “to”. It’s just laziness.

I’m not stickler enough to correct anyone who does this conversationally. I avoid using it myself while speaking, but I’m sure I slip every so often. But I really cringe when someone does it in writing, even in an informal email.

Appropriately enough, in the comic strip this nitpicking is being delivered by an overbearing mother. Don’t think I don’t get that message. But I’m endorsing it anyway — try and sue me ;)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/18/2006 04:49:28 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative, Society
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A few days ago, I came upon Ajay D’Souza’s guide for upgrading the security features on WordPress 1.5.x installations.

I was a little surprised to find something like this. With the release of WP 2.0 (since upgraded a couple of times, to the current 2.0.2), I’d have thought that further tinkering with previous versions was dead. Not only that, but Ajay mentions the development of a full upgrade release, to 1.5.3.

I haven’t kept up on the latest scuttlebutt over WordPress development. I can’t find anything on the WordPress site (still as disorganized as ever). I know the rollout of 2.0 was anything but universally accepted, but I never figured that enough diehards would hang onto the 1.5 version to warrant divergent efforts.

So, does this represent a full-fledged forking of WP software development? Are we going to see two separate tracks from here on: The official 2.x and the unofficial 1.5.x?

Nothing is surer to sink an open-source project than the confusion caused by two different versions competing for users. I’ve stayed with 1.5, because it’s working for me and I don’t want the inevitable headaches that come with upgrading. And despite the security fears, I’m of the opinion that I’m realistically no more at risk than the codemonkey that downloads each nightly release (there’s always going to be some malware taking potshots, and a current attack has as much chance of hitting your site as an old one). But I accepted that I was holding onto a system that would eventually have to be replaced, and wasn’t counting on anything new being provided. Now, it seems like 1.5 users like me can hang on for something closer to indefinitely.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/18/2006 12:01:19 PM
Category: Bloggin', Tech
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