Earlier tonight, while doing the audio for AMB, (I don't know why I'm not able to post a show until the day before we record. It's a mental deficiency or something), I was reading some of Harry Marks' stuff as I do now that there's no RSS in Safari, namely in bursts, and I was thinking "Man, if I could do what he does, I could get some ads going and maybe make a buck on the site." Because shocking, this site, even when I ran ads, is not a great money maker. Oh sure, every so often someone throws me a buck or two, and I do appreciate it, but by and large, whatever the formula to making money on a site is, including lots of hard work about setting things up to do that, I don't have it.
(also, I'm a fucking spaz in terms of content and consistency. How the fuck would ANYONE advertise anything here? WHY would they? I'm wistful at times, but I'm also self-aware.)
As I'm pondering that, I also realized something fairly obvious: I'm never going to have a setup like Harry, or Gruber, or Jim Dalrymple, because I'm absolutely nothing like them. Not in the "can't write for shit" arena. I can, when I want, do a more than decent job of putting thoughts to bits. I mean...look, even at their most emotional, neither of those three are that emotional. Gruber seems to be the least emotional of all. Really, when he gets angry about something, it's noteworthy, because that's kind of rare for him. Annoyance, sure, irritation, okay. But visceral anger? Fuck me, I can't really remember it off of him. That's not bad mind you. I'm quite glad there are people like him and harry et al out there. I can do that, sometimes. I can put together long, safe-for-work, technical pieces. Occasionally, and let me tell you, you have no idea how hard it is. My SNMP piece, still one of my most reliable pieces in terms of hits, still on the google first page of results for "os x snmp" almost 7 years later? That took so long to write. It was hard, not because of subject, but because of style. I am, obviously, not the most...calm writer, not here.
That used to bother me quite a bit. I wanted, for a long time, and tried quite hard, to be more like my friend Mike. Mike is one of those guys who lives for research and data. He rarely writes anything unless he can source it like a friggin' Ph.D thesis. I wanted, for a long time, to be like him, in terms of writing. I tried. (If you aren't reading his stuff, you really should. He writes well, honestly, and unashamedly.)
But something always happens. For example, in my head, I have a few long posts about Acrobat XI, PDFPen Pro 6, and almost an entire SNMP eBook. Really. They're about done. But every time I go to type...nothing. I can see the articles, I know every word, every comma and it's like my hands rebel. Now the post I want to write about my Roller Derby addiction? That one is about done in terms of posting. I'm just fussy about that because well, I care a lot about "my" roller derby team. So yeah. But as much as I want to write nice techy articles, they...hold no interest for me in the end.
Because what I am is a tech guy who is best when fueled by rage. I don't mean that to say I willingly shit on reality for it, but I wallow in strongly held opinions, and I'm unshy about stating them. If I were to pick a character from literature I see most like me, it would be a relatively minor character from "The Romulan Way", by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood. (should you ever be fortunate enough to meet them, try to get them to talk about the story of that particular novel. It's rather funny. Then again, almost all their stories are hilarious. Especially when they involve quotes like "I'm from Northern Ireland, I don't do well with unannounced gunfire!") The character in question shows up in chapter eight, with the very Romulan name of "Lai tr'Ehheligh". The part that stuck with me, years after I first read the book back in 1987 was this:
"They killed Lai tr'Ehheligh some years after he wrote those words, and his works were expunged in many kingdoms and councillories. In others, mostly Eastern strongholds on ch'Havran, they were carefully hidden and preserved, which is fortunate. Otherwise we should know nothing of this hated, feared, angry little man, who told the truth as he saw it and was so universally condemned. In retrospect, there may have been something to the truth he told."
(The words they are talking about are in that same chapter, but for those, you must acquire the book. It's a good read, especially if you are a McCoy fan, and really, who isn't a McCoy fan?)
I've never been good at "Um...excuse me...excuse me...there seems to be a problem here, and perhaps we could all sit down and talk about it?" Others are, and thank goodness for that, because really, they are more the example we should follow. I've always been more like the the apocryphal, and likely false version of Harlan Ellison atop Gene Roddenberry, trying to choke the shit out of him, screaming obscenities about what a hack Roddenberry was, after Roddenberry took that goddamned red pen to his fucking genius once too often. I don't think it's true, but when talking about Harlan Ellison, such things are not completely unrealistic. So back when I read that, still in the Air Force, still new to the Air Force, it resonated with me. It took me almost another twenty years to figure out why, but I kept going back to that book and that chapter, because there's still something there I see in myself.
It's not really anger per se, but I have to fucking care. I can't just coldly write about a problem, giving it proper perspective. For example, when I realized that to get someone from Acrobat 10.0 to 10.1.6 would require almost ten separate upgrades, because some fuckwit on that team thinks that cumulative updates will wake Cthulu or something...well, okay, I think that says it all. If I don't care enough about the problem to be pissed off at it, then fuck, do I really care if it gets fixed? Probably not. I know Marco Arment and many other devs hate people like me, because they're all like "DIS PROGRAM IS MAH BEBBEY!!!" and I'm all like "YOUR BABY IS FUCKING UGLY, AND IT'S EATING ITS OWN SHIT. HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED THAT WOLF-INFESTED HILLSIDE JUST OUT OF TOWN? I'M NOT SAYING ALLLL THE BABIES SHOULD BE LEFT THERE, BUT I THINK YOU SHOULD CONSIDER REVIVING THE TRADITION". I also leave a long trail of specific actionable points, because fuck, I don't want to just yell to yell. The driver for that is rarely logic. It's emotion. As I said in a comment on Mike's site:
I did not spend years prodding Adobe to fix their installers because of logic or reason. I did it because what they were doing made me angry. I didn't teach my son to be kind whenever possible because some book told me to. I did it because the results of not being kind made me angry. When I call out the things I call bullshit on, my desire may be for things being done right and people being kind, but the thing that drives me to work for those goals is that anger.
If I don't care enough about the product or problem to get pissed off, I probably don't care about using the product or solving the problem. Dunno why that is, but it is what it is. I have to give a fuck first, and once i do that, then things are easy. Well for me. Sometimes not for the people I'm yelling at, but for them I can say this: I may be the only one saying it in those precisely provocative profane phrases, but I can pretty much guarantee I'm not the only one thinking it in that way. Take that as you will.
So yeah. I doubt this site will ever make money, I've no idea how that would even work for this demented game of whackamole that is bynkii.com. But that's okay. Because it also guarantees that I don't have to give a fuck about hitcounts or any of the shit surrounding making money on a web site. I can do my own thing here, and maybe it causes someone not to hire me or want to talk to me. That's okay, if all it took to do that was this website? Probably better that way in the end.
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