Monthly Archives: February 2009

Why WordPress?

On Wednesday I posed a simple question on my Blogger blog:  Do you prefer WordPress or Blogger and why?

This question fell upon the deaf ears of my readership.  I can’t be too surprised that my post elicited no comments.  I asked the wrong audience.  My readership is dominated by friends who either don’t blog or have no frame of reference.  The majority of my blogging friends use Blogger.  Though I’ve never done a formal survey on why that is, I’ll assume it was for reasons similar to my own: when Googling “blog” or “free blog” Blogger is the first result.

[For those of you who don’t know Blogger is a free blogging service, offered by Google.  WordPress, another free service, is not affiliated with Google.]

But when I asked the same question on Twitter, it garnered all sorts of feedback.  All but one somewhat neutral response (“it depends but WordPress is the more flexible of the platforms”) were enthusiastically in favor of WordPress.

Here are a few thoughts that respondents Tweeted:

blogger-v-wordpress
I also received a few direct messages on the subject.  Over and over again, Tweeple sung the praises of WordPress’s functionality, cleaner interface, better aesthetics, and more professional template options.  It also seemed to be the preference of those with a little more web savvy or interest in HTML or CSS, traits I’d associate more with those I follow/am followed by on Twitter than my friends who read my site.

The overwhelming feedback from my Twitter followers was more than enough for me to pursue the switchover.  Thankfully I had snagged the sportskate.wordpress.com URL a few months ago out of curiosity, so I didn’t have to worry about the address already being snatched up.  In the past few days I found a helpful link that allowed me to bring most of my content from Blogger to WordPress rather painlessly.  I was able to transfer all of my posts, drafts, comments, and pictures with relative ease, but am still in the process of updating/reloading YouTube and Hulu clips and fixing internal links to other posts within my blog.

Even though I was pretty cranky at first about losing some attributes I loved about my old blog (the way the opening picture looks against the green background, for example), I’ve really started to come around in the past two days.  Even though I had to crop the picture I so dearly loved on the old blog, I think it still works.  And I love the clean and simple new layout of the WordPress template.  There’s a whole lot more I’d like to do with this site, but I think it’s well on its way.

Here are my blog’s before and after headshots:

blogger-v-wordpress-21

What a difference a few hours make!

What are your thoughts on these two blogging sites?  I look forward to your comments.

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Filed under blogging, web design

Reuniting with a long lost, buttery friend

“There’s always that one location, one store location that’s constantly changing hands. Everybody has this in their neighborhood, it’s a leather store, it’s a yogurt shop, it’s a pet supply. It’s constantly changing and nobody can do business there. It’s like some sort of Bermuda Triangle of retail, you know? Stores open up and then they just disappear without a trace. Nobody knows what happened to ’em.” –Jerry Seinfeld, opening monologue of “The Cafe”

In Highland Springs, Va. this “Bermuda Triangle of retail” is the stand-alone restaurant at 1109 East Nine Mile Road. It’s a decent location, right beside the most traffic-heavy intersection in the town. But for whatever perplexing reason, it seems no business can ever survive there.

Easily the location’s most successful occupant in my lifetime was Bojangles’, which inhabited this cursed address for much of my early life. It’s been a number of other drive-thru restaurants since, but none have seemed to attract customers. At present it’s Hawk’s “Famous” BBQ and Chicken according to a sign on the outside. I’ve never seen more than one car in the parking lot, so I have my doubts on how famous his BBQ and chicken is (and how long he’ll will be inhabiting that building).

Anyway, back to Bojangles’.  I fell in love with the chain sometime in college.  I frequently went on road trips to North Carolina, and Bojangles’ were frequent and cheap meal destinations.  And why not?  It’s a delicious fast food restaurant focused on three things: fried chicken, biscuits and sweet tea. How can you do any wrong with that?

Well, I saw “The Cafe” episode of Seinfeld this week and it instantly reminded me of the old Bojangles’ in Highland Springs, just like the many other times I had seen it.  It struck me, where is the closest one?  I had seen one recently in the Hampton Roads area (over an hour away) and another near Emporia (~1.5 hours away) when I was driving back from Austin.  After a little research I found out that there was a new location in Hopewell, a little under a half hour away.  Cha-ching!  I made it my mission to go the next day.

The next day I woke up, mouth watering in anticipation.  After a quick jaunt down 295 I cozied up to an old flame: the Cajun Fillet Biscuit combo.

2009-074

I cracked open a book and nestled in my booth. Impeccable southern cuisine spilled over my table: a spicy chicken fillet enveloped in a buttery biscuit and French fries dusted with Cajun seasonings and side of kicking pepper sauce.  In case that wasn’t enough, it was paired with the world’s most divine elixir, a frosty cup of sweet tea.  I sunk into the booth in complete satisfaction.  And then I got a refill on my tea.  And another.

Worth the drive?  Yeah, I’d say.  I’d say worth the drive weekly.

Though there’s that glimmer of hope that Bojangles’ will trickle back to the old Highland Springs location, at least I know I can find comfort (and comfort food) within a reasonable driving distance.

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Filed under back in the day, food, Richmond, Seinfeld, The South, Virginia

Wordle

Inspired by my friend, Dances with Bacon over at the Rated X-tra Yummy blog, I decided to make a Wordle of my own blog.

Who knew my Wordle would be so nerdy?

blog-wordle-11

I’m guessing it only analyzed my most recent posts. One was particularly heavy on the reading front, but I guess it didn’t take into account that I haven’t really finished any books lately. Funny stuff.

By the way, I definitely recommend making your own Wordle. If you love playing with fonts like me, you’ll probably (also) take 20 minutes to perfect your own typography/layout/color combination. After much consideration I opted not to make my own color scheme, but chose one of the 20 or so choices listed.

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Filed under books, reading, typography, web design

Foulest Commercial Ever?

…or at least that I’ve seen in recent memory:

Definitely edgy. And makes me want to yak. A lot.

Brandfreak awarded it the “”so bad it’s good’ award.” “It’s not an image you’ll soon forget,” they said. Yeah, I’ll say. Well, it certainly cuts through the clutter.

Interesting work from 180 LA in Santa Monica, Calif.

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Filed under advertising, agencies, commercials

It’s a great day to be a Wahoo

I woke up today still smiling about UVA’s win over VT last night.

I’ve been a Wahoo fan for years. While heralded in the academic realm, UVA’s never been known as a football school, like Florida State (in their ’90s heyday of course) or a USC. Despite sharing a state border with Duke and UNC, I’m not sure anyone’s called UVA a basketball school either.

In my lifetime the big UVA sports accomplishments have been in lacrosse, a sport I first learned about when I saw American Pie, soccer and of late, tennis.

The overwhelming majority of positive things I’ve heard said about UVA basketball have been about Ralph Sampson, the undisputed king of Wahoo basketball, who played from 1979-1983. All I can tell you about him is he was the best player in the country at the time, was a 7’4″ (yeah, you read that right) center and led UVA to its only Final Four in 1983. Oh yeah, then there was the biggest upset in college basketball history, when the #1 Sampson-led Cavaliers lost to a then-unknown school in Hawaii called Chaminade. UVA is all about Ralph Sampson facts and is always mentioning on viewbooks and other “come to our school” literature that he and Katie Couric (two of the most famous alums) lived on The Lawn. Fancy.

UVA’s won the ACC in basketball once — in 1976. They’ve been the the Final Four once — the time with Sampson in ’83.

And geez, up until last night we had even lost to Virginia Tech in our last three outings. All were decided by three or less points or an overtime.

This is the plight of the UVA fan. You watch in fear. How bad are they going to beat us this time?, you think when you enter our football stadium against a ranked opponent. Or How long until they blow it?, when they somehow build an comfortable, seemingly insurmountable lead.

But at last, we broke down that barrier at least. My Hoos beat the Hokies 75-61 at the JPJ last night. (And even crazier, beat #12 Clemson at home over the weekend. But this is our rival. This is Virginia Tech!)

Finally, I can say (and this will surely come back and bite me at some point)…

HOOS WIN, SUCKAS!

At least they did last night. And even more today than most days, I’m proud, proud, proud to be an alum.

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Filed under ACC, basketball, college football, sports, UVA, Virginia

Easily distracted F, ISO way out of a reading rut

Elaine: These are good people, Jerry. They read!
Jerry: I read, I read!
Elaine: Books, Jerry.
Jerry: Oh.

I was watching this Seinfeld episode earlier tonight and caught myself laughing uncontrollably. Who doesn’t read books? Oh right, I don’t.

I do read, of course, and more or less constantly. I’m just reading blogs on my RSS feed, scouring the news online and reading interesting articles my friends share with me via Google Reader and Twitter.

Anyway, my problem, like Jerry’s, lies in books. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them. I have become quite the collector over the years, accumulating a pretty impressive library. Disliking books isn’t the problem… it’s that I start too many simultaneously and can never finish them.

It strikes me that the last book I read from start to finish might actually be Hey Whipple, Squeeze This! by Luke Sullivan two, make that three semesters ago. Ouch. I’ve probably written a book’s worth since then!

I’ll end up starting a new book I’m excited about, read a few chapters, and then next thing I know I’ve picked up another book and started reading it too, before finishing the first one. Then another. And another. Next thing I know I’m knee deep in five or ten books and never finish any of them. Case in point, here’s a photo of what I’m reading now:


What?! That’s 10 books! Yeah, it’s a problem. But they’re all worth reading, so I can’t quit! I need help! Heaping amounts of help — and sanity.

So what am I reading? And why? Here’s a rundown of the 10:

  • The Appeal, by John Grisham. I love everything this guy writes. And this guy can write one helluva suspenseful legal thriller. I’m on about page 138 in this one, which is easily the furthest along I am in any of them.
  • The New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Meerman Scott. It’s about the PR and marketing in the digital era and delves into issues like social media. Couldn’t say a lot more about it since I’m only on page 15 or so.
  • Dixieland Delight, by Clay Travis. This book’s about a guy who goes to a home football game at every SEC school in one season and reports about the tradition, tailgating, food and cultural spectacle of each event. Each chapter covers a different program and it’s a little heavy on the frat guy-ish “hot ladies” talk. Otherwise it’s an interesting read and I love the idea. Wouldn’t mind going on the same adventure myself. I’m on page 98, thanks in a large part to riding the Metro in DC a lot this past weekend.
  • Cutting Edge Advertising II, by Jim Aitchison. As you might guess this is about creating cutting edge advertising that breaks through clutter. It’s probably a pretty good read, but didn’t make much for beach or pool reading this summer. I still chug along on it occasionally though. I think I’m on about page 60, but I’m starting to forget things I read about in it earlier.
  • Adobe Flash CS4 Classroom in a Book. This is a how-to book intended to teach me how to use Flash. An admirable personal goal, but I’m only on about page 15. Must keep trucking on that one!
  • The Non Designer’s Design Book, by Robin Williams. The book is probably great if you’re clueless about design, but I’m using it to make sure I have my bases covered before tackling anything much more advanced. It’s OK, but nothing spectacular. I just want to learn from the beginning, so this should be a breeze. Too bad I’m on page 22.
  • Southern Belly: The Ultimate Food Lover’s Guide to the South, by John T. Edge. This book’s a little disappointing, but I love food, especially fried delicious southern food… don’t even get me started. I keep it around for obvious reasons, because not only do I like tasting food, but I love talking food. And we all know I have a soft spot for geography and the south so, why quit? It goes state by state, and I’m on the first one.
  • The Choice, by Nicholas Sparks. Disclaimer: yes, I’m quite cheesy and I love Sparks books. Yeah, this is a romance story, just like they all are, and I know he’s going to break my heart again. But I love the ride, and Sparks is an incredibly gifted writer. I can’t resist… until another book snags my attention. I’m on page 113.
  • Graphic Design School, Third Edition, by David Dabner. This book is excellent! Sometimes I wish I went to design grad school instead of advertising grad school (I stress sometimes), and this book does an excellent job of walking you through the basics of good design, element by element. I’m largely self taught when it comes to things artistic, so I appreciate it immensely. I have it on loan now from the library but really should cough up the $45 to buy it (and by $45 I mean probably $15 if I look hard enough). In the meantime, I’m on page 38.
  • And last but not least, Hockey for Dummies, by John Davidson and John Steinbreder. I’m interested in one day working in sports and there’s the possibility that that opportunity could be in hockey. It wouldn’t hurt to know more about it. Also, for some reason I follow and am followed by tons of people working in NHL on Twitter. I’ll admit, that’s what really made me interested in learning more and picking this up at the library. I’m on page 15 though, but that’s because I’m such a hockey dummy (OK, novice) that I’m reading all the prologue business too.

Well there you have it. Anyone have any suggestions for an easily amused/easily distracted person in the midst of 10 books? Where should I go from here? Has anyone read any of these and think any are must reads? Any I should dump or throw off a bridge? How do you stop yourself from picking up new books and follow through and finish what you start? Can I ask any more questions?

In the meantime, I’m going to stew on this quote from one of my favorite authors.

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” –Mark Twain

In honor of Mr. Twain, I’m going to read the Grisham book until I fall asleep tonight. And maybe when I’m done I’ll finally start The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Or The Prince and the Pauper. Sweet dreams, world.

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Filed under advertising, books, college football, food, graphic design, Seinfeld, The South

Big 12 Twins

If you know me well, you probably have heard me comment at one time or another that Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes and my favorite author, John Grisham, look alike.

Left: Rick Barnes, Right: John Grisham

As of yesterday, I also noticed that the Kansas basketball coach, Bill Self looks a lot like Virginia governor, Tim Kaine.

Left: Bill Self, Right: Tim Kaine

Crazy.

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Filed under basketball, Big XII, politics, sports, Texas, Virginia