Posts Tagged 'blogging'

Author Page at Amazon

It’s official! I have an author page at When people search for me or any of my books, a link to my page shows up. Anything I’ve written is listed, I’ve got a cute little biography there, and you can even see posts to this blog from there!

For now there’s not a whole lot else there. In the future I can list events like book signings or readings there, and if I ever do a video showing off my book, I’ll post it there. Discussion forums can be set up where I can respond to reader questions too. I hope some of you who are reading my book right now (or in the near future) will start discussions there on what you’re reading.

If this is your first time seeing my blog, I just wanted to provide you with a few links to some past articles you might enjoy.

Don’t forget to enter my book giveaway contest, and I look forward to interacting with readers through!


A Couple of Great Films

I had, in the last week, the delightful opportunity to see two wonderful, awe-inspiring movies. I’m sure you’ve heard of them.

First, I saw Avatar with my wife and brothers.

Avatar Movie Poster


This movie was nothing short of magnificent. I did see the film in 3D, and aside from a few small gripes I have with today’s 3D film showing technology, the 3D added more than just another dimension to the movie.

What made this movie outstanding for me can be illustrated in just two solid points.

First, I went in to the movie knowing full well that the plot was essentially ripped off from Pocahontas (though I don’t believe Cameron did it on purpose), and still James Cameron’s storytelling kept me engaged and entertained to the end. If you can go into a movie knowing how it ends and what will happen around every turn, and still enjoy it thoroughly, then it is a good movie.

Second, as someone who loves movie special effects, I am familiar with a tendency in Hollywood to allow the special effects to steal the show. Many a good movie has been nearly or entirely ruined because the effects were too good for the viewer to allow them to fade into the background of the story. In Avatar, the effects perfectly faded into their rightful place as a storytelling mechanism. They were nearly perfect in every way (and where they did not excel, they receded even further into the back of the viewer’s mind).

I had no problem believing that the world of Pandora was a very real place to the characters I saw on screen, and at no time did I feel like I was experiencing another Jar-Jar-esque CGI character while watching the Na’vi. For some, the world was not only real and beautiful, but it was so much better and alluring than Earth, that they are dying to visit.

After such an epic movie (and “epic” is my favorite word to describe Avatar), I was hesitant to watch anything else for a while.

Later the same week, though, my wife and I went on a date to see Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes Movie Poster

Sherlock Holmes

This Sherlock Holmes installment was the most beautifully rendered of any I have ever seen. As a huge fan of the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I have always been looking for a suitable film adaptation of his original characters. Unfortunately, most of the previous Holmes films I had seen had failed miserably.

Shortly after watching this new Sherlock Holmes movie, I was in a rental store and saw the cover of a Sherlock Holmes movie I had never heard of: Murder By Decree.

Murder By Decree Poster

Murder By Decree

On the cover you can see that someone once considered it the “Best Sherlock Holmes Movie Ever Made.” That statement is attributed to Rex Reed, of the New York Daily News. The movie was released early in 1979, just over thirty years prior to the newest movie staring the master sleuth. The cover certainly makes the movie look quite appealing, and it currently resides at the top of my Netflix queue. I will then report on if that film remains the “best Sherlock Holmes movie ever made.”

As for my current belief, Robert Downey Jr. played Sherlock Holmes better than any man before him, and Jude Law made a singularly perfect Dr. Watson companion to him. The two played very nicely together, and the depiction of their characters was precisely as I had envisioned it during my reading of the stories. For me, Sherlock Holmes staring Robert Downey Jr. will always be the definitive Sherlock Holmes movie.

Finally, before I let you go, I have to apologize for getting ahead of myself earlier. I rushed to offer my new book (Facebook Drives Me Nuts) for sale before it was ready. So, the first edition, which nobody bought, is immediately discontinued, and the second edition, which is currently undergoing review, will be offered for sale before the end of the month (if all goes well). I am thinking of sending out a few signed copies to my closest friends and family, in hopes that they will read the book and spread the word. Of course, if they don’t like the book, such an act could backfire on me most horrendously. I shall have to proceed with caution.

Watch for an announcement here followed by copious amounts of self promotion through all of my available channels once the book is approved for sale.

Best of All Time (as of end of 2009)

Happy 2010!

I told myself I wouldn’t make a list at the end of 2009, but I’ve got a list for you.

This list was inspired because I suddenly had a desire to track my most popular and favorite posts here. So, without much ado, here is a list of the top ten most popular posts here (ever, not just in 2009), followed by a list of my favorite posts so far:

My Top 10 Most Popular Posts of All Time
(The ones that get the hits.)

  1. Motorola Droid Discovery (Became super-popular after the Droid was released.)
  2. My Big Breakup (Was my most popular for a very long time, until the Droid came along.)
  3. Fun Free Online Games (Remains more popular than the page I created to replace it, despite the new page being better.)
  4. Thoughts on Chrome So Far (I wrote this a long time ago, and it’s high time I write a new review on Chrome, my favorite browser.)
  5. About the Man (The non-post item to make the top ten list, I have no idea why it’s so popular.)
  6. Unrealistically Cute (Guys somehow migrate to pages with pictures of girls on them.)
  7. Sophie, a Vibrator & Other Funnies (This is popular because of “vibrator,” but it’s not that kind of vibrator.)
  8. Letter to Verizon Wireless (This page also benefited from the recent popularity of the Droid.)
  9. Review: Wall-e (Game for Wii) (I’m glad this post gets so many views, because this was a terrible game.)
  10. Web-Enabled Community Spell-Checker Dict (An idea I had a while ago. Popular by accident, not because it’s good.)

My Personal Favorite Posts So Far
(I wish these got more hits!)

  1. Fun YouTube and Others (A compiled list of my favorite videos/music online. Lots of clean laughs!)
  2. My Big Breakup (My second most popular post is also my second most favorite. It wasn’t a relationship problem.)
  3. Sometimes 140 Just Isn’t Enough (A celebrity visited my blog and left comments on this post!)
  4. Early Poetry (I love this little gem of a poem I wrote when I was small. Still makes me chuckle.)
  5. NaNoWriMo – DONE (This was my victory post after finishing my novel in 2008. This book sucked.)
  6. I Won (again)! (This was my victory post after finishing my novel in 2009. This was a better book.)
  7. Boom De Yada (I did some research to give the background on a funny comic. Good post.)
  8. Ultimate List Handler (I hope to incorporate some of these ideas into a file system someday.)
  9. The Great Hall of Heroes (This is one of my favorite short stories, among those that I’ve written.)
  10. Fun New Page (I was so excited about my new page when I wrote this, then nobody visited my new page!)

There you have it. If you’re new to my site, these posts would be a good place to get a feel for my material. Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to doing a similar post each year (or every other year?).

Yet Another Site

Or should that read, Yet Another Waste of My Time… I have yet to see.

This project is complicated, and I should just let it explain itself. Head over to the main page and start reading. Maybe you can help me out a little!


RE: RE: Letter to Verizon Wireless

If you’ve been following since the first letter I wrote, I just received a response to yesterday’s letter and here it is.  It’s short, it’s cold and it’s completely useless.  Notice that the second paragraph is the only thing this lady took the time to actually write to me, the rest is canned.

Dear [Mediocre Renaissance Man],

Thank you for your reply.  My name is [Service Chick] and I am happy to assist you.

[Mediocre Renaissance Man], at this time we do not know if we will have phones that will support the Android software. With [Service Dude]’s response, we cannot even mention any potential phones that have not been announced to the public. I am sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist you today. We appreciate your business and thank you for using Verizon Wireless.  Should you have additional questions or concerns, please reply to this e-mail.


[Service Chick]

Verizon Wireless

Customer Service

My response:

Dear [Service Chick],

I am sorry too.  I hope that Verizon offers or announces something before I move in a couple of months.


[Mediocre Renaissance Man]

The long version:

I just wish they would reaffirm their intentions to release something, even with no definite time frame.  I think I made that clear in my communications with them, but I was talking to the wrong department.  Customer service doesn’t know much more than I do as a consumer.  I really should have tried harder to contact a different division.  Maybe I will, next time.

RE: Letter to Verizon Wireless

This is follow-up for the letter to Verizon Wireless that I wrote yesterday.

For the follow-up to these letters, see this entry.

The letter submission was successful, and I want to share the response I got back today with you.  I have edited the customer service member’s name out, as well as my own (just for fun, I’m sure most of you know it, I haven’t exactly tried to hide it from you).  Here’s the letter from Verizon, with my response immediately following it:

Dear [Mediocre Renaissance Man],

My name is [Service Dude], and I?ll be happy to assist you with your equipment questions today.

I am unable to provide information regarding which equipment is being considered or approximate release dates, as this may raise expectations that may not be met.

Although we do not have the handset you are looking for at this time, I invite you to view our current phone selection as a possible alternative.  To view available equipment, please click on the following link, which will direct you the “Products” page of our website:

You may also receive free e-mail updates as to when new products and services are available.  To receive your free e-mail update please click on the following link, to view the “E-mail Updates” page of our website:

There are several wireless phones being tested for functionality and reliability with our network.  Verizon Wireless will not offer a product or service unless it meets the high standards our customers have come to expect.  Verizon Wireless is constantly improving the services, features, and wireless phones we offer to our customers for their communication needs.

[Mediocre Renaissance Man], I hope this information has been helpful.  We value your business and appreciate the opportunity to continue as your wireless service provider. Thank you for using Verizon Wireless products and services. Should you have additional questions or concerns, please reply to this e-mail.


[Service Dude]

Verizon Wireless

Customer Service

Here’s what I had to say to that:

[Service Dude],

Thank you for your timely response.  I fear you have understood my inquiry well, but somehow managed to pretend you missed the point.

I am familiar enough with Verizon’s complete lineup of handsets and I am not interested in any of them (I currently have the Samsung SCH-U620 and am not displeased with it).  I am not looking for just another handset.  I am looking for an Android handset.  Like I said in my initial communication, this is something of such a great importance to me that I am considering switching service providers unless I receive some indication that I will not have to wait long to get an Android phone on the Verizon network.

I do somewhat appreciate your vague statement about “several wireless phones being tested for functionality and reliability with [y]our network,” but I am afraid it does not provide enough of an assurance that an Android phone will be available to me soon.

I am sure you understand my position as a customer.  Having worked in customer service many years myself, one of the greatest customer service philosophies I came to understand is that loyal customers are the most important foundation on which a business should maintain itself.  If you begin to lose longtime, loyal customers, you hurt your business almost irreparably.

I hope that Verizon will announce something soon that will answer my question.  I will be moving away from my current home in California within the next few months, and when I get to my new home (even if my contract is not yet expired with Verizon Wireless) I will begin researching T-Mobile’s service in my area.  I am sure I am not the only Verizon customer with such plans.  The only way Verizon will be able to retain my business is if concrete plans to release an Android phone are revealed before I move.

I understand that I am just one customer among many hundreds of thousands on the Verizon network, and my changing networks will not ultimately hurt business for the company.  I am not trying to make threats.  I am simply pointing out the fact that good, valuable customers (like myself) are walking away from your company simply because of your inaction.  All it would take is one press release (dated 2008, last year’s press release is not enough) to assure Verizon customers that an Android phone is coming soon, and many customers would be retained.


[Mediocre Renaissance Man]

Letter to Verizon Wireless

Dear Verizon Wireless,

I have been your customer exclusively since I purchased my first cell phone in my first year of college several years ago.  The years have been good to us, and I am pleased to report that I have been almost entirely satisfied with all of your services.

These days I work, support a wife and two children and maintain a technology blog in my free time.  As a longtime fan of Google products and services, I was thrilled by the announcement and unveiling of T-Mobile’s new Android enabled phone, the G1.  In fact, I was so excited about the new product that I immediately found myself at your competitor’s web site researching pricing and plan information.  My contract with Verizon won’t be over until November 2009, but I was already considering abandoning my favorite service provider to get the shiny new G1 in my hands, despite the complaints I have heard about T-Mobile services.

So, as a technology blogger, Google buff and loyal Verizon customer, I am asking you directly: when can Verizon customers expect to see an Android phone available?  I am aware that LG, Samsung and Motorola have all announced their intention to build Android phones, but which one(s) will we see on the great Verizon network?  Will Verizon just sit back and watch their customer base switch (even in small numbers) to a competing network without doing anything to retain them?

If Verizon would simply announce something (a date, timeframe or even just the intention to release an Android phone) – other than the announcement last year that Android would be supported on the Verizon network – many customers like myself would remain loyal and wait for the official arrival of a Verizon Android smartphone.

A clear and detailed answer to my inquiries would be much appreciated, and the failure to respond with action before my contract is up will result in at least one fewer Verizon customer.


[Mediocre Renaissance Man]
Note to my readers:

I e-mailed this to them (via their “contact us” form on their website) today.  Now we wait and see.  I’ll let you know if I get a response.  I’d really rather stay with Verizon, but if I can’t get my hands on an Android phone on their network soon you can bet I’ll be switching.

Their response and my subsequent response can now be read here.

WordPress Google Docs

I love that WordPress shows search terms that are pulling your stuff up on the Internet. In fact, I love a lot of things about WordPress. I am also a big fan of Google Docs, and when I first began using this “blog” thing, I wanted to use Google Docs to post my entries.

Unfortunately, as my first post indicates, I had troubles getting it set up. I got the following message: Error decoding XML-RPC response.

Now, I’m not technical genius, and I can only vaguely describe what that error message means, but I played around a bit and got things working.

I started posting all sorts of cool stories, technical ideas, and anything else I felt like sharing. Unfortunately, nobody was interested.

At least eight people have searched for a solution to this problem and were sent to my blog and the number one search term that pulls me up online is “error decoding xml-rpc responce” from Google Docs in one way or another. I guess not too many people actually have problems with this message, but those who do have no idea where to find help for it. I may be wrong, but I also want to help out where I can. So, here’s how I solved the problem. It may not be the best way, but it has worked for me.

I’ll provide a screenshot, but essentially I didn’t use the preset settings for WordPress found in the Google Docs options for posting to a blog. At the top of the “Blog Site Settings” window I clicked on the “My own server / custom” radio button. Here are the rest of the settings I used:

(RED text means you should insert your personal information. Black means yours should be the same.)

(Click the image to view it full size.)


“MetaWeblog API”



-(If you really do host your blog at a different URL, the part my be different too. The part before the “/xmlrpc.php” is the address you give to people so they can visit your blog.)

User Name:


-(This is the whole user name you log into the site with.)


wouldn’t you like to know?

Blog ID/Title:

The Mediocre Renaissance Man

-(This is the title displayed at the head of your pages and at the top of the WordPress site while you are at your dashboard.)

Last of all I have the box checked that says: “Include the document title when posting (if supported)” and I think you should too if you want to use the document title as your posting title.

The only warning I should mention is that when I use Google Docs to post it doesn’t go immediate. When I go to WordPress afterward it says the post is scheduled for seven hours later. If I want to post immediately I then go in and edit the post at the WordPress site, changing the settings to “Published” and the time to five minutes earlier. This works, but if anyone knows of a better way to get Google Docs to do it immediately, I could use the help.

I hope this helps, and if you have any more questions or ideas, please leave a comment.

Laziness & Inaction

I think maybe I’m being a little hard on myself, considering all of the stress and pressure I’m experiencing currently.  I’ve got a lot of work-related testing going on, and we’re moving soon, and there is still a lot to do before I leave in about two weeks.

I just don’t know if I can accept that as excuse enough for all of the writing time I’ve been wasting.  Alright, maybe most of it hasn’t been downright wasted, but I don’t feel that I’ve been doing enough to keep it productive.  I’ve used parts of it to read (which is valid, by my rules), but I’ve also been cutting corners off to get a few extra minutes of sleep in, or ending a little early to spend more time with my wife (we’ll be apart for about four months when I leave in a couple weeks).  I just don’t feel that the discipline has been there.

Regardless, perhaps I feel the worst of it because I have very little to show for the time I’ve spent writing over the last week or so.  How many short stories have I finished?  None.  How many times have I contributed anything worthwhile to a piece I’ve been working on?  Maybe once, if that.

I suppose, though, that I should just put all of that behind me and move forward.  I am here now, after all, writing.  I do have a little something I wanted to write about too, so I guess I can save my breath and quit being so hard on myself.

I read an article recently about an issue that had been nagging at me for years.  Sadly, I can’t say I’ve done much to be part of the solution, and at times I might even be part of the problem.  Although, for my part I do feel that I make a steady personal effort to avoid directly throwing my own fuel onto the fire.

The issue is the lack of professional training among bloggers.  In my eyes this issue has two levels (but the article only deals with one of them).  The first part, and the one discussed in the article, is that bloggers are not generally professional, trained journalists, yet that is the role they play in society.  Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to major problems for them, their audiences or their subjects of discussion.  They inadvertently infringe on copyrights, defame others (resulting in lawsuits) and even get in trouble for violating privacy laws.

The article I read discusses a recent movement in the blogging community toward a position between amateur and professional.  As far as presenting content and avoiding lawsuits, I think this is a wonderful idea and a relieving trend.

In my opinion, this problem is less annoying than the second level of the blogging issue.  Personally, I can deal with people getting upset at what I write.  My issue has to do with grammar and style.

That’s right, I’m more bothered by bloggers who write without capitalizing any of their letters, or use “z” instead of “s” or shorten words unnecessarily, or anything else of the like.  Not that I don’t sometimes enjoy their content.  The lolcats blog is a good example.  Their content can sometimes be amusing, but only if you don’t mind having your brain beat to a pulp by the intentionally horrendous and trendy spelling.  Frankly, I would enjoy the site more readily if the content weren’t so horribly mutilated by misspellings.  I understand that, for some, the misspellings are part of the cuteness and appeal.  I have a suggestion for such people who find this entertaining – use a marker or crayon to rewrite the photo captions however you like them (mispelled or not) directly on your computer monitor.

Misspellings have always bothered me, as has blatantly poor grammar.  I know that my own spelling and grammar are far from perfect, but I continue to make an effort to do well in what I know and learn what I do not know well.  If I can tell other writers or bloggers are making a similar effort, I am not put off by a misspelling or gramatical error.  I get irritated when I can tell that absolutely zero effort was put into writing something in the correct manner, or when an effort was made to deliberately avoid spelling or writing something correctly.  When I see such shenanigans I do not think they are cute, entertaining or clever.  I think they are annoying, degrading to the author, and extremely frustrating to read.  When I see more than one in the first few lines (or sometimes even paragraphs) of text I immediately stop reading.

Enough ranting about the Internet community.  There were other things I wanted to share and write about, but I shall have to save them for another time.  I am tired and ready to fall asleep at the keyboard.  To avoid drooling on my computer equipment, I will retire to my bed.

New Page!

I know a lot of you have visited the page I wrote about me called About the Man. Now, due to my belief that a lot of my friends and family could use a little schooling on what I’ve got going on here, I’ve written a page that I’m sure plenty of people could benefit from. This new page is called About the Site. If you are already subscribed to my web log, you don’t need to read it. The new page is for people who I would like to see subscribed so they can keep in touch with me, but they don’t understand what all of this is about.

So, if you’re subscribed already, I thank you. If you’re not, go visit the new page!

Oh, and by the way, I spent two hours on that page then quit without rereading or revising it. I’ll probably go in tomorrow morning and do some editing, but for now I need to get on with my day. If you find errors or find any of it confusing, just let me know and I’ll fix it.

Oh, one more thing. I know a lot of people visit this site to find my Google Web album (not that it’s that special, but we post family pictures there), so I included it in my list of links (Blogroll) on the right so there is a more permanent place to find it rather than coming here and looking for the original posting I had the link in. It’s listed as the Family Web Album.

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January 2021

RSS My Favorite Quotes

  • Quote #60
    "The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as the greatest virtues." - Rene Descartes
  • Quote #59
    "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Ernest Hemingway
  • Quote #58
    "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." - William Shakespeare

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