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I Feel Like a Number

To workers I’m just another drone
To Ma Bell I’m just another phone
I’m just another statistic on a sheet
To teachers I’m just another child
To the IRS I’m just another file
I’m just another consensus on the street
Gonna cruise out of this city
Head down to the sea
Gonna shout out at the ocean
“Hey, its me!”
And I feel like a number
Feel like a number
Feel like a stranger
A stranger in this land
I feel like a number
I’m not a number
I’m not a number
Dammit I’m a man

Note to the uninitiated: Pete and Bob Seger are not related. Yet in this song at least, they and I seem to see eye to eye.

Because as I sit here at 1am in the morning, unable to sleep, I find that no matter how important I thought I was to how the system worked, I am merely a single digit on some unseen bean counter’s tally sheet. One single bead – very low set – on the giant abacus of our economy whose problems I have been recounting for the last year or so, sounding what alarm I could with my one small voice, knowing all the while that this day might come. I’ve been slid to the unpleasant side of the board: as of February 12th, my contract is expired and will not be renewed.

The air around me now is as indescribable as any I’ve known. On the one hand, I am grateful for three weeks of notice that gives me a bit of time to reconnect my network and get feelers out for a new gig. This is, after all, the life I’ve chosen as an IT professional; instability and opportunity in this profession go hand in hand, since IT people are always needed yet we’re also always the first positions cut when bean counters with foggy memories need to save a dime.

At the same time, I feel like a day to process what’s happening would be a good thing. But instead, I’m going into work to do. . . what, exactly? Surely, starting new projects doesn’t seem like a very good idea. But professional ethics make simply sitting there and job searching seem unseemly, somehow. Meanwhile, I feel in some ways like I’m the canary in the coalmine for my fellow employees, since my contract expiration – along with at least two others I work with – is a convenient way to do we are not sure how much of the housework yet to be done.

This was a good job, too. The trouble with pinning too many of your hopes on a dying star like Kodak is that I’m unlikely to get another job doing the same thing for the same pay. I’ve enjoyed the company of my coworkers, gotten settled into what I thought was a pretty good position. I even have a Britta filter sitting on one of the tables in my office. I now look forward to the possibility of working in a cube farm somewhere, stripped of my little cubicle-office, left to suffer the fate of so many Office Space characters, with dread.

Once, long ago, I dated a woman I worked with. Then it ended – badly – but we still needed to see each other at work. This feels rather a lot like that: some space to stop damaging each other seems like a good idea.

Looking back on my career to this point, I can say I’ve never been unemployed for more than a month, save for the year I went to school to switch from manufacturing to IT. Those are good odds, and frankly if there’s anyone who knows how to hustle to find a job, it’s me. But I get a pretty awful feeling that road construction projects and the Renaissance Square project are going to take a long time to start paying dividends for one in my profession. This could be a long one.

Said the old Zen master, “We shall see.”

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Poppa’s Got a Brand New Theme

DFE is celebrating the inauguration of our 44th president, Barack Obama, with a theme based on the iconic artwork of Shepard Fairey. Actually, it’s based on some neato Flash development at Obamicon.me that made the cool city skyline for the header. A shame I couldn’t get it to do a larger image, but I made due with what I had.

And now I’m going to lay my head down on my pillow knowing this is the last time I’ll ever do so with George Bush in the White House. And I’m going to sleep like a fucking baby.

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Happy New Year!

I’ve been observing strict radio silence over the course of the last few weeks, owing largely to the fact that I just really needed a break from all the action. Thank you to those of you who have hung in there with me and I hope all of you who read this have had as cool a holiday season as I did!

But now that’s behind us, and I didn’t want you to think I’d been loafing this entire time. Oh, no, indeed I have not! I’ve been working on a new plugin for the website which should make administering the news section much, much easier and more robust for the new year. Count on seeing much, much more in the way of news on this site in the coming months, with updates regularly in the morning and evening, and probably a little bit during the day. I’m hoping DFE can be a better resource for you to find important news quickly.

And along with that, I’m also working on a front page design for an entirely new News section. That should be ready to go by the end of the month, just in time for Barack Obama’s inauguration.

So, Happy New Year and you can now start checking out DFE for updates like you did before the holidays!

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Chrominance Video is Live Again

Sorry to those of you who have been watching videos on this site and hitting a wall when trying to in the last week. Unfortunately, switching from a hosted service to running my own server has taken a goodly amount of my free and not-so-free time, leaving little time to notice that my CNAME record which points to VodPod was not created.

But happily, I’ve restored that connection and videos are now flowing freely again. I shall endevour to bring you more videos more often in the next few days, honest!

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Help Me Win a Web Award!

The Rochester Business Journal is conducting it’s Best of the Web award nominations, and you can nominate your favourite Progressive Politics web page in Rochester (hint, hint) right here! I think we all know there’s very little chance of DFE actually winning this award, but what the heck? And wouldn’t that be a hoot if we got it?

Note that on question number 3, “what kind of website is this?” you’ll want to put down government/community, since that’s as close to a proper choice as they’ve got listed.

Thanks!

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Buh-Bye to LeftyBlogs.com

Today, in an effort to move what I can when I can on this site towards greater efficiency, I’ve dropped the LeftyBlogs widget from the sidebar. I just can’t see any reason to keep it, though I will probably miss a lot of the blogs that are on there. There’s just too many which have zero and even negative value for me to keep it.

And there is a replacement in the wings which promises to be much more interesting to readers of this blog: the idea so far is to focus on local blogs, from political ones to others of entirely different subject matter. Stay tuned!!

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Back Online! Items of Interest This Morning

Whoa, did that suck! I switched hosts to a new VPS service, which rocks, but unfortunately found myself bested by Apache2 and the site went down for a few days. Sorry for the interruption! A big thanks to Rottenchester of The Fighting 29th, who was able to straighten out the mess with my configuration and get my back online. Thanks!

And in items of interest this morning, whilst I work on updating the news section:

As a sign of the times, the NYT is reporting that office space in Manhattan is rapidly emptying out ahead of the looming recession. I hope they cleared out the upper floors first. Those are some nice streets to have to wipe the Investor Class off of.

And here in Rochester, the Irondequoit Town Board will be meeting on plans to make the Medley Center – known on this site as the Diddly Center – even less useful than it was as a mall. Don’t miss the comments section on this one.

I find it sort of ironic that they want a movie theatre in the Medley Center when they already have one down on Culver where you can catch a movie, eat some popcorn and watch teenagers knife-fight in the parking lot. We really need another one of those in town? Seriously?

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Changes for the New Year at DFE: Make it Look Pretty

The New Year is always a time to consider what’s passed and more importantly, what happens in the future as we look to what we hope will be another productive, happy and healthy new year. The same is true for blogs and other media outlets, and certainly it is the case here at DFE. I’ve been happy with the overall design of DFE’s appearance in this latest incarnation, but there are things that could stand some improvement. This version of the site was my first attempt at a WordPress MU installation, dealing with all the various blogs and cross-blog integration. All-in-all, it’s been a success, but nothing grows in a standing pool of water. Now’s the time, I think, to start considering and implementing a new plan to keep the waters circulating.

LeftyBlogs

Topping the list of tasks is to deal with the Lefty Blogs role in the sidebar. Frankly, while there’s lots of stuff in that blogroll that I find of value, there is a growing and remarkably annoying tide of cruft rising on that list. I won’t bother mentioning any names, but I don’t see the need to share links with stuff I find of limited or no value. Moreover, the group that handles this list has done absolutely nothing to improve it’s service in the four years I’ve been using it. I can’t stand loading JavaScript modules into a page without there being some logical reason to slow down my site, and LeftyBlogs has crossed the barrier between justifiable and unjustifiable somewhere over the course of this election season.

So to those Upstate bloggers who might be reading this, let me make a proposal: I’d like to create a “Planet Feed,” similar to the WordPress Planet, which aggregates several feeds of local blogs into one centralized feed, similar to LeftyBlogs in many ways. The difference would be that there’s no need for a JavaScript POS on your page to display the blogroll, you can display it any way you would normally syndicate RSS or Atom content on your page. That lends itself to much more robust uses of our collective content on our pages, while reducing the overall processing cost of making our pages load. Rotten, Exile and I have been discussing this and if you’d like to throw your support behind it, drop me a line here.

Page Layout

Secondly, the layout is a bit wonkier than I’d anticipated. My vision of DFE is to be an “island in the information stream” for my visitors: I would like the home page to seem a genuinely useful place for people to stop by while they’re surfing the news on the net. Based on my incoming and outgoing links, and reviewing common visitor sessions, it seems like this has been a largely successful plan for a modest number of you out there. I want to say thank you very much to those of you who have been making DFE a part of your browsing experience. It’s for you especially that I’m making these changes, so don’t hesitate to express your opinion of what I’m planning.

Because there’s more work to be done to eliminate the cruft that hasn’t been getting hits and tighten up the format. I think, for example, that my user blogs have been under emphasized on the home page and this is the first thing I plan on addressing. My blog may switch to the other side, the News Headlines will probably factor in more heavily, and the user blogs will be prominently placed above the fold.

I’m working on ways to integrate all the news clippings into the site better than the running list of images down the sidebar that I have now. They may become an entirely new page, I’m not sure. The news section is probably going to factor in much more heavily than it has in the past, so this is a critical part of the redesign.

So, in general, that’s what I’m trying to get done for the new year in terms of the layout of the page and the architecture. One other thing is going to be (eek. again) switching web hosts. I’ve made the unfortunate decision of going with a web host which I now find to be universally panned by the bloggers in town I’ve been speaking with (Rotten, BTP in particular). I’ve found a new host which will doubtless suit my needs better, but will require a much more hands-on approach to administration. There’s going to be a lot of planning involved in this, but the payoff for the audience should hopefully be a faster loading DFE with more stuff you want.

As for content changes, in terms of my blog and the news sections, I’ll be discussing that in a later post. There will definitely be some reorganization going on. If you’d like to express an opinion on my plans or offer suggestions, I’d be happy to hear from you, so drop me a line and let me know what you think!

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They’re Back!

After an extended absence, I’ve finally gotten the user blogs back up and running on the home page of this site.  I shan’t go into detail as to why they’ve been gone, but they’ve certainly been gone too long.  Now I just need to get some more bloggers blogging (sounds like Christmas carol) and I’ll be all set!

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Woot! Holiday Seasons Come Early to Us Web Designers!

To those of you who’ve been wondering about my lack of posting lately, no, I’m not retiring.  ‘Tis the holiday season for us web designers who work for consumer electronics companies and time to blog or update is short, indeed.  That, and I’m working on The Buddhahood’s new website, which is taking a large portion of my free head-space as well.

These things being the case, updating my digital world has all been about the micro-blogging and social networking.  Thus, if you’re interested in what I’m doing outside of basic posting, check these other leads out.  I’d be happy to hear from you there:

And of course, I am endevouring to keep this space updated as well.  Also, the News section stays updated fairly regularly, so either check back at DragonFlyEye.Net or sign up to get the DFE News feed.

Thanks!

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Tonight on CW-16! DFE, RT and Fighting29th

Tonight on CW-16, writers from Rochester Turning, Fighting 29th and this blog will be appearing on a special news program, discussing how blogging has changed and affected the state of news on both a local and national level.

It’s sure to be a great program, so I hope you all check it out.  It’s tonight at 10px on cable channel 16.  I guess we’ll also be doing a bit of live-blogging, so be sure to drag your laptop in front of the television and check in here for the latest!

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Site Updates

Have a Look at the New Photos Page!

One of the advances of moving to my new host has been the ability to reinstall and significantly enhance the Photos page of this website.  The plugin I use for this page is a data-intensive, database-straining plugin that overwhelmed my limited capacity on the old host and had to be disabled.  Now, I’m able to use the new version which implements some fairly snazzy JavaScript animation to make it look extra cool.  Check it out!

Note also that all of my pictures are covered by a Creative Commons Share Alike license.  That means that my pictures that appear on this website are free to use – even commercially – so long as any derivative works are released under the same license and so long as I’m given credit for the original photograph.  Use them in good health!