A couple of months ago someone asked me to set up wikis about busking and abou veganism. A wiki about veganish things had been on my mind for a while. I just didn't directly want to register another domain name. I started looking around and found wiki.yt was still free. So I started vegan.wiki.yt, a website with information for vegans and wannabegans. It's growing fast and we already have more than 100 articles.
Then I also turned wiki.yt and all the other wikis I'm running into a wikifarm. Thinking about some other wikis to set up, if there's enough interest I'll be happy to set up a wiki about interesting topics. Meanwhile I already started wiki about bicycles, since I figured there'd be enough people happy to edit (and read) about bikes.
Then apart from all the wikis Robin, Camiel and I also started greengeek.nl, a Dutch website with green news for geeks.
Oh and meanwhile I also managed to upgrade my first and most successful Drupal website to Drupal 7.
Soma FM is probably the best internet radio station around. Actually, the best collection of radio stations, as there are quite a few different channels they broadcast. Unfortunately their website is not so great for quickly listening to one of the soma streams. Until a month ago I usually ended up using some command-line wizardry to listen to groovesalad or dronezone.
I had already tried Phonegap before and somehow plugging Meteor stuff into Phonegap was definitely on my mind. I played around a bit and in (total) just a couple of hours I had a script ready that could take any Meteor app and turn it into an Android .apk. It's now available at github.com/guaka/meteor-phonegap.
Now back to Soma.fm. Enough of cli, I wanted to be able to quickly change channels and a web app built in Meteor seemed appropriate, even if just for the convenience of meteor deploy radio.meteor.com and just for the kick of being able to release something built with Meteor. (We reached Meteor's limits with the cool geo stuff we've been working on, so it will take a while before we can release that.)
Today I quickly changed the Flash based iframe provided by Somafm with an HTML5 audio tag. That was enough to try meteor-phonegap again and build an .apk I could try on my Nexus 7. It works pretty well and I even managed to upload it to Google Play. It will take another 48 hours before I know if my credit card payment came through this time. If so, you'll be able to find Radio Meteor on there.
Oh and I also made an app with Meteor.js documentation. Enjoy!
Been very sad today. I woke up this morning hoping it was just a dream. But it wasn't.
"Anyways, busy on the road but I would love to get involved in the hitchwiki sometime...I don't think I've hitched as much as you but I hitched from Finland to Spain and spent 2 months hitching around New Zealand (went everywhere) and have been hitching around oz since the end of May."
This is the first email Taylor wrote to me in 2007. It took another 5 years before we met in real life, in Lithuania. Meanwhile he he surely hitched a lot more than me, through many of countries in Eurasia. At the Hitchgathering we made vegan pancake dough together - and we both helped out with the non-vegan dough. Someone later mixed both doughs and Taylor didn't eat any pancakes that day. Afterwards we both stayed with Mikael in Vilnius. I had carried a jar of peanut butter all the way from home and was happy to give it to someone with higher vegan standards than me.
In January I read he was planning a trip into Africa, which immediately reminded me of Kinga Freespirit's story, another vegan hitchhiker I had met in 2005 at the Monnai camp. She died in Ghana of malaria. So I wrote Taylor he should bring some malaria medication. He replied 10 days later, "don't worry, saved some of my juggling money and bought 50 pills of anti malarial drugs..."
Last week Taylor was hit by a car while hitchhiking at night in Chad.
Adding a suggestion to wear a safety vest when hitching at night to the Hitchwiki page about safety seemed appropriate.
I'm very sad I won't meet Taylor again. I would have loved to work with him on the rural hospitality project of which he was the main driving force.
Hello. My name is Taylor - and I am a nomad.
Somewhere along the way in life I gave up a sedentary lifestyle and hit
the road, always moving somewhere new, seeking new experiences.
I can't explain exactly what makes me move...except to say that I have
this wanderlust inside of me that drives me on, to feel the earth spin
beneath my feet, to wake up and see a new horizon, feel a fresh breeze
against my face....to be a stranger in a strange land.
Please dont ask me when I am going to stop travelling, I will stop when its time to stop. I wont know until I get there.
Rest in peace, Taylor
I only met Callum briefly in Melbourne in 2007, right after I stopped volunteering for couchsurfing, right before he started volunteering for couchsurfing. A brief encounter with Callum was enough to know you're dealing with someone very smart and special. Later we started opencouchsurfing.org and regularly communicated online. I was happy to meet him again last summer in 2012. He wanted to start a new project and we brainstormed a bit about this. We were both avid users of ping.fm. I think Callum actually got me onto ping.fm at some point in 2007 or so.
Ping.fm: post to 20-something networks at once
Ping.fm was pretty good. There were some minor annoyances but overall it was a great way to post once and spread your message to tons of different networks. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, but also Identi.ca, Plurk and many other fantasy named sites not used by many. But for an Identi.ca fan it was a great way to update your status on more than just identica. (For the uninitiated, Identica is an open source, slightly decentralized alternative to twitter.)
Then some day Seesmic, the slightly bigger social networking company with a nice looking product, took over Ping.fm. And quickly thereafter slashed the main feature that made Ping.fm stand out from the crowd. Since then there was no easy way for me anymore to post to Identi.ca, Twitter and FB at the same time.
Thus I was very happy Callum decided to build an alternative for ping.fm: Composer.io.
Composer.io: Post to multiple social networks
Now, half a year later Composer.io has become quite usable and you can post on multiple social networks simultaneously. It's actually a bit smarter than ping.fm as it will already allow you to post longer posts that will be automatically shortened for platforms like Twitter that only allow 140 characters.
Why post to more networks at once?
Personally, I have a bunch of followers of my twitter, quite a few friends on facebook. Identi.ca is not that active but unlike on twitter the links are dofollow links, so for seo I prefer to put links to projects I want to support with google juice on my identi.ca, but for social networking reasons twitter and facebook are much better. Like this I get the best of both.
Composer.io is a work in progress and your input is very welcome!
Good news for freedom loving travelers. The Wikitravel community and its content has been freed. The website was bought by a company for more than million dollars a couple of years ago and this year the community revolted and moved everything to the Wikimedia Foundation - a 501(c)(3) non profit that is extremely unlikely to ever sell out.
My first contributions to Wikitravel date back to August 8th, 2003 (less than 2 months after my first attributed edit on Wikipedia). I found out about hospitality exchange through Wikitravel. (I actually only signed up with hospitality club in 2004, because couchsurfing had a silly commercial vibe to it...) I had been asking for database dumps for a while, in vain, and I finally give up. I was slightly upset when Evan and Michele Ann sold out to Internet Brands in 2006 but I knew that whatever IB would do, the content would still be available under a Creative Commons ShareAlike Attribution license.
Finally the addition of advertising was a big reason to stop contributing. This was also a big reason to choose to never have advertising on hitchwiki.
I actually met Evan at the Wikimania conferences, so before I started volunteering with the non profit couchsurfing (but without 501(c)(3) status). During the couchsurfing collective in Montreal he came over and Casey, Evan and I had a chat. I should have thought harder about what could happen to the non profit couchsurfing. But let's make sure Be Welcome will be for hospitality exchange what Wikivoyage is now for travel wikis.
Yesterday I met up with Paxus and we had a chat about many things. Naturally CouchSurfing and its
B C corporatization was one of them. It reminded me I had to post something about the origins of hospitality.
Since 2007 I prefer to host and be a guest through BeWelcome (since 2007). I've been hosting and staying with people through online hospitality networks since 2004 though. I've hosted people and stay with people before that as well though, usually because they were friends or friends or friends. Servas goes back a bit more and has been around since 1949. And hospitality is usually thought of as a very common concept in the Islamic world (6th century). It goes back way further than that still.
Through my interest in languages I came across an excellent book about the origins of Indo-European languages, "The Horse the Wheel and Language", where I found some more information about the origins of the words "guest" and "host":
The Yamnaya horizon is the visible archaeological expression of a social adjustment to high mobility - the invention of the political infrastructure to manage larger herds from mobile homes based in the steppes. A linguistic echo of the same event might be preserved in the similarity between English guest and host. They are cognates, derived from one Proto-Indo-European root (*ghos-ti-). (A "ghost" in English was originally a visitor or guest.) The two social roles opposed in English guest and host were originally two reciprocal aspects of the same relationship. The late Proto-Indo-European guest-host relationship required that "hospitality" (from the same root through Latin hospes 'foreigner, guest') and "friendship" (*keiwos-) should be extended by hosts to guests (both *ghos-ti-), in the knowledge that the receiver and giver of "hospitality" could later reverse roles. The social meaning of these words was then more demanding than modern customs would suggest. The guest-host relationship was bound by oaths and sacrifices so serious that Homer's warriors, Glaukos and Diomedes, stopped fighting and presented gifts to each other when they learned that their grandfathers had shared a guest-host relationship. This mutual obligation to provide "hospitality" functioned as a bridge be- tween social units (tribes, clans) that had ordinarily restricted these obligations to their kin or co-residents (*h,fr6s-). Guest-host relationships would have been very useful in a mobile herding economy, as a way of separating people who were moving through your territory with your assent from those who were unwelcome, unregulated, and therefore unprotected. The guest-host institution might have been among the critical identity - defining innovations that spread with the Yamnaya horizon.
Memrise is an addictive game to learn languages and more. I've been playing it for a while now. You can score points in several ways, mostly by answering correctly.
Going through the courses I noticed a couple of weird courses, where the answers are just the same as the questions (e.g. 1 -> 1, 2 -> 2, 3 -> 3, ... 42 -> the meaning of life, 43 -> 43, ...). I also noticed that the points can be slightly addictive, I've used them to push myself to learn just a couple more Mandarin Hanzi every time. If you think that's silly, check the Memrise Leaderboard today, which is temporarily disabled "after extensive cheating has been brought to our attention, some of which has been slowing down the site for the whole community."
The cheating in question is that several members of the community appear to be using bots to accrue more points; others are using dummy courses with simple answers to rack up vast scores; and in one case we have evidence that a small army of children has been employed to exaggerate one individual's learning accomplishments. While we applaud the imagination and competitiveness of such cheats, we condemn their behaviour, which is unfair on everyone else in the community.
Note that these points have no monetary value whatsoever. Where there is monetary value we can expect things to be much worse. If you don't believe me, read Doctorow's FTW, it's science fiction but I'd be surprised if you deny the existence of game gold sweatshops after reading this.
In 2008 I built my first Drupal site. It's also proven to be one of the more successful sites I've done, saving the family business in times of economic downturn. My brother broke his leg in Spring, started building some prut with some web building software. Then I quit working for Hyves in May, later I registered as an independent freelancer and thanks to some random events, such as a ride towards the ferry to Denmark with Drupal expert Hans Rossel during a hitchhiking trip towards Nordkapp, I decided to work with Drupal.
Since then I learnt tons about Drupal. It's an amazing system with of course some issues that come with being amazing. In 2008 I still thought multilingual Drupal sites are cool. We added versions in German, French and English. Later I learned otherwise, especially if you care about search engine optimization. You can end up with tons of duplicate content.
So in 2010 or so we decided to split up the sites. We're still dealing with issues related to that but overall I'm happy with it. We also tried building something with Ubercart, which turned out much less nice than expected. It's a very boxed system and finally we decided to not even use its e-commerce features so we ended up with a weird site based on Ubercart without any shopping functionality.
Early 2011 Drupal 7 was released so we had to come up with a strategy to move forward. It took some time to decide upon Drupal Commerce. I'm still not 100% convinced about Commerce but meanwhile we managed to take our D6 site and upgrade it nicely to D7. There were quite a few issues that we had to solve on the way, even in the standard upgrade procedure. Our pretty standard site appeared to be not that standard after all and even a simple thing such as permissions needed some hacking to fix. And even now that we released a brand new site for teak furniture on the German market there are some loose ends that need to be fixed.
Back in 2008 we used tons of image nodes, which I managed to upgrade with some fiddling around. Unfortunately the images are not showing anymore! Drupal Commerce is nice but when we started building with it still wasn't ready to use out of the box. I decided to take a course with Commerce Guys, which learned me a lot and which also seemed a good way of giving back in the form of funding Drupal development. Unfortunately there was a set back in the form of a broken arm and I wasn't about to get as much out of it as I would have with 2 hands to type. In general I can recommend CG trainings, but only if you're fully able to type and concentrate (pain doesn't help).
Looking back almost 4 years I think Drupal has been an excellent choice. Not just for the furniture business but also for the big conversion project from ASP to Drupal I did for one of Israel's biggest and most serious NGOs and many other smaller projects. And consequently I managed to establish myself as an expert in SEO, Drupal and other free software systems without being tied to a cubicle.
Next post something about how I finally made money thanks to FB by entering the heart of capitalism.
PhoneGapApache Cordova a little while back. First I got into Titanium Appcelerator, thanks to my friend Silvio. But Titanium was all Eclipsy and then when I wanted to do some coding in the train I found out that I needed to be online to code in Titanium. I do have Ben Internet in the Netherlands and Mobile Vikings in Belgium but it's not always working amazingly in a moving train and this restriction was a tad bit too much.
It took me some time to set up Cordova without Eclipse. Finally I found android terminal quickstart, which mostly boils down to making sure the Android SDK is living somewhere, its tools/ directory is in your path, and ditto for Apache Ant, the build tool.
After that you only really need to do ant debug install from the android/ directory meanwhile making sure your Android phone is connected through USB.
I coded some basic Android stuff and I can say it's nice to get more into JS.
I helped Kenny to set this stuff up on his Windows machine so then I was ready to rethink server stuff. So I started looking at Node.js again. Well, again, I only briefly played with it for an hour or so. Now I was more decided to take this to an interesting level. And interesting it is!
I started fooling around with Express.js, meanwhile checking out some more goodness that's around. Pedro Teixeira's tutorial videos have been really helpful. But I also came across fun things such as Now.js, which deserve a bit more attention in the short future.
And meanwhile my arm feels as if it's new. I can't wait till next year for the Google Glasses... So meanwhile I ordered the MyndPlay BrainBand.
Right after coming back from an excellent trip though the West Coast and Mexico I got an interesting message from London, through LinkedIn. Funny enough it was for a gig in Utrecht. Helping out the Dutch tax authorities with a MediaWiki project. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to do that so I came up with a silly daily price. Two days later I was in their office. In my jeans. In the first 5 minutes there was mention of Trashwiki which somehow was actually appreciated! So my finances were set for 2012. Very nice to start the year like that.
In April we planned to hitchhike to the South. I was somewhat seriously joking that we would find a ride to Morocco from Luxembourg in less than one hour. And then we actually did. Unfortunately Erga needed a visa to get into Morocco. And then even more unfortunately I broke my arm after arriving in Sevilla late at night, after a night without sleep I fell backwards and broke the fall with my arm. And then I broke my arm. Which has given me plenty of time to study 中文 and a bunch of other languages - mostly through Memrise, an amazing way to learn languages. I'm addicted. As soon as I bought another keyboard to type with both hands again I started picking up the idea to build an app. There's some progress there and together with Kenny... Hoping to show something awesome before Summer!
This is what I wrote in June last year:
So you’ve been buying some domain names and you wanna know if it’s working out. How to know you’re on the right track?
A domain name you wanted to get that was free is taken a couple of hours later when you’re ready to go get your batch of names!
Fortunately the possible names are endless and today I was really surprised to found that France is such a backwards internet country. Both in terms of search volume and in terms of domain names that are not taken yet, for which the same names with .com .net .org .info .biz .co.uk .org.uk .nl .de are all taken.
Of course the real indicator is this:
You’re selling one of the many domain names you just acquired to fund buying a 100 more.
Unfortunately I’m not there yet but I don’t mind being patient – I’m looking at this business in the long run. Fortunately people are clicking the ads on the domains, even on the ones were there’s no real content yet. So with my low monthly cost of living I can keep going like this for a while.
Meanwhile I have sold a couple of domain names, which did fund 100s of other domain names. I've also greatly increased my passive Adsense income, and it's it's not yet what I wanted it to be (more than 1000$) but it's definitely a nice stream of money. I've only bought one of the "bigger" earning websites (a quirky site about 3D furniture) among my Adsense sites, but I'm looking to buy more of these soon since it seems to be less work, though slightly more risky.
Apart from this I've also managed to be successful with affiliate marketing. Though not through the usual means, but with a direct connection. It's pretty hard to get your foot in the very competitive affiliate website business. It's also hard to find someone you know and whom you can trust to do business with, but in the end the latter worked out pretty well. Looking out for more of these opportunities...