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September 17, 2006

The Fishers’ Bridge: A Story

there was a community of fishers who lived right on the edge of a gigantic river

A long time ago, there was a community of fishers who lived right on the edge of a gigantic river filled with fish.

Now, since they were on the shore, they all staked out their own spots, squabbling from time to time over who could fish where & when.

They caught some fish here & there.

Not too bad…as in, better than nothing.

But when the weather changed a bit or rain got scarce, the fish quit biting for them.

Then some REAL squabbling began.

they caught some fish here & there

But even as the fishers stood there glumly, glaring at their poles & each other, every now & then they would glimpse an enormous flash or hear a huge splash way out in the middle of the river.

They couldn’t ever get a clear look, but each of them would whisper, quietly to themselves…if I could only get out there, that would be mine!

Finally, each of them spent a whole lot of time & money, each trying to build their own rickety little bridges to get themselves out over the middle of that huge river.

And when they finally got out as far as they could, when they could not go any more because they were out of wood or nails…they would cling to their pitifully makeshift constructions, swaying crazily from the current, the winds & even their own terrified, awkward movements as they tried to simultaneously hang on & fish.

Then it slowly began to dawn on them that if they did hook that big big fish, there’s no way they could even land it. They’d simply be dragged down into the water.

So they all gradually came back to the shore & stewed some more.

Until finally, a couple of folks had an idea.

And they started making up plans.

Other people said they were crazy, but they kept at it.

Some other people tried to buy the plans from them, and when they were rebuffed, tried to steal the plans.

But still the original folks kept planning & working, working & planning.

Finally, some other folks got it. They offered to help, add their own ideas & even take on some of the preparation work.

And lo & behold, the fishers…working together…built a big beautiful shining bridge.

something more massive & amazing than any of them had ever imagined would even be possible.

Something more massive & amazing than any of them had ever imagined would even be possible.

They streamed onto their handiwork, each of them picking his or her own particular sweet spot.

Some of them wanted to keep chatting a bit with new friends they’d made during the construction. Others wanted to get right down to it. Whichever way they decided to go about it, they were all able to confidently & surely start casting out their lines.

And they waited.

One would get a bit of a nibble & they’d all tense when the person gave a stifled exclamation.

But then nothing came of it & they’d hunker down again.

And they waited.

Until a long, loud shout rang in the air.

Everyone turned to look & saw one of their number, a young fresh-faced girl who decided to become a fisher herself after getting involved in the bridge construction, standing with her pole bent double in her hands, hanging on as best she could.

standing with her pole bent double in her hands, hanging on as best she could

Some people immediately rushed over to see how she was doing.

A few of her closer friends cheered her on.

Some more experienced fishers stepped close & gave her advice, watching the progress in the water with eyes that only come from many many years of both good & bad seasons.

More & more people gathered around, watching the proceedings, some having just dropped their tackle in place, others still carrying their fishing poles.

Gradually, the fisher worked her catch in close & people jumped into action all around her.

A couple of people grabbed nets, ready to help her land her fish.

Everyone gathered leaned in, waiting to see what happened…

and then suddenly there it was...

And then suddenly there it was, twinkling & gleaming in the sun, an absolutely breathtaking catch.

It was the kind of fish that none of them would ever have seen in their entire lives if they had stayed fishing on the shore.

People snapped pictures of the beaming fisher.

She insisted that the folks who helped her step in & share in the moment.

And then another long loud shout rang out…

And another…

And another…

Until the bridge literally teemed with fishers & fish, everyone helping & sharing & succeeding.

every one of the fishers caught their fill

Best of all, every one of the fishers caught their fill, went home happy that night & couldn’t wait to go back the next day. And the day after. And the day after that.

every one of the fishers...went home happy that night & couldn't wait to go back the next day

~ The End ~

 

In case you missed it…

The River…is the business community all around each of us.

The Bridge…is an amalgamation of things like user groups, conferences, and other events like TechMixer & ecosystem support groups like TechBirmingham.

The Fish…are all those business out there just looking to bite on the services we can offer to them.

The Fishers…are all of us doing some form of IT work or service.

In the end, it all boils down to one simple question:

Where do you put the apostrophe?

Are you helping create a fisher’s bridge, which may be barely big enough or strong enough to support even your own weight?

Or are you helping to create a fishers’ bridge? Something which can support a bevy of other professionals, all of whom you could call on to help you offer more services & solutions to your own practice, which helps you grow.

|| posted by chris under community, epiphany || comments (7) || ||

September 17, 2006

oh yeah…this is how i wanna roll!

so yours truly managed to catch a ride to sea-tac from redmond with allen, scott & dr. codec last monday.

when they stopped to gas up their rental, we happened to see this little beauty across the street.

oh....yeah!

and of course…

tim & i had to go check it out.

that is, until i opened the driver’s door…

which set off an alarm.

even so…think how awesome that cxt would be to take around as part of an smb technology tour.

i pinged tim later & suggested he & i get one & go on a road trip.

of course, i’d write up our mis-adventures & call the novel…

fear & loathing in las colinas

|| posted by chris under more cowbell, thumbs up || comments (1) || ||

September 16, 2006

get sbs show on your windows mobile device!

no no, i’m not talking about an optimized stream for windows mobile devices, unfortunately.

but maybe it’s the next best thing!

here, for the first time anywhere, for your downloafing pleasure

the official sbs show windows mobile theme

just ignore the dude on the left

and here’s a little proof that it’s funcave quality…

everything match? natch!

created as a gift for v & queenie, to thank them for all they’ve done for yours truly.

enjoy!

|| posted by chris under freebie, mobility, theme || comments (1) || ||

September 15, 2006

yes, you can be a real writer without having ever been published

clack clack clackety clack DING!

i normally don’t do this…

but here’s some very personal information about yours truly that i want to share:

  • i hold a bachelor of arts in english degree, with a creative writing emphasis.
  • i was the editor of my undergraduate institution’s literary magazine my senior year, which won awards & was sold in area bookstores for the first time in its history.
  • i also wrote an essay for a contest sponsored by time magazine called “the power of the written word” in 1995, the intent of which was to highlight the singular importance of literacy. i was selected as one of 10 runner-ups & received a smith-corona electronic typewriter, which i gave to my little sister. unlike the standard essay form used by the winning entry, i intentionally & deliberately chose to structure my entry by using single sentences as paragraphs, carefully selecting language that would create vivid images in the reader’s mind. my intent to was try to flip the old saying a picture is worth a thousand words to something akin to words are worth a thousand pictures. i was trying to describe that literacy gives people access to understanding words…which in turn open many different doors that were previously. but most importantly of all, words spark human imagination, which I believe is the master key to unlocking any door that you ever find blocking your way. my sister, btw, used that typewriter all throughout her college career to graduate & become a phenomenal special-needs teacher. i believe she still has it to this day. will call her tonight & check.
  • i was accepted by every creative writing program i applied to, which were george mason, eastern michigan, colorado, north carolina & alabama. my only regret is that i never applied to the top dog, the iowa writer’s workshop. i was offered teaching assistantships at 2 of those schools.
  • i earned a master of fine arts in creative writing degree. i wrote a book of short stories which i submitted as my thesis, and which is part of the permanent collection of the university from which i graduated.
  • the climactic story in my thesis is a single sentence that runs 20 pages, which was done with full purpose & intent & for what i considered a valid artistic purpose. i thought i had been the first to try that, which i was proud of. then i found that william faulkner had done a similar thing in one of his novels. not bad company tho, when you get right down to it.

as far as why grade-school teachers enforce grammar rules so strictly?

because before you can intelligently bend the rules artistically…

you first have to know those rules backwards & forwards.

until you do, little mister, you have to toe the line!

|| posted by chris under epiphany, nostalgia || comments (1) || ||

September 15, 2006

did someone steal from the funcave, part 1? & tons of stuff about being a writer

basically this is a post about what constitutes plagiarism, especially in this modern age of the web & open information sharing.

and yes folks…plagiarism is theft. there is no doubt about that.

evvyboddy be coo...this is a robbry!

obviously, anything posted on a publicly accessible website becomes instantly part of the amazingly gigantic & wonderful world wide web. which means it is wide open for the taking.

lately, yours truly has been thinking a whole lot about ecosystems.

i’m not going to go into that right now, as that’s a whole other post. or even a series of posts.

but what i do want to talk about is something that i noticed thanks to the automatic trackback feature of the funcave.

for those who aren’t aware, the automatic trackback feature of wordpress automatically creates comments that link back to sites which have included links to something here at the funcave.

for example…

whenever the diva or lady firewall or whomever puts a link on their site to something here, the funcave sees that people came from there, and sets in place a reciprocal link.

for some sites, like the diva’s, she’s got all kinds of traffic already.

but for lady firewall’s site, it could lead to more folks finding her fantastic place…which is fantastic mainly because she is super-fantastic!

i could turn automatic trackback off…a lot of people do.

but i like it roughly the same way i like to capture site traffic stats, even tho some very good friends vehemently oppose the idea of using stats for their own blogs.

which i still have a hard time understanding. personally i think not having stats is a heartbreaking forfeiture of data that costs nothing to capture, yet could be very very valuable to them at some point down the line.

i also won’t go very deeply into that right now, since i have yet another post in progress about that subject.

suffice to say, the reason i like features & functions like stats & trackback has to do with their ability to tell me something about my audience, which…

given the relative dearth of comments folks leave here on the walls of the funcave…

is literally the only way i can even get a hint of what kinds of things are helpful, or resonate, or just simply matter to folks & keep their interest.

so a trackback link appeared which had as its source a site i had never seen. in our community, we tend to react to new sites like an observational away team on star trek: the next generation. we like to know things like:

  • how’d they find us
  • what they do or specialize in
  • do they know anyone personally in the community
  • how much do they know about sbs & smb

you get the idea.

so i was pretty stoked to find someone new & maybe be a reason they were checking out our ecosystem.

what i found was something that took me aback just a bit. basically the post was a summarization of one of the specific posts from what has been, hands-down, the most popular series here at the funcave, the series on device emulator with windows mobile 5 & msfp.

normally that wouldn’t bother me at all. but the post basically started by insulting by the style of writing i’ve chosen to use here at the funcave, saying:

If you can tolerate horrible grammar, and want to read what appears to be more of an instant messaging log, check out the happyfunboy’s super awesome guide to windows mobile 5 device emulation articles

i posted a comment to the blog, which has comments on pretty tight administrator lockdown. i can’t blame him for that, but asked him to send me an e-mail so we could chat, because the way he worded his post caused me to think less than happy & fun thoughts about his blog, & by extension, him.

i didn’t receive an e-mail. the post was edited, but since his blog is set to show modifications by using strikeout, you can still see the original comments. i understand what a helpful feature that can be, but in terms of how close to an apology—even though i didn’t ask for one, nor do i really expect one—that kind of setting makes it seem?

it looks more those non-apologies that start with well, i’m sorry YOU misunderstood me…

i am what most people would consider a real writer, i just haven’t ever been published. but i was fully trained as a writer, taught to think like a writer & given the insight that nothing written should ever be put down on a page by accident, because in the end, it simply won’t work. serious human thought process & planning & reviewing & editing should be what happens over & over & over. great writers never stop revising their works. they should always be looking for a better way to render things, crafting new & better analogies that are unique & fresh & beautiful.

actually, that’s what make someone an artist in my opinion.

granted, would the style i intentionally use here at the funcave probably cause a draconian high-school english teacher with no sense of imagination to start drinking heavily? prolly so. heaven knows i had plenty of those in my lifetime.

but i chose it for a couple of reasons:

  • it makes a unique look
  • it lets me type very fast without worrying about capitalization & certain other forms, which tends to allow me to get closer to my real thought process
  • if read aloud, it truly conveys how i actually talk in real life

and it’s not like i haven’t heard that kind of stuff before. in fact, when you name your blog the funcave, believe when i say that i get a scad of traffic that is obviously very dissapointed when they see the true content of this site.

i hear similar things about my writing style from several very good friends, which usually boils down to the suggestion i should change the title of this blog to:

welcome to the fun-ku: chris rue’s secret poetry & im blog

the difference is, i know these folks, and we laugh about it. they crack on me for my amazingly gluttonous use of the …

which…

by the way…

i refuse to give up!

but that isn’t what twisted me up about mattdbrown’s post. i can shrug off an insult like a duck shaking water off its back, especially when i know the remark doesn’t reflect the reality of who i really am.

heck, i got to be an expert at doing that for nearly every one of the 20 some odd sbs show episodes i appread in, after all.

but as a writing teacher, the most common problem we had was training the students to understand what plagiarism really is. most people think that plagiarism is when you copy, word for word, something from somewhere else.

we as instructors just called that dumbass laziness, because it’s so easy to catch.

but plagiarism can take many forms…including many many subtle forms. forms that can be very hard to find & almost impossible to prove without hard evidence of intent.

plagiarism doesn’t just cover the specific words, altho that can be the easiest way to prove it since unique linguistic style, also known as voice, is something that every writer strives to craft & establish for himself or herself. it’s what makes every writer unique & almost can serve as a ‘fingerprint’ of sorts to identify the difference between works.

think about this:

  • take a dark & gloomy passage from a stephen king novel which doesn’t immediately give away the title of the book.
  • take a dark & gloomy passage from a j.k. rowling novel which doesn’t give immediately give away the title of the book.
  • you can even change certain names in the passages so ensure it really is a blind test.
  • now, have someone who’s read both authors before see if they can pick out which is which.

i daresay 99% of people would pass, not because they remember everything about each of those books, but because each of those writers has a very distinct voice. in fact, in some literary circles the belief is that commercial success hinges muchmore on crafting a very very compelling voice, to the detriment of other aspects. of course, that could just be academics mad that they are making kabillions of dollalas every time they scribble something on a piece of paper like the celebrity authors.

but beyond voice, there is also plagiarism of the core ideas…

and that’s what i’m talking about here.

it seemd to me like someone sidling up to me, then slapping me on the back of the neck with a brick…

then grabbing the sign that says device emulator rocks! which i had made all by myself & starting to stomp around shouting ‘use device emulator!’ like they were there first.

now, there’s no money at stake here. trust me when i say, there’s no welcome to the funcavebook deal in the works.

but it’s like this…

the ecosystem of the community works best when people feed off each other in healthy ways. one fanatastic gift of being close friends with & being directly attached to some highly visible & highly successful community initiatives involving very well-known people is that i get more chances to meet & connect with more people.

i have smb nation 2005, last year’s conference, to thank for that. and i will, in yet another post being formulated.

but the best way to connect with people is to join what vlad has previously dubbed the mutual admiration & respect society. it works by one person offering encouragement & support & praise for someone’s efforts when you feel they deserve it. that usually results in gratitude for both those comments & for the investment of time & attention to even use the efforts. that usually opens up a dialog, in which then it is not only ok to offer constructive suggestions & even criticisms. i’d even go so far as to say that such an exchange makes the beginning of whole different level of relationship. one that can be deep & honest & very valuable for both parties.

that’s why i look for things like that. i try to get a name, so that then when i happen to meet a face to go with it, it’s like i already know that person through their words. and i’m usually excited to finally make that connection in real life.

but when the initial contact takes the fom of insults, no matter what the reason, it shortcircuits that wonderful connecting process.

so now, if i met mattdbrown at a conference…

trust me, much stranger things have happened in my life…

rather being able to say:

hey! it’s good to meet you! thanks for reading the funcave. folks telling me it has value makes the efforts of sustaining it worth any cost, monetary or mental.

it will prolly be something along the lines of:

mmmm-hmmmm. let me catch up with these folks over here.

and that’s what’s bugging me about this one.

it’s not the idea that someone failed to credit me for something i did which currently has no monetary value…

but it’s the idea of a lost opportunity to meet yet another person who i might have helped in some way, shape or form.

also, i could suggest ways to fix the severe grammatical error in the title of his blog, which is just bugging me to no end…

|| posted by chris under community, epiphany, nostalgia, thumbs down || comments (2) || ||

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