Hello, Again, WordPress.com Goodbye WordPress.org

Yay Me!
I’ll repeat that, Yay Me!!!
Why the self-congrats you may ask?
Well, finally, FINALLY, I have made the complete switch of all my sites (and several freeloaders that I felt sorry for and set up sites on my server because I’m such a nice guy 😐 , really, I am) from my Slicehost slice over here to WordPress.com.
I hear you whining already, “But James. I thought you were like Mr. WordPress.org? I thought you and your friend Joseph Cizek were among some of the first dudes to manipulate a single WP install to power many individual sites, even before WPMU had been released? I thought you had been tinkering around with self-installs since the 1.2 release? WTF dude?”
LOL! Quiet down. A friend of mine recently asked me if I was “out” of WordPress now that I was shutting down my server. I told him about transferring everything to this behemoth know as WP.com and that I’d still be following the community. His response, “Oh, okay. You’re still into WordPress, just on the other side of the fence.”
His observation actually seemed acutely interesting to me. Short of a few of the heaviest duty stuff when it comes to WP dev work, there’s probably not a lot I couldn’t do (as long as it didn’t have to happen for a paying client. Shit, any client for that matter 😐 )
Now, however, I’ve taken the reckless abandon that I used to devote to WP.org edition, and have dived off the deep end with my new WP.com sites (ugh, and those few stragglers whom I felt too sorry for to just set up accounts for themselves and send them packing off into the night. I could always reconsider…)
One of my first discoveries was that somehow, some way (Joseph will tell you he is responsible, though he has no way of proving it) I actually set up a WP.com blog & user account back in August of 2006. Yikes! Even more astonishing was the fact that I remembered the password I had been using back then. Hint: it’s not the same as the ones I use today.
So, now I had “JamesDKirk” and a second, newer account, “AreYouBG”. It was the second one which I’d been planning on adding blogs for all the sites I would eventually transfer from my server. In fact, I didn’t remember the JDK account until I tried to add that blog to my AreYouBG account and it told me what I loser I was, someone else already owned that site/account.
So, now 2 accounts and 4 blogs. Great, more places to sign in, check up, maintain writing, etc. Surely there must be a way to merge multiple accounts, yes? Where is the codex?
See how I threw in that reference to the WordPress.org knowledge base? Yeah, I’m in the know πŸ˜‰ (I know what you’re thinking!)
Well, WordPress Support rocks and in case you don’t know, is NOT the place to ask questions about its cousin WordPress.org (but that last link is, in case you just have to leave and check it out. If so, go. Go now!)
Took a bit of searching, but not much. Once I wrapped my head around the concept of making my desired main user account (JamesDKirk) an administrator on the blogs of my second account, I easily had them all lined up under the “My Blogs” dropdown you see at the top of the browser window.
Well, now I was also able to make myself still in charge of those other freeloaders, but instead of me being responsible for paying the OUTRAGEOUS(ly low price) of $1 (yeah, look at that again, $12 for a year of domain name mapping) those cheapskate friends of mine would have to pony up and pay their own way (for a change!)
But, softy that I am, they’ll still be able to depend upon good old (quasi) expert, James to hold their hands and take care of things should (when) they get in trouble.
Just so you know, there are some differences in this field versus self-hosting. You can’t insert certain things into a page or post. No flash. no tags (i.e. all those damned Picasa slideshows were out πŸ™ ) But for just about most things, there’s a way you can use a built in WP.com solution to replace (mostly) the lost functionality.
Uploading media to the WP.com blogs is just as easy as it was with the self-hosted sites. And there are slideshow and gallery insert options. And they work. And they are free. Quit whining (this is what I told myself after realizing I had to download the individual pics from the Picasa account and upload them to the new site, but whatever. I got over it.)
Sure there are no plugins that can be activated on a whim to get extra functionality. But there is a lot functionality those Automatticians are constantly stuffing into WP.com under the hood (where do they find the room?) and if you can’t get it done with what’s here right now, do you really need to do it at all?
I think there were about 15 sites on my slice and while I just deleted some of them, those I want/need made the transfer with absolutely no challenges whatsoever. I would recommend that when you do an Export of your data that you DO NOT choose the “all dates” option, but instead manually choose the earliest to start and the latest for end date. For some reason that seemed to consistently get me all the data when I’d do the export.
The only thing I wish I hadn’t started doing a couple of years ago was placing certain post images into another domain I own (JDKRK.com) for parallel serving. I have all those images, but they are showing up 404 on my sites right now. If I decide I cannot live without them being back in their original posts, I’ll have to manually upload them to each post. We’ll see about that.
To sum up, you might be wondering why I’ve posted this under the “Minimalism” category. Well, I’ve successfully done away with several more things in my life as a result of finally finishing this transfer project. And they are:

  • No more server to maintain, update, upgrade, worry about, spend hours and hours learning how to do stuff (though to be fair, I spent the bulk of that time a few years ago when I wiped Apache and installed NginX & FastCGI. That was tough, but fun.
  • No more paying $38 a month for the server that was not bringing in anywhere near that amount of revenues. But I will wholeheartedly, and completely recommend the folks at Slicehost. I think I had about 20 minutes of downtime (very early on in my account’s and their existence) in nearly 4 years of service with them. Uhm, that’s good.
  • More waste cut this week because I was so giddy about getting rid of the server? Cut back on my cell minutes. Much as I despise the coverage Verizon Wireless “provides” me at my house’s location, I did an analysis of usage for the past 3 months and decided I just didn’t need the unlimited talk option. $30 dollars saved (so don’t rush to start talking to me on the phone. You know who you are!)
  • Finally, and you’ll probably think this one weird, but do I really care what you think? :p I discontinued the luxury of trash and recycling pick up. WTF? No, I’m not letting it build up in the back yard. They just installed a drive through recycle place a couple of miles from me.
    You know the type where they have the various dumpsters with “clear glass, colored glass, flattened cardboard (apparently unflattened is not recyclable), plastic, aluminum, and something else I always forget. Well, by separating ourselves, and making the trip over there every few months, we are stuck with only true garbage. Even that’s not as stinky and gross as you might imagine since I have been composting for a couple of years now.
    All that’s left is the true garbage (i.e., a lot of litter box refuse. Damned cats!) Of course, I’m able to fit most of the true garbage into the left over cat food bags, so I kind of get my revenge in a way. And when I go on a home & pet sitting gig for my Mom, I make sure to take any garbage to place in their cans. Why? Because we provide the extra service of making sure their cans are put out for pick up while the home/pet owner is away. Pretty smart, eh?
    Savings? Another $25 per month. Yeah, baby!

The coolest thing is after a while most of these things are not missed. But the money saved is very much realized and appreciated. Even more than the money is the time savings. And the worry and responsibility of not having to be yakked at every time the server hiccups and someone’s precious website isn’t showing to the 4 people a year that might come and look at it (wait, those are my sites. Never mind on that last one 😐 )
In true Zen Habits fashion I continue to forge forward getting rid of more and more, and somehow getting more and more in return (time, money, peace of mind!)
Wishing the same for you my friend.

The War Against Time Spent Watching Streaming Video

I came across this interesting viewpoint on the continuing evolution of options for folks to watch streaming video online. In “Is Online Video Streaming Fighting a Losing Battle?” author Jarel Remick discusses various issues concerning the future (and the present, for that matter) regarding how companies like Netflix, Hulu, Comcast Cable and others are controlling our viewing habits. And our wallets.
The underlying question the article asks is what are “we” the viewers (aka, entertainment consumers) to do about all this fighting for our dollars? Ultimately Jarel states that we could simply not create the demand for the streaming media, but quickly follows that up with a hearty, “…and that’s not going to happen…”
Initially, my response as I read this was that we certainly can and should stop our consumption. Or at least greatly reduce the demand we are creating. But then I thought more on the concept.
Here’s the challenge as I’ve been directly experiencing it. In my personal attempts to try and reduce, downsize and minimize my life, I find there is only so much active pursuit I feel like doing in a given period of time (usually my waking hours!) Yes I’ve increased my reading, and have done so in a minimalist way: I’m down this month to only one magazine subscription (sorry, Wired and Fast Company. I like you, but don’t feel comfortable continuing to buy into more when I can read your stories online.) And when the Food Network subscription is over, it won’t be renewed either.
I’m reading more books, for sure. (Not to be gross, but) my bathroom has several autobiographies that I am picking up and reading more now days. Plus, I’ve discovered that I can purchase books for the Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device and read them on my Droid X (without having to buy a Kindle; bonus!) The screen contrast is controllable and its size is at least 25 0r 30% bigger than the Blackberry Storm, and I had read several books there before updating my smart phone this month.
As far as the projects currently active in my life, they are getting progress made on them. But it can be difficult pumping out 3,600 words of copywriting and articles and then continue sitting at the desk to make progress on something of my own. When there is a direct correlation of dollars to be had for hours traded, it can be motivating to spend the time and collect the dough.
Sure, personal motivation, dedication and discipline is required to get oneself ahead. With the seductive allure of easy to get entertainment, it can be a challenge to break away regularly enough in order to make progress on those personal projects.
So, as I read what Jarel was saying, I realized he’s right. As individuals we “might” be able to break away from our addiction to streaming video entertainment (I’m fighting to make that happen as we speak. Wish me luck 😐 ), but as a society in general we’re just not going to do it. At the end of a hard work shift, regardless if that work is ditch digging or cubicle living, it just becomes easier to give up and give in to the never ending stream.
As these entertainment corporations battle it out for our eyeballs (and an ever growing portion of our wallet’s contents) we simply fork it over. I know I just got the Netflix price increase notification that Jarel references in his article and simply said to myself, “What can I do? I like/want/need/absolutely cannot live without their service, so I’ll pay the extra buck a month.”
Of course, the questions I really need to be asking is how to best take advantage of all the time I would have if I’d spend less of it mindlessly watching streaming video? And how can I find the energy, motivation, passion and desire to convert that time to productive gain? Tough questions, indeed.
I’ll bet you’re asking yourself the same or similar questions, yes? Would love to hear your insight as to the answers your brain is coming up with in the comments below.
Have a great week!

More Downsizing: Less Waste & Expense

As I get further down the road of understanding and accepting the concepts of what it truly means to minimalize, or downsize my life, I find myself coming up against questions that are a bit tough to figure out answers for. Whether or not I needed 25 pairs of socks was actually one of the easier answers. NO! Do I need to live in a 12’x13′ bedroom, plus a 10’x13′ office? Apparently, I am able to consolidate down into not only one room, but a room that I’ve further shrunk to a paltry 8’x13′.

Then there are the various living expenses. Since my roommate is away from the house up to 75% of the time, I usually don’t run the AC or the heat. Sure I keep the thermostat at a minimum level so I don’t fail to wake up some morning here in the Northern Arizona wastelands frozen to death. Not sure that I’d actually be waking up if that were the case! Plus we have cats in the house, and besides the fact they are freeloading dead beats who only provide the occasional leg rub when they expect to get fed, I don’t feel comfortable leaving them when I’m away in a veritable ice box of a house. So, the temp gets set about 58 degrees F or so. The cats feeders seem to diminish during these cold days, so I guess all is working along those lines.
Same goes with water usage. Having started to capture the cold water while I’m waiting for it to warm up saves gallons of water that we are able to use on plants, pets, etc. Actually, I’m quite surprised at how much water just runs down the drain while we wait for it to heat up. Similarly, I’ve discovered I’m able to use less hot and cold water in the shower if I do a couple of things. One, I make sure the door is closed completely so as not to permit the warmed air to leave the bathroom. If it’s warmer while I’m in there, I have less need to use the hot water to keep warm. Two, once I get water all over and have the shampoo going in the hair, I turn off the water completely.
Since the room is relatively warm from the hot water steam, I don’t feel terribly uncomfortable taking my time lathering up and cleaning my body. When it’s time to rinse, the water is turned back on and the soap all goes down the drain. I’m sure this won’t save the planet, but every bit definitely helps. If everyone in water starved areas like here in Northern Arizona took these steps, we’d definitely have plenty of water to go around.
In addition to consuming (and wasting) less water the bills have shrunk dramatically. To be honest, these water saving habits haven’t negatively impacted my lifestyle that much. Better for the earth, better for my pocket book.
Another round of cost cutting considerations deals with entertainment and Internet services. At nearly $140 a month, I’m wondering what I’m truly getting from Dish Network. That amount doesn’t even get me every movie channel, and no pay per views or movie rentals. Yes, I have HD, and admittedly it is very pleasant to watch. But in the spirit of all the great stuff I’m learning from Leo Babauta I have seriously been questioning the amount of time I spend watching all that high def “entertainment”.
More often than not, I’m finding myself not watching a lot of the shows, movies, etc that I used to not be able to live without. Still though, way too much of my time is getting wasted in front of the screen doing nothing enriching. So I ask you, is it worth spending that much money on something I know is not really that good for me? What are my alternatives?
Well, there’s my Netflix subscription. I think they just raised their prices a buck and I might spend like $19 or so for Blu-ray discs and streaming via the Internet. I’d have to check, but I probably watch 5 to 8 discs a month. Clearly from a rental perspective that’s a great deal.
But their streaming service is another story. Though I have to say, not Netflix’s fault. My ISP, NPG Cable out of St. Louis, I think charges me $65 a month (and I own my modem πŸ™ ) for a reported 10Mbps connection. Well, I do several Speedtest’s every week, and the only time I get in the mid 9Mbps range is from my computer to NPG’s server up in Sedona. Anywhere else on the planet is in the 2.5 to 3Mbps range.
If you’ve tried to watch online video of any quality, you know that 3Mbps is not nearly enough bandwidth. So, I end up paying way too much money for less than sub par performance. The challenge with living in a semi rural area, however, is there are few other competitors. Qwest Communications offers DSL, but only at 1.5Mbps. How pitiful is that?
Here’s the kicker to the ISP thing. I just purchased a Droid X for my Verizon Wireless service, and was able to drop my Broadband Connect service. I think that saves me like $20 a month or so. Yes, I was using BC to bluetooth tether my BB Storm to my netbook when I was away from home. And that allowed me to go away for several days to a couple of weeks at a time and maintain all I do online.
Now, however, with the Android OS, I am able to tether my device to the computer and use a program like Easy Tether to provide Internet services to my computer through my unlimited data plan for the phone.
The speeds?
Well suffice it to say, on one tethering test, I was able to watch a Netflix stream on my computer at an acceptable viewing quality. Much of the time, NPG Cable doesn’t even provide enough bandwidth for me to watch acceptable video. Unreal.
So, in addition to saving the $20 on the wireless data plan, I’m seriously considering ditching the BS $65 I spend on home Internet. Haven’t made the decision just yet, but am seriously considering it. Will let you know when I make that choice. It should be soon.
Okay, enough of this rambling on Thanksgiving Eve (is that an actual term?) Trusting you are all grateful for the amazing people and things you have in your life. Don’t worry about the less than satisfactory stuff. Keep pushing through and going for what you know to be good. All that noise will be left by the wayside.
Happy Thanksgiving to those who observe it!

Living In a Cocoon

In the above slide show, you see some general refining of the living space I’ve been slowing moving into. The concept here is to eventually get everything I need to live a fully independent life inside a very tiny space. Then, I should be able to start moving from the house into a space that will be more mobile.
So far, what I’ve found is that I actually enjoy being in this smaller, more confined space. Not saying I’d like to go to live in a prison cell or anything, but just existing inside the smaller confines is rather comforting. For me, anyway. When my Mother checks out the progress I’ve been making she just shakes her head and starts complaining about how claustrophobic she gets. I tell her she doesn’t have to live in the tiny house when I get it done πŸ˜‰
The other interesting aspect I’ve discovered over the past few weeks, is how important natural light is to the living space. I’d like to have more plants around the room, but the limited light doesn’t seem to make that advisable.
Also, as it’s getting cooler here in Northern Arizona, the ambient temperatures in the space are lovely. It is getting rather chilly at night, and I love to be able to sleep with the window open, so that’s totally groovy. But the heat which is generated by the electronics is definitely something to be considered in the warmer months.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to warm the interior of the space all winter long just by the heat output from the computer, HDTV and other devices. Of course, I won’t have the satellite receiver or the Internet modem, both of which contribute to the warmth. Also not sure if a ceiling fan is advisable when I start building, but we’ll see.
I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not building a tiny house is actually the wisest path to take. There are many options when it comes to choosing a smaller footprint to live a minimalist lifestyle in. Sure there is inherent talking points to building a house on a mobile trailer, but does that make the most sense?
In my next post, I’m going to look at listing out some of the various options I might consider and then start researching the pros & cons of each. For all I know, I might end up riding a bicycle around and pitching a tent wherever I intend to travel.
Who the heck knows! See you all soon.

Shrinking the Bedroom Down To 108 Square Feet

Just 10 shots or so of how the bedroom now looks after I’ve taped it off to right at 8 feet wide and about 13.5 feet long. Obviously the finished house will depend upon the size of the trailer I eventually get to build the small structure upon. For illustrative purposes, however, this should provide a nice visual on making progress with de-cluttering and minimizing my life.
I was struck by just how much space I actually had once I moved furniture into the taped off space. Mom was even less concerned about the fact I had so little in my room after the de-cluttering. She’s beginning to get it.
And that makes me think that if you stick to your guns, believe what your after and just keep doing it, those closest to you might eventually come around. We’ll see!
The other thing that struck me was how much space a bed uses. By most accounts, the small houses I’ve seen blueprints for or videos about all tend to have the sleeping quarters up in the loft area. Of course this makes sense because there’s no need for an attic/storage area since I’ll have nothing of excess to store. Right? πŸ˜‰
Some of the design ideas that have started to flow about what I’m calling Tiny Enterprise (how could I not?!) will have my sleeping area in that loft with a skylight that opens up wide to allow access to Nature’s breezy cooling system. I’ll also have plenty of solar cells up there somewhere as well.
Can’t wait to start working on the drawings of this thing. Have you designed or built a small house? If so, did you create the plans yourself, or simply rely upon some of those available online? Share your experience and any advice you might have as I begin this journey.
And Thanks!!

Minimal Treatment of My Bedroom

Embedded below you should (hopefully!) see the Picasa Web Album I processed and uploaded this morning. Though I didn’t think to take “before” photos this is where my journey towards a minimalist lifestyle officially starts.
What the heck does that mean? Well, in a nutshell, I’ve started reflecting long and hard about the excessive consumerism literally thrust upon us (especially here in the Western world). For quite some time now, I’ve wanted to get free of possessions; free from the need of “things”. Unfortunately, those yearnings tend to last right up until I get my next TigerDirect.com email offer (or snail mailed catalog). Or until I’m bombarded by any of the hundreds of advertising and marketing messages attempting to pry their way into my cortex every waking moment of every day.
Do you feel this as well? If so, there is something you can do about it. Let it all go. I’ve recently subscribed to Leo’s mnmlst site, and even his latest post about Letting Go of Fake Needs is a great example of just how brain washed we (unfortunately) might find ourselves.
So, behold my newly minimized bedroom. I’ve actually already made some more reductions and am feeling just fine (thank you very much, Mom!) And why am I doing all this? Now? Because I need freedom. For me that means being able to get up and go without the price tag of worry about “all my stuff” (normally I’d use another word starting with “S” πŸ˜‰ )
And I desperately desire to learn and grow and expand my opportunities with this site. In order to do this I have some major game plans in the works. If you’re new here and you’re interested in lightening the burden society forces you to shoulder every day of your life, stick around. There is more to come. Much, much more.
Here’s a very short video with narration up at my YouTube page. Enjoy!

My Minimalistic Moves From Consumerism To Living in 72 Sq Ft

My friend Joseph and I were chatting a couple of weeks ago about my plans for this site. For my life. This is a conversation we have. Often. Either of us can be the center of focus. Since he’s been working a full time gig for the man for quite a few months now, the spot light has tended to focus on me of late. Where I am. Where I’m going. What I want to be doing.
As often happens one or the other of us will email or tag stories in our RSS feed readers which we believe might be of interest. Within the history of our friendship, we have had some interesting adventures, learned a lot, and discovered deep and lasting friendship. One thing we both know about each other is our propensity for analysis paralysis. During that chat I mentioned I was going to think about shifting the focus of this site from being a pure food blog to something that might include local food production, travel, general sustainability and the like.
We chatted for a while and tossed some ideas around. If memory serves, I probably followed up with a message about what I was going to work on next in order to get ready to start thinking about what I was going to need to do. See where I’m going?
Analyzing the death out of my life. ARGH!
Well a day or two goes by and I get a notification of a story by Leo Babauta author of the Zen Habits blog. This first post was about having no goals, plans and subsequent need to analyze the hell out of everything. Well, I can only say that after reading (and subscribing to Leo’s feed) I was a convert. Not only to the option of relinquishing the need to know every possible outcome for every possible option, but just relaxing. And breathing.
The more I read on Zen Habits, the more fulfilled I found myself (at least as it related to letting go of the stress associated with making things happen.) Then, I got sucked into the vortex that is Minimalism. I even spent a whopping $9.95 on Leo’s book, “The Simple Guide To a Minimalist Life“.
He calls it minimalism. I call it freedom. In fact, I’ve been thinking about “getting free” for the past few years. For me, this meant reducing things I really only had in my life because I thought I wanted them in my life. It also meant getting control of my time and money. Sadly, the only reality I’ve ever been able to associate with these thought processes has been that I might figure out how to succeed and get free “some day”.
After reading The Simple Guide To a Minimalist Life, and spending this past weekend de-cluttering, I have to share just how amazing it feels. First, I was able to bag up about 80% of my clothes, shoes, and various other tidbits in my bedroom. I’m planning on donating those items to one or two of the local thrift shops that do great works for charity.
I have a ton of read books (mostly read, anyway!) that I’ll be posting up on Amazon Resellers in an attempt to recoup even a small amount of money. Additionally, I have a number of computer hardware, software, related cables, tools, etc. that I’ve just been hauling around for a while. They are going on eBay or getting donated as well.
And my 10,000 or so comic books that I stopped actively collecting several years ago (mostly due to finances, but a good amount of apathy as well) are going to start getting listed also. In fact, I’ll first try and sell some of my belongings on the new local site Classifieds.InVerdeValley.com. If I’m able to sell there first, then more profit. If the free classified site doesn’t bring any interested buyers, I’ll try posting on eBay. Worse case scenario, off to the thrift store.
As Synchronicity would have it, today I came across the small house movement. Looking into my bedroom now, realizing I’m only using about 25% of my dresser (its more for holding up my entertainment hardware) And I’ve contracted from 2 normal sized closets to less than a single one (with my hanging clothes spread out on the rack) I have a ton of space. Clean, sparse, uncluttered, beautiful space. Mom was concerned that the next time she visited the room I may have no bed!
Well, the small house movement is definitely quite attractive to me. Below is a video from PBS (thanks to viewers like you! πŸ˜‰ ) that documents some of the founders of the what they refer to as the tiny house movement. Tiny, small, minimal: however you’d like to refer to it, the idea is alluring. Check it out, it’s less than 9 minutes long. Then leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Can’t wait to get some feedback!

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.