This has been a weird season for The Walking Dead. Come to think of it, so was season 2. The show has always been full of annoying characters. Especially the women. Terrible. And they keep finding more of them. But the awe of an epic zombie apocalypse helped to offset all of that.
During season two, I joked about it being a zombie show without any zombies. Then during a panel about writing for video games at SXSW, one of the panelists was describing the zombies in the Walking Dead video game as being like the weather. More of something that happened than any kind of focal point or target or objective. Which was an interesting way to look at it.
Though on the show I’m not sure they are even that important anymore. In season three, no one is scared of them unless tied to a chair. They’ve gotten used to it. Desensitized. Corpses are just wandering around here and there, mostly in the background with the rest of the vegetation. And if one gets in the yard coud you please just punch a hole in its head? And make sure to pull that weed in the road while you’re out there.
Really, the walkers on the Walking Dead have just become a nuisance. Like having rodents in the yard or coyotes in the holler. And what I’ve realized from this experiment in making a TV series about the zombie apacalypse is that on a long enough timeline, a show about zombies will eventually just be a show about people. And if your characters are annoying, it’s going to get difficult for everyone. Scary even.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit manic when it comes to digital tools like task managers and blogging platforms. Even when I find something that works, I have trouble staying committed.
Last year when I moved to WordPress, I felt like I was finally settling down. I had previously tried out the beta of Squarespace 6, I had already spent some time on Squarespace 5, before that I had tried self-hosting WordPress a few times using services such as https://www.hostiserver.com/ and others, as well as WordPress.com, Posterous, Typepad, and I’ve been using Tumblr on the side for a few years.
So I think that I have a unique perspective on this topic, and after typing out that list of services that I’ve used, one could argue that I need extensive therepy.
So why did I move back to Squarespace again? The long and short of it is that while WordPress is the absolute master of blogging flexibility, I found that with great flexibility comes great responsibility.
Squarespace is faster than self-hosting—Here’s the deal: hosting is only as cheap as it is slow. I’ve hosted WordPress on Bluehost and on Dreamhost and I didn’t find either of them to be reliable enough at the base price. And while the front end was noticeably slow, the backend was *painfully* slow. It was like the world was moving in bullet time while the dashboard watched in disbelief at the blur of the mouse and keyboard. Squarespace is much faster.
Hosting is a hassle—Do you like working with Mysql databases? Do you like navigating terrible UX at hosting companies? FTP? Do you like having your website crash because you suddenly get a surge in traffic? What about companies that aren’t but so concerned with the end user if their services go down? If you do like those things, you should self-host. If you don’t like those things, you’ll like working with Squarespace. Other web hosting options are SiteGround and Bluehost. If either of these appeal to you, check out this SiteGround vs Bluehost web hosting security review.
Squarespace does caching for you—This is where my relationship with self-hosting really began breaking down. If you self-host WordPress, you are going to be responsbile for making sure that your website is caching correctly to avoid being even slower and potentially taking down the entire Internet. There are plugins that do this. They are super complicated. Squarespace does all of that for you, and if you’re anything like me, you have no business doing that kind of thing for yourself.
Squarespace SEO is better than mine—When I noticed that my old Squarespace blog was still out-ranking my WordPress install in Google after being dormant for over a year, I started installing and configuring more plugins that I didn’t really understand. That lead me to believe that I probably wasn’t the best man for the job, and would be in better hands in any hands but my own.
WordPress Plugins create flexibility, but also can cause trouble—There are billions of plugins for WordPress, which is where it’s flexibility comes from. But are you using the right plugins? Are the plugins that you use breaking things? I’m pretty sure that I had a plugin break my code in a way that wasn’t fixed by the traditional solution of turning them all off to figure out which one is the problem.It was giving me some kind of parsing error that made me think that the dwarves dug too deep and awakened a terrible evil that went a lot further than just Google+ sharing problems.
WordPress invites noodling—If there’s one thing that I’m good at, it’s burning hours by noodling with software. There’s so much flexilibity that I found myself constantly figuring out new ways to tweak things and break things. Sometimes it was necessary. Sometimes it wasn’t. Squarespace is fairly restrictive with what you can do, which hopefully will translate to less noodling around and more writing.
WordPress is vulnerable to hacking—When looking for help with the parsing error mentioned above, I started to come across article after article about how easy it is for WordPress to be hacked and exploited. Not that anyone would find much benefit from hacking my website, but it left me feeling a little exposed and if I did get hacked I’d be completely helpless. Like a baby in the woods. Often larger websites will utilize pentesting in order to hone in on any weaknesses present in the site’s security; services like those offered by Cobalt are often in high demand, which can be found here – https://cobalt.io/pentest.
Squarespace offers the comfort of a paid service—I never would’ve considered using a paid service to be a positive. Then Yahoo bought Flickr and ruined it, Twitter bought Posterous and closed it, Tumblr heads towards an ad supported business model, and Google pulled the plug on Reader, I’m running out of trust for free services. Especially when it comes to my home base on the Internet. Eventually the adults move in and the bright eyed idealism that made the free service great is beaten out of it. I’m pretty sure that Squarespace has been profitable every year since they launched, and they’ve done that through subscription revenue. That means that I’m the customer, not Google or advertisers or shareholders.
Squarespace is more fun to use—After working with the clunky, bloated WordPress backend for a year, it’s nice to work in something that is a bit more fluid more pleasing to use, and ultimately just beautiful to look at. It’s also a true CMS, you can build almost any kind of website out of it in addition to having a blog.
Squarespace just looks great—The templates offered are so well designed that they make most WordPress themes feel a bit amateurish. It certainly blows the doors off of Typepad when it comes to design…no contest. Though sometimes the high design nature of their templates can feel overly serious. I’ve found that putting a ridiculous picture of yourself in the header takes care of that.
Is Squarespace 6 perfect? Dear God, no it is not. It can be a bit of an adventure as the software still seems like a work in progress. Sometimes when trying to compose a post I’m not sure if I’m using a blogging platform or participating in some sort of glitch art experiment. Also, compared to WordPress, it can feel rigid like a frozen corpse (though as I search around it seems like the right code can make it more flexible).
I am super bummed out that I can’t use Blogsy or Marsedit with it as they haven’t released an API, which was honestly within an inch of being a deal breaker for me. I still get a little anxious about it because I love working in Blogsy, and Squarespace’s iOS apps are consistantly raked through the coals in reviews. I haven’t used them much yet, but the company says that they are being completely rewritten.
But their design aesthetic, lightning fast support and customer driven revenue model lead me to believe that it’s only going to keep getting better and better (if they want to stay in business).
Also, there’s just something enjoyable about it. I can’t quite place my finger on it. My brain says no, but my gut says yes. I can’t explain it.
So for now, I’ll be sticking it out with Squarespace 6. Who knows where I’ll be at this time next year, but I’m really hopeful that this will work out for the long haul.
I’ve tried to be a little less rapid fire on the social media this year than when at previous events…opting instead to post about what I’ve learned here. Also, as part of the deal for Martin sending me here, I need to prove that I learned something and wasn’t hula hooping shirtless on 6th street with a gut full of booze for 5 days straight.
So now that I’m #sxmyself for the first time in three days, I thought I’d get started with the the first panel I attended on Saturday:
The Next Frontier of Interactive: Smart Fashion
Jennifer Darmour has an awesome job. She spends her time trying to bridge fashion and wearable technology at a company called Artefact and with her own thing called electricfoxy. Which is probably a pretty good place to be playing right now, as Forbes recently dubbed 2013 is the year of the wearable.
But Jennifer believes we’re still in the brick phone stage of wearables. Right now it’s a lot of single function gadgets that we are bolting on to ourselves. And it looks a little bit cyborgish.
She maintains that we’re entering a new age of technology. One where we move from interacting with our devices to devices that interact with us.
With wearable technology, the body becomes the interface. Not by using old metaphors, like keyboards on pants. But by creating new ways of interacting.
There’s three must haves for wearables to move forward:
Beauty and personalization-clothing and jewelry are incepredinly personal things, so they need to be expressive rather than look like technology. So it needs to be things that people want to wear for the aesthetics as well as the utility.
Meaning from data-As we move through the day, we put off incredible amounts of data exhaust. The trick is how to make it meaningful without people having to try.
Periphery– devices have to learn to communicate in the periphery of experience so we’re able to be present in our world and relationships.
She’s currently working on a Pilates shirt embedded with sensors that know when the fabric is stretching and can therefor sense when the wearer is using bad form.
It satisfies all three must haves
It’s fashionable. It looks like something that could be bought at Lulu Lemon.
It’s meaningful. It uses data to tell if you have bad form, and simply communicates through a haptic response in the shoulder.
Which means its operating in the periphery. The wearer doesn’t have to stop her routine to look at her phone or some other screen to see how she’s doing. If the shirt isn’t rumbling, she’s using good form.
It’s all really interesting to me as I’ve been thinking for a few days about why Google Glass makes me nervous. I sort of want it to fail. But that’s a totally different post for a different day.
SXSW 2013 Session Recaps:
1. The Next Frontier of Interactive: Smart Fashion
2. A Home on the Web: The State of Blogging in 2013 3. What’s So Funny About Innovation 4. Shut Up and Take My Money: Lego Does Crowd Sourcing 5. The Future of Porn (Cindy Gallup) 6. Mashable Variety Show 7. The Future of Work 8. Miku: The Open-Source Girl Who Conquered the World 9. Angry Nerds: Being Human in the Digital Age 10. Matthew Inman Keynote (The Oatmeal) 11. The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust (Rohit Bhargava) 12. Live WTF with Marc Maron
Flying to Dallas last week, I had one of those flights where you pay for all of those lucky breaks enjoyed throughout the travel year, like vacant middle seats, random upgrades, and arriving early. The flight was delayed 45-minutes after we boarded because they had to take all of the cargo off and then out it back on. Also: I was (un)lucky enough to be completely surrounded by 50 or 60 girls from a middle school travel soccer team. It’s the sort of thing that would happen in a headache medicine commercial. Except it was five and a half hours long.
It would be difficult to pretend that it didn’t transport me back into the horrors of being 13. The cool girls all had a row to themselves. Then there was the one who was just on the edge of being in the cool group sitting one the row behind. She kept trying to talk to the cool girl in seat C one row up, who answered only with monosyllabic dismissal. I’m sure that uncool girl was trying to work out in her head why they always seemed nice to her when hanging out alone, but were completely awful when the whole clan got together. I’m sure she’ll be the one driving the others to parties in a few years.
I was struck by the sheer amount of painfully bad decisions and long years that lay ahead of them.
But I was also struck by the fact that I was in a middle seat with a 70-pound little girl sitting in the window seat and another in the aisle seat. They didn’t even take up the whole seat pad. It was like flying with really loud Smurfs. At least half of the group could’ve shared one seat. Meanwhile, my adult sized frequent-flyer self was stretched from armrest to armrest. Hardly seemed fair.
So at the risk of being called a fascist, I’d like to propose a new seating regulation: we need to start seating the smallest people in middle seats. Everyone would be more comfortable. Small people don’t touch the sides of their seats anyways. It’s just good, common, fascist, sense. It’s only a matter if time before they start stacking us like chords of wood, anyways, so we might as well enjoy the time we have left.