As per the request of one of the DanceNet readers, here are copies of the past ramblings of the DanceNet Webmaster.
I've managed to outlast a few other websites. I suppose stubbornness has its value. At least one website went away because it never quite reached the critical mass it needed to survive and it relied too much on the vendors to enter the information. Another one *should* go away because it's being used to advertise the webmaster's business and he doesn't bother maintaining it at all, not to mention the original stale design. I remember another website with potential that seemed to start out because one of the webmasters felt that DanceNet did not serve his "community" (actually, I serve the entire community, not only his). I never understood why that last one disappeared but I can only imagine that the webmasters found out how much work it took every week. I haven't forgotten those websites that have copied information from this website, including one that copied my pages word for word. And yes, this whole (unpaid) business does interfere with a lot of other activities.
During the years, I made a lot of friends and met a lot of nice people. Some people might meet me at a workshop and ask if I'm "the guy with the website". Of course, how many people do you know who are named "Benson"? And it's gotten me the respect of some promoters who never treated me all that well, even as a paying customer.
Ultimately, though, for me, this has been a fun exercise in creativity which is unusual, I suppose, for a computer geek. I get to experiment with different colors, fonts, and layouts. I try to think about how my readers use my website and see if I can make it easier for them to get the information they need. I don't use all the fancy widgets available to me because I realize that an informational website like this is all about the freshness of the information and how easy it is to find the information.
For a related note, see Nov. 19, 2006.
I have a hard time envisioning the wine manager at one of the big-name grocery being an useful and non-biased expert on the wines on the shelf that were purchased and approved by the corporate "buyer". Do they have someone *dedicated* just to the wine department at those stores?
At my favorite liquor store, I know the store owner who doesn't know my name but remembers which *bottle* he recommended and sold to me for Thanksgiving. He's able to recommend wines that he knows that *I* will like. That's pretty impressive.
I went to a wine-tasting event this past weekend, again, at my favorite liquor store and I tried out about 10 wines or more and circled all the bottles in the handout that I liked. The owner was able to look at that list and figure out the general pattern of my tastes and know what to show me in the future. You're not going to get that at a large box venue where alchohol is just a small part of the business.
Oh, yes, the manager of that store told me that while it was never brought up during the campaigning, apparently a lot of people voted against Question 1 just because they didn't want the big name grocery stores knocking out the small business owners. I know I felt that way.
Oh, by the way...a note to the wise...
If you have one of those neat little computers that are small enough to fit on your bookcase and you need a video upgrade to make it work with that hot new game....make sure the store has a generous refund policy. Some of the new cards might be too big to fit in some of those small cases. Yes, there's a reason why I mentioned this so pay attention to it.
Just in time for New Year's resolutions: This is the year where you promise to back up all the data on your computers that you want to keep. I just rebuilt two Windows boxes the other week.
One of those was mine. I lost the registry and had to go through the process of reinstalling all the applications. Since I had to reinstall everything anyways, I decided to take the opportunity to rearrange my hard drives and reinstall Windows completely. I backed up all my data, yet I still forgot to back up the bookmark file from my browser. Luckily, I had a copy on a previous backup.
In another case, a friend's computer had all sorts of spyware problems. It was less painful to just wipe everything out and reinstall windows. Luckily, we were able to back up the data on that computer first. But that wasn't the real problem. The external hard drive completely failed and she lost all of the music she stored on it.
I know I've said it many times and I'm sure some of you still don't get it. Back up all of your data onto CD-R's...it puts your information on a medium that can't get erased.
I was in the Microcenter on Sunday looking for a new LCD monitor to replace a CRT on my game comoputer. I was looking at some 17" monitors because I didn't want a large monitor to overwhelm the desk area; however, the one I wanted didn't have a DVI (digital) input so I checked other monitors. I saw a 19" monitor that appeared to be a good deal. The screen was large, it had a DVI input, and the price was great. Somehow, I was not fated to going home with any of these inexpensive monitor because the store ran out of them....that afternoon (yeah, I was actually in there earlier when they *did* have them). Serves me right for shopping on New Year's Eve at 5 pm.
However, I was directed to another model, the NEC 90GX, a higher end version of a monitor that I almost got. It was almost twice the cost but the specs on it were so much better (4ms response instead of 8ms, 700:1 contrast ratio, etc). And since it was my goal to replace my old CRT, I bought this one.
What an amazing difference. This monitor was *bright*...even at 50% brightness, it was still brighter than the other LCD monitor I had on my main desktop. And everything is so much clearer. As a result, I'm going to buy another monitor next month to replace my old LCD panel because this is clearly easier on my eyes.
This whole event is just a repeat of the experience I had with my first LCD monitor. I picked it out because the screen was much brighter than all the other monitors on sale and I figured it was better for my eyes. It is true...you get what you pay for...and since I spend so much time at the computer, this is a great investment.
I can't believe one of my Kentucky friends chose to call me at 2:00 am on New Year's Day. Yes, that's the time he's normally awake and at home and I'm usually awake at that hour on a holiday, but still! Worse, he ended up delivering a message from God. Yup, "God", as in the Big Guy Upstairs. He claimed that God *told* him to pass on a message to me and yes, this guy was serious because I couldn't get him off the phone until 4:00 am.
The message wasn't really important here (I told him that God told me the same message but He was a little more subtle about it). The interesting part of the conversation was the point that God was always telling his people (specifically Christians, according to this guy), how to achieve complete fulfillment in their lives and somehow we both agreed that in 2004, "God" told a lot of people to vote for George Bush, and they did, and this guy was wonder why they were told to do so since many of those people now regret their decision.
The part that appalls me is that these people *continue* to listen to this voice that tells them what to do and these people continue to place their faith in a voice that only they can hear and they don't stop to ask themselves.."What if it isn't really God telling me to do these things?" No, I don't doubt that God is telling some of them how to lead good lives and all. After all, there are a lot of people who have no direction in their lives and they grasp at any hand that reaches out to pull them out of a pit. But I also realize that God isn't the only one out there "talking" to these people. What if some other "being" besides God was doing the speaking?
As I once described on these pages years ago (around the time of 9/11), I mentioned an article in the Boston Globe that described the place of the Devil in Western culture. In our culture, Satan is actually powerless: he can't cause evil, hate, destruction, death, or any of that bad stuff. Therefore, the devil must work through agents, people whom he deceives into committing his attrocities (this might explain George Bush and why we invaded Iraq). Hence, the name: "The Prince of Lies".
And there's irony in this. I met this guy (the one who called me) while playing an online game called "Diablo"....as in "Mephisto", "Baal", and "Diablo" (the "devil" in Spanish). In the game we have to fight Evil's minions and face off against the Prime Evils. And this guy is trying to tell me he's a messenger for God.