Sunday, December 28, 2008

Introducing the new Space Helmet Show blog

I haven't posted to this blog since June. Right now I'm transferring all my political opinion posts to a new blog called Dennis Jernberg's Opinions, which I'm reserving only for my politically incorrect opinions. I've dropped the name "The Outside View", which I wanted to pick back in 2001, back when blogging was new and I merely wanted to blog. I'm more myself now than I was then, and I'm a far more public person. And so I've renamed this blog after its URL: The Space Helmet Show, and I've given it a new purpose. It's now the blog I'll use for my most miscellaneous stuff.

I made the decision to start a blog of my own back in 2001. But I didn't actually set up my first two blogs (this and my project blog) till last March. Until my burnout last August, I kept more or less up on my project blog. However, I eventually all but abandoned my opinion blog (this one in its original incarnation), and even before then I was posting the miscellaneous items that I'll now focus on here.

Behind the handle "Space Helmet": I was the weird kid in school. I had already been diagnosed as autistic — one of the first ever to receive that diagnosis — and in retrospect I was a classic Asperger's syndrome case. (For some reason, I seem to have outgrown this; I'm far more normal today, and far more high-functioning, than I was then.) In high school, the jocks took to calling me "Space Helmet" because I was so weird. Recently, I decided to take it as a handle, just because it amused me. (It's not the only one, of course.) So when I tried to set up my opinion blog with the title "The Outside View" but couldn't put the name into my URL because all permutations of it had already been taken — it probably became so common so early that it long ago became one of the hoariest blog-name clichés — I resurrected the old nickname the high-school jocks had thrown at me and put it into this blog's URL. When I created my new opinion blog and moved the old opinion posts there, I decided I might as well take the URL I picked and use it as the name of this blog.

If I want to refer to my politically incorrect opinions, I'll now do it through links to my new opinion blog.

Now I need to go back to my blogs and change a whole lot of settings...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My Internet-Related Goals for June 2008

Last entry, I made the decision that just as I set my project-related goals for this month, I should set some blog- and website-related goals too. So these are:
  1. To build up the links and blogroll section of my project blog, Spanner's World, so that it's adequate for my purposes.
  2. To find out how to put subject indexes and tag clouds in my blogs.
  3. To learn how to promote my blogs on the Web and blog search engines and using other Internet promotion tools.
  4. To resume learning HTML so I can start designing my website.
These goals shouldn't be tough like some of my writing and drawing goals. It's mostly a matter of learning and finding out so I can do it.

I'm a public person now, even if I don't yet have much of a public. I have an Internet presence, and this month's goals are intended to enhance it. The Outside View is supposed to be my soapbox, though it isn't yet. And, even after almost a decade, I don't have my website designed or online yet. I'm getting back to doing all this, starting this month. In addition to my writing and drawing, I need to maintain and improve my public presence on the Internet. Ultimately, I intend to post the first issue of Spanner online on September 9 — which, not coincidentally, is main character Shira's 9th birthday (she is 14 when the story begins).

I've got my work cut out for me. Now all I have to do is do it.

Tending to My Blogs: June 2008

I've neglected my blogs for a while now: Spanner's World for two weeks, and The Outside View for a whole month and a half. I've started posting on Spanner's World again, so I figured I might as well post here too. But just posting is not enough. I realized that I need to give Spanner's World a lot more links. So I'll put more links and bigger blogrolls there. It'll take some time and effort, but I want my project blog to be as embedded in its proper context as Spanner itself.

As for The Outside View, [Note: now called Take Nothing On Faith] I need to find some subjects to write about besides blogging. I already have some entries that could kick up some controversy if anybody read them. Once I've built up the links and blogroll sections of Spanner's World a lot and The Outside View a little more than I already have, my next challenge will be to promote both my blogs, and the comics and novels associated with them. That will be the subject of my next "Learning to Blog" entry(/ies). I'll learn how to use such blog promotion tools as Technorati and others. I'll go back to the books on how to blog, and web tutorials on blogging, so I can find out. Also, I'm going to learn how to put subject indexes and tag clouds in my blogs' sidebar.

These are what I intend to do this month. But I'll also want to get back to learning HTML so that I can start designing my website. I'll be doing that this month too. I know: my next entry here will be my blog- and website-related goals for this month.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sorry for the delay...

As you can tell from the date of the last post — 10 days ago — I haven't posted here for quite a while. There are two reasons:
  1. I've been preoccupied with writing the first ever production script for my manga Spanner for Script Frenzy. I wrote a lot of pages and claimed my victory. You can read more about it on my project blog.
  2. I thus haven't had much time to seriously think about my politically incorrect opinions or even about simply blogging.
But I'll make sure to post here more often. After all, I'm the kind of opinionated person who wants people to know where I stand.

[EDIT 12/28/2008: This post referred to another post now on my new opinion blog. I've kept this entry posted there too, despite deleting the "Learning to Blog" and other nonpolitical entries from it and the political entries from here, because, well, it's just as true there as it is here.]

Monday, April 14, 2008

Learning to Blog 5: Blogrolls, Part 2

As it turned out, adding blogs to my blogroll happens to be no more difficult than adding links to my link lists (and no less tedious, I might add). So I searched for a few blogs and added them. I even found a few blogs to add when looking to add links. No problem, really.

The first few blogs I added were ones I'd had in my web browsers' bookmark lists, or that were associated with some sites I'd had bookmarked, sometimes for years. Not all of them, but most. Others I pretty much never heard of and just found out about on my search. I'll do more of both in the near future as I build up my blogroll. I'll then do the same for my project blog, and repeat the process on any other blogs I set up anywhere else.

My first lesson in blogrolling was simply how to add one to my blogs. This turned out to be less trouble than I thought, especially once Google added a blogroll option directly to Blogger (or, more accurately, "Blogger in draft"). This takes care of the second lesson. Later, I'll need to learn how to use a blogroll managing service such as

Of course, I still have a lot more to learn. I haven't reached the top of the learning curve yet...

Learning to Blog 5: Blogrolls, Part 1

It's been a while since I've even touched this blog (except to print personal copies of the entries). So I might as well revive this series I thought I'd abandon (and resume on a new blog). This time around, I'm going to build myself a blogroll. That means I'm going to have to take some time to look for blogs, including some of my old favorites, and put them in the blogroll I've already set up on this site.

If you read some blogs, they have long lists of other people's blogs. This is called, of course, a "blogroll". Sometimes a blogroll will have excerpts from the linked blogs' latest posts. Like the standard lists of links, a blogroll is another way of keeping yourself from being isolated. The trick, of course, is to get people to link to your blogs from theirs. That's one reason why I'm writing more than one entry on blogrolls alone.

On this particular blog of mine, I'm going to have more than just one blogroll; "Blogger in draft" permits it, just as you can have more than one link section. Since I still haven't learned enough to make even the tiniest impact or gain more than a few readers (including myself), I'll use this blog for learning until I get the necessary knowledge. Then I'll use it the way I intended it.

I'll take some time to build my blogrolls, and then I'll resume this series with part 2. I'm a bit busy with writing right now, however (here's my progress report for the middle of the month on my project blog), so I'll have to take some time off from writing after I build a comfortable cushion in my page count). Like I said, I'll have to take some time off from writing to search the Web for the blogs I want to link.

Continued in part 2...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Learning to Blog 4: Getting Serious

In the latest Blogger Buzz post, the Blogger people just informed us Blogger bloggers about the proposed upgrades to their service. They gave the link to the beta version, called "Blogger in draft". Lo and behold, I found what I'd been led to believe was missiong before:
  • A blogroll.
  • A search box.
  • A convenient feed subscription option.
I decided to take advantage of those and add them to both my blogs. It's a good thing Google thought to add those important missing features, among others. After all, a company's got to keep competitive or die. My learning curve is now less steep.

This will be the last of my posts on learning how to blog. The big blogroll goose chase that I thought I would have to undertake simply disappeared, and with it the need for any more of these "Learning to Blog" entries. I'm still new to this, but I'll get the hang of it one of these days. The only challenge remaining is getting people to read The Outside View, my other blog Spanner's World, and whatever other site I'll be putting up in the future. After this, I'm getting back to the real reason I set up The Outside View: my views on the political and philosophical controversies of the day. From now on, I'm getting serious. Or however serious I get...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Learning to Blog 3: Linking to Other Sites

My education in blogging continues with putting lists of links on my blog sites. One reason this is important is that I need to link all my sites together as I create them. Why should I isolate any of my websites from each other? Also, someone as opinionated as I am, or who wants to insert himself in the online world of their choice, should provide a list of suggested links, like a microportal in the sidebar.

I thought I would have to go through another big hassle to put my links in my blogs' sidebar, just like I did when I made my posts expandable. But, as it turns out, Blogger had already taken care of that. In the layout manager, just click "Add To Layout" on the sidebar and click "List of Links". Then name your link list and add your links, then save. Even better -- I was hoping I could do this -- you can add more than one link list, so that you can have multiple categories of links. That's all. No hassle, just a little investment in time. I don't know about other blogging platforms, but if they intend to be competitive in any way, they already have something similar.

Two more things I'll add to at least one of my blog sidebars is a slideshow and a list of things I like, books I'm reading, albums I'm listening to, things I recommend, and that kind of thing. But the next big challenge will be one of the obligatory blog elements: a blogroll.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Learning to Blog 2: Expandable Posts

[Note: Blogger now has its own native expandable post system. I talk about it in this post. The method I wrote about here is now obsolete.]

Many, if not most, blog readers don't like having to scroll down a long long post just to see the next entry. Some are even outraged. So I followed the directions in section 21 of Blogging in a Snap (here's author Julie C. Meloni's related blog) and learned how to make my posts expandable.

Now, this took quite a long time because I had to find exactly where I had to put the snippets of XML code in my blogs' templates. Blogger, unfortunately, doesn't let you post expandable entries by default. You have to find the code online (the link on the word "expandable" above gives the best directions), find exactly where to put them (the search feature in Firefox and Flock is invaluable here), and then type or paste in the code. It's almost as hard as getting certain things in Linux working right. But it'll save my readers a world of aggravation.

This is my lesson for today. But there's still so much more I have to learn...

[EDIT 12/28/2008: The link above to the web tutorial on creating expandable posts in Blogger points to a new site, since the URL has changed. I have changed the link accordingly.]

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Learning to Blog

I've been on the Internet for over 10 years now, since I first went online back in 1994 on my local library's text-based terminals running the Lynx browser and the Pine email client. I printed up lots of websites, sent some email to friends, and subscribed to a few mailing lists. When I started connecting to the library's free ISP (defunct since 2001), I got into the habit of surfing a fairly narrow range of websites.

In other words, for most of my online life I was a lurker. I was always on the outside looking in.

I wanted to blog and do other such stuff. I wanted to be on the cutting edge of net culture. However, I've been poor most of my life, and poverty instilled in me a sense of resignation and hopelessness that worsened my tendency to procrastinate.

Well, now I have two blogs, and I'm going to add at least one more. However, there's a learning curve. No one can learn everything in the time it took for, say, Neo to learn kung fu in The Matrix. Even though I'm smart, I still have to learn something a piece at a time.

So don't be surprised to find that this site is fairly minimal to start with. It's incomplete and still under construction. For one thing, I haven't yet added the all-important blogroll, at the top of which will be my other blogs, followed by my favorite and suggested blogs and sites.

I'll get the hang of this thing yet...

Friday, March 14, 2008


I should have started blogging years ago.

Sometime around 2000 or so, I found out about something called a "blog" which was the hot new thing on the Web. I'd been writing journals since 1985 and writing a series of "Project Notebooks" since 1992. Surely I should take to the blogosphere like the proverbial fish to water. But no. I was still strictly a lurker. Until this year, that is.

I realized that I'm past forty and not getting any younger. My life was already approximately half over, and I hadn't yet done anything in my life. I was still very much the professional slacker. This couldn't go on. I had been working on a comics series very halfheartedly since '92, the year I joined a Japanese animation club, but nothing came of it but a lot of procrastination and self-kicking.

In the spring of 2006, I discovered the perfect excuse to get off my passive butt and start writing some of the stories in my head. The book was called No Plot? No Problem!, and it introduced me to something called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The first time I tried writing a novel, I couldn't finish it. But I'm still working on last year's novel. NaNoWriMo has a sister contest called Script Frenzy; this year comics scripts are allowed, and that gave me e perfect excuse to start work on the comics project I've been working on since 1992. And so I'm getting ready to retire from the slacking business and become the writer/artist I've long wanted to be.

For the last couple years I've been writing notes in my Project Notebooks, and this quiet little voice (the voice of reason?) keeps telling me that I should have written it in a blog. It was only now, when my novel Bad Company and manga Spanner are on their way to being published, that I actually built up the nerve to create a blog of my own. A few, actually. I'm dedicating one strictly to my writing and art projects, and another will be more personal.

This blog, however, will be my soapbox, my venue for all the politically incorrect opinions that I've developed over the years. That's why I'm calling it (for now) "The Outside View" -- apparently a fairly common name for blogs, since I couldn't use any variation as my blog site name. I've always been an outsider, having grown up as a misfit (I was the weird kid in school). I'm usually on the outside looking in, so I'm likely to have a more objective view than someone who's inside whatever. I don't expect everybody to agree with me; nobody ever agrees with everybody. This is my view.

I should start off by stating my position. I'm mainly a left-wing libertarian, though I have some respect for certain socialist views. So I like freedom, and I don't like government. By the classic libertarian principle of "war is the health of the state", that means that of course I'm against the ever escalating series of wars that are bankrupting the US and dragging the world down with it. I've learned to think dialectically, so my conclusions may be strange even to some people who share my basic political outlook(s). I'm an odd combination of idealist and cynic, and one of those rare people who actually grow more radical as they get older. There's more to it, but that's the basics of it, whether people like it or not.

It's been a long time. But now I've stopped just lurking, and started putting my views out for the world to see. I'm now a blogger. I should have been one eight years ago.

When I put my other blogs up, I'll post the links here. [Update: My other blogs are now in the "Links to My Sites" on this blog's sidebar.]