Open Mikes Returning to Their Roots

In the beginning, the Open Mike free-for-all entries only appeared on Fridays. If anyone had something to share or ask that didn't fit in any other recent entry, they could drop it there.

There was a lot of activity in the Friday Open Mike, so it became bi-weekly, with another Open Mike appearing every Tuesday. It's been that way for years.

I'm going to return the Open Mike to its roots, returning it to its Friday-only glory. So if you have a rant in you, or a story to share, or a question for me or the hivemind, please use your reliable high speed internet and drop it in the most recent Friday Open Mike.

The Tuesday Open Mike is dead. Long live the Friday Open Mike!

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Open Mikes: Friday Only

Open Mikes: Friday OnlyOpen Mikes used to only be posted on Fridays. The idea was to create an open forum for people to discuss whatever they wanted. I envisioned a hivemind for queries, life hacks and respectful and intelligent discussion.

At some point, someone suggested a second Open Mike. That's when I introduced the Tuesday Open Mike.

Although there are still some interesting discussions in the Open Mikes, I can barely stand what they've become. If I'm bored and aggravated by them, I can't imagine what others think. A typical Open Mike devolves into "Ford is the best and Olivia Chow is horrible" and vice versa. Everything, it seems, is left or right and people just assume their positions.

I hate this left vs. right nonsense. I hate it passionately. Because I dislike Ford's politics and approach and bike I've been labelled a "lefty". These labels serve to do nothing more than divide and stigmatize. These labels are a big fat negative.

I'm thinking of returning to just hosting the Open Mike on Fridays. Unless you can convince me otherwise, I don't see the value of two Open Mikes a week.

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YouTube Cleansing

YouTube CleansingThe first time I embedded a YouTube video on this blog was February 4, 2006 when I shared Brokeback to the Future. Since then, I've embedded over 1000 YouTube videos, and over the years many of those have been yanked from YouTube for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes it's a claim from the copyright holder, other times it's because the uploader closed his/her account or marked it private, and sometimes the videos simply won't play in Canada. This has created a great deal of dead videos in the archives, so I had some cleaning to do.

I've always tried to go light on YouTube clips, which I once called "the blogger's crutch", but I still had a whack of crap to clean up. I wonder what older more YouTube-dependent blogs do? I'll bet they do nothing...

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I'm Banning Irvine

I'm Banning IrvI've asked Mark Irvine a.k.a. Irv to stop commenting on this blog. If he does comment, I'll delete it.

I didn't arrive at this conclusion lightly. Earlier today I received a second threat from him this week. Quite simply, I'm not going to accept that.

This blog, which turns 11 later this week, has always been a hobby of mine where I've honed communication, digital marketing and web authoring skills. It's also a great deal of fun for me. I've often said, when this stops being fun, I'll shut it down.

Being threatened by Irv is not fun. I've had it. He joins Dave Williams in a very exclusive club of those banned from commenting here.

If you think I'm being too harsh, I'd love for you to comment below. As always, I welcome alternative viewpoints and opinions.

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New Toronto Mike Logo Unveiled

paintingWe're now live with our new Toronto Mike logo. That's right, I'm using words like "we" and "our" to make this look like it's more than one guy. The clever ones will see through the facade, and the others will just be impressed.

Here's a bigger view of the new Toronto Mike logo.


What do you think?

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What The Hell Are You Doing to the Blog, Mike?

question markMy brothers think my blog sucks now. I don't know if I agree with them, but it has been over nine years of following the exact same format. That's 10786 entries I've thrown down, and the risk is a long, sad fade...


Rust never sleeps, so it's time to shake things up a bit. You've likely already noticed the first change. After 10786 entries authored by yours truly, I've shared logins with five others.

You've already seen entries from three of the five. Funny commenter Ryan G (who I've never met) posted an essay on the weirdness of it all, the infamous Bev wrote about her trip to Jamaica, and Humble Howard contributed a very interesting article about how he's dealing with being fired from his morning gig on Boom 97.3.

I mentioned five others have writing permissions on this blog right now. I'm going to wait for the last two to post something so it will be a surprise. Is it Argie? Is it OJ Boy? Is it Dan Duran?


Having new authors has created one little wrinkle with my Twitter account. New blog entries automatically update the RSS feed (as they should) and the RSS feed automatically generates a new Tweet from my @torontomike account. That likely spooked a few friends and family members when they saw this:


If you're wondering, I'm going to continue to do my thing, there'll just be a few additional authors over here. I've edited the HTML so it clearly tells you who the author of each entry is, so you'll know whose words you're reading.

And I may add more authors, so let me know if you'd like your own login. After all, I'm shaking things up over here. I have 10786 reasons to try something new.


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State of the Union Address

notepadSome of you have been dropping by for almost nine years. Some of you just found out this place existed. I figured it's time for a general state of the union address, a.k.a. an entry to test that everything is functioning properly.

At about 5:30 pm yesterday, a disk failure brought this site offline. It's been rebuilt, with minimal damage, but I won't know everything is cool until I publish an entry.

You may have noticed posting frequency is far less than it's been in the past. There are two reasons: I'm crazy busy lately and I'm aiming for quality over quantity.

There will be no entries for the sake of posting (except for this one). If I deem nothing blog-worthy, I'll skip a day. There will be no "what I had for breakfast" entries unless it was a really, really good breakfast. It's going to have to be one helluva breakfast. Damn, now I'm hungry...

I'm very interested in your feedback. What entries do you hate and which ones do you enjoy most? Be honest... I promise not to cry.

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Too Many Connections - It's Not You, It's Me

ConstructionJust a quick housekeeping note for a Monday morning. The server hosting this blog is experiencing a MySQL issue. When entries are posted, comments are posted or even searches are conducted, a write to the MySQL database is required.

Periodically, the maximum number of connections to the database are exceeded and when that happens there's a period of time when comments and such don't get through.

The staff is troubleshooting the issue, and we'll fix this. As George would say, it's not you, it's me.

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The History of This Site in Pictures

MouseI should have taken a screen cap of every design this site has had. I now do that, but from 1999 through 2007, all I have is what was archived by the Wayback Machine.

I just visited the Wayback Machine in an attempt to salvage screen caps of the evolution of this site. Here's what I came up with, for better or worse. Vote for your favourite in the comments.


The earliest instance of I could find in the Wayback Machine was early 2001, when this was a personal homepage as opposed to a blog. It would become a blog in 2002.

The Wayback Machine didn't properly copy the images, so this looks a little off. Note, the tributes to Bill Barilko and Pearl Jam in Toronto are already online. Those pages have survived to this day.

Hazzard County, however, was taken out back and shot about a year later. Yee haw!



The Wayback Machine really mucked this one up. None of the images came through, and the CSS seems AWOL. Still, you can see the structure as it once was.

The familiar Leafs table is already in play. The Canadiana page, however, has disappeared.

A link to the blog is now in the navigation menu, but it's not yet the home page. In 2003 I wisened up and made the blog index.html.



I really liked this design. You'll see in the main navigation menu that I've introduced the Homer Simpson Quote of the Week. I updated that page every weekend for years. I've also introduced the Links page, which you'll find in the main nav menu today. Every time I try to remove it so it's only accessible from the site map, somebody complains, so I put it back.

The dot missing above the "i" in that image was a red maple leaf that blinked. Animated gifs, people!!! You had to have an animated gif in 2003!

The little image that appears in every entry was something I did from the start, after seeing something similar on Slashdot. By this point, every piece of markup is done with CSS. Note, this is the blog, but there is no server-side software managing it. This was an HTML file I manually edited and uploaded via FTP. Hence, you can't comment and there are no permalinks.... yet.



It looks like I took a rest from Verdana and tried Georgia for a while. I also moved the nav from vertical to horizontal across the top... although I see the Wayback Machine isn't showing the proper markup. I assure you, the menu looked better than this.

Otherwise, this is pretty similar to how it looked in 2003. I have, however, introduced the MP3 page, where I listed every album in my collection. This wasn't a manual process as I found a script that would auto-generate the HTML based on the TXT file produced by Audiograbber after I ripped each CD.



What's with that creepy eye? What was I thinking?

This design looks like 2003 and 2004 mated. Before I implemented Movable Type, there was one HTML page for every month, so the page would get awfully long. I think this particular page went on for a million pixels.



Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Movable Type. The blog is now a true blog, with RSS, comments, permalinks, searchability, category archives, monthly archives and more. Again, I went with a "less is more" design, and I like it.

By the way, after I introduced Movable Type in early 2006, I had to manually put all the old entries into the database. That was one time consuming copy and paste job.



The Wayback Machine lost my header image here... maybe because it came from the CSS. I kind of like the sidebar here in the pre-Adsense era.

I eventually blew away that weather widget because when that service went down, the loading of this page would go on forever.

I'm also experimenting with social networking chicklets... I eventually shot them dead and went with the Feedflare from FeedBurner instead.


2008 Part 1

This was the last major redesign before the one this week. I really liked it.

The header image was inspired by Spacing. I actually asked them for permission before I used it.


2008 Part 2

This is how this site looked on St. Patrick's Day 2009. Heck, that was only a few days ago.

I was happy with this design, but I needed a third column for Tweets. Since I was mucking with the HTML, I decided to blow it up and start from scratch. Truth be known, I took the March break off to chill with the family, and while they were at playdates, my idle hands became the devil's playthings. This site didn't stand a chance.



Here's where I'm at as of the time of this entry. You guys gave some good feedback, which resulted in some tweaks I believe improved things. That Twitter sidebar needed a background colour so the eyes didn't blend it with the main content, and the header needed an image for a splash of colour and something less boring.

I'm now happy with this. This should stick until my next week off, sometime in July.


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'Splainin' to Do

mouseThis morning, I blew up this website. I run this site with Movable Type, so all the entries, pages, comments, categories, etc. reside in a MySQL database. That gives me a lot of flexibility when it comes to site redesigns. Once I write the new CSS and XHTML, I just have to paste them into the right templates and publish the site.

If you hate the changes, blame Twitter. My old design was from the pre-Twitter era when I needed one column for navigation and Adsense and another for content. Now, as I Tweet more and more, I needed a third column for my most recent Tweets. That's the spark that set this site ablaze.

While I was mucking around, I finally fixed my pagination issue. The pagination within categories now displays 10 at a time and actually adds up. I also killed the ad at the top of the category pages, because I thought it looked awful.

I also got rid of the popular header status message feature, because I don't have time to create a new image every day. Throw in a new favicon and a few other tweaks, and it's all new. Whether it's all good or not, that's yet to be seen.

Please share constructive criticism below. I'd love to see some change requests. Whattyathink?

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