I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

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With sufficient leisure I can compose excellent impromptus.

— Jean Jacques Rousseau


<March 2023>



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Blog Statistics

First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 2/21/2023

Posts - 2642
Comments - 2655
Hits - 2,551,976

Entries/day - 0.37
Comments/entry - 1.00
Hits/day - 354

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 10:45 PM Pacific

  06:27 AM

Today is a notable anniversary for me: 15 years ago today, I wrote the first entry on my brand-new blog. As I've recounted before, the blog started as a programming project that was an outgrowth of a book I'd worked on. And a certain amount of "how hard could it be?"

I've got just over 2500 posts, which averages .46 entries per day since I started. (Needless to say, that was before Facebook and Twitter.) Per a somewhat crude count, I've written about 804,000 words. Plus there's a lot of code.

What we write about when we write blog entries

The themes I've addressed have changed over the years, depending on what I was doing. I wrote a lot in the early days about programming, since I was doing a lot of that. When I glance over at the list of the 25 most popular entries, I see that 20 of them pertain to programming in ASP.NET.

But there are some gratifying exceptions:

As I shifted in my career, I wrote more about the process of technical writing and then about editing in general:

I occasionally put together something about Microsoft Word:

I've written about motorcycling, which occasionally intersects with my obsession with traffic:

People who've come by the blog recently will of course know that these days, I post Friday words, about new-to-me words and fun-for-me word histories.

A community of bloggers

One of the great things about blogging in the pre-social media days was the community. You'd comment on a blog, or someone would comment on yours, and you would become blog friends, the way we are now friends with people on Facebook or Twitter who we've never met in person.

I still "know" people on social media who I met originally through blogging. Among them are Ben Zimmer, Colt Kwong, Jeff Atwood, Jerry Kindall, Melanie Spiller, John McIntyre, Jonathon Owen, Lauren Squires, Leon Bambrick, Michael Covarrubias, and Nancy Friedman.

Some of these people I've even managed to meet in real life. :)

But mostly it's for fun

There's serious stuff on the blog, and there are posts here that I have submitted in the past as writing samples for job applications. Writing a blog for this long has—or so I like to think—helped improve my writing. As the world of technical writing moved toward a more friendly voice and tone, the practice I'd had in writing many, many blog entries proved to be professionally useful.

But in the end, it has all been, and continues to be, primarily for my own amusement. Now and then I'll open up the big ol' can of worms that constitutes the code for this blog and make some sort of tweak, which always takes me back to the first days when it was kind of amazing to me that I could even do this. I would never have guessed all those years ago that I'd still be posting here.

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  09:19 PM

This is an update to an earlier post, People who work at "___" call themselves "___". At the time I wrote that piece, I worked at Microsoft, which is to say, I was a Microsoftie. In the interim, I spent a couple of years as an Amazonian. Late last year I joined a new company—Tableau Software. Naturally, one of the first things I wanted to learn about is what people inside the company called themselves.

It turns out that people in the company have given this some thought. So much so, in fact, that there are factions. One of the senior executives is fond of the term Tablets. But the rank and file seem to be converging around the term Tabloids.

Update I had a discussion in Facebook about this and got two excellent suggestions: Tablafarians and vizards. The latter probably requires some explanation. Tableau software is used to make data visualizations, which the in-crowd refers to as vizzes (singular: viz). Thus viz-ards. Brilliant.

Update #2 Nancy Friedman reminds me that a while back she investigated the surprising etymology of the term tabloid.

When I look through the list I have of other such names, I'm seeing just one other -oid ending (Proctoids), which surprises me. For reasons I cannot articulate, it feels like it should be a more commonly used particle. I still have not delved into this (future project perhaps), but there are presumably phonological, perhaps morphological, reasons why the names emerge as they do. Why not more -oids?

And then there is still the question of a name for this name. In the earlier post, I noted that folks had suggested corporanym, employeenym, idionym, and the somewhat esoteric ergazomenonym. A while back, I also challenged the readers of VisualThesaurus.com to come up with a term, and they variously suggested ergonym (work+name), salarionym, and emponym or employnym.

Well, just today I ran across an existing term, maybe two, that might fit the bill, altho these might require a little squinting: endonym (within+name) and autonym (self+name). Endonym is surprisingly obscure: the OED has no entry, nor does Dictionary.com, nor does Merriam-Webster.com. But Wikipedia does, in an article that discusses both endoym and exonym. These are (per the article) terms from ethnolinguistics:
... exonyms and endonyms are the names of ethnic groups and where they live, as identified respectively by outsiders and by the group itself. Endonym or autonym is the name given by an ethnic group to its own geographical entity (toponymy), or the name an ethnic group calls itself, often laudatory or self-aggrandizing. Exonym or xenonym is the name given to an ethnic group or to a geographical entity by another ethnic group.
I don't think a term like Microsoftie or Tabloid could be considered particularly "laudatory or self-aggrandizing." Nor would one necessarily want to suggest that company employees constitute an ethnic group, in spite of much talk (especially recently) about (corporate) culture. But such names definitely are endo- and auto-. So I'll try out endoym for a while and see how that goes.

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  10:23 PM

Because I apparently don't have enough to do, gah, I took a notion recently to make updates to this blog. I had seen something somewhere about Google Fonts, which made me think about updating the typeface from the venerable Verdana that the blog has sported for the last 10 years.[1]

Making that change required messing about in the blog's stylesheet, and that got me to wondering about the ungodly awful table-based layout that I threw together 11 years ago. I experimented a bit with a 2-column, div-based layout until I got something reasonable working.

If you have feedback, by all means, leave me a comment.

And here it is. I only played with the main page, and I still need to do a lot of weeding and pruning in the style sheet. There's no real effect for readers, I don't think. As with the whole blog project from the beginning, it's all just been about me learning about web development ...

[1] Should you be wondering, you're now looking at Lato by Łukasz Dziedzic.


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  09:26 AM

Just a quick note: this blog is 9 years old today. I started it in 2003 as a kind of example project for a book I was working on.

A few stats:

Entries: 2,268
Words: 701,668 (not counting code)
Comments: 2418
Hits: 1,426,013

Something that's kind of amusing (well, to me) is a page that shows the times of day when I've posted, by hour. It seems, for example, that my most productive blogging time (posting time, anyway) is between 11:00 pm and midnight.

I've been thinking about rewriting the blog pretty much since I started it, what with new and better ASP.NET technologies coming out all the time. Perhaps year 10 will finally see that happen!

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  07:54 PM

Ok, I think the feed works now. (Well, feeds, including the comments feed.) Sheesh. There's all this stuff to re-set up when you move to a new IIS server, and one of those is the custom mapping for file name extensions. My feeds end in .rss, which is "elegant", but requires that IIS know what to do with that extension. I configured that on my own server over 5 years ago, and I do this about twice per decade, so I tend to forget that it needs to be done. Anyway, I remembered, finally, and was able to do some remote tweakage of IIS on the hosting site, so I think it's working.

Reminders. You can subscribe to the entire blog feed this way:


You can either get a truncated (2K/entry max) or full feed. The default is truncated. To get the full feed, do this:


If you want to subscribe to only a specific category, you can do this:


Examples of the latter:


The truncated/full thing works here too. For example:


I must note that the reason I started to suspect a problem was that I wasn't seeing accustomed levels of traffic. I pondered this problem off and on for a while and while I was doing something completely unrelated (isn't it always this way?), I had that aha! moment of realizing that it must be because the feeds were busted.

Anyway, hopefully the number of issues with the blog is gradually going down, dang.



  08:43 PM

The blog's been moved to a hosting site and seems, per some non-rigorous testing, to be functional. Now to discover over the forthcoming days where-all things are not quite working right.

All in all, the move was not a huge problem. For all the fancy deployment facilities in VS, it was possible -- in fact, easier -- for me to just FTP the files over. As for the blog database, I used the Publish to provider feature in Visual Web Developer Express and exported the existing database as one honkin' big .sql script. Then I used SQL Server Management Studio Express to attach to the remote/hosting site SQL Server and run the script. That took, dunno, maybe 5 minutes.

The trickiest part so far, and one that isn't 100% settled, was configuring the hosted site to send email.

Two things amused me. One was that they said that provisioning the SQL Server database could take up to 24 hours. It took, like, 1 minute. Likewise they said that changing the target server for my domain (mikepope.com) would take 20 minutes and up to 48 hours. Again, less than a minute. Not that I'm complaining, nossir.



  12:00 AM

I'm going to try to move the blog to another server in the course of the next few days. As a result, the blog will be down for some period that might last up to a day, perhaps more, dunno. Anyway, that's why it will be offline starting sometime Monday. When it comes back up, it should look and work the same, just be somewhere else.



  01:02 AM

Upon attending an SEO presentation this week, I learned that I should be enabling social media a bit better on this blog. So I added a Facebook Like button.

This is my first attempt, so I went with a button that shows up at the bottom of the entry. I was told that it's not bad idea to have a button at the top; a peculiar but attested behavior of users is that they'll sometimes "Like" something before they read it, or possibly without reading beyond the beginning. But let's see how this works out.

Implementing the button is not particularly difficult. The details are laid out on the Like Button page of the Facebook Developers site. In effect, what I did was add the following markup to the bottom of the layout for a blog entry (broken up here for readability):

<iframe src=
style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:450px; height:30px;"

I had to add some code to the page to substitute the URL of an individual blog entry (e.g., http://www.mikepope.com/blog/DisplayBlog.aspx?permalink=2272) for %%1%% in the markup. (The blog code is something of a rat's nest anyway, so what's another 4 lines for this?)

You're also supposed to add some meta tags to the <head> element that Facebook uses (they say) to determine what title, URL, and graphic to associate with the content. For example:

<meta property="og:title" content="mike&#039;s web log" />
<meta property="og:type" content="blog" />
<meta property="og:image"
content="http://www.mikepope.com/blog/images/mikesblog_defaultimage.png" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="mike&#039;s web log" />
One thing that's implicit in the way they implement this, and is noticeable to me already, is that there is a slight delay before the Like button is displayed. Each instance of the Like button has to call the Facebook site and get data about the blog entry that the button is bound to, then return a hunk of markup to display on the page. I display 10 entries per page; that's 10 calls to Facebook. (Only one call, tho, if you're looking at an individual entry.) On the plus side, this is done asynchronously -- not AJAX-y, just via a queued HTTP request, like images. That means that the actual blog content shows up as it always has, it's just the Like button itself that might show up slightly later.

Anyway, we'll see how this goes. If you have some feedback about this, please leave a comment. And, of course, be sure to Like this. :-)


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  12:02 PM

I think that one of the disks on my server computer is dying -- it's making that spin-up-spin-down noise that they make just before they break. (Break your heart, that is.)[1]

If the blog disappears, it's because I'm, you know, servicing the server.

Once again I wonder whether it's really worth it to maintain my own server. Hmmm.

[1] As an aside, I got this image from a site that obviously is auto-translated. From what language, who knows. Here's an excerpt about the warning signs of incipient failure:

Symptoms of harder drive failure

The pre-warnings of harder drive abortion are not consistently accustomed by declining harder drive, if sometimes the agnate absurdity letters may arise and sometimes not. The a lot of accepted signs are beat or abrading sounds, while others, lower in ratings, cover aspersing arrangement achievement and abrupt behavior.

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  02:07 PM

Earlier today, someone left the following "comment" on an entry in the blog:

<% foreach (var x in ConfigurationManager.ConnectionStrings){%><%= x.ToString() + "<br />" %><% } %>

This is an attempt, obviously, to get connection information about any and all databases that the blog has access to.

In this particular case, the attack was not successful because I encode stuff in comments, so it was just passed through as text. I sure hope that I've anticipated other, relatively straightforward attacks of a similar nature. But as we know, hackers are wily. And I am not particularly so, alas.

It goes to show that no matter how trivial your site, someone is interested in hacking it. Security: It's not just for commercial web sites.

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