Chapter #61: Start Writing Your Own Blog - March 19, 2008

"The Blog", Inane, Rambling, Rarely Updated - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

Ready, Fire, Aim Creating Your New Blog

Thanks for visiting JamesMcGillis.com.  Since the inception of this blog, a little over six months ago, we have posted over 50 articles on various subjects.  Last week, 750 people from around the world clicked on this website and viewed over 1500 separate pages.  If you compare our results with some of the big political blogs or scandal blogs, that may not sound like much, but we appreciate every reader who “tunes in”.
If you could start a “newspaper” today for under $500 and have a readership of 750 people per week in less than six months, would you do it?  If you answered, “Yes”, you are a candidate for starting your own blog.  If you have the skills to use Microsoft Word and FrontPage 2003, you can create effective “text and pictures” blog entries in almost no time.
“But what would I write about?” you ask.  That is part of the fun of Blog Clothesline (http://jamesmcgillis.com)creating a blog.  One day you can write about the environment, the next day it might be politics and the third it could be about your travels.  Writing a blog is like diving into a meandering stream.  You may get wet, but you are not going to drown.
Once you find yourself in the current of the stream, you will naturally begin to refine the "subject" of your blog.  Since initially, your readership will be limited, you can play around, get comfortable with the process and try out new ideas.  If you look at the list of our blog entries on the right side of this page, it encompasses over forty different subjects.  If you post something and later do not like it, you can "turn it off" or delete it.
Regarding your new blog website and its initial look – Your webmaster can easily change any accompanying explanatory text.  If you have an agreement with your webmaster, he or she may offer to do so at no additional charge.  That way, if you find your true passion, you can adjust the Home Page to reflect your current intent.
Internet Archive logo and link (http://jamesmcgillis.com)It took us several months to figure out all of our writing and posting shortcuts, but we could teach you via email in very little time.  Whether you use your blog for business, for personal expression or a combination of both, you can modify or restructure it at any time.  Nothing about your blog is permanent except for the internet archive services that take "snapshots" of your website from time to time.  To view our blog entry on that subject, just click on its title, which is “eCommerce – Made Easy”. 
James McGillis, Jim McGillis photo.  Click for larger Image - (http://jamesmcgillis.com)What should you name your blog?  Unless your name is quite common, using your own name is the best way to go.  To prove the value of your own name on the web, search Google for either “Jim McGillis” or “James McGillis”.  Our identity will come up several times in the first ten search results.  As further protection of my online identity, I also registered http://jimmcgillis.com, where I will soon begin writing the world’s first Online Novel.
Although starting a blog seemed a bit daunting at first, it is now an essential part of my personal creativity.  Since I do not paint, sculpt or play a musical instrument, this process is my primary outlet for creating “art”."BLOG" Keyboard Image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
We are here to help you get started.  If you are ready "take the plunge", click on my signature and shoot me an email.  In less than one week and for less than $500 (U.S.) we will assist you in getting your website hosted, your URL registered and your own customized blog, live on the World Wide Web.  The best way to make your blog-dream come true is to repeat this mantra: "Ready, Fire, Aim".
We appreciate your comments.  To email us, please click on our signature.

By James McGillis at 05:52 PM | Technology | Comments (0) | Link

Chapter #32: Yahoo! - Fighting Its Last Battle? - December 8, 2007

Yahoo! Logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

There Must be a Bunch of Yahoos Running That Company.

Do you remember not so long ago (around the turn of the last century) when Web Portals were all the rage? Starting mostly as web browsers in the mid-1990s, an all-out fight developed among old media companies to capture a “sticky space” on the internet.  Newbies to the Web needed a place to call “Home”, and for awhile, portals seemed to be that place.
As the Web matured Netscape became a part of America Online, the Walt Netscape Communicator Logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Disney Company bought Go.com, and Excite and @Home became a part of AT&T.  Lycos, another early entrant sold out to Network Solutions.  Other portals started out as web directories (Yahoo!) or search engines (Excite, Lycos, AltaVista, Infoseek, and Hotbot).
There was a rush to expand services to portal users, including free email, customization features for news, weather and sports, chatrooms and instant messaging.  All of these features were designed to make users stay longer, thus exposing them to more paid advertising.
The portal craze, with "old media" companies racing to outbid each other for Internet properties, flamed out in 2000 and 2001. Disney pulled the plug on Go.com, Excite went bankrupt and its remains were sold to iWon.com.  Yahoo and MSN remained successful portals until the simplicity of Google’s interface and its unmatched page-loading speed took millions of users away, apparently for good.
Los Angeles Times Logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)With all of that history and Yahoo! looking more and more like an old media company, which just happens to do business on the Web, I was not surprised to read an LA Times article this week that quoted Jerry Yang, Yahoo! CEO as having a vision that “Yahoo become the home page of choice by connecting computer users to what they care about”.  From his office in Santa Monica, California, Senior VP, Scott Moore, who made his name at Yahoo! overseeing news, sports and finance (speaking of old media information) will now also get a crack at entertainment, including games and video.
Currently, Yahoo! Has a My Yahoo! Beta available, but when I tried it, a bog box popped up with a swirly thing that said “Loading”.  I am sad to say that it never fully loaded and I never got to customize my own page.  Contrast this with iGoogle, which allows a limited portal offering, but loads in seconds and is customized and ready to go in 30 seconds.  Good luck to Yahoo and their attempt to “turn back time”.  It didn’t work for Cher and it hasn’t worked for the military planners of our world, who are always planning to “fight the last war”.
While researching this article, I did have fun visiting old portal sites.  When I Excite Logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)got to Excite and jiggled it enough to cough up My Excite from before the dot-com meltdown, I was thrilled to see my old stock list still there.  The only problem was that half the stocks I had invested in back then are no longer in business today.  Yahoo is still there, but will it still be an independent corporation when I go back to My Stocks in another seven years?
Although Excite itself is not much more than a feeder site for iWon’s ridiculous “money giveaway site”, it has some great features.  In less than five minutes I had My Excite customized to show “My” Weather (in three different cities), Original small Google logo (http://jamesmcgillis.com)“My” Sunrise/Sunset, “My” Tides (in Santa Monica Bay), “My” Moon (Phase/Rise/Set), “My” (beleaguered) Stocks and “My” Columnists.  Wow! Or should I say, “Yahoo!?”  That information was so “sticky”; I bookmarked it and plan to go back often.
Google maintains that their “motivation isn’t to provide sticky services”.  Isn’t it great when “old energy” (Yahoo!) challenges “new energy” (Google).  Gee, I wonder who is going to win this one. 

By James McGillis at 12:17 PM | Technology | Comments (0) | Link

Chapter #31: Helium Gas, Neither Earth nor Mars - November 28, 2007

The Goodyear Blimp "Spirit of America", a helium-filled airship over Marina del Rey, California - Click for larger image of Blimp Goodyear (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

From Earth to Mars - It is Time to Take Helium Gas More Seriously

The National Helium Reserve, is a strategic reserve of the United States, holding over a billion cubic feet of Helium gas. The helium is stored at the Cliffside Storage Facility about 12 miles northwest of Amarillo, Texas in a natural geologic gas storage formation. The reserve was established in 1925 as a strategic supply of gas for airships, and in the 1950s became an important source of coolant during the Space Race and Cold War.  Even today, that facility holds fully one third of the helium reserves found worldwide.
Echo 1 Satellite, Prior to Launch in 1960 (http://jamesmcgillis.com)

On August 12, 1960, Echo 1, a 100-foot diameter metalized Mylar polyester-film balloon was successfully put into a low-earth-orbit (LEO). Although it was only a passive reflector, Echo 1 successfully redirected transcontinental and intercontinental telephone, radio, and television signals. As its shiny surface was reflective in the range of visible light, Echo 1 was visible to the unaided eye over most of the Earth. Brighter than most stars, it was probably seen by more people than any other man-made object in space. Echo 1 reentered Earth's atmosphere and burned up on May 24, 1968.

Shortly thereafter, some genius married the two concepts, “lighter than air” and “Mylar” to create the now ubiquitous helium party balloon.  If you walk into almost any supermarket or drugstore today, you will see variants of the party balloon reaching towards the ceiling on ribbons not unlike those that graced the birthday presents of our childhood.
And isn’t “childhood magic” what Mylar party balloons are all about?  First, Mylar Helium Santa Claus Balloon, $15.99 at Target Stores (http://jamesmcgillis.com)the nearly indestructible Mylar is sonically welded into (let’s say) the shape of Santa Claus.  Once filled with helium, Santa can be used to delight young children, as they are naturally attracted to both the myth of Santa Claus and the myth of personal flight.
Sooner or later, the helium will migrate out of the balloon, earning the limp and ragged Santa a trip to the landfill.  There, the half-life of his shriveled body will exceed even the best preserved hotdog.  Assuming that our Santa balloon does hit the landfill, what is the harm?  Other than its near indestructibility, Mylar certainly cannot do much damage while buried in the earth.
Similar to learning not to swallow chewing gum, each child must to learn that if he releases his grip on his magical Santa balloon, he will float away, never to be seen again.  So, the internal battle for each child is, “How long should I hold on to the balloon before Santa is too dissipated to fly away?”  The little voice in the child’s head keeps saying “Let him go.  Santa wants to be free.” 
Once our Santa balloon takes flight, you can be sure that the first-time helium balloon owner will cry for the loss of his or her toy.  If that child lives in Southern California, there is an entire ecosystem that he should be crying for, as well.  That ecosystem is the probable destination of his lost balloon.
WindSong, 1970 Ericson 35 Mk II Sailboat at Two Harbors, Santa Catalina Island (not Erickson or Ericsson) - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
Having sailed WindSong, our Ericson 35 MkII Sailboat to Santa Catalina Island more than fifty times and having spent almost 100 days combing Venice Beach, California for Frito-Lay wrappers in 2003, I know where puffed-up Santa Claus and his other helium balloon friends go to die.  It is known as the Pacific Ocean.
Mylar and the balloon’s ribbon each are made from “Space Age Plastics”, thus they do not readily break down in the environment.  After Christmas, most balloons that wash up on shore are red or green.  After Valentine’s Day, most are red, and heart-shaped.  Post Halloween balloon trash features orange jack-o-lantern faces. 
What is the harm in a few (thousand) balloons washing up on shore?  After all, don’t Frito Lay snack wrappers outnumber them on the beach by one thousand to one?  Yes, that is true, but what is not often recognized is that the ribbons from the balloons become ensnared in the kelp forests (live webcam) which grow (or should I say, “used to grow”?) just offshore.
Once a large kelp plant becomes entangled in half a dozen or more balloon ribbons, it becomes unbalanced and its holdfast will release it into the tidal flow.  After each major storm on Venice Beach, huge kelp plants wash ashore, neatly bound up with party balloon ribbons.
Through its "Helium Privatization Act of 1996", the Congress of the United States directed the United States Department of the Interior to start liquidating the National Helium Reserves by 2005.  As we approach the end of 2007 that is exactly what is happening.  Although Helium and oil are valued very differently in the world economy, once the U.S. corner on helium reserves is gone, that position will be lost to us forever.
Sunset at Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California (http://jamesmcgillis.com)The rapid depletion of our helium reserves coincides with large-scale increases in Helium usage for industrial and medical device manufacturing.  So rather than “rationally rationing” the remaining supply, we are selling off our reserves as fast as we can.  As with any precious commodity, selling our helium reserves more slowly, if at all, would give the U.S. a strategic advantage in making future decisions about helium markets and usage. 
So what is the good news?  Helium will skyrocket in price, rather than just “floating up” as it recently has done.  If the prices double or triple, perhaps we will no longer feel the necessity to entertain our children with objects that float in the air.  If we curtail helium balloon sales, the whales, dolphins and other sea life will no longer be tempted to ingest pieces of shiny Mylar. Perhaps, the kelp forests will have a chance to regenerate, as well.
March 2012, Author's note: Every helium-filled Mylar cloud, it seems, has a sliver lining. Since release of the Disney Movie, "John Carter", A.K.A. "A Princess of Mars", there is a renewed interest in helium. In the movie, there is a city named "Helium" on the planet "Barsoom", A.K.A. Planet Mars. When Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the story a century ago, no one knew if there was intelligent life on Mars, let alone an atmosphere that included helium. Although we now know a lot more about Mars, we have learned little about proper use and conservation of our helium reserves here on Earth.

By James McGillis at 09:28 PM | Technology | Comments (0) | Link

Chapter #19: Japanese Win The "Space Race" - October 4, 2007

Reflection of static rocket display in a window of the New Mexico Space Museum - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)Launch of USSR Satellite Sputnik - 50th Anniversary of the 1950's Space Race

Where were you fifty years ago this week? Not even born, you say, or just a child, perhaps? Looking back half a century ago, in October 1957, some interesting things were happening. 

In 1957, Detroit had reached its zenith in automobile design. As the model year changed, the ultimate-classic Chevrolet Bel Air Two-door Hardtop was about to give way to the bloated and reviled quad-headlight 1958 Chevy. It was a case of Old Energy (longer, lower, wider; bigger, better, more) trumping the elegance of the smaller, lighter, faster-looking 1957. Everyone wanted the 1957. No one wanted the 1958. American automotive history then started a long march backward that is unchecked today.1957 Chevrolet 2-Door Bel Air Hardtop - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
In addition, that October, we awakened one morning to something called “The Space Race” in the 1950's. The USSR or “The Russians” as we liked to call them had launched the first human-made Earth-orbiting satellite. They gave it the anti-euphonious name Sputnik. We had heard of “Spud Nuts”, but not Sputniks. 
After years of hype about the “Rocket Oldsmobile” and watching spacecraft-like tail fins sprout on U.S. automobiles, the Russians had trumped all of Madison Avenue’s tricks with one rocket launch. Their rocket and its satellite were real. 
1963 Plymouth Belvedere "Satellite" - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
Detroit took several years to fight back. In 1963, Chrysler Corporation named a high-performance version of the Plymouth Belvedere the “Plymouth Satellite”. If the U.S. could not lead in technology, we could at least lead in concept co-option.

During the midterm election campaign of 2006, I had the pleasure of visiting the
New Mexico Space Museum in Alamogordo, New Mexico. To my great surprise, I discovered a sparkling-clean Sputnik hanging from the ceiling of the museum. Scientists are a clubby lot. It turns out that there were several Sputniks held in reserve by the Russian Space authority. When a former museum director befriended the Russian creator of the Sputnik, the Russian responded by sending one to the Alamogordo museum as a gift.

An original spare USSR Sputnik on display at the Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, New Mexico - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)"Trinity” was the code name the project leading to the first U.S. nuclear weapon explosion, which was on July 16, 1945. The "Trinity Site" was located in the remote White Sands Desert, near Alamogordo, New Mexico. 

Some say that the Space Race was all about intercontinental ballistic missiles and others say it was more about exploration of space, as our “last frontier”. I believe that the truth lies somewhere in-between. Today, it is easy to forget how fearful and inferior the Russians felt as they contemplated the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal.
According to some experts, the U.S. later had the ability to vaporize the Soviet (and perhaps all) civilization at the press of a button. Mutual assured 1945 "Trinity" nuclear fireball begins to vaporize the desert landscape near Alamogordo, New Mexico, photographed by Berlyn Brixner - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)destruction was the term that Henry Kissinger so warmly used. In 1957, however, that first Russian satellite launch gave U.S. residents a Cold War shot of anxiety like none we had ever felt before. 
After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, plant life there often mutated spontaneously, creating some bizarre effects.  Looking at the accompanying photo of White Sands plants, do you suppose that the Trinity nuclear blast may have caused these once-small plants grow to their current towering proportions?
History can be fun. The U.S. started the “nuclear age” near Alamogordo in 1945. The Russians counter-punched with Sputnik twelve years later. The U.S. hit back hard six years later with the Plymouth Satellite.                                 
Wind scours away the sand, creating the illusion of towering plant life at White Sands National Monument - Click for larger image (http://jaqmesmcgillis.com)
Meanwhile the Japanese, who were the unlucky recipients of the second U.S. nuclear bomb at Hiroshima, were busy studying automotive technology and design. Biding their time, they later walked away with automotive supremacy. Plymouth is gone. The USSR is gone. Now we are in the “Age of Toyota”.  

Postscript - English Pravda.ru, October 5, 2007  Headline "Japan - Satellite Reaches Lunar Orbit", a first for an Asian nation.
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By James McGillis at 08:20 PM | Technology | Comments (0) | Link

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Start Writing Your Own Blog
My Unification Theory - 2008
Frito-Lay Beach-Trash Explosion
The Great Attractor, Revealed
Vibrational Thought & String Theory
The Long Run - Eagles Tribute Band
2006 Midterm Elections, Revisited
The Lost Mural of Denis O'Connor
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 -Part 10
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 9
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 8
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 7
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 6
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 5
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 4
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 3
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 2
Fiji Islands Paradise 2001 - Part 1
MedIT Search Website, New eBook
Save Natewa Bay, Fiji Islands
The Fiji Islands - Paradise Lost?
Face on Mars - Is it John Carter?
How Water Helped Make The West
Yahoo! - Fighting Its Last Battle?
Helium Gas, Neither Earth nor Mars
Megatrend vs. Meganiche - 2007
German Hydrogen Bomb Ready
Passing The $100,000 Bill
Google Wins - Microsoft Withdraws
A.Word.A.Day, You Ought to Know
San Fernando Valley Winemaking
WindSong - The Book - Updated
Divine Inspiration, Or Nearly So
Going Down to the Depot
Japanese Win The "Space Race"
2007 eCommerce - Made Easy
Discovering The Great Reflector
Navajo National Monument, Arizona
Moab, Utah Memories - 2007
Fall Color, Silverton, Colorado
Autumn Equinox in the Rockies
Hasta la Vista, Taos, New Mexico
Megatrends 2010 - The Book
The Quantum Leap, New Mexico
Chaco Canyon Memories 2007
Flame-Out in Phoenix, Arizona
Annals of Homeland Security '07
Quartzsite, AZ - RV Camping
WindSong eBook - Now Ready
The Quantum Leap Celebration
Welcome to my new weblog 2007!

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