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Quick question: What would you prefer for shorter URLs?

UPDATE 2013-06-27: All right, we’re going with sach.ac as the URL shortener. Thanks for your input! =D

shortener

I draw a lot of notes, and I want to give people an easy way to find out more. URLs can get really long to type in, and sometimes the sketches are displayed for only a short period of time. I’ve been using the j.mp URL shortener (bonus: statistics!), but I don’t want to rely on a third-party service which could disappear and break links down the road. Besides, j.mp/bit.ly/etc. are sometimes blocked from corporate networks.

So I decided to register my own short domain. This adds to my yearly blog-related expenses, but I think it will make it much easier for people to learn more. After searching for lots of alternatives, it turns out that sach.ac and liv.gd were still available as domains. I like sach.ac because it’s based on my nickname, although people are going to mentally punctuate my name oddly (it’s actually Sacha C.). People frequently misspell “Sacha” as “Sasha”, so I also registered Liv.gd as a shortcut for LivingAnAwesomeLife.com, which is an alternate domain name for this site. (I use that when I don’t have the opportunity to spell my name out for people, or if I want people to smile and remember.) Liv.gd = “Live Good”… which is ungrammatical but fun.

So… Any thoughts on which to choose? (If you don’t see the poll, please check out this post on my website!)

[poll id="3"]

I might even shift to using one of those short URLs as my “main” domain (the one that gets shown in links and in the address bar)…

[poll id="4"]

Here are some sample URLs for this post, to give you an idea of what the shortened URLs will look like:

sach.ac/shortener – liv.gd/shortener

Technical notes, if you’re interested:

I registered liv.gd with names.gd for 25 USD a year, and sach.ac with nic.ac for 60 GBP a year. If you’re registering an .ac domain, check resellers to see if you can get it cheaper – I should’ve gotten the domain from hexonet.net instead (27 GBP). Pricey experiment, but that’s what the opportunity fund is for!

After I registered the domains, I configured them to use Linode’s nameservers and added them to my Nginx web server configuration. I’m using WordPress’ Redirection plugin to handle custom redirects, so that all of my blog post URLs are automatically available as sach.ac/… and I can define custom ones as needed. =)

So, what do you think?

Getting started on your web presence

One of my mentees asked: in terms of public web presence, should you have a website, a blog, both of the above, or one site that serves both purposes?

These are some things I’ve learned after eight years of having a public web presence:

Have one site. It’s less confusing and it makes it easier for people to get to know you. Work-life separation or anonymous blogging may sound appealing. If that’s what it takes for you to get started, go for it (knowing that anonymity is very hard to keep). But it’s easier to have one persona and one site.

I find that it’s too much work to keep track of multiple personas and multiple sites. My internal/external split is hard enough for me to remember to update. ;)

Yes, there are lots of wildly popular niche bloggers with tightly-focused sites and tens of thousands of subscribers. You’re not there yet. When you get to the point of having tons of great material you can share, you can syndicate or revise things for a separate focused blog or site.

Get your own domain name. It means never having to change URLs or e-mail addresses again, and you don’t have to rely on a third-party blog/web host to stay free or to be in business.

If your name is hard to spell (like mine is), get another domain name and point it to the same content, configuring your web server so that search engines don’t punish you for duplicate sites. For example, I use sachachua.com , but livinganawesomelife.com is easier for people to remember.

It doesn’t matter if your domain name goes to your blog or to an overview. I prefer that sachachua.com shows people my blog because I have many frequent visitors, so it’s easier to go directly to what people are interested in. Fresh content is good. Other people start with an overview that links to their blog. Either way works.

Try starting with a blog or microblog. Set up your site so that you think about updating it. Yes, it’s easy to just put up an “About Me” page. Static pages are useful. But static pages tend to stay static. Start a blog and use it as a staging area where you can write about what you’re thinking. Set up your blog editor so that you can publish to your blog easily. Add blogging to your task list as a recurring task. Use it to cc: world. As you write, you’ll find things that you’ll want to “promote” to regular pages on your website. Treat your blog as your working area, and then use that to think about and create your static content.

Don’t worry about getting started. Just start. You’ll tweak your web presence over time as you find inspiration and you figure out what fits. Get something out there. It’s easy to revise something that exists than to stare at a blank page.

Thanks to Brian O’Donovan for the question!

Domain registrar suggestions

Thanks to everyone who sent me suggestions for a good domain name
service! Now to check out the list… I’m going to give myself a
domain name on Friday, as a happy-birthday gift to myself. =)

RegisterFly.com Gideon Strauss
EasyDNS Florian Lanthaler, $25 per domain
Godaddy.com Michael Olson, Albertus
FreeDNS Michael Olson
Joker.com Vinod Kurup
NamesAreCheap.com Albertus, $14 per domain
Namecheap.com hoop
E-webcore Jose Miguel O. Bautista

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Primitive anti-spam

I’ve just added primitive anti-spam to the comment form. =) That way,
I don’t have to wade through lots of spam just to get to your
insights. Keep writing! =)

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Gah, my website doesn’t print properly

Print-outs lack pagebreaks. Is it a Firefox problem or a CSS problem? Any suggestions?

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Title suggestions

From Jan Alonzo:

I think the reason why I mentioned “Planning the Unplanned” is because we plan
(and prioritize) the stuff we want to do for the day, analyse it, and see how
much “procrastination time” we have for that day. By looking at your tasks,
you kinda think “Oh I’ve got a bit of _space_ here, let’s read some email.
That sort of thing. Well, at least, that’s how I think anyway :-).

From Clair:

Hehehe. M-x plan. I like it as a title for your blog. Very appropriate :D

From Gerd Flaig:

How do you like the term ‘agile planning’?

From Paul Lussier:

Just read your blog on procrastination. It might amuse you to know
that I coined the term (with my best friend Celeste) “Productive
Procrastination” over 15 years ago! :)

I’m sure we weren’t the first to come up with, what with me being one
of the wholly most un-original people on this planet. But Celeste and
I would constantly “help” each other “productively procrastinate” on a
regular basis. The definition of “Productive Procrastination” is:

The avoidance of doing something mostly uninteresting by doing
something else which also legitimately needs to be accomplished, but
probably not nearly as urgently as that task which you are
attempting to avoid.

Often times this would be in the form of studying for one class in
order to avoid studying for another. Or working on a CS project which
was due soon, but not nearly as soon as the impending calculus exam :)
Just today infact, I avoided building 2 Windows laptops by figuring
out how to extend planner! I’m sure you get the point…

I’ve recently (in the past year or so) come across another term for my
“Productive Procrastination”:

Shaving the Yak

as defined here:

http://www.ai.mit.edu/lab/gsb/gsb-archive/gsb2000-02-11.html

So, you have my vote in favor of using “Productive Procrastination” as
your wiki title :)

Hey, that sounds like structured procrastination, mentioned by an
essay I read a year ago or so…

Mmkay, let’s try “productively procrastinating”. (Title of the day!)

猫は捕らえたネズミを引き裂き始めた。 The cat began to tear at the mouse it caught.

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