May 04, 2004



Unless you're one of a small handful of people from whom I solicited input during the changeover this weekend, this post is very likely your first introduction to the New Tomorrowlands (tm). Same as the Old Tomorrowlands, but different and better! (*cough* assuming I got the CSS working right.)

As previously mentioned, I've switched content management systems from my old homebrew scripts over to Movable Type, which rocks on toast. It supports multiple posting categories, multiple archive schemes, a fully templateable design, multiple authors (with their own usernames and logins! woo!), on-the-fly image uploading, [Look! On-the-fly image uploads!] probably a dozen relevant features I'm not remembering offhand, and on top of all that has a very intuitive and well-documented back end. Go Movable Type!

The primary significance of this is that I used to have a journal and news section, kept rigorously separate so that a necessary site update wouldn't bury a pithy and witty journal entry in the archives, or vice versa. That often left a many-months-old post in the "news" section if I hadn't had anything of significance to report. Not any more! "Tomorrowlands News" has simply been brought into the journal in the "Announcements" category and will be shuffled in with the rest of my writing -- but clearly labeled as news, with a spiffy little icon to match; and since the main page holds an arbitrary number of entries, I know it won't scroll away from view before its time, nor will it prevent people from reading the other products of my fevered psyche.

Anyway: I ramble. (As usual. But then, isn't that part of my charm, o reader?) As part of the switch, I'm ditching the "splash page" and "home page" setup. Update your Tlands bookmark to instead of home.html. Nothing else, however, should be moving or disappearing; there will still be a plenty large site beyond the journal -- as always.

Of course, the rest of the site sorely needs an overhaul to be brought in line with the redesign -- I'll take care of that as quickly as possible, but the back forty of Tomorrowlands may look somewhat patchwork in the meantime.

Old permalinks of the form "journal.cgi?date=foo" will continue working indefinitely -- but won't work for the new entries; use the permalinks listed below each post instead. "Direct" links to old entries -- "month.html#date" -- will probably break someday, especially if I import them into MT so the nifty search function will work on them too.

The Tomorrowlands Forums will continue operating. Comments on the journal, as usual, should go there.

And I'm saving the most exciting news for last: Movable Type has built-in RSS feed support! Okay, that's probably Greek to most of you, but what it means in practical terms is that I can also mirror Tlands on a Livejournal account with minimal setup and no extra effort! If you'd rather read my journal on your Friends list, give me a few days to get around to it, and it'll be available in all its glory there. (If, on the other hand, you already use a feed aggregator for your daily reading, you probably already know what to do to add Tlands to that list. The link's at the bottom of the main page sidebar.)

That's about it for now ... enjoy! And let me know what you think of the new look!

Posted by Baxil at 02:47 AM to Announcements | TrackBack (0) | Permalink

Jury duty

I took a five-minute break from my site redesign earlier today to check the web site of Nevada County's court system, and navigated through to the page where the status of jury summons is listed.

Group 200: "Dismissed."

Most people would tell me that I lucked out. I can't deny that I'm feeling that way myself -- I work swing shift and the summons time was 8:30 a.m., so to report would have meant a high probability of putting in a 16-hour day. But I really don't understand why it is that people treat jury duty, in the abstract, with such loathing.

I've heard good reasons to dislike it, sure. My workplace -- and most others, I'm sure -- allows time off for jury duty (as required by law) but won't pay for you to go serve; thus, even balancing the pittance the courts offer as compensation against losing a day's wages, it can be an expensive privilege.

But I spent my formative years in college -- where jury duty was a free pass out of classes for the day, arguably a net positive. And even college students recoiled at the prospect of a summons! When I actually reported instead of trying to find an excuse, I got strange looks. When I not only reported but served on a jury for a two-day civil trial, I got the sort of looks reserved for people who wander around on the street holding up signs about "murotunikel repercussions."

And you know what? It was a worthwhile experience anyway.

Granted, it wasn't fascinating or anything. You go to court; listen to witnesses, lawyers and experts bicker; talk with eleven other people; and try to come to a mutual decision about the facts. It's fairly dry work, but it's not the mental equivalent of a root canal that people treat it as.

There's some pressure, sure, but it's not like you're graded on your performance. It can be dreadfully boring at times, but at least it's different boring; considering that you're likely skipping work, school, or childcare to go do it, how is it any more dreary than the alternative? After all, it gets you out of the house(/apartment/dorm/office) for the day -- and they don't pay much, but it's enough to go order lunch downtown and have a nice meal out.

On top of that, maybe it's just my inner writer showing through, but jury duty is a great place to people-watch. It's an equal-opportunity obligation. Folks of all classes and races filter into the courtroom. Their interplay, if often subtle, is interesting. About the only thing they all have in common is that 95 percent of them want nothing more from jury duty than to get out of it as soon as possible.

I wish I understood why. Maybe it's the downfall of participatory democracy in action -- people have better things to do than deal with self-government. Maybe it's simply a persistent apathy. Maybe it's one of those things, like lawyer jokes, that's deeply enough embedded in our culture to be self-perpetuating despite the actual reality of the situation.

Whichever it is, I don't think it's doing us any favors. So next time you get a jury summons -- give it a try, hey? It really isn't as bad as they say.

Posted by Baxil at 01:39 AM to Politics | TrackBack (0) | Permalink