Blatant Self-Promotion: New About page, WordCamp MKE coming

English: Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
English: Flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey folks,

There’s more information coming to Notes from the Metaverse soon, but this is a short piece to tell you that I’ve updated the About Notes from the Metaverse page to tell you a little more about this blog and its author.

I can also tell you that WordCamp Milwaukee 2013 will be coming on June 8-9 at Bucketworks. The organizing committee is hard at work to bring you the best weekend of WordPress information and discussion possible. Make your plans now, and I’ll look forward to seeing you there!

New Theme, Perhaps Temporary

This icon was introduced in Mozilla Firefox in...
Image via Wikipedia

Two days after WriteCamp Milwaukee 3, and I’m still pretty inspired. I will have more to say about that in the coming days, but if you happen to be reading this on, chances are good you’re observing the new paint job (if you’re reading the RSS feed or on Planet openSUSE, you can click the link).

Some time ago, I noticed that much of the sidebar material here at Metaverse had somehow migrated down to the bottom of the page, where it was largely useless. At first, I thought it was an issue with the Chrome browser, but last week saw the same problem in Firefox, in both Windows and Linux. This I took as a sign that perhaps it was time to retire the Regulus theme in use here practically since the beginning.

Further impetus to making a change came this afternoon, when TPTB at released the new Twenty Eleven default theme, which you now see in all its glory. A quick test of the widget situation, and it became clear that the time had come.

Twenty Eleven is a perfect choice for a transitional look, as it solves the immediate widget problem and makes the blog a bit more readable. Meanwhile, I can continue the search for an even better fit. So you’ll see Twenty Eleven here for at least a few weeks, but perhaps a bit longer. One never really knows.

For the moment at least, the header graphic will have next to nothing to do with the subject matter (though I suppose the “city at night” header I’ve been using up to now hasn’t been especially relevant either). I may play with that some. I will also be updating the blogroll and making a few other surface changes.

So if you haven’t clicked on the blogroll in a while, or are interested in getting these posts in your Inbox, take a look to the right column and click whatever strikes your fancy. In any case, thanks for your interest.

If you blog, how often do you change your theme? What prompts you to make such a change? Have some thoughts on Twenty Eleven specifically, or what should appear here? Please leave a comment!

Notes on the Evolution of Notes

When I started Notes from the Metaverse some eons ago on a platform that no longer exists, it was a standard personal blog. I wrote about things that interested me, whether on the web (most posts had at least one link to peruse) or in life. Since most of my interests at the time had to do with writing and Linux (and quite often writing about Linux), those were the things I wrote about. So when I moved my blogging HQ to, my tagline seemed fairly obvious. The blog would be about “Working, Writing and Open Source.” And so it was.

Over time, though, the focus here would be more and more on free and open source software (FOSS), and much less on all the other parts of me. Nothing wrong with that. While I’ve always written here with an audience in mind, the size of that audience was never a central concern. I like to think I’m all about helping people with their computers, and outlining the advantages of open source without being too much of a zealot about it.

Anyway, as a writer, my focus has evolved over the years, and the new book is a part of that evolution. While I’m not one of those folks who believe that desktop computing is going away entirely in the next few years, I’ve always been interested in the tools the Internet provides us with that help build community and expand free speech. WordPress as an endlessly malleable open source tool is a stellar example of these great tools.

This is all to say that Notes from the Metaverse is going to change just the tiniest bit in 2010. First, let’s note that there will be more posts. Really! The goal is to post weekly at a minimum. There may even be more when I go to conferences and such.

Second, posts will remain (perhaps even more) focused on FOSS generally. There will be more stuff about the web and community than there has been, but this will not become just another blog about WordPress. I read a lot of these, and the world probably doesn’t need one from me.

Third, there will continue to be posts about Linux desktop software, as most of my personal computing continues to happen on openSUSE and Kubuntu. Many of these posts will be about KDE 4.x, which I’m coming to believe gets a bad rap from too many folks. Don’t be surprised if I expand on that theme soon.

Fourth, while the size of the audience is still not a primary concern (Confession: Writing the SEO sections of the WordPress book was one of the hardest parts of the book, because I had trouble putting myself into that mindset), I pay enough attention to my visitor stats to¬† have noticed that y’all really like the how-to posts done here. To be honest, I like reading them too. So there will be more of that too, on both the Linux and WordPress sides.

Finally, with the imminent relaunching of (OK, some might think it was never really launched the first time), this site will get a little bit of a facelift/theme shift. The tagline will be adjusted. Categories will be pruned, and tags used much more effectively. I’m also going to post more on the writing life at the abovementioned site. More to come on that very soon.

Change is never easy. Let me know what you think about these ideas; nothing’s set in stone yet. Heck, it’s a blog–nothing’s ever set in stone.

Got FeedBuddy?

In my continuing quest to make things easier on my readers (yeah, you!), I’ve been trying to add FeedBuddy to the page. This service lets you subscribe to the “Notes from the Metaverse” feed using just about any reader (web-based or disk-based) you can think of. Or at least those were the notes I took from wherever it was I read about it.

Problem is: For the last two weeks, I haven’t been able to connect to the Feedbuddy website to sign up. I’ve tried different browsers, different times of day, different OSs, but the site continually times out. I even re-Googled it to make sure I didn’t have the wrong URL. No luck.

Does anyone know if Feedbuddy has become too popular for its own good, or just died prematurely? Anybody know of a similar service? Or do y’all like a series of buttons down the right side of the page with the blogroll? All thoughts entertained.

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Getting a Little More Social

Taking up some housekeeping details around here. Finally adding some blogroll material to the sidebar over there. Feel free to visit some other folks I read and learn from. This is likely to expand in the coming days and weeks, but I won’t subject you to everything.

The About page hiding in the cityscape above will have some actual content quite shortly now. In the meantime, just know that I’m a writer by trade, and openSUSE Linux Unleashed will be out in October.

For some inexplicable reason, I’ve also signed up at two different social networks this week.

  • is a hangout mostly for public radio types.
  • The Celtic Lounge was set up by Black 47 lead singer Larry Kirwan and music writer Mike Farragher as a hangout for Irish/Celtic musicians and their fans. Black 47 is one of my favorite bands for a lot of reasons, and I’ve got the Celtic moniker to count as an Irish writer, so it may be fun over there.

You’ll find me in both places as “workingwriter.” Stop by if you have the inclination.

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What is This?

Yesterday, there was a brief and somewhat hysterical post here that served as an intro to Notes from the Metaverse, the WordPress edition. Today, there will be a brief, and I hope more rational post, explaining what is up with this blog. The post would be longer, were I not about to fall over from fatigue. But that’s what you get when you’re an old fart who’s been up past his bedtime all week watching bowl games (and weren’t those last two some dandies??).

Moving right along to the topic at hand. This here location is very likely to be the new home for this thing I’ve been writing off and on for close to three years. Surprisingly enough, it too is called Notes from the Metaverse, and is housed over at the Radio Userland stable. I’m working on a longer posting that will describe the history which should be up in a few days.

Your host is Mike McCallister, author of SUSE Linux 10 Unleashed, in better bookstores everywhere. I’ve been writing about technology for about a dozen years, and covering various other beats for even longer than that. Most of the postings here will be about technology, and most of those will be about Linux and other open source tools. I have been known to drift on occasion, but that’s the nice thing about blogging. You can go off-topic, so long as you don’t annoy the readers too much. I will strive mightily not to do that.

Well, that’s enough for now. Tune in tomorrow!