Category Archives: Technology

All things tech, from toys to hearing aids to ag-related developments…

The domain name,, is for sale

Real Joe

Real Joe was a blog that I published from August, 2000 to December of 2005.  Its tagline: Important stuff. Plain talk. Ordinary guys.

  1. The word ‘Joe’ in our culture is associated with the common man, a typical ‘guy’ or ‘fellow,’ the ‘average Joe,’ an ‘ordinary Joe.’  It also has taken on this ‘common man’ association with some demographics, e.g., G.I. Joe, Holy Joe, Joe College, Joe Sixpack, Joe Lunchbucket. The phrase ‘real Joe’ as in “He’s the real Joe” has come to be associated with authenticity and a lack of pretentiousness in a male.
  2. The word ‘Joe’ also refers to coffee, as in a ‘cup of Joe.’ The origin of that phrase is not clear.

If you’re interested in purchasing the domain name, contact me.

Electric bassist Travis Freudenberg will Reboot your computer

Travis Freudenberg, Reboot Computers, Northfield Reboot Computers, Northfield  Reboot Computers, Northfield
I stopped by Reboot Computers on Bridge Square on Wed. to meet proprietor Travis Freudenberg who, earlier in the week, had submitted a LoGro banner ad (free for a month).

Reboot Computers

Travis does all the usual computer servicing and repair (PCs and Macs), including:

  • System diagnostics
  • Virus removal
  • Data transfer
  • Data recovery
  • Custom system builds
  • Wireless network setup
  • Hardware sales and installation

You can follow Reboot Computers on Facebook or on Twitter.

DSC02420 Travis Freudenbert and Not One Stone at the Fine Line Music Cafe School of Salmon by Not One Stone
Travis is also an accomplished bass guitar player. From the bio page of one the bands he currently plays with, Rare Medium (Jazz/Funk):

Travis Freudenberg is an electric bassist with over 15 years of electric bass recording and performance experience. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Morris, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz Studies and, oddly enough, Biology in 2001. While in attendance at UMM, Travis recorded, toured, and performed with a variety of different groups, including UMM Jazz Ensemble 1, No Smoking, The Black and Blue Note Jazz Quartet, and the Booty Police.

Travis was a featured soloist with UMM Jazz Ensemble 1 at the 2000 Montreaux Jazz Festiva in Montreaux, Switzerland and also at the 2000 Vienne Jazz Festival in Vienne, France. He was honored with the Keith Carlson Memorial Jazz Award as Outstanding Jazz Musician at UMM in 2000.

He also plays with the hard rock group, Not One Stone. Here’s a clip of the song Catching You from their School of Salmon album:



I own a Mac but I am not a Mac person

I’ve never been a Steve Jobs fanboy, even though my personal and professional life have benefited greatly from the technologies he popularized.  He was a tyrant, he didn’t spend much time with his kids, and he wasn’t interested in philanthropy.  His death this week is an interesting cultural phenomenon to me, but the outpouring of sentimentality is more than a little strange. See The Onion: Apple User Acting Like His Dad Just Died.

I’ve owned many Apple products since the early 1980s, including the Apple IIe and the original Macintosh.  I currently have an iMac though I mainly use it as my Windows 7 desktop. My kids gave me an iPod years ago and Robbie and I both use it to manage our music collection.  I didn’t like the proprietary nature of the iPhone’s operating system and app store so I’ve opted for Android-based smartphones ever since they were available.  I didn’t like how the iPad required synchronization with a Mac platform ("Huh? I can’t dump my photos on it without using iPhoto? PHHHTTTTTT!") so I’ve waited for another tablet to catch my fancy.  Last week, I placed my order for a Kindle Fire. So I’m an Apple agnostic.

im-a-mac-im-a-pcTen years ago, I heard a marketing guru state that she was a "Mac person." She was illustrating the extent to which people can become emotionally attached to products—and that this was a desirable thing for a company.

Ever since, I’ve tried to become more aware of and discourage my tendency to do likewise in my life as a consumer.  I have enough trouble with my ego and mistaken ideas about who I really am.  Over-identification with a product is a trap I’m better off avoiding.

(FYI, I loved those I’m a PC/I’m a Mac commercials. For more, see the April 2011 HuffPo article, Mac People vs. PC People: What Your Gadget Says About You.)

So yeah, R.I.P. Steve.  Now let’s move on.

Free live text chat: WordPress Q&A on Tuesday, June 28, 10 am

Got a question about WordPress, either the .com or .org versions?

Join me for a free live text chat here on LoGro, Tuesday, June 28, 10-11 am and I’ll answer as many WordPress-related questions as possible.

The Q&A is mainly intended for beginning and intermediate level users, including those who are the administrators and editor of their blog sites as well as those who are just authors or contributors.

Use the form below to email yourself a reminder about the event’s date/start time: Tuesday, June 28, 10-11 am.

If you can’t attend the live event:

  • Submit a question ahead of time by attaching a comment below to this blog post
  • Come back anytime after the event is over to read the transcript

What is the Internet hiding from you? If you have an ‘anchoring community’ then probably not much

Eli Pariser’s new book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You and his TED Talk video are getting a lot of attention this week.

Eli PariserAs web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a "filter bubble" and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

in the Author Q&A on Amazon’s page for his book, Pariser writes:

We’re used to thinking of the Internet like an enormous library, with services like Google providing a universal map. But that’s no longer really the case. Sites from Google and Facebook to SEO are now increasingly personalized – based on your web history, they filter information to show you the stuff they think you want to see. That can be very different from what everyone else sees – or from what we need to see. Your filter bubble is this unique, personal universe of information created just for you by this array of personalizing filters. It’s invisible and it’s becoming more and more difficult to escape.

Nick BiltonLast year, NY Times tech reporter and blogger Nick Bilton published a book titled I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works in which he cited a research paper by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro titled Ideological Segregation Online and Offline in which they found "no evidence that the Internet is becoming more segregated over time."  

In an April 2010 column titled Riders on the Storm, David Brooks wrote about this, too.

This study suggests that Internet users are a bunch of ideological Jack Kerouacs. They’re not burrowing down into comforting nests. They’re cruising far and wide looking for adventure, information, combat and arousal. This does not mean they are not polarized. Looking at a site says nothing about how you process it or the character of attention you bring to it. It could be people spend a lot of time at their home sites and then go off on forays looking for things to hate. But it probably does mean they are not insecure and they are not sheltered.

If this study is correct, the Internet will not produce a cocooned public square, but a free-wheeling multilayered Mad Max public square. The study also suggests that if there is increased polarization (and there is), it’s probably not the Internet that’s causing it.

For more, see this blog post from April 2010 by Michael Cervieri titled, Does the Internet put us in Ideological Ghettos?

I’m not too worried about a filter bubble, as my ‘anchoring community’ seem to provide the antidote. Bilton wrote in his book:

I can tell you firsthand that thanks to my anchoring communities, I see a drastically wider range of viewpoints online than I’ve ever experienced reading a print newspaper, watching the nightly news, or reading select niche magazines.

What are anchoring communities? Bilton:

By offering their own digital links and connections, marketing and advertising communities help us cope with the massive numbers of people and the incalculable amount of information online and give us neatly refined selections to sift through together.  They help us contain information flow. These social networks provide cognitive road maps that help us navigate all the information and help relieve the mental taxation of trying to manage excessive information on one’s own.

Currently, Twitter is the online tool I use the most to connect me to my anchoring community, both for Northfield-related information as well as everything else. But the cool thing about living, working and being engaged in the Northfield community is that my daily face-to-face roaming about provides this, too.

The new rules of phone calls: how not to be a jerk

angry_on_the_phoneI don’t answer my cell phone anymore (I don’t have a land line) unless it’s a good friend or family member.  I figure if someone doesn’t want to take the time to email me or text me ahead of time to A) let me know why they want to talk; and B) arrange a time, then I’m not going to interrupt what I’m doing at their whim.

So I was thrilled to see this NY Times article last week: Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You.

Phone calls are rude. Intrusive. Awkward. “Thank you for noticing something that millions of people have failed to notice since the invention of the telephone until just now,” Judith Martin, a k a Miss Manners, said by way of opening our phone conversation. “I’ve been hammering away at this for decades. The telephone has a very rude propensity to interrupt people.”  Though the beast has been somewhat tamed by voice mail and caller ID, the phone caller still insists, Ms. Martin explained, “that we should drop whatever we’re doing and listen to me.”

Yeah, baby.

If you leave a voicemail, have the decency to explain why you want to talk so I can judge whether a return call is warranted and how soon. I hate it when people leave a "Hey Griff, call me" voicemail and then hang up.

Lastly, speak distinctly, as your voicemail automatically gets translated into text and then sent to me via email and text. 1) It’s very handy to have the text of a voicemail be searchable in my Gmail, with your phone number clickable.  2) If you drone on and on and on in your voicemail, I don’t have to listen to it. Text is fast. Audio is slow.

Northfield Patch, hyperlocal news, and the future of journalism

Jane McWilliamsI normally prefer more narrowly focused blog posts. And any one of the three subjects in the blog post title would typically suffice.

But Jane McWilliams is teaching a Cannon Valley Elder Collegium course this spring titled The Future of Journalism (4 slots left as I write this) and local media moguls from KYMN, the Northfield News, Northfield Patch,, and yes, even Locally Grown are among the guests she’s having attend various class sessions.

  1. Since Northfield Patch is the new kid on the block here in town, its time to scrutinize their effort, both locally and nationally.  What has been their impact on Northfield thus far? What do you like about what they’re doing? What’s disappointing or problematic?
  2. PatchPatch is a national chain of hyperlocal news sites owned by AOL. There have been many other high profile hyperlocal news projects launched, with many failures already. What’s being learned out there?
  3. Journalism (local, state, national, international) continues to be in a state of extreme flux.  What do you like and not like about what you’re seeing?

If you come across interesting resources related to these issues, be sure to post them in a comment with a link and, if you’re up for it, an excerpt.

WordPress for Noobs course begins March 14; sign up now and save $25

Time for a little shameless self-promotion.

WordPress for NoobsI’m nearing the end of teaching my first online course, WordPress for Noobs.  It’s gone well so I’m offering it again, starting March 14.

  • I’ve revamped the WordPress for Noobs course introduction screencast.

    It’s an incredibly solid framework that won’t slow you down with excess plugins or custom edits. Make the changes right from the and avoid bloat

    When I created the first one, the course didn’t exist. I’m now able to take you behind the scenes to show how the course actually works.

  • I’ve updated the Noobs Course Outline page to more accurately reflect what actually has happened. I’ve added a column for weeks (Week 1, Week 2, etc) to show what gets delivered and when.
  • I’ve updated the testimonials page to include comments from participants
  • The fee for the course remains $97 but it goes up on March 8 to $122.

WordPress for Noobs starts soon. Get it through Your Thick Skull.

Hayes Scriven makes use of a QR code for the NHS ‘Next Level’ campaign

I got an email this morning from Northfield Historical Society Executive Director Hayes Scriven:

Hey Griff, I saw a story over the weekend about a town in Florida using a version of QR Codes for tourism.  That reminded me about your blog post: A QR Code makes its appearance in the January NEG. How else might the codes be used?

So I wanted to look into how they work.  I found out they are really easy, so I did this one for our capital campaign.  Now, that I know how easy they are I am going to do a few more for other areas of the museum.

NHS 'Next Level' campaign QR code flyer NHS 'Next Level' campaign QR code flyer triggers video

Hayes attached a camera phone photo of a Next Level campaign flyer (with QR code on it) in the window of the NHS. I aimed my smartphone at the image attachment on my PC and within 5 seconds (photo above right), a YouTube video started to play, Taking Northfield History to the Next Level, featuring Corrine and Elvin Heiberg.