Mountebank Blog

"There is nothing so impossible in nature, but mountebanks will undertake; nothing so incredible, but they will affirm."


For a very long time (since March 2004) my homepage here at has had the same look.  It was clear, and readable, I always thought, and really just a list of links.  But it certainly didn’t look too modern.  Didn’t really represent very well what I’ve been doing with WordPress lately.  The blog was using the first WordPress theme I ever built, and simple as it was, it worked.  So, with some time off and a cold day (really a couple of days), I took the chance to do some redesigning.  The homepage is now more like a “calling card” with far less on it (although I think I will put a bit more as time goes by).

And the blog is still the same old blog (it was fun to look through some old content).  I still won’t update it very frequently, probably, but from time to time I’m glad to have it as a medium.  And I learned a lot as always in the redesign (also moved to a new host and cloud server).  My CSS skills are improving.  And my MySQL skills less so.  My overall command line comfort is unjustifiably secure.  And in WordPress…I pretty much know what I’m doing.


Looks like I missed it by a month or two, but still worth recognizing that this blog passed its 10-year anniversary in March. Started in March 2004, and although it’s been intermittent for much of the time, looking back I’m very glad to see and say that I’ve had the site and will continue to have it.

And it’s worth noting how much, in ten years, WordPress and my work with it has contributed to my personal and professional life. When I think back to the original thinking, the first start (TypePad vs. WordPress was an original question), I remember that many of my same concerns (flexibility, community, design options, ease of use, affordability) are still informing my choices now.

Anyway, happy 10 years, This old theme looks a bit old-fashioned, now, true. But if we wait long enough, it’s sure to have a new retro appeal.

Prometheus for the Truly Nerdy

Short review of the new Ridley Scott movie:

It’s silly. Not even very scary.

Most important fact.

Yes, on the alien planet, entering the hollow mountain, the members of the scientific exploration team were using the Fenix TK-45 flashlight.

I sat through the whole movie thinking “is that a TK-45? I think it is.  I’ve been wanting to buy one of those!”

WordCampNYC 2010

It’s that time of year again, and I’m proud to be joining my fellow WordPressHeads at Baruch this weekend!

WordCampNYC – Oct 16-17

Macaulay Eportfolios Plugin List

One of our Instructional Technology Fellows asked for this list, so instead of just letting it sit in my sent email box, I thought I’d put it out for others to see.
These are plugins we’re using on our Macaulay Eportfolios WPMU install. It’s a snapshot, really, with some that I haven’t been able […]

The Producers

We gave all our incoming freshmen Flip Cams this past fall. These are very small digital camcorders. They are small enough to be carried all the time, ridiculously easy to use (no cables, and basic software is already installed right on the camera itself, and using AA batteries), and the video quality is […]

Newspapers Will Fold?

Time Magazine lists 10 Newspapers that will either Fold or Go Under Next.

1. The Philadelphia Daily News
2. The Minneapolis Star Tribune
3. The Miami Herald
4. The Detroit News
5. The Boston Globe.
6. The San Francisco Chronicle.
7. The Chicago Sun Times
8. NY Daily News
9. The Fort Worth Star Telegram
10. The Cleveland Plain Dealer

They give their reasoning for each one in the linked article above. It could be they’re right, even about all of them.

But here’s something I notice…I read this list because of a link from one of my twitter community–somebody I don’t know in “real life” at all. He linked to this Time Magazine story. On Yahoo News (where that link above is going to). And Time is actually just taking it from 24/

So if I’m counting right, this story reached me only after being re-purposed 4 times from its original source. And now it’s reaching anyone reading this after a 5th.

Content “producers” become content aggregators–and content “consumers” become content disseminators in the new media economy. And then those disseminators comment on the content, and re-purpose it, and make their own points. Like I’m doing here. So everybody’s role gets reshaped. Who’s the “real” producer?

Interesting times, that’s who.

(And by the way, I can’t think of a time in the past 10 years or more when I’ve actually bought a paper copy of Time Magazine–or even touched one except when stranded in a doctor’s office with nothing else available.)

This is what it’s about

When we talk about open publishing, open creating, students having the tools to be their own media sources, not just consumers, this is what it means. Lights? Cameras? Nah. I’ll just do it on my phone!

Blog From iphone

parachute jump at Coney IslandTo post directly from the iPhone, and even with a picture. How nice!

Sync iCal Outlook Entourage iPhone Google Calendar

This was (for me) the holy grail of syncing. I wanted all the possible syncing to work in all the possible directions–so if I added an event (or changed or deleted one) on the calendar on my iPhone, it would be reflected on the other calendars, too–and vice versa and versa vice. On Mac and on PC. (probably not necessary to explain why this complicated syncing was necessary–but I know, from much googling, that others would like to be able to do it, too.)

At first it was looking like it really would not be possible. But then two new developments made it all work.

IPhone 2.0 included true Exchange integration, and Google Calendar released their Calendar Sync (PC only, damn it, but that was workable).

So here’s how it all works now…

On the iPhone, set up to sync mail, calendar, and contacts with Exchange. That’s easy one-step, and syncs almost instantly.

Then the Exchange server handles syncing all that info with Entourage (on Mac) and Outlook (on PC).

The Google Calendar Sync handles syncing Outlook with Google Calendar (I keep that running in a VMWare Fusion virtual Windows XP machine on a desktop Mac).

And Spanning Sync (on the Mac) handles the syncing between Google Calendar and iCal.

Believe it or not, the whole thing works. There is (at most) a 10-minute lag for any event to sync, but they all do reflect all the same changes, and the best part is that it works for the iPhone without connecting the cable to sync.

Of course, an open calendaring standard, shared by everyone, would make all these gymnastics unnecessary. But as long as there’s Microsoft Exchange around, I don’t hold out much hope for that actually coming.