Ello… Is It Me You’re Looking For: A New User’s Guide (Sep. ’14)

ellologoEllo is the new kid on the social media block. Lots of people are signing up to check it out… and getting a little stuck. This guide might not answer all your questions, but it should give you a good chance at figuring out the basics:

1. Where Can I Find Help, Tips & A FAQ? There are a few things that might help. First is clicking the WTF in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. This will provide you links to Ello’s HelpAbout and Policies pages. The most useful will likely be the Help page as it links to Tips and the FAQ. Next up is the page for user @cacheflowe. When you signed up, they became your first friend. They’re a good friend to have, as info on what is being fixed and developed for the site can be found on their profile page. Definitely check it out. Lastly, there’s the good old Google search, which turned up a how-to for Ello on Tom’s Guide.

2. How Do I Find My Friends? The search function will let you locate people by username. To search, click on the Discover icon (a person with a plus sign on their shoulder in the upper left-hand part of the screen) and type in your friend’s username (e.g. cacheflowe). Search results should pare down as you type. It turns out that the foolproof way to find your friends by username is to play ‘URL Fill in the Blank’. For example, if your friend’s username is @bobbyjean, you can jump right to their Ello page by typing in: ello.co/bobbyjean – it’s that simple. [NOTE: As of 10/1/14 the ‘Discover’ feature isn’t extremely useful in searching by a user’s actual name (e.g. ‘Robin Smith’), but that functionality will likely improve in time.]

3. How Do I Add Friends? Once you’re on a friend’s Ello page, you click either Friend or Noise in the upper right-hand corner to add them to your feed. According to Ello, “We built two different streams, called FRIENDS and NOISE, to contain clutter and keep Ello organized.” For a full rundown of how these two streams work, visit the Ello Tips pageAdvanced Tip: Once you’ve found a friend’s page, look beneath their username and click on Following or Followers. In the list that pops up, if you see someone you know (or find interesting) you can just click on that user’s image and drag-and-drop it into your Friends or Noise boxes on the left side of the screen. Now you’re following them!

4. What Happens If I Click The Smiley Face? That’s the equivalent of a ‘home’ button. It will take you back to your feeds page (on which you can toggle between the Friends and Noise feeds).

5. What Happens If I Click The 3 Lines? This just makes the icons for ‘Discover’‘Invite’ and ‘Settings’ either appear or disappear, depending on what’s currently on your screen.

6. How Do I Post? On any screen, you can post by clicking on what Ello calls the omnibar. You can also drag-and-drop content into it. Rather than re-describe it, here’s Ello’s take on what it is and how to use it.

7. How Do I Tag/Mention A User In A Post? Much like Twitter or Instagram, when you put a person’s username preceded by an ‘@’ in any post, they’ll be notified that you mentioned them. (e.g. “Pretty crazy running into @bobbyjean today!”)

8. How Do I Post On A Friend’s Page? When you’re on a friend’s page, you’ll see the omnibar at the top. Add content there to post to their page.

9. How Do I Comment On Posts? Underneath the post you want to comment on, click the icon of three dots and it will open up a comment window for you.

10. Can I Unfriend People? Sure thing. Visit their page and click on Friends or Noise (whichever category they’re in) in the upper right-hand corner and it will essentially unfriend them. Don’t worry, you can always add them back later if you choose.

Hope this helps. Cheers!


Where to Watch the Vice Presidential Debate in the SF Bay Area

Some big events are meant to be watched with a crowd (and drinks): the Super Bowl, World Series and movies in general. The Presidential and Vice Presidential debates are also more fun when watched that way. And shouting at the TV screen is acceptable – it might even get you a free drink or a high-five.

Interested in getting out and seeing the Vice Presidential debate (6pm Pacific Time) with other high-spirited folks? I’ve done a little research to give you options (most of which are also good for the remaining Presidential debates). If you know of others, feel free to add them as comments:

Parkway Speakeasy Theater – free
1834 Park Boulevard
Doors: 5pm, two screens

Conga Lounge (Rockridge)
5422 College Ave
1/2 mile from the Rockridge BART

Lobot Gallery
1800 Campbell Street
Debate projected on wall (15′ tall), donation suggested

Everett & Jones
126 Broadway (at Second Street)
BBQ, beer

Oakland Zoo – members $10/non-members $12
9777 Golf Links Road

San Francisco
2 LIPS Bar & Lounge
1414 Market (at 10th Street)
Three flat screens, $2 beers

Inner Mission
3349 20th Street (at Shotwell)

The Page (Page and Divisadero) – Lower Haight
Three flatscreens, happy hour specials, snacks

The Mix
4086 18th Street (at Castro)

Valley Tavern
4054 24th Street – Noe Valley

500 Club
500 Guerrero (at 17th Street)
Four flatscreen HDTVs, bar snacks, drink specials

Ten 15 Folsom
1015 Folsom (at Sixth)
Special guests Kamala Harris and Leland Yee, hosted by Obama for America

Kennedy’s Irish Pub and Curry House
1040 Columbus Ave
Irish pub/Indian restaurant; If they aren’t tuned in, just ask the bartender to change the channel

Kezar Pub
770 Stanyan (at Waller) – Haight
Official meeting place of the Obama Campaign Cole Valley/Upper Haight group

The World Affairs Council (2nd Floor Auditorium) – $15 ($10 with “bring a friend” registration)
312 Sutter St.
Seats 100+

Mark Sanchez for Supervisor HQ
988 Valencia Street
Beer available

Eric Mar for Supervisor HQ
4328 Geary Boulevard (at 8th)
Beer available

Temple SF/Prana – $10
540 Howard Street

901 Columbus Cafe – North Beach
901 Columbus Ave (between Chestnut & Lombard)

Tosca Cafe **unconfirmed**
242 Columbus Ave

Dovre Club **unconfirmed**
1498 Valencia St (between 25th & 26th)

Argus Lounge **unconfirmed**
3187 Mission (@ Valencia)

Amante **unconfirmed**
570 Green Street

UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies
Moses Hall, Room 109 (Institute Library)

AJ’s Sports Pub
4633 Clayton Road

El Cerrito
Cerrito Speakeasy Theater – free
10070 San Pablo Avenue
Doors: 5pm, two screens

This webpage is a one-stop shop article on URLs for the online feeds:

Sources: Here are the sites which gave me multiple viewing locations (in case they get updated):

Spelling It Out for Palin

Whether you’re a supporter or detractor of Sarah Palin (or somewhere in-between), I found something in the text of her speech tonight which shows that McCain and Palin are trying to draw a clear distinction between the Bush Presidency and what a McCain-Palin administration would look like. It comes down to one word:


As you know, W. has been pronouncing “nuclear” as NOO-kyu-lurr since our introduction to him (and very probably since he first learned the word). If you want to make quick points with the American public — understanding that they draw a correlation between using language properly and a speaker’s intelligence — and distance yourself from President Bush in the process, all you need to do is pronounce the word “nuclear” correctly. Every time. Tonight, in her speech at the Republican National Convention, Sarah Palin did just that. Something McCain guaranteed.

I have no idea how Ms. Palin pronounces the word in her daily life, and that’s irrelevant. What’s important to note is that the Republican party took no chances when preparing her speech for tonight. From a document in the New York Times whose heading reads: “The following is the text provided by the Republican National Committee of Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech as prepared for delivery at the Republican National Convention,” there are two passages worth paying attention to. Passage one:

Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines … build more new-clear plants … create jobs with clean coal … and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources.

Could be a typo, right? Wrong. From later in the same speech:

Terrorist states are seeking new-clear weapons without delay … [McCain] wants to meet them without preconditions.

Since there are no other misspellings or alternate spellings in the text, the presence of two identical radical (and phonetic) spellings of “nuclear” is not a coincidence.

McCain didn’t want Bush to speak on his behalf at the convention, and he got his wish (at least as far as non-virtual appearances go). Now he doesn’t want his running mate to speak like Bush at the convention. Currently McCain is two for two.

Tonight we learned that McCain and Obama are on the same side of the nuclear issue — they both agree on how to pronounce it.

Hulu, My New Best Friend

I want you to meet my new best friend (and soon to be yours), Hulu.com. It’s a joint effort between NBC and News Corp (Fox) and does what YouTube can’t (i.e. provide network-copyrighted video on the web). As far as providing high-quality, embeddable content, Hulu actually does a better job than YouTube, but that makes some sense since it’s not user-uploaded content but network TV shows and movies being streamed.

For a thorough rundown of what Hulu has to offer, you can check out this review. Two things to note if you read the article: Hulu.com is no longer in beta, and there is a way to embed Hulu videos in WordPress blogs. More on that last one coming up in a bit.

With Hulu, you have access to full seasons of TV shows (both current and classic) from NBC and Fox as well as programming from over 60 over networks (if you count the different networks on their “TV:Network” page), including: WKRP in Cincinnati (20th Century Fox), NOVA (PBS), Battlestar Galactica (SciFi), Monk (USA), and Welcome Back Kotter (Warner Brothers). Plus, if you don’t have cable (like me) you can always watch last night’s Daily Show or Colbert Report.

There are also full-length movies available, and the selection is just as amazing as the TV shows, with movies like Ghostbusters, Sideways, The Fifth Element and Lost in Translation. The amazing thing is that there are unedited R-rated movies on the site. So, in contrast to network television, the movies don’t have characters calling people “cork soakers” or stupid “mother fathers”, and the nudity is there in all its shirtless glory. If you don’t believe me, watch Porky’s or The Girl Next Door on Hulu.

Where watching movies and TV shows on Hulu becomes similar to watching actual network programming is when it comes to commercials. There is a pre-video commercial and individual commercials at intervals during any movie or TV show, but they’re only fifteen seconds. With a countdown to when your video will resume at the top of the viewer window, it makes them amazingly easy to bear.

When Hulu started testing their site, their videos were not embeddable on WordPress.com blogs. Thanks to VodPod, that’s a thing of the past. Hulu can provide you embed code that works for most blogs, but if you have a WordPress blog, you can find out how to embed a Hulu video on this page. Just be aware that for the “Post to WordPress” button to work as described, you’ll have to sign up for a free account on VodPod. Totally worth it. Because it allows me to bring you this: Vodpod videos no longer available.

I’m thrilled about all the Saturday Night Live sketches like this which are available on Hulu, but my current obsession is working my way through watching all three seasons of Fox’s Arrested Development. I never saw the show on television, and now I can see why so many people loved it. For free.

There’s one last feature worth mentioning, and it’s pretty cool. You can select the exact clip you want to share from any video in their library. Just hit the “Share” button (which appears when you mouseover the screen), and I’m sure you’ll be able to figure it out from there.

I suggest you give Hulu a look. I think you’re going to love it.

Kevin’s Legacy

Yesterday was my brother Kevin’s birthday. He would have been 28. I miss that crazy bastard.

What do I mean by crazy? How about this for starters:


He loved fire. Loved it. He got a kick out of blowing huge fireballs at parties. Once, at a Phish concert, one of Kevin’s fireballs caused Trey Anastasio to stutter mid-song as it shot up above the crowd. With Kevin’s larger-than-life image on the Jumbotron screen, the fans roared as Kevin blew fireball after fireball. Until security got him.

In college he went to see the doctor because his body was doing some odd things. The diagnosis: partial liver failure. My brother didn’t drink much, and there was no family history of liver trouble, so the doctor was puzzled. He asked Kevin, “Is there anything you do that’s out of the ordinary? Something you do for fun? Something other people don’t do?”

Kevin thought for a moment and said, “I like to spit fire.” When the doctor asked what substance he used to “spit” fire with, Kevin explained, “Bacardi works pretty well, but for a really solid fireball I like to use lamp oil.” Lamp oil! Needless to say the doctor’s recommendation was to avoid incidental ingestion of potentially toxic flammable substances. After following the doctor’s orders, Kevin’s liver got better.

On more than one Halloween Kevin dressed in drag. Wearing full makeup, high heels, and an evening dress (with his existing goatee), he would set about entertaining some and causing uneasiness among others. I was one of the others. On one of these occasions, he got me in a bear hug and tried to kiss me, faithfully playing the role of an amorous transvestite. Truly one of my more uncomfortable moments.

To me, Kevin was more than just a brother. When he was born, I felt he was a gift for me specifically. There’s a picture of me at six years old holding my toddler brother and the joy on my face is plain to see.

I remember a day in my teens when he and I had come back from doing something and we both wanted to share the story with the family. I looked at him and said, “Tell them what happened.” He looked at me and said, “No, you tell them.” I wouldn’t. I think he may have looked up to me then for being able to tell a good story, but I wanted him to find his own voice. I knew that wouldn’t happen unless I got out of his way. I told him, “Look, I’m not telling the story. If you don’t tell it, it’s not getting told.” He told the story and I was so damn proud of him.

What hurts the most is knowing the moments I won’t be having, the times I won’t be spending with him. He was supposed to be the Best Man at my wedding. He was supposed to be the crazy uncle to my kids. He was supposed to outgrow the “little” and just be my brother. It seemed like we had all the time in the world.

When Kevin had cancer, there was one night when he and I slept in the living room of my mom’s beach house. He had the couch and I had the loveseat. Since they were at ninety degree angles to one another, our heads were just a few feet apart. With the lights out, knowing how precious time was, I told him how much I loved him. And how much I’d miss him. And I cried. He told me he’d miss me too. It broke my heart.

Near the end, on one of my weekend visits to New York to see him, I remember having to leave to fly back to Boulder and feeling soulsick. Kevin’s condition was deteriorating. He hardly left the bed anymore, he couldn’t walk under his own power and his language skills were failing. He could no longer form complete sentences. It took great concentration for him to find even the simplest words to communicate his thoughts and feelings. I woke him to tell him I was leaving. I said, “I love you, buddy.” He looked up and said, as though completing my thought with his words, “So much… so much.” And my heart broke again.

A few months back I made a promise that every year on or around his birthday I would do something adventurous, life-affirming, and perhaps a little bit crazy to honor his memory. This year it was a trip to Canada. It gave me an emotional boost and a better perspective on life. It also allowed me to say goodbye to Kevin. Or at least to begin to. It was time.

So, I miss you, you crazy bastard. And I still love you so much… so much.