Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I've never been popular. Or have I?

I was the guy who went to school in corduroy pants, with horribly big hair, and who's back made the most convincing question mark that a person could make. At one point a friend's mother told her son to stop stooping or he'd end up looking like me. A shade away from telling him that the wind might change.

At Intermediate, I still had the big hair (now shaped in a mockery of the guys from Beverly Hills 90210, aptly named a "mushroom cut"). Imagine - puberty, big hair, it's no longer the 80's so big hair is no longer in (and things were to get worse - those big belts in the 80's suddenly became short skirts in the 90's. I'll talk about this at some stage). One word. Awkward.

At high school, there were a few times when I would turn around a corner only to find that the fits of laughter would suddenly stop and then start again when I'd passed the laughers.

Not brilliant for self confidence.

At some stage though, things changed. People started becoming less judgemental. I noticed this at high school (there's a whole story in here but I'll avoid it in case I'm as "popular" as might have been indicated).

Fast forward a few years. A bunch of friends and I were invited to Uma's (that's Uma as in Uma Thurman - the woman I'm talking about here has a passing resemblance to Uma Thurman. Mrs. Cream - as in Irish Cream, also a name invented to protect identity - told me off for publishing her name with the "complaining" post so I'm being a little more cautious) parties. These parties were great. We'd turn up on time (in other words, a couple of hours before anyone else turned up), help her decorate (they were ALWAYS themed) and then spend the night in the kitchen talking to each other. Eventually going to sleep in the lounge.

It turns out though, that Uma had loads of awkward guy friends. The sort of people who gravitated towards the kitchen. So every couple of months we'd go to these parties and the whole lot of us would hang out in the kitchen.

There were embarrassing moments in there - there's a photo out there somewhere of me passed out on the couch with a horribly long baloon in a compromising position. The night where I'd drunken so much I was sitting outside not feeling great. Uma came out to see if I was okay and I had answered in the affirmative only to follow up with a power chuck at her. She was a good 2 to 3 meters away and it was bouncing off her. Despite my drunkeness, I still, to this day, remember it clearly and am embarrassed by it. She doesn't, funnily enough. It was perhaps just a little worse by the fact that she was wearing a dress she had borrowed from her mother - a great 1960's floral number. Yes kids, you'll do things you'll regret - the difference between a fool and a wise man. The wise man will learn from their mistakes.

So back to the parties. At some stage we got out of the kitchen. This is when fire was introduced to the parties. Fire pois and a fire staff. Things that looked great - taking photos was awesome. It occurred to me then that we'd become the centre of this group of awkward guys. We were there - people would centre around my friends and I.

We'd done it - we were popular. Weren't we?

Back when I went to Unitec, I had gained a reputation as a troubleshooter. I would hang out in the courtyard and would get called in to help people debug their programming code. I could seldom just hang around. I was getting called in to help various people with various problems. Hint: if you're tired, never ever use a variable called Count. There's the possibility of missing letters.


Fast forward a few more years. I organise the meetings for AuckLUG (The Auckland Linux Users Group). I see it as me being very community orientated. However, it seems attributes I don't normally attribute to myself are attributed to me. I turn up to the meetings and talk to everyone I know and I'm hit by a series of technical questions. Say a little about yourself and people assume a lot more. The less you say, the more they assume. Brilliant. Is that popularity?

And then the blog.

I turned up to the school today to have a few things mentioned about last night's blog post. Sure, it was one of the adults talking about it, but he'd said to me, the kids have probably already seen it. They're a Google generation.

Funnily enough, I decided to Google the name Nevyn (this isn't actually my real name - I'll post about this some time too) and came across a blog. Kid's, don't visit this blog. It has some uncensored language:

Her post on "The Art of Saying NO" strikes a certain resonance in me.

So people are actually reading the blog. I think there have been 4 comments today. It doesn't sound like enough, but loads of people (27 I think?) read the entry today. So where are these people coming from?

[ Update: It's now showing 56 visits for yesterday and a couple more comments. I'm practically a celebrity! ;) ]

Google doesn't really show me - I think I appear on the second page of results for my profile on the TangleBall wiki. If you search within New Zealand, I'm there, in all my glory. My more political posts on the New Zealand Labour Party blog site, posts from me in AuckLUG or NZLUG, me complaining about what passes for a computer magazine in New Zealand (Computer World), some indication that I'm involved with OLPC with a testing report showing my name. The simple act of searching within New Zeland though eliminates the blog.

Are they visiting from the tag at the bottom of my emails? But this can't be it either. The people who commented on my blog today aren't people that I've emailed - unless my emails have been forwarded on to other people (is that popularity?). I don't think that's all that likely either.

But wait! We're on the Internet. All of those people probably have a "Google Alert" looking for some obscure term... like Manaiakalani. So to all of those reading this because it popped up in your Google Alert, say hi in the comments. Oh, and yes, I used the word Manaiakalani a couple of times in this post just to see if I'm right.

[Update: It seems I got this wrong. Only one person really need have the alert - and that one person to forward on the address to everyone else in the school. Hi Dorothy]

There is another purpose for this post. I've been talking to a community minded person in Wellington who invited me to join a "planet". Basically an aggregate of blog posts. Cool. A bigger audience. Although, there was only really one post that came to mind for this planet, the guy said to me there were a few posts on my blog that should be distributed to a wider audience.

Should I be looking to do this sort of thing? Getting onto more planets. Being a bit more lose with my selection criteria etc. Better yet, if more people comment, it's an indication to me that people agree or disagree with my horribly opinionated posts. A discussion is always good. Better yet, I would really love it if people let me know that I've brought up something that's likely to resonate with other people.

In other words, I want a social media consultant without having to pay for one...


  1. I think I found it from your sig on the AuckLUG mail list :)

  2. Which still strikes me as a little odd. I get information overload. I occasionally go looking for it and read the occasional blog post (I don't follow any to a great degree) but generally, I completely ignore people's signatures.

    Great to have you here though Tim.