It's time for people in North America and Europe who respect Movable Type to start supporting it again, and tell the web publishing community why it is still a great platform for creating and publishing all sorts of web content.

Since I left Six Apart and started After6 Services, I have watched people make all sorts of crazy statements about Movable Type.  This is a product I have used since early in 2003 when I launched Operation Gadget.

Most of the negative things that people say about Movable Type-- that it is antiquated, poorly supported, inefficient, and expensive compared to its competitors-- simply aren't true.  Anybody who thinks I'm wrong about this needs to sit down with me for a talk about which metrics you use when making your judgements.

I know Movable Type, and I am learning everything I can about the competition.  Those competitors are not head-and-shoulders above Movable Type in any area except for the mindshare of web publishers.  And that can be fixed by a concerted marketing effort from Six Apart and its third-party developer community.

Due to almost zero marketing since the original Six Apart merged with VideoEgg to form SAY Media, Movable Type usually isn't part of the conversation when talk turns to what publishing tools will be used to build the next great online property.  Through this M&A activity, the new Six Apart-- which was the old Six Apart's Japanese subsidiary headquartered in Tokyo-- was reduced to a zero-employee presence in North America for over a year.  So it shouldn't surprise anybody that the product hasn't been marketed outside of Japan in any meaningful way since January 2011. 

This has to change, if only because WordPress has had a free ride for a long time against competitors that are marketed unsuccessfully (which is a worse problem than not being marketed at all).  WordPress is a great product, but one with some weaknesses that make it a less solid choice than Movable Type for a number of online publishing tasks.

The other day I listened to Episode 49 of the podcast Back to Work, where Merlin Mann and his guest John Gruber from Daring Fireball spend about 8 to 10 minutes talking about why Movable Type is a fantastic platform for building websites.  The thought crossed my mind that this is not simply a better refutation of what my good friend Byrne Reese said about Movable Type a year ago than I could write.  The podcast made me wonder what it would take to get Merlin Mann and John Gruber to stand up in front of a group of people and say these things again?

"At Daring Fireball I have complete control.  And that's why I use MT {Movable Type}.  There's, you know, other systems I could use that would be-- more modern.  But I've got a system set up there so I can control everything," John Gruber at 1 minute.

"I miss MT so much.  That was my introduction to the command line....  I mean you've got to give Ben {Trott} props for coming up with that-- what would you call it?  Like... inside of the less than greater thans, the ability to have that meta language for what posts should do on the page. {That} was how I learned so much stuff that I later kind of did with programming...." Merlin Mann.

"I think the credit that Ben should get is, to me it was the first system that, and I was looking before I launched Daring Fireball for at least a year, and... staying on top of anything that called itself a weblog system, a CMS, or anything like that.  It was really, really good at not being constrained to the author of the system's idea of what a blog or a CMS should be....

And there were other systems before MT but you could use them to make a site like the site that it came with out of the box.  Whereas Movable Type was like LEGO.  It came with instructions to get a default blog that looked like an MT 1.0 blog.  But you could just take all of the pieces apart and put them together any way you want.  And I think that's really, really hard to do.  And in hindsight, it's easy to overlook," John Gruber at 2:41.

"... Here's the one distinction that can get lost in all that.  Also you have to give props to Mena {Trott}... once you had that thing installed,... you had a pretty blog that worked.  You never had to touch anything.  But there was still all that stuff under the hood, and some people to this day, like you or like {Matt} Haughey did for a long time, really put that to great use.

And here's the distinction, this is nothing against Open Source software.... but if you think the way the developers think, and let's be honest most people in some form or fashion do, you're good to go.  And so, when you put up Plone {sic, Merlin means Slashcode}, you are implicitly making a clone of Slashdot....

But what Movable Type did, if you were savvy with it, was, I had on the original Kung Fu Grippe, I did so much stuff that was cool and hacky.  So, for example, I did something that I think maybe {Jason} Kottke did the first time I saw it, which was, at the top of the page there's... your one most recent post at the top of the page.  Looked really cool and clean.  And then you said 'click for more'.... That looked so awesome compared to every blog out there." --Merlin Mann at 4:45

Let's face it: We could get a lot of people to take a serious look at Movable Type as a WordPress alternative if we had people with this level of street cred on the Internet saying these things from time-to-time.

This is not an impossible task for Movable Type evangelists.  There are still people who love MT for what it is-- not what they wish it was.  These people are better advocates for the platform than the people who make a living selling and supporting Movable Type.  This is why I am trying to rebuild the Movable Type Community step-by-step.
Let's agree to start marketing MT as the first-- and still one of the best-- web-based CMSes in the world.

In Memory of Steve Jobs

I don't know why, but I was shocked when I heard about Steve Jobs' death last night.  I think my iPad alerted me five or six minutes after Apple released the announcement.

Nobody can put a death this significant in context the way that Steve Jobs did himself.  His Commencement Address at Stanford University in 2005 is a monument to the man and how he thought:

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."

I didn't agree with Steve politically or religiously, so what am I doing quoting him on the meaning of life?

Just like he has for most of my adult life, he saw the future and made the implications of it seem like a feature.  I can figure out what to think about it for myself.

Kathleen and I were rooting for Steve to defy the odds that came with his diagnosis, and are truly saddened by his passing.  We've always appreciated the creative way that he designed products and inspired people.

Our prayers are with Steve's family and friends, that they will find peace and comfort, and one day know how many lives Steve's work touched.  May he rest in peace.

My Hockey Season is Over

I officiated the Great Northeast Collegiate Hockey Conference championship game between New Jersey Institute of Technology and Muhlenberg College on February 27. That was my last game of the 2010-2011 hockey season.

I had the opportunity to officiate several other important games before and after that, but turned most of them down since the beginning of February because I was too busy at work to take the time off.

I hope to be able to officiate more games, more often next season than I did at the end of this season. But I have no way of knowing how After6's business will evolve, and what our staffing options will be at that time.

From Zero iPads to Two

Jimmy, Peter, and Kathleen with our new iPads

Kathleen and I had wanted an iPad for a long time.  I hadn't purchased one at Christmas because I knew that the original iPad was late in its product life.

When the iPad 2 release was imminent, I was on a business trip to Western Canada. This was the first business trip I had taken for my full-time job since before Jimmy was born, so Kathleen and I did what we could to keep the family in touch with each other with daily Skype and FaceTime calls.

On a red-eye flight from Seattle the night before the iPad 2 was released, I considered what would happen if I bought an iPad and took it with me on another overnight business trip. Jimmy would be heartbroken and would want me to leave the iPad at home. At that point I knew that I would have to buy two iPads so that one would always be home no matter where I was.

Having two iPads feels extravagant to me, but the total cost of purchasing two iPads is less than what I would spend on a notebook computer for my business use. The value proposition of this version of the iPad made the decision to buy two a fairly easy one for me to make.

Introducing After6 Services LLC

After6 Services LLC logo

After two years working at Six Apart, I was offered the opportunity to take over Movable Type Pro support for the world outside of Japan if I created an independent company.  So with a great deal of support and assistance from Kathleen, I started After6 Services LLC.

After6 was soft-launched in the softest way possible.  For technical reasons associated with several contracts on which the business was initially based, I was unable to form the company until January 11, 2011.  However, I began working on the business that became After6 on November 1, 2010 when I left Six Apart.

The business has really taken off in the past few months, and we are very optimistic that it will turn out to be a good investment of our time and resources.

Swingset: Finished!

I haven't been keeping up on the status of the swingset lately.  I'm sorry if you were depending upon posts to this site to see the progress.  The swingset is finished.  I finished it back on July 5, and Jimmy and Peter have gotten a ton of use out of it.

Front View of the Completed Swingset

I think it's safe to say that I learned a lot about carpentry tools through the process of assembling this kit.  Toward the end, I was able to drill some holes myself that hadn't been properly piloted.  I wouldn't have known where to do that before I started such a large assembly project.

The best part of doing this, however, is that Jimmy and Peter have a great backyard playground assembled at a fraction of the cost of most comparable swingset kits we compared.  It is possible for a geeky dad to build a kit like this from the ground up.  Thanks to my brother Scott and to Kathleen for their help with parts of the job.

The Swingset

Around Jimmy's birthday, we purchased a new swingset for the backyard.  This has been a big hit already, despite the fact that it isn't finished.

The Boys Enjoying their New Swingset with Daddy

A number of people have asked whether we got an iPad when that product was released.  My reaction was, "That swingset is my iPad."  It's about the same in terms of cost and it's a platform for a lot of interesting new adventures for the family. It has no electronic components so far. I guess that's the biggest difference.

Since this photo was taken, I've added a set of steps to the front.  I hope to get the slide installed this weekend.  We'll see how that goes.

A Great Christmas

The Aiello family had a great Christmas and are having a happy new year so far. We had time to spend with our family and closest friends on Christmas Eve at our house, and on Christmas Day at Kathleen's parents' house.

Peter and Jimmy got a lot of terrific gifts and we're thankful to our family and friends who gave many of them. We limited the number of gifts given within the family in the hope that Santa would be able to bring us a new HDTV on or just after Christmas. Luckily that happened for us.

This was a tumultuous year for us as a family. We were thrilled to welcome Peter into our lives. None of us will forget Kathleen's medical situation at the beginning of 2010, and we are all thankful that she has continued to recover her strength and energy.

Kathleen and I both enjoy our jobs immensely. We are fortunate to be doing things that we really enjoy in our professional lives. That makes a huge difference in our quality of life.

I'm still pulling together a Christmas 2009 Photo Set, but I've finally posted several good photos of the family and some of our experiences.

We wish all of our family and friends a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year. We look forward to seeing you in 2010.

All in All, A Nice Halloween

Although we struggled a bit as a family, we had a nice Halloween that we'll remember as a fun time.

Jimmy certainly had a great time. He participated in two parades: his preschool's Halloween Parade on Thursday and the Newtown Halloween Parade on Saturday. He also got to watch the Goodnoe School Halloween Parade on Friday, as he did last year.

Peter and Kathleen have had a tough time for the last few days. They've both had the flu, and Peter was still somewhat under the weather on Halloween. In spite of that, they ended up having a good time.

It seems like everybody in the Philadelphia area is rooting for the Phillies, so this Halloween will probably go down in history for a home loss to the Yankees. But that wasn't as big a part of our night as it was for some people in our neighborhood.

Our Summer Vacation 2009

We had a great time in Stone Harbor at the beginning of September. I've been meaning to post a story linking to some of our photos of the trip, but I've been busy.

Jimmy and Peter loved the Jersey Shore this year. Peter enjoyed sitting on the beach blanket and playing with his toys. Jimmy loves the water and digging in the sand.

The biggest problem of the whole week was that the ocean was rough. That meant that Jimmy had to be in arms length of one of us while he was in the water, even on the guarded beaches.

I tried to disconnect from the daily rat race as much as I could during the week. I posted to Twitter minimally. I didn't do much with Facebook either.

I got online for a little while most nights after we put Jimmy and Peter to bed. But it was never a priority. It was the right decision.

Did I mention that we love firetrucks?