Just a heads-up that this post has nothing much to do with anything, and I’ll apologize in advance to Catholics for it…. but with the naming of the new pope, and everyone thinking and blogging about it, I have thought a few times in the last week or so about my own connections to the Vatican.

When I first heard that J. Ratzen-something-or other had been elected Pope, I thought, “What!??! They made Cliff Clavin the Pope? Well, that makes some sense, he always thought he was infallible, and almost proved it in the Jeopardy episode. Oh, not John, but Joseph. Oh. Ratzinger. Oh. That’s good, Cliff really wouldn’t make that good a Pope.

You may have guessed, even if I’m catholic, I’m not Catholic. This despite the monkly moniker I’ve adopted for this blog… which brings me (almost) to my Vatican connections.

Here’s another bit of personal disclosure: before this blog, I ran another blog-slash-news aggregator for about 3 years from May 2000 to March 2003 (over 3,000 posts). For a long while I was posting two or three articles per day before losing steam as things got too busy and it kind of fell off the board. For months I intended to go back and revive it, but it just never happened… I’d still like to re-ignite it, but we’ll see, I can’t have time for everything. The site was an unabashedly slanted, but often wry and witty news-echo type site, posting links to news article in the technology and Internet field, primarily having to do with Linux, which was the main focus of the site. Some of the posts were full-length articles, but all had a paragraph or two of completely biased commentary to accompany the link(s) provided. The site was actually sponsored by my company as a contribution to the Linux community. Back in the day, we wrote our own database-driven back end for it (there weren’t so many existing ones to choose from back then), and Rob did up a logo graphic (involving a Penguin, of course) for it, in exchange for a T-shirt, at the time. Others contributed to the site, but I did the lion’s share of the posting.

Anyway, at the one-year mark, we gathered up all of the referrer data and site stats we had collected over that first year, and we had one of our in-house geeks do some analysis on it for a one-year recap article I wrote. In it, I reminisced about how we got started (actually it lived as a weekly email newsletter for a year before going online in web-form, so I guess it ran for a total of 4 years, not 3), and about other highlights such as getting Slashdotted and receiving an unsolicited care package of schwag from the good folks at Mandrake. The article that sparked all the traffic was in the midst of a community controversy and included a line I’m kinda proud of (well, all but the spelling mistake): “Free review copies are provided by book publishers and software companies, and have been for aeons. I can’t say for sure, but Gutenburg [sic] probably gave away review copies of the Bible, so this is nothing new.” I also published trivia that won’t mean much to anyone reading here now, like the one user agent that read, “PalmOS-Lynx-Nosey-Bastard.Mail-XXXXX@techie.com-if-youre-reading-this.cheers” which was cute. One day while our guy was analyzing the log data, I asked him if there was anything that leapt out as interresting. He said “Yeah, the www.vatican.va referrer…”

So there you have it, if someone from the Vatican reads this post and connects the dots, they’ll know my real name. Not to overstate my Vatican connections… I wonder if they run Linux at the Vatican? I might have to become Catholic.

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