Apr. 26th, 2009

zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
I'm baking a fruitcake for the Midwinter Christmas we're probably going to celebrate at work. This is a couple months away yet, so it's a good time to bake the cake. I started... well, on my birthday in December, when my parents gave me some jars full of dried pineapple, mango, and papaya and I thought "Ooh!" Since then I've been gathering other dried fruits that don't normally go in Christmas cakes: apricots and cranberries, and a couple of weeks ago some guava.

A few days ago I added in some sultanas to make it up to 1.5kg(1), and then I soaked it in rather a lot of brandy.

Today I figured it was probably sufficiently sozzled, plus I'm going back to work tomorrow, so I recopied the recipe from Mum, made up the batter, lifted the gladwrap off the brandy-soaked fruit, took a whiff and promptly became quite happy indeed, mixed the lot together and put it in the (butter-paper)-and-(corrugated-cardboard)-lined tin.

(Boots helped by sitting on one of the pieces of butter-paper but fortunately Mum had given me sufficient spares. I'm not sure where she's gone off to put her buttery butt now though.)

It's now in the oven where it will cook for several hours and then get another dose of brandy. I hope this will contribute significantly to the Christmas Spirit at the party at work (and also that there are leftovers, but we're a small team and it's going to be a very solid cake).

(1) Actually I think the recipe should read "Take 1.6kg of dried fruit. Soak in brandy overnight / for a few days. Mix the batter, then add the 1.5kg of fruit."
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
(For reference: part 1 was the vision statement thing.)

One thing that I want to bear in mind through all this is that a new group will need a critical mass of members to start with, and will need to keep attracting new members once the initial "Whee, new group!" buzz wears off, and also will need to keep attracting new members once for replacement purposes since people will drift away due to Real Life. This doesn't mean it's the only thing to bear in mind; but it is relatively important.

What I don't know about, don't mind about, and would generally welcome input on:

* Genre. There'd be more potential members if we open it to all genres; otoh limiting it to speculative fiction might focus discussion more productively.

* Publicness. A private community would be more of a safe space; but a public community would facilitate getting continuous new membership because it'll show up in web searches and people can try before they buy.

* Moderation. Should it operate on a "You're moderated until you've proved yourself" basis or a "You're unmoderated until you start being a jerk" basis? Should it be on a "Nothing gets posted until a moderater says so" or an "Everything gets posted straight away but may be removed if a moderator says so" basis? (Some technologies allow some of these but not others.)

* Technology is possibly the trickiest question.

- Mailing list - easy to set up through Google or Yahoo or custom, allows moderation, easy for users, low bandwidth - but it's private.

- Usenet is great (plus I've got most of a year's subscription still to use...) and a moderated group would be possible but as many ISPs aren't providing Usenet services it's not so easily accessible to many people, especially to newbies, except through Google Groups which is clunky as heck.

- LJ is very popular but I know more than one person who've got reasons not to post to it, and it would be horribly clunky for the kind of discussions that I'd like this group to have.

- A lot of webforum software has RSS feeds, so that could be syndicated to LJ for reading (though people would still have to go to the forum to post). Still doesn't have Usenet-style threading, though if you read by RSS you never miss a comment or have to hunt to catch up.

- Social networking places like Ning are another option. It's got email notification and I think RSS feeds can be set up. I've found it a bit clunky myself but probably on a par with other webfora.

- Another social networking site is Friendfeed (already has a fantasy writers group but it has little activity; cf an active group in... action). We could set up a "room" where members can post links to blog entries, photos, videos, etc, or just shortish messages (about twice as long as Twitter). Others can then 'like' or comment on any of these. Every time something gets a new comment it moves to the top of the page. Good for conversation - but not for long posts/comments; and threading within conversations is non-existent. Also archives are iffy.

- Michelle Anna FDD (sorry, not sure what I was thinking!) has some webforum-type software which I've poked at a bit but not a lot yet -- Michelle Anna, do you want to talk about whether or not that would be suitable and what features it has?

- I know someone who may or may not be able to create webforum software that could be, IIRC, web-accessible, RSS-accessible (thus syndicatable to LJ), and even accessible via Usenet. I think he's not yet able to talk about it in detail though.

* Details of rules.
I'm inclined to talk about this more after we've got the technology sorted out.

* Timeline for deciding/doing stuff
Rush in, or fear to tread?

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zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
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