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Yet another Chapman Blog — This time, for reals!

it seems like at least once a year, i fire up a new blog. since it’s usually just for the sake of trying out a new blogging platform, most of them don’t even get past the first post.

however, this one is different! i actually have a legitimate reason to blog now!

lookit me! i’m a writer!

at least, i’m doing it as a easy-to-put-down-and-pick-back-up outlet for this wellspring of creativity i have going. and i’ve always enjoyed writing, so getting deeper into the craft is cool.

what kind of stuff am i going to write?

nice of you to ask! basically, i’m a genre writer — mostly fantasy. maybe a little sci-fi. maybe a little horror. hell, i may even get into that weird urban stuff.


what’s with the weird domain? topher chapman? what?!

so, now that i’m well on my way to becoming one of those super-famous writers, i was thinking it was time to stake out a mostly recognizable and sorta-kinda unique pen name.

it came down to a choice between “topher chapman” or “astropants starshine” — so you can tell which side of THAT fence i came down on.

what are all these old posts?

since i’ve got lots of random writing laying around all over the place from some 20 years of blogging, (i started back when they were called “online diaries” and they had a ‘~’ in the url mapping to my home directory — ahhhh… the good ol’ days) i figured i’d reach out and grab a few of the more pertinent, and less aggro-inducing posts and copy them over here.

or maybe just any old thing that seems interesting.

anyway, drop me a line if you have any comments or such. i’d love to hear them.

Canceling EA Access from Xbox

Need to cancel your EA Access membership for the Xbox, but don’t know how? Lemme help!

good lord. that took forever to find.

for those of you looking: “how do i cancel my ea access subscription?” it’s actually from microsoft and not ea. duh…

step one:

step two: click cancel on the ea access one.

super easy once you know where the hell to look.

Today’s Economic Thought

you’ll pardon me if some economist or technologist has already thunk or disproved this. i’m famous for reinventing the wheel…

here’s the thought that just occurred to me:

  1. technology greatly increases the commoditization of goods and services.

  2. thanks to gossen’s laws, we know that as commodity consumption rises, marginal utility eventually falls to zero and reaches maximum total utility.

  3. if total utility is zero (or even close to zero) amongst all things, there is no differentiation between similar goods and services.

  4. with no differentiation and the ability to consume goods and services ulitmately limited by time (the one, true finite resource), demand is also finite.

  5. supply-side economics is broken because it relies on temporary increases in total utility when total utility is already maximized.

whew… that’s about all the economic brain cells i have right now. tho, feel free to point out weird missing strawman holes.

Answering Questions About Solar Panels for Your Home

There’s been a lot of interest in how we’ve gone about acquiring our solar panels we installed last fall. I figured rather than write the same email over and over and such, I’d write up a quick post that might be helpful to other folks too.

going in, we had (and met) three goals:

  1. No added expense - we didn’t want to be saddled with any extra payments and we assuredly didn’t want to trade liquid cash for a non-liquid asset. there was no way we wanted to wait forever for our investment to recoup. to avoid that, we calculated how many solar panels we’d need to leave our total monthly energy payment unchanged. so, the total of our loan payment added to the new power bill ($10 to $30 a month, depending) is less than or equal to our old power bill.
  2. adding equity to our home - talk about instant equity! “here person buying our house, i hope you like your $15 a month electric bill!“ over the course of 30 years, that’s $54,000 in savings if energy prices stay the same.
  3. saving money long term - speaking of energy prices staying the same. did you know that power rates in 1990 out here were 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour? now, they’re 15.38 cents. yeah… that’s a 50% increase. and next year, they’re going up to 15.57 and the year after that, the power company is saying they’re going to be 15.61. for those keeping track at home, that’s about a 2% increase per year. not for us!

you’ll notice i didn’t say “being green”, tho, that’s a nice side effect, it certainly wasn’t the driving reason. it’s funny how many people think we did it because we’re crazy californian hippies. makes me laugh. no, it has nothing to do with that at all. i mean, have you looked at your power bill lately?

joc did tons and tons of research prior to the install and we ended up choosing marie phillip at herca solar here in san diego ( – they were awesome and are highly recommended by us to anyone interested. just tell them joc and i sent you.

so, to recap: our monthly power budget at worst (until the loan is paid off) is a little less than before the panels, we added a ton of equity to the house and we’ve insulated ourselves from future power rate increases. win, win and win.

hell, all we need now is an electric car and we’ll be the hippies with the $15 power bill to your $200 one and our $0.00 a month fuel bill to your $200 one. tho, i suppose at least you won’t be called a hippy.

The Case for Both Symmetrical and Asymmetrical Relationships

there are quite a few smart folks out there putting forth theories on why followers (vs. friends) are the “right” way to go.

sorry i’m so late with this. i know i threatened to write it up last week, but, you know. spare time being what it is.


there are quite a few [smart folks[( out there putting forth theories on why followers (vs. friends) are the “right” way to go. it’s good stuff. you should read it as a preface to this. it’s the kind of stuff i churn over all the time as chief web dude over at metaplace.

the crux of the discussion is what’s better? friends or followers? friends where, through granted requests, you explicitly create a two-way relationship with someone or followers where, by you “following” them back, you create an implicit two-way relationship.

and here’s my official thought, social media sites. (twitter, friendfeed, facebook, myspace, etc.) so listen up — you need both.

here’s why: both methods, regardless of how they are implemented, are dual purpose.

purpose 1 you create an important relationship between you and another person. you want to know what they’re doing. you want to keep in touch. it’s someone you care about. you know — that whole “social” thing.

purpose 2 it’s a scoreboard, man. who has the most friends? who’s the most popular? who has the biggest network of contacts? you know — a social leaderboard.

“so?” you say.

well. it leads to a problem. mostly, it’s all about the extra noise.

someone requests a friendship with you, either by clicking “add friend” or simply by following you, and you say “oh, i casually know that person” or “that was nice of them to follow me” and you confirm the relationship.

pretty soon, you have hundreds — even thousands in some cases depending on your notoriety — of friends.

well, as it turns out, that dunbar number isn’t really a lie despite facebook’s best efforts. you don’t really care intimately about all of those people. but, there you are, with a huge polluted friends list that you can’t really trim down without looking like a huge douche. (celebrities are mostly exempted from the “trim means douche” rule just because of the sheer number of fans they have)

you start dropping all those people you knew back in high school or your friend’s parents or whatever from your public friends list, you’re gonna get called on it. just ask kevin rose.


this is a lot of words to really explain something pretty simple: we need to use something akin to the rss model.

you have private friends.

and you have public subscribers.

this still gives you a public scoreboard number that you can show off like a freakin’ badge of honor and yet, you still can have a smaller, more manageable list of “important people” that you care about.

subscriber is easy and carefree. very asymmetrical. like twitter’s followers. you subscribe. they subscribe. everyone subscribes! it’s free love and big points for all my friends! … er… followers. er… subscribers.

friends, however, is an explicit declaration by both people to “become friends” or promote the simple subscriber relationship to a full-on “lemme know ALL your dirt” relationship. nobody outside of you two has to know about the relationship. it can stay clean and pure.

best of all, it gives you a chance to filter the data accordingly. (this is where i pwn all you who are saying to yourselves “why not just use followers and groups, noob!”) the data you care about is going to be different from friend to subscriber. you have two different buckets where data pours into.

let us use facebook as an example.

raise your hand if you hate, hate, hate getting all the retarded app requests from every single person on facebook that you’ve friended. scans the room and sees everyone but crazy aunt hilda in the back has their hand raised

if you merely subscribe to someone, you wouldn’t get those. you’d get explicit updates (comments, photos, direct messages, etc.) they put out, but not all of the app spam we all “love.”

all that goes into a subscriber bucket (prolly more like a lake, really) that you can dip your toes into and pull out memes or themes every now and then or just submerge yourself and let the noise of it all just wash over you.

however, your newly minted m3mnoch-proposed friends would be sending you full feeds of everything like normal. all the subscriber stuff, plus app notes or anything else that they’re doing that would implicitly be interesting to you. because, if they’re one of the 10 or 20 friends you actively follow and they update their facebook bowling app (is there really one?) with the turkey they just threw, dude — you wanna know! cause you’re prolly playing the same game! right now! (i promise i won’t tell…)

…especially if that saves them the email they’d have to send to you bragging about it anyway.

and then! then, you don’t have to worry about spammy updates! the people who you are real friends with would now only include the people you’re prolly on im with all day anyway.

and once you can get the wires that tight, there’s all kinds of cool integration you can do. automatic trust-type stuff you just can’t assume with today’s friending setups. not to mention awesome data mining and discovery stuff you can assemble from a developer’s standpoint.

hell. you might even be able to pull all that external im conversation onto your site.

i mean, wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about how many people billy sends an app request to because you would know that all his friends — not subscribers — are honest-to-god interested in it?

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About Topher Chapman

i like to write.

well... and paint. and program video games. and model economies. and run, surf, play football, etc. basically, i'm one of those irritating polymaths. my achilles heel, however, is obviously capitalization.

this is me, hurling my writing at you.

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