Some folks wonder what all this is about. Wonder no more! This page should answer your questions.

Who are you?

As was said on a theme formerly used at this site:

This is a tale told by Rudi Riet: DC resident, Utah native, Democrat, politically active, skier and cyclist, Mac advocate, student, and random duck.

That fairly well sums it up.

Why “randomduck”?

The roots of randomduck can be traced back to 1998, when Connecticut Public TV ran little interstitial advertising bits that were introduced by a little in-house “bumper” video. These would feature a montage of floating objects and video clips, with spoken text to the effect of “This kind of programming was brought to you by the following…”

Anyhow, the bumper they used for the kids programs featured clips from the usual suspects – Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Barney and the like – as well as a random rubber duck that floated and spun across the screen. Both sprite and I were watching, and the exchange went something like this:

me: “That’s a random duck!”

sprite: “It is – and that would be a cool name for a website.”

me: “Let me see if it’s taken.”

From there, I looked into the domain, found that it was available, bought it, and…. well, had it redirect to another one of my websites for a spell.

But it was – and still is – a cool domain name, if I do say so myself.

So randomduck has been a fifteen year journey – and a fun one, at that. And I plan to continue with randomduck, because I enjoy it.

So is there a focus to this randomness?

That’s a funny question.

For a while, randomduck was home to my political rants and raves. And it still is, though most some little of my election-related stuff lives over at my namesake site (note to self: that site needs a reboot).

It’s also been a bit of a travelogue for me, which is a lot of fun. Every time I get myself into writing about my travels, I toy with the idea of getting into more travel writing.

I’ve also used it to muse about food and drink. Sure, I had a website devoted to just that, but it “blogfaded” and disappeared into the ether – though I’m always of half a mind to resurrect it. We’ll see.

And how about music? Anybody who knows me is well aware that I love all kinds of music, and love to talk about it and share my new finds. And my old Simon & Garfunkel site, Song For The Asking, still exists, though it’s in serious need of reconsideration: rebuild it in a CMS, or retire it?

In the end, a lot of its focus has been on my cycling and skiing escapades. And doing the workout log certainly worked as a motivator during the 2007 cycling season. I slowed down on these reports for 2008, as they became a bit boring for me to post, and certainly became boring for my readers. Since then, there has been more writing about these and my other outdoor pursuits, as documenting these events brings back lots of memories that I like to keep intact.

And there are other random things I still muse about, so…. it’s still random. I guess I can’t help it.

Why WordPress?

The first time this site stepped out on its own was when I started to learn the ins-and-outs of content management systems (CMS) in 2003. To that point, I’d been a static HTML person: updating multiple pages when changes were needed, working with the good ‘ol HTML 3.2 standard (and older).

But involvement in political campaigns in 2003 turned me on to CMS. Friends of mine had their favorite flavors – one preferred ExpressionEngine, another Movable Type, another PostNuke – and I started to learn how to setup and use these things.

It required me to update my knowledge of code. I’d never had to use PHP, MySQL or true XML and XHTML before, so I had to “unlearn” quite a bit of old-and-trusted code, replacing it with new, modern stuff.

And randomduck.com seemed to be the perfect launch vehicle and testing ground for these CMS suites as I developed the political sites.

The first CMS I used was PostNuke, which was powerful, with lots of features. But its documentation was written in the “by geeks, for geeks” language that worked great for online gamers and 733+ peeps, but not for people who were more sheepish when it comes to websites. Since the political sites were being designed for amateur users and volunteers to operate and update, the über-tech interface of PostNuke wasn’t a good solution.

Movable Type was nifty, but I didn’t like the fact that it was based in Perl.

ExpressionEngine just wasn’t my cuppa, either: too convoluted, and pricey for what it is. Since I’m not a reseller, I wouldn’t be able to recoup costs.

Eventually, I tried out WordPress after seeing it work so well on Lunesse’s site, and I found that it was really easy to manage: great UI, easy-to-modify and develop themes, documentation written in plain English. I’ve been using it since version 1.2, and it’s improved so much since that I’ve enjoyed the ride.

(BTW, for political sites and more multi-user sites, I’ve really grown to like Joomla, which has a great UI and is very powerful for a multi-user setup. And it’s free, just like WordPress, and the documentation is so easy to read and understand – it’s great.)

Anything else we should know?

You can support this site by purchasing things from Amazon via this portal. And if you’re into fun t-shirts, go ahead and buy some from Threadless via this link.

I love coffee, too, and especially like the independent coffee roasters and sellers around the world. So wherever you go, try out the little, local shops – you might find a new love.

May I contact you?

Sure – send me an email: