Thursday, 30 June 2005

Giving the Gift of Listening

David Weeks from Peppermint CDs invited me to join him at a talk by David Isay of the StoryCorp project as part of MPR’s Broadcast Journalism breakfast series.

It was an amazing way to start the morning. Inspiring. I see StoryCorp and podcasting solving the same problem – getting everyday stories heard. Your family’s stories, your friend’s stories, the stories more important and more powerful than those on the 10 o’clock news. Inspiring stories told by these people in voices filled with honesty and authenticity. These are not stories interrupted by car ads and they won’t be repeated every 15 minutes for to keep the Arbitron ratings up. These are our stories.

I urge all of you to grab a microphone, sit down with someone close to you, hit record, and listen. StoryCorp has set up a Do-It-Yourself intervew and recording guide.

David Weeks, thank you again for allowing me to join you. This was an inspiring way to start the day.

Wednesday, 29 June 2005

iTunes, Bringing Back Old Friends

Our CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes are still in the boxes we packed them in when we moved from Chicago 3 years ago. The other night, Jen and I were trying to figure out the lyrics to Kenny Rogers’ Gambler, so we dug out the boxes.

Most of the CDs in our collection went right back in the box. There were a handful I had fond memories of, yet they weren’t in my iTunes rotation.

In that list:

A good chunk of the tracks on these albums immediately landed in my ‘Getting Things Done’ Smart Playlist. I smiled each time I rated those songs – knowing they’ll be there, like an old friend, when I need them. Not something possible back when I originally purchased the CDs.

Waiting Room Wireless is a Must

If you have a waiting room, where people are likely to sit for longer than 5 minutes (doctor’s offices, corporations, hotels) you need to offer free wireless internet access.

From personal experience, it’s the difference between continuing check things off my daily to do list and the frustration of being held hostage.

Validating Replacement WordPress RSS 2.0 File for iTunes 4.9

This file has been rolled into the full WP-iPodcatter plugin for easier maintenance and more flexiblity.

Apple’s iTunes 4.9 looks for special tags in podcast feeds [pdf] to populate their directory and categorize the podcast.

Despite my mixed feelings on them adding new tags that seem to duplicate old tags, they’ve done it. Edd Dumbill has a great review of Apple’s RSS extensions. No need for me to repeat it here.

That being said, WordPress is my podcasting system of choice. With that in mind, Kevin Devin put together a replacement wp-rss2.php file for WordPress including the iTunes tags (this is the file that creates the RSS 2.0 feed). I wasn’t able to get his version to validate so I tweaked it and offer it to you.

Download the WordPress replacement wp-rss2.php file
This file has been integrated into the WP-iPodCatter plugin, download it here

If you’ve understood what I’ve said thus far, this file shouldn’t give you any trouble.

Update 30 June 2005: This replacement file now supports the “itunes:keywords” tag.

Update 4 July 2005: This replacement file now validates at the Nobody Likes Onions iTunes FeedCheck. Updates include better images handling, subtitles, and more standard RSS 2.0 tags.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

First Crack 50. The Challenges of Comedy Theater at the Brave New Workshop

Caleb and Katy McEwen, the artistic directors at Minneapolis’ legendary Brave New Workshop comedy theater and I discuss the challenges of running a comedy theater. The ongoing struggle to strike the balance between challenging material and filling seats. Additionally, Caleb’s definition of good improv feels an awful lot like a good podcast.

Listen to the Challenges of Comedy Theater at the Brave New Workshop [30 min]

Garrick Speaking at MN-ASIS Brain Food Sampler July 12

On Tuesday, July 12th, I’ll be evangelizing podcasts, wikis, RSS, and weblogs as part of MN-ASIS’s “And Now for Something Completely Different” brain food sampler series.

Date & Time: 5:00 – 6:30 Tuesday July 12 (speaker starts at 5:30)
Place: Pad Thai 1659 Grand Ave just west of Macalester College
RSVP atreacy@ that you’ll be joining us
Cost: None

Subscribing to the First Crack Podcast is Easy with iTunes 4.9

If you’ve been listening to the show through your web browser, your life just got easier. The latest version of Apple’s iTunes is out now and full support podcasts.

Here’s how Click Here to subscribe to the First Crack Podcast in Apple’s iTunes

  1. Select the “Subscribe to Podcast” from the “Advanced” menu
  2. Copy and Paste the First Crack podcast URL into the URL field

    and click ‘OK’

That’s it. Now you’ll automatically received each show immediately when it’s published.

If you just want to listen, and subscribe later, click here to listen to the First Crack Podcast in iTunes

iTunes 4.9 with Podcasting, First Impressions

The new iTunes 4.9 supporting podcasts is out today, it will do wonders for increasing the visibility of the most popular podcasts and radio station-produced podcasts. This is definitely the easiest way to subscribe to a podcast, whether browsing or manually. Until iTMS URL linking is functional, it’s a two step process to subscribe to a podcast. Still the easiest and simplest process.

Update: Podcaters, swap out the ‘http’ with ‘pcast’ in your feed URL and you’ve got iTunes 1-click subscription. Special thanks to Jason Ruby at the Delta Park Project for doing the legwork on this.

As expected, browsing the iTunes podcast directory is similar to browsing the iTunes audio book directory – after selecting a genre, the best way to navigate is using the ‘search’. This is works great for known things (my iTunes Library) – it’s far less useful for unknown things (all the podcasts in the world).

I’m migrating my audio-only podcasts to iTunes, the podcasts + weblog I enjoy are remaining in NetNewsWire. Here’s what I’ve seen thus far; The Gillmor Gang is available, but not the Gillmor Daily. This Week in Tech is available, though iTunes doesn’t know what to do with the torrent file. The First Crack podcast is in, though not the latest show (it shows up after subscribing) and the artwork is missing. Finally, unlike all the ipodders to date, iTunes doesn’t offer a way to export your podcast subscriptions in a way you can share them.

Monday, 27 June 2005

Batman Begins: Hast du Angst vor mir

I’ve been so focused on client projects and podcasts, I didn’t know a new Batman was on it’s way until I listed to Elvis Mitchell’s interview with Christopher Nolan for KCRW’s the Treatment. In it, Nolan talks about how the entire story is about fear. It’s a good listen, and it’s what got me into the theater.

Before Batman Begins began, I sat through an advertisement for Sky High. A new Disney film about young superheros going through puberty. The acting was overly melodramatic, the lighting was overexposed, and the props were done by Little Tykes. Christopher Nolan’s Batman makes Tim Burton’s 1989 version – and the others – feel more like Sky High than Nolan’s tormented Dark Knight.

A few years back, Snickers had a tv commercial where a football player takes a hit and thinks he’s Batman. In the English version, the final line is, “Would you like to ride with Batman.” The German version ends, “Are you afraid of me?”

The difference between those 2 sentiments is the difference between all the previous iterations and Nolan’s Batman Begins.

The movie’s most successful aspects were the non-superhero scenes – the dialog and the character development. The manifestation of Gotham is superb – part Chicago, part New York, part comic book dystopia. I found the serious, non-melodramatic villians refreshing. On the flip side, the scene where Wayne gets the Batsuit and the Batmobile felt more stapled on than believable, more a means to quickly go through a checklist than deliberately advance the character.

I agree with peterme, the car chases are immediately forgettable. I also agree that Batman Begins is “not nearly as fun” (as Spider-man). The Batdance was fun, Jim Carey as the Riddler was fun, the Adam West’s campy TV series was fun. I didn’t see anything in Nolan’s retelling longing to be fun (any of Nolan’s other films).

After credits roll, I believe we are left with as Dave states, “the best superhero movie ever”.