Friday, 30 October 2009

I Unpleasantly Review Mad Men

The older I get, the lower my tolerance for fictional stories about people disliking themselves and those around them.

I’m not a fan of AMC’s Mad Men, I concur with Kevin Fenton’s assessment:

“With the exception of a few marginal characters who get to show human complexity as a sort of consolation prize for not having any power, everyone on screen is thin-souled and remorseless.”- Kevin Fenton

Additionally, I find Don Draper a vacant grey flannel suit1 struggling to retain the insatiable impulses of a teenage boy. I see him closer to a Kid’s In The Hall parody than the alpha dog of Manhattan’s advertising scene.

The remaining major characters are equally flat and free of redeeming qualities – and all are struggling to self-destruct faster than the other. Like The Office, none of the characters are working to improve their lives by leaving the crab bucket.

Then again, Mad Men is a fictional program, written by writers and performed by actors – not a documentary or a How To for behaving like a responsible adult.

On the plus side, the set design is gorgeous.

1. According to this Wikipedia entry, the show’s writers have make this connection in season two of the show.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

First Crack 121. Drink Beer from a Cat’s Butt: Tasting of Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Brunch


Now that Surly’s Coffee Bender has become the pinnacle of Coffee Stouts I’m on a quest for interesting and unique coffee beers. I picked up bottle of Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Brunch – an oatmeal stout with civet coffee.

After the civet coffee review with Sam Buchanan how could I not take this beer home.

10.9% alcohol in a 1 Pint 0.9 oz. bottle.

My tasting notes:

Short version: “It doesn’t want to be drunk.”

Long version: Listen to Drink Beer from a Cat’s Butt: A Tasting of Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Brunch [11 min].

Corkboard Productivity

There’s a corkboard downstairs in what I enjoy calling the ‘machine shop’.

In fact, there are 2 corkboards. A big one on the main wall, behind a heavy, wooden desk with a dozen perfectly sized drawers – and a second, smaller one on the back wall.

When we moved into this house 3 years ago, I hung all the tools I’ve acquired over three decades on hooks on the corkboards.

Now I could see them.

All neatly organized.

It was at the moment I realized…

After years of hauling multiple toolboxes from rented apartment to rented apartment to rented apartment, what I really needed was a better understanding of how use use these tools.

The corkboard shrugged.

Merlin Mann, thanks for reminding me of my corkboard.

Makebelieve Help, Old Butchers, and Figuring Out Who You Are (For Now) from Merlin Mann on Vimeo.

Initial Reaction to the Barnes & Noble Nook

First off, the Kindle is the only device I that made my heart drop when it feel on the floor and broke.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not a perfect device. Overall it feels slow and clunky. Simultaneously, it gets out of my way and is cool enough to let me get swallowed up by the book I’m reading.

Barnes & Noble’s recently announced Nook competitive offering solves a couple issues I have with the Kindle – while also introducing a couple more.

(Note – my thoughts here are based on the pictures @ – I haven’t played with one yet)

Where the Nook seems to have improved on the Kindle:

  • Sleek looking pagination buttons
  • WIFI

Where the Kindle still has the lead:

  • Doesn’t show me the books I’m not reading (in distracting color) while I’m reading one (in monochrome).
  • hardware keyboard

I’m also not seeing the benefit of the Nook’s ‘lending ebooks to a friend’ feature.

Lending books only makes sense if two things are true: a book is expensive, a book is scarce. The function of the internet and ebooks is to render both of these false.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Monday, 19 October 2009

How I Reached Inbox Zero(ish)

Something must be in the air. Like Dave, I’ve been making a concerted effort to clean out my email inbox over the past couple weeks.

All year, I’ve been fluctuating between 80 – 140 messages, not including the hundreds sitting in my ‘Respond to’ folder.

For the past week, I’ve been steadily at Inbox Zero.

With 17 2 in my ‘Respond to’ folder and the oldest message is from June ’09 not Feb ’09.

Here’s how I’ve tamed my inbox in 3 steps:

  1. Read each email message and determine a what the next action is.
    This is the hardest step.
  2. Write down the next action.
    I have a ThingsToDo.txt file I use w/ Quicksilver’s Append Text to File action.
  3. Ruthlessly file into a project folder or delete.

All of this is leading up to a couple ideas I want to implement for ongoing communications management – but it will only work once this backlog is cleaned out.

RSS-Powered, Low-Powered FM

Mike O’Connor pinged me about an idea he had to build-out a low power FM radio station using RSS-based technologies.

I completely agree – and the idea gets me all giddy.

No only does it combine 3 of my favorite things: RSS, podcasts, and reaching a small community with simple technologies – it dovetails nicely into some renewed thinking on platform agnostic publishing.

Problem – Not enough programs to fill the day

Idea – Use podcasts (blogs with RSS feeds and audio programs) to aggregate content from a federation of LPFM stations. Garrick Van Buren built a great gizmo to do this and you can see an example of his system at PodcastMN. I’m sure Garrick would be happy to help with this.

Problem – Not enough volunteer hours to do the “program director” function for a single station

Idea – Share a program director between a federation of like-minded LPFM stations. Let the person be the aggregator of multiple feeds similar to the one Garrick does, and then create a feed that drives the daily programs on multiple stations. The stations could subscribe to this “network feed” and break away whenever they want to do local programming.

Now, it’s just a matter getting a LPFM construction permit from the FCC – unfortunately….


Looks like 8 MN communities already received the green light.

As promising as LPFM sounds, with the FCC as its gatekeeper, I’m still betting 802.11 is the future of radio

Sunday, 18 October 2009

DroidDoes is the Anti-1984 Ad

25 years ago, Apple announced their new, friendlier, easier-to-use personal computer with the iconic 1984 ad where a heroine throws a hammer – taking down a non-descript technical figure.

Tonight, I watched Verizon’s new ad. Verizon is declaring Apple’s iPhone is too friendly, too simplified, too limiting – what you need is a non-descript technical figure to remedy that.

This ad is more than a direct attack on the iPhone – it’s a direct attack on more humane technology offerings. A return to 1983.

This is not a position I encourage other Android providers to take.

Yes, the iPhone does have weaknesses – humanity isn’t one of them.

Thursday, 15 October 2009