Sunday, 13 December 2009

2 Choices: Better or Shut Up

I’ve been saving Dave Slusher’s Punk and NaNoWriMo [mp3] talk until I could give it a proper listen.

After a week of working through some very hard problems – and only still only seeing just a glimpse of a solution, this morning seemed like a good time.

Around the 27 minute mark, Dave mentions the – nearly 4 year old – fan video I made for Shop Vac by Jonathan Coulton with archival advertising footage and the resulting commenters. To whom he responds:

“You have two choices; make one better or shut up.”

Dave, bringing up that project in your Punk & NaNoWriMo episode completely made my day and is a much wanted kick in the pants. Thank you.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Kindle 2.0 – 2nd Impressions

180px-amazbuck rio800

Dave’s “Decade of Ebook Arguments” post took me back a decade, to my first portable MP3 player – the Diamond Rio‘s 800 1

If memory serves, the 800 had 64Mb of storage2 – just enough audio for the walk from the apartment for the L ride into Loop. Not even enough for something new on the way home. I still have fond memories of manually copying files onto it from Panic’s Audion3.

I don’t remember feeling like the Rio changed my life.

I do remember thinking it was pretty neat for offering a small, small, glimpse into a what could be. Like future predictions of personal air travel, video-phones, or the Monsanto House.

The Kindle 2 has a lot in common with that old Rio 800.

The Kindle also shows us a future world – one of of direct-to-reader digital publishing and digital distribution. Dave’s post also brought to mind all the indie ‘zine & comic publishers I knew decades ago. They would have killed for the Kindle’s distribution channel.

But, like the Rio, the Kindle (and ebook readers in general) don’t have the ‘changed my life’ quality Apple is regularly able to ship4. There are 3 huge deficiencies I see with the Kindle after living with it for nearly a week:

  • The typographic capabilities are too basic. Simple conventions like italics, blockquotes, and a great number of typefaces would make the reading experience far more book-like (and actually usable for technical reference ebooks).
  • Navigating the Kindle is kludgy and unsophisticated. I mentioned this in my initial Kindle review. It’s annoying to navigate. It shouldn’t be annoying to navigate.
  • Getting new, free, independent stuff onto the Kindle isn’t as easy as it needs to be. No, I don’t think iTunes’ podcast directory should be used as a model – there are far simpler and equally sophisticated ways to handle this.

If there’s one reason why I’m happy with the Kindle, it’s that I’m a sucker for the glimpses into the future.

1. At the time, I was working for a startup funded by Diamond Multimedia.
2. Fast-forward to today, and on a normal week I download hundreds of Mb of audio from independent producers that’s only distributed digitally.
3. Still the friendliest, nicest, and simplest audio player for the Mac.
4. As you know, none of Apple’s products are first-to-market, and why I don’t expect to see an Apple-branded eBook reader any time soon.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Something New In the Air

Two of my favorite people are starting new podcast projects in the next week.

  1. Kris Smith formerly of Croncast will be launching Life in the Can next Friday, still with Betsy on the other mic.
  2. Dave Slusher is launching the Reality Break podcast a couple days later.

Both projects are aiming to be more sponsorship-friendly than their preceding productions and I think that’s interesting. To date, sponsored showed haven’t kept my attention, but that had more to do with me being uninterested, not an aversion to sponsors. I trust Dave and Kris will be doing some interesting things to make it a win for everyone.

Kris, Betsy, Dave, congrats on the new production.

They’re both already in

Monday, 16 June 2008

Dave Just Got a New Phone

There was a time when, if you wanted telephone service, there was one model that AT&T leased to you.

Today, there’s no requirement that you and I must use the same phone when we talk to each other. Just as there’s no requirement that we must use the same email or IM client.

This weekend, Dave Slusher announced he left Twitter.

But not really.

I’m still receiving his messages at, just as I’m receiving Evil Genius Chronicles at

That’s the beauty of the platform-agnostic publishing Twitter showed us. How and where I publish a signal is as inconsequential as where your receive it.
The important thing is that the signal is received and appropriately responded to.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Podcasting is My Co-Pilot

I’ve been making regular trips across the metro lately, the time in the car and all the road construction detours are perfect for podcast listening. Via a recommendation from Dean Allen, I grabbed Stephen Fry’s Podgrams. I quite enjoy all Fry’s work, from Jeeves & Wooster though to his appearances on Bones1. His podgrams are on the whole, too English for me. I’ve skipped the first and second more than a couple times, but his third, ‘Wallpaper’ sucked me in. In it, he transported me from I-94 West-bound to 5th St. in NYC watching Empire State Building rise from the review window of a taxi.

Today, on the way home from a cancelled meeting, I listened to Dave Slusher’s May 31, 2008 Clambake. In addition to re-inspiring me to hit the record button, it was nice to catch up with Dave. If you need an example of how a podcast can deliver a person to you, listen to this one. By his closing song, I swore Dave was sitting in my passenger seat.

1. Anyone else notice the intro riff of Bones’ theme song used to be the intro riff of Numb3rs? Everytime I hear it, I think, “We all use bones everyday.”

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Putting the ‘Fish’ in AmigoFish

After 3-years of knowing what a fantastic idea it would be – I finally moved the Mac Mini into the living room and plugged it into the HDTV.

While the initial plan was to use it as a DVD player1, it piqued my interested in video podcasts 2. Not knowing where to start, I headed over to AmigoFish and loaded up a “Feed for Predictions of Video greater or equal to 1.0 stars with confidence of Wild Guess”.

Immediately, it sends me National Geographic’s Wild Chronicles, or as the little guy calls it “Wild Crocodiles”. They’re 6-minute, highly informative, segments on cool animal stories that are a blast to watch with a toddler. This afternoon, we caught a segment on re-introducing monkeys back into the wild and learning how octopuses eat. Cool stuff.

And it’s great to have something on hand when I hear, “Papa, I wanna see fish.”

1. The mini replaces a sub-$100 Philips Upconverting DVD player that I can’t say anything good about.
2. As much as I dislike iTunes for podcast management, it’s far better than Tivo.