I've put together 14 high-quality original podsafe instrumental tunes from my Penmachine Podcast into a CD album you can buy. It also includes a bonus data DVD with a bunch of cool stuff that isn't on this website. Find out more...
This is "Penmachine.com: February 2006," a page that archives an entire month's entries from my online journal. The latest material for that month is at the top. For my newest entries, visit the home page.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - newest items first # 4:45:00 PM:
I'm psyched. Lip Gloss and Laptops is a new beauty and cosmetics podcast my wife and her friend have put together, and they launched their first episode today (it's for March 1, but it's already that date in Europe, okay?).
They've already been mentioned on Adam Curry's Daily Source Code podcast twice, and are investigating possible sponsorships and such. I think they have a great idea going, and can probably make a good weekly program out of it. Watch for episode #2 on March 8. And tell your cosmetics-loving friends to subscribe at lipglossandlaptops.com/subscribe.
Men like a lot of different things in women, but for me being married to someone who has her own podcast is pretty damn cool.
I'm not a phone guy. I have a really basic mobile phone, nothing special. And I wish it were even more basic—like, could I get a PLAIN SINGLE-COLOUR background screen please, instead of some photo monstrosity that makes it hard to read? I'm glad that Engadget now has Engadget Mobile to hive off the endless latest-new-phone announcements so I can read about other gadgets, which I do like.
My favourite story about mobile phone techie-ness is of a guy (I can't remember who, or where I heard about him) who dropped his cell phone and busted the screen. He said, of course, "Damn, gotta get a new phone."
Then he realized something. "Wait a minute. It still works. JUST LIKE MY OLD LANDLINE. Pick it up, dial a number, if it rings, answer it." So he kept it.
I'd do that.
I did like Phil Torrone's old-school rotary cell phone hack from Gnomedex last year, though. It even has the old electromechanical bells. That is cool.
Vancouver's Dave Shea (and his commenters, me included) gives some great tips on speaking to an audience. Some of it is contradictory, but that's okay.
I used to work with Dave, and he has an easygoing style that works well for the often very technical topics he discusses. I've added his page to my long list of rants about speaking and presentations at penmachine.com/powerpoint.
Last night I uploaded two free podsafe MP3 instrumentals, one new, one old.
"Hotcake Syrup" (3 MB MP3 file) originally appeared here almost a year ago, in March 2005, before I was actually podcasting my tunes. In addition to showing up on the CBC Unplugged picket line podcast last summer, it has become the regular theme tune for the diabeticfeed podcast—and they didn't even know I was diabetic when they picked it. How about that?
"Marina Bay" (4.2 MB MP3 file) is new, and both one of the slowest and one of the quickest to record I've ever done. It was slow because I laid down the basic parts (piano and three takes of guitar) in early December, then never got around to my plan of teasing out the best guitar bits and adding more instruments. Then this week I listened to it, tried simply adding some heavy phasing, tremolo, reverb, and delay effects to the guitar, and discovered it didn't need anything else.
Don't forget, if you subscribe to my podcast, you get the new songs first.
Years ago, Bill pointed me to the Mac chat client Proteus, which handles all the various protocols (AIM/iChat, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo!, Jabber, etc.) very well, and I bought it then and have continued to use it ever since. As of this weekend it's now free, so if you have a Mac and don't like Adium or iChat or the various other options, give Proteus a try.
Saturday, February 25, 2006 - newest items first # 9:27:00 PM:
Last night we recorded the first episode of Lip Gloss and Laptops, the new health, beauty, and cosmetics podcast by my wife and her friend K.A.
UPDATE: Over on Dori and Tom's site, I was so absorbed in reading about Tom's return from the hospital that I completely missed Dori's links to the Wise-Women podcast tutorial. And Todd Cochrane's book on podcasting would certainly be a good read too, though I haven't checked it out personally yet.
The way the session worked was that the hosts spent the past week or so doing research and prep, then went over their notes while I set up the technical end, which consists of:
Once we had everything set up and levels checked, I left the room, shut several doors for sound isolation, and went upstairs to wrangle our two daughters and K.A.'s son, to try to keep the noise levels down. It took a couple of false starts before the hosts got comfortable, but eventually they laid down a single continuous 20-minute take that was quite good, and which we'll upload for subscription on March 1.
As engineer and cable rassler, I spent part of this morning mixing their vocals with music and promos from other podcasters, and tweaking levels, then sent it to the hosts for approval. Since I had received the M-Audio interface and MXL mic not an hour before we set up, I didn't quite know how they worked and made a few mistakes in my setup, so I had to use the Audacity sound editor to do some more in-depth sound editing, which shouldn't be necessary for future episodes now that I know better what I'm doing.
Resources and advice
Although I have lots of experience recording music and my own solo voice, I haven't previously done anything like this podcast—which has two others hosting it, and which we are trying to give better-than-average sound quality. So in prepping for the session, I used some handy online resources to help figure out what I needed to know:
His suggestions for setting up Skype interviews (would also work with iChat), which we haven't done yet but may in the future. That's the kind of setup diabeticfeed used when they interviewed me a few weeks ago.
O'Reilly.com has links to more information (with Doug Kaye yet again) about what pioneering podcasters do: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.
Podcastrigs.com, a great site about stuff, most of which I will never, ever buy.
The last session implies that I should probably hook up a dbx 266XL compressor/gate to the chain before our next session. Why that particular model? Because I already own it and it's stored in a portable rack case in the same recording room—we use it in my band for the bass drum on my kit, and otherwise it's just sitting on a shelf in the meantime.
In the long run, I'll probably want to get something like this to make the editing and mixing process smoother.
Friday, February 24, 2006 - newest items first # 2:36:00 PM:
According to "The New York Times," NBC threatened video-sharing site YouTube with a lawsuit, asking it to remove about 500 NBC-related clips from its site, including the newly popular "Lazy Sunday" clip from "Saturday Night Live" ("SNL"). Sounds logical. The copyright holder and content producer own said content and don't want it distributed willy-nilly across the Web.
Here's the catch: "Lazy Sunday" was viewed over 5 million times on YouTube. It almost single-handedly is helping revitalize the "SNL" brand and appeal. This is arguably the best thing to happen to "SNL" in a decade.
Speaking of threes, here are three photos showing how I packed up a 17" iMac G5 into a standard carry-on piece of rolling luggage so I could make a presentation last week. It would have fit entirely inside the bag had it not been for the metal foot, so an iMac can make a very nice substitute for a laptop if you have a power outlet available:
NOTE: By the way, if you were subscribed to the old podcast feed, you should have been automatically redirected to the new one, so you need not do anything. The new feed address is https://www.penmachine.com/podcast /audio/rss.xml, if you want to know.
Anyway, I posted two things yesterday:
One is new to the podcast, both in content and format: a promotional video (19 MB MPEG-4 video direct download) I made a few years ago for my band, The Neurotics, in iPod video format. Yes, it's my first video podcast.
The second is a tune I originally posted last October, "How Tall Jennifer Is" (3.7 MB MP3 file direct download) which also happens to be the first track on my album that you can (and should!) buy.
And if you're subscribed, you've probably got 'em already. How 'bout that?
My favourite/most embarrassing typo of all time is this 1996 cover of Ms. magazine, which misspells "feminism." As an editor, the irony makes the empathetic pain I feel even stronger.
Errors on the covers of major magazines and books are pretty rare, but Darren points to a recent one, a typo of "launch" on the cover of a new O'Reilly tech book, and back in 1983 even Time misspelled "control."
Of course I make typos and spelling mistakes here, but I do try to minimize them, and they're a lot easier to correct online than in print. Plus I don't have a proofreading staff, other than you my readers. And you sure let me know if you spot something.
None of my original tunes on my current or previous podcast pages, or on my album, include me playing drums. This even though I'm a drummer in my band and have drums set up in the room where I record my stuff.
Sending email campaigns can be a pain (and I'm not talking spam!), and it's worth paying a bit of money to make it work right. So far, Campaign Monitor looks like one of the best options for commercial email. For stand-alone Mac software, Mail Drop appears good, and would work out cheaper in the long run for large sendouts.
I'm not affiliated with either organization, just so you know—they're just the best results I've come up with after a quick search. Tuglet is also interesting, but when I tried it out, it didn't work all that well. I'll give it another shot and let you know the results.
As I seem to do every semester, I'll be speaking to a class of students in Simon Fraser University's "What Editors Do" class tomorrow night, February 22, at the downtown Harbour Centre campus. Very shortly after that, on March 2, I'll do the same thing to a different class at SFU's new Surrey, B.C. campus, and again May 11 downtown. I enjoy these sessions a lot, so if you're in one of those classes, I look forward to seeing you there.
Sites I linked to at the session
penmachine.com/sfu brings you to this page, or whatever the latest version of my links and info is
I'm not in the business of search engine optimization, and don't have much expertise in it. The reason is that, on the modern Internet, well-built and well-maintained websites do not require search engine optimization.
There's no trick to it: make a good website, and your search rankings will improve. Any site that is built logically, with valid, well-structured code and good content is already as easy as possible for search engines to index, and for other sites to link to.
Here's the latest evidence—the website for Lip Gloss and Laptops, the health, cosmetics, and beauty podcast that my wife and her friend are starting. If you search Google for beauty podcast, it's already on page 1 of the results, at #10. Even better, try cosmetics podcast. Top of the list!
And get this: they haven't yet recorded a single episode. They only registered the domain a little over a week ago, and the site has appeared in dribs and drabs since then. A few days ago your lovely hosts recorded an audio promo, and the first actual podcast goes out March 1. They've had some visitors, a few subscribers, and links here and there (such as the ones in this journal entry).
But all we did was build a well-constructed website, with useful information on it—even before the podcast goes live—and made sure that search engines, podcast directories, and other podcasters know about it. And there you have it.
Chris Pirillo asked me (either that, or I suggested it, I'm not sure which came first) to write a theme song for the next Gnomedex conference in June. Here's my first crack at lyrics for "The Gnomedex Song":
Gnome-dex! It's geeky fun
Gnome-dex! It keeps us out of the sun
Gnome-dex! For the girls and boys
Gnome-dex! With all the high-tech toys
Podcastin', aggregatin', video bloggin', crazy taggin'
Photo galleries, startup salaries, Chris and Ponzi running madly
And of course don't forget
All the free schwag
To be had
The audience might heckle you on up the stage
Your choice of web feed format might cause a rage
Is it the world's heaviest usage of Wi-Fi?
I don't know, but we sure are gonna try
To blow that bandwidth (all that bandwidth)
Forget CES and Macworld, OSCON and Foo Camp
MacBooks, Tablet PCs, mobile phones say "Look at me!"
Don't know what makes it so good
We'd write an algorithm to explain it
If we could
Gnome-dex! Tickets are hard to get
Gnome-dex! Is it Web 3.0 yet?
Gnome-dex! It's geeky fun
Gnome-dex! It keeps us out of the sun
Until recently it was hard to see people in the satellite photos on Google Maps and Google Earth, until recent improvements in the resolution of the images. Now Antonella is asking people to highlight places where you can see people. There are lots.
If you subscribe to my podcast (and of course you do!), you already have the latest episode, which is the audio transcript of a Northern Voice panel I participated in on February 11—with Kamloops city councillor Arjun Singh, WordPress developer Matt Mullenweg, and Vancouver superblogger Roland Tanglao.
In her Valentine's post, Ponzi wrote: "I so love Canada! I just want to fold up all my Canadian friends into little squares so I can stuff them in my pocket and take them with me where ever I go. You guys and gals ROCK!"
Right on. Er, I think.
Since our daughter's birthday is on Valentine's day, my wife and I didn't go out for dinner by ourselves. In lieu of that, we're going to do something else romantic tomorrow, Friday night: we're going to record a promo for her new podcast!
Now, Ponzi and Chris may have a pretty good time together, sure, but is my wife not the most awesome partner for a geek like me?
Having recently purchased a new mac with iLife 06 and iWeb, I've decided to try my hand at webdeveloping. I am having some issues getting the site to publish correctly and I ran across the following post of yours:
I took a look at your podcast page and saw that you were able to get the RSS button to work correctly on the Blog template using a non-.mac webserver. I've been trying to get my own site to work, to no avail. If you have the time, I was wondering if you might be able to send me some hints on how to get it working.
When I published to the local folder I put in the base url: https://www.aeriaeffect.com and then clicked publish.
The folder that my site is saved in locally is located at /users/ haeria/Sites/www.aeriaeffect.com/ and I think that for some reason it is trying to populate the feed with that local folder. I've tried not putting in the url when I publish and that hasn't worked either.
Any ideas you might have would be greatly appreciated, but I understand if you do not have the time to look into this.
I'm not sure exactly what's going on, but here's my understanding of what iWeb does, and my top-of-mind suggestion.
iWeb uses the name you give the site (the top level, globe-icon thing in the Site Organizer source list on the left side of the iWeb window) as the name of the folder it makes on your hard disk when you save. So if you've called that www.aeriaeffect.com, and it makes that the name of the folder on your hard disk, which could be the source of the problem because it expects you to upload it to a folder called www.aeriaeffect.com on your web server (i.e. https://www.aeriaeffect.com/www.aeriaeffect.com/ !).
To rename it, click on the globe icon in the source list, then from the top menu bar choose View > Show Inspector. In the inspector window, click the globe tab at the top and then rename the site in the field. The problem is, iWeb doesn't let you leave that blank, so if you rename it to "home" for instance, it will want to put the RSS feed at https://www.aeriaeffect.com/home/News/rss.xml -- as far as I know, there's no way to make it just work as the root of the website that way (i.e. https://www.aeriaeffect.com/News/rss.xml). So you might have to put all your website content inside a folder called /home (or whatever) on your web server to make it work.
In my case, I'm only doing my podcast entries, not my whole site, so I've called it "podcast" in iWeb, and I drag the whole folder called "podcast" into the root of my web server. So it lives at https://www.penmachine.com/podcast/ and also at https://podcast.penmachine.com/ (which are the same place). I set the podcast.penmachine.com on my web server, so that's a different thing.
One workaround would be to upload to the site root as you are now, but use a different button (not Apple's default one, which you can click on and delete), like a standard orange RSS/feed icon:
Download one of those, drag it into iWeb, click on it, and set a hyperlink using the arrow icon in the Inspector. Type the actual place the feed is (https://www.aeriaeffect.com/News/rss.xml) and you should be okay, without having to move where the rest of your site pages are.
I hope that helps.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - newest items first # 8:40:00 PM:
FURTHER UPDATE: At my podcast there is audio from a separate (but related) Northern Voice panel I participated in on February 11—with Kamloops city councillor Arjun Singh, WordPress developer Matt Mullenweg, and Vancouver superblogger Roland Tanglao—about "getting started with blogging."
Only after listening to the "Friday Night Videos" audio clips at that website do I realize, more than 20 years later, that they're sort of '80s overproduced knockoffs of "Baba O'Riley" by The Who. I guess I shouldn't have expected to notice that when I was 13.
Incidentally, I am composing and recording the Gnomedex theme song this year, and you can contribute. It probably makes the most sense if you've been to the conference before, or are going this year, but that's not required.
Of course, I'll go on for more than 15 minutes (get me talking about websites and I'm hard to shut up), and in fact I plan to set up two websites using two different services, probably Blogger and WordPress, as well as talk about some other easy tricks to make your site effective. I'll be focusing on websites for editors, but it will probably be useful for anyone.
The meeting is in the Welch Room of the YWCA Health Centre on Hornby Street. Admission is $10 for non-EAC members, $5 for students, free for members. Maybe I'll see you there.
Eight is a significant age—in our society, you're no longer a little child. You're most of the way to ten, closer to puberty than to diapers, starting to learn some actual math and reading books without pictures in them. You look out for your younger siblings.
Our oldest daughter turned eight today, and all those things are true for her. This year she will get to visit Hawaii and fly on a plane for the first time. She is a great girl, on the way to becoming a fabulous woman like her mother. Happy birthday, M.
Sorry to hear about the cancellation of Da Vinci. It remains the best drama on TV (not best Canadian drama, just best drama, period).
As a bit of informal market research/suggestions:
If you can bring all the seasons to DVD, I'll buy every one.
If you make future TV movies or other Da Vinci shows, please make them available on DVD, and maybe on the iTunes Store, too. I'll buy 'em.
Obviously, if CTV or another network were interested in taking over broadcast of the show, I'd be all over it.
More radically, if you could make NEW episodes, even half-hour or 22-minute ones, and put them up for sale on iTunes for their standard $2 or something, I'd buy every one. Heck, I'd subscribe if there was a way to do that.
TV isn't the only way to get new shows out there anymore. I don't know what an episode costs to produce, but if you had a few hundred thousand people around the world paying $2 for each one, it might work. Perhaps it's worth thinking about, anyway.
Updating the web page for my podcast of original instrumental tunes has become a hassle, even though I'm preparing new material all the time, so I'm beginning a transition: as of now, podcast.penmachine.com goes to a new page that uses Apple's iWeb for maintenance and updates, which should speed things up and let me post more often, even though it gives me less control over the look and code of the page.
So what does it mean for you? Well, if you want the newest tracks I post, you should go to the new page and subscribe in iTunes or your favourite other podcatching software. (The new podcast subscription is at penmachine.com/podcast/audio/rss.xml.) I'll redirect the old subscription URL there soon enough so that the change happens automatically for everyone, but for now you should make the change yourself. All new tunes will get posted to the new feed from now on.
This also helps me prep for producing the Lip Gloss and Laptops podcast, a beauty and cosmetics podcast for the thinking girl, run and hosted by my wife Air and her friend Kerry Anne, which will premiere March 1 or earlier. We'll have a feed for you to subscribe to there pretty soon too.
Exciting stuff, eh?
Monday, February 13, 2006 - newest items first # 6:09:00 PM:
The benefits of conferences like this weekend's Moose Camp/Northern Voice and the upcoming Gnomedex in June are bit hard to pin down. They're not strictly technical—you don't necessarily leave knowing how to code better PHP or take advantage of tax loopholes or fix your camera—rather, both Northern Voice and Gnomedex focus almost as much on the social and business aspects of computing as on the machinery of it all.
What I really get out of them is the trends you can smell in the air. Because some of the people who help invent new technological things—technically yes, but also socially and entrepreneurially—show up and speak at these events, and chat in the halls, and go to dinner, you can start to suss out that, for example, stuff is really changing in the worlds of online video and music and digital identities. And you get to meet people who create honest lists of ten reasons to date a geek (thanks, Maryam), or who point to cool video sites that make MPEG-4 and Flash versions of your movies on the fly (thanks, Robert), or get you excellent hotel deals (thanks, Tris) without telling you what hotel you're visiting until after you pay (and that's okay).
Here was the big trend: while there was certainly a lot of talk of technicalities, in almost every session I went to, attendees steered the conversation in other directions, away from the gadgety-ness of it all and into the mind and heart. In the Photo Camp session, we spent awhile talking about lenses and f-stops and such, but ended discussing beauty and inspiration and art. In Colin Brumelle's music presentation, we started with business models and technology, yet ended talking about joy. One of the best panels was all about love.
As I noted last year, what's interesting about Northern Voice in particular is the mix of participants: women and men, experts and beginners, old and young, local and visitor. This year seemed busier than last, and more egalitarian.
The buzz from the self-organized Moose Camp spilled over into the main sessions, so that even when there were people onstage, the audience wasn't afraid to talk back or even take over, to interact, to support, and to challenge. People came and went, took and posted thousands of photos, blogged and instant-messaged and podcasted in the background. It was less like a meeting than a hive. Rather than sitting and blogging it all, I walked around and talked to people, and used the wonderful Nikon camera I borrowed from Alastair Bird to try to capture people, and smiles.
I didn't photograph this, but in one of the other rooms of the UBC Robson Square Conference Centre there was some sort of business meeting. The slides I spotted on their projection screen as I walked by were the worst stereotypes of brain-numbing multi-level bullet-list PowerPoint hell. I got the feeling that many people at Northern Voice are on a mission, conscious or not, to take technology away from that sort of hell, to help it become something that brings people yet closer together, to take it off the screen to wherever we need it to go to become our better selves.
And then I came home, and had dinner and wine and bread with lobster oil with my wife and daughters and our friends and their young son—and my wife and her friend and us guys, their husbands, discussed the new podcast that those two lovely women, the non-geeky, are about to start. So the trends in the air spread their joy, and the world is changed.
It was an adventure getting to this Greek taverna in West Vancouver during Vancouver's rush hour on Friday, February 10 after Northern Voice's Moose Camp.
And driving in the car with Chris and Ponzi reinforced one thing to me: if you're thinking that their performances on the Chris Pirillo show are an act, they're not. The two of them, whom I've known for about a year now, are just as charming and talkative and hyperactive in person as on their podcasts.
Here are my candlelit-style Greek restaurant photos:
Today (Friday) at Moose Camp a bunch of photographers (collectively forming Photo Camp will use some of my music as the soundtrack to a short movie assembled from their pictures, starting just after 1:30 p.m.
I custom composed and recorded something for the occasion. The tune is "Camp Walk," (1.7 MB MP3) a hard-rockin', vaguely White Stripes-y instrumental that's a minute and a half long. "Camp Walk" rocks!
He seems to be healthy, although right now his tank smells... well, the best description I can think of is that it smells like body odour. The aquarium shop people think it's a new-tank bacterial bloom, and should go away.
Neither my wife nor I, who had aquariums in past years, have any experience with that. Charlie doesn't seem to care. Our kids like him.
SpongeBob is a metal lunch box who lives outside Charlie's tank.
Well, here's a measure of how good it is: my two daughters (6 and 8) love it too. They're singing it into my microphone as it plays in iTunes right now. They also think the White Stripes version is okay.
Sony has a neat eReader ebook device coming out. It uses a remarkable electronic paper technology that apparently looks like paper, and requires no power except when changing pages.
I'm sorry to say this, but I can't see Sony succeeding with its ebook technology, because it's Sony. If any company is capable of taking cool technology and screwing it up by trying to keep too hard a lock on the content, Sony is the one.
Think MiniDisc and the proprietary ATRAC encoding, and Sony's refusal to support MP3 until it was way, way too late. Think their attempts to shut down and muzzle (ha ha) sites that promoted hacks to the Aibo robotic dog—which they've now discontinued because of low sales, largely because the best potential customers were the ones who wanted to hack it (contrast with Lego Mindstorms). Think last year's rootkit DRM audio CD fiasco (which has prompted me not to buy anything from Sony for the foreseeable future). Think Memory Stick. Think the lockdown of content for the PlayStation Portable. Think Sony's hard-headedness around the Blu-ray next-generation DVD format, leading to another format war with Toshiba's HD-DVD (although Toshiba is to blame here too).
Honestly, Sony hasn't been able to take a rational approach with content since it helped invent the audio CD with Philips 30 years ago, and that was only because people seemed not to be thinking much about what digital audio meant back then. Buying a record label and a movie studio in the interim only skewed their perspective more.
Ebooks will come. But I predict Sony will be an afterthought when they do.
P.S. Yes, yes, I know Apple is sometimes almost as bad. But Apple seems to understand that total content lockdown isn't resonable. iPods have always played MP3 files. You can convert your iTunes music purchases to non-DRM files fairly trivially, using Apple's own software. (Purchased TV shows are another issue.) Apple isn't perfect, but they've struck a better balance. And right now, they're eating Sony's lunch in a lot of markets as a direct consequence.
This is news to me, but perhaps not to others. I just got myself a copy of iLife '06 from Apple, and I have to say that iWeb in particular is pretty slick. Yes, while the HTML it outputs does validate (yay), it is extraordinarily poorly structured, using a series of <div> tags instead of proper headings and such. But hey, 1.0.
What I do find interesting is that if you publish a podcast with iWeb, Apple includes a Subscribe link that has something new. Previously, to subscribe in iTunes you needed an iTunes Music Store podcast directory URL, which took you to a podcast's page in the iTMS, where you could then subscribe. Here's the link that appears on my podcast page today:
But in iWeb, your podcast page Subscribe link button is something much friendlier—the RSS feed's actual URL, but using an "itpc" (iTunes Podcast, I presume) prefix, which just subscribes you in iTunes. That will work with ANY podcast feed (or other feed, I presume, though what iTunes might do with it is another question), whether it's in the iTunes Store or not. In my case:
If you're already subscribed, it just takes you to your subscription in iTunes. I haven't yet tried to figure out how to map itpc: to another program, like NetNewsWire or Juice Receiver. But it could be done, and makes one-click subscribing much easier, since podcasts have their own prefix instead of just https:
Now, this probably runs afoul of some process for creating these things, but I think it's an improvement over the old iTunes Store method.
Sunday, February 05, 2006 - newest items first # 9:19:00 PM:
Any instrument with a ridiculous amount of excess capacity which is used primarily to display technical ability of no musical interest except in the context of its own display. Painstakingly crafted, fantastically expensive to purchase and fanatically maintained wankharps are only enjoyed ironically by anyone other than an actual or potential wankharp owner.
Most commonly, wankharps are used to bridge the gap between the kind of technical exercise the practitioner enjoys working and the kind of music that people actually like to listen to. This is accomplished through the wankharpist's performance of some whimsical, easily recognisable piece of music that the performer would never otherwise play and the audience would never otherwise seek out.
I'm on a panel titled "Getting Started With Blogging" at Northern Voice 2006, with Arjun Singh and Matt Mullenweg. Along with the ever-blogging Roland Tanglao, we're constructing a wiki-based, collaboratively edited agenda for the session. I've linked to it at:
...which is where any other material I post about the conference will also go as it approaches. If you are registered at the Northern Voice site (you don't need to be coming to the conference, although if you registered before it sold out, that would probably have been sensible) and want to make comments on the wiki page, go ahead.
I've written and spoken before about why you really, really, really need to back up your computer data.
But Tim Bray—who helped invent some major Internet technologies (and thus knows what he's talking about), and who also happens to live here in Vancouver—has a great article today about backups that is:
Eminently practical for power users and newbies alike.
Sensible, from a different-than-usual perspective about backups.
His best advice? Never erase anything, and keep two copies of it all. That pretty much sums up an effective backup approach.
Roland is apparently making a short photo film with the theme "Red," and it will be exactly 1 minute and 30 seconds long. He asked if I had any music that would fit, so I decided to write something exactly that length, which is "Less Red Than Red" (1.9 MB MP3 file).
Now, 1:30 is pretty short, so I made a longer mix of the same composition with some extra instrumentation (most notably piano), which is 2:45, and that is "More Red Than Red" (3.8 MB MP3 file).
Although they come from the same source recording, I think the emotional result is a bit different, especially with the piano coda on "More Red," which was, as usual, mastered by Les Thorn in New York City.
Why don't you check them both out yourself and let me know what you think in the comments? If you subscribe to the Penmachine Podcast, you should have both tracks on your computer (and maybe iPod too) already.
Please also use the tag northernvoice for your pictures of the event, whether you put them in the group pool or not. I've also set up something similar for Gnomedex 2006 (use the gnomedex tag) in Seattle in June.
Anyone who's a member of Flickr can join the groups.
P.S. If you're going to Seattle, for Gnomedex or another purpose, organizer Chris Pirillo has a great list of Seattle restaurants for you.