Journal: News & Comment
This is "Penmachine.com: May 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.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - newest items first
# 12:07:00 PM:
Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - newest items first
# 1:06:00 PM:
I'm co-hosting Inside Home Recording this week
Back in December I discovered a great podcast about home studio recording, co-hosted by Paul Garay and James Devon and called (logically enough) Inside Home Recording. A few weeks ago James interviewed me on the show.
It turns out that had been James's last episode, and when I cheekily suggested to Paul that maybe he needed a new co-host, nudge nudge, I was surprised that he replied that I should join him as guest host on a subsequent episode. That one, show #16, is available today in Enhanced AAC (MPEG-4 audio with pictures and links) or MP3 audio formats. If you like the show, you can subscribe at iTunes or using the RSS feed.
Paul and I talk a bit about our respective recording setups (we tracked our individual parts separately at our own homes, and then he combined them into the final show), read some listener mail, review auto-tuning and reverb plug-in software, and discuss my new MacBook (of course) and the merits and current disadvantages of the new Intel Mac computers from Apple. I also give some tips on how to get a decent drumkit sound from a single microphone, with a bit of cheating.
If you enjoy the show, let Paul know at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment at the website.
Whither Web 2.0?
Darren Barefoot has a big set of comparisons between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. My contribution:
- Web 1.0 was a bubble.
- Web 2.0 is a Bubbl™ (beta).
Monday, May 29, 2006 - newest items first
# 1:36:00 PM:
All thew new Apple Macs come with built-in iSight webcams now. I've noticed that anyone who gets one who hasn't had an iSight before tends to try out the special effects and post photos online. (I did when I got a new iMac a few months ago.).
I think Tony at work, who just inherited that same iMac G5 from me, did a great job. Very Eraserhead. Or maybe more like this guy.
Sunday, May 28, 2006 - newest items first
# 11:58:00 PM:
Giant Glico man etc.
Andy was, until recently, a co-op student who worked with me at Navarik, and we hope he'll come back when he's finished with his current co-op job in Fukuoka, Japan.
Today he reports that, while he didn't buy a Nintendo DS Lite (why?!), he did see a "bunch of crazy stuff, it's like a crazy street with crazy bright things, giant crab on wall, giant glico man, ferris wheel on top of buildings."
Saturday, May 27, 2006 - newest items first
# 10:14:00 AM:
How little we know
I just listened to the podcast edition of the 30-year-running CBC Radio science program "Quirks and Quarks," and it reinforced how little we still know about the world.
Aside from the big-picture stories on happiness, blindness, and plate tectonics, the last story, though small, was a complete flip-around from my (and most people's) previous understanding of the topic.
It was about what your urine smells like after you eat asparagus. For years, scientists and others thought (and I had always heard) that some people metabolized particular sulphur compounds in asparagus into small sulphur-containing molecules, which generate a foul smell when those people urinated. Conversely, I understood, other people didn't make those chemicals, probably because of genetic differences.
That turns out to be totally wrong. Everyone secretes the smelly compounds. The difference is that—probably, still, for genetic reasons—only about half the population can smell them. (And yes, I'm in that half.)
Thursday, May 25, 2006 - newest items first
# 12:34:00 PM:
Time for Derek to shut up
Okay, it's arrived. FedEx brought it to my house, and my wife—amazing woman that she is—offered to drop the MacBook at my office in exchange for my buying lunch:
Thanks, A. You rock, as always.
And that's definitely the most efficient online purchase I've ever made. I ordered the laptop the Saturday afternoon of a long weekend (4:21 p.m. May 20), and it was delivered at 10:11 a.m. May 25, less than 114 hours later.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - newest items first
# 3:45:00 PM:
Chris Pirillo uses Windows. He likes Windows. He works closely with Microsoft people a lot of the time, and they're the lead sponsor for his conference next month. That sure hasn't stopped him from taking on the latest Windows Vista Beta 2 though:
The first time I get into Windows, I feel like I'm bombarded with options—a balloon that tells me I'm not quite ready yet, then a window that opens up to show more options about my Windows version, and yet another window that shows me my current security settings, and then yet ANOTHER window that asks me if I want to turn on the Phishing filter when I try to "Find a program" to protect me from Malware by launching an IE session (which really oughta be preinstalled, or at least asked for during the setup process).
That's just one item out of nine printed pages (!) of issues he identified last night. Ouch. (Via Bill.)
Shilling for Nokia, maybe
A marketing company called Matchstick in Toronto seems to be trying a bit of blog buzz marketing for the Nokia 6682 cell phone. I received some email from them a few days ago, and today spoke to a polite rep on the phone who asked me a bunch of questions about this blog, the technologies I use, other Vancouver and Toronto bloggers, and cell phones.
The idea seems to be that selected techie bloggers (perhaps like me) might get a free 6682 phone to try out, blog about, comment on, etc. in exchange for mentioning our experiences and maybe posting an ad for a free Bluetooth headset offer or some such. (Roland is already involved in this sort of thing, and doesn't pull any punches.)
On their site, Matchstick quotes from an old Harvard Business Review article:
Many people believe that buzz is largely serendipitous. Not so. We have found that buzz is increasingly the result of carefully managed marketing programs.
Seed the vanguard. All customers are not created equal. Some—the vanguard—have a disproportionate ability to shape public opinion. Increasingly, marketers are recognizing that getting their products into the hands of the vanguard can pay off exponentially in how the mass market ultimately responds.
Ooh ooh, call me the vanguard. It's better than foolishly early adopter, I guess.
Now, I've had ads on this site for a long time, so if they asked me to try this out, I wouldn't object—and of course I'd make it perfectly clear what was going on. On the other hand, I'm a bit of a cell phone Luddite who'd prefer a rugged, long-battery-life, simple, black-and-white phone to one of the Nokia suckers. But for free? We'll, I'd certainly give it a shot.
It also turns out that Tony at work has a 6682 already, and quite likes it. It takes pretty nice photos (for a phone), syncs well via Bluetooth with his Mac, and does a bunch of other smartphone-type stuff. Apparently it does scratch easily, though. Just like an iPod.
I can't believe this is actually frustrating
FedEx reports that my MacBook arrived in Anchorage, Alaska from Suzhou, China yesterday afternoon. Most likely over the next day it will make its way from there to the FedEx hub in Memphis, then probably to Toronto, then to Vancouver and finally to my house.
The price for shipping cannot possibly be taking into account the overall environmental cost of moving a 4 kg package through such a circuitous route (nearly 17,000 km) that quickly.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 - newest items first
# 4:01:00 PM:
Derek speaking about podcasting at VFS tomorrow
Just a reminder: if you're a Vancouver Film School student, faculty member, or otherwise hanger-on, I'll be speaking there about podcasting tomorrow night (May 24) from 6 to 9 p.m. or so.
Alas, I won't have my new MacBook for the presentation—but, according to FedEx, I will have it on Thursday. It shipped today from the factory in Suzhou, China. Two days from China to Canada. What would James Cook or Ferdinand Magellan think of that?
There's an awkward moment
Calling someone on the phone to find out you've interrupted them, uh, indisposed is awkward. More so when they're a member of the Ramones.
On the other hand, there's no law that you have to pick up the phone. I'm just glad it wasn't me.
Placing the call, I mean.
Monday, May 22, 2006 - newest items first
# 8:17:00 PM:
Seattle to Vancouver to Germany to Seattle to Vancouver
I can't get off this MacBook kick if I try. Today it's this cool little video from Germany about unpacking a black MacBook from its box:
Okay, here's the part I love about the Internet. The music is something I put together and posted online last June. It features the voices of Chris Pirillo and Ponzi, which I mixed from an old episode of their podcast into a song called "Pirilloponzi." I didn't know about the video until Tibor emailed Chris, who posted about it, and my wife saw Chris's blog.
Very virtual, eh? Thanks, Mac Essentials, and Tibor, and Chris, and of course my lovely wife for telling me about it.
Sunday, May 21, 2006 - newest items first
# 8:36:00 PM:
The circle is complete
After my last few days of MacBook obsessiveness, you might wonder, why would I possibly need a brand new Mac laptop anyway?
So I can use MacSaber, of course.
I might need to get something like Undercover as well, however.
Saturday, May 20, 2006 - newest items first
# 4:38:00 PM:
The deed is done
Given my previous experience with ordering from Apple online, I don't expect to see it before June 5 or so, but I could be pleasantly surprised and get my new black MacBook ("the BlacBook") before the end of this month:
I was sorely tempted to cross the border and drive to Lynnwood to pick one up, but that would be just silly. Plus there was a three-and-a-half hour border lineup today because of the Canadian long weekend.
Yes, I checked.
Friday, May 19, 2006 - newest items first
# 12:47:00 PM:
There are only 100 seats left for next month's Gnomedex conference in Seattle. Sign up now if you're going.
What other computer company besides Apple could open a store in New York City and have it be an instant tourist attraction? And they're keeping it open 24 hours a day, every day—even on Christmas.
Black MacBook = BlacBook?
Ars Technica has posted the first comprehensive review of the new Apple MacBook, with benchmarks, while Macworld also takes a crack at it. From the Ars review:
All things being equal, I can see thrifty consumers [...] simply going with the low-end MacBook and I couldn't blame them one bit. After all, the low-end MacBook is for the most part just as powerful as several models of the Pro edition that were released only a few months back.
I hope to be placing my order over the weekend.
Thursday, May 18, 2006 - newest items first
# 1:49:00 PM:
The truth about web development
And it hurts. Strong language alert. (Via Alistair.)
Time to call tech support.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - newest items first
# 6:30:00 PM:
Where Derek's appearing in May, June, and July
Some of you might be interested in these techie seminars, workshops, and conferences I'm involved in over the next few months:
- Next Wednesday, May 24, I'm speaking at Vancouver Film School as a "podcasting expert" (not my terminology) for the Writing for Film, TV, and Interactive Media program, from 6 to 9 p.m. I'm not sure whether the general public can come, so you'll have to take your chances.
- June 9-11 is the Editors' Association of Canada National Conference, this year in Vancouver at SFU Harbour Centre. The overall conference is a great deal for $300 Cdn (EAC members) or $450 Cdn (non-members), since it features a whole slew of great sessions and a keynote speech by Order of Canada recipient Wayson Choy. If you work with language at all, I recommend it.
- As part of the EAC Conference, on Friday, June 9, I'm giving an expanded version of my "Build a website in 15 minutes" workshop, which costs you a mere $42 (members) or $68 (non-members) (details on my workshop and others are available). You can listen to the podcast of a shorter version to get a feel for it.
- On Thursday, July 6, I'm running a day-long onscreen editing course for SFU's Summer Publishing Workshops program, including information about Microsoft Word, as well how to work with email messages, web writing, and electronic documents of any other type. I've held numerous previous seminars like that one.
I think that covers it for now. Oh yeah, and my wife and I'll be at Gnomedex in Seattle at the end of June, for which I'm writing and recording the Gnomedex custom theme song.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - newest items first
# 2:07:00 PM:
I've repeatedly told people that I wouldn't buy the first generation of any new Apple computer, just so they can get the bugs out. I've said it for years. Wait for the first revision, I counseled. Otherwise there will be problems, I said.
Well, forget that. I'm damn well buying one of these new MacBooks. I might even drop the $150 premium they're charging just for the black colour, though I hope I can persuade myself not to go that far. Sigh. I've gone insane.
UPDATE: Oddly, the Apple Store Affiliate Program only provides graphics of the white one. They've gotta change that:
P.S. If you use those links (left for Canada, right for U.S.) and buy something, I get a cut. Just so you know.
Monday, May 15, 2006 - newest items first
# 3:33:00 PM:
Which would you rather be?
A few weeks ago my wife asked whether computery types like me thought that "geek" was still an insulting term. I was surprised, since as far as I was concerned, "geek" long ago turned into a term of endearment in the tech community. (She asked me after I referred to myself as a geek on this website.)
But it seems that the argument continues. I think that "nerd" now sounds passé, very 1980s, while "geek" is the current thing techies call ourselves. This store isn't thinknerd.com, after all. (And, appropriately enough, thinknerd.com is "Forbidden" when I visit it.)
The crew at Citizen Journalism talk tonight
There's a bit of a cabal of Web 2.0 geeks in Vancouver, of which I've been slowly becoming a part over the past couple of years. Among them are Darren Barefoot, Kris Krug, Roland Tanglao, and (peripherally, through podcasting) Tod Maffin. Both hosts of Lip Gloss and Laptops and I will be at the "What Citizen Journalism Means to Corporate Communications" panel discussion in downtown Vancouver tonight, which is supposed to feature all four of those guys.
It's sponsored by the High Tech Communicators Exchange and the Canadian Public Relations Society, and looks to be pretty interesting. Maybe I'll see you there. The photo shows Darren and Kris with Sarah Pullman and Boris Mann, who may very well be there too this evening for all I know.
Saturday, May 13, 2006 - newest items first
# 9:50:00 AM:
What the hell is a buffer overflow error?
If you've been kicking around the computer world for awhile, you've heard about buffer overflow errors. Like me, you might understand only vaguely (if at all) what they are, and wonder why so many viruses, bugs, and other problems seem to originate with buffer overflows (a.k.a. buffer overruns).
Steve Gibson of GRC.com finally explains it clearly for non-technical users (as well as us technical users who aren't programmers) in this week's Security Now! #39 podcast with Leo Laporte. There's a full transcript as well as an MP3 file you can listen to. I highly recommend it so that you can gain a better concept of what these pernicious programming errors are.
Not that it helps you fix them, mind you. But knowledge is good, right?
Friday, May 12, 2006 - newest items first
# 10:27:00 PM:
Origins of three movie clichés?
Darren Barefoot is fond of making lazyweb requests, but I don't do it too often. Here's one.
Somehow the topic of anvils came up today at bedtime, and my oldest daughter (age 8) asked, "What's an anvil for?" (That's not my question, by the way.) I realized that for most people, an anvil is something that gets dropped on the heads of cartoon characters far more often than it's something a blacksmith uses to hammer hot metal. And that gave rise to my three questions, which all have to do with film clichés:
- In what film, cartoon or live action, did an anvil first get dropped on someone, and it was supposed to be funny?
- In what film did two lovers first run toward each other in slow motion across a field? (Wuthering Heights?)
- Most importantly, in what film did a character first shout, "Noooooo!" to the heavens while the camera zoomed away dramatically above them?
Inquiring Dereks want to know.
Thanks to Nancy, Barbara, and SFU students
If you were at my talk at SFU Harbour Centre last night, www.penmachine.com/sfu will get you to the updated page of links on what I yakked on about.
I'd like to say thanks to Barbara Pulling and Nancy Pollak, who've had me come talk to their "What Editors Do" classes something like a dozen times over the past few years. Both of them are now moving on to other things, with new instructors taking over that course. I've had tons of fun ranting on about website editing for an hour at a time, and I hope I can do it again for whoever teaches the course next time.
Before my six-year-old daughter was even born, I dropped out of the habit of wearing contact lenses. My eyesight is terrible, so I wear glasses all the time unless I'm sleeping or in the shower. But my last pair of proper prescription sunglasses is more than six years old too, and being huge and heavy, looks pretty dorky. So a couple of days ago I got myself a new pair:
Yeah, they're red, and they're Ray Bans. If I was going to spend $300 on a pair of polarized, high-tech sunglasses for my heavy prescription, I figured I may as well get something funky.
Thursday, May 11, 2006 - newest items first
# 11:27:00 AM:
My Penmachine Sessions album now on the iTunes Music Store
Well, how about that. My album, Penmachine Sessions, is now available at the iTunes Store. When I tested it, the individual tracks didn't show up, but if you're not using one-click purchasing, you can add it to your shopping cart and then look in there to hear the previews. I hope they'll sort that out shortly. If you've already listened to or own my stuff, I'd sure like it if you wrote a review at iTunes.
A couple of notes: (a) The album should also be available at some of those other music services that hardly anyone uses fairly soon too. (b) Here's a secret—you can download all the songs in MP3 for free from this website. But if you want to buy them too, or grab a physical CD. I'd appreciate that!
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 - newest items first
# 4:10:00 PM:
Happy birthday Scene Zine
I like my guitars, but I'm not a hard rock guy. Still, Marcus Couch's Scene Zine podcast is on my regular listen list at work (along with The Roadhouse and Tower of Song), because he has great taste in heavy rock music. Happy 100th episode, Marcus.
Why FireWire is better than USB 2.0 for audio
Podcast Pedant summarizes why I bought a FireWire audio interface instead of a USB one:
For audio devices, USB will do fine if no other devices are competing with it and if you have processor room to spare. But Firewire will always be able to handle more load with lower latency and no glitches, because it has resources it can set aside to make sure your audio gets where it needs to go.
Your laugh of the day
Darren Barefoot got eaten by his own bed. With photo!
Subtle differences between digital SLRs for astrophotography
Among those looking for a digital SLR (which I'm not, yet), Canon and Nikon are by far the top contenders. Other manufacturers, from Pentax and Olympus to Kodak and (soon) Sony are also in the race, but they're far, far back in most people's minds. My dad just bought himself a $1300 Cdn Canon Digital Rebel XT 350D DSLR dual-lens kit over the weekend, which was a strange choice, but he had good reasons.
Here's why it was a strange choice. He knows his cameras—he used to make a living as a wedding photographer more than 40 years ago—but the Canon is the first new SLR of any kind he's bought in more than 30 years, so his old manual-focus Pentax lenses weren't part of his decision. Yet I own three good Nikon-mount 35 mm autofocus lenses that work great on Nikon DSLRs: a fixed 50 mm f1.8 that takes nice photos in low light, plus two quality zoom lenses. He could have used those if he'd bought a Nikon D50, which was the second main camera on his list, and saved himself about $500.
But he is an amateur astronomer (former national treasurer of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, in fact) and likes to take astrophotographs, which have unusual demands on a camera, whether film or digital. Yes, there are specialized telescope CCDs and expensive astronomy-optimized DSLRs like Canon's D20a, but my dad wanted a relatively inexpensive camera that would work both with his telescopes and for general photography.
The differences he discovered between the Canons and the Nikons were interesting, subtle, unnoticeable by most non-astrophotography buffs, and enough to compel him to spend the extra money, with two key items being most critical:
- The Canon offers mirror lock-up, which lets you flip up the internal viewing mirror in advance of taking a photo, and thus prevent the inevitable vibration from the flipping mechanism that can affect the slow exposures done through telescopes (although not the really slow minutes- or hours-long ones used for deep dark-sky photography). The Nikon doesn't have lock-up at all.
- The Nikon's NEF "raw" format (also apparent on the higher-end D70s and other Nikon DSLRs) isn't really lossless, raw data from the camera sensor, but involves slight anti-noise processing in the camera, which is an advantage for terrestrial photography, but can kill the fine detail required of dark-sky pictures—and which you can't turn off. Canon lets you get straight data from the sensor and do your own processing.
Of course, as in other geeky religious wars, the debate continues in many forums, but Canon's advantage for astrophoography seems clear. Even aside from these particular models, Nikon doesn't even make a specialized astro-SLR like the D20a, preferring to specialize in medical and other less sky-searching areas.
So my father is now a Canon guy, while I'm a Nikon guy. And I run Macs and he runs Windows. And we never argue about either of them.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006 - newest items first
# 1:18:00 PM:
Links of interest (2006-05-09):
- Some cool CD services: 5inch, Jewelboxing, Diskfaktory (they made my album).
- Gillian: "...it's most likely that I do know more about music than you do. That's what my first bachelor's degree was for."
- Sumbersible iPod cases, and headphones too.
- The latest way technology will change music: songs built for 30-second iTunes samples.
- Mugshot is a great, if quirky, Mac desktop application that's an alternative way to access and work with your photos at Flickr.
- Scoble: "[Microsoft] better get our s**t together soon" and "if you want the most passionate people in society to use your stuff, you must support Firefox."
- The End of Radio, from CBC Newsworld. Watch it online. (Thanks, Tod.)
- "When you pirate MP3s, you're downloading Communism!"
- Only one Information Architecture deliverable. For a narrow audience, but very useful there.
Monday, May 08, 2006 - newest items first
# 10:27:00 AM:
The daddy track
Here's an excellent New York Times article about the awkwardness of friends with widely different incomes (via Kottke):
"Look at a group of female friends walking down the street. They're often all dressed identically: the same shoes, the same belts, the same handbag."
But what is not easily apparent, Ms. Orman said, is that one of the women may have saved for months to buy her one expensive handbag, or more likely, put it on her credit card. Her identically dressed friends, meanwhile, may have the salary or the family money to afford a closet full of designer purses.
"That is how we get in trouble," Ms. Orman said. "We think our friends are just like us, and if our friend can afford something, we fool ourselves into thinking we can afford it, too."
I'm far from poor—my wife (a math teacher) and I (writer, editor, web guy, whatever) both make decent livings and enjoy our jobs. Sometimes we remark to one another about the kinds of furniture or techie gadget or clothing purchases we make blithely, in cash, that we would have had to scrape together for months to afford in our student days.
But years ago, when our oldest daughter was born, we made the decision that our kids would stay with family while they were young, either with one of us or with grandparents on occasion. Over most of the ensuing decade, we've adjusted our schedules, which has included my working part time, working freelance while staying home full time, and now my wife working part time while I'm back to a full time position.
Some of those changes we planned, some were unpredictable. Our choices were good ones. We're better off than some of our friends, and not as well off as others. Yet had either of us been ambitious and made the time, perhaps we could have been earning six-figure salaries and driving fancy cars (or fancy bicycles).
On the other hand, I think of the type of person and the type of father I would have had to be to achieve that, and that's not really me—at least not the me I have become. Both my daughters are in school now, so I could begin tackling some grand ambitions about ten years later than some of my friends did. Yet being a father shifts your priorities, and I've stumbled into a bunch of rewarding pastimes and hobbies and jobs.
I like this daddy track. I'm not trying to get rich. And most of my friends are happy to split the bill at White Spot.
Saturday, May 06, 2006 - newest items first
# 11:08:00 PM:
Four new free podsafe instrumental MP3 tunes
I've posted four new tracks (okay, two old, two new) to my Penmachine Podcast.
They are "Pissed Off Adam Curry (10 sec version)," "Pissed Off Adam Curry (25 sec version)," "Less Red Than Red," and "More Red Than Red."
Follow those links to find out more or to download them.
I recommend Home Recording Odyssey
I'm very much enjoying the Home Recording Odyssey from Andrew Brierley in Australia. Coincidentally, he, like Leo Laporte, chose my tune More Red Than Red for his theme music.
While he bills the podcast as "for beginners by a beginner," Andrew seems like he knows a fair bit to me—I've already learned some great tips from his show, along with the Inside Home Recording podcast I listen to regularly (and appeared on last week, which is how Andrew found out about me). If you're interested in home recording techniques, I recommend you give his show a try.
Friday, May 05, 2006 - newest items first
# 11:31:00 AM:
Penmachine played on TWiT as a new theme for specials
Leo Laporte is one of the best-known tech personalities out there, as an on-air host at TechTV, a co-host on Call for Help, and main guy for the This Week in Tech (TWiT) podcast, which consistently ranks in the top 20 at the iTunes Store and Podcast Alley.
And he just started using my song "More Red Than Red" (also available at the Podsafe Music Network) as the theme song for his TWiT Specials podcasts about political lobbying for citizen media rights in the digital era. It's an important issue, and I'm happy to contribute in a small way with my music. Thanks, Leo.
Thursday, May 04, 2006 - newest items first
# 3:55:00 PM:
Takin' it back to Sesame Street
Jason Kottke points to a massive list of archival Sesame Street videos. One I've never seen (or don't think I did—I was three when it aired in 1972) is this super-funky Stevie Wonder tune by the name of "1-2-3." I love the vocoder vocal effects: look for the tube in Stevie's mouth that he uses to create the weird robot voice.
My daughters are already too old for Sesame Street, but they did watch it quite a bit when they were younger. Still, they have a lot more kids' TV choices than I did, so I wonder if their memories of it will be as fond?
Ten shows and going strong
Conventional wisdom among podcasters is that if you manage to reach your tenth episode, you're probably going to avoid podfading—i.e. giving up on your show when you realize how much work it is. Like all conventional wisdom, it could be wrong, and since some shows are daily, some weekly, and others irregular, it's hard to say whether it always applies.
Nevertheless, Lip Gloss and Laptops, the beauty and cosmetics podcast hosted by my wife and our friend KA, has reached its tenth show this week. They're still going strong. They'll record episode #11 this Friday and post it May 10. Subscribe to their free weekly audio show, why don't you? You don't need an iPod, just a computer that can play MP3 files.
Congratulations to Air and KA for a good podcast that's bound to grow.
Satirist Stephen Colbert must have been nervous before the moment when, standing within spitting distance of George W. Bush the other night, he let fly with this blistering condemnation of the president. But you'd never know.
On video he is totally composed. And keenly accurate. Mere seconds in, he begins:
Somebody pinch me. You know what? I'm a pretty sound sleeper—that may not be enough. Somebody shoot me in the face. Is he really not here tonight? Dammit. The one guy who could have helped.
Some of the comedy is broad, some subtle. My favourite bit seems to be about Jesse Jackson, but then at the last second it isn't:
Jesse Jackson is here, the Reverend. Haven't heard from the Reverend in a little while. I had him on the show. Very interesting and challenging interview. You can ask him anything, but he's going to say what he wants, at the pace that he wants. It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.
Sharply written and brilliantly executed. We'll see if Colbert gets excommunicated or declared an enemy of the state. Or, more probably, simply ignored by those who disagree with him.
Gnomedex 6 coolness
My wife and I are both psyched about going to Gnomedex (without the kids!) at the end of next month—a weekend that includes my birthday. Organizer Chris Pirillo has posted a brief list of what makes it a cool geek event.
Only one downer: no Google sponsorship this year. So no cool flashy badges or Google trucker hats. Damn. I'm sure there will still be good schwag, and the Experience Music Project party Ponzi revealed on Lip Gloss and Laptops a few weeks ago is sure to be fun.
Now I just have to get that Gnomedex theme song recorded.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006 - newest items first
# 5:03:00 PM:
According to Blogger, I have averaged 1.12 posts per day in this journal since I started on October 27, 2000. I think that average has moved up a bit since I last checked about a year and a half ago.
Antonella Pavese's How to Blog series is useful if you're just getting into this medium—or even if you're an old hand like me.
If you're a bit of a Mac power user, this tip from Mac OS X Hints lets you get at photos and music easily via the Finder without having to open iPhoto or iTunes.
J-Walk notes a CNN story calculating that the labour of a stay-at-home mom should theoretically be worth $134,000 (USD) per year.
CBC Radio lets the podhorse out of the barn
It's not perfect (and of course it couldn't be), but the new CBC Radio Podcasting initiative spearheaded by Tod Maffin is still pretty fabulous. It's also well thought out: a new "best of" podcast every day of the week (except Saturday, where the even better usual full episode of "Quirks and Quarks" remains), and a cool if ominous name: The One. I even like the choice of Futura as the featured typeface.
Check out the FAQ and Getting Started pages too. There's more coming, they say.
I think this is just the right amount of programming to start with, enough to listen to daily without overwhelming people. I'll probably subscribe to every show, because except for "As It Happens" (ooh, that section of the website needs a serious update), I rarely get to listen to any of them on air.
Great move, CBC.
Why I didn't vote for Harper
So let's see: increase income tax rates for taxpayers who have the least money (although that may be offset by other rate cuts), ignore climate change (indisputable and unconscionable), and scrap a deal with natives while tensions rise over land claims (both stupid and mean-spirited). While there is some good stuff in Canada's first Conservative party federal budget since the early 1990s, and while I'll personally probably benefit financially from it, my opinion is still, on balance, this: Mr. Harper, your budget sucks.
Not that I'm surprised, mind you.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006 - newest items first
# 5:00:00 PM:
New free MP3 instrumental posted, others re-posted
Over at my Penmachine Podcast, I've added three of my free original tunes you can listen to or download, two of which appeared some time ago and are being re-released, and one of which is an instrumental version that was previously unreleased:
- "Cold Cloth and an Ice Pack" (MP3 file) is from way back in September 2004.
- "You're the Big Sky" (MP3 file) appeared at the beginning of this year, and features me singing for a change.
- "You're the Big Sky (Instrumental)" (MP3 file) is new and, not surprisingly, is an instrumental version of its predecessor.
Enjoy. And subscribe to the podcast feed (or directly in iTunes) if you'd like to get new tunes whenever I post them.
Monday, May 01, 2006 - newest items first
# 3:22:00 PM:
Canadian musicians rock!
The Canadian Music Creators Coalition—which includes Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sum 41, Stars, Raine Maida, Dave Bidini, Billy Talent, John K. Samson, Broken Social Scene, Sloan, Andrew Cash, and Bob Wiseman—is exactly the right idea:
- Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical
- Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive
- Cultural Policy Should Support Actual Canadian Artists
Rock on. I'm signing up myself.
I've used instant messaging for a long time—one measure of that is that, (a) I have an account with ICQ, which was one of the first IM networks as an Israeli startup back in 1996, before AOL bought it in '98, and (b) my ICQ number is in the low seven digits, and is thus considered "early" in ICQ land.
I rarely use the account, but do keep it open in Proteus, my multi-protocol IM client. At least three times a week, I get random chat requests (usually just "hi") from people with very large ICQ numbers and either minimalist or no profiles on the ICQ site, i.e. effectively anonymous chatters. Sometimes I'll ask "Can I help you?" and I'll get some sort of cryptic reply. Sometimes they claim to be teenaged girls from Eastern Europe, but they're unclear on what they're asking for, and I have no reason to believe they're who they say they are.
Often they claim to know me, but seem to have confused me with someone they do know, usually much younger. If I tell them I'm a 36 year old father of two from Vancouver, them seem puzzled and leave.
Any idea what's going on here? Is there some newbie ICQ "randomly chat with people" protocol I'm unaware of and am getting caught up in?
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