Life Observation

When you have a Tuesday that is nestled between a long holiday weekend and a business trip for the rest of the week, it is a weird and jangly feeling day.

Magic

We’ve had wifi of one form or another for over four years, and it never fails to strike me as magic when it actually works. Usually it is just the form of connecting from the living room couch, sometimes from the screened in back porch or times, like now, where I sit on the front porch and watch my wife plant flowers. Beautiful. Magic. All of it.

Clambake Episode for May 30, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for May 30, 2005.

Two in two days, unusual frequency for me lately! I talk about money; I play a song by Bullet Called Life; I hail a fallen comrade; I play a song from Camper Van Beethoven; I talk about the good life, keeping up on email, using WordPress and Audio Hijack Pro; I play a song from the Grey Book Lectures radio show and mosey.

This episode is sponsored in part by the fine folks at iPodderX! Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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Puppy Tags

One thing that really bugs me about Ecto: they do a cute thing when you create a new tag and give the default name as “puppy.” Apparently though, if you edit the name but don’t navigate off of it to force a save of it, you publish your post with the default name and not what you changed it to. The first time I noticed one of my posts tagged “puppy” it was slightly funny. The fifth time it really got under my skin. I’d rather see it blank by default than to keep having my posts tagged “puppy.” Enough is enough. If you search Technorati for that tag at this moment you can see a few posts that were obviously mistagged by people using Ecto because they mention that tool by name.

Another Beach Trip

For the second time in three days, we took a spontaneous trip to the beach. I’m downright liking this! The dog seems to be taking well to the beach and ocean, which she’d never seen to before this weekend. After 4 PM you can take your dog to the beach at Myrtle Beach State Park, which is where we’ve been going. Yesterday we bought our South Carolina state park pass, so for $25 we have our admission covered for the next year to any of the parks. I dig it!

Clambake Episode for May 29, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for May 29, 2005.

In the post #100 celebration, I more or less have started over – new blogging setup, new blogging tool, new method for recording the pocast. I talk a little about my new setup; I play a brand new song by Rocket City Riot that John Mark King mailed me; and then it’s out. That’s right, a 10 minute show from EGC.

This episode is sponsored in part by the fine folks at iPodderX! Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package.

This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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Podcasting: Mechanist View vs Humanist View

I’m going to take another run at this, even though I’ve long since tired of the topic because I keep feeling like I’m tantalizingly close to expressing something so that someone else might actually understand where I’m coming from. Rob Greenlee responded to my post about his interview with Don Katz, to which I re-responded. In debating with Rob, I think I finally understand why we’ve been talking past each other on this topic since last October.

I’m frustrated by the fact that Rob cannot discuss podcasting without saying some variant of “… but people have been downloading audio files from the web for years..” I find that statement true and correct yet useless. I’ve never understood why that has to count against what we are doing. Does it matter how long audio has been on the web or for that matter who the first to upload it was?

I think Rob is approaching this from a Mechanist viewpoint, as a number of folks do. They are ascribing the value of podcasting as some complicated calculation of the sum of value of the component technologies times the novelty of them to the factorial of users or some crap. That kind of thinking isn’t at all how I’m approaching it.

I look at this from a Humanist viewpoint. The technology is necessary to make it happen, but is really kind of irrelevant. The important bit to me is the human and social interactions that happen once the technology existed and was combined together in certain ways. I don’t have a fetish for RSS and enclosures per se and if it were some different format that was equally easy to use and develop to, I could care less. What I do care about is that automatically, I have human voices that appear on my computer and communicate to me. That’s it. That’s all I care about. I care that the scaffolding exists but not what it is, and from my perspective any scaffolding that does the same job with the same ease is effectively the same thing. That’s why I don’t care how novel any part of this is. Being able to have 50 different ordinary yet compelling people to listen to whenever they choose to publish a file is what excites me. This part is inarguably novel because it wasn’t happening and now it is.

Because of my viewpoint, once the human interaction is there the technology questions fade into irrelevance. Rob feels a need to deflate the “untrue hype” that this is new and exciting, because his Mechanist view says this combination of old technologies isn’t new and exciting from a technical level. I think it is new and exciting because the voices I listen to all day every day weren’t speaking to me in this manner in the recent past, which is new and I find it exciting because it excites me.

Is this making sense to anyone? I’ve grown weary of the Mechanists feeling the need to “take the piss out of podcasting” because of the lack of technical novelty. Are people lining up to say Flickr isn’t new and interesting because people have been putting photos on the web for 15 years? I find it exactly analogous to what we are discussing here – the novelty is in reducing the friction of creation and publishing to a low enough point to allow new human interactions to occur. My new response to the Mechanist argument is this: “What you say is entirely correct, entirely factual and entirely irrelevant to me.”

Audio Hijack and WordPress Experiment

I recorded my experimental zero-edit, zero-post-production show this morning. It’s very short by my standards, less than 10 minutes. Since I’m using the unregistered version of Audio Hijack Pro, at 10 minutes some godawful static is overlaid – you can hear it in the last seconds of this episode.

It worked pretty well overall. It will take a little time to get a feel for how to use the levels. Since all the inputs I’m using are actually “effects”, I don’t get a nice bouncing meter level and am instead doing it by ear in real time. That’s the downside. The upside is that when I finished recording the show, I was publishing it 5 minutes later. I think that gain is enough that whatever hiccups it has in the audio makes it worthwhile. Let me know what y’all think.

The tricky part is going to be getting WordPress and my bittorrent to work together. It is supposed to automatically make any MP3s you link to an enclosure, but that’s not what I want. I want the bittorrent to be the enclosure of the main feed. I looked in the PHP code of WordPress for the enclosure making bit so I could hack it, but never did see what makes this happen. We’ll see what can be done.

Simpler Podcasting Setup

I ran across a reference to this post in the Rogue Amoeba blog that describes how to use Audio Hijack Pro to podcast in a number of scenarios. It sure does seem a lot simpler than what I’m doing. I downloaded the trial version and will check it out.

It seems like I could use this to do an entirely real-time show that automatically saves to the 96 kbps MP3 when it is done. My no-edit shows still require an hour or two of post-production, so the idea of just doing the music bed and everything live and have the show ready to publish 10 seconds after I stop is downright attractive. If I go this route though, it really has to be zero edits whatsoever because editing out bits of my talking with the music bed already there would lead to weird skips that would sound like ass. Maybe that is a feature, not a bug. Hmmm…..

The tricky part is figuring out what app to play the music bed with. I will want to be using Quicktime to play things I am excerpting, and iTunes to play the songs. I’ll need a third app for the music bed, unless I put the theme on my Shuffle and play it in through the iMic. Actually, that’s crazy enough to work and would give me a physical control I could use to turn it up and down. This is getting more and more interesting as I think about it.

Connections

This week I saw a college friend that I haven’t seen in a few years. That’s one of the big wins of living near a tourist destination in that people you know just sort of show up periodically in your area. I like that. I’m bad about keeping up with my friends (current state of inbox – 700 emails with at least 100 that need a reply). We’ve lived in 5 states and made friends in each of them, so then having the friends disperse from there really complicates matters. It helps when we get to see them without having to shlep across the country.

Beach Jaunt

As you saw from the previous post, we jaunted to the beach on the spur of the moment. We were a little worried about the traffic from the second bike week and/or Memorial Day revelers but it wasn’t too bad. From where we live, we can make it to Myrtle Beach State Park without ever getting on the main highway. It was late enough we could bring the dog, and this was her first ever trip to the ocean. She’s been on the shore of Lake Michigan but never the Atlantic. It was fun and exactly the kind of thing I’d hoped would be a part of our lives here. If we go to the beach on random evenings and weekends all summer, I’d be delighted.

Sunset at the Beach




Sunset at the Beach

Originally uploaded by evilgenius.

On the spur of the moment last night, we packed up and went to the beach for an hour in the evening. It was really beautiful and fun – this is what we hoped life here would be like.

We’ll see how this Flickr -> WordPress integration works. This is yet another clear gain from having switched over to WP.

Big WordPress Omission

It seems from my early work that there is one huge omission in the out-of-the-box WordPress install. It doesn’t do the Last-Modified header, on either the web pages or the RSS. I’m of the opinion that everything that emits or reads an RSS feed MUST use or honor this header. When you have a few thousand people subscribed to your feed, why not make it as simple as possible for those ones that check more frequently to know when not to download that 50K? That was one of my first additions to get_enclosures beyond the basic – storing a cache of when the last fetch of a feed was received and setting the If-Modified-Since header of the HTTP connection. This crap exists in the protocol, so why not use it?

I don’t know if there is a plugin that does this, but I know that if not that’s one of my first orders of business – to write one.

Update: Now I see. The themes I’m using are all using http://evilgeniuschronicles.org/?feed=rss2 as the link to the RSS feed, but if I use http://evilgeniuschronicles.org/wp-rss2.php then you do get the header set correctly. False alarm, citizens. Sorry about that.

iPodderX Version 3

I’ve been using this for a while, so long in fact that to be honest I forget what all features are new since 2.2.9. I can say that iPodderX 3 is a huge step up and it is now released into the wild. I’ve been sworn to secrecy on the feature set, but it is damnably cool and features lots of stuff I’ve grown dependent on, such as converting MP3s to bookmarkable AAC as they are downloaded (something that makes use on the Shuffle that much better.) If you use it, this is a free upgrade so grab it post-haste. If you have been thinking about trying it, this is a great time to try it.

BTW, I’m not saying all this because they sponsor me – it’s kind of the other way around. They sponsored me because I used and liked the tool. It makes my life easier, and it does that better than the alternatives. In other words, it is the tool here not me.

Don Katz on Podcasting

Yesterday I listened to Rob Greenlee’s interview with Don Katz of Audible.com. I remain kind of befuddled by Rob’s approach to the podcasting world. He cannot talk about the subject without trying to point out that aspects of it existed previously, to the point that it has become a tic. It’s like he’s on a crusade to point out the injustice of people’s current interest and excitement in the subject and must try to deflate that. Good luck holding back that tide.

As time goes on, I find that part of the conversation has sank to the bottom of what interests me – exactly who did what first. Who gives a shit, really? What matters more to me is what has happened with the people doing it currently, which no matter how you slice it did not happen before last summer. That’s the thing I always think when someone wants credit for doing X aspect of podcasting Y years ago. No matter how true that is, that work on X didn’t start the snowball rolling down the hill. It sucks to be too late and it sucks to be too early – sometimes only the people working at “steam engine time” get the hosannahs. Sorry about that dudes, life is so unfair. Maybe the day everyone else gets everything they deserve, that will get straightened out for you.

Don Katz talked in the interview about how Audible did things much like podcasting, but again that was via a centralized authority. Unless I misunderstand how it works, I can’t decide to publish arbitrary free shows into the Audible catalog. You get what Audible decides to carry. The claims in this show to the contrary, it lacks one of the important aspects of what we are calling podcasting, mainly that ordinary citizens have access to produce and publish into the automatic download infrastructure.

Over time I have noticed that people who are uncomfortable with the grassroots notion of podcasting are almost entirely people who benefit from the status quo in one way or another. That is not to say that people from the current system always dislike it, because plenty of media folks love the medium and/or use it, but the people whose objection is “I’m not sure if it is a good idea to give just anyone a microphone” almost always are. I’m starting to pay attention to when someone expresses that opinion and examine if they have some of the following riding on the status quo: their job, their money, their social status, their celebrity, their ego. It seems antithetical to me to say “I think fewer people should be able to express themselves.” If someone says that, are they in a position weakened by that ease of expression by citizens? If so, you might should pay attention to that and take their opinion with a grain of salt. As you should mine, I point out with I hope is superfluity.

First Big WordPress Question

OK folks, here’s the first thing I do need help with. I’m not sure if it is a WordPress issue or an Ecto issue, but when I publish these posts, they are categorized as the category I select as well as Uncategorized each time, even when I pick only the one category plus set it to “primary.” What’s going on here, and is it an Ecto issue or a WordPress issue?

Update: Adriaan of Ecto left a comment that points to the solution, and the bug is in the WordPress XML-RPC code. That explains why it only happened when publishing from Ecto and not using the web interface.

George Carlin Disturbing Thought of the Day

Here’s my idea for another one of those “reality-based” TV shows: No Survivors! One by one, a psychopathic serial killer tracks down and kills all of the Survivor survivors. Think of it as a public service.

– from the George Carlin Day Calendar for May 25, 2005

Temptation

It’s been tough to do the import of the blog to WordPress early this morning and then lay off it all day since I, like, have to work and stuff. Maybe this evening I’ll spend a few minutes browsing plugins and such. Expect a lot of turbidity in themes and stuff in the sidebars over the next few days as I get it how I like it. I’m in the market for good 3 column themes so I’ll be looking for those. Thanks for those who have volunteered WP advice. I’m sure I’ll be needing some.