Insomnia Film Festival

Apple is sponsoring a contest for college students to create a film in 24 hours called the Insomnia Film Festival. The grand prize is a copy of Final Cut Pro and an 80G video iPod. I went to look at the terms and conditions to see how odious they were, expecting the worst. I was surprised in that Apple is not asserting full ownership of the work and waiver of all your rights, but does specify that you grant them a free license to redisplay and redistribute it in perpetuity. So, Apple preserves the right to do things with it at their will, but doesn’t subtract that right from you. That’s a step up from typical in this sort of thing.

If you look in the fine print, you have to be a current student of an accredited college and the film has to be made on a Mac. I’m eliminated by the first rule or I might think about doing. The basic idea seems to owe a lot to the 24 Hour comic book format, pioneered (I think) by Scott McCloud and popularized by Dave Sim who reprinted many in the back of Cerebus. It’s also a little bit Iron Chef, because when the contest begins they’ll publish the three elements to be included and then the film is due 24 hours later. Presumably, they’ll be elements that would be difficult to just drop in to prepared scripts and films, but we’ll see.

Overall, it sounds interesting. If I were in college, I’d probably do it. For videobloggers, this should be a cakewalk. I’d love to see a prominent vlogger take this. Even better would be if a team from the Carolinas takes first. Paging Mark Welker!

Would You Let Your Children Take Candy From This Man?

We had very close to the optimal amount of candy. The first year we were here, we had a ridiculous amount of candy left over and were eating Skittles until the following June. Last year we had to turn out the lights because we ran out of candy around 7:45. This year, we had enough left over that we could have handled 10 more kids without having to give them a lesser haul with only filler.

Once again, I handed out candy duded up in the one costume I have readily to hand. Since I received the Santo t-shirt for my birthday this year, I could sell the whole luchadore thing without wearing the mask. The fear is that if I open the door in the mask, little kids will turn around and run. We had about 40 kids or so come by, none frightened by us and several of them unbearably adorable. I call this a pretty good night.

Halloween Meathead

The Make Magazine weblog has been presenting a metric buttload of Halloween projects but this edible zombie head hors d’oeuvres platter is the one I really feel like making. It’s time to gear up for kids! They let us out of work early in order to gear up for Halloween. I presume this is mostly to get ones own children ready, but we all benefit from it whether we have trick-or-treat aged kids or not. I’m handing out candy dressed in the wrestler getup — minus the mask but with a Santo t-shirt – and at 7:40 PM it seems to be winding down. That’s good, as we have about 20 kids worth of candy left.

Jeneane on PayPerPost

I hadn’t ever read Jeneane Sessum’s blog before the recent Ze-scapades. I was looking at some of the other recent posts and to my surprise, I saw her posting a very similar take to my on the whole PayPerPost thing. She struck all the same notes – hypocrisy of those making money blogging while taking umbrage at others doing the same, socio-economics of those who really might need the money, etc. Check out her take here and here.

It’s nice to see that at least one other person agrees with my perspective. I was wondering if I was really that far adrift, at least until Jason Calcanis showed up to leave me a comment telling me my arguments were stupid. That was a nice shot of external validation. The beautiful part of that is that he made his “purity of the blogosphere” argument about how bad “covert marketing” is and then seemingly without irony explained how one moves from Z-list blogger to the A-list by covertly marketing oneself. Really. I’m not kidding, it seems too good to be true but it happened.

Questions for Startup Founders

My friend Jason sent around a link to this page of interest to any of you entrepeneurial types. It is a list of questions founders of a startup should ask themselves and each other. Interesting stuff, and I don’t know that I disagree with a one of them. For an example of this working the wrong way very messily (more than once) watch the documentary .

BDP Referral Tracker Update

I noticed recently that things with the referral tracker in the sidebar didn’t seem to be working right. For example, despite a crapload of incoming traffic in the Ze-slide, none of those ever got counted. I went to look at the site for the plugin and I realized that the current version is 1.0.6 and I was using 0.3.9 . The bummer is that to upgrade required migrating it to a new database table and losing all the old stats. So, as of this evening the clock is reset and we are starting over at Day 0. I’m still fiddling with configuration but we’ll get it straight soon enough.

Second Life Thrash

Eric Rice has a post about things afoot in Second Life that have user/customers upset. Raising the prices is a serious one of those, but not the only one. In the post, he posits that user dissatisfaction coupled with the techno-alpha-geek makeup of people who have been early adopters might push the creation of an open source alternative sooner rather than later. A big chunk of my criticism and disinterest in the joint is mitigated if one can easily set up their own server and/or move their work out of own server and into another.

Eric talks a lot about people doing real work and making money in SL, but I’m not spending lots of my time building anything in a system where it is locked up, I can’t take it out and am at their mercy on rate hikes and such. To me, portability of what you build is the big stopper. I don’t want to spent 1000 hours making a scale copy of the Sears Tower or whatever only to have Linden shut it down one day without warning. When you are heavily invested in something like this fundamentally outside of your control, you are always at risk for that eventuality.

EGC Clambake for October 29, 2006

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for October 29, 2006.

I play a song from Michelle Malone; I talk about Ze Frank, Andrew Baron and the Nerdfight; I talk about Halloween; I play a song from Tom Waits and try to get out gracefully.

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To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. 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 2.5.

Links mentioned in this episode:


Let’s Fight

You know, I want to get my traffic up for this site and this podcast. The best thing for that is always to start a feud with someone. Bruce Sterling knew this back when he was doing cyberpunk zines in the 80’s – to get attention and mindshare, pick a fight with someone, anyone. So I’m going to select a popular and highly downloaded podcast and find something to call them out on. I’ll pick some kind of wrongdoing that I can’t actually prove but that I can insinuate that they are doing wrong. Then I’ll get a lot of people telling me that I’m right and a lot of people telling me I’m wrong but all of them will link in. The traffic will be great for both me and the show I attack.

I only ask that whoever I pick to attack, don’t take it personally. It’s all street theater, I don’t really mean it. I’m just zefranking you after all.

Congratulations St Louis Cardinals

They entered all three post-season series as underdogs, and now they are the 2006 World Champions. They played great ball, they took advantage of the other teams’ errors, more often than not they answered all oppenent runs the next time they took the plate. Right on. You got a love a team that barely played .500 ball in the regular season and looks so solid in the post-season. Way to go, Cardinals!

You Hate to See This

I’m pulling for the Cardinals in the World Series, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy watching the Tigers throwing balls away, wild pitching, getting caught in rundowns needlessly and so forth. This is just plain a groups that isn’t playing like a championship team. I hope they didn’t let all the pre-Series hype go to their heads. Despite what the sports writers say, you have to actually show up and win the games.

All that said, go Cards!

EGC Clambake for October 26, 2006

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for October 26, 2006.

I play a song from Michelle Malone; I air my interview with CC Chapman from the Podcast Expo; I play some songs from Turn Me On Dead Man; that’s it kids, very simple agenda.

You can subscribe to this feed via RSS.

To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. 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 2.5.

Links mentioned in this episode:


Exhausting night

Lots of comments tonight. I didn’t expect all this furor about Ze Frank. I might have thought twice about posting if I had thought it would bring fundamentalists out of the woodwork to give me crap. I have me a World Series game to watch! As it happens at least things are calming down now to a manageable level right as the Cardinals are scoring some runs to pull closer in this game. Go Cards!

This is a pivotal game. If they take this one, they can have the possibility of closing it out without going back to Detroit, which is huge. One game at a time, but still.

I also ended up spontaneously going to a talk and book signing at my local library. I didn’t even know it was happening until I picked up a book and hold and saw the sign. I bought the book below from the author –Dale Hudson — who lives in my town. He has a writing partner who is a guy we run into on our walks and say hi to but didn’t know that he wrote.

So all in all, this night has turned out quite a bit differently than I would have expected. Thank god tomorrow is Friday. This is wearing me out!

Dance of Death

Ze Frank vs. Rocketboom

Andrew Baron posted his end of an odd vidcast argument that Ze Frank started here. Chris Brogan comments on that episode as David Berlind does as well, although Berlind is not addressing the Rocketboom diss but the TV networks diss.

Having watched the show, I think his attack is milder than I was expecting from Drew’s post and given the whole Ze Frank schtick but is nonetheless bullshit. He points to Alexa statistics as supporting his contention that Rocketboom isn’t really serving 300,000 downloads an episode. Uhh, right. I went to the Rocketboom website about once for every 50 episodes I watched. I’m on a Mac, so Alexa wouldn’t count me anyway. Propping up his argument with Alexa is not a winning strategy because those numbers are far from definitive. And besides, what kind of foolio complains about having 30,000 downloads in such a show? Waaaah. There is no crying in baseball and there is no crying in vlogging. Ze (or Frank or however you shorten your name), don’t be such a baby.

I used to subscribe to Ze Frank’s show, but I don’t anymore. Here’s my list of issues with his whole setup.

1. His feed system sucks but hard. I don’t know whether it’s his problem or Revver or what, but its just lousy. I couldn’t use Juice to subscribe, because every single file came down named “” and if I had more than one day getting downloaded, I had to catch it by hand or every subsequent file would overwrite the previous one. That’s just stupid level stuff. At that point, someone has paid the bandwidth for serving me multiple files, and I have one sitting on my computer to watch. Not smart. If I throw that in a directory with 20 gigabytes of other vlogs on an external drive, I had to rename every single file or they would all overwrite each other. After a while, I got so sick off hand renaming files that that I just unsubscribed. Some days, the enclosure just isn’t there in the feed. It sucks and is the most ridiculous failure of a simple task I have ever seen in podcasting in two years. The people who hand code their XML do a better job. I liked the show, but not so much for it to be worth all this trouble. I doubt I’m the only person with this experience.

2. He has no usable show notes or links of any kind. In fact, if you follow the links to his site you’ll get a bland page with no description. [It took me multiple looks to realize that “vb #2” is a description. It’s just such a bad one you can’t tell it is.] Just like you can’t tell one day from another via the filename of the download, you can’t tell shit about it from looking at the page. Is this the day he went off on Rocketboom or was that the day before? Have to watch the video to find out. Maybe that’s part of the master plan (requiring extra views to even know what the subjects are) but it is a lousy strategery. No google juice, no return links, no trackbacks, etc. The basics of this world are the more you give the more you get, and Ze Frank don’t give anything.

3. His show has a lousy and non-distinctive name, “The Show”. Rocketboom has no other uses in the compound form than the show so if you see it as one word, you know what it is. “The Show” ain’t got that property. On its AmigoFish page (a name created by a similar process as Rocketboom, btw), “The Show by ze frank” has less than 1/20th the ratings of Rocketboom. That’s skewed by the fact that AmigoFish has been mentioned on Rocketboom, but if you subtracted out the number of people that joined in the two weeks after that mention, the margin would still be greater than the 10 to 1 disparity in downloads. Some of that might be that you can’t search on it easily and find it by its title, only searching “Ze Frank” will turn it up. Despite the perceived injustice by Ze, he has less traction by the only statistics I have access to. I think a big chunk of that is his own fault.

So there you go. Even though “The Show with Ze Frank” has a certain belligerent and insane charm, I don’t bother with it anymore because it is more trouble than its worth. Despite Ze’s insinuation, Drew Baron has worked hard to make his show useful, available via many channels and play a part in the vlog and blogosphere ecology. Ze has apparently not put a goddamn second into that end — the “making it useful”, good user experience sissy stuff. I guess when your gig is being an aggressively ironic, post-modern and bat shit crazy … whatever he is, you can’t be bothered trying to be useful.

Update: More conversation by Jeneane Sessum on likeability. I thought she was going another way until the very end because Ze Frank has a lot of positives but likeability isn’t one I’d ascribe – more like “manic creepy charisma.” Perhaps she means the show as a whole is likeable. I think it is offputting by design rather than likeable but however you want to score it. Scoble suggests engagement as a metric which is not unlike what I’ve been saying for the last two years.

To clarify my position, I did indeed like the show (or “The Show”) but not enough to jump the hurdles put in my way to watch it in my desired manner. I can’t set it and forget it via RSS because the feed is so screwy. There is no video website that I am willing to go to every single day. I’m an outlier in that case. I don’t generally want to watch them synchronously and wait for them to download, and I’m never going to remember to go back every day. That’s, like, why I subscrbe to the damn RSS. I hear about how popular YouTube videos are and I see them embedded in blog posts all the time and I never click them because when I’m reading stuff I don’t want to watch videos. I’d rather watch a batch of them when I’m in the mood for it, much like I watch TV.

Update 2: According to the people in the Ze Frank Fanboy Forum I’m an idiot because his feed doesn’t work right with my podcatching clent. That’s home field advantage for you, kids. I’m beginning to get the sinking feeling I have once again gotten involved in a food fight with fanatics. This is the true power of the blogosphere – reducing the time between entering a conversation and regretting getting involved to all-time lows. Here is the knee-slapper of the thread so far:

Nah, just the accountability of established media from an experimental form. Philistine.

That’s right, Ze fans, you drive by a blog you never heard of before today and you know everything about it. What I really want from Ze is to be more “old media”. I think reading more than a single post would point what a truly frigging stupid observation that is.

Update 3: Jon wins the award for my favorite Ze Frank fan so far. He actually is conversing, as opposed to driving by, leaving a bag of burning poop and peeling out. That makes this whole thing much more fun and alleviates a little of the dread I was getting.

If you are coming from Ze’s forum, please do me the favor of reading all the comments so far before leaving one so you can get an accurate assessment of the back and forth to this point. Thanks.

BTW, for the dudes you think I’m an old media guy, you might be wrong. I’ve, like, done this podcast for over two years, done a show for IT Conversations for over two years, etc. I’m just saying.

Update 4: The Ze-slide appears to be winding down. They sure are tetchy on the forum, aren’t they? In the final analysis, probably no one on there said anything harsher than what I usually hear over the XMas dinner table. I like the people that point out that my post “wasn’t really about the content of his show.” Uhhhh, yeah. Ze tacitly accused Drew Baron of lying about stats. I pointed out a lot of ways that Drew makes Rocketboom work for maximal audience that Ze falls down on. So yes, friends, that’s not about the content. From a sheer artistic standpoint, Ze is better – no argument on that point. I found his delivery systems to be such a failure that the effort to get it exceeded its value to me. If he wants to get all numerical and get his up, that might be a fine place to focus some effort. If not, he can just toss around accusations until everyone gets tired of him. Either way the numbers take care of themselves, sports racers.

Update 5: Heather Green and Rob Walch look at the logs and find that Rocketboom is not getting 300,000 downloads a day, only 211,000.

Update 6: Something occurred to me today. In the forum, a number of people laid into me as being anywhere from a lazy turd to immoral for knowing Ze’s RSS enclosure feed is boned but merely unsubscribing rather than pushing back and trying to get it fixed. I’d argue that it’s not the responsibility of those who can take or leave a show to verify its technical correctness, but whatever. But – they are rabid Ze truefans, and although apparently not a single one of them was able to figure this out on their own they all know now. As of today the feed is still screwed up. I’m subscribing via NetNewswire just to see if/when the videos ever come down with a different filename. If it doesn’t ever get fixed, then either they are just as lazy as me or it would always have been useless to let him know. We’ll start the count at Day 2 of Ze Feed Watch.

Update 7: On November 16th, Asi from Revver left a comment that they had changed their architecture in a way that allows you to subscribe without overwriting your files again and again. From original post to that, 21 days. I think it was fixed a few days before that, so under 3 weeks from the start of the count to things being changed. Better than I would have thought.

In the final analysis, even though the feed has been made more subscription friendly I’m not planning on subscribing again. Having a bunch of rabid Ze fans yelling at me for being stupid because I can live without his show definitely sucked out any remaining warm feelings I might have once had. Nice work. I haven’t watched it in many months and I haven’t missed it at all. If you love it, great for you. I don’t, the end. From me, this topic closed. Amen.

Around the Podosphere

Craig Patchett emailed me to let me know that he had published the show with his interview of me from PME. At first, I had no recollection of getting interviewed by Craig although I know I ran into him several times. It wasn’t until I listened to the show that I remembered it. It must have been late in the day on Saturday on the show floor because I think that was the low point for my voice. It sounds about shot here. Craig caught me all philosophical about new media, covering my beat as I do. He described me as “fiercely independent” or something close. That’s me, fierce. Grrrrowr. Thanks Craig!

On a recent episode of Smart City they did a show on “new media” (which wasn’t what I mean when I use that term but any mobile online activity kind of stuff) featuring cyberculture’s own Mimi Ito. It was an interesting show talking about the generational shift in media consumption and a lot of the stuff that many of us are already soaking in.

How to Fix Your Broken mobiBLU Cube

I’m reposting this because a number of people have found the instructions for fixing the mobiBLU cube useful — especially in light of the fact that the mobiBLU website is useless. I want to extract just the cube stuff out of the original post, and hopefully this post will get the Google juice of the original so that people can rehabilitate their formerly bricked players. Certainly, Hyun Won doesn’t seem that concerned about it but I am, fellow netizens.

My MobiBLU cube MP3 player has been acting up, failing to start with the buttons and requiring hard resets with a paper clip. I decided to update the firmware. The updater only runs on Windows, so I fired up my one Windows box and downloaded and installed the firmware updater. When I ran it, it hang for minutes looking for the device (which was already mounted as a lettered drive and which I could see via the file system.) The instructions say that if that happens, you hold down the play button, press the reset button with a paperclip for 5 seconds, release the reset but keep the play button depressed until you get a recovery screen. Wow. I did all that, a thing popped up on Windows saying that the “USB Recovery Device has been installed, reboot to make it active.” Dear god, what a pain but I did it. When I rebooted, nothing ever happened again. The installer looks for the device forever, the reset never again prompts any response, nothing every happens.

I’m about this close to throwing this piece of crap out the window. I strongly recommend against anyone buying the MobiBLU. It’s cute and tiny, but is a pain to use on its best day and eventually eats itself. There are a few rampant iPod haters on here (and it is only a matter of time before the exact same anti-iPod rant gets commented on this post as I’ve received one dozen times already) but my Shuffle was fun to use and caused me zero problems up until the day it failed catasrophically and stopped mounting on the computer. The mobiBLU was never fun to use and caused ongoing problems for a long time. I’m half tempted to pull the Shuffle out of the drawer and see if it magically works now. If the mobiBLU can’t be updated and continues to act finicky, I’m thinking about going for the slap cheapest MP3 play that takes SD cards as its media.

Thus far today, I’m pretty sick and tired of things that Just Don’t Work.

Update: I installed the mobiBLU updater on my wife’s computer, followed the instructions to the letter. When I did the reset and it entered recovery mode, I pressed “Update”, then the program bombed out with a “semaphore time out period expired” error message. Now the device is completely dead, won’t mount or turn on or anything. I guess that’s that, end of the line with this device. I strongly recommend that people avoid this manufacturer.

Here is what commentor Jared posted that allowed me to fix my Cube.

I had the same problem Dave had, and I figured out how to fix it, since I couldn’t find anything on it.

Here’s how to fix that “semaphore” problem.

If you’re getting this error, install the CD software that came with the DAH-1500i, that’ll install the firmware that was defaultly on the product (100.100.105), when installing that, a popup comes up that says “the Recovery file is newer than what you’re installing, would you like to keep the newer one, click NO, so everything’s back to where it was. So, continue with that. Now, make sure it’s working properly, and that it turns on and mounts, and has allocated memory. Now, install the 100.100.122 firmware setup. This’ll overwrite that file you said “No” to. Reboot. Now trying installing the x.x.122 firmware, the way you were trying and it should work. It’ll read

Current firmware: 000.000.000
Firmware Upgrade: 100.100.122

Hit start! If you see “Allocating table”, that’s a good sign!

Then you’re good to go!

Thanks Jared. Anyone who has had the same problem with this thing, hope this fixed it.