5 Things Meme

CC Chapman was kind enough/cruel enough to tag me with this meme for laying out 5 little known facts about yourself. So, since it is CC I guess I have to do the damn thing. It’s taken me a few days, what with the holidays and all.

1. Like CC, I am also a published poet.
2. My favorite film of all time is George Romero’s Knightriders. The time I met Tom Savini and told him that fact, he was a complete dick about it.
3. I started social engineering young. In my little town in Kansas, the arcade/restaurant in town would give you 2 tokens for every A and 1 for every B on your report card. I’d talk a group of the smart girls into going over there with me, and I bought them all root beer floats in exchange for their report card tokens. I’d spend a few bucks for the drinks and in return would end up with between 50 and 100 tokens. These skills would later serve me well as a radio show producer where talking people into things is the primary task.
4. The town I live in now is the birthplace of William Gibson.
5. When I was in college at Georgia Tech, GWAR played a rush party at my fraternity house. I was their chaperone on a trip around the block to try to drum up a crowd for the show. That trip around the block required a stack of letters of apology to other fraternities and to sororities that were the recipient of some malevolent GWAR attention.

Dang, that was difficult! I don’t know if any of it was interesting, but it is indeed all true.

Update: Whoops, I forgot to tag others with this awful burden. How about my brother James Slusher, Michael Geoghegan, Susan Kitchens, Chris Campbell and Chris Cooper. I’d hate to be a leaf on this tree rather than a node.

Today’s Podzinger Hilarity

I subscribe to a number of vanity feeds from Technorati and Feedster, et al. This is mainly because I have a lot of vanity. I also do a few on Podzinger. It turns up references to myself in people’s spoken content on podcasts and vlogs. It’s good that it finds things for me that I wouldn’t otherwise know about, but some of its results are hilarious. They are weirder than running things through Babelfish a few times. Here’s what it found in my PME talk.

[0:00:01] … media expo in September 2006 in Ontario, California. It’s a presentation by Dave slasher entitled immature means you do it for love from the GigaVox media network. This is Michael go taken from GigaVox media. …
[0:01:11] … that’s. And I want to thank everyone for coming my name is Dave Fletcher and I am kitty quick buck completely please. So let me get this going as. If you foul line might show ..

Like I say, good that it finds anything but man is it weird sometimes.

Google Reader Boned?

It seems like Google Reader has taken a dump for the holidays. I can’t load the page in my browser, and I had to take the widget off my site because it was preventing the page from loading. That kind of sucks. I was beginning to treat it as an essential part of my online life, but if it is going to get flakey then that is a problem. I’d switch back to looking at news via NetNewswire but I’ve added and subtracted a lot of subscriptions lately, so I’ll be looking at an older version of my list. I have to wait for it to come back up to export my current list via OPML. Come on, Google. Aren’t you supposed to be the top of this game?

Update: Apparently it was just me. I shut down Firefox and restarted and magically it worked again. False alarm on my part.

James Brown Memorial in Augusta GA

At the site of the James Brown statue in Augusta, GA a memorial has broken out. Flowers, poems, records have been spread upon the base of the statue. Someone wrapped an American flag around his statue like a cape, and people are signing their names on it and leaving goodbye notes. James was always a man of the people, and a few days before he died he was handing out presents to poor kids in the CSRA. He cared about the people, and the people respond in kind.

RIP, James Brown

James Brown has died at age 73. There was a time that you might have said the Beatles or Dylan were the most influential artists on music, but if you spin your radio dial up and down today you will hear echoes of James Brown everywhere. He was a great artist, a deeply flawed man and someone whose memory and legacy will live on a very long time.

Tomorrow we’re driving to his hometown for the holidays. We will have a moment of reflection for him.

Happy Holidays

This probably goes without saying, but there is light blogging. Family in the house now, heading to other family later on. There might be a burst of activity tomorrow, but if not let me wish everyone a happy holidays and a season of peace and good cheer.

Mozilla Upgrades for the Holidays

I love Mozilla, as an overall project, as a source of fine projects and as an exemplar of the FOSS movement. But, seriously guys, unless the house was really on fire did you absolutely have to roll out an upgrade on December 19th? We spent an ugly last half of the week, and until midday today weren’t sure if people were going to be canceling portions of their XMas vacations to fix the issues it caused for us.

Where I work we are encouraged to push these sorts of things out to the world, to help others who might be having the same kind of problems and to help push the ball down the field. Here’s an example of that. Even though this isn’t open source, learning lessons I’ve picked up hanging around that movement helped us out ultimately. Rather than just posting about the problem, when I came in this morning my highest priority was to get a test case that would help us define the boundaries of the problem. By having that and getting it to the Active Widgets guys, they were able to use it to debug the problem. We got a fix better than our workaround and on the same day to boot. I like how on Beast, every time someone reports a problem they basically refuse to listen unless you include tests. “Submit a failing unit test case” is the standard reply to all such posts.

Ultimately, the issues are solved and all is well. It was touch and go for a while, but now it’s back on track. But, seriously, couldn’t the Firefox 1.5.0.9 / 2.0.0.1 upgrade have waited until January 2nd?


This post complies with my work blogging rules of the road.

Rosie v. Trump

Quote overheard on the Craig Ferguson show, about this Rosie O’Donnell thing with Donald Trump.

I’m trying not to take sides, but it’s hard. Rosie is like America’s plain-talking lesbian sweetheart, and Trump is like America’s forked tongue publicity whore.

We saw the promos for the Apprentice in LA. Wow, it looks really bad. I mean, bad even by the baseline of the previous seasons. I predict this one will be the lamest one yet, not only critically but that viewers will collectively stifle a yawn and find better viewing. Which will turn out to be, well, anything else.

Update: Just so we’re clear, a lot of people seem to be commenting on this so I thought I should state explicitly that I don’t give a good goddamn about either Rosie or Trump. I think they are both full of themselves and both full of shit. Rosie is a JV Oprah wannabee and Trump is a boring scumbag. I only blogged what I thought was a funny joke from Ferguson. Their feud means nothing to me, and if they locked in pertual mortal combat in a cave beneath New Mexico never to be heard from again that would be fine with me.

Mozilla Upgrades

The releases that Mozilla released over the last few days had the delightful side effect of breaking web pages in the product we do at the day job. It’s been a crazy 24 hours, I can tell you. For those who care about such things (geekery alert), the issue appears to be related to the order that JavaScript statements are executed during an XSL transformation. In our case, we had some JavaScript which was free in the page that sets up some resources. Previously, there was no problem with this but beginning with 1.5.0.9 and 2.0.0.1 we saw that those statements failed, apparently because the resources they required hadn’t been loaded yet at the time they were executed. We tried wrapping those statements in a function and calling that from the onLoad handler and everything started working again. Just a heads up for those of you who do this kind of thing. We might be an edge case by doing all of this JavaScript stuff as the last step of an HTML that doesn’t actually exist until the XML is transformed to it.

Here is my writeup of the issue in the mozilla.support.firefox newsgroup. Friends, I am tired!

ATM for Books

A coworker IM’d me this link to an “ATM for books”, an on demand kiosk for printing and selling you books while you wait. Interestingly enough, our lunchtime conversation included me talking about the possibilty of book distribution incorporating POD to a great extent. Rather than ordering more obscure books, I suggested, there would be a lot of value in being able to place the order at B&N, go get a latte at the cafe and come back in 10 minutes to get that book. Not only does that exist, but looks like it will finally be commercially available in some reasonable scale. I first started dealing with eBooks and POD in 1998 and have watched the industry fail to take off ever since. It’s kind of frustrating, like watching a kid with a lot of potential drop out of school. Let’s hope this industry begins to self-actualize soon.

BMI Shaking Down Podcasters

I’m going to keep quiet about the identity of the person I talk about in this post. This info is not a secret, as he talks about it in a recent podcast but I don’t want to be the vector for him geting on radars via the googlosphere. If he chooses to out himself, so be it but I’m not going to do it. He did tell me that he didn’t mind me blogging this. We straight?

At least one podcaster has received email from BMI telling him that he owed them money by “airing” music they collect money for. This particular person is even more scrupulous than I am about avoiding the “Big Machine” music, and only plays music for which he has received explicit permission. I tend to be pretty loose if the music is available for a download currently by a first party (band or the record label). He only plays that music but only with written permission from said first party. So by podcast standards he is a Boy Scout. An Eagle Scout, even. He pushed back and thus far several months have gone by without them responding.

If I receive such a notice, here’s what I’m going to do. I will reply to them that they need to tell me the musicians and songs to which they refer. As far as I know, I’m not playing any music under their control so they need to prove it to me if they are asserting to the contrary. I’d strongly suggest that anyone that gets this letter not just fold their hand but push back. We have the “I am Spartacus” strategy on our side, so don’t make anything easy for them. It’s not impossible that I slipped and did play something under their regimen but I’m not accepting a blanket statement from them that I should pay them some money without them telling me what for. Whether podcasts are even applicable under those rules of broadcast radio is far from a settled question and will not be until someone gets sued and precedent set.

In order to be more proactive on this, I will probably stop playing music for which I don’t have explicit permissions – either directly from the band or via a Creative Commons license. If you run a small label, this might be a good time to put up an explicit statement about your stance on podcasting of your music. If you have songs for download, state if they can be played in podcasts. If not, state that. Until the legality of all this gets settled, help yourself out if you want the publicity of getting in the podosphere. I’m going to lean in the direction of those bands and labels that make it easy on me to know that I can play their music.

Update: I found this BMI search engine that will search the catalog of music they control rights for. If you want to make sure you are clear of them, getting the magic “0 hits” is a good sign. I agree with their slogan – “Virtually indispensable”. I’d amend that to include “to stay clear of us”.

Popularity Contest It Is

I added in the sidebar the results of the Popularity Contest WordPress plugin. If you look at a category, month or year view you’ll see the most popular posts that fit those criteria. Otherwise, you’ll see the most popular of all time. All time I tell you!!

Actually, there is a three-way split in the distribution. When I first fired this up, all the most popular posts were the ones with lots of comments and trackbacks. Today, it is all the ones that are on the front page right now. Anything that doesn’t fit one of those two is pretty far down the list. Over time this will even out but it will take a month or three for the all time posts to make any sense. I like it, though. It seems neat and like the post I made yesterday, all those SEO tool plugins all have the same laudable goal, making it easier for someone that finds your blog by accident to get to material that might interest them.

Amateur Means You Do It For Love, My PME Talk

Thanks to Darusha who let me know this went live today, I am proud to announce that my talk from the Podcast Expo is now available for download. I’ve already started receiving nice emails from strangers who found it useful. At the risk of auto-horn-tooting, I’d suggest that if you are sick of the word “monetization” in regards to new media, you might want to give this a listen. The whole goal is to affirm every other reason besides cashing checks why someone might engage in creating your own media.

If you listen, please do leave me feedback on how useful this was to you. I use that to help me hone in for future talks, so I hanker for anything I can hear. Positive, negative, I need what I can get. Help a brother out.

Update: I just noticed that I didn’t get this or any of the other recent PME talks in my “all IT Conversations” RSS feed. I guess the Podcast Academy stuff has officially been severed from IT Conversations, or more technically speaking they are now separate and distinct channels of Gigavox programming. Just letting you know, if like me you thought you were actually subscribed but you weren’t.

Returning to the Online Roots

I’ve had an account on SFF net for a decade or so. At times I’ve been highly active on there, but I went over a year between instances of logging on. Last year I had several blowups with other denizens of the service and just took a timeout that didn’t stop. Over the weekend I set up the laptop with MT-Newswatcher and logged back on. It seems like a few of the regulars are gone but a lot of the people are still there.

An interesting thing happened over that year. Dueling Modems, a similar sister service, seems to be in trouble. There was a chunk of activity based on people leaving DM for SFF.net, which is ironic because both services were formed out of the exodus of people leaving the Science Fiction Roundtables on GEnie. When I got my first computer and my first modem, I joined up on GEnie and found myself interacting with a big chunk of the writers and well known fans in the SF and Fantasy communities. Ahh, the days. There was something special about it, mostly due to that critical mass of interesting people. In a lot of ways, most of my online activity since then has been chasing that kind of moment.

WordPress Plugins for XMas

My buddy Jason is going WordPress plugin crazy. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of most of these but I’m willing to try most things. I’ve installed the Popularity Contest and Related Posts, just to see how they work. The popularity numbers are kind of bogus right now, since they only have a few hours of page view data. Mostly the rankings are based on the comments and trackbacks right now, but that will even out over time. I’ll add in a “most popular posts” thing in a sidebar at some point. Once you get things as busy as they already are currently, why not go for broke? Let’s busy the living hell out of them!