How to Celebrate Black History Month, For Those Who Aren’t Black

This just barely sneaks in under the wire, but I just ran across this from Baratunde of the Front Porch Podcast. He did a series of seven short (like a minute or three apiece) podcasts called “How to Celebrate Black History Month, For Those Who Aren’t Black.” Like most of his comedy, this is acerbic and ironic and sarcastic stuff. That’s why I love it.

I’m not sure when my subscription to Front Porch got dropped, but I had been subscribed for a long time. I suspect it might have been in the great Podcatcher Fiasco of 2006. Podcasters who take a long layoff in your shows, here’s a word to the wise. Drop in a little update every month or so, just to keep the feed alive and so that people understand that your show hasn’t disappeared. Contrasted with Scott Fletcher’s term “podfading” for drifting away from your show, call this “podtreading.”

AmigoFish Updates

Over on my AmigoFish project blog, I’ve posted about some new features. You can now see and search across individual episodes! Additionally, when you look at any series it will include information about all the episodes the system knows about. All that data was already in the database, so it made sense to make it available to users. Check it out and let me know how it works for you. There are certainly tweaks to be made in it, but the features are there and live. Feedback is desired to the point of obsession, as always.

Update: Can I be so dumb to have posted without a link? Yes, I could be. Here’s a highly self-involved example of searching on my last name. Try your own name! I’m trying to figure out the best way to represent the data on this first page. Perhaps soon I’ll be adding in a total hit count as well, so there would be a link that says “137 total hits: see more” or something like that. This is first draft UI, as opposted to “permanent beta”. What do y’all think?

Goodbye Celebrities

Watching the Oscars proves to me that one thing Hollywood is always willing to do is give itself a big giant reach around. I saw exactly one movie nominated for much of anything, Little Miss Sunshine, and basically the whole show was about as boring as could be. I used to really care about this stuff, even when I was a kid and Dustin Hoffman was winning for Kramer vs. Kramer.

If anything has convinced me to kick the celebrity habit, it’s the current news overload on non-events surrounding celebrities who are notable more for their celebrity than their work. Why should I care more about Anna Nicole Smith dead than I did when she was alive? In fact, I care equally about both, which is zero. I don’t care if Britney Spears shaves her head, her cootchie, wears panties, doesn’t, gets married, has a baby. I don’t give a shit, but I hear about this over and over. I don’t care about Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Anniston or any of them in any permutation. I don’t care about any celebrities bizarre love lives, their marriages or divorces or affairs. Please, spare me all this crap.

I am declaring myself celebrity free. If I don’t care about their work, I don’t care about the person. Don’t waste my time telling me about them. It doesn’t matter what any of these former reality show contestants do, I don’t want to hear about them. I’m just sick of them all.

Peking Acrobats

Tonight we went out to campus and saw the Peking Acrobats. It was pretty amazing that the same people were able to do these amazing gymnastics, tumbling, juggling and balance acts. There were a few moments that I was sure I was 3 seconds from watching a tragedy unfold, but maybe that was part of the act. There was a point where a guy was on top of a stock of 8 chairs that were sitting on four bottles, and he was balancing on a tilted chair holding himself up by one hand. It kind of made you look for the wires, but no, they are just that strong. It was a pretty amazing evening so if you have a chance to see them, I recommend it highly.

Clevenger Reads Dermaphoria

Craig Clevenger, somewhat inadvertent friend of the blog, has done a reading from his novel Dermaphoria. This was for an episode of KQED’s Writers’ Block. I will read it, as I absolutely loved his novel The Contortionist’s Handbook. The only downside I could tell about Dermaphoria is that it maybe is too thematicallly similar to Contortionist’s Handbook. He has a really compelling prose style and a world view that seems to focus on losers, fuckups and the doomed in the act of self-destructing. I can get in to that. I’d rather read it than live it.

Grey Spam Solution

I can’t believe that I didn’t think of this before. I finally figured out how to deal with the comments that seem kind of relevant but have sketchy links in in the URL field. I had several of them in the last few days, where the text of the comment matched the post but the link was to some betting site. So, from here on when the link seems fishy I’ll just edit it out and approve the comment. Duh.

EGC Clambake for February 20, 2007

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for February 20, 2007.

I play a song from Detroit Crunkstar; I talk about black history month, a few movies I’ve seen and what it was like being a white kid from Kansas who ended up in a black high school in Georgia; I play a song from C. Layne; I play a snippet from In Our Time; I talk about people liking shows more the less I put into them; I have a near miss with taking about love; I play a song by Rosie Thomas and mosey.

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:

PlayPlay

Odeo For Sale

So I see that Odeo is for sale basically because they are now focusing on Twitter. In one of these posts, they note that this analyst thinks “Odeo is the only vertical podcasting site that has emerged from the pack.”

Evan references “schadenfreude” in one of his posts. I wouldn’t say that I feel that exactly, but I have had a little bit of a hard off for them since they entered the space. You can have qualms with Adam Curry and Podshow (and I certainly do) but Adam was a part of the community and help build that space. Day 1, he was there making things happen. Odeo seemed to me like the first really big carpet bagging startup, people that hadn’t been involved with anything to do with the space seeing interest and moving in despite their lack of history with or knowledge of the medium. I know that Noah was a founder of AudioBlogger, and that characterization is probably unfair but that’s always how it felt to me. The one big thing they had to trade on was the Blogger halo effect, and it really worked for them. I can remember my blood boiling as they were getting accolades for being the “best podcasting company” back when all they were was a “coming soon” website. It was pretty obvious the accolades weren’t for anything they had done to that point but for who they were.

My problem with Odeo remain this: I don’t know what they do. I mean, I see the site and the pages. Are they trying to be a directory? A network? A recommendation engine? I thought their original goal was to be a podcasting tool maker but I’m not even sure if they still do that. So, having carpet bagged in to the field without a clear idea what they want to do, they’ve eventually lost interest and moved on to the next shiny thing having done a lot of things halfway but nothing really well.

I guess I’m a competitor of sorts with AmigoFish so you should take all this with a grain of salt. I do think it is kind of funny that LeeAnn Prescott above notes their page views are more than any other podcasting site. When I go to the site, it’s because someone is using an Odeo feed on their site, and I’m trying to figure out what the original feed URL is so I don’t have to subscribe to the Odeo URL. It usually takes between 5 and 10 pages to figure that out, so part of what she points to as a virtue – their traffic – is to me a sign of their inefficiency. It’s hard to get things done with Odeo, so you have to do a lot of page refreshing. I will note with a little bit of pride that while their statistics are all bigger than those of AmigoFish, they are not so much bigger to offset the manpower discrepancy between them with their staff and me with a project I work on with about 1/10th of my spare time.

So, do I want them to get a buyer? I guess, because like the house next door selling it helps put a valuation on similar things (such as mine.) I don’t really know what the value of the site is, though, in terms of things it brings to the table. I’ll be curious to see if anyone actually wants it. If you want to buy a database of URLs (part of what they seem to be putting forth as their value), I’ve got that too of a similar order of magnitude. Perhaps this is the beginning of a contraction in the podcasting space, which I’m all for. Just like with the web 1.0 bubble burst, the scent of money in the air pulled in a lot of gold rushers. After they left a lot of really good work got done for much less money. I’m ready for those people to give up on podcasting and move on, and leave the field to those of us who really care about it.

Leopard Early?

Here’s a rumor I hope is true: Apple’s upgrade to OS X codenamed Leopard (10.5) may be early. It’s promised for spring, and coming in early next month would be fine with me. I’m waiting for it with bated breath because I never upgraded from 10.3 to 10.4 but I will do this one. At the time 10.4 was released, this laptop was my every day work machine and I had no external drive to back up to. I didn’t want to take the risk of something going wrong and then not being able to do my job, so I just skipped it. By the time I was able to do it, it was so late in the cycle that I figured I might as well wait.

At this point, there is an increasing amount of applications that seem to not work correctly or at all with 10.3 so I’m looking forward to catching back up with everyone else. Bring it on!

Lundi Gras

When I lived in Lafayette, Lundi Gras was really the most fun day of Carnival season. It’s the most full day of fun that still has more left. Mardis Gras day itself is bittersweet because once it is over, that’s it. Lundi Gras is full of revelry but still contains the promise of revelry to come.

My biggest Carnival regret is not going to the courir up in Church Point the year I was invited. I see in recent years they worry that the influx of Anglos will water down the authenticity of the tradition. I could have gone up in the company of a Brasseux but I didn’t because it was cold and rainy and I didn’t feel that much like getting wet and muddy. In retrospect, I should have been all over it.

This is the 10th anniversary of my last Mardis Gras. I miss the place but have never been back. I wish joy to all of you.

GTDGMail

The Rev. Dan Tripp sent me mail about this Mozilla plugin that will turn GMail into an engine for GTD. It’s called, appropriately enough, GTDGMail. It looks pretty cool, although I don’t think it will work for me. I made the decision that I wanted an offline solution but for those of you who are looking for something like this, have at it. Dan found it from this weblog, just to keep the chain of custody pure.

Hide Your Clutter

Here’s a cool idea that I’m thinking about doing myself. It appeals to the 10 year old kid in me, with the idea that by making my clutter not obviously visible my bedroom was clean. Via Makezine comes this link to a hiding your desk clutter underneath it.

One thing I love about the Maker stuff is that almost every one of these projects I see includes the budget with it as part of the rationale for pursing this thing. For this project, it’s $33.42.

Charleston BookCrossing Convention

I signed up for BookCrossing years ago. You’d think as both a bibliophile and a Where’s Georger, I’d love BookCrossing. The problem is that I’ve read a few books and released them into the wild with the BC markings and then never ever heard from them again in the years that they’ve been out there. I hang on and get their newsletter, but I’m not really that active.

The most recent one mentions their national convention, which this year is in Charleston, not that far from me. I had the slightest tinge that it might be interesting and worth driving down for it until I saw the registration fees was between $95 and $145 depending on when you register. They might have daily registration if space is available. So, forget that. I guess I’ll remain as a not very active, not that committed distant cousin of the community.

More Atlanta Club Memories

My friend Jon blogs more of his Atlanta rock and roll memories. I don’t remember the Bistro, it must have closed before I moved there in 1985. I did, however, get fabulously drunk as an underaged foolio at Margaritaville more than once, usually while local band The Isotopes were playing. It was right there at Spring Street by 14th, and like Jon we noticed when we we stayed in Midtown last year that the building had been torn down. Before that, it must have sat empty for at least a decade. It was some club briefly after Margaritaville, but nothing seemed to say open after the early 90s.

Oh, and Jon, we’re your Valentines. Just a bunch of middle aged people reminiscing about empty buildings and parking lots.

How to Deal with Bandwidth Thieves

I’ve had rude assholes take images I had posted and use them as their avatars on message boards and such. I dealt with it by replacing it with an image that impugns most aspects of the person at the other end. MoveOn chose to deal with it in a more satisfying way, and as I post it’s still like represented on that blog. I’m curious how long it will be before the American Family Association catches on. Doing it late on a Friday is pretty good strategery.

Goodbye Infoworld

I am at the point with my free Infoworld subscription where they send me increasingly frantic email about renewing. I decided that without Jon Udell’s contributions, I just don’t care enough about the magazine to get it for free. It’s not worth the trouble of filling out their survey form, which is always a huge and unpleasant pain in the ass. I’ll just be letting this one go.

Grey Spam

The other day I linked to this Akismet criticism. If you follow the comment thread, it seems to me the original case of the poster gets weaker and weaker as the argument continues. I know of three cases of false positives in my 37,000+ comments that Akismet has flagged. That’s better than I do by hand because when you sift through a few hundred or thousand of these, it gets more and more possible that you miss some. Comment spam that is trying to get through moderation works the same way as ack-ack did in World War I air battles. Through enough of it up there and you are bound to hit something.

There’s another phenomenon that I’m experiencing. I just had to deal with a few of these this morning. That’s comments that I legitimately cannot tell if they are spam or not. They tend to fit a pattern: they come from Europe, they have as the website link a commercial site but they have a few sentences or paragraphs that are actually applicable to the post it is in reply to. My guess is that they set up these posts, Google or Technorati search on blogs that match it and submit to all of them.

In general, these never got approved. The judgment call that comes back to me is whether I simply delete them, or mark them as spam to be learned as such in the Akismet engine. I’m not always sure what to do, because in some cases I’m not 100% sure they are spam. Ultimately my heuristic comes down to this. The benefit of a doubt is gone with comments. If I can’t tell it is legitimate, it doesn’t go on the site. If in doubt, it is not approved. If I can’t tell it is spam, I don’t report it back to Akismet. In these cases I simply delete it.

Once again, let me highlight that when you post comments on blogs it is up to you to be distinguishable from spam. Be distinctive, have a human voice. If it looks a lot like the 100 spams around it in the moderation queue, it is going into the bit bucket.