The End of Bittorrents for My Podcast?

In the first month or two of this podcast (way back in fall of 2004) I did an experiment of publishing episodes of my show as bittorrent files and putting them in a special feed for that. At the time, most or all of the podcatchers anyone was using supported bittorrent. The experiment was so successful that a month later I made my default feed the bittorrent feed, which is the way it has been ever since.

When iTunes was released without bittorrent downloading support, that took a big portion of the wind out of the sails of this whole project. Prior to the release of that version of iTunes, I was moving thousands of copies of each show via bittorrent. Today, I’m moving dozens. When iTunes basically crushed the standalone podcatcher market, that killed bitorrent. I kept fighting the good fight though, mainly for political reasons. I wanted to prove there were legitimate uses for torrent technology and by keeping my default distribution that way, I thought I could serve as a counter-example to the meme that torrent traffic == content theft.

It cost me in some ways, large and small. I’ve wanted to use the PodPress plugin to ease my management woes but never could get it to work properly with my torrents, so I’ve never used it. The iTunes directory has always had my direct bittorrent feed in their database, so I had to write a customer .htaccess rule to make my web server swap out the MP3 feed when iTunes was the user agent. To this day, they’ve never fixed that and I had to hack to make my show work with iTunes. My management and workflow is always more difficult, directories sometimes have a hard time dealing with my torrents, etc.

This morning, I found an MP3 trading site that was using my tracker to trade their files. That was the second to last straw. I shut the tracker down and set about looking for ways to restrict the tracker to only use my files. I wanted to clamp down on publishing but let anyone freely download, which isn’t exactly what the private trackers are about. As I dug around, I went to the main Bittorrent site. The scruffy ugly site Bram Cohen put up is no longer there. I was looking for documentation on configuring my tracker, and what I found was a corporate site about getting big media content more easily. Is this what I’m fighting my fight for? It’s pretty much the opposite of what I care about.

My tracker is down right now. I’m strongly considering never turning it back on, installing Podpress and just going forth on my merry way. If someone can come up with a good technical solution for me to secure the tracker the way I want and a good political reason why I should care anymore about this site whose agenda is how to let you buy shit from big media, I’d love to hear it. Drop me a comment. If I haven’t changed my mind by the time I publish my next show, I’ll begin the process of de-torrenting this site completely. My mind is open to being changed and I welcome that possibility but at this moment it isn’t how the smart money bets.

Update: I wrote this in a hurry on the way out of town, or I would have paused for a minute to thank all of you who used the bittorrent feed despite it being less convenient to you in general. In particular, I think Neil Forker is a hall of famer for continuing to use the torrent feed with Juice even though he used iTunes for everything else he subscribed to. That’s wonderful and humbling that someone would run that client solely for me to help me out. It’s truly touching. That’s the ultimate sad part about shutting down the torrents, choosing to use a torrent is by its nature a generous choice that ties us together more than just downloading a file from a website. Thanks to all of you who have been seeding for years and going out of your way to share your bandwidth via the torrents. I love you all.

RIP, Jim Beauchamp

Former Atlanta Braves coach and player Jim Beauchamp has died at age 68 of leukemia. He’s one of those guys in my head inextricably linked with the conversion of the Braves from sad sack cellar dwellers to the powerhouse national contenders that they have been for most of two decades now. He was also serving as the bench coach during the magical 1995 season when they finally won the whole thing. May his family find peace and his many friends raise a toast to his memory.

Vacation Time

I had a fine xmas and I hope that everyone else had a fine holiday of whatever they celebrate. We haven’t actually done our holiday travel yet, that happens later. By having such low stress over the actual days themselves, it gave the whole thing a completely tranquil air that I just loved. Like I always say, reducing my stress at the holidays is the nicest present anyone could give me.

I’m right in the middle of my eleven days off. I had dreams of productivity during this time. Thus far, it hasn’t kicked in. I have the list of things I want to happen over the break which are getting crossed off veeeerrrrrry slowwwwwwly. I have two days of family time and three days of my time left. I hope to get nutty on productivity at some point but the longer I go without it the less like it seems to be. If I make it out of this vacation with items on my list, I think I’ll be OK with that.

EGC Clambake for December 24, 2007 – “New Media XMas”

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for December 24, 2007.

I play a holiday song that is a big favorite around here from Jill Sobule; I talk about Xmas and the “War Thereupon” and celebrating as an atheist; I rail against consumerism; I talk a little more about the Zune that Ken Kennedy sent me and my experience watching 18 month old vlogs; I mention the “Dave 100” project; I play a song by the Two Dollar Pistols and head off into the eggnogosphere.

You can subscribe to this podcast 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:


Vacation Time

I’m on vacation now until the 2nd of January. I’ve been thinking back and I’m pretty sure eleven days off is the longest stretch I’ve ever had out of work when I wasn’t actually unemployed. I’m in day two of it now and the enormity of having NINE! MORE! DAYS! off is beginning to sink in. One of the downsides of being involved in new media is that one can have a full-time day job and yet feel like a lazy failure for failing to publish lots of media in the little time one has free. I’d like to record some shows and edit some video in this vacation stretch but I’m not freaking out about it.

Even though I’ve been shooting video pretty regularly with my CVS camcorder, I haven’t published a vlog in about 18 months. This calendar year has seen by far the smallest number of episodes of my podcast published. I haven’t looked at stats, but I’d guess that the last three months of this year is my least prolific quarter of blogging since I began in 2002. This could be troublesome but I’m pretty sanguine about it. I might use some of my vacation time as production time, but I might not. I aim to watch movies, read books and comic books and catch up on a lot of the things I enjoy but don’t seem to do that much lately. We’ll see how this goes.

Blacklisted

One of the best things that has happened to me in the new media era is that I occasionally get to talk to Tony Kahn. I love that guy as a person, as a broadcaster and as a wit. A while ago he was nice enough to give me a copy of the series he produced in the mid 90’s called Blacklisted. It is his recollection of his childhood and the period when his screenwriter father was being pursued by the House Unamerican Activities Committee and was literally blacklisted, hence the title. It’s the kind of thing that is sadly relevant in our modern day.

At the time, it was only available for purchase from Audible but I just found out that it is now available for free download from WGBH. My friends, you now have no excuse to not listen to this. It is 6 30 minute episodes, a week or less of a most people’s commute time. I urge everyone to give it a spin. It’s well produced, touching and infuriating material. Let’s remember history lest we be doomed to repeat it. Thank you Tony and thank you WGBH for giving this series distribution in this form. It is a great holiday present to all of us in the new mediasphere.

Vlog Archeology

After a few weeks of fiddling with the Zune, I have cleared my vlog backlog for the time period from August to the present. When I finished watching those episodes, I started pulling in old files I’ve been saving on my external hard drive. Over the last few days I have imported all the files I had from April and May of 2006. Some of these are from shows I subscribed to back then and have since dropped. A number of them have some kind of news/review component which are downright weird to watch 18 months after they originated. I’m so ridiculously behind on my vlog watching that I still have about 50 episodes of Rocketboom with Amanda Congdon on them unwatched.

It’s kind of cool to go back in time, but in some ways feels a little pointless. I suppose if I get tired of the experiment I can always bail on the shows that don’t seem worth the effort to watch them. For now, I’m enjoying this trip down memory lane.

Zombie Me

We’ve been back from San Francisco since late Thursday night but I haven’t blogged because I’ve been in sort of a weird haze. I’ve napped a lot, underperformed a lot of things I would like to have done and generally been a lump. I opted to go into work for the one day Friday, which was a pretty dumb idea. I was there and did stuff but felt worn out the whole time. It would have made sense to take the day off and just roll into the weekend.

I ended up passing on my company’s Xmas party Friday night because it was in North Myrtle Beach far from my house, and that turned out to have been the right call. I was asleep on the couch on and off all evening. Saturday involved another party with a long drive, this time to Pawleys Island. Because I took the dog to the park early afternoon, that more or less chewed up the entire day. Today I had plans to get a podcast done, do a lot of work and pretty much none of that happened. We did make it to Target and Pier One to get all the Xmas shopping done that we are going to do.

It’s a weird offshoot of the new media world that to hold down a full-time job and then not blog or podcast on the weekend makes me feel like a lazy failure. I’d like to get more of that stuff done but I need to re-calibrate my attitude that to not do the sidelight is not necessarily a lacking.

San Francisco Days

I’ve been doing a lot of twittering of details of this trip but no blogging. It’s hard to tell when this ephemera rises to the level of deserving a post so I’ll just lay down some groundfire of details.

After our miserable travel day on Monday, the first order of the day was to get Darlene and her poster to the Moscone center and me registered with a guest pass for the AGU. I basically toted stuff and then left her to her devices. I went to the Apple store right at opening to meet my Genius appointment for a replacement keyboard on this iBook. Not only where the letters rubbed off but the dog had physically popped off two keys and eaten them! Welcome back, “g” and “=”! I met back up with my wife for Thai at the joint across from the Moscone. After that, we napped our tired asses. She went back to the conference and I wandered up Market, browsed at Jeffrey’s Toys and Comics, and then just headed towards Chinatown. I walked and walked and eventually came back to Union Square. We had eaten at this great Indian restaurant five years ago and we wanted to go there again. I remember it was a little west of Union Square but not exactly where it was or what it was called. I went into grid search pattern and found it! Mela on O’Farrell was the joint.

Here’s where I screwed up, I kept going past it and before I realized it I was fairly well into the Tenderloin. Sunset in the Tenderloin was a jumping time with packed streets. I was wearing slacks and a sports coat and probably had a neon “tourist” sign blinking over me, so I kept my head up and walked my ass out of there. Mistake #2, instead of turning around and going directly back I made a left thinking I’d pop out at Market any minute. Block after block I kept walking and still wasn’t there. I was beginning to get a little worried so I tried to do a little dead reckoning by the sun and took another left and voila, I was at Market within 2 blocks. That was not exactly the adventure I was shooting for. After meeting back up, we grabbed a friend and dined at Mela. The service was kind of slow and crappy but I had the best plate of chicken tikka masala I’ve ever had. I’m still daydreaming about it.

This morning, we slept kind of late from jetlag and fatigue. We walked together up Powell Street looking for the See’s Candies and seemed to never find it. From there, we split up and I went on my Mission District adventure. I took the BART to 24th and Mission, and then walked up Valencia. My original plan had been to shop at Borderlands Books and eat at the Ethiopian place next door. That plan was skunked when the Ethiopian place wasn’t open for lunch. Curses! I asked the public works lady sweeping the street for her recommendation on lunch places. I figured if anyone around would know, it would be her. She sent me to Valencia Pizza and Pasta on 19th and Valencia. Sure enough, it was fantastic. This review page covers it up to and including the distress at having to walk through the kitchen to pee. I opted to hold it.

From there I did browse at Borderlands and picked up a few things. I bought $1 books and CDs at several little shops along the way, including a Ben Hecht memoir on a cheapo table that just seemed like a thing to buy. I kept walking all the way up Valencia until it hit Market and then swung over to Al’s Comics. I picked up most of the last 2 years of Love and Rockets as well as the new Nexus comic. From there I jumped on the Muni and rode the train back to Market and 1st, finally finding a See’s Candies where I got some goodies for gifts (but most of it for us). Hello, lemon truffles! Get in my belly.

After that excitement, I’m back in the hotel resting my feet and regrouping before the next outing. Mostly what I have done for the last 36 hours is eat and shop, mostly eat. I suppose there are worse ways to recreate in San Francisco. Being the old man that I am, my itinerary is heavily influenced on my ability to take the next whiz. For now, I’m staying close to the hotel for just that reason.

Tight Connections

The tour of delayed flights continue. So instead of leaving Myrtle Beach at 7:20 AM, we left at 11 AM. We had a leisurely layover in Charlotte where we had lunch at the delicious barbecue joint in the concourse and got a Starbucks. With the free wifi, we had an hour or so that we could fart around online. However, we boarded late apparently because of some security concerns about some unexpected object on the plane. Because we had a 45 minute cushion in Phoenix, leaving Charlotte 30 minutes late was a pretty big nail-biter for us.

When we landed in Phoenix, we had 22 minutes to get from B concourse to A. This involved doing the combination racewalk/half-assed jog all the way through the airport. We got there right as they were about to shut the door and squeaked in. I’m quite certain this is the tightest connection that I’ve ever actually made. I’ve had tighter connections that I missed but this is the first time I’ve had the Indiana Jones grab-the-hat plane boarding.

Luckily for us, this is a pretty empty flight so we were able to commandeer a row for ourselves. This is the best part of the experience so far. God damn it all, it sure sucks that for so many itineraries US Airways is the only game out of Myrtle Beach. I’ll give them a pass on the cancellation of the first flight as fog too thick to land a plane is out of their control. The late departure of the 2nd flight, the complete lack of helpfulness for the tight connections (no connecting gates read off, no notice that they are informing our connections to wait on us) and the general lack of service is what I have come to expect from US Airways.

To put the topper on it, though, is the relentless pimping of things like the Bank of America credit card (sign up on the flight, get extra miles!) I paid you good cash to get me to San Francisco and back, so don’t treat me like a captive audience for these freaking sales pitches. It just infuriates me. I was already pissed about that when on the third flight I lowered my tray and saw the ads for Sony noise canceling headphones on all of them. Screw you. It’s time to Cluetrain up and realize that trying this hard to milk us doesn’t create new opportunities for you as much as it gives me one more reason on top of many reasons to not fly US Airways. I’m thinking that on trips they are the only option might be trips I don’t take. I might also be more willing to drive to Columbia for flights if that means not having to fly them. This is serious shit folks. I am willing to take extreme measures to avoid being your customer. You should pay attention to that.

OpenID

Quite often I’ve seen blogs that for their commenting system they have OpenID as an option. I always skip that because I don’t have one. Well, actually I do. I did not realize this but anyone with a number of existing accounts have OpenID built in. Technorati is one of them, so I started using it as my login mechanism to a semi-secret beta (can’t be that secret, the founder Twitters about it). Just for fun, I think I’ll start using that for any blog comments that support it.

MYR: My New Home

We’re trying our darndest to get out of Myrtle Beach and on to San Francisco. Thick fog last night kept planes from landing so that the flight we were supposed to take at 7:20 AM couldn’t happen – there was no plane to leave! We originally were slated to take a no connections, one stop itinerary where we stopped in Charlotte but kept going on the same plane. I like that because there is no way to miss a connection that way. Now we are going to Charlotte at 11, connecting, going to Phoenix, connecting and on to SFO. Instead of getting there around noon, it will be more like 6 PM. Sigh. It’s a good thing there is free wifi at MYR. It helps pass the time. I’m trying to catch up on email and Google Reader while we wait (and wait and wait.)

It’s a good thing we didn’t have a lot of plans. I wanted to go see the Heather Gold show tonight since I’ll be in town when it happens but that’s off the table now. I don’t think it’s physically possible to land, get our stuff, get to the hotel and back down to the Mission district in time. Oh well, que sera. Sorry Heather.

If there was any doubt about my lack of Twitter critical mass, it is proven by the fact that I asked on there if anyone was in SF and wanted to have lunch Tuesday or Wednesday. Consider probably half of all Twitter users are in the Bay Area, that’s kind of sad. Oh well. One of the two days will probably be Ethiopian food in the Mission district, the other day is open. I have an appointment at the Apple store tomorrow to get my keyboard fixed. Beyond that, my itinerary is wide open. I like that. I have a tendency to overplan and load up itineraries but that’s not really possible here so that helps fight my natural tendencies.

If we can ever get on a damned plane, we’ll be Cali bound!

Green Christmas

Watching the weather tonight we saw that the high today in Chicago was 22 Fahrenheit. It was 76 here. We took a quick walk on the beach and it was plenty warm enough to have laid out on it. Now I really enjoyed living in Evanston and spending time in downtown Chicago but let’s get real.

Led Zeppelin Roller Coaster

Alright, I for once clicked a YouTube link for some video of a test of the Led Zeppelin roller coaster at the Hard Rock theme park. That does look pretty bad asssed. This park is close enough to my office that it would be feasible to get a season pass and go there at lunch time. In fact, from the angle I’m guessing that this video was shot from the parking lot of the barbecue joint I eat at. It is literally across the street from the coaster. When this park opens, it will either be fantastic or horrible, depending on what the traffic does to the general area.

Board Game Geek Gift Guide

I’m not really much of a gamer of any stripe. I have a tendency to buy games like Netrunner and INWO and then never actually play them. I used to listen to and enjoy the Board Game Geek Geek Speak podcast even though I had almost never played any of the games they talked about. I am not really a member of their community although I drive by now and then. For those of you looking for some ideas on games you might give as gifts this year, BGG has published their 2007 Gift Guide. There is some good looking stuff on there. It’s wasted on me since I’d never actually play, but cool nonetheless.

APM Was Listening!

A few weeks ago I posted my open letter to APM about their Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor as it is podcasted. I was pleasantly surprised this morning to realize that my suggestions had been taken. The ID3 tags now include the date of the show rather than all having the same one, and the inaudible underwriting announcement was replaced with one read by Mr. Keillor himself. I honestly didn’t expect anything from the email but I sent it and they listened. Cool, no?

RIP, Hank Reinhardt

I missed notice of this last month, but on October 30th Hank Reinhardt died at age 73. He was a longtime southern science fiction fan, weapons historian and founder of Musuem Replicas from where I have shopped a few times. Back at the 1992 World Fantasy Convention in Callaway Gardens, I had a fun 30 or 45 minute drunken conversation with Hank outside a room party. If I recall correctly, he gave me a mini-lecture on the history of the invention of the pike, the balance of power between calvary and infantry troops through the ages and so forth. I’d say hello to him at Dragon*Cons through the years. He’s one of those guys who was so thoroughly present in my interactions with Atlanta science fiction circles that it is tough to imagine them without him.

I hope his widow Toni Weisskopf is getting along. Because these are small circles we run in, I also know her professionally via my work interviewing authors from Baen Books, where she works as an editor. Hank was a large presence and I’m sure his loss leaves a giant hole in the lives of his friends and family. I barely knew the man and I miss him. He joins the sad list of larger than life people I know from southern science fiction fandom who are no longer there. We are all lessened by their absence.

EGC Clambake for December 2, 2007 – “Shindigs and Doing Stuff”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for December 2, 2007.

Played a song by Chris Yale; I talked about my evening at the South by Southeast fundraiser; I segue from that into our ideas for our Myrtle Beach conference;

You can subscribe to this podcast 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:


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