New Swimming Routine

New Swimming Routine

I started swimming on July 1st. In those 21 days, I've swam 12 days with 2 of those getting shortened by thunderstorms. That gives me 10 full sessions and 2 shortened against my will.

Across all that, I've swam just over 9.5 kilometers. Today, I did the fastest time yet, swimming 21 laps (1.05 Km) in 37 minutes. I knew it felt pretty good when I was doing it, but it was a full 2 minutes shorter than what I did on Friday.

So far so good with all this. Now my main goal is to just keep pace with the 70 year olds in the next lane.

.   #fb   #blog?

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Bootstrapping a Podcast Economy with Flattr

Bootstrapping a Podcast Economy with Flattr

Very short version: I think Flattr has the possibility of enabling a reasonable podcast economy. If enough people use it, podcasters will be able to generate an income with minimal overhead. If I pointed you here from an email, it is because I want to give you money.

Slightly longer background:

If you are unfamiliar with +Flattr , it is a very low friction microdonation system. The brilliant thing they did was to separate out the cash decision from the payment decision. Unlike most where you have to decide whether to pay $0.03 vs $0.05, that decision has a mental transaction cost. With Flattr, you allocate a pool of money to pay each month then you "Flattr" which is basically the same thing as a Digg, a Facebook like or a +1. The things you like in a month, that pool of money is spread equally across all of those. Brilliant.

I have had Flattr on my blog/podcast for a few years. It has been an interesting experiment and worth doing, but not a huge revenue producer for me. To this date, the using of Flattr was a niche, early adopter thing. My hope – and the reason for my push for advocacy – is that this spreads out into a more widely adopted platform.

In a world where this was as common as, say, Digg was at its height then there would be a reasonable amount of money flowing in a roughly meritocratic manner. The more listeners you have, in general the more money that should flow towards you. The money that comes into podcasting now is distributed quite bi-modally. The top 5% makes livable money from Stamps.com and Legal Zoom et al, the bottom 95% makes little or nothing. I've been lucky enough to sell t-shirts and make a little from sponsorships via the very kind folks at Backbeat Media. Over the course of this podcast, I am probably close to break even on hosting, equipment and various expenses. That probably puts me in the top 20 percentile of podcasters because most people pay expenses and earn nothing.

My pledge is that I will flattr every episode of every podcast in my subscription list that has it enabled. If you run off of WordPress, you can install the Flattr plugin and go to town. Make sure you check the option to put payment information in your RSS/Atom feed and you are good to go. I'm still looking for auto-flattring solutions, but for now I'm manually clicking the button on the site of every pocaster that has it on their site. The trickle has begun, I hope to see a wider adoption over time. If the amount climbs enough, I will increase the amount of money I give.

My appeal is two-fold. If you are a podcast listener and a fan, sign up for an account. The site is in Euros, that is no impediment to Americans. The money will auto-convert from your credit card. All of the podcasters that you listen to, flattr their episodes either automatically via a podcatcher or manually.

If you are a podcaster, create a Flattr account and let people give you money. If you run WordPress it is super easy, others might be slightly more work but nothing is hard to do. If you have technical questions, I volunteer to be your tech support. Be patient, don't expect anything huge at first but I can guarantee nothing about this will suck money away from you. At worst, you wasted a few minutes. At best, you might find yourself paying your hosting or more with the money that flows in.

Because this is a "boil the ocean" situation, the early going has been and is tough. It makes little sense to sign up as a listener when there is nothing to flattr. As a creator, it makes little sense to invest in a platform with few users. Let's cut through that, and push on both fronts simultaneously with a mutual leap of faith. Neither group has much to lose, so let's all just do it. I'm doing both ends myself, so I'm as invested as I can be. +Dan Benjamin of 5by5.tv does it for all their shows, the biggest network adopter I know of at this point. As Rage Against the Machine sings: "It has to start somewhere, it has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?"

This is already long, in a future post I'll talk about auto-flattr solutions for podcast listeners.

For now, I urge everyone to give this a try. You click like, +1 and similar things all day every day. You understand the paradigm, let's do it in a system where your money matches your attention.

#podcasteconomy #blog #flattr

Flattr – Social microdonations
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Podcast Yearly Statistics

Podcast Yearly Statistics

I was curious about these stats because of the #dogdaysofpodcasting  event and my recent return to a regular publishing schedule. Here are the number of shows I have published broken down by year:

2004:   64  (Started in August)
2005:   85  (First full year)
2006:   46
2007:   24
2008:   15
2009:   11
2010:   10
2011:    2 
2012:    5
2013:    41

What you can see from this is that in less than nine months of 2013, I have published more episodes than the previous four years, and I will soon surpass the previous five years. 

Admittedly, there are different scopes at play. 2010 and earlier tended to be longer episodes with music and more production. 2011 and later tend to be shows recorded in my car. There's a bit of an apple and orange situation, but I am pleased to be more prolific. It definitely sucked when I went to publish and episode and realize it had been six months since the previous one. 

Thanks +Kreg Steppe for giving me the kick in the butt I needed to get back on track!

#blog #fb

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First Week With Locket Update

First Week With Locket Update

I installed +Locket a week ago Thursday after hearing about it on +All About Android. I didn't have any fancy lock screen or any widgets, just HTC default so I lost nothing that way. I found it not terribly intrusive, not terribly lucrative, the ads so far not terribly in my wheelhouse. I tried to interact with one ad (Kick-Ass 2 trailer) but YouTube crapped out in the middle , which is not Locket's fault.

Summary from just over 7 days of use:

Money earned: $1.18
Affilates signed up: 0
Ads interacted: 1

At this rate, it would be early October before I'd be eligible for a cashout. I was actually thinking I'd be closer to $2 by now, but this is the difference between the turtle and the snail. I was under no illusions this would be highly lucrative. I'll probably keep going at least until I reach $10 and maybe forever.  We shall see.

#blog  

Locket: Signup
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The Dog Days of Podcasting

The Dog Days of Podcasting

I am participating in The Dog Days of Podcasting this year, which is a project organized by my friend +Kreg Steppe. The deal is that you podcast every day from July 30th to August 30th. That's 31 podcasts in a row, which I'm not sure I've ever done even when I was cranking in the early days. Obviously, these are not all going to be full blown affairs. My plan is for the bulk of these to be 5ish minute episodes. I am shooting for a series within the series where I will discuss my history in comic book and science fiction fandom. These will be interspersed with other episodes. It won't be orderly but with any luck, it will be daily.

The first one is posted a few minutes ago. Away we go!
 
  #blog

Dog Days of Podcasting
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Tig Music

Tig Music

Of all current standups, I think +Tig Notaro is the one whose comedy is the most to me like music. That is, I can listen to it like music, over and over. The pleasure isn't the novelty and surprise of the premise, it is in the savoring and listening to nuance of the work. 

<holds up finger> "No moleste!"

#blog

Video: No moleste – Tig Notaro

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Brand Disengagement

Brand Disengagement

I hate this notion of "brand engagement." Sure they make cute commercials and may competently use social media but Old Spice exists to sell me deodorant. I'll buy or not but I don't want to be your friend.

I specifically don't want the emo overhead of engagement with the mundane products in my life. Sell me shit and then walk away. It's treated in nerd circles that brand engagement is the holy grail but I've decided I don't like it and don't want it.

#blog

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I’ve had discussions with + Daniel Conover  over the relative merits of a tightly controlled…

I've had discussions with +Daniel Conover over the relative merits of a tightly controlled taxonomy vs. a non-controlled "folksonomy." My balance tended to be more heavily weighted to the latter than Dan's in general. I often favor a hybrid approach where systems accept any kind of tag but when needed a backend authority promotes some of those tags into a controlled taxonomy.

You know what has really changed my mind? Digitizing my CD collection. It is amazing what complete bullshit the data that comes in from CDDB is. I mean, sure it is usually accurate as to the titles of the songs and the name of the artist (but not 100% of the time.) In the other stuff thought, it is crap. Try getting the metadata for both discs of any two disc CD. There is no guarantee the artist name is even the same, much less the title of the disc. Capitalization, use of numbers, ampersands vs "and" and many stylistic bits vary wildly.

As much as I value user entered data, I do the manual editing of every single CD just to clean up the crap. Over and over I say "CDDB is a commercial entity. Can't Sony/Gracenote pay someone to clean this up this embarrassing mess?"

#blog #cddb

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G+ Metastasis Update

G+ Metastasis Update

Thanks to +Amber Yust the Plus Syndication server at http://pluss.aiiane.com has been updated to clean up the titles as I discussed in my first post. This should lead to much nicer blog posts when they propagate there.

With that, I'm happy with the full system – even the duct taped parts. Enough talking about it, time to use it!

#blog

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When Pricing Doesn’t Make Sense I listened to + Aisha Tyler  ‘s interview with Saul Willi…

When Pricing Doesn't Make Sense

I listened to +Aisha Tyler 's interview with Saul Williams. I am not familiar with him and was interested in his music, so I  looked some up on Amazon. That's when I saw this gem:  his eponymous album is $9.99 in the MP3 store. That's not atypical, so no biggie. However, the physical CD is $7.99. That's also not the weirdest thing in the world to have the physical good a little cheaper than the digital. I see it in the Kindle store with regularity and while weird and annoying, isn't earth shattering.

http://www.amazon.com/Saul-Williams/dp/B0002XEDZI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1357926318&sr=8-1&keywords=saul+williams

Where it gets really weird is with the addition of Amazon's AutoRip feature. If I buy the above CD, I'll automatically get the MP3 versions. By paying the lower price, I get both products. It's cheaper for me to buy the physical CD, get the free Prime shipping and have it sent to me, have Amazon box it up and ship it to me where I throw it away or give it to Goodwill without opening it than it is to buy the MP3s. That's when life doesn't make sense. 

Amazon will automatically lower the prices of Kindle books if it detects them cheaper at a competing store. Why can't it do the same thing for itself? I don't want the physical CD so why force me to have you send it to me to get the better pricing? Amazon is definitely not making more money that way.

#blog

girl on guy 67: saul williams | girl on guy
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My G+ Metastasis System Described Short Version: I have cobbled together a rickety system to…

My G+ Metastasis System Described

Short Version: I have cobbled together a rickety system to originate content in G+ and have it appear in Twitter, Facebook and/or my blog – all controlled by hashtags.

Very Long Version:

I've grown weary of the fragrmentation of my social media existence. I've been looking for a way to have one single point of entry for my content. My original idea was to post everything to my blog in a special "microblog" category and have things push from there. The holdup is that G+ is not only hard to write to but apparently the SMS posting loophole has been closed:

http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/google-plus-discuss/mobile/HxlC9BnrHiw

I opted to start with the +Mike Elgan sharing system as described here:

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9227098/Elgan_How_I_publish_from_Google_?taxonomyId=169&pageNumber=1

I'm using a large chunk of that for my system, so Mike gets the bulk of the credit for this. The key point there is the steps that use Pluss Feed Proxy for G+: 

http://pluss.aiiane.com/

then piped through Feedburner. (I'm experimenting with not laundering through Feeburner and using the Pluss Atom feed directly.) Once that is done, an RSS feed (or Atom) exists of all your Google+ posts. Given that, there are a lot of things that can happen. Mike Elgan has ManageFlitter as the posting system, which I set up. I also have now set up basically the same thing using only IFTTT rules, all driven by hash tags.

If the post contains #twt, then tweet it:

https://ifttt.com/recipes/74107

If the post contains #fb, then post to Facebook:

https://ifttt.com/recipes/74108

If the post contains #blog, then post to my blog:

https://ifttt.com/recipes/74109

Future Work:

The thing I like least about this is the way the title in the Atom or RSS feed comes from the G+ post. I'd like to have it truncuate at the newline if the post begins with a short paragraph, rather than just run on until it runs out of characters. The Pluss Feed Proxy server code is open source. I'm considering getting my own copy, making that change and running my own instance. I think I'd rather submit a patch and have that go into the server that is already there.

https://github.com/ayust/pluss

As mentioned above, I'm trying this with and without Feedburner in the middle. Mike Elgan cites the cleanup of the feed as the reason to use it. It does also add a lot of latency and one more link in this chain. Since the whole thing is a brittle Rube Goldberg machine, every one of those you can eliminate is one fewer place for it to break. 

For now, I'm going to run with this a while and see how it works. This will be a sizable post on the blog by the time it pushes there, and too long for Facebook to get the whole thing. It will be an interesting experiment just to see the different levels of truncation and how everything handles it. 

I'm interested in any feedback people have. If you use this, or improve it, let me know your experience. I got it from Mike and made some twists, so let me know what twists you make, please.

Elgan: How I publish from Google+
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Using Google+ For Authors

Over on his A Simpler Way blog, my friend Evo Terra has a guide to using Google+ for the publishing author. It’s an interesting guide, applicable for anyone whose primary use of Google+ is as a touchpoint for a creative presence. I would think this would map well for musicians, cartoonists, podcasters or anyone whose primary motivation in G+ is to simultaneously engage with and promote your work to interested fans.

I’d urge anyone whose interests lie that way to check out his post. Even if you don’t agree with his advice down the line, it’s an interesting and effective looking approach to managing one’s G+ presence.

By Popular Demand

I received a request to add a Facebook like button to the posts. I decided that if I was adding in a plugin, I might as well add one that did multiple services. Now every post gets a Facebook like, Google +1, a StumbleUpon and Tweet button. It was interesting to me to peruse recent posts and see how many already had counts under some of these services.

In social media, I’ve stopped using Twitter. I’ve just had enough of it. Most of my daily energy goes now to Google Plus. If you want to follow me on there, here is my profile. I quite enjoy the service. Anything that half-assed worked and had critical mass would have been enough to get me to switch off of Twitter. I’ll keep using Facebook because it’s where my family and old friends are but for serious stuff, it’s all G+ for me now. Until something comes along to change that.