Clambake Episode for July 17, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for July 17, 2005.

I play the newest Rocket City Riot song plus a little clip from John Mark King; I talk about my presentation at the Podcast and Portable Media Expo and ask for your photos; I play a song by Camper van Beethoven for Harold Johnson; I discuss why I think the podcast awards are a silly idea; I play a song by Michelle Malone and head on down the highway.

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-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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Subgenius Feed

As a reminder to all of you who are in to remix/mashup culture, you can subscribe to an RSS feed for the grandaddy of them all, the Subgenius Hour of Slack, plus the local Atlanta show Bob’s Slacktime Funhouse. If you subscribe now, you’ll get HOS #999 (which is the number of Bob), and shortly get the big one, episode #1000. WREK FM, being full of the spirit of slack themselves, are a few weeks behind the broadcast schedule of most of the Subgenius world so if you missed it, here it is.

Clambake Episode for July 14, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for July 14, 2005.

I play a song by Bullet Called Life; the majority of this episode is part two of my interview with John Rogers about the Global Frequency phenomenon and wild possibilities for the future of media; I talk a little about science fiction and why Roger Zelazny and Ted Sturgeon mean so much to me; I play a song by Cats Laughing on my way to glory land.

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-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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Ruby on Rails Thoughts

I have been interested in Ruby on Rails for a while, and been fiddling with it in the nights and weekends. I like to stay up on new technologies and frameworks, partly because it is fun and partly because that’s some of the value I bring to the folks I work for. The more I know about the possibilities, the better decisions I can help make. Despite what people think about me, I am never interested in these things for the sheer novelty of it but in how one can do more work in less time with fewer resources. Like many, I was seduced by things like the video of using RoR to create a weblogging system in 15 minutes. I even downloaded and listened to the Ruby on Rails podcast.

By playing with it, I do agree that it is cool and remarkably efficient to create things that work, when it works. What needs to be included in the analysis is the fact that sometimes things just don’t work. When they don’t work, it’s not so easy to figure out why from the documenation. Frequently I end up googling and searching fruitlessly through docs and doing research on the part I least care about just to make weird exceptions go away. Worst of all, sometimes the exceptions are misleading and will be red herrings that send you on wild goose chases. Because I’m not that familiar with Ruby, that part is always a struggle for me. I’m picking up the language as I use it, but I don’t have a deep background in it. I’d be highly surprised if there many (or any) people who are already deeply familiar with Ruby and coming to Rails because of it. I’d guess 99% of the people are coming for Rails and learning Ruby out of necessity, just like me.

Precisely because I don’t know anything about Ruby, everything I ever do is straight cookbook out of the docs. I don’t know enough to do anything crazy, so all packages are added via gem and such. The other day, I had installed a package and tried to set up some functionality to use it, straight out of the example code. I kept getting an exception about how the package wasn’t installed, even though doing a gem list showed it. I eventually got frustrated enough to ask the question on the #rubyonrails IRC channel. The path that eventually got it working was to do a gem cleanup which changed the behavior from an exception to a crash in the dispatch.fcgi. After that, I had to uninstall and reinstall the Rails package. So far so good.

At this point, I asked in the IRC channel how I could have known to do that, essentially a pointer to the where in the docs the secret knowledge lives. That’s when the trouble started. I have used the IRC channel to get answers a few times when my frustration with the docs grew too great. Every time, I have gotten the answer I needed and every time I have left with elevated blood pressure. I use the IRC channel as the absolute last resort, so it isn’t a matter of RTFM – I’d much rather RTFM than deal with the pricklier denizens there. The problem is that I’ve never been able to get the advice without some form of ad hominem nonsense. It might be my lousy interpersonal skills, or it might be a problem with some of those folks.

This time, as I tried to figure out where I could have done it different I got a lot of weird defensiveness which included statements like “This is a 0.13 release, what do you expect” and “This is the frontier so you have to be prepared to do some work” and my favorite “You can’t expect it to be like using VB.” For the record, I hate VB and don’t expect anything to be like it if I’m going to be using it. The basic gist of all this nonsense was in stark contrast to what you’ll find on the web page nad in the various articles about it, which is “Come aboard, you can make your life easier and get more work done with Rails.” My point, which went over like a fart in church, was that these are mutually exclusive views so which is correct? Either you want people to come aboard and do real world work with it, or it is still a hobbyist hacker thing but it isn’t both simultaneously.

My view at this point is that Ruby on Rails seems fantastic, looks like a highly efficient way to get things done, and will be something I continue to pursue. It won’t be as quick in reality as you might think, because at some point you will have to stop doing productive work and research crazy failures that may be code or may be problems in your installation camouflaged as code level errors. Even if you do everything by the book, your install may shit itself at any point. If you need help and decide to try the IRC channel, hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Expect that someone will claim it as your moral failing that you cannot decipher cryptic error cases with sparse documentation.

Update: A friend IM’d me this link to a Rails related comment thread. Read the comments and decide if you think the Rails people are being weird and defensive. I read the original post as a guy looking for information and thinking out loud, yet the Railers seem to be pissed off that he is raising questions. To paraphrase my friend, I love the technology but am not so high on the community. It will be nice when we can rationally discuss the pros and cons of the technology without raising the hackles of the Rails fundamentalists for daring to suggest there are cons.

Sex, Cash and Podcasting

Mark Cuban posted about cash and podcasting, which included this:

Podcasting is hot.  Podcasting is cheap and easy. Podcasting can be fun. Creating your own podcast and trying to make a business out of it is a mistake. Unless you are repurposing content from another medium, it will be rare to find anyone making money from originating podcasts.

Talk Radio Shows repurposed from radio to a podcast. No brainer. It’s cheap and easy. Repurposing industry specific information from tradeshows, speeches, product presentations for employee or customer education or as sales support. No brainer. These are just extensions of existing content into a new low cost medium.

For those who are tying to jump on the podcasting bandwagon and create a “hit” podcast that you plan on selling advertising in, its cheap and easy to do, but even with Google Adsense for RSS its going to be really tough to do it as a fulltime job and make minimum wage back.

I tend to reflexively push-back on things of this ilk, but damn it I think he’s right. I think this obsessive focus on “quitting the day job” levels of income from podcasting is ridiculous. For god’s sake, most novelists and musicians I know don’t get to quit their day jobs, so what makes you think you are so special? I say this as someone who is probably in the top 5 percentile of revenue generated by an individual podcaster and yet who is still orders of magnitude from living on that. Being on fire to make mortgage-covering amounts of cash out of the box is a mistake and it will lead you down the wrong path.

About this time last year, over at Gaping Void, Hugh Macleod was coming up with the Hughtrain manifesto. He extracted one piece out of that work that he titled “The Sex and Cash Theory”. It included insights such as:

I’m thinking about the young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool and hip magazines…. who dreams of one day of not having her life divided so harshly.

Well, over time the ‘harshly’ bit might go away, but not the ‘divided’.

“This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.”

As soon as you accept this, I mean really accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster. I don’t know why this happens. It’s the people who refuse to cleave their lives this way- who just want to start Day One by quitting their current crappy day job and moving straight on over to best-selling author… Well, they never make it.

The basic gist is that when you make your art pay the whole freight for your financial well-being, it’s a compromise. It puts pressure on your creative side that it doesn’t need. Rather than whoring your art, whore your CPA self or barrista self or whatever. Don’t worry so damn much about making a mint, worry about making the next show good. If you get the right combination of talent plus luck, maybe it will happen. Don’t plan on it, though, or you’ll end up like all the sad sacks whose life plans involve hitting the lottery to achieve what they want. Keep the sex and cash separate, and your art will be the better for it.

Update: Podcasting News links to the same article with the headline “Broadcast Billionaire Badmouths Podcasting”. I just plain don’t see that.

Clambake Episode for July 11, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for July 11, 2005.

I play an unreleaased song by Jill Sobule; the majority of this episode is part one of my interview with John Rogers about the Global Frequency phenomenon; I play a song by Dick Richards for the soundtrack to Dhalgren and then it’s all over.

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-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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Spoken Alexandria

Spoken Alexandria (which seems to be a sister site to Telltale Weekly) has a podcast feed (XML here) of free audio books. I’ve blogged about this project before and I think it is fantastic – DRM-free, open audiobooks. They charge for them but the goal is that when any audiobook makes enough money to pay for itself, then it gets added to the free portion of their library. Even the ones that are for pay are a fraction of what you pay other places, so check it out.

Clambake Episode for July 10, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for July 10, 2005.

This show is an experiment, the first with my brand new Marantz PMD 670; I discuss it a little, thank my brother for pointing me to the eBay listing and wish him a happy birthday; I make a sad attempt to throat sing and mention the fantastic movie Genghis Blues; I play a song by Happy Elf and boogie.

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-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Update: It was pointed out to me that this show was only in one channel (which I didn’t notice because I previewed it with the earbuds in only one ear.) I’ll post a corrected version this evening. Sorry!

Update 2: This has been republished. Sorry to those of you who got the boned file.

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Clambake Episode for July 9, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for July 9, 2005.

I send out what cold comfort I can to our friends in London; I play a song by Nathan Sheppard; I play my interview with Rocket City Riot drummer Mark Reiter and this week’s song; I play a promo from Skepticality.com; I talk about Rob Greenlee’s interview with Mark Ramsey; I mention my IT Conversations interview with Cory Doctorow and the art of persuasion; I wonder if I am stuck in a comfort zone with my music and play two songs from Two Zombies Later and then pull the plg.

Note that I forget to finish my thought about Rob Greenlee, that in this interview I agree down the line with Rob and disagree down the line with Mark Ramsey.

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-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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My Earth is Off Its Axis

I’m not sure if I know how to deal with our modern times. Specifically, I just listened to a podcast of Chris Lydon’s Open Source show. On this particular episode, I agreed with pretty much every word Patrick Buchanan said. I don’t know if he’s gotten more sensible or I have lost my senses, but I don’t remember him as being this wise twenty years ago.

Life Attack

Things have been busy and unsettled lately, too busy to blog or podcast or even reply to comments. Thankfully, some of you have been keeping the conversation alive, for which I thank you greatly. There’s been a lot of great stuff in the threads, and I’ll reply to it as I can.

God’s Little Toys

Here’s a cool opinion piece in Wired by William Gibson about digital remix culture. He cites William S. Burroughs’ experiments with cut-and-paste and his cut-up experiments as part of his personal inspiration.

When I was a co-op student in college, I wrote in PETOS Basic a computer program to do random Burroughs style cut-up of input sentences. This ran on a Perkin-Elmer infrared spectrometer, back in the days when having standalone computers was uncommon. I typed in passages from Naked Lunch and printed out the mashed up versions and read them to my friends until they asked me to stop. Reading this bit from Gibson reminded me of all that.

Clambake Episode for July 4, 2005

Here is the Bittorrent link and direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for July 4, 2005.

I play the next installment of the Rocket City Riot interview and song; I talk about why I’m not doing a big “Declaration of Independence” after all; I play a song by the Siderunners and one Michelle Malone; as I’m being driven driven crazy by the delay in my headphones it all goes to hell so I stop.

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-ShareAlike 1.0.

Links mentioned in this episode:

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