One Aging Geek

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Bad tool! Down. Bad!

My old buddy Miles has been telling me for months that he's seeing duplicated posts. I don't think I ever actually looked at the blog and noticed that some really are being duplicated and it's not a figment of his newsreader. At this point I suspect my main posting tool w.bloggar is broken. Or the interface between w.bloggar and SharpReader is fubar. Looks like I'm in the market for a new posting tool. I'll pay anything up to zero pesos. Update: w.bloggar has been exonerated of all charges and is released on its own recognizance. I stopped using w.bloggar but Miles is still seeing duplicates. I'm trying to blame his news aggregator. But he's only seeing the problem with my blog, not others. So the case remains unsolved.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Ed Felten's lecture: "Rip, Mix, Burn, Sue"

Ed Felten, the legendary engineer who led the team that broke the music industry's watermarking scheme and whom the music industry threatened with legal action if he presented his findings at a technical conference, has given an amazing lecture on copyright and technology as part of the Princeton President's Lecture series, called "Rip, Mix, Burn, Sue: Technology, Politics, and the Fight to Control Digital Media." It's a fantastic primer for geeks, lawyers and civilians on the copyfight. Link (Thanks, Michael!) - Cory Doctorow [Boing Boing]
Bookmark so I can check later. I'd like to see an audio-only version. Um... hear. Hear an audio only version.

Podcasting 4 -- Doing it right

Robert Scoble made the point (obvious though it was) that he can read 900 RSS text feeds (um... read... yeah... the word is skim, Robert) but can only listen to three [hours worth]. You can't speed listen. At least not without doing some manipulation of the audio stream. So it's really important that every bit of the audio is jam-packed with crunchy goodness. Do I want to listen to somebody saying "but that's ok because I'll edit that bit out" (since I'm hearing it, obviously they didn't!)? No! If I'm listening to an information piece do I want to hear a full length music piece? Nope. To do it right, a podcast has to be produced, not just recorded and perpetrated on the world. So far not many people seem to be doing this. The single absolute best is Doug Kaye. Also well done and wonderfully eclectic is Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything Radio. Among the worst is Adam Curry. Just to lighten up on Adam for a moment, Doug Kaye's interview of Adam is quite good but definitely not safe for work. I'm a few weeks behind in stuff from IT Conversations, I listened to this one within the last few days. So spare me your experiments with new equipment and your significant other wandering into the room while you're recording. Spare me the 3 minute intro, if I ever come back it'll become rapidly annoying. Spend some time in production, edit out the bits that need editing out. Then maybe I'll listen more than once. OK. That's it I think. All I have to spew about podcasting. I like getting audio that I want in an effortless manner so I can listen to it when I'm doing things that don't involve my brain (like driving!). I like having choice which is long gone from American radio. I like the time-shifting ability. The name is fine, really. Podcasting good. Me like.

Podcasting 3 -- What is it good for!?

Absolutely nothing! Well... as far as most "podcasts" go, they seem to be just an audio form of blogging. A lot of them are even more pointless than, for example, this very blog. On the other hand, there is a lot of interesting audio being delivered as RSS enclosures. My personal favorite is IT Conversations. I'm listening to a number of others at the moment ... or rather I've got a lot of others queued up on the player but very few of them deserve a mention lest my one reader (hi Miles) wastes any time on them. For the liberals among us, Air America and Democracy Now! shows are available by podcast. But so what, right? Steve Gillmor has been beating the RSS drum for quite a long time and has now moved to beating the podcast drum. Which doesn't mean I disagree with him. One point I have heard him make happens to coincide with my use of podcasts. Drive time is where the money is in radio. Huge audiences trapped in traffic. There are only two things to do. Talk on the phone or listen to the radio. And the current state of radio in America is bleak. Two companies own some huge proportion of the airwaves. And the stuff they're pumping out is miserable. So you're stuck. Unless you have a portable music player and a convenient way to load it up with stuff that you'd like to listen to. Podcasting/podcatching is to drive time radio what TiVo is to prime time television. It puts the listener in control. Load up the player with stuff you want and fast forward over the parts you don't care about. That's it. In a nutshell. I really can't recall the last time I listened to the radio while commuting. No commercials, no annoying DJs, just things that interest me. An interesting phenomenon. I'm a less dangerous driver because of podcasting. My route to work isn't very congested and I used to tend to drive ... um ... a bit faster than I should. With interesting stuff on the player I drive slower so I get a few more minutes of listening time (but this is Texas, after all so I'm still going a little faster than I would if the highway patrol was in sight...).

Podcasting 2 -- I invented podcasting er ... catching

I have documented proof that I thought of this three years ago so everyone should bow down to me. Sorry, this is just my reaction to all the claims that Adam Curry invented podcasting just because he wrote an AppleScript script to store RSS enclosures on his iPod. There were at least three other people with similar scripts, probably all of them predating Adam's. And I'd bet serious money that there were a hundred more that geek types had cobbled together for their own use. Maybe it's Adam's Big Hair. But then again maybe it's just his ego. I listened to ... three ... ? ... installments of Adam's "Daily Source Code" podcast. What a self-congratulatory bunch of drivel! As one of my friends says: there's three hours of my life I'll never get back. If I wanted to know about the problems of an aging media personality getting high and trying to sell his castle I'd get my reading material from the tabloid stand in the checkout aisle at the supermarket. I do not for the life of me understand what it is that puts Daily Source Code on the Favorites section of the podcast directory Back to my claim. I've been pulling audio off the web for about a year and dumping it onto my minidisc player to fill my commuting hours. Back when the Web was all text I toyed with a text-to-speech program thinking that I'd set up something that would convert the new websites that had stuff I cared about into audio which I'd then burn on CDs. But since I'm a closet environmentalist I couldn't bring myself to burn a CD a day and my truck's CD player doesn't handle CD-RWs. If only I had patented the idea. Done in sufficiently vague terms, I could be suing somebody today.

Podcasting -- 1 -- what's in a name

I feel the urge to write something on this subject. In fact I feel the urge to do something more than just collect bookmarks here. Rather than a long rant I think this is best done as a series of posts. So this is the first in a series. If you don't know anything about podcasting have a look at the definition of podcasting and when that doesn't explain anything, look at the Wikepdia entry for podcasting. Podcasting is a nice short descriptive term for subscription-based audio. There are a bunch of whiners who want to name it something that doesn't contain the word "Pod" which comes from iPod. Get over it! The name is instantly descriptive. A podcaster is the equivalent of a broadcaster, it's the person or organization who is sending the audio. The term I've seen for the process of listening to a podcast (I guess "listening" isn't easy enough) is "podcatching". So. That's the terminology. I've seen/heard definitions of "a podcast" that require that it have a musical intro and be the work of a lone voice and other such crap. Ignore such things. A "podcast" is any hunk of audio delivered by subscription. Update: added Wikipedia article link

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bookmark: PalmOS 6.1 simulator

Palm OS Cobalt

Most of you probably couldn’t care much one way or the other, but there were a significant number of people who pretty dang disappointed when it was confirmed that neither the new Tungsten T5 nor the about-to-be-released Treo 650 would run on the latest version of the Palm operating system, OS 6.1/Cobalt (and palmOne’s been hinting it might be until 2006 that they release a PDA that runs on it). If you want to check out what you’ll be missing, PalmSource does have an emulator you can download that’ll let you play around with the different features (true multitasking and better support for multimedia are the biggest improvements). It’s meant for developers, but anyone can download the simulator and mess around with it if they want to see what improvements they’ve made.

[Via PDALive]