Dragon*Con, Day 0

It is 2 hours before Dragon*Con officially begins and I’m back in my hotel resting. This will be a fun but a long and tiring weekend. I hope that swimming laps will have created in me the endurance I need.

I’ve already ran into a number of friends and will do what I can to run in to some more. If you run across me come talk to me. I should be easy to find, I’m the stocky guy with long brown hair wearing black. [For those who have never been to this event, that’s a joke, you see.]

Off To Dragon*Con

This afternoon I’ll be making the drive from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta for Dragon*Con. My deep hope is to get registered tonight so that I do not have to mess with that at all on Friday. I have a live taping of Reality Break with Mur Lafferty at 10 PM Friday night and my talk on “Why Podcasting Matters” at 8:30 PM on Sunday night. Right now it looks like Saturday will be my “me” day, the day where I take my want lists and dig through long boxes looking for elusive back issues. I have learned that even when I have a professional agenda, it is nice to carve out a little chunk of time to be a fanboy. It’s why I got involved in all this in the first place.

I have a few Reality Break interviews scheduled through the con. I might also be doing some pickup interviews, either for Reality Break or EGC podcast. I’ll have my trusty Marantz with me most of the time. It’s possible I’ll be doing some stuff for the offical Dragon*Con podcast but I’m not sure on that. I’m up for anything.

One of the things that just happened yesterday is that I volunteered to be Darusha Wehm’s proxy at the Parsec awards. If her podcast of Beautiful Red wins, I’ll accept her award and either read her statement or put her on speakerphone at the mic. The latter is of course preferred.

All in all it should be a fun time. If you are at the con, come to one of my program events or catch me in the hall or pick up some of my swag from the groaning giveaway table. It’ll be a fun time and I hope to see you there, all of you.

Strings Video

A while back, my friend Kelley posted her appreciation of video mashups that pay homage to creative works. Recently a fan responded by creating a video called “Mad Rush” that in part incorporates lines from Kelley’s story “Strings” to powerful effect. There’s a lot of room for creativity of this sort. Jonathan Coulton has done quite well tapping in to this pool of mojo. If you are a creator, encouraging others to build creativity is not a bad way to expand your personal brand, increase your fan’s investment in your work, and to bring things back to you in edifying ways.

Mur Lafferty Live Interview at Dragon*Con

I have an hour slot to record at Dragon*Con, which will be Friday at 10 PM. I just posted over on the Reality Break site that I’ve booked Mur Lafferty to be the guest for the live Reality Break episode. The plan is to do both a Reality Break and an EGC clambake episode in the allotted time. First priority is to get the Mur interview conducted and in the can. With whatever time remains, I plan to record EGC. If you’ll be at Dragon*Con, come and hang out with us. I’ll be taking a few questions from the floor so you too can participate. It will be a party, kids. I’ll be giving away a couple of EGC stuff packages, stickers and what have you. I’m not sure if Mur will be bringing swag, but it will be a fun geeky time at this fun geeky convention.

Spare Me From Lists

I read Large Hearted Boy and generally I like it and find it useful. I do notice how often it is that the links featured are to some kind of list, usually a few every time. I have grown so weary of that construction that I follow maybe one link in 200. I just don’t care about the 10 worst hair days in rock history or the 17 weirdest license plates. Today I saw a link to the endgame of such nonsense, this book of 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Wow. I just can’t imagine granting anyone the authority to tell me such a thing. I’d assume the main reason people buy that book is out of morbid curiosity to see how many of their favorite songs are in there. “Did ‘Tropical Hot Dog Night’ make it in there? How about ‘Hyperstation’ and/or ‘The Sprawl’?” Yawn. I’ll get to that real soon, right after I’ve done everything else, ever.

Free Amazon MP3s

A while back, I made my first ever purchase from the Amazon DRM Free MP3 store, Brian Eno’s Here Come the Warm Jets. I liked the experience and thought it was pretty cool. Now via Ruby comes this link to a bunch of free MP3s. I just spent a bunch of time going through all 67 pages (?!?!) of those and downloading a crazy amount of music from Ian Gillan, Mott the Hoople and others. This should keep everyone busy this weekend!

Dragon*Con Schedule

I’ll be at Dragon*Con next weekend. I’m doing a live taping of this podcast and/or an epsiode of Reality Break on Friday from 10-11 PM. On Sunday at 8:30 PM I’ll be giving a talk on the podcasting track entitled “Why Podcasting Matters.” Earlier today I described it as “a mashup of both my NME talks, Geoghegan’s “Death of Podcasting” and a little bit of Subgenius tent devival.” If you’ll be at Dragon*Con, come to one or both of my presentations, please! There will be giveaways at the live taping, so I’m willing to bribe you.

EGC Clambake for August 19, 2008 – “Fourth Anniversary, Big Whoop”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for August 19, 2008. I play a song from Rocket City Riot and then try and fail to read some user mail; I play a song by the Harvey Girls; I discuss this being the fourth anniversary of this podcast, why I started doing this show and why I continue and how I feel about the state of our medium; I mention New Media Expo and Michael Geoghegan and the “death of podcasting”; I play a song by Glass Eye and then groove my way on into the night.

This turns out to have been an unusually foul-mouthed episode. I guess it happens when you wind the monkey up. That’s why I disclaim this up front, kids.

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. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Microblogs Need GUIDs

I’m listening to the 8/2/2008 episode of the Gillmor Gang where Steve is talking with Dustin Sailings of Twitterspy. As they are talking about Twitter and Identi.ca and such, a realization hit me. Because I know nothing about how any of these microblogs are implemented this might be naive and redundant but let me throw it out there.

Microblogs absolutely need GUIDs. Particularly if we are talking about federating together identi.ca powered services that exchange messages, it is highly important that we be able to uniquely identify them. Since every microblog post originated somewhere, I believe this GUID should almost always be the URL of the individual message on the originating service.

For example, I make a tweet on Twitter. FriendFeed picks that up and aggregates that in my feed. That FriendFeed message should have a GUID that is the original Twitter URL. If I have a ping.fm or TwitterFeed or any other reposting type service running, they should all pass in the GUID as they do the push from Twitter to other services. If I post originally to Identi.ca and it pushes to Twitter, just reverse that notion. Then in cases like where your blog automatically posts messages to Twitter, the GUID should be the permalink of your blog post. This would enable easy deduplication. For example, now FriendFeed could see that the Twitter notification of the blog post is something it has already seen from the blog itself. It can only show a single occurrence, not the avalanche of duplicate messages we now see.

The same basic principle would hold with Flickr entries that get posted to Twitter or similar services. Use the Flickr page as the GUID so that it is easy to tell that the notification from Twitter, Plurk and FriendFeed are all the same thing so whatever interface you are using should show it only once. I think the benefits of this fall out very quickly. This seems like it would be simple to add in if it doesn’t already exist, simple to add to every bit of message flow and simple to use at all the user interface ends. If the idea is that in the future these services will be distributed and federated, this sort of thing should happen sooner rather than later.

Creating a Comic Strip

Via The Comics Reporter I ran across this video showing how Dave Kellett creates the comic strip Sheldon. I’m not a comics creator, can’t really draw but I’m always fascinated with the creation process and particularly the mechanics of it. I found this completely fascinating. I remember the first time I saw original comic book art with all these mystical glyphs on the margins I was intrigued and shocked. “Oh my god, there’s white out all over it!” I thought to myself. It wasn’t this work of perfection that fell from the sky, but something that multiple hands toiled and crafted and maybe even had to back up and do again. If you have any interest in cartooning or the creative process, check out the video.

For a while there I used to listen to Dave and company’s Blank Label Comics Podcast, which seems to be about two years defunct. However, looking up links for this post I ran across Webcomics Weekly, to which I have subscribed. I’ll check out some episodes and see how I like it.

NBC Olympics Coverage is Unbelievably Bad

[Whoops, I forgot to press publish on this last night. The specifics change but the basics are always the same.]

It’s 10 PM and the NBC coverage of the Olympics just went something like 30 minutes without showing any actual competitions. We got people talking in the studio, mind-numbing preproduced bits about the Great Wall of China and lots of assorted nonsense that had nothing to do with the actual competitions taking place.

I think you could do a lot better by just having a few channels on digital cable that just aired uncut, live footage of competitions with no commentators at all. Instead, we get coverage that is time-shifted, edited to where we see only the USA and the bits that affect the outcome of the finals, lots of schmaltzy bullshit set pieces. I hate the way NBC covers this event, and they screw it up the same way every two years.

Update: I turned in tonight to find Mary Carillo doing a piece on food in China. For Dobb’s sake, you have got to be kidding me! They truncate the coverage but they have time for this? I think I am just about done even bothering with this. NBC coverage is so execrable as to make the Olympics more pain than they are worth to watch. I’ll check the medal count via the web every now and, but screw NBC. For reals, hoss.

Black Gate Fantasy Magazine

I’ve heard of Black Gate fantasy magazine but I’d never actually seen a print copy on a newstand or ever read it. They’ve recently decided to make it available not just in print but also in a high quality digital version as well. In order to promote this, they have made issue #12 available for free download. I’ve downloaded it and checked it out and it looks quite nice, although I haven’t sat down and read any of the stories yet. They also have a two page Knights of the Dinner Table comic, so that’s really cool for those into gaming or this comic.

If you are at all interested, download this and try it out for free. If it’s something you like, help a brother out and subscribe or buy some back issues. Support the genre, support those few small press print magazines still making a go of it, support people willing to let you download the magazine without suing your nuts off.

PS – the free download is for a limited time so don’t fart around. If you want to get it, time to hop on it.

Back From Vacation but Really Not

We returned from the mountains late Friday afternoon but it has been really hard to transition from vacation mode to normal life mode. I haven’t blogged or really wanted to do much of anything this weekend. We did go see The Dark Knight yesterday, a brilliant movie about which I should blog at length. I’m not sure the last time we took a whole week long vacation. It’s possible that we never have – Xmas holidays excluded because that’s the opposite of restful for us, usually involving shlepping from state to state seeing the various families. I enjoyed doing it, but I have no practice in decompressing and then recompressing. Maybe I should make a habit of this.

Vacation in the Woods


View from the Cabin
Hooker Falls
Wolfe's Angel

I’m writing this Wednesday August 7th, no idea when it will get posted. [Answer: later that day, at an Atlanta Bread Company.] Surprising myself, I haven’t even been that interested in finding wifi and checking my mail up to this point. I expected I’d be jonesing at the lack of internet but it just hasn’t mattered to me.

Our cabin is truly out in the nowheresville woods, which is kind of what we were shooting for. Just up the hill is a 3 acre pasture that we can run around in with the dog. The view on two sides is thick forest, on one is the main house and the last is an apple orchard. I’m not above picking an illicit apple or two, but they aren’t ripe yet.

Monday we got our bearings and drove around Hendersonville. We went up to Jump Off Rock, which we found interesting and a pretty view but probably not worth the pain of driving up to it. It was close to sunset when we got there, and there was one dude there who gave us as close to a serial killer vibe as we’ve ever gotten from anyone so our time there was limited.

On Tuesday we packed up and went to Dupont State Forest. We first went to Hooker Falls, which has a swimming area at the bottom of the falls. Best of all you can take your dog! We played around there for a while, then had lunch and hiked up to the other falls across the highway, Triple Falls and High Falls. We of course did all this on a day that was setting a record high temperature for the area, but under the canopy of trees it wasn’t so bad. After going up and down the trails, we were ready for some more swimming in the chilly water of Hooker Falls so we went back there. On the drive back to town we stopped at the cemetery and I snapped a picture of “Wolfe’s Angel” – the angel statue created by Thomas Wolfe’s father and the titular object of Look Homeward, Angel.

And that was that. The first full day of vacation was a success, and everyone was so tuckered that we ate and went to bed early. Just exactly the sort of thing we were hoping for.

This Blog is on Vacation

This week we will be in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I don’t believe there is any internet where we are staying. Although we might check in at various joints with free wifi, assume there is nothing happening here. I might try to upload a few photos from our big woods adventure if we can.

I haven’t drifted off or gotten busy, I have explicitly disconnected from the grid. Check you on the flipside next weekend!

EGC Clambake for August 4, 2008 – “Vacate”

Here is the direct MP3 download for the EGC clambake for August 4, 2008. It’s a short show, as I talk about going on vacation and play some Amy Ray. See you on the flipside, tanned and relaxed like Richard Nixon.

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. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

Links mentioned in this episode:

I Don’t Care About What You Are, I Care About What You Did

Jay Smooth lays it all out when he explains how to tell people that they sound racist. It works on individuals, politicians or anyone. I like the focus on the two conversations and how the “what you are” conversation is not effective. Says Jay:

We don’t need to see inside their soul to know they shouldn’t have said all that about the watermelon.

and

When a dude picks my pocket, I’m not going to chase him down so I can figure out if he feels like a thief, I’m chasing him down to get my wallet back.

Via Edge of the American West.

The Continuing Death of Twitter

So I haven’t a created an original tweet over on Twitter – one that wasn’t either housekeeping or a reply to someone else – in a month. That mode of interaction exists entirely on my Friend Feed account now. Any tweets that do happen are exhortations to get followers to move over to FriendFeed with me, or crossposted FF comments. I’m happy with that.

For a month of Steve Gillmor has been telling me that I was philosophically inconsistent for still having any Twitter in my life. He thinks I should hide it all on FriendFeed if I’m such a hardcore switcher. I’ve toyed with the idea but am not ready to pull that trigger. FriendFeed has a beautiful transition plan in place automatically so why not take advantage of that a little long. Now I heard on his show that Steve too has ceased to originate tweets, in his case choosing to use Identi.ca exclusively. If he’s getting fed up, then things are coming to a head. He’s been a die hard proponent for longer than is reasonable and a better friend to Twitter than it was to anyone else as it enters the fast part of the toilet bowl swirl. I’ve always wondered how much of this love of Twitter by Silicon Valley types even as it was sucking ass was for the service itself and how much is residual affection and loyalty for the founders? Odeo was winning awards for “best podcast startup” when all it had was a “under construction” page, so this dynamic of over-valuing their ventures is real.

Now, as if all the various unreliabilities weren’t enough, users are finding their accounts blocked for TOS violations and removed with no apparent cause. I’ve obviously been done with Twitter for a while, but this should be check and mate for everyone else. When the unreliability goes beyond website downtime, rollback of feature sets, intermittent unavailability of your account data into full fledged spurious lockouts from the account, it is time to bail. Twitter is like your drunk uncle, and now this is the 5th baseball practice in a row that he has failed to show up and give you a ride home. Are you going to trust it to be there when you need it? I don’t.

I’d suggest that everyone that still cares about the Twitter mode of interaction move to Identi.ca or FriendFeed (or both hooked together), leave a pointer in your Twitter account that you are moving over and shut out the lights. Enough is enough. I understand you once loved the service but if you continue to use it now you are entering the codependent enabling phase of the relationship. Don’t come crying to me when you get hurt. It doesn’t deserve your loyalty, so withdraw it. I’ll see you on the other side, as geniodiabolico at both FriendFeed and Identi.ca. Check and mate.