Archive for July, 2005

OPML Editor Released

July 26, 2005

I downloaded and installed Dave Winer’s OPML application last night. It’s going to take a bit of getting used to, and to be honest I likely won’t use it much for blogging (although that might change), but I am interested in the outliner part of it. Anyhoo, I was able to quickly create a blog with it which you can see here.

It appears that it will be difficult for blogging with it from two different locations (someone correct me if I’m wrong) which I do quite often. I like Blogger because it’s no fuss and I can access it from home or work easily. I think Dave’s app depends on having the www directory for syncronization. Again, please someone tell me if I’m wrong here.

No time really to fiddle with it as of yet, but it’s something else to put on the list of things to experiment with (along with python, xml,, feedster etc.. etc..)

He Likes It…I’m Quietly Proud

July 24, 2005

In typically Canadian fashion, I was immediately blushing at Dave Winer’s comments about Canadian cities and Ottawa (I went to University for 7 years in our nation’s capital). Something about a Yank of any prominence commenting on something Canadian seems to garner attention from a lot of us up here. It’s just how most (I dare not say ‘all’) of us are..kind of sad I guess. I wouldn’t call it a severe inferiority complex, but more a nation in need of some back-patting once in a while to ensure that we’re on the right track as a country.

As you might expect, I took Dave’s comments with a little more internal pride ( Canadians would never dare show it to anyone else…) than usual. Normally we hear quotes from celebrities at the Toronto Film Festival. Things like ‘Geez the streets are really clean up here..’ by people like Topher Grace or Sandra Bullock. Or we’re spoon-fed examples of American ignorance towards Canada via shows like Talking to Americans to somehow boost our own egos.

It is relatively rare that I get candid, honest, intelligent and unfiltered opinions of our country from a visitor that has built respect with me. I don’t agree with everything he does or says, but I respect him. I value his opinion. I think it’s much easier to build that respect with blogging than with conventional mass media like TV, Film or radio.

Finding an Outlet

July 23, 2005

Initially I was going to leave a comment on Kent Newsome’s post “More on Getting Heard“. However, one particular paragraph demanded a proper post. He writes,

So while I obviously enjoy writing, I want this site to be more than an online journal or a living Christmas letter for my extended family. I want it to be my side of a discussion on whatever topics come up. If my extended family was more interested in the internet as a way to stay connected, I could community build around that. If our friends had web sites (fat chance, it took all I had just to get them to sign up on flickr), I could build around that. I don’t have that luxury, so I look to build connections with other people who write about the things I’m interested in.

This mirrors my own situation (and likely lots of other bloggers) to a spooky degree. For this reason I started a separate, more family-oriented blog some time after this one. I’ve had the same issue of not being surrounded by any like-minded (in a tech-interest way) people in my social circle. I needed somewhere to communicate my own varied interests. I laughed out loud at the part about flickr. As a matter of fact, I was most proud to see my brother-in-law start his own blog shortly thereafter. Mine has so far been a mostly family event oriented blog, but – and hopefully this doesn’t sound too snarky – I hope it will be a source of education and not just a family newsletter. I am trying to be careful not to scare them away. Lure them in with family photos and expose them to some interesting things in the process hopefully. Sounds kind of deceitful when put like that, but accurate I suppose.

Of course I’m not expecting many (or in fact any) of them to start blogging, but it would be nice to expose them to things other than e-mail, and Amazon. Heck, I even coached my brother-in-law via email on how to edit the HTML in his blogger template to modify his link list and add a flickr zeitgeist. Amazingly, he didn’t fall asleep reading the email, was successful at it, and found it quite easy!

With respect to Randy’s A-List post that started all of this discussion and Brad Kellett’s thoughts on the subject , it’s interesting that my family-oriented blog will likely never see even 10 regular readers, but it may become just as important to me as this one.

Problems with Pubsub Search Feeds in Bloglines?

July 22, 2005

I’ve been fiddling with Pubsub searches and created a few search feeds there. When I add a search feed to Bloglines it shows the entry but the feed hardly ever updates. The one I’ve still got in there has updated twice in two weeks even though it’s updating much more frequently when I check at the pubsub site. I found a blog post citing a similar problem. Anybody have any idea what the problem is? Anybody doing this same thing without any problems?

A-List Linking – The RSS Blog

July 21, 2005

Randy Charles Morin writes about A-list linking. Reading the comments there, it seems as if ‘writing interesting stuff’ is the key. Although I hasten to add that patience is another one. In my case I write because I enjoy it. Sure it’s doubly wonderful if more people read it, but I am satisfied if even one person does. It’s the writing that’s satisifying to me not so much who’s reading. That may change, but my current career doesn’t entail a lot of creativity (with respect to writing anyway) so this is an outlet for me. For others of course that may not be true. If you’re trying to make money with your blog (or maybe because of it..right Doc?) incoming links are crucial, and the seemingly incestuous A-list linking behaviour might be a right piss-off.

In any case, Randy writes that he’ll return the favour if he’s linked to, well for someone like me down here at the first step of the ladder, why would I pass it up.

Digital rights? Hey have none…

July 21, 2005

Dave Winer’s post about the EFF’s love-in with bloggers cites this podcast. For some strange reason I missed this one when it first came out. I listened to it on the way in to work this morning and the first thing that came to mind about Cory Doctorow’s demeanour was – what a rude immature prick! A discussion involves listening and consideration , not just foisting your views on top of everybody else. Being an influential member of the technology community and a published and celebrated author makes it even more astonishing how inconsiderate he was to Robert Scoble. Just totally unaccepting that someone else might have a point worth considering.

A few points for you to consider Cory (which you likely won’t anyway):

1. I know you can’t stand the term ‘content producer’ (you mentioned that fact ad nauseum during the podcast). Whether you call them ‘people who write stuff’ or ‘content producers’, I think people are smart enough to know you mean the same thing. ‘Content producer’ is just easier to say and to write than the other term. Are you trying to say that Joe Public can’t understand the term? If so, you are treating the public like a bunch of idiots. They are smarter than you think. Besides, do we now have to devise names like ‘people who record audio things’ or ‘people who video record things’. C’mon, they’re all producing or providing content. Get over it.

2. The way I see it, these days more and more, the users ARE the ‘people who write stuff’. They are becoming one in the same. Who are you protecting them from? You might be surprised to find that once people find the power in personal publishing (those people being users AND ..ick..content producers), they will in fact care about what they write. So much in fact that they will not want things added to that content nor will they want it changed.

3. Take my content, do something with it by all means. But do it somewhere else, use it to enhance your own, excerpt it, quote it, link to it, but don’t change the meaning of what I wrote in my space. If I wanted a link to Amazon I’d have put one there. If I didn’t then people can choose by themselves where they want to find the information. If you’re pissed that I don’t link ISBN numbers to a bookstore then too fucking bad. Go somewhere else.

4. It is ridiculous in this industry NOT to consider what might happen in the future. You are having a conversation about technology that is changing day by day. To squelch criticism by saying ‘well they haven’t done anything evil so we can’t criticize them’ is a bunch of hooey. Let them prove everybody wrong by doing the right thing, but don’t take away my absolute right to complain or worry.

5. Although you’re high up the chain, you’d better be careful, because from way down here you really sounded like a boorish, loudmouthed brat. And I wasn’t the only one listening… far from it.

Structured Procrastination

July 17, 2005

Just came across an article while procrastinating this morning: Structured Procrastination. The 10 year old article is by Stanford Professor John Perry. What wonderful karma. It’s about how most procrastinators actually do things to avoid doing other things and how to make that work for you. It’s not that I sit here and do nothing instead of what needs to be done. I do other, seemingly more appealing things. Perry’s article talks about how to choose those ‘other’ things that will make me more effective…(like reading an article about how to do it – Okay…I am now officially dizzy..). Anyways, it’s a simple idea, but one I might actually be able to put to good use. Blogging about it of course is my way of justifying to myself the 10 minutes of typing spent on it instead of actually getting on with something. I am coming to the conclusion that putting more stuff on my plate is an effective way of avoiding the things that are already on my plate. What a vicious circle.

Sick of Innovation?

July 13, 2005

Fresh on the heels of the Steve Ballmer interview on Channel 9 and the resulting flurry of opinion, check out Comic:The Innovidiot for an interesting rant on whether all this hubbub about innovation is missing the point when it comes to software development.

Inkjet Print Life

July 12, 2005

During the July 12, 2005 Geek News Central podcast Todd Cochrane spoke about the concern regarding inkjet print longevity as noted in a recent Engadget post. There is no mention of it in the Engadget article, but whether your printer uses dye-based or pigment-based ink makes a huge difference in print longevity. Two very useful links if you want to know more are at Wilheim research. They have free articles as well as a free complete book on photo longevity. Look here and here for more information.

I’m Tired Of Squinting at the Back of Your Camera

July 5, 2005

Thank you to Scoble for his link. Being an avid amateur photographer (I am avid about a lot of things and undoubtedly amateur at all of them) it has frustrated me to no end to see family members get the latest whiz-bang digital cameras and start snapping images and do absolutely nothing with them. No, showing me the pics on the back of the camera does NOT count.

I have been politely pushing PhotoStory on these people (all of them happen to be Windows users). Not that I want to see endless slideshows of my dad’s photos, but it’s one way to do SOMETHING with them. It’s rare that anyone I know actually gets any printed (or prints any themselves).Do everyone a favour and download the program (it’s free, here are the system requirements). I found it extremely easy to use. It can’t burn to DVD but it can create high quality wmv files which can then be burnt to DVD by the software that undoubtedly came with your DVD burner. And if you don’t have a DVD burner, then burn it to VCD. It can also create lower resolution video files more appropriate for web or email transfer.

Of course PhotoStory is not the only program that will do this sort of thing, but it’s free and does a good job in my opinion. There are lots of other choices. If your a Mac user you’ve already probably got iPhoto which I am assuming does a fine job as well. (I don’t own a Mac but I do appreciate them).

One thing that I’d like to point out is that the right choice of music alongside your pictures can be a very very powerful thing. Don’t underestimate it until you’ve tried it. This past Mother’s Day I created a slide show for my wife kind of chronicling my daughter’s first three years. I had seen those pictures dozens of times before, but they became very emotionally powerful when set to music.

As an aside, after all this rant, I have to admit that I own a 3year old HP 1.3MP camera but never use it. I use a 35mm SLR film camera and scan the photos myself. When digital SLRs get down in my price range I may get one. The upshot is that I don’t have a myriad of photos I don’t like, clogging up my hard drive, but rather I scan only the ones I do like. And I’ve got negatives and prints with arguable greater longevity than most CDs (if that’s how you back up your images) do back up all those digital photos don’t you… 😉