Sunday, February 27, 2005

Two days in a row

Look out, I'm checking in two days in a row. This could be a trend ;).

I spent the day cleaning up my house and catching up on some things. I am beginning to hate weekends. For whatever reason I have been staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning on Friday & Saturday night. Now if I was with a special someone that would be one thing, but just not sleeping sucks!

Google's New Toolbar

There has been a lot of commotion about Google's new toolbar that is going to start adding links to the content of other people's page. Most people seem to think this is a good idea, although Dave Winer does not. I have to side with Dave on this one. Aside from the fact that the original creator does not appear to get any benefit, I doubt anyone will understand the difference between links placed by the creator and links placed by Google. Plus, as Dave has pointed out elsewhere, what happens when, say, a small bookseller has a bunch of links for books that are now pointing to Amazon? What about an article about anti-commercialism that converts sighted books to Amazon links?

To take it a step further, what happens if Micro$oft gets in on it? Microsoft tried this before and got reamed for it. Is Google really any different than Microsoft? Personally, I would prefer that everyone keeps their cotten picking hands off the web pages that I create.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Catchup & The Tip Jar

My new work digs. Posted by Hello

Here is a picture of my new cube at work. I finally figured out how to get the picture into Blogger. They made it way to simple by hiding the important button in plain sight. I'm still working on getting everything setup the way I want it. I have a ton of desk space, although I would trade one of the side desks for a place for people to sit given that I have many people stop by to ask questions.

I have a new toy, a Creative Nomad Zen Xtra. Staples had these little (or, in reality not so little) MP3 player for $200 for a 40 gig unit. I am in the process of ripping all my music. I am still trying to learn how to use it and load it with my music. So far I like it. A little heavier and larger than an iPod, but for me it works pretty good.

The Tip Jar
Or should people charge for entertainment?

I have been reading/listening to a lot complaints against the RIAA, MPAA, TV, Clear Channel, and other corporate media outlets, and with good reason. Both the RIAA & MPAA are alienating customers by sueing them (not without cause, but still bad PR) and most TV sucks out loud. Clear Channel has pretty much sucked the individuality out of radio. DISCLOSURE: I do listen to a Clear Channel station first thing in the morning because they have a weather forecast at 5:30 in the morning, no other station has it. TV is even competing against itself with DVDs of TV shows.

Now I want you to take a minute and add up how much you spend on cable/satelite, satelite radio, TiVo, NetFlix, movie rentals, streamed music, purchased music, etc each month. Make sure you have someone around to give you CPR after you see the number.

Now instead of whining about how current entertainment options suck, could we maybe put our money where our mouth is and support some of the sources of independent entertainment on the internet? I mean after all the internet was supposed to be the great equalizer where the Davids could compete equally with the Goliaths. The problem is that the Davids still need to eat, have a roof over their head, and more importantly they need bandwith. Now a lot of people out there do their blogs or podcasts as a creative process. Although it would be nice to be compensated for it, they have a drive to create and this allows them the chance to get their creations out to the world. Either they do not fit the coperate idea of entertainment (such as Coverville) or they have too narrow a focus to be profitable in mass media, such as User Friendly.

Personally I feel that creative people should be compensated for their work. And I also agree it would be nice to have something other than what is programmed for the lowest common denominator. The problem becomes how to handle this. Here are some ideas I have seen around the net:

1) PBS style fund raisers. User friendly is the only place I have seen this used. Two to four (I can never remember how often) times a year he run a membership drive much like what PBS does, including stuff for various levels of membership. Although Illiad still runs ads on the website, membership earns you no ads, although he is very picky about the ads he allows in the website.

2) Selling useless crap. I actually am using the term from the .Net Rocks podcast, but other sites do the same thing (including User Friendly), and many from the same site. A nice idea, but probably not that profitable for the producers of the content. This is definately is not the only way to try and cover your bandwidth. Note that many people the "useless crap" maybe copies of their latest CDs. Many musicians dream of breaking even on their CD and actually making money is not usually even considered.

3) Ads. A lot of people have gotten on Dawn & Drew and other podcasters for having ads on their shows. Frankly Dawn & Drew's ad is very out of they way and is even in a style keeping with the show. .Net Rocks ads are in the middle of the show, much like regular broadcasting. At least the ads are more in line with the audience of the show. Google ad sense program has been up and running for awhile and many people don't seem to mind that. Why don't people whine about that as much as they whine about ads on podcasts?

4) Amazon associates program. I first heard the name of this program through Adam Curry, although I had seen it on various sites in the past without realizing exactly what it was. Clicking through gets the originating site a kick back from your purchase. No one is going to get rich on this, but face it if you provide a link from your site to Amazon for a book, movie, or (in Adam's case) coffee maker you talk about how many people would click through and buy the product? Every little bit counts in mybook.

5) The old tip jar. Coverville is probably the place I hear about this the most, although Dawn & Drew have one as well. Both, I think, use Paypal. Isaac Bonewits also uses a the Amazon Honor System, which is interesting and, hopefully, gets more money back to the authors than Paypal. Not a bad idea, but the problem is how many of us actually visit sites anymore? Serious. With aggregators we rarely know what is going on the main site. Besides, do you really want to go to even 10 sites onces a month or so to drop in a tip? (BTW I highly recommend Mr. Bonewits' articles on The Religous Reich and Adopt an Elder. The first is just interesting (and worth a few bucks in my opinion) and the later is very much like the problem in the blogsphere/podcast world. The Religious Reich was my introduction to Mr. Bonewits.)

6) Subscriptions. Outside of porn sites and more traditional media sites I have not heard of anyone getting a subscription to work. Subscriptions would solve the problem of having to visit sites to use the tip jar, but without a central place to manage your subscriptions it will get out of hand. What we need is some what to manage our subscriptions through a central server. Paypal is a thought, but do we really want Paypal becoming like Microsoft in computing, or Apple in the music download arena? Also based upon some of what I have heard sometimes getting subscriptions dropped is a major pain, requiring the sacriface of barnyard animals. Any subscription site/program would have to be able to EASILY handle the transfer of payments (Paypal) and be able to drop/add sites seamlessly and with no dead animals.

7) Creative Commons. Not so much a method of payment, but an idea that I really like. In a way Creative Commons allows artists of all types to release something under the same idea of shareware for computer software. This allows a try before you buy approach. Granted many music stores/sites provide short clips, but does a well choosen 30 second clip really give you an idea of what the song sounds like? There are various liscenses that a person can release a work of art under that maintains rights of varying degrees. In the wild digital world this maybe the future of copyright.

Truth is most sites are going to use some combination of the above. We as consumers though need to both keep our pie holes shut about the commercialism of sites (unless they start going overboard, obviously) and try to help out. We need to realize that most people have at least SOME cost involved in getting this content to you. Some people don't mind these costs sucking away at their money, but wouldn't it be nice if they could at least break even? As every PBS pledge drive I have heard of says - "What is entertainment like this worth to you?"

What about the possibility of big corporations getting in on the act? Dawn & Drew are probably some of the most popular podcasters out there today. Recently Drew had mentioned they had something like 60,000 downloads. Even at a $1 a pop we are not talking huge sums of money for business (although I know Dawn & Drew would probably be doing cartwheels if they saw 10% of that, possibly even 1%). Even if we could throw, as a community, $10 or $20 a month to a show/blog that the creator would be able to keep things running.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Catch up by the sicko

It has been 10 days since my last post. Many things have happend since last I wrote.

Fun in the hospital
Just before Valentine's day I got some unusual chest pains and went to the emergency room. Given some palpitations 6 months ago and "something unusual" in my EKG they decided to keep me for observation and further tests. So I got to sit around for 2 days, caffine free (YIKES!!!), with a heart monitor hook up and taking a stress test. Fortunately everything is fine, and given where the pains where the doctor things it was a muscle pull/strain.

Now let me say that even though I was in the hospital the experience was not bad. The nurses were nice, mostly I think because I was a younger patient in the cardiac care unit (CCU) and I was not really creating any problems. My only complaint was the lack of something to do since I felt fine. Thank God for TNT, although my TV got shut off at 12:30 on Tuesday and as I was supposed to be discharged I was not willing to pay for an hour or two of TV. I wish I would have had another book, especially since for the 2 day stress test I had to wait 45 to 60 minutes from getting an injection of radioactive dye and having the picture part of the test.

The big office move
Now because of my hospital stay, I missed the worst part of the move, however I do have to say I am liking the new building. I will post some pictures later today after I get them off my camera. All of my stuff showed up in my cube, the phone worked, I have a ton of drawer space (although not laid out as I would like), and a bookshelf. I wish I could have gotten a picture of my last work area, particularly the amazing leaning bookshelf.

There are a few things that I do like. There is a cafeteria in the building. Normally I pack a lunch and work through lunch. Granted I mostly answer email and catch up on some reading, but that way I can get out a little earlier from work. Now I can run down and pick up something and run back to my desk. We now have a pop machine that does $.25 cans. The termperature seems to be better regulated. The ceiling tiles are all one color (although someone was going to bring over some of the ones from the old place for me). There is plenty of parking (for now). There are mulitple types of tea (I don't drink coffee) and even hot cocoa.

Not that, even 2 days after the big move, things are smooth sailing. The men's room just got soap today. The bottled water that we had in the last place is not going to start until next week sometime. Many people had their business cards misprinted. The under shelf lights have the switch clear in the back and in the far corner. Good thing we have lots of indirect lighting, plus I am right across an aisle from the windows.

On the upside I have business cards for the first time in almost 11 years at this company.

I am still adjusting to cube living, having spent the last 10 or so years sharing an office. Plus the ergonomics are very different and I am coming home with stiff shoulders. I mostly have my cube setup (a lot more than in the picture I have), although I am thinking of moving my monitor so I can get it to sit a little bit higher.

I hate my car, I hate my car
I believe I mentioned my alternator fell apart, literally. Right after than I also got a flat tire that had to be fixed. On Wednesday, my first day back from work, after my walking at the Nat, my car would not start. A tow and $65 later I now have my battery reattached to the electrical system. I still need to get something fixed in the steering, but it is a slow leak that I can work around for a bit.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Running in jello

Since last I posted it feels like I am running in Jello. I seem to making progress, but it is hard work and slippery. Last night I got to have another tire replaced. Actually fixed since I had picked up a nail. Fortunately it did not cost me anything. I still need to get a four-way or new tire iron for my car.

I still got to spend about 1.5 hours over at a mall. I hate malls. I actually hate shopping, but I have to do it, but I find the mall even more useless. This mall, which is probably the best in the area (we have 3 big malls), is mostly clothing stores. Women's clothing at that. Even the men's clothing does not come in my size. I probably should have gone looking for a pair of nicer shoes. My one pair of "dress" shoes are very beat up on the inside although they do look ok on the outside. I should be wearing something nicer than my beat up walking shoes to work.

I also need to take Carson's advice and clean out my closet of things I have not worn in over a year. Actually this time of year I like to start my spring cleaning anyways, and this year I really need it. Two years ago when I moved into this house I cleaned out a bunch of the stuff from my mom & brother, and even some stuff still left over from my grandparents. I have a bunch of stuff that, frankly, I have not been using or even touched in two years. That means I probably do not really need that stuff. I was just cleaning out a bin of stuff that has been on top of the fridge since it was bought. I found a water bill from 1996. MUST clean the house.

Miles walked: 48. I am currently 30 miles behind my goal of 700 miles for the year :(.
Medicine Card draw: Otter

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Cars, gotta love 'em

My car decided it was time for a new alternator last on Tuesday. It was fun waiting almost 2 hours for the tow truck. I got to drive my brother's truck which is always an adventure.

Adventures in moving

At work we are moving offices. It is all of about half a mile away. It may take me a little longer to get to work, even though I will be getting off 1 exit sooner. Granted we are talking all of 2 or 3 minutes, but still longer.

The move is, overall, a good thing - bigger office, nicer place, yada yada. I have to move back to a cube, which kinda sucks but overall is not a bad thing. The only downside to that is I usually have a lot of people over to my desk answering questions so I am sure the people around me will be a bit pissed off.

The real hassle is not the move itself, but what is going on next week. Over the course of the week we start loosing things because of the move, like the fridges for certain. I would imagine if we run out of anything like coffee or tea we are probably not going to get restocked. In theory all our personal stuff, like mugs, are to be gone before Friday, but I nant to keep my mug as long as possible. It is bad enough that I sometimes use a paper towel when cleaning out my mug, I will not use styrofoam cups for 3 days. All minor crap, minor crap can add up to a pain in the ass.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Silly tests

I don't remember where I got this from originally, but I am always up for silly tests.

You Are a Prophet Soul

You are a gentle soul, with good intentions toward everyone.
Selfless and kind, you have great faith in people.
Sometimes this faith can lead to disappoinment in the long run.
No matter what, you deal with everything in a calm and balanced way.

You are a good interpreter, very sensitive, intuitive, caring, and gentle.
Concerned about the world, you are good at predicting people's feelings.
A seeker of wisdom, you are a life long learner looking for purpose and meaning.
You are a great thinker and communicator, but not necessarily a doer.

Souls you are most compatible with: Bright Star Soul and Dreaming Soul