brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell


American Idol blocking fast forwards

I must admit that I'm vaguely scared of the much-rumored impending doom of TiVo. Ironically the issue which causes it to be unprofitable (lack of buddy-buddy deal with a huge cable network) also makes it most attractive: they have to get their customers the old fashioned way, by making a product people are willing to spend money on.

It appears that my vague fears could be justified. PVRblog reports that some programs broadcast on Comcast may disable fast forwarding. Boy! Way to deliver value to your customers, Comcast.

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HollerBot: Open Internet Robot

Want a simple (but not too simple) robot project, using easily available, off the shelf components? Try checking out Overview - HollerBot: Open Internet Robot. The idea is to spend under $500, and get a robot with motion, vision, gps and all sorts of other goodies. Seems like a good way to go.

Addendum: I would be tempted to use one of these in the robot instead, or perhaps this one (fanless). Why? Includes a CompactFlash slot and PCMCIA. Seems useful. I don't think having a hard disk on something with wheels is a great idea.


News Flash: Listeners Hate Commercials

Courtesy of I Love, read this remarkable study: News Flash: Listeners Hate Commercials. How surprising, that people resent being pummelled by twenty or more minutes of advertising every hour.

Whenever I listen to real radio, it isn't boredom that kills me (I'm only wounded by boredom) but just the irritation of having any kind of coherent thought broken up by worries about taxes, my deodorant, or whether my windows need replacing. Not to mention that any real news that might actually come accross the airwaves does so in the form of predigested pablum, neither appetizing nor nourishing.

It's a step in the right direction, but you guys don't just have to remove the interruptions: you have to improve the meal.


Why Try To Improve on Perfection?

Beastie on the way out?Slashdot is running an article which suggests that the FreeBSD core team is running a contest to design a new logo to supplant the ubiquitous BSD daemon that has long symbolized Berkeley Unix and its derivatives. Some people don't seem to understand it, and now the world must seemingly work to accomodate these knuckle-draggers.


How can you argue with a mascot that was designed by John Lasseter?


It’s supposed to be about the podcasts, man…

I've come to suspect, as my brother has often asserted, that I'm a hippy.

You won't find me squatting in a geodesic dome, smoking plants that I grow in my garden. I don't drive a broken down VW bus, crudely decorated with cans of spray paint. I'm not a fan of "free love": my wife gets all I have to offer.

But as I have recently come to realize while trying to put out more podcasts, I am a bit of a hippy. I'm not the slick, polished voice of the media. I'm the broken down folk singer who isn't always on key, and doesn't always sing about what's popular, but does it "for the love of the music, man."

Not everyone who is podcasting is a hippy. Some people treat it like a business. Some people treat it like a contest. Indeed, a great deal of the discussion about podcasting seems to center around how to become popular and how to make a buck. Nearly every podcasting index site seems to run some kind of ranking, and many podcasters nag their listeners incessantly to vote for them. Some even have created podcast awards.

I'm not sure whether to be amused or depressed. For all the talk about how different podcasting is, we see that podcasters are (as a whole, with exceptions, obviously) not much different than the people involved in the more traditional media they hope to replace. Ultimately, people will scramble for bits of money and bits of fame, and in doing so, they lose sight of anything truely interesting they have to say.

I'm perhaps as guilty as the rest, but I promise to try to not waste your time in some attempt to move up a couple of notches on the popularity scale. If you want to vote me up on some list, go right ahead, but I'm not going to waste your time telling you to. I'm not trying to sell my own vision, but merely to put my own vision out for consumption. It's up to you to decide whether you want to buy into it or not, and ultimately, whether you do or not doesn't affect my desire to put it out there.

I don't have the ego necessary to believe that what I do is important: let's face it, I talk mostly about geeky stuff and gadgetry. But I would like to make one point: if you are considering doing a podcast, just do it. Don't worry about not having the right equipment, the right voice, the right message, or enough technical knowledge. Don't listen to the naysayers who run down blogs and podcasts as being the noisy, useless voice of an uniformed populace, and particularly don't listen to yourself when you listen to your first attempt and begin to think those same things. I still think I sound funny when I listen to my own podcasts. It's natural.

Frankly, I'm sick of talking head media. People in suits. People who smile while discussing pain and death. Pop music stars as role models. Fashion. Bleh. I'm just not interested.

If you are sitting in front of a machine capable of showing you this posting, you probably have access to everything you need to create a podcast. I used to think of computers as boxes for computation. Later, I thought they were all about applications. Now, 90% of what I use my computer for is communication, and podcasting is just another way that I can use to reach not just an audience, but a real community.

I'm not selling anything. I just do it for the love of the podcast.

Addendum: Special thanks to Lisa Williams for helping me clarify this train of thought with her excellent Four Minutes About Podcasting.