Scripting News for 6/13/2006

Scott Karp: “I say a little prayer for Om.” 

Now that Dvorak is on the record as a self-declared troll, maybe we should start a directory of “troll spammers,” people who, if I succumb to the temptation to link to them, my CMS would automatically remove the link for. BTW, the person laughing on the Dvorak video is Scoble, not me. I was disgusted by the guy. (Dvorak, not Scoble.) I take this stuff seriously. People who lie and call it journalism are scum. That they win awards for this crap something for the award-givers to deal with.  

I had my phone talk this morning with Lisa Williams, who will lead the Emotional Life discussion on Friday at BloggerCon IV. It’ll be the third instance, the first was led by John Perry Barlow, the second by Julie Leung. The idea is simple, blogs aren’t just about tech or politics or business, sometimes they’re about people, and sometimes they play a big role in helping us get through difficult times. Sometimes it’s real simple, here are the lives we lead and how they relate to others. Sometimes the truth is so close to the surface, there can be no masks, who we are comes out through our online persona. This is the riskiest topic we tackle, it’s the double-diamond slope of BloggerCon, but it’s also potentially the most rewarding.  

Technology Review: “Until the limited beta launch of Google Spreadsheets on June 6, technology bloggers and other early adopters greeted each new Google service with enthusiasm — seeming to relish the possibility that Google was contemplating a serious move against Microsoft Office.” 

WSJ profile of Jeff Pulver.  

Another great video blog post from VloggerCon. 

SanDisk, a week after 

I’ve been using the SanDisk MP3 player for about a week, and think I have discovered the way to use the device. Every day, before my walk, I erase all the content and add the podcasts and songs I want to listen to on the walk. It’s the only way to find the stuff I’m looking for. I’m not saying there isn’t a sensible way to locate stuff on the SanDisk while walking, but I haven’t discovered it yet. It seems to have all the options that an iPod has, but for some reason much of the content I’m looking for doesn’t show up in the menus? It takes time to figure these things out, but time isn’t one of the things I want to spend on these devices. I really want it to “just work.”

I tried recording a podcast with the player at Vloggercon but there were a couple of problems: 1. It produces a WAV file as output. I’m sure I could figure out how to convert it to an MP3, but I’m not likely to do that because… 2. The recorder distorts the speakers voice, it comes out more high pitched. You can barely recognize my voice. You can make out the words, but it doesn’t sound like me. Same with other men with deep voices who I interviewed. Oy.

It’s nice to have an FM radio. Not much more to say there.

And the nicest thing is that it interfaces as a disk drive, so to get stuff on the player you just copy files. That’s the only way to go. It has DRM support, if you insist on using one of the fascist services, but you can ignore it. Whew.

On the downside, not sure what they use for a playlist format. I wish there were an XML-based standard. I also wish it ran Windows or Mac software so I could copy my favorite scripting environment over there to manage the user interface. That would be something. I’m sure it won’t be long before someone figures that out, but then again, I doubt Microsoft would license Windows cheaply enough, and Apple has its roadmap and its working, and it doesn’t include players that run software.

As Ze Frank says: “Asshole.” :-)

More. The player is beautiful to look at, and it has a nice weight, it feels good in your hand. But the buttons are too small for a guy with big Polish potato farmer fingers (like me) and there are frustratingly stupid design decisions, like putting the lock switch so close to the headphone jack that you have to use a nail to slide it over. Hard to describe in words, but unless your fingers are shaped like the tip of a pen, you’re going to feel awkward locking the unit.

Also, the wheel should be used to scroll through individual songs or podcasts. What a missed opportunity. Instead, you have to hold down the ultra tiny fast forward button for what seems an eternity. Don’t these guys look at the competition? Or do patents prevent them from using these ideas? Either way, the user loses.

Postscript #1: There’s a firmware update for the Sandisk, but it requires a Windows machine to install it.

Postscript #2: Phil Miseldine says that we should blame capitalism for the patent mess, because without patents, companies wouldn’t invest in “innovation and research.” I’m familiar with that argument, of course, and know something about innovation and research, and I promise you there are plenty of reasons for companies to innovate and do research, without patents. And there isn’t a lot of money spent to research the kind of stuff that they’re issuing patents for these days. How much do you think Apple spent to figure out that the scroll wheel should navigate through individual songs and podcasts? For that matter, how much did Apple spend on podcasting itself? (Hint, they got it for free, no patents.)

Video at VloggerCon 

Wouldn’t it be nice to have awards for the best video shot at VloggerCon?

I got an interesting interview with PC pundit John Dvorak, explaining how he lies, knowingly and repeatedly, in his articles about Macs, and therefore has no integrity as a supposed award-winning journalist.

This video was shot at the opening party for VloggerCon.

Postscript: Schlomo, one of the organizers of VloggerCon, apparently, thinks awards are a dumb idea.

Evening no cigarette notes 

Steve Gillmor: “Life is good.”

Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch was one year old yesterday. That’s quite a run. I knew it was a hit, the first day I saw it, and I’m proud to say that was pretty early. Mike has a rare talent, and enormous energy. He deserves much success, and I’m sure he’s on his way to achieving it.

And Om Malik is taking a chance on himself. He’s a talented man with a big heart, and I’m sure he’ll do well too.

Later this week I’m off on a quick trip to NYC on business and to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad. He had another close call in April, but once again the Miracle Man pulled through. Three times we thought that was it, but each time he comes through, and each time he’s a happier dude, and each time I’m more grateful we got to share these years.

For me, tomorrow is a big milestone, which I choose to remember as the four year anniversary of no more smoking for Dave. My record is still perfect, I haven’t smoked since June 14, 2002. Not one puff.

I am still an addict, and once in a while, very rarely, and for a very short period of time I think it might be nice to have a smoke. But more often I curse the smoker who makes me breathe his or her poison.

On Sunday I found myself walking behind a mother, smoking with her two pre-school-age children. I didn’t say anything, because in this country in 2006, it’s not allowed. But there ought to be a law.

Hey, but Steve Gillmor said it all. It’s good to be alive! Nothing like almost losing it make you appreciate what you got.

10 responses to this post.

  1. Dave, you partially inspired me to quit cigarettes. It’s only been 3 months, but I feel so much better about my health and myself already. Cigs are a curse on the world.

    Reply

  2. As an aside, whilst the user can lose out from a patent (like the problems with the Sandisk), if a company couldn’t protect the fruits of their innovation and research, they just wouldn’t sink the money in and the innovation would never happen, making the user the loser.

    Blame capitalism ;)

    Reply

  3. Posted by Goose on June 13, 2006 at 7:46 am

    Sandisk.

    I had an absolute nightmare with their tech support. The online and telephone help is nothing more than an on-line user-guide. They give you nothing but workarounds, failing to accept that they have design faults.

    I blogged about it (see link to previous blog entry too):

    http://goosiebn.livejournal.com/193494.html

    I found out eventually, that the guys who actually work at the firmware are not connected to, and have no communication with, the tech support guys. When a call is closed it goes into a void, with tags attached. The firmware/ fixing guys address problems (at their leisure I assume) based on the number of people that have logged calls about particular problems. I have no idea if this is to generate new ideas for future products, or to address issues with faulty products. I’m assumng it’s the latter- the original unit I bought they replaced with a newer model because there was an outstanding issue with it (not rectified by a firmware upgrade). But the newer model also had issues…

    Goose

    Reply

  4. Dave,

    In case you want updated firmware for the Sandisk, you can grab it here…

    http://www.sandisk.com/Retail/Default.aspx?CatID=1368

    Reply

  5. First of all, thanks for coming out to Vloggercon; I hope you got something out of it other than Scoble leaving Microsoft.

    What would have been so interesting in having an award for best video? Whats that point? Should we even go so far as having our own little Oscar ceremony replete with a red carpet? Should we do it at the Opera House and you can sit in the balcony like Statler and Waldorf? Sounds oddly entertaining and ultimately horrible. An antithesis of what Jay and I wanted to create.

    Just like your comment re: vloggercon as an unconference. We were throughly uninterested in that as a primary model for various reasons… How about Blog awards at your unconference next week? How about we take Ryanne’s session at Bloggercon and have it an awards ceremony for Vloggercon? Wouldn’t that be fun?

    Reply

  6. Schlomo, there won’t be any awards ceremonies at BloggerCon, btw, nor would I have wanted them at VloggerCon. I just heard it said that there were no good videos taken at the conference, and I wanted to say I disagreed.

    Also, I’m surprised to hear that VC wasn’t supposed to have been an unconference. Steve Garfield told me (as did Ryanne, I think) that it was influenced by BC. If it wasn’t meant to be an unconference, well, that’s a surprise.

    Have a nice day. :-)

    Reply

  7. Re: Sandisk

    What you need isn’t an MP3 player, you need a PDA. I realize that sounds kind of trite given that what you want to do is listen to MP3′s, but with something like a Palm or a PocketPC, you can control the interface. You can load scripting environemnts — I’ve got LispScheme and Lua on my Zire 72 if I ever wanted to program on the go. You can record pretty good audio and video — unfortunately, the audio is WAV, so that’s not much better. You can also pop in a 1 or 2GB SD card and load that up with MP3′s and videos.

    I agree that MP3 players really, truly need to embrace what scripters can offer them, but until then the media players that come on PDA’s are “just good enough” for a platform that’s much, much more developer friendly.

    Reply

  8. Posted by heavyboots on June 13, 2006 at 10:08 am

    You need Audacity. Check sourceforge.net or versiontracker.com for a download link.

    “A fast multi-track audio editor and recorder for Linux, BSD, Mac OS, and Windows. Supports WAV, AIFF, Ogg, and MP3 formats. Features include envelope editing, mixing, built-in effects and plug-ins, all with unlimited undo.”

    One of the supported effects is pitch change, IIRC.

    Reply

  9. Dave,

    Talking about ourselves online is definitley counter-culture. I find writing about the lessons I learned in my life online to be a prime example of freedom at its best.

    The Emotional Life discussion on Friday at BloggerCon IV sounds like a good place to be. I won’t be there but hopefully plenty of people share of themselves ands not just sit back in silence.

    Don

    Reply

  10. Dave — Looks like that last bastion of journalistic integrity has done a comparison of John C. Dvorak and Ann Coulter: http://borsch.typepad.com/ctd/2006/06/john_c_dvorak_a.html

    Reply

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