Friday, June 29, 2007

Who knows Vancouver, British Columbia?

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Originally uploaded by evo_terra

I'm headed to Vancover the from July 9th - July 13th. This will be our third summer in this fair city, as my son plays hockey and takes a week-long intensive goalie clinic each year. So while he's busting his hump on the ice from 8 - 5 every day, my Lovely Wife and I have our days free to explore the city.

Here's where you can help.

I'm looking for suggestions of places to go and things to do while we are in town. We usually just traipse around Chinatown, drive up to the mountains and generally prowl. While that's fun and all, I'd like this year to be a bit more planned.

I've created a new Google Calendar just for the trip. If you know the area and have a suggestion of where we go, please send me an email (my first name at the domain) and I'll make you an editor of the calendar. I'd allow just anyone to add stuff, but it doesn't look like Google Calendar will let me do that.

I'm looking for a full agenda here, people. Tell me where the cool place to have lunch is, and book it on a day. Is there a cool festival we need to attend? Let's get it on the calendar. We're pretty adventurous people, so let's see what you crazy Canadians can come up with.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Fountain of Ideas™ needs your help

Five O'Clock Shadow 46.jpg

Originally uploaded by evo_terra

I've got an idea I've been noodling with for a while. Since I jumped on the Pownce bandwagon today, it's on my mind more than ever. And in order to make this new idea a reality, I need some help. Who wants in?

I think this requires two people: a developer and a designer. First, the developer. The right person for this project should be familiar working with the APIs to various Web 2.0 sites and applications. Not just retrieving and displaying data, but also sending calls to the various web services. We'll be doing work on our own servers, and I'd like to stay as open source as possible. LAMP, Rails... don't really care. Scalability is a big deal on this project, so the final product will need to smoke.

Honestly, there's a lot less work for a designer (I think). Though we may decide to add some personalization stuff. That may keep someone busy. If push comes to shove, we borrow someone's time. Heavy CSS, with a clean and clutter-free design is what I'm looking for. You should be able to quickly crank out layouts (without a lot of input from me) that are not only cool, but easy to implement and modify.

As is my normal routine, I see this project as a free service. It could be sponsored with ads, I suppose. But making money off of this isn't my primary objective. The idea is to build a tool that I think the social media/networking community is really in need of, and then see where that takes us.

And in the interest of full disclosure: I'll put up the front money for this, which I honestly don't think will be that much. I'm looking for someone(s) who can take this idea, morph it into something workable and then work with me to bring it to reality.

If you are interested (and yeah, I'm serious about this), email me at my first name at the domain. I'd like to get started by the end of July and have a working prototype up quickly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When small companies act big

Five O'Clock Shadow 45

Originally uploaded by evo_terra

Since when was it out of fashion to be small? I, for one, enjoy the niche side of life and find it much more liberating to have, you know, actual conversations with clients and customers, rather than treating them like a number. Granted, I don't expect this sort of treatment from a company like General Motors.

But small companies should not look at this impersonal service as the hallmark of being large. Rather, it's an unfortunate side effect of being too large to personally get to know and manage your clients and/or prospects. Trust me, if they could do it, GM and other large organizations would kill or die to have a quality one-to-one relationship. But because it's so cost prohibitive for them, they have to fake it.

Some small companies, when trying to portray themselves as a large company, adopt this same posture. It's unfortunate, and just makes them look desperate for attention. Plus, it pisses me off and changes the way I think about the organization.

So stop with the chest puffing and give some personal touch. Especially in such a small market as podcasting, OK? You know who you are.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Less for Geeks to Fu over

Though we've created our own term for it, podfading isn't the exclusive property of podcasters. Books go unwritten, albums remain unfinished, construction projects abruptly end and companies close down divisions. "The End" is as natural as change, birth and renewal. The truth that all good things come to an end has yet to be proven wrong.

When Mur's announcement hit today, I can't say that I was surprised. She started out with a single and occasional show, met some jerk who demanded more from her (guilty) and proceeded to take on new projects with an abandon reserved for the clinically insane. I'm comfortable saying these things because I've walked a megabyte in her shoes.

Priorities change. Needs are fulfilled in other ways. Itches have innovative ways of getting scratched. Often times, this causes some things to come to a natural end. You may not be OK with that. And that's OK, too. We produce. You listen. Either party may cancel the contract at anytime. The world goes on.

I'll miss Geek Fu Action Grip, but I know there are plenty of places where I can still hear (and watch) Mur in action:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Back of Spoiler T-shirt

Back of Spoiler T-shirt.JPG

Originally uploaded by BobReturns

You know, I have no real expectations on the sorts of things I'll see on Flickr. Having said that, I certainly didn't expect to see this image in my reader tonight.

Dude, seriously. If there's a big picture of me on the front of this shirt, I'm gonna be a little creeped out. Don't get me wrong, I'll be flattered as hell... but also kinda sorta creeped out.

Thanks, Bob, for thinking of me.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Five thing about me

Five O'Clock Shadow 42

Originally uploaded by evo_terra

Mark Forman tagged me on this meme. It's my first tagging, so be gentle. Five things about the "real" me, huh? Depends on your definition of real, I suppose. Let's go for the Oprah moments, shall we?

  1. I was born and raised in Oklahoma. No, that's not very earth shattering. Let me get warmed up. I left the state when I was 20 years old. No, I have no plans on returning other than to visit family and friends. It's a great big beautiful world out there.
  2. I was married at 20 years old. No, not because we had to but because we wanted to. I look back now and see how foolish that was. Do you have any idea how great the odds were that Sheila and I beat? That's why I don't play the lottery. Not about to push my luck.
  3. I broke my left arm at 3 years old jumping off of a recliner. That's a little over two feet. Tip: Don't lock your arms when you land. Since then I've broken my right wrist (skateboarding downhill = bad idea), a couple of toes and cracked my sternum at a concert. It was crowded.
  4. Had I been born a girl, my mother would have named me Nicole Yvette. When my kid sister was born 14 years later, Mom gave her the middle name of Nicole but had luckily outgrown the Yvette part. No offense to the possible Yvette readers out there.
  5. The only way I'll eat pancakes is with peanut butter. You may think it's strange, but I'm puzzled how you can eat fried flattened flour water without some taste. And give me real maple syrup. Not that fake sugar stuff. (Note: I rarely eat pancakes. But when I do...)

So there you have it. Or me. And as tradition would have it, I need to tag a few more folks. I choose: Sean Reiser, David Moldawer, Mandy Garr (blog, Mandy?), Arioch Morningstar, and Rich Sigfrit.

What makes some videos "catch"?

As part of an exercise on linking social groups together to develop critical mass, I ask you to ponder the following question offered:

Why does some video content grab viewers by the throat, compel them to watch and then suck their mouse towards the bookmark/email/blog about link?

How do we get us some of that mojo for our productions?

To me, the reason some online videos grab us is no different than why some more traditional video experience (movies & TV) compel us to watch and tell our friends. Online video is inherently more "sharable" than traditional, so it takes much less effort to tell all of your friends.

The second part of the questions asks how content providers can create videos that we, the viewers, want to share. That's a tall order, as everyone's triggers are tripped by different things. Some of the most "viral" of videos I'm not a fan of, and I'm guilty of sharing things with others that cause them to look at me like the RCA dog. In my mind, it remains a uniquely personal experience that is sometimes resonant to the proclivities of many others. I'll staunchly stand by my position that content creators should strive to create the very best content that they like as their primary goal. It's difficult to judge what everyone wants, but you should have a pretty good handle on what you want.

Now for your part in this experiment: As mentioned earlier, this is part of Chris Brogan's 100 Comments experience. While you are welcome to post your comments here, the idea is to post comments on the original feed to get to critical mass with lots of people's networks. I've posted my comments there exactly as I have written above.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Escaped from New York

Five O'Clock Shadow 42

Originally uploaded by evo_terra

This is me pissed off on the plane. Not the best return flight, let me tell you. You can read about it on my Twitter feed if you car for the details.

The NYC trip was great. Got to hang out with David Moldawer over breakfast. That's becoming a regular thing when I go. Smarter than me and a hell of a lot funnier. I'm keeping him close.

Also had dinner with John Federico. We probably should have talked business the whole time but instead talked "around" business instead. Great insights into the future of digital media.

Sean Reiser and I had breakfast in Tribeca and discussed many things, like why breakfast places in NYC don't open until 8:00 AM. Odd, very odd.

The rest of the trip was "business" and good business was had. Looks like I may take a few more trips out that direction soon. Traveling sucks, but it's great to have good company.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Promotional help needed

It is with hat in hand I come to you tonight. Not to beg for money, subscribers or your undying love -- but for ideas. A well known podcast novelist who's name rhymes with Spot Stigler has recently completed releasing another podiobook on his main site and is ready to have us continue the distribution on And we'd like to make a splash with it.

This particular book deals with football (albeit a far-future football tale with aliens) and the pre-season for NFL football is about to get underway here in the states. Seems like there's an excellent opportunity of timing to be had, if only we can tap it.

Thoughts? Ideas? How can we build a promotional strategy around the re-launch of this book on May thousands of folks already enjoyed the book, but there are thousands more that just discovered podcast novels today, and probably many thousands who hit the book in mid-stream who would love a chance to listen from the beginning.

The call is open. Let the outpouring of ideas begin!

Zen, the Evo way

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I've been thinking quite a bit about zen as of late. According to Wikipedia:

Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism notable for its emphasis on practice and experiential wisdom—particularly as realized in the form of meditation known as zazen—in the attainment of awakening. As such, it de-emphasizes both theoretical knowledge and the study of religious texts in favor of direct individual experience of one's own true nature.

Is that what zen really means? Hrm. To me, zen is finding balance in all things you do. I like my definition better. So I'll stick with it.

It's funny, but I used to spend a great deal of time working towards that state of zen. Then I fell out of sorts and tried to do the opposite, cramming in every bit of information I could and taking on additional projects. Now the pendulum has swung back, and it's on my mind again.

How about you? How do you find balance in all things that you do? Is it important? Do you wonder why I'm thinking about this with my arm in a sling, waiting for a plane to take me to three days of whirlwind meetings in NYC? I sure do...

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A freak disc golf accident

Five O'Clock Shadow 40

Ouch. I hurt. And I have to put on a happy face and get through the party my wife decided to have. Today I popped my left arm completely out of its socket on the 17th hole today. Yes, my left arm. Yes, I'm right handed. Allow me to explain.

I haven't played golf in about five or six months. I play in Flagstaff and it gets a little chilly in the winter time. Last year, some of you who have been following or a while may remember I injured myself when I was working on a new drive. That took a little bit of therapy and a shift in how I throw. All better.

But today somewhere around the 9th hole, I noticed the twinge in the right shoulder coming back. So I scaled back my power and continued on. The pain continued and on the 11th hole, I decided to start shooting left. I was a good 5 - 6 strokes ahead of NJ and my buddy Marshal, and it's not like we're uber competitive anyhow. Plus, I didn't want to hurt myself. So even though I'm not ambidextrous in the least, I started shooting with my left.

An interesting thing about "handedness" -- not only do you have more power and control with your dominant hand, but your weaker side doesn't really understand the mechanics of things like throwing frisbees. So when you coil your body up, whipping everything out and through the snapping of the arm, wrist and fingers of your left hand, the other muscles in your body that keep things like your shoulder together don't know that they need to be in on the action.

So... ouch. Luckily it popped right back in place. And needless to say, I didn't finish the round. And I had NJ drive home. To fully round out the experience, I get to go to NYC for three days lugging around a laptop bag -- with two lame arms. Joy.

Stay healthy. I may update from NYC if I can find connection.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Linkless Lamentations

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If you have ever put an embedded video, flash file or other sort of non-standard information1 in your blog post; take heed.

There are many of us (legions, you might say) who consume your information through RSS feeds. And chances are, the information you are embedding isn't coming through your RSS feed or feeds. What makes matters worse is that you aren't providing a link to that content. So when you say something like "I'm going to shake hands like this from now on..." and embed the video to YouTube beneath that... we miss the joke.

The good news is that there exists a quick and easy fix for this. On the YouTube page where you got the embed code, there's another smaller snippet of code that is a simply hyperlink to the exact spot on YouTube where we can watch the video. Once you've embedded the video on the post, chose a relevant piece of text and make it a link to the YouTube (or whatever) page. In my instance above, you might select the "shake hands like this" text. While the embedded video won't come down to us, we now have an obvious link to the video. And now we get the joke.

I know what you are thinking: "Evo, you lazy bastard... If you simply click on the title of the post in your RSS reader, you'll be taken to my page where the information is contained for your viewing pleasure." True. Very true. However, that assumes I know that there is something I'm missing. My example above isn't indicative, but many posts don't have any text that leads me to believe that there is content I'm not seeing. So your post sound a little rushed or not complete... but I'm checking hundreds of feeds.

Do me a favor: the next time you embed a video or non-standard element in your post, please make a hyperlink to the content for me. That way, I'll get the joke every time.

1 - Images and text are standard. Anything else? Non-standard.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My One Minute How-To is live

Weeks ago I recorded a One Minute How-To with George Smyth. My topic? How not to go crazy with Twitter. It's now live and ready for consumption. It'll only take a minute!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Quick Sketch Biography of Evo Terra

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Chris Brogan asked for this a while ago. I thought it might make an interesting 5OS. That and actually doing something with the saved post would be good, too.

The thing most people know me for is... my long time involvement in and contributions to podcasting. I was podcasting back in October of 2004, started writing Podcasting for Dummies in early 2005, & launched not long after that. In the last few weeks, I've been getting loads of emails and messages from folks tell me that I was among the influences that got them into podcasting. I think they did it just so their spouses have someone to blame.

The people I associate the most with are... strange. No, seriously. My outlook on life and the world doesn't track well with most popular opinions or conventional wisdom. There are 6.3 billion people on the planet to who can recite the nightly talking points or tow the company line without fail. I'm interested in those to the right of the decimal point who take a different approach, have unpopular yet well-thought out positions and tend to work towards making things different -- for everyone or just themselves.

People who have influenced my life are... my mom, to start. She's one of the above mentioned people and tough me to chart my own course at an early age. I'm also influenced heavily by those who know more than I do on a particular subject. I may start off all meetings and gatherings with the assumption that I'm the smartest person in the room, but when I find a person who proves that theory false, I'll do whatever I can to learn from that person -- assuming their particular area of expertise is something I need to internalize.

One challenge I took on and overcame was... just one? How about really wanting to get into the world of IT in the mid-90's without any training whatsoever? I just sorta jumped in with both feed, found a niche I could fill and did it. A couple of years later, I was directing all eCommerce for a $2BB company. I don't know that I considered that a challenge, really. That's just what I do. I solve problems. For me or for others.

My early years, before you probably got to know me were... a lot like my current years. Sure, I went through some adolescent bullshit like most folks, but I was married at 20 (voluntarily) and working on carving some space out in the world for myself. I was young and dumb at the time, but still pretty much me.

You might not know this, but... I'm not nearly as confident as I seem. I know I can and will get the job done and can tackle any challenge, but that doesn't make me constantly question what in the hell I've gotten myself into this time. Each time. Every time.

I’m passionate about... having fun. Yes, I'm stealing Steve Eley's line again. I'm going to have to start paying him royalties. But it's true. The older I get (just turned 39), the more I realize the value of fun. Not all things in my life right now are fun. And candidly, I don't know that they ever will all be fun. But I'd like to reduce the not-fun things to a more manageable number. I think it is possible to have fun and still be successful in life. I want to be a good example of how that is accomplished. And to many, I am. Now if I can just get that way for me.

In the next year or two, I hope to... bail. Seriously. I want to be in a position that, when my son leaves for college, my wife and I can pull up our roots and live a nomadic lifestyle. This rock we live in is pretty big, and I've not seen nearly enough of it. And the coolest part? With advances in technology and communications, I should be able to take many along for the ride.

Monday, June 11, 2007

My last podcast appearance might not be where you thought it was

When we were out at Balticon, we stayed with the incredibly generous and cool Paul Fischer and Martha Holloway. They let us crash at their place and explore the D.C. area, saving me tons of cash in hotel charges. To top it off, they were awesome hosts!

While we were there, I recorded an ADD Cast with them along with My Lovely Wife. So if you're looking for the last podcast I did, this one is it. However, I've been contacted by a couple of folks who are interested in doing some recording this week, so there will likely be more.

Google Blog authors should subscribe to their own RSS feed

Google Blog Out of WhackAttention anyone who happens to write or knows someone who writes on the Official Google Blog: your company purchased Feedburner to get a handle on RSS (or Atom, in this case). Please drink your own kool-aid and subscribe to your own blog. If you did, you'd notice the same thing I'm pointing out in the picture above -- I get dozens of false updates from you each day. Someone is tweaking your RSS code and doing a terrible job.

Listen, you and I both know you didn't update your blog 25 times between 2:44 and 3:35 PM today. No one posts that much. Not even Scoble. I noticed this over a week ago and reported the problem. Your website says "We Love Feedback", but I'm not sure I believe your story. I never received a reply and the problem is happening again.

So please, for the love of Dave Winer, please have someone on your team subscribe to your feed so you can see what is happening. And subscribe in something other than Google Reader. Nice tool, but the error isn't happening there. Probably because your toolset is ignoring changes to your Atom tag. Here's how it looks:


As you can clearly see, you published the file back in 2006. But you, for some strange reason, updated the file today. This is a problem with the automation that kicks out your feed. And it needs to be fixed. Now that you own Feedburner, maybe you could run it through those guys? At any rate, we'd like a fix as soon as you can get to it. Or tomorrow. Whichever comes first.

Friday, June 8, 2007

One of those days - 5OS #37

Five O'Clock Shadow 37

Five O'Clock Shadow 37

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

There are some days when I love having more than one job. I get to bounce not only from project from project from project, but also wear very different hats and have totally different responsibilities. It's very liberating.

Then there are days when I wish there was only one job, as it would make life so much more simple for me.

And then there are days like today, when I wish I had none at all.

Behind me is a clipping my maternal grandmother sent me. Her and my grandpa are being crowned King and Queen of Valentine's Day. They just celebrated 61 years together. At least that makes me happy. Kickboxing might help, too.

Sick of ads on your favorite magazine site? Use a newsreader.

I was doing some research for an article I was contemplating for PopSci magazine. I'm not a subscriber to PopSci, but their podcast has nearly caused me to become one. Prior to today, I was considering PopSci a model for the magazine industry faced with the inevitable and inexorable change that is digital media. Now, I realize they have some work to do.

Consider first the advances PopSci has made. They have RSS feeds, a content-rich website, a print magazine and a podcast. As mentioned, it was their podcast that drew me in. Rather than other magazines that just read out a digest of a few stories each week or so, PopSci gets Jonathan Coulton to interview either the journalist of subject of one of the articles in the current issue. What a great way to get a feel for the content of the magazine by giving extra contant you can't get from the magazine. Additionally, their website is great -- heck, they've even embraced blogging.

But they are missing huge opportunities with their RSS feeds. First, they are making the classic blunder of excerpting their feeds. Rather than pushing out the full text and images of a story, they only give you a few dozen words, hoping you'll come back to the site to read the full story. This is a huge mistake, and it's made for one simple reason: They want me to come to the website so that they can:
  1. impress me with an ad (read: additional revenue stream)

  2. have more interactions with their website

noads.jpgBoth are the wrong approach. First, my news reader (NetNewsWire - It rocks) acts as it's own browser. When I click a link in my reader, it opens the page internally and doesn't throw it to FireFox. I'm not sure how PopSci has encoded their ad units, but they don't show up in my reader's browser. There's a bonus for me. Oh, and it doesn't have to be that way. They ads should display, they just don't. See the image to the left. The top is the site when displayed in FireFox, the lower in my reader. An easy fix!

Second, PopSci might think they want me to interact with their website, but they really don't. What they want is me interacting with their content, which I'm trying to do -- but on my own terms. Not only could they solve the ad problem above, but they could also do so much more with their feeds:
  • Embed advertising inside of the feed. You guys are already using Feedburner. You have the technology. Call 'em up and ask for help! You're leaving money on the table, and those of us who subscribe via RSS are going to be OK with it.
  • Give me the full text in the feed, but sprinkle in messages and incentives to get me to subscribe. I know that the magazine business lives and dies by ad revenue and subscriber fees. So flood my reader with so much news and information from your journalists and contributors that I can't possibly keep up with it all and will be begging you to give me a monthly digest in print-form.

You're close, PopSci. And I hope you make it to the next stage. I'll be waiting.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Five O'Clock Shadow 36

Five O'Clock Shadow 36

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

Nice hat. Got up early, showered, and then went back to bad. Hat hair. Hence, hat.

Busy day of catching up at work, so not a lot of idea generation from me today. Tomorrow could be different. This afternoon, I spent a lot of time adding some new social media sites and updating my Places page. WordPress is having an issue with some of its function, and it's not looking as pretty as I want.

But fear not! Dan S. has volunteered his services to get this place in tip-top shape. He rocks. We're talking next week, so expect some fanciness after that. Until then, deal.

Off to write. I'm rather behind.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Five O'Clock Shadow 35

Five O'Clock Shadow 35

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

Just to reinforced the ever changing nature of the universe, I got back from vacation last Sunday to a brave new world. So be it!

To answer a few questions:

  • Yes, I'm still doing Fun Anymore. The site is all moved over to it's new home (thanks, Matt!), though I'll be working out the bugs over the next few days.
  • Yes, is still going strong. The developers have been working on some cool stuff which we'll be releasing soon. Plus we have gobs more books on the way.
  • Yes, I plan on returning to podcasting. While I'm figuring out what that will be, feel free to ping me to guest appear on your show.
  • No, you'll not see many more CultCast episodes. Now now... I'm taking this opportunity to change a variety of things and I'm looking for a new creative oulet. I may record a final episode and then make them available on

So three things for you to be happy about. One not so much. Maybe. Thanks for hanging around through the near-silence. I'm back!