Saturday, March 31, 2007

More on using Twitter for quick mini reviews

I see Twitter as about 75% micro-blog and 25% IM, all of it with an obvious social aspect. To that end, I think (as I've said before) that it seems an excellent place to create and share reviews of newly released books, movies... anything that isn't "instant" yet has a significant "first day" draw.

The trouble is coming up with an agreed upon convention for posting these. Twitter has few rules, which is a good thing. It's up to the community to create the convention, as we have done in the case of typing '@ username' to send a personal -- yet public -- message.

What's the right convention for posting quick rating/reviews on Twitter? Here are a few ideas. Vote for the best by using one, or feel free to suggest another:

  • Twittereview - first one I used. Hard to spell. Too long.
  • Twitterwrap - nifty sounding, but could be too esoteric.
  • Tweecap - oh, I like that one. Sounds like "recap". Though there isn't enough room in Twitters 140 char to allow for a true recap.
  • Twitterize - as in 'criticize', but it sounds more like 'to make into Twitter form".
  • Tweigh - hated that as I wrote it.
  • Tweeview - seems simple enough.

I may start with the latter. Comments (or Tweets) are appreciated.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Five O’Clock Shadow 11

Five O'Clock Shadow 11

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

No time for a long post and yes, this is coming early. NJ and I are off to grab the wife and head to his hockey banquet in Flagstaff.

While I'm gone, check out Snip URL. I know that many of you are familiar with TinyURL. SinpURL solves the same problem but has a pile of better features.

That's it for now. Play nice while I'm gone. And look for another super long Twitter recap at midnight. It's amazing how much I put up there.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Five 0′Clock Shadow 10

Five 0'Clock Shadow 10

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

So it's 7:50 PM. Work with me here, people...

Time for me to express my undying love for another man. Yep, I'm comfy enough in my own sexuality to do that. The object of my love is Chris Miller. Why? The reasons are legion. But the impetus for this post and global affirmation comes from his post on Unquiet Desperations today, where he said:

Most days, I’m fairly sure that many of my non-podcasting friends have no idea why I helped build It’s just free amateur audiobooks, right? What’s the big deal?

The big deal is this: we’re living in a time where the more traditional modes of content distribution are being shaken up from the bottom floor. Independent artists are able, with a relatively low barrier to entry, to create and release their content to a waiting, global audience. No major publishing houses. No record companies. It’s between you and your audience. This is so powerful and so moving, it’s hard to describe.

And that is why I love the man. How can I not?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Belize photos on Flickr

Just posted a few pics from our trip last winter to Belize on Flickr.

My wife is a major shutter bug, and we came back with about a gig of images just of howler monkeys. From about 125 yards off. Up in the sky. Did I mention they were black? Yeah. Great images.

So I spared you all of those. Instead, I posted just a select few. Hope you enjoy them. Hope I go back.

Five O’Clock Shadow 9

Five O'Clock Shadow 9

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

Holy CRAP what a day. Sorry folks, but this 5O'CS comes about 3.5 hours late. And this is one you can skip. Seriously.

It started at 6:05 this morning, just as I was about to get in the shower with my Lovely Wife. Immediate water pressure loss. Thought it was the sprinklers. Uh, no. How about a broken main? Yeah. The *&%$@ that did the landscaping some dozen years ago decided not to spend the $0.75 to buy a 3/4" end cap and instead went with some flimsy plastic cap you'd expect on the end of a garden hose. What a great way to spend the morning.

Anyhow... went downhill from there. More connectivity issues, though the Mayberry ISP finally listened to me and decided it was a major problem in the neighborhood and not my wireless router. So I had to work from the coffee shop for half the day, but I'm at about twice the speed now. I'll take it.

Various other unpleasant crap during the day (thought I did give an interview with the Italian Public Radio. That was cool. More on that when I know it.) topped off by the airline trying to cancel one of the legs of my trip to Balticon. That ended... OK. No plane change now, but it' does get me in an hour and twenty minutes later.

So I'm beat. And I have a pile of work to do.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Joe gets a call from a personal hero

Let's talk about the amazing power of new media to do some truly, in a personal sense, earth shattering work. Allow me to explain.

If you know me then you probably know that a very close friend of mine and many, Joe Murphy, was recently diagnosed with a particularly nasty form of cancer -- leiomyosarcoma. His prognosis went from bad to worse, and we're literally facing the final stages. As in days. Or even hours. Yeah, it's that bad and no, there's nothing to be done at this point.

A few days ago, I was contacted by a powerhouse of a podcaster, Leann Mabry from Tag in the Seam (a great podcast which I highly recommend), looking to do something special for Joe. She had heard our comment about getting Joe to see Penn and Teller, or getting Penn and Teller to come see Joe before he passed -- sort of a Make A Wish™ for a grown up.

Leann then reach out to a friend who lives in Vegas and has access to the aforementioned Penn and Teller. He indicated that he could attend one of their shows and pass along a note to the duo and was looking for some guidance on what to include in said note. That's when Leann wrote to me (and to Mike). My reply was something like "it's a great idea, but I think we're too close to the end to make it happen."

Heh. I must have forgotten who I was speaking to.

Tonight, Leann did it. Or should I say her friend did it? Dunno, but I love them both. Tonight at around 8:00 MST, Teller (yeah, the one that you've probably never heard speak) called Joe (currently in hospice) on his cell phone. The two chatted for 5 - 10 minutes, about favorite science fiction works and some serious fan-boy geeking as I understand it. Not to be outdone, Penn Jillette called and left an amazing voice mail on the Wingin' It! show line.

So yeah, I'm pretty jazzed about the power of new media to... make shit happen! It put a positive spin to a pretty crappy day. And thought the outcome of this will not be as anyone would like, I'm a little warmer on the inside knowing that Joe finally got a chance to speak with one of his personal heroes.

Much thanks, Leann. You rock!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Jamaica photos up on Flickr

Part of my responsibilities while I'm here in OK is to share photos from the wedding in Jamaica with my sister. We transfered a bunch to her and received her shots as well. Since she took a lot less than my Lovely Wife, I went ahead and posted those on Flickr. More will be posted as I get them done -- and weed out the ones that make me look like a total fat ass.

But the kids look good. A damned sight better than my old ass...

Twitter wants

I'm starting to see some pretty cool applications for Twitter. Days ago I posted my first "twittereview" of a movie, but that meme doesn't seem to be catching. I'll keep trying it.

Today, I discovered that Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader both have quite active Twitter accounts and routinely show up on the big Twitterholic list. (I graced this esteemed list one day but have been posting slower while I'm on vacation. I'm back next week, so we'll see if a repeat is in order.)

Macworld has a group Twitter account and I've heard tale of someone using Twitter to post live comments and notes from a conference.

While it's true that many folks use Twitter to post the inane moments of their lives (guilty as charged), I think that's part of the process. You start by posting everything and then start slimming down to things seem to fit the parameters you assign to Twitter. Of course, mileage will vary from person to person -- which is one of the things I find most appealing about Twitter.

Enough singing of praises. Time to put down some things I'd like to see implemented to make Twitter even more useful to me:
  • A "six degrees of separation" widget or recombination that shows the common connections between my Friends and Follow list. Sorta like how it's done on LinkedIn.
  • A way for the poster to set "priority" levels of posts and for the "friends" to determine what priority levels they receive. For example, Charles Cadenhead just posted that he's returned from IHOP. He could set that as "mundane". I know that Charles posts pretty damned frequently and can opt to not get his "mundane" updates, but that I do want to get his "important" updates.
  • Individual assignment of SMS updates. I'd never put Charles on that list (not unless I could control SMS by priority -- add that, too), but I may want to get a text message when Wil Wheaton posts something, for example.
  • Direct message notification goes to Twitterific. Right now, it doesn't. Pain in the ass. I want all Direct Messages to hit Twitterific and to send me an SMS.
  • A better filter across all Twitter updates than the Yahoo! Pipes thing I threw together. If someone is mentioning me in their Twitters, I want to know about it!

Twitter is quite the cool tool. For me. These additions (and probably more) will make it even cooler.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Five O’Clock Shadow 8

Five O'Clock Shadow 8

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

I love my grandparents. 61 years of marriage, each pushing 80. Grandma is about as much a teetotaler as you can get, and grandpa's crazy as a loon. But I love 'em.

I don't get to see them very often, as they live in eastern OK and aren't big fans of airplanes. Right before this recent trip to OK, one of my grandmother's sisters passed away and we made the long haul to up by the panhandle (look at a map) to pay respects.

During the five hours in the car, Gramps regaled all of us with stories. -- and he's the king of stories, let me assure you. Though he has a penchant for incorporating recent news bits into his work and war tales, his memory of his childhood is quite amazing; and what stories he has to tell. This picture was taken during the "herding turkeys" story (totally true). Ask me to tell it to you some day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Five O’Clock Shadow 7

Five O'Clock Shadow 7

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

From a beer/burger place in Moore OK, awaiting some old (and I mean old) friends (of my wife, but close enough) to arrive.

I'm constantly amazed at our need, as a species, to reminisce about the past. And I mean the short past, not the long. Long past is called History, and most of us claim we hate the topic. Yet the short past, that past which we can still touch with our own memories, is different.

Or is it? Maybe we don't hate History as much as we think?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Five O’Clock Shadow 6

Five O'Clock Shadow 6

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

Today's is a whimsical post for a few reasons:

  • I'm off to see Joe in the hospital. Must have a good sense of humor. Plus he likes this shirt.
  • was nailed by a DDoS on Friday. We struggled through the weekend and managed to get linked by Digg and Lifehacker this morning. I love live stress-testing the server
  • Headed to see the family this week and just learned that another of my great aunts passed away. Second one in as many months. Ill health as of late, so it was only a matter of time. She was a hoot and would have liked this shirt.

That's it for now. Internet connectivity in Bumpkin Land will be spotty at best, so you may have to live with Twitter updates from me until I return. I may back post.

Update: Just realized that Photo Booth was flipping images. Whoops. No, it's not printed backwards. Too lazy to fix. And it's kinda fitting.

Not all tech support calls are created equal

Background: I've been having serious connectivity issues for the past two weeks. No less than six technicians have been to the house -- none of them could find a problem. Part of the challenge is that the outage is sporadic, with the highest concentration of outages happening around 8:00 and 5:00. Yes, I too see the pattern. So this last call was to arrange to get some out here as early as possible next week when I've returned from a trip.

ISP Knuckledragger: It looks like the earliest we can get someone out to you on the 26th would be 1:00.
Me: What does the schedule for the next day look like?
ISP Knuckledragger:You mean the 27th?
Me: Yes. On most calendars, the 26th is in fact followed by the 27th.

And before you start firing up your email clients or readying the comment bots: relax. Yes, I realize that the majority of tech support calls are the fault of the STK interface making the call. But this exception to the rule was too great not to share.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Post instant flash reviews on Twitter

It strikes me that Twitter would be a wonderful way to instantly get out your thoughts and opinions on timely yet recurring events -- particularly movie reviews.

I'm always curious what other people think about a new release, as I rarely get to them on opening night. Such is the life when you live in the boonies. But many folks who I know and who's opinions I trust a lot more than the "legit" reviewers see movies as soon as they open. As soon as you get out of the flick, 40404 your brief (and spoiler free) opinion on the movie. Since Twitter only lets you put out 140 character updates, it'd be tough to spoil too much. But just to know whether your thought it was worthy or not would mean a lot to folks like me who are deciding what to see in the next few days.

Some enterprising young Twitterer with way more chops than I should set up some sort of collection spot for these and archive them for a couple of days.


Link to my Twitter profile (and much more) in the sidebar. Or right here for those too lazy to hit the site.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Five O’Clock Shadow 5

Five O'Clock Shadow 5

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

Oh, and outside shot. Yep. Beautiful day in Sedona as I prep for the wedding. Was 97 in Phoenix. Hello Arizona. Hope you enjoyed spring -- last week.

I've had a great day so far and look forward to an even better evening. This will be the [counts in head] fifth [?] wedding I've performed since my "ordination". Quotes quite appropriate. All of them have been for close friends of for close friends of close friends, and none of them were done for any "fee". Well, I guess that's not totally true, as I got an overnight hotel room stay out of two of them due to distance. Seems fair.

For those curious, I'm ordained through the Universal Life Church. While this may sound heretical to many, I perform non-religious wedding ceremonies. A wedding is, in my opinion, first a social contract between two people, then a governmental organization, and then anybody else. Insert your deity of choice for that last one. The two pepole take care of the first and the latter, but need someone recognized by that governmental organization for the middle. That's the part I play. Maybe I should post a sample of the basic ceremony? Each is customized for the individuals... maybe I'll ask my sister?

At any rate, this is what I'm doing today. There's no internet access here in the canyon, so this won't go up until Sunday. I may change the date in WordPress.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Five O’Clock Shadow 4

Five O'Clock Shadow 4

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

Yep. Smiling. Why? Work week is over. Hooray. My internet connection has been spotty as hell. And while that may sound like no big deal, consider that I work from home and rely on internet connectivity to stay in touch with my team.

A few folks I know have decided to get "serious" about their music collection. Not in a rip-all-CDs-in-my-collection-to-the-computer way, but in a do-I-really-want-or-need-all-this-crap way. I fully embrace the idea of "new media", support the efforts of DIY artists, have some pretty strange tastes in music, and am about as "anti-clutter" as you can possibly get. So yeah, this idea appeals to me.

To that end, I'm now listening to my music with intent as my playlist rolls through the day. I'm not being quite as dogmatic as some, as I really like my Primus, Presidents of the United States of America, Cake and others. But I am playing clean up -- to RIAA songs and even those podsafe tunes I've collected. If I don't love it, it's going away.

My way will take some time, but I think I'l like the outcome. Happy Friday.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Five O’Clock Shadow 3

Five O'Clock Shadow 3

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

Today consisted of (not including work) making arrangements for Joe's stuff, kicking some leeches off my wifi and much pondering on the concept of "friends".

I don't think there is any denying that there is a difference between meat-space and virtual friends. No comments made in regard to the depths of either, but it is different. I contend that there is also a difference in how "friends" are treated from one online service to another.

For example, I don't accept all Friend Requests on Myspace. Too many bands and wanna-be-porn stars trying to befriend anyone and everyone. So I look at all the profiles. If I don't see an immediate connection with the requester and how they might know me, I deny the request.

On Digg, I'm even more prickish. Since I don't have a profile to go off of, I rely on screen and "real" names. If I know you, groovy. You are in like Flynn. If not, well thanks for adding me.

Yet on Twitter, where there is no "accept friend or not" decision, I always add everyone who friends me to my friends list. Why? Hell if I know. Twitter stands the largest chance of being overly interruptive to my day, and the more folks I add as friends (doesn't matter how many add me) the more interruptions I get. But for some strange reason, that's OK.

And then there's SecondLife, which I haven't logged into in well over a month. I have only a handful of friends in there, and almost all of them were formed after speaking to someone in-world for some time.

Interesting how our notion of friendship changes to meet the environment.

Can one add friends too fast?


Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

This isn't the first time I've received this message from Digg. I dropped the error message in to Google and can't seem to find where anyone else is complaining about this.

Uh... why the hell not? Digg, wonderful tool that it is, often is responsible for bringing sites to their knees with an influx of traffic. Surely they've developed an infrastructure that is robust enough to handle me trying to add a couple off friends every five minutes.

Or maybe this is how they keep the site up? Hrm. Wonder how many others are turned away by this message? Would the Digg community be larger if this didn't happen?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gorb = Wuffie

As of this morning I've become enamored with a new "reputation currency" site, Gorb. In a nutshell, it's a place where you can go and leave ratings and comments for people -- anonymously.

For those of you suffering from a bit of virtual whiplash, allow me to explain.

Yes, I've gone on record saying that begging for votes is tiresome, boorish and a waste of good quality time. That opinion still holds true. You'll never hear me asking you to go rate any of my podcasts. Been there, didn't like the smell.

But this site is different, and probably because of the intentional barriers they put in place to hinder the beggars out there. Unlike most sites which actively encourage direct linking to profile pages and one-click ratings, Gorb doesn't allow it. They work on the principal that, regardless of how you got there, you are only qualified to rate people that you actually know. They make this determination of personal or professional acquaintance on something simple -- and email address. If you know someone's email address, you can rate them. If not... well then you probably don't know them well enough to provide honest feedback on them, now do you?

Pretty simple. And pretty simple to beat, that I'll grant you. But that little barrier will probably be enough to keep things more honest than other places. Sometimes a simple barrier is nearly as effective as a serious hurdle. Think about all the front doors with glass windows in them or beside them. Won't keep anyone with felonious intent out, but it keeps out the riffraff. Or I could be totally wrong and Gorb gets all fracked up with worthless ratings in a matter of weeks. But I don't think that will happen. There's something about this program that seems pretty groovy to me.

But it's not all rosy. The one flaw I see is for people like me. I have email addresses for the following properties/domains/podcasts:
  • Dragon Page
  • Slice of Scifi
  • Podiobooks.com¹
  • Wingin' It
  • A Simpler Way
  • Farpoint Media
  • Yahoo!
  • Gmail

Currently, there is no way for me to log into Gorb and tell their system that any and all ratings/comments received on those addresses all belong to the same person -- me. That's a problem, in my opinion. I've spoken with one of the interface designers and expressed my concerns. We'll see if they can/will do anything about it. Or maybe I'm wrong, and they should stay separate. Nah... that feels wrong.

So there it is, my new Gem of the Moment™. Oh, and if you're wondering about the "wuffie" reference in the title, go read Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow. It's available online for free.

¹ - This is the only email account (with the requisite "evo@" prepend) I've so far registered with Gorb.

Five O’Clock Shadow 2

Five O'Clock Shadow 2

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

Twice in two days? Not to shabby for me. Today was... OK. Felt like I accomplished more yesterday. Happens. Kickboxing tonight!

See you at the Arizona Book Festival

Once again I'll be making an appearance at the Arizona Book Festival on April 14th.

I'm not exactly sure what I'll be doing, as the organizers have asked me to again host some author panels (easy enough) and perhaps do a signing (groan). I'll skip the last part.

But they've also asked my Lovely Wife Sheila to be involved as well, since she co-hosts The Dragon Page With Class and a big part of the AZ Book Fest is they YA and children's track.

See you there! If the standard weather pattern holds, it'll break 100 that day. Sheesh.

Now if I can just figure out how to make the Appearances links show in the correct order...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Five O’Clock Shadow 1

Five O'Clock Shadow 1

Originally uploaded by evo_terra.

Starting a meme. Could be stupid. Will most certainly track how old I'm getting -- or how old I look after a day of day job working.

Every day (that I have a connection and remember to do so) at or just after 5:00 PM local time, I'll post a picture of me and tag it with "Five O'Clock Shadow". No idea if anyone else will do it. Don't care.