I was asked by the folks at the Melrose Center to give a podacsting talk. I figure as I've been doing it for almost 10 years (officially will be 10 yrs on 12-31-2015) I have a thing or two to say about it.
Date: 4/22/2015 Start Time: 6:30 PM End Time: 7:30 PM
Creating, promoting, and distributing your podcast to reach a potential audience of millions is relatively easy. Podcasting is becoming more popular as many bloggers turn to internet radio shows to get their message out. Ryan Price, creator of the Bringing Art and Technology Together podcast and co-creator of the DrupalEasy podcast, will discuss the basics of podcasting.
This blog post is part of a series I am titling Free Time, to help me organize my thoughts around a talk I will be giving in a few weeks.
I am a person who gets really crazy-nerdy-passionate about certain things. Once I discover said thing, I tend to want to learn as much about it as I can all at once. Then my brain invents 10 things I could do with my new knowledge, and sometimes I even start a project, make some notes, and ask someone to collaborate with me to make one of those 10 ideas come true.
In trying to prepare a talk this month, I am trying to codify the way I want collaboration to happen, and why I am such a big fan.
In the process, I discovered there is a theme: listening.
In order to be successful in Improv, you have to listen and be listened to. The same is true for many of my hobbies: music, open source software, coworking, community organizing, podcasting, and so on. Listening and sharing are my two favorite things to do - about what and with whom just depends on your passion.
You might think this means I think I am a good listener - I'm not so sure. I feel like I often come across as self-centered and like I'm not paying 100% attention to you if we are having a conversation. I do try, I just don't know how often I succeed.
I also tried to come up with a term that describes the thing that is created while you are brainstorming, improvising, code sprinting, mentoring, podcasting, discussing on a forum.
I decided on Virtuous Circle. I am looking for feedback here. Is that the right word?
On top of that, there are times when you move beyond the win-win of a Virtuous Circle and you get something even better. An example of this is when you create the Harold in Improv. These three individual sets of scenes all add their mojo together to make something even more amazing.
Keeping with the Circle as an idea, I decided to call this a Flywheel Effect. If you look up the meaning, I don't think it's a stretch, I just don't know that it's the best word I can use here. Again, I'm looking for feedback.
Finally, I said I am naming the talk Free Time - Community, Code and Creativity, but let's say I'm going to do this talk again. I'm not sure that it communicates what I am trying to.
The point of the talk is that collective action is more powerful, and that the best way to succeed is by creating a healthy feedback loop between contributors an users.
If you read Clay Shirky's Cognitive Surplus, he points out that these kinds of collective actions are now happening during the time we used to drink gin and watch TV.
I guess if you look at the title of Cognitive Surplus, he points out the resource that our free time exposes. Maybe that is a good thing to focus on.
This blog post is part of a series I am titling Free Time, to help me organize my thoughts around a talk I will be giving in a few weeks.
I don't know if I will ever truly wrap my head around the idea of job interviews and performance-based auditions. Because of my involvement with Fringe, I have attended some cattle-call style auditions where we the producers watched random auditions from dozens of performers for each of our respective shows. This is a little like viewing the video resume of each of these prospects, except you can ask them questions at the end, or ask them to do a stage fall or sing a few bars of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" or what have you. But that is for putting together a staged performance, where raw talent and "look" go a a long way. I was auditioning people for improv, where raw talent counts but teamwork is everything. Herein lies my core problem with one-on-one job interviews - how do you know if this person is a good team player just by speaking to them?
I have been on my own job hunt recently, and I'm proud to say I accepted a position that is exactly what I need right now. I have spent so long gazing at my own navel from a professional standpoint that I really need some time working with a team, engaging in best practices and working on much bigger projects than I could land on my own. This company is also large enough (and growing) that I hope to be able to have more than one job title during my tenure there.
Blink is a Drupal agency based in New Jersey, between Princeton and Long Branch (which is where my parents lived when I was born), and only about an hour drive from the place where my entire extended family lives. Many of their hires about 2 years ago came from Acquia, where they are now one of the most active Acquia Partners. They work with governments, record labels, higher ed, and other mega-corporations, all of whom tend to come with repeat business. Enter their large and growing team of developers, and me, who is one of the on-the-ground types.
Back to my original thread, how do you know how it is to work with someone if all you did was talk to them for an hour?
When we auditioned for The 39 Steps and CraigsLust, we had an interactive interview. It's improv. Particularly a long-form show with a relatively small cast. Seeing how they work together was of the utmost importance. We actually had 2 and 3 of these "working auditions" in order to give people a chance to play, unwind, learn to work together, or just show us how far raw talent and experience can take you. At one audition, we had a couple of ringers, and it was very tempting to cast them and say we were re-working the show to have fewer parts with stronger players. It's really hard to make that decision in the heat of the moment with all those bright shining faces looking at you. Today, I have no regrets, but I sometimes wonder "what if".
That being said, I knew I had 2 returning cast members, and I knew I could give them parts with no reservations, I had worked with them, there was a group dynamic, between each of them and me, and that comfort gives a director more room to reach farther.
Now I learn in my new job that once you assemble a team, the instinct is to keep them together from one project to the next. That's smart. Even tough you could reassemble teams each time, it helps to have the rapport, the internal audition has already taken place. It makes sense, and I wouldn't expect less of a company who has been successful thus far.
We'll see how deep the rabbit hole goes, another day. For now, I have to get back to work!
A few years ago, I had an idea to make the kind of conference I'd like to attend. Turns out the Art and Algorithms event in Titusville looked like a really great version, but I didn't get the chance to check it out. When I go to BarCamps and other similar events, I often advise people to decide on their mission, and who their audience is before they start a new project, so here is my shot at it:
BATT[south] because maybe there would be other regional events...?
Another thing I am always advising people to do is to become the expert. If you think there is an audience who will appreciate some product or service you want to make, then one way to locate them is to start a blog, a podcast, a pinterest board, a delicious feed, etc related to that subject. My default mode is a podcast, so I recruited a good friend of mine, Kathryn Neel AKA the Resident Wizard at Urban ReThink, to co-host the show with me.
We just published our 5th episode, which is a round-up of 5 quick interviews I did at the 2nd Orlando Mini Maker Faire. It's a very inspiring event and something I would not miss, and Kathryn missed a lot of it, as she was working, so I think it was a good conversation.
Back in April we had our 5th Florida DrupalCamp, which was a really awesome event organized by a huge team of volunteers. I had a talk about putting Calendar information in Drupal, which is kind of my thing.
I actually started with some Q&A, which is a Tummeler's way of doing it. I tried to speak to a pretty low common denominator, and I really appreciate that someone was able to record and upload these.
I als have slides from this presentation on SlideShare:
Chromecast is a new invention by the boys down in Google R&D (think of saying that in an old timey radio announcer vocie). It'll revolutionize the intertelevisiontubes!
For quite some time now I've had an interest in kiosks that show event information from my big clients' website on a television. They are a big performing arts center and they have all of this great event information in their website. With "Proctors TV" we let them push pictures, videos, and sponsored advertising slides to 3 forty-or-fifty-inch screens in the lobby of their building. They can also run the slideshow on a big projector in their atrium. This has been a great tool for them, and much easier than baking out a video to a DVD or updating a crazy powerpoint slideshow, because it can update itself as events end and sell out, and the web master only has to make sure the information is up-to-date and accurate.
Originally, we used a Mac Mini in the server closet hooked up to a rasterizer box that would allow them to add the Proctors TV signal to their CCTV signal inside the building. Channel 1 shows what's happening back stage, Channel 2 shows the hallway to the dressing rooms, etc but one channel is dedicated to Proctors TV. This means all the TVs must show the same signal, but it's a really cool system.
Now another client is asking for a similar system, but they have multiple venues, and they really only want a few items pertaining to the local venue, not every event at all 12+ venues. The challenge becomes outfitting 10 or 12 of these TV displays on a bit of a budget. I've been researching different hardware options that will cheaply drive a display, and in my opinion the Logitech Revue or the VIZIO Co-Star Google TV boxes are a really great option - especially because they run stand-alone, they can be plugged in to Ethernet, and they come with their own hardware keyboard for typing web addresses.
In the Google TV box, the web browser is the #1 feature that had been setting it apart from devices like the AppleTV and the Roku - neither of which is capable of running a simple web page, stand-alone, without my device having to be in the room at the same time.
However, at the Coworking space, we often hold videoconferences in addition to the slide show functionality, and there was not a fantastic way to get a video chat onto the big screen (let alone the projector) until now. We also thought about mounting a projector in the ceiling in the conference room, but then the question always became how to get content up there without an unsightly umbilical cord of wires coming out of the sky, as our conference room setup didn't really have a good place to run wires to the wall. The Chromecast comes to the rescue!
The big question became how to get a video chat on to the Chromecast - that meant it had to be browser-based. Any desktop computer running Chrome and the GoogleCast plugin could send the contents of a tab to the TV, but when we tried to launch a Google Hanout, it openend in a new window, and the button for Chromecast didn't appear.
I realized Web RTC would probably do the trick, as long as I only wanted to talk to one other person. We found a WebRTC demo on Google App Engine that was very promising, but Hangouts just has so many more features...
After asking the smart folks of the Internet, a gentleman named Tom suggested another Chrome plugin called Join Tabs that combined all your open windows, which re-started the hangout, but brought it in to the main window where the Chromecast button appears.
Not that these videos are the best made on the planet, but hopefully it gets the idea across that you can use the Chromecast and the Google Cast technology to create the all-in-one TV magic kiosk you've been praying for with a dumb TV, a few Chrome extensions and $35 for an HDMI stick.
I also want to plug a game in the Chrome store called Crimson: Steam Pirates that plays pretty well over the TV. The lag is too great to play only on the TV, but the interesting thing was that the sound only played back from the TV speakers as opposed to on both the browser and the TV. I had fun showing off this turn-based game to some friends while we explored the capabilities of the Chromecast.
If you consider that Google is touting the Chromebook Pixel as the only laptop most people need, I would say that a Chromecast stick should come standard with every unit they sell now.
The title of this post is a quote from Brad Kuhn, the author of an article about Craig Ustler, the Creative Village, and Urban ReThink. I found the line so nonsensically entertaining that I decided my next endeavor would pay homage to his coined phrase. The invisible frisbee in his article was referring to e-commerce. Is there any commerce today that is not e-commerce on some level?
Anyway, I took the phrase and eventually made it my own. For me the Invisible Frisbee is inspiration. The way that it gets passed along, often unintentionally.
I have not posted on this blog since November because I've been a busy beaver, working on my first-ever theatrical production, an improvised show based on the book The 39 Steps.
If you follow me on social media, you may have seen either or both of these mentioned. We have recorded a new episode of BATT IDEAS that should be coming out any day now that I'm sure goes toward a similar end.
Thanks to my awesome job in Schenectady, I was able to manage traveling to NY the week before Maker Faire. Thanks to a great group of friends and connections, I was able to wrangle a free place to stay in Brooklyn (Williamsburg). There was a truly excellent food market there on Saturday morning, so I stopped in to see people serving cold concentrated coffee, raw kale chips, brown butter cookies, and artisan hash browns, of all things. There were lots more booths, but those were the ones where I spent my money. I made a background sound of the market, which I might try to use in a podcast if it comes up... we'll see.
On to Maker Faire, and the World!
At this time, I've only comlpeted day 1 of the faire - I'm currently uploading photos for this post and recuperating a bit after the party at Resistor... but I'm getting ahead of myself. To begin at the beginning. Maker Faire is such a great place for families - not because many of the exhibitors try very hard to make their booth kid friendly, but because their brains are so plastic and their sense of adventure often rivals that of many of the people making things. Don't get me wrong, the Faire organizers have tons of great activites for kids set up - which is one of the first things I saw upon arriving.
On my way down from the train I ran into some lost people holding MF tickets and I pointed them in the right direction. It was the aunt and uncle of a 12 year old boy named Julian who had come down from Troy - he had made all the arrangements and rode for the first time on the Amtrak by himself to come here. We talked about Blender, Python, Processing and Linux a little bit on the way to the Faire. Once we had our tickets, I had the impulse to hand him a business card, like I would any other new person I just met. I asked him to let me know what he was working on. Hopefully this event inspires thousands more like him, and at the very least creates a generation that is not as afraid of technology, science, math and engineering.
It's really hard to point to things that were cool, because there were just so many! In the craft area (sponsored by Bust magazine, I think) there was a vendor selling space-inspired jewelery. I heard (and saw) a guy using a bicycle wheel with cassette tape on it as a DJ scratching interface, and beatbozing along. Kids would not stop touching it long enough for him to show how it worked. Another sound byte recorded.
Wandered around until I found some robots that can see with OpenCV, including one from IBM that takes readings all around your data center, right next to...
OpenROV, the underwater robot! So cool, and really pretty light - I offered to have them come do a talk at Urban ReThink, at which point I heard "I'd love to, but I'm moving to Antarctica for 3 months". I guess being passionate about ocean exploration has its downsides.
I then started exploring the "Tiny Town" (to steal from Merlin Mann) of Maker Faire - many of the people had the money to produce their product en masse but they were collecting email addresses and determining if they could make a go of it. Lots of cool projects here, like OWL, which is a home sensing device that can run for 2-3 years on a watch battery - sadly it speaks a proprietary signal, but if it improves my life I might be able to allow it.
Then one of the highlights of my day arrived when I was wandering through the Maker Shed tent and I saw Mark Fraunfelder, Matt Richardson, and Eric Chu from Make Zine sitting there playing with a small project. I asked Mark if I could get a photo with him, but once he saw that I had a 3D phone, he asked for another. I told him it really works better with video, so...
Achievement Unlocked! Meet an editor of BoingBoing and Make Magazine, and a really great book.
After that, I saw some more tinytown stuff, including the really tiny town where they did not get a nice tent, like most of the Hackerspaces in New England, and a few 3D printers, designers and robot makers.
Brainwave-powered PONG: epic.
So much more to say, but if you want to know more, here are the photos:
I am an Android guy. After owning a Nokia N96 and an iPod touch at the same time, upgrading to the HTC EVO was like the best of both worlds. Always-on connection plus awesome music and podcasting client. In order to test out web pages I also purchased a Toshiba Thrive 10". Last but not least, since I develop web pages to be viewed on televisions, I thought a Sony Google TV box would round out my Android collection nicely. At this point, I don't really use the Google Play Books or Movies all that much. The music service is pretty useful when my NAS is not working, but still leaves something to be desired.
One of the biggest problems with owning a Google TV is the NETWORKS. While many Cable or over-the-air TV networks have caught on with the smartphone, set-top-box (some would say under-set-box, or set-side-box) revolution, for some reason they don't want to let Google TV users play stuff directly through their box. Some of their websites will let you use them on Google TV. Most won't. Many blog posts have been written quoting the message about how Hulu is "working hard" to bring their content to Google TV. I call shenanigans.
Then today, I see this tweet, and leave the following reply:
@hulu Please add Google TV support, and I will subscribe immediately. The player works on laptop, Android phone and tablet (all 3 have HDMI)
If TV is one of the next great battlegrounds, then it seems like Apple, even with their crippled little hockey puck, is still beating Google. Can they figure this out already? What with the Google Fiber TV service and all the content deals on the mobile devices, the one that's plugged into the wall is still a second-class citizen. I don't get it.
@liberatr Hey Ryan, we'd love to support Google TV but we need agreements in place first. This can take time - thanks for your patience!
That's just on Kickstarter. The TV makes sense because the cost of adoption (not just monetarily) is incredibly low. We all upgraded our sets, built rooms around TVs and entertainment systems, and are starting to make sure the TV can connect to the home network. Now the innovators step in, after all the hard stuff is done. It would have been so hard to put together an open source gaming console in a pre-Android, pre-Raspberry Pi and pre-smart-tv world.
Has the Google TV brought new content into my living room? Undoubtedly. A few apps like Crunchyroll, Clicker and NFB Films have definitely helped, and the built-in directory of TV-friendly websites, Spotlight, is always a great place to browse. The fact that this thing has a full web browser and Flash player is a huge boon, although it has also been a bane in the past.
Lately, however, certain apps have been reporting that their latest updated versions won't work on my Google TV, like Google's official Play Music app, and the aforementioned Crunchyroll. It brings a tear to my eye.
One unexpected benefit of the box is that it makes a great phone charger. The USB port on the front is nice to have - one less charger to keep track of, and if I really want to show someone a few photos or videos from a memory card, I can plug the reader in there.
Presumably the newer Google TV "buddy boxes" like the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player have gotten an updated interface, at least in the remote control department. Having used the keyboard control of the Logitech Revue, I found that I much preferred my game-controller style keyboard, but the latest offering from Sony (and Vizio as well) is more old-school-tevelision-remote-like. If you get tired of the controllers you can always use the remote app for your Android or iPhone. It works really well, especially if you're already used to typing on your phone.
After saying all that, would I still recommend a Roku or Apple TV? Not instead of a laptop with an HDMI port. That is still the king of all home media devices, and probably will remain so until Microsoft cripples the HDMI port or the TV networks figure out how to in existing operating systems.
What sort of a "buddy box" or other Home Theatre PC setup have you been using? Were you able to watch any Olympics on it? HBO? Hulu? Enjoyable Games? Not on a Google TV.
We know they all do Netflix, but there are few other common denominators. This post would have been very different a few months ago, before YouTube movie rentals. Now they are on pretty even footing.
On the other hand... What about Web pages? Installable apps? Amazon Instant Video? Pandora? Google TV shines for these. And I use several off these features every day.