Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

March 2008 Posts

The 80/20 Rule and Win-Win-Win

Thu, 03/20/2008 - 21:02 -- rprice

Gary Vaynerchuk talks about a secret that he thinks is at the core of much of his success.

Reposted from: The 80/20 Business rule…..heck Life - my 2 minute take on life

Many folks who were at Future of Web Apps in Miami had nice things to say about Gary V's talk. I've also seen some other really nice videos by this guy on the web, and probably bookmarked them on my Ma.gnolia - check the RSS or link over there to check my bookmarks.

I can't say that Gary has all these ideas himself, and he does credit Kathy Sierra and Tara Hunt at the beginning of his video (google those people if you don't know who we're talking about).

Right, I don't think all his ideas are too super-original, but he has a very large and very rabid audience, and he understands how he got them, and he also presents it in a very down-to-earth manner. There is no barrier to entry for Gary unless you're afraid of spelling his name or people from New York.

I also like how he tells us not to channel Calacanis (or whoever), but just to be ourselves and do it really well and look out for other people.

If you look at your seemingly selfless (my brother would say altruistic) efforts in the ways you are benefiting yourself, the other person and those around you (or you, your partners in business and the community, or you, your fellow artists and the people who enjoy your art), you're going to have not only success, but a great feeling about how you got there.

Win-Win is not enough, you have to look for Win3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, true, but if you paid attention in physics, there is always a release of heat or some byproduct of the reaction. If you can find the way to set up a reaction with a happy byproduct, everyone wins.

Take Hydrogen Fuel Cells. They last longer, they're sustainable to produce (I think), and the waste product is water. The customers are happy because of the small powerful battery, the business should be happy because they're not working with a limited supply of something like oil, and the people of the world should be happy because there isn't a battery rotting in the ground.

Open source is the same. When everyone is giving 80%, expecting 20%, the products are amazing, the community is healthy and the users of the products are happy. Win-Win-Win.

I can see this especially given my new situation with Petentials. We have all been giving so much for so long, but it's getting so easy to do things now, our vision is getting really razor-sharp, we're having a napalm-like burst of awesome ideas, and we can see the next plateau.

Things are just going really well right now. I have my complaints, but if there was nothing to reach for, I think I would lock myself in my apartment and curl up in a ball for lack of something to do. I am addicted to this stuff, and I'm starting to see the rewards.

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Coworking Tuesdays Photoset

Tue, 03/18/2008 - 21:40 -- rprice

I went on my lunch break today, and those 30 minutes were actually quite fantastic.

Not only Coworking Tuesdays at Stardust, but also Cup-O-Code, the Orlando Coworking article from the Sentinel (about), and Alex on Cow-orking at BarCamp Orlando 2007. End very short slideshow.

There is a reason the slideshow is so short. Outside of Likemind (which has tons of coworking connotations in this town), there haven't really been many documented coworking sessions here. That's what Coworking Tuesdays are all about - adding folks to the mailing list, taking pictures, recording podcasts, making videos, setting up a web site and keeping the wiki up-to-date... and more.

There's lots of almost-happening coworking stuff in downtown Orlando, check out the mailing list for updates about that. This is going to happen before Memorial Day at the current rate, and I'm likely jinxing it by saying anything, but we want interested parties!

Would you pay for some space at a table if someone had their name(s) on the lease and other folks were paying for some desk space too?

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jQuery broken in Internet Explorer? Put your $(document).ready at the bottom!

Tue, 03/18/2008 - 20:44 -- rprice

Tonight at Cup-O-Code, David, Gabe and myself were troubleshooting a little issue with the product page javascript that Gabe uses to update the price as customers select various options. The code wasn't working in Internet Explorer, but since jQuery should be browser agnostic, we had to go back to the drawing board. After David re-wrote my first draft of the code we've got there, we got the function back to a working state in Firefox, but IE was still eluding us, but not really.

We were actually trying to make the script work on two instances of an online store, Futon Planet (FP) and Futons, Etc. (FE). The first site's product page was giving us no Internet Explorer trouble, but the second was behaving very strangely. Then we noticed that FE's javascript wasn't finding returning anything at all.

We used this code to help us debug and see if jQuery could find the value in question:
alert($("adjustedPrice").length());

Which returned a blank pop-up, when it should have been returning "$0.00" instead. The script didn't seem to be finding the value, and when the alert showed up, it was actually drawing the alert before you could actually see the rest of the page.

Apparently IE6 executes $(document).ready() at a different time or in a different fashion than Firefox, and once the javascript faults out it just stops everything.

We moved our $(document).ready() action to the bottom of the page, and everything was just fine after that.

Mission accomplished.

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Welcome Back, Old Media

Thu, 03/13/2008 - 19:53 -- rprice

Here's a quick follow-up to last night's post.

Earlier today, Ryan Block asked:

Why should I be concerned? People aren’t coming to Engadget to read about gadgets from 2006, or 1996, or 1896 — they’re coming to read about what’s going on today. Still, I love that PopSci, so this is gravy!

Ryan is absolutely right. In fact, he's pointed out to me that Engadget does not fill the same void as PopSci. People aren't going to his site for the archive, but rather, the very latest and greatest, and so much so that most of the content on Engadget is exclusive and they are the first ones to post about it. They could probably delete all of their archives older than 3 years and nobody would be able to tell.

Mr. Block also loves that PopSci gravy, which means that it's likely the audience can see those two sites as separate flavors and sample a little of column A, and a little... well, you get it.

I also like how Ryan responded to my post within 9 hours of my writing it. Maybe if I drop Megan Miller's name in here a few times, she will notice it in her Google Alerts too and come check out the blog.

Actually, I really like what Megan Miller of PopSci has been doing with the 5-minute projects on the site. There is certainly some room for improvement, but she mentioned in this week's podcast that PopSci is working with Instructables on these videos, though she didn't say in what capacity.

Mmmm, meta-journalism, hot and fresh! I really feel like I've been writing a story about the story of PopSci these last few days. Both in my Twitter stream with Etan asking about the particulars of my new job, and Jeremy direct messaging me as I drove to the office this morning, and now these past few days on my blog. I'm not the story here, the magazine is, and Megan Miller is, and Jonathan Coulton, and Bonnier, a family company. As are Eric and Seth and Sway, and also the folks over at PingVision. I haven't told the whole story, nor is it in the scope of these blogs to attempt to tell that whole story, just a story around the story.

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Old Media, Welcome to New Media Land

Wed, 03/12/2008 - 20:34 -- rprice

OR "How the battle became a collaboration".

To the Editors of Popular Science:

You win.

Actually, I'm not a quitter, so I'll say this: I've decided that instead of being "versus" each other, some of you Old Media types (can I say Traditional Media? thanks) actually care about your audience. Therefore, we are actually on the same side, you and me. That's why today, I changed the name of my blog to "Ryan Price and the Media". The arc of my story is changing, Act II is beginning (but please wait until the pops are two seconds apart).

Aside, to blog readers: Yes, I now work for a big media company: Bonnier Corporation. Dozens of magazines, or more accurately now Brands or Communities, and that's just in the US. Potential for the big nasty side of media to show itself. However, as our Director of eMedia Howard was pointed out, "Bonnier is a family company, very different from a publicly traded business". He was quick to point out the differences, and I was quick to believe him.

Back to you PopSci. You have been around for hundreds of years, and if you continue on your current path, you'll be around for hundreds more. You've got a great formula working for you, and I have faith you've got the chemistry know-how to achieve the always-coveted, yet rarely achieved Activated Complex state. (sorry, that's the only thing I remember from Chem I).

Let's take a look at your assets:

First, and most importantly, you've got you're audience. Not only your current subscribers to the print edition, or the folks that pick up a glossy when they're traveling or when a pretty picture catches their eyes, but your modern-day audience. RSS subscribers, Google searchers, Diggers, Podcast listeners, Makers, Engineers and people who just want to sound smart at cocktail parties. You understand them all, and your understanding is only getting better as you experiment with new media (the content types, not the buzzword) and use your hundreds of years of publishing experience to deliver an experience that the smaller publications used to dream about (and in many cases you're still eating their lunch).

That's right. You're a contender on the Internet, but you've got a hidden advantage. You've announced that some time soon, you will be opening your entire back catalog of Popular Science archives to the public (it is to the public, right?). Either way, no Engadget or even the castle-dwellers in Massachussets can claim over a hundred years of back catalog. Hell, few entities on the planet have such a rich offering.

Ryan Block and Chris Anderson should be very very concerned.

If you can continue taking advantage of modern advances in Media distribution (and I have to say you're maybe one of the most advanced magazines I've seen in this area), your Coliseum will never fall into ruin, your Pompeii never covered with ashes.

Smart moves you've made include hiring Jonathan Coulton to be your Troubador, creating a podcast that both captivates and informs me and countless others every week, hiring bloggers to keep fresh hot steamy Science articles on your home page, having great SEO, and hiring me to maintain it all, ha ha! (I work for Popular Science, but I promise you this blog post is completely unsolicited, I only started three days ago)

Really, your organization is one to be looked up to in this time of transition, when many print publications are stopping the presses and hoping for bluer skies. I've been following my former enemy The Media very closely for the last several years, and I must say that you and I are enemies no longer, in more than one way.

I wish you the best, and I hope that I can ride your coattails to a new and exciting Land called New Media. I am honored to bask in your wizened glow.

Peace,
Ryan Price
New Hire, Drupal Developer
Bonnier Corp. and PopSci.com

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5 Essential Firefox Plugins for Web Developers

Wed, 03/12/2008 - 20:04 -- rprice

Since I have a new job, I had to sit down at a fresh installation of Windows today and get my machine developer-ready. I already miss the Dock and Transmit and the Terminal, but I'll deal.

UPDATE: Today (7/14) I sat down to a new MacBook Pro and had to repeat the process... hooray!

One thing I noticed was my reflex-like action to go download 4 5 plugins no web developer should be without. They are, in no particular order:

  1. Measure It! How wide is that sidebar? Don't pull out the DOM inspector or Firebug, just MeasureIt! I also like that once you drag the box it persists on the screen and you can drag it around to compare measurements.
  2. ColorZilla Sample any color in your browser - don't open Photoshop, just hover over a color you like and voila! Also generates Photoshop pelletes, but I don't open Photoshop, so I don't use that feature.
  3. FireBug I can't actually tell you how awesome this is. Being able to see the http response of every file that was loaded and how long each file took to load is already a killer app, not to mention dead-simple editing of any markup, CSS or JavaScript on your page, and being able to execute JavaScript on a live website without having to open any windows. FireFox 3 people, make sure you get 1.2 beta.
  4. YSlow extension for Firebug - a plugin that has plugins? This tool can help you analyze the bottlenecks in your page optimization, giving you an A-F score for facets of your page load (very useful for high-traffic sites).
  5. Web Developer Toolbar My #1 used feature is the Resize menu. So many pages break my window from being exactly 1024 wide, and I also want to check things out at 800 wide as well. This just feeds the my OCD streak and lets me get on without worrying.

These don't include any of my plugins for personal productivity, web browsing, media sharing, or Search Engine Optimization. Instead, these are 5 plugins I think should come pre-installed on every developer's machine.

Also, if you're doing Drupal development, I hear very good things about this Theme Developer Module for Drupal 6. I'm not using 6 on any production sites yet, but I think it will prevent you from having to open up TextMate and do a "Find in Project".

Leave your favorite development plugins, or other kinds below.

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Tell those bitches!

Tue, 03/04/2008 - 07:54 -- rprice

Don't you love all those form letters you get about "We can get you to the top of search engines", and "I'd like to buy text links from you"? I know I do, and I'm not alone...

My friend Marc, otherwise known as "marc with a c" to the music community of Orlando, has recently decided to let 'em have it. He was contacted by a chain-lettering, canvassing, music rep from Hitt Music Group.

Here's a sample of Marc's reply from his MySpace blog:

You mean that THE Hitt Music Group is interested in me? Oh my God. Here I was thinking that MySpace was just A Place For Friends, but no... you really do make dreams come true.

Of course, you must be joking, right? This CANNOT be the same Hitt Music Group that brought us such unmitigated talents as Friday Night Gunfight and the Lords Of Conversation, can it?

OH MY GOD, I JUST CHECKED OUT YOUR WEBSITE. You guys TOTALLY are *that* Hitt Music Group.

One of the modern conveniences technology affords us - the ability to spam thousands of independent musicians on MySpace... yes!

This is good for a laugh, and probably an indicator that no matter how much transparency and genuineness gain value in the marketplace, there will always be a Hitt Music Group.

Cookie cutter PR is bad PR - but I'm no expert.

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BarCampMiami Audio: Podcasting is not about Tools

Mon, 03/03/2008 - 12:52 -- rprice

BarCampMiami

Download BarCampMiami Audio: Podcasting is not about Tools

Had a great talk of about 35 minutes. I will link to folks' blogs and stuff in a few minutes, but I just realised I hadn't posted this yet. Flash player coming soon too.

Some talking points:

  1. What's your interest in this podcast session? I've been podcasting for two years.
  2. Can we make podcasting more accessible? Understand how your audience consumes media.
  3. How did you get into creating podcasts? I wanted to record conversations.
  4. Why can't everyone be famous? Sometimes being a celebrity helps, you need an audience.
  5. The subject matter of your podcast is intrinsically bonded to your audience. You can't force it on them.
  6. What happens if you do something outside your niche? Don't create any more channels.
  7. Podcasts are personal. For audiences and producers. Producers and hosts are members of the community.
  8. Syndication to larger sites as well as smaller sites can help you grow your audience.
  9. Doing an "informal" podcast is the same as a formal one - "once you start, you can't stop!"
  10. Can we use podcasts to bridge the barriers of language and culture? Visuals, video with subtitles.
  11. Why video gets more play and advertising than audio - because of engagement.
  12. How people consume media in suburban vs. urban areas.
  13. How do I make money? Monetization must be in the plan from day 1.
  14. Using services like Revver to reward the sharer, creator and host.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

  1. My Podcast Network
  2. Lady Raptastic
  3. Sex and the Beach
  4. My post about adding subtitles to videos
  5. Piers Fawkes' Blog about the 50/50 Corporation
  6. My video on Rocketboom
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How to add subtitles to video podcasts

Sat, 03/01/2008 - 23:11 -- rprice

Update: Check out the Universal Subtitles widget from the Participatory Culture Foundation, makers of the excellent Miro player.

At BarCampMiami, one of the folks in my podcast session had a question about creating a multi-lingual podcast. I instantly suggested that photocasting with something like SlideFlickr and including an audio file would be simplest and very shareable. Visuals certainly have the power to transcend the barriers of language (if not culture). Still, she was hoping for a more flexible answer, like subtitling videos.

I had certainly seen Rocketboom and other vlogs include subtitles and have mutli-language support, but I was skeptical about finding a cross-platform tool that could get the job done.

I did some searching and found out Google Video supports subtitles if you've already made the file - OK, but how do I make one? Linux has lots of tools available, but I don't think that will help my friend in this case. Jubler - Cross-platform subtitle editor in Java Then I started finding the web-based subtitle solutions via del.icio.us, and at the bottom of page 3 hit paydirt. There was a compelling cross-platform downloadable tool in Java (cross-platform), but I had trouble getting video playback to work on my mac. I could see the video frames alright, but for moving pictures Jubler was no help. It required MPlayer to work, which I have, but something wasn't right, so I gave up and went to the web.

Next on my past-tense journey was subtitle.in, the best subtitler of the bunch (I also tried a tool that required use of Google Video and wouldn't allow YouTubage). I have two complaints about subtitle.in:

  • Poor support for scrubbing (I assume this is the fault of the video compressing party, YouTube in this case)
  • Inability to edit the starting time of a subtitle, just duration and text (but they have a workaround)

Add subtitles to video podcasts

After some playing around, I noticed you could move the start time of the subtitle by half-a-second, but the controls for this were unintuitive at best. Try to see if you understand from this image. Me either. They're under the list of titles and say "< Prev 0.5 sec" and "Forward 0.5 sec >". Since I figured out that the "Delete" key removed the currently selected title, this was a logical next step, but I don't know why we couldn't just type in the time. My anal self needs that level of granularity.

Time appears to be broken into 100-frames per second? Not sure how that works, but the titles seemed to play back fine.

Tip: Type out all of your titles before you get them in this tool or any other subtitling utility, and make notes about when each phrase starts, with a minute:second attached; this will go much more quickly for you. If you're like my friend and you want to translate the video into 4 languages (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese), keeping your notes and times straight will be a huge boost in throughput.

Check out a sample video at subtitle.in - as of this writing, I only did 3 screens of subtitles, so don't go looking for anything past the first blackout.

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New (old) Archives

Sat, 03/01/2008 - 20:46 -- rprice

Thanks to the Internet Archive, I was able to retrieve several of the first blogs I ever wrote back in 2002/2003. Some stuff is indicative of what I write about now - quotes, mostly. Other posts appear to be direct re-postings of something I saw on the web or was sent via AIM. I used to edit a static page and maintain a PHP guestbook, also suggest folks email me with comments.

I also have lots of posts archived on LiveJournal - I just hope they never delete old accounts. I'll have to look into that. I also had a Blurty for a while, but I migrated those to LJ when they took down the paywall.

Here are the Old-school blogs. If you're squeamish and intolerant of even the slightest bit of 20-year-old emo whining, I don't recommend these:

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