Monday, May 09, 2005


Giveaway: Radio UserLand Kick Start
We adopted a kitten from the humane society nine months ago who thinks he's a dog, and there's nothing he likes more than the taste of a computer book. A stack of them make an excellent scratching post, as I learned when he shredded a dozen copies ofHow to Use the Internet Eighth Edition.

This situation adds urgency to my need to give away more of my books, before they become either out-of-date or drenched with saliva.

I'm giving away four author's copies ofRadio UserLand Kick Start, each in new condition and completely untouched by my catdog.

If you'd like to win one, post a comment on thisWorkbenchentry or write about it on your weblog, linking to itspermalinkso I don't overlook it. I'll pay the postage to anywhere that I can send it for under $10.

Kick Startcovers everything you need to get started with Radio UserLand, an Internet content management and programming tool that makes it simple to publish your own weblog, develop web services, and collect information from thousands of Internet sites. Severalsample chapterscan be read online.

During mylast book giveaway, I awarded an extra copy to the person with the most inventive reason for wanting one. If I can scare up a fifth copy, I'll do that again here.

All-Podcast, All-the-Time Radio
A San Francisco radio station is going to start airing nothing but user-submitted podcasts beginning on May 16. The station, which calls itselfKYOU Open Source Radio, will broadcast on 1550-AM/San Francisco and the Internet.

Submitted podcasts must be 60 megabytes or less in size and can be in any format. The categories on thesubmission formdemonstrate how strange this is likely to be -- traditional fare like news, sports and politics is mixed with over-the-road trucking, sex and wiffleball.

This could be one of the great wheels-off radio experiments of all-time -- at least until earnest liberal San Franciscans fill it with local community news, activism and independent music.

The station sounds like a good opportunity for Jacksonville webloggerTodd Smith, who devotes his site toAmericana musicand has a Saturday morning show about the music on alocal college station.

Scripting the Future
Dave Winer turned 50 today, and he asked for links toScripting Newsin lieu of presents.

I've had a chance to get to know Dave in recent years, first through his work and then through his visits to Northeast Florida, an area he prowled as a kid with his uncle, theGreat VavaVoom.

VavaVoom lived in Crescent Beach, a laid-back town south of St. Augustine, back when it could still be described as a"hippie commune."Today, suburbanites like me are scaring them off, subdividing the bucolic area into the kind of well-manicured, community covenant-ruled neighborhood that the feds shipped Steve Martin to inMy Blue Heaven.

Dave's had a unique impact on the technology that drives weblogging, creating or cocreatingRSS,XML-RPC,OPML, and theMetaWeblog API; developing the web content management softwareManila,Radio UserLand, andFrontier; and evangelizing the strange idea that millions of people would be blogging.

I can't decide whether he's prescient or he just makes his predictions come true by dragging the rest of us along. A May 1999 post he made to theXML-DEV mailing listshows how far ahead he saw this stuff:

RSS is an XML-based format that represents what we in the Frontier community call a"weblog". It's frequently updated site that points to stories on and off-site, that identifies an audience and feeds links to them. Until RSS came along the only format people were using was HTML. RSS changed that. ...

We're doing easy to use software to develop and maintain weblog sites, and of course they will all aggregate using the next generation of RSS and today's RSS. Who knows in what perverted ways this content will flow around the net? I'm totally looking forward to the creative chaos that's coming!

Back then, I thought weblogging was a fad that would receive aWiredcover story and an ignominious fate, likepush technology and the Zippies.

Shows what I know. Here's to another decade of perverting the flow of content around the Internet. Happy birthday, Dave!

Take a Bite of the Apple

Michael Moore is swimming in money afterFahrenheit 9/11, according to aSlate analysisthat describes how the filmmaker and Disney rode the controversy over the movie all the way to the bank:

Under normal circumstances, documentaries rarely, if ever, make profits (especially if distributors charge the usual 33 percent fee). So, when Miramax made the deal for Fahrenheit 9/11, it allowed Moore a generous profit participation -- which turned out to be 27 percent of the film's net receipts. Disney, in honoring this deal, paid Moore a stunning $21 million. Moore never disclosed the amount of his profit participation. When asked about it, the proletarian Moore joked to reporters on a conference call,"I don't read the contracts."

I lovedRoger&MeandTV Nation, but over the years Moore'spenchantfor dramatic embellishment and sloppy facts made it hard for me to enjoyFahrenheit. He produces great diatribes, but documentary filmmakers are one of the last remaining groups who believe in the quaint notion that facts matter. If we lose them to spin, all we'll have left are reference librarians, theSociety of Professional Journalists, andBob Somersby.

I'm not surprised that Moore exaggerated Disney's actions in refusing to distribute the film, nor that Disney found a way to profit handsomely from a project it was ostensibly refusing to release. Their relationship is a lot like Tom Cruise publiclygrouting the esophagusof Katie Holmes right before both release summer blockbusters.

The same cynical game appears to be at work with the new Steve Jobs biographyiCon: The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business. The book's print run was doubled after Apple, at the presumed behest of Jobs,banned the publisher's booksfrom Apple stores.

I haven't spoken about this with anyone at Wiley, a company that also publishesone of my books, but I have trouble believing that a marketing genius like Jobs took this action without knowing it would send book ordersthrough the roof. The guy runs a company with so much hype you'd never know it sellsfewer desktop computersthan also-rans likeAcerandLenovo. Apple's marketing is difficult to resist. I own five computers and a laptop, and I'm still convinced I need aMac mini.

Memo to self: Find a way in next book to anger Steve Jobs.

I'd Buy That for a Dollar
A stamp machine at the post office gave me dollar coins back as change -- five Sacagaweas and two Susan B. Anthonys. I gave some to my kids, who had to be convinced they were legal tender, and freaked out a clerk at an Arby's by using one.

"Are you sure you really want to spend this?"he asked, marveling at the golden coin honoring a woman so obscure there'sno record of her appearance. A coin can't be doing very well when people think you spent one by accident.

Last week the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to crowd out Sacagawea withnew dollar coinsfor each president, beginning in 2007 with the first four: Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, and Madison. I'm setting a task in Microsoft Outlook to corner the market in 2010 on Millard Fillmore, widely recognized as our least accomplished leader.

The earliest a Hillary Clinton dollar will be available is 2017.

Close But No Cigar
I publish several web sites that run advertising sold byBlogAds, a broker that has been a financial boon to hundreds of weblogs.

I rejected an ad today from a site that sells Cuban cigars. The site claims that it's legal for Americans to import two boxes, but the language of the site's frequently asked questions page gives me the willies:

The original embargo on Cuban products has been revised by the US Dept of Justice to allow importation of small quantities when returning from a licensed trip to Cuba. This revision was extended to the public who are now allowed to import up to 2 boxes for personal use. There is no formal regulations that outlines the ability for US residents to import Cuban Cigars. There have been thousands of customers importing Cuban Cigars for personal use in the US and there is no history of anyone being prosecuted. Also, it has become a common practice among celebrities, military personnel, politicians and even law enforcement.

AU.S. Treasury brochure on the Cuba embargoseems pretty clear on the subject, stating that Americans can't even buy Cuban products while in foreign countries.

I rejected anabsinthe adlast year over similar qualms. When I saw that Google wasn't selling text ads for absinthe, I decided to adopt the same policy.

A Google search for the phraseCuban cigarsfinds only onecigar sellerin the sponsored ads, and that company won't export to the U.S.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home