March 30, 2006
Fridge versus Cupboard Recap

Thanks to you, the Loyal Cruft Reader, the poll about proper storage is up to almost 70 votes as I write this.

Take a gander at the results:

The results are fairly interesting. As you can see, people are generally split on whether apples, syrup, and soy sauce are stored in the refrigerator or not. Obviously, apples and syrup go in the fridge and soy sauce goes in the cupboard! It's quite impressive that there is no consensus on these common items found in most homes. I'm sure many newly married couples have to debate these varied items.

This is the data set sorted by percentage that keep the item in the refrigerator.

You can see there is a fairly clear preference to store salad dressing, parmesan cheese, mustard, ketchup, and BBQ sauce in the fridge. I have to agree with these choices. Here at Cruft Manor they all live in the fridge.

Here the data is sorted by percentage that keep the item in the cupboard.

From these numbers you can see that peanut oil and chocolate are generally stored in the cupboard. We put chocolate in the fridge here, but as you already know, we are a little crazy.

There are three items that are more interesting to consider, bread, potatoes, and syrup are all around a 75%/25% split toward keeping them in the cupboard. Again, this kind of split in households has got to lead to some disagreements. I grew up with peanut butter in the fridge and Michele grew up with bread in the fridge. Due to compromise, they've both moved into the cupboard storage.

Well, what do you think? Is everyone else crazy?

Posted by michael at 08:55 PM | Comments (5)
My X-ray

Any diagnosis?

Posted by michael at 08:53 PM | Comments (8)
March 26, 2006
Which go in the fridge?

At work last week, Brad and I were discussing which items go in the fridge and which stay out. Brad wrote up a little about this but I'm taking it to the next step.

Here is a poll to survey you, the Loyal Cruft Readers, to see exactly which food items belong in the fridge and which don't. Assume for the sake of the poll that the containers have been opened.

The Poll
Which go in the fridge?

One of the things I remember when I moved in with Michele was her wacky idea that bread goes in the fridge. Her parents raised her that way for some reason. Seemed absolutely crazy to me. Then again, I grew up with peanut butter in the fridge at all times and Michele insisted it stay in the cupboard. We each had to give a little.

I'm sure you family has it's own 'rules'. Which of these seem crazy to common sense to you?

Here's a direct link to the results
Results: Which go in the fridge?

Posted by michael at 11:24 PM | Comments (11)
March 23, 2006
Michele in the New York Times

If you take a look at the Style section of the New York Times today, you will see an article about pet adoption starring my wonderful wife Michele.

Earlier this week, the Times reporter Anna Bahney, got ahold of Michele about pet adoption based on a few posts about our troubles getting a dog.

As we read the New York Times daily at Cruft Manor and this is a very big deal indeed!

Posted by michael at 07:44 AM | Comments (2)
March 20, 2006
Nicely Done

Congratulations to Mister P. for successfully completing the Los Angeles Marathon. His audio perfectly captures the essence of Mr. P in a stressful situation.

Posted by michael at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)
March 16, 2006
It's not so simple

While I was at SxSW, I was in a session about Darknets. For those that don't know, Darknets are the concept that with the crack down on peer to peer file sharing, private file sharing systems based on trust between individuals will develop, hidden from view.

The session rapidly disintegrated into a free for all about DRM, file sharing, and personal rants and lost all connection to the idea of Darknets. I’m not sure what was expected by putting the MPAA and BayTSP on the same stage as Freenet and Our Media.

Derek Powazek wrote a piece about the session and in it seemed to fault the MPAA and the RIAA as the root of all problems here. Derek is an aquantance, and a smart guy, but he's wrong. It's just not that simple.

I'm not going to defend or condone the four letter groups, DRM, P2P software writers, file sharers, or media companies. I'm going to try to simply explain exactly how complicated the issue is and point out that there is not one throat to choke in this time of change.

Loyal Cruft Readers know that my day job is with a large beloved/hated media company and that I work in media technology. Any new reader should be aware of it so that they don't google me, find out where exactly I work, say omfgwtfbbq, and then try to point to me as an astroturfer.

My work involves me in the discussions of these issues directly. In the session, Kevin Smokler, made the statement, "I want my content, where I want it, when I want!" The funny thing is that it wasn't the first time I had heard that, in fact, it was the title of a presentation I saw internally called "Giving the customer what they want, when they want, wherever they want it."

So everyone is in agreement on the goal here right? Already you can get your content on TV, on Video-on-demand, at the iTunes store, on your cell phone, recorded on your Tivo, on DVDs and CDs. You can even get shows that play on your Game Boy Advance. You can even download on the internet from various peer-to-peer arrangements.

But people want more RIGHT NOW and they need someone to blame. So who is to blame? Everyone one is.

It's easy to blame the MPAA and the RIAA for all the trouble as our entire media industry and the consumer marketplace go through an extremely disruptive transistion. Unfortunately, it's just not that simple.

When something like a television program or a movie is made, it takes a lot of people. Yes, I know there are some people out there making good things with their camcorders and Final Cut Pro, but if you want Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos, or the Daily Show, it takes a LOT of people. Each of these people have a say in what happens to what they create and they want to get paid.

This happens in the form of contracts. When someone agrees to work on a television program or film, a contract controls the pay they will receive and how the work will be used. Work that is used one time is paid differently than work that is reused many times.

As an example, we decided to air a large number of soap operas from the past. The original contracts called out that the musicians would be paid for a single use of popular songs. We wanted to play it again, and so 20 years later, we had to find out how much the musician wanted. We were faced with a choice, pay the musician for their work or replace the music so as to not violate the original agreement.

Most people that work in production is represented in a similar fashion. To ‘clear’ the rights to use a television program in let’s say the Apple iTunes store, it must be understood that the contracts with everyone are upheld and no individual’s rights are violated.

That means you need to clear the writers, the directors, the actors, the voice talent, the musicians, and anyone else involved with a contract. Each of those roles is represented by a union. Remember when the Screen Actors Guild went out on strike? It was due to SAG wanting to get paid more for reruns on cable TV.

Everyone wants to get paid. Not many give up their rights and reject money.

That’s just the production end. It gets even more complicated.

Many people bring up the example of ripping a DVD to use it on other players. I have to agree, it seems like a reasonable request to me. For better or worse, many of the requests for security and DRM come from the actors, directors and others that have direct financial stakes in the sale of DVDs. Everyone that profits in the sale of DVDs wants to make sure they don’t get copied or distributed at no charge. In fact, these same people make the DVD companies promise in contracts that they will do everything to prevent DVD copying.

Just like Xerox has to protect their trademark and run ads saying that Xeros is a brand and not a verb, companies that sell DVDs have to take an active stand if they know DVDs are being copied. Right now, distinguishing between for-profit DVD copier and the freely distributed file sharer, is not bound into any contacts. The media companies can’t simply look the other way and say it’s OK to share files but not OK to buy bootleg DVDs on the street. They would get sued by the people that make the movies.

Now consider the multiple ways that content gets to you through the wide choice of paths.

For the content to get to you, you need some sort of distribution method, whether a cable company, Apple, or your cell phone. These distribution companies all pay for the content in some way. It’s not unusual for distribution companies to want some sort exclusivity or non-compete clause built into their agreement. You can easily see how a cable company might not want you to be able to buy an episode of Lost via Apple, they want you to buy it via their Video on Demand system.

With varied methods of distribution comes the terrifying prospect of a ‘most favored nation’ contract where a company is ensured that it will receive the lowest price that any of the media companies customers receive. That poses a huge problem, especially when content is ‘given away’ for free in a way that someone thinks money could be charged for successfully.

Again, everyone wants to get paid. No one wants to miss the opportunity to make money.

Further complicating issues is the fact that each delivery format is basically in competition with others. The people wanting you to pay for an episode on your TV are different than the people that want you to pay for the DVD and again different from the people wanting to sell you a copy for your computer. Telling the people that sell DVDs that you should be able to download the movie for free because you paid to see it in the theater just doesn’t fly. They are separate businesses.

Saying that since you pay for cable TV you should be able to freely download any show that possibly aired on any channels is like saying that since you pay for a land line, you shouldn't pay to make mobile phone calls.

Saying that you should be able to download a movie for free because the studio hasn't put it out on DVD yet is like saying you shouldn't pay for a music CD if the band hasn't come to your town on tour yet.

It just isn’t as simple as the “MPAA and RIAA are evil”.

The entire media industry is organized to extract money from each possible content delivery window and format. From the actors to the production company to the media giants to the distribution companies.

There is no vast conspiracy overseeing the whole industry making people do ‘evil’ things. It’s each part of the chain wanting to be paid and the interlocking contracts that enforce this desire.

IMHO, suing people isn’t the answer. Neither is creative people not being paid for their efforts.

There simply isn’t a good solution right now. It’s a hugely complex problem with many people adding value to a common product that even more people want in a multiple of formats and platforms. Many people are working hard to reinvent the entire media industry and meet the demands of the marketplace. Hyperbole and extreme measure on any side of the discussion don't help, they simply antagonize the situation.

In summary, it costs a lot to make shows like Battlestar Galactica, The Sopranos, and the Daily Show. People want to get paid for their creative efforts and most people are willing to pay for content. Unfortunately, there will never be a perfect system that makes everyone happy. Getting people what they want, when they want it, where they want it is a great goal, but it’s hard to do in a way that someone doesn’t get hurt in the process.

Posted by michael at 09:59 PM | Comments (4)
March 10, 2006
Second Life

Am I the only one that is tired of hearing about Second Life everywhere?

Posted by michael at 08:56 AM | Comments (9)
March 08, 2006
Helpful SxSW hints

This will be my fourth trip to SxSW Interactive. Here are my hints for the conference, refined from my experience.

Introduce Yourself - People are at SXSW because they want to meet people and see new things. Strangely, many of the blogger types that go are introverted types that are a bit shy. Do yourself a favor and say "Hello, I'm So-and-so" to that person you are sitting next to. (Don't say So-and-so, use your name...) I guarantee that they will be happy to talk to you.

ABC - Always Be Charging - If you bring a laptop, you need to be charging it every single chance you get. No battery lasts long enough. Try to sit near an oulet in the session rooms. Share power outlets with others.

Personal cards - Make up business cards with your name, email, and website info on them to hand out. Bring your regular business cards if you want, but what people really want is a card that ties you to your online persona so they can find you after SXSW.

Shiner Bock - Shiner Bock is a local Texas beer that you find everywhere. Often referred to as simply ‘Shiner’.

Fray Cafe - Go to the Fray Cafe on Sunday night. It's one of the best things about SxSW.

Stay Warm - It can get cold and rain in Austin this time of year. Bring a good jacket or coat.

Sharpeners - There are no pencil sharpeners at SXSW. People think writing on a pad of paper with a wooden pencil is a bit strange.

The Backchannel - Be aware that there is a backchannel of real-time IRC discussion going on. Probably on, probably on #sxsw. The trick is to not make the backchannel into the front channel for you. It can distract you from listening to the speaker/session that you paid to see...

Secure connections - Wifi traffic is in the clear and people are sniffing packets all the time. Arrange for secure email, FTP, and if possible, secure browsing while at SXSW. It’s unlikely that a malicious hacker is gunna do bad things, but it’s best to be prepared.

Street Signs - For some reason, downtown Austin has few street signs. Get a map and study it before venturing out.

Food - Eat food. Austin has a great bar scene. You will be drinking. Don‘t drink on an empty stomach.

Texas BBQ - IMHO, Texas BBQ pales in comparison to BBQ in other areas like Kansas City and Carolina. That chopped beef sandwich stuff just doesn't cut it, but people will want to eat it for lunch.

Say Hello to Me - This year, my brother Matt and friend Martin can't make it, so I'll be back to hitting SxSW solo. Email me or IM at pusateri AT and I promise to respond.

Posted by michael at 10:17 PM | Comments (2)
Food Wednesday

Today is Wednesday, which to unrepentant newspaper readers like myself, means that it is food day. In the LA Times, there is the the Food section, and in the NY Times, there is the Dining Out section. Both are devoted to food and issues around food.

Two good articles to read:

In the NY Times, there is talk of the imminent opening of a Trader Joe's in Manhattan. Trader Joe's, long a staple of California food shopping, brings a wonderful food at a low price to New York. NYC denziens, do yourself a favor and get to Trader Joe's. I recommend the Thai Chili Cashews (introduced to me by Brad) and the Sesame Pita Chips.

In the LA Times, there is long read about the Oxo brand of kitchen utensils, which I must admit I lust for when at Bed, bath, and Beyond. We have several Oxo items in the house, and it interesting to read about how they come into being.

Posted by michael at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)
March 07, 2006
ETech 06

I'm down in San Diego at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference or ETech as it is better known. I spent yesterday talking to many people, overhearing many conversations and listenig to the keynote speeches.

Bathed in wifi radiation, I was not surprised to hear plans for a million ways to make a million dollars. With Yahoo buying up the internet darlings, NBC buying iVillage (who?) for $600 million dollars (what?) to "IVillage immediately gives us scale and a profitable, established platform to expand our digital efforts" (wtf?).

Hell, I'd like to make a few millions too. I was even talking to people about my long orphaned Geekcalendar site that live in a perpetual pre-alpha in my head, filled with ideas on what to do and never actually doing anything about it.

The next big thing, that's what everyone is after. "What the Alpha Geeks are into" is the catchphrase, but the feel of the conference is a bit different. The casual conversations are still mainly about neat things and hearing new ideas, but I fear the sessions may be a little more along the "this is how I made millions, and you can too". We'll see.

I've talked to several people about managing the huge amount of work that the advent of email and the internet have now allowed in business. Getting Things Done or GTD as it is commonly known, is what people are talking about as being the trick. I actually bought the book about six weeks ago and didn't find time to read it. I spoke to Ben, a co-worker, about it and he said it makes a difference. I can get into the idea about having a flow-charted workflow of how to get things done, but I'm not sold on blending 'work' and 'home' into one inbox. I'll finish the book and talk to more people before I make up my mind, but the overload of the office is not slowing down anytime soon.

I'm looking forward to seeing what people have to say today. If you want to keep up with what's going on, check out Planet ETech for a potpourri of ETech posts.

Lastly, while I am not a tagaholic, like many, I will tag this post about . For those not aware of the word tagaholic, it describes a person that uses so many tags that they spend more time tagging content than actually writing it.

Posted by michael at 07:12 AM | Comments (0)
March 05, 2006

I make me even more busy, I have two trips this week.

Today I'm driving down to San Diego to the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference. I spoke that the ETech conference two years ago and found it to be full of interesting ideas.

Then on Friday, I'll be heading to Austin for my 4th year of SxSW Interactive.

If you are going to either one, drop me a line and let's meet up.

Posted by michael at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)
March 02, 2006
Quote of the Day

Seen as a bumper sticker in the parking lot at work:

Better a bleeding heart than no heart at all.

Posted by michael at 07:23 PM | Comments (1)