April 29, 2004

Today in #joiito I was challenged to write a 5ives, a list of five things. Here's what I wrote:

Five translations of Wifespeak

1) No = Yes
2) Are you busy? = I have something for you do.
3) You don't have to get me anything for [holiday]. = Prove your love by disobeying me.
4) No, nothing's wrong. = I'm pissed.
5) What do you want for dinner? = I want to go out for dinner.

Posted by michael at 10:29 PM
April 26, 2004
Real Social Software

In the blogosphere these days there's lots of chatter about social software. No disrespect to the big thinkers in the area, but IMHO, it's mainly recycling the same thoughts on weblogs, search engines and linking. Plenty of good stuff to think about, but there's a lot of navel gazing going on as well.

Well, I tell you, I've found some real social software that achieves some elusive goals that other forms simply don't do well.

The software is called Xfire. At first glance, Xfire appears to be a simple instant messaging program, but it is much more than that. Xfire is focused on people that play video games and is all about allowing gamers to meet up in-game and make new gaming friends.

Let's take a look.

Here you see a typical IM screen, but notice that I can see that Travis is playing Battlefield Vietnam, a first person shooter video game. The Xfire client montiors the computer and keeps track of what Travis is doing. This is an important point, and we'll come back to it later.

Here's where things get good. I expand out the info on Travis and I can see exactly what server he's on. Xfire has grabbed this info on his computer and fed it to me, his friend. All I have to do to join in in the game is hit the Join button. Xfire launches the game on my computer and automagically feeds the server info from Travis computer into mine and within a few seconds...

I'm with Travis in the game.

To gamers, this is revolutionary. In the past, we had to coordinate in voice chat, IRC, message boards to meet up in the game. The desks of serious gamers are often cluttered with scraps of paper with IP addresses of which the only purpose is to join the right server.

With Xfire, a clan or guild member only needs to go online and join his or her friends with literally the click of a button.

But it doesn't stop there. Even if my friends are offline, I can see what Friends of my Friends are doing. My god, it's like FOAF, but actually useful! This is an actual demonstration of where personal linkages can be of direct benefit to an individual.

Xfire also tracks gameplay to create profile of what games I have been playing so others can see what kind of gamer I am. If a friend of a friend see's me online and checks out my profiel that can see if we play similar games and to what degree. Rather than me entering what my gaming interests are, Xfire tracks it automatically.

Now, if you are not a gamer, you may be thinking, "Big effing deal, I'm not a gamer." Ah, but here's where the beauty of Xfire is truly found.

In other social software, the software does what the user tells it to do and usually creates a profile about what a person says about themself. Xfire takes this to the next level. It creates a profile about a user actually does, and allows others to see it.

Imagine if you will, running a piece of software that watched what you did online. It could tell where you spent your time online and what you were connected to currently. If you were in an IRC channel, it could point your friends to the IRC channel. If you were posting a lot on a specific message board or wiki, it could tell your friends that's what you'd been up to recently.

It's reasonable to concieve of software could track where you had commented on blogs and keep a record for you or let others see you comments on other blogs. Matt Haughey's Posted Elsewhere could be automated rather than hand crafted.

Yes, there's privacy and control issues. Sure, I don't want people knowing how much time I spend at porn sites either. But those are all solvable problems. The Orku-tribe-sters have been examing those issues ad naseum.

The possibilities go on and on if you start thinking about having an intelligent agent that keeps track of your net wanderings. Xfire is the first of a new breed of social software. A breed where the burden of work is removed from human and placed in the hands of the software, allowing the human to focus on the fun and interesting things.

So there you have it, real social software in the form of automated agents. It's the future boys & girls and it's going to kick ass.

Posted by michael at 11:05 PM
I got hacked

I got an email today from Cruft reader Kevin informing that the Indie 103.1 forum had been hacked.

Sure enough, I took a look and saw that it had been hacked and this was the message.

I guess he showed me and the forum about a radio station who is really in charge. I wouldn't have minded much if he had just changed the frontpage with his message, but he messed up the entire forum and I had to delete it.

The forum is reinstalled with the latest version of software and should not be exploitable in the same way.

So, feel free to enjoy the newly reinstalled Indie 103.1 FM forums.

Posted by michael at 09:39 PM
LA Radio takes another hit

This morning I was driving to work and flipping through my presets. When I got to button two, Arrow 93.1, I heard talking. Huh? 93.1 is the rock station that plays music 24/7 and doesn't go for the talk stuff. While not a big classic rock fan, I do like having a station where music plays songs I know.

Sure enough, 93.1 has a new wacky morning funnyman, Johnny B. Fromt he looks of it, we are going to be stuck with this comedy jokester for a while. God damn, what is it with the morning show trend. I count my blessings that Indie 103.1 has still resisted the trend to host their music in the morning.

I've resisted the idea of satellite radio for a while, but it almost looks inevitable when you find it hard to find music on FM radio. Adding yet another monthly charge to the budget is unappealing, but if the trend toward talk continues, it may be my only asylum.

For those of you that simply must know, my radio presets are:

1) 89.3 - KPCC
2) 93.1 - Arrow
3) 97.1 - KLSX
4) 103.1 - Indie 103.1
5) 106.7 - KROQ

Posted by michael at 10:01 AM
April 25, 2004
Lazy weekend

Zoe was sick over the weekend and we didn't do much. I had plenty of time to read. I actually finished these books a week or so ago, but just got around to writing them up.

Broken Angels - Richard Morgan

This is the second Takeshi Kovacs novel. I read the first one last summer and was impressed. Morgan meshes sci-fi with the crime novel. Good stuff. The book keeps moving along and the twists and turns will have you flipping back and forth to keep track of things.

In the world we are presented with, your body can be replaced easily and your consciousness can be stored in electronics. THis leads ot complicated wars where if you kill a solider, he can return to fight you again and again.

Our hero, Takeshi, gets involved with a plan to salvage some alien technology in the middle a war consuming the entire planet. His dealings with ruthless corporations, mercenaries, xeno-archaeologists, and the black market are all interesting touching on different possibilities of the future.

Full of crosses and double-crosses, the novel is in the traditional crime novel style. It really doesn't try to make a specific point, but takes you one hell of a fun ride.

Angels and Demons - Dan Brown

I think I'm the last person on the planet not to have read this along with The Davinci Code. Michele read this and said it was a quick read. I finished this in three days or so.

The book was fun, but reminded me of watching a television program with cliffhanger after cliffhanger. Some novels have the classis three act structure, but this novel didn't seem to. Not that I minded, but it felt like things kept popping into the story to solve problems easily.

Some people are talking about the role of 'facts' in the story and talk of the 'real' Illuminati. I've read about the Illuminati, the Knights Templar, the Freemasons and other secret societies before. This is standard stuff in those circles with little new tossed in to the idea pool from this novel.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fun novel to blow through on vacation, but there's not a big message here to learn here.

Posted by michael at 09:26 PM
April 24, 2004
I need better teammates

When I outscore my teammates by more than double, there's a problem...

Posted by michael at 10:41 PM
Battlestar America

Yesterday in the mail I got the Battlestar America CD in the mail. I had heard a clip of Battlestar America from a link on Boing Boing a week or so ago.

The band blends country and bluegrass with hip-hip into a great blend. As their promo card says, it's Half Country, Half Hip-hop, All Good.

Michele and I listened the whole whole album twice last night. It's Turn off the TV week, don'tcha know? And we don't have anything better to do than sit int eh living room and listen to fresh tunes. We are in love with the whole thing. Scratching and fiddle are meant to go together!

The band is fairly off the radar scope, so much that when I ripped the album into the house media server, I had to enter the CDDB data for album myself. That's a first...

Battlestar is based in New York, so you East Coast peeps might even be able to score a live show.

In any case, buy the damn album and get these people moving toward fame and fortune.
You'll probably get a note from Rench, the frontman, just like I did. It will be worth $$$ when Battlestar is a mega-band with adoring teeny-bopper fans.

Posted by michael at 09:11 AM
April 22, 2004
Vegas Baby Vegas

I just returned from Las Vegas after four days and nights in Sin City at the NAB convention. For the first time since Sunday, I did not have a Canadian Club & Ginger Ale before dinner.

I've been going to Vegas for years and have seen it change dramatically. Here's what I noticed this year that has changed.

1) Net access - The hotel I stayed at had wired AND wireless internet in every room. After resisting for years at putting anything inthe rooms that would keep you in the rooms, the hotels are starting to do whatever it takes to peel more money out of people's wallets.

2) Poker - The poker on TV craze has created a much larger devotion to poker in Vegas. The poker rooms are larger, busier and more popular than anytime in the past. The poker rooms we saw were packed with full tables all the time.

3) Hookers - It looks like people are taking the 'What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas' marketing line for all it's worth. For the first, the hookers were blanant and obvious in a major hotel. For hours on end, new women would show up at a casino bar, chat up a guy, and soon be off to the rooms. Conversations with the dealers revealed that the casino is permitting it as long as everyone behaves. This is huge. For the big, corporate casinos to turn the other cheek to this stuff, the police and city have to be in on it.

Lastly, they have torn down a classic Vegas establishment. Yes, the Kosher Deli & Internet Cafe.

Las Vegas Kosher Deli & Internet Cafe
RIP ?-2004

Posted by michael at 09:19 PM
April 20, 2004

When I arrived at the Mirage I was happy to hear they had broadband net access in the hotel. Upon settling in the room I was pleased to find a special laptop hookup with power, ethernet and modem connections. Looking under the desk, I saw that they used D-link wifi to ethernet bridges to distribute access. I could either plug in with a cable or use the wifi to connect to the net. Pretty advanced for a Vegas hotel.

I did have to sign up for access via the TV set and get a code number that allowed me in. A pain, but not the end of the world.

Yesterday, after dinner and drinks I finally got back to the room sometime around midnight. I tried to log on and for some reason I couldn't get in. The DHCP wasn't working right. I tried and tried and wrote off the failure to my state of intoxication. This morning, I tried agian with no luck.

Calling Guest Services, they told me that 'the internet is down, we are trying to fix it'. I asked it was down last night and they said it was. Well, if you are going to provide net access in a hotel at $10 a pop, you better be able to fix it in less that 8 hours...

In other show news, there haven't been any really new things announced. Apple has some serious deals with GVG, I heard Leitch bought Videotek, HP announced their work with Warner (which I knew about...), and not much else.

Gone are the days of Newtek and the Video Toaster where you couldn't get within 100 feet of the booth. But that's another story.

Posted by michael at 06:51 AM
April 18, 2004
Gearing up

I'm in Burbank airport waiting for my plane to leave for Vegas. This week is the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) convention. Yet again, I make the pilgrimage to Sin City to look at broadcasting and post production hardware.

Let's see, I've been going to NAB since '90. I think I've missed two years, once when I was in Singapore and once when we launched Toon Disney. That means this will be my 12th NAB. Wowsa. That's a lot of time walking the floor and drinking free booze at parties.

Believe it or not, it loses it's glamor over time. It's a good time, but Vegas is much better when you are not there for business. I wish Michele was going to Vegas with me. That girl knows how to party. :)

In other news, Michele and I are now the proud owners of a new mattress. We got a good one and Michele is quite happy with it. Phew. If I effed that up, It would have been a costly mistake. The mattress sits much higher than our old one and that will take some getting used to over time.

Last night Mira and I went to the opening at Sean's Sixspace. Pretty cool stuff. I liked the fabric work. If I hadn't been so busy corraling Mira, I would have had a chance to look at the prices. I got a chance to talk with Grant & Jill a bit and said Hi to Sean. Mira liked the show alot and was eager to see everything.

Unfortunately, we missed the Brewery Art Walk. For some reason, I thought the Art Walk was in the evening and planned to see it on the way home from the gallery. Grant told me that the Art Walk was over. According to Jeff, I missed a good time. Maybe next year.

Have a good week. Be nice to yourself.

Posted by michael at 12:21 PM
April 16, 2004
Staying out late, drinking booze, listening to rock & roll

Last night Michele and I went out to see the Twilight Singers at Spaceland.

We had seen the Twilight Singers just a few days ago when were in Cincinnati. Greg Dooley was the frontman of the Afgan Whigs, a Cincinnati band that Michele loves. Now he fronts the Twilight Singers.

We got to Spaceland in Silverlake and waiting outside in line until the doors opened at 9PM. As we headed up to the door, the bouncer was making a lot of noise about getting our licenses out and being reader to hand them to him. In his hand was a contraption of some sort. He took our driver's licenses and swiped them through. On the screen, our ages popped up. It was an electronic age verifier that read the magnetic strip on the back of the driver's licenses. Damn cool. Bad news for the underage crowd, but my geekness was intrigued.

We had time to kill and took advantage of the wide set of choices at the bar. :)

The first band was Pilot to Gunner. They are a good rock band with some good passion and nice songs. Michele bought a t-shirt and they gave us a demo CD.

The second act kinda sucked. I don't want to mention the name, cause they don't deserve the bad google juice. It just wasn't our kind of music. I'm sure some people love it, but I think I dozed off for a song or two.

Twilight Singers came on stage a little after 11:30PM and played hard. It was the same set and act that we saw in Cincinnati. Michele was in heaven and I was enjoying the show. They were still playing a 1:30 AM when Michele looked down at her watch and said we had to go. Nanny Rachel was at home watching the kids and we had to scoot.

Michele hits the road and we break multiple traffic laws on the way home.

Good times. Good times.

Posted by michael at 04:52 AM
April 15, 2004
Work Haiku
Meetings like raindrops Too many to attend all Hope for hot weather
Posted by michael at 12:17 PM
April 14, 2004
IM for Gamers

I've been checking out the new instant messaging program called Xfire. Xfire looks to be the must have messaging tool for gamers.

Xfire understands games and can tell when you are playing a game. Your friends can see your status and see what you are playing. If your friend wants to join you, they can join you on the same server.

For example, if you are playing Call of Duty on a specific server, Xfire allows your friend to see what server you are on and join it easily. This is truly revolutionary for gamers. No more exchange of IP addresses, just a simple point and click. This is a great thing for guilds and clans.

Besides see your friends, you can see the friends of your friends, increasing your group of potential teammates. I haven't played with Xfire extensively, but it looks to be a great tool once I have more friends using it.

So if you are a gamer, and a friend of mine, download Xfire and add me as a friend. I'm Argyle on Xfire. This means you BillB...

Posted by michael at 09:48 PM
April 12, 2004
Taxes Done!

For the first time in about ten years, I did my own taxes. We had been having our accountant doing them since we lived in San Francisco. For the last several years I had been getting extensions and putting off the taxes until October each year, paying a premium for the accountant to handle things. Quite a slacker I was.

The guys at work convinced me that the Turbo Tax software on the net was completely kick ass and easy to use. I was dubious at first but I had faith and and tried it anyways. I had gathered the info over the weekend and did all the data entry in about 90 minutes. Easy as cake.

We are getting a sweet little refund direct deposited into our bank account and I am filled with relief. I heartily recommend online tax filing via Turbo Tax.

Posted by michael at 10:41 PM
Livejournal Images

Check out this site that scraps the latest images from Livejournal and displays them.

Posted by michael at 09:38 AM
April 10, 2004
LA Bloggers

Yesterday, I arrived back in LA from New York and saw that there was a meeting for LA bloggers in downtown LA. With Michele & the kids still out of town, seemed like a good thing to do.

Before the meetup, I went to have a drink with Len, Monique, and Darby before heading to the train station to take me downtown. They were having dinner in Pasadena and wanted to give back some stuff from the Crawfish party I had loaned them.

The Gold Line to Union Station, switch to the Red Line and pop up at Pershing Square. I was one block away from the meeting at the Biltmore. For $3 I had an all day pass and avoided traffic and parking costs. Taking the train > driving.

The group was gathered at couches near the bar and an impressive tab was building. I pulled a chair and started chatting. IIRC, I chatted with Jeff Koga, Will Campell, Kathy, Kathy's friend from St. Louis (who's name I forget, but remember is a Lotus notes guru), Ponzi (Chris's girlfriend), Sean, and briefly with Wil (trying to convince him to try Neverwinter Nights). There were a dozen more people I didn't get a chance to meet with. They passed around a paper for people write their names & URLs onto, but I don't know what happened to it.

Here's a photo of the group taken with my digital happy snap with it's weak flash. I Photoshopped in a fill flash, so pardon the quality. We didn't seem to have any of the serious photographer bloggers in the hizzou.

I think this gathering could get converted into a regular event. The downtown Biltmore seems like neutral ground for the Westside & Valley bloggers. The drink prices were high, but other than that the spot was good, with supposed wifi lurking. Next time, I'm bringing my sporadically blogging wife. She never turns down a chance to go out for a drink.

Update: Looks like I go things confused. I was actually talking with Jay Bushman, not Will Campell at the meetup. My apologies. All the more reason we need nametags at these things. Jay is a good guy and we agreed about most things, except that Nightmare Before Christmas was a great movie. He says it was terrible. It must have been the gin talking.

Posted by michael at 12:06 PM
April 07, 2004
More on FeedDemon

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had found a way to sync one install of FeedDemon to another. It’s simple in theory but a little more complicated when you actually do it. Alex Hunter asked me to explain how to do it.

All of the information about how you’ve configured FeedDemon is stored in the C:\Documents and Settings\Mike\Local Settings\Application Data\Bradsoft.com\FeedDemon\1.0 directory. The exact location will probably vary on your machine unless you name is Mike as well.

What I do is zip up the entire 1.0 directory and upload it to a directory on some web space. You could do the same thing with removable storage, but online storage works for me.

When I’m at a computer where I want to sync up FeedDemon, I simply download the zipped file and unzip it into the same C:\Documents and Settings\Mike\Local Settings\Application Data\Bradsoft.com\FeedDemon\1.0 directory having the unzipping process overwrite any existing files as needed.

Boot up FeedDemon, and viola, it is configured just as the location I zipped the files was configured. It’s a little complicated but I think that in time the process can be automated within FeedDemon itself. It might take some time for this to be done, Nick Bradbury, the author of FeedDemon, is having neck surgery. Amazing, since I was just playing kickball with in February at SXSW. Until then I can manually sync the aggregator.

Perhaps I need to learn how to write a simple script that executes the zip and upload for me. I think that winzip allows for command line scripting. If you figure it out, let me know.

Posted by michael at 08:38 PM
April 06, 2004
Coffee Drinkers read this

In the New York Times Health section, there was a great article on caffeine intoxication. All you coffeeholics should read it. Some of you have that darting eyes look about you and can't seem to pay attention well.

After reading that, go check out the list of caffeine content of various drinks. Another list shows slightly higher values.

Putting this in perspective, a single large Starbucks coffee (500+ mg caffeine) has roughly the equivalent of FOUR cans of Red Bull or a SIXPACK of Mountain Dew soda in caffeine dosage.

So people please, watch your caffeine intake. Try to keep to the recommended 250 mg per day.

Posted by michael at 07:36 AM

Last night was Passover.

I am not a religious man, but I have to say that Passover is my favorite religious holiday. Like many holidays, it is a time when family gathers together for a meal. Different than many holidays, Passover is a living, changing holiday. Passover is about the journey of the Jewish people both today and thousands of years ago. Unlike some holidays that are locked into events that occured long ago, Passover examines the continuing quest of the Jewish people for a better life.

The basic idea behind Passover is for the youth to be told the story of the deliverance of the Jewish people out of Egypt and into Israel. Quite a good tale, if all the movies about it are any sign.

The story has been told over and over the centuries as the Jews have been through good and bad times, to remind them that in the end, their current struggles will subside and things will get better. Even while in the concentration camps in World War II, the Jews celebrated Passover, looking toward the future. As new history is made, so changes the story of Passover and the path to peace that lies ahead.

This year I was proud as my eldest daughter, Zoe, read the four questions in the Haggadah (the script for Passover). It doesn't seem that long ago that I was reading the same questions from the strange book with the pages backward.

Here Zoe & Mira negoitate the price for the Afikoman with my father-in-law, Steve. We need to work on this since they gave into his first offer. They could have gotten much more out of him.

Posted by michael at 06:33 AM
April 05, 2004
Found goodness

Thanks to a note from a reader of my post about self-publishing, I was able to track down a copy of the book NeoAddix by Jon Courtney Grimwood. It winged it's way to me from England and I read it in the last couple days.

NeoAddix by Jon Courtney Grimwood

After about the third paragraph of NeoAddix, I knew it fit seamlessly into the world I first encountered in ReMix, Grimwood's third novel. The world takes place in a slightly alternative future where France still has aristocracy and the advancement of genetic engineering is common place. The world has a harsh edge to it. The boundary of right and wrong is blurry and power is the goal above all else including money or fame.

The story wanders into themes of the corruption of power, the future of medicine, and the interconnectedness of crime. I was suprised to find that several of the characters int he book are mentioned in the later books. In fact, they play key roles. Alex Gibson and Razz both appear in ReMix with references to them that I really didn't understand. Now I have a clear picture as to where they came from.

The cyberpunk style is much like William Gibson with a future that doesn't need a lot of explanation, but with a harder edge of world spanning conspiracy and cruelty. The book was hard to get, but worth it. The second book in the series, Lucifier's Dragon, is on order from England now. It looks to continue on in the world Grimwood has created.

Posted by michael at 08:05 PM
April 02, 2004
On the road

In about a half hour I'm heading to the airport for a trip to Cincinnati to catch up with the girls and spend some time with family. On short notice, I have to go to New York as well for business.

So if you are in Cincy or NYC, drop me a line.

Have a good weekend, I know I will.

Posted by michael at 09:03 PM
New weblogger

I was talking to my friend Joe at the Crawfish party last weekend and got to talking about blogging. In my drunken state, I demanded he get a blog and begin writing immediately. He's an English major for christ's sake.

When I sobered up I took a few moments and helped get his blog up and rolling. So go check out FlickerBlamPow and give him some comment love.

Yes, yes, it's the default MT template. I added in RSS & Atom feed linsk though. If one of you CSS saavy types wants to help him out with design help, it would be awfully kind.

He's only got one post so far, but I think once he gets rolling, it will be good.

In other blog news:

Paul has a crow's nest outside his office with little eggs in it.

MisterP is against all marriage.

Sonny hates The Flaming Lips. WTF? I love the Flaming Lips!

Kathy thinks best while naked.

Posted by michael at 08:00 AM
April 01, 2004
Goodbye gaming

After another day of pain in my right arm, I've realized I've got to do something serious about it. I can't do my job if my arm hurts so much.

In thinking about it, at night I spend the most time on the computer gaming. Hours on end. This is causing the repetitive stress in my arm.

There's only one thing I can do to solve the problem. I need to get off the computer, and that means I need to stop playing computer games. Yes, I really like games, but I have to have priorities.

Instead of gaming so much, I'll spend more time watching TV and sleeping. I haven't done enough this in the past, and it's time I did.

Posted by michael at 06:46 AM