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Top 15 Podcasts to prevent Geek Withdrawal

August 12, 2010 5 comments

If it wasn’t clear before just how much of a geek I really am, you’ll be convinced now.  Although I do listen to more music than your average person, I also like to do other things of a slightly more geeky nature such as building my own computers, building speaker enclosures and various other things I could only classify as occasional hobbies. I’m even giving programming a try now(LOL..well..).  Since I’ve been keeping very busy lately, I need a way to keep up with areas of technology and geekdom. My way is by listening to podcasts. Most of them from Leo Laporte’s TWIT network, with areas of interest varying as widely as Law, audio production, general technology and movies/tv shows. Here are my top 15 (yes.. 15.. and I listen to more than 15 a week on the job) podcasts, ending with my favorite so far. So start laughing at me now as I present to you…

My Top 15 Favorite Podcasts, what they cover and why I love them:

15. Tell ’em Steve-Dave – This one keeps getting better and better. Not very geeky, except for the occasional comics talk. But funny.

14. This Week in Google – This isn’t just about Google. It covers “the cloud” and “cloud services/computing”. Great podcast with great, knowledgeable hosts.

13. net@night – Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur chatting about what’s going on in these Internets we keep hearing about.

12. This Week in Computer Hardware – Yeah, I know. But this is one serious show.  And I like to keep up with what’s going on. It’s important to me. Stop poking me with that stick. Seriously. I’ll tell.

11. Inside Home Recording – Just what it sounds like it’s about. A show about home recording. Hardware reviews, tips, tricks, discussion.

10. This Week In Law (TWIL) – This covers law with an emphasis on law that relates to technology and the Internet. As even Leo has said, it can be hard to have a truly rousing conversation with lawyers because they tend to word their opinions almost TOO carefully. And although this can be a bit dry from time to time, I guarantee you will not find a more entertaining law-related podcast. This is as good and as exciting as it gets.

09. Windows Weekly – The interplay between Leo and host Paul Thurrott can be VERY entertaining, with Leo in a way being an Apple guy and Paul obviously (and I’m saying this very generally) being a Windows/PC guy.

08. NSFW – Yeah, not really a tech show. But it’s funny and it’s ON a tech network. Wish they’d come up with a name that was a little more original(similarly named podcast in the early days of podcasting existed long before them,but the vetting process must have been pretty fast). Still, very funny show with great guests. But Cuba. In spite of the name, it is pretty safe for work. Unless you work in a church.

07. Tummelvision – Not on the TWIT Network anymore, sadly. I’ve written about it previously on this blog, which you can read HERE.

06. Cinefantastique Podcast(s) – The best genre movie podcasts out there. Wonderful geeks with a lot of serious knowledge.

05. Tech News Today – A daily (Mon-Fri) show hosted by Tom Merritt, Becky Worley, Sarah Lane and many guest co-hosts. Short, sweet, to the point and covering the daily tech related news.

04. Smodcast – Ever since Kevin Smith started smoking out, this show has become a weekly source of great comedy entertainment. And not because he’s become stupid or something. Because he’s become more relaxed, funnier and in a lot of ways actually sharper. This is not the common result of a pot habit, kids.

03. Radio Free Burrito – This is writer/actor Wil Wheaton’s podcast. Not reliably monthly, but almost always worth the wait. This guy is the real thing. Real geek.Real writer.Real actor. In that order, in fact. I just wish he’d do it more often. It’s a fantastic podcast full of surprises. Shut up, Wesley(haters)! But really… 3 months without a show? No pressure.. just… bummer.

02. FLOSS Weekly – This podcast focuses on Free and Open Source software. It can get DEEPLY geeky at times, but that’s why I love it. It’s willing to go there.  A great service to the open source community. And a great show.

(midi trigger pad roll please)

01. TWIT – The granddaddy of all tech podcasts. Hosted by Leo Laporte, former host and co-host of The Screen Savers and Call For Help on the old Tech TV. His various guest co-hosts are the who’s who of the tech world and this is a fantastic show with great discussions. Sometimes even heated ones. This show can make me pump my fist in the air in agreement OR make me want to throw my Zune out of the car window. But it’s never boring. At least not for me. But then again you have to consider that I’m The Guy that pumps his fists in the air when listening to a tech podcast. So.. there ya go.

Enjoy. And stop laughing at me, I can’t hear it anyway. 😉

What is selling out? Is the accusation still relevant?

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

The elusive sellout.

Actual Sell-Out, seen here in the wild.

I remember hearing the word “sellout” a lot about 7 or 8 years ago. I hear it less and less these days, as it relates to music, for good reason. Many bands are still able to tour and produce new recordings ONLY because they are willing to allow commercial use of their songs, tour sponsorships and other less common means of monetizing their content/personas. Before, a corporate sponsor usually meant an artist (who was not really an artist at all in many cases) had probably figured out that his or her 15 minutes were at the 14.5 minute mark and wanted to secure some kind of post-popularity survival. Or said artist wanted a LOT more money.  Maybe because they blew it all on coke or an expensive party habit. Maybe because they were generous and thought it was all going to keep rolling in forever. I mean, how many people who end up being one hit wonders actually know they will be one hit wonders? Probably not very many.

Now, go to a show and you can meet band members standing behind the merch booth right with the fans, signing and selling. Bands that, a few short years ago, would have maintained that false wall and distant, unattainable persona. Noo-one calls them sell-outs. What happened? What changed?

There was a well-attended panel at SxSW talking about how “subcultures” (or niches) can prosper (make the moneys) without “selling out”. Like it’s a magic trick, and maybe there are rules. Listen, if someone wants to call you or think you are a “sell out”, nothing YOU do or say will make that person change his or her mind until someone calls that person out for being an ass-hat. And I have to ask. Is it always necessary for the curators and taste-makers of the world to make a living off it? I’m not suggesting it’s wrong to do so, but I’m also not suggesting it’s always appropriate. Certainly, I would never attack someone for taking a buck for having really good taste and magical powers of discovery. I am saying that typically ad-trickery, sneaky ads, obvious under-the-table swag and cash for critical art-love and questionable partnerships/sponsorships CAN be a bad sign. And you cannot blame folks for making at least some assumptions. Then again, I tend to write only about stuff I love, which some people see as a red flag. I usually simply side with the fictional, animated character Thumper when it comes to my critical focus. If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say “nothin’ ” at all. Well, isn’t that quaint? Of course this doesn’t apply to my non-music articles or music-biz articles. I think those balance things out a little. I can be, let’s say, a little hard on certain points of view or ways of doing business. This article could well be an example.

People get impatient. When that first thousand (or ms. million if you’re nasty) doesn’t fall into their hands after that first diss-article on Radiohead or Grizzly Bear gets the attention of the editors at Pitchfork, they can get lazy and “other options” fall into their laps. And it’s so hard to find the signal in all the ad-supported noise out there. It can be much easier for people to simply dismiss a blogger, magazine or site and lazily call them sell-outs. So, in a way, it can be difficult to feel sorry for these publishers, since they’ve taken the easy way out (or in).

A little patience and observation of sites and businesses that have been very careful how they proceed commercially could just lead to the building of trust. Take for instance TWIT, ex-Tech-TV host and radio host-programmer Leo Laporte’s home-built network. For decades, Leo has built trust with his audience. That’s right, DECADES. Of course, not all of us can do this, especially if what we cover is current pop or sub-culture. When you’re worried about breaking a hip, it’s hard to find time to stay hip. But he is still a great example of how to build trust. Don’t accept sponsorships from companies you would not do business with yourself. Be careful about advice, be protective of your audience(and they will, in turn, protect you). Never participate in duping them or ripping them off. Always remember your audience/readers and keep them in mind. If you do all of these things and someone still calls you a sell-out, chances are they’re not only wrong, but also in the minority.Even big names worry about this kind of thing. Filmmaker Kevin Smith recently worried publicly about being seen as a sell-out when a company offered to make him a Twitter Book, an actual bound book containing all of his Tweets. In exchange, they simply asked that he take a picture of himself with his free book and post it. Not exactly a sell-out move. He got a free book and they got a single instance of almost-free publicity. No big deal, right? Oh no. See, what Kevin didn’t realize was that people (or, rather, celebrities) are getting paid THOUSANDS for a single Tweet mention. His followers started accusing him, asking him how much he “got paid for that one”. But, see, the other thing he maybe doesn’t realize is that a certain portion of the public not only always assumes the worst, but actually hates the celebrities they follow more than they love them. And worrying about what they think is a bit like trying to convince a bully how cool you are. You will never change them. Whatever change they make happen within will most likely never involve you. They’ve already made up their minds about you. Some brains, also, will always remain tiny and walled-off. The best you can hope for is that they grow bored with you and move on to a Kardashian rather than sticking around and finding out you don’t live down to their expectations.

But, you may ask, what about now? How will I pay the bills now!? Well, ask yourself if you’re homeless. If not, why not? Whatever it is you do to make sure that doesn’t happen, extend it to what you love doing, whether it’s blogging, podcasting, writing,music, film, criticism, commentary, community-building. Whatever it is, treat it like you’d treat food and water, shelter and electricity. Because I guarantee you, the other people who succeeded doing the thing you do? They did this. And if that means you have to put it first, above something else you love or love doing, make the leap and put it first, no matter the cost. And if it isn’t worth it, if it’s not important enough to you to do that, do THE OTHER THING that comes first instead and quit wasting your time doing this other thing that doesn’t matter as much. Quite simple, really. And you don’t need me or some guru to charge you money to tell it to you either. (oops, bubble-burster.. sorry gurus!!) But don’t listen to me, I haven’t made my first million yet. Seriously, I have not “made it” on any level at anything much at all.

But always remember, if there’s a hole in your pocket and your keys, change, etc are falling out, does it matter if it’s the homeless guy that tells you about it 10 feet down the road.. or the “Marketing Professional” at the next block? The messenger is not always important. But the message almost always is, if it is.

In a world filled with blatant, audacious, garish, gaudy marketing and in-your-face, empty commercialism, whatever a real artist has to do to simply live a creatively prosperous life, reasonably staving off hardship and struggle, is fair game. If it means you might have to hear your favorite indie darlings in a Toyota ad (say, as an older example.. Queen’s “Don’t stop me now” or Soul 2 Soul’s “Keep on movin’..don’t stop“.. lol.. sorry.. could not resist that one) then try to remember there’s a good chance the money they received in exchange probably allowed them to come play in your town.. with equipment that actually sounds good.. and..

kinda get over yourself…

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/armoire/3219951226/

Using Juice to Subscribe to the Playlist (an idea)

March 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Way back in the early months of podcasting, I actually set up a way for podcasters to upload their audio files directly to what was then called Azureus, using the same folder AnalogX Simple Server WWW was using for it’s main directory. All on a simple windows XP box. And since most of the podcatchers people were using at the time (mainly the people I knew were using what is now called Juice) had early support for bittorrent, people could do all their RSS stuff, upload the file to my server (creating a torrent and tracking it automagically) and the bittorrent swarm would take care of all their bandwidth other than the tiny torrent file itself. It was a bit like magic, in my eyes. I was actually a bit shocked that I was able to duct tape the whole thing together. Then when it was clear iTunes would not be supporting bittorrent… probably.. ever.. and it was also obvious that iTunes had become the podcatcher of choice, I abandoned the little project. Which brings us to now.

I wonder. I wonder if I could set something up so that using WordPress or some other feed service like feedburner (I’m really behind on this stuff, so I’m not even sure I’m looking in the right places) so that someone who chooses to still use Juice for podcatching could grab the playlist torrent every month and have it start downloading with no other action other than subscribing. I’m wondering how good something like that would be for the swarm itself. How long does Juice seed? (something about that sounded dirty, huh?)

Is this even a good idea? Is it something anyone would want to try? I’m not even sure WordPress would accept the file type. And if so, would Juice see it as an enclosure from this blog’s RSS feed? Does anyone know? Would anyone be into the idea of helping me test it out? I’ve toyed a bit with the idea of using rapidshare and services like that to send the playlist along to people I know or people I keep in e-mail/twitter contact with. But each time I start thinking of that, I remember that it has a negative effect on the potential torrent swarm AND then some company somewhere is making money off the playlist. And that kind of bugs me a lot. This would be a way to help get this music out to people in another way without re-commercializing it. The artists deserve any money that comes from their music’s exposure. Not me, or some company somewhere that did nothing but provide bandwidth. So, here’s another quick poll…

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