Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Soča River, Soča Front

Poking around the net today I found someone in Ilirsak Bistrica, Slovenia who turned me on to the Soča River. Pretty soon I was reading about the Soča Front, geocaching on the Soča, etc. What a beautiful river. The is in the Julian Alps, which looks like a beautiful place to travel. Who cares if there is wind on the coast for kite surfing? A mountain bike/kayaking/hiking trip in the limestone of the Julian Alps could be great.
Its amazing that I can look forward to a vacation in an area where only 90 years or so ago about 1,000,000 people died during WWI.
I found this photo through an account of action geocaching by a German geocaching club. Check out the page, its full of great stuff.

Out of Control

I'm unhappy with the way I use blogs, etc. in my own work. I'm often asked for advice on how to do this well, so i thought this may be a good chance to use myself as a case study. I must have 15 blogs spread over various servers. this morning i moved them in the direction of a mature portal as an experiment. it is very incomplete. here is what i did this morning:
  • decided to focus on three blogs -- Slow Blog, Haystack, Contours and attempt to give each with a better defined purpose. There is a summary of the role of each at the bottom of Haystack.
  • started using haystack as a place to experiment with blogger features, so it now has a video feed, a poll, atom feeds, google news feeds, etc. as a result it is ugly as sin, but that is just fine. it is a haystack and not intended to be neat.
  • added a feed from haystack, which has a short term and terse outlook to Contours (which attempts to have a broad outlook) . Also Haystack contains a feed from another blogger.
  • avoided adding ad sense support to any of them. Haystack is probably the natural spot.
All this is immature, but i think it will be useful and no software development knowledge was required. i have better places to put things and they are beginning to link together in ways that may be useful. i did find that for providing links to my blogs, html text was far more useful than a simple list.

With a little luck, I'll summarize a list of next steps tomorrow.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Piracy is progressive taxation


In 2002 Tim O'Reilly, publisher of an amazing array of technical titles, published an essay: Piracy is progressive taxation. In it he challenged many assumptions about business models in an internet-based digital world.

The essay is a good example of the reality that 'new' is not necessarily the best as it stands a model of clear thinking on the subject. To whet your appetite:
  1. Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.
  2. Piracy is progressive taxation.
  3. Customers want to do the right thing, if they can.
  4. Shoplifting is a bigger threat than piracy.
  5. File sharing networks don't threaten book, music, or film publishing. They threaten existing publishers.
  6. "Free" is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service.
  7. "There's more than one way to do it."
For those of us who are thinking of writing, publishing, distributing digital content over the next few years, this stuff may be useful. Personally, I'd like to make a video teaching people how to use an SUP (Stand Up Paddle) board to flatten their kite surfing learning curve. This may be a bit out of the mainstream, however.

As a 'worked example' of the problem, consider the problems I encountered writing this post. I could find many great photos on flickr and other photo sites, but the good photos I found were all licensed with "all rights reserved." So, I did not use any of them. However, if they had used, for example the license I use on this blog, I could have used them with attribution. Now there is no way I'm going go through the bother of getting rights or paying for a photo on this blog, but I could have provided free advertising for some photographers. Such a shame.
What was accomplished for the photographer? Not much. I can still point you to the photos I wanted to use.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'll see you at Piccino around 8:00

Amazing. I'll be doing something, perhaps even something helpful, at Piccino on the morning of the 4th. Here is what the Chronicle's Carol Ness had to say about Piccino.

Piccino is one of the many places around the bay area benefiting from the Chronicle's coverage of slow, local, quality food.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

camcorders :: direction unknown

For some time I've wanted a camcorder. So many directions; so little knowledge.

Sometimes I want something that is useful for spontaneous, low ceremony use. For that I may really want to have a digital camera, or even phone, which some video capacity. A youtube mentality begs for something simple, cheap, and always available. A short learning curve is also appealing.

A lot can be learned from even a simple photo:

Sometimes I want, or think I want, a pro level camera. Something like $5,000 will get one these days. Perhaps if I spend that much money, I'll spend the time an energy to really learn the thing. Reality check: there is no chance I'll do that. A pro level camera makes no sense unless I want to make some kayaking, kite surfing, paddle boarding, (or yoga?) videos with a commercial intent. That would mean partnering with someone who already is a real video photographer.

That leaves a bunch of cameras in the $1,000 to $3,000 range. Those are probably a good choice once I have done the basic work of developing some storyboards & using a cheap camera to get a feel for what the content -- that is what really counts -- would look like.

Storyboards. Even for something simple like a little video showing people how to:
  1. warm up for a kite session
  2. launch a 2 line trainer
  3. paddle a SUP without a kite
  4. step onto a SUP with a kite
Storyboards are probably worth more effort than countless hours comparing cameras. Here is a plan:
  1. story board a series of 4-5 2-5 min videos for a sequence something like that sketched above.
  2. fly it on youtube
  3. evaluate the response
  4. improve the videos & test them on a couple friends
  5. get a couple local kite surfers and yogis to model
  6. when people use the videos, get a better camera, a real photographer, and offer high and low bandwidth downloads.
  7. think about a serious camera using the learning curve as the chief criteria
I wonder what I should use for entry level storyboarding software?