Archive for December, 2008

27
Dec
08

Two Hours With XTC’s Colin Moulding

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(Above: XTC’s Colin Moulding looks for the exit sign while Andy Partridge contemplates some “me” time)

XTC fans have probably already heard that Andy Partridge’s decades-spanning campaign to rid the band of members not named Andy was stopped two years ago due to its great success.  After releasing the band’s Apple Venus/Wasp Star albums, co-writer and bassist extraordinaire Colin Moulding was the last out the proverbial XTC door.  But why?  Wherefore?

Well.

If you are a serious XTC fan (meaning: you are a nerdy male bass player) and have a strong stomach for quasi-amateurish podcast/radio production then the following two hours on the telephone with Mr. Moulding of Swindon will surely delight.  All others may safely take a pass.

Highlights include details of the upcoming  2009 XTC reissues coming from Virgin, Colin’s biggest musical influences,  fawning callers, Colin’s tremendous, refreshing shrugs of the shoulders when quizzed on gear, shocking revelations about the late River Phoenix, XTC’s working (overtime) methods, why it may not really be over between the songwriting pair and quite a bit more.

23
Dec
08

The Price Of Technical Correctness

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Recently, I had this client who sought me to do some SEO copywriting on a website.  The client was in the business of putting their clients’ products on the web, and they wanted someone who understood how SEO works to look at the copy on their website, write some new copy and edit the existing stuff for SEO.

So I took a look at it, and gave them the estimate that they asked for.   But I didn’t stop there.  To stop there would have been dishonest and technically incorrect.

Because they had a problem. The site was implemented in Flash (I love Flash, don’t get me wrong), so no matter how I changed their copy, no search engines would have noticed.  The reason is search engine indexing software can’t read into Flash files, which means that if you use Flash and don’t provide your copy outside of the Flash files, Google, Yahoo et. al. will not understand what the site is supposed to be about.

And this is surely what was already going on.  After one year on the web, the site’s top page had a lowly Google PageRank of 1 and when I was done with what they wanted, they would have ended up with a PR of…1.

So, separate from but attached to my estimate for the SEO copywriting work, I explained to them why the work would not O the site with any SEs.  In very brief, plain, nontechnical, helpful English, I explained the situation and let them know that I could help them with fixing their problem as well as doing the SEO copywriting.

Readers experienced in business are smiling right now and already know how this story ends: my technical correctness cost me the project.  By not doing exactly what was asked of me, and by failing to pretend that what I was doing would have an effect at the search engines, I threw a wrench into the works and scared people.  Had I simply shut up and okey-doked and pretended that what I was doing was changing something, a payday would have resulted.

This is far from the first time this has happened to me. You could say it’s a long-running theme.

Years and years ago, along with a partner, I owned a web development company called Automatic Media Group.  Our domain name was the portmanteau automedia.com, and we pitched web projects as early as 1995, back in the days when a VP of Marketing would actually ask you “how will anybody see this website?”

As a company, we did okay, but not great, and it was my fault.  It was my first business and I thought our value was in knowing how to fix problems that people didn’t even know they had.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  What was wanted from me was not evangelism, or solutions, or wisdom.  What was wanted was service, and not in terms defined by us, either. Thus were we regularly hobbled by my technical correctness.  I had little understanding of client relations and strove for elegance and profound change instead of closing deals.

Given today’s SEO story, you’d think I have no more understanding now.  But the fact is, this time I knew very well I was taking a risk of losing a payday by being technically correct. I knew the risk and I did it anyway.

I did it because for better or for worse, I still believe toiling away on nonsense that isn’t getting anybody anywhere is better done by people who don’t know any better.  There are plenty of them out there, and I shouldn’t take away their livelihood.  If that seems glib, so be it.

Consider it my Christmas gift to the economy.  A small sop to ethics as we wade in the cesspool of the free market’s meltdown.

Sure, it’s similar to hanging an air freshener in a sewer, but as with the Christmas tree: he who smelt it, felt it.

Merry holidays.

21
Dec
08

15 Celebrities Who Have Fewer Fans On Facebook Than Mustafa “Kemal” Ataturk

15 Celebrities Who Have Fewer Fans On Facebook Than Mustafa “Kemal” Ataturk  – 380,484 fans

Dewey  from Malcom In The Middle –  365,629
Nicholas Cage – 302,109
Steve Carell – 286.375
Fonzie – 258,502
Musftafa “Kemal” Ataturk (duplicate account) – 249,254
Roberto Benigni – 228,808
Martin Lawrence – 214,321
Reese Witherspoon – 186,194
Stanley Kubrick – 179,751
Denzel Washington – 178,326
Woody Allen – 168,205
Chris Tucker – 165,553
Will Ferrell – 150,898
The Rock – 125,290
Mustafa “Kemal” Ataturk (duplicte account) – 113,357

21
Dec
08

GOP Sysadmin Set To Testify On 2004 Election Tampering Killed In Ohio Plane Crash

The man who ran the servers for both the GOP candidate and the official Ohio election returns during the 2004 election has died hours ago in a plane crash outside of Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio.  Michael L. Connell was under subpoena and set to testify about alleged tampering of the 2004 election, according to a piece by Larisa Alexandrovna at rawstory.com.

Further, there are copies of what are represented as communications from Connell’s attorneys claiming that GOP strategist Karl Rove had recently threatened Connell.

At post time, there is no mainstream pickup of the story and fewer than 1000 Diggs.

12
Dec
08

Indoctrinating Technology FUD In Middle School: Uneducated Teacher Confiscates Linux Discs Because “No Software is Free”

(Above: What some call a sideshow, students call “my computer”)

The blog of the HeliOS Project, a great grassroots operation that turns donated computers into Linux-fueled machines for kids, has posted an astonishing story about a very confused Middle School teacher who, upon discovering one of her students demonstrating Linux on his laptop while handing out CDs of the distribution, confiscated the discs, giving the following reason an email to the HeliOS team:

…observed one of my students with a group of other children gathered around his laptop. Upon looking at his computer, I saw he was giving a demonstration of some sort. The student was showing the ability of the laptop and handing out Linux disks. After confiscating the disks I called a confrence with the student and that is how I came to discover you and your organization. Mr. Starks, I am sure you strongly believe in what you are doing but I cannot either support your efforts or allow them to happen in my classroom. At this point, I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful. These children look up to adults for guidance and discipline. I will research this as time allows and I want to assure you, if you are doing anything illegal, I will pursue charges as the law allows. Mr. Starks, I along with many others tried Linux during college and I assure you, the claims you make are grossly over-stated and hinge on falsehoods. I admire your attempts in getting computers in the hands of disadvantaged people but putting linux on these machines is holding our kids back.

This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all. I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older verison of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them…

Teachers do great work, get paid and recognized far too little for it, and can’t be expected under those conditions to have perfect knowledge of every aspect of what they teach a class of Middle School kids.

That said, what this woman did, far more than betraying a less than perfect knowledge, served to spread the most offensive, outrageous, insidious lie about non-commercial technologies – that they are not of full service to regular people.

Consider that my message about her profoundly wrong message – this blog post – has been brought to you (literally) by the Apache Web Server, the software that answered your click to my blog and sent you this page. Apache is a non-commercial technology project written by a team of open-source developers over years, that serves billions of clicks every minute. It is very much “of service” – to at least 4/5ths of the Web.

Unaware that the web she uses is a product of noncommercial development, she has heretofore lived in a cognitive bubble of FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt . FUD is an appeal to fear  of the very same non-corporate technologies that form and enable so much of her world. She has been willingly fed upon and regurgitated ignorance and presumption that value and srvice is exclusively the result of commercial software development – a value exchanged for dollars.

That bubble, as the full post at HeliOS correctly says, is popping right this minute as no doubt tens of thousands of code-writing, clued-in nerds with less-than-sterling social skills are furiously defaming (and educating) her from Finland to Fiji. And while that’s going to be an ugly experience for her, let it be known that it’s about time teachers knew more about the technological world they lived in and how much they owe to open-source projects like HeliOS.

It’s not as if teachers don’t understand the process of going outside of the paid paradigm to deliver value to their students – how many hundreds of stories have we heard of teachers in slashed-budget school systems who pay out of pocket for educational supplies? Let those stories be their guide to understanding the total bankruptcy of FUD.

(Original link swiped from Electrical Audio forum)

08
Dec
08

Youth Technology Corps: Combining Philanthropy, Jobs And E-Waste Recycling

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Saturday night, I attended a party thrown by Benton House, a century-old community organization I’ve done some work with over the past few years. I’m a big fan of their Sound Alternative program, a paid internship offered to teens 14-20 providing education in both live and recorded sound engineering.

One encounter really stood out: I met the principals of an innovative community group, Youth Technology Corps. The elevator pitch on YTC is awesome: take old PCs, teach disadvantaged kids how to refurbish them, and send those kids into classrooms to spread the knowledge, leaving LANs in their wake.

As worthy social causes go, I have seen very few that have as many fully-realized facets as YTC. There’s the free-market commercial appeal to excite the Microsofts (M$ donates Windows 2000 licenses for the project, but they also use open-source applications) there’s the social work / jobs creation aspect to excite government granting bodies, and there’s the green aspect addressing the growing problem of e-waste, a recycling issue that 60 Minutes recently featured, exposing a “greenwash” scandal in the process.

YTC is blessed to have lots to talk about to at least three distinct and huge constituent groups. I had a great time hearing about their efforts, and I’ll go on record as predicting big things from this group.  Nice work, Dave and Andy!

06
Dec
08

Repo Man Sequel Begins Shooting Next Month, Rodriguez Brothers Still Do Not Approve Of Drugs

Slashfilm reports Alex Cox’s script of the follow-up to his 1984 classic Repo Man is set to begin shooting next month with David Lynch producing.  Sure, subtract 100 points for even making a sequel, but add 50 points apiece for the inclusion of Lynch and Cox – then add 20 optimistic points for the below premise.

Alex Cox’s Repo Man sequel Repo Chick is finally going into production next month (January 2009). Production Weekly reports that David Lynch is producing the project.

The original 1984 film told the story of Otto, a newly hired repossession man who goes in search for a mysterious Malibu carrying a high value package which was taken from a government lab and has strange effects on anyone who views it.

Cox has previously said that the follow-up will “unfold against the background of the credit crunch and the subprime mortgage crisis in the US, where repossessions of homes, cars and other forms of property is at a new high. ‘The repo business has expanded to everything from boats, houses, aeroplanes, small nations…children

Looks like good news so far from here. For reasons that will become obvious, art and media concerning Depression 2.0 is a special concern of mine, but beyond that, I have a musical question. Score-wise, I have to wonder who will fulfill the role of the noir-surf soundtrack now that the Plugz have broken up. Hmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmm. *starts pestering people*

“Do you like music? In that case, you gonna love this.”




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