Archive for December, 2008



05
Dec
08

Union-Busting Southern Republicans Just Might Be NASCAR’s Biggest Enemy

“I have automobile plants in my district. They pay $25 to $35 per
employee per hour,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus (R) of Alabama, ranking
Republican on the House Financial Services Committee. “I am sure that I
am going to be asked, ‘Congressman, I work at Honda or
Mercedes, I make $40 an hour; why are you going to take my taxpayer
dollars and pay it to a company who pays their employees $75 an hour?

It’s no secret that the south is not fond of unionized labor.  The attitude can hardly come as a surprise given that prior to 1865, the south regarded its own labor force as owned property.  It’s easy to be in love with the free market when you’re the one with the keys to the ankle cuffs.

For Dixie, the transition from chains to employee handbook has been a troubled one with many victims.  Spurred by the current economic crisis, could the south’s most beloved sporting franchise be the next?  Put another way, is NASCAR in just as much danger as the UAW?

If the parade of southern Republican drawling heads railing on television against the auto industry bailout is any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.  While blaming the unionized labor force entirely for the sorry state of the US auto industry is exactly what you’d expect from business interests on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, this time around the calls to put those uppity line workers in their place are flirting with the very real possibility of wiping out the US automakers’ domination of NASCAR tracks.

Inspect the running order of any NASCAR race and you will find GM products in the vast majority, followed by Chrysler, Ford, and, yes, Toyota.  Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and creeping free-market globalism to be sure – thanks solely to thirty years of union-crushing by southern Republicans (and the boardrooms and radical libertarian think tanks that paid for their legislation and deregulation.) Blaming the union not only insults the men and women who put together the stock NASCAR vehicles, but it ensures that foreign-owned non-union cars will step into the gaps left by a wiped-out big three.

The irony burns brighter than a cross. The culture most associated with blue-collar pride and bumper-sticker patriotism has been routinely been led by the nose into debacle after debacle — they’ve tolerated local economic devastation, slashed education spending, Iraq.  But now, it’s serious: their elected leadership is messing with Chevys at Talladega.  Every lie now told about UAW workers being paid $75 an hour serves to ensure more Toyotas at Daytona.  Can the south tolerate this latest unintended consequence of blaming the workers?

The infield spectacle of 60-year-old female racing fans taking off their tube tops says “Charger” a lot louder than it says “Camry”, and racing fans seem to know it.  With the very essence of NASCAR at stake, will the fans in the stands roll over for business interests again and jeer the union as the big three die off?

04
Dec
08

The Go-Gos Bootleg VHS Video That Doesn’t Feature A Self-Pleasuring Roadie

The Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle and her shoulder pads make an on-camera appearance on this 1984 Letterman show.  The band stays in the audience seats because NBC fails to pony up the their performance fee.  It’s tame stuff to be sure, made all the greater a waste by my failure to find online the Go-Gos party VHS clip described after the jump.  Did anybody else besides me have a 10-generation dubbed copy of that clip on the same tape paired with an episode of Al Goldstein’s Midnight Blue?

 

02
Dec
08

Well, Hello Audiotuts.com

audiotutsvsotherguys

My last job working for someone else was as Editor/Producer for a site that produced video and text content concerning an area near and dear to me: the audio and music technology space.  I still have friends there, so it should be made clear that I don’t mean to knock that site at all even as I find one that does some of what they do quite a bit better and generates a bit more traffic.

Audiotuts.com (thanks for the heads-up from Matthew Heusser by way of Andy Lester) is focused on video screecast tutorials in the myriad features and approaches of audio production tools, much like the kind I used to regularly produce.  The clips are well put together and have a high usefulness factor that serves as a showcase of the role of screencast media as software documentation supplement.

The difference is in the Audiotuts media strategy.  It’s dead-on correct: a blend of technical depth for the various software userbases with blogging added as SEO/SMO bait.  Alexa says the eyeballs and earholes are lined up at the door in excess.

It may well be that a 1-1 comparison of the two sites is unfair, as Audiotuts content is more narrowly focused.  And there’s no doubt quality content on both sites in spades.  Nonetheless, Audiotuts very greatly resembles the vision I had for the last site that I incessantly pitched to the site owners (to deaf ears). So while it smells a little bit like personal vindication, I’m just being petty and mean-spirited providing an interesting comparison.   

Now I have to find a hat just so I can take it off to Audiotuts.  Salut!

01
Dec
08

User Documentation? Hey, It “Worked” For Testing

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You’re not going to believe this, but there was a time, before the omnipresent internet, when commercial software makers held back product releases while they rigorously, expensively tested their products.  This didn’t eliminate bugs, but it did tend to push software makers harder to at least aim for perfection before they got the release out the door.  The fixed costs in issuing patches by snail mail, to say nothing of the user grumbling could really hurt a publisher.

To say the least, the aim is lower now.  Today’s testing budgets are smaller even if the user bases are bigger, because the paying customers, all of whom are internet-connected, have been enlisted to do more of the testing.  All those patches released one after the other for download contain fixes discovered by anguished complaints from paying customers as well as by the maker.  Under these conditions, the pressure to reduce testing budgets for consumer software is obvious and growing.  Is software documentation headed in the same direction?

Consider YouTube’s recent call for user documentation videos of YouTube’s own site features.  While user input on documentation is absolutely de rigeur for many if not most open-source software projects, is this the direction the commercial software world is headed?

Yeah, probably – but only as long as the software in question is 1) fun to use 2) not filled with embarrassing bugs that will make embarrassing videos.

In other words, the bulk of the market for traditional documentation isn’t going to disappear.




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1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
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