Avoiding Rabbit Holes

Any sort of "connoiseurship," which might be described as an extreme
knowledgeability and affection for a certain subject or practice, is a
potential "rabbit hole" down which one could descend quite far if one allows it. 
limited priorities
And the internet often makes that hole deeper and, shall we say,
smoother, all the time.   Easier to fall in, easier to fall down it, both further and faster.  It might be also possible that just as there are addictive personalities, there might also be personalities that tend to do this (is this the same as obsessive-compulsive?) - not about just a single interest, but that are more susceptible to getting geeky about any specialized area.  Because "geekiness" is another word for this, isn't it - either geekiness or its dark twin, hipsterism.  Hipsters differ from geeks in that they want to use Read more>>>

contested bandwidth.

Day 2 of No Borders Camp - 18
i wish there was a way to just limit freeloaders of wifi to low-bandwidth
use and just stop them from watching videos and doing big
downloads/uploads and other high-bandwidth stuff, because in principle
i'm for open networks. it'd be great if anyone could freely use our
wireless to get email or whatever low-impact stuff they wanted.  it's
just that when the freeloading makes it impossible for us to do what we
need to do, there have to be limits.  so we've finally Read more>>>

The Advertising That Killed The Killer App

My friend Jose writes on his blog about the shift from email to facebook as primary communication tool thanks to spam.  It's a situation that feels like a 15-year long train wreck to me, watching the rising volume of unsolicited commercial email wash over the world like a giant tsunami ever since the start of the popularization of the internet.

Email, using a non-web client, is still the center of my daily time-management practice. it's how information flows from the world to my calendar and to-do list. it's still the killer app, for me. but i'm a power user. I spend a non-trivial amount of time every day categorizing and deleting spam, and some time on a less-frequent basis tweaking my various spam filters.  It's something that works ok for me, but I realize that a lot of people don't have the tools or the time to live this way.  However, I still can't stand when people try to organize and do business via facebook messaging - FB's interface is just so bad and annoying...  but it's happening more and more, and i realize it's all because most people don't have the tech skils, resources, or patience to continue to battle email spam.  

what would the internet look like if spam hadn't destroyed email for most users? sigh.  the other thing i often forget and then re-remember is that for most people email IS the web - they just use a web app to get their email, which, even with gmail, is a poor interface compared to a dedicated client.  so to a lot of people, facebook's UI is no worse than the yahoo or hotmail or squirrelmail interface that they once were stuck with.

it's interesting that one communication mode was destroyed by unethical marketing and is now replaced with another communication mode that is funded by another type of marketing, which, when you take into account the concerns about FB's escalating privacy-violating practices, is also probably unethical (and in a deeper way, is harming us) but is easier for the average person to put up with on a daily basis. Read more>>>

Utter Despair

I've been editing video with Final Cut Pro for 9 years now, yes that's NINE YEARS. Yet today I'm wrestling with a problem that brings me to the brink of complete, throw-up-my-hands frustration. Absolute utter despair that makes me want to just give up being a filmmaker completely, or at least being an editor.

It's pretty much too complicated to describe here quickly and not have someone mistake it for a stupid mistake.  Trust me, it's not a stupid mistake.  I'm not an idiot, and, like i think i mentioned, I've been using FCP for NINE YEARS.  Trust me when I say this is a completely new and weird fuck-up that is a total mystery and that you would probably have no idea how to solve either unless you have as much intelligence and experience with this software as I do. 

In other words, I'm not posting this to ask for help. I'm just screaming my frustration.   Thank you, Apple, for once again leading me to believe that I could trust you and your products. sigh. Read more>>>

From a Drizzly Cold Remote (but still wired) Place

Writing from a little room called "The Matrix" at Diamond Mountain, this is an email I just sent to an employee of Dream Host, the company that hosts most of my web sites, many of which (including this one) had some downtime this weekend: Read more>>>

Beware Quicktime 7.5.5

I had a bad scare yesterday. Having stupidly said "yes" to an automatic upgrade that Apple told me to install, I suddenly couldn't get final cut pro to start up. I tried something recommended by one Mac hints site, starting in safe mode and fixing permissions and re-installing by hand the Quicktime update that the upgrade included (the other thing that it included was the new version of iTunes, which includes the new, slightly creepy and very annoying "Genius" feature. bleah.).

That got FCP to start, but i was unable to capture or output to or from firewire devices. In fact I couldnt get any application to not crash when i told it to access my firewire DV deck. I was freaking out. What to do? Would I have to reinstall OS X from scratch? wipe my hard drive in order to go back to the old version of Quicktime?

Luckily after one more desperate Google search I found a page that described how to downgrade to an earlier version of any Apple package using a little program called Pacifist (funny coincidence that a program called Pacifist has enabled me to continue work on a film about resisting war!).

I got the shareware and followed the directions to install the earlier package, Quicktime 7.5, and restarted and things now seem hunky dory again. Whew. I think I owe a registration fee to Pacifist's creator.

Anyway, if you are a user of FCP (at least version 5.1.2) and you haven't upgraded to the new QT, you might want to think twice before doing it. Oh, and I recommend skipping the new iTunes as well. By the way, during my research into this problem I read that the "security fixes" that Apple lists as the reason for the upgrade actually have to do with Digital Rights Management (locking up content) rather than any sort of protection from your machine getting hacked or that sort of thing. So the new version is pretty unneeded anyway.

Learn to Pick Up The Phone!

The Arizona Indymedia website was badly broken for like, 17 days - since the new year - links to individual newswire stories were broken. As users discovered this, they stopped posting stories. The site was dying. This problem was noticed pretty quickly by somebody else on the editorial collective. I honestly hardly ever look at the site, much less the newswire, so I hadn't noticed. But immediately, I was the one people went to and asked about it.

Okay, so, often people that know me pigeonhole me as a "geek", as a "computer person" or "techie" - but the AZ IMC site is not in my power to fix. It's administered by ubergeeks in the bay area and belgium and pittsburgh, or god knows where else, and even if i knew how to futz with sf-active i don't have admin permissions on the machine.

So usually all I do when something goes wrong is go on the indymedia chat system, irc:// - and get on the sf-active channel there, and ask for help. And usually within a few hours someone sees my question and fixes it.

WHY can't someone else do that, ever? IRC is not rocket surgery. It's just not that hard.

So the site stayed broken for a couple weeks because, frankly, i was busy and, well, i wanted to see if anyone else would step up and do it. I refuse to be "the tech guy", when all that really entails in this case is knowing how to ask the real tech guys a question. I refuse.

I guess it's kind of like arriving at a burning building and sitting there watching it burn down while the other residents sit there next to a phone, because nobody wants to learn how to pick up the phone and call the fire department. eventually you can't sit there anymore and watch, but at the same time you're just going, WTF, why didn't someone call before? Why? And is it worth having that building if every time anything goes wrong with it I'm the only one that will bother to call the rescue crew?

Stupid Dreamhost

Dreamhost, the company that hosts practically all of my websites and email and stuff, made a HUGE mistake yesterday and accidentally billed about, well, ALL of their customers, most of whom who didn't owe anything, including myself, totalling about 7.5 MILLION dollars.

Yeah. Wow. They explain how it happened, a combination of software operator and software design error, on their blog, which, while apologizing profusely, also takes a really flippant, humorous tone that has pissed off many many of their patrons, including myself. This humorous tone is typical for them, and usually it's fun and entertaining, in their newsletters and documentation, but when you're talking about hundreds of dollars disappearing mistakenly from your bank account it's not the time to get some comedy act in response.

I'm going to start trying to figure out who I could switch to and how hard it would be to switch, because this is pretty damn not acceptable. Luckily I did have the money in my account to cover the mistake, just barely, so I wasn't charged by my bank for overdrafts, but it could have been different, and I'm sure for many it has been a nightmare. So just out of the principle of the thing I kind of feel like it's my duty to take my business elsewhere.

I even feel sort of guilty for all the friends who I've referred to Dreamhost over the years and probably also got screwed on this. yikes.

Automated Mojitos

Because it's actually really chilly here in Tucson it's hard for me to think about mojitos right now, even though they're my favorite cocktail and I really enjoy making them for others. But as my friend Mykle said when telling me about this, I'm being replaced by a mojito -making robot. The video doesn't really show whether I can be satisfied with the robot's mixing methods, and the criteria are exacting with a mojito, so, we'll see, but it is pretty cool to watch all the pipes and tubes and limes rolling around and stuff.

So if you're somewhere that's still warm, have a mojito to celebrate. Me, I'm boiling water for green tea.

Speed Vest

Some friends of mine recently made this amazing piece of technology and bicycle activism called The Speed Vest. At first I thought it was a hoax, because one of them is well-known for his pranks and media-jamming projects. But they evidently actually built the thing, and won a contest in Minnesota. So cool!

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