June 2009

Follow up about #fixreplies

About a month ago twitter changed the way it displayed replies and not everyone was happy with it, myself included. I wrote a post about my thoughts on the subject, trying to make the case why I thought the move was a bad one, and how I preferred the old way they had been handled.

Since that time I’ve thought about it a lot and I have to say Twitter was right and I was wrong. I still think people should have the option to chose exactly what they want to see, and I know that server strain had a lot to do with the move but replying to people has definitely improved. I didn’t realize how much thought I was putting into who I replied to and what I said because I knew others were watching, but not having to worry about that at all has shown me that it was in fact something that crossed my mind. The new default is simply simpler to have conversations.

One of my concerns was that I’d lose an avenue for finding new people to follow and while I can’t say for sure what I’m missing (since I don’t know about it) I can say that I have still been able to find new and interesting people to follow. The adopted practice of preceding a reply with a period or an “R” to manually broadcast that to all followers is a simple enough work around and allows people to respond and point to people they think others should know about.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that as strongly as I felt about it one way I’ve been convinced that a different approach was in fact better and I’ve changed my mind.

iPhone Tethering in 3 easy steps

iPhone tetheringWith iPhone software version 3.0 Apple has allowed for tethering, unfortunately if you live in the US and have AT&T it’s not working because AT&T hasn’t figured out how to charge you for it yet. Why wait for them to figure it out? Here’s how you can do it on your own:

1. Load up Terminal, and enter this (all on one line)
defaults write com.apple.iTunes carrier-testing -bool TRUE

2. Download this disk file and mount it.

3. With your iPhone connected to your computer, go to iTunes and option-click “restore” then select the disk image you just mounted and the file on it. If the first time you try this you can’t select it, just try again as some people have needed to do it twice.

That’s it! Now just enable Teathering by turning it on at iPhone/settings/general/network/Internet Tethering and you are good to go. Enjoy!

(via 9to5 thanx tara)

I’m CERTifitied

3634886148_d567760e30Seven weeks ago I began taking Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) classes with a few friends here in Los Angeles. Last night I graduated and got a fancy green helmet and vest and an official certificate with near realistic signatures (photo after the jump) that is almost suitable for framing to prove it. I wrote some thoughts about the class last week but all in all I’m glad I took it. It dragged at points but the info I got out of it was well worth it.

My biggest disappointment is that the class took place in Silver Lake so all of the community building aspects of it didn’t really apply to me since I no longer live in Silver Lake. There doesn’t seem to be an as active group in Venice and the one CERT coordinator I met who is active in my area explained it’s more of a larger area of coverage and less frequent group events. Of course I’m complaining about something I could volunteer to help change but I don’t know if that is a role I really want to take on at this point. Who knows. Anyway, my point is the class was worth it and I’m very glad I took it and I’m looking forward to the next levels and steps on this crazy journey.

Ghost Hunting Equipment

I was (un)lucky enough to receive and invite to join some friends on a bit of a different excursion this evening. See there’s this house, it’s abandoned and during some recent renovations some things started happening. Strange things. Unexplained things. The kind of things that go bump in the night and are picked up on EVPs and leave trails of ectoplasm. OK maybe not so much with the ectoplasm but you get the idea – weird things are going on, people are creeped out so we’re going ghost hunting.

Having never been on a real ghost hunt I’m of course doing double duty to make sure I have the right supplies and equipment. Both to experience what is going on, and make sure whatever is going on there doesn’t follow me home. So this is inventory for the evening:

Ghost hunting gear

  • Flashlight(s) – While I don’t want to scare the ghosts away with blinding lights, I also don’t want to trip or walk into walls. These torches should help ensure that even in the darkest night I can see the light. Specifically I’m bringing a Surefire E2D, Surefire L4, Streamlight MicroStream, and a generic LED UV light, a small red light and a laser pointer.
  • Compass(es) – I found this article which claims a basic compass is better at measuring EMF changes than some fairly expensive electronic equipment. That works for me, so I’m bringing two. One attached to a carabiner and a smaller one on a zipper pull.
  • Camera(s) – For recording anything that goes down of course. I’m bringing my Kodak Zi6 HD flip cam for video, my Cannon TX1 for high res stills and back up video if needed, and my iPhone for random low res stills and I’m bringing an ultrapod in case I need to leave a camera set up somewhere. Tara has a PowerShot she’ll probably bring as well. I’ve been brushing up on my ghost photography skills too.
  • Pen + Paper – For notes and observations. I’m opting for a reporter style lined Moleskine and a space pen (in case I need to write something after being slimmed).
  • Water – You know, to wet my whistle. Being the eco-conscious dude that I am I’ll be transporting that liquidy goodness in a SIGG bottle with a carabiner on the lid for easy transport
  • Whistle – Speaking of whistles, I’m bringing one of those too. Not that I think I’ll particularly need it, but if I get lost or separated from the group and scared it might come in handy. Plus I just picked up this super loud Fox40 and want an excuse to show it off.
  • Snacks – We’ll be eating dinner before hand, but I don’t know what kind of energy ghost hunting takes out of you. Plus, the last thing I need is to get shot with a Ghostbusters photon pack because someone mistook my stomach grumbling for some kind of paranormal threat. A Pro-bar or two should do the trick. Also bringing a 5 hour energy shot just in case the ghosts turn out to be boring as all get out.

Not pictured but obviously included are comfortable shoes and a sweatshirt I can put on or take off depending on the temperature and a bag to carry all this in. I’ll be twittering all this as well, so stay tuned later tonight for a role call of my cohorts.

Encores are dumb

I mentioned this last night, but as a performance device I hate the encore. I completely and totally hate it. Is there anything more contrived and conceited that pretending the show is over, walking off stage and standing behind the curtains while you wait for the audience to cheer enough that your ego is sufficiently stroked so you go back out and play a few more songs?

Let me just say that some of my favorite bands in the world do encores and most of the shows I’ve been to in the last 10 years have been capped with encores so that isn’t a comment on any particular band but rather the whole stupid concept. Oh sure at one point in time they might have made sense – there was actually a time when an encore was not so common. Bands and performers would make a set list and perform it and then the show would be over. On the *rare* occurance that the performance was so overwhelming and the audience was so moved they would cheer so much that the band would have no choice but to come back out and pull out something extra but now it’s expected. Bands include the encore on their set lists and audiences just play right into it.

I know I’m in the minority on this one but for crying out loud what is the fucking point of all this? If you are a band and you want to play a show which includes 12 songs, play those songs and then go home happy that people liked your stuff enough to pay to see it and stay through all the songs you played. Don’t tease the audience and dangle extra songs only if they applaud enough. It’s a superlame rockstar move that sadly is completely commonplace now. Puke.

Don’t get me started on standing ovations either.

Stop talking yourself out of things

I saw Jonathan Mann perform last night at betalevel here in LA. He was talking about a project he’s embarked on wherein he writes, records, and posts online a new song every single day. He’d been doing it since January one and hasn’t missed a day yet. In the speaking part of his presentation he talked about his philosophy regarding this. His approach reminded me a lot of the Cult of Done as well as something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently in regards to my own projects and approach to them.

For the longest time when I’d start something I generally had one two things driving me, either I thought it would be cool to do and no one had told me I couldn’t do it, or someone had told me I couldn’t do it and I was hell bent on proving them wrong. I was more concerned with doing something than with what I was doing. The result of that was that I think I ended up doing some cool things from time to time, things I’m proud of at least. There were of course things that didn’t turn out so well but honestly I don’t remember most of them at this point. At some point in that process I started focusing on those cool things I was proud of and grew embarrassed of the ones that weren’t. I thought it would be better to produce less in hopes of only doing those cool things and just skipping the not so cool ones. Turns out it doesn’t work that way and you don’t get to make that choice. If you decide to only do super bad ass things the list of things you do will be very short, where as if you do a bunch of things all the time, there is a higher chance of more and more of them being bad ass.

Jonathan addressed that issue in his talk with something he calls the 70-20-10 rule that I thought was awesome and something we should all keep in mind.

70-20-10 rule

I think that slide speaks for itself, but the point is you have to get comfortable with the fact that when creating things most are going to be just ok, some are going to suck, and from time to time they will be awesome. It’s being ok with the first 90% that makes the elusive 10% possible.

For me, when I look back, I never really gave a shit about other people saying I couldn’t do something or that something I did wasn’t good. I can pretty much come up with justification why anyone elses opinion doesn’t matter. It’s my own opinion I’m not so good at ignoring. I’ve definitely been my hardest critic, even if only because I’m the only critic I ever listen to. Which is exactly the problem. Once I started listening to the critical thoughts I was having I convinced myself that I couldn’t do things that previously I would have been able to do without question. If I thought the result wouldn’t be as good as what I wanted I’d often end up with no result at all. Which really, I think is worse. Jonathan’s next slide really hit home:

Barriers to overcome

Those are exactly the things I know I need to overcome. For example how many times have I written here that I’m going write about something on a specific schedule only to not pull it off as planned. That’s because all of those things filled my head. I’ve felt the posts wouldn’t be good enough, and that I could do a better job later, and that I just didn’t have the time right now, and that I just wasn’t inspired, and maybe things would be better after this nap. I talked myself out of doing things I’d already said I wanted to do. I thought too much about it. I used to put that off to writers block but it’s not just in writing. If you had any idea of the projects I’ve started or wanted to start and stopped for no reason other than my own overthinking you’d be sick. Or you’d laugh at me, and you’d have every right to. And I’d thank you for doing it and reminding me what a dumb ass I was being.

We are the only ones who can stop ourselves from pulling things off. I don’t know about you, but that’s something I need to remind myself of more often.