Update: 6/8/2016 — Criminy! I let another 6 weeks pass!! I’m putting this thing up now, without any further comment. I actually have another one that I recorded near the end of April; I’m going to try and get that saved and publish it tomorrow. *fingers crossed*

Update: 4/26/2016 — This baby has been in the can for almost a month! I decided at the last minute today to just knock up a draft for it on the mobile WP app while eating lunch! In this case, I do at least remember the topic…the cook-it-yourself food delivery service Blue Apron. (which I have since stopped my subscription on, but I still recommend!)

Links:

Thomas Gideon’s “Of a Peculiar Character” podcast
Blue Apron
My first Blue Apron dish — Apple and Blue Cheese Panzanella Salad

My Twitter feed
My G+ profile
My Facebook profile
My Flattr profile

Feed URL: http://kenzoid.com/podcast.rss
Episode links: direct MP3 download link

It’s been a couple of weeks, so there’s plenty to talk about. Charlotte and I had a great time at Duke’s Countdown to Craziness; hopefully a good season is coming up. No further updates on the Chromecast, as I’ve been taking an XBox One with the to Atlanta the past couple of weeks. Destiny (and the Republican debate) are great distractors. It’s been a little stressful, as my boss of the last 15 years accepted a separation package, and is retiring to south Florida. Zoinks! Times, they are a changin’…

Finally, I set up my new Nexus 5X on Project Fi last night; so far, so good! Nice phone, and I look forward to better coverage at home.

Episode Links:

Destiny
Nexus 5X
Project Fi

My Twitter feed
My G+ profile
My Facebook profile
My Flattr profile

Feed URL: http://kenzoid.com/podcast.rss
Episode links: direct MP3 download link

So this morning, I was lying in bed relaxing, and reading RSS feeds on my phone. I got to Wil Wheaton’s excellent blog, and thought as I was lying there “I really enjoy his stories; it’s like a little window into his head and his life”. And that’s what a blog is for, really, at least for me anyway. Most of my favorite blogs (and podcasts, for that matter) are really personal, “internal voice of the author” type things. And then I realized…that’s what I need to do with my blog. Heck, anyone who knows me knows that when I tell a story…well, I can ramble a bit. OK, a lot. But here on my blog, I’ve got nothing but time, and it’s my own space. So thanks, Wil, for reminding me what this darn thing’s for. And thanks to WordPress for the fullscreen edit mode they put in a few versions back; I’m using it now, and it’s nice. Keeps the distractions to a minimum.

I’ve been wanting to get back to the blog anyway; my friend Dave Slusher has been working with a software stack that does some cool integration with social media sites like Facebook and Google+. With it, not only can your posts on your blog appear as direct posts on those site (rather than you putting a link that people have to click through to read), but the interactions (likes, comments) on those sites are synchronized back to your original blog post. Very slick, and a great way to own your words, as Jon Udell likes to say.

(Opened a new tab here to track down the link for Jon’s post, but stopped myself. I’m doing a little markup to denote where I want to put hyperlinks later, but otherwise this is just straight typing. No stopping and ending up down the rabbit hole of clickthroughs somewhere…)

Anyway. I was lying in bed late this morning because I’ve taken enough Wednesdays and Thursdays off through the rest of the year that I’m not heading back to Atlanta until January. It’s combination of vacation days and holidays, because 2014 cooperated and made both Christmas and New Year’s a Thursday this year. (Honestly, I had more than enough vacation left that it would have worked regardless, but this makes it easier). I really enjoy my job, and especially the people I work with…but it’s been a stressful year, and there are not as many of those people working with me anymore as there were a few months back. (Google “Turner 2020” for background, if you like). There are changes still coming, and I’d honestly like some time to rest and recharge before tackling all of them. Trying to stay positive, expect the best, and as my boss said a few weeks back, “whatever happens, we’re going to have fun”. He’s the best.

I’ve got some projects tentatively planned for this holiday/vacation time; working up the blog/social media integration stack that Dave is using is one of them, and another is a way to push my soma.fm listening to my last.fm profile. I headed back to my roots a few weeks ago, and set up Debian as a dual-boot option on one of my laptops, so I’ve got an excellent setup for both projects (I’m probably going to use Google App Engine for the soma hack). It’s been several years since I’ve regularly run Linux on anything but an embedded device (Raspberry Pi) or in a VM. It feels good to watch it boot up on the bare metal again.

So I got up, poured a giant World of Warcraft coffee mug full of joe, and plopped down here to do some typing. Once again, I’m coming back to my personal domain and planting my flag here; that feels good too. I’m taking a lot of inspiration from Wil, actually, and I really appreciate his example. Not that I’m fooling myself or anything…he’s an actual author and creator; I’m a casual blogger and very casual podcaster. But a personal voice is a personal voice, and mine lives here.

I think I’m even going to go all crazy and shoot for a podcast today as well! My H1 is sitting out on my desk, and has been there for several days, but I’ve just not quite “gotten around to it”. I’ll probably hit a lot of the same points with the podcast, but that’s fine; it’s not like there’s a giant audience for either one, and anyone that subscribes to both is probably a personal friend.

Let’s post this thing!

(UPDATE: I did a good job of focusing while actually writing the post, but boy, did I lose it while rustling up my links! Heck, I ended up creating an account at a new site (Known), after noticing that Jon Udell was experimenting with it. *sigh* Focus, Ken…focus.)

IMG_20141120_103326

More sad news; I should post more than podcasts and RIPs here, I’m thinking. Our black lab Toby had to be put to sleep yesterday. It happened very fast; the photo shown here was from only 8 days before his last. He was going to the vet, because we were a little concerned than he had become very picky with his eating, and was having just the smallest amount of trouble with his hips. The vet found very little that day, but things progressed quickly. We had to make that difficult pet owner’s choice yesterday, and keep things from getting worse. He wasn’t in pain, but he was confused, and things weren’t getting better.

We love you, Toby, and we miss you terribly. You were the sweetest dog I’ve ever had the fortune to have in my life. Thank you for accepting me so generously into your family. Thank you for taking me on those walks this past week; I wish I had thought to take more pictures of them. Thank you for being good to the kittens, and sharing your home with them. I will never ever forget you.

Toby!

Twizzler passed away about a half hour ago. She was our pet rat, the last of four that I’ve had. They are such pure, sweet little souls…so full of personality. They are wonderful pets, except for the fact that they have short lives. Twizzler was about 3-1/4 years old, which is pretty ancient for a rat. Her sister, Tofu, died almost exactly a year ago, so Twizzler’s been on her own since then. We will miss them both very much. I may have pet rats again, but for now, we’ve got a house full of cats and a black Lab, so I think we’re good to go on the animal front for the time being. I treasure my memories of all of them, though. I’m still uploading photos of both of them to Flickr; I’ll be able to post more soon.

Twizzler the rat

(Photo on Flickr)

[Note: This post started as a copy from a Google+ post…but I’m committing myself to moving more of my voice back here, and starting this way is better than nothing. If the shutdown of Reader shows us nothing else, it highlights the danger of trusting another service with too much of our valued data and metadata.]

A silver lining to the Google Reader death fiasco…I’ve found my long-desired decent replacement to Google Listen, Google’s podcast player. They abandoned the app quite a while back, and even removed it from the play store, so I’ve been looking for a replacement for awhile.

For all its flaws, Listen was a pretty good podcast player app. The killer feature, IMO, is that it keeps its downloads out of the Music “inventory”. It sounds trivial, but it drives me *crazy* to see downloaded podcasts show up in my Music app just b/c they are new MP3s that the phone has found on the SD card. I seldom shuffle my entire music inventory, but the thought that if I did, I might end up with “song, song…podcast???” makes me batty. And way too many of the apps I’ve looked at did exactly that.

But on one of the threads I’m reading about the Reader retirement, someone (hold on…ah, +Kristian Serrano . Thanks!) mentioned Listen Up as a spiritual successor to Listen. I immediately bounced over, took a look, and bought it to try. (there’s actually a free [Listen Up Free] version of the app with identical functionality[!], but hey…it’s a buck. Pay the guy!)

I like the updated interface of the app (Listen was definitely dated), and….w00t! No podcasts in my Music player! FTW! (Update: I’ve since poked around the developer’s site a bit, and realized from a comment in a thread there the oh-so-difficult way to stop this is adding a “.nomedia” file to the directory the app uses to store its files. Seriously, other folks! Is that so hard to add to your app?)

I’m using Listen Up right now, and heartily recommend it as an Android podcast player. Thanks again to Kristian for mentioning it, and Patrick Julien for coding it!

This year has been pretty pathetic with respect to posting here on my blog…*sigh*. Best intentions and all that, but one post (last week, no less!) since January is not at all impressive. I’ve decided to set my sights low in an effort to get back in the habit. Here’s another Cory Doctorow presentation…the followup, in fact, to the one in my January post: “The Coming Civil War over General-purpose Computing”

(btw, “sights low” doesn’t refer to the presentation! Rather to shortness/simplicity of my post)

I got an email this past week that I’ve been dreading for a long time, but half-expecting…IT Converstations is shutting down. One of the first and best podcasting resources is going away. 🙁

The good news is that their existing content is safe; some of the sub-sites are rolling back to their original sponsors (ie, Social Innovations Conversations, for example), and the main ITC corpus is going to the Internet Archive, with ITC providing transparent redirects for as long as possible. Class act, IT Conversations…I expect no less from Doug and Phil, of course.

I understand the decision, but nonetheless, IT Conversations will be *sorely* missed. I agree with Doug that, in a sense, they’ve reached “Mission Accomplished”…over the past decade, podcasting tech conferences has gone from almost impossible to bog standard, and ITC was a big part of making that happen.

There was a pretty long period at the beginning of the “podcasting era” (2004-2006 or so) where the IT Conversations website was generally a daily pageload of mine. And invariably I would find something fascinating and interesting to toss into one of my feeds. Many of the conferences and even individual podcasters that I follow today came from a IT Conversations episode.

And even today, they continue to innovate. ITC’s Spokenword.org is a novel service that provides benefits that I don’t see many other places. Spokenword allows for the curation, rating, and organization of “playlists” describing podcasts from all over the Net. It’s a great service, with a great API that allows for proper programmatic manipulation. It’s not surviving the transition, though…I’m really going to miss it. I know of tools that can give me part of what Spokenword provides, but I may have to wire some of it together myself.

So I’m sad to see them go. Nevertheless, I want to thank Doug Kaye, Phil Windley, and all the other folks who worked together to make IT Conversations such an amazing resource. You did a fantastic job, and  were instrumental in bringing me into the podcast fold. I really appreciate everything you’ve done.

We’ll see y’all on the Interwebs.

 

I am something of a Cory Doctorow fanboy. I own and enjoy just about everything he’s written (fiction and non-fiction), I read both Boing Boing and his personal blog, and via his podcast stream, I hear every talk that he gives where there’s a recording made available to him. I respect his opinions and intellect immensely, and I like both his writing and speaking styles.

Like a lot of frequent speakers, Cory tweaks and improves his speeches over time. I’ve heard this particular speech at least three times; but in December at CCC, he nailed it. With both the speech and the following Q&A, I think Cory clearly lays out the vital issues. Well worth watching.

I was excited this past Wednesday to get a notification on my Nexus S that it was ready to install a software update. Ice Cream Sandwich time! I proceeded to start the process, and as the download began, I frantically dug around in my bag for my old G1 (which I use as my work on-call phone) to take some photos and a short video of some of the steps:

Nexus S ICS upgrade

It was amusing to use my oldest Android phone to record the update of my newest one.

My update went smoothly (none of the revision issues that have been mentioned by some folks), and I’ve been exploring ICS for the past day or so. What do I think?

Well, there’s plenty of nifty stuff. First off, the performance appears to be roughly comparable to Gingerbread on my Nexus S; I don’t notice anything that’s obviously laggy. The upgrade went pretty smoothly; I had problems with G+ after it completed (there’s a photo of the crash report screen in my album above), but that was about it. It continued to crash even after a reboot, and I eventually went in to uninstall/reinstall the app. Surprise! Google+ is built into the ICS firmware…no uninstall possible. Instead I cleared the app data and set up my acccount and settings all over again (maybe a minute of work). No problems since.

Some of the new capabilities are pretty neat. Screenshots are SLICK (and long overdue)…just long-press the volume down and power button. Cool! I also had to immediately try out the panorama feature in the new camera…it works pretty well!

I haven’t tried the “face recognition” lock screen yet; honestly, that just seems like a novelty to me. But the new unlock screen is pretty cool in general. It has a “straight to photo” button (shown in one of the photos above) that saves a couple of seconds when you’re pulling the phone out for a quick shot. Appreciated. Also, you can go straight to the notifications pulldown without swiping to open the phone to the homescreen (this may be only if you don’t have a lock. I hope so.) I think that is new, but regardless, it’s pretty convenient. I often am opening the phone only to check/clear a notification.

The new information screens in ‘Settings’ are also useful…I love the detailed battery usage info that Gingerbread provides, and ICS adds to that with a data usage report. Very nice, especially for folks with limited data plans. In general, the new organization in ‘Settings’ is useful.

So…what’s not to like? Well, for all that I just mentioned that the Settings re-org was a net plus, I’m not quite as enamored of all the interface changes. My understanding is that a lot of them are from Honeycomb (which I never used), but to me they seem to be partially just for the sake of being “new”. It’s tricky to change interface elements that have been around for some time…there’s a cost to changing that which is familiar, and I question whether or not it’s always worth it.

The icon changes are *definitely* not worth it to me. They seem to parallel the (equally confusing) icon changes in Google properties in general; icons with text have mostly been replaced by not-always-so-intuitive graphics, and especially on a phone, there’s no way to hover and get more information. Within the Gmail app, I literally had to guess that I was “marking as read”, and hope that I’d be able to undo if I actually was doing something else. This icon redesign is rampant in ICS, and probably my least favorite thing.

In addition, Google managed to double-down on confusing with cut and paste; they changed how it worked, and then removed the familiar icons to boot! It took me quite a number of tries to figure out everything. Again, I expect it is similar to Honeycomb, so one could say that it’s been around for awhile…but there are a LOT more Android phone users than tablet users. For most of us, it’s new, confusing, and arguably of little value.

Admittedly, though…those are mostly nits. In general, I’m enjoying the heck out of Ice Cream Sandwich!

(Note: these are definitely just first impressions. I’ll continue to make notes, and either update this post or make new ones as notable things come up)