IN THIS ISSUE:
iTOON on Longhorn
THE CYBERBARF BAG
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iTOON on Fast Net
iTOON on Old Media
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
IN THIS BARF BAG:
THE CYBERBARF BAG
Rocky, our tech guru, is really into podcasts. He has several that he downloads regularly, including ex-MTV-VJ Adam Curry. What is a podcast? It is an audio file that is produced by anyone with a computer, a microphone, and simple software program that creates an appropriate web sound file. Rocky wanted to record one of our typical rambling telephone conversations as his new radio show. Now, several radio shows have been streaming across the internet for years, including some of his favorite conservative ranters like Rush Limbaugh. Podcasts are more personal than a radio syndicate's rebroadcast. Podcast gets its name from Apple's wildly popular iPod music listening device. The device can handle more than just music; for example, the spoken word. So another new digital frontier has been opened.
What is a barf bag? Next time you are in an airplane, during the safety rundown, look in the seat pouch for a waxed line paper bag. Air sickness used to be a major problem when air travel was a bumpy ride. Most airlines don't even carry them anymore. For those who still are in the dark, a barf bag is a puke containment device.
So, what is the cyberbarfbag? It is this site's toe in the podcasting waters. As this site continues to Examine the Net Way of Life, we are thrown into the audio-sphere by the goading of our tech guru and by the fact that we are beating him to the punch with planned, topical, regular pod shows.
The greatest problem facing the new audio pioneers is that they tend to overdo things. Instead of massive, movie length size programs, with bandwidth killing traffic loads, we decided to keep it simple. Short essays or commentaries are about two minutes in length. In news radio circles, this is standard length for a feature or editorial. We found that this format is simple to produce and that it makes us focus the content to a single subject.
In the early stages of this new Internet wave (with old media pondering whether it is a fad or a real threat to their existing radio station programming), we will have to see if podcasting follows the other patterns of personal expression, such as blogging. Audio essays is a natural progression from the past commentaries and editorial cartoons (iToons) that have been the foundation of this site for the past five years.
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In late June, the Bachelor Summit III, or OEA College Reunion, was to take place at tech guru Rocky's place in Bozeman, Montana. There is always a question techno-gadget requirements when crossing paths with the tech guru. He is always on the hunt for the next, great, cool or bizarre electronic device. His place is a cross between an electronic museum and a Best Buy. Three operating systems on different computers; scanners (both image and police); digital cameras; dual satellite television receivers; solar patio lights; radios; iPods; RadioShark; non-stop automatic bot surfing for programs and content; and more remote controls than NASA's Houston's control room.
Just check out his typical Gemini capsule set-up.
Inside the pick-up truck would be the CD player, the radio, the boombox in the back, the iPod in the shirt pocket, the charging cellphone, the police scanner under the dash, the PDA on the seat, the cassettes of old radio talk shows like Limbaugh awaiting for their time to be played (the options are stacked up like circling airplanes at peak hours at O'Hare). When Rocky is in his ride, for hours at a time commuting, he likes to have all his tech at the ready.
It is probably technical overload. If he tried to use all these devices at the same time, his ride would explode like that Monty Python character after eating a single, wafer thin, after-dinner mint.
To pack or what not to pack? That is the travel tech question.
PowerBook. To take the G4 on the road and through O'Hare security was a toss-up. It would depend on how much creative power would need to be transformed into prose or graphics. During one Summit, we produced a daily newsletter that was sent to the non-attendees. (Perfect attendance is now the norm). To play it safe, the old expandable Targus case was dusted off to see if the G4 would fit (barely).
PDA. Let's not get into the dead Newton debate. Not having a Palm, Treo or anything else that would remotely be considered a PDA, this was a non-packing issue. I get along without having an electronic organizer-calendar-contact book.
Cellphone. I personally disdain cellphones. I have one for work; for business. Since most public telephones have vanished like the meat eating dinosaurs, a cellphone is the emergency communication device of the urban hunter-gatherer. Since I would be gone for three business days, taking the cellphone was the office's call.
iPod. Now, I am not a person that needs to have earbuds constantly vibrating sound waves into the empty cranium in order to the pulse to continue to leap off the flatline. I have an engraved iPod, but I do not use it. Since February, I have flooded the tech guru with music CDs created on GarageBand. It was a possibility to have all those self produced albums loaded into the iPod for convenience, but in the end, why have another electronic device scanned at O'Hare.
Digital camera. This would be the first non-film 35mm vacation. The kitchen counter is still littered with 35mm film rolls that still need to be developed at the Walgreens. Last December, I acquired a Canon ZR85. It takes both digital movies and digital stills. There was no reason to have a conventional camera. Last Christmas, I took the family holiday movie, imported into iMovie, then quickly burned the holiday DVD. So on this trip, we would test the dementia of the ambush camera-interview technique. I thought we could do a 60 Minutes two camera shoot--- ask questions of interviewee, then splice different answers in post production into the final DVD.
Mystery Device. It was the hardest to find device this Spring. Everyone wanted one. The Best Buys, Circuit City and other electronic department stores could not hold them in stock. Supply and Demand. You had to go to Japan to find one. It is not quite the tech Holy Grail, but I knew Rocky would not have one, so I packed the new toy:
Sony PSP. Portable Play Station. The current cool for the gamer set. So this would be my shot across the new technology divide. It was worth the jaw dropping expression when the PSP was deposited in his lap during a commercial break. Tech envy: priceless. "Damn nice screen" he said under his breath. Man, you can kill a lot of time in an airport with this.
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As the final piece of the tech-puzzle for the Summit III, Rocky decided that the OEA needed to have a blog to communicate to the busy professionals as preparation to the meeting in Montana. So, www.welh640.blogspot.com was created to coordinate travel plans and continuing commentary for the event.
It was a quick and cheap solution. He requested a custom banner logo which I was emailed within hours of the request. The radio alumni web site was active. Even the lesser technophiles were accessing the blog with comments.
After using the site for a while, I noticed that there was a static button in the upper right corner of the page. It said NEXT BLOG. Interesting. So I clicked on it. The screen loaded with another blogspot blogger's page. The button is a random link generator. Click on it and you don't know where you will wind up. You can begin to leapfrog from French, Asian, English, German, and South American pages in a matter of few clicks. Some of the pages are in foreign languages; some are plain bizarre; some are merely web billboards hawking links to all sorts of products.
It can become addictive. This random blog hitting needed a name. So I thought of combining the blogging and the leapfrogging aspects of the activity to coin the term: b'frogging, the random jumping from blog site to blog site.
In the chaos dynamics of chance, you quickly find a real cross-section of what the blogging community represents in cyberspace.
The first thing one sees is that about half of the blogsites are foreign. Young Asians from Hong Kong and Singapore have adopted the blog model as part of their social sharing culture. There is also a good cross-section of personal political commentary sites, both liberal and conservative banter. There are also a few blogs dedicated to the author's hobby like photography, comics, travel, gardening or crafts. There is also a guy who has dedicated his site to his one true love, Taco Bell. There were also a growing number of advertising billboards, static sites that link words like swimming pools, travel deals, insurance to sales web pages.
There are also a lot of women who use their blogsites as an open personal journal. They have the aspect of open sourcing their experiences, fears and desires. There is also a thread of self loathing; a malaise in their social life or their job prospects; the fear of failure in school or in their relationships; and reactionary prose to the day's events.
There are also a lot of young men who use their blogsites to rant, rave, brag about drinking binges or shout their musical finds. Laced with curse words, demonic symbols and tattoo art, it is a testosterone statement. There are communal bitch sessions like blogrants, or ventingagain.
At times you find a site with some interesting background artwork or weird-humorous site names like I Hate Hippies, Marching for a Beer, My So-Called Life Take II, or My Blonde Moment. You can stumble across these nuggets at any time. There was a fun techie site that has a very funny animation on Internet Explorer 5.0.
There is the saying that we are all only separated by seven people. Find a blogsite and take seven clicks of the Next Blog button to see how close you are to the rest of world.
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HP announced that it will no longer sell the iPod under its label. There is no surprise here.
Apple surpassed the 500 million mark in iTune music sales. This still surprises the music industry. No other service has come close to the legal success of this system. The next marketing boost is porting the Apple technology to cellphones which should occur by the end of this year.
Remember last month's tangent rant about the phone bill? This month's bill, for only $1.01 in home local calls now costs $31.00 with tax, service fees and basic charges. No wonder mobile people have given up on the land lines-- it is cheaper to get a cellphone plan. It also reinforces the opinion that the break-up of AT&T was probably the biggest mistake because Ma Bell was more effective and efficient when it had all of its parts then when broken a part.
Apple rumor of iPod videocasting soon. No surprise here. Apple had iPhoto iPods. Video is just moving photo frames. It will be up to the choking scale of bandwidth of streaming video that will be the brake on the runaway train called podcasting.