Monday, April 30, 2007

Why no Video Blogging?

Some people have asked me why I don't do videoblogging or podcasts. After all my presentation style is intentionally optimized for podcasting and I have been using it for over a year.

There is very little video blogging I have seen to date that is as useful as print. Most is done baddly at best. If I am going to videoblog I am going to do it right. So far I have got a good video settup but the sound settup is terrible. I need to invest some time setting up a decent audio setup, a decent mixer, microphone etc.

But much of the video blogging that is out there is poor for reasons beyond technology. Videoblogging is essentially television and television is a very difficult medium to master. People spend their time looking blankly into the camera, fidgetting, umm-ing, ah-ing and generally looking nervous.

Another common mistake is to sit down. It is much harder to speak sitting down, your diaphram gets all compressed and you can't take proper breaths. So sentences end up cut off short.

So far the books I have found on podcasting appear to be complete rubbish thrown together by someone with no idea about either the technology or the phenomenon. On the technical side I have been looking at books on how to set up a home recording studio as being likely to be a better bet.

For less than $2,000 anyone can buy a complete set of equipment that is as good or better than the 'broadcast quality' equipment of ten years ago.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Axis of hypocrites

Few politicians fully live up to the noble sentiments they preach. But the gap between the rhetoric and reality has grown particularly wide in the US Republican party.

First we had Bill Bennett pontificating about the 'death of outrage' until his multi-million gambling losses were uncovered. Then Ted Haggard, the bloviating evangelist preacher fulminating against homosexuals like himself.

The latest hypocrite to be exposed is the deputy undersecretary of State for insisting that public health measures to prevent AIDS be based on abstinence rather than condoms which have proved vastly more effective. And of course he is busy paying prostitutes $300 for a 'massage'.

This last piece of hypocrisy is not a minor one. Millions of people are dying of AIDS and the US policy of promoting the least effective response is causing real harm. Pandering to the votes of the religious right takes priority over people's lives.

These are not isolated incidents. We still don't know how Dan Gannon got into the White House press briefings but Ockham's razor suggest that one of his customers as a male prostitute was responsible. We do know that Cunningham and Ney took multi-million dollar bribes and that they were not the only ones on the take.

The root cause here is a failure of the Washington Press corps, not because they did not discover these peccadilloes earlier but because they reported the obvious hypocrisy that preceded them as news. The beltway elite journalist would much rather report on morality than policy, it is so much easier to do. Writing a piece that explains the consequences of various proposals to change social security to a general audience is difficult. Reporting the bloviating of a Bill Bennett preaching a morality he does not live is so much easier.

It is also much easier to preach morality if you are a hypocrite than the genuine article.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Stopping by the FDA to offer some trenchant advice in the matter of the plan to adulterate US chocolate supply already denounced by several chocolate manufacturers. I was unable to complete the comment due to a database error.

Looks like maybe there are rather more comments than were anticipated. The deadline has been extended to May 25th.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Axis of Evil Trifecta

I don't normally blog politics here. However it seems important to note that the US has achieved an 'axis of evil' trifecta. Iran has become the regional superpower, North Korea has acquired nuclear weapons and Iraq is mired in a civl war that looks likely to have cost at least a million lives by the end.

Every one of these outcomes was preventable. They occured because the neo-con clique exploited the aftermath of 9/11 so that they could use US military power to bully the rest of the world to fall in line with their imperial plans.

See Kevin Drum for more.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Back in the old days the disk drive manufacturers used to have to come out with a whole new interface standard every three years or so as the disks they were making exceeded the maximum capacity of the old standard.

So now the flash memory people are doing the exact same thing. Standard SD cards are limited to 2Gb so a new standard called SDHC has been introduced with a maximum capacity of 32Gb. Not too bright when there is already an 8Gb card on the market. The new standard will last us for at best three years.

Why not just go straight to 1Tb or so? The new cards require a new reader which means that all the people who paid for a card reader in their monitor are going to find it quickly becomes obsolete.

More details in Wikipedia.

Monday, April 16, 2007

TrustedReviews - Panasonic TH-103PF9 103in Plasma TV

My name is television, worship me ye masses and despair.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Idiotic grocery price ambush time

One of the more irritating tactics of gotcha journalism is asking a politician the price of common grocery items. Today's victim is Giuliani.

The idea is that politicians prove how out of touch they are by failing to answer these silly questions.

I buy milk practically every week but I have no more idea what the price of a gallon of milk is than Giuliani. I am still going to buy whether the price is $1.50 or $2.75. I shop at Costco for these things precisely because I don't want to have to go to the bother of remembering what a good price is.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Hack, Pump and Dump Indictment

The DOJ have published an indictment describing a hack pump and dump scheme. Interesting reading.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician: Books: Anthony Everitt

Anthony Everitt's biography of Cicero has rapidly become definitive. I read this a couple of years ago. This morning I received my copy of his followup volume on Augustus so I thought it was a good time to recommend the first book.

Cicero was the last defender of the Republic. His origins were not exactly humble (his father was a knight) but he rose far above them to become a Senator at 30 and Consul 10 years later.

His problem was that the Republic was collapsing around him. Unlike Cato, Cicero's approach was pragmatic, attempting to forestall disaster while Cato and the optimates mistook their insistence on maintaining their own privileges for virtue.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Internet on planes

Last time I surfed the Web from a plane was 1995 when Rohit Khare and I were comming back from the Dallas IETF. MCI had (possibly inadvisedly) presented every attendee with a calling card that allowed the holder to make unlimited calls for free.

Turned out that they worked on the plane as well.

The last time I remember seeing someone use an airphone was about five years ago. At $6 per minute Verizon simply priced themselves out of the market. Once it had been proved that standard cell phones work fine paying $360 per hour for the monopolist product became a mugs game.

I tend to wonder how many people watch the movies in hotel rooms for the same reason. They cost as much as a film on DVD. The choice is lousy and unlike real TV the pause button does not work.

So for me Internet on planes all comes down to price. $10 for a six hour Boston-SFO flight is a no-brainer. $20 is acceptable but much beyond that point it becomes usury.

The lack of cell phone service does not worry me a bit. I can still pull voicemail down from my Vonage line which forwards all voicemails as email attachments. Those who really need synchronous communications can learn to instant message.