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September 2005 - Posts

Visa/Mastercard settlement: I get $19!
I've complained before that Visa and Mastercard screw you with fees. Well, apparently they're settling an antitrust suit.

I got a settlement notice in the mail indicating I'm entitled to $19! Whoo hoo! I can finally buy that Porche!
Posted: Sep 27 2005, 10:13 PM by Jeff | with 8 comment(s)
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The once ultimate gaming machine
They linked to this on TWiT. Can you imagine a $4,500 computer with a 300 MHz Pentium II being called "ultimate" today? Enjoy the TechTV flashback with Kate and Leo.
Posted: Sep 27 2005, 12:14 AM by Jeff | with 2 comment(s)
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First CoasterBuzz Podcast show is "in the can"

The first audio news show for CoasterBuzz is done...

http://podcast.coasterbuzz.com/News/3.aspx

I'm amazed at how fast one can put something like this together. I decided I wanted to do this on Tuesday, and like that, I've got it done. It's so much easier to produce traditional media than it is to build a Web site. Sure, the equipment is more expensive, but the product is "real" in much less time. It's kind of a buzz to be doing it again!

The content itself isn't bad. It needs a lot of polish on my part, because I'm seriously out of practice in being an on-air personality. I haven't done audio production in like six years either, so I'm rusty all over. We chatted about the show afterward and I think we'll be able to clean it up and make it smoother next time.

I am pleased with the quality. Yeah, it was money I don't have, but buying the gear to do it right was certainly worth it. Perhaps I can nail down a sponsor and pay for that in the long run.

Posted: Sep 26 2005, 12:42 AM by Jeff | with no comments
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Podcast recording setup

I tested my podcast recording setup tonight, and it all appears to work. I'll test and restest tomorrow before we actually record tomorrow night.

In the picture below, the laptop is acting as my Skype phone where I can conference in four people. The phone with the phone interface sits in the middle so I can also pull someone in that way (which is actually by way of Vonage, so it's all IP-based). The tricky part, and the reason for the mixer, is that I needed to do mix-minus via the aux sends to both the laptop (to hear my mic and the phone) and to the phone (to hear my mic and the Skype laptop) so everyone could hear each other without feeding back. As expected, it works like a champ and sounds great. It's so kick ass to own my very own Mackie mixer after being out of the broadcast biz for so many years!

I have no idea how or if this will ever make money, and at the moment I don't even care. I'm just really excited to be doing it. More Monday...

Podcast setup image

Posted: Sep 24 2005, 10:42 PM by Jeff | with 2 comment(s)
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Cracking open an iPod Nano
Kevin Rose busted open an iPod Nano in a new Systm episode...

http://revision3.com/systm/subsystm/ipodnano/

Come on, you know you're curious!
Posted: Sep 23 2005, 02:41 PM by Jeff | with 28 comment(s)
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Content is cheaper, but it still isn't free!

I've been watching with great interest the podcasts and IPTV projects of the various TechTV alumni. These folks are reaching hundreds of thousands of people every week without a traditional broadcast network, and that's incredibly awesome.

But the Revision3 guys, Kevin Rose and company, are real TV people doing nice stuff (though would it kill them to do better lighting?). I remember awhile back Kevin mentioned they were going to buy wireless mics and a Panasoic DVX100a, so they're starting with good equipment and it shows compared to all of the crap out there. This stuff isn't cheap.

So with the release of Rev3's latest episode of Systm, they decided to delay general release of the show and give paid subscribers first dibs. I think that's totally reasonable, yet the kids are bitching up a storm about it.

Get over it, folks. Just because they enjoy creating content doesn't mean they shouldn't be compensated for it, especially since they're real media people with an eye on doing it right. Having a small staff will make it possible to greatly reduce cost, especially with a much cheaper distribution medium like the Internet, but the cost still isn't free. Someone has to buy equipment and bandwidth, and have something left over to pay the folks that actually produce this stuff, because you can't do that and have a day job.

The Internet has bred this gimme gimme sense of entitlement and it drives me nuts. You better believe CoasterBuzz has pop-ups and ads, because I'm not going to spend thousands of dollars every year of my own money to run the site. It's just not going to happen. That's why I have the $20/year club with that site, which removes the ads. I'd rather have 500 paying members and 500 visits a day than 10,000 visitors a day that pay nothing.

If the Internet has failed us in any particular way, it's that the cost of entry is so low that anyone can put something online. Unless you go to an established traditional media outlet's Web site, you can't tell by looking who is the real deal and who is full of crap. The good stuff still costs money to produce, and whether it's advertising or subscriptions, one way or another that revenue has to be generated or it's going to go away. People need to accept that.

I personally pay about $100 a year for various online content, which is a lot less than the $40/month I pay for the DirecTV I barely watch anymore. Get perspective... this online stuff you pay for is a good deal.

Posted: Sep 20 2005, 11:45 PM by Jeff | with no comments
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MSDN subscription: To buy or not to buy

Yeah, that's quite the question. The forthcoming release of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 brings with it a change in the MSDN subscription program.

Right now you can get a Universal subscription for about $2,400 which more or less will get you everything that Microsoft currently makes. When the new version is out, there are essentially two higher levels above Universal (which will be called Visual Studio Professional Premium or some such nonsense). The next highest level includes one of the Team System skus, either for architects, developers or testers, because some moron at Microsoft seems to think that these are actually discreet roles in every organization. That'll cost around $5,500. If you want all three versions, plus the Team System server product, that'll cost you more than $10k. No thanks.

I do want Windows Vista and Office 12 when they come out, but the truth is that I can get that with the Pro-Premium version when it comes out. They're saying $2,500, but I suspect it will be less at retail. The Team System tools aren't worth it all split up like that, so they won't get my money for that. If I buy the Universal subscription today, I get upgraded to one of the $5,500 versions at no cost, so I guess I might as well.

Microsoft has really taken one step forward and two steps back this time around, and it's annoying. They're making the cost of entry into their platform inexpensive even for the hobbyists with sub-$100 development environments (the Express line), yet they're pricing the good tools ridiculously high, and fragmenting the features all over the place. Stupid. On one hand they see the money in selling server licenses so they'll get you in cheap, but then bend you over if you really want to get the most from the platform. I still say that the cost of software isn't a big deal compared to the cost of labor, but they still don't get that independent developers like me are the ones pushing clients to use Microsoft in the first place. It makes our jobs that much harder when open-sores people are screaming "free! free! free!" to the same people I'm trying to sell.

I bought a subscription shortly after being laid-off back in 2001, and it changed my life. This time around, I'm not so sure I need to take that leap, because now I know how to be profitable, and the only thing I need (as opposed to want) is Visual Studio.

Posted: Sep 19 2005, 01:50 PM by Jeff | with 16 comment(s)
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G4 exec fired? I sure hope so

Kevin Rose says that the word on the street is that G4's chief exec got canned. We can only hope that's the case, because that idiot managed to kill off a giant audience. Although, quite by accident, I guess we can credit him with all of the great podcasts and IPTV that has come around from the TechTV alumni. How ironic.

I guess when Kevin Rose was released from his contract at G4, there was nothing in there that kept him from trashing the network. I guess even the lawyers at G4 are stupid.

Posted: Sep 18 2005, 10:36 PM by Jeff | with 1 comment(s)
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POP Forums finally looking like an application
POP Forums v8 is finally looking something like a functional application. I finally got around to prioritizing the work and feature list so I don't feel so overwhelmed. The plan now is to get it to a state similar to that of v7.x, and from there start working on the newer features. I'll probably put out a preview at that point.

I have to say that I'm not pleased with the render times using templated controls for topic and post lists, but I could be over-reacting. On one hand, I'm looking at .2 seconds, but for someone running a site without a ton of traffic, that shouldn't even matter. For my own sites I think I want it to be below .1, which is kind of the benchmark I use for everything else I have running right now, and I think to do that I'll need to resort to custom controls. So I might introduce two versions of the UI, one for tweak monkeys and one built for all-out performance that isn't as easy to hack.

I had a discussion about the importance of creating a Usenet-style UI for threads, and I wonder how important that really is. When you discuss it with geeks, they stand up and say, "oh yeah, I want that." When you discuss it with everyone else, they say, "Usewhat?" It's so weird how the Internet has been with us for such a relatively short period of time, yet the experience gap is enormous, especially from thirty-somethings to early twenty-somethings.
Posted: Sep 18 2005, 04:21 PM by Jeff | with 1 comment(s)
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Bonus action on my book

With the poor marketing and positioning of my book, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to live with the idea that it's never going to meet the sales target I hoped for. That's a real bummer. I should have retained the copyright. Now I know better.

But the little bonus is that a third-party is going to publish a chapter as part of an e-book, and I'm getting a nice one-time cut from that.

I guess it could have been worse though. The first version of the cover text was absolutely horrible and would have likely turned off every person that picked it up off of the shelf. They didn't put something on the cover about .NET v2 because they were worried about RTM delays, yet they (and every other publisher) seemed to be pushing v2 titles.

Anyway, if you're reading this, and you're still trying to "get" .NET and come from a script background, Maximizing ASP.NET is for you. Most of the feedback I've had from people in that audience has been very positive.

Posted: Sep 15 2005, 09:17 PM by Jeff | with 1 comment(s)
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