Monday, April 30

The Trans Iowa Race, a 350 mile bike race

My bro did the Trans Iowa bile race this weekend. 350 miles in 27 hours! He came in 5th overall! All I can say is wow! I didn't even know bike races like this existed. Sure there's a legendary race in colorado, a 100 mile off road ride, but this was 350 miles! That and he didn't even tell me he was doing it. LOL.

It's hard to explain, but it's sort of like an ultra-marathon for off road bikers. All dirt roads, gravel, sand, two track, whatever's there. On mountain bike, cyclocross... some people even do it single speed.

It's hard to imagine a 350 mile ride. I mean, I try to ride 80+ miles once a week, have gone over 100 a couple times, most people would agree that's fairly epic riding. Centuries (100 mile rides) are sort of the norm for long distance riding, sort of the marathon (26 miles) being the norm for long distance running. There are also 24 hour races, whatever distance you can do in 24 hours, also common, but those are on closed circuits, you just ride on a predefined loop over and over. This new 300 miler is not a repeat loop. It's a 300+ mile course.

I see now there is a Red Assinbone 300 near Winnipeg in Manitoba Canada. I'm not sure if this is a new trend in biking, but I like it.

Tuesday, April 10

Why Microsoft is dead

Paul Graham's article "Microsoft is Dead" on why Microsoft's relevance in the computing world has radically declined is a gut check on how far we've come in the last few years.

Microsoft is no longer a threat to competition and progress not only because of increased competition from linux and apple, but primarily because the desktop is no longer the most important platform.

As gmail and other web services have proven the web and the web browser are the new platform. So called "office 2.0" has taken over. Gmail is the new Outlook, wiki's are the new Microsoft Word, and various other services like and a whole lot more have put a severe dent in Microsoft's control with the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office.

Computing has also moved beyond the desktop with cell phones and mobile computing and media has taken a bigger role and microsoft is completely failing to get a handle on media, see it's failure with the zune, Play's for sure drm, right up to Vista which is frighteningly anti-consumer... and ironically all this would appear to be wasted as per the EMI and Apple announcement to sell non-drm media... though admitedly the video market and new technology like HDTV, Blueray, and HDDVD have yet to play out.

The biggest realization of this for me came when I was chatting with a friend via IM and I called twitter "cross platform". No longer does cross plaform necissarily mean Mac, Win and Linux. It now means many things and among them cross platform can mean the world wide web and the mobile web.

The operating system has lost some of it's relevance, which is why I can happily write this blog post from a computer running Ubuntu... because the majority of my primary applications are either open source like Firefox or web based like Gmail.

The big question is... is this the end of the tyranny or are we just swapping on tyrant for another. Clearly google is the leader in the new economy trailed closely by yahoo, while they have seen their share of critics neither exercises the dominance or control Microsoft once held.

Why is Virtually Spam Free has an excellent post on why they think wordpress free blog hosting is virtually splog (spam blog) free. It's speculative but the author thinks it all comes down to two factors; blocking ads on free blogs (splogs major revenue source) and the wordpress spam comment filter Akismet.

Splog's have a distinct pattern... namely large amounts of links from comments. Akismet, an optional wordpress plugin that centrally tracks and filters spam on comments to wordpress blogs easily detects splogs on the wordpress system by the large amount of comment links to them and can then kill the splog.

That said... I use google's as my primary blog, and while I see evidence there are a tremendous amount of splogs on blogger I've had FAR more success with blogger's spam filters then wordpress. Even though wordpress has filtered out splogs comment spam on wordpress seems particularly virulent.

I guess what I'm saying is different services excel in different areas.

From: PlagiarismToday - Why is Virtually Spam Free
A recent study by WebmasterWorld found that an estimated 77% of all blogs on Google’s Blogspot service were spam. Similarly, AOL Hometown, had well over 80% of its results turn out to be spam. Even MSN Spaces, which as not mentioned in the report, is claimed to host an estimated ten percent of spammer Web site.

It seems as if nearly every major free blog hosting service has been either overrun or nearly overrun with spam. However, one services stands alone, a relative oasis of spam cleanliness, Automattic’s

Monday, April 9

The market is correcting itself

It's happening. Since the announcement by Apple and EMI to sell non-drm songs the long predicted shift to DRM free music is starting.

Microsoft changes tune on selling DRM-free songs

When the tracks actually start selling we should see market forces move the market quicker and quicker to non-DRM music.

8+ years of digital culture prohibition is starting to come to an end and I couldn't be happier. :)

Saturday, April 7

Videoblogging in Second Life

As part the Videoblogging Week 2007 theme "crossing borders", Lisa Rein has done an excellent series of posts on videoblogging in Second Life. As part of the series Chicago based videoblogger Davide Meade has created this amazing video of an interface he's created for videoblogs in Second Life. Complete with a channel changer and multiple screens. If you have second life installed you can check it out by visiting the below SLURL... that's a Second Life Uniform Resource Locator or Second Life URL for you geeks. :)

See it in Second Life:

Watch movie

Original post on April 05, 2007 from (RSS feed)

(Click the image above to watch the video!) It’s Videoblogging Week 2007! The week where all sorts of people all over the world crank out one new video every single day … just to do it. Witness the maddness at MeFeedia. Tags: videobloggingweek2007

(Via Mefeedia) - VBW07:Day 5 - Second Life

Spectator in his own demise, Tower Records' founder on its rise & fall

I just noticed this amazing interview with Tower Records founder Russ Solomon by J.D. Lasica on the rise and fall of Tower Records. In it he talks about the effect of downloadable music, and the value and experience of music stores.
A revealing 9-minute interview with Russ Solomon, founder of Tower Records, about the music retailing giant's rise and fall. He also talks about Napster, the ipod (he won't use one), trends in the music industry, and how the CD isn't dead.
Most interesting points:
  • Russ Solom talks about the opening of the original Tower Records in Los Angelos, 1970, and the odd timing that made it an over night success with the death of Janis Joplin down the street from the store and the subsequent release of her new and final album at the store.

  • Russ talks about the downturn in the market do filesharing and what he thinks causing the demise of the music industry... rising prices while the market was slipping over the years, a lack of singles, and the alienation of the youth market.

  • Russ also considers there to be a "fad element" to digitial downloading, saying the demand for tactile goods will return.

    Personally, While I do generally agree with him I don't think demand will ever return for current "plastic disks". I do think there will come a large demand for better formats, multi-track / multi-channel formats, other new products, merchandising, more imersive and participatory experiences, and above all more demand for real world experiences.

    While records were before my time I miss the large artfully format of the record album. Flash cards are also becomeing popular as a means of packaging, USB thumb drives above all. Day dreaming of what new forms music packaging might take now that it can litterally take any form it likes is now favorite hobby of mine.

  • Finally Russ talks about being a "spectator of his own demise" at Tower Records during the bankrupcy, the future of the music buying experience, and what's next.
originally posted January 19, 2007 by jdlasica: Tower Records' founder on its rise & fall

Friday, April 6

Youtube coming soon to an iPod near you!

So, in the last couple days I've come to the realization that Google Video has started putting iPod and PSP compatible MP4 videos in their RSS feeds. Google has always had downloadable MP4 videos for free content though they haven't always put them in their feeds.

This is no minor thing. In fact it's pretty amazing what you can aggregate directly to your iTunes, iPod, PSP or media center.

For example, you can get compatible RSS feed of the highest rated documentaries (RSS feed / google page) or the latest Machinima videos (RSS feed / google page).

In fact why don't you try and pop the below RSS feed into iTunes now.

*Please make sure to turn off "auto downloading" in your iTunes podcasting preferences so you don't swamp google or your computer with multiple downloads.

If this is still not *digg worthy* enough for you, don't worry there's more.

You can also access MP4 feeds on pretty much all youtube users.

That's right, let me say it again... you can get iTunes/ iPod / PSP compatible RSS video feeds for pretty much ALL youtube users.

So for example here's the latest youtube videos from spectacular comedian Mark Day.

And here's the corresponding ipod/PSP compatible RSS feed from google video.

Note the syntax. All I did was pop Mark's username from youtube, "MarkDayComedy", into the google query url.

You may notice there are a few other youtube users videos in the query. These videos are responses from other users to Mark Day's videos. Many might consider this pretty cool. All the same I tried to find a way to filter them out but I cannot find a way to limit the query to a single youtube user. So... to bad I guess. Deal with it. ;)

This does bring to mind, the next big question.

Does this mean we'll see video podcast feeds on Youtube soon?

I certainly can't tell you that, but now that the question has been posed, maybe if enough people *digg it* or blog about it youtube will listen. :)

I can say this. There are really no legal implications, but there are some important business considerations for Youtube regarding video podcasting. Youtube's business model is predicated on adding value through distribution with it's very nice, but arguably very controlling, Flash based player. This added value includes such things as links back to youtube, links to related videos others have found interesting, and above all such "social networking" features as the ability to comment, blog about and email the video.

That said it would certainly appear all the content is already available through google video so does it really matter when youtube gets around to promoting their video podcasting feeds in the youtube interface? If you're reading this then you have everything you need to start using youtube with your favorite video aggregator, handheld video player, media center, set top box, or even cell phone today.

While I'd love to see youtube take some development initiative and take that final step for the sake of all youtube users... I'm not going to sit around and wait for it. I'm already plugging my favorite youtubers videos feeds into my favorite aggregators like iTunes,, Fireant and Democracy Player.

While some aggregators and players do support youtube's Flash based video feeds there are certain obvious things you can't really do with flash videos.... like store them on your hard drive... play them back in preferred video players... or media players... and many more obvious things... like playing them on your iPod. While MP4 is a proprietary video format and is not freely licensed it is quickly evolving as the MP3 of the video world. Most new handheld video players, set top boxes, and many new cell phones (such as the Nokia N95) support MP4.

With the recent announcement by EMI and Apple to sell non-DRM mp3's the big question is will video based distribution evolve in a parallel open fashion as music with mp3's or does the overhead of video based distribution and production require such digital crutches and controls as Flash based players, or even DRM?

What I very much believe is that youtube doesn't need to use Flash like DRM to create an artificial "speed bump" around youtube to force youtube users to keep coming back. Quite the contrary, the use of only Flash is discouraging use of youtube and encouraging the creation of a cottage industry of tools for cracking youtube and alternative "open" solutions.

I think there's enough love of youtube that if they did open up and allow MP4 downloads and video podcasting... along with some improvements to their EULA... that the good graces will cement them in a favorable light with many of their users.

There is also TREMENDOUS opportunity around these features for users to start offering proverbial "pro level" services, and advanced demographics and statistical information, the removal of caps on video length and resolution (HD VIDEO!) and even offerings for video based advertising, and optional paid subscription offerings on video feeds.

This is to say nothing of the opportunity for youtube to create standards and promote partnerships with set top box manufacturers, cell phone, and other hardware makers to bring the entire videoblogging space beyond the desktop computer and out into the world. It's also important to note that these aims would correspond directly if not be complimentary to the aims of google video whom is already offering paid downloads, and the web based distribution of high quality and feature length content.

It's time for youtube to set the video free.

Some tips for the uber users.

As far as googles video podcast feeds you might also note the variable "num=20" this is the number of items in the feed. If you like you can easily increase that number to 50 or even 100 items. Just us this power sparingly or your hard drive and iPod will be full of videos, google will disable this feature and I'll have to come and personally kick your ass. ;)

So for example if you wanted to download ALL youtube user Mark Day's videos to your iPod you might change the variable "num=20" to "num=100".

Again... try turning off "auto downloads" in your podcast preferences in iTunes so as not to overload google or iTunes with multiple downloads and instead browse the podcasting tab in itunes and download ONLY those posts which you want on your iPod.

So what else can you do with this knowledge.

Well, to start with you can go look up your favorite youtube personality, and try putting their USERNAME into the following query. Disclaimer: results vary depending on the uniqueness of the username.

Or... you could create any sort of complex query you like. For example... How about the last 50 machinima videos?

Or... how about using google's advanced video search to find THE highest rated documentaries (RSS feed). I highly recommend "Revolution OS" about the advent of GNU, open source and linux, it's right there in the top 10 highest rated documentaries on google video, and it's available in it's entirety at 1 hours 25 minutes, for FREE. I already own the DVD, but I appreciate it all the same. :)

Obviously not everything on google video is available as a freely downloadable mp4. In order make sure you only get freely downloadable MP4's a highly recommend selecting "is free" in the "price section" when using Googles's Advanced Video search settings or adding "+is%3Afree" to your query string.

Tuesday, April 3

Vidoeblogging Week 2007

How's this for a lame excuse to not be videoblogging. Mefeedia has teamed up with Irina of the Vloggies and Podtech to cover Videoblogging Week 2007 and I've been so busy I haven't had time to even do a blog post or a videoblog about it. Here are a few hilights so far.

1) The Videoblogging Week Widget (on right)

2) Randy Wicker does some on the street citizen journo style interviews about the "Chocolate Jesus" exhibit which was closed in New York do to controversy. Favorite line; "Well do you think it would have been less controversial if it was made out of white chocolate?"

Watch movie

Original post on April 02, 2007 from YouTube :: Tag // videobloggingweek2007: (RSS feed)

"A nude Jesus made out of over 200 pounds of dark chocolate brought complaints from Catholic officials & death threats to the gallery owners at 47th St. & Lexington Ave in NYC. Randy Wicker & Ryan Wolowski were on hand for the scheduled opening. Here is what happened.... Author: RandolfeWicker Keywords: videobloggingweek2007 chocolate Jesus Catholics cheese Wyoming piano Cavallaro censoship art nude eating threats NYC Lab Added: April 2, 2007"

(Via Mefeedia)