Monthly Archives: November 2006

Don’t waste your time here

Instead of reading this blog, do yourself a favor and devote whatever time you might have wasted here to reading Hugh MacLeod’s How to be creative instead.  It is funnier, wiser, and more eloquent than anything I could ever write.  And if his way of thinking tickles your fancy as much as it does mine, subscribe to the RSS feed for his blog.


Interesting coincidence

Originally uploaded by Dr Reelgood.

Yesterday, Mike and Cheryl went with Cheryl’s Mammaw to visit the grave of her husband, Eugene Doyle (Pappaw), who died this year. While there, Mike captured this photo of these two headstones that we noticed at Pappaw’s funeral. They are very near his grave site and hard to miss.

The coincidence of their proximity to each other is a bit bizarre. It sort of calls to mind the scene in Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” in which Tom and Huck show up at the church while their funeral is being conducted. And this quote, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” — Mark Twain


As audio, video, and digital picture files have grown in size, the problem of how to share them with others has become more of an issue.  ISPs and Email systems like Gmail impose a limitation on the size of file attachments, which is usually in the neighborhood of 10 MB.  It is quite easy to exceed that limit with the files most of us are now creating.

Therefore this “problem” has produced an opportunity for a new service, free file hosting.  One of the latest of such services to enter the field is Mediafire.  Unlike RapidShare, which I’ve used in the past, Mediafire imposes no limit on the file size or the number of simultaneous downloads or uploads you can initiate.  And having experimented with it this morning, I am pleased to report that the upload speed is quite good — over 350 KB/sec, though that of course depends upon the speed of your connection.  Once a file is uploaded, you receive a link to that file that you can share with others, if you choose, so that they can download the file.  I’ve reviewed the Terms of Service and find them to be acceptable to me, and I suspect you would conclude the same. 

You do not have to create an account to use the service, however doing so makes sense to me.  It is free, and I see no downside to it and some benefits.  When you create the account, the service stores a cookie on your computer so that when you revisit the site, you’ll be able to look under “my files” for the files you’ve uploaded previously.  There is a button with which you can delete any file you choose whenever you wish to do so.  The blog for the service indicates that at present there is no plan to remove the files.  Here’s what they said about that subject in a blog entry on October 25th.

As of this writing, uploaded files will remain on MediaFire for an indefinite period unless you choose to delete them from within the My Files page of your account. In the future if deleting data should become necessary as our user base grows you will receive an email to the account holders email address notifying you of any impending deletion so that you can manage your files accordingly. Any file deletion will be on an as-needed basis and will apply to older and less frequently downloaded files first.

If you have a need to share your home movies with your family or a large-sized Christmas letter containing several pictures you’d like to share with your friends, this would seem to be an excellent solution.  Check it out.  I think you’ll find it useful, as I do.

New plugin

You’ll note that I’ve added a new plugin, developed by Alex King, to my WordPress installation. It is the “Share This” link at the bottom of each post. With it, you can easily add the post to your favorite social bookmarking system or send it by email to a friend. It is okay to click on the link to see what it does if you like, because you can close it afterwards without taking any of the actions. Just click the “close” option in the upper right hand corner.

An excellent meeting with a disappointing outcome

Victor Agreda did a fantastic job of sharing his experiences in monetizing his blog at tonight’s meeting of the Knoxbloggers group.  And he gave us several useful tips about how we might follow his lead and do the same with our blogs.  It was, to me, a very interesting meeting. 

A number of people expressed an interest in attending, but for some, prior commitments stood in the way.  This meeting generated a lot of interest, as you might imagine.  Perhaps second only to a topic like “sex” or the offer of free beer, few things capture people’s attention quite like the mention of making money.  If you missed this event folks, you really missed a worthwhile meeting. 

Because we had previously considered capturing the audio content of some of these meetings and because we had a specific request to do that for this meeting, Mike and I pooled our audio resources and set up our motley collection of equipment to capture tonight’s session for a podcast, or an audio blog post as I am calling them now.  I arrived at around 6:30 PM and conducted some preliminary tests so that we’d be assured that we could capture the audio adequately.  We had the room mic’ed very well, and the playback of our tests sounded quite good really.  If we needed to run the resulting audio, once captured, through a noise reduction filter or an expander to make sure the sound was loud enough or that there were no irritating extraneous noises, that would be no problem.  Post-processing for sound quality wouldn’t be half the problem that editing the almost 2 hours of material might prove to be.

We used Mike’s older, personal laptop and the trial copy of GoldWave to record the audio, and it performed beautifully in our tests.  We conducted three or four trials to make sure the recording levels were satisfactory.  And they were. 

But unfortunately, Murphy was also in attendance at tonight’s meeting. 

I asked for an intermission after about an hour or so, and saved the file in MP3 format.  That save took almost 15 minutes and resulted in an 82 Mb file, which was about one-tenth of what it would have been if I had saved it in *.wav format.  That intermission was a little longer than I had intended it to be, but everyone was understanding and eventually we got back to recording for another 50 or so minutes.  The second file proved to be 62 Mb once it was saved in MP3 format. 

Mike burned the two files to a CD so that I could bring them home with me and devote most of tomorrow to editing them down to the essence of what was said.  But after doing so, he decided to play one of them back.  What he heard was an audio file that sounded like it was a 78 rpm record played at 33 rpm speed, a slowed down version of the actual audio.  I was hopeful that when I got back home, I would be able to increase the speed so that it might actually be rescued.  Alas, it was not.  I could increase the speed and make it sound almost like the appropriate pitch, but there were gaps that made the content unintelligible. 

The problem, I realized after it was too late to do anything about it, was that I had failed to install the lame encoder in the GoldWave folder.  So when I saved the file as an MP3 file, the audio was distorted beyond recognition.  The error I made was that I failed to save one of our audio tests to see whether the saved file sounded as good as the playback of our tests when we listened to them. 

So once again, I am wiser as a result of this experience, but I am very disappointed that we did NOT capture the audio from tonight’s meeting, and therefore I am unable to share it with you in an audio blog post.  My apologies to all concerned, and especially to those of you who were depending upon being able to hear this recording.

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.” — Vernon Sanders Law

The best blog in the world

One of the websites that I follow through it’s RSS feed is Mediashift by Mark Glaser.  In yesterday’s entry, he reports that last Friday in Berlin he participated in the jury that selected the 15 Best Weblogs in the World for 2006, or “the BOBs” (Best of the Blogs), from among the 5,500 that had been nominated from all over the world.  His entry explains the various categories from which the winners were chosen and the difficulties attendant with doing so. The competition is sponsored by the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

The weblog that won the first place overall was Sunlight Foundation that was founded as a 501 (c)(3) educational organization in January of 2006.  This quote from their “about page” summarizes the essence of their mission:

The Sunlight Foundation was founded in January 2006 with the goal of using the revolutionary power of the Internet and new information technology to enable citizens to learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing, and thus help reduce corruption, ensure greater transparency and accountability by government, and foster public trust in the vital institutions of democracy. We are unique in that technology and the power of the Internet are at the core of every one of our efforts.

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the top blog was more than a one-person review of technology, a recounting of the events of someone’s daily life, a biased political rant with an idealogical ax to grind, or just a digital version of a vanity press for someone’s purple prose.  The top blog, it turns out, has a purpose that is actually worth achieving. 

Naturally, I have added Sunlight Foundation’s RSS feed to the list of feeds that I monitor daily.  Perhaps I’ll learn something about blogging from reading it.  And if not, perhaps I’ll just end up being a better-informed citizen.  Either way, I think I’ll benefit.