(Podcast) IA #00175 – “Dusted With Glitter”

Dan Benjamin is back in this week’s Ihnatko Almanac!

We did a little bit of catching up. My chat with Greg Pak last week led to a conversation about Kickstarter. And since Dan and I haven’t talked in a while, we naturally started getting into recent comics and why I even like the comics I don’t like.

I also have almost two hours of monologue about Google I/O on my hard drive. I’m hoping to edit it down to something manageable but even more than that, I want to actually release an episode containing this content. So I might just have to hold my nose, commend my soul to God, and post it as-is.

(Podcast) IA Episode #00174 – “Greg Pak/Kickstarter Secrets”

The latest episode of The Ihnatko Almanac is now up! This time, I’m talking with my pal Greg Pak about his latest Kickstarter project. “Kickstarter Secrets” is a practical, protein-packed PDF that’ll guide you through running a successful Kickstarter campaign, from concept to fulfillment.

I backed it (at my usual “skinflint” level) as soon as he announced it. It appears to be exactly what I’ve been hoping for. This isn’t a TED talk on creativity and the new crowdsourcing economy (with all due respect to TED). This is going to be a book full of specific warnings, answers, and encouragement, with the full authority of someone who’s successfully funded (and shipped!) several books. The “shipped” part is fairly important, you know. A creator should have several sensible fears before pushing the Big Green Button, and one of the largest should be “will fulfilling the rewards I’ve promised be an albatross around my neck for anywhere from a whole year to the rest of my life?”

As Greg and I discussed on the show, I’ve been tempted by Kickstarter for a few years now. His book will be delivered in October and I reckon that’s enough time for me to finish writing something that I can Kickstart.

(I am, alas, a creature of deadlines. I kind of need to see that brick wall off in the distance before I can plant my goalposts on a project.)

Subscribe to The Ihnatko Almanac, or listen right here:

And back “Kickstarter Secrets”! Even if you aren’t thinking about using Kickstarter for anything, I’m sure it’s going to be a great “behind the scenes” look at the mechanism that enables so many ideas to become reality. Also, at the $22 level you’ll also receive a damn fine library of PDFs containing Greg’s comics work with Jonathan Coulton and his terrific kids’ books. The campaign ends on Wednesday morning.

Incidentally, the weekly Almanac has been…something Less Than Weekly recently, and I apologize for that. I like doing the show with Dan, and prefer it immensely to doing a solo show like this one (even when I’m talking to someone fab, like Greg). Dan and I had a regular weekly appointment to record the show and it worked great for a year or two. Now, alas, the sands of time have shifted and Thursday mornings have found one or both of us with another commitment.

We’re working to set up a new schedule (along the lines of “put our heads together once a month and hash out that month’s recording calendar”). I love recording with Dan and I hope to keep doing shows with him more or less forever.

(With bathroom breaks. I like recording with Dan, but catheterization seems like sort of an extreme expression of commitment.) 

Ihnatko Almanac episode #00165: “One Good Knife”

iA #00165: “One Good Knife”

 

I’m really pleased with this week’s show. Dan bought an Anova sous vide cooker based on my tales of how well it cooked my Thanksgiving dinner, and I thought it’d be fun to do an all-cooking show.

We spent most of the show talking about sous vide cooking but I’d called out on Twitter for cooking-related ideas and questions, so we went a little broad, too. Some highlights, that I recall:

  • You can eat pink chicken and not become violently ill;
  • How to make green beans that taste great and don’t have to be eaten out of a sense of obligation;
  • Vacuum sealers, and why I don’t have to eat lots of cheese very fast any more;
  • Cooking Gear Acquisition Syndrome, and why One Good Knife is probably better than Several Weird Ones.

I keep coming back to the idea of writing more about cooking, or maybe even starting a food podcast. I’m not an expert on food. My particular set of culinary skills involve methods of cheating your way through a nice, cooked meal. I have little to offer by way of insights on the difference between shaved and ground truffles. I’m the guy who was excited to discover that chopsticks have a million uses, you can buy a million of them for like ten bucks, and if you use ‘em instead of the usual cooking and eating utensils, you wind up with one or three fewer things to wash and dry after dinner.

I shall ponder.

My Tweets about this particular show attracted the attention of the folks at Nomiku. They’re the other big name in consumer sous vide cookers, and they’ll be sending me their next-gen device when it ships next month.

MacBreak Weekly show 485: “Oi To The World!”

MacBreak Weekly 485

Another great show with Jim Dalrymple. We’re lucky that he’s been available for the show so frequently.

Let’s see. We talked about that rumor of Apple buying GoPro. Rene talked some more about Apple’s Smart Battery Case (the shape isn’t a bulge, it’s a feature). Apple Music is now compatible with Sonos, which as you might imagine led to some Cheerful Discussion about Apple Music. MacKeeper proved not to be a good custodian of its users’ personal data, so we wound up talking about cleanup utilities in general.

We also got to talking about Christmas music. The show title came from my eager recommendation: “Oi To The World”, a frisky little punk/ska tune I first heard as a cover by No Doubt on a holiday compilation, years ago:

My Pick of the Week deserves a little mention. I picked the Ring video doorbell, which I got in the office a week ago and have been playing with for a future review. It’s good stuff.

I didn’t believe it was a controversial pick. After the show, I saw that a live viewer had Tweeted his displeasure:


Apparently, Ring is sponsoring some of TWiT’s other shows, and this person thought my choosing it as a pick was a problem.

Well, I quickly assured him that I’d no idea that the company was sponsoring anything, and I’d picked it for the same reasons I pick anything: I liked it and it was at hand on Monday, when I start thinking about what I’m going to recommend on Tuesday. TWiT has never applied even the most homeopathic amount of influence on our picks. They typically don’t even know about it until we’re deep into the recording of the show, which is when we often remember to, oh right, paste in the relevant links so that MacBreak’s producers can have the website or videos ready to roll when we start talking about ‘em.

I still keep advertiser relationships at long arm’s length. I never participate in ad reads on any of the three shows I host because I don’t know what happens when I use that same editorial voice to read sponsored ad copy.

I underscore “I don’t know.” If anything, the fact that other hosts I respect do it makes me wonder if I’m just overthinking it.

It’s not a big problem with podcasts, but it could be an issue if I ever decide to flip certain switches and try to generate some revenue from my blog. Again, people I respect insert sponsored text in their RSS feeds and blogs. It’s not, objectively, an ethical problem. If I’m ever presented with an opportunity to make X dollars a month via (clearly labeled) sponsorship items, I’m going to have to spend a few days sitting in the lotus position underneath a waterfall, meditating.

Ihnatko Almanac #00163: “Shaking a Stick at the Monolith”

Oh, boy! The latest Almanac is up!

(I’m not implying that this is a real “Oh, boy!” piece of news. But I’m posting this from my iPad Pro using the WordPress app. For some reason, the app thinks “add a blank line under the stock photo” is such a piffling change that it’s not even worth lighting up the “Update” button. So I had to add an “Oh, boy!” or something.)

(Come to think of it, those three extra sentences of explanation would have done the job, too. I guess now, I can delete the “Oh, boy!” entirely.)

(Wait…no I can’t. Because then there’d be three sentences of laborious explanation of something that no longer exists.)

(We seem to be stuck in a desperate circle here, fellow sensation-seekers.) 

This week, Dan and I talked about our respective Thanksgivings, and we mused on the fact that many of the stresses of the holidays are in fact self-inflicted. I cooked the best Thanksgiving dinner ever, and I explained how. And then he and I talked about new computers in our lives: an iPad Pro for him, and a Raspberry Pi Zero and a Nexus 5X for me.

This episode of The Ihnatko Almanac is presented commercial-free. Because I told American Cyanomid that they can keep their damn blood money and I don’t care how many times they keep doubling their offer.

My new podcast: “Old Tech News”

Amazing: it wasn’t so long ago that if you wanted to do a weekly radio or TV show, you needed to convince somebody that it was a good idea. You also probably needed to go out and think about what you were going to do with your hair.

But today? So long as you have an hour a week to devote to the project and a blank C-90 audiocassette to record onto, nobody can stop you.

And so, I’m pleased to announce “Old Tech News,” which started on the 5by5 network this week. Why, yes…of course you can subscribe to it! Honestly, you don’t even need to ask my permission. Here’s the iTunes link.

The show isn’t much more complicated than “an audiobook edition of my Sun-Times column, with other writings from other sources thrown in for seasoning.”

I confess that describing the content as “old news” right at the top may have been a marketing error. Folks might take one look at the title in iTunes and conclude that a typical “Old Tech News” show rundown would go something like this:

  • Does the Motorola 68030 deliver true minicomputer performance, or is that just marketing hype?
  • Confirmed: BeOS to be acquired by Apple, become next-generation Mac operating system
  • Predictions for Gil Amelio’s next 10 years as CEO
  • Two Songs, On Your Desktop: Corvus brings Winchester drive technology to the Apple //e

No, no. I promise you that the show contains current, useful stuff (within a liberal range of definitions of the term “useful”).

I got the idea for the show a few months ago, when I added a new step to my usual writing workflow: I now read every column aloud before I file it. By the time I finish writing something, my “reading words on a screen” subprocessor is severely overloaded but my “hearing words spoken” system is still fresh, and operating at peak performance. Reading the manuscript aloud is a useful trick for catching any errors (or clumsy writage usements) that I missed during earlier editing steps.

After a couple of weeks, I got the idea that if I were to stick a microphone in front of me before this step in the editing process, I could get a useful podcast out of it for free.

I played back the first recording. That’s when I got an even better idea: if I were to do a special recording session after the column had been finished and filed, then the episodes wouldn’t contain spicy ad-libs such as “Oh, Jesus Dexter Christ, Ihnatko…don’t you think a higher lifeform than yourself wouldn’t have made a mistake as dumb as that one?” followed by a burst of furious typing.

It’s “old” tech news because I give the Sun-Times a certain window of exclusivity on my columns (generally a week or two). Also, I have a fairly extensive back-catalogue and I’ll dip into older pieces when it seems appropriate. A review of a new Android phone is a good excuse to record a piece from earlier in the summer that compared iOS versus Ice Cream Sandwich.

It’ll be fine. One of my major influences as a writer is Continental Baking, the fine makers of Twinkies Snack Cakes. I try to write shelf-stable columns that remain palatable long after they left the factory.

(Again, within a certain range of values for the word “palatable”.)

The first two shows are theme episodes. Show 0001 (available now) is a roundup of all of my recent Kindle reviews; Show 0002 (recorded, awaiting editing) contains all three parts of my 6000-word iPhone 5 review.

I’m having lots of fun with this. “Old Tech News” is a different kind of fun from MacBreak Weekly and Ihnatko Almanac and the rest of the podcasts I do. I’m not speaking off-the-cuff. I have a script in front of me and I feel like I’m telling a carefully worked-out story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

It’s also an opportunity to revisit a topic days or even months after I filed my column and stopped thinking about it. I often return to the subject with additional perspective, thought, and experience.

And that’s “Old Tech News.” Hopefully it’ll justify its existence in an iTunes category that’s already fairly well-populated.

And if it doesn’t? Well, maybe it’ll become a cause célèbre that inspires the beleaguered people of the world to finally rise up and demand that their government federalize the machinery of podcasting, thus putting an end to this whole “anybody can start a podcast” nonsense once and for all.

Ihnatko Almanac Episode 0030: “Avengers, Part 1”

The latest episode of The Ihnatko Almanac is now online, for your listening and viewing pleasure.

(Please arrange to be looking at something pleasant while listening to the episode, as it’s audio-only.)

This is one of my favorite episodes so far. My BFF John spent the weekend at my house recently and we took the time to talk about the Avengers movie, and comics in general. John’s last name and mine are right next to each other in the alphabet, which meant we were destiny to share homeroom classes together for a crucial six years of our childhoods. We’ve been reading comics and seeing movies together practically since we started reading comics and seeing movies.

I recorded our 90 minute conversation and presenting it as two episodes. I found this conversation just as interesting while I was listening to it in the car as I did when I was actually taking part in it. I’m hoping I can bring John back for another conversation after the new “Batman” movie premieres.

John, incidentally, has an awesome movie blog. For the past three years, he’s been seeing a new movie (to him) every day and posting a review. Check out Honky’s Movie Year and subscribe…it’s one of my favorite blogs on the Internet and I don’t think you need to be his BFF to agree.

On Vodcasting…

I asked for your feedback on the idea of putting my YouTube stuff in a companion video podcasts. There were way, way too many helpful replies, so instead of responding individually I’ll do it collectively.

(It also gives me a chance to test Version 2 of the WordPress mobile admin plugin. I’m hoping to post stuff from Macworld Expo & thus is probably the first real post I’ve done with it since I installed it a few months ago.)

The defining question regarding any idea you have for the distribution of your work should be “do I actually want people to see this?” This is why CWOB’s RSS feed features full posts. I’m not 100% happy encouraging people to avoid visiting my site directly, but it does mean that more people will read these posts. So, sure.

A vodcast would help more people to see these videos…plus I admit that if Robert Llewellyn’s YouTube vids were available via podcast, I’d happily sign up. YouTube is a snap to watch, but it’s nifty-cool to pick up an iPod or an AppleTV remote and presto! There’s a new show, all downloaded and ready to go.

And finally, that was no joke in the video…the two I’ve shot and edited so far are in HD, as will the future ones. T’would be a shame if nobody got to see these at decent resolution…

That said: one thing at a time. I want to get the CWOB podcast up and running first, and apart from the blog, the priority is on getting regular podcast and YouTube content out there.

There’ll be plenty of time to freestyle later. For now, I’d better make sure that the compulsories are all on their feet…!