Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Unit- Good TV Show, Better Propoganda


Ever watch The Unit TV show?

Well done. Entertaining. Good scripts. Lot's of action. Depth of charactor development. Balanced view of military life. Traditional 'American' value content. Bombs, guns, good guys, bad guys for the men. Family, realtionships, community and 'stand by your man' for the women. A bit simplistic, but a very watchable and pretty entertaining TV show.

And a Bush Administration dream.

The premise: An elite army unit that reports only the President of the United States. It goes where it's told to go. Does whatever it's told to do. Ignores all laws (operating inside 'enemy' lines or US borders, using whatever means necessary to protect our country, legal or illegal). The wives (about 30% of the on air time/dialog) is all about supporting the guys. Sticking together. Making it work. Sucking it up and taking it cause, hey, they're holding the line for all of us.

You know, I don't even disagree with this. There ARE forces out to get us. I'm alot more careful about travel out of the US now than I was before 9/11 and the Iraqi war. Amercia is 'on top' and the top dog is always targeted by the rest of the dogs. Ask Bill Gates.

But, I've got t ask, is a TV show about an elite group of Army operatives particularly adept at a (very) wide range of destruction (which admitely always ends in 'good things' like hostages being freed, bad guys planning mass destruction being cut down and other horrible things being stopped dead in it's tracks) a good thing to have running around without any kind of check or balance?

When a group of people, empowered by the single most powerful person in the world, have the power to act 'on the spot' as judge, jury and executioner. and you're spoon fed how good this is and how much we need this kind of protection and all the great things that come from it on prime time TV.. a medium that tends to seep into your brain making things seem ok that are, well, really not ok.. is that good?

I gotta wonder.

Shows like this have just got to be making our current government, with it's penchant for listening in on citizens on a surprisingly massive scale and it's lawyers saying that, regardless of what the law says, the office of The President will do whatever it decides is right to do what it feels is necessary to protect Amercia.

I like that protect Amercia thing. That's good. But I really don't like that a powerful branch of the goverment, some would say the most powerful, feels it doesn't have to obey laws passed by the legal representatives of it's people.

And, yea, The Unit, in it's own kinda sneaky highly entertaining way, helps the Bush Administration make it ok in the public's mind that ignoring the law, it's own law, is OK.

Dan the Man


I just spent a couple of hours having lunch with Dan Burgin (you can click on the title of this entry and be taken to his blog profile).

It's always great when you meet someone new that's a sort of 'kindrid spirit'. In our day to day interactions, it's rare to find someone that you really understand and get a sense that they understand you. Much of it, of course, comes from shared experiences and cultural contextual cues (when I say: KBFR, he knows: Oh yea.. Boulder's pirate radio station.. bunch of people doing underground radio from a van, ran for years, best radio in town..etc. etc.).

I've never met Dan before. I discovered him by doing a search via BlogPulse (www.blogpulse.com) on ClickCaster and found a post he'd written that was critical of podcasting based on an article he'd read about ClickCaster. I felt compelled to write a response comment on his blog. He followed up with an email to me thanking me for the comment and inviting me to lunch.

If I'd gone with initial impressions (i.e. the critical blog post about what I do every waking hour) it's likely I would have had a less than generous opinion of him. But by opening a conversation and then meeting in person, instead, I now have a new friend. And I had an opportunity to meet a really interesting person (his professional life has ranged from being a startup CTO to a professional opera (tenor) singer!).

So, I think more of this is in order. Making the time to meet with interesting people who may (or may not) agree with you, but are deep and wide in experience and views. Best couple of hours sitting and just talking with someone who started out a stranger and ended as a friend I've ever had.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Apple pulling out of France= The Downfall of Western Civilization





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If you haven't heard, it sounds like France is calling Apple on it's onerous DRM (Digital Rights Management) scheme that requires any music that you buy from iTune's only play on Apple's iPod players.

French lawmakers have just given their approval to an interoperability measure, pushing the bill to the upper house, the Senate. The draft law passed 296 to 193, signaling a strong sentiment to simplify the paid digital music landscape in France. A timetable on the Senate vote is unclear at this juncture, though the process could take weeks or more. In the meantime, the spotlight continues to remain on Apple, which may opt to exit the French market rather than be forced to open its closed, FairPlay DRM system.

(excerpt from Digital Music News at www.digitalmusicnews.com)

Now.. tell me DRM isn’t bad idea. Come on, think about it.

Personally, I think this is the start of the balkanization of Europe and has the potential to start WWIII.

(as you read this, remember the words: Sarcasm, Satire and Humor)

As we all know, France is a volatile place. Riots in the streets. A passionate youth that feel completely disenfranchised. An 'immigrant' class that's not treated overly well. A government that tends toward covert and overt control of what it deems 'key' industries. A people that have an overall superior 'we are better than you and know more than you cretins' attitude toward all things non-French. A penchant or nuclear power plants and, of course, nuclear weapons.

A domino effect is in play here folks. It's as bad, maybe worse, than the domino effect our government was so afraid of in the 50's, 60's and 70's around communism taking over the world. The Bush administration should take notice and start thinking about the dangers of an unstable nuclear France if you ask me.

Here's how I see it playing out:

Apple pulls out of France because it doesn't feel it can do business there anymore without maintaining it's iron control of the French youths musical distribution systems (which, we all know deep down, is a way of controlling their minds with Music and the decadent sounds of America. At least that's so in the minds of the French elite).

You can no longer buy an iPod, a Macintosh or access any Apple website address from an IP address based in France.

Microsoft, as always, following Apple's lead, see's that France is the root of all it's trouble in Europe around the opening up of Windows, including the source of the the EU's demands in this area and is likely behind the huge fines the EU is heaping onto Microsoft daily and decides to pull out of France as well by refusing to sell Windows to any PC manufacturer that sells into France. It also blocks all French IP addresses from any Microsoft web site or Microsoft sponsored web site or service. It places a clause into all it's contracts and terms of service agreements barring any of it's partners from doing business with any French company or citizen of France.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, does an interview on MSNBC calling the French 'A bunch of Frogs' and throws a chair across the studio.

In a domino like effect, all major non French software companies pull out of France and brand it 'The Intellectual Property Thieves of the world". CD vendors on the streets of Asian and Eastern European countries everywhere smile broadly.

IBM, Dell, Gateway, Sony and Toshiba follow suite and ban all French IP based traffic to their websites, update directories and support lines.

The buzz in the blogoshere is intense, speculation is rampant. Echolalia ensues and a large percentage of the blog reading population drops all but 3 blogs from their Newsgator RSS aggregators to help block out the (repetitive) noise.

6 months passes.

Black markets pick up in France. A Swedish ring of iPod smugglers is caught bringing a huge shipment of the new 60 GB full face video iPods over the border where a gun battle between French police and smugglers breaks out. All of the smugglers are killed but one who is brought to trial. It becomes a national sensation and symbol of Frances defiance of the 'evils' of the technology coming out of America.

The French smile smugly. The youths of France riot in the streets screaming for anything but Carla Bruni.

A ring of Wi-Max towers springs up around the borders of France selling access to non French IP addresses to French citizens. Frances government passes laws making it illegal to buy internet access from any non French provider.

Sales of 100 and 300 watt low power FM transmitters into France spike as hundreds of illegal pirate radio stations spring up around the country. Most play the latest music from the US and other 'politically incorrect' sources. Some also are more political and read passages from Thomas Friedman’s book "The World Is Flat" between 'subversive' US songs. Mostly rap.

3 months pass.

French Industry begins to slowly collapse.

Updates to existing windows based systems in French businesses, not able to update software from Microsoft, begin to see more virus's in their system and more hacking attacks on increasingly outdated desktop and server software systems. Downtime and outages become the norm.

The French workweek drops from an average of 30 hours a week to 15.

A ring of Russian hackers, exploiting a recently discovered hole hin Windows Server 2003 that France was not able to update and fix due to the IP blockage by Microsoft, infiltrates Frances ministry of defense and makes off with detailed 'alternative' plans created by Frances defense department on how a nuclear attack on England, if it ever were to happen, would be implemented.

They publish it on the internet.

World outrage ensues.

During the uproar, a similar bug is exploited by a group of Romanian hackers that effectively drains 8% of the French Governments Dollar and Euro currency stores to Camen Island banks.

President Bush goes on national US TV and states that any attack on 'our good buddies over there in UK-Land' would be considered an act of 'horridable terrorismness' and we'd 'nuke anyone with the balls to even talk about it'.

Several white house sources quickly follow-up with 'expansions' on the Presidents comments that tone down the message, but underline America's policies on preemptive strikes if we, or our allies, are threatened.

Two weeks pass.

France discovers it's treasuries have been looted (an additional 17% of it's Dollar and Euro store has been drained during the posturing between the UK, France and the US).

With 25% of it's currency stores missing, the French Finance Minister calls an emergency meeting with the President of France.

Sitting in on meeting is a 28 year old assistant to the Finance Minister who still owns a now useless iPod. Although a loyal french citizen, she is personally pissed off that she can no longer get Snoop Dog's latest recordings for her iPod.

After the meeting, this assistant tells her lover, after a particularly passionate evening of mild S&M sex, that France has been robbed and may be on the verge of default. Her lover tells his other girlfriend, after a similar night of passion the next night, the same thing.

She tells her friend who is a DJ on one of the Paris pirate radio stations.

He, in true pirate fashion, tells his 200,000 listeners that Frances treasury has been looted due to holes in the governments computer systems that can no longer be fixed due to all the relevant software companies in the world pulling out of France.

Word spreads like wildfire as other pirate stations pick up the story and spread the word. Internal French bloggers repeat the story.

Within 72 hours, 'word on the street' is 90% of Frances reserves have been stolen by 'foreign hackers'. A run on the banks ensues.

France is forced to close all banks.

French citizens begin to turn on non-indigenousness people in France sparking violent riots country wide.

France is forced to impose martial law and 6pm curfews.

The world watches in horror as French society partially collapses and a police state is put into effect.

Steve Ballmer is quoted on Microsoft Channel9 as saying "serves the frogs right for not obeying their intellectual superiors".

Steve Jobs, when asked to comment, simply smiles and mumbles something about "Zen" and "Karma", but refuses to elaborate.

Worried that the state of society in France, and it's nuclear arsenal, has become so unstable, England, Spain, Germany and the US mass troops outside of Frances borders, on all sides. The US repositions several aircraft carriers from the Gulf to the edge of international waters off the coast of France.

A group of French speaking Swiss Militia, move over the border into a small village in France on the border and claim it as "Swiss Territory". The local French citizens, fed up with their government, hold a town meeting and vote, 97% in favor of becoming part of Switzerland.

Several of the villages citizens are illegal users of the WiMax service (available from Switzerland) and several are bloggers. They blog about the secession of this small village from France.

The international press immediately picks up the story and headlines appear around the world ‘French Citizen’s Abandoning Country, Taking Their Land With Them’.

France’s now militarized government sends troops to the village and forces the Swiss Militia to abandon the village. During the (mostly) peaceful process, the military stations troops, helicopters and light artillery ½ mile over the French border onto Swiss territory (using GPS systems that are outdated and slightly inaccurate).

Switzerland immediately demands that the troops be ‘Removed’ from Swiss territory.

Frances government, refusing to admit it sort of isn’t sure exactly where the border is, effectively tells the Swiss to ‘stick it’.

Germany, Spain and England go on high alert. The US sends warplanes flying over Paris and buzzes the capital building.

……………………to be continued.

And to think: all Steve Jobs had to do was do away with DRM.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Two local media articles on ClickCaster



Ahh the local media.




The Boulder Daily Camera did a story on our company, ClickCaster, at:

http://www.dailycamera.com/bdc/local_business/article/0,1713,BDC_2461_4551075,00.html
(signup required, or use bugmenot with Firefox).




And the Boulder Country Business Report did one as well at:

http://bcbr.datajoe.com/app/ecom/pub_article_details.php?id=79439

Now, I know this is local media (a daily newspaper for a town of 100K people and a business weekly for a county of about 300K people) but for little guys like us, it's like when Springsteen got himself on the cover of both Newsweek and Time in the same week. Pretty cool.

The odd thing is, this was completely random. A Meme thing. We've told both of them about us (some time ago actually) and, for some reason, they both decided to do a story within a couple of days of each other.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

RIAA has a new law firm


A Denver based lawfirm has taken over the RIAA's effort to sue the record companies customers into bankruptcy.

Since the RIAA doesn't seem to be listening to the entire worlds view that this is really a bad idea, maybe their lawfirm will. Someone's got to try to talk some sense into these RIAA guys. Maybe if everyone sends a fax or leaves a voicemail for them, or even sends a letter (for some reason, law firms don't do email well) they'll get the message and talk with their clients at the RIAA about how this is hurting their business far more than it's protecting it. Contact info for the lawfirm is below:

Website:
http://www.hro.com/index.cfm

Address:
Holme Roberts & Owen LLP
1700 Lincoln Street Suite 4100
Denver, CO. 80203
Phone: 303-861-7000
Fax: 303-866-0200

Don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of stealing media. I buy my musics, movies and TV. But the approach the RIAA, and by extension it's law firm, is taking is slowly killing the music business as we know it. Now, that may be a good thing (I'm honestly not sure on this point) but there will be a very painful interim period before we shift to whatever's next that, in my view, will make it harder for the working musician, producer, budding movie maker, to make a decent living.

If the current industry would just think about embracing (and helping to shape) the change over to a digital media world instead of kicking and screaming as it's dragged into said digital world, well, everyone (content creators, distribution companies and consumers) might be better off.

Story below:

RIAA Switches Legal Partners, Remains Committed to Lawsuits

The RIAA has now ended its relationship with Kansas City-based law firm
Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, moving to Denver-based Holme Roberts & Owen LLP.
The news first surfaced in the Kansas City Business Journal, though the
involved parties declined to offer specific reasons for the shift. "Our
contract with them ran out, and they have moved on to a new firm," said
Trent Webb, chairman of the Shook Hardy intellectual property litigation
practice group. The RIAA indicated that the movement would not disrupt its
ongoing pursuit of individual file-sharers, a strategy that continues to
draw criticism from both inside and outside the recording industry.

A contract with the RIAA certainly spells a steady stream of work, though
the maintenance on the account could have prompted the shift. More than
18,000 lawsuits have been issued in the United States, though thousands
remain unable to pay, or simply deadbeats. Shook Hardy reportedly hired a
subcontractor to handle inquiries related to the lawsuits. Negative press
could also be a factor, though most of the "dead grandmother" and "single
mom" stories put the RIAA in the spotlight, not the hired law firm.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Scott's Podcasting Setup #2


Well that was fun. The Boulder County Business Report is doing a profile on ClickCaster, so they sent a photographer over (great guy named Steve Peterson, email him if you're looking for a freelance photographer in the Denver area.. he's at steve@terrachromea.com).

What struck me about this was the validation of Gladwell's concepts around "Blink" (your initial take is usually the best take).

This photo was the quick snapshot he took when he first started the photo session. We then did a bunch of other things (putting a bunch of mics around my head, etc. etc.) for about two hours.

In the end? Used that initial snapshot he took off the cuff.

"Blink" at work, real world. ;-)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Scott's Podcasting Setup

After much investigation, and after talking to our podcasters, here's the setup I've got for podcasting. Pretty simple really and it works beautifully for creating a 'live' type radio show with mulitple inputs and simple clean creation.

It consists of 5 components.

1) ClickCaster website (free)
2) Standard laptop computer ($500)
2) Alesis MultiMix USB8 mixer ($149)
4) Shure 55SH II Mic & Boom arm ($199)
5) Behringer Pro Headphones ($24)

I have to admit, I got this mic because it just plain looks cool. It's a 'retro' design with a modern set of internal electronics.

The mixer is a USB mixer that acts like an external sound card. Why anyone would by a $150 Creative soundcard when they can get something like this for the same cost is beyond me. 8 inputs (including 4 high quality microphone XLR connectors with phantom power for condensor mics, which require power) and a USB connection that feeds straight into the laptop. The beauty of this mixer is it's simplicity. Plug it into your Windows XP computer and it just works. No drivers to install, nothing. And the ClickCaster website just automatically recognized it as the main audio driver and worked. I didn't touch a thing.

You plug in the mic to the mixer, bring up ClickCaster, hit record and go. To play music, you just launch Winamp or MediaPlayer and play your songs. They route through the USB Mixer, just like the Mic, so you can talk over the music very easily.

So, you just hit record on ClickCaster, have your playlist ready on Winamp, and off you go. Do it just like live radio. Plug in additional mics if you have buddies you'd like to include in your show and it all just works.

Once you finish recording (which, again, is one click.. 'record'), you hit the stop button (ohhh.. two clicks!) and type in some show notes on what your episode was about (people on the show, music you played, whatever you like). Throw in some pictures to the show notes while you're at it.. hmm... nice.. looks good.

And now, the third, and final CLICK. Hit publish. Ahh... it does ask one last time if I want to save a copy on my personal computer.. yes.. click yes.

I'm done! It's encoding MP3 onto my machine... then, once it's done with that, it uploades the file to ClickCasters servers and I'm done. I've got a fully formated and subscribable podcast published on the internet.

Sweet.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

ClickCaster Studios Opens!



Well, we did it.

ClickCaster's opened a podcasting studio in Denver.

It's a little on the low rent side. We thought.. hey.. take a low rent location (a cute, but slightly run down, little house with cheap rent) and turn it into a place where people can come to do regular podcasts. Hold their hands, give them pro level gear to work with and sound engineering help so it sounds professional and let it rip. I suspect it'll become a sort of gathering place as well. We'll see as it develops.

Of course, we can do other things besides podcasting, like record bands, radio spots, etc., and we've got a full time artist on staff who can do artwork, website design and other related creative, but it's focus is Podcasting. As far as we know it's the only dedicated podcasting studio linked to an easy to use online system that let's you get your podcasts online the instant you're done with them on the planet. I could be wrong on this, but I haven't heard of anything else like it just yet.

Here's our press release (going out worldwide today):

ClickCaster Studios, Podcasting with Altitude!Creates industry’s first Integrated PODCAST Net-Studio for the general public!

Denver, Colorado, February 26, 2006 – ClickCaster opens podcasting centric recording studio in downtown Denver.

Studio Location:415 Lincoln Street

Denver, Colorado 80203

Phone: 720-227-0129

Email: bob@clickcaster.com

Altitude: 5280 feet above sea level

ClickCaster announces the grand opening of ClickCaster Studios, a full featured podcasting and recording studio. The studio offers a full line of podcast and general audio services as well as custom site design and artwork.

“ClickCaster wants to make podcasting easy for everyone, regardless of what equipment they happen to own. While our web based recorder will allow you to create a basic show, some podcast creators and many businesses interested in podcasting want to sound more polished and produced. That’s where ClickCaster Studios comes in”, notes Scott Converse, ClickCaster CEO. “Armed with years of recording and broadcast experience as well as the necessary pro audio technology, ClickCaster Studios can make you a star, or at least sound like one.”

Standard prices apply for sessions that can be booked for ½ hour or one hour shows and recording packages are priced as low as $25 per session. We also have a full multi-track recording studio for bands interested in low cost recording and promotion of their music using podcasting. In addition to podcast production and recording, ClickCaster Studios has integrated ClickCasters’ web-based publishing and distribution technology, allowing customers to publish their podcasts seamlessly onto the web.

“It’s a true professional level one stop shop for the creation, production, publishing and hosting of your podcast on the internet” say’s Bob Boyles, general manager of ClickCaster Studios.

The Denver studio is the first of many ClickCaster and ClickCaster affiliated studio’s that will be opening in major cities across the US, Asia and Europe.The studio is located at the corner of 4th and Lincoln in downtown Denver (425 Lincoln St) and is open M-F 10am-6pm and Sat. noon to 5pm. Other times available by appointment. For more information please contact Bob Boyles at 720-227-0129 or e-mail studio@clickcaster.com.

About ClickCaster

Clickcaster is the premier provider of net-centric podcasting solutions on the web today. We make it easy for anyone to create audio podcasts and publish via the web both audio and video based podcasts as well as listen, watch and subscribe to 10's of thousands of podcasts from around the world. For more information about ClickCaster and podcasting, please visit our website at www.clickcaster.com or contact Pete Davis.

PR Contact

Peter Davis

Clickcaster

Phone: 407-733-9266

Email: peter@clickcaster.com

We Can't Let Thousands of Local Newspapers Disappear ... Yang

I haven't really followed this guys campaign, but, I love the message he's got here. This is less than 5 minutes and it's deep...