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14 posts from January 2008

Marantz video demonstrating their new PMD620 portable recorder

As listeners to FIR may know (or longtime readers of this blog), I'm a big fan of the Marantz PMD660 and have been using it now for recording interviews in the field for most of 2 years, if not longer. It's a great unit and I've been very happy with it.

However, it's rather on the large side (looks like an old tape recorder!) and I've always been looking at the smaller units like the Edirol R9, Zoom H4, m-Audio MicroTrack, etc. Out at the New Media Expo last fall, I saw the preview of Marantz's new PMD620 and was quite intrigued. Not enough yet to buy one, but after my last trip where the PMD660 took up so much room in my travel bag, I am starting to think about it again.

Anyway, the folks at Marantz have now put up a YouTube video talking about the product:

FYI, I found it on their Education Blog after receiving an email from them announcing the video being on their blog. The comments are amusing because predictably someone was asking if the video was an example of the audio quality (or lack thereof) of the PMD620 (it wasn't).

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Want to work in marketing/social media? In Montreal? Mitch Joel wants you...

If you are interested in getting a new job in marketing/social media, my friend to the north of me, Mitch Joel, is looking for you:
I rarely use this Six Pixels of Separation Blog to talk about the comings and goings at Twist Image, but we have had an incredible year of growth (great clients and fun projects). We had done our projections for 2008, but stuff happens (in a good way) and we're looking for a slew of additional people and talent who want to try their hand in the Digital Marketing space on the agency side.
All the relevant information (including the desire that you be bilingual) is found in Mitch's blog post. Mitch is a great guy... TwistImage is doing some great work... and Montreal is a beautiful city! Check it out!

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Skitch is my new friend! (Especially when used with MarsEdit!)

skitch.jpgOkay, tonight I am one VERY happy blogger!

I <3 Skitch!

You see, ever since leaving Windows back in October and moving onto the Mac platform, the one single biggest application I have missed - and really the only app I have missed! - has been Microsoft's Windows Live Writer. It truly rocks as an offline blog editor and I've been trying to find the same level of functionality ever since I moved to the Mac. I tried ecto but found it had some quirks that didn't work for me (however, I did buy both ecto and MarsEdit). I've mostly been using MarsEdit, but it has had one big glaring hole for me:

I can't easily paste in screen captures!
In fact, there's a good bit of irony to me that my last post, about using MarsEdit, was actually posted using ecto simply because it was the easiest way to incorporate screenshots!

However, I have seen the light! In the form of this little app called Skitch!

A number of people, including Daniel Jalkut who develops MarsEdit, had encouraged me to try it out, but for a whole variety of reasons I didn't get around to it. Until tonight.
skitchdrag.jpgPerhaps the single greatest feature of the app for me is this little tab on the bottom of the app that says "drag me". Media Manager.jpgYou see, MarsEdit has this great "Media Manager" to which you can simply "drag and drop" files, but you can't easily drag-and-drop a screen capture on a Mac. Oh, you can easily take a screenshot of a region - using either the magic keystroke of Cmd+Shift+Ctrl+4 or through using the "Grab" application, but in neither case could you easily drop it into MarsEdit's Media Manager. Instead what I would do would be to paste it into ecto's WYSWIG editor.

So I wound up in this bizarre blog editing world where I would use MarsEdit for all my blogging... unless I wanted to incorporate screen captures, in which case I'd switch to ecto! A real pain-in-the-neck.

But now, with Skitch and this little "drag me" tab, I simply take the screen shot, resize it if I want, and then drag it over to MarsEdit's Media Manager.

In fact, it even solves one of my frustrations with MarsEdit's drag-and-drop. I always found it annoying that when you dragged an image from a web page, for instance, into MarsEdit, the image would get named some really long ugly temporary filename. Now, if you only use MarsEdit's Media Manager, that's not too big of a deal, but sometimes I do go into TypePad's File Manager and right now there are a ton of image files with really ugly names that are meaningless to me. Anyway, with Skitch I just enter a name into the field right above "drag me", hit Enter, and then when I do drag the file to MarsEdit, it comes across with this nice new name. VERY cool!

NASDAQ1998-2008.jpgSkitch also comes comes with a whole range of annotation tools, so you can do stuff like what I just did to a NASDAQ 10-year chart I pulled off of a few minutes ago. Skitch did the screen shot and then let me annotate away. The nice thing is that I can go back and edit my annotations, change them around, delete them, change colors, etc.

When I'm done, I just drag it over to MarsEdit and... ta da.. there it is!

Now, Skitch also has a "" service where you can host your images, and there's a handy little "webpost" button at the bottom of the user interface that will post your image. The cool part, though, is that you don't have to use You can use the "webpost" button to post to flickr, .Mac or other sites via FTP, SFTP or WebDAV. Again, VERY nice!

Now I see why people were telling me I should check it out. It's the solution to my screen capture problem on the Mac... and it's free!

In fact, I'm not really sure what the business model is for the Plasq crew that made it, except perhaps that it gets them publicity and may draw people to their other products. Perhaps it's only free in the beta period and then they'll be asking people to buy it. (I probably would.) Regardless, all I can say is that I'm grateful to them for making such a cool app available!

If you are a Mac user and have not yet tried it out, do head on over to and check it out... it will probably change the way you work with images very quickly.

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Using MarsEdit with NetNewsWire to accelerate posting from blog articles (i.e. what the "Post to Weblog" button can do)

In recent weeks I've started to use NetNewsWire for my RSS feed reading and have quite enjoyed one very cool aspect of it... this button in the top menu bar:

With one click, the text of the post appears over in MarsEdit where I can then write additional comments and post the entry. What's very cool is that if you select/highlight a block of text before clicking the button you get only that part brought across into MarsEdit. So if there is a paragraph you want to include in your post, simply highlight the paragraph, click the button and you're off and blogging.

(NOTE: In order for this to work with all the fields, you need to be in the "News Items" screen in NetNewsWire and not a "browser window" opened up inside of NNW. You can still use the button in those other windows, but it won't bring across the name of the blog and the URL of the blog itself.)

However, one thing I noted right away was that the format of how the text was brought across into my blog was not the way I wanted to have it appear. I would have to do extra work to go and change it around to fit the style of how I write here. For instance, I like to put "quoted" text in a <blockquote> and in italics. So each time I used the magic button, I had to do this re-formatting.

No more. I discovered in the MarsEdit preferences this little tab:

Which by default contains the text:

<p><a href="#url#">#title#</a>: "#body#"</p>

<p>(Via <a href="#sourceHomeURL#">#sourceName#</a>.)</p>

It was then a simple matter to change that to the style that I want to use:

<p>Over on <em><a href="#sourceHomeURL#">#sourceName#</a></em> the post "<em><a href="#url#">#title#</a></em>" contains this text:</p><blockquote><em>"#body#"</em></blockquote>

Now when I do this highlighting and clicking the button, I get something like this:

which looks like this when published:
Obviously once it is in MarsEdit I can write additional text, modify the text I've brought over. Many times I will change the text after it's brought over to say something like "Over on his blog, Lee Hopkins writes an excellent piece called... " but the bulk of the work has been done for me. I have links and the text and it's formatted in the way I want it to be.

Very nice integration between NetNewsWire and MarsEdit!

P.S. Naturally this only works with Macs... sorry about that Windows users! (On the other hand, you have the awesome Windows Live Writer!)

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Allen Stern: Would You Pay $1 For A Feed?

Over on his Center Networks blog, Allen Stern asks a reasonable question: Would You Pay $1 For A Feed?

"What if blogs and journals offered a full feed for $1 per month with no ads, mobile access, etc. Would you subscribe for a buck? What I am proposing is the following forms of monetization: standard Web site with ads, partial feed with no ads, and a full feed with no ads for $1/month.

So many of the people I speak with daily subscribe to a ton of full feeds and never visit a site after picking up the feed. Some say that feeds strengthen the interactivity with a site because when they read the post, they are more likely to come to the site to comment. Sure, it's easy to jam an advertisement into a feed, but what if there was another way to provide a revenue stream for a blogger to live off of and for the consumer to enjoy the media knowing they are supporting the content they enjoy?"

Allen's piece and the ensuing comments are well worth a read. It's a good discussion point... if you are blogging as a living is it unreasonable to expect to people to subscribe to your work?

I'm skeptical, given the zillions of other websites out there... but I'm also certainly personally open to keeping on paying for content if it is valuable enough that I can't get it anywhere else. For instance, I do pay for a subscription to because the crew there continues to provide the best coverage I've seen anywhere on Linux issues. (However, I had been reading them - for free - for several years before they asked readers to buy subscriptions... so they were already a known (and valued) entity to me when they moved to a subscription basis.)

In any event, it's a worthwhile discussion to have... check out Allen's blog to join in the conversation.

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More on the business benefits of using Twitter...

239F0ED3-565A-4A5B-8B96-F77D463A8AB2.jpgBack in December, I outlined some of the ways in which I found Twitter to be useful in my post "The 10 ways I learned to use Twitter in 2007" and in recent days a few more people have posted their own insight into how it has been helpful to them:

Both are excellent posts that I would highly recommend.

Do you find value in Twitter?

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And my 600th Twitter follower is...

Yesterday I noticed that my Twitter account was at 599 followers and I got to wondering... who would be the 600th? Would it be someone I knew? Some random stranger? Some "service"?

20A49062-575D-45A5-AAE5-3DCD088D1BA5.jpgSo I was both surprised and delighted to see an email notification come in today that my latest follower was none other than... Betsy Weber! Betsy's the chief evangelist over at TechSmith and maintains their excellent "Visual Lounge" blog where she writes about TechSmith's products like Camtasia, SnagIT, Jing, etc. and, of course, shows how to use them in videos and screencasts.

The funny thing is that Betsy and I have come to know each fairly well. She contacted me back in July 2007 after I wrote about screen capture tools and I pointed to a SnagIT plugin for Windows Live Writer (she later blogged about that). Subsequently we both wound up in Robert Sanzalone's "pacific IT" Skype groupchat where a whole bunch of us "emerging technology" types chat about whatever bright shiny objects we happen to be chasing. She connected a bunch of us with Jing, which we were glad to write about. (And I still use often.) We're both Northerners (she in Michigan, me in Vermont) so we had that commonality to talk about. We also both travel a good bit and could share our joys and frustrations. We've become "friends" in that odd kind of social media way.

Unlike a lot of people I know online, Betsy and I have also actually met in person, which seems like an increasing rarity these days. She does the trade show/conference circuit for TechSmith and I wind up going to (or speaking at) those kind of shows, so we got to meet out at the Podcast/New Media Expo last fall in Ontario, California.

I was "surprised" by the notification because I thought I was already following Betsy on Twitter. (I wasn't, but am now.) I thought I was before... if I was, I'm not sure how I got disconnected, but I've had strange things like that happen a couple of times with Twitter.

Anyway... welcome, Betsy, to my twitterstream! (And for those of you reading this blog, you can check out Betsy on Twitter as well.)

P.S. And welcome to all the others who have joined recently as well... I'm seriously not entirely sure why you all are following me but welcome to the conversation! Let's see what happens with this grand experiment that we're all in...

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Yahoo supports OpenID... Yaawwwnnn... when can I *login* to Yahoo! services with OpenID?

BBA831C6-CAD7-498F-9164-AC5BA8FEADD7.jpgThe big news in the blogosphere today is that "Yahoo Implements OpenID; Massive Win For The Project". Indeed, Yahoo announced that all 248 million Yahoo! accounts would be able to sign in to OpenID-enabled sites using their Yahoo! ID.


Now don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of OpenID. I've written about it both here and on DisruptiveTelephony. I was part of a long podcast about OpenID security. I subscribe to the mailing list. My home site is configured to be an OpenID provider. So is my work blog site.

But that's the point, really...

We don't really need more OpenID providers - we need sites that will accept OpenID!

Here are all the OpenID providers that I can currently use (at least, the ones I remember):

  • (and several variants on this URL)
  • as well as a couple of other AOL screen names (per AOL's support)
  • and now my Yahoo! account

I obviously have absolutely ZERO problem getting an OpenID.

The problem I have is using one of my OpenIDs. Here's the companion list of where I can use my OpenID on a regular basis:

  • leave a comment on a Blogger blog (but I already have a Google account that I'm usually logged into)
  • leave a comment on a LiveJournal blog (but I already have a LJ account)
  • login to Plaxo (but I had an account there that pre-dates their OpenID support, and yes, I know I can tie them together)
  • login to to create a RSS-to-Twitter stream
  • leave comments on random other blogs that support OpenID

And... and... and... ???

Now, granted, it's nice to be able to leave those comments... but that's not a whole lot of usefulness out of my zillion different OpenIDs. Yes, I know there is are directories of OpenID-enabled site (for example, here and here). If I ever want a quick wiki page, I know there are half a dozen Wiki sites that let you create one with an OpenID. But here's the thing... I don't use those sites that are listed. Now, maybe I should, as a way of thanking them for their OpenID support, but I don't.

On one level, I'm thrilled that Yahoo is becoming an OpenID provider. It is a huge endorsement for the protocol. But I'd be far happier if Yahoo was announcing that I could login to their sites with an OpenID. Let me choose one of my OpenIDs and let me use that as the one to use to login to my Flickr account, and my Yahoo!Messenger and my Yahoo!Mail and and all the other sites that Yahoo! owns. THAT would be something to be incredibly excited about.

As it is, I fear that some % of those 248 million Yahoo! users will investigate what this OpenID site is all about and find that... well.. there aren't a whole lot of places they can really use it.

That is what we need. (And what sites like SpreadOpenID, which is unfortunately down for maintenance, are all about.)

When will Yahoo! go the next step and let us use our OpenIDs on Yahoo! sites? (I agree with Marshall Kirkpatrick that they probably won't anytime soon.)

P.S. And yes, I'm trying to do my part and get my work blog site to support OpenID for comments.

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FIR Listener contest is now open... want to win a book?

5C00039A-D4CD-4017-A9E2-21E48824E292.jpgDo you want to win a copy of Shel & Neville's book "How to Do Everything with Podcasting?" If so, all you need to do is to enter the FIR Listener Contest! Basically you just have to answer the question "I think a podcast will help my organization/my client because..."

Details, rules, etc. can all be found on the FIR Listener Contest page. Entries are due by Friday, January 25, 2008.

I'll be one of the judges and am looking forward to seeing what creative entries people may come up with.

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"For Immediate Release" launches discussion forums... come join the conversation!

fir_100x100.gifIn getting caught up on some listening to "For Immediate Release", I noted that back at the beginning of the month, Shel & Neville launched the "FIR Forum" as a way to encourage conversations among FIR listeners. They tried this first with the discussion forums over on a Facebook Group, but, like most Facebook Groups I've seen, those forums hardly ever got used. So now they are trying it with what seems to be directly-hosted forum software. It's not behind any walls... anyone can read the posts *without* registration. Anyone can register and join in the conversation. We'll see how it goes!

If you are interested in issues around PR, communications and social media, please do head on over and check it out. Stick around, if you like, and please do join in to the conversation!

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