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July 2008

8 posts from June 2008

My social media/podcasting.... license plate?

Lest there be any doubt that I'm a social media geek, here's the new license plate on my Toyota Matrix:
My social media license plate

Yes, indeed, when we moved here to New Hampshire from Vermont and had to get new license plates, I asked if this was available. Since it was available, I figured it was too much fun to pass up... so I paid my $25 extra for the vanity plate. Whether I keep it for multiple years will remain to be seen, but at least for now my car is an advertisement for social media. :-)

P.S. And yes, for those who aren't aware, New Hampshire's state slogan really is "Live Free or Die"!

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Squawk Box conf calls/podcasts this week - links and topics

squawkbox.jpgWith Alec Saunders away on vacation, I agreed to step in to host our daily "Squawk Box" conference calls this week and next. I'm working on lining up some interesting guests and in the meantime we'll also have our regular tech conversations that have always seemed to go well. (FYI, if you or someone you know would like to be a special guest either this week or next, please do let me know.) I'm particular excited about our show on Tuesday, July 1st, where we'll have author and researcher Jonathan Zittrain on our show. I've started reading his new book, "The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It", and I have to say that so far it strikes at the core of what we've talked about frequently on the show... the move from "walled gardens" to open networks and now the frightening potential re-emergence of walled gardens and proprietary "lock-in" business models. More information about the book - and video of Jonathan Zittrain - can be found on: As has been the practice, here are the URLs for the shows this week - I'm looking forward to seeing many of you on the calls: MONDAY - JUNE 30th - Discussion of Microsoft after Bill Gates and Steve Gillmor's view on the subject, the end of sales of Windows XP, as well as Google's move to help academia move into cloud computing: TUESDAY - JULY 1st - Jonathan Zittrain interview: WEDNESDAY - JULY 2nd: THURSDAY - JULY 3rd: FRIDAY - JULY 4th - There will be no call. I look forward to seeing many of you on the calls this week. NOTE: The calls will be posted over on Alec's although right now I seem to be having problems connecting to the site. Hopefully that is just a temporary issue...

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Some example screencasts created with Screenflow

screenflowlogo.jpg Those following my tweets or listening to my reports on For Immediate Release know that a few weeks back I was experimenting with a new screencasting application called "ScreenFlow" available only for the Leopard o/s on Mac. As a result of Voxeo's launch of our new "Prophecy Log Search" feature, these screencasts/video tutorials are now available publicly and I can show what I did with ScreenFlow. In fact, I uploaded them to YouTube to make it incredibly easy for me to embed them.


The first "introduction" screencast, embedded here, was actually the fourth one that I did. It had to be last because I needed some shots of the web page which weren't finalized before launch (and have already changed such that I'll be reshooting this screencast). It's also the only one to use video. ScreenFlow is very cool in that it can capture the video from my MacBook's built-in webcam and lay that out as another track that I can incorporate into my screencast. As you'll see in the intro, the video zooms up and then after the intro fades away. I actually just give the video an opacity of 0% so that it's invisible. The audio you hear throughout the screencast is actually coming from the video track.

I'm fairly happy with how this screencast came out. The video and audio don't seem to be exactly in sync which I find a bit strange. There's also a brief flash of black in there in the transition from the slide that forms the intro into the actual browser screens. One thing ScreenFlow currently lacks (or at least I haven't been able to find) is an easy way to transition between clips along the lines of the transitions available in iMovie '08.

Now that the service has been released, I'll be re-shooting this screencast and look forward to seeing if I can make some technical improvements to it.


The other 3 screencasts are just the screen and audio. I like how ScreenFlow can let you zoom in on the cursor and highlight only the area around it:



I'll be re-shooting this one as well since we have already changed the interface so that people don't have to type in "| reverse". (This is, after all, a beta release for this very purpose.)


Comments and feedback about these screencasts is definitely welcome. The Voxeo blog post explains a bit more about what this product launch was all about. So far I've been quite pleased with ScreenFlow. As I use it more I'll write more about the experience.

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Today's Squawk Box will discuss "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"

squawkbox.jpgOn today's Squawk Box conference call/podcast at 11am US Eastern, we'll talk about Nick Carr's essay in the Atlantic Monthly called "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"

Are his concerns valid? Or overblown?

Some of the other links I provided for background:

Knowing the Squawk Box "regulars", it should be a fun discussion.

If we have time, we might talk about continued information coming out of Apple's WWDC event and/or the Microsoft TechEd event happening this week. For instance, what do people think about the MobileMe service that I discussed in my blog post.

You are welcome to join us at 11am US Eastern via the Free Conference Calls application for Facebook. The show will also be available for download later in the day on Alec Saunder's weblog.

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Media consumption habits are hard habits to break...

What are your media consumption habits? What happens if a that media (newspaper, TV show, magazine, etc.) goes away? How well do you adjust?

We're experiencing that dilemma ourselves in our new home in Keene, NH. You see... we are still some of those people who participate in that increasingly quaint and archaic custom of... newspaper subscription. More to the point, we are in the habit of getting a morning paper. For pretty much all of my adult life I've had a morning paper. It's been part and parcel of my morning "routine". Wake up, get ready for the day, have breakfast... and read at least part of the morning paper. Especially things like the weather, the major news and of course the comics. It's the habit I've had and one that my wife and daughter have also had.

keenesentinel.jpgHowever, when we moved to Keene we discovered, to our surprise, that the Keene Sentinel, our local paper, turns out to be one of the few remaining afternoon papers! It's delivered by 5pm each week day and by 8am on Saturday and Sunday. We immediately subscribed, following our pattern... but it's been quite strange over the past week as there's been very definitely a missing piece in our morning routine. You can't really save the previous day's paper for the next morning because the news is that much older and, honestly, as it is a smaller paper it's so far really only good for one sitting. We're considering subscribing to another paper, like The Union Leader, but we do like getting the local news that appears in local patterns. Maybe we'll subscribe to both. I don't know.

It has made me think, though, about media consumption habits... they can definitely be hard ones to break!

What about you? What media do you consume on a regular basis? What would you miss if it wasn't there?

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The Sad State Of Twitter...

As I posted a couple of updates to my Twitter stream this morning, I noticed that I hadn't received any updates for most of two hours in my Twhirl client. I tried going to my Twitter page and when I couldn't I naturally tried to go to today the answer was not "Yes", but rather:

It's really very sad when "Yes" becomes "of course". When the expectation is that the service will be down, you really have to wonder about the long-term viability of the service. At some point Twitter will cross the proverbial "threshold of pain" that will indeed cause users to flock to other services. Judging from past history, that threshold is very high... but with Twitter's frequent outages lately, you have to wonder if we aren't rapidly approaching that point.

I see from Twitter's new status blog that they were making database changes last night. Will the changes be enough to keep people using the service? Will they be enough to bring the pain level back down?

We'll see.

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