podcast #14

I’ve got podcast 14 out–it’s a trip through San Francisco, set in the Fillmore area and the Outer Richmond and packed with poignant drama and serious suspense–Will the lady talking loudly on the phone erupt in a rage as she notices my camera phone? Will the woman leering out the window the MUNI bus get out and do something about it? Will the caffeine-mad throng violently overrun the Peet’s on Fillmore?

All these questions and more answered–in podcast #14.

Actually, looking over it post-production I can’t help but think that it sort of strikes a somber note. Don’t know what to think of it really.  I’m calling it the “film noir” podcast.

I’m here to protest the Iraq war

Jessica and I rode our bikes out to the anti-Iraq-war protest Saturday, making our way to Dolores Park in the Mission from our place in the northwest of the city. When we got there we took some photos, and also took some video which is now #13. The title of this post [“I’m here to protest the Iraq war”] is the opening remark that Jessica makes in her very impressive and persuasive appearance in the second half of the podcast.

It was later in the day when we were there, and it was hard to gauge how many people had participated overall. But I would say that it seemed like it was a very demographically broad group, all very determined to take action to stop the war.

The casual weekend marchers and local news anchors may have gotten bored with these things, but those that continue to hold signs or bus in from out of town are primed to continue their activism, for whatever it might accomplish.

Democratic politicans have certainly failed to do their job in ending this war, but I guess I’m still hoping that Barack Obama can get some momentum in the presidential campaign, and maybe do the right thing in Iraq when he gets in to power.

And what is that right thing? Withdraw. Now.

MSU to fascist: shut up!

Britain always has a ready inventory of neo-Nazis, skinheads, and Cromwellists, and recently one of them made a trip across the pond to share his hate and stupidity with kindred spirits in American campus conservatism. It’s good to see my undergraduate alma mater, Michigan State University, taking a stand against him, with numerous student activists shouting him down and telling him he’s not welcome.

Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo saw a very nasty reception when he made the mistake of visiting last December. Well done, I say–racist morons should learn to stay out of Spartan country.

Trance Tuesday: not every Tuesday


I really want to figure out how to make the right production mix to craft classic female leads for vocal trance music. Anyway I’m convinced there’s a formula that has to do with creating a husky, sensual echo sound that must involve multiple vocal tracks in layers.

Well one of the world’s foremost practitioners of trance at the moment, Gareth Emery, mixes a song that he used in a previous mix but lets the whole vocal track play through, unlike in the previous mix. The effect is a totally new understanding of the song’s meaning. Trance, at its best, is like that–equivocal but always intriguing.

Gareth Emery has a podcast that has become my favorite source of new trance music. Too much time is occasionally used for unenthused reading of listener emails, but most of it is good music.

Not that there’s much competition. It’s too bad Trance Tuesday, a more techie style trance podcast from San Francisco, only comes out every few months now. Certainly 2007 is not a high point for trance music, but it is a high point for Gareth Emery, whose podcast #40 exceeded expectations with an excellent hour-long mix set.

Other trance acts worth checking out right now include quirky Danish psy-trance outfit Flowjob and the always-brilliant work of Sander Kleinenberg, Paul van Dyk and Deadmau5 and Fine Taste.

Webshots sold to American Greetings for $45 million

Webshots, a photo sharing site that I’ve mentioned in posts before, including one earlier today, has been sold by CNET for $45 million to Ohio-based American Greetings.

The Webshots site has a large user base, a popular site blog, and an enormous archive of photos.

Lots of gifts can already be ordered from the site using the images, such as e-cards, so this acquisition seems like a natural move for American Greetings, who are probably best known for their paper greeting cards.

Techcrunch misunderstands basic finance

As few exciting new startups emerge in the web 2.0 landscape, the flaws of a blog like Michael Arrington’s Techcrunch become more and more apparent.

Toward that issue, yesterday Dave Winer wrote:

‘Nelson Minar says he likes TechCrunch, but they’re not journalists so be careful what you say to a TC reporter at a party.’

That’s fine, but I’ll go one further–I don’t like Techcrunch, and furthermore, it’s a reminder that attending one of those insular web 2.0 bashes brings with it the constant danger of some moron coming up to you and talking business. How unrefined.

But my real problem is that their writers are often stupid, the staffers more so than Arrington. Duncan Riley sounds on the blog like a combative idiot and Nick Gonzalez’s work makes me think he’s a lousy writer. It’s too much work to recount all of their dimwitted mistakes of reasoning and logic, and their shameless hype of Microsoft products.

But unfortunately the site’s new writer, a refugee from a collapsed business magazine, is really going to fit in.

For example, today we have this moronic line of thought from Eric Schonfeld, who was writing about CNET:

‘If a stock buyback manages to jack up the market cap, a takeover could be averted.’

I’m not sure how stupid the market is, but here’s my guess–less so than Schonfeld thinks. Spending cash from the corporate treasury to buy up shares should, if proportions hold through the market’s reaction, jack up the price of the shares a bit. But the putting aside of the purchased shares into the company’s treasury stock will lead to reduced number of publicly available shares.

Market cap is, after all, price times number of shares.

Apparently Mr Schonfeld could be gamed this way; but I think the market is rather too smart for that.

In fact, the economic (though not the accounting) effect from stock buybacks is actually closest to the economic effect of issuing dividends. (I had to argue this one out with an accounting professor, but think it through–stock buybacks are the preferred method of dividend-type transactions [i.e. returning capital to investors] for some large traders because the money will be automatically reinvested in the same company instead of run through capital gains because of dividend payments.)

Yes, CNET is trading at what seems like a low total valuation of a little more than a billion, and it could become a target for corporate takeover or private equity. And if Facebook is really worth $15 billion like Microsoft seems to believe, then couldn’t a company with a suite of popular niche sites including Gamespot, Webshots, and be worth more than a tenth of that?

But that’s an assumption I’m not ready to make. For now, we’ll have to wait for the news–preferably from a reputable source.

update 11:26 p.m. PT: The announcement is that Webshots is being sold for $45 million. No buybacks have been announced, and the minutia of stock buyback accounting is really peripheral to my denunciation of Techcrunch’s shoddy argument that some (hypothetical) balance sheet maneuvering (that Techcrunch was speculating about but was not subsequently announced) will change the underlying takeover value perceived of CNET. In fact, at its size, has long seemed to me to be a very possible target for a larger internet brand–and now that Webshots is being sold to American Greetings, CNET has no Flickr competitor but it does have some targeted sites and a San Francisco location, two things a Yahoo looking to rejuvenate itself might be drawn to.

Oh, K2 1.0, what am I going to do with you?

With new versions available for the popular and powerful WordPress theme K2, I should be making the updgrade, right?

Well, no. First of all, I already converted my diary blog over to 2.3, and I really like it–the Javascript seems to load much faster, it has URL improvements, the tagging is integrated–check this post by Matt from WordPress for more info about it. Overall, it’s a great product, the web 2.0 blog platform.

But for this blog, I’ve it, at least for now, on 2.2.3 because I can use Twitter tools, Ultimate Tag Warrior, and all sorts of other plug-ins that the new WordPress taxonomy system breaks. And when I tried the new K2 release candidate 1, it just wasn’t the same. Now, the theme uses a lot of Ajax so it can have problems depending on browser, and apparently lots of these issues have come up with IE as they move to the new version Not that I use IE, but some people don’t mind if the occasional user of that clunker stops by their blog. The sidebar widget system has been badly redesigned in 1.0, with a clunky interface, and other issues keep coming up too. That’s what I loved about K2 0.9.6–the really cool sidebar tools, much better than the default WordPress ones–and the new 1.0 doesn’t seem the same. (If you want to try 1.0 make sure the find the latest version, which as I write this is release candidate 3, because some of these issues might be fixed by then.)

So, Republicans, are Bush detractors still "deranged"?

For years, and quite after it was obvious that the Bush administration was a kind of tinpot revolution of rabid anti-New-Dealers, fascist lawbreakers and choose-up-siders, legions of Bush’s supporters threw around the defamatory remark that anyone pining for the Constitution was somehow a problematic mind suffering from “Bush derangement syndrome.”

The reality, of course, is that many of these maniacs were the ones truly deranged.

One of the benefits of study of America’s history is the discredit of the patriotic naivete that, I am afraid to say, so many of my fellow citizens (and too many these days on the left) seem to have gained from their superficial, clouded view of what this country is really about.

Every one of Bush’s stupid defenders–and by that I mean ones not directly and heavily invested in this collapsing administration, who may be acting rationally by defending him–should take a look at what Joe Nacchio is saying:

‘Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.’

All of a sudden all those 9/11 rationalizations that political commentators of all sorts have given for the illegal wiretapping and data mining all fall by the wayside. Time to think of some new excuses, deranged Republicans.

pleds mk 01 03, an enhanced graphical image

‘pleds mk 01 03′ by Daniel J. McKeown and Jessica Dryden-Cook

An experimental photo session, a bit of image manipulation on the computer, and I’ve come up with this image that I sort of like. The production on the image was done by me but I couldn’t have done any of that without Jessica’s work on the photo session where we created the original photo.

Pulling out the little contrasts in sameness to create an unexpected pattern, while re-purposing common visuals by smoothing them out, is the best way to describe what I was trying to do with this.