Friday, April 25, 2008


CONvergence Programming - Grid Lock!

I may not be the programming head -- but the programming head will be reporting to me starting next year as part of the events division, and as I'd previously been a head, it's important for me to promote the schedule.

The schedule has started to solidify now, and to quote the current programming head:

And please, please, please - if you are attending the convention and see some panels you would like to be on - follow the email instructions at the top of the webpage and let me know. Usually we have a limit of six people per panel, so if you see a panel that already has six people on it, then it's full - pick some that have 0-4 people instead, you can really help the programming dept. out!

Likewise, some panels are just for guests of honor or are gameshow style panels that have certain panelists who are running the event (again, should be pretty clear which these are from the panel description).

We recommend a limit of eight panels per person to avoid burnout (but if you can handle more and I have personal knowledge of that - then we can make exceptions).

So, if you are attending the con, please sign up for some (more) panels and pass the message along!

It's going to be an exciting year -- and I'm really excited to see the schedule come together.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008


CONvergence: Best of the Twin Cities

I'm astonished that CONvergence was chosen by City Pages as Best of the Twin Cities. Not because we were picked -- but that the category was even created this year.

It is a great compliment to the hundreds of people that have been involved in putting the event on, especially since the publicity was not searched for.

True, they had a typo and changed Marv Wolfman's gender (to Mary) -- but otherwise it was a very nice description and something I'm happy to point to.

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Friday, April 18, 2008


Hopefully we'll see this sort of stuff really come out in the fall

When it's the general election.....because I think this election can really have a lot of this sort of content really cut through the traditional media sources and political commercials...and yes, make it fun as well as serious.

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The Universal Calendar

One of the things that is a bit of a hassle is that you really would like one calendar to cover a number of your bases. You want to make sure that your calendar has your availability for work, and you can access it at home, or on your blackberry, or wherever.

And thankfully, I've finally got what I think might be a solution. With Google's mobile solution, you can sync your calendar with your BlackBerry. This is a good place to start.

One of the more complicated sides, then, is getting it synchronized with your iCal if you are a Mac user. I'm not synchronizing my BlackBerry with my Mac in a plugged in fashion -- but by using a tool like BusySync, I can sync it up with the Google calendar -- which will then sync with the BlackBerry.

Bingo, calendar unification has been achieved.

I'm still trying out BusySync -- it's not free, but if it works, I'll definitely go ahead and get it.

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Harsh ABC Debate Coverage...

I think the reviews of ABC's debate on Wednesday have gotten pretty harsh...

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Monday, April 14, 2008



Well, at least now we know that a Cat with a Theremin is funny...I would imagine almost any other animal would be as well...

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Sunday, April 13, 2008


Keeping in Sync

In general, the iTunes/iPod ecosystem works pretty well. By now I've had my music collection ripped and downloaded across a couple of different operating systems and computers over the last decade or so. And I'm able to keep the basics of the file formats in synch between my laptop and desktop Mac pretty well by using the rsync UNIX command.

But there are some things that make me very nervous. By now I've kept pretty good handle on my ratings and last play dates -- and I use both of those fairly actively when I set up the playlists to synchronize with an iPod, so I keep a mix of songs on my iPod based on how frequently songs are played and when they were last played.

And that's something that is a bit more of a challenge to keep synchronized across iTunes libraries used by different users across multiple machines. You'd like to be able to keep track of what the last playtime, date, and number of plays no matter what computer you've used. And if you have a library of songs, you really would like to minimize the amount of work you need to do to add songs to the various libraries.

I'm not sure I have a perfect system. rsync certainly helps things a great deal keeping the files in sync -- but it's a little less straight forward to keep the metadata synchronized across libraries.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008



Garrick van Buren's thoughts about how Free & Open Is Its Own Lock-in triggered some of my own thoughts about lock-in that have been going in my head for a while about lock-in.

The simple fact is, we always are locked in to some extent -- we learn a tool set, or a technology, and we want to continue to use it. And we don't want to throw away an investment of years.

I've primarily been developing on the Microsoft platform for most of my post-collegiate career. And we're locked into Microsoft technology all the time -- C#, VB.Net, Microsoft Office, or SQL Server. There are downsides to that, as well as positive sides.

It is tempting to go and say that there would be no lock in if you were in the Linux utopia and then not be sharecropping. And that may be true from a developer perspective -- but the final end user, in most cases, won't be a person with a software development background. And they're really going to be more "locked in" to what their software providers give them in any case.

So unless you're constantly willing to develop and maintain all of the software yourself as an individual --- and very few organizations are willing or able to do that. You're going to outsource pieces of your IT infrastructure. From Operating Systems, to office productivity tools, to database management systems, to enterprise applications like ERP, CRM, Financial Software, or whatever -- organizations are going to have someone else built those pieces. And they should. And as most people aren't devloping software for themselves, but they're devloping it for other people, they're dependent on other people for their work. And you can always have the land whipped out from under you.

It is the investment of energy and effort learning how a tool works, understanding the quirks that any system has -- that's the real lock-in. So perhaps one thing is to focus on the pieces that make something unique -- how can you get to a solution for your unique problem as quickly as possible? It might need to go away eventually -- and so can you built what you need as high on the stack as possible? You want to find ways to be as agile as possible, to use the buzzword in the general sense -- how can you get to a result quickly?

In a related observation, I realized what much of this conversation reminded me of. It's like the work-for-hire debates that I've seen in the comic book industry, especially from people like Dave Sim or the founders of Image Comics. It's perhaps especially relevant as we look at what happens with the the rights related to Superman. I think some of the issues related to lock-in here are similar to the decisions to self-publish or do work-for-hire work in comics. Work-for-hire is really what we're talking about here -- but it is also what most of us are going to end up doing, most of the time, and is frequently what you want to do. To use the comics comparison, if you want to work on an established character, you're not going to have complete control over the situation.

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