General, Technology

Syncing my online life – New Blog Domain and Blog Bling

https://blog.kischuk.com/ is the new web address, http://feeds.feedburner.com/rkischuk is the new Feed URL. Existing links and feed subscriptions should work fine for the foreseeable future.

I’ve been on a mission lately to sync my online presences, initiated when I started using Twitter. I didn’t like maintaining different statuses on Facebook and Twitter, so I started using TwitterSync to push my Twitter status into Facebook – works like a champ. I wanted to bring my blog and flickr activity in too, so I fired up FriendFeed, and that worked and let me bring in my GTalk status, Google Reader, last.fm, and LinkedIn activity as well. Added the FriendFeed app and now all of that activity is pulled into Facebook. They need better controls so I can tell FF not to push my twitter activity into my feed (TwitterSync already updates my status directly), but I suspect this feature is coming.

Rhapsody listening history proved to be an interesting challenge, since Rhapsody’s plugin support is pretty sparse – Last.fm doesn’t have a Rhapsody scrobbler. I had to make my Rhapsody listening history feed public on Rhapsody.com, and am using RhapsodyScrobbler to push my listening activity to Last.fm. It’s a bit of a hack, but works nicely.
Giving this blog a facelift proved challenging. I’ve been happy using a wordpress.com hosted blog, except for the theme selection, domain name, and poor widget support. But there are no hosting, scaling, or software upgrade headaches. I paid $10 each for the Custom CSS and custom domain upgrades, and was able to tweak a new theme to something I’m pretty happy with (still some room for improvement). I’ve had kischuk.com registered for a while, free DNS with ZoneEdit, and finally added a CNAME for blog.kischuk.com to point to wordpress. The most unfortunate thing about hosted WordPress blogs is that they don’t support widgets of any variety (iFrame or embed). The best tool available for this is the RSS widget – I was able to point this to my twitter and Last.fm RSS feed to provide the pseudo-widgets you see in the right column. I also see this as the best hope for adding some semblance of Skribit support.

I am looking to add a good Flickr app to Facebook – any suggestions?

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General

WGA to Jay Leno – ad lib only, please

Often times, union agreements baffle me, but the ongoing news on the writers’ strike nearly takes the cake.  While David Letterman’s production company has reached an interim agreement to bring writers back to his show, Jay Leno’s production is run by NBC, which has no such agreement in place.

Apparently, Leno is a member of the WGA in addition to whatever union he may be a part of as an on-screen performer.  Apparently in preparing to film his show without the usual writers, he had the audacity to write material for himself rather than just making things up as he goes along, and the WGA is up in arms over this.  If he weren’t a WGA member, would he be shunned as a scab?  Should he just go out there like an idiot rather than writing jokes for himself?  And what constitutes “writing”?  Does it have to be on paper or print?  What if he writes on his hand?  What if he makes something funny up in his head, memorizes and delivers it without ever “writing” it?

The WGA seems to be running in fear from a very simple fact – they are not needed – their members are in a market of skilled workers capable of being paid in a meritocracy.  Sure, there are members who would be paid less under a market-driven system, but this sorts itself out.  With the escalating costs of actors and special effects, talented writers are a small piece of the overall cost and thus good writers should be relatively well paid.  Bad writers (such as those involved in any plot line on “24” that involved Kim Bauer, especially also involving a mountain lion) shouldn’t be propped up by a contract.  They should find new careers.

I  truly hope that the rampant predictions of this strike and the impending actors’ strike leading to new models for TV-like entertainment production, but I am skeptical.  Watching TV is a passive activity, and most of America seems to watch whatever garbage is shoveled their way.  Many people don’t want to find what entertainment may be appealing to them – they are happy to be told what else to watch while snoozing through the glorified coin toss known as “Deal or No Deal”.

General

MySpace is the New Jersey of the Internet

Or perhaps New Jersey is the MySpace of states? Any time I go to either MySpace or New Jersey, I find myself uncomfortable, disturbed, and wanting to leave.

Business travel recently had me flying into Newark. As we flew in, I saw the usual complement of ugly shipyards, depressing office buildings, and something new – fuel silos that appeared to have collapsed roofs. The last time I was in New Jersey, I had drove over from Philly, learned what a jughandle is, and then rushed back to PHILLY. And I don’t like Philly very much. But it was better than New Jersey.

Like MySpace’s obscenely noisy “You Must Be Logged-In to do That!” login screen (I swear that the first 20 times I saw this page, I didn’t even see the login box), so many things about both MySpace and NJ give me a visceral reaction of wanting to flee to anywhere else. Both places have so many major, highly-visible issues that I’m not sure how anybody can be proud to be associated with them. I mean, unless you’re Bon Jovi, Kevin Smith, or a stock-option millionaire, there’s not much to be proud of.

New Jersey left me with another great impression this last trip, a 45 minute wait after our plane left the gate before we took off. For some reason, Newark Liberty’s runway design (possibly designed by a UGA “graduate”) required us to wait in line to taxi across an active runway (how is this NOT a horrible idea?). It definitely helps me appreciate Atlanta’s runway design where, in a stroke of common sense, our FIVE runways all run parallel, and thus don’t intersect, and all have sensible means of using them that don’t involve the airline equivalent of walking across an interstate (or perhaps we just have air traffic controllers that don’t suck).

General

Ron Paul vs. Mike Gravel for President?

Sure it’s almost an impossibility, but wouldn’t it be entertaining? Both Gravel and Paul seem to have made waves in their respective debates.

Blog wisdom suggests that each one of them was the divergent, inspirational voice in their debate that didn’t simply toe the party line and avoid anything potentially offensive.

If these two candidates faced off in the general election, I imagine we’d see a true questioning of party lines on a national level.  Both trend toward social liberalism and diverge on fiscal policy.  Who knows where the votes would actually come down if fiscal and social conservatism were separated?

I hope that social media pressure and rising poll numbers can keep these guys in the debates, and prevent us from choosing among marginally different candidates.  Romney/Guiliani/McCain vs. Clinton/Obama/Edwards is nothing but US politics as usual.

General

I Read Your Blog

It’s not a threat, but it’s probably a safe assumption. At least if we work togther, worked together, if you came in for a job interview, or if you interviewed me for a job, if we knew each other in college, if I met you at a conference or community activity, if you’re the new or old boss or employee of someone I worked with, if you’re a sibling, relative, or friend of any of these people, or maybe just if you live on this planet.

A while back, someone I know was shocked when a group of people started discussing several posts from their blog. Especially since that blog had been deleted a while ago, but was still showing up in web caches. They were a good sport about it, even while being ribbed about their personal elaborations on love and life. It was nothing personal – I think we’ve chatted about blog posts of virtually everyone in our office who has a blog at one time or another – this one just happened to be treated more like a diary than a blog.

I don’t read too many blogs of personal acquaintances with any regularity, but I regularly stumble upon the personal blog of people I know, some more often than others. It’s compelling to catch up on what they’re doing, what they’re interested in, and what they’re thinking. Most folks realize that blogged thoughts are not private thoughts. When discussing business and personal matters on my blog, I operate on the assumption that the person I’d least want to read the post is going to read it. That doesn’t mean we all have to blog boring, it just means to blog consciously, being intentional about the thoughts and details we share.

General

Wiiroes

Watching the TV show “Heroes” on my Wii. Yes, I got a Nintendo Wii, yes, it is fairly cool, but one shortcoming has been that the Flash player embedded in the Opera browser isn’t current enough to work with the ABC and NBC “view shows online” features of their web sites.

 
Searching for workarounds today, I discovered a number of web sites that will stream TV shows using an earlier version of Flash. I haven’t watched “Heroes”, because a) the previews reminded me too much of X-Men (which I lie, but don’t want to watch a rip-off), and b) I expected it to be cancelled before it got off the ground. I figured this would be a good candidate to try out streaming video to my big screen on the Wii.

 
It’s far from perfect, but still intriguing. The sites that are out there aren’t in the right resolution to fill the screen, and the Wii’s zoom settings don’t fit either. The resolution is garbage compared to an HD feed. The opera browser has a massive toolbar at the bottom (the white blur in the picture). With things like this, the new Apple TV product, and my new Treo’s ability to stream video over the wireless network, it’s clear that the internet is beginning to make its way into the living room.

 
Orb and Slingbox are coming at this from the other direction, bringing your TV to wherever you are, but this requires planning in advance WHAT you’ll want to watch. For a show like “Heroes” that I dismissed out of hand, these solutions don’t help. I fully expect these sites to be shut down in whack-a-mole fashion. I wouldn’t object to watching the ad-supported versions on the network sites, but until that’s possible, this approach isn’t so bad either.

 

General

Make Me Move

I’m willing to move for the right price. Maybe you are too?

Zillow launched a free service where you can list a price that would “make” you move. In other words, what’s a price for your house that you couldn’t turn down? Here’s mine. I don’t expect an offer at that price, but if I did….