Bits and pieces from a busy few days

Some bits and pieces from life right now: I'm really proud of the RNR podcast episode from last night, even though I was tired enough that my production quality wasn't what it usually is and I mispronounced some names. But it's been an emotionally charged week and it was an emotionally charged evening, so I think the episode reflects that.

Thanks to the folks at PhilQuinnForCouncil.com for linking here so prominently on the site. Of course, as much as I like and admire Phil, please know that I have not (nor do I plan to) endorsed any local political candidates here. I do wish them all the best in fulfilling the promise of the democratic process.

If you haven't already, you can head on over to GetWellJoe.com, a site I set up for Joe Augustin after he was assaulted earlier this week. The technical details are mundane compared to what Joe is going through, but it was a strange experience going from scratch to a full-blown weblog with hundreds of visitors and comments pouring in in a matter of an hour or two. Thanks to all the people who are holding Joe up now and keeping each other posted on his progress.

In a little bit, I'm heading out to IU East to help unveil the preview and website for the new documentary being produced here, 1:47. I'm at Summersault right now working with my team on the final prep for actually making the new site live, so you can check that out shortly. I haven't gotten to do as much lately with video production as I would like, so it's at least rewarding to be peripherally involved in a project where some really great production work is being done.

Have a good weekend.

A new podcast, the Richmond News Review

About a year ago, I wrote down some observations about the phenomenon of podcasting: "...I'm probably just joining the throngs of people holding this up as The Next Big Thing, but I'm excited about what it represents: another positive use of the Internet for knowledge exchange and personal expression."

Since that time, I've really come to appreciate the usefulness of podcasting even more, especially for balancing and complementing other sources of news and opinion, and lending a unique kind of voice to the conversations happening in our communities. To further that end, I've embarked on a trip down the road of hosting my own show: The Richmond News Review, a podcast providing a different perspective on local issues. As far as I can tell, there aren't a whole lot of geographically-focused podcasts out there, so we'll see how well that goes. It's sure been a flurry of activity to get it going, and while I'm always cautious about the sustainability of and interest in such projects, I'm excited about the possibilities.

So, check it out, give it a listen, let me know what you think.

Interviewed on WKBV, anyone hear it?

I was interviewed yesterday morning (at 7:10, jeesh) by Chris Nolte on AM 1490 WKBV about the "dangers of unsecured wireless networks at home." I already posted some follow-up technical information on the Summersault Weblog, but I thought I'd see if anyone reading here heard the interview? I've not to date thought of that station or time slot as the place to go for the latest technology news and discussion, but perhaps there's a trend I've been missing out on.

David Gray's Life in Slow Motion

When I first discovered David Gray, it was by encountering his song Please Forgive Me, which was quite impressive, stunning maybe, to me as a song in its own right. But when I got the full album it was on, White Ladder, I realized that it was part of a package deal that achieved so much more as a nuanced whole than any of its parts did alone. This was striking to me, as so few albums these days carry a lot of obvious interconnection of their songs, at least in a way that isn't only obvious if you read every lyric and the "behind the music" bio of the artist. Gray's songs seemed to talk to one another, answering questions that the others had asked, flowing back and forth around recurring themes that the words and the melodies created together. It was as much of a "listening experience" as I'd had with any music in a while, and he was consistent in that sense when I saw him perform at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia (right before he was "big" in the US...friends tell me he had a great following elsewhere well before that). Fortunately for me, Gray's newest album, Life in Slow Motion, is another experience filled with great inter-song integrity and a striking sound that seems to reveal a new layer each time I listen.
Continue reading "David Gray's Life in Slow Motion"

When it's all already been said

One of the things that is difficult for me to deal with in the world of blogging and even just editorial/public writing in general is that for any given issue, it often feels like every possible perspective has been rendered by others in so many different ways well before *I* get to that issue. This has gotten "worse" with the advent of blogging, where those viewpoints are often published within minutes or hours of any given piece of information becoming available. So by the time I develop an opinion about something, I'm often left with the sense that it would be a waste of my time to say roughly the same things that have already been said, with only a minor degree of personalized presentation.
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Podcasting, another non-fad fad

(You can listen to the MP3 audio of this entry, too.)

Back in May I blogged about how blogs are different from the conventional process of putting up content on a website. I have a similar sentiment about the up-and-coming phenomenon of podcasting: people have been putting sound clips on the web for a long time, but a certain set of environmental factors have emerged that are really making this particular incarnation take off.
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Ashton, the guy with the voice

It excites me much more than it should that I've found him after all these years: Ashton Smith. You know, the guy. The guy with the voice. The guy with the voice that narrates over almost every movie trailer, commercial, television show promo, and network news teaser that we see/hear. I didn't think it was possible that it was all the same guy, but it is. Ashton instills solemnity and foreboding into every word he speaks. And yet, he has the tender inflection that can make us rush out to spend money anticipating the best love stories of summer films. Ashton, send me a CD of your greatest hits! Better yet, do my voicemail greeting?

Channel surfing to save your life

Hayden L. Sheaffer, the pilot who is being raked over the coals for his role in flying a Cessna 150 into restricted airspace over Washington D.C. earlier this month, which prompted the scrambling of jets and the evacuation of thousands, noted today that he did in fact try to contact the military on the radio channel they instructed him to use, but that he couldn't get through. In today's issues, the New York Times reports that the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that Sheaffer was instructed to use a frequency that was not available at the time. What? Huh? Okay, the guy shouldn't have gotten lost in the first place, but the whole incident was fairly ridiculous, and the thought that they might have been blown out of the sky because they were given instructions they couldn't follow is a pretty scary one. When I was flying Cessnas with minimal avionics (far from restricted airspace, mind you), I don't think would've had much of a "plan B" in that case either.

Vienna Teng's Waking Hour

I'd like to sing the praises of artist Vienna Teng. Not only is her music outstanding (more on that in a moment), but her story is quite interesting as well, at least to me. Teng studied Computer Science at Stanford University, and then worked as a software engineer at Cisco Systems in San Francisco. As a fellow geek, I have to admire that part alone. But then Teng quit her tech job to prepare for the independent release of her debut album, Waking Hour, which is a really wonderful mix of striking lyrics, piano ballads, and Teng's clear, beautiful voice. Think Tori Amos without the drama and screeching. The track "Soon Love Soon" is my current favorite, but as I keep exploring the album, I'm always finding new kinds of musical beauty. Since the release of WH, she's been on Letterman, CNN, NPR, and toured with Shawn Colvin, and seems to have quite a growing fan base. Whether or not you appreciate the tech-head-turned-singer story that might inspire geeks everywhere, consider checking out Teng's work (available for download through the iTunes Music Store).