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Monday, September 25, 2006

Listening to...Killer Innovations

This is the tenth in a series of podcasting articles where I work my way through my list of current subscribed podcasts and let you know what I'm listening to on my computer and my iPod.

#10 Killer Innovations

Description (from the site):

Killer Innovations is a source of tools, tricks and lessons about creativity and innovation. The goal of the podcast is to show the listeners that being creative and innovative is a skill that can be learned.

From Douglas:

Innovation is one of the most mis-understood aspects of personal and business success today and Phil McKinney brings his extensive experience to bear on the issues involved. Guaranteed to make you think about thinking with every episode.

You can check out Killer Innovations directly from the web site or subscribe to the show using Apple's iTunes Software and this link.

Previous "Listening to..." posts

#9 IT Conversations
#8 In the Trenches
#7 Cool Hunting Videos
#6 Channel Frederator
#5 Radio Nostalgia Network
#4 Brain Brew Radio
#3 Botar's Old Time Radio
#2 43 Folders
#1 Beyond Jazz

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

On Podcasting: GoDaddy.com - Web hosts that don't host

* Update 10:26 pm: According to Adam at MacCast, his site at GoDaddy has been restored. See his post for more information.

* See bottom of this post for update -- Douglas

Late last night, I noticed that my podcast subscription to the MacCast (http://maccast.com) was reporting an error. Whenever I see these errors I always drop an email or instant message to the producer, so they can check their systems and resolve the problem.

This morning, I found out that MacCast had been shut down by their web hosting company, GoDaddy. According to Adam Christianson, producer and host of MacCast, there was no prior notification before the shutdown and it caught him entirely by surprise. Christianson had purposely purchased large amounts of bandwidth (the amount of data his web site sends out to listeners) and disk space (for storage of his web pages and podcast files) to avoid the usual issues that podcasters experience.

On his temporary MacCast web site, Christianson explains,

"Suprisingly, MacCast was not shut down for bandwith issues. I had made sure to purchase plenty of bandwidth (2TB) and plenty of storage (200GB) with my GoDaddy shared hosting account. This is why I was so shocked when the site was cut off. I monitor my bandwidth useage and my storage very closely and I was using about 1.5GB of bandwith and 1.5GB of storage, so I was nowhere near my limits. So, like me, you are probably asking, "So what's the problem"? The answer is what I now know to be the dirty little secret of low cost shared hosting plans. They will sell you as much cheap bandwidth and storage as you want, but if you run a reasonably popular site using modern web applications, then good luck tying to acutally use that bandwidth or storage. I was shut down becasue I was using, according to GoDaddy, more than my fair share of the processor cycles on the server. Essentially you can have bandwith, you can have storage, but don't use the server too much or we'll spank you." (Continues)

To my mind, the most egregious failure in this situation is the lack of notification. Simply taking a server offline can deeply damage the revenue and reputation of a business and might even be legally actionable. I am not a lawyer, but I would equate this to a landlord padlocking the doors of a restaurant for no other reason than it is too busy and the traffic bothered the other businesses renting nearby. No laws were broken, no payments withheld. There is simply no basis for shutting down this site without some attempt to resolve the issue.

It seems that GoDaddy either needs to stop selling services they cannot provide or honor the contracts they have made with their customers. Selling a product that they cannot deliver, and then terminating their contract without any prior notice, is not only bad business, it is being a bad member of the online community.

Any decent web hosting company has checks and balances in place to prevent one web site from monopolizing all the processing of a shared server. Once GoDaddy has made a contract with the podcasters, it is their duty to load balance their systems properly. They have sold a service and signed a contract with their client. It us up to them to fulfill that contract.

This sets a dangerous precedent in the podcasting world, even though it has happened to other, smaller podcasters previously. If a podcast with nearly 10,000 listeners can be taken "off the air" on the whim of its hosting provider, then podcasting as an "industry" is at risk. The very grassroots nature of podcasting is threatened if web hosting companies begin acting like the existing television and radio networks. Through their "power of the pipe", web hosting companies can dictate to podcasters what they can and cannot say and do on their podcasts. As podcasters, we cannot allow our web hosts to wield unlimited power. We enter into business contracts with these providers and expect those contracts to be upheld.

A Call to Address the Issues of Web Hosting and Podcasting

Finally, this situation, less than 2 weeks before the Podcast and Portable Media Expo, gives all podcasters an opportunity to address the issues of web hosting and podcasting, which are almost guaranteed to worsen. The web hosting industry and podcasters, as a group, need to sit down and address these issues before they become any worse. Web hosting companies that continue to provide poor service should be held up to the light and suffer the consequences of their behavior. Podcasters require and deserve reliable web hosting that doesn't leave them at the mercy of their web hosts.

** Update (02:12pm PDT: The GoDaddy's Office of the President has just responded with the following message:

Dear Mr. Welch,

Thank you for the email.

We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. Our company is currently working directly with the customer regarding this matter. At this time we are not at liberty to discuss specific account related information without verification of the account for security purposes. Please know we will continue to work directly with the customer in order to find a resolution. Thank you for your understanding. If the office can assist you with further comments or concerns, let us know.

Best regards,

Melanie Schmitt
Office of the President

Previous On Podcasting entries:

On Podcasting: 2 years ago in podcasting history...
On Podcasting: It's just a hobby, right?
On Podcasting: Money, money, money
On Podcasting: Freedom
On Podcasting: Talking to the "old" media

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Douglas on YourLA today!

Updated (10:50 pm): The video from today's segment is now linked. Click the picture to the right to play.

Yea! My segment for Your LA just aired on KNBC.

If you are visiting WelchWrite.com for the first time, there is a lot here to see.

As I mentioned in the spot, I do several podcasts...

My Word, this blog and podcast where you can learn about Los Angeles Events, great places to visit and more.

A Gardener's Notebook, on the trials and tribulations in my own garden

Career Opportunities, on the challenges of developing a career in the 21st Century

For those of you who might have missed the show, I will have some video up in a little while.

If you want to learn more about podcasting, and how to create your own podcast, email me at douglas@welchwrite.com

A proud member of:

LA Podcasters | Friends in Tech.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What I'm Reading...

Math and the Mona Lisa | The Geek Gap

Math and the Mona Lisa was passed along by my sister a few weeks ago. I have read several books on Leonardo da Vinci and, like most, find him fascinating. This book has a bit more higher level math than other books I might choose to read, but you can still easily follow the ideas, even if you don't quite understand the math. It explores how mathematics and geometry are involved in art, even if the artist has no conscious understanding of the math involved. It seems we are all pre-disposed to find certain ratios and arrangement pleasing to the eye.

The Geek Gap explores the fractious nature of communication that exists between "the suits" and 'the geeks" in any company. I know this issue exists, from first hand experience, and I am quite interested in reading the authors thoughts on how it might be managed.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Douglas in promo on KNBC Channel 4

Well, after a few phone calls from friends it became clear that I am, at least, in the promo for yourLA, the new local show from KNBC 4.

Don't blink or you might miss me, but I am in the first 15 secs of the promo.

My complete segment should air on Mon, Tue or Wed of next week at Noon.

Watch: yourLAtv Promo

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Douglas on your TV!

Update: As I warned, this production is brand new so everything is up in the air. I am hearing that my segment might appear Tuesday, Sept. 19 or Wednesday, Sept. 20. The show runs every day at Noon. Heck, watch it every day until you see my smiling face! (SMILE) Fingers crossed! -- Douglas

This is a pre-pre-pre-announcement and anything can, and probably will
change, but, if all goes well...

I will be appearing in the premiere episode of a new local television show,
yourLAtv. yourLAtv, hosted by Rachel Boesing, will air weekdays at Noon on
KNBC, Channel 4, here in Los Angeles. The website (which isn't yet
functional) will be http://yourlatv.com.

A few weeks ago, the crew came over to the home office and shot me talking
about the whats, whys and wherefores or podcasting.

So, here is the info to add to your calendars! (fingers crossed)

Monday, September 18, 2006
KNBC, Channel 4, Los Angeles

If anything changes, I will let you know.

If you want to know more about podcasting, check out the "On Podcasting..." posts here in the blog ... or invite me out for a coffee.

"I'll have a Grande Latte with 1 Splenda, please" (SMILE)

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

On Podcasting: 2 years ago in podcast history...

Back at the beginning...2 years ago on iPodder.org from The Wayback Machine.

This is a partial screen grab from The Wayback Machine, a unique service provided by The Internet Archive, which allows you to view web pages as they existed in the past.

Here is the full list of shows on September 24, 2004, the date of my first Career Opportunities podcast.

  • The Daily Source Code
  • iPodder Default Test Channel
  • Trade Secrets
  • Static Radio
  • North West Noise
  • Web Talk
  • The Linux Link Tech Show
  • Podcasting from SoftwareLand
  • Curry & van Inkel Radio Archives
  • Leo Laporte's Tech Guy on KFI
  • Whole Wheat Radio
  • QOTD
  • From the Fermosa Tea House
  • Morning Coffee Notes
  • Career Opportunities
  • Evil Genius Chronicles
  • Escape from the world
  • IT Conversations
  • RasterWeb
  • Blogdigger Audio
  • FreeFlow
  • Blogosphereradio
  • Ghost in the machine

* Bold = Still in production (as far as I was able to tell)

Previous On Podcasting entries:

On Podcasting: It's just a hobby, right?
On Podcasting: Money, money, money
On Podcasting: Freedom
On Podcasting: Talking to the "old" media

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Trackbacks for Blogger users

Seth Godin was talking about trackbacks today and noted that Blogger users couldn't use them.

A while a go, I discovered this web site which allows anyone to process a trackback.

Link: Trackback Wizard

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Listening to... IT Conversations

This is the ninth in a series of podcasting articles where I work my way through my list of current subscribed podcasts and let you know what I'm listening to on my computer and my iPod.

#9 IT Conversations

Description (from the site):

We are an online publisher of recordings of spoken-word events such as conferences, lectures and meetings as well as shows hosted by experts in their fields.

IT Conversations releases material from several series and a host of IT Conferences around the world including: Tech Nation, Larry's World, Frontline Security, Memory Lane, Opening Move, Sound Policy, Technometria, Voices in Your Head, WebTalk, First Tuesday Zurich, The Law and IT, Emerging Technology, Emerging Telephony, Syndicate, SOA Executive Forum, Pop!Tech, Accelerating Change, Web 2.0, Burton Group Catalyst, Where 2.0, BlogHer, Supernova, MeshForum, Software 2006, Mac OS X, Bloggercon III, SDForum, SofTECH

From Douglas:

This was one of the first podcasts I ever listened to, even before there were actual podcasts. It was difficult to listen in the pre-podcast days, though, as you had to sit in front of your computer to listen. Now, though, I can receive the shows and listen to them any time I wish.

The content here is first rate and the shows are recorded with professional quality. If you can't spend thousands of dollars flying to all these conferences, like me, this is certainly the next best thing to being there.

You can check out In The Trenches directly from the web site or subscribe to the show using Apple's iTunes Software and this link.

Previous "Listening to..." posts

#8 In the Trenches
#7 Cool Hunting Videos
#6 Channel Frederator
#5 Radio Nostalgia Network
#4 Brain Brew Radio
#3 Botar's Old Time Radio
#2 43 Folders
#1 Beyond Jazz

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Douglas writes podcasting sidebar for songwriting book

More good news this week. The highly successful music industry book, The Craft and Business of Songwriting, has just been released in its 3rd edition by my good friend, John Braheny. This edition contains a substantial amount of new content, including a podcasting sidebar written by yours truly.

I was honored when he asked me to write the podcasting sidebar for his book. As he prepared this latest edition, podcasting was just starting to enter the public psyche and, even then, I sensed its effects on songwriters and the music industry as a whole were sure to be profound. Since I was an experienced computer consultant, there at the very beginning, (and not a bad amateur guitarist) I was in excellent position to help his readers understand this new technology.

John, and his wife, Jo Ann, will be starting their national book tour today, hitting conferences and bookstores in California, Utah, Ohio, New York, New Orlean, Shreveport, Phoenix and more. You can find their itinerary, and more information on the book, at JohnBraheny.com

The Craft and Business of Songwriting is available via Amazon.com and bookstores throughout the country. Make sure you ask for the new 3rd edition with the cover you see above.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Technology IQ: 256 is not enough

I am starting to see an interesting problem with many of my client's computers. Systems that previously ran fine suddenly start to slow down. Nothing seems to be awry. There isn't any spyware or viruses infecting the system. No insidious software is using the computer to send SPAM. Nothing seems wrong, expect the computer is abysmally slow.

In most casers, these computers are slowing down due to lack of RAM memory and the increased demands of the software that has been installed. 256 megabytes (MB) of RAM memory are a bare minimum for any Windows or Macintosh system. Since late last year, I have been recommending that any new computer should have a minimum of 512 MB of RAM. Despite Microsoft's protestations that Windows works fine with 256, once you run your anti-virus program, your anti-spyware program, networking, AOL and all those cute utilities that everyone installs, there is little memory left for running applications like MS Word or Internet Explorer.

(Note: I am now recommending 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM in any systems purchased today, in order to accommodate the increased demands of Microsoft Windows Vista. This is the new version of Windows that should start appearing early next year.)

Furthermore, each new version of these programs eats up more and more memory, slowing your machine even farther. This has been the case in 2 recent appointments. This particular system was running fine, although a bit slow, but once the owner installed the latest version of their anti-virus software, it slowed to a crawl. It would take 5 minutes to open Internet Explorer or any other program. The new version had significantly greater memory requirements than the previous version and pushed the computer "over the edge."

When your computer runs out of memory (RAM) it starts to use the hard disk as virtual memory. As you run each new program, the other, inactive program's information is swapped to the disk until you need it again. The process is much slower than using actual RAM memory, though, and you will notice that your hard disk activity light is constantly flashing. I call this phenomenon "thrashing". Your computer is spending so much time swapping information to and from the hard disk; it doesn't have any time to do actual work.

While I don't want to overstate the effect of adding memory to your computer, if you find yourself in this "thrashing" situation, adding more memory will dramatically speed up your computer. The fact is, the lack of memory is not allowing the computer to work at its full speed. Adding memory won't make your computer any faster than its main processing chip, but it will, at least, allow it to work up to its potential.

If your computer was purchased less than 2 years ago and only has 256 MB of RAM, you may want to consider a memory upgrade. Using the free CRUCIAL MEMORY ADVISORô TOOL located at http://crucial.com/ you can find exactly the type of memory you need for your particular system. You can then purchase the memory through Crucial or visit your local computer/electronics store.

Need assistance upgrading your computer's memory, or finding out how much memory you currently have installed? Give me a call at 818-601-0051 and I can assist you.

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Elsewhere Online: Apple OS X's Built in Dictionary

Don't know how I missed this little gem. Besides this post from Gizmodo, my fellow Friend in Tech, Victor Cajiao over at the Typical Mac User podcast told me he featured this on a show about 2 week ago. Who would have thought? (SMILE)
Apple OS X's Built in Dictionary

Hey you guys might know this already, but Brian had no clue, so I'm passing it along. Press and hold Apple+Control+D over any word in a cocoa application (Safari, iChat, Mail etc...) and up pops a handy dandy Dictionary/Thesaurus. (Continues)

(Via Gizmodo.)

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Elsewhere Online: Wilacre Park: The Neighborhood Hike

If this heat ever breaks, I might actually get out into the hills again. I don't deal with heat well, even though I grew up in the hot and sticky kingdom of Ohio. It just beats me up and leaves me feeling burnt.

I have been on several sections of this trail and it is nice, if a bit exposed in spots. It certainly provides you a great way to get out of the city without driving too far. I would guess that you could even arrange to get a bus to the trailhead. In fact, here is the suggested route from my house to the Fryman Canyon entrance via DASH Bus and MTA.

There are even several GeoCaches in the area.

Wilacre Park: The Neighborhood Hike

Hiking Wilacre Park is more like hiking three parks in one without realizing it. Wilacre, Coldwater Canyon and Fryman Canyon parks all sort of merge into each other without any sort of warning of boundary lines. Take the Cross Mountain Park trail system a little further and you'll hit Franklin Canyon Park. (Continues)

(Via LAist.)

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WelchWrite Web Cam Online

I have toyed with the idea of setting up a web cam so I could use it during my Skypecasts and interviews, but now I have it up and running quite frequently.

Today, I am showing a feed of the bird bath in my garden as our temperatures push towards the 100 degree mark.

Current Web Cam Picture

Click to visit the webcam page!

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