The Reinvention of @thatkevinsmith

My road to becoming a podcast listener starts with radio. It was in the mid to late aughts when I was brought low by the collapse of CBS Radio/Clear Channel’s “Free FM” movement. The move to turn the two big radio stations in the two nearest cities into talk stations was one I had initially been against but over the year or so this lasted I had really come to appreciate the Free FM stations (94.1 WYSP in Philly and 92.3 WXRK in New York) populated with some often talented and frequently entertaining programing from the shock-jock stylings of the Kidd Chris Show, to the broader humor of the Penn Jillette’s Penn Radio, to the anger infused rantings of Nick Dipalo, and the return of Opie and Anthony to terrestrial radio the Free FM years, and the months following were a veritable gold mine of some creative, occasionally offensive, radio. It all ended of course. By 2007 92.3 WXRK (aka WFNY aka KROCK) had reverted to their original formats. In 2008 94.1 WYSP returned to its classic rock format and by 2009 Opie and Anthony were gone as 92.3 abandoned rock and talk to switch its format to Alternative as Now FM.

I haven’t really listened to radio since. While I was never a pest I had absolutely no desire to listen to Danny Bonaduce. Thankfully, it was about this time (maybe a little earlier) that I stumbled across SModcast and the world of podcasts. If you’ve been living under a rock it is suffice to say that podcasts are sort of like radio shows without the bullshit and typically free. SModcast is the podcast of writer/director Kevin Smith and his frequent collaborator and friend Scott Mosier. As a guy who grew up and still lives in New Jersey and who bonded with friends over all of Smith’s films (except Jersey Girl) stumbling upon SModcast was a major win.

Over the last several years SModcast has grown into a rather large collection of podcasts. In fact, it has grown so much that in May of this year Smith launched SModcast Internet Radio, or SIR, a 24/7 stream of live and archived content. Monday through Friday Smith hosts a show with his wife (Plus One Per Diem) followed by a show with Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Get Jobs). Those two shows alone generate roughly 5 hours of content a day, but throw in the other podcasts hosted on SIR and you have a veritable mountain of aural content available for your listening pleasure.

All of it uncensored.

All of it unburdened by regulations.

All of it absolutely 100% free.

Who the hell wants to listen to the radio?

The strange brew that brought about this strange network of similarly humored yet surprisingly diverse individuals really hammers home the power of 21st century social networking. In a little more than a year Smith and the SModcast crew opened up a live theater to host podcasts, Smodcastle, and were successful enough that the operation outgrew its home and moved to a new location, The Jon Lovitz Podcast Theater (aka the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club) (for more details on SModcastle listen to SModcast #176). Through a combination of creative energy, excessive tweeting, and a tremendous enthusiasm Smith has reinvented himself as he heads into his self-proclaimed final years as a director and we’re the ones reaping all the benefits.   As the media goes batshit criticizing how Smith is handling his own creative child (Red State) the emergence of SIR has been soundly ignored.  As an information professional the emergence of SIR is a fascinating confluence of the right level technology at the right time with the right people. As Smith himself said in a recent podcast, “We’re in the 21st Century bitch!”

If you want to check out SIR and the SModcast family you might start by visiting Smodcast.com, or downloading Stitcher to your mobile platform of choice, or heading on over to the SIRmon.

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Crouching in the Shadow of E3

If I weren’t such a huge frickin’ nerd I might have missed that across the pond in Taipai, Taiwan Computex 2009 is well underway as E3 closes its doors. Computex is a IT and hardware based trade show that most uber-nerds and PC junkies should love. As of right now Techgage has some sweet coverage and if you’re at all interested in hardware developments on the PC front you should head on over and check it out.

I must admit that I have a bit of thing for enormous PC chasis; in that they bring a child-like grin to my face. So needless I was extraordinarily pleased to see Corsair’s entry into the field.  Anyway there is tons of other cool and interesting news coming from that direction so do yourself a favor and check it out.

CD Baby is my new hero

So I ordered some CDs from independent CD seller CDbaby.com and received this totally awesome shipping note:

Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Saturday, December 20th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby.  We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.”  We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Amusing, and awesome.  As a result of said awesomeness I will likely try to buy stuff from them again.  Take note marketing type people!

DC’s New Weekly: Trinity

While Final Crisis‘ first issue was a bit disappointing the appearance of DC’s new weekly series Trinity was a welcome surprise.  Out of the gate it is already better than both 52 and the abysmal Countdown to Final Crisis.  The title refers to DC’s big three: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.  It also plays with the religious like mythology that surrounds and ties together those three characters.  It isn’t a perfect series by any means but a solid creative team of Mark Bagely (Ultimate Spider-man) and Kurt Busiek(too many to name) keep the series from the sprawl and sporadic narrative that made 52 drag and ruined Countdown.  Like both of the previously weeklies it is tied strongly with the history and unified mythology of the DC Universe.  New DC fans might not like that but I imagine comic fans of all types will find something to like in the series.

To aid the newbie to DC, one not quite familiar with the lesser known faces of the DCU, one of the writers over at Newsarama is doing an annotation feature to exaplain/point out interesting facts about the characters and events in the story.  Check out the series for a fun read and stop by the annotation entries for the first three issues:

Annotations for Trinity issue #1

Annotations for Trinity issue #2

Annotations for Trinity issue #3

A different singularity

Ferrante and I have a lot of shared interests.  Video games, music, music games, and scifi/fantasy to name a few.  But we’re individuals and of course we have our differences.  He’s got comics; I’ve got sports.  He sports a full beard, while my facial hair is more akin to that of a middle schooler.  And he’s got computers, while I’ve got science.  I’m not saying I’m not computer literate.  I am.  But I can’t (also won’t) make my own computer.  Full control over the GHZ or whatnot is outside the realm of things I need from the machine I’m currently typing on.  Hell, the Dell laptop I’m using has a broken graphics card fan that makes a high pitched whining noise sometimes.  Most computer nerds would probably have a seizure over that.  Anyway, I fill the void left by lack of computer skills with science.

Fortunately, science and computer technology are not too terribly far apart (hence the name computer science?).  And they’re getting closer all the time.  So sometimes we have a meshing of our individual fields, like when scientists start using bacteria for problem solving. The method is pretty cool.  They inserted a plasmid carrying mixed up pieces of an antibiotic resistance gene into E. Coli.  They then inserted a Salmonella enzyme to randomly flip genetic material, waited for a bit, and exposed the E. Coli to antibiotics.  Any bacteria that survived would have had to form the entire resistance gene, thus “solving” the problem.  I’d be interested to know where they go next with this kind of technology.  Clearly the DNA computing system they’ve created can solve certain problems much faster than a normal PC.  But the obvious problem is priming the system so that it actually solves the problem.  You have to put in the plasmid/enzyme/etc that’s akin to the code for a computer program.  The more complex problems you want to solve with bacteria the more “stuff” you have to prime the system with and, as every scientists knows, there are always consequences of putting foreign materials into living things.

On the other hand, I’m looking forward to a day when I try to calculate something in Excel and my computer transfects bacteria to do it.

Bring on the cyborg future

It’s always good to end the week with the knowledge that our society is that little bit closer to creating our cyborg overlords.  From Dean Kamen (the guy who brought you the Segway scooter) comes “Luke”, a robotic arm controlled by a series of pressure pads and other controls.  In addition to being just plain badass and a far more useful display of Kamen’s technological genius than the Segway,  it movies us one creepy step further into cyborg territory.  Soon this king of technology will pave the way for the true cyborgs who will inevitably rely on eugenics in an attempt to perfect their remaining human components while forcing the rest of us to do their bidding.

But wait, you say…there’s a huge flaw in this plan.  Everyone knows that cyborg software technology often warps the human brain, turning the “person” into a promiscuous nymphomaniac.  How will the cyborgs keep from diluting the gene pool of their robotic master race?  An Australian research team found the simple answer: remote controlled implants that can block the vas deferens.  Now these horrible combinations of man and machine can hump anything that will sit still long enough and not have to worry about pregnancy unless they decide to allow it.   And as a huge added benefit, they can install them in the rest of us non-cyborgs to keep our population under control.  Leave it to Australians to mess up our only hope: overpowering them with sheer numbers.

Re: Hive Mind

Librarian Powers Activate!

A higher quality version of the demo is available at the TED conference site here.

More info is also up at the Microsoft Live Labs page for the technology, called Photosynth.  There is a demo there as well but my crappy work computer can’t run it (lack of even a cheap graphics card).  Be warned it requires use of IE 6/7, which already negates its viability assuming they don’t shoot for browser independence for the official release.  It might also be Windows specific, but if a Mac or Linux user (running Wine or some other means of getting IE to work….I guess) knows different let me know.

There is some other cool stuff on there as well including the team blog and links to specialized collections, including a link to a project with the BBC called “Your Britain in Pictures”, that might be worth playing around with.

The wikipedia entry provides a bit of trivia, some similar products, and other interesting tidbits.  In particular the science behind the whole deal: photogrammetry.  The photgrammetry article has a solid list of external links if you’re interested in finding out more.  Is it me or does photogrammetry have a delightfully 19th century science sound to it?

Last National Geographic has a video demo of the Stonehenge constructed using Photosynth.

Enjoy.

Mmmm…vigilante justice

This story is too ridiculous not to pass along. A guy in Philly gets his TV, Xbox 360 and laptop stolen. He goes to the cops but doesn’t get much help (probably because they are so busy not solving the crapload of murders in the city that they don’t have time to not solve a burglary case). So he puts his story up on Digg.com and, after some ill-advised taunting from one of the burglars over Xbox Live, the gaming community manages to track down the thieves and harass them into returning the stolen goods.

I’m not even sure how to read this. It will definitely be sold in online forums as a tale of the collective might of the gaming community. And certainly if you ever get gamers to stop splitting down platform lines and all move in one direction they can do great things. But the incident is certainly problematic, although not for the online vigilant angle. The methods involved underline the problems of the internet. A group of geeks were able to start with a person’s GamerTag and end up with everything about him: name, address, photos, videos. I’d be way more worried about people using that expertise maliciously than about a group of gamers harassing a petty thief.

Google Maps…Intergalactic

Caught this off of Digg this morning.  Google Sky is up and running.  Damned fun, it would be cool if you could overlay constellation images but no luck in that.  Overall a fun little tool.  Be sure to check out the Mars and the Moon links in the upper left.  The moon demo isn’t as full featured but the mars stuff is pretty frickin’ awesome.  Between this and AIM integration into gmail Google has sapped my productivity to almost zero.