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An Open Letter to NBC re: Leaving Apple’s iTunes Store

Dear Reader,

There is a great editorial over on iLounge about NBC pulling out of iTunes.

The best line in the whole thing:

You’d have to be stupid, lazy, or really honest to pay 2 bucks for something you can get in higher quality, with no piracy restrictions, and earlier for free.

Go take a read. Feel free to contact NBC and let them know how you feel.

Until Next Time,

New Project – Queuebuddy

Dear Reader,

I’ve been working on a project for a while now and it’s finally ready for testing. started life as a way to help me keep track of movies I want to see but don’t feel like paying to see in the theater. (If you are really curious, email me, I’ll give you what Wife 1.23 refers to as “The Hollywood Speech”) Anyhow, you can register, login and grab the bookmarklet. Then when you are surfing you can click on the bookmarklet when you are on a page of a movie you want to see on DVD> When it comes out on DVD.

There’s no fee, there’s no commitment and other than an email when the DVD comes out, we won’t even bug you. So if your interested, drop by and try it out.

Two notes:

  • Since it relies on a bookmarklet, it’s only really usable in FireFox. Apologies to all my Microsoft friends.
  • I’m currently only tracking Region 1 release dates. Since the MPAA and it’s friends deem it necessary to screw over the rest of the world with this stupid region encoding scheme, I will too. (I did have high hopes that Austrailia was going to pass a law a few years ago that made region encoding illegal but I guess too many people decided they couldn’t live unless Hollywood craps in their living rooms because the law failed to pass.)

Oh yeah, as with every web 2.0 property, this is a BETA. There will be bugs and I’m a programmer, not a designer, so it’s pretty ugly right now.

One final note, it”s written using the newly released Zend Framework 1.0. I’m working on a tutorial for DevZone that shows some of the things I learned.

Until next time,


Traveling Companions

Dear Reader,

Back from the House of Mouse and a wonderful 4 days spent with my favorite traveling companions. (Oh yea, the family was along also)

What I did on my vacation (Disney, Cirque, Savannah Ghost Tour) is much less interesting than who I traveled with. (BTW, if any of you know someone who actually works at Cirque du Soleil and have the opportunity to watch the show from the booth like we did, I HIGHLY recommend it. Also, see if you can get the back-stage tour) But I digress…

This vacation, I traveled with Scott Sigler and the whole GFL. Scott, WTH? This is the first time since EarthCore that I’m actually having to wait for episodes! Get off your lazy ass and release more than one a week. (Side note: if you’ve not seen the Ionath Krakens’ Jerseys, Scott now has pictures of them and bitchen cool sports cards located here.)

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to resort to my “other podcasts” to stay entertained. Look I pony up the dough like a good junkie now gimmie my damn fix! (Second Side Note: If you’ve not already ordered your print copy of Ancestor then WAIT! Buy it April 1st and buy it by clicking on this link because I’ve gotta pay the bandwidth bills too!

Since Scott is too busy sipping Martinis and counting his royalty checks to feed his junkies, I had to resort to other podcasts to stay amused. (It was that or talk to the family…you do the math) One that I had forgotten about till my recent trip to London was EscapePod.

I first discovered EscapePod soon after it started and quite by accident. I was preparing for a cross-country drive so I was grabbing anything I could to fill-up the old iPod, when I came across this. The first EscapePod I remember listening to was Feng Burger. (It’s still one of my favorites)

EscapePod is a series of Sci-Fi and Fantasy short stories, written by excellent authors, some of which are names you would recognize. From the description that the editor gives at the beginning, it sounds like most of them are reprints (what’s the audio equivalent of a reprint?) from SF magazines and anthologies. None the less they are some of the most entertaining stories and short fiction around.

The editor (his name escapes me and he doesn’t list it on the *&^% web site) does a fantastic job of selecting stories. He does an intro and an outro to each story that gives you a little bit of what’s going on with the feed, listener feedback on stories, etc. Nothing too long and certainly nothing that distracts form the story.

If you have any sort of commute to work you want to subscribe to this podcast! (Monday – Sigler, Tuesday- EscapePod, Wed-Fri stay home and wait for Monday)

Oh, if you do subscribe to EscapePod, make sure you download “Merry Christmas From the Heartbreakers”. I’d list more of the really, really good episodes but there are way too many. Really the only thing I heard from Oct-2006 through Feb-2007 that I DIDN’T like was “The Boy Who Cried Dragon”.

That’s it for now. I’ve got another one brewing in my head but it’ll wait for tomorrow. Thaks to the both of you for stopping by. If you need me, I’ll be sitting in front of iTunes hitting the refresh button on Scott’s feed, jonesing for the next chapter. (Go away, don’t bother me!)

Until next time,


I have zero doubt that if Bill Maher did not have a TV show, people would be laughing tomorrow

Dear Reader,

While building a mash-up for an article I’m writing, I came across this little gem.

TV Host Bill Maher Suggests Dick Cheney’s Death Would Save Lives

Actually, the exact quote was:

“I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn’t be dying needlessly tomorrow.” – Bill Maher.

I’m not sure how serious to take this as he was talking at the moment to the House’s only gay Pimp, Barney Frank. For the moment however, let’s assume that he actually meant it. (because it’s much easier to point and laugh at Bill if he actually was serious.)

Bill, baby, V.P. Cheney didn’t cause 9/11. He didn’t cause terrorists to blow up trains in Spain, the underground in London, the USS Cole, markets in Israeli towns, or any other number of targets. Or did I misunderstand you? When you said “people” do you mean people who blow themselves up for a cause? Or did you mean their innocent victims?

Bill, your an ass. Unfortunately, your an ass with a pulpit so I do the only thing I can do. I continue not watching your show (ok, that’s not really a sacrifice) and every now and then point out to HBO(?) that the reason I don’t watch your show is you just aren’t funny.

Until next time,


Books on iPod. (Why Stephen King has been relegated to backup status)

Dear Reader,

Scott Sigler’s latest comment here on Postcards reminded me that while traveling recently, I started listening to “Infection”. Ok Scott, sue me, I’m at least a year behind on my podcasts. But I hate this once a week crap so I wait till the entire book is available and then listen to it all at once. The downside is I’m never motivated to listen to Scott’s ramblings at the end, “Big Space”. (You get the joke kiddies, Big Space…BS…see, I knew you’d get it.) And I never get to comment on whatever Scott talks about before he dives into the story. So I totally missed it when [Avast ye, there be graphic words and images ahead] he caught flack for his character telling a female character “shut up or I’ll cut out your cunt and watch you bleed to death”.

Now, immediately previous to this, the character had just nailed a man to the wall with steak knives and beat him till he assumed room temperature; nobody had a problem with that. But threaten abuse against a woman and by-god your are going to lose an infinitesimal number of listeners. Anyhow, I wish I had been listening to it weekly when that happened so I could have commented on it in a relevant time frame.


So what’s all this got to do with anything? Well other than trying to out curse Ed Finkler in a blog post (not really possible but everybody needs a goal) I really wanted to talk a bit about where fiction is headed. I’ve been a Steven King fan for a long…LONG time. From “Graveyard Shift” that I read in early high school, all the way up to “The Girl that loved Tom Gordon” , which was a huge disappointment, I read most everything he wrote. But honestly, sometimes (like the last title mentioned) Steve just kinda phoned it in.

A couple of years ago, I found myself about to embark on a cross-country drive. (why is irrelevant) I wanted something to listen to in the long stretch of highway so I went out searching for free books for my iPod. Among other goodies, I found this one called “EarthCore”. It sounded sufficiently Sci-Fi and gory so I downloaded. It only took a couple of episodes and I was an EarthCrack junkie. It was one of the best fiction books I had read/listened to.

Since then I don’t think there has been a time that my iPod hasn’t contained piece of a Scott Sigler novel. Right now I have 2, “Infection” and “The Rookie”, my long flight to Europe isn’t looking that bad. The thing that makes these books good is not the free it’s the talent.

Stephen King’s Got Your Back

I also have a Stephen King Audio Book, “The Cell” on my iPod. I paid considerably more for it and it’s been there since November and I’ve not bothered to listen to it. It’s not that I don’t think that King’s books are any good, it’s just that Scott’s are so much better. When I run out of new Scott Sigler material (and he blocks my emails because I’ve begged for more and he’s tired of it) then I’ll dust off “The Cell” and listen to it. Since it’s the unabridged version I’m guaranteed a long listen, even if it’s not full of “lot…and lots of f****** violence.

Finally, the point

The point of this post is not to gush like a fanboy over Scott. (I did that when he showed up at ZendCon and I’d had a couple of glasses of wine) My point is that so far book publishers have not suffered the same fate as music publishers have, and movie publishers will.

The music industry got complacent and content with the the idea that people would buy whatever they publish. The Internet busted this all up, not by letting people download music for free. Cal’s first law of content is “Free crap is only marginally better than being charged for crap…it’s still crap.” No, the real revolution was the ability for listeners to find music that was good but wouldn’t make it in the mainstream. (I’d throw out a cliche here like “The Long Tail” but really, we all know what I’m talking about) Good, free or otherwise, is still good.

Movies are heading there, it’ll just take a bit longer. Since the industry’s attitude towards users is the same – you are all dirty criminals and can’t be trusted with our precious, precious content – the outcome will be the same, plummeting sales, phony posturing about piracy and a lot of late night drinking trying to figure out where the hell things went wrong. (and again, see “Cal’s First Law” above)

It should go without saying but I’ll say it anyhow. I encourage everyone to consider this before buying an album or a movie ticket. Do you really like supporting industries that treat you like a criminal, even if you’ve not done anything? If we all just stop buying their products, maybe they will start listening.

The problem as I see it is that both industries value their content much higher than the average person does. What they don’t seem to understand is that they can’t sue consumers into valuing their content any higher. It’s only when we see value in their content that we will be willing to pay to consume it. I value Scott’s content, I’m willing to pay for it and I consume it like the junkie I am.

It’s artists like Scott (who, I was floored to find out, still works a day job. I wonder if any of the victims in “Infected” are named after his boss?) who give me hope for the future. If all music artists, movie producers and authors take the time to engage their audience like Scott does, I think there is hope. If they don’t, my personal opinion is that they will fall by the wayside. Either way, don’t worry Scott, Steve’s got your back.

Until next time,