fare thee well Ken

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Nov 302004

Ken Jennings’ ends his Jeopardy reign after surpassing $2.5M in winnings in 74 episodes. My son and I watched it as a part of our daily tradition. We’re not sure what we’ll do starting tomorrow.

The audience gasped in amazement, and I felt a small sinking feeling as well. He took it in good spirit, and gave the new lady champion a congratulatory hug. Wow, what a run! I did not pick up any intentional throwing-of-the-game as some bloggers speculated. And yet, if this show was indeed taped in September as kottke.org had been tipped off, the timing by Sony was impeccable to put the Seinfeld-themed of first round of Jeopardy with the Seinfeld DVD release promotional, and to have that happen to match the end of Ken’s run. A small added bonus for its marketing.

2 thoughts I’ll go on record for: my life-impacting decision that I alluded to thinking about got mostly resolved during my weekend in Dallas, that’ll save a lot of agonizing for me, chalk it up to a God-thing. Will share that with you all later.

And now that I don’t have to expend extra effort sorting through my career track planning matters for a while, I’ll have a little space to start writing autobiographically. I’ve had an inkling that I want (and need) to tell my story some time along the way, and rather than waiting to carve out a time and space to focus on that, which isn’t the best way that I do my work anyways, I’ll go ahead and say that I can start doing that here on my blog. Whether it’s pubishworthy doesn’t matter so much. But it’s gotta be blogworthy, and since I write for me and not necessarily for my readers, it is what it is.

To approach it in a non-linear fashion, I’ll not put the pressure on myself to have to chart out my outline first, nor to do it chronologically. I think I’ll just start with the 4 episodes I’d briefly talked about at TYF in September. I might get one in before Christmas. Stay tuned.

Nov 282004

Hangin’ out tonight at a friend’s house, authentic Chinese takeout, and heavy theological discussion after dinner for dessert. 2 of my seminary classmates from way back, and their young families. (I’m here in Dallas for an all-day business meeting tomorrow) Sorta funny how some people don’t change much, whereas in my own life, I’m sorta on a constant process of change and development as a late bloomer, as I’d describe it.

So this after-dinner conversation becomes a friendly debate about the concerns they had about Brian McLaren’s books, and what he was saying. I tried to navigate the conversation fairly, and my reading of McLaren is that he is not making specific assertions or propositional statements, and not particularly definitive, but rather he is asking thought-provoking questions in a gentle and deconstructing manner, in an effort to open the conversation for a re-examination of Christianity. We concluded our debate cordially, acknowledging some of their concerns for where McLaren might be taking this, and also acknowledging that he isn’t specifically, purposefully, intentionally charting a theological road map (my sense of it all).

Nov 272004

Thanksgiving weekend is here, and we’ve kept it smaller and manageable on this go around. Thursday was dimsumming with my parents and brothers in nearby Rockville, and then Thursday dinner was a small traditional set with turkey breast (no bones!), gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce. Not being a traditional type, nor a reminescing type, I simply took in the warmth of being a cordial family member. Better than being alone, you know?

Now it’s only Saturday, and since we don’t get into the Black Friday shopping frenzy, it feels like having lots of time on my hands, and I’d resisted for the most part staying offline for Thursday and Friday. I’ve got a big life-impacting decision that is brewing and stewing on the back burner, and hope to reveal that to my readers here before the year’s out.

I’ll be in Dallas tomorrow (Sunday) through Tuesday morning. I’m tempted to cram in lots of networking meetups, but have kept myself to just 3 pre-arranged ones for Sunday, and Monday is an all-day meeting – the primary raison d’etre for the trip. Send me a text message to say hello and add to my meetup roster.

defacing U2?

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Nov 242004

I got it on the day after, it referring to the new U2 cd, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Opted for the physical CD instead of an iTunes download. On sale for $13.99 at FYE, with $3 mail-in rebate. My (very small) dilemma: do I deface my U2 CD packaging to cut out the original UPC code for a $3 rebate after 10-12 weeks of waiting? I’ll weigh in with a “NO”.

For those of you who’d like the video clips to U2 on SNL (Saturday Night Live), download them at urbanonramps.com here and here.

And now I just see that it’s online for $9.99 with $3 rebate at fye.com. Not worth the wait. Do I sound impatient to you? :)

U2 on SNL

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Nov 212004

Okay, I stayed up, watched U2 on SNL, best part of that show, rest of it was mostly disappointing. They did Vertigo, Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own (both from new CD), and a 3rd – “I Will Follow” to close out the show. Bono was thrilled by the live part of it, the SNL crew looked thrilled see U2 perform live and in person.

Possible video clip will be linked at http://forum.interference.com/showthread.php?s=51154af01aad2919f0f564d504f7e84b&forumid=189&threadid=103469

pseudo podcasting

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Nov 192004

after perusing a buncha blogs and articles about podcasting (the new deal using RSS feeds to distribute audio MP3s), it dawned on me that it currently takes considerable effort to produce a good quality podcast, and that it’s notably more difficult than blogging. While it’s a very new development, and it will get easier, some challenges will keep it from becoming ubiquitous. Yes, “anybody can podcast” but it takes more technical effort to make it quality.

This entry is an incomplete thought, but some formative ideas that were stirring, while I looked for a quicker way to get a podcast going for myself. The quickest way I’ve found is to use Audioblogger + Blogger + Feedburner SmartCast. All free. No mic needed, just a long distance call for Audioblogger, and a quick edit using Blogger.com to point to the MP3 generated. (refer to article at bottom) My podcast feed is at http://feeds.feedburner.com/djchuangpodcast

Here’s my summary comparing podcasting to blogging:

  1. both are about input (cf. StrengthsFinder), taking in more data and more information than traditionally possible, from more and more sources, now in more ways than ever
  2. aural vs. visual – podcasting is about producing a aural experience with sounds, multiple layers of sounds is possible, but all audio and sounds; blogging is visual, mostly text, sometimes with digital photos, and while you could link it to audio, the main thing is the text
  3. talking vs. writing – podcasting can be music, but most of it will be talk-driven, and that means podcasts may be presentations at a conference or seminar, or someone sitting in front of a golden mic and doing a monologue, or doing an interview, or having a morning gang style banter, and this means “dead air” is not a good thing; blogging is typing and writing, and this allows for more time to lapse, to form the ideas and thoughts before publishing it, even editing easily; so podcasting works great for talkers, and does add a dimension of intimacy, blogging is better for writers and takes out the “umm”s, hem’s, and haw’s, and verbal blunders
  4. listening vs. reading – podcasts are downloaded and listened to by the reader, be it on iPod or a software client, and that means it’s serial audio input, which one has to listen through to catch a sense of the idea presented; blogging is reading, which allows for skimming, skipping sentences or paragraphs, re-reading, making it possible to quickly, or slowly, take in data (and, listening is a good break from reading; listening is good to go in the dark)
  5. consumer vs. interactive – podcast is great for consumers to listen to all kinds of audio feeds; blogging has become more interactive via hyperlinks, comments, and trackbacks; an interplay between podcasting and blogging can happen, but podcasting tend to be heard away from an internet connection, and that’s a good thing, more of a take it and go, great for drive-times (can’t read while you’re driving)
  6. multi-channel vs. mono-channel – podcasts allow for multiple voices and soundtracks to be captured and presented, blogging is primarily solo author, and even team blogs, it’s one author writing at a time; much better to present dialogue via podcasting
  7. producing vs. typing – podcasts need microphone(s) and audio editing software, to get it well-produced, so it takes more equipment, and right now it takes multiple steps to go from the author to the listener -> sound source gets recorded via mic, then the audio needs to be pieced together, then uploaded to server, then RSS 2.0 feed with enclosure points to the .mp3 audio file, then iPodder or Doppler has to subscribe and download it, then it gets into an iTunes playlist, then updated onto iPod, then listened to; blogging can be done with a web browser and internet connection, even a homeless guy can blog from a neighborhood public library

In addition to listening to about a dozen podcast feeds during the past few days, I’ve also surfed onto these links that informed my formative thinking: Podcasting entry at Wikipedia (excellent intro & stash of links), listened to Podcasting session at Bloggercon III – led by Adam Curry [great dialogue!], Radio Journalism Production Tools, Information on Audioblogs, PodFly’s Podcasting How-To, Audio Content and Podcast Usability, How to Podcast with Blogger and SmartCast (and a link to that) [updated 11/22/04: also Podcasting for the Church, Godcast.org ]

Walmart? Good?

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Nov 162004

Watching this PBS special titled “Is Walmart Good for America“, while multitasking on multi-computers (have 4 of ‘em setup here at my subterrain command central).. timely Frontline piece, same week when the nytimes.com article talked about how much data Walmart tracks about its products and customers. Not sure why they stopped with exploring whether it’s good for America, when it’s a huge multinational corporation? Perhaps “Is Walmart Good for the World?”

Well, I can say this, the few stocks I have in Walmart aren’t doing too good. Bad timing.