Rants and Criticism

Podcasting Peeves

Michael Lehman's BuzzCast kept the music loop for the running for an entire ten minutes while talking to Jeremy Mazner about Microsoft's PDC 2005! Dude, kill the music! It's sooo distracting!

Even worse than that, MSMobiles.com released an hour-and-a-half podcast rambling about cellphone news, with opera-style music playing in the background almost the whole time! Dude, the music has to go, and I'm not going to listen for an hour and a half. Sorry.

Stephen, thanks for the mention, even under the circumstances

It was interesting to hear my name called out on your podcast. I wasn't trying to troll, that's for sure. I also thought it was interesting to hear how the topic came up--almost accidentally, as a side reference related to the very topic I wrote about.

Radio Mike was mentioning Adam Curry's podcast content where "every ten or so words, he says 'F-you' or something...and it's like 'aaannnhh.'" That last word was as close as I could get to the spelling of the sound you make when you are unsure of whether you like something--you know, the so-so sound. In other words, Radio Mike's reaction seemed mixed as to the appropriateness of the language.

Here's my point: I'm not saying that people can't say those words. All I'm saying is that some people don't like to hear them, thus taking away from their enjoyment of the content. And, since podcasts are, in most ways, public content, we should keep in mind how we would speak if we were in front of our grandmothers.

Maybe the grandmother example doesn't totally fit, but I hope the picture is there.

By the way, it sounded like you weren't clear on the part of the podcast I was referencing. The bit that I was referring to was the "Connection is down" song with "Holy S*** Batman! [garbled--Connection is down?]" and, later, "F***ing 404!" I have to say, the song was clever, but...well, you already know how I felt about it.

At least I am listening.

I heard a quote that says:

The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

--Oscar Wilde?

You could probably change that to say "The only thing worse than being listened to is not being listened to." Well, it doesn't have the same ring, does it?

But, again, I am listening. And I'm also learning: about podcasting, music licensing, and bluegrass music. So, when I do my first podcast, I'll have you to thank as an early example (not a negative one either).

By the way, while I'm kissing up, I'll use this opportunity to plug a product that Stephen first informed me about, FMRadioStation (a.k.a FMRadio) for Radio Userland. Check out the FAQ.

FMRadio does a good job of putting a friendly face on Radio, an application that is powerful and feature-rich, but not always friendly to users that want just a little more than the basic experience. Digging around in the outliner in Radio is not exactly the interactive experience I'm looking for.

One of the features that I like about the product is that, similar to other news aggregators, it allows you to group news by source--something that Radio's web version of the news aggregator does not do by default. With Radio's news aggregator, you get exactly that: news. You know, like "Here's the latest headlines from all your subscriptions." But it's all mixed up. FMRadio does better at this without replacing Radio Userland--it's a good complement.

Stephen was wondering how he made my "blogging short list." I added his blog, Blogging Alone, to my blogroll in June 2003 when he sent me an email message about FMRadio. I've been reading off and on since then. You can now find his podcasts (the Word of Mouth show) with Radio Mike at the Austin Podcasting Network.

IT Conversations, .NET Rocks!, and the F-list

IT Conversations is a set of interviews and recordings featuring well-known technologists on today's hot topics. The shows are often hosted by Doug Kaye from RDS Strategies. It's good stuff. Here are just a few of the featured personalities:

  • Steve McConnell
  • Jon Udell
  • Tim O'Reilly
  • Rasmus Lerdorf

I also enjoy .NET Rocks, which is syndicated (but not officially endorsed) by Microsoft Corporation.

My one complaint is that the interviews are not edited for language. I would certainly appreciate the occasional <bleep> over the F-word (with Adam Curry for example on IT Conversations) and the S-word.

I'm all for free speech. And I can understand the want to reproduce content in its truest, rawest form. But still, if you want to pretend that you're on par with real broadcast journalism, a little more professionalism is warranted.

Sure, the Internet allows more freedom of expression than other media. That is to be appreciated in some ways, but in other ways it can be detrimental.

Here's my F-list (those who have used the F-word or some other vulgarity in print or in podcast):

  • Dave Winer
  • Adam Curry
  • Stephen Dulaney (I didn't hear him say it, but he syndicated audio content with it in his "Daily Audio Browse")
    I did, however, enjoy his podcast about SXSW with the bluegrass music samples.
    Update: Stephen picked up on my rant, and, to my surprise, he mentioned it on his podcast. It's always scary when someone picks up on your criticism. But then, that's another reason why this medium is so great.
  • Mark Miller via .NET Rocks
  • Rory Blythe via .NET Rocks (not the F-word, but he did call Mark Miller a d***-less ignoramous)
  • and, surprisingly? (or not), Dick Cheney, here and here.

    Dave Winer complained about people questioning his professionalism and responded with this graphic from Mike Donnelan "demonstrating it."

    I won't pretend that I have never used those words. I have. But I make a point of keeping them to myself, rather than, as some Christians are accused of, "forcing my views [or language] upon someone else."

    I have a hard time enjoying content from the above list because of the reason I mentioned. Yes, I know--if I don't like it, I can always go away. I will keep that option open.

  • Microsoft: Where's the feed?

    Microsoft has certainly joined the blogosphere in a big way, whether it's the famous Scobleizer or a host of developers (onsite and offsite). Much of the MSDN content is available via RSS.

    Ironically, however, a visit to the MSDN Blogs page, which lists the most recent blog posts from the MSDN Microsoft clan, fails to turn up the famous XML () or RSS () images. In fact, I have yet to find a master list of RSS feeds on Microsoft's website, although this FAQ about blogging and RSS/Atom points to some helpful feeds and resources. A Google search turns up a page of Microsoft PressPass RSS feeds and a Security Updates page with this feed.

    I did find a couple of RSS feeds on the Architecture page and a link to a list of architecture-related blogs, but again without a group RSS feed for the list of blogs altogether. You have to visit each blog to find the RSS link. Simon Guest's black-on-blue RSS link is hard to see, demonstrating the disadvantage of diversity in weblog layout. My best guess is that the URLs just map to the blog software of choice for each author (ain't the web grand?).

    I did unearth a very cool gem while digging through the MSDN blogs, though. Jack Greenfield's blog pointed to a blog by Grady Booch! Talk about cool! I'd only heard legends about the guy, you know, Booch Notation, the "Three Amigos," UML, Rational, etc. He has a blog--how cool is that? And he also has a picture, which I think I will add to my mugroll.

    Then there's also Martin Fowler's "bliki", or in his words:

    A cross between a blog and wiki of my partly-formed ideas on software development

    I need to come back to absorb the essence of his bliki approach to publishing. Fortunately, his hybrid approach still offers an RSS feed. And, of course, Martin has a picture too.

    Bottom line: Microsoft should make it easy to find RSS feeds on their site, including a link on their site map.

    Update: I found (after much searching) a page which lets you search the Microsoft site blogs. It serves up RSS feeds and OPML for categories of blogs.

    The Blogging Guru without an XML feed

    I've been spending a lot of time lately cancelling email newsletters and switching to RSS/Atom feeds. A friend of mine referred me to Hugh Hewitt's website to look for interesting blogs. I looked and looked (around 5 minutes, including a Google search of his site) and found zero mention of a feed except his confession that someone else complained that he doesn't have one (via BeliefSeekingUnderstanding Update: now moved to "Apprehension"):

    When, oh when, is Hugh going to get it about RSS feeds? There is no stinking way any person could read the number of blogs mentioned at the end of the book without one. Furthermore, he doesn't have a feed of his own, which is a total pain in the neck for his readers. I commend Hugh for being in front of the curve for getting the blogosphere, but it makes no sense that someone who gets the blogosphere doesn't get feeds and aggregators.

    (emphasis mine)

    Here's an excerpt from my email to Hugh:

    I took a brief look at your website after receiving a referral from a friend. Try as I might, I could not find an RSS or Atom feed anywhere. I did, however, find an ad for a book on blogging that *you* wrote. Why, oh why, if you are a blogging expert, can I not find an XML feed for your blog?

    I would like to learn more about what you have to say, but if I have to visit your site frequently, I'm not interested. That's not how I use the internet anymore.

    Here's the kicker: he wrote a book about blogging. The guy's a published author on the very subject in question, and he doesn't have a syndication feed.

    How do you think the blogosphere has taken off so much? I don't think 100% percent of the blogging and/or blog-consuming public sits around all day clicking through their favorite websites. No, they have their digital news delivered to their digital door using pull-based syndication technology.

    How could he miss that? If he didn't miss the RSS wave, then how could he underestimate its importance so much as to exclude it from his own blog? I'm not sure, despite the good reviews (and I'll even use his Amazon link so he gets commission), that he carries enough credibility (I'm sure the pundits/A-listers out there will disagree) for me to buy his book.

    His book is called Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World. But he doesn't understand. Not really.

    A Contact Us link on *Every Web Page*??

    Oh, the gall!

    The automated response to my earlier message from TechRepublic's contact page had this to say:

    If you need more immediate information or assistance, please review our
    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) section provided on our Contact Us page,
    [URL], found at the bottom of every TechRepublic
    Web page.

    Is it really? At the bottom of every web page? I couldn't find it. I searched the text for the word "contact." No such luck.

    Now, to be fair, there was a Help link. But is Help the same as Contact Us? Not in my mind.

    Maybe in the monster content management system they use, someone forgot to add that one. Small thing, right?


    TechRepublic fails to unsubscribe

    Here's a quick excerpt of the feedback message that I posted to TechRepublic after their unsubscribe process failed about 10 times:

    I have tried about 8-10 times to unsubscribe from your mailings, but each time, I still receive mail. I even tried changing my email on my account to a special alias on my server so I could bounce the email. I am still receiving email at my old address from you after multiple attempts and techniques to *unsubscribe*. Your unsubscribe *does not work*.

    I am totally frustrated with all of the hassle from TechRepublic. I even tried to find your contact link, and all I found was FAQ after FAQ. Finally, I found a *tiny* contact link at the bottom of a FAQ. I know you want to cut down on personal contact overhead, but this is ridiculous. You should really make it easier to find a way to contact you. Don't hide it!

    My goal was to switch all of my email newsletters to RSS feeds. But for some reason, I can't unsubscribe from your email.

    Please remove me from your mailing list--all of them.

    And while you are at it, please deactivate/delete my account.

    We'll see if I get any kind of personal response.

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