Friday, March 29, 2013

Impending close of Google Reader

The collateral damage of me overreacting to the impeding close of Google reader has been somewhat staggering.  Both in the amount of time I've wasted preparing for it and in me trying to get a handle on my overflowing digital data.  For the time suck I've tried several feed readers, and decided to go with feedly because they are saying that we won't have to do anything if you sign in with feedly they'll import your feeds. I've been using the mobile app for a while now, and the chrome extension is acceptable. I was using a skin on Google reader called Reeder for Chrome that fixed all the white space Google introduced a few revisions ago and Feedly's Chrome extension is pretty close in appearance to that.  So bloggy friends you should give it a try.  In the event that doesn't work out I used Google Takeout to export my data so that I have all the feeds in .json format in the event I want to try a different reader later (Several readers have setup .json imports to get your feeds imported and ready to go.)  You might take some time to download all your bits before the shutdown if you really want to cya should feedly drop the ball.  All of that was really a wind up for what really has consumed the most of my time, dealing with my Starred and tagged posts from Reader.

I've been keeping track of many different things that I'm interested in, with the tag functionality of Reader, and this post on gave me the keys to get some of the functionality back out of that data.  The original post was a python script to email article to your Evernote account, but the output was rather ugly.  Since then other people have added to that git hub scripts to dump to html files or directly import to Evernote.  Evernote is an okay note taking application (I prefer OneNote from Microsoft), so I've worked through my 707 Starred items from Reader somewhat sorted into notebooks so I can keep my track of my starred items.  Now I need to do the same for my various tags, but I'm finding some sites have gone dark so outside of the giant caching machine known as Google images and even whole articles are missing on the import process, particularly on sites that have changed some portion of their back end in the last several years.

For some reason working on my Reader data also prompted me to start reviewing my terrifying array of accumulated downloads, programs and such.  I have about 80gb of junk on my work computer I've been sorting though.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This dude's mad!

If you're brewing and interested in science, and funk and good writing about beer why are you not following The Mad Fermentationist?  I've posted about him before I think, but damn it this guy I want to come apprentice on a brew with him or something.  Some part for just pure curiosity, and the rest because I feel like there is so much I would learn from him.  On of his recent posts was on wort fermentability, he's linking to a few different article with regards to adjuncts and specialty grains effect on wort fermentability, and talking about other factors at play.

In any event I can say that I've seen some beers get into insanely low final gravity, the lowest I've recorded was 1.006 the recipe is here, and as you can see it was Marris Otter, crystal 40 and crystal 10.  All of the interesting bits to this beer where from oak and hops, but it was one of my favorite beers in so much as I drank the majority of the 5 gallons on my own in around 2 months.  I'm fairly sure I had switched to my igloo cooler for mashing by this point, and was doing 90 minute boils.

It's heady stuff to think about and going forward my mashing process will been taking longer than my boil times, and I'm working on getting above 75% efficiency. I think that I'm already quite a bit a head of that, because of my secondary runnings/side batches but I haven't been taking good notes during the process so I haven't been trying to do blended averages and efficiency calculations.  I need to do measurements of wort pre-boil and take good notes to get an actual idea of what's going on.  In total I ended up with almost 9 gallons of beer on the day of my American Strong brewing, but I used 6lbs of malt extract in the main portion and added specialty grains and 1lb of dry extract on the side batch that was 2.5 gallons but included some of the primary batch because it was too much for my primary fermenter ect, ect.  In short beer was everywhere and I didn't write down what I did so all of this is from my vague memory of what happened that day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On Monetizing

This really came about because I was ruminating on ways for creative blogs like web comics, and web series, to monetize their product and how the limited ways that they can or do monetize ultimately limit and shape the edges of what those creative endeavors can or do become.  The first sentence that I managed to write down on this thought stream was about living in the cracks of fame, being known and loved by a small audience but not able to create broader appeal to take whatever creative project they are working on to the next level.  For reference much of this was in regard to Watch the Guild, SMBC Theater, various web comics and comedy blogs.

Shows like watch the guild and smbc theater don't make it on the large screen, even with their reasonably good production quality they won't draw mass appeal outside their niche for various reasons that are outside the scope of this little rumination.  This shortcoming  limits their ability to explore their craft and sharpen their story telling because at the end of the day they have day jobs and outside activities that will draw them away.  Various methods of democratizing payment have been floated and are being experimented with, but they rely on 3rd party infrastructure and require you to establish your base before you pitch your idea.  Indiegogo and kickstarter are clearly ways for established niche players to capitalize on their success and build bigger/better futures for those involved with longer running creative adventures they don't help sustain "micro level" production.  Blind ferret bundles comics together to form volumes on Looking For Group and SMBC Theater releases DVD's of each "season's" worth of sketch's, but a high percentage of that value is not going directly to the projects themselves but rather to pay for the physical goods, and also represents a real risk for those producers as most of the time they have to assume some risk to get the product made before they can sell it.  These avenues do pose risk for them loosing money.

Other experiments people are proposing call for direct contribution via Flattr (a kind of tip jar), but assumes people will remember or even consider giving money for things the creatives are just putting up on the web for anyone to consume. The urge to pay for things on the internet is not a strong one, and it represents another thing/service consumers have to sign up for and care about. The final approach I've seen is a hybrid subscription model with various twists.  They give some percentage and then charge for "deeper access".  In specific Me In My Place (MIMP NSFW) is pursuing this type of a model with their photography app.  They offer a mobile browser app that is supposed to give you additional pictures not shown on the MIMP tumblr (NSFW duh) blog.  On problem with this model is the push to move more subscriptions inevitably causes the creatives to show images that are supposed to be "subscription exclusives".  Since moving to the paid model I've found the pictoral quality is exceptionally repetitive, and the site appears to be having a harder time recruiting women to participate as models.  Whether this is a problem germane to erotic/semi-erotic work remains to be seen.  As a side note I've also seen a slight permutation of this model taken by a writer "retiring" work from her blog/site as it is compiled into books of stories for sale. For people just discovering her work the site's content can appear a bit thin, but she offers several books for sale.  You're left with an odd delemia as both a new and old reader.  New, you have to choose to buy her work based on a thin selection of current work which may or may not represent past work or as a long time reader your favorite stories have to be purchased to be enjoyed again. The site in question is Remittance Girl, a NSFW erotic story site, I'm not trying to be mysterious here, I just needed to get the warning in before I linked to it.  This may be an excellent model for the specific content being generated in this context, but I'm not sure how well it translates to other genera's.

I posit that hybrid "all of the above" approaches are needed to drive the continued creation of so called "micro content" single comics, stories and webisodes.  The compilation/tangible goods model via DVD, comic books, or real books, or other items for sale is one way for supporting the creation of independent creative material that has real draw backs for the creatives, where the flatr/tip jar has real draw backs for the consumers and Indie Gogo/Kickstarter success or failure could be an albatross for the artist in the future.  In the longest foreseeable future ad revenue and or sponsorship may be the lowest hanging and traditional route to cling to, but has a relatively low pay rate and places limitations to the type of content you can created.  For instance few advertisers want to be associated with profane, or pornographic material.

So sorry for serious adult face here to the people that actually read this silly blog from time to time, it was a though in my head and really the only place I had to plunk it.

Friday, March 22, 2013


If you are a fan of the Star Wars universe, or thought that you where be prepared to find that you are only passingly interested in the franchise. The author of the blog Kitbashed has more motivation and interest in the origins and mythos of Star Wars than you ever imagined you had interest in the movies.  He and several others are meticulously tearing apart the Lucas "I created everything ever ever ever" myth layer by layer, with primary sources, side by side comparisons of artwork and plot comparisons to everything that was going on during the time Star Wars, Empire and Return of the Jedi came out.

I don't know if I posted about them here or not, but The author of Kitbashed Michael Heilemann is the reason that I found out about the fan documentaries Star Wars Begins, Building Empire and Returning to Jedi.  I do genuinely apologize for those links and the 7ish hours of your life you may choose to spend on them.  I cannot recommend them enough, the production quality is really amazing.  In any event I've been following Michael on his blog Binary Bonsai for quite sometime now, with what started as an interest in some design project he had done, it was either a template for a website or web browser (it really was a long ass time ago I don't remember how I found him) but I think he's one of the feeds that came with me from Bloglines back when it was my RSS reader de jour.

The heart of the matter that I'm here for though, is that kitbashed didn't have a link on the site for RSS.  Now I'm an RSS whore, and will guess until I get it or roll my own feed with feedburner if a site doesn't offer one; I live and die by RSS.  On his about page he tells you the platform that he runs on (squarespace his current employer), and one handy Google search later this help page tells you the format for the generated RSS.  After a little educated guessing I got the RSS so if you want to subscribe to an awesome blog about Star Wars and it's origins here's the RSS Link.  Why go through all this work?  Well my choices to follow him where Facebook or Twitter. I barely use Facebook, and only have a Twitter for trolling so that was out.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Make yourself dumber

There are days I might be willing to consider this.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another Meritocracy Article

This one comes from the ever respectable Economist Magazine and boy son I am dissapoint.

The author grasped at one of the points Michal Young was making, and tripped over a different one.  The money conflating quote

As for the rich strivers, there is nothing that you can, or should, do to stop people investing in their children, but you can prevent them from unfairly adding to their already privileged position. For instance, standardised tests were supposed to favour the brainy, but the $4.5 billion test-prep industry, which disproportionately caters to the rich, indicates that this is being gamed. Intelligence tests should be more widely used.
Bold added to highlight the real whiff.  Young's dystopia was largely centered around standardized intelligence testing.  Intelligence testing as a means for determining ones worth was exactly the dystopia Young was rallying against. The author of this article may well be forgiven for not knowing what would be a perfect solution as Young doesn't offer one, rather gives warning that focusing on intelligence will only be tolerated in society for so long before outright rebellion.  No model for the future is offered here, but Young clearly believes that humans deserve to have the ability to pursue what makes them happy, even if it doesn't advance the nation as a whole.

So in closing, way to misunderstand the source material.

More Meritocracy

Monday, March 18, 2013

Why Google?

So the big G is going to murder my favorite product on the internet bar none, Google Reader.  What's next, you going to kill the blogger platform next?  I can barely imagine all the people that I've told to start using this product over the year.  How many times I've tried to convince people that RSS is the best thing on about the internet that they don't even use and here we are.  So Feedly, charge for it please.  I want this platform to be around for a while.  I'm happy to pay for this service, because I use it every day.  Seriously.

So in closing, I'm sad and come July probably going to have a lot more free time on my hands.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Silly things that fill the day up

This sounds silly, but I was on a blogger break.  I was feeling a little used up mentally so I decided to take some me time and ruminate on why it is that I even post here in the first place.  The beer posts make sense, that's the stuff I'm doing and what interests me so sure I'll probably keep posting about that.  I post music sometimes, and generally it's the stuff that I'm interested in, or that I find challenging so I'll probably keep posting that.  My "book" reports, the things I'm reading and why they're important to the world at large where interesting to me, so those will stay.  On of the things I was posting about a fair amount was electronics and toys, and while those things interest me a fair amount I've stopped following "gadget" blogs and feel like this has taken a fair amount of weight off my shoulders.  It was a crushing number of posts to get through, and half the time it was about apple products that I didn't care about, and the rest of the time about cameras or phones or some other shit.  With that not taking up space in my head, I've been left wondering what to do.

I'm working on some art related things and I've been trying to write creatively more frequently, but those things take time so any posts about them would be few and far between.  I've been in the gym quite frequently of late and have a few goals related to that, but not terribly interesting outside the purely empirical sense so I don't think I'll post about that.  Maybe some general stuff related to what I'm working on and any sports nutrition/science stuff I come across.  I've been flirting with the Flexitarian diet on and off for the past few years and may be looking to make it a more permanent feature of our diet this year so Vegetarian recipes that I really enjoyed may be a feature as well from time to time.

What about you why do you still come back to blogger?