Dec 05

Batman vs. Superman Trailer

So I watched this trailer. Batfleck sucks as much as I expected. Lex Luthberg sucks more. Everything else could go either way. I don’t trust Zack Snyder to get any emotion into a story anymore, or make a suitably complex plot. He can, I don’t rule it out, but he hasn’t in his last few. So there’s that.

Dec 04

Musicians and Twitter: Prove you are not a Robot

Musicians suck at Twitter. I mean suck. Suck like James Taylor playing a Metallica cover. I’m odd and lucky enough to do a lot of things with a passion. Music is one of them, writing fiction is another, and there are really dozens of others, but it’s writing and music in particular that are a sort of right and wrong on how to do social media.

Let me describe the average musician on social media for you: overwhelmed and starved for attention, because trying to be a rock star is an inherently attention seeking job, a lot of those folks were class clowns, people who acted out for attention,and found a place where they could be center stage with a spotlight on them. But there are a lot of spotlights out there, and a lot of people trying to get into them.

In part this is a fault of the industry in general. Used to be there were gatekeepers, record labels that picked the best and brightest, developed them, and promoted them, gave them what they needed, and most likely victimized them along the way, but that’s another rant. But the record labels didn’t foresee the rise of technology. Now, any idiot can record an album and release it onto a thousand sites, so the channels are much more diluted, and you feel the need to claw and scrape for any bit of recognition and fame that you can. It is much harder to get your signal above the noise.

So you think, I need to post once a minute for 24 hours a day, and that will give me a signal boost. Sorry bud, you’re just too stupid to realize that this is just adding to the noise.

Maybe it’s insecurity that pushes us to this, it’s too easy to put things out like this, and not get a response, and not have to face someone telling us our grand vision just isn’t very good. Rock Stars have famously fragile egos. Maybe it’s our desire to be a rock star. Everything must be faster, harder, more technical, louder, better, and so must our tweets. And maybe the pressure is on, because the rewards of fame and riches are so much greater.

This is why you all suck.

As a fiction writer, you learn humility fast. You know the odds of becoming Stephen King are pretty slight, and there are just as many people sitting behind their computers and typewriters. But we workshop. We ask for critique, the more critical and constructive the better. We have chats on twitter that focus on technique, style, genre. We participate and influence each other. We encourage and know what we do and what we’re working on. It is a supportive community that looks out for its own and supports its own. People bring me ideas all the time, and I ask questions, and poke and prod and help them develop, and sometimes make suggestions of how to get them out of a jam. For musicians this is something we generally do with a producer behind closed doors, we don’t workshop in quite this way anymore.

Used to be you’d take material on the road and see how a crowd reacts before you set it down. The final version on record could vary widely from the first public performance. Comedians still do this, sometimes singer-songwriters.

I’m sorry this is over 140 characters, your attention span probably flipped over already. We’re just over 500 words. Keep moving, because I’m about to reveal the secret.

I just launched a company that caters to musicians. It’s something musicians have known they’ve need for a long time, and its not promoting them, it’s not recording them, it’s not a streaming site that going to pay them a pittance, but it’s necessary. Supremely necessary. And it relies, in some part, to you actually paying attention to someone other than yourself.

But the only way I can promote this, is by reaching out to humans and getting them to see it. But all you do is give me links to your shitty music. Actually, I don’t know if it’s shitty, but I’m not going to go look. I’ms following musicians, maybe 30-50 more a day. Sometimes it’s a big band, I get it, you have people tweeting for you, and you may have your own account, too. and somebody may be tweeting for you on it, too), I get it. Most of you are not these bands. Most of you are lucky to get 30 people to a show on a Friday night, if you’ve even graduating to a friday night show. More likely you’re getting ten friends on a Tuesday. Sorry, truth hurts.

For most of the musicians I follow, I get a near instant private message. Every one of them is a link to go get a song listen to their band, watch them on youtube. One says they promise they don’t suck. I’ve got news for you, you do. The only one I can see that doesn’t just blindly promote his song is promoting his Teaparty community coming together with his song about the Tea Party. This makes him suck squared.

And if we looked at the most recent 1000 musician tweets, 975 of them would be “Have you checked out my new single?” No. Fuck you. I’m not checking out your new single. I’m getting ready to unfollow you. Some of them will tweet random sayings just to be tweeting. The void doesn’t stare back, it’s not your audience sitting just beyond the light. The void just moves on.

This isn’t a new phenomena, when I first signed up for Twitter, and I searched out musicians, I can’t tell you how many people had set up a page, put out one tweet, which was invariably, “Look at me, I’m on Twitter.” and that had been three months prior. Now this was shortly after Myspace collapsed, so I guess they figured it was just a passive thing that sat that and made them money and gained followers while they, I don’t know, musicianed, but no. Twitter is actually interactive.

Thus far, I haven’t had a single musician message me with, “Hey this is a cool thing you’re doing.” You know why? Because they’re so busy adding to the noise. Your signal is noise, you are the hiss of the white noise of a Marshall stack, gain cranked all the way in an old dive bar with shitty electrics and fluorescent stage lights, and you think you’re getting through. You’re not, because you haven’t made a connection with anyone. So really, you suck, and until you tell me why you don’t to my face, or my twitter, you can’t change my mind on this.

Basically, Twitter needs a Captcha for musicians to prove they aren’t robots, because they can’t prove it to me otherwise. I have dozens of friends who are writers on Twitter, not a single musician. I’ll retweet musicians who say and do good things, just to help them get more exposure, because I do that, but you don’t give me anything that is worthy. You haven’t said anything to me, never even said hi before you tried to stuff you music down my earhole. Sorry, I’ll just go find what I like myself. I’ve been doing it for years without your help.

Put in the time, be personable, make connections. Make friends who will spread your music for you, and you won’t even have to put out your link every minute, and you’ll have a community. I can’t help you until you realize this.

Dec 04

The GearSecure Network

So, big announcement. I’ve launched a company that has been in my head for a long time, and is reaching it’s full realization. The GearSecure Network was developed out of empathy with the victims of stolen music equipment, and we realized that there were many other industries that could be helped as well, photography, consumer electronics, really anything that has a serial number. We recognized the theft of this sort of material goods could be a loss of passion, and a loss of livelihood. We want to be able to change this, we want to be support for everyone in this situation, and the site will allow us to not only help prevent and recover, but be able to give material support of victims and the industry in general to this goal.

The GearSecure Network is a site that allows users to save serial numbers of items they own, maybe a guitar, their computer, a TV, their camera, their phone, a power tool, their bike, and if that item is stolen, police report details are added. When a prospective buyer, either a retail partner or a user browsing auction or classified sites can search the item by serial number, and the results will show either owned, for sale, or stolen. In the case of a catastrophic fire or natural disaster, your instrument’s information is stored safely in another location, ready for your insurance company.

We are in a public beta, so looking for signups and testers as we get going. Most important we need word of mouth. We want to reach as many people as possible. Please visit http://gearsecure.net to sign up. And then tell your friends. The more we can grow this network, the faster we and can make theft unattractive in the first place.

Aug 18

Post Moderne with Geoff Benge

So I teamed up with builder Geoff Benge on this guitar. It is based on a Gibson Moderne, cut from acrylic. After Geoff cut the outline, I brought it down to the ol’ particle accelerator and hit it with everything it had (about 5 million volts). Geoff finished the building of it after that.

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Geoff and I would like to team up on building more guitars for folks, and I’ll be getting more shots of the guitars and uses I’ve shot from his collection soon. He does fantastic work in wood as well.

Mar 04

Comet Lovejoy photographed by Dark Energy Camera

Nasa’s Dark Energy Camera, the worlds largest digital camera, took an accidental shot of comet Lovejoy. Download hires versions here.

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Mar 04

What’s your definition of “harmful?”

The Kansas City Star has this article about a bill passed by the Senate which would prosecute teachers for passing “harmful” schools to a student. These materials might include “controversial works of literature or about human biology,” and as an indication, “Earlier in the week, Rep. Joseph Scapa, a Wichita Republican, called a book by Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize-winning author, pornographic.”

Now in a lot of instances, you could count on lawmakers from a higher chamber or the governor to say, stop this for being too vague, but this is Kansas, and it did come from the higher chamber, and the governor is Sam Brownback. So, I guess there’s little hope this won’t happen.
Unless some people speak up. Like, maybe Democrats. But…

Democrats had planned to fight the bill Tuesday when it was up for debate, but because of confusion and the absence of a few key members from the Senate chamber, – one of whom was in the bathroom – no Democrat spoke against the bill or posed questions about when it could be amended.

Mar 04

Crocodilian with the strongest bite ever

Meet Purussaurus brasiliensis, a crocodilian with a bite force twice that of a T Rex. 

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Not only that, but it grew to 41 feet long. I’m waiting for the Syfy channel movie now.

io9 has more

and the full article is in PLoS

Mar 03

The Cartoonist has no idea how Net Neutrality works

John Hodgman has found a number of political cartoons about Net Neutrality that are obviously written by idiots (or shills for idiot Republicans) and replaced the dialog with appropriate remarks.

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It’s frightening how many of these cartoonists there are. You should write to each of these people to let them know they’re idiots.

They appear to be

Bokbluster.com

Mike Lester of Washington Post Writer’s Group

Trever of Albuquerque Journal

Lisa Benson of the Washington Post Writer’s Group (twice)

Beeler at the Columbus Dispatch (three times)

R. McKee (?) dist. by Darren Cagle (Cagle seems to be a good guy. Kind of disappointed at this)

and Eric Allie

 

 

Mar 03

Drew Curtis of Fark for KY Governor

Fark.com is one of my favorite news sources. It is eclectic, scathing and has its own culture.

Drew who founded it also got sued famously for a patent violation and beat the trolls, and did a TED talk about it.

Now he’s running for governor, and here’s a sample of how he’d govern:

A bill just cleared the Kentucky Senate that would allow students to sue schools when they witness something happen—not direct involvement, just when they see something. A $2,500 penalty would be assessed per student, per infraction. Plus of course damages for emotional distress and attorneys’ fees.

If this becomes law, trial lawyers will have a field day. The $2,500 fine notwithstanding, there is potentially a lot more money in play depending on what a jury thinks “emotional distress” is. And thanks to the attorneys’ fees clause, trial lawyers could file thousands of lawsuits because it’s a risk free proposition for them. It could bankrupt our entire school system in short order.

More in his post How Bad Laws Get Made.

I seriously recommend if you’re in Kentucky, you vote for this guy.

Mar 03

110 tabs open

Yeah, I’m a little behind. Life has a lot of moving parts right now, and I haven’t engineered them down to normal. Here goes.

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