This coming Saturday, Podcamp returns to Western Mass. I went to a couple Western Mass Podcamps, as well as podcamps in other locations and helped organize the first Podcamp in Connecticut.
Before I go much further, I should explain what a Podcamp is. It is an 'unconference' where people gather to discuss topics related to social media. I put it this way to contrast it from a typical conference where a keynote speaker or a group of panelists talk at the audience.
With my focus on the discussion aspect of an unconference, you may wonder my thoughts about where presentations fit in, especially if you've read some of my other thoughts about presentations. As a general rule, I don't think they fit in well at all. I really dislike presentations, and particularly Powerpoint presentations.
I guess that is some of the reason, I really haven't done a lot with Slideshare or Scribd. But recently, I saw a Clearslide presentation, and I thought it was pretty interesting. I've set up a test account, but I'm not yet sold on it. I also recently set up a Prezi account. I did this during a conference, and since I rarely do presentations, I didn't come back to revisit it, until today.
I went through the tutorial, and I really liked it. I will have to play more with Prezi.
With this, let me return to a moment to Podcamp. While I try to avoid sessions with presentations at Podcamp, and if I accidentally find myself in one, I try to reshape it into a discussion, or I use the 'rule of two feet' and head off for a different discussion, a discussion of presentation tools, from SlideShare to Clearslide and Prezi, might be a bit of fun.
A related topic that might be really interesting is video animation. On the simple level, there are tools like XtraNormal, GoAnimate, and Animoto. From the little bit that I've played with each of them, I like XtraNormal the best. Then, there are the whiteboard animations, like RSA animate videos. I've read tutorials about how to do this, but it seems cumbersome and I wonder if there are tools or shortcuts to make it easier. Then, of course, there is machinima, or making animated videos using computer games. I've always like Second Life based Machinima, and have made a few very simple examples. For the serious animator, there is Blender which I've also played with, but not come close to developing any proficiency. Video animation might be another fun topic to explore at a Podcamp.
We'll see who ends up at Podcamp Western Mass, as well as a Podcamp in Connecticut, hopefully later in the year. I look forward to hearing about other topics I haven't even thought about.
Recently, a friend was talking about LED lighting and I spent a little time looking into LED lighting options. Starting at about ten dollars a bulb, you can get LED light bulbs that fit into a standard screw base light bulb socket. These lights use between 6 and 12 watts and are much more efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs. They are little more efficient than compact fluorescent bulbs, but last much longer without some of the disposal issues.
Yet a lot of the efficiency seems to be lost in trying to get them to behave like traditional light bulbs. Instead, if we used different power sources, we might be able to get much better efficiency. I thought about the Syrcadian Blue light that Kim got me. It runs 25 blue LEDs off of a mini-USB connection. Could better, more efficient lighting be done using USB connections?
So, I started looking around for ideas. The first blog post I found was USB LED Light. It was right along the idea that I was thinking of. It used a 10,000 mcd white LED. The author calculated that putting it together with a 100 ohm resistor would work fine, and he goes through what he did to make it. He notes that with a 100 ohm resistor, the light draws 15.47 mA, well below the 500 mA limit for USB. All nice and good, but what if you want to have more than one LED? What if you use a different LED? How do you calculate the appropriate resistors or the best wiring?
Looking around, I found another blog post, DIY USB LED Keyboard Light. This one used a 5000 mcd orange LED. It went into details about how to know the positive and negative side of an LED, and most importantly, provided a link to a .
The author notes that the voltage range for USD is 4.75-5.3 Volts, and it is best to use 5 volts in the calculator. I did some searching to find some good LEDs to use. SuperBrightLEDs had this listing, a 30 degree 18,000 mcd cool white LED. With a forward voltage of 3.4 votes and continuous Forward Current of 30 mA, I plugged the values into the calculator.
My first pass was to see if I could create something with 25 LEDs, however the calculator came up with an array that would draw 750 mA, 50% higher than recommended for USB. 16 LEDs would take 480 mA, a little close for comfort for my initial calculations. 12 LEDs would take 360 mA. That sounds reasonable. The array of LEDs would draw 1828 mW and would use 12 1/4 watt 56 ohm resistors.
The LEDs are 89 cents each when buying between 10 and 99 LEDs, and it looks like all electronics has the resistors at five cents each when buying a dozen.
I also recently got into a discussion with a friend that was looking buying a chandelier. So, I started thinking, could I take this and build a DIY LED chandelier? Looking on Amazon, I found lots of interesting crystal ball options. You can buy 40 mm crystal balls for $2.72 each. 20 mm for $2.22 each, 50 mm for $6.98 and 70 mm teardrop crystals for $4.54. This would probably be the most expensive part of the project, ranging from $25 to $85 depending on what to use.
The only other part would be the wire, the frame and any other pieces to put this together. So, for around $50 to $100 it may be possible to create a very interesting DIY USB LED chandelier. On the other hand, I suspect it might not give a lot of light. Each LED gives off 4 lumens, so 12 of them would be 48 lumens, It might be good for ambient lighting, but not much else.
What do you think? Does this make sense? Have I missed something or done my calculations wrong? Should I give this a try? Should I try different combinations, like a narrower viewing angle or a different color temperature
Yesterday, many websites, including this one, went black to protest the Stop Online Privacy Act, or SOPA. Today, I want to look at it from a different perspective, Why #SOPA Might not be so bad: The Law of Unintended Consequences.
One idea that had had been part of SOPA was DNS blocking. The idea being that if some site was violating copyright law, law enforcement officials could get the names block from DNS. Presumably, this would have been done through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the registrars it accredits.
ICANN is a $60 million business headquartered in California. There have been lots of issues about how it is governed and whether it should be turned over to U.N. control.
One of the things about the Internet is that it was built to adapt to, and route around things that damage it. The DNS provision of SOPA would have encourage more people to find ways of bypassing ICANN. One alternative to ICANN is the OpenNIC project. It is actually pretty easy to change your computer to use OpenNIC.
To the extent the SOPA or related bills would block ports or IP addresses, projects like TOR could help people get around these blocks. TOR has been used when repressive regimes try to block Internet access. If the U.S. joined the community of repressive regimes trying to block Internet access, it would encourage greater innovation in the TOR project and related projects. Such efforts might also encourage people to start adopting IPv6 as another way of getting around blocking.
Then, there are the financial aspects. Blocking people from doing financial transactions with U.S. financial institutions won't stop people from doing financial transactions, it would only cause them to find new ways of doing them. For my friends that want a return to the gold standard, it might encourage people to move towards more forms on online, virtual gold.
The problem with so many of these systems ends up being how trust worthy they are. Can we trust OpenNIC or online gold traders? If the U.S. Government implements draconian measures to protect a small set of large corporations, more people may find they can trust others more than they can trust the U.S., and that might even lead towards the development of better trust models.
Ultimately, Congress' responsibility is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". SOPA and related anti-privacy acts may end up doing that through the law of unintended consequences, not by making sure that authors and inventors get paid, but by encouraging inventors to find ways of bypassing draconian laws.
Recently, Chris Voss posted a mission on Empire Avenue encouraging people to check out his blog post about Triberr. I had read about Triberr a while ago, and at the time, it didn't sound like a good fit. However, a recent article from the folks at Ragan Communications caused me to think again. So, I watched Chris' video, and contacted him for an invite. I am now part of his tribe on Triberr.
Triberr seems like an interesting platform, especially now that the issues that Mark Schaefer talked about in his Ragan article have been addressed. I've spent a little time getting to know it, and I may use it, in part as a new style blog reader. However, it does have one major flaw, in my mind, which I hope they will address in a future upgrade.
The way Triberr works, is that you add your RSS feed to your account, and it shares it with everyone in each of your tribes. The problem is, that I write about quite an eclectic collection of topics and the tribes I'm interested in are quite eclectic. I use Drupal for my content management system, and I can give people RSS feeds based on my topics. I do the same thing with a Wordpress blog I run at work. I would really like to be able to add the RSS feed of specific topics to specific tribes. That is, Triberr should link RSS feeds to specific tribes that a user is in, instead of to all the tribes.
It may be that there is some way to do that, but I haven't found it yet.
In Chris' post, he warned about people spamming Triberr and currently, I'm scanning the posts in Chris' tribe to see which ones I really want to send out to my Twitter feed. There have been a few interesting posts and a few people have tweeted about my posts. All in all, it seems pretty good.
I have been reading each post before I tweet them and have found some interesting posts. In particular, Chris has another post about a social media customer relationship management system called Nimble. As I listened to Chris' video, I thought, this is exactly what I've been writing about and looking for for quite a while.
Fortunately, there is a free trial, so I've started using it. I'm still getting used to it, so I imagine there is a lot I'm missing, but so far, I'm really impressed. I look forward to playing with it a lot more.
However, before I do that, I figure I should get today's blog post up.
Recently, I've been doing more and more with Spotify, and I'm really liking it. It shares to Facebook and last.fm. If you go to my timeline on Facebook, you can see a nice overview of what I've been listening to and get more details if you click on the Music tab. Yet some of the statistics are questionable.
Last.fm has some similar statistics. I don't have a strong opinion about one verses the other. However, Spotify also has a Last.fm app, which provides some nice recommendations based on what I've been listening to. The recommendations seem pretty good, so I'm playing some recommendations.
There are other Spotify Apps, such as for connecting to Tunewiki, so you can sing along to the lyrics, or a mood radio to select music based on your mood. Now, mashing up last.fm and mood radio might be good, so I can have recommendations based on what I've liked when I've been in different moods.
The other thing I've been doing a lot is experimenting with playlists. For example, I've been helping promote Middnight on Main, a New Year's Eve Festival that will be happening in Middletown, CT on the 31st. So, I created a Middnight on Main Spotify Playlist of various performers that will be there.
I also created a playlist of the Falcon Ridge Most Wanted 2012 performers.
You can also check out what other friends on Facebook have been listening to or have put in their playlists. So far, I haven't found much of interest there yet. So, are you doing anything interesting with Spotify?