“Don’t make fear-based decisions” and other great quotes from Small Business Show

October 7th, 2015 6:10 pm

Shannon Jean and I have been doing our Small Business Show podcast for the better part of this year. I always learn something each episode, either from Shannon or from our guests. This week, Digistor’s Brian Friss joined us for what might have been the most quote-packed episode we’ve ever produced. Listen today to hear the context around:

  • “Don’t make fear-based decisions”
  • “Growth for the sake of growth is something to avoid”
  • “Don’t doubt yourself”
  • “You’re not going out of business tomorrow. You have time.”
  • “There’s nothing more gratifying than creating something from nothing.”
  • “There is no finish line”

A very revealing Gig Gab

October 6th, 2015 7:16 pm

Sometimes my co-host, Paul, is in a chatty mood with his own stories to tell, and sometimes he’s inquisitive, playing the role of interviewer. Last night saw an abundance of the latter as Paul really got me to open up about all sorts of things. From the innocent topic of matched vs. traditional grip to the far more personal topic of discussing when I’ve had my own confidence as a player shaken (and when I’ve shaken another player’s confidence), this episode was uniquely revealing. I’m happy it’s out there, but I never would have chosen these topics from a list!

Mac Geek Gab 573 is up

October 4th, 2015 10:38 pm

This week’s MGG is up. John F. Braun and I had a good show today, with lots of interaction from the chat room that really enhanced the show, at least from my perspective. I’m always happy when folks can provide that real-time feedback to correct a tech issue or add a detail, but today’s interactions went beyond that, asking questions behind the questions and really digging in to the thought behind each topic we covered. Hopefully you’ll agree it turned out to have a positive impact on the show. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Where Do Apple Pay Evangelists Shop?

June 19th, 2015 12:14 pm

I’ve heard a lot of comments lately saying something along the lines of, “Coin, Plastc and Wocket are too late! Apple Pay is the way of the future!” To anyone who shares this sentiment I ask a simple question: Where do you shop? 

I have yet to be able to buy gasoline with Apple Pay nor have I been able to use it in a restaurant. Heck, even where it’s accepted I’ve been denied its use by one cashier where another happily took it. 

I love Apple Pay. It’s super-convenient, secure and, yes, even fun. But it’s not ubiquitous. And until it is, there will continue to be a need to carry traditional credit cards … or some other device of a similar form factor.

I think Coin, Plastc, Wocket and their ilk have at least a good 5 years before we consumers will be ready to drop the wallet altogether. Probably longer.

Ten Years of Answering Questions on Mac Geek Gab

June 14th, 2015 7:58 pm

Today John and I celebrated our tenth anniversary of publishing Mac Geek Gab. The show has both changed quite a bit over the years and also stayed true to the goal of having fun while helping and informing our listeners. 

We’ve had so many wins over the past decade I couldn’t possibly begin to count them all (and I’d easily miss some), so it’s best to just share how proud I am of what we’ve accomplished together and I look forward to more.

Thanks to all of our listeners, sponsors, partners and really to anyone who’s been involved in the show in any way. It’s a fun ride we’re on, and I look forward to seeing where it continues to go!

The Isolation Tank is One of Our Greatest Tools Ever

June 14th, 2015 1:08 pm

Joe Rogan arguing why everyone should float in an isolation tank:

If the tank was something where it was a machine an you would have to strap yourself in and you had to take a course where you would learn how to get to the center of yur consciousness where your body and your mind didn’t exist, it would be like a ride at Disneyland and the line would be 7 hours long. But because it’s such a weird, organic method of doing it, people start coming up with reasons not to do it.

10 Lessons From 10 Years of Podcasting

June 13th, 2015 4:21 pm

This morning I gave the keynote speech at the Podcast New England conference. It also happens that today is exactly the 10th anniversary of us recording the very first Mac Geek Gab episode (listen if you must to that first show, but consider yourself warned: it was our first!). Thus, “10 Lessons from 10 years of Podcasting” seemed a fitting topic.

I had hoped to be able to share audio or video from my keynote, but there was a power outage in downtown Boston this morning that forced a quick relocation to a different (unmic’ed) space, so this one only lives on in the memory of the attendees. I promise to revisit some of these topics in a podcast (perhaps a new podcast) soon. For now, here’s the list:

  1. Listen to Your Own Show
  2. Schedules Matter
  3. Know Your Role(s)
  4. Communicate With Your Co-hosts & Guests
  5. Sound Quality Matters
  6. Refine Your Advertising Reads
  7. Master Your Own Domain (don’t be Kramer!)
  8. Shout From the Rooftops
  9. Love The Haters
  10. Don’t Get Caught

And most importantly, Thank Your Audience. Thanks for reading, and thanks for being part of my audience over the last ten years (and longer, if you’ve been reading my stuff, too!). 

Can YOU Hear the Difference between 128kbps MP3 and Uncompressed Audio?

June 5th, 2015 1:01 pm

Curious how many of you can reliably hear any difference here?

It’s interesting taking listening tests using tracks with which I’m not intimately familiar, even testing with an Audioengine D1 DAC and either great speakers or great headphones. Using this same setup I certainly occasionally notice a difference between 128kbps MP3 and lossless audio when listening at my desk, but quite a bit less so when I don’t know the track, it seems. 

Two things come to mind:

  1. Production values matter. Crap in = Crap out.
  2. Why in the hell didn’t they use the Gold Standard when it comes to A/B audio testing?

Interestingly, after listening to these tests I put on some (lossless) Steely Dan in iTunes and things sounded much wider. While that may still speak to production values, I’m also now suspect of the path audio takes from that particular website through my web browser (Safari) to my speakers.

(hat tip to Dave Mark at The Loop for the link).

USA Hockey Needs to Reign In Apathetic Referees

December 22nd, 2014 1:13 am

I had to admonish a youth hockey referee today (I took his picture since he wouldn’t give me his name). It’s rare that this happens, but it happens probably once per year. It could be stopped, but USA Hockey is clearly not interested in solving this problem they have.

He just doesn't care about the kids. It's sad.

He just doesn’t care about the kids. It’s sad.

Youth hockey referees are out there to help keep our kids safe and help kids properly learn the game. In that order. That’s it. No personal agendas, no goals of making the game more like the NHL. Not even a goal of “keep it balanced even if that means ignoring some infractions.”

None of that. Safety and education are the priorities. That’s it. 

Today’s recipient of the Hamilton Treatment was a referee who has violated his responsibilities in front of me once earlier this year, letting kids fight without stopping it, later watching while a child used his skate to kick another child who was down on the ice. I said nothing to the referee (but I did document it and report it to the rink scheduler).

Today that same referee was intentionally ignoring head contact. The coach on the opposing team asked/argued with him about this and the referee said to him that head contact was not something he was worried about. Unbelievable.

Later in the game my own kid got shoved down in such a way that he hurt his head. The ref put both kids in the penalty box (I’m fine with a ref putting two kids in to calm a game down. That’s smart). But when they got to the box the referee actually yelled at my son for getting hurt when my son asked him why he, too, was being put in the box. I was right there doing the score and corrected the referee that he shouldn’t be ignoring when a kid tells him he has a head injury. He started to tell me I wasn’t a coach and had no right to talk to him. I explained how my position as a parent trumps all. No one disagreed.

This referee should be relieved of his position. Frankly, he should be wise enough to realize it’s time for him to quit. Apathy towards children’s safety is a bad quality in a youth hockey referee.

But no one watches these referees. No one is there to see when there’s a problem developing. And it seems like no one cares even when an issue like this is reported. Which it was. Earlier this year. If my son has a concussion I will probably sue this guy for medical expenses just to make a point. I’ve had it. The first question to ask the referee: did you check every player’s helmet to ensure the stickers are all up to date? I can guarantee you he did not.

Until there is some regular referee oversight by USA Hockey we must continually pressure the referees to pay attention to our children’s safety. Many of these guys forget that they are teachers out there, and if USA Hockey isn’t going to put a system in place to point out when they miss that, it’s up to us parents to do it. This sucks, too, because it creates an adversarial relationship where one should not exist, but it must be done.

PianoFiles Will Shut Down Because of Clueless Music Publishers

July 15th, 2014 5:16 pm

I found out today that the sheet-music-oriented community site, PianoFiles, announced that they will shut down in December.

I’m new to PianoFiles, having only joined earlier this year, but it’s been a huge resource for me already. As some of you may remember I got back into playing (drums, mostly) in musical theater pits this year, and PianoFiles was the resource that made it super simple for me to use my iPad in the pit instead of sheet music. 

Using my iPad means I can make as many notes as I want, back them all up, don’t need a light on stage, and can turn pages far more easily than I can with a paper book. It made a huge difference for me.

As I said, I got back into playing in theater pits. It had been almost twenty years since I had done this, and here’s how it used to work for all of us musicians:

  1. Get hired for show.
  2. Get book (sheet music) from the musical director.
  3. Go to copy shop and make a copy of sheet music.
  4. Go to rehearsals and mark up my copy with all the notes that are necessary for that particular production.
  5. Play the run of shows.
  6. Return pristine original book back to musical director (who then returns it to publishing company).
  7. Keep the copy. Sometimes it’s fun to go back and revisit those parts. I’ve learned a lot doing that and it keeps my reading skills fresh.

Step 6 is mandatory. Regardless of how you organize yourself, that book is rented and needs to be returned in as mint condition as possible lest you get fined. If you make notes in it, you damned well better do them in pencil (or stuck-on post-it notes) that you can erase or remove. Someone else is going to use that book next week for a completely different production and wants to start with a clean book just like you did.

When I got hired for a show earlier this year, I got the book and went to Staples. I figured I’d either follow my exact method above (and use the paper copy during shows as I used to) or I would have them scan it into a PDF that I could use on my iPad, depending upon the cost. At that point I wasn’t sure if my iPad would work for me (it does!).

What did Staples tell me? “We’re sorry. This book is copyrighted. You need a release letter from the publisher in order for us to copy it.” THAT never happened 20 years ago!

I had two options. Ok, well, three, but actually getting a bona-fide release letter (and doing so in time) was probably a long-shot. I could phony up a release letter (how would the rep at Staples know?) or I could find someone who already had the PDF and just use that. I suppose I could also scan it myself, though doing that with a 100+ page spiral bound book would be a disaster.

I went to the Googles while standing there in Staples and found PianoFiles. This site just allows folks like me to list what scores we have and what we want. The site doesn’t host any files, and trades are arranged person-to-person. There’s no mass distribution of files. I’m not sure, but it’s possible what we’re doing (sharing scores with each other) might even fall as legal under copyright law (similar to if I shared a copy of the new Phish album with you). Either way, the folks I’ve met through PianoFiles are all quite pleasant and aren’t interested in screwing anyone. They’re all mostly musicians just looking to make things easier for shows to which they already have the rights.

But no. ICMP organized a terrible letter-writing campaign to get this great resource shut down. Terrible. Just another example of an old business model hanging on and not changing with the times. We musicians don’t get paid very much, either. But we want to be able to play the shows we’re paid to do. Either distribute PDFs or let us share them when you give us paper books. 

It’s not like anyone is going to get the PDFs of a show via someone they met at PianoFiles and then actually, you know, rent out a theater and put the show on without getting the rights. There’s far more at risk there than would make it worth that, and the rights to shows (which come with the book rentals) are priced quite fairly from what I’ve seen. If you know what you’re doing you can likely make your money back and then some, even in a small theater (because rights are priced based on number of seats capable of being sold).

ICMP should stop hanging on by a thread and instead start a letter-writing campaign pleading with their own publishers to provide PDF copies when someone licenses the rights to a show. Why that’s not already happening is something that I find quite curious.

Hopefully this injustice can be reversed. Otherwise I think I have a new idea for a site to launch.