Boston Media Makers podcast

January 7, 2008 at 5:36 pm

While I’ve been listening to podcasts for several years, and attended both Podcamps in Boston, I haven’t really produced my own podcast yet. So one of my New Years resolutions is to record and publish interviews, music shows and other things that I find interesting on a regular basis. I have over 40 DV tapes of raw video material from various conferences and sprints that I’ve attended, so that alone should keep me pretty busy just sifting through the good stuff from the unusable stuff.

Yesterday I attended another inspiring Boston Media Makers meetup at the Sweet Finnish bakery in Jamaica Plain. The format is we go around the room and everyone introduces themselves and can optionally show-n-tell about something. My show-n-tell was the Apogee Duet, a firewire digital audio interface for the Mac, that I just purchased last week on Dave Fisher’s recommendation. I stayed up way past my bedtime on friday playing with it, and will write more about my impressions after I’ve done more serious recording with it. So far I’ve been really pleased with the sound quality and ease-of-use. Steve snapped a few photos of the Duet at the meeting.


One thing that I still need to purchase is a decent microphone, since the only one I have is a cheapo Radio Shack mic that I bought when I was in high school to record a band demo. I asked the Boston Media Makers group what they would recommend, and Adam Weiss (who was sitting next to me) pulled out an Audio Technica ATM 10A which is what he uses for podcasting. I asked him if I could use it to record the meeting into Garageband, and he was kind enough to oblige. So thanks to Adam, here’s a partial recording from the meeting. Gotta love these portable recording studios!

Video thumbnail. Click to play
Click To Play

Also present at the meeting was filmmaker and video expert David Tamés who shared some microphone recommendations as well. He posted an excellent summary of the meeting to his blog where he discusses various microphones (incl photos!), so if you’re interested, I invite you to check out his site, which is a goldmine of other very interesting articles about video editing / equipment / new media.This was only the second time I attended the Boston Media Makers, but I felt strangely familiar and already connected with the other participants. Maybe it’s because many of us befriended each other on Twitter so in the month between each meeting, we are still following what each other is doing.Or maybe it’s because we all share a common passion to create and share what we know with others. It’s truly a fascinating mix of individuals – artists, filmmakers, musicians, actors, developers, entrepreneurs, PR people, etc. I think this cross-pollination that occurs when you bring creative people into the same room is electrifying. As David says, the meetings are i3 (interesting, inspiring, and informative). Kudos to Steve Garfield for putting this together! I look forward to the next meeting with anticipation.

Loss of FOSSCamp

January 6, 2008 at 12:05 am

fosscampHow did I miss the FOSSCamp in October 2007? I attended both BarCamps and PodCamps in Boston, but somehow this one did not get on my radar screen. There were many attendees from Ubuntu (including Mr. Ubuntu himself – Mark Shuttleworth!), Red Hat, KDE, Novell, etc. but strangely there is no record of the schedule or materials from the unconference. Although I did find a snapshot of the handwritten schedule board here and here. Oh well, consider this blog post a reminder to attend the next one, assuming that it’s repeated next year.

Lessons learned from webpreneurs and parrots

November 1, 2007 at 10:40 pm

Chicken the Parrot I’m taking care of my friend Dan’s parrot. His name is Chicken because he clucks like a chicken. He has beautiful green feathers and a yellow crest. He sits in his cage and looks very intently at me, maybe trying to figure out what could possibly be so interesting about a piece of metal that I’m staring at all day. Parrots are intriguing creatures, highly intelligent, they use their beak as if it were a third claw, gripping the side of the cage to navigate around.

Today I opened the door to his cage to see if he wanted to come out to explore the apartment. I tried to coax him out with a cashew, one of his favorite snacks. Strangely enough, he remained in the cage, even when I went out for the evening, he did not venture from his perch.

I wonder if this is a common trait of all living creatures, including us humans. Even when the door is opened to us, inviting us to come and explore another world, that is both exciting but also scary, we choose to remain in the cage where we are comfortable and safe. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are in a cage, because we have grown so accustomed to “the way things are”.  We don’t dare venture outside this cage because it requires a leap of faith, and quite frankly, we are too chicken to make that jump.

Tonight I took a step back to evaluate what my personal and professional goals are, and came to the conclusion that I don’t want to be consulting for the rest of my life. It’s been coming more and more apparent over the last year or so, but recently (maybe due to the inspiring people I met at Podcamp Boston) I’ve come to realize that I dislike having to sell new project work all the time. There is something very gratifying about doing a client project well, and pleasing your customer, but I don’t think it compares to passionately doing your own thing.  So what if it fails – at least you have tried. And the worst case is that I have to go back to consulting – I know I can make a living at it.

From Jay Dedman, one of the creators of FireAnt, a videoblog aggregator tool:

So I guess I become one of many software entrepreneurs who pass on this advice: Do it for as long as you can on your own. Success is definitely about good ideas, team, and execution…but it’s also all about contacts and luck. Don’t believe the hype of quick riches. haha and trust yourself.


I’m thinking about these things right now as I contemplate my next move. It’s a common theme that has been echoed in the Founders At Work book and other people I’ve spoken to at conferences, SXSW and other tech events. Do it by yourself as long as you can, and it will be obvious when you need to go for funding. Read Jessica Livingston’s interview with Joel Spolsky, founder of FogBugz. Joel says:

Remember, the original model was, “How can we become a big consulting company and then build a software company inside a consulting company?” The consulting company was a means to an end. It was to get cash flow, so that you could build a real software company. And when you were done, the theory was you’d still have these consultants, but software companies often need consulting arms.

37Signals has also succeeded in going from a consulting company to a products company, and report that it was a gradual process, one day at a time. They didn’t just cut off all of their consulting customers from one day to the next.

Basecamp was developed alongside client work and was treated as essentially a third client. It had to compete for resources on equal footing with other clients, which meant that every hour we spent on it had to really count. With constrained resources, you realize the value of the marginal hour very quickly. You can’t just goof around with science projects, open-ended explorations, and play time with new whiz-bang technology. Instead, you have to deliver real value, real soon. Otherwise the project is simply going to languish as it loses out to the “real work” of paying clients.

Ask 37signals: How to go from clients to products? – (37signals)

Digesting these words is encouraging as I make the decision to not take on any additional client work, but to maintain on our existing clients, and focus on building the products and services that I want to offer. More on that later. Thanks to these webpreneurs for sharing their insight, and thanks to Chicken for being a mirror of the chicken that is me sometimes.