Reflections on Independence Day

Dan Gillmor writing in the Guardian has it right…

As we Americans watch our parades and fire up our grills this 4 July, the 237th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence – the seminal document of the United States – we should take the time to ask ourselves some related questions: how did we come to this state of mind and behavior? How did we become so fearful and timid that we’ve given away essential liberties? Do we realize what we’re giving up? What would the nation’s founders think of us?

Protest Internet spying and support the 4th Ammendment at The Internet Defense League

It’s worth fighting for. 

Changes @ TWiT

This month brings some changes to the TWiT lineup: a new live schedule, a farewell to some old friends, and three new shows.

First the bad news. I am canceling seven shows. I never like canceling a show, but I need to when audience numbers are too low to support them. It’s the part of the media business I like least, but it’s also necessary if TWiT is to continue. Every show I’ve ever worked on was cancelled eventually, so I know how it feels. This month we’ll be saying good-bye to:

Futures in BiotechFutures In Biotech with Marc Pelletier This is one of the longest running shows on TWiT. I think Marc plans to continue producing shows over at Vincent Racaniello’s TWiV network. Keep up with his plans on Twitter: @marcpelletier

Dr. Kiki's Science HourDr Kiki’s Science Hour and TWiS We all love Dr Kiki and hope to see her regularly for science coverage on other TWiT shows. I know she plans to continue TWiS, so follow her on Twitter for updates: @drkiki.

PCPer This is the official podcast of PC Perspective and will continue at their site. Ryan will continue doing This Week In Computer Hardware with Patrick on TWiT. Get updates at @pcper

This Week In Radio TechThis Week In Radio Tech Kirk Harnack and company do a great show, but it turns out not many people are as interested in radio tech as I am. Kirk is going to take the summer off then resume production so follow him for updates: @kharnack.

Trey's Variety HourTrey’s Variety Hour We all love Trey Ratcliff and he will continue to do his hangouts live, but we are going to save some staff time by not re-broadcasting them on TWiT Live. Follow Trey @treyratcliff or his site, Stuck In Customs

TWiT PhotoTWiT Photo As I’m sure you can tell this was a labor of love for both Catherine Hall and me. I’m not sure why it didn’t gain traction; perhaps it’s because you had to watch the video to appreciate it and most of our audience only listens. I’m hoping an angry mob of devoted viewers will force me to reconsider this one. Follow Catherine on her website.

Goodbye old friends – we’ll miss you for sure. But we’re using the resources freed up by cancelling these shows to produce three new shows, which will debut this month on TWiT.

iFive for the iPhone Sarah Lane will host this quick half-hour show devoted to the iPhone. iFive for the iPhoneEach show will feature five tips or apps to help you get the most out of your iPhone. We’ve been doing iPad Today and All About Android for more than a year now. I felt it was time to let the iPhone shine with a show of its own. iFive debuts Monday, July 16 at 11a Pacific/2p Eastern/1800 UTC.

Know How… with Iyaz Akhtar. Each week Iyaz and I will tackle a topic in computing and show you how to do it with hands-on demos. Know How...Whether it’s rolling our own cloud, securing your Wi-Fi, or building a PC, Know How… will show you how. Know How debuts Thursday, July 5 at 3p Pacific/6p Eastern/2200 UTC.

This Week In Enterprise Tech Enterprise guru (and Jesuit priest) Fr. Robert Ballecer (aka Friar Tech or @padresj) leads his team in solving the toughest enterprise challenges. This Week In Enterprise TechEach show will feature a case study and will describe the solutions top IT professionals use to get the job done. While it’s geared toward business technology, we’re going to make sure this show is loaded with information every geek can use. TWiET debuts Monday, July 16 at noon Pacific/3p Eastern/1900 UTC.

Finally, to fill the holes left by our departing shows, and to make our live recording schedule a little more user friendly we’re adjusting the start times for many shows starting July 2. The grid below shows you the live schedule at a glance. Reminder: this is only a change to the live schedule – on demand downloads will continue to be available shortly after the show is recorded.

The biggest change is that Tech News Today is moving to 10a Pacific/1p Eastern/1700 UTC Monday through Friday. Now Tom Merritt and company won’t have to wait for Leo, the perpetually late, any more. And we hope this will get you your daily tech news fix at a better time for your afternoon commute. Never fear, if news breaks later in the day the TNT team will be there to cover it.

You’ll see that The Giz Wiz is moving back to its old time, Tuesdays at 1p Pacific/4p Eastern/2000 UTC. Before You Buy, All About Android, and Ham Nation are moving, too.

We’re also moving a few shows to begin on the hour. I think it’s easier to remember a show that starts at 1p not 1:30p.

TWiT Live Schedule

The key to show abbreviations:

AAA = All About Android
BYB = Before You Buy
FLOSS = Floss Weekly
FR = Framerate
HAM = Ham Nation
HTG = Home Theater Geeks
iFIVE = iFive for the iPhone
iPT = iPad Today
KH… = Know How…
MBW = Macbreak Weekly
NSFW = NSFW <>
SN = Security Now
TNT = Tech News Today
TRI = Triangluation
TSH = The Social Hour
TTG = The Tech Guy radio show
TWiCH = This Week In Computer Hardware
TWiET = This Week In Enterprise Tech
TWiG = This Week In Google
TWiL = This Week In Law
TWiT = This Week In Tech
WDGW = Daily Giz Wiz
WW = Windows Weekly

Phew! Still reading? Thanks!

I know change can be a little disorienting, and I don’t like to do it too often myself, but I feel these particular changes will help TWiT do a better job giving you the tech news and info you need. I wrote a little mission statement for myself, to remind me what we’re all about here:

TWiT aims to build and sustain an engaged community of technology enthusiasts by offering them the help, news, and information they need to understand and use digital technology.

The TWiT team and I work every day to fulfill this mission. We care about the work we do, and do everything we can to serve you. Thank you for your continued support. I hope we’ll meet at the Brick House some day.

The TWiT Brick House – It’s Mighty Mighty

We’re about a month away from moving into our new studios, two blocks away from the TWiT Cottage. (I’m predicting July 24 but we’ll see.) In case you missed the first walkthrough of the building it’s here:

But we’ve come a long way since then. In fact, you can see exactly where we stand on the TWiT Dropcam (thanks to Dane Jasper and the folks at Sonic.net who will be our primary bandwidth provider at the new studios):

New TWiT Studios  coming soon  Dropcam

Roger Ambrose, our creative director, is painting the floor right now, then we can begin installing lights, cameras, and wiring in earnest. We hope to be broadcasting from the studio around mid-July 2011.

Our brilliant lighting and camera guy, Brent Bye of Ocean Studio has created a Sketchup 3D walkthrough of the place which you can download from our Dropbox.

TWiT Brickhouse skp  SketchUp

(You’ll need a copy of the free Google SketchUp program to view and interact with it.) Brent will be updating it over time and we’ll keep the latest version in the Dropbox, so check back.

We’ll be using the model to plan the placement of our 30 Canon HF G10 cameras and dozens of Kino Flo, Litepanels, and other lighting fixtures.

We have a great many people to thank for help with our new studio, including Crestron for studio automation, Newtek for the brand-new Tricaster XD850 switcher, Telos for our digital Axia audio system, Restoration Hardware for the furniture in the new studio, Bob Heil for our mics and stands, and many many others.

But most of all, I want to thank you, our community, for your perpetual support. There’s no way we could do this without you. And a special thanks to all of you who have bought bricks for our Wall of Honor in the entry foyer. As of today we’ve sold about 800 bricks, but there’s still room to buy a brick for yourself at http://bricks.twit.tv.

View Bricks

The new studio is going to be a major step forward, and your help makes it possible. We’re pretty excited – I hope you are too!!

The Battle of Paris

The e-G8 SummitAs previously noted, I was honored and excited to have been invited to this week’s e-G8 summit in Paris, despite Cory Doctorow’s misgivings.
I felt it was important to go and represent the “free and open Internet” faction. It seems to me that we can’t complain about government intervention on the ‘net if we aren’t willing to come to the table and fight for our beliefs, and I had girded my loins for battle.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go due to a family emergency. Fortunately for us all, Jeff Jarvis is girding his very public loins in my place. (Along with, apparently, the original Internet freedom fighter, John Perry Barlow.)

Jeff has already joined battle, according to the Wall St. Journal:

During the Q&A session, one person asked the French president to “do no harm” when regulating the Internet. “I think what would harm you is not to recognize you as responsible citizens,” Mr. Sarkozy fired back.

Jeff will join us Wednesday from Paris on This Week In Google (1p Pacific/4p Eastern/2000 UTC on TWiT Live) to discuss the deliberations. I’ll follow with interest. I’m sorry to have let our side down, but I’m so glad there’s someone so much more eloquent speaking in my place.

Read All About TWiT in Monday’s New York Times

Leo on Ball from NY Times.jpgThanks to Jon Kalish for the fantastic article about me and TWiT in the New York Times on Monday. (Page B4 of the December 27, 2010 print edition.)
I especially liked the comments about our community:

During tapings of “This Week in Tech,” as many as 1,500 people are in chat rooms typing away at a furious pace. Fifteen volunteer monitors around the country keep the chat family-friendly. But sometimes the comments can get tough. Although Mr. Laporte is patient with even the most clueless callers, chat room regulars are not as tolerant.

“We’re making comments like, ‘This person needs to have their computer taken away,’ ” said Lillian Banchik, a Long Island surgeon who is known in the chat room as Dr. Mom.

Dr. Banchik, who listens to TWIT programs 20 hours a week, said she once spent an hour in a private chat with someone who helped her solve a problem with her husband’s iMac.

Many other chat room regulars have serious alternative lives, but like to spend time with the show. Amanda W. Peet, a physics professor at the University of Toronto, goes by Kiwi Nerd. Teresa M. Mensing, an associate professor of geology at Ohio State University, uses the handle Darth Emma.

Thanks to Mark McCrery, Dan Hendricks, Lillian Banchik, Amanda Peet, and Terri Mensing for taking the time to talk with Jon. He clearly understood that it’s the community that makes TWiT happen.

Thanks also to Jim Wilson for the very flattering picture (as my daughter puts it). What a great way to launch into 2011!

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/technology/27podcast.html?_r=3&src=twr+

Gov 2.0 Special Tonight

At 5p Pacific/8p Eastern on http://live.twit.tv we’ll be looking at the future of Government with

Join us and discuss Government 2.0.

I Got My Binky Back!

I'm a happy Buzzer!It is fixed. Thanks so much to the Google Buzz team which tracked down a pretty nasty bug in Buzz that had made me invisible for 17 days (see my post from Sunday morning).
In their own words…

From: Google Buzz Team To: @Leo Laporte

Thanks for reporting this issue — and sorry we didn’t get to the bottom of it until today. You helped us uncover a very rare bug that has existed for a while, one that only someone with a ton of followers was likely to uncover.

Here’s what happened: If one of your followers deleted their Google Account (this probably happened around August 6th), Buzz failed to deliver your post to all of your followers. Your post still existed in your Buzz stream, it just wasn’t sent properly to the people who wanted to see it.

We’re in the process of fixing this bug now, and it should be resolved in the next day or two. We’re really sorry that you had this experience and really thankful that you reported it to us so we could fix it.

I’m happy to say the bug is fixed, I’m back on Buzz, and the lesson is learned. I’ll start content here on my blog, but push links to it to Buzz, Twitter, and Friendfeed. Any comments you post on those fora will be automagically piped back into my comments here (thanks to JS-Kit Echo). Best of both worlds.

And thanks to everyone on Buzz and at Google who put up with my tantrum!

Buzz Kill

Was you ever stung by a dead bee?Something happened tonight that made me question everything I’ve done with social media since I first joined Twitter in late 2006.
You know me – I’m a complete web whore. I sign up for every site, try every web app, use every service I can find. It’s my job, but I also love doing it. I believe in the Internet as a communication tool. I love trying the myriad new ways people are using it to connect and I believed that social media specifically had some magic new potential to bring us together.

When Google announced Buzz last year I was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. I welcomed a competitor to Twitter that had the community features I loved in Friendfeed and Jaiku, and I thought Google had the best chance to create a second generation social network. I defended Google for its initial privacy stumbles and I began to use Buzz exclusively, replacing Twitter, Friendfeed, and Facebook. I built a following of over 17,000 people. I was happy.

Then last night I noticed that my Buzzes were no longer showing up on Twitter (I use a service called Buzz Can Tweet that has been pretty reliably rebroadcasting my Buzz posts to Twitter.) I looked more closely at my Buzz feed and noticed that there had been considerably less engagement over the past few weeks. Then I noticed that I wasn’t seeing my posts in my Buzz timeline at all. A little deeper investigation showed that nothing I had posted on Buzz had gone public since August 6. Nothing. Fifteen posts buried, including show notes from a week’s worth of TWiT podcasts.

Maybe I did something wrong to my Google settings. Maybe I flipped some obscure switch. I am completely willing to take the blame here. But I am also taking away a hugely important lesson.

No one noticed.

Not even me.

It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.

Thank God the content I deem most important, my Internet and broadcast radio shows, still stand. I believe in what I’m doing there, and have been very fortunate to have found an audience. I’m pretty sure I would have heard from people if there had been 16 days of dead silence there. Hell, if we miss one show I get hundreds of emails. But I feel like I’ve woken up to a bad social media dream in terms of the content I’ve put in others’ hands. It’s been lost, and apparently no one was even paying attention to it in the first place.

I should have been posting it here all along. Had I been doing so I’d have something to show for it. A record of my life for the last few years at the very least. But I ignored my blog and ran off with the sexy, shiny microblogs. Well no more. I’m sorry for having neglected you Leoville. From now on when I post a picture of a particularly delicious sandwich I’m posting it here. When I complain that Sookie is back with Bill, you’ll hear it here first. And the show notes for my shows will go here, too.

Social media, I gave you the best years of my life, but never again. I know where I am wanted. Screw you Google Buzz. You broke my heart.

On The Road To Las Vegas

fear_loathe_.jpgWe’re off on the road to Las Vegas for the 2010 edition of the Consumer Electronic Show, or as it’s known around here, nerdstock.
I haven’t been to CES since 2004 and I’m sure looking forward to it. This is the premiere technology event of the year with 100,000 visitors, thousands of exhibitors, and dozens of football fields worth of booths. I’m bringing the entire staff down along with most of our gear for the most complete coverage TWiT has ever done for an event.

Dr. Kirsten Sanford will join me as co-host and we’ll be getting visits from many of the TWiT regulars including Paul Thurrott, Dick DeBartolo, Scott Wilkinson, Wil Harris, Ryan Shrout, Tom Merritt, Becky Worley, Patrick Norton, Roger Chang, and on and on. Not to mention interviews with CES keynoter and Ford CEO, Alan Mulally and other luminaries.

We’ll be streaming live from the parties Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from the CES show floor, and doing many of our regular shows including The Tech Guy, The Daily Giz Wiz, Windows Weekly, and TWiT and TWiG. Watch live at http://live.twit.tv as usual, or subscribe to our special CES podcasts at http://twit.tv/ces.

Thanks to SYNC, Citrix, and Audible for sponsoring our trip, and the hard work of the entire team for making it possible. See you in Las Vegas!

UPDATE: Here’s how to follow us in Vegas

Podcasts:
http://twit.tv/ces (click the Subscribe dropdown to add the feed to iTunes, Zune, etc.)

Video:
http://live.twit.tv
http://qik.com/twit
http://youtube.com/twit

Text Updates:
http://twitter.com/leolaporte (watch for the #CES hashtag)
http://foursquare.com/user/leolaporte (I’ve decided to focus on Foursquare for location updates)
http://facebook.com/leolaporte

Blogs:
http://twitlive.posterous.com/
http://inside.twit.tv/

Pictures:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/leoville/ – I’ve hooked up my camera to autopost to Flicker via Eye-Fi

Everything I do is also piped to my Friendfeed account.