Bye-Bye Birdie

Dead-Twitter-Bird.pngI’m just done.

Yesterday I deactivated my Twitter account and kicked Tumblr to the curb. A couple of weeks ago I did the same with Instagram. A month or so before that I killed Facebook. And I survived. No, thrived!

Call me a recovering social media addict minus the withdrawal. I do have a read-only Twitter account with links to news sources. If someone famous dies, or there’s an earthquake, I can go there. Otherwise the daily spew of outrage and bile can go on without me.

If you used to follow me on one of those sites you can follow me here, instead. Or on micro.blog. I’m also playing with Mastodon – so far it’s much more civilized.

I’ll post my best pictures on Flickr and Smugmug. I’ll send actual postcards to my family (thanks to Bill Atkinson’s PhotoCard).

Lisa and I are heading out tonight for a cruise around the western Mediterranean. It’s my goal to post a picture a day here.

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If The Donald has something to say he can leave it in the comments. See you in a month!

Go West Young Man

asia.jpgI’m off for China on Thursday with my son, Henry. As you’ve probably figured out by now I love to travel. Last year I was lucky enough to visit Egypt, Australia, and France, but going to Asia has been a lifelong dream. I was a Chinese Studies major in college and yet I’ve never been closer to China than a one week trip to Singapore a decade ago.
I began planning for this trip last year when Neil Bauman of Insight Cruises asked me to go on MacMania 9. I love these Geek Cruises but I’ve been so busy building up TWiT that I haven’t had a chance to take one since 2006. When Neil told me the itinerary included China, Korea, and Japan I knew I couldn’t miss this one.

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I’ve been working on four lectures for this cruise: 60 iPhone Apps in 60 Minutes, 60 Freeware Apps in 60 Minutes, Using a Mac mini as a Home Theater PC, and Using Social Media for Fun and Profit. They’re far from done but that’s what trans-Pacific flights are for, right?

The cruise itself is pretty quick and we only get one day each in Cheju, Korea, and Fukuoka and Nagasaki, Japan, so I opted for a one week land tour of China in the week before the trip. There’s no way I was getting that close to China and spending only one day there. Eight days is not nearly enough to see the vast Middle Kingdom, but Don McAllister of Screencasts Online, Henry, a half-dozen other intrepid Mac fans and I will get to hit the highlights: Beijing, Xi’An, and Guilin.

I’ve posted my full itinerary on Tripit.com – what a cool site. You can forward your confirmation emails to them and they automatically build your itinerary, plus there’s an API so a number of third party programs can also use the data.

IMG_0043.PNGThere’s a free Tripit app for the iPhone but I’m using Travel Assistant Pro instead. It updates flight information and helps you store checklists and notes. Plus there’s a cool presentation mode you can use for check-in at hotels and airports. Friends can view my itinerary on Tripit, too – and I can share details with other members.

I hope to post regularly from Asia. I’m buying an International Data Plan from AT&T for my iPhone and the hotel has broadband. I expect to be using the full social media toolkit including Brightkite, Twitter, Facebook, Smugmug, and Flickr. All of it pipes right into Friendfeed so that’s probably the best place to follow my trip.

Dom’t worry, TWiT will continue mostly intact while I’m gone. There won’t be much live video, but we pre-recorded all The Tech Guy, Security Now, and Daily Giz Wiz podcasts. Additional shows were recorded for FLOSS Weekly, net@night, and Windows Weekly, too. John C. Dvorak will host TWiT on July 5 (tune in early at 5p Eastern/2p Pacific for a special wine Q&A with John). I’m not sure yet who will host on 7/12.

There will also be some special events on TWiT Live. July 15 Chris Marquardt will take over the studio with a full day of photography interviews and information. I hate to miss that! And Alex Lindsay will be in (new baby willing) on many other days to host shows.

I’ll be back live July 19. See you then!

UPDATE: Don McAllister has one-upped me with a lovely iWeb page he’ll be using to post from the trip.

Greetings from Sydney

Mikkel Aaland and I just arrived in Sydney on the way to Hobart, Tasmania. Qantas took great care of us on the way – it was my first time in the “bubble” up top of a 747 and I slept like a baby. Maybe that’s because they give you your very own set of jammies.


Photo Credit: Mikkel Aaland

Aussie Mike met us at the gate and got us into the Qantas Club. I took a much needed shower and feel like a new man. I’m headed off to the “meetup” at the SYD Starbucks. Hope to see a few of you there!

Home Again

I’m back home again from Egypt. What a fantastic trip it was, I am going through a little withdrawal. We did so much, saw so much, met such great people, it’s a little hard to go back to real life.
However, I am going to get back to work. I am suffering from a hideous cold right now so things are ramping up a little slowly but by the end of the week all podcasts should be back to normal, and I’ll be back live on the radio Saturday and Sunday. I also have a ton of pictures and video to go through. I’ll post them a bit at a time – and I hope to find some time to blog a little about my experiences, too.

It truly was the “trip of a lifetime!”

Greetings from Cairo

Henry and the PyramidsWhat an experience this is. Egypt is a fascinating country with a unique culture. It feels like an Arab nation to me, but the Egyptians say they’re neither Arab, nor African – they’re Egyptian. They’re very warm and friendly, that’s for sure. Egypt is much more than ancient monuments.
Tourism is an important part of their economy so they take very good care of us. The Tourist Police are everywhere we go and they’re all carrying guns.

Tourist PoliceIt’s a poor country, too, and many of the people we meet ask for “baksheesh.” It’s hard not to give it to them. There are five Egyptian pounds to the dollar, so giving someone a couple of pounds means more to them than it does to us. The children love ballpoint pens. We visited a weaving school where 6-14 year old kids sit all afternoon making oriental rugs and the guides gave out pens.

Population growth is probably the most pressing issue Egypt faces today. It’s a big country but mostly desert. The entire population lives on just 6% of the land and grows by one million people every 10 months. Cairo itself is the third most populous city in the world with 16 million people. It sometimes seems like everyone of them is on the road at the same time, in cars, trucks, or donkey.

Taxi Cab KidCairo abandoned traffic lights a few years ago and there don’t seem to be any rules of the road – even lane markings are ignored. Pedestrians blithely thread in and out of the traffic at will. There seem surprisingly few accidents. Perhaps it’s due to the language of the car horns, which are used constantly and can express a wide variety of meanings.

Today we visit the oldest mosque in Cairo then celebrate New Year’s Eve Bedouin style. Tomorrow we board the Sun Boat IV to sail up the Nile. It will be good to get out of the city.

I’ve uploaded some pictures on the Photos page. I’m also taking some video, too, but I’m trying not to be too much of a tourist. There’s so much to absorb I don’t always want to have a camera in front of my eyes.

Cairo via Providence

OK – I’ve wrapped up the last TWiT for the year. Four Tech Guy shows are in the can. Tomorrow morning bright and early Jennifer, Abby, Henry, and I fly to Boston to spend Christmas with my mom and sister in Cranston RI, then it’s off to Cairo for 10 days touring the pyramids.
I’ll post as many pictures as I can here and on Flickr. We return January 6 and I’ll be back to work making netcasts soon after. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2008!

Caution: Man Working

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and it’s getting crazier.
I just got back from New Haven where I was serving on a Yale University advisory committee working on a strategy for online distribution. This week Yale announced that it’s putting seven courses online complete with lectures (video and audio), transcripts, problem sets, and solutions, but that’s just the beginning. Yale is committed to offering free access to many of its assets. Bravo!

It’s a great honor to be asked to help with this task along with luminaries (and fellow Yalies) like David Pogue, Mitch Kapor, Real Networks’ Rob Glaser, EA’s Bing Gordon, and my ’77 classmate Donna Dubinsky of Claris, Palm, Handspring, and Numenta.

While at Yale I did my radio show from its beautiful CMI2 broadcast center. Thanks to Paul Lawrence and his team for hosting me. And to Yale’s associate secretary, Stephanie Schwartz, for smoothing my way in New Haven.

Spending five days in Connecticut means I have to jam three weeks of podcast production into three days, because next week I head to Vancouver to tape 15 more Lab with Leo episodes. Then I come back to do the radio show the following weekend.

Christmas Eve, Jennifer, Abby, Henry and I are flying to Rhode Island for Christmas with my mom and sister. Two days later we fly to Egypt to see the Pyramids. This has been a dream of mine for years and is literally the trip of a lifetime. We’ll be gone and completely out of touch until January 7. I think our hotel has Internet access, however, so I’ll try to post pictures and video from the trip as we go.

This crazy schedule is already impacting some of the shows.

  • Because I was in New Haven doing the radio show last weekend, I don’t have a recording of the audio. That means there will be no Tech Guy netcast for December 8 and 9. Sorry.
  • As you may have noticed, there was no TWiT this week, but we’ll do two more this year on December 17 and 24 (if I can get a cast together).
  • The other news-based shows, MacBreak Weekly and Windows Weekly – will slow down, too. We should have new shows next week, but then it’s two weeks off. Both shows will be back the week of January 6 and watch for special Macworld Expo coverage the week of January 14 on MacBreak Weekly.
  • We’re taking this week off on The Daily Giz Wiz but we’ll have all new shows through the rest of the holiday season.
  • There’ll be a new net@nite this week, but then we’re taking the rest of the year off. We’ll return January 9.

Dane will be here posting the shows while I’m overseas, so everything should come out on time. He’s much more reliable than I am.

I am also working on a redesign of the blog and Leoville.com. The new design will merge them both. It’s based on the very nice Revolution theme by Brian Gardner that makes WordPress as suitable for a magazine style site as a blog. I’ll probably put the new sites up in the next day or two and will be tweaking them until I leave. Please pardon the construction dust.

One thing the new design will do is move my Twitter Tweets out of the main blog. (All together now… Yay!) They’ll still be here, but they won’t fill the page with 140 character drivel.

It will also put the blog back into the main Leoville site where it belongs. You can still go to leoville.com/blog, but leoville.com will work, too.

Finally, InBusiness.tv has posted my Blogworld keynote address from last month on Brightcove. Six Apart’s Anil Dash begins the talk with a survey of Google’s Open Social platform; I start around 15 minutes in.

http://www.brightcove.tv/playerswf

As we wrap up 2007 I want to take a moment to thank you. This year has been a watershed for me both personally and professionally, and none of it could have happened without the love and support of my family. That means Jennifer, Abby, and Henry, of course, but it also means you, my extended family.

I have so very many friends, those with whom I create the shows, and those of you who watch, listen, and collaborate. None of this could have happened without your encouragement and support. Thanks so very much.

Happy holidays. I hope you find your heart’s desire in 2008. Thanks to you, I already have.

Big Screen in the Big Apple

I’m back East in New Haven spending the Thanksgiving weekend with my wife’s sister and her family. We had a lovely snowfall on Wednesday and the kids have been having a blast with their cousins. Tomorrow we’ll take the train to New York City so that I can tape my World News Now segments on Sunday night and do Live! with Regis and Kelly on Wednesday. We’re going to see The Lion King and we’ll go ice skating at Rockefeller Center and do all the usual touristy Christmas in New York things. I’ll try to do some video blogging while we’re there.

I’ve brought the Piano Avanti DLP projection TV with me. It’s a dictionary sized projector that can handle DVI, RGB, HDTV, S-Video, and Component signals in native 780p. It’s not the brightest projector in the world at 400 lumens, but with a 700:1 contrast ratio it looks darn good in a relatively dark room. I was able to get a good looking movie screen sized picture projected on white walls and sheets. We’ve screened Lord of the Rings, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Zoolander, and had a great time. I’ll be showing it on WNN and Regis, but I wish I could keep it. At $3200 it’s pricey, but I prefer it to a similarly expensive big screen TV, especially since you can pop it in a drawer when you’re through. Wouldn’t be very good for daytime TV viewing, though.

Last week’s pilot went very well. Thanks to those of you who called, emailed, and faxed. It was great to have all that material for the show. Morgan and Kevin were stars, and Steve Gibson was his usual fun and informative self. We put about 90 minutes on tape which Ken Marquis is now editing into a 12 minute highlight reel. I think everyone involved felt pretty good about what we got – even Paul Block liked it. It’s a good representation of what I’d like to do, anyway. I forwarded a number of messages of support from you all to our new VP Programming. That should help. Now we’ll just have to wait and see. I’d love to get started in early January. The Screen Savers officially goes back to an hour December 30, so that would be a good time to put another show into production, at least for me.

We fly home Thursday and I’ll be back on The Screen Savers Thursday evening. I’ll be taking more time off for Christmas, December 16 through January 1. Maybe when I come back I’ll have two shows to do. Wouldn’t that be nice?

My Bags Are Packed

The car comes in half an hour and I’m off for Charleston WV and Fairfax VA. I sure hope Patrick feels well enough to do the show tonight!
I’ve loaded up my new HP Jornada 565 Pocket PC with audio books (I download ’em from Audible). I bought a 128 MB compact flash card for the Jornada. That’ll hold about 18 hours of audio books. I have a book called Bobos in Paradise, four or five This American Life episodes (my all time favorite radio show), and a couple of Robin Williams interviews with Whoopi Goldberg and Will Durst. I’ll stick some music on the Rio 500 for the flight, too. My current favorite flying songs: Bruce Hornsby’s Walking in Memphis, Everlast’s What It’s Like, Will Smith’s Miami, and Shania Twain’s That Don’t Impress Me Much.

I’ll be flying again on Wednesday, but just for a day. I’m going to LA to interview Ted Danson for the show. Those frequent flyer miles are starting to pile up!

I’m hoping people show up in Charleston and Fairfax. Everybody is so jumpy these days I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t. My own producer begged off the trip yesterday. He just wasn’t comfortable flying. For some reason it doesn’t worry me much. I feel like it’s probably the safest way to travel these days. On the other hand, I’m not so keen crossing the Golden Gate Bridge ever since Governer Davis announced that terrorists plan to blow it up this week. Gee thanks, Gov.

See you in VA and WVA – or back on TV on Monday. -yawn-

I’m Flying!

I’m flying tomorrow for the first time since 9/11. It’s a little nerve wracking, I admit. The effects of the attacks are so widespread and long lasting, even among people who weren’t directly affected. I hold my breath every day when I drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. I guess we’re all suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
It’s a 7am flight to Seattle for our appearance at EMP on Saturday. I’ll have to get up at 3am to get to the airport in time to get through security. Ugh. But I guess it’s worth it. I’ll be flying a lot in the next three months. I’m tentatively booked to do Regis in NYC October 25, then an appearance in VA November 3/4. I’m MCing a cable dinner in Raleigh, NC November 25, then flying to St Louis for a December 15 appearance. Pant pant! That’s almost 30,000 air miles. Yikes!

I’m not all that nervous about it, but I might be when I get there. I’m actually looking forward to going to New York in a week. I was born there and have always loved the City. I feel a need to go pay my respects.