Archives for category: Meta

I can’t believe that it’s been almost 2 years since I last posted something here. Not sure what happened – I mean, Twitter and Facebook happened, certainly, but I never meant to treat my blog like an afterthought.

Anyway, two years on, I suppose I need to consider that I’m going to do in this space going forward. Social networking has largely supplanted the blogging community at large (why run a blog yourself when you can just use Tumblr to retweet the latest Grumpy Cat opus?) Maybe (hopefully) I’ll find some inspiration here at SXSW this week. We’ll see.

Oh, yeah, there were some IRL changes too, but that’s for another post.

I’m writing this from seat 21D of Continental Airlines flight 251, as I fly home from South By Southwest 2011. For anyone who still follows this blog, you’ve probably done the math and realized that it’s been more than a year since I last wrote in this space. This wasn’t an intentional lapse, but perhaps more a lack of motivation to share what I was thinking, tinged by the instant gratification provided by posting to Twitter and Facebook. I’ve considered shutting my blog down entirely in favor of a Tumblr site or something similar, but I ultimately found the thought of removing 10 years of “random thoughts” from the web distasteful, and inaction would ultimately win out. Being that I generally return from SXSW somehow simultaneously renewed and exhausted, I’m hoping to resume regular longer-form posting here. (And yes, I know I’ve said that before.)

Ah, SXSW. I’ve given up trying to provide daily recaps of my exploits in Austin, in part because things move a lot faster in Austin than they did when I first attended in 2005, and in part because there’s a lot about this year’s conference that I’m still working to process. For starters, the interactive portion of SXSW has evolved from a poky little conference for bloggers and Internet types into a full-fledged extravaganza, nearly 20,000 strong. That isn’t a typo – I’ve yet to find a confirmed report (and I expect the official number won’t be published for a while yet), but buzz throughout the week places the total attendance between 18k and 20k. Either figure pushes IA well past the music festival, meaning that the geeks have taken over.

Or maybe not. While the conference still attracts a huge number of creatives, coders, and plucky end users & amateurs, 2011 may go down as the year the marketing started to drown out the message. You could test drive a Chevy, or chill out at the Pepsi Max lot, or…um, I dunno, eat Doritos and get high at the Sony Playstation house. I’m guessing, because I didn’t bother with any of these things. (OK, I suppose I might have mooched a free caffeine fix off the Pepsi people. It’s a long week.) For me, the conference is about content and camaraderie, and much of the marketing just throws off the signal:noise ratio.

(Pardon me while I have a strange interlude…

Normally when I fly, I try to sit in the window, mainly so that I don’t have to worry about having to get up anytime someone needs to stroll around or go to the lavatory. In, out, and on my way. On this particular day, I’d opted to exchange my window seat for an exit row aisle seat that, while granting no extra legroom, ensures that one of my fellow travelers won’t end up in my lap (row 20, the forward exit row, doesn’t recline). What I didn’t count on was the douchebag film attendee in the middle seat constantly leaning to the left, forcing me to lean half into the aisle just to get some personal space. Oh, and did I mention his nose picking, and the fact that he ate a bag of chips, licked each finger clean, then proceeded to touch everything in the setback pocket? Yeaaaaaah. You, sir, are the kind of person that makes me hate flying.

Back to our feature presentation…)

Let’s return to that attendee total for a moment. 20,000. The interactive conference has experienced amazing growth over the last 7 years; when I first attended SXSW, I’d have been shocked if there were 2,000 attendees. The entire conference was contained within a single cul-de-sac of a hallway on the 4th floor of the Austin Convention Center. There were, at most, 4 panels running at a time – and if none of the panels appealed to you, there were always groups gathered in the hallway, charging their laptops and exchanging ideas. At night, there was AN official event, usually sponsored by a local Internet business. It wasn’t impossible to meet, talk to, and collect business cards from the bulk of attendees.

Fast forward to this year: the interactive conference has expanded to encompass all but a handful of rooms at ACC, most of the meeting space at the Hilton across 4th Street, meeting spaces at the Courtyard by Marriott, the Hilton Garden Inn, the Radisson on 1st and Congress, the Sheraton on 11th & Red River, the AT&T Conference Center up by UT, and the Hyatt on the far side of Town Lake. (That doesn’t even factor in the official “meet ups” at the Driscoll, or the unofficial panels being hosted by sponsors.) There were several official, and about half a dozen unofficial (but tacitly endorsed) parties, plus SXSW Comedy events. The sheer number of panels is overwhelming Getting from one panel to another ranges from being a minor hassle to something approaching the Bataan Death March – and the changes of getting locked out of a panel are higher than should have been acceptable. Lines for after-hours events stretch for blocks, and the local bars and restaurants which were once late-night refuges overflow with overdressed hipsters wearing familiar-looking badges. In short, things have changed.

[Scene change - it's now late night Wednesday, and I'm at home, unpacking and doing laundry.]

So in rereading what I wrote while on the plane earlier, I think I may have been focusing a bit too heavily on the negatives…in part because of the constant discomfort I was in for the whole plane ride. After I stopped writing, Film Douchebag asked for some help getting his MacBook Pro to boot. The solution, as it happened, was to make sure the computer actually had power. So maybe he wasn’t a douchebag after all, just an idiot. That doesn’t forgive the nose picking, but…let me try closing this post in a more positive light.

Anyway, changes – they were many and numerous. Thankfully, some things stay the same. Through SXSW, I’ve had the good fortune to develop an amazing group of new friends, and that group grows larger with each passing year*. I got to connect with people I’ve only known through photos and Twitter streams. The important traditions of ‘old skool’ SXSW Interactive remain – Fray Cafe, 20×2 and Smokler’s closing dinner to name a few. And through the marketing, and the endless walks to too-small panel rooms, and the innumerable parties, hopefully somewhere in there the spirit of ‘old skool’ SXSW remains alive too – people exchanging ideas and forming lasting, meaningful relationships. Everything else is window-dressing.

*Many members of that core group were absent this year for various reasons, and they were sorely missed…

What I’m getting at, I’m suppose, is that I’m not quite dead. I’ve just been…well, busy is something of an understatement. I know, I know – I use that excuse a lot, and it starts to lose all meaning after a while, but ‘struth.

I should explain. I’ve been working an average of 9.5 hours a day lately. And when I say ‘lately’, I mean for the last couple of months, until this weekend. This weekend, I’ve been working an average of 15 hours a day. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say – quite the contrary, in fact – it’s just that by the time I get the opportunity to write, all I really want to do is turn my brain off.

I’m hoping to correct this behavior in short order. While I have quite a bit of travel coming up over the next 60 days (as evidenced by the Dopplr widget in the sidebar), my schedule should be a bit more open, allowing for more creative output. I’m also going to start thinking about giving the site another facelift – Qwilm! works well as a stopgap theme, but I’ve never been 100% happy with it. (I don’t know that I’ll ever be entirely happy with an existing theme, but I don’t have the ‘mad skillz’ to code my own.)

I also have a number of half-started projects to finish, not least of which is the editing and posting of the balance of my SXSW photos. (No, I’m not kidding.) But all in due time.

This post serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, I want to let everyone who actually still reads this that I’m alive and well, and while work has kept me busy, I haven’t been mauled by a bear, eaten by lions, or struck by lightning.

Reason the second is to test the WordPress app for iPhone. More about the iPhone adventure later. But I really think that it’s great that I can sit here in a movie theater and do something productive with my time instead of watching the annoying preshow.

Trailers are starting… More later.

This is what happens when I let my mind wander.

So, if his theme music is to be believed, Yogi Bear sleeps until noon, but has every picnic basket in Jellystone Park by sunset. Last time I checked, picnics are traditionally a lunchtime affair. And as we all know, Yogi is pretty civilized – sure, he doesn’t wear clothes beyond his shirt collar, green tie, and snappy hat, but you’d have to presume he at least showers and brushes his teeth, which would take at least 15-20 minutes. Assuming the tie’s not a clip-on, by the time he completes his look and ventures out of his cave, it’s at least 12:30 PM. So…

  • Is Jellystone Park starting some kind of happenin’ ‘late-afternoon’ picnicking trend?
  • Are the lunchtime picnickers just really lazy, and allowing their food to spoil? (And, in that instance, is Yogi actually doing them a favor?)
  • Is Jellystone Park frequented by environmental activists, insistent on ignoring Ranger Smith and feeding the animals anyway (intentionally allowing Yogi to steal their baskets)?
  • Is there some strange time/space phenomenon at the entrance to Yogi’s cave, causing it to be noon inside and dawn outside?

William of Ockham tells us that all other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best. Which means, of course, that…

  • Yogi Bear is a ninja.

Think about it. He’d have to be really fast to get all of those baskets. He’s constantly giving Ranger Smith the slip. He speaks in riddles. And bears are the #1 threat to America. It all adds up.

You think about it. Think. About. It.

For five days every March, the geeks of the world are the rock stars in Austin.  Those five days are over, and the actual (and wanna-be) rock starts are starting to invade the Texas capital.  As for me, I’m sitting in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, sipping on a crappy latte, sorting through a few hundred photos and trying to process all of the good stuff from the last few days.  I’ll be posting photos over the next few days (no, I won’t wait 6 months like I did last year).

I just wanted to take an opportunity, while I have a moment, while it’s still fresh in my mind, and while I’m not distracted by work, I just want to say thank you to all of the veterans at SXSW who always make me feel so welcome; to all of the folks I’ve met over the past four years, who make the trip worthwhile (perhaps almost as much as the conference itself); to all of the newbies and the new-to-me-bies, with whom I hope to speak again soon, either over Twitter or IRL; and to everyone who stuck around for the marathon at Fray Cafe on Sunday night and cheered my semi-embarrassing story.

Soon, I’ll be back in New Jersey, trying to figure out how to rawk after SXSW.  And sleeping in my own bed…which is always nice.  And scheming ways of making sure my schedule is clear for SXSW 2009.

Yeah, you know the drill. This is the part where I apologize for being away for such a long time, and I swear on several dead people that I’m going to make good and post more frequently.

Honesty moment: I’ve had quite a bit to post, I just haven’t really been inspired to post. I know that sounds like a crock of shit, but in all honesty, I just really haven’t been inspired to write lately. I pull up the ‘write post’ template in WordPress, and I sit there looking at a blank field, wondering where all the words went. (Really, I used to be quite good at this. I think. It’s been such a long time.)

Oh, and sorry about all the Boston references – I’ve been playing a lot of Rock Band lately. Finished the solo guitar tour on medium, and I’m almost exclusively playing bass on hard or expert (except for “Green Grass and High Tides” – that song just kicks my ass every damn time).

It goes without saying that work has been keeping me incredibly busy. After much wrangling on my part, my group has finally got the go-ahead to outsource our database and web application work; naturally, I’ve been given a lot of responsibility for this particular project. In addition to everything I’d normally be responsible for. It’s daunting, to say the least; for the better part of the last few months, I feel like I’ve continually been playing catch-up.

There’s been some good stuff in that time, tho – I’ve been down to DC a few times, and even had a chance to see the wily and elusive Becca; made another trek to the Bay Area in December, wherein Erica and I got lost on steep hills, and Esin & Tomek hosted a dinner party (and I finally got to meet Jessa‘s ‘bucket’); and I got a really positive performance review at work, which I’m hoping will materialize into a substantial raise. Oh, and I got some new shoes. So there’s that. But even still, I’ve been feeling generally drained.

Which brings us to the present. South By Southwest Interactive starts at the end of this week. As busy as SXSW can be, I always look forward to those five days in Texas as a chance to recharge the batteries. I’m hoping that I’ll be inspired by those clever, clever friends of mine – inspired to blog, inspired to try new things, and inspired to experiment and grow. Needless to say, there will be at least once-daily posting and photos a-plenty from Austin.

I’m sitting at gate 58 at Los Angeles International Airport, waiting for my flight home (the whys and wherefores will come later in another post, I promise), and I’m left alone to ponder the following:

  • Just after I sat down, I spotted a reality show camera crew doing a ‘pick-up’ shot at the next gate over. (A pick-up shot is there the crew will shoot an event, like boarding a plane, out of sequence, to be edited in later. It technically doesn’t “break” the “reality” of the show, since the pick-up shot is just linking two other events that actually happen – it just provides context.) Even though I have less than a passing interest in reality TV, I couldn’t help but wonder what show this was being shot for. The girl ‘boarding’ the plane was either named Gutierez or Martinez (those were the names the gate staff paged before she ‘went down the jetway’. I tried to look for tell-tale clues or markings on the crew’s equipment, but couldn’t find any.
  • Why do Delta’s short-hop flights, like my Newark to Atlanta connection yesterday, have seat-back TVs, but the long-haul flight (ATL to LAX) only has overhead screens that are prone to malfunction or failure? For that matter, why ARE those overhead screens so prone to malfunction or failure? How hard is it to keep an LCD panel working?
  • Why would touching the side of the magnetometer at the security checkpoint cause it to go off? The one I went through earlier here at LAX terminal 5 was very narrow, and my hand nicked the side wall as I went through. I tried again, hunching over with my arms scrunched in front of me, and was fine (aside from looking like an idiot).
  • Why don’t the airlines have the flexibility to press larger planes into service when a flight fills up? The red-eye I’m going to board in about 2 hours (LAX->ATL) is completely jam-packed – every seat is sold. Since there’s clearly enough interest in this flight to fill a 767, why not press a 777 into service instead, and give those of us in steerage economy a little breathing room?

And finally…

  • I wonder how Cheese Day went… I was invited to attend this year, but this trip came up at the last minute.

I hadn’t realized that it had been so long since my last post in this space. I had decided after SXSW to make a concerted effort to post more frequently, but…well, here we are.

If you’re looking for the update post, however, this isn’t it. That post is still forthcoming. But for those of you not reading my musings through The RSS, you’ll have noticed that I’ve selected a new theme for the site. It’s a bit of a change, but I’m quite fond of the look. The theme also has the added benefit of not being nearly as temperamental as the previous one, and isn’t nearly as much of a pain in the arse to customize (which is to say that very little customizing was needed to meet my specifications).

So, with the new look in place, and the busy season at work almost behind me, hopefully I will find blogging inspiration aplenty to keep you entertained. (Also, I need to get off my ass and finish editing my SXSW photos. But that’s another post…)

Not much to be said here. Just read this News.com headline from earlier today. I DARE you to tell me your brain doesn’t hurt afterward.

It HURTS!