Podcamp Toronto 2011 – Saturday afternoon #pcto2011

The second part of the day began with a very interesting talk by Brian on the psychology of websites and how our inner mechanisms can be used to build trust and get people to like us, read more of our content, or buy from us. It was a basic talk that didn´t try to delve too deep on the subject, an impossible task since he only had 45 minutes and he also had to keep it accessible to everyone.

Playing with the Kinect

I was then off to a session called “Why we podcast” featuring a panel of well known podcasters that I’ve never listened to just because my interests lie elsewhere. Nevertheless it was a very lively conversation on what motivates this group of people to podcast regularly and keep doing it despite there not being any money (nor getting girls, as Keith complained repeatedly).

After that I moved a few doors down to hear how to get started in games journalism. I admit that PC games are my thing, and getting paid for playing games sounds like a good thing. However, to get to that stage you have to go through a lot of what sounds like hard work that will eat into your game playing time. This session tried to make that transition a bit easier and provided a few good pointer on what you could do and a bit more insight on what’s involved.

And finally, to end the day I went to the session on photojournalism with HiMy Syed (I met him years ago in the first Jane’s Walk, he led one). Unfortunately there was not enough time to go through everything he had prepared, but in the short time available he did share several very good and important points on making your photographs available and selling them. I wish there had been time to go into a deep discussion on Creative Commons vs traditional copyright, but I guess that could’ve easily taken half a day all by itself.

In all, an excellent first day of sessions, learning and sharing.

Podcamp Toronto 2011 – Saturday Morning #pcto2011

One of the things I keep intending to do is start podcasting, though I’ve dabbled in it a couple of times never have taken it as a regular thing. But I keep wanting to do it, and so I keep coming to Podcamp Toronto to share experiences and learn from those already doing it.

So, this morning instead of my usual 2:00 pm wake up time I raised up at the break of dawn and made my way down to Ryerson University.

The sessions have been pretty good this morning. I attended first the “Hello World” Podcast, mostly to know about the process of making a podcast quickly. One of the things that stops me from making a regular podcast is the time in production and all that. I’m not fancy, I prefer to make something quick and just throw it out there. And this session was really good for that. Paul took us quickly through a script, shared his hardware and software tools used for the occasion and had us record a quick minute audio and sent it to a self-hosted WordPress blog. Good for a start.

For the second session I chose a talk on Podcasting as the “new” media tool, Karim Kanji, host of the Social Media Show, and a last minute fill-in (sorry I didn’t get your name). It was an interesting and lively conversation between presenters and participants, talking about recording equipment, coming up with content, and putting it out there. Good stuff. And @marcopolis was there as well.

The session on podcasting as the 'new' media tool

To end the morning I headed up (it was on the third floor) to listen to Ryan Wiseman speak about videocasting, or podcasting video, or whatever the kids call it. It was very nice to see how he’s done it and also how some of the big players do it as well. It’s amazing how much one can do these days with relatively little equipment.

It’s been great and I’m really looking forward to the afternoon sessions.

Improve WordPress TwentyTen theme with HTML5 and JavaScript

In a recent survey by Chris Coyier over at CSS-Tricks, almost two thirds of respondents said they would not use HTML5 in new projects. In a similar survey by Smashing Magazine the results were almost identical: only 37% of voters said they use HTML5. This is depressing reading. Perhaps developers and designers are scared off by cross-browser incompatibility and the chore of learning new mark-up. The truth is that with a pinch of JavaScript, HTML5 can be used safely today across all browsers, back to IE6. Using HTML5 To Transform WordPress’ TwentyTen Theme – Smashing Magazine

Música gratis: Ida María

Para todos los fans de la rockera noruega Ida María se han puesto oficialmente varias de sus canciones en descarga gratuita. Por lo menos creo que es oficial porque la misma Ida se ha encargado de difundir la información a través de su página en Facebook, Myspace y su cuenta de Twitter.

Vayan al sitio de la NRK sobre Ida María y en la barra de la derecha verán las canciones. Hagan clic donde dice Last Ned para descargar. También pueden escuchar directamente haciendo clic en Lytt.

On the futility of trying to catch bots

Meanwhile, back in DuoPixel, Mark argues on the futility of using captchas as a method to distinguish bots from humans, and that they should be used only after other methods have been tried, because they’re annoying and people, unlike bots, get pissed.

However, he still misses the point on captchas and why use them at all: that the fact that the comments are written by a human or a machine is irrelevant, what’s important is the content and what it adds to the conversation.

It’s easy and cheap to get humans to do the dirty jobs that bots are unable to do just yet, but as Watson recently showed in Jeopardy, it’s just a matter of time before bots can get through any kind of practical test you can implement in your blog or website to keep them out.

And besides, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to keep empty, spammy content out, and that’s easier to recognize by looking at keywords and phrases. After all, for humans to respond it has to be worded a certain way.

Bots can do more than just leave spammy content. They can read your blog post, tell what it’s about and produce a relevant and helpful comment. Sure, it may link back to some site trying to sell you something, but that’s what we humans do and it’s an accepted practice that as long as the comment is relevant and valuable in itself it can link back.

And if you have a bot of your own watching over the comments and producing smart answers of their own, you can have a conversation. Who said the net was only for humans?

Anyway, captchas are useless not because they can be beat, but because they focus on something irrelevant.

In the words of Ken Jennings: I for one welcome our new computer overlords.

Ya era hora: reducción al impuesto en la educación

No es ningún secreto que la educación mexicana está para llorar: tanto la pública como la privada. La primera porque está en manos de sindicatos que se preocupan más por defender las plazas y canonjías de los líderes que por modernizar los métodos educativos y llevar a cabo evaluaciones de su desempeño. La segunda porque cualquier alternativa es mejor así que no tienen que esforzarse.

Desde hace tiempo se ha venido pidiendo que el gasto que los padres hacen en educación privada se pueda deducir de los impuestos ya que sus hijos no están haciendo uso del servicio del gobierno. Al fin esta semana se ha anunciado que se puede hacer esta deducción, hasta el límite de lo que el gobierno gasta por escuincle en sus escuelas (por cierto, un gasto bajísimo que también explica por que la educación en México está tan del nabo).

Obviamente inmediatamente surgieron las voces en contra. Claro, la oposición siempre protesta aunque la idea sea buena, simplemente porque salió del lado del gobierno. Y el oficialismo aplaude aunque la idea sea mala, pus por lo mismo.

Sin embargo ahora los opositores están mostrando el cobre gachamente oponiéndose a lo que es a todas luces una buena propuesta.

Algunas de las cosas que aducen es que:

– Beneficia a los ricos y la clase media: ¿De cuándo acá es negativo que una medida beneficie a la clase media? No sé si se habrán dado cuenta, pero la clase media es la columna vertebral de todo país. El objetivo de una economía es reducir el número de pobres pasándolos a la clase media, no hacerlos a todos pobres.

– Reduce lo que el gobierno gastaría en educación lastimando así a los pobres que no tienen opción más que enviar a sus hijos a escuela pública: aunque es cierto que el gasto tendrá que balancearse de algún modo, esto no necesariamente se hará recortando el gasto educativo. Además se presume que ese dinero ahorrado en impuesto no se gastará, cuando en realidad la mayor parte de los mexicanos tiene una capacidad de ahorro de cero, lo que significa que lo que no se gastarán en impuestos por la educación lo usarán para pagar otros bienes y servicios, sobre los que pagarán impuestos.

En definitiva el decreto presidencial es de las pocas cosas buenas que se han hecho últimamente y merece el apoyo del resto del país. Lo ideal sería una reforma hacendaria en toda regla, pero eso nunca va a pasar porque los partidos se la pasan bloqueándose entre sí o poniéndose de acuerdo para ocultarnos información.

Reduce time spent on feature detection

Ok, I’ll go first: feature testing is motivated by a desire not to be busted, particularly in the face of new versions of UA’s which will (hopefully) improve standards support and reduce the need for hacks in the first place. Sensible enough. Why should users wait for a new version of your library just ’cause a new browser was released or because you didn’t test on some version of something. Cutting The Interrogation Short | Infrequently Noted

It does make sense that if you already know what a browser is capable of you stop trying to detect every single feature and only do that when you don’t know what browser is being used.

We’ve been through much worse #snowmageddon

image

A big snow storm was predicted for today, schools closed and everything. Listening to the media you’d believe the world was about to end. It didn’t. We had a healthy snow fall but nothing to worry about too much.

I don’t doubt the news will try to make it look much worse. At least the traffic is very good what with people staying at home and there being no TTC disruptions.

Seems to have been worse in Chicago, but their media probably likes to exaggerate as well.