Open Source Everything


10 Tips for making the most of BarCamp

BarCampNYC is coming up this weekend, and I wanted to start off the blogging frenzy that will surely ensue with a few tips for getting the most out of the incredible unconference that is BarCamp.

* Come rested
* This one sounds simple, but it's important. Barcamp starts at 9 on Saturday and goes till 6 on Sunday. Get some good sleep the night before, because you'll either be in a session or chatting with folks for nearly 36 hours straight!
PodCamp Boston Schedule
* Come packing gadgets
* Coming to a Barcamp event is like seeing the future of conferences. Everyone's got a laptop, digital camera, mp3 player, recorder, videocam, etc, and are constantly using them. Bring your toys, they'll come in very handy!
* Bring cards... Lots of 'em
* You'll never believe the number of great people you'll meet at BarCamp. Having a serious stack of cards with you is a necessity if you want people to be able to get in touch with you later. Seriously, pack what you think you'll need and then double it. People have run out of cards at every barcamp I've been to. If you're doing cool stuff that's not related to your 9-5, consider having some cards made up that reflect you and your projects. You can swing by kinkos and get some made up quick that get the job done in a pinch.
* Introduce yourself
* This is another no brainer that makes a ton of difference. In a room full of people, it can be hard to know who to talk to. Don't hesitate to shake someone's hand and ask what they do. If you're generally introverted, find one of the organizers and ask them to introduce you to a few folks. You'll also notice that people tend to clump together. Don't be afraid to step into the group or sit right down at the table. Another voice is always welcome in the conversation.
Filming Uncle Seth
* Create content
* If you're a blogger, photographer, podcaster, or creative in any other way, come prepared to create! Some of my best BarCamp experiences have come from asking folks if I could interview them for both segments in The Alternative Music Show and Felt Up TV. Snapping great pictures of folks is also a great way to get to know them and to keep the BarCamp spirit going after the event.
* Tag everything
* If you're creating content, you probably want people to be able to find it. There will be a page on the wiki for linking to your work, so link your stuff up there, but also be sure to tag everything with BarCamp and BarCampNYC2 (or whatever specific *camp you're at), as well as the names of people and companies you're talking with, photographing, etc. Subscribe to the technorati and flickr feed for that tag so you can see what other people are posting too.
Checking out the PodCamp Boston Schedule
* Post from the event
* Assuming the wifi stays up (a few hundred geeks connecting all at once and schlepping multimedia all over the place puts a strain on even the best networks), getting your stuff up while you're there is just plain cool. It's amazing to be in a session and see photos, blog posts, and even video go up within a few minutes of the talk. It's also a great way to link up with the folks you're hanging out with, as you can see who's posting what content and comment on their stuff when it goes live.
Eric, Rachel, Robert
* Stay overnight
* The sessions are great for soaking up the knowledge everyone is sharing at BarCamp, but the real connections are made in the hallways, in front of the schedule wall, and hanging out after the event. If at all possible, stick around for the afterhours stuff and really get to know folks. There's also lots of great projects that happen after the sessions are done, and even spontaneous hacking sessions where things like new mashup webapps and cool plugins and scripts get created in the wee-hours between day one and day two
* Challenge yourself
* It can be temping to attend sessions about stuff you know and are interested in and hang out with folks you already know. Challenge yourself on both counts. I've forced myself to attend sessions on things like UI and usability and even marketing, topics I would normally skip in favor of things that I'm better at or like more, and I've come away far richer for it. Pick at least 3 sessions you don't think you're interested in and plunk yourself down in them. You'll thank yourself.
* Follow up
* BarCamp happens fast. You'll meet a flurry of people and attend a gob of amazing sessions. Write notes on peoples cards so you remember who was who, and after the event drop them an email to let them know it was nice to meet them. Add them as a flickr contact. Subscribe to their blog. Keep the BarCamp spirit alive for as long as you can after the event!

Eric Skiff Enjoy the event everybody, and I'll see you there! If you see me, say hello. I'm going be running around making sure the food is in order an following a lot of guidelines above, so chance are you'll probably never see me without my camera, laptop, or maybe even with a puppet or two! Heck, I might even have one of them interview you!


We gather here to mourn the loss of linux on Eric’s desktop.

Vista Screenshot

Originally uploaded by Glitch010101.

It is done.

I just couldn't take it anymore. 3.5 years of running desktop linux at home and I never stopped *fixing* it. There was always something that needed tweaking, something that was broken today.

I need an OS that vendors write working drivers for. I need it to do what I need in a hurry, without worry of having to go "i know you can do that under linux, I just have to figure out how."

You know, simple things... like printing. And my display.

I can't explain what a joy it was to install my OS and have 2 displays up and running at the right res within a few minutes, and know that they're 3D enabled and accelerated.

Of course, this is going to make some of the other things that I took for granted (like NFS filesharing between my main machine and my MythTV box and SSH access) readily apparent, but i'm sure I can work around those losses.

I'm ready to do more work WITH my pc and less work ON it.


That’s a new one: DNS outage

The box that powers is up. I know this because is served from this very same server. However, you can't reach as of right now. Pings don't even resolve.

Dig reports this:

; < <>> DiG 9.3.1 < <>>
;; global options: printcmd
;; connection timed out; no servers could be reached

Both zoneedit nameservers that tell users what server to find on are down. Granted, their service is free, so beggars can't be choosers, but in 7 solid years of web hosting, I've only seen this happen once before.

Here's hoping it's back by morning, or I'm going to have to find an alternate DNS host pronto.

: Nice. By invoking murphy's law and posting about the site being down, I've brought it back up. Whahoo! Thanks to whoever dragged their sleepy butt out of bed in Wisconsin to bring that nameserver back online.

Filed under: technology, web No Comments

Turning off the “getting started” taskpane in Word 2003

Everyone hates the fscking paperclip. You all know what I'm talking about, it's that stupid little popup that gets in your way when you're trying to do your work in a microsoft office program.

Microsoft finally retired their friendly bane-of-every-office-workers-life with Office 2003, only to replace with the "Task Pane".

Yes, the "Microsoft Bob" inspired paperclip has grown up and gotten fat - it now takes up a whole sidebar of workspace and covers your document, forcing you to close it.

Every time.

It comes back every time you start the program. If Dante could rewrite the inferno, I'm sure this type of "we know best" functionality is part of the first level.

To turn it off for good, go to tools->options->view tab and uncheck "startup task pane."

I've recorded a breif, funny tutorial on this, so you can see exactly what to click.

Your done, it's gone for good! Well, until you start excel for the first time, that's a whole 'nother program. Have fun.


DIY – doing more with less

Grr. I really have to learn to save more. I just lost a great long post, but it's going to force a rewrite and two separate posts here, which is a good thing.

Short summary: I'm in a Do It Yourself panel right now that's giving me a lot of great advice. I'm sorry to have lost some of the earlier quotes, but them's the breaks.

Rheingold: TESS is the US patent trademark search site. It only costs 360 dollars to trademark your logo or wordmark.

Rheingold:"Just signing up for a domain name doesn't mean that you have any right to use that mark."

Hudack / Rheingold: "You don't need to have lawyers involved. 2 sentences on paper with some witnesses and signed works."

Keeler: "you really have to follow the bloggers who are influential .

Attendee: There's a great site for doing trademarks and legal things yourself called nolo


Login Problems and the NumLock Key

I've just stumbled upon a nasty little problem with Windows XP, laptops, and the NumLock key.

Windows attempts to remember whether or not the numlock key should be on, but there's several different "states" that the machine has to remember for. It remembers for each user, and for the "no user" logon mode, meaning that if it defaults the the one you don't want, it can be extremely hard to change.

Okay, this sounds like a simple annoyance, just hit the key when you need to use the keypad, right?

The problem comes in when you're on a laptop and numlock is on during the logon screen by default. For most of us, the numlock key is that stupid button that makes the keypad over at the right of our keyboard do weird stuff if it's off. For laptop users, the numlock key turns a portion of their lettered keyboard in to a numerical keypad.

When this happens on the logon screen, you can't see that you're typing numbers instead of letters, because your password is asterisked out.

You can log in by figuring out what's going on and hitting the numlock key, but the next time you log out, you're back with the same problem.

Here's the voodoo you have to do to fix it.

* Log in
* Turn numlock off
* Hit ctrl-alt-del to log off (don't hit start->shutdown->logoff)
* You'll now be back at the logon screen, and you'll notice that your numlock key is maddeningly back on
* Turn it off once more, but don't log in
* Hit "shutdown" on the logon screen and reboot your computer
* Upon rebooting, it should remain off. You've now set the default setting for the numlock key during logon.
* (this would, of course, work in the reverse if you wanted to change the default to on for a normal keyboard)


I remember this feeling…

This was the 9/12/01 feeling. The sudden feelingrealization that nothing that you're working towards, saving for, or betting on may actually come to pass.

I just read

All of it.

I cannot summarize, explain, or even articulate what it's about. Just read it - at least the first page - and come to your own conclusions.

It's not a question of if but when, and It's time to start planning.


GlitchCastFriendAdder 1.0 is released

I've just released version 1.0 of the GlitchCastFriendAdder - the Open Source MySpace Friend Adder.

It's a combination friendID scraper and bulk adder for MySpace.

You can find more information here.


Podcasting: Stereo vs Mono – how about a little of both?

This is a comment I left on Colleen's blog for If you haven't checked it out yet, Colleen puts together a very funny photo-comic every few days featuring a cast of stuffed animals and the occasional cameo by a human or 17.

Colleen and her friend and upstairs neighbor Annie have started "Fluff Radio," a weekly podcast with comedy skits, funny stories, and music. They've got a nice 2 mic setup, so each of them gets their own channel, and appears to be "in that ear." This is both neat, and slightly disorienting to listen to, and they've recently posted a poll as to whether they should go mono. I've got some thoughts on the issue and a technique for getting the "best of both worlds" using audacity, so I figured I'd post it here as well.

Okay - so here's my vote on the podcast stereo vs. mono thing. I actually had to start skipping the fluff radio shows on my iRiver because listening to them in super-stereo makes my eyes water and throws off my balance. I'm constantly wondering what's wrong with one headphone or another.

I don't think the stereo is bad, per se, but what I would suggest is doing some sort of a mix of each track in each ear. For example Annie should be 60% in the left and 40% in the right, and the other way around for you.

Of course, this is slightly tricky to do, but shouldn't be too bad. Here's how I would go about it:

In audacity, copy the stereo track that makes up your and Annie's audio. Paste that to another stereo track, and then split both stereo tracks into it to two "left-right" tracks. Turn the left one to right and the right one to left.

Adjust the volume of BOTH sets of stereo tracks. They'll be added to each other in the final mix, so if they add up to more than 100%, you'll get some clipping (that harsh sound when things are too loud). I suggest bring the new tracks down to -12db and the original down to -6. This gives you mostly the original stereo, but with a bit of the other track in each ear. When you listen, it now sounds like you're a little bit to the right of center, and Annie is a little to the left of center, rather than listening to two people on opposite ends of the room. Much easier on the headphone-listening audience 🙂

Finally, you've got your music guests. If you've got them on another stereo track entirely, awesome. Just leave it be and it'll get down-mixed perfect into the single stereo track generated when you convert to MP3. If you've got the music on the same tracks as your audio, you'll need to split it out from the other tracks so that the music doesn't get mangled by our ghetto stereo down-mixing.

For the example track, I just took a copy of your original audio track and made a third stereo track. I then de-"amplified" all the non-music sections to -48 db (the standard audacity amplify effect only lets you do -24. You can do this twice to "silence" a section. There are other plugins that let you silence sections or amplify to other arbitrary values, but that's another post entirely)

So now I've got three stereo tracks - the original (set to -6 db with the little slider at the left)

The "right and left" swapped tracks, (set to -12 db)

And the music track (untouched except the non-music sections have been silenced)

Export to MP3 and voila. A nicely mixed stereo track that doesn't make eardrums bleed 🙂

Of course, this is all a whole lot of post production, and you might want to just record and go. You can accomplish this same thing by setting your and Annie's mics closer together so that you get some of both voices on each, but listeners can still "hear" where you are in the room.

Here's the final mixed track, so you can listen to what I'm talking about

Happy Recording.

Colleen and Annie in DDR costumes overlayed with DDR graphics

Okay, so while I was waiting for my wonderfully slow home computer to spit out that mp3, I had a little fun with your Dance Dance Revolutionary costume pic. Nice work, by the way. I also like your "super-villain-esque" disclosure about DDR training. Practicing some songs to hustle me? It's on! I'll be practicing with my fingers!


Where’d all the articles go?

Okay, first thing's first - you can find all my back articles here:


The big advantage of switching to [wordpress]( is the fact that with a [mysql]( database on the back end, pages are rendering much faster. Various search engines have been crawling my site like crazy, and while I like being listed, it was really starting to bog down the server as blosxom attempted to render all the articles from 2003 at one go, then all the articles of 2004, then all the articles from January 2004, ad nauseum.

That said, that system worked very nicely for getting picked up by [Google](, and I still get a kick out of coming up as the #1 site for the words "dorky teen"

I'm not sure if I'm going to import the back articles into WordPress or not, but for now, they're frozen here, rendered as static HTML, and all old links will continue to work in perpetuity.

I'm really enjoying WordPress. The markdown plugin alone is making my life much easier, and I'm loving the trackbacks feature - WordPress automatically tries to tell any site I link to that I mentioned them with trackback ping.