Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/21

Kendall Guillemette and I are gonna get a discussion session together at Seattle Mind Camp tomorrow on sustainable work/life patterns. We’re calling it “Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns (…is Calacanis a Saint? Something Else?)”.

See flier below. Some seeds for the discussion —

  • How do you structure your work?
  • Is banking on a buyout like saying, “I’m gonna play in the NBA?”
  • What’re your successes?
  • Your epic fails?

Also cool — we plan to use an iPhone audio meter to insta-poll the crowd on what we should talk about (if it’s a decent size).

Special shout out to all those who need a refresher on “All Your Base Are Belong to Us”.

Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns



Screencast Tools

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/02/04

Since I get asked a lot, here’s my rundown of screencast tools —

PC – Camstudio: Free and can get you started

PC – Camtasia: $299 but has bells and whistles that most people want after doing it for a while (e.g. pan and scan)

PC – Captivate: $699. Like powerpoint on steroids, lets you capture screen sequences and create demos or interactive simulations — then outputs Flash movies that you can put on the web (.swf) or edit in the Flash IDE when installed on the same machine (.fla).

Mac – iShowU: $20

Mac – Snapz Pro: $69

Mac – Screencast: $29. Here’s a recent review of this third Mac tool in relation to the first two.



My Chumby Just Arrived

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/01/07

My Chumby just arrived — here it is (except mine is black) — and yes, this is a realtime reflection of what it is showing —



Forget the Flex Schlock and the Silverlight Boutiques

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/10/02

Saw something interesting at the Seattle Drupal User’s Group meeting last week. (Background — Drupal is one of the leading open source content management systems.)

Of the 10-12 people there, three of the group’s mainstays had just returned from Drupalcon — the big Drupal developer’s conference in Barcelona.

As they ran down the list of the cool stuff they saw, they mentioned the new Flex Showcase that Adobe revealed at the conference — built on top of Drupal with Flex as the presentation layer.

Folks brought it up on their laptops and seems genuinely impressed — A few piped up with the question, “This is cool but what is Flex?”

And that’s the point in the evening when I saw Adobe’s strategy of engaging this particular developer community begin to pay dividends.

I chimed in and gave a summary of Flex — that it’s a developer friendly way to build Flash applications — to which many of the folks said, “Ahhh, that’s why I haven’t heard of it, Flash, it’s closed source, right?”

I got to detail that while the Flash Player is not open source, the Flex framework is and that there is a free SDK that can be used to build Flex apps. Also mentioned the Tamarin project and how the high performance Javascript engine from Flash had been open sourced and would provide the Javascript functionality for the next version of Firefox.

The picture this particular Drupal community got is that not only does Adobe share some of their ‘open’ ethos — it’s also actively making it easier to do cool stuff (like the Flex Showcase) in their native environments (text editors, not timelines).

And with that, Flex made an inroad into one of the most vibrant developer networks I’ve gotten to know over the last couple of years.

Drupal has a great community of folks like this around the Northwest — and it was cool to see Adobe turn a corner with them, not through marketing ‘schlock’ or shilling for ’boutique’ sites, but through honoring diverse business models and solving people’s dev problems.

This is the same kind of strength that Microsoft’s Silverlight plays to in the ginormous .NET developer community. With the CLR coming in Silverlight 1.1, Microsoft is tapping into the shared ethos and “how can you solve my problem” of theis massive developer group that will likely make or break its Silverlight play.

No matter who you think wears the black hats or the white hats in this discussion, RIA developers everywhere would rather spend their time building cool and robust tools for their users than fighting cross browser CSS rendering and multiple javascript runtimes.



Fake Steve Jobs is Dead, Long Live Fake Steve Jobs

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/08/06

My favorite anonymous blogger of all time has been unmasked. Yesterday the New York Times revealed that Fake Steve Jobs, author of the witty and sarcastically insightful Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, is actually Daniel Lyons, a senior editor at Forbes magazine.

Scoble points to a cool insight from Scott Karp over at Publishing 2.0 on lessons to be learned by the whole thing —

Fake Steve proves that big media companies have the talent in house — they just can’t get out of their own way to experiment with disruptive innovations.

Couldn’t agree more, and to take it a bit further, I think there really is a place for anonymous posting sometimes.

The first time I ever began to appreciate the idea that there could be a place for anonymous internet posting was back in 2000 — when I participated in a lively online community for the first time. We got into a fun experiment where a pastor friend of mine used an anonymous character on a public church bulletin board to “spur on” some folks in his congregation.

It was the first time that I saw someone in a reserved organization say things that needed to be said with an over the top sarcastic wit that signaled through the noise.

It went well beyond the “nice” conversations you were “supposed” to have at church, and, funny enough, it captured a lot of attention (especially in a sub-culture where hyperbole seems to have been dropped from everyone’s literary toolkit).

The more I think about these experiences the more that I firmly believe that, while there are clearly dangers of anonymous postings (where people do not own their words), there are also clearly situations where anonymity can breed a level of honesty that can be, shall we say, quite fruitful at times.

FSB is dead — Long live FSB.



CANCELLED: GTD Meetup for March 26

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/26

Tonight’s GTD Meetup where I was going to lead a discussion has been cancelled due to venue double booking.

We’ll be rescheduling and will keep you posted.

If anyone knows of a good alternate venue with wifi, please ping me so I can pass word along to Mike Wilkerson, the organizer.



Leading Discussion at Seattle GTD Meetup on Monday

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/24

I’ll be leading an informal discussion of some of the online project / task collaboration tools I’ve used at the Seattle GTD Meetup at 7 PM this Monday, March 26th at Hale’s Ales in Ballard.

Drop by and say hello — I plan on giving an overview of Basecamp, activeCollab, and my new favorite Vitalist.



Creating Passionate Users: Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video…

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/16

God bless Kathy Sierra.

Over the last few months I’ve found myself trying to explain the deepening (and real community) aspects of meatspace interactions that my wife Jen and I have been drawn into as a result of participating in online community.

Ruthie's Shoes at Northern Voice 2007

Usually we are trying to explain to business colleagues or friends or family or members of our church that, yes, indeed — online community is a part of real community and not the equivalent of social cheese-whiz that some describe it to be.

But, yeah — as I’m working to explain it I often see eyes begin to glaze over — and I can tell that folks are either not buying it or I’m not communicating very well.

Which leaves me — searching for ways to compellingly relate how online community has become real community for us — looking for the stories and patterns that engage both the emotion and the intellect.

Enter Kathy Sierra.

This morning I read her post from yesterday describing her keynote at SXSW. The post is called Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video… and is full of great passages on how all this social web software drives a deeper desire for face-to-face community.

My favorite quote —

…all our globally-connecting-social-networking tools are making face-to-face more, not less desirable. Thanks to the tools y’all are building, we now have more far-flung friends–including people we’ve never met f2f–than ever before. We now have more people we want to connect with in the human world, often after years of electronic-only contact.

Nice insight — sticking that pattern in my bag of tricks — something tells me the “online community isn’t real community, is it?” questions aren’t gonna stop anytime soon — this stuff is continuing to disrupt everything.

Did I mention that my mom who just got her first computer for Christmas is now IM’ing all the time — the world really is getting flat.



Whitespace: 34% More Retention in Half the Time

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/14

Cool article this AM from the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review. It’s a review of an eyetracking research study called “Eyetracking points the way to effective news article design“.

Best quote —

“What if you could engage users in a story for about half the time, yet have them remember about 34 percent more of the content?”

Visit the article for cool screenshots of the noted before and after design. Main takeaways are that retention increased with a redesign that emphasized —

  • Increased white space
  • Concise main idea
  • Removal of unnecessary images
  • Shortened lines of text
  • An added graphic for each restaurant ranking


Udell on ‘Video Knowledge’ and my riff on the death of the specialist

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/12/20

Father of screencasting, Jon Udell has great post on the move toward video as a knowledge/rapid-documentation repository. After a few technical points, he hits this gem that completely jives with my experience on getting into the flow of screencasting —

…you have to overcome the same natural reticence that makes dictation such an awkward process for those of us who haven’t formerly incorporated it into our work style. You also have to overcome the notion, which we unconsciously absorb from our entertainment-oriented culture, that video is a form of entertainment. It can be. Depending on the producer, a screencast documenting a disaster recovery scenario could be side-splittingly funny. And if the humor didn’t compromise the message, a funny version would be much more effective than a dry recitation. But even a dry recitation is way, way better than what’s typically available: nothing.

Just another step toward the seamlessness of media where real headway means that this will be less and less of a specialist skill — who is a ‘word processing’ specialist these days?

No one — every one.

There is a point in the future (near? mid? far?) Jon alludes to here where things like screencasting will be a natural repository for business/education/whatever knowledge — a time when this stuff will not be a specialized skillset.


Last night with the wife and kids, I brought YouTube up on the family TV and searched for my wife’s username and my daughter’s name. We all sat mesmerized for 30 minutes while we played the various clips Jen has uploaded over the past 6-8 months.

It’s content that I, as a professional multimedia producer, had little to do with — All video my wife produced on her own through mostly self developed knowledge and a digital camera (not a miniDV camcorder).

What does TV look like to my daughter and my wife? Something much less specialized than I could ever imagine — and I’ve got a good imagination.

On with the flattening of the universe…



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