Wednesday, April 19, 2006

To Love Automation and to Despise Automation

If you don’t already know it, the Captain Humphreys project – the quixotic adventure in which 4 friends are teaming up to get 1 of them around the world safely in an 11 foot boat for a record – contains 2 video blog fees and 4 text weblog feeds. The 2 video feeds are a quicktime version and a wmv version of our daily videos. The 4 weblog feeds are the Captain’s blog, mine, Dr. Bob’s and Glenn’s, respectively. That means, on any given day, we will have 2 new video blog feeds, at a minimum, and potentially 10 new feeds if everyone on the team writes 2 entries into their text weblogs.

Only very recently did I become aware of a couple of websites that "ping" blog directories to let them know that there’s new content available. I use "" My problem, now, is that Technorati and keep telling me that I already pinged them and please don’t re-ping. But, dear Technorati and, you see, I didn’t re-ping for previously pinged content. I pinged for a second feed I’ve got. All the other blog directories accepted my second ping: blogstreet,,, feedburner,,, icerocket, syndic8, newsgator, and feedster.

When I’m done writing this entry, guess what? I’m going to ping you again. I can imagine you don’t want people ping-ing over and over for the same content. But this isn’t the same content. The last ping was for my wmv video blog. The next one will be for this entry.

Some bloggers, I notice, put up one-liners in their blogs. I’ll bet they ping for that. So it’s okay to tell the world, "Hey world, I just want say hello," but it’s not okay to say, "I just produced, wrote, filmed, and edited a 4 minute video about the imitators of Jules Verne and it’s available on a specific feed for wmv users." Okay. Sure. Makes sense.

Don't get me wrong, I like Technorati and I just don't like that they don't work for me because of automation. And that’s the problem with automation. It makes our lives easier. It extends our efficiency. But circumstances always pop up that were unanticipated when the automation was designed and the automated process breaks down.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Today is Tomorrow is Friday

We’ve been asked, over and over, to share more behind-the-scenes on our project. And we will. Two months ago we made the decision to be as candid as possible about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. The Captain Humphreys Project is, after all, a reality program about a man trying to accomplish a pretty incredible achievement. So the ins-and-outs of how he does it (and how we help him do it) is part of the show and part of the interest. Or at least it is to me. We even made the decision to tell people who are trying to do something similar how we’re doing it. Knowledge is power and we’re keen on this new medium, so sharing what we know and what we’ve learned supports the new medium and what we’re keen on. To that end, I now share this piece of information: today is tomorrow is Friday.

You see, we shoot the episode that goes up tomorrow today. But we just broke that rule this week and shot a show today that will go up Friday. That makes today’s show that we just shot with Stephanie tomorrow’s show by rights, but in fact Friday’s show by schedule.

It’s getting a little bit confusing. We’re thinking of expanding the Captain’s crew and bringing on some more production help and maybe DP/Editing help. So, if you like our project and you think you can handle today being tomorrow being Friday, send me an email.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Learning to Crawl

It’s fair to say I don’t properly understand the blogosphere. I just stumbled on a site that says you can use it to announce your blog updates to weblog directories. Of course I want to announce our newest video about Eric Humphreys’ world record sailing circumnavigation, so I think, great, I can use Or can I? Are video blogs like the ones we are producing considered blogs as far as weblog directories are concerned? I don’t know if I can announce our latest video or not. Arrgghh!

Before I submit our video, I’ll start by promoting this new posting and see what happens. If you are a new reader here because I announced this blog update, please be sure to check out our videos. There’s really nothing like them. How could there be? The universe of people willing to circumnavigate in an 11 foot boat is tiny and the universe of people doing daily video blogs is small, too. Combine them and I think it’s fair to say that our videos are unique.

We have 39 episodes now. 39! Like my excellent friend Bo Bowman likes to say when you ask him how big that is, he says that’s "soooooo big." That’s 2 and ½ hours of programming, people. Excuse me for publicly patting myself on the back, but I feel pretty good about it. Bo is 4 years old, by the way, and I miss him terribly. He lives down Virginia and I haven’t been able to visit him in far too long because I’ve been busy with this project. Well, maybe that will change. We’re thinking of taking a road trip.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

the Oscar and the Captain

The Academy Awards just ended and while I remained awake for the whole thing I feel like I just woke from a nap. John Stuart was funny and composed, but the whole affair was a bore. I’m sure he’ll take the blame, but I doubt, seriously, he deserves it.

Discipline was strictly enforced at this year’s awards: most recipients kept to their time. But the shorter speeches did nothing to relieve the monumental boredom of the affair and may have even increased it. In the past, wondering which star was going to stumble on, like a half-dead animal and diminish their potential future remuneration was more fun than watching today’s concise "thank you thank you thank you" to a list of Hollywood heavyweights none of whom the average viewer cares about. The producers did a great job curtailing the speeches of the award winners and a great job of curtailing the fun at the same time. They imposed rigorous discipline and kept the show from being long and ponderous. What they served up was long and boring instead.

Great. It’s shit or shinola. What’s better: a hot mess of crap with nuts or a hot mess of crap with no nuts chopped up into little pieces? I’ll take the former. At least I have the relief of the nuts; the extra surface area created by the chopped up little pieces just makes the hot mess reek even more. And, by the way, Charlize Theron, beauty and talent that she is, bunted on the dress. Oh that bow ... no no no.

What does all this have to do with the Captain and our project? Let’s see ... the awards were 3 ½ hours of crap programming. We’ve got about the same amount of programming and it’s way better.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Three’s a trend

Or so I’ve heard. And in case it’s true, I’ll say it again, three is a trend.

Glenn posted a blog on Monday and the Captain posted one yesterday. So when I post this today, Wednesday, it means our crew has had three days of posts in a row – hopefully a trend indicating we’re going to get back to more regular production of blogs. If you don’t know what I’m talking about see my post from February 13: the most damning words.

Of course, now that I've proclaimed a trend and my desire to keep it going, I realize I'm horribly out of steam. I have nothing to write about ... so maybe I'll just write about having nothing to write about. Here's the point at which, if you could see me, you'd see a man holding his head in his hands.

CNN is running a story today about the new James Bond not being as Bond as the old Bonds. They note with a chuckle that he can't drive stick, he hurt himself in a stunt, he's a blond Bond, and there are websites on which his face is morphed into Curly's likeness of Three Stooges fame. This is news? There's a war in Iraq, racial tension all over Europe and the world, nuclear proliferation, Bird Flu and a tidal wave of other real, hard news items and the item CNN feels is worth their valuable air time is that the new Bond isn’t Bond enough? ‘nuf said.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Satellites fall out of the sky

In today’s show, the Captain said he will use GPS as well as a sextant, compass and dead-reckoning as his navigational tools as he makes his way around the world. When asked why, given the sophisticated nature of today’s electronic navigational aides, he would use a sextant he said, "batteries die … satellites fall out of the sky."

It’s interesting to me that someone can say "satellites fall out of the sky" so nonchalantly. There are people who don’t know satellites exist, people who do know but don’t know what makes them fall back to earth, still others who know all that plus how to use them, but not how to get them into space. There are still others who know all the above and have designed the systems to get the equipment into exactly the right orbit so that it will stay in one place relative to a ground position on our planet.

Sometimes it just amazes me the depth and breadth of information and knowledge out there. And I’m not implying a hierarchy of value here. The person who doesn’t know about satellites may know a lot more about botany or how to make himself happy than the engineer who designs satellites. I’m just in awe of how big the world is, how gigantic the realm of information and knowledge is, and how ever-expanding the possibilities for us are. And that’s what turns me on most about the Captain Humphreys Project.

First, the Captain is an interesting guy with a fertile brain that encompasses a great deal of information. Second, he doesn’t know everything (no one does) so he is going to come smack up against his ignorance at times. And watching him and his crew – including me – learn and adapt to the things we didn’t or couldn’t anticipate is going to be, I think, fascinating to watch.

The Captain is right. Satellites fall out of the sky. It doesn’t happen all the time, but, in case it does, he’ll be prepared with his sextant. Now, what is a much more likely problem that he hasn’t foreseen?

Monday, February 13, 2006

The most damning words …

We were in a bar and it was loud, so my lady friend had to lean in close so I could hear her. She came so close I could feel her warm breath on my neck and ear. I could smell her perfume. She dropped her voice, low and intimate and said: "so I understand you’re having trouble keeping it up."

WHAT? I didn’t say anything right away because I was slightly in shock. Why would she say that? She has no firsthand knowledge of the situation. She’s got a guy and it’s not me and who the hell is talking and why are they talking about that? I don’t recall any performance issues -- ever. Plus, I would hope that if I HAD left a customer unsatisfied I would have heard of it FIRST. To hear about it second hand and realize that the girl-talk is featuring you is embarrassing and unpleasant.

Another couple of seconds of stunned silence from me and then this chestnut: "huh?" I said.

"I think you’re having trouble keeping your blogs current," she said, "you’re not updating them as often in the last couple of weeks."

Laughter is what came out of me next, with a, "Oh, that, yeah, I’ve noticed too."

My friend was a bit confused by my apparent relief since she knows I take the production of the daily videos and the blogs seriously. "What did you think I meant?" she asked.

"Something like that," I said.

"It’s a problem, no?" She is one of our most ardent supporters and fans. She goes to our site every day and reads all the blogs.

"In the scheme of things, not such a big problem," I said. What I was thinking was that I’d rather have that problem than the other. Of course I spent the next 15 minutes apologizing for our recent fall-off in blog activity and explaining that I will urge the team to be more conscientious because I do care that we "keep it up." But I’m still breathing a sigh of relief to have dodged that other bullet.