Of Gambling, Hope and DespairRight up front, I'm going to admit that not everyone will agree with my perspective here. That's okay. That's what weblogs are all about, right? Okay, now that's out of the way, I'm here in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada for Gnomedex and while it's not as horribly tacky as Reno, in some ways it's far worse, because unlike Reno, Lake Tahoe is a truly beautiful spot that's polluted by the swirling testament to greed that is modern gambling.
When I talk with children about marketing and advertising, it doesn't take long for them to agree that almost all marketing is fundamentally about making you unhappy: after all, wouldn't your life be better, wouldn't you have more friends, wouldn't you be happier if you just bought X, or Y, or Z? Next time you watch a TV ad or look through a magazine, think about it and you'll see what I mean.
Art is in the eye of the beholder, right?I've always enjoyed museums and galleries, whether it's high renaissance, cubist, modern or impressionist. I don't enjoy all art, but that's exactly as it should be: in my opinion art is completely subjective, and I absolutely don't expect that what I like you'll like too, and vice versa. Having said that, there are some sublime pieces that I've had the pleasure to have seen, including the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, and my favorite Da Vinci sculpture, The Slave.
What brings up this topic? My friend Joel has launched a new Web site called Land Of Art.com and I've been spending an hour or so browsing the wide range of prints offered on the site.
"Fast Food Nation": A book that's changed what I eatI don't usually write about books I've read - though I read quite a lot - but I recently finished Eric Schlosser's book Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal and found it a remarkably informative, compelling, and at-times harrowing exposé on food processing, additives, and perhaps most compellingly, how slaughterhouses are run and why there are sporadic outbreaks of E. coli o157:H7 tainted meats. (don't believe me? Look how often E.coli is mentioned in news services tracked by Google News)
Fast Food Nation is quite a read, up there with Tom Robbin's ground-breaking Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth (and I'm about to delve into his latest book, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World too).
And in parallel, I'm also reading another fascinating book with the catchy title of Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future, discussing how public relations companies and corporations manage and manipulate public perception of products and services through, among other things, creating and promoting "experts" to tell us how good products really are. A major topic of this book is also how so-called independent research labs are so often actually funded by the companies for whom the research proves the efficacy or viability of their products. Imagine that.
So how has Fast Food Nation changed my eating habits given that I already avoid red meat and fried foods? Well, it's really clarified why it's important -- from a health perspective -- to know where your food comes from and how it got to your store shelves. In the case of beef, I will never again eat any red meat at a restaurant, and after you read this book, I bet you won't either. Grass-fed organic beef from a place like "Whole Foods"? Maybe it's not quite as bad. But just in general, these books reinforce something I've been saying for years: ignorance may be bliss, but health comes from thinking about what you're feeding your body and trying to eat the highest quality foods possible.
And if you're not sure what I mean, please, do your body -- and your family -- a favor and go read one or more of these books.
Thoughts on royalties, distribution, credibility and other author issuesIn one of the many discussion groups I'm involved with, a neophyte author posted the following scenario: "Which publisher would you choose given the folowing scenario? Publisher A (Say the AWLs and Sam's of the world) may sell 5,000 copies of your book at a retail rate of $39.99 and will typically be discounted on Amazon by 30% .. Publisher B (Say the CRCs and Springer's of the world) with the same book may sell 2,000 copies at a retail rate of $59.99 and the book will not be discounted at all on Amazon..."
It's a very interesting question because it brings up many of the more subtle facets of publishing, issues that aren't immediately apparent to many authors, whether they're working with magazines or the book publishing industry, and even if you've been contemplating your own ebooks, the same key topics can illuminate your decision-making processes.
Capturing Video on your MacI original wrote the following article for InformIT and they have generously allowed me to reproduce it here to help disseminate the information. And so, please read on to learn everything you need to be able to watch TV on your Mac, capture video onto your hard disk, and even burn DVDs of TV shows, movies, and other archived video material. The pullquote for the article was:
"You have 100 hours of favorite TV programs and movies sitting on the hard disk of your DVR. So how do you get some of them into your Macintosh and thence onto a DVD disk? "It'll cost a few bucks, but it's easy!" says author Dave Taylor."
Continue Reading "Capturing Video on your Mac"
Here are some cool new Web sites to check outIf you have a few minutes to spare, I can't say enough about the value of each of the following Web sites, run by friends and colleagues of mine:
And people still ask what's wrong with Microsoft FrontPage?I'm digging through the source to a Web page that was built with Microsoft FrontPage and came across a code fragment so scary that even if you don't have a clue about HTML, you should blanch and feel quesy:
<blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> <blockquote> </b><p ALIGN="LEFT"> </p> </blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote> </blockquote>Got that? What does this accomplish? I don't even really know, as it's just such a complete waste of code and complexity...
Learn about Linux shells and shell scriptingStarting with the August 2004 issue, I am now contributing a monthly column on shell scripting basics to LinuxWorld Magazine called Wicked Cool Linux. So far we have two columns published and I have two more "in the bag", queued for publication.
What's nice is that SYSCON, the publishers of LinuxWorld, uses the creative commons license for the material so unlike the articles I write for other publications, I'm free to reproduce my Wicked Cool Linux columns on my own Web site. And I've done so! Please take a minute and check out my new archive at http://linux.intuitive.com/ and if it looks good, please subscribe to the magazine or at least bookmark the page and come back every month for a new installment of my column.
Gnomedex and Hurricane Electric, aka "Meet Dave Taylor"For those of you who are always looking for fun and interesting conferences, I'm pleased to announce that I'm going to be joining a panel of experts at Gnomedex IV to talk about weblog marketing, and then just a few days later, I'll be teaming up with Hurricane Electric to offer a one-day Intro to Unix System Administration workshop.
Gnomedex should be crazy, kewl, geeky, and really fun -- previous Gnomedex conferences, as hosted by the inimitable Chris Pirillo, have been some of the best networking events I've attended in recent years. This time, Gnomedex is situated in beautiful Lake Tahoe, California and is scheduled for 30 Sept through 2 Oct. A weekend gig, it'll be well worth your time. But don't just listen to me, read what other say about the event.
And the Hurricane Electric workshop in Fremont, California on Sunday, the 3rd of October, should be a bit slower paced, a bit less packed with celebrities, but a great - and surprisingly inexpensive - opportunity for you to take your Unix / Linux / Mac OS X command line skills from beginner level up to intermediate/advanced and learn the basics of system administration on a Unix box too. Darn useful information to have, and you can sign up today and guarantee a spot by visiting their Web site.
I hope to meet some of you at these events!
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