Erik Ackerman

Lucky to be a Programmer : Gustavo Duarte

24 July 2008

Lucky to be a Programmer : Gustavo Duarte:

Few things are better than spending time in a creative haze, consumed by ideas, watching your work come to life, going to bed eager to wake up quickly and go try things out. I am not suggesting that excessive hours are needed or even advisable; a sane schedule is a must except for occasional binges. The point is that programming is an intense creative pleasure, a perfect mixture of puzzles, writing, and craftsmanship."
I couldn't agree more.

Peter Merholz Interviews Michael B. Johnson of Pixar

21 July 2008

Peter Merholz Interviews Michael B. Johnson of Pixar: "

Michael B. Johnson, on Pixar’s practice of creating a complete prototype of every film before starting work on the actual movie:

We’d much rather fail with a bunch of sketches that we did (relatively) quickly and cheaply, than once we’ve modeled, rigged, shaded, animated, and lit the film. ‘Fail fast,’ that’s the mantra. With a team of 10-20 people (director, story artists, editorial staff, production designer and artists, and skeleton production management) you can make, remake, and remake again a movie that once it hits 3D will take an order of magnitude more people to execute. The complexity of the task does not ramp up linearly.

Johnson leads Pixar’s internal software tools team — his annual lunchtime talks at WWDC fill to standing-room only.


(Via Daring Fireball.)

Venture Altruist

30 June 2008

One of my favorite ideas in Accelerando: a venture altruist.

This genius goes around telling people better ways to do things, making everyone else rich, for no fee. As a result, he gets comp-ed pretty much anywhere for anything.

Stewart Butterfield’s Resignation Letter to Yahoo

18 June 2008

Stewart Butterfield’s Resignation Letter to Yahoo: "

I'm with Gruber. This is a fantastic letter.

(Via Daring Fireball.)

Ooh, a Cthulhu funny!

04 June 2008

they must need bears - Overheard at WisCon:

R'lyehan tourist phrasebook:

Help. I am being devoured by your octopus.

My species does not breathe water.

No thank you. I do not wish a fungus.

I'm sorry, no. I have claustrophobia.

You seem to have a frog in your throat.
You seem to have a frog in your soup.
You seem to have a frog in your pants.

Would you like a lemon drop?

Peter Williams - REST vs WS-* War

22 May 2008

Such a beautiful turn of phrase:

…I think it [will] survive in a way far more like the way Cobol is still around today: as a zombie, unkillable and ready to eat the brain of anyone who wanders too close the legacy systems.

Nice Find Ze

03 May 2008

a nice moment: " Central Washington offers the ultimate act of sportsmanship "

(Via ze's page ::

Neil Gaiman: C.S Lewis and Mithras

16 April 2008

Neil Gaiman - Neil Gaiman's Journal: balancing acts and Mithras:

Really enjoyed an article on C.S. Lewis in The New Yorker ( -- partly, I think, because it articulated something that started to puzzle me when I was writing 'The Problem of Susan':

Yet a central point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is not the lion of the faith but the lamb of God, while his other symbolic animal is, specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey. The moral force of the Christian story is that the lions are all on the other side. If we had, say, a donkey, a seemingly uninspiring animal from an obscure corner of Narnia, raised as an uncouth and low-caste beast of burden, rallying the mice and rats and weasels and vultures and all the other unclean animals, and then being killed by the lions in as humiliating a manner as possible—a donkey who re-emerges, to the shock even of his disciples and devotees, as the king of all creation—now, that would be a Christian allegory. A powerful lion, starting life at the top of the food chain, adored by all his subjects and filled with temporal power, killed by a despised evil witch for his power and then reborn to rule, is a Mithraic, not a Christian, myth.

Get Infected for Free

30 March 2008

Scott's gotten his publisher to make the PDF of Infected available as a free download. So go to Amazon and buy it, then download the PDF 'cause you can't stand waiting for UPS.

JC played my promo!

30 March 2008

I was all set to pimp this episode of the UltraCreatives anyway. It's a great episode and I want to promote J.C. and Scott. This let's me do both at the same time. Then I get to the end of the episode and, sacred cow![pardon my strange Sigler reference], there's my promo! Cool.

UltraCreatives | 7th Son: J.C. Hutchins' Podcast Novel Trilogy: "UltraCreatives Interview #8: Scott Sigler"

How It All Ends, Part 2

21 March 2008

All of the shows are posted. You can find all of them except the WMV version in iTunes. And here are all of the direct links:

Show Links

Open RSS FeedRSS

MP4 AppleTV iPod WMV

Open In ItunesiTunes

MP4 AppleTV iPod

Open In Windows Media PlayerWindows Media Player

MP4 AppleTV iPod WMV

Open In WinampWinamp

MP4 AppleTV iPod WMV

Open In Real PlayerReal Player

MP4 AppleTV iPod WMV

Wil Wheaton on Barack Obama

21 March 2008

my con sars. let me show you it.: "Thing the second: Barack Obama's speech 'A More Perfect Union' yesterday is one of the most inspiring and wonderful political speeches I've ever heard. He wrote it himself, too. Not a consultant, not a speech writer. He did it. That's phenomenal. He talked to us like we were grown-ups, and addressed something Americans have needed to deal with for decades. It brought tears to my eyes, inspired me, and reaffirmed why I'm so proud to support him."

(Via WIL WHEATON dot NET: Where is my mind?.)


19 March 2008

I'll be remastering the podcasts I can to address the wildly varying mic levels. I'm still trying to decide what to do about episodes 1-21, for which I lost the masters. Should I let sleeping dogs lie, or re-record them? If I re-record them, should I go for an accurate copy, or just a new recording with the same playlist, or something else I haven't thought of yet?

MacBook Air

19 March 2008

I think the MacBook Air is a placeholder product. It's cool enough in its own right to justify its existence, but it was made to get the market used to new ideas, and a subsequent product will capitalize on those ideas.

How It All Ends

25 January 2008

Now available in Podcast form: How It All Ends (MP4)
Open In Itunes Open In Windows Media Player Open In Winamp Open In Real Player Open RSS Feed How It All Ends (AppleTV)
Open In Itunes Open In Windows Media Player Open In Winamp Open In Real Player Open RSS Feed More to come soon (iPod, WMV, AVI), but I wanted to get this posted.

Podcast Evolution

11 January 2008

I've added a account for the podcast: You can use the for:secondfloorlounge tag in to send me links to new music.

For now, I'm still sticking to the Podsafe Music Network (PMN) as the only source of music played on the show. I'm considering broadening the field, and am open to suggestions from anyone listening.

I've got voice mail for the show at (206) 202-3308, e-mail and web site always linked in the show notes, and now

Immigration Part 2

11 January 2008

There was a bit I heard on NPR today (OK, it was on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me) where a resident of the southwestern US responded to a question about the issue of illegal immigrants. His position was that the first priority is to secure the borders before dealing with the illegals currently in the country. His phrasing was that we "need to stop the bleeding" before we can address other issues.

My take is almost the opposite of his. To continue his wound analogy, I think we need to first remove the foreign matter before suturing the wound. I don't think we can practically secure the border when the perception is that once you make it across, you're home free. I think it will be much easier to stem the tide when the prospects for illegals is not as rosy.

I do want to emphasize again that I am not against immigrants in any way. Only illegal immigrants. I am perfectly happy with as many immigrants coming in as we feel we can handle. I just want them to come in through the proper channels.

How to Podcast

12 December 2007

As far as starting a podcast, I guess I would start by asking what you already know about podcasts so I would know where to start in my explanation. Having the studio would put you well ahead of the pack for the most part. Once you have a recording, publishing it as a podcast is easy. You have to decide where on the internet to host it (more later), handle licensing questions if you're playing music (more later on this too), and do something so people know it exists (item three below).

First, where to host it. You already have a web site, so you have some idea what this is like, but be careful. Podcasts tend to be large files (40 megabytes per episode is not even beginning to stretch it), and so the more popular your show, the higher the bandwidth costs will be for you. On the other hand, you can host it with someone like Podshow (where mine is) or Podango (which has a revenue sharing scheme, nice). These sites provide free hosting and pay all the bandwidth costs. In exchange, you're driving traffic to the site, and they make money from advertising on the site. When you finish an episode, you post it to their site and add some show notes, they do the rest automatically.

Second, music licensing. If you want to play most commercial music, you're talking to ASCAP/BMI and the bill is not small. On the other hand, there are may sites (check wikipedia's "podsafe" entry for links) that provide podsafe music. This is music that is licensed under different terms from ASCAP/BMI. It may be a Creative Commons license, or something like Podshow's license, but it usually comes down to "you can play the music without paying a fee, we consider it a fair trade for the exposure, but you're obligated to tell your listeners where to buy our music." There are other licenses in between which charge fees that scale down much further than the ASCAP/BMI setup. None of it is hard, but it's something important to pay attention to.

Third, letting people know you exist. The first thing I would recommend is adding your podcast to some of the common places people look for podcasts: iTunes, Podcast Alley, Podcast Pickle are the three biggies. It's easy to do, and gets you at least to where people can find you if they know to look. The second step is to create a short promo and make it available, then contact some people with podcasts who might have an audience overlap with you. So far, the general attitude favors helping each other over rivalry.

That's a quick start. If you want more let me know, but for now I don't know what areas to cover in more detail or where I might be boring you.

Podsafe Music

11 December 2007

What is podsafe music and why should I, as an artist, care?

According to Wikipedia:

Podsafe is a term created in the podcasting community to refer to any work which, through its licensing, specifically allows the use of the work in podcasting, regardless of restrictions the same work might have in other realms. For example, a song may be legal to use in podcasts, but may need to be purchased or have royalties paid for over-the-air radio use, television use, and possibly even personal use.

According to the Podsafe Music Network:

Podsafe music is described as a work that meets all of the following conditions: Works submitted to the Podsafe Music Network are the property of the artist, and all rights to these works, including lyrics and music, are the property of the artist. AND All works contain no recordings, lyrics, copyrights, or other elements that are the copyright of any other artist, except under the limited provisions of the Creative Commons License Agreement ( AND Despite any recording contracts with RIAA, ASCAP, or BMI, or other recording industry entity, the artist retains ownership of the works, and is free to distribute, broadcast, license or sell these works at the artist's discretion.

The basic idea is that the owner of the music allows the podcaster to use it in exchange for the exposure the artist will gain from this use. This has proven to be a mutually beneficial arrangement for thousands of podcasters and thousands of artists.

A simple way for artists to make music podsafe and available to podcasters is for them to post it to the Podsafe Music Network (PMN). This service provides a pre-packaged license for the artist and the podcasters setting forth what is allowed and what is not. It also provides an opportunity for the music to be sold online at 99 cents a song with no DRM, although this aspect of the PMN is optional.

While the PMN is by no means the only avenue for the distribution of podsafe music, it is often the simplest with the least overhead for the artist.

The Princes Bride and Stardust

24 August 2007

There have been many reviews of Stardust comparing it to The Princess Bride. While I think the comparison is valid, it is less because the movies are terribly alike, and more because they are of the same genre. Off the top of my head, they are the only two movies I can think of in that genre. For the sake of continuing to talk about this genre, I'm going to start refering to it as Fairy Tale, but there is a distinct possibility that that name will turn out to be a misnomer as more movies are made in the genre.

Before defining what this genre is, I'm going to explore what other genres have in common that differentiates this one from them, because I've begged the question by naming the new genre Fairy Tale. Surely, I hear you cry, there are tons of movies in the Fairy Tale genre. I say that there are tons of movies based on fairy tales that have been made in other genres. Whenever Hollywood makes a movie from an existing story, they do so in one of the genres they are comfortable with. It is a pretty solid rule that when a story is made into a movie, some elements will have to be dropped to make it fit into a two hour movie. Which elements are cut will depend on the genre in which the movie is being made. If we're making a romance, we'll tend to drop action sequences. If we're making a thriller, we tend to drop comic interludes. And so forth.

What distinguishes Stardust and The Princess Bride is that they are made in the genre of Fairy Tale, with all of their elements intact. Cuts have certainly been made, but they are not categorical cuts, but primarily ones of duration and detail. They contain all of the elements of their respective base stories, not sacrificing them for a genre. It is entirely possible that other movies will be made with all of their elements included, if truncated. If some of them fall out side the fairy tale classification, I'll have to change the name of the genre, until then, I'm sticking with Fairy Tale.

I think that being part of this genre is a large part of what will help these movies endure as classics. Being fairy tales makes them timeless, but being complete will make them stable.