Between Cons

Just a quick note as I take a breath between a conference and a convention.

Freedom to Connect was wonderful. I saw many of the speakers I admire, renewed acquaintances with a good number of my colleagues in the non-profit space and met many more I had not yet the opportunity to do so. The event was an interesting intersection for me of my new career and my years of volunteering. I did not attend or present but worked on the team of volunteers running A/V. It was a fun learning experience since I haven’t done as much video work with a good group of folks with a similar approach to volunteering to the one I adopt. I hope to have the chantce to be at this event, next year, in the same capacity, with the same crew.

This is a full week as I catch up with work that has racked up due to two days out of the office, on my feet. I am trying to keep up at least a minimum amount of blogging since I will undoubtedly be offline for much of the upcoming long weekend.

The convention I am anticipating is Balticon, about which I have already shared my schedule. Anxious as I am given my crazy schedule recently, I am trying to keep in mind a bit of advice that came from my Tai Chi teacher. He was speaking about the discipline and sacrifice that study demands but took a moment to urge us to recall what it is that brought us to the art in the first place. I think that is sage counsel for many other contexts, including both work and work-related events and, in this instance, my involvement in the podcasting annex of the science fiction convention circuit.

I am so very much looking forward to seeing so many of my friends, as much as I also enjoy the whirlwind that is volunteering and speaking at Balticon. If you are a reader or listener and are going to be there, come, find me and say hi.

Target of the Niche-est of Niche Evil Plans

When The Secret Lair’s Secretary of Aesthetic Engineering, Natalie, cartoon-ified me some time again, evil overlord (and dear friend) Chris Miller twigged that a mere icon was perhaps not the end of Natalie’s plansfor a notional version of me, hinting it may end up inhibiting the zany pictorial universe she has crafted for this fun website and podcast for the discerning connoisseur of geek culture.


This installment not only fulfills Chris’ and Natalie’s implied promise of an appearance of my cartoon avatar alongside the cartoon counterparts of the regular contributors but even directly uses text from an early episode of my own podcast.

Go visit The Secret Lair for more of this sort of humor as well as some incredibly discriminating and well crafted geekery about books, films, science, gaming and so much more.

Balticon 45 Schedule

For the fifth year in a row I am an invited participant at Balticon, the annual convention of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. My impressive tenure (i.e. chair warming behind a mic in my home studio for six years this June) has earned me a coveted spot on the New Media track schedule.

My panel schedule this year is lighter than in years past but includes reprisals of two of my favorites. On top of my official participation, I will be volunteering on behalf of the con’s official podcast to help record author readings. This is one of the reasons I love volunteering at Balticon, getting to meet authors of every stripe and level of achievement. As an averred SF reader hearing them read selections of their works in their own voices is excellent compensation for the time and effort spent helping to record them for posterity.

  • Brewing Your Own Beer at Home
    Saturday, 1PM to 2PM in Derby
    “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin 

    Our panelist of novice and master home brewers take you through the basics of making your own craft brews at home. They will also explore the DIY philosophy that got them involved in home brewing, podcasting, open source software, etc.

  • Copyright in the Digital Age
    Saturday, 2PM to 3PM in Derby
    What you don’t know is costing you moneyA discussion of the benefits and dangers surrounding cultural production on a globalized, digital platform. Technology has a long history of shaping our cultural arts. Around 1900, technological reproduction had reached a standard that permitted it to tangibly reproduce all known works of art, profoundly modifying their role and effect in the artistic process. Laws were made to strike a balance between an individual artist’s incentive to create, and the virtues of a public domain, where others can experiment and improve upon previous ideas. In today’s “Digital Age”– an era defined by the ability to make copies and share information at the speed of light– art, music and literature that participate in the online ecosystem are being perceived differently, taking on a new aura. Ironically, the artistic material that is produced and shared online; that which forsakes the Barnes and Nobles and Virgin records shelves to exist only in non-tangible form, is now deemed “Content,” rather than art. But “content” implies that it is a thing– that it can be contained, bought and sold. What consequences might this re-branding of art and creative work hold for future generations? What is the fate of our cultural creative commons?
  • Open Source Software for Everyday Use
    Sunday, 2PM to 3PM in Derby
    What we use at home and at work to free us from software giantsDo you feel that your creativity is held back because you can’t afford programs like Photoshop, Final Cut, or Microsoft Office? Our panel of experts have freed themselves from the bonds of expensive closed software ecosystems and you can too. Whether you’re just fed up, want to try new things, or can’t afford to pick up the software you want, there is an open source alternative available to you. Find out what packages our panelist use, how to find software that fits your need, and how to join the amazing communities that spring up around open source software.

    Chances are you probably use some OSS, and you don’t even know it. Our panel of open source developers and evangelists discuss the facts and help you find the OSS packages that can free you from outrageously high costs, bizarre licensing practices, and poor interface design. Come and learn ways to save yourself money, improve your productivity, and secure your computer. You don’t have time or money to ignore OSS anymore. Set yourself free.

In addition to my official commitments and volunteering, once again I will be convening the FLOSS and tech geek BoF. My co-host and the producer of the Living Proof Brew Cast and I will probably host the BYOBS for beer geeks and home brewers again though we haven’t discussed the details yet. I am positive it will be by invitation only like last time so come and find either John or I early in the convention to receive the nod and learn the location.

FLOSS and Tech Geek BoF III at Balticon 45 – Updated

(Updated to correct the obviously wrong date.)

For the past two years at Balticon, the annual convention run by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, I’ve organized an unofficial and largely ad hoc gathering of FLOSS and general technology enthusiasts. (Here’s my announcement from last year.) Turnout has been small but dedicated and I enjoy doing it as a bit of a warm up before getting into the con proper.

I will be convening the birds of a feather again this year, in the same place around the same time. Instead of two hours, I’ve decided to simply offset it by half an hour from the official schedule and hang around for an hour. Why offset it? For the same reason I scheduled it for 2 hours in years past, so folks can join even if they have other commitments. If enough people show and want to keep the discussion going, there is no reason we cannot continue the conversation.

What: Birds of a feather, a term from technology conferences that simply refers to an off schedule or unofficial gathering driven by mutual interest rather than a specific topic or event

Where: The Paddock Bar (You cannot miss the hotel bar, even if you’ve never been to the Hunt Valley Marriott, it is straight through the lobby. Also it is a public space so if you are in the area but not attending the con you can still join us.)

Who: The bald hacker (me) with the Tux table sign and small, bean bag penguin

When: Friday, May 27th from 9:30PM to 10:30PM (longer if there is interest)

Why: Because there is a not surprisingly high proportion of FLOSS and tech geeks amongst the usual con going crowd

Hope to see you there!

Appearance on Technorama

The other podcast on which I participated for their Dragon*con wrap up, Technorama, just posted that episode. We gathered in the lobby of the Westin over beers to share our thoughts and experiences of this year’s con as well as other random memories of podcaster gatherings past.

Links to all the other participants are over at Technorama–Cian, Liz, MadMarv, and Clinton Alvord. This was a great way to wind down the con, with new friends and old. I want to thank Chuck and Kreg for including me and am glad that they returned to Dragon*Con this year and had just as good a time, maybe even more so, than last year.

Appearance on View from the Quad

I mentioned this guest appearance in my wrap up. Cian almost immediately afterwards posted the very episode in which I appeared alongside a bunch of the other tech podcasters at Dragon*Con this past Labor Day weekend.

The roundtable is just one part of the episode. Cian and Liz share some impressions from the floor of the con, an interview with a giant Jayne Cobb hat, and a brief but fun interview with Edward James Olmos.

Well worth the listen, go check it out. And thanks, Cian, for including me.

Appearance on Valid Syntax

A few weeks back, my friend and fellow podcaster, Kreg Steppe, asked me to come onto his open software focused show, Valid Syntax, to discuss free software and open source licenses. I was more than happy to oblige and I very much enjoyed the ensuing conversation.

Kreg just posted the episode, if you would like to take a listen. If you have been wanting to learn more about free and open licenses, I think this makes a good place to start. Kreg has also said that this will be the first of a renewed run of episodes so consider subscribing, too, for more discussions of open source projects.

TCLP 2010-06-02 Art, Music and Literature in the Age of Digital Reproducibility

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

I will save listener feedback for the next show or the one after that.

There is no listener feedback this week due to the length of the feature.

The feature this week is the first of two panel recordings I captured at Balticon 44. The panel was titled, “Art, Music and Literature in the Age of Digital Reproducibility”, and was a fantastic, far ranging discussion. My co-panelists where Norm Sherman of The Drabblecast, Dave Slusher of Evil Genius Chronicles, Phil Rossi, and Dan Tabor of Geekadelphia.


There are no detailed show notes for this show. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.