More Merit Badge Photos

I love seeing the custom nerd merit badges in their final homes. A couple of nice photos from around the web.

My old college buddy, Braz, affixed his badge, one of the charter badges, in place with his Inbox Zero and 4square badges.

Merit badges,  the office, Clerkenwell,London, UK

And there is Cory’s charter badge pinned up in his office in Clerkenwell in the UK. Photo used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

If you want your own merit badge, there are plenty left. Just go to the support page and make a one time donation of $20 or more or a monthly donation in any amount.

TCLP 2010-06-23 Switching Back to an Open Stack

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

In the intro, thanks to Paul, Steve and Ryan for their new monthly donations starting this week. Badges are on their way or should be soon.  I also remark on my upcoming 5th anniversary as a podcaster for those that don’t read the blog.

Listener feedback this week is from Jed in response to the Inner Chapter on why programming is hard. I mention the news cast from the 13th, the piece Bruce Sterling mentions about smart-aleck programmers by Jonathan Edwards.

The hacker word of the week this week is fence.

The feature this week is a monologue discussing my decision to move back to an open stack here in the lab. I mention Dan Gillmor’s Salon article discussing the very same thing and my Nowhere to Go rant.


View the detailed show notes online. 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.

Podcast Fifth Anniversary

Five years ago this coming Friday I began naively rambling into a microphone about whatever sort of technology related stories and topics came to mind. Almost every aspect of the show has changed since then, from how I actually record, edit, mix and master it to the effort and detail invested in the writing behind every element of content. The constants have been following my own peculiar interests where they lead me as unexpected as those destinations may be and the ever growing group of folks, both technology geeks and those of other stripes, who find what I have to say interesting or useful enough so to subscribe week after week.

Looking into the future, I can see continuing the show for some time to come. This project has outlasted everything else in my life to date except my marriage and fatherhood. Finding topics is getting harder but somehow I manage to find ideas worth developing and sharing. I expect my professional and personal experiences will keep fueling that pipeline so long as I am still hacking, both professionally and out of love of just bashing simple bits of code together. Support for the show is going through an amazing transformation. My experiment in offering a small premium, the custom nerd merit badge, to donors succeeded better than I had hoped. I am already planning another experiment in this vein. I am under no illusions about quitting my day job (yet) but am eager to try at some point in the future to fund my attendance at at least one technical conference in the majority from listener support.

I had meant to get word out about this anniversary a bit further ahead of the event but time got away from me. It sort of snuck up on me. As the show has matured, the marking of anniversaries has become less relevant to me personally than other milestones like changes in my production process and the ever present battle to identify topics and guests. I’ve also been distracted with coordinating the upcoming, amazing June CopyNight DC event and my personal journey from using a proprietary operating system in my lab back to an all open stack. (More on the latter in this Wednesday’s show.)

I will set aside a bit of time on next week’s show, to be released on the 30th, to mark this occasion. I hope to be able to snag Cory’s talk at the CopyNight event to share in that show as the feature. Cory’s support and friendship over the last three and a half years has been one of the biggest surprises and certainly one of the most welcome. His planned topic also speaks to the evolution of my thoughts on copyright from curiosity through education to becoming increasingly radicalized so it seems appropriate.

You are also welcome to send me your thoughts about your experience of the show whether it is just over the last year or going all the way back to those humble, awkward beginnings. As always, you can send me email or audio to and just let me know if it would be OK to share on the show.

Thank you everyone who has helped me get to this point. I am awed and humbled by the support and hope I will be able to count on it for at least another five years.

First Merit Badge Picture

Chris Miller not only received the first of the ten charter merit badges, he was the first to post a picture of his new badge. He included the certificate and everything.  Thanks for sharing the photo, Chris.

Several other folks have mentioned receiving their badges and promised pictures. After all the planning, work and patience, I enjoy seeing the badges start showing up in the wild. I may have to try to get out to a few more tech events just to see if I can spot them totally at random.

There are many more badges left and the support page has been updated with the details on how you can earn your own.

The Charter Merit Badges Are in the Mail

Actually, all of the custom nerd merit badges that have been earned so far have now been sent out. As it turns out, both the regular badges and the charter badges with the associated numbered, signed certificate are light enough to send as a regular old 1st class letter. Four out of the twenty-five I sent out in three waves between last weekend and this needed to be sent out of the country. Again, the light weight of the envelopes really helped keep the air mail postage down to a surprisingly small amount.

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From left to right pictured are both versions of the badge with a prototype certificate, all ten charter badges, and the first charter badge with final certificate.

I am calling the custom nerd merit badge experiment a tremendous success. It has brought in a couple hundred dollars in one time donations on top of the funds set aside from the charter donors to capitalize this first batch of badges. It has netted nine recurring donors, the majority of them contributing the minimum but committed to doing so every single month. Out of the first batch of fifty badges, four were sacrificed to getting the custom embroidery for the charter badges right. Twenty-one more badges were sent out to subsequent donors, including folks who contributed before the start of the experiment.

I would like to thank, again, everyone who helped make this experiment a success.  I’d also like to thank in advance future donors who choose to go a little bit further and earn a merit badge of their own.

There are twenty-five badges left. If you want one, go to the support page where you can find details on how to make a donation. A one time donation of $20 or more or a monthly donation of any amount will earn you a custom nerd merit badge.

The Merit Badges Have Arrived

At long last, I arrived home to find a courier envelope from Nerd Merit Badges. Inside were the badges, a roll of glue dots, the backing cards, and a hand written note from John and Randy.


I will send out the first badges this weekend. I don’t have an ETA on the charter badges, I need to figure out when my wife has the time to add the “su” and I have to make up the certificates though I’ve got a solid idea for the design and the text. I am very glad to finally be in the last stages of this experiment. It has been fun but also very instructive. I’ll write up some more thoughts on it when I am a bit more coherent. In the meantime, not all these first badges are claimed, if you’d like one, donations of $20 or more or any amount of recurring monthly donation qualifies you to receive one.

Details on how to make a donation can be found on the support page.

I’ve Been Nominated for a Parsec Award

I was caught completely by surprise last night by the email notifying me of my nomination. I won a Parsec for Best Tech Podcast three years ago. The steering committee revised the categories the following year, eliminating that category. I have attended the ceremonies when at Dragon*Con in the intervening years but otherwise not followed the Parsecs all that closely since.

My nomination is in the Best Fact Behind the Fiction Podcast category. The description says, “Podcasts that explore the facts that influence the fictions – the science, history, culture, and mythology that inspire these stories.” I am amongst amazingly good company, including among others GeekCred, Astronomy Cast and Skepticality. I can honestly say it is an honor to be nominated if I am to compete against these great casts. Thank you to whomever nominated me, I very much appreciate the thought.

I have until the 15th of this month to get my submission together. If any of you have ideas about segments from the last year of shows that best exemplify the spirit of the category, let me know.

TCLP 2010-05-23 News

This is news cast 214, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, thanks to new monthly donor, John Taylor Williams and his wife, Mia. Thank you to fellow Flattr beta testers who have been flattring my posts. I should have an update on how this service compares to donations and ads at the end of the month. My Balticon schedule is up, if you are going to be there, come and say high. Better yet, join me for the unofficial FLOSS and Tech Geek BoF. There will be no news show that Sunday but should be feature casts before and after the weekend.

This week’s security alerts are Chrome’s private mode leaks info and FTC looks into privacy concerns with digital copiers.

In this week’s news opening of VP-8 video codec becomes so much more including news event Microsoft will support it (kind of) and YouTube will switch to it for larger videos going forward, a technical analysis of VP-8 now that it is open, Facebook’s urge towards social utility will invite regulation, and an early, official history of NSA computers.

Following up this week The Pirate Party steps in to host The Pirate Bay and EFF issues a strong criticism of Google’s latest privacy mistake.


Grab the detailed show notes with time offsets and additional links either as PDF or OPML. You can also 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.

The Merit Badges Are Complete

Just as I was going to ping John and Randy at Nerd Merit Badges for an updated, they sent me one unsolicited. The badges are back from the embroiderer, hurray!


All that remains is for them to print up the backing cards and send me the lot–badges, glue dots and cards all separate. Getting the parts separate will make it easier to add the additional embroidery to the ten charter badges, then I can assemble all the badges owed and get them into the post.

Twenty three out of this initial batch of fifty are spoken for. I hadn’t realized it was almost half of them though I knew it was quite a few more than the original ten that helped subsidize the initial production. Once forty have been claimed, the donations that qualify for the final ten will be used to subsidization production of the next batch of fifty.

I have been incredibly delighted at the continuing participation in this experiment. Right now, the recurring donations add up to $33 a month, enough to cover my media and web server hosting, both (well, before PayPal’s fees anyway). My Skype Pro subscription is still uncovered as are my domain registration fees but those bill quarterly and annually respectively. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of this project so far.

As I’ve said, I would be happy for either this program or the advertising experiment to provide a surplus that could help with travel expenses to get out to open source and technical conferences. I am also brain storming ideas for a bigger premium to better reward larger donations and higher commitments by monthly donors. I am happy to receive suggestions and would like to find something as unique, fun and geeky as these badges. I love the idea of being able to cultivate this success further to furnish resources that I can start applying to the show beyond just covering its costs.

Me, in Cartoon Form

I have been cartoon-ized (or is that cartoon-ified?) by Natalie Metzger, the artistic minion responsible for the ongoing cartoon exploits of the evil overlords at The Secret Lair podcast. I believe she did so as part of Chris’ and KJ’s diabolical plan to entrap the souls of their minions through a crazed scientific experiment involving ink, loads of electricity, and some rare isotopes of kaztenjamonium.

secret_lair_cmdln.jpg secret_lair_cmdln_v2.jpg

Natalie produced two fun versions, differing solely in the background she used. I like them both, the first one has tons of little gags embedded in the background. (click on the thumbnails above to see either at full size.) The other one has me wishing I could see the obscured source code, I think I might need that for a current project for the evil overlords.

I have appeared on The Secret Lair more than once. I also have been asked to contribute as one of their minions, their hacker in residence, but haven’t found the time to do so yet. (That and I am self aware enough to realize I am not especially good at comedy writing.)

Thanks, Natalie! These avatars are fun though now that she has my likeness, I am a little nervous at how I might appear in a future Secret Lair cartoon. The cartoon version of the lair is not the healthiest place for cartoon minions.