Thinking about the People of Blacksburg and Virginia Tech

In 1992 Mathias drove me to Blacksburg for a Halloween party. That was one of the best weekends of my life. I cried on the way home to Richmond because I hated to leave. Most of the thanks for that heavenly few days is due to Mathaias Leppitsch. But meeting Ronda was also a really big deal. I’ll never forget the hand written letter from her describing how much she enjoyed my visit. Until that point I’d never felt loved so much as I did that weekend.

I loved Blacksburg so much I moved there the next summer. Why? The people of Blacksburg are awesome. The summer was so incredible I skiped the following fall semester of college.

Never have I met such a warm welcoming and fun group. It wasn’t just the click that I had been introduced to by Mathias and Martin but the whole town. Really. No joke. (Chapel Hill and Carrboro are close.) Every weekend jaunt up to the Bburg was an amazing time. I learned to really love life in Blacksburg. The people of this small town removed a giant black cloud from over my life.

I could write a pretty long chapter and maybe a book about my adventures there. Blacksburg was my oasis and safe haven. I left and returned to the New River Valley three times. The friendliness was so strong that friends of friends would lend you a place to lay your head even if they didn’t know you at all.

I miss Blacksburg once in awhile. Fortunately I’ve found another college town to call home. But no place will ever replace that beautiful Virginia mountain town.

No Power

We still don’t have electricity at home. Its been out now since 10am Monday. Ruby telecommutes from home so she’s a digital nomad today.

Yesterday evening we saw what may be the cause of our power outage. A big ole’ electrical pole has snapped off at the top. The only thing keeping it off the ground are the wires. A large tree fell on the line. Must have had lots of force to snap such a thick piece of wood.

Umstead Drive
Pic by Ruby

Friends for Peace Photos

Computer Design Geek for Peace
The American Friends Service Committee has a really fun tool called Friends for Peace. You can upload an image of yourself holding a sign that has the words you choose before… for Peace.

Friends for Peace is a project of the American Friends Service Committee’s Wage Peace Campaign. Through Friends for Peace, people across the U.S. and around the world can put a face on the diverse majority who want to end the war in Iraq.

People from all walks of life now agree that invading Iraq was a mistake. Friends for Peace is a way to visually connect peace supporters and let everyone show a bit of their personality and individuality.

To join Friends for Peace, download one of our signs. Fill in a word or two that describes you (e.g. librarian, Red Sox fan, mother, etc.) and have a photo taken holding your sign.

So I made a sign with the words “Computer Design Geek for Peace”. Their wonderful online tool helped me put the words before the for Peace part then gave me a pdf to download. I printed out the pdf, took a picture of it with my MacBook Pro camera, then flipped it with Photoshop. The last part was nessesary because taking a picture of yourself with text is kinda like using a mirror for photography. Its all backward and stuff. Man am I a geek for peace or what.

All these pics end up on Flickr. There’s even a RSS feed of all the pics. Thanks to Ruby for showing me this neat activism tool.

Why indy video is better for local TV

According to TechCrunch Joost won’t have User generated content. The company is inking big deals with Viacom and Warner instead. I don’t think this will hurt independent video creators. It will only make them more interesting partners. For whom you ask? For local TV stations that’s who.

Hey TV stations,
Why pay for expensive content from the big three TV dinosaurs? Make your shows local, hyper-relevant, and fresh. Sell new ideas up to New York and LA instead of the other way around. If you work with creative people formally known as your audience you can create a new sustainable business. There are thousands of people out there in your town with video cameras. This pool of content will only change.

If you go with the old way of doing things and franchise Viacom’s content property you’ll have to compete directly with Joost? Can a small business with a licence to only reach a finite physical area compete with that? In a decade or two the majority of the generation used to watching TV sets will have passed on.

(I started this blog post a few months ago and never posted it. It seems even more relevant now that Joost is out. I have a lot more thoughts about this but this will do for now. Watch out local TV!)

Joost beta testing

I got my beta tester email from Joost today. Its a new app for Windows and Intel Macs that plays TV on your computer. (PPC Mac and Linux version supposedly on the way) I downloaded it and immediately told people on Twitter. So far the full screen interface is great. But the choppy audio and video from my work and home broadband connections is annoying. Maybe that’ll improve.

It would be cool if you could download content to your HD and play it there. Not to steal the video content. But to watch it super smooth. Apple’s Front Row can play media on your HD and the trailer streaming is pretty smooth.

The part I’m really excited about are the mash ups people will build with the Joost API. (not quite out yet) I think this could be truly interactive TV come true. Only when users can create their own channels on Joost and upload content THEY created will it be an actual two way experience.

Dig this commercial. The graphics and script are amazing.