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August 2008
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October 2008

Appearing at The Magic Cabaret

Soon I'll be performing in The Magic Cabaret, a show that reawakens the Chicago magic tradition and brings it to modern audiences eager for mystery and wonder! Every week, PT Murphy and David Parr, along with a cast of talented guest entertainers, celebrate the finest magic the Windy City has to offer, from classic sleight of hand to the powers of the mind - and you're invited to the celebration!

Magic Cabaret.JPGI'm the guest performer for the shows on October 9, 10, and 11, 2008. (That's Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.) I'll be honored if you're able to make it to one of them. Showtime is 8:00PM.

My performance includes a magical reenactment of a bad nightmare, insight into just what I do every day, pontifications about Silicon Valley, a tribute to my first magic teacher, and the realization of a 34-year old dream.

It's at the Victory Garden's Greenhouse Theatre (2257 N Lincoln Ave) in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.(Near Oz Park and the Fullerton 'L stop.) Parking is easy; it's discounted at Children's Memorial Hospital and Lincoln Park Hospital when you show your ticket stub. And there are plenty of nearby restaurants and clubs if you want to make it a full evening.

For more info, press clippings, and ticket ordering see the Magic Cabaret website.


Joining Big Brother's network

One of the more popular home automation niches, particularly in big cities or isolated locations, is network-based security cameras. Here in Chicago, private cameras are welcome to join the city-wide spy-cam network. Apparently it's easy; you simply give the police access to your images. While many businesses are participating, the city's first private citizen has joined in, according to Homeowner Links Cameras to City Cops in the Chicago Sun-Times.


Book Review: Against the Machine

Lee Siegel's Against the Machine is an interesting monograph about the dark side of the Internet's "social" revolution.

The author eloquently debunks the hyperbole of many "Internet famous" writers and those who promote the transformative power of the Web. Although sometimes Siegel is just as guilty of unsubstantiated ranting himself, overall the perspectives are refreshingly in contrast to the constant WIRED-like cheerleading most journalists engage in.

And for the most part, if you've spent any time on web forums, or reading long blog comment threads, it's hard not to agree with him. One of my favorite observations, and typically pithy, is that the language of argument has largely been replaced with the language of ridicule. You'll see this everywhere when you start looking, particularly during this election season.

If sometimes the Internet leaves you feeling less than fulfilled, you'll enjoy the insights provided by this book. And, as suggested above, if you're fully committed to the Web lifestyle, there is much to ridicule. Either way, Against the Machine provides something for everyone.


EyeTV with Turbo.264 iPhone Export Error: Resolved

I am using EyeTV to convert TV recordings for playback on my iPhone. It's a great way to enjoy old TV series, particularly since I use EyeTV to record the over-the-air digital TV signals for free. (See One Week With EyeTV - O'Reilly Digital Media Blog for more about this.)

However, if you use the pre-defined iPhone export setting, and you have an El Gato Turbo.264 encoder stick (which is generally great and makes the export go much, much faster) you may receive a very cryptic error message when converting the video.

El Gato tech support referred me to this support article: When using Turbo.264, some exports to the Apple TV format may fail. The error message I got was (-536870176) and I'm not exporting to AppleTV, so I assumed it didn't apply when I found it before contacting El Gato.

But the advice works in my situation, too. I changed EyeTV to export using the "iPod - Best" preset and this completely resolved the problem. I hope that El Gato will have a fix soon--that support article is six months old--but for now the workaround is just fine. Give it a try if you're having the same problem



Boinx buys PhotoPresenter

PhotoPresenter is one of my favorite Mac applications. I use it on an old iMac that I keep in the family room, where it stylishly shows photos from a pool of thousands of images. It has been worthy replacement for a Ceiva digital photo frame for well over a year now. (See my article about Ceiva for more background info.)

A email announcement arrived this morning that PhotoPresenter has been acquired by Boinx Software. Despite the nearly 3x increase in price of the product, this is a good thing, as Boinx is a fine Mac software house and PhotoPresenter remains a bargain for its excellent performance and design.