University Of YouTube

how to grow a pineapple on your first try   proof it works       YouTube

I grew up PI, pre-Internet. The access to information at my fingertips is intoxicating. I’m like a seventeen year old with a really good fake ID.

I have learned more skills from YouTube than any school! Nearly all my computer skills have been acquired and polished by online tutorials.

Today was a good day to ponder this. I was sitting outside wondering if I could grow a pineapple? Off to YouTube.

My first tutorial came from a much too cool guy in Key West. Easy he said. Then he showed me.

Next up a Maritime Canadian with a tat on his arm. He claimed his method was different from the others online, but he and the Floridian totally agreed.

These two guys teaching casual pineapple husbandry had a few million views. Not enough for a business, but not bad at all. When in history could a common man speak to two million?

These were not high end productions. Key West guy was shot handheld. The Canadian didn’t edit the place where he walked around to tilt the camera down. Content trumps form! And, make no mistake, this was a good learning experience from both.

Not all tuts are equal, but the good news is you can bail at any time. I appreciate non-English speakers helping in English, though I’ve turned off some videos when I couldn’t understand the speaker.

I’ve watched water skiing squirrels too, but YouTube has taught me more than any school.

I Learned A Little History Tonight

mccarthy-army-hearings

Here’s a weird thought. I was thinking about Senator Joseph McCarthy today. Not entirely sure why.

I knew Edward R. Murrow stood up to McCarthy and that during the 50’s McCarthy went on a communist witch hunt. That’s about it. Oh and the pivotal point was the Army / McCarthy hearings. No clue what they were about.

I did some reading between shows. Here’s the tl:dr from Wikipedia:

McCarthy rose suddenly to national fame in February 1950 when he asserted in a speech that he had a list of “members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring” who were employed in the State Department.

In succeeding years after his 1950 speech, McCarthy made additional accusations of Communist infiltration into the State Department, the administration of President Harry S. Truman, the Voice of America, and the United States Army. He also used various charges of communism, communist sympathies, disloyalty, or homosexuality to attack a number of politicians and other individuals inside and outside of government.

Among McCarthy’s targets were left leaning Hollywood intellectuals. Some great names became unhireable — literally. They could work, but not under their own name.

When McCarthy was publicly exposed as a lying bully, first on CBS by Edward R. Murrow then in a nationally televised Senate hearing by Army attorney Joseph Welch, he fell hard.

Senator McCarthy was angry at the Army because a staff member was drafted. Seriously, a Senate sized tantrum when he didn’t get his way. He was out for revenge and had no problem adding the Army to his list of flimsy accusations.

When McCarthy went after one of Welch’s staff, he was ready.

Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency? – Joseph Welch Army–McCarthy hearings, June 9, 1954.

There is a documentary, but it’s not streaming anywhere or on-sale for a fair price. That’s a shame. I will read more.

We’re given sanitized history in school. This story is gripping and relevant. It really is relevant.

Got An Old Laptop?

Screenshot at 2016-05-22 17:35:26

I’m on the patio. My favorite spot.

This blog post is being composed on my ‘patio laptop,’ an older HP model that came with Windows Vista installed. Stef used this in college. It’s large by today’s standards — thick. Throws off lots of heat too.

A few months ago I bought the cheapest small SSD (Solid State Drive) I could, threw it inside (two minute job) and installed Mint Linux. I bought an aftermarket battery too. Total investment around $60.

For home users Mint is the current Linux flavor of the month. It is based on Ubuntu, which is based on Debian. In the open source world everything’s a derivative of something else. It’s hobbyist perferred, meaning there’s community support.

Mint Linux has a few subversions available, including one for machines with older and less beefy video cards, like this one.

Anyway, I’m here to recommend what I did for anyone with a little technical curiosity and an old laptop you’d like to revitalize! This thing has become a speedster.

This is not Microsoft Windows. You can’t run store bought Windows programs, but anything that loads in your browser works on this machine. Today, that’s most everything.

There are free programs to replace Word, Excel and Photoshop. Some are nearly as good. Some are not. Once you get used to the differences most are just fine.

Installing Mint required finding a program to burn the Mint files onto a USB drive. A few easy button presses got this machine to boot directly from the USB stick. There are lots of steps, but each is easy.

Linux is much more mature than it was years ago, but still not as sophisticated as Windows. Functionality isn’t missing. There’s just less polish.

Screenshot at 2016-05-22 17:33:03

Part of why Linux is fun for me is it allows you to play under the hood. That also means you can prang things. There’s less and less on an individual computer I care about and more things stored on my server or in the cloud.

My sound and video worked right off the bat. I did see some screen tearing and ended up loading an older video driver which seems more suited to my system. The video is now stable.

This machine is pretty much impervious to viruses, if only because there are too few Linux desktop/laptop machines to make malware pay! Most Linux machines run ‘headless’ 24/7 as servers or in other utility roles– think slot machines or the video displays that have replaced menu boards in coffee shops and fast food joints.

Like I said, it will help if you’re technically curious. Nearly every question I’ve ever had had an online answer available.

There is satisfaction in technical accomplishment. I won’t lie.

A Depressing Conversation

control-room

I spoke to a friend early this evening. Known him a long time. High level manager in my business. We commiserated about where TV has gone.

The landscape has changed. I started on TV two months after CNN began. Cable competition was virtually non-existent.

It was impossible to run a network affiliated television station and not make bags of money! With less competition, fewer large corporate owners and ‘guaranteed’ money, TV stations were run more for the public’s good.

We did things because we wanted to be good citizens of our community. Stations that understood this best were often the most successful. Which came first? Success or understanding?

I’m not saying stations weren’t out to make a buck. It was just a lot easier. There wasn’t Wall Street’s pressure to scoop up every penny.

In 1980 a single entity could own seven stations. Period. End of story. Now you can own signals which cover nearly 40% of the nation.

If you bought a station you had to, by law, hold onto it for three full years. How quaint.

It’s all different now. TV is a business of large corporations with the same hometown loyalty as WalMart or McDonalds. Their business models are totally based upon financial results. Being the best isn’t part of the equation. If you can do it fine, but never at the expense of profit.

Walk into a TV studio today and you’ll see robotic cameras. Lots of jobs have been automated away. Many reporters shoot their own stories. And everyone works for less.

And with lots more competition for skilled employees the competence level has dropped. My first 11pm producer at Channel 8 in New Haven came from the network. My last producer came from college.

The good old days aren’t coming back. There will never be falling bags of money nor enough employees to fill the parking lot.

This is actually one of the reasons what’s being done in Nebraska is so exciting. They are truly local stations firmly rooted in the community and owned/run by locals.

Who knows what position, if any, TV stations will take in the next decade.

About The May Sweeps

We are in May. In TV it’s a sweeps month. Breathless over-the-top reporting dominates the promotion cycle as stations try for every possible eyeball.

That’s offense, trying the grow the audience. I have nothing against that.

Stations play defense too.

On nights they expect to do poorly (i.e. in past years opposite the American Idol finale) stations find ways to remove individual newscasts from the monthly average. Sounds sneaky and it is. Often the difference to the viewer is minimal. But if you subtract a bad day the rest of your average goes up.

If a station promotes a special 10-15 minute segment in its newscast, like a weather or sports special, they’ll claim it’s not really the newscast that normally runs at 11. It doesn’t count in the average. Problem solved.

The longer I was in Connecticut the more I saw it being done. It’s not limited to one or two stations. It’s business as usual.

This is like Volkswagen and emissions. The ratings are accurate on paper. In reality the refs have been played.

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