: Ron Lindeboom's Blog
I have been meaning to get over to the blogs and add my reflections on the recent Genesis reunion tour. I've been a longtime fan of Genesis since the days when Peter Gabriel fronted the band. And I am one of those people who actually thought that Genesis was better (at least on "A Trick of the Tail" and "Wind & Wuthering") without Peter Gabriel, and that Peter was better without Genesis -- well, some of the time, anyway. So, when I learned that Genesis was hitting the road again, I immediately set out to get tickets and secured two tickets for the San Jose show and two for their first night at the Hollywood Bowl. Being a drummer since I was 14, there's simply nothing like seeing the double drummer attack of Chester Thompson duking it out with Phil Collins. As I told Kathlyn prior to the show, these guys make non-drummers understand why drums are such an incrediblly fun instrument to play.
That said, and while I will always be glad that I had a chance to take Kathlyn to see Genesis, a band she had never had the chance to see before, it really was not the same. I began jokingly referring to the tour as the "Bleed 'em Until They Drop" tour and the "Our Fans Are In Their Peak Earning Years" concert series. While it was indeed fun, it was quite apparent that this was not as much a concert for the fans as it was a concert for Genesis. Or maybe, for their bankers...
For an extra few grand, you could join them for dinner at one of the shows. You and about a hundred or so others, as we saw at the shows we attended. I jokingly told Kathlyn that I'd feel like a real idiot sitting there at a table in front of the band while they sat eating over at their table, perhaps muttering under their breath, that "Man, look at 'em all, we're making more 'take-home' on this dinner than we did during the whole 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' tour. And so, I know what I like in your wardrobe, indeed..."
For a hundred grand or so, you could tour around with the guys and perhaps even be given a "complimentary" t-shirt from the tour. I suggested to Kathlyn that an appropriate tour gift might be a new and empty wallet. (Not real leather, mind you; vinyl, the kind you give kids when you are trying to teach them the value of money.) Or, if a t-shirt is your preference, perhaps a t-shirt with a huge target printed on it, with the words "I toured with Genesis in 2007" emblazoned on it. Think of it as the ultimate premium paid for designer dresswear.
But was the concert fun? It was a lot of fun and short of "Mama" -- a song that I have always hated in every possible way -- it was a remarkable show. Chester and Phil drove the band like a cattle stampede (hey, this is Creative COW afterall) and Kathlyn now understands far better my passion for progressive rock. (While songs like "No Son of Mine" are real crowd pleasers, I'll take the big sweeping multi-faceted epics like the Duke suite that they did, along with the 20 minute medley they did of many of their earlier classics.)
But in the end, I left the shows with a burning question: Did they make more from the concert, or from the $35 t-shirts, the $25 dollar programs, the 2k a head dinners and the 100k "Patsy Tour" tag-alongs?
I know it's only rock 'n roll but i like it.
We recently moved eastward across the coast mountains, inland 30 miles or so, to the wine country of Paso Robles, California. This, after living for 20 years on the California coast in Cambria. We loved Cambria but its 340 days a year of temperatures that range no lower than about 50 degrees fahrenheit (at night), with a high of 72 degrees fahrenheit in the day -- again, for 340 days a year -- is the perfect breeding ground for mold and fungus. Did I mention that I am allergic to mold and fungus?
So, following a stressful move, we settled into our new digs in Paso Robles. We love the new digs as they are in a rural area, in an almond orchard that was planted over a hundred years ago. Paso Robles is a great town with a rich history and we really like being here.
But one of the side effects of moving has been pretty stressful...telemarketers and collections agents.
It seems like the phone company no longer keeps previously used numbers out of circulation for a while, as they once did. Now, they are thrown almost immediately back into the hat and if you are lucky -- did I mention we haven't been? -- you won't get the number of someone who just ran out on their bills. We have had two numbers so far; one, we got rid of immediately as the phone stated ringing the day that the phone company turned it on -- with harrassing calls starting soon after daybreak and going into the night. Then the next number was quiet for about a month and a month and then all of the sudden, collections agents began calling for some woman we have never even heard of.
Unfortunately, asking to be pulled from their list hasn't worked and they've been calling for days. So, I took the numbers that have been showing up on caller-ID and have Googled them and started calling the companies after filing them with a Form 1088 complaint with the federal government. Once I told them that, they became a lot quicker to listen...
Beforehand, they didn't care and just kept asking for the woman. But when I mentioned the form 1088 filing, they become a lot more willing to talk.
Hopefully soon, Kathlyn and I can get back to enjoying the peaceful Paso Robles countryside.
Well, at long last, the COW has a new interface. It's been a long time coming and it's way overdue. I had gotten to where I just couldn't bear to look at the site anymore. The new look is far more balanced and in keeping with the whole idea and spirit of the COW. I am happier than you can imagine to see it as it had worn on my nerves for quite a long time but we were just too busy to deal with it. It finally just got to the point where I told Tim that I was going to just have to do it because it was more than I could bear anymore. When we designed the original COW, Eric, Kathlyn and I did it all -- aesthetics and mechanics -- in under two weeks, total. A complete original database-driven mySQL system, written from scratch, with many unique features and abilities that to this day most members have yet to dig to find. (For starters, it isn't an interface, it's three interfaces -- the classic threaded style, the topical type that some prefer, and the show-me-the-newest type that others find useful.) Now, at long last, I can live with it for a while -- how long? Who knows?
My offended visual senses can finally settle down -- for a while.
The latest iteration of the Creative COW website is well under way and I have to say that it's the first time in many years that I have logged into the COW and haven't hated the way it looks. I always meant to come back to it and get it done but couldn't find the time. So, last April, I gave it a minor overhaul but that was just a band-aid on a car wreck victim.
Then after the death of my Dad, I went through a severe depression -- not because I had left things unsaid or anything of that sort but just because I would horribly miss my great friend and lifetime companion. It took a while to get over it and it meant I did little else but sit and think. So I put some of that to work finding us a new look for the COW. Heartache channeled can be a good thing and besides, my Dad would have liked this interface.
I ran into the look by visiting some of the websites of members here in the COW. When I got to looking at some of the sites designed by Bret Williams (who is a regular in our Web Design forum), I knew that I had found the sense of balance, flow and style that I wanted in the COW. So we hired Bret to get to work on a design and he nailed it. Thanks, Bret!
Then I brought in Abraham Chaffin to code it all into CSS, so that the site is not made up of graphics but of CSS coding parameters. What this means is that the COW can soon marry the interface to user prefs settings and we'll be able to give users a COW that is built around their needs and wants and not a one-size-fits-all COW that looks the same for everyone. It isn't there yet but the foundation is there and we'll be able to get there from here.
Little by little we are adding new features like working RSS feeds for our news, articles, podcasts and other pages. The RSS feeds are proving very popular and we are getting many members a day through feedburner.com, etc.
Two new features that I am happy to see are the new library/articles functions and the leaders section. These new sections give users greatly enhanced access to our library of nearly 850 articles and also to exploring our leadership team here at the cow. To see them for yourself if you haven't already visited, please see http://library.creativecow.net or http://leaders.creativecow.net for more.
There are many other areas of the site now under re-construction and enhancement, we will be introducing these new features and additions shortly. These new features will add a width and depth to the COW that we've never seen before.
Let us know what you think or what you'd like to see. Bessie is all ears...
Well, except for all them udder parts.
If Amazon has a rocket and PayPal has a rocket, then Google's Larry Page wants to outdo them both. He's hiring for his new lunar lab but hurry, the hiring is one day only, today.
When I first saw the iPhone previewed by Steve Jobs during his keynote at last January's Macworld Expo, I had a sneaking suspicion that I had seen that interface before. In fact, I told Tim Wilson, "Man, that interface looks just like the one that is over at the TED conferences..." that I had sent Tim a link to the summer before.
Well, it *is* the TED interface and while Apple gets top nods for knowing a good thing when they see it, and for licensing it quickly enough to likely have it forever associated with them in the public's mind, I have to chuckle a bit. Why? Because I am sure that since the TED Conference is hosted by Adobe, they saw enough in the interface to invite him to be their guest.
That said, that makes it a rather safe assumption to extrapolate that they likely have "TED interface" initiatives already in place at Adobe. If you would like to see the iPhone interface in the loving hands of its developer, Jeff Han, look here.
What you will see is an interface that is likely the leading contender in the fluidity department, easily outdistancing its rivals for the crown in the "Get the Interface Out of the Way of the User" department. It is one honey of an interface.
When I let my mind percolate on the future and things like the TED interface married to applications like Photoshop, After Effects, Flash, Premiere and others, I have to grin ear to ear like an idiot. This is the kind of video phones and flying cars future we were all promised long ago.
Congratulations Jeff Han, you done good, man.
CreativeCOW.netCreative COW Magazine
Well, the new issue of Creative COW Magazine is at the printer and should be run shortly. Hopefully, all the work that Tim Wilson and I put into it will open up some interesting discussions and get people to open their minds to the incredible opportunity that lies in front of them. It is not often that a market shift opens up as many opportunities as that which the rapidly accelerating world of mini-media is doing. We have tried to explore this new media opportunity from many differing vantage points. This, so that readers can examine how the principles may play into their respective worlds -- or not.
One of the things that Kathlyn and I hoped to achieve when we began building media professionals sites online back in 1995, was to give professionals a way to get out of the myopic worlds we often find ourselves in as we stare at the screen in our edit and compositing suites all day. It's easy to think that the world is shaped in the form of that which we find ourselves in. It looks that way and so, there it is. Well, not always. Getting out of the rut is often hard. It takes both vision and education and that requires a time investment -- something that many of us do not have the luxury of.
So, that brings us to our hope for the Creative COW Magazine. It's an oddball. After all, we have elected to not follow any of the traditions that trade magazines have accepted as gospel in this marketplace. Instead, we have eschewed many of the core traditions that have (in our opinions) made the magazines in this marketplace largely irrelevant and bereft of the reputations that they once had. Page counts and reputations are dropping and, in our opinions at least, these factors can be laid at the feet of a lack of real relevance.
The internet at its best is a place where users now get much of the information from friends and peers online that they once got only from reading magazines and going to trade shows like NAB and SIGGRAPH. In our opinion (and it's one that is shared by many of the retailers and manufacturers that we have spoken to), few things are truly introduced at trade shows and fewer buying decisions are fomented by what is seen at them. Today, most of these decisions are already largely made, and the choices culled down to the few remaining contenders, long before they ever set foot on the show floor. Added to this, few readers trust the opinion of a single reviewer against the collective input of their peers who voraciously rip into a product and give their objective feedback online -- feedback that is often won from the crucible of a true production food-chain.
So, what then is the real purpose of a magazine in this day and in this industry, if these things are true?
The greatest strength but also the weakness of forums-based communities is that most questions and answers deal with immediacy and issues of peer-to-peer support. In among these day-to-day postings happens the great "big picture" speculations but they are hard to find. They also tend, like forums, to be quite nonlinear in their construction and so fewer people can put the pieces together in a coherent manner.
Magazines done well are the quintessential "linear learning tools." Smaller than books and because of this, bite-size but effective. They can quickly lay out a picture that the editors want to promulgate for their audience and thereby begin the process of advancing an educational process that will benefit them in the future.
Disjointed product reviews, a few tutorials and the occasional editorial won't do it.
So, we jokingly refer to Creative COW Magazine as a paean to our love of the great "concept albums" of rock music history. Give me Sargeant Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and other great albums of their ilk. Like them, we have tried to string the story together through a series of articles that will tell the tale of the rapidly exploding world of "media anywhere."
How well have we done our jobs? We hope that it accomplishes the goal that we have but it will be, as always, that the audience will be the judge.
As we get to the finish line on the new pre-NAB issue of Creative COW Magazine, the thought hit me this morning that this is really quite an amazing ride. When we started building web-based community sites back in June of 1995, we would not have dared dream that this would be happening in 2007. Or that we'd be doing as odd a thing as building a magazine and competing against the major publishing ventures in this industry. If someone had told us the future many years ago, we would have likely laughed.
It's quite a strange thing to remember the days when we paid $39 a month for a web hosting site that could hold all of us back then. There were about a hundred of us then, as the tools cost around $50,000 as the cost of entry into this market. While the cost of systems dropped, our web hosting bill jumped to a hundred a month and that seemed like a big thing. System costs kept dropping. Our web hosting bill then went into the hundreds, then thousands a month. Then the site picked up employees and the thing just grew and grew until -- well, here we are. Today, in most months, we get around 400,000 unique visitors -- some months, a lot more. We've had some months, that while rare, have hit around 600,000 visitors and up.
It's really been an amazing adventure and we have made many wonderful friendships along the way. Kathlyn and I joke that we spend more time with our virtual online family than we do with many of our blood families. We have seen you face trials, overcome and succeed, we have seen some fall and leave the playing field, we have watched others begin families of their own, and have been saddened a number of times over the years when family members have written us and asked that their loved one's picture be removed from our site's team as they passed away.
It has been incredible and I must say that I love the Internet. It truly is the place where you find the best hopes and, sadly, the worst nightmares of humanity. But I do believe that there is far more of the good than the bad. It is where you find a wonderful group like the COW Team who host and help people that they often only know from a few words on a screen. It is also where you find people trying to destroy your business using the most under-handed tricks and taking the intelligence they possess to try to ruin you. Oh well, our friends have always ridden in to our rescue and the fact that we even exist today is a testament to the friendships and relationships we have built over the last dozen years of doing this. Like most of you reading this, we have chosen to side with those who would like to leave the world a better place than it might have been, if left alone to those with darker agendas.
In the end, it's all been a remarkable experience and me and Kathlyn, along with all of us who work on the COW as employees or volunteers, thank all of you for being a part of this experience. As I told Mel Charters years and years ago when he first introduced me to the Net: "Man, I love the internet -- this is right up with the printing press and the wheel."
The best to you always,