Hey, my own TV channel!

It felt strange when I first set up this blog. What would I write about? Who would care?

For several years now I’ve been giving talks at conferences and workshops. I’d generally upload a PDF of the slides somewhere, or at least email them to anyone that asked. I’ve now added a special page on the blog where I can list all the talks I’ve given. That now acts as a single location to find all my talks and links to slides any related materials. (It’s currently a work-in progress. I’ll be filling it in from time to time. Any major updates will be accompanied by a blog post.)

Slides, no matter how good, miss much of the real event. No ad-libs, no questions and answers. When writing slides I’m always caught between the desire write little, so the audience can pay attention to what I’m saying, and to write lots, so people reading the slides later still get a reasonably full picture.

There’s also the problem of notes. I often use ‘presenter notes’ on the slides to give extra information. Both to myself, if I may need it while presenting, and also for links to data sources and credits for images used. I’ve uploaded some talks to slideshare.net but I have to include a separate version with notes (which is useful for download and print, but almost unreadable in their viewer.

I tried making a video of a talk on a camcorder. The results weren’t great. Grainy, noisy, hard to read, and massive video files.

Then I decided to try using screencasting software. I bought a great wireless USB microphone and the amazing ScreenFlow screencasting software. Now I can to capture everything in fine detail and edit it easily afterwards.

Great. Now what? I needed somewhere to host the (very large) videos. I looked around and tried a few, like vimeo, but wasn’t happy with the results. Vimo, for example, transcode to quite a low resolution and don’t let viewers download the original.

Eventually I found the wonder that is blip.tv. A whole laundry list of great features. If you produce videos of any kind, give them a look.

So, now I have my own TV channel.

Strange world!

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Loaded Perl: A history in 530,000 emails

MarkMail is a free service for searching mailing list archives. They’ve just loaded 530,000 emails from 75 perl-related mailing lists into their index.

They’ve got a home page for searching these lists at http://perl.markmail.org/.

Of course the first thing people often do with new search engines is search for themselves. I’m no exception. Where MarkMail shines is the ability to drill-down into the results in many ways with a single click (bugs, announcements, attachments etc). Worth a look.

The graph of messages per month is not just cute, you can click and drag over a range of bars to narrow the search to a specific period. It clearly shows my activity rising sharply in 2001 and then dropping to a lower level after 2004.

I particularly pleased that they’ve indexed dbi-users, dbi-dev, and dbi-announce lists.