Recently my mate Kieran has been helping me get my head round marketing as I try to get word out about tedium. I was trying to work out something I could do to say thanks, and as he's been reading The Paradox of Choice it occurred to me that I could share some of the TED talks with him (including the one by Barry Schwartz, the author of The Paradox of Choice).
Kieran isn't a geek by any stretch of the imagination, so I burned the talks onto a DVD so that he could watch them from the comfort of his sofa rather than having to sit in front of his computer. I think that's about the only problem with the presentations from TED.com - it's hard to watch something for twenty minutes if you've got all the distractions of the Internet.
The talks themselves are superb - interesting and insightful topics being talked about by passionate, clever, famous people. If you haven't seen any of the talks before then I heartily recommend having a poke round the TED website or downloading this TED Taster DVD.
That's right, now that I've put the DVD together, I might as well share it with the rest of the world. All the TED presentations are covered by a Creative Commons licence, which means that it's completely legal to copy them and give them to your friends and colleagues... even to random strangers on the Internet ;-)
There are six talks on the DVD. I picked ones that I enjoyed watching and that seem to be well thought of on the web:
Obviously I can't share physical DVDs over the Internet, so you'll need a DVD burner if you want to make your own TED Taster DVD. And because the files are pretty big I can't just set things up so you click on a link and download it - you'll need to use BitTorrent, but (as well as saving some of my bandwidth costs) that will mean that it will download more quickly.
Despite the scare stories you might've heard, BitTorrent isn't hard to use. Lifehacker have a good beginner's guide to BitTorrent and Gordon McLean wrote an excellent starter guide for anyone using Windows.
Okay, here are the torrent files you'll need to download the DVD. Choose the right one depending on where you live (well, really depending on whether your DVD player is NTSC or PAL). Each download is about 3.4 GB in size, so please be patient - it'll take a while to download, particularly at first when there aren't many copies around. And after it's finished downloading, please leave your BitTorrent client running for as long as you can to help share it with others.
And if you just want to watch them on your computer, I've collected all the original files from TED.com and gathered them into the TED Taster mp4 torrent (704 MB).
I know they aren't as easy to watch as your standard YouTube clip, but I think that the more people who get to see the TED talks the better. So, feel free to burn some extra DVDs and give them to your friends, or blog about the TED talks that you love the most, or point people here so they can download the DVD for themselves. Feel free to use the image above, and either link to this blog post or use http://www.mcqn.net/tedtaster (that's just a snappier URL that also points here).
This weekend I took a break from bug-fixing PeerBackup to play with writing a little web app.
The result of this playing is now available for anyone to play with, the McQN.net: Real Audio Clip Generator.
It lets you take a Real audio stream and create a link which will play just the portion of the audio that you choose. So if, for example, you have a link to an hour long radio show and you're only interested in ten minutes in the middle of the show, then you can use this to create a link that starts 25 minutes in and ends at the 35 minute mark.
It's still a little rough round the edges, and there's a list of things I'd still like to do (see below), but I think it's useful enough to release into the world. Please email me or leave a comment if you have any problems with it, or any ideas on ways it could be improved.
This is partly a to-do list for me, partly a list of "known problems" and partly a roadmap for future developments, although as it's an "in my spare time" kind of thing, I can't guarantee how quickly things will get done (unless anyone wants to pay me to develop it further ;-)
The first CarPartArtwork has now been hung, in a small, exclusive gallery in Manchester. Andrew, the curator, has been kind enough to provide a picture of the artwork in situ.
Stupidly, I'd assumed that the as HTML forms are over a decade old, there wouldn't be any cross-browser compatibility issues. However, Firefox seems to do things slightly differently to IE and Safari, which meant that you couldn't lock images with them.
Thanks to Neil for pointing it out, and (hopefully) it's now fixed.
Now that the present has been delivered, I can talk about one of the "other things" I've been up to recently.
The CarPartArt Project is a web application I developed to help me choose the nine images for my mate Andrew's birthday present. From the images I produced 210mm square prints which I then mounted onto simple individual frames. Hopefully I'll get a picture of it installed sometime (hint, hint, Andrew ;-)
Here are the images that I chose but you should go and make your own collection!