lukegilman.com : High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

Franz Nicolay at the Laundromatinee


Franz Nicolay – Cease-Fire, Or, Mrs. Norman Maine from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.

Discovering multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay (Hold Steady, etc) of his own right via My Old Kentucky Home

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Siftables: Best Toy Ever?

Demonstrated by MIT grad student David Merrill at the TED Conference, and, unfortunately, not yet available in stores.

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XKCD on Flow Charts

Hilarious. View it in all its entirety: XKCD on Flow Charts (via Boing Boing)

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Raven SEO Tools, Simplyfing Search Engine Optimization

In my previous life as a ‘web guy’ one perennial albatross was the search engine optimization (SEO) question – something along the lines of “how long would it take for you to make my site the first result for the word “lawyer” in Google?” … the answer to which is ‘well, you’ve got about 103,000,000 other people in front of you.’ – which isn’t to say it’s impossible, but let’s put it in perspective. It’s a competitive world and everyone wants to be number 1. What can your site show Google that no one else can?

On the other hand there are lots of easy things you can do to improve your performance in search engines. Making your content accessible by not using flash animation when you don’t have to, garnering links from other popular websites to yours, or simply making sure that the keywords you’re interested in appear frequently in your content. There’s no end to how far you can take this – generally the trouble is – ‘How do I know what works?’

Enter Raven SEO Tools. I really wish this had been around when I was still designing websites. It would have made the answer to the ‘SEO question’ much, much simpler. Go here, and do what it tells you. There’s a free version that will appeal to the do-it-yourself-er who just need the basics. For web designers and SEO experts, Raven has a paid subscription version that could easily pay for itself with the horsepower it provides, despite the non-inconsequential $100/month fee. It’s that good.

But why take my word for it? Watch the video above and then take it for a spin

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Learned to Love Hosting All My Mission-Critical Data with Google

So I lost my phone this week. Given the lifeline that my crackberry had become, you might think (or at least I would have thought) that this would be a big deal, of weeping and gnashing proportions. Oddly, not so much.

Verizon gave me a loaner crackberry until their shipment of Storms comes in, a now quaintly antiquated 8703. Once I figured out how to work the jog dial, I was up and running in about 20 minutes. I had restored all 500 or so contacts, my calendar and assorted task lists, etc. Only very recently, this recovery would have been a painful and laborious data restoration project. So why wasn’t it a big deal? One word – Google.

This revelation came to me while reading David Carr’s article The Media Equation, Google Seduces With Utility. I’m so used to having Google in my life that my dependence on it doesn’t even occur to me until someone else mentions it. I’ve come to think of Google as a benevolent borg-like overlord. When a new start up comes out that shows promise, I may start including in my nightly prayers that Google buys them up. This typically means the start up I once loved will become instantly free, gradually more stable and able to be integrated into the wider digital ecosystem. The alternative, being bought by Microsoft or Yahoo, generally means they’re about to screw it up. Google’s concessions to its Blogger fiefdom is to my recollection the anomalous and disappointing exception.

My set-up is pretty lo-fi in most respects, but I’ve run into a number of blackberry users who weren’t even aware of the possibilities, so consider this post a public service announcement:

  • Download and install Google Mobile for Blackberry; then open Google Apps on your phone and
    1. Install Gmail if you use that for personal mail like I do.
    2. Install Google Sync and set it up sync your calendar and contacts
  • Download and install the Google Talk app from Blackberry

The main advantage is that it weens you off clunky intermediaries such as Microsoft Outlook, which I used to use to keep all my contacts and calendar items synced up. Now I can update it from any computer with an internet connection, which gives me a lot of freedom in managing my schedule. I’ve experimented with other methods/technologies in the past, which have always fallen prey to ease of use (specifically lack thereof) and relying on myself to sync my data when I get busy and the fur starts to fly.

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My iPhone Envy and the coming New World Order of Mobile Devices

I’ve contracted a nasty case of iPhone envy lately, inspired mostly by the 3G powered lightning fast web browsing, iPod functionality and the army of application developers churning out cool new stuff for the App Store. Apple solved most of what kept me tethered to my Crackberry by adding real GPS functionality and ability to play nice with Exchange Server e-mail used by most large companies. Giving me pause is the hefty hidden pricing and subpar service that come with being stuck with ATT as the sole service provider and my lingering suspicions about a button-less interface. While I had assumed that I would slowly succumb to becoming ‘one of those people’ I’m now faced with more of a conundrum.

picture-13 
TechCrunch has posted pics of the HTC Dream G1 handset in the wild (see above). HTC Dream G1, aka the gPhone, runs Google’s highly anticipated new Android cellphone software designed to compete with Apple’s iPhone. Google has scheduled the official announcement for this tuesday with retail availability scheduled for October. Analysts expect a $200 subsidized price with a 2-year contract from T-Mobile, which I already use as the the cheapest unmetered data plan available at the time. Choices, choices….

Equally interesting in an anthropological platform-as-social-signal-of-my-worldviews kind of way is that this promises to transcend the usual I’m a PC/I’m a Mac paradigm where it’s cheaper vs. better. This is Google, whose history of game-changing products, vaunted engineering prowess and relentless pursuit of novel solutions to consumer needs, promises if nothing else to send the development of handheld devices into competitive overdrive.

See the video below for a demonstration of Google’s Android software at their Developers’ Day in London.

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Texas Music Matters, KUT

A little slow on the draw, I just came across KUT’s wonderful new Texas Music Matters Blog. Check it out.

Behind the Scenes with Bruce Robison

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[via KUT's Texas Music Matters]

Patty Griffin: “Poor Man’s House”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

[via KUT's Texas Music Matters]

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Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot and Trade Show

Sometimes I am reminded that I have family from Oklahoma and I get scared.

From the Oklahoma Full Auto Shootout, via BoingBoing

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Reports of our being devoured by crazy ants have been greatly exaggerated

Newspapers from the New York Times to A Plague of Ants in Houston to the UK’s Register ‘Crazy rasberry ants’ target Texan tech, left me wondering if I shouldn’t be planning some chemical mote or hot-gluing the crevices of my portable electronics instead of enjoying an otherwise pleasant-seeming weekend. Having conducted an extensive survey and analysis of peering into my backyard and dutifully using many of my electronic devices, I have concluded that all of my ants are quite sane so far as ants go with very little if any stated interest in my electronics. From the NY Times -

Two spine-tingling reports, from The Houston Chronicle and The Associated Press, leave no gory detail unarticulated about the city’s suddenly immense problem with ants.

or the suddenly immense interest by reporters rather…

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Living Out Every Kid’s Fantasy for those Infuriating Claw Games

Video: Australian Kid Stuck in Lucky Dip Game, via Engadget: Enterprising youngster gets himself stuck in a claw machine

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