Category Archives: Updates

Sharing my Shared Sharity

So, I’ve realized that a lot of the effort I used to put in commenting on interesting stuff was going into my Google Reader shared comments. I’m now pulling those out and putting them on my blog in hopes of making this sort of relevant again.

I’m freaked out.

So I just got word that one of the second street businesses is looking forward to our play on Saturday. I’m a bit freaked out.

I don’t do audience participation pieces. I don’t do improv. I’m amazed by them. I like to watch some of them. The ones where they don’t single out the most uncomfortable person in the audience and make them the butt of every joke in the show.

But I’m doing a somewhat political comedy about cats on Saturday. From 1:00 to 2:30 in the second street district. It starts outside Austin Java. Moves to the Lofty Dog at 1:30, and then to the City Hall Amphitheater at 2:00.

Yes, we reserved the City Hall.

I’m writing this in collaboration, and that provides some inoculation, but I’m also producing this thing. And I’m a bit freaked out. I know more or less what makes people enjoy themselves with scripted theater. I know the beats you have to hit. I know how much set and costume and light people expect for their money.

But we’re throwing all that to the wind. All volunteer. Lots of chaos. Something like 7 total actors with actual scripted lines. Inviting the public to participate. Frightening.

There’s a potential for rioting here.

I mean I hope not. But the public at large can be somewhat frightening.

I have a lot of respect for people who live outside the black box right now. I don’t know how you deal with the idea that what you’re about to put out there could be very, very un-entertaining.

But it’ll be great, right?

Oh yeah, there’s free parking in the city hall parking garage ’till five.

Redeveloping the Warehouse District

Ahh… feels like junior high.

“Downtown Austin” wrote a post about the battle to redevelop the warehouse district.

I think there’s a lot of nostalgia about the area, but what’s left to be nostalgic about? Aside from the gay clubs it’s become increasingly an area with a ton of chain restaurants and bars that are a pain to walk to. Waterloo’s gone. Ginger Man was a chain. It’s going, if not gone. The Spaghetti Warehouse will be fine I’m sure. There will still be a place to take a date with horrible food and piss-poor atmosphere. Never you fear. If this had been proposed in the nineties, I might have complained, but now? I think land owners trying to make money on their underdeveloped properties have already caused a lot of damage to the area.

If I’m going to dress up and go out drinking I’m going to West 6th or Second Street now. Thanks in large part to the fact that I don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car, or Julie wearing heels and falling down a flight of stairs with no handrail.

I think that you could probably come up with a design for that neighborhood that would be more “warehousey”, but that had actual walkable sidewalks. I’m interested though, is there anything anyone thinks is left in the warehouse district that they’d be sad to see go?

Ahh Genesis

I’m hooked on slowing down classics!

So I was listening to’s top nine at nine this morning. They pick a year and play nine songs from it.

Dance is good for kids

We went to Stella’s first dance recital on Tuesday. Thankfully it wasn’t actually a dance recital. It was simply a chance for parents to sit in and watch a somewhat typical class. I think a dance recital for three year olds is somewhat cruel. Kind of like a spelling bee for the mentally challenged.

I was amazed though by what Stella learned. I’d always wanted my kids to take dance, because I feel like it’s something that’s much harder to pick up later in life. At UT I did a few dance related pieces and auditions. From talking to fellow auditioners, even people who had just a couple of years of dance as kids could generally pick up choreography about 10 times faster than I could. Which I don’t think is completely the lack of dance training’s fault. I’m a large force of nature that can’t always change direction on a dime (or a ball-change).

So I wanted Stella to take dance.

But what I didn’t count on, and why I think everyone should put their kid in dance, is that beyond the above reason is the focus and discipline. This was not some sort of old-school ballet class where you get kicked for talking or not being good enough. But it was very much about focus and discipline. A lot of time was spent making sure the kids were all where they were supposed to be and focused on what they were going to do next. It was fascinating to me as compared to organized sports. Sports are like dance in that they get rid of excess energy and teach cooperation and coordination. But I don’t think they’re good at teaching focus. I was never given tools for when I needed to stay focused out there in left field, and when I could goof off (and thus I pretty much always goofed off).

All in all, I was very impressed. Get your kids in dance. You’ll be really happy you did.

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Headbands rock!

I don’t care what Julie says. Headbands rock. I bought some on a whim at Target a few weeks back. Sure they’re designed to emulate the late seventies for kids who weren’t born then, but whatever.

Up until recently I was reticent to wear sunscreen cause that stuff stings when it rolls down your face into your eyes. And yes, I do wear waterproof. See waterproof sunscreen means it will stay on you after you get wet. It doesn’t mean that any that hasn’t bonded with your skin won’t roll down your face and get in your eyes.

Running with the headband was a revelation. My forehead stayed cool and dry and sweat was channeled down the sides of my head.

I can’t explain that visor on Stella’s head though. Kids these days.

The News Doesn’t Like Plot Twists

So there was a double-homicide in west campus a few days back. A guy and his girlfriend. Apparently they were really cool. The media seized upon it as this random horrific act… THAT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

Well it could happen to you if you deal large amounts of pot and you start leaning on a person who owes you thousands of dollars. So that came out today, but the Statesman’s still going along with their “poor kids, random act of violence story”.

Remember. Stay in school. Don’t do drugs.

Some Facebook Quibbles

Image via CrunchBase

So I’m going to try to keep this non-technical. But I do want to explain why Facebook will be eclipsed by something else fairly soon. Their programming interface is keeping Facebook from being used for anything but MafiaWars style games.

I’m currently writing a theater ticketing and management website called BuyPlayTix. It has a lot of cool features, and so I decided to start working on Facebook integration. I tried to do a Facebook widget about a year ago (remember back when they had those?), and got frustrated and gave up. I’m glad I did since they basically removed that feature entirely.

I went ahead this time since I knew there was at least one feature that I could add that would be useful.

So now you can create an Facebook event automatically based on your event in BuyPlayTix. Which is nice. It saves you a little bit of duplicate effort. You set up your ticketing website, click a button and your event is on Facebook. Except you still have to go to their website to actually invite anyone to the event. Because their API doesn’t support that feature.

I have a page for my theater company – Loaded Gun Theory. I have hundreds of fans who want to be updated about Loaded Gun Theory’s new productions. They have manually clicked a button to make this happen. Yet I cannot automatically invite those fans to Loaded Gun Theory events via Facebook.

Which was ok, I guess. I still added a feature that saves about 5 minutes of typing.

Next up, our mailing lists. Email is becoming increasingly outdated, we lose about 5% of our contact list every time we send out an update. I figured it would be nice to be able to email updates to people who have opted in to our mailing list, or update them via Facebook. So I wrote a widget that would let you lookup a person on Facebook. Only downside there is you can only look them up by full name. The API has a first_name field. And a last_name field. But you can only search by full name. Which stinks if you happen to be looking up one of the many women who have their maiden and married name as their full facebook name. Or you’re looking up anyone who has a nickname, but uses their full name on facebook.

Then I figured it would be nice to have an automatic import feature. Where it would take only those exact matches and update them with their corresponding facebook id. Thanks to the previous problems this wouldn’t be a great solution, but it would save some time. Guess what? Can’t do that. Even though I have a list of fans subscribed to my facebook page, there is no way to get them out via the API. That’s right. I can’t get a list of all the people who are fans of Loaded Gun Theory. Which is pretty stinking useless.

So I’m already irritated at this point. I decide to go setup the mailing list capability where it will send an email if that’s configured, or a message via Facebook if you’ve (manually) entered the users facebook ID.

I go to look at what sort of messages you can send. Turns out:

a) You can’t send a message FROM your page. I can’t send a message from Loaded Gun Theory. It’s always going to look like it’s coming from Tim Thomas. Which is great if you know me, but we actually do have fans who don’t.

b) You can’t send a message that shows up in the Inbox. At all. Period.

c) You can’t send a private message to a user.

What can you send? You send send a status update (again as Tim Thomas, not Loaded Gun Theory). You can send a notification (which shows up in that tiny little box in the right hand corner that you don’t pay attention to). Or you can respond to a status update. Which doesn’t seem to be the best way to notify a fan about a new production.

So what do I have? I’m still sending out email and I’m sending those little notifications in the bottom right. I guess it’s better than nothing. But barely.

I understand they’re trying to prevent spam, but they’re also preventing every legitimate use. And I can still go into the application and spam people. It just takes longer for their page to load than mine.

I also added twitter support. That took 3 lines of code, and works exactly as you would expect.

Has anyone had success in communicating with Facebook users via the API? What did you do?

I’ve got tools

Not these kinds of tools.

So I’m testing some cool new tools to hopefully get me to blog more often. I’m playing with ScribeFire and Zemanta which will hopefully make things more dynamic.

I got inspired to write more after writing a 3 page monologue for the Vestige Group’s “Muses III” project. It still has some editing to go, but I figure I should write more blog posts. I often think of them while trying to fall asleep at night, then forget in the morning.

We took Etta in to get her fourth month shots yesterday. She handled them well. It’s hard talking to the doctor about her because she’s so agreeable most of the time. Nothing seems to bother her for long periods of time. She’s a very smiley kid, and I’m enjoying the fact that her hair is starting to spike out on top. Now we have to start feeding her solids. Because getting Stella fed every night wasn’t a big enough chore.

Speaking of Stella, things have gotten better. Julie, Etta, and she were sick last week and Stella was in a rebelous/whiney mood. The whole week was an ordeal. Then Julie’s mom came to stay with us for a few days and it was like a cloud had lifted. Stella is still not napping, which means she’s prone to extreme crankiness, but I’m no longer wanting to box her up and send her off to the circus.

So I’m going to put a notepad on my bedside table, and try to knock something out every day. Even if that is a long and boring post about how interesting CouchDB is. Keep me honest Internetz.