IT Conversations Announcement for February 18, 2005

(Hear the MP3 version)


  • Back from Vacation.
    I’m finally back from a terrific vacation and trying desperately to catch up with email and other chores. I hope you enjoyed the programs I was able to prepare in advance and launch each day while I was gone.
  • The Great IT Conversations Button Contest.
    A number of listeners sent in images for the contest, and I’ve posted the best of them. If you’d like to tell others about IT Conversations, please visit that page and copy a button to your own website or blog.
    Thanks to your votes, last week IT Conversations jumped again from #7 to #4 on It may seem trivial, but in these early days of podcasting, is one of the few independent sources of comparative data, and our rating there is already helping attract sponsors and underwriters.
  • The Gillmor Gang — Still on Hiatus.
    Once again we didn’t have a chance to put together a new edition of The Gillmor Gang this past week, but I hope we’ll be able to round up The Gang for another show as soon as possible.
  • The Future of AAC/M4B Files.
    I want to alert IT Conversations listeners to a possible future change — one that I know won’t be particularly popular among iPod users. Last year I started encoding files in AAC (.m4b) format in addition to MP3. The primary advantage is that on Apple iPods (and only on iPods) you can pause an AAC file, listen to another, and when you return to the first one, you continue at the point you left off. This really ought to work for all file types on all players, but that isn’t the case.

    I spent many hours trying to find an encoder that would create the proper files on my Linux-based content-management system, but the only solution I could find turned out to be a very manual operation using iTunes on a Mac or PC.

    I’m currently working on the further automation of the IT Conversations web site, and it appears that I may have to eliminate this manual operation. So unless I can find a Linux-based encoder that creates iPod-compatible AAC files, I may have to eliminate the AAC option and deliver only MP3 files.

    The good news is that many of the podcatching clients such as Doppler and iPodderX can automatically convert downloaded files to AAC at the receiving end.

New Programs from the Past Two Weeks

    Because of my time away from the studio, I’ve got two week’s worth of shows to cover. Here are the top five, ranked according to the votes cast by you, the listeners of IT Conversations:

  • #5: Interface: Jaron Lanier v. Will Wright (3.6).
    As our interfaces get continually smarter, how do we keep them from dehumanizing us? Should we be concerned that U.S. youth have had forty years of declining math, science, and analytical reading skills? A debate from the Accelerating Change 2004 conference.
  • #4: The Gillmor Gang (3.6).
    The Gang asks guest Dan Bricklin what innovations are on his radar. Dan’s answers include the trend to large amounts of storage that allow a store-now-think-later approach, mobility, cheap CPU power and IP connectivity everywhere. Dan also points out that “Google caught everyone by surprise,” by using the population to generate the connection database. The Gang digs into the benefits of pervasive devices that can share with others and considers whether evolution shows us how markets work.
  • #3: Stewart Copeland (4.0).
    Since his early days with the Police, drummer Stewart has been heavily involved with technology. Today he’s a composer for film, TV, and opera, having scored more than 60 soundtracks. In this live fireside chat at the Mac OS X conference, Copeland reveals his innovative recording techniques, lays out his dreams for the ideal music software, and even recalls his skin-piercing sampler shootout with Sting.
  • #2: Malcolm Gladwell on Tech Nation (4.2)
    Malcolm Gladwell is back to discuss his new book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Dr. Moira Gunn asks him, “Do you really think there’s a science of decision?” We have two kinds of thought, Malcolm says. The first is the rational, deliberate and conscious thought that we analyze and cherish. The other is the kind of thinking that occurs below the level of awareness, and it doesn’t happen slowly and deliberately, but really quickly. We tend to dismiss the latter in our society, but in the past few years psychologists have referred to this as the product of the adaptive unconscious. It’s a kind of a big computer that does all the background tasks. It’s powerful and fast, but because it’s not part of our consciousness, it’s rather mysterious. Join Moira for another great interview with an IT Conversations favorite.
  • #1: Cory Ondrejka — Living the Dream (5.0)
    Over the next decade, visionary entrepreneurs will emerge from the digital melting pot of distributed and connected populations. Innovation and growth will allow digital worlds to capture an increasing share of the global economy. They will soon be in direct economic competition with real-world nations. Cory is the VP of Product Development, Linden Lab, creators of Second Life. (From Accelerating Change 2004)
  • And here are the other shows posted in the past two weeks:

  • Andrew Conru at Web 2.0 (2.6). What can we learn from the adult industry?
  • So, Is This a Bubble Yet? (2.6). Leading analysts Lanny Baker and Safa Rashtchy join top financier Bill Janeway and London-based Danny Rimer to address the state of the Internet’s finances.
  • Keith Halper – Reality Games (3.2). At Accelerating Change 2004, Kuma CEO Keith Halper discussed the techniques and technology which make episodic games possible, their cultural and financial impact, and the process of introducing revolutionary change in the buzz-driven market for games.
  • Dave Sifry at Web 2.0 (3.1). Dave Sifry, founder and CEO of Technorati presented the inside look at this explosive new medium at the Web 2.0 Conference.
  • The Mobile Platform (3.3). At the Web 2.0 conference, mobile expert Rael Dornfest discusses the state of the mobile web with innovators Russell Beattie, Jory Bell, Juha Christensen and Trip Hawkins.
  • James Currier – Tickle (3.0). Every great consumer business is built around the psychology and emotions of the individual. Come take a deep dive into consumer psychology and its implications for the future of online consumer services.

Greatest Hits from the Archives

    Amd finally, here’s one of my personal favorite programs from the IT Conversations archives:

  • Malcolm Gladwell: Human Nature (4.2).
    If you like this week’s interview of Malcolm Gladwell by Moira Gunn, make sure you listen to a presentation he gave last year at the Pop!Tech 2004 conference. It’s one of the most popular and highly rated programs on IT Conversations.

    Malcolm explores why we can’t trust people’s opinions — because we don’t have the language to express our feelings. His examples include the story of New Coke and how Coke’s market research misled them, and the development of Herman-Miller’s Aeron chair, the best-selling chair in the history of office chairs, which succeeded in spite of research that suggested it would fail.

4 thoughts on “IT Conversations Announcement for February 18, 2005

  1. Hi Doug.

    Creating bookmarkable AAC files under Linux is as easy as renaming them from m4a to m4b. AFAIK there is no proprietary magic to bookmarkable AAC files, they do not differ one bit from their non-bookmarkable counterparts.

    On a Mac there are two ways of creating a bookmarkable AAC file: Either set the right type/creator in the file’s HFS+ resource fork (“M4B ” instead of “M4A “) or rename the file to .m4b. In the latter case you will have to be sure that the file has no resource fork type set which would override the file extension. The “GetFileInfo” and “SetFile” tools in /Developer/Tools/ installed with the Developer Tools are a great help if you want to play with resource forks. As resource forks only live on HFS+ and can’t travel the internet without further packaging, this is probably irrelevant to your use case anyway…

    I just tested both procedures with your announcement and it works great.


  2. I personally use faac to encode AAC files under Linux which seems to work fine. Just naming them with a .m4b extension seems to be all that’s required to make them into a bookmarkable AAC file for iPods.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s