Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

September 2011 Posts

Two Tablets: Kindle Fire and Toshiba Thrive

Fri, 09/30/2011 - 14:04 -- rprice

With the release of the Kindle Fire this week, I thought I would see what the competition was like. If I'm going to spend $200 on a tablet, what about spending a little more, to get something more geek-friendly?

I know that as of Android 3.1, there is now support for Android devices to act as a USB host, for connecting to devices or hacking on the Arduino. In my search, I came across the Toshiba Thrive, which has full-sized USB ports, and more. Then I started to write this post, and I realized Toshiba is getting ready to release a 7-inch version that is less geek-friendly, so I decided to include that in my comparison to have a more head-to-head feel with the Amazon tablet.

Comparison... go!

Kindle Fire Toshiba Thrive 10.1 Toshiba Thrive 7"
$199 $350 (or so) $380 (or so)
7" IPS screen 10.1" Toshiba Adaptive Display 7" AutoBrite Display
1024x600 resolution 1280x800 resolution
169ppi 149 ppi 215 ppi
Dual-core 1.2GHz Dual-core 1.0GHz
8GB 8GB, 16GB, 32GB 16GB, 32GB
Small and light Big and Bulky Thin and light
8hr battery life 8hr battery life, replaceable battery ??? not replacable
Custom Android Interface Stock Android 3.1
Amazon AppStore Any Android App Store
Amazon Silk Browser Any Android Browser
micro-USB (out) and 3.5mm headphone Full-size USB (host), mini USB (in/out?), 3.5mm headphone, Full-size HDMI mini USB, 3.5mm headphone, microHDMI
no expansion slot, free cloud drive Full-size SD card up to 128GB microSD card
no camera 5mp rear and 2mp front cameras 5mp rear and 2mp front cameras with LED Flash
no microphone microphone
Wi-Fi G and N, no 3G
no bluetooth bluetooth

My Choice

In short, the Thrive is a geek's tablet, and I'm a geek. ...and no iPad for me, so don't even mention it.

For someone else, I would take a look at the Kindle, mostly because of the price. If you want to connect to a television, or have more storage, then I would take a good look at the Toshiba. If it's a gift for a non-techie family member, then I think there is no doubt which one to get, unless you are worried about Amazon selling out of the Fire.

On Keyboards

My search today began by looking at the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, since their keyboard dock adds a full-sized SD slot and two full-sized USB ports, but the price turned me off. One plus there is the long battery life after you add the dock, but that was not a big enough selling point (considering the replaceable Toshiba Thrive Battery). You can also grab a Tablet Keyboard to fill in the gap, and the USB issue can be solved by the Toshiba Thrive Multi-Dock to add an HDMI port and two more full-sized USB ports. Pretty nice.


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Apartment Building Designed by Tummlers

Fri, 09/30/2011 - 06:31 -- rprice

In my Pecha Kucha Orlando talk, and the one I did at last week's ReThinking the City, I included a slide of a suburb of Copenhagen with a circular layout, which I said was probably designed by a Tummler, whether they labeled themselves as such or not.

Today I have another example of Tummeling in architecture, this time I believe in Barcelona, explicitly with social interaction in mind. So many homes are sold on the view from the outside of the building - your front window - but this building takes the rear window into account as well.

From *faircompanies: Rear Window living: density + small homes = crossed glances

I currently live in a single family home near downtown, but if there were buildings like this, perhaps I wouldn't mind the transit up and down to get to my home so much. Living on the ground floor is a luxury I'd be hard-pressed to give up.


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New Music by my favorite artists - Muppets and Ben Folds

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 07:56 -- rprice

When Disney bought the rights to the "main" Muppet characters, I have to say I was a little worried about what they would do with them. I grew up with these characters, and we are now certainly in the second or third generation of many Muppet players, so there are now many reasons for the original vision and spirit to get distilled.

Still - once a fanboy, always a fanboy - I can't get enough Muppet stuff, old or new.

I recently discovered something that was birthed out of the Disney/Muppets merger, namely The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora. It started as "Hasty Tasty Cooking Tips" which actually included live cooking demonstrations, and a really lame red buzzer timer to prove to the Internet viewers that this cooking was being done fast. Then they rethought the series and turned it into something more like a sketch from the Muppet Show or Muppets Tonight, but where the cooking seems to be already complete. This has pluses and minuses, and the new version is definitely more entertaining, yet a lot less educational. Still and all, it's worth watching, and I'm glad it exists.

The Muppets have been doing lots of stuff with the Internet - their YouTube page is prettey damn awesome, and the trailers for the new film "The Muppets" have been alright, but the original Muppet content - music videos - are really where it's at. It was during the release of this latest batch of trailers and music videos that I learned about The Green Album.

Finding this album was like discovering a pot of gold. The big discovery for me was an amazing song called Our World that I had to look up (don't tell!) to learn that it was from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, which is one of the few Muppet movies that was not available at my home growing up.

This album has some great tracks, some not-so-great. Andrew Bird's "Bein' Green" totally rocks, as do any songs that were sung by Gonzo in various Muppet films - he may be the George Harrison of the Muppets, and by extension, Dave Goelz. Dave doesn't get as much credit as Jim Henson and Frank Oz, but you can't pull of some of these pieces and characters without being a world-class Muppet performer.

If you're anything like me, you're also a huge Ben Folds fan. Interestingly enough, I haven't watched him host any reality shows - mostly because I hate reality shows - also because I didn't have a TV for much of the time he was getting started with that role. It looks like The Sing-Off has been picked up for a third season. Therefore, I might have to check it out.

The really exciting thing is the recent announcement of a career-spanning triple album by Ben called The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective.

Where the release of a Muppet album introduces me to one new song, and makes me fall in love again with others, this one does that times three. As a superfan, I own many of these songs already, like all the ones from movie soundtracks and a few (un)official bootlegs or live cuts, but it's nice to have them here - a cool thing is the re-uniting of the Ben Folds Five lineup to record a few tracks that were written, never released. These are songs that were only available as bootlegs or leaked demos in the past - I'm excited to be able to have a decent version of Amelia Bright and Tell Me What I Did, for example. Then when I see a list of credits like this after a song:

Because the Origami (with 8in8 - Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman and Damian Kulash) makes my Spidey-Sense tingle. What can I say?

Because the Origami - 8in8 from Ben Jacobson on Vimeo.

If you have not seen the collaboration with Ben and the others, check out the album (Creative Commons, even), Nighty Night by 8in8. It's even a "name your own price" album. Just go check it out.


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Putting on a Kickass Talk Like a Pirate Day Party

Sat, 09/17/2011 - 13:05 -- rprice

As International Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up, I am in the midst of my annual preparations for our 3rd Pirate Party. This year is probably the most organized we've been about the affair. I've learned a few things in the past few years putting on these events, so I thought I would share some tips here for making your party a success.

  1. Pick a good date. This year's Sept 19th falls on a Monday, which works well for holding a party at the office, but not so well for a party with friends. We tend to choose a Friday or Saturday for our festivities.
  2. Dress like a pirate. For the past few years, Target has had a selection of foam swords in their $1 section, in preparation for Halloween. In fact, the idea of holding Talk Like a Pirate Day was a stroke of genius by the creator, because it makes getting a hold of costumes much easier.
  3. Encourage guests to dress up too. The first year we held the party, we put a lot of emphasis on the "talking" like a pirate, not much on dressing. In later years, we've made sure to mention it in invitations.
  4. Music can set the mood.I've done some research into MP3s available through Amazon, and built up a wish list for possible future purchases. If I can only recommend one, it would be the double album Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Song And Chanteys It features recordings of many "classic" pirate songs by modern artists, some well known for making music, like Bono and Sting, as well as obscure guests John C Reilly and Ralph Steadman. With few exceptions, every song here has an old world feel which could really help set the mood for your party. Something I found on my journey that is not very "traditional" pirate or seafaring music, but still beautiful is Alela Diane's The Pirate's Gospel. For a full wish list, check out my Pirate Songs Wish List. (Listmania Lists can't have MP3 Downloads for some reason)
  5. Have a Pirate Name. Google "pirate name". Encourage your friends to do the same.
  6. Pirate Games. Pirate Fluxx is a great variant on the Looney Labs classic of ever-changing rules with a few extra goodies thrown in like the Scurvy card. There are also countless Pirate Board Games, such as Avalon Hill's Sword & Skull, which a friend gave me one year. I've also thought of putting together a "pin the eyepatch on the pirate game." All you'd need is a photo of any celebrity (black out a tooth or two and scribble on a beard with a magic marker) and a piece of black construction paper with some Scotch tape.
  7. Visit the Party Store. We got some great stuff at a party supply store as well as our local Hobby Lobby - props like a fishing net, cupcake holders, toothpicks with flags on them, cocktail accessories and much more. We also have a huge sign one our front door warning "Baware of Pirates".
  8. Visit the Flea Market. I found an awesome brass flagon with a glass bottom, and we also found an old cigarette lighter that looks like a pistol.
  9. Drink Pirate Drinks. I found several drink recipes online with neat names like "Bilge Water", "Crow's Nest" and "Foul Weather". There are also many competing recipes for Grog out there.
  10. Eat Limes. We normally go for a few tropical fruits - we make something called a Hawaiian Wedding Cake, which has pineapple and coconut in it, as well as serving sliced pineapple and anything with fresh lime. Maybe next year we'll spring for some Key Lime cupcakes.
  11. Get inventive with the food. Trying to research what pirates ate didn't get us anything interesting, so we decided to make it up. We get these mini-quiche from the wholesale store and stick some of the Jolly Roger toothpicks in them - they almost look like little boats. My philosophy is that if you have access to all the world's oceans, then you could really put anything on the menu, since you're currently "at port" during your party. Eating what they would have had after long weeks at sea is mostly maggoty bread and meat. Wasa is my preferred hard tack, if you must know.
  12. Make your own costume. You will be more satisfied with your costume if you buy a real shirt and a separate hat, and then just wear some black dress pants or jeans instead of getting a cheap Jack Sparrow costume - they fall apart, don't fit well, and don't look good either. There is a costume shop near our house that had some great peasant shirts, and I used a piece of scrap fabric to make myself a bandana and a sash for around my waist. Some of the cheap "boot toppers" will go a long way too. Since we have this party every year, I am slowly building up a costume that is much nicer by purchasing one new piece a year. Last year it was a cool telescope with stainless steel and leather trim from Hobby Lobby. A fake earring and a cheap eye patch can help too for a male costume. For the female costumes, you may need to be more of a tomboy, unless you want to be a slutty pirate or a bar wench.
  13. Mood lighting. Lanterns, candles, and tastefully placed lights can certainly help a costume party of any kind. Seeing everyone in stark light is not as good as something a bit more subdued - let the imagination fill in the details.
  14. Nametags? We are going to try nametags with your chosen Pirate Name this year to see if that helps the theme out. Results TBD.
  15. Provide Dress-up accessories for guests. Make sure you aren't making it too difficult for your guests to participate. We decided the nametags with some pre-selected names and having a few dress-up items like eye patches, temporary tattoos, earrings, etc can help people get involved without investing in a costume of their own.
  16. Have fun. Don't stress out. I recommend setting a budget, and planning to stick to it. You can always do it bigger and better next year!

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How to: New Google Analytics Widgets & Dashboard

Sat, 09/17/2011 - 11:02 -- rprice

The most popular (and free) system for web analytics has got a new interface, so I decided to give a quick tour of the home screen and share three widgets I like to use to get an overview of the activity on my websites.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are things I am interested in right now:

  1. find out how many people are accessing my site from mobile devices, or not from Mac/Windows/Linux operating systems at least
  2. find out the most popular keywords bringing traffic to my site, and how many of the visitors are new (this month)
  3. find out what are the most popular pages on the site, and how often that is the only page someone visited (bounce rate).

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What is Drupal?

Fri, 09/16/2011 - 14:53 -- rprice

I love this video. Looks like it is an ad for a Drupal event in the UK, but I think a lot of people could use this if the filmmaker would allow us to.

What is Drupal? from Larchmont Films on Vimeo.

With over half a million contributing developers in 200+ countries, Drupal powers over 2% of the web including such diverse sites as The White House,,, Amnesty International, MTVuk, .net magazine and

Drupal (pronounced drew-pull) is a Content Management System and web application development software written in a popular scripting language - PHP. Drupal has over 11,000 modules and over 1,000 themes, along with both a point and click interface to allow tech-savvy people to put together websites with no programming experience; and an API and framework for programmers to develop unique applications. Best of all, it's free, open source software!

To find out more about Drupal, come along to the Drupal Discovery Day in Brighton on 16th September


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How can cities benefit from Tummlers?

Sat, 09/03/2011 - 10:15 -- rprice

If you can't tell, this is a bit of a theme on my blog this year. Ever since I started listening to Tummelvision, I have really started to identify with this label.

Edit: If you're interested in hearing more about the practice of Tummeling, definitely watch Heather Gold's Tech Talk at Google about Designing for Conversation (How to be a Tummeler).

Last night, I was a speaker at PechaKucha Night Orlando v3, where I gave a talk titled "Life as a Tummler". I had to give the title before the talk was fully baked. A more appropriate title would have been more like the title of this post.

Life as a Tummler - Pecha Kucha Orlando Sept 2011

View more presentations from Ryan Price

I had a really great time last night. I'm glad Orlando has awesome cultural events like this, and venues like Blank Space where they can thrive... they must have 200 beers in bottles! I love that.

This week, we've got Show and Tell, and later this month, Likemind and Florida Creatives Happy Hour are coming up. These things all build on each other, so if you like one, the others should excite you too!


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Now with more Responsive HTML5 Goodness!

Fri, 09/02/2011 - 12:00 -- rprice

I've been doing some restructuring of my personal sites and the underlying servers in the past couple of weeks - trying out some new tricks to get similar results with fewer (cheaper) resources, and at the same time learn about some modern web architecture at all levels of the stack.

I wrote a post that included videos just to test out the "responsive" scaling stuff built into the Omega theme on my Drupal 7 site. Check out my last post, Commercial Applications of Augmented Reality, and then resize your browser window to see what I mean.

If you are viewing this page on a phone, you probably already see what I mean, because the site should be alright on your device. I can't control the fact that many of these sites still use flash for video, so don't get down on me for that.

If you're still scratching your head, you might want to check out the orignal Responsive Design article from Ethan Marcotte, or the latest issue of Drupal Watchdog magazine, both of which define this new system for "design once, run everywhere". You might also hear people bandying about "mobile first". For me, this is mostly an experiment, and my personal site is a great place to do just that.


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