Loki, Google Glass Explorer

Loki under Glass

Looks like time to reactivate this blog and make it tap dance again. I’ve been guilty of ignoring my own advice that I give to clients about not letting it lapse.  On the good side it gives me the opportunity to make a quick State of the Gumbo post and bring all of you up to speed on our current projects and events.


My weekly blog for SixEstate continues into it’s fourth consecutive year! Anyone desiring my services for book based projects needs to go through 6E, and please feel free to request me by name!

CincyVoices has been sold to one of the senior staff I brought in. I made sure to sell it to someone local with an online background that included the legendary WOXY. It should be coming back to life in the very near future. While it is no longer a part of the SocialGumbo Network we wish them the best and may even periodically lend a hand with things

Rising Tide 8 looms on the 14th of September and once more I will be doing my usual duties as MC. I will also be walking the room doing point of view interviews and providing one in depth Glass demo to a random lucky attendee. We have a Labor Day Weekend Buy One /Get One special, how can you turn that down?  Tickets Here

I am also very proud to announce a new ongoing relationship with Yorwerth Associates, Publishing Consultants and Literary agents. It seems no matter how digital it gets I often end up working with books. I love that.

Google Glass Explorer

Thanks to a few strokes of luck and the support of my readers (you people are fantastic, btw) I’ve now been sporting Google Glass for a few weeks.

First Contact: I must thank the folks at Google for allowing me to be the first one permitted to film the setup / training process. I’m pretty sure that having Kevin Frech of Logical Chaos as the cameraman is what made them allow it. Right now Kevin is pulling together a solid edit for me in between his other projects, and we hope to debut it in the very near future.

View From the Stage: Tonight the first of the projects I am integrating Glass into will hit the stage as I join forces with Wild Bill Dykes to get some comedian’s point-of-view footage as he brings Glass up on the stage with him.

Find Your Island Through Glass: Next weekend I’ll be heading out to Florida as part of the #FindYourIsland team, a group of five Glass Explorers being brought down to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel on the Florida coast. I will be part of a team of five Glass Explorers brought to the islands by MMGY. I’ll be joined on the three day adventure by

Chef Mars Gets Glassy Eyed: Chef Mars of Louisiana Bistro will don the device and deliver a potent combination of mockery and culinary skill. More details forthcoming after Sept 10.

Cafe Luna-  Art of the Barrista: Greg Hill, owner of geek friendly coffeehouse Cafe Luna will provide some point-of-view lessons in the art of coffee. From artistic foam to  amusing trivia. Coming in mid Sept.


Tabletop Game Design

Dark Roads and Golden Hells

ENnie Nominated

To my great joy Dark Roads and Golden Hells was nominated for an ENnie Award this year. While We did not win it was a wonderful thing to have happen to my first book. As a matter of fact our design team produced so much work for this volume that we had to release a substantial supplement, Shadow Planes and Pocket Worlds, so that we would not waste so much good work.

Despite the fact that I have done a good bit of d20 and Pathfinder design, this was my first physical book rather than a periodical or web property. All in all I’m thrilled at the nomination.

Not only was working with Kobold Press a fantastic experience, but I got to interact with and get feedback from a number of the original Planescape designers. I am proud to say that they seem to like the job we’ve been doing at Planewalker on keeping their work alive.

Savage Mojo

As my debut work with Savage Mojo I translated Dungeonlands: Into The Black from Savage Worlds to the Pathfinder Role Playing Game. The work is available for free on RPG Now and is the opening chapter of the much anticipated Tomb of The Lich Queen. At the moment I am putting the final polish on Pathfinder conversions of some of their Suzerain setting.

Heroic Journey Publishing 

These folks were kind enough to offer me a short series of my own, one that showcases one of my great loves, building character races. A total of four have been submitted and will be published under the common title Eldritch Races. At this point only The Runeborn is finished and available.  Look for the rest in the near future!

All in all it looks like the rest of 2013 is going to be both interesting and active! I promise that the next post will come within the week!


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Investigative journalist Nick Davies holds forth on the phone-hacking scandal at News of the World. Few things could cast the need for ethics into sharper relief.

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Hulu Plus LogoUnlike a lot of people out there I’ve had my laptop hooked up to my TV for years. I’ve gone through a variety of ways to watch my favorite programs over that time and I must confess that Hulu Plus has left me cold.

I was very excited about a paid version of Hulu, not because I enjoy spending money but because I loved the idea of seamless integration with my iPhone and my Playstation 3 (which I mainly use as a media server) . Alas that integration is no where ready for prime time.

Hulu Plus is the paid version of Hulu. It’s two stated points of differentiation are being able to playback over multiple devices and access to full seasons of current shows. In my opinion it would be more than worth the $7.99 a month if the playback were smooth. It is not. Far from it in fact.

In almost two months of trying it out I was not able to watch a single thing without the video hanging up repeatedly. This was especially true when the commercials would come on. Personally I do not object to a few 15-30 second commercials in my programs, after all they do need to generate revenue to continue the service.

What I do object to is the fact that as often as not viewing gets held up, sometimes for over a minute at a time, as the commercial has problems loading. This was true on a number of devices:

  • PC running Vista, PC Running Win7 (tested in Firefox, Chrome, and Explorer on each one)
  • iPhone 4 running the current iOS
  • Playstation 3

If Hulu can get the bugs out of it I’ll happily resubscribe to the service, but at this point the interface is just not robust enough to charge for.

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Image: Hulu Plus Logo / Fair Use: Reporting

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An Update

Our recent domain issues seem to be near resolution now. Hopefully SocialGumbo.com and SocialGumbo.net will be fixed and aimed back here. In the meantime please update your links and addressbooks by changing links from SocialGumbo.com to socialgumbo.com.

Thank you for your patience!

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Never Forget

HUrricane Katrina and the Failure of the New Orleans Levees

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Sometimes your run across something in your twitter stream that just makes you immediately unfollow that person. Many times this is caused by political or religious content, other times it is the dreaded sledge hammer like barrage of sales pitches.

Now I’d be the last one to say brands and businesses should not use social media, but I would suggest developing some basic familiarity with it before diving in. Case in point: I had recently followed a small business on twitter. I was already interested in them and went into it knowing that a lot of the content would probably be broadcast style (i.e. all projecting outwards rather than being interactive and personal). I had opted in and was good with it.

Then I discovered that every few hours or so I would be barraged with about 15-20 tweets in a row from this account, effectively clogging my twitter stream each time. What made it even worse was discovering that this biz has several different twitter accounts that would each send out burst content like this. As you may imagine a rapid series of unfollows occurred.

Think about what the people seeing your content see. Ten tweets for ten different products sent out that rapidly can completely block up some-one’s tweet stream. Is this the type of thing you would want to see when logging into your account? It’s like the guy at the really great party who wants to talk to you about insurance, even if you need a policy the barrage of sales talk will likely turn you off. Even just spacing these out more instead of ten at a time bursts would be an acceptable alternative.

This also brings to mind one or to other things you can do to get more out of twitter:

  • When tweeting content you want to go viral via ReTweets you should leave about 15 characters empty at the end. This leaves room for the “[email protected]” that gets added on. Most people will not take the time to edit your tweet down in order to share it, so if you don’t do this you miss an opportunity.
  • We all use URL shorteners to make links fit in our tweets. Double-check yours and make sure you have not cut off the last letter or two of the link by accident. Remember that if the link is broken it drives no traffic.

See, now wasn’t that easy? There is a ton of “noise” on most social media channels, these simple steps will help you in not accidentally becoming part of it.

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ftcThere has been a lot of furor over the disclosure guidelines recently put forth by the FTC. On a personal and professional level it really makes no difference to me. All you have to do is click the Transparency link in my sidebar and you’ll see a full disclosure for the website and then additional case by case ones on individual posts. I always advocate transparency both in my own work and to my clients.

That said, I think that while the FTC guidelines may seem a fine idea at first I don’t believe they are. First and foremost is the fact that no print media, or its extended presence on the Internet , is subject anything like these rules. Double standards are never a good thing, especially in legal matters.

Then there are the free speech issues inherent in a double standard applied to news and information. Chris Crum on WebProNews has a nice post about it, including this bit about the stance taken by the IAB:

The IAB [Interactive Advertising Bureau] says the rules unfairly and unconstitutionally impose penalties on online media for practices in which offline media have engaged for decades. In an open letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz, Randall Rothenberg, the President and CEO of the IAB, called the FTC’s distinction between offline media and online media, “constitutionally dubious.”

“What concerns us the most in these revisions is that the Internet, the cheapest, most widely accessible communications medium ever invented, would have less freedom than other media,” he said. “These revisions are punitive to the online world and unfairly distinquish between the same speech, based on the medium in which it is delivered. The practices have long been afforded strong First Amendment protections in traditional media outlets, but the Commission is saying that the same speech deserves fewer Constitutional protections online. I urge the Commission to retract the current set of Guides and to commence a fair and open process in order to develop a roadmap by which responsible online actors can engage with consumers and continue to provide the invaluable content and services that have so transformed people’s lives.”

Net Neutrality and freedom of speech are fundamental underpinnings of the modern Internet. We are in the midst of the greatest revolution in the access people have to information since the advent of movable type. Even though it will not affect how I operate it is still of massive import to all of us who work and write on the net.

Mr. Crum points out another valid point in another article of his:

Well-known author/editor/publisher Jeff Jarvis makes a really good point. He says the FTC assumes that the Internet is a medium. “It’s not. It’s a place where people talk. Most people who blog, as Pew found in a survey a few years ago, don’t think they are doing anything remotely connected to journalism. I imagine that virtually no one on Facebook thinks they’re making media. They’re connecting. They’re talking,” he says. “So for the FTC to go after bloggers and social media – as they explicitly do – is the same as sending a government goon into Denny’s to listen to the conversations in the corner booth and demand that you disclose that your Uncle Vinnie owns the pizzeria whose product you just endorsed.”

That really is the core of the matter here. Social media platforms are arenas of conversation. This sort of regulation, besides being unenforceable, is supremely out of place.

If you do reviews or any other form of blogging that involves brands or products you might want to check out DisclosurePolicy.org, which is what I used to generate the one you see on this website. It’s a quick, free, and easy tool to use and will help keep you on the ethical side of transparency no matter which way this is resolved.

What are YOUR thoughts on the issue? Let us know here or on our Facebook Page!

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K+4: The Day The Levees Failed


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