Xmas surprises…

I’m in NZ hanging with my Ma for xmas… some old family friends came over for lunch. I hadn’t seem them for about 25 years, anyho… Roger now makes geetars and we talked guitars and blues… he introduced me to Larkin Poe… a duo I had never heard of before, just checked them out and they have got to be some of the guttsiest old skool blues I have heard for a long time…

Check out this track, cover of Preachin Blues by Son House

Pretty phenomenal…if you don’t know the original, here it is…

And if you don’t know Son House, here is probably his most famous song, Death Letter Blues :

Son House is seen by many as representing the origin of the blues…he was a troubled sometime preacher and an astonishing bluesman. Playing stomping slide to get a whole room jumpn…apparently he gave up the blues because it was too evil, but took it up again. I heard a recording somewhere, where he spends a long time saying how evil the blues is and then, by way of demonstration, he plays the blues just so we know what to look out for….he is also pretty well known for sitting down in early ‘race records’ recording sessions and playing 10min ballads after being told they could only get one 3 min track per side

One of my fav blues photos is this one :

showing my three fav bluesmen of all time hanging out… Son House (left), Skip James (middle), and Mississippi John Hurt. Representing 3 styles within which you can almost capture the entire Delta Blues style… As it happens I saw a different photo which I believe was taken on the same day (I think they all only met once) with the three of them together in Mississippi at Mississippi John Hurts house… apparently, the photo was stolen not long after and never seen again.

Anyways… here are two of my two fav tracks by Skip James and MJH:

Both of the above videos were taken in the 60s after the blues was ‘rediscovered’. Many of the old Delta blues musicians were dug up and taken on tours which is why Skip James can’t quite hit the high vocal notes in this particular recording that you can hear in earlier recordings. Thank goodness for the 60s blues revival otherwise we wouldn’t have video recordings of any of these legends…..here are two more of my fav recordings from that time….amazing stuff…Bukka White (spelled wrong in the video) and Howlin Wolf…..

There is a better version of that Howlin Wolf track online which doesn’t have the titles but it misses the intro which I think is weird and interesting and says something about the times…

Anyways, I think these are some of the best music videos ever made…. a testament to the fact that the blues was so raw and powerful. The old guys had to get across what they wanted to say with no effects, and often with no accompaniment. I mean if the first time Bukka White slaps that guitar doesn’t astonish you and hook you into the whole groove then there is a good chance you are possibly already dead.

Some of the videos though are a little weird but still fantastic… I love this one with John Lee Hooker…check out how his left hand almost looks like it is a thumb and two separate 2-finger claws… it is is sort of articulated in the middle, with one part often laying limp while the other plays the notes…almost like a fully functional and independent second limb that lies dormant while he plays the bass runs, then kicks into action with the licks on the high notes…phenomenal…

Also, if you want to see amazing fingers, search online for the two photos known to exist of Robert Johnson… check out his hands… crazy long bony fingers…last short fact check before i stop rambling about the blues… if you are ever asked it is Tommy Johnson that reportedly sold his sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads… not Robert Johnson as frequently asserted…(they weren’t related)…anyways… enough!

A trip through memory lane

Years ago, around 1996 or so I managed BFM, New Zealand’s largest independent radio station. Before I left for Oz, I put together a compilation album as a tribute to NZ band the Clean. God Save the Clean was an awesome album released as a CD on Flying Nun.


I thought it was more or less lost to history, but I just discovered many of the videos of the tracks, including some from the launch party, are online… so, here ya go!…

Head Like A Hole..


Alastair Galbraith…


Guided By Voices

Chris Knox…

Graeme Downes

A full track listing can be found here – https://www.discogs.com/Various-God-Save-The-Clean-A-Tribute-To-The-Clean/release/1283278

PagedMedia Initiative

PagedMedia.org is launching a new community-led development at MIT Press on January 9, 2018. The project will develop a suite of Javascripts to paginate HTML/CSS in the browser, and to apply PagedMedia controls to paginated content for the purposes of exporting print-ready or display- friendly, PDFs from the browser.

This will be an Open Source initiative, appropriately licensed with the MIT license.

The January meeting will be the first meeting of the project and attending will be:

  • Adam Hyde (Coko/PagedMedia.org/Shuttleworth Fellow)
  • Dave Cramer (Hachette/PagedMedia.org/W3C Publishing Work Group)
  • Nellie McKesson (Hederis/W3C PWG)
  • Terry Ehling (MIT Press)
  • Erich van Rijn (University of California Press)
  • Kathi Flectcher (OpenStax/Shuttleworth Fellow)
  • Hugh McGuire (PressBooks/W3C PWG)
  • Arthur Attwell (Fire and Lion/Shuttleworth Fellow)
  • Tzviya Siegman (Wiley/W3C PWG)
  • Travis Rich (pubpub)
  • Fred Chasen (PagedMedia.org/Future Press/W3C PWG)
  • Julie Blanc (PagedMedia.org)
  • Phil Schatz (OpenStax)
  • Julien Taquet (Coko/PagedMedia.org)
  • Ned Zimmerman (PressBooks)
  • Carly Strasser (Coko)
  • Wendell Piez

For further information please contact: adam@coko.foundation

PagedMedia.org is funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation.

Also posted here – https://www.pagedmedia.org/paged-media-open-source-initiative/

Hanging with the Peppers, checking out Northland

My buddy Pepper and her awesome hubby Pete just got a piece of land up north (NZ). I went to check it out – the land is amazing. They have a classic  caravan on it at the moment and doing it up…really cool…




Then I hit up north to check out the beaches over the weekend and camped out.







And finally, while up north on the beach I saw Killer Whales and Santa on the same day! I didn’t manage to get a pic of the Orca, so you have to trust me on that, but I did get a pic of santa…


Release now…

I come across a lot of projects (especially in the academic realm) that don’t like releasing ‘open source’ code until the code is all nice and pretty. Some also want to get governance structures etc in place before doing anything…

It is almost once or twice a month that I find myself in discussion with a project about this. They are usually very nice people, well meaning, but don’t really have a good handle on how open source works.

Firstly, there is a well-known mantra in software development that is true in general, but particularly true for open source:

Release early, release often

In the open source world, there are very special reasons why this is a best practice and baseline premise.  First, it tells people that are watching, the people that will want to use and/or contribute to your project, that you are serious about open source. If instead, you hold back the code, it sends the signal that you ‘don’t really get it’. I can’t recall a single conversation with an open source advocate that argued for holding back the code until it’s all nice and neat.  So, you’re sending out a signal that you don’t really understand how open source works, and that is a bad look.

This is especially true if there is anyone among your potential target collaborators/partners that have been around the open source block a few times as they will be extremely wary of anyone saying ‘we will release it’…or (worse) ‘it is open source, but we haven’t released it yet’… you might be stating this because you ‘know’ it to be true… but from the ears of the listener (especially and old hand) there is nothing different between what you are saying (which you consider fact) and a promise of sorts. You are asking people to trust you to do this sometime in the future – and people like me, who have heard this a lot, will automatically tend not to believe you. Not because we don’t think you believe this to be true, not because we are inherently distrustful people, but because we have heard so many, many, people say this that have not gone ahead and done it.

If you say it is open source, prove it by handing out the repo URL. Otherwise, don’t expect anyone to believe you or trust you  – and trust, as it happens, is the most important ingredient in successful open source communities. If you wrong foot it at the start, you have just created yourself an unnecessary uphill battle to rebuild trust when (if) you finally do release the code…

Secondly, open source models are all about adoption…. that is the entire market-killing model of open source. Adoption. Open source can kill proprietary products just simply because the threshold for adoption is lower (ie, free to try, free to install, free to use etc). If you wait until everything is in place, then you have just killed one of the most important moments to build interest and adoption – early stage development. Interested orgs/individuals can download the code and see what is about as soon as they hear about it… that way they can see where you are going, and if it is the right direction for them, they may decide to adopt the product (even in early stages) and/or contribute to the project. It is very good if this happens as these early adopters will be the product’s main advocates, drawing in the next layer of interested parties… they become the project’s salespeople. They will be especially good at doing this because they have been in there from the beginning, following and (hopefully) participating in all the discussions and decisions, and so they understand the project in detail and can talk to it with authority. That is invaluable.. .why wait? Don’t wait…if you do, the threshold for getting involved is going to be a lot higher (since there is more to understand) and the burden of helping people understand the project, and ‘selling’ it,  will fall entirely on your shoulders rather than being nicely distributed upon the shoulders of the early adopters…

Lastly… all open source projects grow organically and respond to the needs of the moment. So don’t wait to build governance structures etc before putting the code out there. This is not only bad for the reasons discussed above, but in the early phases of the project, there is nothing to govern…  It is just you (you, literally, or your org)… so first build the community and then look at what infrastructure you need to put in place to run that community. That is what governance is all about ..running the community. So, why not wait and see who shows up, and then decide what the governance structure (etc) should look like.  Also, as a last word, make sure your community is involved in discussing and deciding the shape of the governance…

anyways…just a few thoughts on this from Rarawa beach!