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Ah – Down to 391 feeds. Lower than I’ve ever been

Want to know something? Unsubscribing from old feeds and basically reoganizing feed subscriptions in folders is a huge pain in the butt in Google Reader. It was much easier in Bloglines – hey, Google Reader team, get on that, wouldja? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m down to 391 feeds, organized into folders (fewer than I had before). I’m sure that number will creep back up again, but for now, it’s the lowest it’s been since, well, since I started reading feeds.

I’ve had several requests for my OPML file (pre-pruning), which I’m trying to clean up, and I’ll post soon. I used Dave Winer’s OPML editor on my Mac to edit it, and had my “guinea pig” friend report problems when he tried to import into Google Reader, so something might be screwed up.

Anyway, it feels good to have a lighter, more concentrated reading list. Feels much more focused, which is good – that’s what I’m trying to do with my life in general. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Feed Purge Time, and How I Organize my 780 Feed Subscriptions

According to Google Reader, “From your 780 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 22,406 items, starred 7 items, and shared 256 items.” Not quite up in Scoble territory, but pretty darn close. I organize my feeds into folders (or “tags” as Google Reader sometimes calls them) by topic. Feeds about Apple all go together, feeds from people who write blogs as individuals go together, etc. Incidentally, I tend to read and enjoy more blogs that are written by a person, rather than as a “news” blog on a particular topic (like Engadget, etc.). High volume feeds, like Engadget, etc., all go together, too, and I have a couple of “short list” folders for blogs that I never want to miss – people I know personally, or that are just really good blogs, etc. My own personal “A-list” if you will.

The reason I have all my feeds organized like I do is so I can read them efficiently. When I only have a few minutes to read, I’ll pick something out of my “short list”, because I know it’s guaranteed to be something I want to read. If I have more time, I’ll go through my other folders, one at a time, and skim/read for interesting stuff. When I find something that I think other people should read, I “share” it in Google Reader, and it ends up in my linkblog.

How the heck did I end up subscribed to 780+ feeds? Easy – I’m an addict. ๐Ÿ™‚ Seriously, though, if I come across a site that I think is interesting, usually by following a link from one of my already-subscribed feeds, I subscribe to it. Google Reader and Firefox make it a two click affair to subscribe to a new feed, and assign to the relevant folder. To give you an idea of the scale of this compulsion of mine, there was a point a year or two ago that I was up to 1400+ feeds. Which brings me to my next point – the feed purge.

Every once in a while, having all of those feeds just gets a little overwhelming. So I go through a little exercise I call the feed purge. Besides my “short list” folders, I go through all the rest of my folders, and move anything that I want to keep into the “short list”. Rinse and repeat for all of the 50 topical folders I have. Once I’m done, I export a copy of my feeds as OPML for backup purposes, and Gmail a copy to myself. Then I go in and whack all of the folders that I don’t want to keep anymore. When I did my first big feed purge, I went from 1400+ feeds down to about 600 (only 600!). ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s time for another purge. I’m not over 1000 feeds, but I’m finding myself less and less interested in the some of my feed folders, and I ignore them for longer and longer periods of time. The purge is like a refining process – I keep the “good stuff”, and clear out the other stuff. Why? To make room for more good stuff, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ Scoble does a complete purge and start from scratch every once in a while, but I just can’t bring myself to do something so drastic. But I look forward to having a much shorter list of feeds – more concentrated, more focused. Kind of like I’m trying to be – focus on one (or a couple) of really important things, and try to eliminate the rest as distractions. Which is really hard for me. I guess it’s my personality type – I’m the type of person that can lose a whole afternoon or evening hopping from article to article in Wikipedia. It’s not uncommon for me to spend an hour or so reading up about things like U.S. military aircraft, or the history of various companies. Random stuff, but I’m easily fascinated., I guess. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve toyed with the idea of sharing/posting my OPML list of feeds, in case anyone else is interested in them. I used to be able to share a live snapshot of all of my feeds via Bloglines, but Google Reader doesn’t offer such a feature (one thing I really miss, and I hope they come up with something soon). If anyone’s interested, let me know, and I’ll see about cleaning up my OPML file and posting it.

Now, enough talking about the purge. I’m off to take the clippers to my tree of feeds. Wish me luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

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David Pogue likes GrandCentral.com, too

Noticed this NYT article from David Pogue on the top of Techmeme tonight: One Number That Will Ring All Your Phones. It’s about GrandCentral.com, the disruptive service that I’ve been using and loving. Pogue gives a good overview of the service, and even points out some features that I didn’t know about, like this one:

Anytime during a call, you can press the * key to make all of your phones ring again, so that you can pick up on a different phone in midconversation, unbeknownst to the person on the other end. For example, if youโ€™re heading out the door, you can switch a landline call to your cellphone โ€” or as you arrive home, a cell call to a landline, in order to save airtime minutes.

He makes a good point at the end, that summarizes the “wow” impact that GrandCentral can have on you – that it will do for your telephone calls what TiVo did for TV. That’s a great way to put it. ๐Ÿ™‚

My GrandCentral number is posted over in the sidebar on my blog, so you can reach me easily. I had my cell phone number there before, and only ever had good things (e.g. opportunities) come from it. My GrandCentral number is there now, not because I want to filter out bad calls (which I never got before), but because it’s become my new “main” number that I give to everyone, so I can take advantage of all the cool features of GrandCentral. So give me a ring if you have something cool and geeky to talk about! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Download the “Destroy the Castle” Demo Code from GDC

For those that were at the “Threading for Performance” all day tutorial session that Intel put on at GDC last week, this will look very familiar (and there were a lot of you!). More importantly, here’s the elusive link to download the code for the “Destroy the Castle” demo, so you can continue to play with it, and work through the labs on how to optimize the game for a multicore, multithread environment (like a dual or quad core processor).

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted – I’m still digging out from under the avalanche of cool stuff from GDC! ๐Ÿ™‚

If you have any questions or problems with the demo, make sure you head over to the Multicore community area of Intel Software Network. Steve Pitzel and the rest of the ISN multicore guys will take care of you. And if they don’t, let me know, and I’ll go give them a wedgie or something. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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GDC: Inside the roots of the Elite Beat Agents

A lot of the sessions I went to at GDC were focussed on Intel related stuff – mostly threading and multicore. But all work and no play makes Josh a dull boy, and there were a lot of really cool, interesting sessions available that I just had to go to. One of them was titled “From Ouendan to Help! The Story of the Elite Beat Agents”.

If you’ve never played it or heard of it, Elite Beat Agents is a music game where the Agents go around helping people in various comical (and serious) situations. It’s based on a Japanese game called “Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!“. It’s not a direct translation, because, well, there’s no way the original would translate to the West. It’s kind of the same concept, except featuring ouendan, which are, um, well, male cheerleaders. They’re part of the Japanese culture, and it was really cool to hear the creator of the game, Keiichi Yano, talk about how Ouendan came to be (their only previous game was the cult favorite Gitaroo Man, which was a commercial flop), and what inspired them to make Elite Beat Agents for the American audience.

I own and love Elite Beat Agents, and I want to import Ouendan (even moreso now!), so I really enjoyed hearing Keiichi tell the story of how it all came to be.

In one of the original concepts, which iNiS (Yano’s company) pitched to Nintendo, the Ouendan had to stop a speeding bullet train before it hit a cute little puppy sitting on the train tracks. This level never made it to the final game (I think – I haven’t played it yet), because of they would have had to answer the disturbing question of “what happens if you don’t stop the train in time?” ๐Ÿ˜‰

This is some concept art of the Ouendan – the main characters in the Japanese game. Yano showed some video of real ouendan in action, of which I captured a little, and might post later. Because there really is no way to describe it. I’m not even sure I understand what they really are, but hey, they look cool, they dance, and they’re secure in their masculinity while they’re doing it. ๐Ÿ™‚

When Ouendan was enough of a success for iNiS to consider doing an American version, it was pretty obvious that they wouldn’t be able to just do a regular localization/translation of the game. The characters, music, and pretty much everything about the game were very Japanese, and there just wasn’t much to relate to for the typical American gamer.

During the session, Yano spent some time talking about what inspired him to create what would become the Elite Beat Agents. Believe it or not, the first idea he had was to base them on the Village People:

I mean, who doesn’t love the Village People, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ After (thankfully) realizing that wasn’t such a good idea, Yano pondered some other teams that had elements of what he was looking for – a “motley crew”, cool, strong, on a mission to help, etc. He listed the Ghostbusters, Men in Black, and the Blues Brothers as sources of these ideas.

That’s some original concept art for EBA, and here, Yano talked about what the similarities and differences were between the ouendan and the Agents. He also listed the original Charlie’s Angels TV show as a source of the idea that there was a boss (Commander Kahn in the game) who was never really part of the action, but who gave the Agents their missions, and sent them on their way. In that art, you also see the monogram “DR”, in place of what would become “EBA” in the final game. In the Q&A session, someone asked him what DR meant (it showed up in various places in the concept art), and Yano sheepishly admitted that the Elite Beat Agents were originally going to be called the “Disco Rangers”. ๐Ÿ™‚

While showing this piece of concept art, Yano admited that Commander Kahn owes a lot of his appearance to the “cop” member of the Village People. Can you see the resemblance?

The room (one of the large combinations of three rooms at Moscone West) was packed almost to capacity for this session, and you could tell that almost everyone there (including me) was a big fan. At the end Yano broke the exclusive news that iNiS is hard at work on a sequel to Ouendan, and showed some concept art featuring a rival group of ouendan that you compete against, and even play as. My camera was on video mode for that part, so I’ll try to post the video later. There wasn’t much besides a title a few screenshots, but people were excited, and while he didn’t confirm that there would also be a sequel to Elite Beat Agents, he hinted at the possibility, and I, for one, hope that it becomes a reality.

The world needs more fun, wacky, cool games like EBA. Bring it on, Keiichi! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Whoa, I’m in BusinessWeek

Man, if I don’t stop getting all this press, it’s going to go to my head, or something. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Got a link from a couple of friends this morning about my name appearing in a BusinessWeek article about corporate wikis (since I created Intelpedia, Intel’s internal company-wide wiki). I had forgotten I talked to the BusinessWeek folks, so I wasn’t expecting to see this story come out.

In late 2005, Intel engineer Josh Bancroft needed a tool that his colleagues could use to share company information, from historical highlights to progress of internal projects. Inspired by Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia assembled by users around the world, he devised Intelpedia, an internal Web site that draws on the input of employees companywide.

Although it ruffled feathersโ€”some employees don’t like being edited by colleagues, especially those further down the org chartโ€”Intelpedia caught on. In a little more than a year, Intelpedia has amassed 5,000 pages of content and garnered 13.5 million page views. “Employees can be frustrated that somebody else edited their work,” says Jeff Moriarty, collaboration technical architect of Intel’s information technology group. “It’s a disruptive capabilityโ€”it shakes things up.”

Welcome to the world of corporate wikis.

The article is titled “No Rest for the Wiki”. Heh – nice pun. Not sure what it means, but it’s funny. And my favorite Intel blogger Jeff Moriarty got quoted in it, several times! Way to go, Jeff. ๐Ÿ™‚

Nice way to start a Monday morning, no?

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What happened to the GDC posting?

No posts since Thursday? What the heck happened to you, Josh? GDC happened to me. I kind of gave up on trying to write the posts about the sessions I was going to and people I was talking to, in favor of going to sessions and talking to people. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be hearing about it all! I have a couple hours of video tape, an “exclusive” audio interview, and tons of photos and posts all stored up, ready to come out at a reasonable pace over the next few days. Right now, I’m just trying to catch up on rest. ๐Ÿ™‚

So fear not – there’s lots of more GDC stuff to come. I’ll do at least one post for each of the sessions I attended, plus a whole lot more for the stuff I saw on the expo floor and people I talked to. I just need to catch my breath. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Me and Robyn Tippins

Me and Robyn Tippins, originally uploaded by Josh Bancroft.

Of Practical Blogging and the Gaming and Tech Vidcast. I’ve known Robyn through the blogosphere for a while, and she’s been doing some work with Intel Software Network, too. Was nice to meet her in person here at GDC. She’s at the Women in Games booth – I’m going to go do a video interview with her later.

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Joystiq/Engadget liveblogging the Nintendo GDC Miyamoto Keynote

I wimped out on the Shigeru Miyamoto/Nintendo GDC keynote – long lines, and I’m sure others will do a better job of covering it. I personally was really looking forward to seeing Miyamoto – he’s a god to gamers. I’ve been hooked on Mario, Zelda, and all the other Nintendo characters since I was small, but I’m just too beat to brave the crowds for the keynote. So instead, I sit here, processing and uploading photos from yesterday afternoon, catching up on some email, and watching the Joystiq/Engadget liveblog coverage of the keynote. Almost as good as being there! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Windows Vista Game Explorer, GDF files, and compatibility issues

I went to a GDC session this morning with Kim Pallister, who used to work at Intel, and now works in the Microsoft Casual Games group. I’ve read Kim’s blog for a long time, and it was cool to get to meet him in person today. He presented with Chuck Walbourn, also from Microsoft, and these two are very sharp guys.


Kim talked about the new features that available for games under Windows Vista. For a long time, certain file types, like MP3 music files and photos, got “special” treatment in Windows. You had the “My Music” and “My Pictures” folders, with some special tasks that you could do (like view as a slideshow, etc.), but games never not the same treatment. In Vista, that has changed.

Now there’s a “Games” section (no more “My ” anything in Vista – just Documents, Pictures, and now, Games). When you go to this special folder, called the Games Explorer, you see all the games you have installed on your system, along with their cover art, rating, and some other metadata. You can right-click on any game and get specific context menu actions – load a saved game, launch the game, etc.

The metadata for games is contained in a new file type, the GDF (Game Definition File). It’s XML based, and you can easily create one for your game by using the GDFMaker tool in the DirectX SDK. But what about all of those games that you already have installed on your system, that came out before the developers could make a fancy new GDF file to go with them? Here’s a nice touch – Microsoft has compiled a database of hundreds of known games, with some basic information about them (rating, cover art, etc.), and if Vista detects one of these games installed on your system, it automatically shows up in the Games Explorer view. Sweet.

Kim also went over the Parental Controls feature for games, which allows you as an Administrator to control access to who can play what games at a very granular level. Nice for families that give each kid their own account in Windows, assuming it’s a Standard User account, and not an Administrator account.


Chuck went into detail on some of the compatibility issues that arise with Vista, mostly stemming from the fact that you no longer run everything as Administrator by default, even if you’re logged in as an administrator. Windows User Account Control is the thing which is constantly popping up and asking you “Cancel or Allow?”, just like in the Mac vs. PC commercial. For programs that are correctly written for Vista, however, that tell the system to run “asInvoker”, can behave just fine, no matter what Cupertino would have you believe. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Chuck talked about all of the things you need to do to your game to make it well behaved, including signing your binaries, running under the correct context, not trying to write to the Program Files directory or HKEY_Local_Machine registry keys, and other off-limits areas. As much of a pain in the neck as it may sound like, it really doesn’t seem that hard to make a well behaved Vista game. And there’s lots of information out there, and people like Kim and Chuck, to help.

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