Bre Pettis’ “History Hacker”

I mentioned back on September 5th that my friend, Bre Pettis was going to have the premiere of the pilot television series episode he did, called “History Hacker” on The History Channel.


Photo by Francisco Daum
Bill Cammack, Charles Hope, Grace Piper @ Bre Pettis
Videoblogger meetup, Art Bar, May 2007


Rudy Jahchan, Bill Cammack & Bre Pettis,
starring in “Epic Pose-Coordination FAIL!”

The premiere was on the 26th, and Bre had a “viewing party” in Brooklyn.
(Check out Bre’s posts about the show & party on brepettis.com/blog)

Bre Pettis: History Hacker Premiere Viewing Party

I can’t think of a better way to kick off my new Television category than with a friend’s show! πŸ˜€

Basically, Bre likes to hack things. This means he takes things apart, sees how they work and makes OTHER things out of them or makes them have different functions than they originally had. Think of the television show MacGyver, except with time, resources, research and no villains chasing you while you’re trying to create stuff.

He’s been doing podcasts (shows on the internet) on this topic for a long time. They’re normally short, because people that watch video on the net have a short attention span. This means he’s had to condense the loooooong amount of time it takes him to do what he does into a few minutes. This kind of show translates well into a 30-minute or hour-long program (actually 44 minutes plus commercials), because there’s so much that ends up on the cutting-room floor that you actually COULD make long programs from what Bre does.

I know this because I’ve spent an hour MYSELF, just trying to get my lines down for a 7-minute video collaboration. :/


The Lab – Episode 06: Ò€œHostinÒ€ℒ AinÒ€ℒt Easy!Ò€

Now, the thing about internet video shows is you have NO BUDGET. This means you have to get your point across with the least amount of production, because you can’t afford to hire people that will make your show look right. Well, in this case, they pulled out ALL the stops. “History Hacker” is really VISUALLY entertaining. They used either a greenscreen or more likely a white cyc to create Bre’s virtual environment:


The Shirtless Apprentice #21: Cyclorama 101

I was honestly SURPRISED at what I was watching, hahaha. I really wasn’t prepared for the polish that they put on Bre’s pilot. The show is easily watchable by people that aren’t even INTERESTED in what Bre’s talking about or doing. At the same time that it’s about hacking things, it’s a history lesson, there are animations, there’s compositing, great writing, multiple locations in multiple cities… I CERTAINLY wasn’t ready to see MIT’s “Infinite Corridor”, which I had to pass through a zillion times, going to class. I had assumed it was shot in Brooklyn, in one location, in the same style that Bre’s web shows are normally done. I was amazed and entertained.

‘Matter of fact, Bre’s show reminded me of a show I used to edit for AETN / History Channel called “Guts & Bolts”. It had the same mix of talking about mechanical technology and simultaneously giving history lessons. You don’t think about how IMPERATIVE it is for aircraft carrier catapults to work nearly 100% of the time until someone explains that if it’s only 99% reliable, one out of every 100 times you launch a multi-million dollar plane, it falls in the water. πŸ˜€

Anyway, the show was great! πŸ˜€ I have it on DVR and am in the process of watching it again. I actually had to stop watching it, because there are just too many GREAT shots and lines and setups. For me, it’s overload, because I’m used to experiencing my friends’ shows 3 minutes at a time… NOT 44+commercials! πŸ˜€

Bre Pettis: History Hacker Premiere Viewing Party

The layperson’s going to enjoy it. The techie’s going to enjoy it. The hacker’s going to enjoy it. Anyone interested in inventions or history’s going to enjoy it. I definitely recommend setting your DVR up to record it (assuming they’re showing reruns) or making time to sit down and check it out! πŸ˜€

Bre Pettis - History Hacker

And if you DON’T watch “History Hacker”, this is what happens to you! πŸ˜€


Photo by Rob Boudon

Karin: I KNOW you watched “History Hacker”, RIGHT?
Noneck: Yeah, Yeah… I got the torrent. I’ll watch it when I get home!
Bre: hehehe
Bill: Yeah. That’s what I’M talkin’ ’bout! πŸ˜€

Bill Cammack | Television

Communication [Part 2]

Continued from Communication [Part 1]

So now we get to the point where people have this expectation of entitlement to intrusion. This is one of the reasons why I wrote “Digital Internet Snobbery”. I was getting flak from someone because I am not available by text. This was after I SPECIFICALLY TOLD HER how she could get in touch with me, which was via email… which she can do from her phone if she can text from her phone, so I didn’t see what the problem was. Unfortunately, she had been hoping I was going to live into someone else’s style, and it ain’t that type o’ party. πŸ˜€

I missed the text revolution because I went directly to AIM. The reason I haven’t updated my ancient phone up until now is that I’m available via lots of services which are more efficient for my style of interaction. As a matter of fact, my contact information’s listed in the sidebar to this very post. If you can’t figure out from there how to contact me, I’m still currently the #3 “Bill” on google, behind Gates & Clinton.

I know too many people to be randomly available via phone. I’d never get anything done. Most of what I do requires A LOT of mental processing, as you can tell by these epic posts I keep dropping. I can’t ‘afford’ to get continually taken out of the zone to have random conversations whenever someone feels like contacting me. This is why I herd people towards email or iChat so I can get back to your message when I get back to it. This is why it was so funny to be told that I need to get with the program when it comes to texting, because I’m so far beyond texting. However… Whose problem IS that? πŸ™‚ Is that MY problem, or is that HER problem? Actually, it’s the problem of the person that loses the most if we’re out of contact, which isn’t ME, so that answers that. πŸ™‚

So we got up to text, and like I said, I missed out on the revolution because I was already on AIM (which became iChat when I ditched PCs hahaha, but that’s another story πŸ˜€ ). At this point, instant messaging services are the final frontier, because you can perfectly craft your socialization experience. You inform people via status update whether you’re online or not, and if so, whether you’re likely to respond to a message they send or not. You can inform them if you’re working or AFK (away from keyboard) or fully welcoming conversation. You can turn sound on or off so if you need to concentrate on writing another epic post, you can still receive messages that don’t break your state. You can have an icon bounce in your tray in case you get a message while you’re AFK and your iChat windows are all hidden. This way, you know to check your new messages. You can start or accept audio conversations or video conversations.

Bill using iChat video
Photo Credit: Rob Boudon

Most importantly, you can carry on several completely different conversations at a time, which you can’t do via audio on a phone. This means that if the person you’re talking to is a slow communicator, it doesn’t matter. They’re not hogging your bandwidth, and you’re talking to six other people while you’re waiting for them to send you something back. It also means that if someone’s a flooder, you can minimize their window and respond to them when you feel like reading the novel they wrote. If people are annoying, you block them so you can go about your day without being disturbed. If you want to find out what’s going on tonight, you can message people in different cliques at the same time and you get back what you get back.

However… If you depend on instant messaging services, you’re at a distinct disadvantage when you go out….

I went over to Ryan’s the other day… specifically NOT pictured here on the right…

And hadn’t bothered to put his cell number in my phone, because I didn’t imagine the party would be in the garden out back and not inside his actual apartment, haha so between that fact and the fact that I hadn’t bothered to charge my phone’s battery, I took a short in that situation, haha πŸ™‚ If I had had a modern phone, I could have emailed him or checked my own email for his number or used any number of services to attempt to bypass the physical barrier of being stuck outside a door, buzzing a buzzer that nobody could hear. πŸ™‚ The same thing happened to me going to Justin’s party…

Bill , Marissa & Justin

… but luckily, Amir had to go to the bathroom, so someone was in the apartment to hear me buzzing, haha. πŸ™‚

The point here is that obviously, communication is returning to the pocket from the computer, except in the form of text and visual information instead of voice. Google Maps, GPS, everything’s going back into people’s pockets, specifically at this point in the form of Blackberry devices and iPhones. This is why the iPhone SDK is such a big deal. You get to create something that people all over the world might buy, because you get to place it in the Apple Store, online.

The next big deal is going to be hand-held video chat, so we’ll see if Apple stops ****ing around and releases an iPhone with the camera in the proper location for people to video chat before someone beats them to the punch and Apple gets the fail whale for once! πŸ˜€

Bill Fail Whale

Do you miss potential job and socialization opportunities by not being randomly accessible or checking voicemail? Yes. Definitely. What you receive in return is increased efficiency and focus. By minimizing my distractions, I probably got this post done in 1/2 the time it would have taken otherwise.

Speaking of the dreaded, yet oft-appearing “Fail Whale”… Twitter has found a new way to not crash so often. That’s to implement Denial of Service when it comes to our @ messages. For people unfamiliar with Twitter, you can send a message to someone’s “replies” folder by using the “@” sign with their username, like “Hey @username, what’s going on tonight?”. If you use the website, like I do, instead of using a standalone client, you find out who sent public messages to your attention or mentioned you in your “replies” folder. Without that folder, all you have is the ten latest pages of Twitter posts from the 800+ people that you follow that you can search through if you feel like it and have time to waste, or you can use search sites like TweetScan and Summize, but you’d better hope THEY were able to pull the entries from Twitter themselves.

So that’s where we stand right now. We live in a world where people expect immediate attention and there are lots of ways for them to get that. Are they entitled to it? No. It’s just that “everybody’s doing it”, so you seem to them to be “odd man out” because your phone has a little alien on it that jumps rope, eats apples, skateboards and takes baths when you open the phone up. πŸ˜€ Meanwhile, the fact of the matter is that I went out for a reason… to hang out with specific people or do specific things. IF having my email on me, and my calendar, and my answering machine, and my instant messaging, and my audio software, and my internet browser, and my quicktime player, and my video compression software was important to me, I would have brought my computer and my EV-DO card with me.

The funny thing is, πŸ™‚ when I finally buy an iPhone, or whatever great all-in-one gadget someone comes out with, that’ll only increase my options for technological offense….

Psychologically, I’m not going to be any more accessible than I am today. πŸ˜€

E-Stalking [Part 2]

… continued from E-Stalking [Part 1]

So… I’m minding my business, like I love to do… (my sister’s patented story-opening line)… and I start getting hits from Melissa’s site

In the first line of her post, Being a Relater, I saw my full name and a link to my site. To this point, I’ve only referred to Melissa by first name in text & tags because I wasn’t sure whether my post was going to become some format of a ‘conversation’ between us or just one post BY me ABOUT her. πŸ™‚ I felt it would have been a Social Media faux pas to encroach on her Google Search results (like my posts love to do). So, since she’s ack’ed me at this point, I’ll mention that her name is Melissa Sconyers, and as far as I can tell, she’s a prodigy/phenom.

I had intended to go in a different direction with part 2 of E-Stalking, but I hadn’t anticipated her posting about my post, so now I’m compelled to respond to a couple of her points. Continue reading “E-Stalking [Part 2]”

Proper MacBook Pro Socialization



Chatting With…, originally uploaded by Rob Boudon.

Rob Boudon’s shot of me chatting with Obreahny from Jackson West’s party this Saturday.