Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why 42?

Why did I choose 42 as the title of this pdfcast? For those who get the reference, it’s cute, but a bit chintzy and overused. For those that don’t, it’s just confusing and arcane. Either way, it doesn’t really fit the tone I was trying to go for, of serious consideration of serious subjects. So why? Well, in fact, I was trying to think of something erudite, possibly archaic, and appropriate (something like the title for another blog of mine, Egregorasoi (sorry, it’s invitation-only), which, if also confusing until explained, at least sounds erudite and academic). I couldn’t think of anything, so I went to ask the advice of my fiancée. “I’ve got a question,” I said. “42,” she replied. As the question I was intending to ask was “What should I name my pdfcast?”, I accepted her answer, and headed back to my computer. I had originally planned to use 42 as a working title until I thought of something more appropriate, but it’s grown on me, and I’ve decided to stick with it, barring coming across another title so compelling I can’t resist adopting it. Besides, 42 does fit both me and the subject matter, and it provides a lighthearted face to what are usually going to be serious, scholarly papers.

So, for those not in the know, what the heck does 42 mean? It’s a reference to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, in which it is revealed that the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is…42. The problem is that no one knows what exactly the question is. (Sorry if that’s a spoiler for somebody, but seriously, it’s kind of like going around not knowing who Luke’s father is. You’re gonna run across it eventually. My daughter managed to see Return of the Jedi before Star Wars, so that’s ruined that.)


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What's a pdfcast?

A pdfcast is a kind of podcast, but with PDF documents instead of audio files. They can be downloaded using standard podcast clients, but not all might open the files properly once they've been downloaded. I don't know about other clients (email me if you're having problems) but I know that iTunes will work. However, if the PDF won't open in iTunes for Mac OS X, hit Cmd-R (Reveal in Finder) on the podcast in iTunes, then hit Cmd-I (Get Info) on the resultant file, choose your preferred PDF viewer (Preview is a good choice) in the Open With: pop-up menu, then click Change All. After this, pdfcasts will open in the proper client when you double-click them in iTunes.

Anyway, to view this pdfcast, you can either click on the individual PDF links in the blog entries on this page, or you can subscribe to the podcast feed (if that link doesn't work, try the itpc or http version, and please tell me it didn't work, and what happened. I'm still figuring out how this works).

Enjoy, and please come back here to leave comments about what you've read! I hope you find this experience both provocative and fun.