Dashboard Minute on life support

As most long time listeners to the MyMac.com Podcast with Tim and Chad know, I’ve been doing a segment called the “Dashboard Minute” for almost a year. I love doing the segment and more importantly I love hearing myself on the podcast. When I listen to it while driving, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m driving a two-ton potential death machine that requires my constant attention. Closing my eyes and smiling to my scripted voice while operating a motor vehicle is typically frowned upon and is a no-no with most US law enforcement officials (with the possible exception of Florida which is used to either older drivers creeping along at 15 MPH on the Interstate in the left lane or younger drivers going 75 MPH through a school zone while talking on their cell phones and skimming their “Death Metal/Rap” playlist on an iPod). So I guess I’ve made it clear that I love doing podcast segments. I have a problem (beyond the obvious) though.

This is it in a nutshell. While there are many new Dashboard Widgets being created everyday, very few of them are truly original. Go through the Apple Dashboard site and look at the “Just Added” section. In essence, these are the last 50 widgets accepted by Apple. What do you see? Search widgets, weather related widgets, sports schedule widgets, and the like. An occasional game, or single purpose widget that would most likely appeal to very few outside the advocates of the subject for the widget. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, Apple created the Dashboard environment for exactly this kind of purpose. Single use widgets, easily created for specific reasons. That isn’t my problem. My problem is that talking about most of these kinds of widgets would be dull for the vast majority of the people that listen to the podcast. So I try not to include these types of widgets for the Dashboard Minute. Unfortunately, this leaves me without much to talk about in my segment. This puts me in a bit of a conundrum. Do I keep on as I have and just hope that future widgets will become more interesting (unlikely) or stop doing segments altogether (HORRORS!).

I exchanged email with Tim about this and he pretty much agreed that the Dashboard Minute is limited in scope and will be difficult to maintain over the long haul. This means that in the near future, the Dashboard Minute will cease to be a regular part of either the MyMac or MyMac mini Podcast. Please, please. I know that this will be a difficult thing for many to accept. Somehow, you will have to get through the week without finding out about that great new umpteenth Google search widget or a widget that simulates an Etch-a-sketch (both of which I have talked about on the Dashboard Minute). Life WILL go on.

The Future
So here’s the deal. The next Dashboard Minute (number 45) will be the last one that I talk about new widgets. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still contact me at my email address (dbminute@gmail.com) that I set up for just such an occasion. Based on the overwhelming amount of email I get (insert sarcastic look here) for the Dashboard Minute, once a week should be plenty. If something cool for Dashboard comes down the pike, I will most likely resurrect it briefly, but I’m not going to be doing a weekly widget review. For the next five DBMs after that, I will tell you about what are in my opinion the 10 best must have widgets. After that, well, I have all this cool gear I bought to improve the sound of my voice in the segments that I do and it would be a crime, a CRIME I tell you, to let that go to waste. So what’s in my immediate future as far as my contributions to the MyMac podcasts? Well son, I’m here to tell ya.

Way back when, even before I started doing the Dashboard Minute, there was another segment that was a weekly feature on the podcast. It was called “Not Mac News” and it was created by Tim Robertson and Chris Seibold. Chris performed it to perfection with a downbeat, satirical deadpan voice that in many ways reminded me of Dennis Leary when he was still funny. Chris became very busy with his duties over at Apple Matters as a featured writer and producer of the “This Day in Apple History” podcast and no longer had the time needed to produce and record Not Mac News. As much as I enjoy the sound of my own voice on the podcast, it was Not Mac News that I would use the scroll wheel on my iPod to return to and re-listen. It was really that good.

So as I contemplated the future of the Dashboard Minute and I realized that it just wasn’t sustainable anymore, I started to think about what inspired me to create a segment for the podcast in the first place. From there it was a short hop to thinking that Not Mac News was just too good of an idea to let whither and die and that maybe I could re-create some of the fun that made me smile every time I heard it coming on. So in my email to Tim I mentioned that I would like to take a shot at Not Mac News and make it a regular segment again. Tim thinks I have an aptitude for humor (no accounting for taste) and really liked the idea. In an odd twist of fate, while both Chris and I were doing our segments last year, we had briefly floated an idea that for April 1st of this year we would switch segments. I would do Not Mac News and he would do the Dashboard Minute. It obviously never came to pass and I think that’s unfortunate, because I would have loved to know if Chris would have played it straight or just made up two weird doesn’t exist in the real world widgets. I guessing he would have made them up and knowing somewhat of Chris’s sense of humor, it would have been very funny.

So here’s the deal. There will be about 5 more Dashboard Minutes. Very soon after that, the new Not Mac News will rise out of the ashes like the Phoenix. I won’t play it like Chris did as I have a different voice delivery and while Not Mac News is supposed to mocking, it shouldn’t be derisive of what it was before. I have great respect for what Tim and Chris accomplished and hopefully I won’t tarnish it…too badly.

The other thing I want to do won’t be a regular feature, but an occasional goofy glance at the Mac world and my take on it. It currently has a working title of MacRants, but that could easily change by the time I finally get around working on it. The last thing I have thought about (but haven’t run by Tim yet…at least until he reads this) was to do an audio play of the short story I wrote a few years ago called “The Maltese Cube”. (Hummm… Perhaps as a MyMac.com produced podcast, but probably not a “MyMac” podcast – Tim) It was a very odd story that was somewhat inspired by The Maltese Falcon (If you haven’t seen the classic Humphrey Bogart Movie of 1941, go rent it. It’s that good) and Apple’s G4 Cube computer. It’s campy, disjointed, and doesn’t always make sense, but I enjoyed writing it. It was first published in sections in the Washington D.C. based Apple User Group’s Apple Pi Journal. Some time after that, I rewrote sections of it and published it again in the MyMac blogs. Now I might be able to inflict it on a whole new group of victims..I mean listeners. If there is any call for it and if Tim gives his OK, it might happen. Then again, it might not.

What I need from you
There is roughly 5 to 7 weeks to go before the Dashboard Minute goes away. I have about 5 different opening themes (some lifted completely from GarageBand) for it, but I would like anyone who is interested to create the theme for the very last show. A funeral dirge if you like. It shouldn’t be more than 25-30 seconds in length and have in the oral section that this is the Dashboard Minute with Guy Serle on the MyMac.com Podcast. Beyond that, it is entirely up to you what it will sound like. Everyone that creates one will get a mention with the best one in my opinion used for the last DBM. No prize for first place unless Tim comes up with something, but lets see what kind of creativity is out there. I’ll mention this as well on the Dashboard Minute segment so there will be more exposure.

Another avenue for you creative types out there is a chance to create the theme music for the new Not Mac News. The music used before was great, but let’s start with a clean slate. A classic theme in the spirit of the Network News Broadcast, but you aren’t limited to that of course. Remember that Not Mac News is supposed to be a funny caricature of the typical Macintosh or tech news programs.

The Dashboard Minute soon will be no more as a regular feature of MyMac. I must admit to a bit of sadness to see it pass. My thanks to Tim and Chad for all their kind words and encouragement over the last 45 or so weeks and to all the people as well who wrote to me when I was having all my audio problems. I’m looking forward to the future and hoping that I don’t mess it up.

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