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2009-11-23 November Meeting

Started by fivespan, November 04, 2009, 09:16:44 PM

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Agenda (Draft)

  • Executive elections (~15 min)
  • News and views (~15 min)
  • Mac hardware refresh (~25 min with LeRoy Lees)

~Break ~


From Don McAllister:

"Changes are in the air....

I've just posted two audio clips to the ScreenCastsOnline iTunes feeds, one for members and one for viewers of the free feed. The clips describe some changes to the structure of ScreenCastsOnline moving forward.

If you're not familiar with the setup of ScreenCastsOnline, it's my video podcast and my full time job. I've been running it successfully for the past 4 years and since starting the show, I've created over 220 screencasts on all sorts of subjects, applications and topics. Each show is around 30 minutes long and is a full video tutorial covering a specific application or the occasional "MacMontage" show, where I cover a number of hints and tips in a single show.  When I first started, the show was a hobby and all the content was free. When I decided to go full time, I launched a membership scheme and started to produce some of the shows for just the members.

Initially, the membership was very low cost, so I did three free shows and one members show for a long time. I did get the occasional sponsored show or an affiliate deal to help support the show too.
Then about two years ago, I started to feel uncomfortable about the members, in effect, subsidising the free shows. Just one members show per month didn't seem right? So to reset parity, and make it fairer, I decided to move the model to two free shows and two members show each month. The members shows were in a higher resolution and included navigation chapters, but subscribers to the free shows still got two full free shows each month.

This model has been running successfully for over two years, and although I get very few complaints from the members, it still didn't feel quite right, basically giving half my content away for free and expecting others to pay for the other half.

So after much deliberation, I've decided to take the show to it's next stage of evolution, and make it three members shows every month with one full free show, starting as of 1st January. I think this is a much more equitable arrangement that will both attract new members and possibly more importantly, make the renewal decision easier for existing members. 
But if I'm making changes, why stop there!

Pricing has always been an issue in trying to find the sweet spot and realistically reflect the true value of the show. During the initial stages of ScreenCastsOnline, it was a leap of faith for many people to pay for something previously available for free. The whole issue of paying for a podcast was a complete anathema for some people (very few hate mails I have to say though). The whole issue of paying for content on the internet seemed quite a stretch in view of the amount of free content available all over the Internet.

My model was to price it low (a low cost six month membership plus access to the archive) and deliver top quality content on a regular basis. The show has been running for over 4 years and in all that time, I think I've only missed a show three times. The production values have increased tremendously as I've developed more experience both technically and in my delivery.
So I've persevered and the audience has grown.  I've had many instances where people have emailed me and would have been happy to pay the six months membership for a single show, it had been that valuable to them.

As well as producing the show each week,  I've also taken on external screencasting work, turning into a mini production house for others. The extra funds that has generated has gone a long way to supporting the show, but the downside is it detracts from the time available to produce the shows and all the supplementary mechanisms that are needed to support it. I really need to free up some time to concentrate on the ScreenCastsOnline website and make it easier to use and more importantly, easier to find and watch content.
So I thought I'd tweak the pricing model as well!

The current price for a six month membership is $57 - that's not per month, but for six months. In addition, you get immediate access to the archive of over 220 shows - a bargain!
However, I'm not sure that truly reflects the value of the show, especially as that price has remained the same for 14 months or so and since setting that price point, an extra 60 shows have been added to the archive.
So as well as changing the ratio of the shows, I'll be putting up the price of the membership to $87 from the 1st January 2010.

Now I fully realise that this may upset a lot of people who've been following the show for while and just receiving the free show. To offset this, I'm going to make a special offer of a significant discount off the current price of the show for November, to give the opportunity for them to join before the price increase and before the free shows drop to just one per month.
With immediate effect and only up until the end of November, I'm making available a 50% discount for a full six month ScreenCastsOnline membership. No restrictions, not a trial period, but a full membership with the next 6 months worth of shows and immediate access to the ScreenCastsOnline archive.

That makes it just $28.50 for a full membership. Just sign up as usual at http://www.screencastsonline.com/extra and use the Coupon code NOV2009 to get the full discount.

As an aside, I'm not making any changes to the existing members and renewals - they remain exactly the same as they have been for the last three years. Oh, except for a new 24 month renewal rate to save $20."


From TUAW -

"MacHeist has a new bundle for us at the moment -- but this one is what they consider a "nanoBundle" and it's free. I can't speak for everyone here at TUAW, but when I see the word "free" next to software, I horde it.

They've decided to just give away this bundle of apps in what appears to be a move to encourage their users to come back for more. 6 great mac apps for zero dollars. That's my kind of deal. There are only 6 more days to download this bundle, so go grab it after checking out the loot:

Shove Box -- An awesome reminder, organization, gotta-get-it-done application that sits in your menu bar. You can then drag things like text, URLs, images... possibly anything to the menu bar app and it'll save it for later. When you get some free time, you can go back through and see what you have. There's an iPhone companion app as well.

WriteRoom -- A simple writing application that removes all of the typical distractions from your writing sessions. It makes the text window full screen, completely cutting off the rest of the world from your mind -- if you so choose. It still has simple tools like word count, background/text color adjustments... but definitely keeps you focused. We've covered it quite a bit.

Twitterrific -- One of my favorite apps on my iPhone as of late. The desktop version is similarly simple. Set up your Twitter account and tweet away with the easiest solution imaginable.

TinyGrab -- Is a screen capture maniac's dream. It allows you to use the standard command-shift-4 and select part of your screen or hit spacebar to capture a specific window. The kicker: it uploads it directly to your own FTP server and puts the URL in your clipboard so you can paste it in Facebook, Twitter, email, IM... whatever your pleasure.

Hordes of Orcs -- I'll admit, this is the real reason I'm downloading the bundle. I've heard nothing but great reviews about this game even from our own Mike Schramm. It's one of the most innovative desktop tower defense games I've seen. Everything is in 3D, there are 6 different game variations and let's not forget tower defense.

Mariner Write -- This is a word processor with features you need but none of the "bloat" found in other applications *cough* Microsoft *cough.* Of course, it will open and save Word documents, as well as other formats.

While I was writing this, the download total went up 5,000 downloads but it'll take 500,000 for all of us to get the full benefit. MacHeist says that Mariner Write is the unlockable application, so I'm hoping to get a serial and really try it out. Head over to Macheist, http://macheist.com/ and download your nanoBundle. For the first time, I'll be using all of the apps in it -- and it's free!"


Goal -- A better reading experience online and on my iPhone
- Read articles without the clutter
- Simple layouts
- Better fonts and font sizes


- free
- simple process
- multiple settings
- effective on most sites
- works on the iPhone

- only available online
- does not work with some sites (so far)


- free
- simple "tagging" process
- iPhone applications (both free and US 5$)
- offline reading
- archiving

- more complex process for reading

ben schmidt

New Things Bought by Members

Hands free cell calls while driving

OS X software recommendations from members


  • Q.Rechargeable batteries OK in magic mouse?
    Ans. Yes

  • Q. Questions like 'how much is xx lbs in grams? etc
    Ans. Try the latest Quantitative Search Engine: www.wolframalpha.com

  • Q. Can macbook 2009 replace hard drive?
    Ans. according to ifixit.com, yes: See step 8 of this teardown of the late 2009 MacBook.