All posts by Wil

I'm just this guy, you know?

Radio Free Burrito’s Experimental Episode

I had an idea, so I tried it out. I’m publishing it now, before I have a chance to back out and change my mind.

  • Show Notes:
  • The audio isn’t perfectly clean. That is by design. This is an experiment.
  • Radio Free Burrito doesn’t work as hard as Memories of the Futurecast did to earn its NSFW rating, but listener discretion is still advised.
  • If you want to introduce yourself, join this post. Maybe you’ll make a new friend.
  • The theme music was just called “flight.mp3″ and I have no idea where it came from.
  • There’s no art, because it’s an experimental episode.
  • I’m not sure if this will work with typical podcast clients. Apologies in advance if it isn’t available in your preferred thing.
  • The episode is 19.26 and is 28MB.

Enjoy the Burrito!

If the embeded player doesn’t work, try this link: RFB-Experimental

as you were, as you want me to be

The kitchen is a disaster, but we earned it. The dishwasher is full of plates that were full of a delicious feast just 24 hours ago. The sink is full of dishes that won’t fit into the dishwasher, on account of that feast.

For the last few days, my house has been filled with the love and warmth of my family, the warmth and comfort of a roaring fire, and the delicious smells of roasting turkey, baking bread, and the faintest hint of the Christmas tree in our living room.

What passes for winter has arrived in Los Angeles, and while the sun does its best to warm us, a gentle but persistent chill wind consistently blows most of the warmth away. Our dogs are extra snuggly, and more reluctant than usual to get out of bed. The cats are tucking themselves into us when we’re on the couch, even though they don’t want food.

I needed the break from everything, this Christmas. I needed to force myself to stop working, to feel free to goof off. I played Rock Band for the first time in about a year. I watched several movies. I caught up on Mad Men and some other series. I have a stack of comics that have been piling up for months, that I’m dying to get into … but when I read, my mind drifts and does its best to write its own things, to tell its own stories. My notebook of ideas is slowly filling up again.

I texted a friend, who worked with me on the Wil Wheaton Project, and told him that I’m having a great time editing Tabletop, and that writing for the RPG show is awesome. “I’m so happy just writing and not being on camera,” I said. Maybe I’m ready to semi-retire from on-camera work. I don’t know.

The house is currently quiet and empty, except for me and the dogs. Ryan’s coming over to play Splendor in a little while, and Anne and I are going to the hockey game tonight.

I should take a shower, but I have this amazing bedhead, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to murder it with water.

I have a lot of creative ideas that are pulling me in a lot of different directions. I want to make a lot of things, and I can’t seem to pick one and go with it until it’s done … which means that I’ll need to just make a decision and do it.

It’s time to get back to work. It’s time to get disciplined. It’s time to make things. It’s time to write.

But first, I have to clean up the kitchen.

experiencing the social part of social media

I spent much of today going through last night’s post comments, and making sure that people I’d inadvertently blocked on Twitter were unblocked.

But, uh, the thing is … after going through about 250 links, I’d only actually blocked three of them. Everyone else was “just in case” or something like that. I thought, gee, maybe I didn’t make the instructions for finding out if you’d been blocked clear enough.

But the other thing is, I ain’t even mad. Because I did that today, I saw a couple hundred real people’s faces, and got a tiny little glimpse into what all of those people have been doing with their lives. It made me feel connected in an unexpected way (it put the “social” in “social media”), and though it was time consuming, it turned out to be a nice way to take a break from doing actual work.

And it gave me an idea: Why don’t you introduce yourself to me and other WWdN readers?

Leave a comment in this post that tells us a little bit about yourself, if you feel comfortable sharing that sort of thing. Don’t post personal stuff that could be too revealing or hurt your privacy, but maybe share your first name, if you’re married, have kids, what sort of work you do, and maybe something that you like.

The idea is that, when you see the actual, real, human person behind a screen name or twitter handle or whatever, it’s a tangible reminder that we are all people on the other end of the connection. We’re people with families and jobs and hobbies and passions and hopes and fears and we all live on the same piece of rock, hurtling through space.

Of course, you don’t have to do this, and I can’t stress enough how important it is that you protect your personal information, but since I enjoyed the social experience of feeling connected to actual humans, maybe you will, too.

Or maybe you won’t. I’m not the boss of you.

unblock the block

I may have blocked you on Twitter by accident. Rather than unblock all the stupidsphere and #GarboGuts idiots who I meant to block, if you check my Twitter page, and see that you’re blocked, leave a comment here with your Twitter name, or email me with your Twitter name, I’ll fix it.

worst. theme. ever.

I really hate this theme, but I broke Twenty Fourteen when I upgraded WordPress, and I don’t have time to fix it at the moment.

So, for now at least, enjoy the ugly.

from w00tstock 1.0

We’re doing a lot of organizing, here at Castle Wheaton, and I came across this document, which is going into an archive of work-related things that are important to me, cleverly called “Wil’s Presidential Library”.

This is the intro I wrote for one of the very first w00tstocks that we did here in Los Angeles:

w00tstock1introI did a version of this intro for a bunch of our early shows, before dropping it in favor of bullet points and amusing (to me) comments at our first comic-con show.

there were loose threads…

Nearly ten years ago, when I was struggling to get any kind of meaningful on-camera work, and it looked like my once-promising acting career was going to be traded in for a writing career, I got a call to audition for a show called Wired Science. It was the kind of show that, today, would likely be online, but in 2006, it was going to air on PBS.

We went through several rounds of meetings and auditions, each one ending with the people in the room praising my preparation, passion, and on-camera presence.

I remember getting several calls from casting, and each time I expected to be told I’d been hired, I was told that I needed to read some new, different material, or come back in to meet someone new. This process went on for well over a month, until I finally got a call from my manager.

“They want you to write an essay about why they should hire you,” he said.

“What?” I said. Was I auditioning to host a show, or was I in middle school?

“I guess part of the job will be writing for WIRED, and they want to see a sample of that,” he said.

“Okay,” I sighed, already knowing that I wasn’t going to get this job, because that’s the way things went back then.

I opened up a text editor on my Linux machine, and I wrote the following essay, which I hadn’t thought about or seen in nearly ten years, until I came across it last night in an old documents backup folder on a hard drive that I’m cleaning up.

It’s simply not possible for me to cram 34 years of science enthusiasm into the one paragraph I was asked to write, but I will attempt to be as brief as I can.

I’ve been a technology and science geek my entire life, starting with National Geographic’s “Let’s Go to the Moon” when I was 7 years old. When I was 11, I programmed in Atari BASIC, and wrote my own games on my TI-99/4A. I was online when BBS systems could only handle one user at a time, 1200 baud was blazing fast, and 256 colors was magnificent. Today, I make my primary living in jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago, as a writer for online magazines.

Over the last decade, as I’ve watched what was once the province of serious nerds like myself become more common, it’s been a passion of mine to educate and enlighten anyone who will listen about the impact of science and technology on our culture, whether it’s climate change and network neutrality, or GPS devices and the Large Hadron Collider.

I was a Wired subscriber from issue one, until I cancelled all my magazine subscriptions in favor of online versions and RSS feeds a few years ago. I was interviewed for Wired in 2001.

When I was a cast member on Star Trek: The Next Generation, I frequently met with astronauts and scientists, and spoke at several NASA functions. I’ve been attending the JPL open house since I was in elementary school, and I’ve been a backyard astronomer for nearly as long.

In 1992, I walked away from the entertainment industry to work for NewTek, and worked on the Video Toaster 4000. Long before iMovie and Final Cut Pro made editing as simple as word processing, we were bringing professional quality video production to anyone who wanted it, for just $5,000 (at a time when the average set up cost closer to $85,000.)

For many years, I was a frequent contributor to TechTV’s The Screen Savers, and filled in a few times on Call for Help. As a result of that work, I was hired to co-host a technology/gadget show on the Revision3 network called InDigital, where I review things as varied as routers and video game controllers. I frequently discuss public policy concerning technology, most recently the threats against Internet radio by the Copyright Royalty Board. I am one of the original Netscape Navigators (now called Scouts) at the new Netscape News, where I frequently submit science and technology stories. I have been an open source and free software advocate and Linux user since 1995 (when it was still really hard to use) and wrote all three of my books in I’ve built too many computers to count.

Before Chris Anderson articulated The Long Tail, I was espousing a similar theory to anyone who would listen to me. My blog at was very successful and had a large readership (about 30,000 RSS subscribers, and 500,000 average monthly visitors) so I knew I could take my books directly to the audience without using the traditional publishing channels. I believed and proved that the Internet gives creative people all the tools they need to realize their creations and share them — for free or for profit — online. Both of my books were massively successful, thanks entirely to my blog and the Long Tail effect. My next book, which I just finished last week, will be distributed and publicized in the same way.

This is much longer than the one paragraph I was asked to write, but context is everything, I believe, and as you can see, it would be impossible to give context and credentials in that small space.

On an entirely personal note: I love science, and work tirelessly to counter the pseudo- and anti-science that infects popular culture (and much of the current US government policy) today. I’m thrilled to be considered for Wired Science, because the opportunity to share the wonder of science and the impact of technology in our world with as wide an audience as possible is a dream come true.

It’s okay, I guess, and the best I could do when I was 34, written while choking on my pride and trying not to feel humiliated by being expected to tell these people who had kept me on the line for weeks exactly why I was so great.

I, of course, was not picked to host the show. I was offered a very small, barely-paid job as an occasional contributor, but that’s not the job I worked for, and it wasn’t the job I wanted. I passed on what felt to me like a consolation prize.

Wired and PBS cast my friend Chris Hardwick, who went on to be really, really good, and was an excellent choice. I remember watching some of Chris’s early shows, and wondering how I’d even been considered at all, because he was such a natural fit.

My life is so different now than it was back then, and I’m proud of all my hard work and my stubborn refusal to give up that got me here from there. When I found this document last night, my first instinct was to delete a painful memory, but I’m glad I kept it, because it’s part of the tapestry of my life.