Friday, July 27, 2007

Cartophiles unite.

Official Google Blog: Earth to the Enterprise

Am I the only map lover whose jaw dropped over the coolness of Dell's analytics page that overlays visitors on a geographic 2D map?

Guess not. The NYT has a story up on masses of people using Google Maps.

I'd love to snag a job some day working with GMaps...for some reason ever since I was a kid I've collected maps, drawn maps, and could sit for hours staring at them. They tell a number of stories - how geography shapes population centers, how population centers shape geography, and how cities (like organisms) grow.

Love the stuff. I could talk about it for hours.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bob Barker retires...Drew Carey takes over

I started talking about this show today, and the news about Carey taking over. Funny how it was heartwarming for everyone around the conference table to talk about their favorite kitschy game.

I'm voting for either Plinko or the game with the yodeling mountain climber. MAN that was good stuff.

I also love how good ole Bob would always be the gentleman and ask the frail old ladies if they'd prefer him to spin the wheel for them..."Gotta go all the way around to count!"

One summer in 6th grade I remember I had a routine of watching the show every day...I'd say the day was a good one whenever Bob would remember his PSA at the end.

Thanks Bob.

And remember to spay and neuter your pet!

Friday, May 4, 2007

My entertainment center is a slippery slope

Ok, so my entertainment center is a slippery slope.

I want an Xbox 360.

I have a CRT, an old Sony 945 receiver, and a large armoire to hide it all away in.

What stands between me and HD goodness is about...hmm...$4000. Ugh. And yet there are plenty of bigger issues to be paying for in a home.

So I figure I'll start with a HDMI 1.3-compatible receiver (buy ahead in tech) since a new TV does no good with nothing to plug into, and then save save save for a HDTV by end of year when the Wal-Mart HDTV fiasco will hopefully start again.

North Cacalaci

So I'm trying out this new word I learned: Cacalaci.

Apparently it is a ghetto/redneck way of saying Carolina. A friend of mine in Florida recently asked me how life in Cacalaci is going and I thought he was speaking Spanish...I'd completely never heard of such a place, term, or use.

Apparently it is like adding Vegas to the end of a city. We did it in TN by saying Knoxvegas about Knoxville and people 'round here call a little 'neckville nearby K-vegas instead of Kernersville.

So Cacalaci. Funny ring to it. I'll use it.

Bring on the Nintendo to NC

Nintendo Of America Moving Forces Out Of Seattle?

Man I would love for them to relocate their "large sales and marketing force" to Raleigh or the Triangle...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Something that makes me VERY happy

The independent music station Mike and Shiv over there are the pulse of independent music and when the station went down late last year I spent a week in serious mourning, telling everyone I know how terrible it is to be without a Creed-less radio station that also was not a soulless feed such as XM online, nor was it run by a bunch of kids at a college radio with terrible production.

Thankfully Woxy returned and here's hoping their new financial model with partner works.

And in turn, here are some of my current favorite bands.
  • We Are Scientists - when are they going to be headlining?? Buy this album. Buy it twice.

  • Bon Savants - (site link...I love it) spanking new band outta Boston, and the lyrics are soaked in the lead singer's to-die-for voice

  • Silversun Pickups - stinks of a Saturday afternoon buzz, watching the sun set into the Pacific, after a long surfing day

  • Lily Allen - Brit spunk, very clevah (to quote Erykah Badu) lyrics

  • Built to Spill - rock and roll. Awesome. Out of Boise. Every time I play them people want a copy

  • The Hold Steady - my current favorite. Makes me want my teenage years again, this time with sense

  • Band of Horses - out of So Carolina. Haunting in some songs.

And finally, my buddy from San Diego who is in The High Rolling Loners. We took an hour drive to go see them and it was definitely worth it. Great and western/Waylon Jennings-styled stuff.

Something that makes me happy

A video made in Lego of the first stage of Super Mario Bros.

Man I loved this game.

It is (present it is now available to Wii users) somewhat repetitive, but there is something special in the magic of
Shigeru Miyamoto's creations. He has an artistic eye for how to create a simple and fun game...someone should hire him to create casual games for our phones.

Friday, March 23, 2007

A copywriter's nightmare...when to cut copy and when to keep it

I want to give all credit for this story to Barry Bostian of Orlando, FL. Barry was the mentor of our marketing division at Harcourt in Orlando and is a huge mind. Going into his office to ask a quick question usually got me a 30 min anecdote, but it also gained me some wisdom. He's a great man, insightful as hell, and a mind for copy like Ernest Hemingway. He knows how to say something right without the crap. Marketing done with captial R Realism.

I love Hem BTW. My hero. And so is Barry. Great man. The type of guy who deserves a comfy, deep leather chair in a nice corner office. He knows what he is talking about, and listens when he doesn't. And he shared this story:

Initial Draft ©2003, Barry M. Bostian

FRESH FISH: A Writer’s Nightmare

An aging fisherman in a picturesque New England village had grown too old to cope for the demands of life at sea. So, to supplement his meager savings, he started his own little business selling fish from a wooden booth on the wharf where his fellow fishermen tied up their boats.

The booth had a pass-through counter for conducting business and a large wooden shutter that folded straight back so that the underside became a sign. On his first day of business, the old man’s hand-painted sign, red letters on a whitewashed background, read “Fresh Fish Sold Here.”

That evening, another fishermen returning from the sea stopped by the shack and told the old man that he could attract far more customers if the words on his sign were larger and could read them from farther away. He suggested that it was obvious that the old man sold fish here and not somewhere else. So, the word “Here,” he said, could easily go, allowing the other words to be larger. So, that night, the old man whitewashed his sign and repainted the red letters to read “Fresh Fish Sold.”

Next evening, another fisherman stopped by and said even larger words would be legible from even further away and would attract still more customers. He said it was plain as day, even to a darn fool, that the old man sold, rather than gave away, fish. So, he said the word “Sold” wasn’t needed and could be removed to enlarge the other words. So, that night, the old man again whitewashed the sign again and repainted the red letters to read “Fresh Fish.”

The following day, a third fisherman advised the old man that it was plain as day to anybody that fish sold right there on the wharf would be just-off-the-boat fresh. And, by eliminating the word “Fresh,” he said, the old man could make the word “Fish“ big enough to attract even more customers from even further away. So, that night, the old man again repainted his sign to read “Fish.”

On the fourth day, a female passerby looked up at the old man’s sign and said, “You know, a baby with a head cold can smell fish from this wharf from miles away. So you really don’t need a sign saying “Fish.” So, the next morning, the old man’s sign was a plain whitewashed shutter.

This salty yarn is, of course, inane. But, in a memorable way, it makes a valid point. While verbosity is indeed undesirable, it is possible to overly condense one’s writing, robbing it of all life – leaving it plan white – and greatly complicating reader comprehension.

A little more on the Apple TV...maybe some rationale

So David Pogue at the NYT enlightens me on the value of the RedFruit TV.

He makes the point that the x360 isn't quite user friendly in using a game controller for manipulation of photos and movies (including not having a variable time slide show). Hmm, maybe MS will take that slide show issue down on their to-do list and add that functionality. Adding a cute remote would be a great idea too. Apple does do a good job of trimming out the fat in design, something I greatly admire. There is no power-on on an ipod, par example.

And David also makes a good point about the EVA8000 from Netgear, that it is for a more tech-savvy user, and that the support sucks.

God sakes, why can't a set-top do it all with easy plug-and-play setup, without stupid error messages like "MTU failure" or "Network error, etc?

I should have suspected that is exactly where the Apple TV would find the same market that loves ipods. The market is the "rest of us" (hey! not me! I'm a networking fool!) who want simplicity.

Of course you give up flexibility with Apple, and that is what is always their downfall. I love OS X, but I love me some PC gaming...and those two are cats and dogs. They might live together, but just don't expect them to get along well.

Apple TV Has Landed
  • key points:
    "Apple, on the other hand, is going for everybody else, random people included (at least those with HDTV sets). And that, perhaps, is Apple TV’s real significance. To paraphrase the old Macintosh advertisement, it’s a computer-to-TV bridge for the rest of us."

    "In the end, these early attempts to bridge the gulf between computer and TV perfectly reinforce the conventional wisdom about Apple: Apple TV offers a gracious, delightful experience — but requires fidelity to Apple’s walled garden."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Geese cause e-coli??

So I received this email at work today in NC:
[NAME REMOVED] has very valid reasons for doing all we can to humanely remove the geese from the park. Number 1. Goose droppings, for lack of a better word, are full of E-Coli Bacteria which presents an infection risk for all. We have many incidents of the geese attacking people due to nesting. The babies are cute but most of them end up dead due to being run over by cars, because the geese are living in an unnatural setting, an office park instead of in the wild where mother nature intended them to be. Folks don't see the dead goslings, as we try to take them away ASAP. We don't like seeing that and we don't enjoy it. The ponds were not built to attract geese, they are part of zoning and building code regulations that deal with run off from drives and parking areas so natural waterways and springs are not contaminated.

So, this is what you call irony.

We heat up our world with greenhouse gases/political BS/carbon, to confuse the goosian (yes I coined my very own demonym) internal clocks so they stick around rather than scheduling their traditional flight north as the weather begins to warm. We also drain their wetlands where they DID live up north, taking from them the natural setting for a gosling playground.

So those geese who have decided to stick around have very little wetlands or woodlands to hide in any is not as if geese are deep-woods animals. They require water, not 500 acres of woods.

And yet we complain that they are hassling us in our cookie cutter office park because they have the potential for causing us sickness.

Perhaps a wiser population would realize WHY they are here, and that they don't prefer a parking lot to a secluded marsh. Alas, such is not the case. Instead it is presented as a problem of the geese being inconsiderate to us...their babies throw themselves in front of our cars (we of course cannot slow down) and they go to the bathroom in inconvenient places. And e-coli danger? It's much higher from gulls and other birds who eat OUR TRASH.

Geese are the symptom of our problem. They are not the problem!


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Apple TV...why would I buy what I'm paying for...

Ok, so if I want to use Apple TV I need to buy the shows.

Most (hell,
all) of us do already have a monthly ongoing subscription to better-than-antenna service, be it DirecTV, cable or whatevah. So to watch the shows via Apple TV, we'll need to buy them and hey, they come without commercials.

My issue: I have a subscription service. I have
X number of dollars to buy a DVR (Tivo, Apple TV, or other) or rent one through someone like TWC for $5/mo. Why would I buy an Apple TV and then buy programs if I have a subscription service and can get a DVR to work with it for a minimal amount , with all those included bells and whistles?

Ok, if I don't have cable or satellite, then I see the value. I also see the value in connecting Apple TV easily to any set. But is that a real reason to stray away from the market leader's world of options---Tivo??

Find more here:
The death of the 30-second TV commercial
March 14 2007
  • key points:
    "Experts aren't convinced that Apple TV will be as big of a hit with consumers as the iPod was right off the bat -- after all, people have to pay for a TV show they could see for free on network TV."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Is it just me, or is Live *on a PC* meh-able

Microsoft Xbox Live to come to Windows with Halo 2
March 14 2007

This is the part where I sounds like a grumpy old man.

Why is Live that exciting for Windows and the regular computer user? Evidence keeps building of growing support for casual games, something Live certainly excels at delivering, but how many casual users are going to pay $50 year (admittedly cheap to those of us doling $15/mo for crack) to play casual games?

That leaves the obvious group: the gamers wanting to load up Halo 2 on their PC and play their counterparts on consoles. (Better get a xbox controller to tackle that...) But with games like Halo 2 requiring outrageous computers, why wouldn't the hard core gamer nab a console that handles the shooter a little more natively?

That brings us back to the beginning, that Live is another step forward in the digital melting pot --- providing another community building tool, another way for groups to access one another and pwn yer face. That makes me wonder by what measure Live will be viewed as successful. Microsoft tends to enter a field with shaky legs, learn quickly, and start competing hard, so perhaps this is another venture. Without seeing the plans in front of me, and without claiming "[blank] confirms that Live will have [insert]?"

And while I'm on this topic: STOP TITLING ARTICLES as with the word "confirm" and a question mark! How can a source confirm something if it is still in question? (I'm looking at you Engadget, and rumor posters worldwide!)

Gamers untie!

(yes I meant to misspell that)

A little something from the news that appears more and more as older gamers seek out stories like this to hug to their breast while muttering "I'm not alone, I'm not alone!"

From Geek to Chic: Record Sales Signal Video Games' Arrival

Sales of More Than $13 Billion a Sign That Gaming Has Arrived

Jan. 25, 2007

  • key point
    "There are things we used to talk about that seemed like pie-in-the-sky talk, like the mainstreaming of games, but now I think it's happened," said Jeff Green, editor in chief of Games for Windows: The Official Magazine. "In general, what used to be called 'geeky' is just mainstream nowadays."

Digital me at the ent center

Another good piece about Battleground: EntCent

Interactive connection finally coming together

January 18, 2007

  • key point
    "The technology and consumer electronics industries have long teased consumers with the notion that their computers would serve up all the media content they want and their televisions would offer the interaction and choices of the online world. But it all felt like so much vaporware -- prosperity that remained tantalizingly around the corner."
There is gathering momentum toward a real all-in-one product to serve up all our media needs, but thus far we've not seen anything beyond the same problems of "does everything, but nothing well" or "does a few things but needs another box for the rest" in an easy to use package. Something that plugs in, finds your wireless network (or sets itself up on your wired one) and starts getting to know you by asking questions about what shows you like to watch, music you like, and so on - WITHOUT sending this info to marketers (I'm looking at you Tivo).

No Gnews like old gnus

Or so to mis-phrase Gary Gnus of the Great Space Coaster, I would like to look back before moving forward with blog. This way I can set the stage for the focus and interest of the blog going forward...

Xbox Woos New Fans
January 12, 2007

Microsoft said half of 360 owners are new to the company, but they could just be Sony defectors.§or=Industries&subsector=EntertainmentAndMedia

  • key point:
    "While it may be seeing success wooing experienced gamers, Microsoft’s push to market the 360 as a multimedia machine with a wider appeal are clear. The Xbox's pending IPTV service could even put it in competition with archrival Apple again, albeit in a decidedly different arena."

Coming soon to an entertainment center near us is a machine of undecided "progressive" colors and design (white and smooth, or black and sharp?) It will handle the mp3s, high-def video, and online access that most don't know they yet need, but will definitely USE once it lands in their hands via a well-designed remote ala Tivo's.