Tuesday, April 30, 2002

This is probably pretty big news in the media world, though you or I might not care a lot about it. But I feel it needs to be mentioned. Bernie Ebbers, president of MCI WorldCom resigned. While most of us really haven't heard much (if anything) about Ebbers, he build MCI WorldCom into a big player by buying more than 60 other companies.

I've written about Brightmail before. I'm a big fan. They do a lot to curb spam. Of course, I still get spam-to-legit ratios of about 4-1 in my Earthlink account, but what doesn't make it into my box (Earthlink gives you access to a special area where it's stored, just in case a legitimate email gets caught) is amazing. And if you've sensed that spam is getting worse, you're right. Check out the stats in this article.

Learn from our elders? Seniors are declaring bankruptcy at a higher rate than any other age group.

Oh, boo hoo. Newspapers want exemption from the do-not-call laws.

Monday, April 29, 2002

Fandango's claiming that they spent a lot of money upgrading the Lowes theater chain so that it could handle new media ticket sales. And now it says that AOL has swooped in and gotten Lowes to back out of the agreement and sign an exclusive deal with AOL Moviefone.

Much worse are those ads for MovieTickets.com. I can't believe theaters show them before movies because they make the movie theaters look bad.

Other recent dumb ads: There's a commercial for contact lense solution that is supposed to do all the work. Never having had contacts, I'm not sure what's involved, I guess you clean them or something. This solution claims to do all the work automatically so all you do is drop them in the solution and voila. Well anyhow, it shows the little lenses going through car wash scrubbers while the song "Car wash" plays. The contact wearer grabs the case, opens it up and peers inside to see the contact just sitting there. She sets it down, walks away and the music starts back up and the case vibrates. Well, how could she see anything, at least with any detail? Her contacts are in the case and she doesn't have a pair of glasses on. See it here.

And Accuvue has this one with a kid bungee jumping while wearing contacts. Question... would that dry them out? Or is that the point? They're designed not to dry out while bungee jumping? In any case, the effect is so poorly done that it's just sad. It doesn't even look like she's bungee jumping. It's so obvious that she's just hanging upside down in front of a blue screen. I'm disappointed at how bad it looks. See it here.

For the second month in the past two years, less than 1,000 dot-commers were fired. That's because there's less than 1,000 people left with jobs. You've fired all the rest of us.

This is cool... maybe? A place to watch TV commercials online... and send feedback. www.ads.com. It would be a lot cooler if we could read other people's feedback.

The L.A. Times reports that Riordan, starting his own newspaper, says The L.A. Times is a monopoly. Irony or a lack of the alledged bias?

Sunday, April 28, 2002

It just occured to me... besides both being Texas companies, some striking similarities in their logo. Or maybe Enron just ripped that off, too.

And this is fun... it's near our apartment and snaps a picture every 30 minutes during the day. Look what it caught on camera yesterday at 5 p.m.

Friday, April 26, 2002

AOL's thinking of spinning off its cable systems. It's having problems with AT&T which owns 25% of Time Warner Entertainment and Newhouse Publications that owns 33% of its cable systems. Too many people own big chunks of AOL and they're trying to simplify. If they traded AT&T that 25% of TWE for a like-sized piece of the cable business and then took that public, AT&T would be able to sell off their share and get their money. Otherwise, AOL, which already has $28 million in debt would need to write a check to AT&T for $10 million. And that doesn't even really address the Newhouse's and their unhappiness with AOL...

And news I'm really excited about... housing sales are finally dropping...

A co-worker needed old ads to put into a newspaper his son is doing as a class project, so I typed "old ads" into Google (the best search engine ever!) and found this great site.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Hello, all. It's been awhile... I've been busy (a good thing). Ok, some of that time was playing monopoly online, but still...

So I've been stacking up interesting news, so let me clean out the ol' news locker.

Enron just got approval to pay another $140 million in stay bonuses. Shouldn't they just stop paying them so they'll go away? Someone else needs to buy this company and fire everyone. $140 million!?!?!?! (MSNBC.com)

This might explain why they're not giving out free phones anymore... Customer loyalty to cell phone companies is eroding more and more each quarter. (MSNBC.com)

As promised... the swing-set patent story. Yes, some kid received a patent for swinging. (News.com)

Oh, great, another format... not to worry, consumers probably won't adopt it. A new smaller CD will be introduced this summer and its launch will be accompanied by some big name artists. Who cares? What's the big advantage to smaller CD's? Unless someone's willing to offer a portable small CD changer, why get something new? (MSNBC.com)

A new study says that legitimate music is losing ground online in Europe. (Newsbytes.com)

Is it any wonder?

Soap box time.

The music consumer who's online is typically under 25 years old. And they're shunning the legitimate online music offerings. I don't know, but I think the music industry is in a heap of trouble. They failed to recognize a major shift in the way people listen to music, then they made themselves out to look like a bad wolf by being so letigious(sp?) without offering any real solution to the problem.

Now, late to the game, what they're offering isn't what the public wants and they don't understand. I feel sorry for them, but until they get it right, they really shouldn't be blaming anyone but themselves. Too long they've been fat cats sitting back churning out crappy CD's (usually with one or two good songs on it) while ripping off the consumer and the artist at the same time. I'm not saying music should be free, but how different is it to copy a song off the radio, or better yet, DirecTV's digital music channels onto your hard drive than to rip a song or download a song off the internet? Sure, it's a little quicker to let someone else do the work, or to let a program simply lift the track off a CD, but it solves a need that the music industry is unwilling to address, or perhaps even unable to comprehend.

Simply put, we like music. But in its current legal form, it's cumbersome, bulky and only sort of solves our needs. We want a large library at our fingertips, the ability to quickly jump from one artist to another. To have many songs available to us so that when our mood or disposition changes, we need the soundtrack of our lives to quickly follow suit. And we need to have it with us. 10 discs in a CD changer in a car is fine, but then you have the annoying quiet while it switches discs, and even then, you're limited to 10 artists.

And that's only good if you're in your car. And your car has a 10 disc changer. Or you even own a car. Or are old enough to drive.

But imagine... if every record store had a self-service kiosk where you could go in, pick and choose any song you wanted, and have those songs burned onto a CD, either as a standard music file, or as an MP3 file, and you paid per song, how great would that be? If you can get a CD now from Target for $12.99 with an average of 14 songs, that's 92 cents a song. Forget about the costs of marketing, the CD books, etc. and charge 75 cents to $1 per song. The machine burns the CD, it's guaranteed to be correct (I HATE burning CD's... It's time consuming and you cannot guarantee that it's going to work correctly.) But these kiosks could guarantee that the songs would be perfect, without pops, hisses or odd volume changes, and that the CD's would be burned correctly.

Suddenly, you've got a perfect answer... it won't end piracy, but I think there are plenty of people who would pay for the convenience of making their own albums and you'd get some real data back on what people are really listening to. But it would involve the record companies working together and making a major shift in their thinking. Which is why we're stuck with these lame offerings which don't feature full catalogs and don't offer portability and really don't meet the needs of too many people.

End of the soap box.

Hilarious... AOL Time Warner might just be a better company if they spun off their online service, AOL. (MSNBC.com)

They're calling this a "jobless recovery." Um... and how is that a recovery again? (MSNBC.com)

If you're using AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM), check your Internet Explorer security settings because AIM has most likely hacked them. (Instantmessagingplanet.com)

Hollywood vs. High-Tech: This is a great, in-depth article on why you shouldn't buy any new electronics any time soon. (Business2.com)

Look! It's the amazing studendous double-decker toad!... On second though, eh. (Metrowestdailynews.com)

L.A.'s former mayor Richard Reardon's decides to start his own newspaper. (LABusinessJournal.com)

Remember War Games? Matthew Broderick had that computer that would dial every number until it found other computers to talk to? Crooks are using computers to warcard... that is, they're tossing credit card number and expiration dates at authorize.net and seeing what sticks. (MSNBC.com)

This is kinda cool... some guy figured that he could help schools... let them teachers write proposals and then let people decide to donate directly. There's no automatic overhead factored into the donation, so unless you elect to give some to the overhead, 100% of your donation goes directly to the end recipient. (MSNBC.com)

Cool Signs... not just a description, also their name... I wish this company had L.A. offices... I've sent several resumes and would love to work for them. (MediaPost.com)

And now, some pictures...

Two firefighters got married and then cruised around town. (MSNBC.com)

It's ok, he's sleeping. The bear got hit by a car and they had to tranquilize him to get him out of the tree. Then they fixed up his broken leg and expect a full recovery. (MSNBC.com)

I think this looks kinda cool. What to know the mindblowingly insane part? For $145,000, you can buy all the dots, 11 balloons and installation instructions. (Building not included.) (MSNBC.com)

AOL posts $54,200,000.00 loss. Guess they shouldn't have fired me. (Excite.com)

Viacom posts profit. They should buy AOL. (MSNBC.com)

Newspaper prints photo of city check, crooks use the signature and bank account numbers to write themselves checks. heh heh heh (Belleville.com)

Sunday, April 21, 2002

I don't have a link because it was only mentioned briefly in Entertainment Weekly (the print version... dead trees... the horror!)... Anyhow, apparently in Spiderman you see buildings in New York. And some of these buildings normally have ads for one or more of Sony's competitors (Samsung is mentioned... yeah, and the Corvette and Chevette are competitors). In the movie, Sony digitally replaced those ads with ads for USA Today. No money changed hands, Sony just didn't want their competitors getting free advertising and USA Today is always a great go-to in terms of national buzz and built-in patriotism by default, right? Well apparently the companies that own those buildings are suing Sony. Which, in my opinion, is downright wrong. Did the U.S. Government sue Fox when the aliens destroyed the White House in Independence Day? Did anyone sue when Deep Impact's meteor caused most of New York to be destroyed by a tidal wave? This is a freaking movie... entertainment for the masses... about a guy who gets bit by a spider and can suddenly eject spider webs from his wrists. It's not real and for these people to get upset is downright stupid. Plain and simple. What's next? Signed permission from every building owner before you can shoot a movie in a city?

Tomorrow, the kid who has a patent for swinging...

Thursday, April 18, 2002

You know you're in trouble when even Jon Bon Jovi can't save you. Ally McBeal was cancelled yesterday.

And this is a pretty interesting story... some kids who went to the Middle East to go rock climbing, got kidnapped by Islamics trying to take over the country, then tried to kill one of their captors by pushing him off the cliff, escaped, were escorted to safety by the president of the country, came back to the U.S. and no one believed them but they got a book deal and then they on Dateline and then they went back to the country and found the guy who hadn't died and he admitted that they had tried to kill him. And then he got sentenced to death. It's kinda sad. Except that he was a murdering invading rebel.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

I spent much of tonight playing on the computer, reading Survivor updates on SurvivorSucks.com and stuff like that. Well, anyhow, they had a message board and one of the topics were people making up fake logos for future episodes. (Go here.) There's even a repository where people are collecting them here. ** ADDRESS FIXED ** I just wish they were a little larger so you could see more detail.

So I got inspired and made my own:
Details about it... yes, that's a Ferrari, from the Ferrari website. The sunglasses are Raybans from the Rayban website. That is Grauman's Chinese theater, except I reversed the picture left to right. The palm trees are from the Palm Tree Doctor's website and I had to do some editing of the image (before coloring it) to remove a giant stethescope. The nerve! And the Hollywood sign is indeed the actual Hollywood sign. I inverted the picture, blew the brightness all the way to the max and then did minor cleaning. Lastly, the star is a picture of Alfred Hitchcock's from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. If I had been more determined, I would have rotated the stars around the edge. The template was provided.

Fun fact: Sales (of CD's from the previous years) declined by 4.5 percent in the United States, 9.6 percent in Canada, 9.2 percent in Germany, 8.6 percent in Italy, 9.8 percent in Austria, 14.8 percent in Denmark and 9.4 percent in Japan. Meanwhile, sales in France and the United Kingdom were up 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
Hello all... I'm finally getting through all the headlines I've been keeping track of. Aside from that, I have nothing to report. We've been trying to eat at the table like adults instead of in front of the TV like college students. It's been kinda nice. It was seeming like the only time we ate face to face was at a restaurant. Unless we ate with friends, then we'd sit side-by-side facing them. I've nearly kicked this cold. I haven't really suffered any side-effects today, but I'm going to keep taking the antibiotics until there's none left. For some reason I'm now wondering if there's a joke involving antibionics and the bionic man but I just can't put it together well enough. So, let's get to what I thought was of interest this recently...

Tragic news... Spenser (Robert Urich) died... I remember many a day watching Spenser For Hire. Kevin got me hooked on that show in college and we'd watch it every day. At least "Emiril" got cancelled before he died so he's not remembered as Robert Urich of Emiril because that would be sad.

Here's an interesting picture... Reuters TV cameraman Ismail Khader, a Palestinian, runs for cover on April 5, moments after Israeli troops threw stun grenades at journalists outside Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's besieged headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (description from MSNBC.com)

SprintPCS sucks in New York and Seattle/Tacoma. I miss Magnolia Hi-Fi... they were a great store I went to a lot of times in Tacoma.

All together now... Awwwww.... Whoopi Goldberg is leaving Hollywood Squares. Or as I like to call her Whoopi Deedoodah. Not that I really watched the show much (can't stand Bruce Villanch, either), but occasionally there were some funny people on it that made it entertaining, like my man Brad Garrett.

Pepsi takes NFL sponsorship Away from Coke... Coke expands on NBA deal

There's a new Emmy... for interactive TV. For who's got the best complimentary new media connection to their show, or who can get people to use their computer while they watch TV... shows like CSI or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Of course, they don't get a statue, only a lame plaque. I wonder if they're allowed to create an interactive Emmy?

This is kind of cool... a company connecting Tibetians.

And new advances in surgery that will allow doctors to perform laser-based surgery from the comfort of their homes...

And supposedly the guys behind Napster are working on taking on spam. Not quite sure how it works, but apparently it's very effective.

Like MP3's? Do you have them on your network at work? You could get seriously busted like this company did. I still say that the RIAA needs to investigate its own member companies... check out the studios, I bet there's MP3's all over the place.

Apparently companies are now serving up advertising that asks you if you want to install software. I don't know why this is news, Comet Systems has been doing it for years with their stupid comet cursor.

According to this story, 3D computer and TV screens are coming closer to being a reality. Now if people could just figure out how to project into the air like R2D2 did. That would be cool.

Ok, so we've all gotten those stupid chain emails about tax on email. Well, in a way, it might just be true. Online bill presentment and bill paying is eating into the Postal Service revenues so much that they're increasing the price of stamps again.

For those following AOL, this is an interesting article on the challenges Parsons faces.

Hey fish guy! You are lame! (I hope he doesn't sue me.)

I blame aliens! Roswell cancelled again.

Monday, April 15, 2002

It's been another week since I've posted. I've been collecting news articles, but I haven't really felt like publishing them lately. I've been kind of swamped with my part-time consulting gig, mostly building this really neat new feature that I'm going to force everyone to use. It's really pretty simple, when it all comes down to it, all it really is is a calendar. The website I've been working on is for my church and they have a lot of events going on and we have lists of all that stuff, but for some reason, show that same information to people in a calendar and they just get really, really excited. Hey, if it means they're going to use the website, then I'm all for it.

Besides that, this cold has still been ravaging me. This is what I get for not having colds for years. It's finally caught up with me. I've nearly conquered it, but it's meant taking a spoonful of promethazine hcl and a amoxicillin tablet three times daily, plus downing two cupfuls of drowsy robitussin and a melatonin each night. On the plus side, I've been sleeping great and all of my symptoms are gone except for a bit of a cough and/or sore throat if I talk all that much. There are those who would say that's the upside.

The Palestinians and Israelis are still at it. Sharon is the worst thing that could have happened to Israel. The homicide bombers (as Fox News has taken to calling them) aren't a really great benefit, either, but still... if Israel were really serious about peace, they wouldn't be rolling in tanks... they'd be rolling in cement mixers and building some infrastructure. Seriously, these people who are blowing themselves up are no different than the people who join gangs... they're disillusioned, uneducated or undereducated, they lack hope and they find that hope, peace and sense of belonging in these organizations that support them, up until the time they send them off to self-destruct. If there is ever going to be a day where there isn't homicide bombers / suicide bombers, it's going to be 15 to 20 years after those that have realize that they are ultimately responsible for those that have not. I'm not going all communist share and share alike, we know that doesn't work, but until we actually care about these people, we're fighting a losing battle where there should be no battle to begin with.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and realized it was raining. It's been awhile since we've had rain. I went downstairs to sleep because I can hear the rain down there but can't hear it upstairs. It was really nice.

Our house hunting plans haven't gone very far lately... we're getting listings, but we're not yet ready to actually try to pre-qualify because we're scared that it won't be enough to buy a car, let alone a house. So, we're working to pay down our bills and praying for help. Because it's gonna take an Act of God for us to get a house. We can't do it on our own, so I'm happy to put my faith and trust in God and see where things turn up. Because it's not only the house, but also my lack of steady full-time employment that worries me from time to time.

Anyhow, I was going to do some cleaning before Lori got home and instead I've spent a lot of time redoing the look of my blog and writing instead of cleaning. So, I'm off.

Monday, April 08, 2002

Miss me?
Sorry, been swamped (and sick). Some stuff you might care about and some you might not.

From Kevin: "For the record, Julia Marie Marousek was born a little past 11am on April 2nd. She weighs apx. 9 lbs., and she didn't cry the whole time I held her."

Ameritrade buys Datek :(
This bums me out. If I had wanted an account at Ameritrade, I would have gotten an account at Ameritrade. On the other hand, they could have gotten purchased by E*Trade... the Wal*Mart of Online Brokerages.

Sprint PCS sucks in San Francisco

Microsoft trying to grow up
And a look at their recent reorg... reorg? Guess that means it's officially spring.

Sprint PCS sucks in New York

Jerry Knight is my hero
Says the AOL/Time Warner merger didn't and still doesn't make sense

Sprint PCS sucks in Columbus

Do you smell something?
This is an interesting take... you know how you get those stinky pages in magazines supposed to smell like perfume? Sci-Fi did one... but made it smell like smoke to promote Firestarter. Clever.

Sprint PCS sucks in Dallas/Fort Worth

Once and Again... Or not.

Sprint PCS sucks in Los Angeles

Uh... we meant to do that.
Ford ends Blackwood Production

Sprint PCS sucks in New York

The old new Geraldo?
Phil Donahue Is Back

I knew she made me have a headache, but Celine Dion could actually crash your computer.

Sitting on the top step of the Richmond Braves' (Atlanta's minor-league team) dugout