July 2009 Archives

Tron: Legacy Trailer

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YouTube: Tron : Legacy - Official Comic Con Teaser Trailer [HD]

Now, Tron's a movie that's been begging to be remade.  This looks like it has a change to be pretty spectacular.
From AppleInsider.com: Steve Ballmer calls Apple's Mac growth a "rounding error"

"Share versus Apple, you know, we think we may have ticked up a little tick," Ballmer said at the 2009 Financial Analyst Meeting, "but when you get right down to it, it's a rounding error. Apple's share change, plus or minus from ours, they took a little share a couple quarters, we took share back a couple quarters."
A "rounding error"?

"At least when Apple attacks us, the primary attack that comes from Apple is, 'Hey, at the end of the day, we have the coolest hardware,'" he said. "When you see the hardware, the PC designs that will come out this Christmas with Windows 7, I think that conventional wisdom can begin to really change. There is some really amazing, amazing work. So it is possible to get great hardware innovation, even when hardware and software comes from separate companies."
It's funny that Steve Ballmer still doesn't get it.  It's not just hardware that's the problem.  It's Windows and the integration with hardware.  Apple's "coolness" comes from good software and hardware design and a strong design aesthetic.  Apple products are designed to be simpler and to work better.  Better design through hardware and software.  When Apple wanted to release a phone, it designed a touch screen and the interface to go with it.  Owning the hardware and software means tighter integration and experience.

Got my Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Blu-ray box set from Amazon today.  Here are my unboxing photos. BSGBlu1.pngThe box top slides up to for access to the boxes for each season.
BSGBlu2.pngThe boxes are simple cardboard boxes with a flap held closed with velcro.  The discs slide in between cardboard dividers.  Seems a little cheap to me.  I would rather have traditional DVD cases where the disc can be held in place.  I'm a little afraid that the discs might get scratched sliding them in and out.
BSGBlu3.pngOn the top of the box there's a poseable Cylon Centurian.  BSGBlu4.pngIt's a cool looking box, but the packaging is kind of bulky and not really too practical for storing discs.  I'll probably end up putting the Season boxes in my A/V cabinet and the big box in storage.

Started watching part of the first season last night.  The quality of the on screen menus are a huge improvement over the DVD's.  The picture quality is sharper that the DVD but BSG was shot with a film-like style with grain keeps it from looking like the sharpest Blu-ray movies.  Bright scenes like on Cloud Nine in "Colonial Day" are crystal clear with lots of detail.  The deleted scenes are still in standard definition.
From ESPN.com: Belichick praises Vick's athleticism

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick isn't saying whether his team is interested in Michael Vick.

After the Patriots' first practice of training camp Thursday, Belichick was asked his thoughts about Vick's possible return to the NFL. He praised Vick's athleticism but left it at that. Vick said Thursday that he's getting close to signing with a team.
If New England signs Michael Vick, the media will gush about how it's a great signing and a brilliant move.  If the Bengals signed him, people would be rolling their eyes saying "There they go again."
From electronista.com: Microsoft stores open first in Apple-heavy cities

Microsoft's first retail stores will launch in two cities where Apple already has a major presence, the company confirmed today. The Windows developer has signed leases both in Mission Viejo, California as well as Scottsdale, Arizona and will be surrounded by Apple retail shops. The California store will be the only one to open in the same mall as its rival, launching in The Shops at Mission Viejo, but all of them will have five Apple stores within driving distance.
It plans to primarily sell notebook PCs, software from itself as well as others, and its own Xbox 360 and Zune hardware. Stocks reiterated that the stores are primarily showcases to highlight the brand, but unlike past executives stated that its retail shops are expected to be profitable rather than just experiments to pass on information to others.
Although it has said its stores would innovate, the leak alluded to a Guru Bar that would copy Apple's Genius bar as well as similar workshops and open store layouts.
Apple Stores are extremely popular because it's pretty much the only place to get Apple stuff.  There is no way the Microsoft stores will generate the kind of revenue that Apple Stores do, selling Zune's and Xbox 360's and laptops.  I hope they build one in Cincinnati so I can bring in my parents' virus infested laptop to the "Guru Bar".

San Diego Streetcar/Trolley photos

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I'm in San Diego for the weekend and ran across the streetcar system.  Here they call it the Trolley and it's been running since 1981.  Of course it's 2009 for Cincinnati and we're still fighting those who don't understand the value of mass transportation.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
From ESPN.com: Source: Lance's team lands sponsor

Radio Shack will be the primary sponsor for Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel's new cycling team, an industry source told ESPN.com's Bonnie D. Ford on Thursday.
I was thinking it would be Nike.  What value is there for Radio Shack to sponsor Lance Armstrong?  Sponsorship seems to be one of the least effective forms of marketing.  How will being associated with Lance Armstrong help the Radio Shack brand?

I have actually been watching quite a bit of the Tour de France via live streaming on versus.com.  The athleticism and strategy of the riders is something to behold.  I think that cycling should be more popular than it is.

Team Radio Shack website

RadioShack press release

UPDATE: It seems as if RadioShack is one word instead of two.  Though media outlets seem to be using both one and two words.
If you're a Battlestar Galactica fan and in San Diego for Comic-Con, make sure you head to the House of Blues for three concerts by Bear McCreary, composer of the music to Battlestar Galactica.

I'm a huge fan of Bear's music and have been looking forward to these concert for weeks.  According to Bear McCreary's blog, it'll be over 3 hours of music with special guest appearances from BSG actors.  I hope to have some pictures from Saturday night's concert.

Concert information at Battlestar Galactica Orchestra.
From Fake Steve Jobs: I'm really thinking maybe I shouldn't have yelled at that Chinese guy so much

We all know that there's no fucking way in the world we should have microwave ovens and refrigerators and TV sets and everything else at the prices we're paying for them. There's no way we get all this stuff and everything is done fair and square and everyone gets treated right. No way. And don't be confused -- what we're talking about here is our way of life. Our standard of living. You want to "fix things in China," well, it's gonna cost you. Because everything you own, it's all done on the backs of millions of poor people whose lives are so awful you can't even begin to imagine them, people who will do anything to get a life that is a tiny bit better than the shitty one they were born into, people who get exploited and treated like shit and, in the worst of all cases, pay with their lives.
When I first read the post, I thought it was probably a little tasteless for Fake Steve Jobs to be commenting on the suicide of a worker at one of Apple's contract manufacturers in China, but his take is absolutely spot on.

From CNN.com: Senate rejects additional F-22 funding

The Senate voted Tuesday to block expansion of one of the country's most controversial and expensive defense programs, the F-22 fighter jet program.
With the F-22 being manufactured in or getting supplies from 44 different states, the plane gets broad support from congressmen and senators on both sides of the aisle.
That's the problem with defense programs.  Once started, they are almost impossible to kill. 

Senators on both sides of the aisle fought to keep the F-22 in production to protect jobs in their states even though the Pentagon wants to halt the program.

For changes to happen, Senators must not just serve their State, but to serve the best interests of the United States on whole.
The Phony Coney: Cincinnati second-largest American city with no rail transit

Only Detroit is larger and look where Detroit is.  But even they have one in the planning stages.

Perhaps a campaign of shame might get the public to reconsider light rail and street cars. 

I was reading the article Charging for Access to News Sites at DaringFireball.net and thought it applied to the Cincinnati Enquirer pretty well.

Old-school news companies aren't like that -- the editorial staff makes up only a fraction of the total head count at major newspaper and magazine companies. The question these companies should be asking is, "How do we keep reporting and publishing good content?" Instead, though, they're asking "How do we keep making enough money to support our existing management and advertising divisions?" It's dinosaurs and mammals.

And it's not really surprising that they're failing to evolve. The decision-makers -- the executives sitting atop large non-editorial management bureaucracies -- are exactly the people who need to go if newspapers are going to remain profitable.

DailyMail: Massive German motorway pile-up involving 259 cars leaves 60 injured

And I thought Cincinnati drivers are bad in the rain.
NYTimes.com: Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others

This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for--thought they owned.

The MobileReference edition of the novel, "Nineteen Eighty-four," by George Orwell that was deleted from Kindle e-book readers by Amazon.com.
But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people's Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.
This is pretty shocking.  I know Amazon refunded the money, but the fact that it removed the book from the Kindle is wrong.  Stuff disappears from iTunes all the time, but never from your iPod or iPhone after you've purchased it.

The funny thing is that I've been looking to re-read George Orwell's 1984, especially with all the issues with privacy, control of flow of information, etc.  I guess hard copy is the way to go.

Photo: Details Magazine Obama Headline

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I'm not much of an ebook reader, but since Chris Anderson's latest book "Free" is free for a limited time on Amazon for Kindle, I decided to give it a try.

I don't have or desire to have a Kindle, but Amazon's free Kindle for iPhone App (iTunes Direct Link)  works fine.  It's simple, download the Kindle App, sign in with your Amazon account and then search for "Chris Anderson Free".  Click to download and you're all set.
Here's what a sample page looks like on the iPhone screen.
ESPN.com: China boycotts ceremony in Taiwan

The 100-strong Chinese delegation boycotted the opening ceremony of the World Games in Taiwan on Thursday, underscoring the limits of the historic breakthrough in relations between Taipei and Beijing.
"Ma has been telling Taiwanese that Beijing accepts his claim that Taiwan and China can agree to differ on whether the two sides belong to the same country, but the Chinese delegation's no-show has contradicted that," said Lo, who generally supports the pro-independence opposition. "This will lead people to question the legitimacy of Ma's statements."

But fellow political scientist George Tsai of Taipei's Chinese Culture University -- usually a supporter of the government -- said that China had shown goodwill by allowing Ma to preside over the opening ceremony.

"Beijing could demand the World Games follow Olympic rules and forbid Ma to attend, but it didn't," Tsai said. "This shows Beijing has made concessions."
That's so "generous" of Beijing not to press the World Games to ban the President of Taiwan from attending when it's being held in his own country.  It certainly calls into question President Ma's strategy of being friends with China if China can't even attend the opening ceremony of the World Games.

Taiwan is a de facto independent nation since World War II ended Japanese rule. 
From Fortune.com: New iPhone no threat to the Flip camcorder

The iPhone can do almost everything the Flip can, and in some cases, even more. In spite of this, tech and camcorder industry analysts don't believe it's a threat. Ironically, they say that many consumers are attracted to the Flip precisely because it lacks the iPhone's panoply of functions and add-ons.
Despite the seeming trend of convergence toward a single multipurpose device, analysts claim many consumers still prefer electronics dedicated to one task. "The notion of the hybrid cannibal device always pops up," says Chris Chute of research firm IDC. "The consumer doesn't say to themselves, 'I'm going to buy one device that does everything okay.'"
The iPhone is a stealth threat to all single function devices.  You might not buy the iPhone thinking it'll replace all these devices, but when you use it you realize that it's good enough for all these uses and you have it with you all the time.

I have a Canon PowerShot SD780IS that I really like because of its small size, but unless it's dark and I need a flash, I can get pictures that are pretty good with the iPhone camera.

And now that the iPhone has video and it's already in my pocket all the time, I have no need for a Flip camcorder.  So, how is the iPhone not a threat to the Flip?

From Boston.com: Remembering Apollo 11

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From Boston.com: Remembering Apollo 11 via Daringfireball.net

Spectacular photos commemorating the 40 years since the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969.  This is a must see.
From MacNN.com: Microsoft retail shops to open near Apple's

Microsoft's planned retail stores will deliberately open near Apple stores, the company's COO Kevin Turner said in a presentation today at the Windows Partner Conference. The executive was emphatic that the stores wouldn't imitate Apple retail, at least in the long term, but that they would "innovate." Specifics of how this would work weren't mentioned in the session.
"Innovate" for Microsoft means do what Apple does.

The problem is the needs of Apple are different than the needs of Microsoft.  Apple needed the retail stores because of the lack of retailers carrying Apple products and the ones who did often had pretty poor displays of Apple product.

Apple started with the "store within a store" concept at the now defunct CompUSA.  When they first started, Apple actually asked for volunteers to sign up to help answer Apple related questions because the CompUSA workers were clueless about Macs.  I actually worked one Saturday and received an Apple "Think Different" polo to wear while working there.  During the day, I made quite a few sales and had to grab CompUSA employees to checkout.

What does Microsoft need the stores for?  Windows is on nearly every PC shown.  The Xbox360 is pretty popular and sold everywhere.  The Zune?  Well, it exists.

The problem for Microsoft is that they really have nothing compelling to show.  Having Windows on your PC is not a feature, it's a necessary evil.

From ESPN.com: Judge orders jury trial in Stringer suit

A federal judge in Ohio concluded that manufacturer Riddell Inc. had a duty to warn Stringer that its helmets and shoulder pads could contribute to heat stroke when used in hot conditions.
Holschuh wrote it was "reasonably foreseeable ... that a user of [Riddell's] helmets and shoulder pads during extremely hot and humid conditions might suffer from a heat stroke." Thus, Holschuh concluded, Riddell "owed Stringer a duty to warn."
If it is reasonably foreseeable, then doesn't that fall under "common sense"? 

Wonderworks- upside down building

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Saw this building Wonderworks in Pigeon Forge, TN.  Not content to have just an upside down building, they're building a replica of the Titanic next door.

Advertising Age: Inside Seth Godin's Blogging Philosophy

One reason I encourage people to blog is that the act of doing it stretches your available vocabulary and hones a new voice. You won't get it for a while, but you'll get it. To one person who wrote in and said he didn't think he had anything interesting to say, I asked him whether he was boring in person too? Boring at breakfast? Boring on a date? That boring?! Probably not.
An interesting interview of Seth Godin.  But, I tend to find anything that Seth Godin has to say interesting.  Thanks to Chris for sending me the link.
swan_14.jpgWhat to do with the leftover flap from the Netflix mailing envelope.


Folded Paper Origami Swans

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Saw this in a Chinese restaurant over the weekend.  Why make something so beautiful and stick a cheap roll around eye on it?

Make one for yourself: Make a 471 piece origami swan
From Cincinnati.com: A letter from the Publisher

The Cincinnati Enquirer has been around for 168 years - making it one of the oldest local institutions in Greater Cincinnati - and has survived 19 economic downturns, including the Great Depression. As the local economy recovers, we'll be around to cover this story too.

Naysayers have predicted our demise many times over those years, but today The Enquirer reaches 64 percent of local adults every week, or 803,800. Enquirer Media does not have an audience problem. Nearly two-thirds of the market will read our newspaper this week. It's the economy.
This is a nice piece of denial.  Hopefully, this is just their public face, that internally they truly realize the predicament they're in.  Because blaming the economy and not recognizing the change in the way that the world gets its news is a bit delusional. 

The Enquirer says it reaches 803,800 people a week. But how many of them actually subscribe to the paper?  When was the last time you bought a paper?  If I had a bird or some kind of animal, I might by the paper, but otherwise I'd just read it online because by the time a newspaper is printed, it's literally yesterday's news. 

Obviously, there are no easy fixes as newspapers across the country are all dealing with the drop in paid subscribers and ad supported media.  It's clear that readers of print media are decreasing and the advertising from the internet is not making up the difference.

Layoffs help the bottom line in the short term but doesn't address the issues facing the paper and may cripple the paper as it tries to find relevance in the internet age.

So, what's the Enquirer going to be?  Is it going to be a cobbled together collection of newswire stories?  The Cincinnati Enquirer should really be the preeminent source for Cincinnati news.  They should cover local issues exhaustively.  But, often when I want to find out what's really going on in Cincinnati I often turn to various blogs for news and discussion.  For example, I'm interested in the re-development of Cincinnati and a site like Building Cincinnati has much more extensive information on the goings on in the city than the Enquirer.

Is it too late for the Enquirer?  Maybe. But, I still think there is an important place for traditional media.  The Enquirer still has access that bloggers can only dream about.  With professional reporters, writers, and editors the Enquirer can cover stories full time that most bloggers can not.  But who's going to pay for the quality of professional reporting?  If ads aren't enough to sustain the business what are the newspapers going to do?

If the Enquirer is going to make it, I believe that they need to focus on the quality of local reporting. Obsessively cover the important issues and find the unique stories in the city.  Unique and quality content is the key to good readership.  At least then the Enquirer might have a chance.
Google Adwords can be a little annoying at times.  As, most of you know, I'm no fan of S*rah P*lin and blogged about her twice since she was in the news.  And now I get the S*rahPac ad from Adwords being served on the site which kind of makes me look like a supporter.

I'm tired of seeing her face, but the bad thing is that I don't think I'll be able to get rid of it until I post enough times to drive it off the page.  Which is what I'm attempting to do now...

Without any success so far.
From Trekmovie.com: Mythbusters To Test Star Trek's Gorn Cannon

Picture from Grant Imahara's Twitpics

Ah, Mythbusters and Star Trek two of my favorite shows together at last.  Can't wait to watch this episode.  Grant twittered that he'll be wearing an original Star Trek science officer's uniform.

CardStarscreenshot.pngEvery day it seems like there's a new iPhone application that makes life a little easier. 
Cardstar is one of those.  It lets you get rid of your plastic loyalty cards that's taking space in your wallet or hanging on your key chain. 

Cardstar simply stores and recreates your loyalty cards in your iPhone.  All you have to do is to choose your merchant from a list and enter your id number.  Cardstar generates the barcode that you use when checking out.  Currently there are over 190 companies listed in 7 different categories.

If your store isn't listed, Cardstar gives you the option of generating different barcodes based on common barcode generating methods.  My gym isn't one of the businesses listed, but I was able to recreate the barcode by trying different generation methods until I got one that visually matched what is printed on my card.

Here are some tips from the Cardstar FAQ on how best to use Cardstar:

Are there any tips for insuring a successful scan?
1) Make sure the screen is free of dust and fingerprints. The screen MUST be clean in order to scan properly.
2) Keep the screen just shy of perpendicular to the scanner and hold the barcode image steady (don't wave around).
3) Hold the screen approximately 5-7 inches from the scanning device.
4) Keep the screen in a vertical (portrait) orientation. Only use horizontal (landscape) orientation when the barcode is too wide to display otherwise.

UPDATE 7/13/09
Had trouble using Cardstar at the Cincinnati Public Library.  The barcode scanner at the library is tilted at an angle to make it easier to scan the barcode on books.  If you tilt the iPhone at the proper angle to be scanned, the barcode flips its orientation from vertical to horizontal making it unscanable.

I wrote an email to the developers suggesting a way of locking the direction and they said they'd think about it for the next version.
From NYTimes.com: What Does Your Credit-Card Company Know About You?

Put another way, credit-card companies are becoming much more interested in understanding their customers' lives and psyches, because, the theory goes, knowing what makes cardholders tick will help firms determine who is a good bet and who should be shown the door as quickly as possible.
This is an interesting article from May that I somehow missed.  Credit card companies are using your purchases to create a profile on you to determine your credit worthiness by comparing your profile to others.

Related links
Marketplace.publicradio.org : 10 purchases not to put on credit cards
Marketplace.publicradio.org: Credit card companies are watching you
Voxpublica.org: Shop at Walmart? Lower your credit limit.
From MacNN.com: iPhone 3.0 causing unusually rapid battery drain?

I don't know if it's iPhone OS 3.0 causing battery drain, but I do know that GPS and 3G can really use up your battery pretty quickly.  I find that I have to charge my iPhone 3GS more often than my original iPhone, but that may be due to the fact that I'm using my iPhone 3GS a lot more often for things my original iPhone couldn't do as well or at all.  3G makes surfing usable- a lot better than surfing with EDGE.  Using EDGE for anything more than checking email is painful.

If you're using GPS a lot, you'll definitely need a car charger.  Heavy use of the GPS caused my phone to run down within a few hours.  The car charger that I use is the Griffin PowerJolt Redesign Home/Car Charger for iPod and iPhone which works for the iPhone 3GS.

From NYTimes.com: Google Plans a PC Operating System

The software, called the Google Chrome Operating System, is initially intended for use in the tiny, low-cost portable computers known as netbooks, which have been selling quickly even as demand for other PCs has plummeted. Google said it believed the software would also be able to power full-size PCs.
Google has already developed an open-source operating system called Android that is used in mobile phones. The software is also being built into netbooks by several manufacturers.

But Google has not encouraged netbook makers to use Android. The company appears to be positioning Chrome OS as its preferred operating system for netbooks, though it said competition between the two systems would likely drive innovation.
It seems strange to me that Google is developing two different operating systems for devices that fill pretty much the same space, mobile devices.  If Apple decides to compete against netbooks with a larger touch tablet there's little doubt that they'd be using the iPhone OS.

Overall, I think that Google feels the need to dabble in a lot of things, but outside of search, things have not always taken off.
From CNN.com: Palin: 'I am not a quitter; I am a fighter'

"I am not a quitter. I am a fighter," Palin told CNN on Monday while on a family fishing trip, on the heels of her Friday bombshell announcement that she was resigning as Alaska's governor.
The definition for resign:

To give up one's job or office; quit, especially by formal notification


1. Think of the object used to play with (eg. tennis ball, football) as something that really bugs you, that you really want to hit 

2. Tense yourself, and look for some form of anger. Direct it towards the object. you should feel an adrenalin burst 

3. When the object comes to you, unleash that anger towards that object 

4. More often than not you will hit it, and hit it well.

Seriously, this is advise for improving your reflexes in sport?  I can't believe that it took 4 people to collaborate on this garbage.

Plus, Yoda would say that this technique leads to the dark side- "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to angerAnger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." 

Gummi Army Guys

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Readers of my blog are familiar with my fascination of all things gummi.  Well here's something new.  Gummi Army Guys.
GummiArmyGuys.jpgIt's nice to know from the packaging that they're fruit flavored, otherwise I'd be thinking napalm.

You can buy some here.

If you're looking to reenact D-Day and need lots of Gummi Army Guys, they sell on Amazon a pack of 2 five pound bags:
Albanese Army Guys, Red-Green, 5-Pound Bags (Pack of 2)
I think this is just a case of her cashing in on her celebrity. And I don't blame her for doing it. Governing during a recession is difficult. Lots of tough decisions to make and little upside. I think that by leaving now, she'll be able to accept speaking fees from her base and perhaps parlay this into a radio hosting gig.
From CNN.com: Ocean trash problem 'far from being solved,' U.N. says

Scientists have been watching trash pile up in the world's oceans for about a half-century, when plastics came into widespread use. Since plastics don't biodegrade, or do so very slowly, the trash tends to remain in the ocean, where circling currents collect the material in several marine "garbage patches.

One of these trashy areas is said to be roughly the size of Texas. The water in these at-sea landfills is thick like a plastic soup, oceanographers told CNN.
Plastics and cigarette butts are the most common types of ocean litter, with plastic making up about 80 percent of the ocean trash collected in some areas of the world, a U.N. news release says.
This makes me sick to think of this.

Wired.com: Photograph Fireworks

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From Wired.com: Photograph Fireworks

Some tips for photographing fireworks.  Even includes tips for the iPhone!
Cool picture of the F-22 Raptor breaking the sound barrier.

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