Monday, February 26, 2007

The Lame Show: Episode 12

Noah and I had to break our biweekly podcast schedule this time, but the post-Superbowl, pre-Oscars episode is now available. We don't actually talk about the Superbowl or the Oscars, but we do talk about some funny, lame stuff. It's actually shorter than I thought it would be, but probably one of my favorite episodes.

Thoughts on Lame Music

A Mexico Moment from Noah kicks off this episode after which Eddie relates some disturbing news from his brief time spent in the jury pool.

Steve Jobs' "Thoughts on Music" and the resulting reactions from all corners are the focus of this episode, but there's still time to question the necessity of Kidz Bop. Picks of the Week are an album to "Love" and an instructional music video by an experimental Manchester three-piece.

The truly burning questions are asked: Is the most deluded CEO from Warner Music, Macrovision or Real Networks? Are haircut videos worth uploading to YouTube? How do you say B.S. in Spanish?
Episode 12.m4a (35:53)

The Lame Show on iTunes

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What Happened to Jeffrey Sebelia?
New York Magazine

On Project Runway, he was as gifted as he was catty, clawing and shredding his way to victory. So far, his fashion career hasn't followed the script.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Viewers Fast-Forwarding Past Ads? Not Always
New York Times

It turns out that a lot of people with digital video recorders are not fast-forwarding and time-shifting as much as advertisers feared. According to new data released yesterday by the Nielsen Company, people who own digital video recorders, or DVRs, still watch, on average, two-thirds of the ads.
Roughly, that average would mean that DVR owners either watch one-third, two-thirds or three-thirds of the ads (and a small amount in the no-thirds range). I probably fall more in the one-third range, but that should still tell advertisers 'Hey, we TiVo users WILL watch your ad if it's eye-catching.'

Monday, February 19, 2007

Jury Duty

After nearly a week of 'Call back after 5 p.m. tomorrow to check your status,' I got the message to report for jury duty. While in the waiting room, I got to watch an informational video that explained how juries work and what they do. The best part was when they showed the verdict being delivered and everybody (plaintiff, defendant, lawyers, etc.) was happy.

I'm always on the lookout for great slogans and the jury waiting room had a great one on a poster. Jury Duty: Somebody Has To Do It

Top 5ive Gadgets You Shouldn't Buy

It's fun to be the first on the block to own the newest gadget. If nothing else, you get serious bragging rights. But when it comes to actually using that product, many early adopters discover that some kinks still need to be worked out.
I agree with all '5ive' picks, but "Draft N" Wireless Routers are the least expensive of the lot and will probably gain value over time, as opposed to the cheaper G routers.

Hard Knock Life (Cherry Coke Anthem)

I have to say, thank God someone is finally paying attention to Cherry Coke! Crazy fact: Coca-Cola spent only $100,000 on the brand over six years and zero dollars on it last year. That is a serious effort to get people not to drink Cherry Coke, and I'm sorry Coca-Cola, but your plan did not work on me. I guzzle the stuff by the can.
Upon tearing open a new 12-pack of Cherry Coke, I was surprised to discover the cans have a new design. I like the previous design quite well, as it was 10x better than the awful, awful (awful) "grunge-ified red-and-black American designs during the '90s." What is news, however, is that the new can's designer is Jay-Z! Surprising. Overall, I like it, which is more than I can say about most redesigns these days. More branding details are here: Cherry Coke Gets Fresh Jay-Z Remix

By Anthony Bourdain

I actually WATCH Food Network now and again, more often than not drawn in by the progressive horrors on screen. I find myself riveted by its awfulness, like watching a multi-car accident in slow motion.
I actually don't agree with him overall about the Food Network, but I'm not a cook (not sure if that says something about me or the Food Network). Mainly, he's just too funny for this guest post to be passed up. Case in point:
I would likely be arrested if I suggested on television that any children watching [Sandra Lee] should promptly go to a wooded area with a gun and harm themselves. What’s the difference between that and Sandra suggesting we fill our mouths with Ritz Crackers, jam a can of Cheez Wiz in after and press hard? None that I can see.
I would especially like to see his dream Iron Chef America match-ups become reality, especially “Mikey” from Top Chef vs. Sandra Lee.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Macworld SF 2007 recap, Part 2

On the walk over to Moscone South to pick up my badge, I passed by the blocks-long keynote line. There were quite a few media crews there trying to gather footage, so it was a little tricky to walk around without getting in the middle of somebody's shoot. Some of the crews would set up their cameras across the street, so you might just see the reporter speaking to air. They generally seek out the craziest-looking people in the line (it is a visual medium, after all) and it reminded me a little of WonderCon (which was held in the same location last year) because news crews covering that convention typically focus on the people in costume. It generally gives a vibe of "Hey, look at these geeks/freaks!" which is a little annoying considering how much money gets poured into the area due to these conventions.

There is a separate line for those with media badges and if you read my recap from 2005, you might remember that they usually put up a 'Media Enter Here' sign and then after you wait in line for an hour or so someone would come by and say 'Oh, actually, you need to go over there.' This year they skipped putting up a sign, and I was told by a door guard to go 'wait over there with the rest of them.' There was no line, per se, just a loose group of people glomming around. Most people don't like to be at the end of a line, and instead prefer to hover near the side of a line and then slowly, casually work their way into the middle. Classy.

There are always quite a few Asian journalists and this year was no exception. I was standing near a group of them and noticed the one in front of me writing out questions in advance, including one that went something like 'You've chosen Cingular as your exclusive partner. Any plans to expand to other carriers?' Hmmmm, how did he know?

The press mob was generally lined up at the door on the far right of 12 doors. Suddenly the press surged ... toward the far left doors. And after about 10 people went through, they shut the doors. Then we were all told to back up. Which didn't happen until someone said we needed to back up because we were actually going to be let in the far right doors. And another 10 people went through those doors until they shut them. And after another few minutes they decided to mix it up again and open some doors in-between, which the rest of us went through. You can see it from this picture.

We went up one escalator and then waited at the bottom of another, which is where you saw me in the photo from part 1. What you might find surprising is that the person who took that photo (Daring Fireball's John Gruber) was actually standing "behind" me in line before we were let in through the doors. We waited at the bottom of that escalator for about an hour while media VIPs (Newsweek, the New York Times, etc.) ascended. It wasn't until about 8:50 a.m. that we were allowed up and into the giant hall.

This is the first year the keynote has been held here and it probably moved here because of the larger size of the hall. It was a good choice because I'm sure less people that waited in line since the early morning were turned away. I can't imagine waiting outside in line for hours in the cold and then be told 'Sorry, not enough room!'

There were giant video screens located about halfway back, and having had some experience at Comic-Con with this type of setup, I chose to hang back right behind one of these rather than move forward 10 or so rows where I wouldn't really be close enough to get a good view of Steve Jobs on the stage.

After settling in, I got out my laptop and cell phone to get an Internet connection via T-Mobile's data service and begin relaying the keynote news to The Apple Blog via iChat. Unfortunately, I still had no signal on my phone. This seemed odd to me because plenty of other media were talking on their cell phones. But I had no solution and no way to communicate with my editor. Although folks set up wireless computer-to-computer networks in the hall, there is no Internet access available.

So I sat back and enjoyed the music playing, which was quite good: Coldplay, Beck, Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley, Sheryl Crow and James Brown. At 9:08 there was an announcement to silence all cell phones (not a problem for me...) and at 9:14 the lights went down, Steve came out and announced "We're gonna make some history together today."

I took copious notes during the keynote up until some point during the 90-minute iPhone introduction when I was just too overwhelmed by it all. I caught back up during the interminable speeches by the CEOs of Google and Yahoo.

I wrote up my full-fledged keynote recap for macCompanion ("A Keynote for the history books), and it's on page 12 of the February issue. But here's a few random things recollected from my notes that didn't make it into that:

The iPod ads that are currently un-missable on TV were premiered, which is not particularly remarkable. But Steve noted that they featured music by "an up-and-coming British pop group" (Flathead by The Fratellis) and whoever is finding these songs is doing a great job.

Someone sitting a couple of seats away from me was noting whenever Steve said "Boom!" and it happened so often I lost count.

The Bluetooth headset accessory shown for the iPhone was black. This seemed odd to me, considering that one of the defining (and to-date unchanged) characteristics of the iPod is the white color of the earbuds.

Near the end of the keynote, Steve's remote stopped working and would not advance the slides. He ended up stalling by telling a nostalgic story of when he and Woz pranked the students watching TV at Berkeley. A widely reprinted photo of Steve in a strange body position was taken during the recounting of this story.

The keynote ended at 11 a.m. and there was a standing ovation, the first of the few keynotes I've attended. John Mayer returned to perform a pair of songs and explained that because Apple made people's lives fun they are "the exact opposite of terrorism."

To Be Continued in Part 3: But when do I get to eat lunch?

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Gaming World of 2025

Glen Heimstra, the founder of, author of "Turning The Future Into Revenue" and visiting scholar at the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington predicts what video games will be like 25, 50 and 200 years from now.

Fifty years from now, the difference between real life and virtual life will probably be indistinguishable; it will be possible to be confused. And certainly that would be true 100 years from now.
Hmm, by my math, 2025 is only 18 years from now. Anyway, does anyone else remember in the early '90s when virtual reality was poised to be the next big thing? There were even kiosks in suburban malls where you could pay a couple of bucks to put on the bulky helmet and goggles and look like an idiot. Nowadays, people wear the bluetooth headsets and if you don't notice and think they're talking to you, you're the one that looks like an idiot.

Archie’s Gal Pals Sport New Looks

In a move that’s captured widespread attention, Archie Comic Publications reimagines one of its hallmark titles, and two of its most beloved characters, for a new generation in Betty & Veronica Double Digest #151.

In this historic issue, Archie and the gang get an extreme makeover by writer Melanie J. Morgan and artist Steven Butler, shedding their traditional, cartoony countenance for a new, more realistic look at teenaged life in Riverdale.

Yahoo! Photos - Hawaii - Dec. 2006

The cast of "Lost" attended the December 2006 U2 concert in Hawaii. You'll need to scroll down to IMG_2736 to see them.

I've detailed my experiences searching for a good case for my U2 iPod at The Apple Blog:

The best (and worst) case for a U2 iPod with video

If you own an iPod, you know you need to purchase and use a case in order to keep from getting it smudged and scratched. But if you own a U2 iPod, you don’t want to cover up its unique style with a case. When I purchased a 5th Generation iPod U2 Special Edition, I had a difficult time finding a case that met both of those needs, but I did end up with a great one (eventually).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Macworld SF 2007 recap, Part 1

It's been a full month since I attended the 2007 Macworld Expo in San Francisco: plenty of time for everyone else to have forgotten about it and about darn time for me to recount my experience with unnecessary detail.

Although the week of Macworld officially begins on Monday, the only activities occurring are Conference Sessions and on-site registration. The real activity begins on Tuesday, when the keynote is held in the morning, followed by the opening of the Exhibit Hall. While my media registration gives me access to the 9 a.m. keynote, preventing me from having to wait in line all night, the media registration opens at 7:30 a.m. This pretty much requires spending Monday night in San Francisco.

But the real fun began on Sunday night when I was preparing for my Monday evening drive to San Francisco; going over the information I had received regarding my registration. The registration confirmation e-mamil from mid-November noted "U.S. attendees who register on or before December 11, 2006 will be mailed their BADGE cards in mid December." and another, later e-mail noted "If you registered prior to December 11, 2006 your media badge will be mailed to you in advance." Seems pretty clear to me. So where was my media badge? I did not recall it being mailed to me, but that didn't preclude me from turning my home inside-out looking. The search was fruitless, and I desparately e-mailed IDG World Expo (Macworld's organizers) and promptly received a reply that "Everyone has to pick up their badges on site." OK, I was safe. But it was the first sign that not all the information I had been given was actually true.

Hotel space goes fast in San Francisco during Macworld so it's best to book as early as possible. I booked a hotel room for Monday night back in November after my registration had been accepted. As with a previous year, I booked a room from a block reserved for listeners of Your Mac Life, which resulted in a nice price discount. This year's Your Mac Life hotel was the Pickwick, which is only about 2-1/2 blocks from the Moscone Center. When you're going to be spending all day standing and walking, you don't want to start it off walking many blocks from a far-off hotel. The Pickwick offers complimentary high-speed Internet access, but when the entire hotel (and city) is filled with Mac geeks, shared Internet connections are brought to a crawl. When I launched iChat, my AOL Instant Messenger Buddy List drew in slow motion. I think it took a full minute to list which of my Buddies were Available. Also keeping me a little cut off was my phone, which was getting no signal. I assumed that was due to my location in an upper floor of an old hotel in the middle of a big city. It's tough just to get good radio reception in downtown San Francisco. I was planning on using my cell phone as a wireless modem for my laptop to live-blog the keynote, but this lack of signal prevented me from testing that out. So I just plugged it in to make sure I would have plenty of charge for the next day.

At 9:47 p.m. the night still felt early to me, but it was quite the opposite for others. I received a message from someone on the local network in the hotel that if I was interested I could join a group meeting at the Apple store at 4 a.m. to get in line for the keynote. Moments like that make the media registration extremely valuable and are what prompted me to desperately tear apart my home looking for the media badge.

I'm no stranger to waiting in lines. I went to Disneyland and Disneyworld in the 1980s (before FastPass would make its debut); I waited outside the Beaverton G.I. Joe's in the early morning with Noah to purchase tickets for Aerosmith's "Get A Grip" tour; I've attended WizardWorld, WonderCon and the San Diego International Comic-Con, waiting in lines for autographs or to see early film footage; and at Paramount's Great America, Megan and I waited in line for nearly 2 hours to ride "Stealth," possibly the longest line I've ever waited in (and yes, it was worth it). But I do not think I would relish sitting unsheltered in San Francisco at 5 a.m. See how much fun Google employees had doing it: Macworld keynote campout. So I was one of the lucky ones. I got lots of sleep, checked out of the Pickwick and walked a few blocks to pick up my media badge (without incident).

To Be Continued in Part 2: Welcome to the crush

Until then, play "Where's Eddie?" in this photo

Viacom moves on without YouTube

Some content creators find it galling that other companies are reaping the financial reward of their work and not sharing in that money.
That paragraph succinctly sums up my response to those who argue how stupid it is for TV companies to not put their content on YouTube or other video-sharing sites. For instance, if NBC is paying actors to create a comedy sketch and then paying technicians to produce and air it, why should Google get to make money from it when someone records it and uploads it to YouTube?

Lock Bumping

The lockpicking method demonstrated in the linked video, variously known as "lock bumping," "key bumping," and "bump keying," isn't new, but it was unknown to the general public (and even to many lockmiths) until 2005, when information about it began circulating on the Internet. Since that time, a plethora of how-to articles, videos, and even do-it-yourself bump key kits have appeared online, resulting in a spate of cautionary news coverage in early 2007.
Most of the items that are addressed on's Urban Legends site are debunked as totally false or just generally misleading, but this is one of the rare ones that isn't.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wincent Colaiuta on Gates' deposition videos

It's astonishing to see Gates, surely an individual of well above average intelligence, petulantly throw up obstacle after obstacle in the path of David Boies (the attorney asking the questions), stalling, dodging questions, offering implausible explanations, claiming not to remember anything, bickering over the meaning of common words, and the really puzzling bit: doing all this as though he actually thought it would help his case. Of course it didn't; Microsoft was found guilty of repeatedly illegally abusing its monopoly position and the judge ordered that the company be split up. It's a shame that with the change of government in 2000 Microsoft wriggled off the hook.
As with many things that are only a few years old, I mistakenly assumed everyone knew about and remembered all this. But if you don't, at least read the fun transcript.

Winning Contest Doesn't Mean Amateurs Can (Or Should) Make Ads

The shift from professionally produced to user-generated advertising makes us poorer in both economic and cultural terms. The arrival of user-created commercials at Super Bowl XLI represents the American Idolization of traditional entertainment — the degeneration of professional content into a "talent show" for amateurs.
I don't agree with everything in this article (it compares the Budweiser frogs with fine wine) but this year's crop of Super Bowl ads was one of the least impressive I can remember, and the user-created ones were really weak.

Philippe Chancel's photos of North Korea

This feature is an extraordinary event : it not only shows a country which has been hidden from us for more than half a century but reveals a regime that has « staged » its political identity in a way that never ceases to bewilder. We are about to discover a place not frozen in time, but outside of time, a place, litteraly, like no other on earth.
Photograph thumbails

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Prince's halftime imagery questioned

In the sensitive post-wardrobe malfunction world, some are questioning whether a guitar was just a guitar during Prince's Super Bowl halftime show.
Yeah, it totally looks like a crossbow! It's so obvious! Anyway, I agree with AP Entertainment Writer Douglas J. Rowe's assessment that (with the exception of U2 in 2002) it was "one of the best Super Bowl halftime shows — ever." Be sure to read this article down to some of the funnier quotes, such as "I think it was one of those things because a guitar at waist level does look like an enormous phallus."

Thoughts on Music
by Steve Jobs

Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat.
Cue the John Lennon song...

Seriously, though? Wow. This gets a standing ovation from me. Hopefully the big four music companies will take the ball and run with it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

(Most of) The Cast of NBC's The Office in Wii form

Clocks' Early Spring Forward May Bring About a Few Falls

It's one thing to arrive an hour late for church on the first day of daylight saving. It's another for a security system to log the wrong time of crucial events, for pilots to misunderstand their takeoff times or international communications components to stop synchronizing. But such scenarios are possible without the fix to vast numbers of the nation's technical systems.

Ford demands whip

The 64-year-old actor, who plays the daredevil archaeologist, was told the weapon would have to be computer generated because of new film safety rules.

The Lame Show: Episode 11

Not a Hoax

Ray returns to discuss the Nintendo Wii with Noah and Eddie and whether or not it's a fad or an impulse buy. The trio also discuss the recent release of Windows Vista, prompting a Lame List nomination regarding Bill Gates' recent Newsweek interview.

The recent Aqua Teen Hunger Force "hoax" gets a thorough airing and Nintendo gets dinged for its lack of support for its N64 virtual console titles. Picks of the week include Inkscape, Adium and the Brothers Martin album.

The truly burning questions are asked: Is Jokey Smurf a terrorist? Why are Mario Kart ghosts so hard to save in the first place? Should you promote Windows Vista using stress balls?
Episode 11: Not a Hoax (53:32)

The Lame Show on iTunes

macCompanion February 2007

The February 2007 issue of macCompanion is now available for download as a PDF. My write-up of Steve Jobs' Macworld Expo keynote is on page 12.

February2007.pdf (5.1MB)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Honesty is the solution to tomorrow's Internet video problem
I, Cringely

At the heart of this video distribution problem is the lie that ISPs tell about how much bandwidth we are really buying. While you may think your 1.5-megabit-per-second DSL service or your 3-megabit-per-second cable modem service is actually backed by 1.5 megabits or 3 megabits of Internet bandwidth, they really aren't. ISPs provision backbone access based on the expectation that people usually aren't on the Internet, and even when they are on the Internet most of their time is spent reading the screen, not actively sending or receiving packets.

Gore Film Sparks Parents' Anger

"No you will not teach or show that propagandist Al Gore video to my child, blaming our nation -- the greatest nation ever to exist on this planet -- for global warming," Hardison wrote in an e-mail to the Federal Way School Board. The 43-year-old computer consultant is an evangelical Christian who says he believes that a warming planet is "one of the signs" of Jesus Christ's imminent return for Judgment Day.
Wow, the "greatest nation to ever exist on this planet." Ever. For someone who's a Christian, he is apparently not too familiar with the sin of selfish pride, which can be described as "excessive confidence or glorification in one's self, possessions or nation." And any reader of Proverbs should know "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

Satin Tights No Longer
Joss Whedon

You (hopefully) heard it here first: I'm no longer slated to make Wonder Woman. What? But how? My chest... so tight! Okay, stay calm and I'll explain as best I can. It's pretty complicated, so bear with me. I had a take on the film that, well, nobody liked. Hey, not that complicated.

'TMNT' Preview: A Look at the Turtles in CGI

The question remains if audiences will eagerly embrace a new Turtles movie, but "TMNT" does seem to have a lot going for it. From the design of the characters, the gritty look of the animation to the frenetic and inventive action sequences, the movie seems poised to recapture the elements that made the turtles such a unique phenomenon the first time around.

Considering all the discussion there's been this week in certain cities about hoaxes, general panic and responsibility, I thought it would be nice to remind everyone of the infamous 1938 Radio Broadcast of War of the Worlds.

Sorry I Mentioned It

You should know that at the mere mention of Mario Party, be it the Eighth Version or any other entry, Gabriel begins to curse and sweat. He is philosophically opposed to what he perceives as the series' communist ideals: between the game's aggressively random nature and its deep-seated compulsion to reward mediocrity, he hardly feels like he's playing a "game" at all. Rather, he feels as though he is flipping a coin via some elaborate, unaccountable mechanism - a single coin that takes an hour to flip.
If you've ever played any of the eight versions of Mario Party, you might find the related Penny Arcade comic funny. If you've played it a lot, you'll probably find it hilarious.

Joy of Tech #119
So this is how the world ends...

Bill Gates on Vista and Apple's 'Lying' Ads

And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say? Does honesty matter in these things, or if you're really cool, that means you get to be a lying person whenever you feel like it? There's not even the slightest shred of truth to it.
Speaking of something without the slightest shred of truth to it and being a lying person, look no further than a later quote in that same interview:
Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine.
Based on his math, there should be at least 2,500 'total exploits' for the Mac since OS X was released in March 2001. And yet the Month of Apple Bugs project could only cough up 22 'bugs' (vastly different from 'total exploits') -- not even enough to fill a short month like February, much less January.

A great rebuttal from Daring Fireball's John Gruber:
Lies, Damned Lies, and Bill Gates
It’s either an angry, slanderous lie, or Bill Gates is an uninformed jackass.