Archive from August, 2005
Aug 31, 2005 - blogging    No Comments

Every Blog Has Its Day

Every blog has its day, and that it hap­pens to be today. Yep, that’s right, today is Blog­Day 2005, when blog­gers around the world are to link to 5 new blogs. Inter­est­ing con­cept, in that it gets you to “think out­side the blog” … or, at least, the blo­gos­phere you’re famil­iar with.

So, with­out fur­ther adieu, here are some new blogs I’ve stum­bled across:

  • For the science-minded, check out the Physics Blog. Every­thing from note­wor­thy news to poetry.
  • It’s a dog’s life” is more than a phrase over at the Bea­gle Chronicles.
  • Everybody’s got to have a hobby. If numis­mat­ics is yours, swing by hob­by­blog.
  • For those of you who sim­ply can­not get enough of your celebrity chefs (Gor­don Ramsay’s so cute when he’s mad, don’t you think?), there’s SuperChef Blog.
  • For you Oracle-fanciers (I’m talk­ing about the data­base, peo­ple! Sheesh), and some insight from one of Oracle’s best insid­ers, check out the Tom Kyte Blog.

So, get out there, get click­ing, and check out more blogs!
Aug 26, 2005 - blogging    No Comments

Fnord + Blogger = Fnordder? … Flogger? … Blnorder?

Taken from the Wikipedia entry:

A fnord is dis­in­for­ma­tion or irrel­e­vant infor­ma­tion intend­ing to mis­di­rect, with the impli­ca­tion of a con­spir­acy.

Just think back to some of the col­or­ful mixed metaphors attrib­uted to Ross Perot, and you’ll get the gen­eral idea.

What’s this have to do with blog­ging? I’m glad you asked:

  1. Whilst catch­ing up on the feeds in my aggre­ga­tor (I’m cur­rently using Newzie, which is def­i­nitely worth check­ing out), I came across an arti­cle on Blog­ger hacks. This led me to Stephane Hamel’s arti­cle on embed­ding a dynamic ran­dom quote with javascript.
  2. I used to have a Fnorder (code that gen­er­ated Fnords) on my old site (one of these days, I’ll get around to bring­ing the “lab” back online … maybe), writ­ten in PHP. If you’re inter­ested, you can pick up the script from Steve Jack­son Games.
  3. I grabbed a copy of the PHP … con­verted it to Javascript … voila! The quote in black (above) changes each the page is loaded … and it’s a “fnord”.

Go ahead and refresh to see for your­self. You can down­load the javascript here.

Aug 21, 2005 - entertainment    No Comments

Reality TV = Lotto with Ads

NBC had a “Fall Pre­view” show on this morn­ing.  Really noth­ing more than all the ads for their shows played back-to-back (noth­ing deeper, no “behind-the-scenes” stuff, noth­ing) with Vanessa Mar­cil and Nikki Cox (from Las Vegas) host­ing (aka “eye candy”)… in other words, the same point­less, mind­less, use­less fluff the net­works have become known for.  I see Martha’s domin­ion is back in full swing, becom­ing the next Appren­tice fran­chise (leave it to Martha to key into some­thing with the word “fran­chise” attached) … and that put me back into my ongo­ing inter­nal rant over the entire con­cept of “real­ity TV”.

Then it hit me:  real­ity TV is the next Lotto.

Our soci­ety has been pre­oc­cu­pied with the con­cept of accu­mu­lat­ing exces­sive wealth for cen­turies.  Along with that has come both the huck­sters and the “hucked” of one get-rich-quick scheme after another.  Look at some of them from the last decades:

  • Pub­lish­ers Clear­ing House
  • Amway (and all the MLM or “MLM-like” deriv­a­tives that pre­ceded and followed)
  • Day trad­ing
  • Real Estate (I’m talk­ing about the more spec­u­la­tive side)
  • Beanie Babies
  • The “dot-com” boom (more of a ka-boom, as we saw)
  • the Lot­tery (gam­bling from the com­fort of your gas station)

Some may say “Hey!  Real estate is a real invest­ment!”  To them I reply “you’re absolutely right … assum­ing you know what you’re doing and are will­ing to accept the con­se­quences (e.g. finan­cial loss) if you don’t or are wrong”.  Prob­lem is, many peo­ple don’t accept the respon­si­bil­ity of fail­ure … we just go hunt­ing for some­one to sue (another bul­let to add to the list above:  lawsuits).

My point is this:  look at the trends that have dri­ven some of the great­est crazes of our time, and they all come back to the same things:  money or fame (or get­ting famous because you won money … or get­ting more money because you’re now famous).  And we’ll do any­thing we have to to achieve that fame/money … includ­ing real­ity TV.

And the cool thing about real­ity TV is you don’t have to be what they’re look­ing for on the show, you just have to be will­ing to do any­thing for the cash.  In “Hell’s Kitchen” (Gor­don Ramsay’s entry into realTV from Fox), half of the “chef wan­abees” didn’t even work in the food busi­ness (out of the 12 there were 3 chefs, 1 baker, a culi­nary stu­dent and a server … the rest were out­side of the food indus­try).  Who won … a chef (go fig­ure) … but, hey, at least some­one who’d never worked a line in a restau­rant had a chance.  Like the lot­tery … there’s always a chance.

And the net­works will gladly cre­ate this schlock, because adver­tis­ers will pay to have it cre­ated … because we will watch it.  There’s money to be made.

I won­der what would hap­pen if some­one tried to com­bine real­ity TV with politics?

Just a thought …

What’s that about “those who forget history …”

Remem­ber the great (one could almost say ven­omous) enthu­si­asm with which the Depart­ment of Jus­tice went after Microsoft last decade?  Our gov­ern­ment was con­vinced that Microsoft was an unfair monop­oly, push­ing it’s weaker com­peti­tors (like Sun and Ora­cle … yes, there is sar­casm there) out of the mar­ket … remem­ber?  No?  Good lord, where have you been?  Really?  Hmmm … in that case, I’ve got this great con­cept for an inter­net startup and I’m solic­it­ing ven­ture cap­i­tal.  It’ll make you pos­i­tively rich, what with the inter­net boom and all.  What’s that?  Hell, yeah, the boom’s still on!

Ok, Ok … all sar­casm aside.  That was then … this is now.  That was the DOJ … this is the FCO (Fed­eral Copy­right Office) … and appar­ently, while the DOJ found Microsoft guilty, the FCO seems to think they’re they only solu­tion for inter­act­ing with their online copy­right reg­is­tra­tion process.  At least, they’re ask­ing “would y’all mind it if we required IE?”.  Appar­ently, the FCO never got the memo (or memos, when you fac­tor in all the secu­rity issues).

If I wasn’t so flab­ber­gasted (and, sadly, not sur­prised) by this, I’d blog more.  In the mean­time, check out Aunty Spam’s arti­cle on it and draw your own conclusions.

And now for a word from our sponsors …

Hav­ing worked in tech­nol­ogy for as many years as I have, insom­nia has become an “occu­pa­tional haz­ard”.  From time to time, I still find myself run­ning full tilt in the mid­dle of the night, unable to slow down or relax enough to sleep until sun­rise.  In the past, I used to rely on late-night tele­vi­sion to help me shift gears … wind down.

You know the drill:  you’re flip­ping through the chan­nels and come across a movie you’ve seen before, yet still like.  So, you hun­ker down to watch (the visual equiv­a­lent of read­ing a book, except you’re not really inter­ested in retain­ing any­thing) … and, just as you’re get­ting “into the groove”, both with the pro­gram and your cir­ca­dian rhythm …

… and it’s time for a commercial …

… actu­ally, it’s time for a crapload of com­mer­cials.  Worse yet, these are (more than likely) the same com­mer­cials you just saw dur­ing the last break, which was only 5–10 min­utes ago.  Maybe the first or sec­ond time, you tol­er­ate it … but then, you get pissed … really pissed.  How many peo­ple are going to remem­ber in the morn­ing that they should go out and check out the local auto deal­er­ship, because they saw some local shmuck’s face a hun­dred times in a 2-hour span the night before?  Heck, even the infomer­cials these days suck.  I remem­ber the “good old days” of infomer­cials … the dude with the whacky sweaters and amaz­ing dis­cov­er­ies … like spray-can hair (yes, spray-can hair, not hair­spray) … those were good com­mer­cials.  The sad thing is, it doesn’t put me to sleep, it just pisses me off … here’s an exam­ple of what our soci­ety has become:  they won’t air some­thing some­one hasn’t paid for, mean­ing that some com­pany has actu­ally paid to have their prod­uct power-plastered into the minds of insom­ni­acs.  I just bugs me … but it doesn’t stop with TV

… it’s now begun to spread into pod­cast­ing (yes, this goes back to my rant the other night about mon­e­ti­za­tion).  With Apple’s lat­est iTunes release, more peo­ple are able to eas­ily (well, that’s a rel­a­tive thing … depends on who you ask) sub­scribe to pod­casts … mean­ing more peo­ple are pod­cast­ing.  Let me rephrase that:  more enti­ties are pod­cast­ing … peo­ple, cou­ples, orga­ni­za­tions … cor­po­ra­tions … and radio sta­tions.  Yep, we’ve got radio sta­tions repack­ag­ing their pro­grams and mak­ing them avail­able as pod­casts … and in many cases com­mer­cials included.

Food is one of my pas­sions, so I tend to watch “food things”:  web­sites, blogs, pod­casts, etc.  I can han­dle (to a point) the ads that web­sites splat­ter across their pages to help off­set cost … but I just fin­ished lis­ten­ing to sev­eral pod­casts of food pro­grams that I thought would be inter­est­ing … but were really no dif­fer­ent than what’s avail­able on-air:  seg­ments of con­tent lim­ited in scope because they have to play so many ads within a given period of time.  And, we’re talk­ing ads that mean absolutely noth­ing to me:  stores adver­tis­ing prod­ucts or events in cities I don’t live in or near, other radio pro­grams on sta­tions I can’t lis­ten to, you name it.

Why?  Because a large chunk of those explod­ing onto the pod­cast­ing scene have no clue what pod­cast­ing really is … to them, it’s merely another way of dis­trib­ut­ing con­tent, gain­ing “ears” so they can sell more ads.

Ads aren’t con­tent.  Con­tent is con­tent.  Some­how, we need to remem­ber that.

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