And even more Macintosh parodies

August 25, 2007

I think my fascination with these homegrown parodies of Apple’s Macintosh ads has to do less with the fact that I work for the "other" company and more to do with the fact that none of these parodies are in any way generated or encouraged by Microsoft.  I mean think about it:  The public have taken the time to completely produce these parodies & digs on their own.

See, the irritating feeling that we vendors have is that there’s a company out there that’s persistently & publicly pissing on their competition – a tactic that most professional companies view as low brow.  While everyone mutters things behind closed doors, bashing your competition in public is essentially negative campaigning and there’s an unsaid agreement between vendors that you just don’t engage in these tactics because it creates he-said-she-said fingerpointing between vendors that ultimately hurts and frustrates customers and distracts from their real needs.

Take for instance their stab at Windows Vista’s User Account Controls.  Y’know, the whole "Allow or Deny" ad where PC guy is asked insistently whether to allow or deny an action.  They make a big deal about this except their naturally fail to mention that:

  • This doesn’t happen if you’re running signed, authorized software
  • This clearly informs users of what level of rights/ability the application requires before proceeding to do it… like, I don’t know, FORMATTING YOUR HARD DRIVE
  • Windows Vista is the only consumer operating system to provide this facility in an insecure world

While slamming your competition might be what you’d expect, what’s annoying is that it’s similar to the run-and-gun guerilla tactics that you see terrorists take to get people’s attention.  Blow up building, distract people from the real issues, and defocus on your own inadequacies.  (This also sounds like a certain prominent politician’s tactics around addressing a domestic agenda, but I digress.)

From an inexperienced computer user’s viewpoint, the fear, uncertainty, and doubt generated by these ads act as a deceptive "shiny object" that defocuses their attention from their personal computing goals. "PCs have to add on cameras.  Macs have them built in.  PCs have user access controls.  Macs have no such ‘annoying’ protection."  From a experienced computing customer’s perspective, it’s usually a sign that a vendor is desperate – after all, if no one’s talking about you,

But it’s admittedly effective.  People pay attention. 

What’s been entertaining about all of this however is that so many people have watched these ads over and over again that it’s generated a backlash.  So much so that there’s an entire COUNTER CULTURE around Apple’s ads.  Just take a look at the oodles of 3rd party Macintosh ad parodies.  And I haven’t even listed HALF of them:

There’s also the "historically interesting" videos that have been sprouting:

And then there’s the "avant garde" videos:


COOL: The lowest power light bulb ever!

August 25, 2007

dragon fish bulbImagine having a light bulb similar in size to a normal 60W light bulb, except:

  • It lasted 13 years of continuous usage
  • It used only 15 watts of power
  • It delivered the full spectrum of light, unlike most fluorescent bulbs.

Introducing the LED light – "The Dragonfish":
http://www.theledlight.com/dragon-fish.html

Here are some comparisons to fluorescent and incandescent bulbs:
http://www.theledlight.com/3dragon-fish-images.html

There’s only one litttttttle tiny problem:  The bulb isn’t available yet and it costs around $120.


The Story of Pablo, the Katrina rescue dog – and his court case

August 25, 2007

Check this out:

  1. A dog, Pablo, is forcibly left behind in Katrina.
  2. He is found by a rescue organization called Best Friends and handed over to an Arizona shelter to care & feeding.  The Arizona shelter, stupidly, has the dog adopted by a couple even though there is a clear 6 month moratorium on adoptions of dogs found from Katrina because of the possibility of their family searching for them.
  3. Sure enough, a woman from Louisiana who was displaced and lost Pablo returns two months later after searching for Pablo and eventually finding him through Best Friends.
  4. The couple that adopts Pablo moved to San Diego and refuses to give up Pablo claiming the woman ‘has the wrong dog’ and that Pablo ISN’T ‘Pablo’ despite marking identification, the fact that Pablo responds to the name Pablo, and other identifying evidence.

    Then this couple does the unthinkable and communicates through a 3rd party that, despite their claims that Pablo isn’t the woman’s dog, that they’ll give up the dog for $10,000.

    Yes, you read that right:  These low lifes held a dog hostage from a victim of Hurricane Katrina.

  5. Woman takes the couple to court for 4 months.  Animal enthusiasts the world over funnel their unmitigated loathing for this couple.
  6. Katrina Dog Goes to Court
    http://news.bestfriends.org/index.cfm?page=news&mode=entry&entry=38BDE5E7-BDB9-396E-952F1C5C011E9633

  7. The judge rules in favor of the woman.
  8. http://news.bestfriends.org/index.cfm?page=news&mode=entry&entry=4DD95C67-BDB9-396E-9F6C0F2507BA3059

  9. Woman tells her account of leaving her life behind but fighting to get back Pablo.
  10. Pablo’s Verdict: Firsthand Account
    http://news.bestfriends.org/index.cfm?page=news&mode=entry&entry=58EEA557-BDB9-396E-9CB3A2ABD32B0A17

  11. Pablo returns home.
  12. Pablo Goes Home
    http://news.bestfriends.org/index.cfm?page=news&mode=entry&entry=5D188D78-BDB9-396E-93AA90A54E6FAF52

What I found most interesting was the anger that clearly seeped through Best Friends reporting on this issue.  Best Friends is notoriously positive and clear-in-spirit when it comes to talking about animal matters… however in this case, it sounds to me that for the first time that I’d read, the reporting was VERY CLEARLY ANGRY about the matter.  Heck – it sounded like the folks from Best Friends were looking for some old west justice in the whole matter, from the screw up in Arizona, to the selfish, heartless idiots in San Diego.

I think that’s probably why there was so much reporting done on their end.  It was probably cathartic.

One things sticks in my mind: 
There’s a very special place in hell reserved for this money grubbing San Diegan couple.


Dog Talk… a podcast for folks that like dogs.

August 25, 2007

I know what you’re thinking… and you’re probably right.  Maybe I like dogs a little more than I should.  But I don’t care.  I’m sure it has something to do with having gone to 6 different schools from K-12  and finding solace in talking to the family pet while growing up, (in case anyone’s wondering why I became a touch typist at the age of 11, it may have something to do with the arrival of an IBM PC in our home with 64k of memory) but those are the things that make us who we are, aren’t they?

Anyway, I digress.

image I found this really cool podcast for dogs the other day.  It’s actually an NPR radio show of sort, and while I’m not exactly a fan of NPR, this is one of those rare exceptions.  The radio show broadcasts from WLIU 88.3FM in Long Island and Connecticut and features a woman named Tracie Hotchner who wrote a book called "The Dog Bible:  Everything your dog wants you to know"

For example:  In a recent broadcast, she talked about tear stains on a dog’s eyes.  She goes over what causes it and what remedies exist for it… and which ones to avoid – and that part was particularly interesting because it technically opens her up to litigation being that she’s making accusations about what makes a product bad or good or even dangerous as she sort of insinuates.

Even more interesting is that it would appear that outside of the folks she invites on the show, she herself is not a veterinarian or "dog trained".  She’s an investigative journalist with a long history with dogs but not necessarily a specific expert on dogs or dog behavior.  It would appear she gets her information from experts and he own research before she broadcasts.  In any case, she certainly makes an interesting podcast. 

The web site is here:
http://www.dogtalktheradioshow.com/show.htm

Annnnnd here’s the podcast link:  If you’ve never used a podcast receiver before, basically all you do is load up Juice for Windows (), and add the URL below into your Subscriptions list (on the "subscriptions" tab of the program) and it will automatically reach out and give you a catalog of all the previous podcasts and allow you to automatically download any new podcasts whenever they’re available by checking every 4 hours.  And if you have a Media Player of sorts like a Rio Carbon or a Zune you can use either Windows Media Player’s sync capability to automatically sync the content to your player, or if it’s a Zune, you can use that client to do so as well.  (Or do whatever the analogous action is with the iPod software if you own one of those)

FEED:  http://feeds.feedburner.com/DogTalkRadio


August Discounts for Las Vegas

August 23, 2007

I stole some of the discounts available from PS Love’s blogsite and added some markup of my own.  God bless ya, Pam.

All RSS Feeds for MGM Mirage locations are available here:
http://www.mgmmirage.com/feeds/rss.aspx


Isn’t BluRay superior technology with it’s 50GB capacity? OH HELL NO.

August 21, 2007

So a good friend of mine, who likes to goad me on to start ranting asked a question similar to this:

Just because a technology is ‘superior’ doesn’t mean it’ll win.  Just look at BetaMax. Why is HD DVD any different?

Well, define ‘superior’.   Back in the days of BetaMax versus VHS, ‘superior’ meant better picture, higher density tapes, smaller packaging.  And it failed.  Why?  Because BetaMax tapes were more expensive as were the players and while they stored much higher quality video, they didn’t provide the ability to trade that fidelity for length of recording.  VHS did and was cheaper… and that was history.

When it comes to HD video, my definition of superiority is one in which the players and the discs are cheap.  My definition is one in which consumers like me get the option of Managed Copy.  My definition is one in which the Interactive experience of the disc is SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT from what I get from standard definition.

And that last one is hugely important:  People bitch about how "HD" doesn’t look that much different from today’s standard definition DVD’s, and that’s because they aren’t looking at the menuing, the extra features, the Internet-connected interactivity, and the additional capabilities that the new format provides.

Get it?  IT’S NOT ABOUT STORAGE OR THE MEDIA CAPACITY.  BluRayheads want you to believe that the BluRay’s purported 50GB/disc is relevant compared to HD DVD’s 30GB/disc, and it’s just not. 

  • If it were, wouldn’t BluRay discs look better than HD DVD discs?  But they don’t.  Just check http://www.highdefdigest.com.  These folks are experts and they’ll tell you, "Meh – there’s no difference".
  • If it were, you’d expect the extras on BluRay discs to be so much more bountiful and richer.  But they’re not – to the contrary, HD DVD extra content and interactivity is always better and more plentiful.  While some HD DVD discs are chock full of content and extra clips, its BluRay counterparts are often barren and virtually bereft of any additional content. 

    Just what are they planning on using all that extra space for anyway?

Take a look at the reviews of ‘Blood Diamond’ for HD DVD versus BluRay, and look at the ‘Extras’:

…HD DVD has 4 stars for Extras; BluRay has 1 1/2 stars.

How about ‘300’?  Again, take a look at the ‘Extras’:

…3 stars for HD DVD, vs ZERO-NIL-NADA stars for BluRay.

Here’s a funnier one.  Compare ‘Black Snake Moan’ and this time look at the Audio rating:

…how does a format with greater storage somehow suck ass when it comes to recording audio?

Again – ‘Happy Feet’.  Check out the Audio rating and the Extras rating:

And again, even with it’s supposedly superior storage, the HD DVD version had better sound and more extras.

And yet again – ‘March of the Penguins’.  Check out the Extras rating:


NEWS: Paramount declares ‘No more BluRay; We’re HD DVD only’

August 20, 2007

Oh snap.  Quoting my coworker, Andy Pennell:

An important day in the next-gen DVD format war: Paramount have announced that they are going HD DVD only, an important change from their previous neutrality. "Blades of Glory", "Transformers" and "Shrek the Third" are the initial announced titles. The press release quotes "market-ready technology" and "low manufacturing costs". Looks like they figured out that HD DVD is the more advanced format. Cool! Who is next I wonder to see through the BD Emperor’s clothes?

References: 

Wow.  3 new HD DVD exclusives:

  • Transformers
  • Shrek the Third
  • Blades of Glory

This joins other major HD DVD exclusives including Harry Potter movie series, The Matrix series, Heroes, Batman Begins, Battlestar Galactica, Oceans 11/12/13, and Blood Diamond (which has exclusive content on the HD version).

Yes, folks… it’s true.  HD DVD is a more consumer format, not to mention a more consumer friendly format.  I’ve written my own comparison/diatribe about why this is so, much to the behest of the "BluRay-stores-more-data-and-that’s-why-it’s-superior" crowd but Andy does a great job on a post here:  http://blogs.msdn.com/andypennell/archive/2007/05/16/why-blu-ray-is-not-technically-advanced.aspx

MICROSOFT ?= HD DVD?
So why would a Microsoft geek push HD DVD?  Here’s a hint:

  • It has nothing to do with the XBox 360 HD DVD drive
    (We could just as easily make a BluRay drive available for the Xbox 360 since it’s all USB connected.  This is a quote from the XBox 360 product team.)
  • It has nothing to do with Microsoft’s war with Sony in the gaming console front
    (Recall that this is just a storage & organizational format.  We don’t have a bias toward magnetic Western Digital hard drives versus Seagate Hard drives… why would we care about optical disc formats?)
  • It has nothing to do with Microsoft’s historically good relationship with Toshiba
    (While Toshiba is the primary proponent of HD DVD, we have no skin in the game with regard to the format and it’s development.)

So why?  Why would Microsoft push HD DVD over BluRay?

  • Cost
    Each HD DVD disc costs less to manufacture, costs less to produce and master, and it’s players cost less to build by an average of $200 compared to BluRay.  Microsoft has a history or leveraging low cost, high volume technologies and HD DVD falls in line with this philosophy.
  • Managed Copy
    Managed Copy, or the right to make a limited number of copies of the movie to things like Zunes or Home Video Servers or XBox 360’s is a mandatory facility within all HD DVD players.  It’s completely optional on BluRay and as a result, it’s virtually never implemented because the studios are paranoid about people making copies.  This is also the reason why there’s more studio support behind BluRay than there is HD DVD.

    BTW:  This is the reason both Dell & HP ‘jumped ship’ and joined the HD DVD side of the house.  Once they realized that HD DVD provide more utility to their home PCs, HD DVD looked a lot more interesting.

  • Programmability
    HD DVD leverages iHD, a programming technology that enables extremely rich experiences – stuff like fancy menuing, interactive games & picture in picture video frames, video overlays that allow two videos to play side by side at once… and all use a DHTML development toolset that is universally guaranteed to playback and be 100% compatible on every HD DVD player.  Just ask a BluRay player owner if they’ve run into compatibility problems.  If they say no, they’re lying.  Half the BluRay players can’t even play traditional interactive menus without ROM upgrades because they leverage a derivative of Java that is frequently different depending on what player is being used – even with Sony’s own players!
  • Experience
    This is the big one:  HD DVD has outstanding interactive and visual elements that you expect to get from a next gen DVD technology.  Stuff like on screen editing & markup by the movie director, ‘circling mistakes on the screen’ or ‘show two clips side by side kind of like a before & after’ during the extras.  It’s all due to the programmability of HD DVD – a technology that Microsoft helped to foster and build.  BluRay has NONE OF THIS.

    As for performance and end user experience, just watch this video clip.  This is representative of the BluRay experience.

 

http://images.soapbox.msn.com/flash/soapbox1_1.swf
Video: The BluRay Enhanced Mode Experience