“The Street.com” chimes in on Mindset Media’s survey of Mac users

February 18, 2008

TheStreet.com had some interesting reporting on Mindset Media’s survey of Mac users with frankly information that most of us know. 

The Humane Society’s Undercover Video of Cattle abuses in Chino, CA

February 18, 2008

Very rarely am I honestly horrified by anything I see on TV these days but this clip had me literally holding my head in sadness, cringing during the replay of the video.

I sincerely hope those people in the video are more than just ‘fired’ and instead criminal charges are pressed. I understand there’s a pecking order in this world and that cattle=beef, and I know that the cattleman’s job is a hard one, but there’s still a really big difference between consumption & cruelty and this demonstrates it.

The difference between humans and animals is supposed to be our capacity for civility, humanity, and the ability to differentiate what we as beings "can do" versus what we "should do".

This is that which we simply "should not do".

Pedigree’s Million Dog Mosaic… a thing of beauty and kindness

February 14, 2008

image Quick!  What’s so special about the photo to the left?

Look closely – you might be able to figure it out.

Still haven’t got it?  Check the photo to the right.  Now do you see it?

No?  It looks like fabric, yes? 

Alright.  Let’s show you an even closer shot.  Take a look at the imagephoto to your left again and below.

Are you getting it?


It’s called the the Million Dog Mosaic.  It’s sponsored by Pedigree and it’s a collage of photos that make up one giant photo of a dog.

What’s special is that Pedigree will donate $1 for every photo that gets uploaded to the mosaic.

So upload your dog’s photo!  What have you got to lose?


image  image  image

CBS: If you’re not going to discuss real issues, why bother interviewing candidates?

February 11, 2008

Last night on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Steve Croft interviewed Barack Obama while Katie Couric interviewed Hillary Clinton.  Croft asked Obama a serious of interesting questions including (summarized):

  • You want to portray yourself as an underdog.  Explain how you (Obama) are an underdog compared to Clinton, when you may very well have more delegates that she does at this point.
  • You don’t have any executive experience and you haven’t actually run much of anything.  How do you expect to project that you have the experience to be President?
  • You are riding on a platform of change which seems to imply change from both the Bush’s and the Clinton’s.  In what way?
  • Your policies are very similar.  What do you feel is the biggest difference between you and Senator Clinton?
  • A complaint about your campaign has been the lack of specifics.  How do you account for that?
  • What do you think about what’s going on in Iraq right now?
  • At a time when violence is down, is this the right time to set timetables for withdrawal?  Regardless of the situation around sectarian violence?
  • Why do you feel you have the best chance to beat McCain?
  • There has been "nastiness" thrown about.  Is there a point at which you go to the closet and pull out Clinton’s skeletons?
  • Are you the same person you were a year ago?

Alright.  A decent set of questions for mainstream TV.  I’ll take those.  Now meanwhile, Couric hit Clinton with a bunch of questions like:

  • Have you grappled with the idea that the nomination could be Obama’s and not yours?  Even in your deepest darkest moments, don’t you question yourself?
  • It’s exhausting.  The photo shoots, the debates, the schmoozing… how do you do it?
  • Do you pop vitamins or coffee?  How do you stay healthy?
  • What do you think of Barack Obama’s gains?  Will it have sustainable momentum?
  • Do you like Barack Obama?
  • Is there any bad blood between the two of you?
  • Do you think the media has treated Obama the same way as they have you?
  • You’ve implied that the GOP will unearth dirt on Barack Obama.  What do you have to say about that?
  • Why are you seen as poll-rising?
  • Why did you authorize the war?
  • Will you reassess your assertion that we should withdraw troops once you’re in office?
  • It must have been so demoralizing to have your father always tell you that you weren’t trying hard enough.
  • People say that you’re going to be part of a co-Presidency. <what do you have to say about that>
  • What do you see yourself doing if this doesn’t work out?

Uh what?  Can you say "softball questions"?  I’m sorry.  This was a really unbalanced interview.

CBS could have started with the list questions based on the issues highlighted by Ontheissues.org:

Civil Rights Issues

Domestic Issues

Economic Issues

Defense/International Issues

And then there’s issues of character:

  • Visionary, intelligent, & thoughtful
  • Trustworthy, earnest, & principled
  • Effective, savvy, & able to execute

NEWS: Major League Gaming signs agreement with ESPN

February 11, 2008

The Xbox360-exclusive Major League Gaming (the biggest console-gaming tournament imageorganization in the world) signed an agreement with ESPN.com to exclusively host MLG  video game competitive content, material & news at http://sports.espn.go.com/videogames/mlg and ESPN branding will be attached to MLG game tournaments.

Oh, that’s so sweet. 

Why?  It means there’s more money coming into MLG.  And with more money comes bigger venues, bigger prizes, more prestige, more publicity, and more exposure to professional video gamers.  The top prize in 2007 was $100,000 with over $475,000 in prize money doled out.

Now, with a national broadcasting outlet like ESPN available with national advertising aligned with it… oh… my…

ESPN Enters Content Agreement With Major League Gaming

image ESPN.com, the leading online sports destination, today announced it has entered a content agreement with Major League Gaming (MLG), the leading professional video game league.
ESPN will serve as a primary outlet for news about MLG, providing extensive digital coverage of MLG’s 2008 Pro Circuit Competitions, including exclusive streamed matches, pro player interviews, and scores and stats. Additionally, MLG will host ESPN co-branded online video game tournaments.

ESPN will be on site at each of the 2008 MLG Pro Circuit Competitions, reporting news from its own coverage booth for various ESPN programs and platforms, including ESPN360.com, ESPN’s signature broadband sports network.

Additionally, ESPN.com will launch a competitive video gaming section replete with all of the latest news, information and video as it relates to competitive gaming. The section will include background on MLG, interviews with marquee players, video from past competitions and the ESPN/MLG Top Ten, which includes regularly updated video highlighting top game play from MLG pros and players. ESPN.com will announce details of MLG’s 2008 Pro Circuit season in the coming weeks.

More at http://www.mlgpro.com/?q=node/181255 


(I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to you that when I was a kid, I realllllly wanted to play video games professionally.  Add to that, that Major League Gaming uses Xbox 360 exclusively, playing world tournaments for such reknown games as Halo 3, Halo 2, Gears of War, and Shadowrun… you can understand my excitement over this announcement.  God speed Major League Gaming!)

QUICK: What’s wrong with this picture?

February 11, 2008


VIDEO: Bill Gates’ Harvard Commencement Speech

February 8, 2008

Bill Gates gave a commencement speech to Harvard Graduates on June 7, 2007.  He talks about the inequities of the world and essentially why he has dedicated his post-Microsoft life to the causes he’s pursuing.  Interesting stuff.


YOUTUBE: Sony Blu-Ray Pirates of the Caribbean “Liars” game fails to work

February 8, 2008

This is a riot and it once again points out the problem of Blu-ray’s profile inconsistency.  Some player’s firmware works, others don’t.  The PS3 seems to be most consistent – which makes sense being that is made by Sony of course, because otherwise it’d be like having a Sony device not properly work with Memory Stick.

But any other standalone player has problems.  In fact, even Sony’s own standalone player has issues because firmware updates provide inconsistent engines to interpret Blu-ray features.  Blu-ray profile 1.0 provided virtually nothing other than movie functionality.  Blu-ray profile 1.1 provided some additional interactivity, but no layered video (picture in picture features) and only Blu-ray profile 1.2 supports picture in picture.  The result is that most standalone players can’t play many Blu-ray discs – particularly the highly touted movies like "Pirates of the Caribbean".

Meanwhile HD DVD has remained consistent from day 1, providing all the video, interactivity, layering, and other features since the first day it was released.  And all players – XBox or standalone – have been able to play all discs all the time.

Here’s one guys experience trying to get Pirates of the Caribbean’s "Liars" interactive game to work:

Observations of a former defensive back on Norm Chow’s West Coast Offense

February 8, 2008

I belong to a sports site that does a lot of analysis over UCLA sports.  There’s one member that had a post that I thought was particularly insightful because it comes from a player’s experience.  Here it is, paraphrased:

"In Dorrell’s 5 years, we never saw the ‘west coast offense" for two reasons:

1) There is no ONE SINGLE west coast offense.  Any offense that :

  • runs quick slants
  • puts a premium of RBs who can catch
  • "shares the ball" and , to the worst of the "informed", "shares the ball"

…is defined as a WCO.

2) From my experience both playing and picking the brains who played longer and better is, the west coast offense demands:

  • timing
  • the wide receivers reading the defense and making breaks accordingly
  • the quarterback knowing what these breaks will be
  • passing to set up the run
  • Wide Receivers being able to run after the catch.

Additionally, the WCO assumes things in opposite to traditional/old school offensive designs e.g. a pass is as safe as a run; a passing game can control the ball as well as a running game.  The term "WCO" has become everything and therefore, inevitably, nothing.  We never saw a traditional WCO in 5 years with Dorrell.

The WCO is not my favorite offense.  It demands patience and flawless execution.  Most teams will concede staples of the WCO – short slants, check down to Running Backs, because most teams believe, correctly so, that the longer an offense is on the field, the more likely they will self destruct.  There are 3 means of self-destruction that most Defensive Coordinators bank on defending a true WCO:

  • The offense is more apt to turn the ball over the more plays the offense must run.
  • The points the WCO generates are more apt to generate FGs than TDs because the WCO, usually is willing to take shorter successes and once in the red zone, as with all offense, has a difficult time punching the ball in.
  • Most importantly, most coaches and or QBs audible-ing, do not have the wherewithal or patience to nickel and dime.  Invariably, they will go for a big play that may yield a TO, sack, or penalty.
  • The longer an offense is on the field, the more apt it is to commit a penalty. the WCO is not designed to overcome the inevitable 1st and 15s or 20’s that come from penalties.

Whatever Chow calls his offense or whatever the media calls it, rest assured the offense will be creative and trust that if Chow decides to implement a WCO, it will be nothing like the Dorrell imitation that vacillated between 3 yards and a cloud of dust and passing game that did little to free its receivers either via formations, picks, floods or implementing one receiver to clear a zone and having a secondary receiver hesitate to trail into the zone vacated.

In summary, receivers will be open in Chow’s offense and receivers can be open in a WCO, even in college.  I’m a defensive guy, played d-0-1 defense (corner–not at UCLA) and fancy myself knowledgeable.  But even when I watch old USC tapes when Chow coordinated and knew what he was doing in terms of floods and decoys, other than getting to the QB, I saw no way to prevent Wide Receivers from getting open, even knowing where each receiver was going.

Chow is simply a master."

INFO: Podcasts I’m listening to right now

February 6, 2008

Someone noticed that I drive to customers with my Zune connected to an FM transmitter.  Yep.  It’s with me pretty much wherever I go.  My old 30GB model is more than enough too.  Although the 80GB is cheap enough that I might consider getting it… just because.

For the most part, I’m not listening to music though.  I’m listening to audio podcasts while I’m driving.  Here’s a sample of some of the audio stuff I subscribe to daily and the corresponding RSS feed that I use for my Zune.  (All of these are available just by searching through the Zune Marketplace, so you really don’t need the RSS URL but just in case you want it…):

While I walk our dog though, I watch videos on the Zune’s large & pretty 240×320 screen.  Here’s a list of some of the video podcasts I subscribe to:

QUIZ TIME: Guess where this is?

February 4, 2008

This photo was taken somewhere in America.  Guess where?


Haven’t got it?  Take a look at the rocks below in this next photo.


Not yet?  Well check out the plant in the photo below.


Here’s something a little closer up.


Didn’t get it?  Well here’s your final hint:


That’s right, folks.  It’s MAUI.  The winter season hit the mountain tops pretty hard in paradise this year and when the tropical showers came, it straight up SNOWED in Hawaii.

Wow. Rory Blyth left Microsoft.

February 3, 2008

Rory Blyth, the freakishly intelligent, yet freakishly… well… freakish blogger and creator of Neopoleon.com left Microsoft last September.  I didn’t even know.

Rory was a MSDN Events presenter and a Microsoft Developer Evangelist.  He used to present along the west coast, primarily in the Pacific Northwest, on topics like Windows Mobile development.  He later took a job in Redmond as a professional blogger and content creator for Channel 9, Microsoft’s developer outreach video blog and discussion board.

You can read about why he left and what he’s doing now, but suffice it to say that he felt an inordinate amount of pressure working at Microsoft and just felt that he didn’t want to deal with it any more due to the effect that it was having on his life.  I can sympathize.  The company – especially when you have to deal with politics – can be a real tough place to be at at times.

But I still love it.

I only have one story of Rory being that I only met him once a while back.  He was having a tizzy over Microsoft’s purported lack of development on Internet Explorer – us not having released a version past Internet Explorer 6.02 for a VERY long time.  I’d chatted with him briefly on the topic at one of our "tech trainings" up in Seattle… he didn’t linger much in the Washington State Convention Center much and I’d bumped into him in the escalators going up.

We were to hear from Steve Ballmer, our company CEO/President.  Steve is a pretty direct guy.  He’s for the most part an anti-politician when he talks to the troops.  He gives straight answers that, if you listen, he usually gives you a lot more insight into a matter than you’d get from public or even internal resources like email or Intranet web sites.

During Q&A, people were invited to come to the microphones and ask the executive staff questions.  Lo and behold Rory stood up and went to the podium, introduced himself, and proceeded to firmly press Steve on ‘why there was no improvement in IE for such a long time’.

So the $64 question was, why did IE go unrevised for so long.

Steve Ballmer explained that when we started development of what was called the "Longhorn Client", it was a very different animal.  Most people that were following "Longhorn" – even in the press – knew this to be true.  It was envisioned as a very different piece of software from what we have today in Windows Vista.  The codebase was to be completely new.  The operating system, while designed to provide backward compatibility, was radically different from the ground up – including the fact that all applications, including the administrative tools and accessories were to be developed using managed code, i.e. .NET Framework-based software, as opposed to binary Win32 applications as they are today. 

One of the elements of "Longhorn Client" was that the browser effectively ceased to exist.  Every single application (including Word, Acrobat, etc.) ran in the context of a window that could present HTML while looking identical to Win32 applications as they exist today.  In fact there would be nothing to distinguish between today’s Win32 applications and HTML/Web-based applications.  But web-based applications would be more than just HTML.  The key would be that web-based applications could take advantage of the rich set of services & application libraries in the Longhorn Client OS that could generate beautiful applications that far exceeded today’s lackluster "AJAX" experiences.  They would feature full motion video & top shelf animation and vector graphics, like you see in Flash apps.

In short, web applications would be first class citizens next to Windows binary applications.

But Jim Allchin – the head of our Operating System development at the time, after more than 2 years of development, turned to Bill Gates & Steve Ballmer and essentially said that it couldn’t be done.  According to Brian Valentine and the rest of the more famous NT/Windows architects, the concept that they were attempting to move from vision to reality was too complex and too difficult to manage.  Bill & Steve both asked him if there was any other thing that they could to salvage the effort including providing more time and Jim told them that they already tried and the conclusion was that even with another 2 years they didn’t think they could accomplish what they wanted to do with any level of stability or usability.

This hit Microsoft’s leadership like a hammer:  Very rarely in the history of the company had we met a challenge that we couldn’t overcome.  Bill & Steve made the tough decision to reset, salvage what they could, and start again, this time with an architecture that was a little less aggressive – what became "Windows Vista":  An operating system architecture closer to what exists in Windows XP, however with dramatic changes in security between components, as well as libraries for rich applications, and a mind for x64 hardware architecture… the same rich application concepts envisioned for the original "Longhorn Client".

But one of the things that had to be done is the reintroduction of the browser, a.k.a. Internet Explorer 7.0.  Browsing experience improvements were extracted from what was "Longhorn Client" but in the end, Internet Explorer 7.0 was marginally improved from an end user’s view but not tremendously.  Most of the changes that occurred related to stability & security – again, all inherited from "Longhorn Client" work.  This by the way is the reason Internet Explorer 7.0 was released relatively stably as well as having regular build releases in comparison to previous releases like 6.0 which took forever.

Well, Rory… when he asked the question… I assume was so full of passion & anger over the issue that he ended up effectively reiterating the question to Steve after he’d just answered it.  He kinda accused Microsoft of ‘slacking off’ in the browser development department and Steve responded… well… not very positively. 

Suffice it to say that Steve… uh… yelled.  This created near complete silence in a room of several thousand.  He firmly told Rory that he just explained the entire reason IE took as long as it did to ‘version’ and that it wasn’t a conscious decision on Microsoft’s part:  It was just fallout of what happened with regard to Windows Longhorn Client (and later Windows Vista) natural development.

Rory ended up sitting down and I didn’t hear anything after that.  Nor did he post anything about the incident on his blog. 

Never let it be said that Rory Blyth doesn’t know how to silence a room of Microsoft employees.