Yum.

October 22, 2012

Admittedly since it released, this is what I secretly think of every time I hear someone mention Nokia’s flagship Windows Phone.

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Return to Quark’s Bar: The “Warp Core Breach”

October 20, 2012

imageDuring the COMDEX days, the conference was always scheduled right over my birthday.  Frankly, no one I knew really went to COMDEX so I always went alone simply to work in the booths as a demo geek.

On my birthday, I used to check out of my booth at the show, then go to the Las Vegas Hilton next door to drink at a bar called “Quark’s Bar”, a real restaurant/bar located at the “Star Trek Experience” on the floor level.  Folks would come by dressed as Klingons, Ferengi, Vulcans, etc.  and you’d sit back and drink Star Trek themed cocktails.

Frankly, it was a geek’s home away from home.  No, trekkie/trekker (the term used to describe a devout follower depends on how insanely committed you are the the Trek universe) could visit Las Vegas without visiting “the mothership”, so to speak.

But now it’s gone.  The whole Star Trek area was torn down.  Even the Hilton itself has now been renamed to just LVH, having lost their license to the Hilton brand.  [tear drop]

If you’ve ever been there, you know that one of the celebrated drinks there was something called the “Warp Core Breach”.  It was an insanely large concoction designed for multiple people to drink that featured dry ice that overflowed the bowl it was served it… not unlike an actual warp core. 

Well, I just so happen to have the recipe, so here it is for those of you that want to reminisce of a special, possibly better, time:

warpcoreWARP CORE BREACH
(To be served in a big globe-type bowl for 2 or more people)

  • 3 ounces – White rum
  • 2 ounces – Lemon rum
  • 1 1/2 ounces – Spiced rum
  • 1 1/2 ounces – Dark rum
  • 1 1/2 ounces – Razzmatazz
  • 1 1/2 ounces – Bacardi 151 rum
  • 30 ounces of any juice (commonly cranberry)
  • Dry ice & cubed ice

Place a chip of dry ice in the big bowl for smoky effect.  Combine all 10 ounces of rum in a large glass separate from the bowl.  Pour fruit juice into the big bowl.  Add cubed ice. (2 or 3 large scoops)  Mix in rum combination.  Stir.

I miss you Quark’s Bar.


COMMENTARY: “The Death of Microsoft” or “How to sound like a broken record” (a historical perspective)

October 20, 2012

imageEvery year like clockwork, we see the same “Death of Microsoft” articles coming out of the media & the blogosphere.

Why? 

It generates hits, sells ads, & it appeases the egos of of certain narcissists. 

And every few years we get another ad-revenue generating, attention-getting reason why Microsoft is going down in flames:

  • First, it was Macintosh & the GUI.
  • Then, it was Netscape and the “browser OS”.
  • Then it was Java, “write once, run anywhere”, and the Java OS.
  • Then it was Thin clients & “the end of the fat desktop”.
  • Then it was the DOJ & “the breakup of the monopoly”.
  • Then it was Linux/OSS & “the death of proprietary software”.
  • Then it was VDI & “the return to mainframe computing”.
  • Then it was HTML5 & “web-based applications”. 

… and this season it’s the “post PC era” & the emergence of Consumerization of IT (COIT) solutions that will displace Microsoft everywhere.

With all that being said, look what that clown Marc Benioff is mouthing off about now in 2012:

Being a Larry Ellison disciple, I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


Dreaming of my first demo of my new Surface tablet

October 17, 2012

imageAssuming I know nothing about my audience’s interests, here’s some stuff I’ve thought about demoing, with no regard to flow or anything… just standout capabilities:

(Again, this is in NO PARTICULAR ORDER.)

  1. I’ll login with Picture Password. [CUSTOM LOGIN SCREEN]
  2. I’ll show the music service & how you can “pick any song… guess what? You can play it… for free.  Over 30M songs.  No fee.”  [XBOX MUSIC]
  3. I’ll demo the Start screen interface – and in particular show them how the Live Tiles have rich animated information, & apps can have secondary tiles.  Stocks –> MSFT.  People –> Steve Ballmer.  Music –> Eminem.  Also tiles can be rearranged in any way they like them, how I can name app groups, and how new apps can be added to the screen or hidden using App Search.  [START SCREEN]
  4. I’ll take the content from the photo app & share it with Twitter, FB, or eMail. [SHARE]
  5. I’ll take MSFT from the Stocks app and post it as it’s own tile on the START screen. [SECONDARY TILE]
  6. I’ll break out the keyboard.  I snap it on & demonstrate how it deactivates when folded behind.  Then I lay the scissor-switch keyboard on the table, fold out the kickstand, and prop up the Surface like a laptop using this new keyboard.  Then I grab the keyboard and shake it vigorously while Surface dangles from the magnetic latch.  [TOUCH & TYPE COVER]
  7. I’ll show them how I can control the mouse with the touch pad at the base just as I would my finger via touch.  Then I’d plug in a mouse.  [TOUCH PAD/MOUSE PRECISION]
  8. I’ll open the VPN client which is integrated into the OS for Cisco, Juniper, MS VPN, etc. and use a RSA USB fob for authentication. [USB DEVICES]
  9. I’ll connect to a VDI session, which in it of itself isn’t unique however unlike every other platform, there is no VDA license subscription ($100/yr) or CSL ($TBA) required for Surface RT & Windows RT-based devices to use VDI.  [VDA RIGHTS]
  10. I’ll open up Word, Excel, PowerPoint, & OneNote.  And show how I sync our family’s grocery shopping list between my wife’s phone, my phone, and my Surface.  [OFFICE]
  11. I’ll reveal the Windows desktop.  Show how it provides a familiar file management paradigm as well as the traditional Windows Interface.

    ** FOR SURFACE PRO ONLY
    Show how it’s 100% compatible with previous Windows 7 applications & devices. [COMPATIBILITY]

  12. I’ll open Internet Explorer 10 and show ESPN.COM and all the Adobe Flash video & content on there from the browser. [FLASH SUPPORT]
  13. I’ll open the Bing Travel app & let someone pick a panorama.  Then I’ll move the screen around to view different areas of the 360 view.  [ACCELEROMETERS]
  14. I’ll display a video on the screen along side with the Mail client.  [SIDE-BY-SIDE APPS]
  15. I’ll plug in a USB drive & copy some files off of it.  Then plug in a microSD flash card and display some photos from it.  Then plug in a mouse and use it to work more productively. [USB & microSD SUPPORT]
  16. I’ll prop up Surface with the kickstand and aim it in one direction with the keyboard folded under… then start recording & walk into frame.  [CAMERA TRIPOD]
  17. I’ll set up the keyboard & kickstand then open the CAMERA program in SnapView & bring up OneNote RT in the primary window.  I’ll start recording the video from SnapView & begin taking notes using the keyboard. [ANGLED CAMERA+MULTITASKING]
  18. I’ll switch profiles & login as my son, showing “my son’s desktop” with Angry Birds & children’s games ONLY.  Then I’ll show how it’s monitored using Family Safety. [CHILRDEN’S DESKTOP]
  19. I’ll show the photo below on the screen of the Surface as a demo of the device’s durability.  [VAPORMG]

clip_image002


My Adventures with Windows Virtual PC & Power Chess 98

October 16, 2012

Today, I did something that I haven’t done in more than a decade: 
…I loaded Windows 95. 

image

Yup, you read that right.  Remember this screen?

image

Check out that icon for “The Microsoft Network”!

Why?  Well, the last chess program that I really enjoyed was something called Sierra Online’s “PowerChess”.  I decided that I’d load up my 14 year old copy to see how it held up and it turns out that it won’t work with Compatibility Mode… so I had to load up Windows Virtual PC.

As part of the installation process, it does a performance test.  I found this dialog box funny:

image

I guess Pentium Pro-13 was considered state-of-the-art back then ‘eh?  Anyway… just thought I’d share this ‘flashback’ to the 90’s with y’all.


REVIEW: Jabbawockeez (Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, Las Vegas)

October 16, 2012

image[I was originally going to post this to Yelp back in February 2012, and I still may, but I was so utterly disappointed in this show that I actually held off publishing this thinking that maybe over time, my opinion would change.  Well, it didn’t.  And I don’t have the time to cull the review down to a size that will fit a single Yelp post so… maybe later.  Until then, here’s the review in its entirety.]

I’m sorry but this show is borderline awful.

I would, if I could, ask for a complete refund. Not since Tony & Tina’s Wedding of the Imperial Palace Luau have I felt this un-entertained. I don’t even know where to begin so I’m just going to going to go “stream of consciousness” on this review because I have too many negative thoughts and not enough ways to communicate them.

IT’S A GENERATIONAL THING
First of all, I wanted to leave 30 minutes into the show because while I give every show a fighting chance to prove their ticket value, it was really clear early on that it just wasn’t going to improve. I think this show basically comes down to a simple rule: If you’re over the age of 30, you’re not likely going to enjoy this show. This is a show for the current generation… at most. And you’ve got to REALLY like dance crew culture to appreciate this performance because there’s very little else to latch on to.

And clearly there were some groupies of dance crews in the audience – or at least Jabbawockeez – because the far right side of the theatre had these groups of 15-20 or so kids screaming during what can only be considered odd times to be cheering. The guy in the back of me audibly wondered if they were ‘plants’ because none of us could understand why people were whooping & hollering during many, frankly, uninteresting segments of the show. The constant synthetic urging of audience participation was a little much for me personally and after about 30 min, the “audience participation” was clearly sounding contrived and fake.

A REALLY CONFUSING 1/3rd STANDING OVATION
And then there was the whole ‘standing ovation’ at the end. A patch of people in one area to the far right of the stage stood up clapping and cheering wildly, encouraging others around them to do the same until about a 1/3rd of the theatre was standing. I clearly wasn’t the only one confused: There were at least 8 or 9 people around me looking around at each other saying, “Are you serious? A standing ovation?” I muttered, “Oh gawd, what hell is this?” and that sent the entire row headed toward the exits leaving a showroom littered with a peculiar mix of applauding young folk & disinterested middle aged folk evacuating their seats frantically to head out the door & otherwise escape the monotony of the closing.

Oh. And that leads me to the eeriest moment of the night: Walking out of the showroom. Once the clapping ended, no one was talking. It was dead silent – and you could practically hear a pin drop in the cavernous auditorium. Normally people are talking about the show, chatting with their friends, discussing the performances or at least asking the age old question, “Did you like the show?”… but not here. I just remember it being so quiet, it was as if people were either really focused on getting out, or really tired from the 90 minutes.

WAYYYYY TOOOOO LONNNNNG
Going back to the performance, what I remember very distinctly was that I kept… looking… at… my watch. The show was basically 60 minutes too long. The most intricate and sophisticated routines could have been put into the first 30 min and the rest of the show could have been lopped off. The folks next to me were all in their 30’s and there was more than a noticeable amount of yawning going on.

Something else that was just really odd was how uncomfortable the show felt as a spectator. What I mean by that is there were just really unsettling, long wafts of silence that permeated the performance. No oohing, no clapping, no NOTHING: Just people looking around with that queasy “Uh, are we supposed to be… clapping… or… doing something right now?”

Another thing I remember very distinctly was the massive gaps in seating. I bought the best tickets available, ended up 6 rows from the front, and yet, there were HUGE strips of empty seats in front of me for 3-4 rows. We’re talking blocks of 15-20 seats at a time in a single row, which baffled the strangers sitting next to me when I asked them if they’d noticed the same. We’d all bought the best seats in the house online and saw better seats lying empty before us. WTF?

ASIAN NETWORKING
I know I’m betraying the Asian brotherhood by posting this here – but man, I just wouldn’t come back to see this show even if my niece begged me. The thing I seem to have noticed is that Jabbawockeez , seems to depend heavily on their “street team”. The fan club or “activist marketing” folk have a base of operations at http://jabbawockeez.org/ and hype up what I can only describe as guerilla marketing on behalf of Jabbawockeez , which is of course great business, but it can disingenuously slant perceptions.

Like when, say, they all publish gushing yet thoughtless 5-star reviews on sites like, oh, I don’t know… YELP.

And let’s not kid ourselves here: A large segment of the fan base are Asians. After all, Jabbawockeez is largely an Asian crew, and we Asians are stereotypically hip, clique-ish, know technology really f’ing well, heavily-networked, family-oriented, and dammit, we’re loyal. So it’s not surprising to see all these Yelp 5-star reviews – some from complete noob orangeheads, some from heavily-opinionated & experienced Elite.

The sad part is, I do think the dancers are very talented, exceptionally athletic & have great personality. The problem is, that doesn’t appear to be enough to carry a Vegas show for 90 minutes and remain entertaining to at least this reviewer. None of that matters if the production is poorly scripted, and that’s the problem I think we have here.

2-stars. Only because I’m not convinced it’s the performer’s fault they’re in a wholly uninteresting show.

—————————-
SHOWS I’D RATHER SEE OVER JABBAWOCKEEZ
Look out… because there’s a lot of them.  Here’s just a short list:

  • Absinthe
  • Jersey Boys
  • Human Nature
  • Penn & Teller
  • Blue Man Group

A mail from Louis C.K.

October 6, 2012

imageToday, I logged into my ‘garbage’ mail account.  You know what I’m talking about.  It’s that account you use for password changes, marketing mail, crap like that. 

Anyway, I see a message today from Louis C.K.  You may remember him because he made $1,000,000 by posting his comedy special on the web, trusting people to pay for his show, and basically skipping the middle man.  It was an overnight spectacle that had him on the front page of Internet news sites.  He donated a huge chunk of the money & by the way – he’s a funny sonnafabitch.  So I like him.

Anyway, I signed up for his mailing list because he said he wouldn’t mail people unless it was something important.  So I was a little irked when I read the first paragraph & started wondering if Louis decided to become a shill and start establishing himself as one of the middle men he actually shunned originally.

And then I felt like a complete ass.  Here’s the mail:

Greetings to the people and parts of people that are reading this. Hi. This is Louis. I’m a comedian and you bought a thing from me. Well, I’m writing to tell You that there is a new thing you can buy on my website louisck.com. It’s an audio standup set by not me but another comedian named Tig Notaro. Why am I selling someone else’s comedy on my website?

Well, Tig is a friend of mine and she is very funny. I love her voice on stage. One night I was performing at a club in LA called Largo. Tig was there. She was about to go on stage. I hadn’t seen Tig in about a year and I said how are you? She replied “well I found out today that I have cancer in both breasts and that it has likely spread to my lymph nodes. My doctor says it looks real bad. “. She wasn’t kidding. I said “uh. Jesus. Tig. Well. Do you… Have your family… Helping?”. She said “well my mom was with me but a few weeks ago she fell down, hit her head and she died”. She still wasn’t kidding.

Now, I’m pretty stupid to begin with, and I sure didn’t know what to say now. I opened my mouth and this came out. “jeez, Tig. I. Really value you. Highly.”. She said “I value you highly too, Louie.”. Then she held up a wad of note-paper in her hand and said “I’m gonna talk about all of it on stage now. It’s probably going to be a mess”. I said “wow”. And with that, she went on stage.

I stood in the wings behind a leg of curtain, about 8 feet from her, and watched her tell a stunned audience “hi. I have cancer. Just found out today. I’m going to die soon”. What followed was one of the greatest standup performances I ever saw. I can’t really describe it but I was crying and laughing and listening like never in my life. Here was this small woman standing alone against death and simply reporting where her mind had been and what had happened and employing her gorgeously acute standup voice to her own death.

The show was an amazing example of what comedy can be. A way to visit your worst fears and laugh at them. Tig took us to a scary place and made us laugh there. Not by distracting us from the terror but by looking right at it and just turning to us and saying “wow. Right?”. She proved that everything is funny. And has to be. And she could only do this by giving us her own death as an example. So generous.

After her set, I asked Mark Flanagan, the owner of Largo (great club, by the way) if he recorded the set. Largo is set up for excellent recordings. He said that he did.

A few days later, I wrote Tig and asked her if I could release this set on my site. I wanted people to hear what I saw. What we all saw that night. She agreed. The show is on sale for the same 5 dollars I charge for my stuff. I’m only keeping 1. She gets the other 4. Tig has decided to give some of that to cancer research.

Tig, by the way, has since undergone a double mastectomy. She is doing well. Her doctors say her chances of survival are excellent. So she went there and came back. Her report from the frontlines of life and death are here for you to… Enjoy.

Please go to my site louisck.com and buy her show. You can buy it here:

http://buy.louisck.net/purchase/tig-notaro-live

Thank you. Have a terrific afternoon.

Louis C.K.

I bought Tig’s album immediately.  It’s fucking $5.  And it’s worth every penny.  And if you’re like me and have lump in your throat for the utter humanity of this note & Tig’s plight and you feel like laughing a bit… you should too.