Archive for the 'Town Crier' Category

Facebook Fun on SNL

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Netflix : Growing Into Its Name.

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

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Netflix is one of those wildly successful endeavors that you never hear much about. From time to time I guess, but we get a thousand times more Lindsay Lohan news by my count. Since its inception in Los Gatos, CA back in 1997 though, Netflix has quietly invented the superior mouse trap as it pertains to video distribution… and in so doing, has shepherded Blockbuster, their main competitors, down the road to bankruptcy, where many anticipate a Chapter 11 filing sometime here in 2010.

Netflix

For the uninitiated, I have the cheapest subscription that Netflix offers which is $9 per month which allows me (1) DVD out at a time. When I return this DVD (in the provided SASE) they send me the next one. If you watch the DVD and return it within 24 hours, this amounts to approximately 90 rentals a year at a cost of $108. The same amount of rentals from my local Blockbuster would come to $400 plus gas, time and any possible “late” fees, all issues that are non-existent with Netflix.

But we’re only just getting started… one of the key elements that makes Netflix the king of the roost is their superior website coupled with their non-invasive email feedback system… the website serves up well over 100,000 titles in an extremely easy to navigate interface… and if you interact with the site in terms of answering the specific questions it asks you pertaining to content you’ve recently viewed… the site smartly offers you choices that are more “educated” at the top of any and all search queries. The only times I’ve had to dig on this site were the times I was looking for a movie that was recommended to me or is otherwise off the beaten path… From there you save movies to your “queue”, and this becomes the list that Netflix automated shipping facilities use to send you your discs, one after the other.

But there’s more… and this is the real kicker… Consider the name Netflix. These guys intent from day one was to deliver movies over the internet… hence the name. That was some real forethought for 1997 when you think about it. Here in 2010, that aspiration is well on its way to becoming reality… what could the shelf-life of physical DVD’s be anyway? For those of you with a broadband internet connection and devices capable of Netflix streaming (All 3 major gaming consoles, hundreds of models of A/V gear like Bluray players and HDTV’s as well as most computers with an OS that’s within a couple years old), there’s currently tens of thousands of titles on Netflix that can be streamed instantly. And this is on top of the 90 physical DVD’s you get and doesn’t cost a dime more. I watch numerous TV series using the streaming as well as more movies over three different devices in my house… It’s amazing and adds to the value tremendously.

Once you’ve watched a movie over the stream you’ll occasionally receive an email asking you how the picture quality was. The email will offer three choices… click on one and a screen will appear that thanks you, that’s all there is to it… you’ll also receive emails inquiring as to what day a physical DVD was delivered on as they continue to tweak their network in an attempt to get those DVD’s to you as fast as possible.

So that’s it for now… a quick tour of Netflix for any of you that have been curious about it without yet having taken the plunge.

WordPress 3.0 Hits the Street

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

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When it comes to WordPress, I’d have to say that over time its become one of the most influential tools of my career. In the beginning it was software that was open source (free) so therefore worth messing around with. This I did… but back in the beginning it was primarily a straight up blogging platform… and as I wasn’t that much into blogging at that point, I strayed away from it for a while. But then I got a new client where the best solution for what they were looking to accomplish caused me to check out WordPress anew… and what I learned from messing around with professionally developed themes, was that WordPress was a mighty powerful CMS as well, giving the designer the capability to easily build entire sites using WordPress as the foundation.

Wordpress Logo

That was about two years ago now, back around WordPress 2.5. Between then and now, significant upgrades have been introduced both in functionality as well as user-interface improvements to the admin area. This morning, WordPress 3.0 Thelonious was released… the culmination of 6 months of work by 218 dedicated contributors that resulted in 1,217 bug fixes and feature enhancements. Primary among these enhancements are an even simpler installer, a minor overhaul of the admin area to incorporate new features and the long talked about “multi-user”” mode which allows multiple WordPress blogs to be run off a single WordPress installation. Not sure how this can help those of us who already have multiple installs up-and-running… but I’m on the lookout for the tutorials that will most certainly emerge now that the release has hit the streets.

Also of interest is that the default theme “Kubrick” that has shipped with WordPress for so long and has been seen on so many blogs… has now been retired in favor of “Twenty Ten”, a new default theme that has been taylored to some of the new functionality such as built in menu-creation utilities. I can’t say I’ll really miss Kubrick, but worth noting all the same.

I’m also not able to recommend the update at this point as I still have to study deeply what effect, if any, the upgrade would have on my existing suite of custom themes. That said, this site is a much simpler theme and I’ve already updated to 3.0 without a single problem… so my guess would be that everything would be fine as customized themes never alter any of the WordPress base code which would be the only code affected by the update… but we’ll see.

The easiest way by far to update your existing WordPress installations is with the Automatic Upgrade plug-in, you can find that here… and if you’d be installing WordPress for the first time… then get started here.

Dig A Hole.

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

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Sideways Smiley Face died on March 14, 2010, surrounded by his loved ones. The cause of death was over-use. Born on a Computer Science online bulletin board at Carnegie Mellon University, Mr. Face devoted his life to pointing out that the previous sentence was meant to be funny. He also gained worldwide recognition for his tireless efforts as a glib substitute for the words “I’m amused”. His other interests included frowning and winking. He is survived by his children, Sideways Surprised Face, Sideways Glasses Face, Sideways Abraham Lincoln Face, Sideways Santa Claus Face, Sideways Pope Face, and, of course, his beloved wife, XOXO. In lieu of flowers, Mr. Face’s family has requested that people use actual words to express their feelings.

:-)
Sideways Smiley Face
(1982-2010)

(Courtesy of the vanity card for Chuck Lorre Productions #281. See them all here…)

Catching Up With Cool Links.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

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So its been a while since I’ve posted anything here, almost two months unfortunately… that’s been in small part because nothing particularly striking in the area of Macs or technology had struck my eye… but in large part, I’ve been designing furiously and writing frantically to bring a second (and most likely final) weblog online that covers pretty much any subject matter not covered here on the showsite… that weblog is called theScroll… and you can visit there, from here.

So who’s a fan of stop-motion animation? Its been one of my addictions for the last 20 years or so… which is why I went out of my mind when I first set eyes on the following movie. Made at Fame Festival 2009, this video is a collaboration between Blu and David Ellis, produced by Studio Cromie with music by Roberto Lange… Makes me wish I had an ancient building with an interior piazza lying around… thanks to Anne K. for the link…

Facebook logo

Facebook’s new World Headquarters in pictures… for a company that is yet to turn a profit… how on earth can they afford this? I guess if I knew the answer to that I’d be rich too… Just completed in Palo Alto, California by Studio O+A… Dezeen Magazine takes us on a tour

As I’m in a stop-motion animation mood… another fantastic piece of work by Bang-Yao Liu that he executed for his senior project at the Savannah College of Art and Design… what could you make with nothing but a camera, your dorm room and a truckload of post-it notes?

And finally, for the Cult of Mac folks… have a new baby? love your Apple gear… look no further than this… hurry up though, they’re going fast…

ipood

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Updates and Add-ons : Reznor, the WWDC and More Twitter Hating.

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

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So after writing laboriously to cover nin:access a month or so back… Trent Reznor has announced that he’s pulling out entirely from social networking sites… Twitter, Facebook and most likely his own forums at nin.com, although considering his heavy involvement there in the past, I can’t imagine boycotting his own forums would be a permanent thing… One way or another, Trent says he’s “tuning out of the social networking sites because it’s now doing more harm than good in the bigger picture and the experiment seems to have yielded a result… Idiots rule”.

Trent Reznor

Trent’s issues become easily recognizable to any of us that have spent even the least bit of time on forums or social networking sites… In a nutshell, there will always be people that have the sole intention of ruining things for everyone else. Apparently Reznor has a few people registered to the NIN forums that send him 50-100 messages a day filled with “delusional, often threatening nonsense”. Any attempts to delete their accounts just results in the offenders re-registering under a different email address and continuing on… Just handling my non-celebrity data flow when it comes to social networking can sometimes be daunting… I can’t imagine what it must feel like to try and have a ‘real’ presence when your forum has a quarter of a million registered users… I wouldn’t wish that on an enemy.

One way or another… NIN has been broken… a guy that went way beyond the call of duty in terms of online engagement just can’t take it any more. The godfather of goth angst has actually been brought to his knees by a few select shit birds… so thanks guys, time to move on to your next target as you continue not to live your own lives choosing instead to make other peoples less fun…

You know who you are… we know who you are… you suck.

Read the complete Trent kiss off here.

Fun With Apps at the WWDC

Moscone Center West

One fact that temporarily eluded me as it pertains to this years WWDC was that this has historically been a conference for developers that wrote software for the Macintosh… This year that focus appears to have shifted in large part to App Developers for both the iPhone and iPod Touch… with the lure of low start-up costs and potential windfalls if your App ends up catching on, legions of developers have retooled a bit and are giving the App Store a shot.

To this end, Apple figured out a stunningly cool way to both showcase their new technologies (slated for Snow Leopard this coming September) while at the same time visually illustrating how popular the App Store has become. They set up an installation of 20 synchronized 30″ Cinema Displays blanketed with over 3000 icons representing the App Store’s most popular apps… In real time (albeit a 5-minute delay), every time an app was purchased on the App Store, its associated icon would kerplunk and then ripple on the pond of icons. The whole thing was programmed in Quartz Composer using new OpenCL API’s and was powered by 20 Mac Pro towers running OS X Snow Leopard.

Plus a pretty cool set of still pictures can be found here.

Is Conan a Hater Too?

Got this one from friend of the show Mike Reid. Married to that U.S. 30 Dragstrip vibe, this one emphasizes the hype and shines a light on a concept destined from birth to jump the shark… if you’re finding value in Twitter, all the power to you… I find the occasional nugget perusing it as well… But at the end of the day…

Bro’s a no-no for coco… Easily inside the 140 character limit. Such a small space to be clever in huh?

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