Friday, July 31, 2009

I KNEW IT!!!!



This would have a lot more credibility of someone had put these things together and documented them years ago, instead of after Obama was elected.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mad Men Yourself


I'm super-psyched about the upcoming season of Mad Men.

In anticipation of that, here's a site where you can go to Draperize yourself.

Check out my Draperized version...

"The Long-legged MacDaddy"



I laughed my arse off.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nick Jr. Doesn't Know Their Audience

While looking for a link to Max and Ruby for my previous post, I went to the Nick, Jr. website. Being the father of a 6-year-old, I've been there before. It used to be veery kid friendly and easy for a child to navigate. But they've apparently gone out of their freaking skulls.

Check it out for yourself. A site intended for kids ages 2-10 should be very graphic-intensive. There's just WAY too much text. You've got to assume that a HUGE part of their demographic can't read, or at least can't read very well, and certainly can't navigate all the drop-down menus and heavily scrolling pages. And it makes kids choose the shows they want to view from a list of shows. A text list. Without even an icon showing a character from the shows. Ridiculous.

And in another stunning display of sheer web design ignorance, they have audio and video that blast out from the main page as soon as it loads. Users should have to interact with a page before it bombards them with media. They should ask for it, not be forced to endure it. Imagine opening this site at the library (where a lot of kids use the internet) and having to frantically scramble to either close the page or mute the volume before a lynch mob of librarians forms.

A very well designed site for kids is still the fantastic PBSKids site. It's very easy to use (my daughter has been able to navigate it successfully since she was three), uses lots of easy to understand pictures and reads the text for kids who can't read. You get what you expect to get and can find what you want quickly.

Shame on Nick, Jr.. Poor usability in the realm of kids web design is a major sin. You can BS adult and force them to use your crappy site, but kids aren't going to stand for it or take the time to learn how to use your site. They'll move on to any one of the millions of really well-designed sites out there for kids.

Voices in my head


A friend from high school sent out a video yesterday showing her new house in Georgia. We were good friends back in high school, but we haven't seen each other or spoken since 1993, except via e-mail.

So when I started playing the video, her narration sounded odd to me. There was a voice coming out of my speakers that I didn't expect and didn't remember. In fact, to me her voice sounded like Ruby's in the children's TV show Max and Ruby. In my head, I could hear how her voice sounded, or at least how I thought I remembered it.

I know people's voices change over time. And being a former mascot, I know that people imagine a voice in their head for characters and people, often times wildly incorrectly. But it still struck me that the voice I heard seems so wrong.

It makes me wonder about the accuracy of a lot of my memories.

Microsoft and Yahoo Reach Deal on Search

From the New York Times:

Microsoft Corporation and Yahoo announced on Wednesday that
they had agreed to collaborate on Internet search and
advertising, in a challenge to Google's dominance.


Yawn. Two formerly relevant companies getting in bed together to make an irrelevant child.

Friday, July 24, 2009

AARP Ignores Its Members


I got an e-mail this morning from my grandma about the socialist health care bill being rammed up our asses by Congress and President Obama, and being the good journalist that I am I decided to check the e-mail's accuracy by taking a look at the bill itself.

I started with a simple Google search for "health care bill." The top hit was a link to a story called "Health Care Bill Details" at the AARP website. Who would be more interested in health care reform than the AARP, right?

The resulting page consisted of a press release from the Associated Press with some vague (and misleading) generalities about the bill. No specifics, and certainly not what the headline "Health Care Bill Details" would lead you to believe you would find. The nut: the AARP supports Obama's bill.

Then I began to read the comments below the story. Check them out for yourself. Incredulity is the only word I can come up with that accurately describes the tone of the comments. I didn't see a single comment in support of either AARP or the bill. Everyone - EVERYONE! - couldn't believe that the AARP was going against what its membership wanted, which was to drop support for the bill. Many threatened to cancel their membership. In true sheeple fashion, even more said they were going to seriously consider canceling their membership. Freaking DO IT already, people! Don't threaten. Don't think about it. DO IT! Only by losing a huge chunk of its membership is an organization like the AARP that acts against the wishes of its own members going to et any kind of a wake-up call.

If you're a member of AARP, I highly encourage you to cancel your membership. Today. Now.



PS- As a footnote to this story, I tried other places to look up the actual health care bill on places such as the US House of Representatives website and the White house website. The House website is so poorly designed that its unusable, and the White House website only contained talking points that sounded straight from the campaign trail. No link to the bill. No specifics.

Why do I feel as if a freight train is being hidden from us, just before it runs us over when we look the other way?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Appreciation is dictated by your surroundings


I got this in an e-mail from my grandma. It's very true and very deep. Find the Washington Post story here, complete with video of the Master playing.

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.


10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.


No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.


This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.... How many other things are we missing?

Microsoft Says You're Wrong and Stupid


Microsoft thinks that after Windows 7 debuts that people will change their perceptions of Windows Vista.

"I think people will look back on Vista after the Windows 7 release and realize that there were actually a bunch of good things there," [Steve] Guggenheimer said in a recent interview. "So it'll actually be interesting to see in two years what the perception is of Vista."


I'd fire that guy right on the spot. Who is he kidding? This is someone who has absolutely no clue about how the public's perception of a brand or a product work. Millions of people aren't suddenly going to change their minds that Vista wasn't a complete debacle, especially if Windows 7 is a better product. People just aren't wired that way. The only thing that would cause people to look back fondly at their good old Windows Vista days is if Windows 7 is a complete piece of crap. And for Microsoft's sake, let's hope that that's not the case.

Take Apple, for example. Perceptions of Apple are just starting to come back around to overwhelming positive after a decade of mismanagement and crappy products that began in the late '80s. The Mac still has a stigma that it's an overpriced computer, even though that hasn't been true for almost five years. And just last week I had to answer, yet again, the question "but what if I have to send files to someone on a PC? Does it run Microsoft Office?" For those who are wondering - Office files have worked seamlessly across platforms since at least 1998. It took almost a full generation for Apple's momentum to swing around. They've always had their rabid and loyal fan base, just like most companies who make products do. But we're talking about the general public.

But that makes my point. People, much less a complete society, just aren't going to all suddenly change their mind about something that is part of the zeitgeist. Richard Nixon was a pretty damn good president and did a lot of great things, but no one thinks about that. Think about Nixon and you think about scandal and corruption and shame. A couple of decades haven't even changed that perception.

Microsoft is kidding itself.

via Channel Web

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daddy is a weirdo

At some point tonight, Kayci slipped a note onto the back of my shirt. I knew she was doing it, but completely forgot about it. Anout 30 minutes later, Kristi went in for a hug and found the note on my back. This was it:



It says "daddy is a weirdo. ha ha ha."

See what I put up with? I wouldn't trade a minute of it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dude Logic

"There is no job that's too big or too hard to be done right ... while company is on their way over."

Small Steps By Man

Today is the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and man's first steps on the moon.

I've always been intrigued by space and especially the Apollo moon missions, so this past week I've been somewhat obsessed with the photos and news stories leading up to the anniversary today.

I was especially interested on Saturday in this story: NASA has realeased photos taken by the lunar orbiter that NASA launched last year of the Apollo landing sites. This is Apollo 11:



But my favorite is this one, from Apollo 14, which shows the astronaut foot path back and forth between the LM and a scientific experiment site.




I've often wondered if you could see the landing module with a telescope. I learned this week that there's no telescope on Earth large enough because the machinery is so small in scale. Anyone who's been to the Johnson Space Center and seen the lunar lander display knows exactly how big the lunar lander isn't. But the satellite orbiting the moon could do it.

It looks like everything has been perfectly preserved for 40 years. I would love to be the guy at some point in the future who's out for a walk on the moon and gets to see that history first-hand. I think it would be terribly interesting to see the condition of the materials used to build the lander after 40 years in space in the moon's environment. Is it pristine? Are there signs of rust (which would open up all sorts of questions regarding water)? How is the integrity of the metal?

I think that would tell us a lot about the moon's environment over time and the viability of man's existence there. That would be a worthy reason to go back.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2 Tour de France riders hurt in suspected air-rifle shooting

"The riders were hit during the descent of the demanding Col du Platzerwasel, about 22 miles from the finish of the stage between Vittel and Colmar, Rabobank said."


You've got to be pretty damn bored to pull shit like this. But unfortunately, it's not limited to the Tour. The second year I rode the MS150, some jackass decided to put thumbtacks all over the road at the bottom of a curving hill in "the parks." Typically, you're going about 35 MPH at that spot, which makes those kinds of shenanigans very, very dangerous. There were literally dozens of cyclists with blown tires.

From Brietbart

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Moon Landing Footage Erased to Tape Episode of Mork & Mindy


Forty years ago today the Apollo 11 spacecraft launched, which would take Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon. Check out an incredible collection of photos from the mission here.

In conjunction with the anniversary of one of the greatest feats of mankind in the history of the world, NASA has also admitted that they apparently used up all their collective brain power on the moon missions and stumbled around like drunk fratdaddies in the late '70s and '80s. You see, they announced today that they are refurbishing copies of the moon landing tapes - taking out a lot of the grain and restoring detail using Hollywood film enhancement techniques. But not from the original tapes, you see. Because those don't exist anymore.

"NASA lost its original moon landing videotapes and after a three-year search, officials have concluded they were probably erased.

The original videos beamed to earth were stored on giant reels of tapes that each contained 15 minutes of video, along with 13 other channels of live data from the moon. In the 1970s and 1980s, NASA had a shortage of the tapes and erased about 200,000 of those tapes and reused them. That's apparently what happened to the famous moon landing footage."


I find it unconscionable that someone at NASA wouldn't have thought, "hey - here's perhaps the most valuable video footage ever. Perhaps maybe we should archive this in a safe place and, you know, NOT erase it."

Somebody better lose their effing pension over this.

Awareness of Age

I woke up this morning when my alarm went off in the middle of a dream where I was watching Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell play basketball in a parking lot. Random, right? I should mention that one of my favorite TV shows ever is Quantum Leap, which ran from 1989 - 1993.

So I got to wondering when woke up how old Scott Bakula was when he was in Quantum Leap. As a teenager watching the show, he didn't seem old necessarily, but maybe middle-aged. I took a rough guess that he was probably in his 40s. I was wrong.

According to IMDB, Bakula was 35 when he started Quantum Leap. That's just one year older than I am now. Now, I know I'm not an actor or a movie star, but I can't help but make a comparison. Here's this guy, at 35, starring in a television show.

Dean Stockwell, on the other hand, was 53 when Quantum Leap began. He had already had a long career (and has continued since). When he was 34, he had already managed to rack up an impressive resume of films and TV shows, but hadn't done anything that really defined his career as an adult.

Then I thought about John Wayne, arguably the most popular screen actor of all time. What about John Wayne at 34? It turns out that he, too, had been in many pictures by this time, but in reality was just starting to break out of B movies and into more starring roles. He had just made Stagecoach two years before and was still seven years from making Red River. Although by numbers of films he was roughly halfway through his career, his really defining work -the stuff that made him a legend- was still years ahead of him. Up until this point he had been building cred and paying dues. Even in Stagecoach, made when he was 32, he was called "the kid."

When we're little, we think (and we're led to believe) that we're going to go out in the world and set it on fire. In reality, there are very few that actually do, and those people tend to burn out. Look at child actors. Most are done by the time they're in their 20s or 30s. But then take Bob Newhart, whose first film credit came when he was 33.

This made me feel a lot better. I have to remind myself sometimes when I look around me that you can't get where you want to go right away. There's a journey involved, and that journey is what defines you. And as you continue along the journey, the journey - and you - get better. At age 34, in reality I'm only at the beginning of my career. I'm building cred and paying my dues and making B movies, but each project teaches me something new that allows me to grow and to hopefully be great someday.

A career is like a brand. Your current logo may be the current job or project and that can be sexy and exciting. But in reality, a brand is the accumulation of the perceptions of the public about your product. It's not any one thing - it's how all the things that your company does adds up. Your career is the accumulation of your failures and successes and projects and travels. As Jethro Tull said, "Life's a Long Song."

We're not always happy about where we've been on a journey or in a career. The key is, like in the middle of a journey, to look around and to be satisfied with where you are and have a direction ahead to aim for.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Freaking Which Is IT???



Screenshot of Google News taken at 2:16pm.

And Now... Telepathic Cyborg Monkeys!!!


Great. Another thing to worry about.

It seems that a monkey at Pittsburgh University has been able to control a robotic arm using only its mind. As if a future of talking apes taking over the world wasn't scary enough - now we have to be wary of EVERY monkey.

Next time you go to the zoo or to the circus or watch an episode of Friends season 2, beware! Is that monkey down there looking at me? Is he reading my mind? Is he probing for a weakness? Is he... BLAM! That's when he uses his robotic cyborg monkey arm to whip out a frickin' laser and fry your brain.

Stupid monkeys.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Anyone know where I can buy a roller-skating baby?

It's thursday, and you know what that means?

WRONG!

It's roller-skating baby time!



...and check out the "making of" video:

People are finally starting to realize what a mistake we made.




from Rassmussen.

Procter & Gamble Manages to Piss Off the Entire Production Community

Procter & Gamble, in an effort to save money and streamline its production timeline instituted a "Preferred Vendor" program, forcing its companies and agencies to use a set of around 30 production facilities, rather than the 125 or so that they used last year. And they want deep discounts, naturally, with no guarantee that just because a production house is preferred vendor that they'll see any work at all.

The entire production and creative community is up in arms over the policy. The quote that sums up the whole situation is this, from an unnamed producer:

"If Nike calls me up, which probably does one-tenth the advertising of P&G, I'm more likely to give Nike a deal despite the lower volume because they do better work," says one production company exec. "I don't sell products, I sell directors. So my product's only viable if they do good work. Why am I going to give someone a deal for work that's not going to do anything for my reel or my brand? It would just be for the money, and if it's just for the money, why am I giving them a big discount?"


Exactly.

via Creativity Magazine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jacko the Wacko


Great article in the Detroit Free Press on just how weird Michael Jackson was, and how strange it is that so many people are falling all over themselves to praise him as some sort of saint.

"Michael Jackson left this world three days ago. But he hadn't been living in it for a long time.

In fact, it's hard to think of a celebrity who had less to do with the real world than Jackson. In the real world, you don't have pet llamas or roller coasters in your backyard. In the real world, if you're $400 million in debt, people aren't still lending you money. In the real world, you don't buy human bones, wear lipstick as a man or sleep with other people's children in your bedroom."


That's two articles in a row from the Free Press, for those who are counting. Thanks to Matt for passing it along.

Bubba's Bar & Grill


Check out this new cooking site from Neil Peart. Yes, that Neil Peart.

It's Bubba's Bar & Grill, and its all about the kind of cooking I love: fresh and simple. It seems we have very similar culinary tastes. I would have chosen a salmon recipe as one of my first, also.

Michael Jackson and Mass Hysteria

An interesting letter from the Detroit Free Press:

28 June 2009

Editor, Detroit Free Press

Dear Editor:

Mitch Albom is correct that "We're wacko in how we view Jacko" (June 28). But not all of us are wacko. I, for one, am no more touched by Mr. Jackson's death than I am by the death of any of the thousands of other Americans who died last week, all of whom - like Mr. Jackson - are strangers to me and to the vast majority of people now so self-indulgently and flamboyantly grieving for a man they never met.

Americans' proclivity to mass hysteria causes me to want government to have as little power as possible. I neither can nor wish to stop other persons from doing with their lives as they wish. But I also damn sure despise the fact that, through their votes, so many persons prone to such childish sentiments and displays have a say in how I lead my life.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux


Thanks to Matt for passing it along.

What time is it???

I have a confession to make. I like the Spin Doctors.

I KNOW it's not cool in 2009 to like the Spin Doctors. They kinda went out of style somewhere around 1994. But I'm sitting here working and a Spin Doctors song randomly played from my iTunes library, and I can't help but jam a little.

And it's not the first time, either. I do it once a week or so.

So there. Suck it.

Hitler's subtitler gets a cheap font CD



Hilarious.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Steve McNair found dead


I hate to see this. Steve McNair seemed like one of those old school athletes who was a professional and played with a lot of heart every outing. Even though he's a Titan (the former Oilers), I found myself cheering for him when I could.

My sophomore year in college, McNair was up for the Heisman trophy when Alcorn State played Sam Houston State. It was a big deal because the game was televised, and back then Sam Houston NEVER got to be on TV. My buddies and I painted ourselves up, shirtless, and called ourselves the "barekats" for the game.

McNair came in and played an incredible game. The Bearkats ended up winning the game, but it was really special getting to watch someone play whom you could tell had a gift. It was obvious that he was going to go on to play in the NFL, and he ended up having a pretty good career in Tennessee and later Baltimore.

Thanks for the memories, Steve.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Steve Perkins, You're an A-hole.

The most recent jump in oil prices can be attributed to one man - a British man and oil speculator named Steve Perkins.

Is it me, or is there a problem when one person can affect the entire market in such a way? It's bad enough that oil speculators (and not genuine market forces) primarily caused the kind of prices we all saw at the pump last year, but we're in the middle of watching it happen again. In slow motion.

via Financial Times.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fun with sheep

video

Ant under an electron microscope


This may be the coolest thing I've ever seen.

Be sure to click the link above and zoom in and take a look at the detail of the skeleton. Awesome.

Firefox logo gets a refresh


Firefox 3.5 was just released, and with the update came an updated logo.

You can read in detail about the logo refresh process here, but taking a look at the before and after versions (via Brand New) I can't say that I'm all that impressed.

Sure, the fox now has more texture on his fur (when viewed at a large size, anyway), but viewed at the size above, it actually appears that the fox is less defined. The tail has gotten more complex with the addition of additional fur tufts, but the effect is that it actually appears to flatten out the tail, which is the exact opposite of the redesign's intent. What I do like about the tail, and which I wish Mozilla had developed further, are the jagged shapes that are created on the right side of the tail. The create some very interesting energy in the logo and add to the "firey" feel of the tail. Bu it appears to be a mistake - a happy accident - as you can still see the globe behind the tail. Those jagged points could have made for some very interesting shapes and a lot of motion on the right side of the logo.

The globe is puzzling to me. It's glossier now than it was in the previous version, but I really liked the contrast in the before image - both against the fox and in the water and land areas. I think it did need a little more shine to give it some 3D depth. but it looks like a color image that's been copied on a cheap color copier. It feels washed out.

And one of the more puzzling things about the new logo is that despite the fact that they tried to give it more gloss, they still have just a simple drop shadow under the fox, as if it were hovering over an opaque disc. It seems to me that it would have been much more effective to add a dark blue shadow that looked somewhat like the reflection of the underside of the fox - dark and with no detail.

I've done a really quick mockup of what I mean.



Overall, I think the new logo is a step backward. Going more detailed on your logo is very rarely the answer. Simplification is. I think Mozilla made a mistake.

Al Franken Elected to the Senate


The Minnesota Supreme Court yesterday decided in favor of Al Franken as the winner of last November's contested election.

What strikes me about this story is:
1. How freaking long it took to decide this race. It's been 8 months!!!
2. How slimy the entire story is. Votes appearing out of nowhere with every recount. Always in favor of Franken? Come one.
3. How stupid the people of Minnesota are. This is the effing United States SENATE, people, not the Cheesetown City Council. This isn't a joke! (not that Franken would know anything about jokes - he's never, ever been actually funny - only a buffoon.)

Damn it.