Friday, August 31, 2007

Podcast Picks of the Day - Futures in Biotech and The Story

Futures in Biotech
Futures in Biotech 21: Science versus Cancer
Run Time: 1:06:11

Hosted by Marc Pelletier, Futures in Biotech is a podcast focusing on the latest breakthroughs in biotechnology. This episode featured Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a doctor at the University of Alberta, and his discovery of how the cheap, common drug DCA could potentially destroy cancer cells. DCA acts to switch the unique metabolism of cancer cells back to normal, which in turn triggers programmed cell death (apoptosis). There are multiple disclaimers at the end of the episode regarding DCA and its testing. Dr. Evangelos’ provided excellent insight on how cancer cells metabolize differently from normal cells.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

The Story
Listening for Amelia
Run Time: 51:38

Hosted by Dick Gordon, The Story is a daily weekday podcast featuring engaging stories from all walks of life. Amelia Earhart lost communication during her flight around the world on July 2, 1937. On the same day, Betty Klenck Brown was a 15-year-old Californian girl listening to her short wave radio for songs, which she planned to transcribe so she could sing the lyrics without having to purchase the sheet music. After turning the dial, a voice came over the speaker “This is Amelia Earhart. This is Amelia Earhart.” Betty transcribed every word that came through the radio. The transcription became a three-hour, harrowing, one-way distress communication from Amelia and her navigator.

Despite efforts by her father for government involvement, Betty’s journal of the incident stayed dormant for decades until a member of TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) came across her journal after hearing a story from Betty’s neighbor. Ric, a disbeliever in the Betty’s story at first, now believes Betty’s radio did pick up the Earhart distress call from the crash site as shown in clues in the transcription, communication snippets that could only have come from Earhart.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - This Week in Tech

This Week in Tech
TWiT 107: We’re Going to Need a Bigger Flywheel
Run Time: 1:31:32

Hosted by Leo Laporte, This Week in Tech is a weekly podcast focusing on all things tech. This episode consisted of a sizeable cast: John C. Dvorak (, Patrick Norton, Robert Herron, Steve Gibson and Molly Wood. Amongst other topics, the large gang pontificated on Google bidding for the 700MHz spectrum, Dvorak’s insight into a possible Sprint-Google deal, the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray war, hybrid hard drives, Congressmen and tech, intern loses 800,000 Ohio social security numbers, Apple and Microsoft quarterly profits, smog testing and HDMI cable reviews.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - This American Life

This American Life
#337: Man vs. History
Run Time: 59:36

Hosted by Ira Glass, This American Life features intriguing stories from all walks of American life. Act One of the episode featured Dal LaMagna, an entrepeneur who made some of his small fortune selling high quality tweezers. During retirment, Dal set a new lofty goal for himself: end the violence in Iraq. Armed with some lobbying and Washington D.C.experience, Dal traveled to the Middle East and hooked up with an Iraqi Parliamentary member, Mohammed Al-Dynee, to broker a peace between warring factions and the U.S. troops. Dal recored his meetings and journeys, some 25 hours of audio. The podcast provides great insight into the behind scenes in Baghdad, including a meeting with the British high commander.

Act two featured espionage in the Czech Republic at the end of the Cold War. Spies playing one another, and emotional attachments that interfere with Operation: Brief Encounter.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Late to the game but who cares...

I was chastised this weekend for not being aware of the "latest" Internet meme - the Dramatic Prairie Dog. Grant it, it was much easier back in the day actually working at Internet companies to hear of these things. Those were the days of Star Wars Kid, Numa Numa, "Boom Goes the Dynamite" and all such catalogued here.

So maybe you're all aware and I'm late to the game. If not, you're in.

Watch this:
The Dramatic Prairie Dog

Now here's the origin.

And here is the Austin Powers remix:

No go and do likewise, people, go and do likewise. Just watch who you're telling because IF they've heard of it before you, prepare for a snobby helping of, "I've already heard of that" aka you're not so cool.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I've always been a big fan of ordering things online even at times when such things seemed awkward to order online, like a big-screen TV. The problem with ordering online is you get a list of 30 or so merchants who beat the Best Buys and Circuit Citys by a few hundred bucks, and the only way to know if they are the real deal or not is to slog through the hundreds of customer reviews on pricegrabber - which is exactly what my brohaus Jeff did for my (and his) HDTV purchases.

However, as more people order online with less research the door is widening for scammers.

Here's one such found before (thankfully) some co-workers ordered online:

A camera site like bestpricecameras advertises on Google for hundreds below the lowest price on pricegrabber (therefore halving Best Buy and Circuit City). The User orders the bare-boned version of the camera. The camera store calls the User the next day and adds-on accessories pushing the price back to retail. If the User does not agree to the accessories, they don't ship the camera.

Here's the forum review that broke it all down and saved my co-workers a sh*tload of toil.
Photography Review.

Pass it on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Scattered thoughts from Vegas:

  1. Crowds of people unaware they are in a crowd of people. Hundreds walking in each direction, but yet people will stop on a dime as if they are the only one walking the boulevard - causing a people-jam behind. This is owed to Vegas' ability to make each person feel as if they are in their own world, by catering to each inidividual's vice (gambling, food, shows, clubs, shopping, etc...) The result is a populace of complete introverts, blissfully unaware of the fact they are one in a mass of millions. Also - Casinos have mastered the art of making each patron feel as if they are a high-roller. Not that there is anything wrong with any of this.
  2. The $300 default ATM withdrawal limit was created by God at the beginning of time.
  3. For the first time in five years there are lots of empty tables. Are they over-building? Or are people less interested in gambling as Indian casinos sprawl?
  4. Breakfast no longer served all day.
  5. The "cash advance from credit card without PIN" created by Devil recently.
  6. The Deuce rocks.
  7. Business idea - create casino around gaming. Think XBOX Live for real money and comps, with the atmosphere of Jillians or Dave & Busters.

Monday, June 11, 2007


One of the perks missing from a free blogger account is an audience, one of perks always available however, is a forum to vent righteous indignation. The two are probably in an inverse relationship, but what the hell:

Walk into any Coffee Bean and order a regular coffee. The clerk will ask three questions:
  1. Would you like room? (for cream)
  2. What's your name?
  3. Is that for here or to go?
This last question is utterly ridiculous - for what's the difference between sipping coffee in the establishment or taking one step outside? It gets more absurd when one is ordering multiple drinks for co-workers back at the office. "For here please, I plan to drink a mild drip, an iced soy latte, a Japanese-cherry iced tea, and a hot chocolate right here, right now, then piss all over myself."

One time, a cashier conceded, "We have to ask that" she said. "Um, why?" "Because... if a mystery customer comes in and we don't ask that they fine us." Mystery customers, or auditors, are hired by corporate to make sure clerks and managers are following corporate code.

So here's my rant to The Coffee Bean V.P. of Customer Relations. Or since this is Corporate America, more likely the Senior V.P. of the Organic Experience and People-Centered Relations, or some other bullsh*t. Stop this nonsense. You're making your employees look like idiots by forcing them to ask a stupid question because your red-tape quality-control managers make an extra buck every time they write somebody up. The auditors have to work on commission, right? It's the only way this non-sense makes sense.

Let me put it this way, if the only reason your employees do something is because they have to, it's a waste of time. Your people should explain your practices clearly. They should, in essence, possess the ability to sell your company. And you should give them the ideas to do it. After all, they are face of your company. They are ones taking the cash.

I know this seems like I'm making a big thing out of nothing, but this is my rant god dammit! And what good is a rant if I don't take cheap shots at the establishment? I mean, what auditor hears this asinine question and thinks, "Good job there young lady, you're well-trained."

The only possible explanation regards the few who order pastries. "For here" would then require a plate. OK, fine if you order a pastry it would be nice if you were given a plate. But this shouldn't be a law requiring stiff enforcement. And further, people who go to coffee shops to eat baked goods should not define the rules for those who go to coffee shops to get coffee!*

*(These are most likely the same folk who like mayo.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Why gossip?

I've been thinking about gossip lately, with Paris, Britney, Lindsay, Katie, whoever-ie incessantly blanketing flat-screens in every dentist's waiting room and grocery store. It seems to me that this celebrity gossip thing has gotten worse over the years. Of course the Internet and gossip sites have much to do with it. Or, to be honest, I'm thinking maybe Iraq plays a role as well. Here we are living our normal day-to-day lives while the courageous approach checkpoints thinking, "Is it my day to get limbs blown off?"

No matter one's position on the war, it's surreal.

Maybe people gravitate to the escapism of gossip because, unlike this war, it doesn't require much processing-power to make sense of it?

There's an old idea from The Long Tail that keeps dangling in my head. It's about the end of the watercooler era. To quote:

The usual test is the "watercooler effect", the buzz in the office around a shared cultural event, be it the finale of The Apprentice or the opening of the last Star Wars. The number of such events has been shrinking for years, driven mostly by the fragmentation of the television audience.
Anderson goes on to cite examples in various media where the "hits" of today wouldn't make the radar of the ratings years ago. With DVRs and DVDs it's almost impossible to share a television show with co-workers. Even if people are watching the same season of the same show, it's unlikely they're watching the same night.

All that said, here it goes: Just because we no longer share cultural events around TV, music, and movies; doesn't mean we don't naturally crave a sharing of cultural events. Anderson's "End of the Watercooler" has created a vacuum to be filled by - livable media, or media that has value only if experienced at a specific time.

Take the Superbowl, you could TiVo and watch it later but good luck avoiding the score. American Idol fits as well.

Gossip works in particular, I think, because it demands to be relayed in the moment. A person can bring up Britney's bald head tomorrow in work conversation, but that's old news. It's all Lindsay and Paris now.

Gossip also transcends the political polarization of our time. Political debates are difficult in the office, but it's so easy to gap. Paris going to jail? It's something we can all agree on.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - Diggnation

Diggnation – May 31, 2007 (the 100th episode)
RunTime: 1:02:35

Hosted by Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht, Diggnation is a weekly podcast covering some of the more popular stories featured on This episode was the 100tth in the series and Kevin and Alex pontificated on the 100th episode cake, the new version of iTunes (7.2), Microsoft Surface, which yielded probably the best discussion/argument in diggnation history, Google Maps’ new feature Street View, the latest AACS key crack, CBS purchases LAST.FM for $280 million, a discussion of MySpace and Facebook, and highlights from the best moments of the previous 99 diggnations. Truly a classic episode. Enjoy.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A solid 8.7*

Adam Carolla was at Zocalo last night, and it was by far the most entertaining Zocalo I've attended. Hearing this, however, you should consider my previous Zocalo events featured Francis Fukuyama, Dick Riordan, and Eli Broad - not exactly entertainers, so take the praise for what it's worth.

The question going in was: How would Howard Stern's replacement treat the literate audience of, as Zocalo puts it, LA's "non partisan and multi ethnic forum where participants can enjoy a rare opportunity for intellectual fellowship."

The answer: By putting on a show, or put another way, by being himself. Carolla had the crowd roaring for about an hour straight and applauding after one particular rant on an airline Skymall product, the Life Hammer.

One of the outbursts forced moderator Meghan Daum to warn (paraphrased), "don't encourage him or we'll never get thru this." Grant it many in attendance were fans, but I can't help but think the Zocalo regulars were joining in.

For my part, Carolla gets credit for delivering in an industry where too many celebrities get too much credit for just showing up. We pay good money for the mediocre trash Hollywood sells, Carolla brought his A-game for free. Go figure.

Daum, an LA Times columnist, tried earnestly to uncover what makes him tick. Her struggle for substance interrupted by Carolla's rants made her, as a friend observed, the perfect straight woman in a comedy team.

I'm not familiar with Daum's work, but she reminds me of Camille Paglia - a lifetime member of the literati who can't resist the temptation to deconstruct and find meaning in popular culture.

Smart popular culture was the more interesting theme of the night. How does one keep it on the air? As Corolla noted, many people want to see "jingly, shiny stuff" and these are the people with Arbitron books. Surely the Zocalo audience and readers of this blog crave a more intelligent streak in popular entertainment - but it's the silent majority that carries the ratings. Some have described this as the Lennon / McCartney complex - on the one hand let Lennon go and you have Revolution #9, let McCartney go and you get Obla-di, Obla-da. Together you get Hey Jude, the perfect pop culture mix. The problem arises when The Suits see sluggish ratings and prescribe too much McCartney, leaving us without I Am the Walrus.

Back to Carolla. Daum ultimately proves her thesis - that beneath Carolla's "girls-jumping-on-trampolines" reputation lies an acute eye for social critique and substantive commentary. Carolla's career arc from carpet-cleaner to hosting the flagship morning radio show in NY and LA deserves a spotlight. He's a self-made man, and therefore has earned the street-cred necessary to offer jewels of wisdom, and perhaps for some, inspiration.

Late in the hour they come out - "Find out what you're good at and be realistic." The "be realistic" addendum is especially interesting, try finding a Hollywood star who encourages people to "be realistic." One wonders if Carolla's rough upbringing in North Hollywood with a "hippy mother" forced him to be weary of unabashed idealism.

But here we go again, deconstructing and adding pretentious meaning when there probably is none. In her introduction, Daum focused on trying to convince the Zocalo regulars - who are used to hearing from former Mayors, Governors, and authors from all around the world - that Carolla is relevant. And at the end of the evening, I think most in attendance would agree with her.

* Listen to the Podcast. (link not live yet).

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Beware: The Junk Drawer

This weekend I arrived at a stunning realization. As with most moments when the world begins to make sense, I concurrently realized the realization was painfully obvious. So much so that the handful of smart readers of this blog may sigh in disbelief at their loyal blogger's naivete.

But here goes. I was cleaning out the junk drawer - much can be written about the junk drawer, we all have one or more, storing relics and receipts of concerts, napkins, business cards, and 9 volt batteries and such. Wherein I came across a book, "Women Don't Lie - Men Don't Listen" by the humble Mr. Doc Love, the self-proclaimed "first man in 6000 years to understand women."

(Disclaimer: Go ahead and snicker, but I did not buy this book. Unfortunately I'm forbidden to tell the story of how it arrived in my junk drawer, which only serves to further your suspicions of guilt, but...) Let's get to it.

Men will only go out when they are interested, women will go out just to go out.

On Monday morning someone asks a guy, "What did you do this weekend?" He can say, "went out, got hammered with friends," or "watched the playoffs and drank some beers." Surely not the most interesting of lives but acceptable nonetheless. If a girl walks into the same office and says, "I drank a bottle of Merlot and watched The Notebook," she's a loser in the world of women. I'm not saying it's fair, but it's that simple.

Therefore, a guy, with a seemingly endless list of things to do - not a productive list mind you - will only break from it and spend time & money with a girl he's interested in. Meanwhile, a girl, by the simple act of going out, can shun most social retributions - even if the date was a complete bomb (guys get blamed for lame dates).

Mass confusion arrives when the guy assumes a girl is interested because she's going out with him, and a girl assumes a guy is busy at work when he says he's busy at work.

According to the Doc, if a girl doesn't call back quickly she's not interested. If she calls back and goes out with you she's evaluating you, if she goes out about five times she's interested.

I'll add that if a guy doesn't call back he's not interested. If he does he's interested. If he goes out for five dates he may or may not be interested. For once a girl decides she's in - a rare event indeed, at this very moment of clarity for her the guy begins to evaluate.
This is where things get really tricky. So I'll leave it to the pros, like Doc Love, and to the nameless but not forgotten caveman who understood women 6000 years ago.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My beautiful friend actually wants to marry you, seriously!

Lately I've actually been fascinated by MySpace spam... seriously.

Here's a snippet from one of the more obvious:

I know this might seem somewhat strange, but it's 100% true.

My friend lives in another country and speaks pretty good English. She has been raised to believe that a woman should please and serve her man in every way possible, as this is their culture.

She wants to move to America and is looking for a man, a future husband, to bring her in and have a wonderful fulfilling life together. She's not extremely picky, but of course wants somebody she is compatible with. She is in her early to mid twenties. This is her picture.

The link to the picture was broken in the original email as well. Lucky for the spammer and her friend I'm way into cubism and find a square and two adjacent isosceles triangles terribly exciting.

Here's the thing about MySpace spam - it feeds off the weaker aspects of the male psyche. I'm sure one could say the same about any con, but MySpace is a unique offender in that the spammer is assumed to know something about the person they're spamming. The assumption is that the spammer has read the profile while the reality is some robot found the profile and sent the message.

Most MySpace spams feature a hot chick, scantily clad. The male is supposed to click her profile leading to her personal page, wherein she writes about the prudish policies of My Space, and offers links to more risque sites, and the aforementioned male, like a mouse following morsels of cheese, is supposed to follow along.

The particular cross-section of the male psyche at play here is the very modern notion of getting something for nothing. The secret fantasy is - "I could get the hot girl that all the athletes / rock stars get if she only knew me." The MySpace profile provides the backdrop to state all the attributes everyone else supposedly ignores. Once satisfied with his profile, he only has to sit back and wait for the girls to flood his inbox. Forget first dates and chivalry, this system is no different than doing anything online, which is mostly about instant gratification.

Not this all may seem a bit unbelievable - for obviously a man knows spam when he sees it. But ask any guy who has seen such spam, and ask if they clicked thru "just in case" at least once. If that does not suffice, consider the fact that the spammer is at war with MySpace trying to get their messages thru - not with the method itself.

If all that doesn't suffice, consider all of this is aimed mostly at those barely old enough to buy smokes. Now feel free to claim you had the self-esteem to know better at that age, and I will feel just as free to call you a liar.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It wasn't always this way.

I'm reading a seminal book by Richard M. Weaver called "Ideas Have Consequences." The major theme will probably bubble-up in future posts. A minor topic Weaver touches on is an area I think the handful of smart readers of this blog are interested in - and that's work.

Weaver talks about work before the Industrial Revolution, and describes the daily routine as a continuation of prayer. The worker was driven by the desire to work perfectly, to constantly improve their craft under the eyes of God, as this was their significant contribution to the whole.

Take this out of a religious context and it still works. Consider the farmer, who was connected to the land. Let's assume this farmer was an atheist. Each morning the farmer wakes and is at the mercy of nature. Any abrupt change in climate could ruin his livelihood and starve his family. Part of his work is accepting the fact that there are variables out of his control. Each day in the field is therefore a communication with nature. He tends to the field and listens, perceives, touches nature's signals. The farmer has no choice but to accept the fact that his fate lies in a higher power - even if he chooses not to mythologize it.

Take the craftsmen. The craftsmen learns a trade and accepts it for the rest of his life. For the craftsmen the tool he creates is the ultimate reflection of himself. The emphasis is on quality, on creating a most magnificent tool, and then improving on it. For to improve on it is to improve upon himself.

Think about this - if you knew you were going to create horseshoes every single day for the rest of your life, would you create hunks of trash? Or would you begin to craft the most perfect horseshoe that ever existed? The craftsmen who chooses mediocrity has reason to drink, the craftsmen who chooses excellence has good reason to get up early in the morning, as his work has meaning.

Enter the Industrial Revolution, where the machine drives a wedge between the craftsmen and the tool, the farmer and the land. The machine cares not for quality but quantity, nor does it communicate with nature but rather fight it. If a machine could worship, it would worship consistency.

The worker is now a slave to the accountant, who cares only for numbers. This is the point where Marx jumped in and said the worker must revolt against the accountant, then equally disperse the profits. But this doesn't solve the problem does it? The workers can rid themselves of the accountant but they must keep the machine. They cannot revolt against the machine if they want to continue the profits.

Instead, according to Weaver, the worker in the capitalist country essentially plays the game and commoditizes work. Work is then negotiated like any other transaction. And the goal of the workday changes from striving toward perfection to maximizing efficiency. In other words, the worker ceases to create something he's proud of, and instead strives to give the least effort for the best price. Work is therefore severed from any spiritual or worthwhile meaning. The worker no longer worships nature, God, a higher power, but rather a new entity - the consumer. They create for the consumer in the day and become the consumer when not working.

This is where many people start preaching against the material world. Yelling at people to stop buying stuff. The idea is if people quench their desire to have things, they wouldn't need to work so hard to get them, and will therefore be content. I don't agree with this though, because even if one were to own only the bare necessities they would still not answer the problem of what gets them up in the morning and out the door.

I don't have the answer, but I'm leaning toward the idea that serving the consumer doesn't quite light a fire.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The War on Mayo

There is no condiment as sinister as mayonnaise.

A mere spoonful spreads like the gunk from a backed-up toilet, soaking through the vast underbelly of the spongy bread. It's presence is omnipotent. It's taste dreadful. It's power derives from the act of instantly ruining a sandwich.

At what point did it become commonplace to put mayo on a sandwich? Further, at what point did the application of such spread become a requirement to the "yummy sandwich," so as not to be included on the menu listing all the requirements of certain said sandwich? Or even if specifically requested not to be present, the sandwich craftsman most often spreads it anyway. Obviously these folks feel not a hint of fear in doing so. "Who will argue against mayo?" they wonder, "And if they do, I have the world at my side."

And how did this happen? When did the pro-mayo lobby win-out against the anti-mayo contingent, a.k.a. the sandwich traditionalists?

Consider this: An alien lands on Earth in the United States fifty years from now. This particular alien loves to smoke cigarettes and hears Earth has a most interesting climate for producing tobacco. Now fifty years from now it is not unreasonable to believe smoking will be banned just about everywhere save for a few underground saloons. Now this alien, while walking about, learns that he cannot smoke in this section of Earth, but that
  • a. he's welcome to navigate to less-evolved parts of the world where people still have fun, or
  • b. he's welcome to purchase some tobacco to sell and eventually kill his fellow aliens.
Who knows.

My point is I know specifically the moment in time when a majority of the populace decided, "We're done with smoking." That time of course is now. Some civil libertarians are up in arms over the matter, but the lawmakers passed a law that people agreed with and so it is. And frankly, I don't mind the status quo, it's nice not having to bring a bottle of contact solution to the bars at night.

In other words, I get it. As much as I cringe when government starts dictating what people can and can't do, and where they can or can't do it. I can respect a law that everyone respects.

So when did the tide turn in the application of mayo as a standard to all sandwiches? If there wasn't a moment like the ban on smoking, then other forces must be at play. One might follow the thinking of conspiracy theorists, who surmise that perhaps a global corporation lobbied deli markets into embracing their product? Perhaps.

Of course the glaring alternative is that a majority of people actually like this stuff. This is a status quo I cannot live with.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cuban needs help

Mark Cuban is taking TV show pitches for HDNet at his blog, which is a really cool thing. I know people who've worked in the TV industry here in LA for six years and have not pitched a show. Now whether something of substance comes out of it is another story. Will it be a case where transparency pays off, as a recent cover of Wired preached? Or will it be another Project Greenlight, which led Affleck/Damon to conclude that, well, maybe all the talent in show business is in LA?

(Of course, the fact that Greenlight produced crap and that 90% of what Hollywood produces is crap, may prove that what Hollywood needs is a revolution from the top down, i.e. new decision-makers and A-lists movie stars, i.e. maybe producers of the Affleck/Damon-sort have as much an idea as to what makes a good story as average joe sixpack. Mamet might agree.)

But Cuban needs help, in more than just story ideas, because HDNet is beginning to lose its appeal. I think Cuban knows this, and it's one of the reasons he's using avante-garde development tactics (in addition to the fact that he believes in the power of blogdom.)

Why? The initial draw for HDNet was its HD programming of course, and now that more networks are supplying HD content, there's less room for HDNet to distinguish itself on that basis alone. In the beginning they probably said, "How do we showcase HD? Sports, nature shows, chicks in bikinis." Done.

Planet Earth is the show HDNet should have had, but Discovery beat them to it. I think Cuban knows this as well. So now what?

Here's my suggestion:

HDNet becomes the HBO for the tech-savvy, bloggin', myspace generation. By HBO I mean highly-literate original content that does not in any way talk down to its audience. In fact, it does the reverse - it educates and at times confuses and frustrates (ex. Sopranos after season 3).

Now you might say there's a channel for this audience, it's G4? But G4 is trying to be MTV - worse than that, it's trying to be old MTV for video games. Let MTV die. Instead, how about putting the camera back on the tripod and asking an intelligent question, or simply telling a story? The content does not have to revolve around Technology per se, though a show set in an IT department (something between The Office and Office Space) is long overdue. But how about a channel that, when choosing its programs, assumes the following of its audience:
  • They are well-educated, computer-savvy, web-savvy, blog-savvy.
  • They research the products they buy for hours in their spare time and therefore could care less about 30 second ads.
  • If they feel they're being preached to or talked-down to, they'll change the channel or turn on the laptop.
The days of wanting to see something "just because it's in HD" are waning - I believe Planet Earth is both the apex of this urge and the demarcation of its decline. I want more "smart popular culture", but in HD. I think there's a space for it, and I think Cuban can fill it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Good limitations

I can't recommend a better blog than Dubious Quality, and I thank the brethren OtohBotohs around here for turning me on to him. It's an almost perfect blog according to the standards laid-out in the Why We Blog post - in that it's a delightful solace from the workday.

Today Dubious posted a snippet regarding Spore - the forthcoming video game from Will Wright, creator of The Sims. In the game, the God-like gamer evolves an organism into a species "through open-ended, on-the-fly, user-guided evolution." (source: Wikipedia)

I first heard about Spore in Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. He was talking about the customization of the means of production for products, like toys, and mentioned that in Spore gamers would be able to create their own Spore-character, send it off to the developer, who would then create a figurine of said Spore and send back to the gamer - all in a matter of weeks, if not shorter. Amazing, I thought.

Well now apparently Spore is hitting productions lags and won't be out until maybe 2009. What would have been amazing a year ago will be maybe-kinda cool two years from now. Which sucks.

Here's Dubious:

I think that for some people, having nearly unlimited budget and total schedule flexibility is a curse. Actually, I wouldn't say that for "some" people--I'd say it for everyone. When no possible choices are excluded, then every possible choice must be considered.

Couldn't agree more. I think one needs to look no further than Star Wars to find an example. The original film is now legendary for the challenges Lucas faced on set. In fact, it almost killed him which is why he took so long to direct again. More Wikipedia:
The production company, not to mention many involved in the actual production, had little faith in the film. According to reports, it was a daily struggle merely to complete the film on time.

Contrast that with The Phantom Menace.

I think a root cause is Lucas did not have positive limitations. No one in pre-production said, "Honestly sir, is it possible that the script has maybe a lot of dialogue?" and it doesn't seem like anyone in post said, "Ya know, I don't wanna overstep here, but my instinct is that I don't quite think this Jar Jar character is really, like really working." (All hypothetical production workers are passive-aggressive by nature.)

If I had more space I would draw the distinction between struggle and limitations, but this post is long enough already.

If you'd prefer more philosophical evidence then take a look at Rollo May's The Courage to Create, where May argues that limitations are essential to the creative process. Rather than try to summarize from memory, I pulled these quotes from a blog called In a Dark Time:
May’s major argument is that 'conflict presupposes limits, and the struggle with limits is actually the source of creative productions... The limits are as necessary as those provided by the banks of a river, without which the water would be dispersed on the earth and there would be no river-that is, the river is constituted by the tension between the flowing water and the banks. Art in the same way requires limits as a necessary factor in its birth.”

I've often wondered why the best works of artists are usually their first, and I think the fact that they have to fight against all kinds of limitations has something to do with it. Once achieved though, these same artists, armed with unlimited resources, cannot stop the flood.

Podcast Pick of the Day - Windows Weekly

Windows Weekly
Episode 24: And Hilarity Ensued
Run Time: 48:11

Hosted by Paul Thurrott and Leo Laporte, Windows Weekly is a weekly podcast focusing on Microsoft and the latest in technology. This episode featured HD-DVD woes, HD-DVD software, Dell and Ubuntu, Microsoft’s earnings, Vista Anytime upgrades, Paul’s CHK DISC anecdote, Silverlight 1.1 is a self-contained version of .NET and IE8.

Microsoft’s quarterly earnings perspective (from the podcast):
What these companies earn in a quarter, Microsoft earns the same amount in the following time periods:

  • Red Hat – 10 hours
  • Research and Motion (Blackberry creators) – 4 days
  • Starbucks – 4 days
  • McDonalds – 14 days
  • Apple – 14 days
  • Google – 18 days
  • Coke – 23 days
  • Walmart – 10 weeks

Microsoft profits 55 million dollars a day. I think articles declaring Microsoft’s death are greatly exaggerated.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Gift Card is better than Cash. Right?

With Mother's Day and Father's Day coming up I figured it would be a good time to post this link. Well, maybe the fact I just read the article 5 minutes ago has more to do with the timing. Anyway, the article is written by Dubner and Levitt - I'm tellin ya - they're good. It's a quick read.

Here's the first sentence.... "What do a gym membership, a bottle of prescription pills and a holiday gift card have in common?"

Monday, May 7, 2007

Just flip it.

While reading through Jeff's super weekend leisure links post of Friday, I stumbled upon an interesting piece of reverse-thinking.

Here's the post, and here's the snippet.

In an effort to prove poker as a game of skill as opposed to a game of chance (and thereby possibly qualify it for legal online gambling*), poker pro Annie Duke explains as such:

...Duke offers a simple but compelling argument (attributed to David Sklansky and Duke’s brother Howard Lederer) for poker as a game of skill and not purely chance.

The gist is this: forget about winning at poker, and think for a moment about losing. Is it possible to intentionally lose a poker game?

The answer is yes, of course. Is it possible, meanwhile, to intentionally lose a game like Baccarat or roulette or craps?

There is a name for this method of argument, which I cannot remember, but it was first introduced to me via Jonah Goldberg** who said (and I grossly paraphrase) - to test an arguments foundation simply flip it and see if the reverse works.

The example he used was violence in movies, and whether or not violence had an adverse affect on moviegoers. And it went something like this: if one says that violence in movies does not affect the public in a bad way, then one cannot say the "good stuff" like social-awareness and whatnot affects the public in a good way. In other words, either the movie has impact on the moviegoer or it doesn't. Whether or not that impact is positive or negative doesn't matter for to admit one is to accept the other.

I, for one, who has studied and watched 1000s of movies believe the impact is negligible. I don't think people who watch Grindhouse want to go killing people in a stunt car***, nor do I think people who watch Extreme Home Makeover donate to the Goodwill the next day.

But the line of thinking, as just that, is worthy of note.

* The ban on online gambling is an inexcusable piece of legislation affecting millions of honest Americans during an election cycle when the Republicans needed every possible vote. At the very least they could have regulated online poker and created another Lotto - useless to everyone except those who play it. Or, they could have let people do whatever they want with their credit cards and hard-earned money.

** Goldberg on "24"

*** Some may bring-in the Virginia Tech murderer and the movie Old Boy as Exhibit A, and certainly that topic is worthy of a top-level discussion some time. But for now let me say I'm not ready to start censoring entertainment with the caveat that there might be another Cho out there eating it up, for if that were the criteria, I don't there think would be any entertainment.

Podcast Pick of the Day - NPR: Story of the Day

NPR: Story of the Day
Weekend Edition for Saturday, May 5, 2007: Survival at a Price in an Iranian Prison
Run Time: 13:47

NPR Story of the Day features “the one story you won’t want to miss." Marina Nemat had her name written on her forehead before she was about to be shot. This and other harrowing scenes are featured in this episode and in her new new memoir detailing her life as a prisoner in Iran, where she endured interrogation, torture and a forced marriage that saved her life.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Friday, May 4, 2007

A Couple Links For Your Weekend Leisure.

Both of these links are from Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner over at the Freakonomics blog. If you haven't read the book -- you need to. I own about 10 books (I also own 4 game systems, which helps explain why I only own 10 books), 6 of which I read. Freakonomics is the only book I would read twice. I didn't... But me owning it, reading it, and wanting to read it again shows just how entertaining/interesting the book is.

Secondly, if you don't read their blog -- you need to.

Now, on to the links.

First, a post by Dubner: Poker: Skill vs. Chance

My take: Poker is definitely not a game of luck. Luck seems to always squeak its way in, but there's definitely a reason the pros you see on TV - are pros you see on TV - and it's not luck. The reason they always win? If I knew, I'd be a pro you see on TV.

I am defintely looking forward to Dubner's pokernomics outcome.

The second link: The Jock Exchange. This link is from a short Levitt post. Michael Lewis discusses the possibilities of purchasing stock in athletes. It's something to keep an eye on.

For those who don't know, Michael Lewis is the author of Moneyball. A book I do not own, but I have in my possession. I haven't read it yet, though. From what everyone tells me - I need to.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

In case you missed it...

Here's a thoughful reply/rebuttal to my High School Reunion post.

KStringer said...

Having attended my 10 year high school reunion, I think I can agree with some of what you have stated, but not all of it.

The high school reunion is a multi-faceted milestone in our modern lives that is one part reuniting with old friends, one part showing off, one part "whatever happened to that old flame", and for many, several parts closure or at last progress in that regard.

At my reunion I was very curious about how others that I remembered had progressed with their lives and I saw it all - those that had succeeded far beyond expectation, those that had really done nothing with their lives, those that chose the family life, and everything in between. One thing I noticed was that it really didn't matter who was cool in high school, for many of them weren't so "cool" 10 years later. Perhaps it's because being cool took up so much of their time that they never really learned any useful skills for how to succeed after high school.

Of course each of us wants to make a declaration of our accomplishments to our high school class. It is this group of people that is instrumental in definining much about who we are as adults. This is simply an societal evolution of human behavior. We all want to be recognized, to be noticed, to be respected in some fashion. High School is a time of insecurity and anxiety for most of us (or so I believe) and being able to overcome those insecurities and stand tall and proud among these peers is a major psychological milestone for a lot of people, myself included.

I disagree that the high school reunion is a great hoax. I think for many, such as myself it is a time of closure. We are all insecure to some degree I believe and the realization that I had succeeded when so many thought I would fail as well as seeing first hand the very normal successes (family, jobs, etc.) of my class mates made me realize that my drive to cast down the perceived perception my classmates had of me was flawed thinking on my part. It helps to see these people, whom their memories are sometimes so much larger than life, whether good or bad, 10 years later. You can realize then that they are the same as you and that they were the same as you in high school.

I ran into two dear friends at my reunion who I have remained close to ever since though we had lost touch up to the reunion itself. If for no other reason than that, I am glad I went.

Your statement about the "high school reunion complex", where we run into someone from our past and fall into old patterns is very true. Yet, I hope that people can mature enough that they do not fall prey to this condition. Again, it's an opportunity for closure...or as you put it, "...just move on".

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Stocking Stuffer for The Podcast Pundit

A subscription to this mag. (hat tip: LA Observed)

Podcast Pick of the Day - Cranky Geeks

Cranky Geeks
Episode 62
Run Time: 30:00

Hosted by head crank John C. Dvorak, Cranky Geeks is a weekly podcast “cranking” out about all things tech. This episode featured breaking news from Digg, where the encryption key for HD-DVD was posted. Digg originally removed the post, but after user pressure, Digg re-posted the encryption code. The code was previously available on the Internet, but now has been made more accessible through the Digg forums.

Other stories include: SONY’s God of War II party, which included a headless goat, a woman’s $26,000 bill for her stolen phone, the BBC launches free web based On-Demand video, Barbie mp3 player, and rabbit ears to get over-the-air HD signals.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - This American Life

This American Life
331: Habeas Schmabeas 2007
Run Time: 1:03:37

Hosted by Ira Glass, This American Life features intriguing stories from all walks of American life. This episode focused on the right of habeas corpus. Habeas Corpus states the government has to explain why they're holding a person in custody. The episode focuses primarily on the detainees at Guantanamo and how most of their rights, including habeas corpus, have been stripped. The episode also explains the history of habeas corpus dating back to England in the 17th Century. It’s a fascinating examination of how the British Civil War of the mid 17th century produced it own version of Guantanamo, and the dangers that arose from suspending habeas corpus.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

"Mr. Ten Questions"

Someone needs to pick-up this show. (hat tip: TechCrunch)

Update: Video is up on Youtube.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

sometimes I like standing on my soapbox

I saw humorist David Sedaris read selections of his work last week at UCLA. The one thing that stayed with me was something he said off the cuff during a Q & A at the end. I forget the question, but it led Sedaris on a tangent about the Virginia Tech shootings.

He said that after 9-11, they wouldn’t let you take box cutters on an airplane and after the shoe bomber (Richard Colvin Reid) was caught, everyone had to take off their shoes get them x-rayed. His point was, why then, after so many shootings, don’t we make it harder to get a gun.

The New Yorker looked at how other countries reacted to VT-like atrocities. It turns out that they do something about it (link at the bottom). After sixteen children got shot in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996, the Brits tightened their gun laws. And in Canada and France, the same thing happened.

After the VT shooting, the first thing I heard from the White House was that it was a great tragedy, but "The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms…” (link at the bottom). This quick dismissal of any gun control discussion before it could get started leads me to believe that regardless of the number or severity of gun-related tragedies at schools or shopping malls or anywhere else, any progress with this President is hopeless.

The High School Reunion Complex

Last year we tried to kick-start the old essay site, The Juxtaposition, and though the restart failed, I wrote an essay about an impending 10-year high school reunion.

I still agree with the gist of it - that people secretly desire to attend their high school reunion - not to reunite with old friends, but rather to boast of their post-high school achievements. The achievements are relative, in the sense that for some "achieving" is exemplified by a degree or M.D., for others it's a trophy wife or husband, and yet others it's having kids. The point is in high school people discover what their deficiencies are, and determine what they need to do to be accepted.

The return to the high school reunion is a declaration - "You all laughed at me way back when, but look now... I've taken steroids and workout 12 hours a day, or I'm a doctor/lawyer/socially-regarded professional, or 'have you met my surgically-enhanced wife?'" Or some sort.

The Juxtaposition essay concluded with the realization that the reunion is a great hoax. For no matter how much one has changed in ten years, everything returns to the way it was. The weakness the person saw in themselves ten years before is a delusion, and accomplishing that thing to fulfill the delusion for the reward of being "accepted" is a fantasy. For the truth is no matter what they accomplish they will never be cool, for that is the way of our society.

(The great secret of America is we live in a class-based society but never, ever admit it. The established class maintains their place and the lower classes try desperately to achieve their way to acceptance. And of course no matter how much they achieve they will never be accepted. The only way to achieve status in America, without being born into it, is celebrity. Sorry, I digress.)

The high school reunion recreates the boundaries of high school, and the cool kids are still cool because they were cool, and no matter how much one has changed can change that.

Of course I wrote all of the above and then never went to my high school reunion. All I really cared about was connecting with old friends, and what better way to do that than MySpace?

Recently, I thought about that essay because I think it applies to any situation in life where one returns to a past environment, like meeting an ex-girlfriend for example. Trying to show someone how much you've changed, only to fall back into the old patterns of frustration, results in a mental complex, what I hereby dub the High School Reunion Complex.

I can't explain it, I wish I could. But the solution seems simple enough - just move on.

Podcast Pick of the Day - Security Now!

Security Now!
WEP Insecurity
Run Time: 45:54

Hosted by Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson, Security Now is a weekly podcast discussing the latest in computer security. This episode featured WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and how German researchers have been able to crack it. The researchers published a paper revealing how WEP can now be cracked in under a minute. What took 5 million packets before to crack, now only takes forty thousand (1,000 times faster). It’s almost faster now to crack a WEP key than it would be to type it. The code has been made available, and it probably won’t be long before it’s implemented in security cracking software.

Gibson quotes the following numbers:

  • 25% of wireless networks have no protection
  • 50% of wireless networks use WEP
  • 25% of wireless networks use WPA (WiFi Protected Access)

Therefore, only 25% of wireless networks are “uncrackable” (only through a brute force attack).

Gibson delves into technology behind the WEP crack. It’s a fairly technical discussion, but it’s pretty amazing if you can follow how the researchers managed to crack the original WiFi security. Gibson gives alternative WiFi security measures, such as WPA, VPN and HTTPS.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Steve Gibson’s website for the latest in security and some free downloadable security programs.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - NOVA | PBS

Newton's Alchemy
Run Time: 7:11

Sir Isaac Newton an alchemist? Apparently. Newton’s coded notebooks revealed his deep interest in alchemy and experiments he performed, including trying to produce a philosopher’s stone capable of both curing metals of their impurities and curing people of illness.

The podcast can be found on iTunes.

For more on Newton and his dark secrets visit NOVA PBS

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Podcast Picks of the Day - Windows Weekly and This Week in Tech

Windows Weekly
Run Time: 41:57

Hosted by Leo Laporte and Paul Thurrott, Windows Weekly is a podcast focusing on Windows, Microsoft and some added discussion on Apple and Linux. This episode focused on Silverlight, which is Microsoft’s “Flash” killer. Silverlight will act like a flash player, capable of being embedded in web pages and playing multimedia. It looks to compete against Adobe and Quicktime. They also discussed Adobe’s new media player, Google buying double-click, Microsoft’s demise(?), Windows Live and Ubuntu Enjoy.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.


This Week in Tech
TWiT 95: NABbed Red-handed
Run Time: 59:16

Hosted by Leo Laporte, This Week in Tech is a weekly podcast delivering the most important stories from the week’s tech news. This episode focused on NAB, the National Association of Broadcasters convention held in Las Vegas. The panel of twits consisting of Alex Lindsay, Wil Harris, Doc Searls and the incomparable John C. Dvorak discussed, amongst other topics, the latest with the remarkable RED camera (the brainchild of the man behind Oakley), Final Cut Studio 2, Silverlight, AMD’s huge quarterly loss, the hacking of a MacBook at a security contest and Alec Baldwin and Will Ferrell in a shady multimedia spotlight. Enjoy.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - The Story

The Story
Memory Tricks
Run Time: 51:35

Hosted by Dick Gordon, the Story is a daily podcast discussing interesting topics with people at their center. The first part of the episode focused on improving memory. Dick interviewed Paul Mellor, a master in memory. They discussed memory techniques, The USA Memory Championship and issued a speed cards challenge.

The second part of the episode focused on one woman’s cherished high school piccolo, and her search to recover it twenty years later.

This podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


About five years ago, I tried to register a domain name, The trouble was, it was already registered to a guy who happened to have the same name. He was no ordinary people. He was a weatherman. He was working at a network affiliate in Las Vegas and used the website to chronicle his weather-related achievements.

I wasn’t happy about this. In the back of my mind, I thought this could have extremely negative consequences. If this weatherman with my name went national and became the next Al Roker, my life would be over. Friends would tease me to give them a barometer reading or what the chance of precipitation is going to be tomorrow. When I introduce myself, people’s first reaction would be so day, “Oh, like the weatherman” and then snicker at me. For this reason, I hoped that his career would go down the shitter. I know this is bad karma, but I have to look out for Dave Malkoff number one.

The next time I heard about this guy was from my mom. Her friends had been watching hurricane coverage and said thought they saw me covering the story. It turns out the weatherman Dave Malkoff had moved on to Miami and whenever there was a hurricane, his stories were carried across the country. My mother explained to her friends that it wasn’t me, but another guy with the same name, who happened to slightly resemble me. (FYI, her friend’s are still not convinced).

This new revelation was unfortunate, but I thought there was a chance that while he was giving a report in the middle of a storm, there was a chance a piece of debris could strike him. Please note, I did not want him dead, only permanently incapacitated.

And then, this weekend, it happened. I got a text message from a friend who said the weatherman me was just joined a Los Angeles news team. I went online, and sure enough, he’s on the CBS affiliate here. My heart sank. This is the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone.

I thank God that no one under 60 watches local news. But LA is market #2 behind NYC and a national gig could be around the corner. I have to stop him as soon as possible. Since we have the same name, I’ve been thinking about trying to steal his identity and wipe him out financially, but it seems like a lot of work. Please let me know if you have any ideas.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Thoughts on the bachelor party.

The current myth of the bachelor party goes as follows:

Some time before the wedding the groom is kidnapped by his close buddies for a night of debauchery. By the end of the night the groom will have quenched his thirst for a life no longer available. The whole point, i.e. the ritual, is to give the groom a final taste of excess before he is whisked away to the other side of society - married life.

I think most people would agree with this general thought, and I think they are wrong.

Before I explain why, first let's describe the utilitarian purpose of the bachelor party - to unite the various elements of the wedding party. The groom's friends are from all walks of life - high school, college, work. Many often traveling from different locations, and they have, at the bachelor party, an opportunity to meet and bond. This temporary bond allows for a more jovial atmosphere at the reception.

With that out of the way, I must concede - during the bachelor party, the groom indulges in his vices one last time. Here's the truth though - in so doing, he comes to a secret realization - that he's not missing much.

He looks around at his friends, the single ones, and feels pity. For this is their idea of a good time, and he reflects on how sad a statement that is. While he, the groom, will soon return to spending nights with the woman he loves most. And this, I believe, is the more precise point of the ritual of the bachelor party, for the groom realizes he is not leaving a life he loves, but rather he's leaving a life that is no longer interesting. Secretly, he thinks, "I made the right choice."

Now before you think I've gone all softy. There's another aspect to the bachelor party - that of the married man. I've been to many bachelor parties now*, in all shapes and sizes, and I have not seen individuals more excited for this specific night than those who are married.

The reason is obvious - these men have experienced the ritual already, lived with that special woman for a few years, and now will donate their plasma for a night out without guilt. They don't regret the choice to marry of course, but they think with amazement, "how could I ever have judged this life boring!"

So it runs full circle. But I think it's important to note there's more going on to this ritual then just a bunch of dudes getting hammered near strippers. Of course the real loser in all this is the single guy, who gets a regular night out but has to spend a sh*tload more money.

*It's advised to never hire a hooker to do a stripper's job.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Red Socks vs. The Black Socks

Two links:

First a link from Engadget HD. In the HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray rivalry, Blu-ray fans are organizing a "Buy Blu-ray Day" on Amazon next week. Why? Because HD-DVD fans pulled a similar move this past week on the one-year anniversary of the format. HD-DVD rankings on Amazon skyrocketed, talks of a resurgent HD-DVD-format emerged, and Blu-ray fans were pissed.

Now check out this post from Mark Cuban from awhile back on Fanboy culture.

Take a step back from all this and it's fascinating. Take two steps back and it's astounding.

People these days are rooting for products and companies in the same way people have always rooted for players or sports teams. On the one hand it makes sense. Sports is a business, teams are a brand. Players could be viewed as mere commodities, especially when endorsements are included.

But on the other hand it doesn't make sense at all. The point of choosing a team in a sporting event is to involve oneself in the game. As soon as you choose a team, you now have something on the line, that is, you have something to lose - your team. There is melodrama in the question, "Will they win?" The closer the game - the more drama.

So maybe that's what this is all about? Fanboys join the competition, aka The Game, between businesses. They take a side - for the melodrama.

They are entertaining themselves over a battle of products whose sole purpose is to entertain.

The real winner in all of this? Jeff Bezos.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Most Annoying Tech Products

I think the Microsoft Office paper clip should have cracked the top 10. Link.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - Net at Nite

Net at Nite
18: Bunny Ears
Run Time: 1:07:15

Hosted by Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur, Net at Nite is a weekly podcast hosted in front of a live audience on This week’s topics included new websites, Jaiku, computer Easter eggs and an interview with Virb designer Tyson Rosage. Virb is a social networking site with a focus on multimedia... referred to as a myspace 2.0. Enjoy.

This podcast can be found on iTunes and here.




To Buy? To Rent?

I just assumed it is always better to buy a house rather than rent one - regardless of any circumstances. According to this calculator, maybe not always.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - The Math Factor

The Math Factor
CG. Graham’s Number
Run Time: 11:25

Hosted by Kyle Kellams and Chaim Goodman-Strauss, The Math Factor is a weekly podcast delving into the world of mathematics and mathematical problems. This episode featured big numbers - really big numbers. Numbers like 7,625,597,484,987, which is 3 raised to third power three times (3^3^3^3). It could also be written as 3^^4. Seven trillion is a huge number, but not nearly as big as Graham’s number. Enjoy!

This podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Star Trek Convention, 'The Office' Style

Being someone who was born, raised (like most of otoh's bloggers), and still lives in Scranton. - This is weird, but pretty cool too.

Much better than the depiction King Pin gave of the city.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Podcast Picks of the Day - Science Friday

Science Friday
Changing Blood Groups
Run Time: 7:18

Hosted by Ira Flatow, Science Friday is a weekly podcast featuring the latest from the science and technology. This episode featured a breakthrough for blood donations. In recent experiments, scientists were able to turn blood types A, B and AB into type O, the universal donor blood type, by exposing the blood to enzymes found in certain bacteria. These enzymes are able to remove sugar molecules from the blood cell; the sugar molecules give the blood its group characteristics. The scientist predicted it could be ready for human use in about five years.

This podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Science Friday
New GM Volt Concept
Run Time: 9:35

This episode of Science Friday focused on a new concept car from GM called the GM Volt. It has some similar characteristics to its predecessor, the EV1. The Volt is a pure electric vehicle having an electric range of 40 miles. It has a small gas engine capable of using alternative fuels, which generate electricity to extend the 40-mile range off the pure electric charge. The GM Volt recharges via a standard 110-volt charge.

This podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

The EV1.

SonyStyle Drops 20GB PS3.

Along with many other US retailers. Not much of a surprise considering it was a $500 Blu-Ray player which came with the same video wires as my Nintendo 64 did in 1996. Oh, it also didn't have an HDMI output option either. Yikes.

Ignore this post.

Technorati Profile blog claim required post.

The Stu Osborn Show

Tonight I Tivo'd two episodes of "Thank God You're Here," which is like Improv-lite. One of the benefits of living in LA is you can always see top-flight improv groups, and the nature of TGYH, with its costumes, props, and sets, seems to limit the imagination of the performances.

That said I prefer it to no improv-on-TV at all, and at least it gives a platform to the many talented yet overlooked comedians around.

I'm skipping thru the commercials thinking, "How in the world do these networks make money thesedays?" Later... on cue, I'm flipping thru the TiVo guide on DirecTV and see "Microsoft presents The Stu Osborn Show."

It's a 3 minute episode (webisode?) with Michael Hitchcock and Fred Willard directed by Christopher Guest. That's automatic must-see for me.

I'm close to Microsoft's target audience - the business development-side of Microsoft - I say close because I do not make decisions regarding software. (MS's other divisions, like XBOX, had me pegged years ago.) But I know the handful of readers of this blog (and maybe the people clicking from China) are target demos. So someone from MS marketing is onto something here.

Hat tip to Christopher Guest & Crew for taking MS's money and running with it. I have no problem with sponsors, in fact I prefer it to silly commercials aimed at aging baby-boomers (snap!). I hope they do more.

From Stu Osborn's bio:

Stu Osborn is a journalist, raconteur, and Penny Farthing bicycle enthusiast as well as the host of the eponymous Stu Osborn Show, broadcast from the studios of KFQF, “The Beacon of Palmdale.”
And if you're like me and need a refresher on Penny Farthing bicycles click here.


Monday, April 9, 2007

Instant quote...

"Arrogance is in the subtext of one's assumptions."


Podcast Pick of the Day - NOVA PBS

Reprogramming Genes
Run Time: 3:51

NOVA PBS brings the latest from the world of science. This episode focused on epigenetics, which is the study of small chemical tags that attach themselves to genes. The genes are then turned on or off based on the nature of the tag. The pattern of tags, the epigenome, changes as we age. It’s thought lifestyle habits affect our epigenome, both good and bad. Recent breakthroughs in understanding epigenetics have come from treating patients with a specific type of leukemia. Half of those treated experienced complete remission of the disease, and twenty-five percent show improvement. Scientists warn this isn’t a “magic bullet” cure.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

RE: Barnes & Noble Meet The Writers: Anne Rice

Anne Rice: "Interview with the Vampire... was an attempt to go into the mind of a fantasy character, the vampire, and then make that character real to the audience completely by doing it in the first-person voice, and I felt, well, if you can do that with a cape-wearing vampire, that everybody knows is simply a construct... then take the figure of Jesus Christ, in whom you believe, go into his head right from his point of view, and see if you can't make him real..."

*shudder*... That is pretty scary... She claims she'll never write about vampires again, but instead will "write only for the Lord."

So each of her books from this point forward is going to be a commercial (I mean, "evangelism")? Fantastic.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - Barnes & Noble Meet The Writers

Barnes & Noble Meet The Writers
Anne Rice
Run Time: 13:43

Hosted by Steve Bertrand, Barnes and Noble Meet the Writers is a podcast featuring interviews of best selling authors. This episode featured Anne Rice, author of the well-known novel Interview With the Vampire. She discusses character creation, her re-establishment with church teachings, her long-time despair and how she overcame it, her decision to write about Christ rather than vampires, tourists stopping to see her outside her home in New Orleans, her decision to leave New Orleans after the death of her husband, her thoughts on Katrina’s aftermath, her son’s flourishing writing career and gay activism. Enjoy.

Bertrand is a highly effective interviewer. He asks poignant questions, and is excellent at following up an author’s answer with a related question. He keeps the interview moving, and always sounds comfortable during the interview. Next to Ira Glass, he's one of the best interviewers doing podcasts.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

For a complete list of Barnes & Noble Meet The Writers interviews, go here.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - This Week in Law

This Week in Law
TWiL 5: Blog Storm
Run Time: 1:05:24

Hosted by Denise Howell, This Week in Law discuses current legal issues in technology. Following up on yesterday’s podcast pick, this episode discussed the legal issues regarding the blog threats against Kathy Sierra, group blogging, trolling on the web, legislative internet regulation, trusted computing and April Fool's jokes in technology. Enjoy.

Special guest is novelist Cory Doctorow. He’s currently teaching at USC and is working on a novel regarding copyright law.

This episode can be found on iTunes and here.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Podcast Pick of the Day - Cranky Geeks

Cranky Geeks
Episode 58
Run Time: 30:38

Hosted by Marketwatch and PC Magazine columnist John C. Dvorak, Cranky Geeks is a weekly podcast discussing the latest tech news. In addition to the head crank, editorial director of Sebastian Rupley, the rectangular table includes Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Mark Ranalli, CEO of The discussion touches on SONY BMG making it a employee requirement to blog, death threats against a female U.K. blogger, models of user generated content and what can and cannot be trusted, the demise of print media, and different competing versions of Wikipedia.

In addition, Mark describes how Helium offers the chance of an author’s work being read based on the quality of the work. Authors compete by writing essays on the same topic, and the best essays share a portion of the revenue. The three factors going into the revenue stream are: the quality of the article, the sum of interest of the subject and the value to the sponsor.

Wales provides excellent insight into Wikipedia, which now boasts 1.75 million articles in English, and has articles in 125 languages. He admits one of the biggest problems facing Wikipedia is the live editing of articles.

The podcast can be found on iTunes and here.

Additonal Links.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Why we blog.

Well not us specifically here at OtohBotoh* but bloggers in general. A more appropriate title is "Why we should blog" or better "Why people read blogs."

The reason people read blogs is simple: to take a break from work. A majority of people work in an office in front of a computer, or at least it seems that way. People who work in front of a computer look for any excuse to not sit in front of said computer. They are looking for a distraction from a cold, simple truth : They are bored.

For most of my jobs, before the one I have one now for which I'm gratefully, um, grateful; the most exciting term lasted for approx. six months from the first day. It's not a coincidence that, as soon as the whispers of boredom settle in, the chime of "I need another cup of coffee" drowns it out. Caffeine addiction, I propose, is in direct ratio to the growth of office jobs.

Now, I know this is one of those obvious things that everybody knows.

The medium of blogging is directly suited to the task of distraction. Posts are short, generally shallow, and in text - which makes it very easy to conceal and perform the actions necessary for one to appear as if they are doing their job.

This task - to provide a moments break from the rigors of office life - is blogging's calling, specifically blogs about life. Sure the news junkies will make headlines (how could they not?), and all the niche blogs (sports, music, movies) will flourish. Vlogs will catch on and maybe turn into TV shows. But videos violate the concealment rule, except in more relaxed environments, and therefore I believe the simple text blog will reign supreme until people start working from somewhere other than an office.

Now get back to work.

*(Why bloggers blog is unanswerable and the exploration ultimately uninteresting. Bloggers tend to write about why they blog because they feel the need to justify their existence. As if, in America circa 2007, one still needs to justify their urge to express a thought. Unfortunately this topic is interesting to the blogger, but not to their audience. This is because the audience is not interested in one's selfish thoughts or introspections unless they are somehow connected to "making sense of the world" (which is the real reason people read, listen, watch each other.) Otherwise, the audience is taken on a voyeuristic journey into one's private thoughts without the vulgar and honest stuff, aka the good stuff. Consider how many writers besides Charlie Kaufman try to write about writers, and how often those stories fall flat.)