Archive for the 'What I am reading' Category

Am I really supposed to believe that U23D is all that?

January 16, 2008

I was struck today to participate in a banner ad while reading the news about Wozinak’s new endeavor (read more about this here) for the upcoming release of U23D. I will preface this with a note about how much I appreciate all that Bono does for the world and such (blah blah blah). I will also state that I have seen them in concert countless times all the way back to like forever ago.

I have followed their tours and the progression of media exploitation which I feel began after the launch of achtung baby and the ZooTv tour (correct me if I am wrong here). When they bombarded concert goers with messages and “extra sensory” images while they sang all the tunes that really got them where they are today.

I was there for the PopMart tour when the unveiled what I believe at the time was the world’s largest LCD screen. That “glowing” lemon that Bono and the Edge walked out of together was certainly an amazing site and I remember it clearly to this day.

Many bands have tried to mix media into their shows but I am not quite sure that any have invested the time, effort and quite frankly dollars into their shows like U2 has.

So part of me feels like the movie may actually be ‘… the best entertainment experience I’ve ever witnessed…’ as Alx Klive (from WorldTV) states.

And when Bono says that he wants “… to go somewhere magical…” I truly believe that he wants to make something amazing happen.

However, I can’t help but remember Rattle and Hum (and the countless other “concert” movies that I have seen). And I can’t help but think about the fact that they have not put out an album in over 3 years (yes How to dismantle an atomic bomb came out in nov of 2004!). And so I can’t help but think that some part of this is simply a money making scheme.

So my decision now – should I go see it in a standard 3D theater or go to an IMAX 3D (or both??)

Updated [2/10/2008] – I finally saw U23D. Tried to go last weekend but arriving right when the show starts is a sure way to guarantee that you don’t get in. It is sold out.  (So buy tickets before you go especially if you drive for a half an hour to get there).

Overall experience – awesome!

Definitely recommend the show for any U2 fans. It will bring you to the concert experience in a way that you have not been before. The 3D effects were overshadowed (in mind) by the mind blowing clarity and the up close and personal feel that I had. At some points I felt like if they held the camera still long enough, I would have been able to tell you what type of picks the Edge had hanging on his mic stands. At one point, I could almost make out the words on the bottom of the microphone as Bono sang.

In addition, you really truly felt like you were in the crowd (so realistic that when someone in the actual theater got up and walked in front of me one row down – I would not have thought otherwise – had it not been for the shadow of their popcorn box and soda). There was one scene where the camera panned out from the stage and it appeared like the crowd of people in the General Admissions sections were a tidal wave, bouncing up and down in sections of unity. I got chills.

Ok so the things that I didn’t like (and there was only one from the movie itself). Very soap-box-ish. All of the songs they played were the usual propaganda songs but, that’s U2 and the songs rock so I was not disappointed. My other issues came with the theater itself. (Maybe this is the movie too but I am not sure) I didn’t think that it was loud enough. I wanted to be rocked. Like I was at a concert. Especially, since I saw the IMAX version – I certainly expected more – like heart thumping more. Also, the theater had assigned seating (What!?!). Yeah, like I was at a show – except they did not give you a choice. I sat in the fourth row – and if you have ever been to an IMAX theater you know that 4th row is not as good as it would be at the show itself. I will say this – it made me want to go and see it again just to get the experience a little more comfortably.

And maybe the last thing would be – I was expecting a bit of a monologue from Bono and the gang before the movie. Since this is supposed to be ground breaking (and besides the fact that Hannah Montana almost beat them too it) I would say it was definitely ground breaking, maybe a few words from the group as to what motivated them to do this – or how they did. Like how the hell did National Geographic get involved (Camera’s maybe)???

Either way I was truly satisfied and find it hard to believe that other groups with high energy shows won’t follow suit. It is a very enjoyable way to watch your favorite group sing up close and personal.

Was it all that?

Yes indeed. Kudos to U2 for bringing me an experience I won’t forget.

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Net neutrality and a hint of outrage

December 10, 2007

In response to the article on “Net Neutrality” posted on Wired’s website:
In Test, Canadian ISP Splices itself into Google homepage

For those Rogers Internet Customers that happen to read this which are “Ok” with being notified that your ISP will be charging you more because you have reached your download cap, two things:

1.) God bless me if I ever have to keep track of the amount of content that is downloaded. I am cool with ‘minutes’ on my cell phone and tracking my energy consumption at home. I am sure that the day will come (read ‘Being Digital‘) when I am charged for the amount of Internet – I hope it is not in the near future, and I hope that I am really rich when it happens because I use the Internet a lot.

2.) The issue at hand here is not that the ISP is trying to contact you, it is the mechanism in which they are doing it. If we allow information from websites to be modified (for any reason) we will enter what many deem to be a slippery slope. Where does it end?

If you are all OK, with Rogers modifying the content from a web page, then you will more than likely be OK if Rogers created a nice little desktop application that you could install. The application could sit in your systray and notify you when you are getting close to your cap. Presumably this application could be built into a Toolbar option (for the more sophisticated users) similar to the new toolbars present in the Flock Web browser.

This approach achieves the same goal but in a less intrusive way.

Leaving the HTML alone is something that should be regulated and there should be stiff penalties against modifying original sources.

What about Syndication?
Now, with that said – the sticky side to Net neutrality. What about RSS and other languages used to syndicate content. What to do with these.

My view – the published web page retrieved from the registered URL should remain untouched. That is, if Google publishes content at http://www.google.com that content should be deemed “untouchable”. It, like other publicly available sources, remains part of the Google domain of ownership much like say a book.

Syndicated content should fall under this same ruling. Where it gets difficult is when you talk about aggregations. I believe users should be able to slice up content as they see fit (i.e. if a feed has 10 links I should be able to show only 5 of these, as long as I do not modify the individual content – link, title, date, description). If I want to reorder these or combine them with other links I should be able to do so.

I think complexities like this will prevent a binding Net neutrality law but we should set social guidelines and live by them even if there is no legislation.

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Will “the writer’s” strike kill network television

November 26, 2007

Sometimes innovation is introduced by accident. On other occasions innovation has been purchased. We sometimes see innovative ideas spread through grass roots efforts and on some occasions, we see innovation because of unique opportunistic changes.

Take this writers strike. Many of us are still baffled by the fact that all three major networks and all 1 billion (seems like it anyways) other networks are so radically affected by one group of people. I know that this strike represents the power of unions (the AFLCIO is one of our customers so I know all about unions) and I am all about unions. However, I am not so sure that a strike by this powerful union and the early demise of the 2007 prime time television season is such a good idea.

One of the items that the writers guild is complaining about is that they do not receive fair compensation from the sale of DVD’s and the revenue sharing for shows that are aired over the Internet.

I have spent some quality time with Joost recently (4 days off with friends and family that you have not seen in a while – a long with some late night quality time with friends) and I have to say that I am impressed.  The idea is not all that innovative except that the content is offered exclusively over the Internet.  Essentially, they have “channels” where you can find different content.  They have content ranges from comedy to sports and almost everything else in between.  I am not sure exactly how many channels by they claim to have over 15,000 episodes.  Now granted some of these “episodes” are one minute long and it can be difficult to find quality episodes that last more than 10 minutes but here are a few things me and my family enjoyed over the weekend:

  • 3 full length Snowboard movies
  • several 20 minute extreme sports shows from “MuchMusic” – a content provider for mainstream television
  • Season one episodes of the original Transformers (Mikull – you have to see it)
  • Videos of all the latest songs from MTV and other stations
  • David Letterman’s top 10 lists (great for last call)

If you want to watch last weeks Patriots game or the MLS championship you may not be in luck but the model represents an interesting shift in entertainment.  Much like YouTube but only better quality.  My Joost watching was done on a 27 inch Westinghouse HD LCD TV and at full screen it had no problems.  The shows are “interrupted” with a very small advertisement (about 1/64th of the screen) in the bottom hand corner of the screen.  And since the user can be targeted (hello targeted ads again) the advertisements can be sold for more, they can be more relevant (no more feminine product ads during my viewing time).
Remember when you were a kid (if you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s) and all you had was 4 channels?  You still watched it. I think that this new medium (the Internet – he he) is really in it’s infantile stages. There are new “tools” popping up every day.  I just looked at the new product from Adobe called the Adobe Media Player.  Although the name and interface are lame and the content is lammer, it did have streaming HD and it was very quick – not so good at full screen but pretty good.

Now I can’t say for sure that I will be using Joost every day but I can say that at a time when there will be sparse new content on the old school media (good bye TV) I can say that I will be looking elsewhere for my entertainment.  The Writer’s Guild better be sure that I don’t find something very interesting or they may have walked themselves right of a job.

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey

November 9, 2007

I know there are some really cool linking sites (I use Del.icio.us and clipmarks – but there are tons others). But what we don’t really find are really cool “travel to a link” sites. I am amazed at how I discover content on a daily basis. So much so that I am trying to write another topic “dampening the noise” but I wanted to take you through this trip I took today:

1) First I read my LinkedIn “Q & A for Product Management” – a saved RSS feed of any questions asked by people on LinkedIn dealing with Product Management
2) From their I found an interesting and timely question about Product Management and Agile Development
3) While reading the 10 responses I found one response that had a link to another timely blog post by Stacey Weber at Pragmatic Marketing (my favorite PM site)
4) While reading that I decided to check out their “Blogs” section where I stumbled upon (no pun intended) a whole slew of blogs that they recommend (in various categories)

After looking through this list for a while – my head hurt – I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of information so I had to quit. I stopped. Couldn’t go on any further – paralyzed by information.

This was all from one post in one of my 40+ RSS Feeds (each averaging 20 plus posts since the last time I read them)

We really need a better way to consume information…

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Horizon of Social Network Applications is expanding

November 2, 2007

Hopefully, by now you have heard of the “Facebook Platform” and the up and coming MySpace Platform.  Additionally, you should also know that companies like iLike, Slide, and RockYou are making some descent waves building applications for the Facebook Platform (they won’t divulge how much but I can only imagine it is a descent amount).  Certainly the 33 million monthly users of Facebook produce a large amount of ad revenue (Certainly Microsoft agrees – since they just inked a 240 million dollar deal for a 1.6% – yes 1.6% – stake in Facebook – in return for the exclusive advertising platform rights)

Many pundits of the “Facebook Platform” will complain (and rightfully so) that the closed Facebook architecture is actually deterring growth in the  Internet and Social Networks in general.  I happen to agree (read my article about content ownership: “I want it all back“).  I think that the work that Facebook is doing while exciting and powerful, may not support the same passion and desire which made the web what it is today.  Additionally, I don’t really want to learn another freakin language to get my foot in the door somewhere.

What I am looking for is a way to post a link and have that link show up in 4 places: My Blog (with some descriptions on why I think people should read it, In a widget on Facebook, on Twitter and on my Del.icio.us account.  Why, because there is no way that everyone will read my blog, no way that all the people that I know will be on Facebook, not everyone uses Twitter (in fact this has the least amount participants for me anyways) and Del.icio.us by default is my place to store links.

There are are some other reasons why this should ‘spread” across the network.  Some of these are closed networks (in fact besides my Blog – which is free =) and Del.icio.us) which means only the people I “know” or I allow to “know” me will see it.  Some of the inherent value of Social Networks in general is that I can discover or find new people that are interested in similar things as me.

Well there is hope yet (and I truly think that this is the tip of the iceberg).  Yesterday, Google announced that it has begun work on a new type of platform.  One built on currently available technology (no need to learn something new).  The platform called “OpenSocial” is designed to allow applications to be built and shared amongst many social networks (like TypePad, LinkedIn, Okut, Ning and Friendster – amongst others).  With potential support from Oracle and Salesforce, this appears to be legit.

Supposedly, the application framework should be launching shortly and will be available here.

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We need to increase the rate at which we consume information

October 23, 2007

I am not talking about Matrix style information consumption (although that would be cool) but one of the biggest problems with the overload of information that we are in the midst of is that we are governed by old information presentation models.

Sentences, paragraphs, headings etc… have been the common tools we use to present information. Take a blog post for example. Very straight forward (I am shacked by the common layout formats myself). In most cases we present information on the Internet much the same way we would present it in a book.

We need to rethink this. Some will argue that we don’t present content in the same way that we do in books. They might say, “…but, Ron, we use flash and video and other techniques to get our points across”. They would be correct. Good content is delivered over the Internet using rich media, which is cool for those talented designers that can move in and out of Photoshop and Flash, the same way I do with a web browser.

But what about the rest of us. Those that can’t whip up nice graphics and movies whenever we want. How can we present information in a better way?

Robert Scoble thinks:

We have too much great content.

And Steve Rubel thinks that we are headed for an:

Attention Crash.

I think Steve and Robert are both correct. But what I think we need is a new way to communicate ideas. Not with text and lengthy paragraphs or run on sentences, but with something else.

I believe that we were headed here anyways. We add thousands of books a year (good books) yet on WordPress alone there were:

1,682,684 blogs with 15,713 new posts today.

We don’t need a fancy publisher to put content out there.  We simply write.  We are not reaching the amount of people that the Times Best Seller writers reach, but if you look at the world of content it is growing at an alarming rate.  The result of this is that eventually all of this “good” content will eventually go to waste.  Hopefully not.

If we don’t produce a way to “rip” through our “good” content in a faster way, we will miss the opportunity to truly capitalize on this great medium.

Commentary: 110% is not a bad thing

October 9, 2007

I want to comment on a post I read today, by what I would consider to be an expert in the field of Ajax and Web Development in general. I ran across this post today while I was searching for some help on a Spry problem that I was having and it was completely ironic.

The post is called ‘Don’t Give 110%…‘ and it goes into saying:

I would rather have a steady concerted effort than a stressed out push full of mistakes. I want someone on my team who can give me 100% of their effort on a consistant basis rather than someone who gives 80-90% (or less), consistantly, then tries to push the last little bit with a “110%” effort.

Definitely some some sound advice from someone who I am sure “consistently” 😉 gives 100% all of the time. When I first started reading the post I was a bit taken a back. Who in their right mind would ever ask for someone not to give them %110. I was about to comment on his blog how that was a rather strange post for someone who is considered a “leader” in the field (at least within the Spry Framework field) when I remembered why I was there.

I found myself at this spot because I was having difficulty with a particular bit of Ajax code I was working on for our new demo site set to release with our product. It worked fine in Firefox but not in IE and so when I searched for help I “stumbled upon” his blog post and was intrigued.

As the day wore on (and I eventually found my problem) I realized that at one angle he has a point. But I think that it needs to be clarified at least.

What I define as 100% and what someone else might define as 100% are totally different things. When I do something I like to do it right. I pay attention to detail. I enjoy the finer parts of complete analysis and thorough execution. However, when you are a perfectionist, something is never really “done”. So how does one define 100% on a solution to a problem or execution of a project that could always be a little bit better.

What is 100% in todays hyper sensitive, uber-attention filled days. Is it participating in a project without any distractions from outside noise? Is it focusing constantly on the problem until you solve it (assuming there is a solution). Don’t know.

I can tell you this: What I was having a problem with (which consumed nearly 45 minutes of my day – and distracted one other individual for more than 10 of those) was a stupid error caused by what I can only imagine could be defined as “fatigue”.

So is my “giving 110%” causing my performance to go down? I am taking on too many projects with little time to complete them to 100% – maybe.

Or, am I a looking at executing my tasks at 110% of my capabilities all the time, whether I spend 1 minute or5 hours. Giving 110% is not only subjective it is relative.

We are not in Kansas anymore

October 4, 2007

Do a search on “iphone bricking” on any major search engine or blog index site and you will see interesting results. I found these results:

Technorati: “117 blog posts”
Sphere: “27 blog posts”
Digg: “3 pages of articles” – (they don’t seem to show numbered results )
Techmeme: Ranges of articles from September 27, 28, 29 including a headline article posted on September 29, 2007 entitled “IPhone Re-Reviewed (Verdict: Don’t Buy)” which has received thousands of Diggs by readers.

There is even a Wikipedia page called “IBrick” which speaks to this “phenomenon”. And although the article remains un-“wickified” it tells a story of todays technologies penetration on society.

I will be honest, while I may have made conclusions (and I am not one of the over 1 million IPhone owner’s) about what a “bricked” IPhone might look or act like, I was not sure what it meant until I began to read more. And as I look back on this particular decision by Apple to prevent 3rd Party applications on their IPhone, I can’t help but be amazed at how fast new terms and ideas are circulated amongst society.

Years ago (not so many) only a select few people knew what HTML was. Today the word (or acronym as it may be seen) is pretty well known in society. We even use it in our product’ marketing messages to “non-technical” people. And while most people will admit that they can not write HTML, most will tell you they understand what it is.

I am certainly not saying that all 1 million IPhone users understood that on September 27, 2007 when they turned their IPhone on that it may be “bricked”. However there were certainly people aware that there was something wrong when they woke up that morning. More than likely, the IPhone users who did have problems (not sure how many) began looking on the Internet to determine the cause. And more than likely they read a few of the blog posts that surfaced that morning which began to coin the phrase “IPhone Bricking”

And so as stories of the IPhone Bricking incident surface and take hold, I find it fascinating how a group of individuals connected through technology can spread an idea or thought in a common fashion. Like the old game telephone, only faster.

The E-mail Post

September 7, 2007

I have been thinking about this a lot and I am sure that I am not going to get this out in one post.  I am however officially fed up with E-mail.  I am so fed up that I am no longer going to refer to it in its supposedly grammatically correct form “E-mail” or “E-Mail” instead it will be called “The ill communicator”(email) for short.  It doesn’t really even deserve a hyphen.

I have been using a couple of other communication devices heavily over the past 6 months to a year:

IM – for both work and pleasure (but actually mostly work)
Text Messaging – mostly with my wife (who actually is quite fond of text messaging now)
Twitter – Ok don’t ask.  If you don’t know … I can’t help
Facebook – this is more of a time sync for me than any of the above
Blog – goodness it’s been a long time since I have been here

I have used Facebook and Twitter to get some feed back on E-mail.  Using the “Questions” application in Facebook I asked the following question:

“What is an appropriate length for an email?”

While I did not get an optimal response (only 2 people answered it) they echoed some of the sentiments that I have.

Too much text in an email equals 2 things:

1.) Delayed Response – if I have to sit and think for more than 20 seconds when I am reading your email then I am probably not going to respond quickly.
2.) No Response – it is quite possible that I may never respond to emails that are more than 2 paragraphs.

One of my friends sent me this link which I thought was interesting:

Rising Email Immunity Leads to Conflict in Email Etiquette

It was actually one of the most poignant Blog posts that I have read in a while.  It talks about the changes that are going on in the world around communication.  How we are soo connected.   I know people that sit on top of their Inbox and “wait” for emails to come in.  They feel like they have completed tasks because they responded to their email.

I spent 45 minutes at 9:45 tonight going through my emails for the day.  It is like extra work, on top of my regular job. When I read that blog post it was like right on.  Many times I think that when I respond to someone’s 4 paragraph email with a sentence that I am being rude.  In my mind there are better devices to have a “conversation” with.  Email should be used for quick things like “Did you get that email I sent” and “Are you going to reply to my email”.

I am not saying that Twitter is the answer, I just think that we are all going to get to the point where email is just not sustainable.

This is illogical (Mr.) Spock

August 15, 2007

Spock LogoI recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about this web site called “Spock”. It is designed to provide easy searching for people. Essentially the site will query Facebook and LinkedIn and other Social Networking sites for information about a person. For instance, my page on Spock displays information from my LinkedIn site and some information from things that I have done (which they pass on to Google).

My main argument (originally) against the site this was not the information that it grabbed from my public facing profiles or information that i have written about, but rather the other tools provided by the site. If you look in the right column, you can do things like “Claim your profile”, “Upload a Picture” and “Add a Website” (among others).

This took me back to the old Yahoo days when you had to register your site for the search engine. Placing it in categories that you felt applied. Originally, you could plaster your site in many categories, eventually they only allowed you to post to a few categories at a time (catching on to the cross-posting for exposure). My feeling was that this site would not promote true organic growth. By adding to this site, the information was much like Facebook or MySpace in that “I” produced the content. Not very organic.

What would I wasn’t aware of was a little “trick” Spock played on unsuspecting Facebook people (found here):

These kids have a few things in common: They, along with 12,000 other people, recently downloaded a “Mad Libs”-like Facebook application and wrote stories about themselves and their friends, filling the blanks with scandalous terms.

But they didn’t realize the application was created by Spock, which debuted last week. And they were horrified to discover that Spock used the terms they supplied to build public profiles on them and other Facebook members. (After being contacted by Wired News, Spock erased the tags from many of these profiles, but some were still visible at press time.)

So when these people started filling out this application to be funny (and many high school kids did), the Spock website listed that information as “fact”. Very embarrassing! And not a great way to make a first impression.

I can now say that not only is this site not Organic, it is not professional. I do not see Spock catching on.