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Monthly Archives: June 2007

NBC Universal cares about farmers

Showing unique insight into our nations economy, in a filing to the FCC calling for more internet regulation, NBC Universal says:

“Because of our nation’s interlocking economy, two-thirds of the lost earnings and lost jobs are in industries other than motion picture production. For example, in the absence of movie piracy, video retailers would sell and rent more titles. Movie theatres would sell more tickets and popcorn. Corn growers would earn greater profits and buy more farm equipment.”

Yeah…


Literal viral marketing

Sophos has released a warning about a new computer virus, W32/Liar-VB-A, that spreads through any flash or hard drives you have attached to your USB ports.  But the virus doesn’t do any damage to your computer.  Instead, the virus attempts to spread information about HIV/AIDS by installing an HTML file with information about the real life virus.  The HTML file includes a footer saying:

“This file Doesn’t make harmful change to your computer. This File is NOT DANGEROUS for your Computer and FlashDisk (USB). This File Doesn’t Disturb any Data or Files on your computer and FlashDisk (USB). So Dont be affraid (sic), and Be Happy!”

Good intentions aside, creating and spreading these computer virus is illegal.  But the thought of spreading a viral message like this has both fascinating and terrifying applications.  Computer viruses and worms could be the newest controversial (illegal) viral marketing tool employed to bring attention to political issues or commercial products. 

Like imagine if Liar-VB-A, instead of just presenting you with an HTML file, froze your computer and printed the words Vote Obama.  You would probably not want to vote for Obama now.  But you didn’t know a John McCain supporter spread the virus.

This is just a hypothetical.  For now.


AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies version 1.1

Either they ran out of movie lists of make or movies just aren’t getting enough attention. Last night the American Film Institute released an update to their wonderfully controversial 100 Greatest Movies list, allowing several new entries including the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” and “Titanic” replacing the incredibly racist yet technologically monumental 1915 “Birth of a Nation.”

The three-hour CBS special showed it’s real value in name alone: “100 Years, 100 Movies, 10th Anniversary Edition” making this tweak to the AFI’s flagship movie ranks more a celebration of their ten years rather than promoting the 110 years of movies (if they were, it would have been the 110 greatest movies).

Much of the list jumped around, such as John Ford’s “The Searchers” leaping from 96 to 12 and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” taking a position in the top 10 (above “Psycho”). Yet the top three films, “Citizen Kane,” “Casablanca,” and “Godfather” all retained their top spots (“Godfather” and “Casablanca” switched spots, now #2 and #3 respectively) revealing some weaknesses in the new ranking. Since these lists are supposed to be so subjective, I would have expected even greater differences between the two lists when, in fact, several recent movies made after the original list find new positions in place of new and old classics (“From Here to Eternity” and “Frankenstein” have gone bizarrely missing). Nothing was wrong with the original list except, it seems, possible lack of interest.

I took the original list to heart, spending my college years watching all of the original 100 Greatest Films. Now, of course, I get to plug the seven holes in the new list.

Read the full list and details at AFI.com.


Even big companies can learn lessons: Politicians are your friends

The Washington Post today looks at Google’s D.C. strategy as it hopes to avoid Microsoft’s fate. Google’s lobbying move is old news, but their investment is already paying off. Microsoft conceded to change Vista’s desktop search to avoid antitrust suits, lead by Google’s complaint. And presidential candidates are taking notice; four candidates met with Google executives and personnel and the company will host two debates.

During Microsoft’s early days, the company avoided politics partly leading to the onslaught of antitrust suits friendly lobbyists might have help them avoid. Google has learned their billions of dollars can buy valuable friends on Capitol Hill.

“The entire tech industry has learned from Microsoft,” Alan B. Davidson, head of Google’s Washington office, told the Washington Post. “Washington and its policy debates are important. We can’t ignore them.”

It’s scary, though. While Google has helped grown and develop the internet, showing the world search was important, there’s always the question of what’s next. Google sits on billions of dollars with no stop in sight, making any plans they may have for world domination a reality.

Google watched Microsoft get spanked by the same regulators its befriending and is structuring a future where they can prevent that from happening to themselves. These lobbyists aren’t there because Google will avoid antitrust violations or monopolistic tactics. No, they are there because Google is confident they will. Not very “do no evil.” As Robert McLaws points out: “When looking at any new Google venture, swap out the word “Google” with “Microsoft” and ask yourself if you’re still OK with what’s happening.”

Not ironically, Microsoft now has a massive lobbying body as well.


9 minute iPhone demo

If June 29th just can’t get here soon enough, here’s a nerd’s dream demo where you can hear Gary and Kate make pick-up-from-the-airport plans. Plus watch TV shows, look at pictures, and some other goodies. Nothing new, but it’s nice to just sit back and watch the consumer electronics magic.


California™

One of my favorite blogs, Techdirt, writes today about the California legislature rewriting their definition of trademark law to be more like copyright law.  These laws are meant to serve two completely different functions.  Mike Masnick at Techdirt writes:

Both copyright and patents were designed as limited monopolies to provide incentives to creators of content or ideas. That is, it’s a “necessary evil” for the sake of promoting content and ideas. Trademark law, on the other hand, is supposed to be about consumer protection. The idea is that Bob can’t pretend that Bob’s Cola is really Coca-Cola and mislead you into buying a different product than the one you thought you were buying.

This California law would turn trademarks into something not unlike copyrights, removing fair use rights and holding websites like eBay liable for selling trademarked products.


Pay attention to the handhelds

With costs exceed $20 million dollars to produce games for the next-generation, publishers a looking at every avenue to defray costs, from producing cheap multi-platform ports, to sequels, to charging for updates.  But my question is, with the slow growth for this next-gen of gaming, why aren’t publishers putting the effort into handhelds?

Square Enix chief executive Yoichi Wada is committing his company to the handheld market for the year.  He responds to the demographics of the massively dominate Unintended DS. and criticizes the PS3 and Xbox 360 for being too complex.

“There are too many specs – and you also need a high-definition TV, a broadband connection and a deep knowledge of gaming – these consoles are mismatched to today’s environment. In a year or two years they will fare better,” says Wada.

Square Enix plans to put one of its flagship series’ next installments, Dragon Quest IX, on the DS.

Other publishers may follow Square Enix’s example.  The gaming industry has enjoyed the console dominance in the PS2 that provided detailed, 3D worlds compared to the pale colored sprites of Gameboy games.  But this generation of handhelds provide unique gaming experiences without sacrificing graphics and gameplay. 

Unfortunately, game developers do not seem to put their best work on the handhelds.  The PSP receives an army of poor console ports while the DS enjoys more mini-games and causal gamer experiences than it does Pokemon spin-offs.  In fact, not since Pokemon has there been a successful handheld only franchise. 

The DS has more than 35 million units sold.  The PSP numbers over 25 million.  Both challenge the less than 25 million consoles sold.  That includes the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3.  Handheld games cost less to make and have a larger, more diverse audience than consoles.  Upcoming God of War and Final Fantasy spin-offs are good starts, but it’s questionable the innovation they offer being products of the console generation.  Just think how much Pokemon console games suck.

But maybe us hardcore gamers, developers included, are still glued to our television sets.  I know I am.