Tag Archives: The-Intra-Web-O-Sphere!

Tom Cruise, Scientologist

If you haven’t seen it yet, you have to go watch these clips. They are from a recent Scientology awards ceremony at which Tom Cruise was the honoree. They are … wow. Just watch, and then comment.

Link 1

Link 2

This is going to be an interesting case if it evolves. Scientologists have always used legal pressure to keep embarrassing materials out of the public eye. These videos were uploaded to youtube and google video first, and then removed after threat of lawsuit. Gawker Media, who owns both Gawker.com and Defamer.com, where the clips are now being hosted, has stated their intent to leave the clips up, claiming that they are newsworthy, and therefore their right to distribute them is protected speech.

macheist ’08

Macheist is up!

macheist_med

If you’re a mac user, and you don’t know, then you SHOULD know! Macheist is a bundle of software from independent mac software developers (what does that mean, exactly? they haven’t signed with a major label? they do lo-fi development? their apps haven’t yet received radio airplay?). The more people who buy the bundle, the more apps get unlocked. This is some high-quality gear, and for $49 it’s tough to pass up.

Do me a favor, if you decide to do do it, use my referral link:

https://www.macheist.com/buy/invite/29317

Who’s in? What’s your favorite in the bunch? Which one looks most interesting?

spam-licious

We’re under a massive spam attack right now. There have been about 600 spam comments lobbed at this blog since 4AM this morning. They come in floods, 30 or so in about a minute. They’re trying to overwhelm the spam filters, I think. It’s making it difficult to post or comment, because the database has to handle huge chunks of data moving in and out, and the spam filter slows that down quite a bit. It’s not a problem when one or two people are commenting at once, but it is a problem when a spam-bot tries to cram 30 at once down the pipe.

All that to say … I hate spam. I hate that it, apparently, works. I hate that a few nefarious cretins have destroyed email as a useful communications tool, and are now trying to destroy blogging as well.

What I like, however, is akismet. It was built by the same people who designed WordPress (the software that runs Addison Road), and it just plain works at preventing spammy comments. How well? Since I installed it, there have been 200,689 offers for home mortgages and penis pills that none of you got the chance to mock (or click through on, bobby).

NBC Dumps iTunes

Booooo! Boooooooooo!

NBC has decided that their new strategy for making money off of their content will be to remove it from the most popular, low-operational-cost, and globally effective distribution network ever built. Yup, according to the New York Times, NBC is pulling its content from the iTunes music store.

NBC on iTunes
This is just an awful idea. I think I’m a pretty typical customer of iTunes content – I’ll buy maybe one or two albums a month, and a few TV episodes a month. Check out the photo I’ve linked to the iTunes NBC page – it lists their 4 most popular shows. Here are the ways iTunes has enhanced my consumer relationship with NBC, and why NBC’s choice to pull their content is an awful idea.

The Office

Discovered it on the BBC, love the NBC version even more, but I’m not home to watch it when it’s regularly scheduled. Instead, I grab episodes online. I only follow one or two shows this way, so it’s cheaper than getting a TIVO.

Heroes

I followed this show on TV, but would occasionally miss an episode. How to get them? iTunes, of course! I jumped online and downloaded the episode the day after it aired.

Scrubs

I liked this show when it first came out, and then it got … what’s the word … stupid. I don’t follow the show at all anymore, but I wanted to watch some of the early episodes again. Rather than waiting for them to roll around on the syndication schedule, I jumped online and got them from iTunes.

30 Rock

This is the real tragedy of NBC’s choice. This show is probably the best new show they’ve developed in the last, let’s say, 39 years. How did I discover this show? They gave away an episode as a free download on iTunes. I downloaded it, loved it, am now a fan. Now, when I happen to be flipping channels and see it on TV, I stop flipping and watch the show. They earned a viewer for their broadcast network because of their use of alternate distribution channels.

Bad Business

The NYTimes article gives one real reason for the decision. Allow me to interpret:

The decision by NBC Universal highlights the escalating tension between Apple and media companies, which are unhappy that Apple will not give them more control over the pricing of songs and videos that are sold on iTunes.

NBC … wants Apple to allow it to bundle videos to increase revenue, the person familiar with the matter said.

means

Remember back when we made you buy an entire CD, with one great song and 12 filler pieces of crap? Oh man, we made so much money with that. Wasn’t that awesome? We think Apple should let us do the same thing with videos! Less consumer choice means more freedom for everyone! And by freedom, I mean money! And by everyone, I mean us!

Apple has shown, by virtue of their success in promoting music, that increasing the choices for consumers is a stronger model for building a distribution channel. People return to points of commerce where they feel empowered and valued. iTunes does that with it’s pricing and non-bundled policies. NBC, apparently, can’t understand that.

The Real Threat

I’m having a really hard time believing that the NBC executives are taking such a short-term view of their relationship with iTunes. The article states that they are limiting their distribution with iTunes out of concern for piracy. They should be concerned about piracy, but not for the reasons they give.

What they seem to not realize is that iTunes is not in competition with Hulu.com, or any other silo solution. The only real competition for iTunes media content is illegal downloads.

This is the brilliance of the iTunes price point, and the reason it has seen such explosive growth: $1.99 per show is exactly the point at which it becomes an easier choice to buy a show from iTunes than to go through the hassle of finding a torrent, loading it into a bit torrent client, waiting for it to download, hoping it’s high quality, and then sitting huddled in the dark hoping the RIAA doesn’t drop a lawsuit on your butt.

If NBC takes away the $1.99 iTunes option, people will not flock back to broadcast TV, they will not go hunt down the show at hulu.com, they will simply download it illegally, for free.

Check out how much of my value as a consumer NBC loses by ending their relationship with iTunes:

  1. The Office: This isn’t a time-sensitive show, so if I can’t get it through iTunes, I’ll wait and download the entire season at The Pirate Bay.
  2. Heroes: If I miss a single episode, I can pop over to isohunt and track it down. Again, the competition for the $1.99 iTunes Media Store is the Free Illegal Downloads Store.
  3. Scrubs: This was always a whim. If I don’t have easy access to previous episodes, I just won’t bother. The alternative to NBC selling me a show for $1.99 is … me doing nothing. Easy.
  4. 30 Rock: if NBC severs ties with iTunes, I don’t even find this show. I never watch a single episode. When it comes on broadcast TV and I’m flipping channels, I flip right past. NBC loses both an online purchaser and a broadcast viewer.

This is an awful, awful business move for NBC. They are alienating themselves from a whole population of potential consumers.

UPDATED: Nov. 25th
Welcome to everyone who has been dropping by from StumbleUpon. Please take a second to check out what we’re doing with Operation Christmas Goat. Turn your holiday shopping into real change for needy families in developing countries.

Podcast Readings

I’m taking off for about 3 weeks on Sunday, and I’m down to just a few days of readings in reserve for The Bible Podcast. Anybody have an extra 15 minutes sometime today or tomorrow to help me out by reading a chapter? I’d love to get back up to 20 chapter readings in the buffer, and I think we can do that over the next two days if some of you can help me out.

Here’s what you need to have:

  1. A decent microphone. It doesn’t need to be a $5,000 vintage tube mic, in fact even a borrowed SM58 works fine if you stay a few inches away from it. I’m just trying to avoid people using their internal laptop mic.
  2. A relatively quiet spot to record. Your living room or bedroom is probably fine, unless they’re ripping up the concrete on your front sidewalk.
  3. A reasonably pleasant speaking voice. Non-American accents are a huge plus!
  4. An internet connection. Well, duh. You’re reading this somehow, right?

If you can help out, please drop me an email, put “bible podcast” in the subject line, and let me know. I’ll reply with a chapter for you to read, and a link to the text of the New English Translation online for you to read from. Read the chapter, bounce it to mp3, and email it back.

Easy as pie!

Academic Cynicism

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a website where professors can anonymously bitch about their students, their administration, their colleagues, their facilities, their parking spaces …

It was funny at first, and a little cathartic. Then, after reading through more and more of the site, the cynicism started to get to me. It was post after post of profs talking about how apathetic and sarcastic their students are (where do we think they learned it?), about the sense of entitlement that students have these days, how dense they are, blah blah blah.

I know that sites like this are a caricature; nobody has a great day of teaching, or a meaningful interaction with students, and thinks, “I should bitch about this on my favorite anonymous professor blog.” You get people reacting to their most frustrating experiences of the semester.

Still, it reminded me again of something I’ve often thought: I have no desire to be a part of academia at large. If my position at APU goes away for some reason (like, if they find a dead body in my office. Or a copy of ‘Generous Orthodoxy’), I probably won’t even bother looking for a similar position somewhere else. I’m not all that interested in being a professor – I’m very interested in doing what I’m doing here, at this place.

I love our students. They are, for the most part, optimistic and intellectually curious. When we bump into each other outside of class, they want to have conversations about ideas; how cool is that?

I love the faculty that I get to work with. They have that critical mix of high intelligence and pragmatism; they are interested in what actually works, not in what theoretically should work (you have to spend a little time at academic conferences in order to appreciate how rare that is).

I respect my departmental leadership. The Dean is a political monster, able to bob and weave with the best of them, but he uses it to protect his faculty from administrative interference, and to advocate for student learning. His authority doesn’t just come from his position, it comes from his ability in the field. He can deliver. He’s a musician, who also happens to be adept at the politics of administration.

They give me the proper tools to teach my subject matter. I teach a technology class. Every 3 years, they rebuild my teaching lab from the ground up with the latest technology. Getting the right software for the job is rarely a fight. We have our turf wars with the IT guys, but it hasn’t yet inhibited the teaching environment.

I dunno. Maybe if you check back 10 years from now, I’ll be bitter and jaded and will spend every moment complaining. But not now.

Maybe it’s the two bottles of wine that I polished off over lunch while writing this, but I’m feeling blessed.

Happy Blog Redesign for Super Joy!

It was time.

As always, if you find anything quirky or broken, let me know. Especially those of you who are using Internet Explorer. I tried hard this time around to make everything cross-compatible, but that’s always a tricky proposition. If someone wants to take some screenshots with IE and email them to me, I would appreciate it.

Also, this is the thread to submit tagline suggestions. Yes, the people have spoken, and taglines are back. Rejoice, you miscreants and anarchists. Thanks to Bobby for writing the PHP code that is powering the taglines. Turns out somebody wanted them back badly enough to actually do something about it.

Also, check out the menu. Not all of the links work yet, but the little greybox popup is very cool. If you want to make your case for being included in the “our other gigs” section, email me.

If any of you miss the old design, here’s your nostalgic look back:

addy old design