IE7 Beta

To anyone who is interested, if you are running a copy of Windows XP SP2 and want to try out IE7 Beta...here's a link.


Bill Maher back to TV ... on Amazon.com

Amazon.com is bringing Bill Maher back to television, via original programing coming to the website this summer. Maher will host a show that contains interviews with authors, directors, and actors; live musical performances; and more. The site has a preview of the content, that will be a regular series starting June 1.

Vongo and Bubble: The movie business is changing

The movie business is changing rapidly these days. Case in point, this week's release of "Bubble",
directed by Steven Soderbergh and produced by Mark Cuban. The movie was released virtually simultaneously in the Theatres, on DVD, and on TV- In 39 theatres across the country (many of which are Landmark, owned by Cuban) in digital projection only; on TV via Cuban's HDNet premium HD station, and on DVD four days after launch. It's Cuban's assertion that the movie business is like other mediums of entertainment, such as seeing a Mav's game - you don't stay home from a basketball game because you can watch it on TV, you decide which one you want regardless. People who like movies in theatres will pay to see them there for the experience, regardless of if the DVD is available. Others who were going to wait to get it on video anyway (because of cost, or preference) now don't have to wait, and are triggered to see it while the hype is around. And maybe people who see the movie might want to take a copy home to study it more closely; that will now be an opportunity afforded them.
His strategy has met mixed reviews within and outside the industry. Many theaters refused to air "Bubble" because of the release strategy, claiming that it is a devastating move for the industry as a whole. Some people think its a bold experiment that is better
for a bigger name movie. Cuban thinks it's about time the industry stepped up and recognized that the problem is within itself, and expects that moves like this could resurrect the business as a whole.

Vongo is the new broadband movie service by
Starz. Think NetFlix without the mail. $10 a month gets you unlimited movie downloads, viewable on up to 3 computers (including portable movie players (PMP's)), and streaming access to the Starz movie channel. There are pay per view options also, for extra money. Movies are downloaded in high quality, and can be watched only a minute or two after the download begins, while it finishes in the background. Currently there isn't the selection of mail order services, but title lists are growing, and the quality, convenience, and ease could easily be worth it. I haven't
tried yet, but plan on it- services like this could help to end pirating, since it ultimately gives people what they want - access to content when and where they want it. If this was HBO, and I could watch Sopranos etc., I'd be signed up in a second.


US politicians edit wikipedia bios

Interesting article discussing the 1000 or so edits made in Wikipedia by politician staff to "correct" the facts about them (or to change how history perceives them)

A DVR that turns on when you fall asleep

Lucent has a patent out on technology that will use a camera to, through pattern recognition and other forms of logic, detect when you fall asleep watching TV. It could then trigger a DVR to record the show you are missing, and turn the TV back on when you wake up.


Google criticised for complying with China's sensorship

Like other search engines before it (Yahoo and MSN), Google has agreed to censor its search results in China, in order to comply with the country's restrictions against freedom of speech. Google is fighting for market share in China, and plans to roll out a new version of its search engine (suffix ".cn") specific to China's demands.
They've also stated that they won't offer some services, such as G-Mail or blogging, because they do not feel they can offer their extended services in truncated form.
While Google feels offering whatever access possible is the greater good, many people in the US are dissapointed that Google would step away from its "don't be evil" mantra and join in the ranks of censorship. As a sign of protest, bloggers and websites are starting to cancel their AdSense use. Google, for one, is in the position of trying to run an international business in a world that has different boundaries. But on the other hand, it spent the last two weeks defending its Search queries from the US Government in the face of all other engines complying, and this seems to be a step in the other direction.


Stewie from Family Guy to Host Virtual Talk Show

Fox announced today that Stewie, from Family Guy, will have his own virtual talk show only on the internet. The show will be hosted on the Family Guy Website some time this year, and is a great example using the internet to build loyalty and buzz while giving more content to the fan base, all online. The launch date is not yet announced, but it will happen this year.

[read CNN's story here]

Follow Jack Bower via Google Maps

It turns out there are a lot of people more obsessed with '24' than I am. Here's a mash-up of Google Maps that includes point by point storyline of '24'. Click on any spot to recieve photos via Flickr and storyline. All the usual Google Maps options apply - satelite, map, or hybrid view.
[see the Jack Tracker now]

Technorati Tags: ,


Apple rips off "The Postal Service"

There's a lot being said about Apple's new commercial for the intel Macs, which has been shot by the same film makers that filmed the popular "The Postal Service" video "such great hights" a while back. The Postal Service announced on their website a statement decrying apple and their film-makers' decision to copy so blatently the "such great hights" video. you can see in a side by side comparison what the big deal is (below). It seems pretty reckless, especially after the backlash over apple's iPod commercial with Eminem, in the style of Eminem's own video, without his notification/consent. Be interesting to see what they come out and say after this one.

White Castle Petitioning for a new Holiday

White Castle has an online petition to make the day after the super bowl a national holiday, based on the fact that over 1.4 million US Adults traditionally call in sick the day after the event.
Learn more or sign the petition if you're ammused.


Brooke Burke and the Burger King King

The Burger King commercials with The King scoring touch downs and performing other amazing feats have become incredibly popular. Now they're taking to the internet to generate some buzz, along the lines of how they promoted their chicken sandwich years ago with "subserviant chicken". This time, Burger King is utilizing internet hot spots such as Google Video and YTMND ("your the man now dog").
Brooke Burke has shown up in two viral videos - one with her horse back riding with The King, and one with her getting lotioned up on the beach by The King. There have also been music slide shows and photos.

Here are the pictures and music slide shows:
picture set
music compilation 1
music compilation 2
The videos are pretty likely to be real viral marketing tools, since they had to be shot somehow; the pictures probably came from the filming; the music compilations on YTMND seem too wierd, and may just be patched together by fans.

A lot of Google News

Google News now has two recommendation services built in: "Recommended Articles" and "Most Popular." Recommended articles are based on your personal choices of news articles - as you read more (assuming you have your search history turned on), it will begin to suggest to you recent articles worth reading. So far its not exactly in real time and not entirely targeted like engines such as Findory, but more grouped by sub-categories. Most Popular articles are based on what everyone in aggregate is reading.
Also of note: Google is generating a lot of buzz for their decision to turn down the Federal Justice Department's request for search query records. To date, MSN, Yahoo and AOL have all agreed, but Google has stood their ground. Apparently no information that is being requested would be even remotely personally identifiable, but Google is concerned with the slippery slope of handing over their data, and the public confusion that would occur over the what can be linked to individuals. Also, their "do no evil" mantra pretty much requires them to stay firm as long as possible, though the Justice Deparment has requested a court order to force their hand.

Sony gives you $500 for your Dell

If you are looking to buy a new laptop to replace one that still works, Sony has a deal running through March 31st 2006 that will give you $500 towards your next purchase in exchange for your old Dell, or $300 in exchange for any other. Not a bad bribe posted to unhinge the current market leader in laptops.


nba refs and game tempo

Mark Cuban periodically publishes the intel the Mavericks have collected on various stats revolving around types of foul calls, showing how different ref teems cater to different styles of play, how rule enforcement is effecting the tempo of play, and a variety of other interesting implications.
"Total fouls called are down vs last year, with an average of 46.47 in total fouls being called per game (compared to 48.17 this time last year)...."
[read the Mark Cuban article]

iTunes TV Shows helping ratings for The Office

"NBC's 'The Office' delivered a 5.1-its highest ratings ever-last
Thursday among adults 18 to 49, a bump the network credits in large
part to the show's popularity as an iPod download." [via TVweek]
Preliminary results from testing around NBC's 'The Office" shows that the popularity of the series has increased since becoming available for download on iTunes. If stations start understanding that catering to people's needs and interests will only help the success of shows, we will see a flood of offerings from all networks. This continues to be an evolving medium for television consumption and how the industry is monotized in the future while consumors are pushed to meet a price point will be interesting. We may also see failing shows offered, since the cost of distribution via alternative methods such as iTunes is relatively minimal.


CIA FactBook World Information

The Winds Relation Browser is a fun, if not necessarily useful, tool that allows you to fly between graphic visual webs of geography, based on relationships stated in the CIA Factbook of World Information. May be more useful for a highschool project than, anything else, or for wasting time at work.
[via Google Blogoscoped]

time waster: Uber Breakout game


New Jersey Passes Smoking Ban

If you live in New Jersey (like myself), you will soon no longer have to come home from bars drenched in smoke. New Jersey finally got on board, well behind New York and other prominant states, with a smoking ban in all bars and restaurants, with the exception of Atlantic City's 12 casinos. The bill will be signed into effect by next week, and goes into effect 90 days later.
[via NYTimes]

NBA Video, Clerks II, iTunes Downloads

i. You can now purchase this season's best NBA games directly from Google Video, along with various movies, music videos, and tv shows. Hopefully video quality improves when you purchase for download, because otherwise its a rip off (you can view the first 30 seconds before purchasing).
ii. The Clerks II trailer is out, featuring what looks to be the same cast, in addition to Brody and Rosario Dawson. Also, this time it's in color.
iii. Over the week between Christmas and New Years Eve, almost 20 million music tracks were downloaded from iTunes and similar download music services. This shattered the previous sales record, and shows how mass market is getting behind legal downloads.


Camera Phones to Read Barcodes for Product Reviews

Toshiba is expected to announce this year a service that allows you to take pictures of their product bar codes with your camera phone, and receive information back that aggregates the blog world's reviews of the product. They will return both good and bad review information, collected from sources all across the web. This fits well with services by internet companies that allow you to price-compare by serial number, but the photo-snapping of a bar code is even easier. Essentially, we are moving towards the point where little time and effort will be required for you to have a full arsenal of information before you actually make a purchase at a store.
[via TechCrunch]