Original Batman Trailer vs The Dark Knight Trailer

CollegeHumor and YouTube have copies of of the new Batman: Dark Knight Trailer going around placed against the original Tim Burton's Batman trailor from years ago. Comments on YouTube say this is not actually the Tim Burton cut, but it's still a coo comparison between the two films none-the-less. College Humor link here: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1813453

Planning a summer event road trip

My friends and I just booked a summer weekend road trip:

Friday 6/20 - Pearl Jam Concert in Camden NJ
Saturday 6/21 - Nationals vs. Rangers inter-league play in Washington D.C.
Sunday 6/22 - Phillies vs. Angels inter-league play in Philadelphia

I'm psyched for all of these, should be an awesome weekend.


Atmosphere Concert Videos

As a follow-up to my awesome concert weekend, I did take a few videos from the Atmosphere that actually came out pretty good. You can catch them all at my YouTube channel


A big concert week - the Foals and Atmosphere

Tonight I am heading over to Bowery Ballroom to see the Foals, whom I'd never heard of until a friend asked me to hit up the show with him just a few days ago. Then Sunday I am catching Atmosphere at Webster Hall, which will be the 4th time I've seen them live in six years. Anyone going to be at the show? If you know the Foals, recommend me some songs in the next hour or so that I can listen to before tonight! Hopefully I'll have some pictures and videos from both these concerts next week.

Planning a trip to San Francisco

I'm planning a trip to San Francisco... any thoughts? I want to see:
- San Francisco itself (what are the best things to do there)
- Redwood trees (I hear Muir Woods is close and impressive)
- Wine country (I have no idea where to start)
It'll be seven days end of June. I'm open to any ideas and suggestions on where to stay what to do the whole works.


This blog keeps getting spammed

As anyone who follows this blog knows, I keep getting spammed with posts that appear to be written by me but obviously aren't - I've changed my password, but that doesn't seem to be stopping it. There was a period a year or so ago where this happened, and eventually it stopped - since I've changed my password, I can only guess that it's a hack of the blogger service or a third party - we'll see! If anyone has ideas on how to stop this, let me know.


The Sixers take Game 1 Against the Pistons!

Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Antonio McDyess

Normally I put up pictures of the Sixers dominating, but I couldn't resist this one of the Pistons so disheartened on the front page of ESPN. I was walking home last night from my family's Sedar and saw on my phone that it was a 1-point game with 17 seconds left. I ran to the nearest restaurant and watched through the window of the service entrance as Iguodola nailed the win with two free-throws.


Riya - Please sell your facial recognition technology to someone who will use it

Riya, the photo-sharing website with facial recognition capability that I've obsessed over and written often about, is looking to sell their facial recognition technology. They transitioned over all of their efforts to a visual shopping search engine which is apparently very lucrative for them, although not nearly as exciting or fun. Apparently they never got over the hump in making the facial recognition software as accurate as they wanted, and any talks with buyers of Riya in that incarnation died long ago. Now they will officially rename their company Like.com, and sell off the Riya technology. I am hoping that Google or Yahoo purchases them and implements the technology immediately into Picasa or Flickr respectively - it would be an invaluable asset in tagging the thousands of photos I now have in each service (my wish list also includes those two companies allowing inter-operability & sync'ing). But now I'm thinking more likely someone like Facebook buys the technology and uses it to help its users tags the faces of their friends, a practice that Facebook users are already doing and are used to, and probably wouldn't mind the help.

How much would Google help Yahoo if they worked together

You've probably lost interest by now in the Yahoo-Microsoft-AOL-Google dealings (if you were following it at all), but here's an interesting projection - look at the financial estimates of increased revenue of Yahoo outsourcing their search advertising to Google - 25%...50%...100%... that's how much better everyone thinks Google does search advertising than the rest of the market - give them your inventory, and you will make your money back in multiples. Personally, I hope no one buys or merges with Yahoo- its more fun to have several players in the market vying for market share, more products come out, more interesting moves get made. Now Yahoo and AOL just have to start committing to some of their products, improving and supporting them, and we'll be getting somewhere.
Yahoo Puts All The Chips On The Table. Time For Somebody To Fold: "Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney previously said that a Yahoo-Google search deal could boost cash flows by 25%. Experts we talked to estimated that could boost Yahoo’s market valuation by $7 billion or so, less than half the premium Microsoft offered on February 1.

That Mahaney estimate of increased cash flow from a Yahoo-Google deal is now “more than $1 billion a year,” a 50% gain in cash flow from 2007. That puts the offers roughly on par, give or take a few billion. And it gives Yahoo a potentially viable alternative to the Microsoft deal."


Every new version of Google Earth impresses me more

Google Earth 4.3 screenshot of Street View

Yesterday Google released a new version of their rich desktop satellite map tool, Google Earth.  The new Google Earth has more detailed imagery, more 3D constructs visible by layers, and more control over the exact view of user.  You can now fly all the way down to street level and land on the Golden Gate Bridge.  You can stand on the top of buildings and rotate your view from there.  They've also added in high-resolution street view photography that is popular on Google Maps, but this time you can stand directly in the photos and walk through them with crystal clear resolution.

Other additions: you can now see the date an aerial photograph was taken, and you can also turn on day/night effects to see how atmospheric lighting impacts views.

The downsides: as always, everything only works "where available", so the best quality imagery is only in certain spots and certain cities.  As you can see in the photo above, by turning on street view you can actually see bubbles that you can think of starting points for the high resolution walking.  And running Google Earth was heavy on my computer because it is continually streaming in high-resolution photography at every second, slowing things considerably.

Sunrise on Denver in Google Earth 4.3

[images borrowed from Google Earth Blog]


Following a delivery impatiently

I ordered something from Amazon over the weekend and I'm waiting for it to arrive impatiently. Here's the journey it's taken so far... I think it's close!

Track your package
Date Time Location Event Details
April 16, 2008 01:32:00 AM NEW YORK NY US Out for delivery
April 15, 2008 11:16:00 PM NEW YORK NY US Arrival Scan
April 15, 2008 10:40:00 PM NEWARK NJ US Departure Scan
April 15, 2008 06:46:00 PM NEWARK NJ US Arrival Scan
April 15, 2008 04:27:00 PM LOUISVILLE KY US Departure Scan
April 15, 2008 12:11:00 PM LOUISVILLE KY US Arrival Scan
April 15, 2008 02:48:00 AM MEMPHIS TN US Departure Scan
April 15, 2008 01:02:00 AM MEMPHIS TN US Shipment picked up from seller's facility
April 14, 2008 06:20:22 AM US Carrier notified to pick up package


Headline: "Price War Hurts ID Thieves"

This is mildly frighting and mildly funny - in today's Metro there's an article discussing how a glut of stolen credit card numbers and other personal information has forced ID thieves to adopt mainstream business tactics, such as price-cutting, to appeal to their customers:
Fierce competition among identity thieves has driven the prices for stolen data down to bargain-basement levels, which has forced crooks to adopt mainstream business tactics to lure customers, according to a new report on Internet security threats.
The price of a credit card number has apparently dropped from $2 to $0.40 of recent.
[read more from a San Francisco Metro article I dug up here]

The NBA Age Requirement

The NBA is considering raising the age limit to 20, from 19 this last season - an Idea that I tend to support. The common argument against it is how can we restrict an athlete from making money if his family needs it, but that's not really what's happening...it's more about making sure a person that is stepping into high-demand, high-intensity, high-profile, high-stress situation is capable handling it, and capability of handling it in a public spotlight. The NBA is business, and it has a responsibility to its customers and its partners, and "hiring" people before they're ready to fulfill all aspects of the job is the wrong decision - for all parties. It's the best interest for everyone if a person matures, gains an education, etc. Maybe not always, but rules are devised for the masses, and it seems likely that the greatest utility comes from an age range. Mark Cuban writes today on his blog:
Raising the minimum age is not about talent, its about maturity. Maturity matters to this league. Mature players are marketable players. Mature players generate far less strain on the league. Mature players can take care of themselves. Mature players understand the business of the NBA and how they can positively impact it to their own benefit.
I would add to it that maturity matters to the players themselves, and to the fans that enable them to make such gross amounts of money.


Starbucks Proactively Building Community Around it's Brand

It's an unhealthy and expensive habit, but I stop by Starbucks in the Mall every morning. There is a coffee bar up in my office, but I like the routine of grabbing a newspaper, reading in line, having the pause before the work day. I also like the incredibly friendly staff that works there, the familiar taste of the coffee, and now I'll add that I like Starbucks itself to my list.

Starbucks seems like a company that you can really feel good about.

You don't usually get to say that about international chains, but after reading the Times Article about founder Howard Schultz and spending time on their company blog Ideas In Action, I'm willing to get behind them.

Howard Schultz has me totally convinced that he cares about his consumers, and his employers. He's going against normal business tactics and breaking up the streamlined assembly-line process that Starbucks has inherited over the last few years from bottom-line-dollar-first CEO's to raise the quality of the coffee. The beans will be ground fresh again, the espresso machines will be exposed to the consumers waiting in line for a more personalized experience. He's giving away internet and removing egg sandwiches, even though they were cash cows, because he wants loyalty for one and he wants nothing to steal from the smell of coffee for the other. He provides health insurance to his employees, which means they stay loyal to him, and I as a customer appreciate the minimal turnover.

The new company blog "Ideas in Action" is allowing customers to write in suggestions and feedback, and is one-by-one responding to the ideas that are brought up, in a detailed and candid manor. In one post about automated ordering they address something I'd been thinking too - why can't we just type in our order when we enter the line, so it's ready at the cash register? On the blog they address that they are in fact looking at ways to speed up the processing, but that automated ordering has it's drawbacks:

As a company, we want to be innovative and use technology to meet the needs of our customers. Ironically, when tested, technology often does not prove to be faster or more efficient than our current deployment and customer service model. Most importantly, we love the personal interactions we now have with our customers. Many of the comments on MyStarbucksIdea express regret that personal contact would be taken away if we replaced the barista who takes your order with an automated system.

Sometimes companies, my own included, forget that it's not enough to be working on an idea, a problem, a potential point of progress, you have to let your customers and employees know that you're working on it. A lot of the ideas Starbucks recognizes are in the works, but they are trying and they do care about the solution, they just aren't there yet. This open dialogue is invaluable to the little people not involved in the inside thinking.

My only complaints with the blog, since I can voice them here: No RSS feed, and no direct linking to articles (otherwise you'd see them in this post). These are usability problems that shouldn't happen in any blog.

This morning when I arrived at Starbucks I was greeted with a new coffee-colored coffee cup, a sign that said when the coffee beans had last been ground, a sign that said the coffee is being brewed fresh every three minutes, a new every-day coffee flavor "pike place roast", and a gift-card in USA Today issues for a free cup of coffee each Wednesday for the next month. The back-to-coffee approach that Schultz is implementing as he steps back into the CEO role starts now.

Oh and I'm not the only one who was acutely aware that the new cups were a sign of something big... this popped up on Twitter around the same time I began thinking of writing this:


Art Battle in the Green Room at 45 Bleeker

This Friday night I was awoken to the hidden underground "Art Battle" scene that takes place in the Green Room at 45 Bleeker, a frat-basement style jack-of-all-trades room where once a month you can find aspiring artists painting shoulder to shoulder with each other, surrounded by hundreds of on-lookers, a mix of live-music and DJ, and an MC that dishes out rhymes inspired by the art that unfolds in front of him. The crowd is filled with all types, the interest is everything from party to dance to art enthusiast, and the peculiarity of the whole scene is accentuated by random break-dancing billboard-juggling promoters that can't be described with words, but are as equally impressive as the artists. 

Learn more about the art battles here.

[cross-posted on my Fotolog]

The Sixers Clinch a Playoff Spot!


After a 3 year hiatus, the Sixers have clinched a playoff spot!  They're currently battling for 5th place in the standings, and could end up playing the Pistons, Magic, or Cavs in the first round - not sure who I prefer.  I'll be at one of the last games of the season, Sixers vs. Cavs, in Philly next week.


The Grand Central Whispering Gallery

Though I've through it hundreds of times, I never knew of the "Whispering Gallery" in Grand Central Station. Outside the Oyster bar downstairs in the dining concourse, there are two corners in an archway that have specifically designed acoustics to bounce sound discretely from one corner to another, so that only the person standing in the opposite corner facing the wall can hear, as if the wall is speaking to him. This is Ari talking to me from across the archway.

[cross-posted on my Fotolog]


Looking for great pizza places in New York City

I'm thinking of putting together a "Best Pizza in New York City" walking tour, in an attempt to try all (or as many as possible) of the great pizza places that I haven't gotten to yet.  I've set up a quick online form that you can enter the pizza recommendation in; give it a shot and your recommendation could make my Best Pizza of New York City tour!

Tell me what pizza place I need to go to

some of the recommendations that have come in so far (i'll publish the full results at the end):