Remembering what’s important

Filed under: Videos | Tags: , , , |

Here are some of my favorite presentation and commencement addresses. I watch them about once a year to help me remember doing good art, having fun trying new thing, and doing something new is important (even if you cannot connect how it will translate to paying the mortgage). Read the rest of this entry »

photo by: Tomasz Stasiuk

Happiness has nothing to do with logic

Filed under: Videos | |

Here’s an amazing presentation from Rory Sutherland at TEDxAthens on perspective being the key to happiness.

This is not only about personal happiness, but also about the totally unexpected and cheap (even free!) methods of keeping clients and customers happy.

photo by: Tomasz Stasiuk

Zoe Keating – Radical Cello

Filed under: Music | Tags: |

One of my favorite artists is Zoe Keating, a very modern cellist who uses a Mac (see the tech angle) to loop music live on stage. The results are fascinating, haunting and often highly emotional pieces.

It takes a bit to get going. If you are the impatient sort, skip to around the three minute mark.

photo by: poptech

Money can buy happiness!

Filed under: Videos | Tags: , |

I really enjoyed watching Michael Norton’s TED prevention on How to Buy Happiness (aka if money can’t buy happiness, you’re spending it wrong). It’s a light hearted and fun, yet empirical, talk on how spending your money in different ways can greatly improve your sex life (or at least your overall happiness). Give it a watch:

Our economic choices

Filed under: Podcasts | Tags: |

It’s easy to see the economic problems of another country: Greece, Italy. You can look at the economic trends and see what is going to make things worse. However, it is a lot harder to even spot the mistakes in your own fishbowl.

This Planet Money episode on “We’re Headed For A Fiscal Cliff. Should We Jump?” has stuck with me for laying out in stark terms the hard choices we have to make. Give it a listen.

photo by: squacco

Marvel Buddies, Assemble!

Filed under: Planet10Tech | |

I don’t usually do movie reviews. I tend to have quite contrarian tastes and I don’t care how good or important a film is. A cheap but entertaining movies rates higher with me than a technically perfect but heartless Oscar winner (e.g. Hugo). Plus, who really cares what I think. Still, every once in a while a movie is so big, so praised, so awesome, that I spend the big bucks to see it on the big screen and … it totally fails to impress me. And that sums up Joss Whedon’s “Avengers.”

Part of the reason I’m writing this is to memorialize my first impressions. There are a number of movies I initially found seriously flawed but ended up liking. JJ Abram’s Star Trek is one example: what the hell was with all those pipes in engineering? The Fifth Element is another movie I criticized up and down, but has become one of my favorites.

I have learned initial impression are based on your expectations and where the film could go. However, lasting opinions are based on what is actually on the screen and not what you hoped or wanted to see.

*Spoiler warning* I discuss some of the characters and scenes. It’s pretty general, but still… you have been warned.

The Avengers – What’s Bad:

  1. My biggest gripe is that the first hour and forty minutes feels like exposition – long, boring, drawn out exposition.
  2. Iron Man/Tony Stark is still the only interesting character. This is fine in an Iron Man movie; not so much in a purported ensemble piece.
  3. Scarlet Johansson was /gasp! boring. This is unforgivable!!! Remember when Scarlet wasn’t a big name and every role was different? Yeah, those days are gone. She’s now an action hero. Sadly, she isn’t even put to good use.
  4. The Hulk still doesn’t look believable. In fact I’d say he looks worse in this film. Yes, he has some good scenes and one of the best comedic moments. However, having this unbelievable CG character is still too “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
  5. The attacking army is… space bikers! /sigh. The generic silver armored look is straight out of Power Rangers (without entertainment value). Can you remember anything about the how the army looked other than “silver” and “armored?” Considering the amount of screen time devoted to the big battle, you never get any idea of what the bad guys even look like. Both the troops and their vehicles are nearly constantly blurred. It is as if the designers just didn’t care!
  6. Space turtle! See above.
  7. More space turtles! Oh for Pete’s sake. Ok, there is one space turtle: Gamera! All the others are just pale imitators.
  8. Failure to learn the lesson of the “Transformers” movies (or “Showgirls” for that matter) that spectacle does not equal entertainment.

The Avengers – What’s good:

  1. The six or so laugh lines are very funny.
  2. The scene between Loki and Tony Stark in Start Tower is the very best scene in the film.
  3. The finale (of the finale), and the comedic denouement with the Hulk, is thrilling and fun. “The Avengers” is one of the few movies that actually gets better toward the end. Many movies start with an intriguing first act and dissolve into a clichéd ending. While the big battle in Avengers is a given, the movie starts to work in the final 10 minutes or so. And the movie ends on a high note. I have to give it credit for ending very well and enjoyably.
  4. Shawarma sales will get a nice bump — stay to the very end.

Overall, there are some very enjoyable minutes in the Avengers. If you spliced them together, you would have a totally kick-ass trailer. Unfortunately, they are stuck in an overly long movie.

One final thing, early in the film when Peper is leaving with Agent Coulson, she delivers a throw away line asking about seeing a chalice. Anyone know what that was about?

Magic Marketing Secrets

Filed under: Marketing | Tags: , |

I love it when people ask me to write up their new business. I mean, when they actually ask me – which means figuring out who I am, what I do, why their business might be of interest to me and my readers, and then actually talking to me while using my name.

Of course, I also get a kick when marketers do the opposite and ask me for a personalized recommendation via an email blast, such as the below:


My name is Paul and I’m a startup blogger. About three months ago I started a do it yourself marketing service for bloggers because agencies cost too much. The service is called [LamerMarketing] and I need your help promoting it.


Will you write an article about the newly launched [lamermarketing]?

Paul K

So, here is my response to Paul:

Thank you for your personalized contact which I can tell was completely not generated through a mail blast system or service.

I appreciate your request to promote your new advertising venture by personally writing it up on my site despite never having heard of you before.

I can tell you know all about the art of modern promotion since you eschew all those out of date methods like figuring out the name of the person you are contacting.

I also see you recognize the importance of working efficiently: you send out hundreds if not thousands of emails with one click requesting a personalized promotion at no cost or further effort from you! Genius!

I think I shall take you up on your offer to discuss your business publicly and often.

I may even use it as a case study!

There you go Paul, an article about your business. Please let me know if you would like me to include your real URL.

photo by: Ghostboy