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:

Hi,

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.

http://www.[lamermarketing].com

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

Regards,
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

In memory of Finis Price

Filed under: Planet10Tech | |

Image via Nicole Black: http://legal-ipad.com/post/18011665087/finis-price-he-will-be-missed

I just learned that one of my legal colleagues, serious Mac fan, and tech presenter, Finis Price died in February. I’ve been out of the loop so I missed it when the news came out. Finis was a personal injury attorney in Kentucky, a very gregarious and über exuberant person who was often the center of attention. I only met him a few times through the Maclaw conferences, but once you met Finis, you couldn’t forget him. Finis was always eager to share his knowledge and his passions: from the coolest iPad app for lawyers, to the latest X-men movie, to his correspondence and great love for author Douglas Adams. If you were ever in the same room with him, even if it was a massive auditorium, you would likely hear his voice ringing out in laughter at some point. Although we only met on a few occasions, here’s to you buddy!

Finis and his wife, Heather, poured all their resources into their business, TechnoEsq. As a result he left little in the way of savings.
The Kentucky Justice Association has set up a restricted fund to accept donations, and all proceeds will go to his wife. If you would like to contribute, please send your contributions (be sure to note “Finis Price” in the memo line) to Kentucky Justice Association, 10602 Timberwood Cir # 8, Louisville, KY 40223-5367.


I made Neatorama (and didn’t even know it)!

Filed under: Editorials | Tags: , , |

It just goes to show that it pays to waste time on vanity searches. I just found my Dalek made up of words (using the WordFoto app) on Neatorama.

NewImage

How cool is that!


Assigning Apps to Spaces in Lion

Filed under: Mac Tips | Tags: , , |

 

OSX Lion select space for app

I like to keep a separate desktop window (“space” in Apple parlance) for blogging (and the screenshot shot and editing apps I use). However, when I launch an app, it defaults to the main desktop. I remember that in OSX 10.6, you could set which space an application opening in System Preferences. However that has gone the way of the dodo in OSX 10.7 Lion.  So, how do you select where apps should open or even keep them visible on all desktops?

Easy enough:

  1. Right click (CMD-click) icon in the application dock.
  2. Go to Options.
  3. Select which desktop you want the app to launch in (or if you want it in all desktops).

Yay! Thanks to MacLife for providing a list of Mac Spaces tips. I would love to link directly to the article but the URL produces a 404 error each time. It looks like MacLife doesn’t like deep linking.


Cold Heartless Evil

Filed under: Podcasts | |

What makes us do bad things? More importantly, what people do the worst things imaginable. Radiolab covers the subject of evil this week in “The Bad Show.”

  • A fresh interpretation of Stanley Milgrim’s electroshock experiment. It’s not just people’s willingness to follow instructions from a person in a position in authority that allows them to intentionally inflict harm on others. Individuals will act, and continue to act, contrary to their own beliefs, and in a way that is abhorrent even to themselves, because of an intellectual buy-in to the greater good.
  • Saint or sinner: Fritz Haber, the man who saved the world from starvation also developed and personally implemented (on the front lines) one of the most terrible weapons in history.
  • And last, interview with a killer.

Give it a listen:

Creative Commons License photo credit: Greencolander


How to flatten a signature in Adobe Acrobat

Filed under: Paperless | Tags: , |

You probably already know how to create and use an electronic signature in Adobe Acrobat (if not, don’t worry it’s the first tip in Ernie Svenson’s video below). However, you may be wondering “how do I ‘flatten’ the signature image, so someone can’t simply lift my signature off a document.”

I figured that Adobe must have a way of doing this. It is the premier app for managing electronic documents in business after all. However, apparently not. Also, I could not find the answer by googling, either. After several dead ends, I was able to find the information. Everything you need is covered in Add a Flatten Document Menu Item to Acrobat on the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog. WARNING: this has worked fine for me (Adobe Acrobat Pro 9), but I make no warranty.

Read the rest of this entry »


Paddy Ashdown: The global power shift

Filed under: Videos | |

Watching the Sunday “talking head” shows is truly an exercise in frustration. Big name politicos repeatedly hit their talking points and the hosts wont ask tough questions for fear that the politico wont come back on. I contrast that with this discussion of the shift of global power from a single pole (the United States) to a multi-polar world in the new century and from nations to transnational groups.

I don’t agree with everything in this discussion. I do not share Ashdown’s faith that transnational treaties can to bring law and curb the power of transnational groups. WIPO being one example where the proposed treaties seem designed to promote large rights-holder interests, exclude critics, and short-circuit democratic involvement via secret discussion. However, compared to the fare on Sunday morning news shows, the piece is still a breath of fresh and frank discussion.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Satoru Kikuchi


Cute Cats and The Arab Spring

Filed under: Podcasts | |

I saw this mentioned on BoingBoing last week: it is a discussion from the 2011 Vancouver Human Rights Lecture series discussion the importance of mainstream internet venues in democratic movements: unlike small networks (whose shutdown may be invisible to the mainstream), use of popular networks like Flickr, Facebook and Youtube means that heavy-handed shut-downs will likely make more people aware that something is going on. A very Freakonomics bit of analysis!

CBC.ca | Cute Cats and The Arab Spring. Via BoingBoing

Creative Commons License photo credit: Dr. Hemmert