Thursday, April 30, 2009

Twitter Might Change the World

Twitter has the potential to change how many people relate to information technologies.

But, let's be clear: Twitter is dumb.
For those of us who live in the world of online games and tech development, Twitter is a super-dumbed-down version of existing communications tools.

Messages are not categorized.
Relationships have no nuance. (You "follow" or don't.)
It has the most rudimentary privacy controls.
And that's why it's great.

The vast majority of Twitter messages are visible in the public timeline. Most people posting to Twitter have no expectations of privacy.
According to Alexa, comScore, and Quantcast, Twitter users trend female and 35-ish. This is a group that historically has been very concerned about privacy.

The under-30 crowd doesn't really have privacy concerns. They are already on Facebook and comfortable with the "status update."
But I've wondered if belief in the illusion of privacy amongst older people is slowing the movement to a more transparent society.

I think that Twitter could move about ten year's worth of population from the group that is concerned about privacy to the group that isn't.
Even if the Twitter fad leaves no other legacy, that would be huge.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

11 Minutes to Productive

I'm a single guy who lives alone.
That declaration should tell you all you need to know about the condition of my apartment.

I have over 30 uncompleted projects (household, computer, personal work) lurking.

But, in the last few weeks, I've made more progress on my personal projects than in the previous three years combined.

It started when I attempted to power-watch all of Battlestar Galactica so that I could watch the finale the same weekend it aired.
A couple episodes each weeknight meant I would still have over 12 hours per day of BSG on the weekends.

So the strategy I developed for TV-watching marathon:

Step 0:
I wrote up massive list of tasks to be completed.
I did NOT prioritize the list.

Step 1:
Watch TV!

Step 2:
After each show ended, I set a timer for 11 minutes.
I would then spend that 11 minutes working on a task with no expectation of completing it.

Step 3:
When the timer goes off, grab a drink, hit the head, fix a snack, or whatever non-productive thing I need to do.

Step 4:
Watch more TV. Repeat.


By the end of the week, I had seen years worth of BSG, and finished some projects that had been floating since before BSG started.
I even had a guest over during this time. I just explained what I was doing. They made phone calls and such during my 11 minute breaks.

But why was the experiment so successful?
Between Battlestar and a few other shows, I watched about 96 episodes of various TV shows.
Multiply by 11 minutes and you get 17.6 hours.
That's a lot of time, but certainly not orders of magnitude more than I would spend otherwise.
But every single minute of this time was focused and efficient. No sitting around. No planning. No breaks. Just executing.

By flipping the work/break ratio I got a ton more done.
I plan to try this a few more weekends and see if the pattern continues.
I suspect the rate of actual project "completions" will slow, but it will be exciting if it doesn't.

Starting this weekend, I'll be adding workout tasks to the list.
But that implies a priority, since at least one will have to happen every day.

I believe NOT prioritizing has been a big part of the success so far, but perhaps I've already made whatever mental adjustment was needed and this will continue to work.



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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What I Miss About Cable

Today, I actually feel like I'm missing out because I no longer have Cable.

So far, the great de-cabling experiment has occurred in the absence of Mythbusters.

But tonight they return, and I'm going to miss it.

Giving up the Daily Show and the Colbert Report was tough, but if I really need a fix, I can watch those online.

But Mythbusters might be the toughest challenge yet.

My fallback plan was iTunes. But at $50 for a season pass, that's hard to justify.
And I don't see any season 6 content on iTunes... Is Discovery even still offering episodes?

Hulu.com and the Discovery Channel websites only show clips - no full episodes.

Why can't Discovery find an appropriate sponsor and distribute this via Miro/bittorrent like Make TV?

Guess I'll just have to play World of Warcraft tonight...

If you have a TiVo, expect me to invite myself over for dinner one of these Wednesdays!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The New "Cupid"


Rob Thomas (Creator of "Veronica Mars," "Cupid") has two new shows out. "Party Down," and a new version of "Cupid."

Now, I'm a huge fan of the original "Cupid." I still watch it on blurry MPEG-1 captures of multi-generation VHS tapes.

This new "Cupid" is not a sequel or spin-off; it's a retelling of the original story.
And there's a lot to like in this new version.

It's an hour program this time. That gives a bit more room to explore the Trevor and Claire characters while keeping the Couple of the Week format.

Digital TV looks a whole lot better than blurry VHS tapes.

The bar environment is much richer. Physically, it's larger and with an actual stage for performances. The bar staff is still related to Trevor's housing, but instead of rooming with Champ, it seems that Trevor rents from the bar owners.

Like the original, the new "Cupid" is filled with music. This can be a double-edged sword since I'm pretty sure music licensing is what keeps the original show from appearing on DVD.

Cupid's personal story is the same as the original (at least so far.) I loved that the show never answered the question of whether Trevor was insane or actually a god.

I also thought Trevor's cherub-inspired hair style was clever.

But the casting of the principals falls far short of the original.
Bobby Cannavale is a truly fun actor. But his portrayal of Cupid lacks Jeremy Piven's libidinous glee. His earthiness comes off more as blue-collar. Cannavale just doesn't seem as crazy. And in a show where the premise is "this guy might be crazy," that seems important.

Sarah Paulson's Claire just didn't work for me at all. I know she's supposed to maintain a professional distance from those she's helping, but she's also a published author. Passionate about her belief that true love is possible and that infatuation hinders the quest for true love.
The words were there, but I just never bought it. I don't know if it's the character's "look," or the acting or the direction. Somehow, I just didn't feel like there was an emotional being there.

I'm not saying this isn't a darned charming show. It just lacks a bit of sizzle of the original, and it's being launched in an environment with lots of other Moonlighting-esque shows.
Perhaps this is the right time for a slightly safer version of Cupid. But after Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, and Sex and the City it seems like a good environment for an edgier version.


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