Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oh, CRAP!!

Prepare yourselves, frequent air travelers, for the specter of "More Important Than You Guy" yapping away on his cell phone in the seat next to you on your next red eye flight.

Is NOTHING sacred?

I'm going to start a petition to allow electric cattle prods on commercial flights, so I can deliver a nice, friendly 20,000 volts to the first a-hole I hear utter the phrase, "Talkin' to you from 30,000 feet, buddy."

Microsoft Project Conference 2006 impressions

It's been two weeks since the Microsoft Project Conference was held in Seattle, so it's WAY past time for me to post some of my impressions from the event. Without further ado:

The conference was an excellent event in just about every way that matters. I liked the content, the execution, the venue, the attendees, the food, even the weather and the chairs. I have no major complaints of any sort, and only a few little quibbles to honk about.

Some specifics:

First and foremost, Microsoft Office Project 12 looks like an enormous improvement in just about every major area of the product. The desktop client is still with us, and some usability improvements (multi-level undo and highlighted schedule changes being the biggest) make this the easiest-to-use version of the venerable MS Project product ever. The communication between Project Pro and Project Server looks to be much better thought-out and more efficient, although I really want to see it working - I have concerns about keeping info synchronized between the desktop and the server. PWA does a heck of a lot more than it used to, is much cleaner, and is easier to modify - all thanks to it's newfound status as a legit SharePoint app. Better reporting, more configuration changes, and more-solidified time reporting make the product finally (I think) ready for prime time.

EVERYONE in the tiny, incestuous world of EPM was there. I ran across folks I've worked with, customers, contacts from Microsoft, bloggers, MVPs, contractors, VARs, partners, competitors, and others from all over the EPM ecosystem. It was tremendous to connect/reconnect with so many people in the field.

Microsoft usually puts on a good show, and this was one of the best that I've seen. The Westin in Seattle is a first-rate hotel, rooms were scheduled correctly, signage was omni-present and helpful, the Westin staff was omni-present and helpful, the food was plentiful and, for the most part, very good (although I wound up having a salami sandwich for breakfast one morning - what's up w/ that?).

Speakers and sessions were uniformly good and appropriate. I have to complain a bit about how jammed the schedule was. I counted at least 5 breakout-slots where I wanted to be in at least two different sessions, and in some cases three or more. There was EASILY enough content to justify a four-day conference. We'll get all of the material on a DVD in the next few weeks, but my experience w/ conference DVDs is they are usually good cures for insomnia. We were all there, and I think a lot of participants would echo my thoughts on extending the duration of the conference so we could get to more of the content.

INS was well represented both in attendees and visibility. We had an appropriate number of people at the conference, although more would have been OK too. We were a Gold Sponsor of the event, so INS signs were everywhere. Sandy Sharma (my hero) did a couple of breakout sessions and did a masterful demo on-stage w/ Steve Ballmer during the keynote on Thursday. Even your goofy correspondent got into the action, presenting w/ my pals at Project Hosts during one of the breakfast sessions.

To sum it all up, the Project Conference was a great experience, in large part because the news from Microsoft is all good with regard to the product, and in smaller part due to the planning and execution of the event itself, and the response from the EPM community in terms of attendance and participation.

You can read more about the conference from Dieter, Dr. Porkchop, MPA, Jack Dahlgren, Brian Kennemer, and probably a bunch of other places I don't even know about.

Oracle: More mess for your money

Niel Robertson, the Chief Technology Officer for a PeopleSoft support outfit called Newmerix, has written a blog post covering Oracle's recent "Halfway to Fusion" event.

Oracle, in case you didn't know, has recently purchased PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and Siebel in an effort to become all things to all people and to compete effectively in the ERP market with the big boys at SAP. "Fusion" is Oracle-speak for the combined platform they hope to weave out of the hodgepodge of home-grown and acquired toolsets, applications, and suites. Oracle claims to be "Halfway to Fusion", but the smart money is they are nowhere near the midpoint of the journey.

Robertson's post is a tongue-in-cheek (but, I think, fair and accurate) assessment of the true meaning behind things said and unsaid by Oracle execs at the event. Most of it is not terribly good news for the current Oracle, PS, JDE, and/or Siebel user base.

If your company uses (or is considering using) any of Oracle's products, you MUST read this post.

If you're in technology sales and compete against Oracle, this is also required reading, as your job just got a lot easier.

And, if you're like me and simply wish failure on Larry Ellison at every opportunity, it is a worthwhile read as well. Lots of fodder for your next speech.

Monday, January 30, 2006

SuperBowl XL mega-HD setup

This weekend's SuperBowl will be the biggest HD event yet, with ABC deploying HD cameras all over the place. This is great, but I can't wait for the day when this isn't news at all, because EVERYTHING is in HD.

Gillette Fusion Power verdict: Not bad, too pricey

As usual, I did the family grocery shopping yesterday. While I was looking for shampoo for the wife, I saw the new Gillette Fusion Power razor handle and blades on display, along with the "Shopping Card Saving" tag. The new package is an eye-catcher for sure, full of Microsoft Office Orange and shiny, curvy plastic, so I took a closer look. Turns out our friendly neighborhood grocery store had these babies for $5 off for both the handle and the blades. Even with $10 knocked off the price, I still couldn't believe how expensive these things are. But, I'm a sucker for the latest thing, so I picked them up.

So, first shave with the new 5-blade (6 if you include the trimmer blade on the top) wonder is behind me and the verdict is: Not bad at all.

Some impressions: The Power version vibrates like crazy. It seems kind of strange to be manually shaving with a power razor, but I suppose I'll get used to that. The lubricating strip on this thing is MUCH better than the strip on the Mach 3 or Sensor. The shave is very comfortable, there's no razor burn at all, and it is easily the closest shave I've ever gotten. I'm writing this at 5:20 p.m. and I've got some stubble, but it's noticeably less than usual.

I'm still choking on the price of blades, but, if I can find coupons, I may go with it long term. I would not pay full price for either the handle or the blades, but at a discount, I recommend it.

Enron trial - watch out, David Blaine

The trial of Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, the two head weasels in the Enron weasel-pit, begins today in Houston.

The pre-trial coverage seems to indicate that the defense will consist primarily of this amazing hypothesis: Enron was a healthy company right up until it's overnight collapse, and neither Lay nor Skilling did anything wrong.


The defense will argue that a combination of CFO Andrew Fastow's criminal activity (which he did only for his own misbegotten benefit, not the company's, you understand), over-zealous prosecutors, and media hysteria have brainwashed the public into believing nefarious deeds were perpetrated by anyone else within Enron. You've been duped, people!

This is pretty ballsy stuff. I give them an A+ for chutzpah.

I am pretty sure that the media is not very fair or even accurate in many cases, and the complexity of this case probably means that most of the reporters who cover it don't understand it (I know I sure don't, even though I am no reporter). As for the average American, I have no illusions that there's any real comprehension of what went on at Enron out there. Most people wouldn't know off-balance-sheet financing from shinola. The possibility of being duped is certainly there.

However, with all that disclaimer on the table, there's WAY too much smoke here for there to be no fire.

This whole thing makes me want to puke. The image that comes to mind is a bunch of rodents fighting inside a barrel of snot. I hope both Lay and Skilling wind up in the slam for decades. And no country club, either. Hard time with the skin-heads, Crips, and Mexican Mafia.

As little Susie Derkins once said in an immortal Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, "While I'm wishing, I want a pony."

I will be keeping an eye on this one. The lawyer slickness co-efficient looks to be very high, the fake-sincerity factor should be off the scale, and the condescension-to-fact ratio will be absolutely extraordinary. This has all the makings of classic, early-21st-century entertainment to me.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Required reading before posting anything on the Internet

James Lileks has posted a set of tongue-in-cheek "rules for making a fool of yourself on the Internet" which should be read by anyone contemplating posting anything anywhere.

I especially like the first one. I haven't heard Mrs. Clinton referred to as "Hitlery", but it is a giggle nonetheless.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Top 5 sports moments – personally witnessed (live or on TV)

This installment of “Top 5” focuses on the sporting events that I have personally witnessed, either live or on TV. Not all are good memories, but they're all stories I tell from time to time.

I know, I cheated and got six onto the list. But they’re all great.

They are:

5. Red Sox vs. Mets, Game 6, 1986 World Series
This was the “Bill Buckner Game”. I was living in Boston, a well-hit 3-wood away from Fenway Park, and was a real band-wagon Red Sox fan. Regardless, I have never seen a collapse like the one we witnessed that night. After that, the Curse of the Bambino was very real for me.

4. Doug Flutie to Gerard Phelan, BC vs. Miami, Thanksgiving weekend 1984
Flutie-mania had gripped Boston for a while before this one, but I don’t know if he was much of a story around the nation. This was a GREAT game prior to the miracle, last-minute heave, but that play will be the one that everyone remembers. I was visiting a friend in Detroit and watching it on TV, and only caught that play out of the corner of my eye.

3. (tie) Troy Aikman to Alvin Harper on a slant, Cowboys vs. 49ers, NFC Championship 1993
The moment that signaled the changing of the guard at the top of the NFC. SF had ruled the late 80s, Dallas was coming on strong. This perfect throw and outstanding run-after-the-catch put the game away for the Cowboys, and turned the 90s into the Cowboys’ decade.

3. (tie) Vince Young turns in the greatest individual performance ever, Texas vs. USC, College Football National Championship 2006
I will be telling my grandkids about this one. Vince Young absolutely ruled the world that night, and the ‘Horns won their first National Championship in 30+ years. The single greatest college football game in history, bar none.

2. The Miracle on Ice, USA vs USSR, Hockey Tournament in the Winter Olympics 1980
It’s hokey, but it’s true – this moment transcended sports like nothing I have ever seen. Whether you knew anything about hockey or not, it didn’t matter. This was “us vs. them” in every sense of the phrase, and it signaled the end of a really crappy decade for the US. Reagan was elected later that year, but this is where the turnaround started. The most exciting live event I have ever seen on TV.

1. Cleon Daskalakis withstands 2 minutes of 5-on-3 hockey to win the Beanpot, 1985
I know. You’re going “huh?” Let me explain: The Beanpot is the college hockey tournament held in Boston every year, pitting Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern, and Harvard against each other in the Fleet Center (it used to be in the old Garden). It’s a nothing outside of Boston, but it’s HUGE there. I was a student at BU, and we had very little to cheer for. Our football program was middle- to bottom-tier 1-AA, and was dropped a few years after I left. Our basketball team was nothing in those days. All we had was hockey. And the Beanpot was the highlight of the season. Our boys were playing our arch-rivals from BC, and the game was a nail-biter. BU had, as best as I can recall, a one goal lead late in the third period when we were saddled with two penalties. Cleon had been the star of the team for the past few years, and this was his senior season. He was a solid wall in goal, stoning close-in shot after close-in shot for the duration of that ridiculous 5-on-3. The BU crowd in the old Boston Garden was going absolutely nuts throughout. It was at that moment that I really envied the kids at Notre Dame or Duke or any other school that had a traditionally great program of one sort or another. It was BU’s shining sports moment in my four years there. I walked out of that game, which we did win, absolutely wrung out. I have never yelled louder, jumped up and down more, or poured more emotion into a sporting event before or since. And it was the greatest sports moment of my life.

Feel free to add your favorites, or to argue any of mine, in comments.

YES! I knew it!

This substantiates a theory I have long believed in. Ladies and gentlemen, you now have documented proof.

ChoicePoint penalty - not enough, but at least it's something

ChoicePoint has finally been punished for last years' sale of over 150,000 consumer records to an organized crime ring. The total penalty consists of a $10 million fine and an order to set up a $5 million fund to help victims of identity fraud.

ChoicePoint probably has this much money sitting in the soft-drink machines around corporate headquarters, so this isn't exactly a crippling blow. I'm disappointed, but not as much as I expected to be. In truth, I expected el zippo in terms of punishment.

This ain't enough, but it's a start.

And the real lesson is: It's up to each of us to protect our own identity. The big boys don't care about you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Black hole puts dent in space-time, and gives me a serious headache

Articles like this, which appears in the most mainstream of mainstream-media (in this case, MSNBC), make me feel like a preschooler with a brain deformity. I know there's a concept being explained here, but for the life of me, I don't understand it.

I wish I did, because putting a dent in space-time sounds pretty cool.

Jobs vs. Gates: Life is not fair

Leander Kahney recently wrote a Wired News column comparing the myth vs. the reality when it comes to the two alpha-geeks in modern America - Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

His conclusion: Gates gets the bad rap, but Jobs is really the one who deserves it.

I'm a fan of both, but I always like to see the the other side of any story. I think there's a lot to this one.

Read the whole thing!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Where are they now - #2,137

Former teen idol (and a favorite of someone I know very well) Leif Garrett was recently arrested in LA for riding the subway without a ticket and possession of narcotics.

What a tragedy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

No progress on Burma human rights

In news that comes as a shock to exactly no one who follows events in Burma, US-based Human Rights Watch has issued a report indicating that Burma's ruling military junta has made no progress towards democracy, despite the government's elaborate promises to reform.

The report also chastises most of the rest of Southeast Asia for the deterioration of human rights throughout the region. Again, this flies in the face of ASEAN's pledges to promote democracy.

The report saves it's most scathing remarks for Burma, which is, by far, the most egregious abuser of its population. With over 1,100 political prisoners, including Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, currently being detained, continuing crackdown on opposition figures of any stature, and smothering of protest, the Burmese government continues to serve as an example of how to impoverish a resource-wealthy and fertile country.

This report won't cause change any more than the umpteen reports that have proceeded it, but it's better than complete silence on the subject.

If you're looking to get involved in the effort to do something about the abysmal conditions in Burma, check out the Free Burma Coalition home page.

Another scary public bathroom

Once again, I've shamelessly stolen from Brad Feld, who seems to have an unusual penchant for public restrooms.

I'm as self-confident as the next guy, but I think I'll pass on using this one. Surely there's a Shell station or something around the corner, right?

Sean Payton is now an NFL head coach

Sean Payton, the Cowboy's offensive coordinator for the past few years, has taken the head coaching position in New Orleans.

As far as I know, Payton has never been punched out by Parcells on the sideline, but I guess Sean decided not to press his luck. I know these guys all aspire to be head coaches, and once you make it into the rotation, you're sure to be hired if you get fired, but I can't believe the head coach in New Orleans is a much-sought-after position. The Saints have a history of losing rivaled only by the Cardinals, and who the hell wants to live in New Orleans?

Regardless, I wish him success (such as it can be in that toilet) and good luck. Now, the Cowboys will launch a search for a new offensive coach. For my money, they could hire Shakes the Clown or a blow-up doll, since Parcells has been calling the plays himself for the past three years, regardless of what he says publicly.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Cheap ads for Google Maps

Target is painting their logo on their store roofs, evidently with the intent of having them show up on Google Maps.

I'm surprised this hasn't happened sooner.

More DIY voodoo

Similar to some strange kitchen gadgets we've featured on CIT before, here's another example of the macabre for your home - the human head knife block.


Gay-Rod decides he's an American after all

In news hoped for by dozens (maybe), Alex Rodriguez has decided to play for the US in the World Baseball Classic.

I know I'll sleep better knowing that Gay-Rod will be dressed in the red, white, and blue, ready to choke for the good old US of A.

Arizona is dry as a bone (duh)

Since I've been traded to Phoenix again, for the 2nd time in 6 or 7 months, this one caught my eye: Arizona is experiencing it's driest winter in centuries. Not years or decades, but centuries.

I'm on the north side of town this time, up around Deer Valley, and you'd never know there was any sort of a crisis underway, as dirt is flying almost as fast as it is back in my beloved Frisco, TX.

The Phoenix metropolitan area is huge and growing fast. Under the best of circumstances, it's in the middle of the friggin desert, which I've always wondered about. I hope they know what they're doing, because a real water crisis could be very bad news indeed.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Top 5 channel surfing stop-down movies (all time)

The next installment of the Top 5 series: Here are the top movies that cause me to stop channel surfing and put down the remote whenever/wherever I run across them.

5. The Searchers - The best of the John Wayne/John Ford Westerns, and the one with the heaviest message. This is Wayne at his best and orneriest.

4. Fast Times at Ridgemont High - The classic high school comedy. Cameron Crowe's screenplay nails the American high school experience, and Amy Heckerling (who also directed the near-genius Johnny Dangerously - bet you didn't know that) directs with flair. Sean Penn did this right after Taps, and his 180-degree turnaround in character types made me sit up and notice him. Plus, there's Jennifer Jason Leigh and Phoebe Cates showing some skin. What more do you want?

3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - My vote for funniest movie ever made (apologies to Blazing Saddles and Team America, which finish not far behind). I saw this for the first time late one night when I was about 12 years old and laughed myself almost sick. When I see it these days, it's just as funny.

2. Heat - Michael Mann has been a favorite of mine for years, and this is his best. Sure he rehashes some Miami Vice and Crime Story bits, but what the heck (no one saw Crime Story but me anyway), Pacino and De Niro are on screen together for 5 minutes, and who the heck buys Amy Brenneman as a major babe? I don't care. It's got atmosphere out the wazoo (not one minute was shot on a soundstage), you've really got to pay attention to the story and are rewarded if you do, all sorts of great cameos pop up (Jon Voight, William Fichtner, Jeremy Piven, a very young Natalie Portman, etc), and it's got the most realistic street battle in cops-and-robbers-movie history (technical advice from my main man Andy McNab, what do you expect?).

1. Casablanca - My vote for best movie in the history of ever. Every line of dialog is famous, all of the major characters are complex and three-dimensional, Bogart was never more Bogarty, Bergman never looked hotter. I've wanted to be Rick Blaine for as long as I can remember.

NYT - All the fake news that's fit to print

The New York Times, once proud bastion of complete, fact-checked news, has been outed, again. This time, they printed a picture, reputedly of some sad Pakistani tribesmen, very sad child and old man prominently displayed, posing with the "remains of a missile fired at a house in the Bajur tribal zone near the Afghan border".

One little problem: The "missile" is actually a really old, unfired artillery shell.

Whoops. Well, maybe they'll get the next one correct.

Way to go, boys and girls.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Top 5 current TV shows

Just for giggles, we'll be doing a series of posts ranking the top 5 or so entries in a number of categories. Movies, bands, all-time TV shows, sports moments, babes, you name it. If you have any suggestions, please pass 'em on.

To inaugurate the series, here's our Top 5 television shows currently in production:

5. Curb Your Enthusiasm - A lame most-recent season, but still better than just about anything on network TV.
4. The Sopranos - The first appointment TV show for me since the heyday of ER.
3. Da Ali G Show - All three characters are genius, and even better on DVD.
2. Entourage - Johnny Drama and Ari are the two best comedy characters on TV anywhere. I wish I had the stones to say, "Let's hug it out, bitch" in business conversation. I get the feeling that this is pretty much the way it is in big-time LA circles.
1. Lost - Well into the second season and still as mind-bendingly confusing, frustrating, and enthralling as ever.

Before you start with the hate mail, I have held 24 at arms length (personal thing regarding Kiefer Sutherland - I've never liked him or his dad in a single role), and have not succumbed to Deadwood either. I hear great things about both shows, but can't render a personal opinion either way.

Tune in again soon for our next "Top 5" installment.

UPDATE: It hit me like a bolt from the blue today, as the kids were turning on their daily dose of Nickelodeon. I completely forgot Fairly Odd Parents, the genius Butch Hartman cartoon on Nick about a hundred times a day. This show is such fast-paced nuttiness that I have more fun watching it than the kids do. Cosmo is one of the great characters of all time, there are many other great regulars (April Fool, Chip Skylark, the Pixies, Denzel Crocker, and Norm the Genie are some of my favorites), and I can do an excellent Jorgen Von Strangle imitation. This kicks Larry David off the list and comes in at a strong #5.

Iranians at it again

The fun never stops in Tehran, does it? The latest has the Iranians hosting a conference to discuss the "scientific evidence" supporting the Holocaust.

Remember that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently called the Holocaust a "myth", has called for Israel to be "wiped from the map", and has stated that Israel should be relocated to Europe.

And, in case you've been living under a rock (sorta like me this past week), you may have missed the stories mentioning that Iran has told the EU to take a jump at a rolling donut regarding the Euros efforts to reign in Iran's nuclear program. The Iranians are working on nuclear weapons, folks. Raise your right hand if you think that's a good thing for geopolitical stability. No takers? Hmm. You know, I rather agree.

In other news, Iran's representative to OPEC has called for the cartel to cut back production of crude oil. To this, I say, "Bring it on". The short term impact will be bad, of course. However, in the long term, these idiots are cutting their own throats. As I keep saying, higher oil prices lead to increased research on alternative fuel sources, and hasten the day we (and the rest of the world) tell Iran, the Arabs, and the other fascist OPEC regimes to take their oil and polish their mothers' behinds with it.

Peyton Manning is a loser

Can't win the big one, indeed. Old #18 is turning into the modern-day equivalent of John Elway. Will he manage to get to the Super Bowl before he's done? Time will tell, but he's going to have to wait another year at least.

For all his tricked-up play-calling-at-the-line-of-scrimmage and pointing crazily at the defensive alignment (just a note here - doesn't it seem like all that carrying on would further stress out his linemen?), Manning is not the miracle worker I thought he might be this year. Pittsburgh tried hard to lose this one, but Peyton couldn't un-gag the chicken bone caught in his throat long enough to do anything about it.

Ah well, go Seahawks (I guess). Consider me on the Rain City Bandwagon, but only because it's the only semi-attractive one left.

There's no kissing in boxing

What the hell is this?

Patriots are done, Colts and Seahawks should be SBXL matchup

I will need to call my friend Joe today to make sure he's not standing on the edge of a bridge somewhere, as his beloved Patriots have finally lost a playoff game.

I didn't see a minute of the game, I'm sorry to say (I spent the night dining, drinking, and dancing with my incredibly hot wife at the Temple Shalom 40th Anniversary bash instead), but it sounds like the Pats gave it away. Five turnovers? You can't win a playoff game turning the ball over that many times.

However, it also sounds like bad calls, and a terrible defensive pass interference call in particular, had a BIG impact early. You start to get into dangerous territory quickly when you ask things like, "What happens if that call in the first half gets overturned?", especially when the Pats wheels really fell off following the call in question. However, it's got to be asked: What happens if that call in the first half gets overturned?

Regardless, Brady, Belichick, and Vinatieri all showed themselves to be human after all. It's too bad, but it had to happen eventually.

The Colts game today will be very interesting. It's hard to say where the Colts heads are right now, with nothing to play for over the past month or so, as well as the Dungy family's recent tragedy. They should beat Pittsburgh handily, and they should stomp the Broncos next week just as handily. However, time will tell. If I were gambling, I'd probably stay away from this game.

Over in the NFC, I am happy to see that the Redskins are done. What a bunch of frauds. The good news is that they probably think they're close, so perhaps they won't change much in the off-season. Assuming Shaun Alexander's bruised melon is OK, Seattle should be the class of the NFC and should not have trouble with the winner of Bears-Panthers (Carolina should win what I think will be one of the most boring playoff games ever).

And to round out the predictions: Peyton Manning will have no trouble with the Seabags. I would take Indianapolis regardless of the point spread, as I think it would be a blowout of Cowboys-Bills proportions.

Final NFL note for now: I really hope Carson Palmer's injury is not as bad as was being reported earlier in the week. In case you didn't already know it, this ought to remind you that you shouldn't take ANYTHING for granted in sports.

Mecca stampede - God's will or crappy bag-check?

Almost 350 Muslim pilgrims were trampled to death in Mecca this week, a story you've no doubt read or heard about elsewhere. As you probably also already know, this isn't the first, or worst, incident at the stone-throwing ritual, which is an important part of the Hajj.

Reaction from the Islamic press is worth a read. There's very little in the way of the "God's will" sort of explanation. There's also very little condemnation of the Saudi government, which is responsible for Mecca, Medina, the Hajj, and those millions of annual pilgrims. Not too surprising, when you consider that "freedom of the press" is not a concept embraced by most Islamic governments any more than queues and luggage checks are embraced by their populations.

Another surprising (sort of) component of the press roundup in the BBC today is the lack of compassion expressed for the victims and their families. I'll leave it to your imagination to figure out what that means. Simply left out of the quotes, but expressed elsewhere in the source pieces? One hopes...

It's difficult not to come across as intolerant and/or flat out anti-Islam in a situation like this. At least, it is for me. For that reason, I will conclude with these two final thoughts:

1. As long as you're not hurting anyone and not shoving it down my throat. I respect everyone's right to worship as they believe.

2. Many Muslim countries, especially host-country Saudi Arabia, are among the wealthiest states in the world. Given that, why can't they solve a problem that is completely predictable, getting more severe each year, and not going to get better on it's own?

Back above ground - what's happening?

I need to apologize to all my fans. The combination of a busy first week at a new client, and the world's worst hotel Internet connection (which cost $10/day, btw - I am so DONE with Embassy Suites), and here I am, a week behind on blogging.

There's no point in trying to catch up on the 1,000+ posts in my blogroll, so I'm just going to do a restart. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Blogging will be slow this week

Writing from Phoenix this week, in a hotel room that doesn't have a desk but does have a crap Internet connection and an even more crap alarm clock.

I'll try to blog when I can, but no promises.

Friday, January 06, 2006

New version of Moto ROKR sucks less

Gizmodo has a preview of the ROKR E2 from CES. Apparently it's a huge step forward over the incredibly disappointing original.

Maybe worth a try?

Virginia Tech gives Marcus Vick the boot

In a shocking move, Virginia Tech has kicked QB Marcus Vick of the football team for numerous legal problems and unsportsmanlike conduct in the Gator Bowl.

Vick was often brilliant on the field, but struggled in big games. He never became the sensation that his older brother Michael was. His off-the-field problems were significant, ranging from drug arrests to serving alcohol to minors to many driving infractions.

This is refreshing - a big-time football program actually kicking someone off the team for being a low-life almost never happens. However, you have to wonder just how sorry a human Vick really is to warrant this sort of punishment.

At any rate, look for Vick to enter the NFL draft this year. His more-talented older brother struggles in the NFL, so I don't hold out much hope for Marcus. He might make a decent receiver or defensive back, but I see no way he succeeds at QB in the pros.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Greatest college football game ever

For today, the rules of hyperbole are suspended. It's impossible to to go too far when describing what we witnessed last night.

First, name the college football game that surpasses last night's Rose Bowl. One where there was more anticipation leading up to it. One where there was more at stake. One where there were more big plays. One where there were more standout individual performances. Got anything? I don't. Definitive statement: Greatest college football game ever.

Next, name the individual performance in a college football game that surpasses Vince Young's from last night. Again, one where there was more at stake. One where the player made more absolutely clutch plays. One where the player put an entire team on his back and willed them to victory against the heavy favorite. Got anything? I don't. Definitive statement: Greatest individual performance ever.

Holy cow, man. Where to start?

I don't necessarily take back everything I've said about Mack Brown over the years or even this season. I still don't think he's Bear Bryant or Darrell Royal. He may prove to be that or more over time, but he's got a ways to go in my book. However, I do give him full credit for recognizing what he's got in Vince and letting him do his thing. As he said in an interview last night, "Sometime when you do less, you get more." Don't underestimate what it took for him to let Vince have some rope. Brown gets full marks for making the realization and doing something about it. Wanna bet that coaches of major programs all over the country are out today, buying iPods and downloading 50 Cent?

The Texas offense and defense both proved that Vince is not the whole team. Sure, they made mistakes. But they also made BIG, GIANT, HUGE plays when they had to. I don't know how many of these guys are going to the pros, but what a performance by so many of them. Limas Sweed, Ramonce Taylor, Michael Huff, David Thomas all made things happen in the biggest game of their lives.

The Trojans proved to be nearly as good as advertised. Leinart showed quite a bit, and was as good as you'll ever see in the third quarter. Pro scouts are drooling over this guy and rightly so. He has a long, successful NFL career ahead of him.

Reggie Bush also showed why he's Mr. Highlight Reel. However, for everything he did, I think you have to consider his game disappointing. He never really seemed to recover from that ill-advised pitch-while-being-tackled early on. Bush's semi-sleepwalking may have been the difference.

LenDale White, on the other hand, proved quite a bit on the national stage last night, and probably improved his draft position (if he comes out) significantly. It will be interesting to see if he can play at the NFL level. I don't think he's fast enough, and his toughness will be diluted a bit by the superior talent at the next level. Still, what a great game for him.

The USC offense has so many weapons that it's kind of embarrassing.They came so close to going down as one of the greatest college team of all time. As it is, they are still something special. Which makes the Texas victory all the more sweet.

And, finally, Vince. He may be the greatest athlete I have ever had the privilege of watching perform in real time. He made everything look so friggin easy last night. He never looked like he was running hard, but he consistently outran the whole USC defense. He never looked like he was having trouble finding receivers (and, to be honest, his receivers were often wide open), but he made some great throws. He never looked flustered or frustrated. Whenever I hear the term "special athlete", I think of Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" bit, but I don't know how else to describe Vince.

Does Vince come back for his senior year? As much as I'd like to see it, I don't know why he would. Other than the Heisman (more about that in a moment), what's left for him to prove? As for the Heisman, my take is this: He completely outplayed the last two Heisman winners last night, if the voting were re-held today, he'd win in a landslide (an aside: Why isn't the voting done after the biggest games of the year? That seems backwards to me). If he were to come back next year, he'd be the overwhelming favorite to win it, and all of the pressure would be on him. It would be a no-win situation for him - if he got the award, it would be because he was supposed to, if he didn't, he'd be called all sorts of nasty names in the media. Why bother?

Can Vince play in the NFL? I don't know. Physically, there's NO DOUBT he can. He's a bigger, faster, stronger Michael Vick. If Vick is a star in the league (and, for whatever reason, he is), then Vince is a SUPER-star. However, I don't know if Vince can do well in structured NFL offense. It really seems to me that he began to flourish when Mack Brown threw out the playbook and instituted the "zone-read". If he comes out, he'll go in the top 3, and we'll get to find out if he can hack it. I wouldn't bet against him.

I loved this game. I really think this is one that we'll look back on for the next 30 years, and remember it as the best championship game in history. I anticipated this game for weeks (hell, since the Ohio State game), and it lived up to my expectations. Even Robynne, who is no sports fan, got into this one, and was talking about it this morning. I'm just glad I got to see it, and in spectacular HD to boot.

I'm going to enjoy this, and all Texas fans should. Whatever happens next season, it won't be as much fun as this year has been.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Vince is God

I got nothing else right now. More tomorrow.


Rose Bowl Day is finally here!

Sturm has a great, short-and-to-the-point preview. I see it the same way, and have nothing to add beyond what I said here.

Go Vince! I cannot wait until 7:00 tonight!

How does this happen in 2006 America??

By now, you've probably heard about the absolutely horrific foul-up regarding the fate of the miners trapped in the West Virginia coal mine. If you haven't, let me quickly rehash it.

Last night, late word was that a single miner had been found, dead, inside the mine, and that the search was continuing for the remaining 12 missing men.

This morning, I woke to find that the 12 remaining miners had been located, and, miraculously, they were all alive. It was unbelievably great to see that on the front page of the Dallas Morning News.

Now, we find out that 11 of the 12 are, in fact, dead. And the 12th is just barely hanging on.

Worse yet, the families were not told of the mistake for several hours. Even though officials knew within 20 minutes that initial reports of multiple survivors were incorrect.

This is the sort of news you expect to see in your history text book about 1855 America. You aren't all that surprised to see news like this come out of China or the far reaches of Siberia today. But this is West friggin' Virginia, 2006. How is a fuck-up (pardon my language) like this POSSIBLE?

Well, say bye-bye to International Coal Group, the owner of the mine. The judgment against them in the lawsuit to be brought by the families will be in the billions. And rightly so.

News like this shakes your faith (not that I had much to begin with) in corporate America. Maybe the frothing-at-the-mouth types have a point now and again.

UPDATE: Not so fast. I was quick to jump on the company, and it sure looks like there's lots of blame for them in this. However, the cable news channels may have jumped the gun, "reporting" rumor and overheard conversations as "corroborated news". This story ain't done, not by a long shot.

Funniest Gizmodo headline ever

The new Motorola H5 In-Ear Bluetooth handsfree set is one cool gadget, but the headline chosen by my friends at Gizmodo sure does put an unpleasant image into your head.

Too close to home

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

$200 Google PC on the way?

This is worth watching - the Internet is all a-buzz with rumors that, this Friday, Google will be unveiling a $200 mini-PC running some sort of Google OS.

Gizmodo is taking the skeptical route, and I am right there with them. However, nothing those boys (and girls) at Google does surprises me any more.

Pocket-sized HD video cams are coming

Sanyo will be unveiling it's new, hand-held, high-def video camera at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.

Just what I need - shaky, poorly framed video of my daughter's 9th birthday in 720p.

The good news is that this camera is priced well south of $1,000, and they'll only get cheaper. But I have to believe we're going to reach the point of diminishing returns on this stuff. Why on Earth do I need to see my lousy home video in true 1080p?

Stay tuned for more goodies from CES throughout the week. This is the best show of the year.

The Zapruder film - stabilized version

In the middle of this post from WFMU's Beware of the Blog, you'll find a link to a digitally stabilized version of the famous Zapruder film.

The Zapruder film, for anyone living under a rock for the past 40 years, is a home movie shot by one Abraham Zapruder in Dealy Plaza, Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. It is live-and-in-color view of the assassination of John Kennedy. It is one of the most stunning 10 second pieces of film you'll ever see and, for my money, it completely refutes the Warren Commission's "official" finding that Oswald acted alone.

The problem with the Zapruder film over the years has been the jerky, all-over-the-place framing of the subject. You have to remember that Zapruder was 50 feet from the street, using a crap 8mm film camera to record the murder of his president on a beautiful autumn day. It's miraculous that Kennedy is even in the picture throughout.

Some genius has digitally stabilized the film. You'll see how it was done right away. The result is a piece of film that is more disturbingly clear than ever.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Zapruder film is not for kids. It is graphic as hell. Consider yourself warned.

New movie-download service launches

Starz, the premium movie channel available on your satellite or cable service, has just launched a new video download service called Vongo.

Painfully silly name aside, there a few things regarding the service that are worth mentioning:

1. While there are other movie download services available already (MovieLink being the most notable), Vongo is the first to offer a rotating selection of movies.

2. Vongo is specifically designed to work with Microsoft's Mobile Windows Media Player, which means you'll be able to watch your downloaded movies on any handheld device that uses Microsoft's mobile OS.

3. Vongo's DRM (Digital Rights Management - the distribution and viewing restrictions employed by the provider - if you don't know this acronym, you should) enables you to transfer your movies among three different devices, a lot like the .mp3s you're buying online (you are buying now, right?).

4. Vongo works on a subscription model - a flat fee for all the movies you want. You'll also be able to pay a smaller fee for pay-per-view for newer movies.

This sort of service represents the next frontier in digital media. It's going to be very interesting to see how online distribution co-exists with next-gen DVDs, hi-def cable (BTW - I think satellite is toast within 5 years), and other distribution channels.

Woman marries dolphin

A 41-year old British woman has married a 35-year old male bottlenose dolphin in Israel.

Sometimes, this blog just writes itself, you know?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Maurice Clarett - from star to alleged felon in no time at all

Police in Columbus, OH are looking to pick up former Ohio State star running back Maurice Clarett on armed robbery charges.

Clarett, for those of you who don't know, was a tremendously successful freshman running back at Ohio State back in 2002, helping the Buckeyes win the National Championship. However, since the win over Miami in that year's Fiesta Bowl, Clarett has had nothing but trouble.

He was suspended by Ohio State for the 2003 season for filing a false police report and for receiving special favors from boosters. Then, in 2004, he spilled the beans on Ohio State's "fringe benefits" program to ESPN The Magazine. Following that less-than-shocking revelation (folks, EVERY major college football program has that sort of shenanigans going on), the NCAA extended an "invitation" to Clarett for him to elaborate on his charges. He never showed.

Clarett also challenged the NFL policy on draft eligibility, a case that made it to the Supreme Court. Once he was finally drafted by the Denver Broncos, he made it all the way through training camp before Denver cut him. He has not caught on anywhere else.

The real kicker is the fact that, if he had stayed in school and kept his mouth shut, Clarett would be a senior right now, and the Buckeyes might be somewhere other than back in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.

You hate to paint everyone with the same brush, and there are many examples of athletes who are fine, upstanding citizens, but there are also enough of these stories that I often ask myself, "Why am I cheering for these guys?"

In case your New Year resolution included killing yourself in an unusual way...

Introducing the Sideways Bike. The site includes photographic evidence that it can, in fact, be ridden by a human.

I love nutty inventions like this. I really wonder what the heck was going through this guy's mind when he had his "Eureka!" moment.