But then you really start to appreciate the remarkable attention to detail of each image. The Lego figure sports different outfits matched to the climate and setting. The poses in each photograph evoke the struggle of finding unconventional vantages photographers seek when shooting an image. Finally, the variety of terrains in the series arouses my own wanderlust to go out and shoot more.
Consider me moved. I bought a print, and it came today.
Lego, Bicycling, Summer, Photography: Everything in this photo makes me happy.
Speaking of long exposure photographers, check out the work of Matt Lambros. His photos of abandoned movie theaters is not only a great documentation project for architecture and film exhibition in the United States, the photos themselves are hauntingly beautiful.
There are many reasons to hate those K-Cup coffee machines. First, the machines are expensive. Second, the refills are expensive, and thus, the coffee it makes is also expensive. And for the elevated expense, you get coffee that tastes like crap krap.
One way to make being locked in to the K-Cup system more palatable is to use third-party refills that cost significantly less than those sold by Green Mountain.
In a lawsuit filed against Keurig by TreeHouse Foods, they claim Keurig has been busy striking exclusionary agreements with suppliers and distributors to lock competing products out of the market. What’s more, TreeHouse points out that Keurig is now developing a new version of their coffee maker that will incorporate the java-bean equivalent of DRM – so that only Keurig’s own coffee pods can be used in it.
The Keurig CEO has confirmed the new DRM-locked machine. He also called it a “game changer” presumably because instead of “giving away” the coffeemaker and charging for the refills, as you do in the established “razor-and-blades” model, Keurig intends to profit from the coffeemaker and the refills. This is how in bad CEO parlance, the “game” has been changed.
Of course, you can save yourself a ton of money and get better coffee at home with any number of coffee makers, like a Chemex or an Aeropress that don’t have DRM or even require electricity.
One of the drawbacks of being on the western edge of Long Island City is that for nearly half the year, we don’t have weekend access to our main subway line. This year, we were scheduled to go twenty-two weeks without weekend service on the 7 line between Queensborough Plaza and Times Square.
But we’re expecting a snow storm Sunday night, and the scheduled repair work is cancelled.
The following Weekend Planned Service Change is CANCELLED.
No 7 service between Times Sq–42 St and Queensboro Plaza. Originally scheduled for: 2 AM Sat to 5 AM Mon, Mar 1 – 3
The cancellation now leaves us with twenty-one weekends of no 7 train service, provided they don’t tack on another weekend to make it up.
Twenty-one weekends sounds like a long time, and many local merchants bemoan that these repairs keep Manhattanites out of Long Island City. I don’t know if they ever thought about the locals who are trapped and might be compelled to eat a meal, have a drink or watch a comedy show or dance performance in our own neighborhood. Why not create some 7-themed special like $7 cocktail, appetizer, or cover specials? We’re all in this together, right?
As for me, the weekend work doesn’t bother me all that much. I rarely pine to ride the rails out of LIC. But if I did, thankfully, my club’s Spring Training Series starts next week, which means I’ll be spending most of my Saturdays on a bike again.
Heaven forbid I have to spend a weekend in Long Island City.
I used to find product placements tasteless, but my thinking has evolved. Years ago I read an interview with a respected TV writer and producer who said that if done properly product placements can add to the character and setting of the story. If memory serves, he said something like “if there’s a character who drinks whiskey, and Bushmill will pay us for placement, let’s monetize that.”
There’s a nuanced difference between a Johnny Walker drinker (someone who tries too hard) and a Bulleit rye drinker (a straight-shooter). That changed my thinking. Nevertheless, there is no shortage of bean counters in media studies for whom each time a logo or product appears on screen, creativity has died by one point.
Winning and placing in this year’s Brandcameo Awards are Budweiser and Apple, respectively. I’ve always hated when a character ask for a generic “beer” on television or in a movie so I guess it’s a little more realistic that someone asks for a “Bud.” It’s the same number of syllables as “beer,” and the set designer will probably get a neon sign or painted mirror to hang in the bar set.
As for computers, according to worlds of films and TV shows I watch, seemingly everyone uses a Mac or an iPhone. Apparently, Apple products also appear on movies or TV shows I don’t watch:
Between 2001 and 2011, 129 of the 374 No. 1 films (34.4 percent) had Apple product placement. But Apple is still a product placement power, with 2013 films like Drinking Buddies and We’re the Millers both featuring the brand, as did China’s Midnight Weibo. Then there is TV, where Apple has upped its presence in hit series like House of Cards and Ray Donovan and overseas in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes and China’s knock-off of The Apprentice.
Speaking of House of Cards, the product placement of computers and smartphones in that series is pretty systematic. The government apparatchiks use Blackberry phones, presumably for their rock solid security, and a unremarkable brand of desktop computers. But everyone’s personal phone is an iPhone. Men usually carry a black phone, and women sport a white one. The rich and powerful Frank and Claire Underwood both carry gleamingly new iPhones, in the new iPhone 5/5S form factor. By contrast, Zoe Barnes, a symbol of youthful enthusiasm and early–20s poverty, is still using a stumpy iPhone 4/4S. I’m surprised it doesn’t have a cracked screen.
And speaking of personal computing, does anyone take a computer, that is not a MacBook Pro or Air, to bed?
It’s hard not to get caught up in the Apple vs. Google debate, and the Brandcameo Awards also fall prey to this polemic. They point to a film that is entirely about Google:
More than one movie plot this year was knitted together with a brand name…. The Internship is the clear winner in the category with nearly the entire film’s shenanigans set inside the search engine behemoth’s campus and revolving around Google.
The Internship had its moments, but I really preferred House of Cards.
I’m pretty certain that it was David Simon, the creative force behind Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire, but I didn’t bookmark the article nor did I find it through a bunch of web searches. Maybe it was Matthew Weiner. ↩
Then I remembered that Casey Neistat video, where he takes a sample of his diet to two food scientists.
They run those foods through a calorimeter to determine whether the posted calorie counts at chain restaurants and on packaged foods are accurate.
The biggest discrepancy was one of those Natural Power-Fu sandwiches. The calorimeter detected about 200 more calories than what the label specifies.
An employee at the tofu sandwich company, whose sandwich had nearly double the number of calories the label stated, told me that he wasn’t sure how the company came up with the data. He said the company would look into it and, if it found results similar to mine, would change the information on its labels.
The students wrote a simple computer program that churned out gobbledegook and presented it as an academic paper. They put their names on one of the papers, sent it to a conference, and promptly had it accepted. The sting, in 2005, revealed a farce that lay at the heart of science.
The farce is not just that academics are being duped by computers writing “gobbledegook.” It is that there are “dodgy” conference organizers and journal publishers that are ready to accept anything so they can bilk an author. This hoax was a valiant attempt to expose those.
Conferences aren’t free. If you write a paper and have it accepted at a conference, don’t expect any payment. You will have to pay a registration fee to attend the conference and likely pay for your own travel. Most reputable conferences charge a reasonable fee to cover their expenses, which can be substantial, but you do see some conferences with some exorbitant, jaw-dropping registration fees. It is wise to stay away from those.
You can see a similar trend in the proliferation of “open access” journals. These journals are available online for free instead of charing an individual a cover price or a library for a subscription. Instead, they charge the author a publishing fee.
Publishing anything, even “gobbledegook,” for a fee is a predictable result of conferences and journals that exist primarily to generate a profit.
When hoaxes like these get reported in the press, readers assume that authors submit conference papers or journal articles as completed works. They do not. It’s possible that some of the paper proposals submitted as “gobbledegook” had a sound kernel of an idea that could develop into a solid paper with some revisions. A panel chair or an editor will often shepherd a conference paper or a journal article so the author can revise it. But it’s hard to judge whether the conference organizers were duped because they accept anything to generate a registration fee or whether they accepted it with revisions. As the Social Text–Sokal incident made clear, no one expects a hoax.
Many of these same people are also implying that because Netflix has to pay Comcast, consumers will foot the bill for this as Netflix will have to charge more for their service. This could not be further from the truth. Those stating this have no clue how Netflix delivers their content today or what costs they already incur. If they did, they would know this is not a new cost to Netflix, it’s simply paying a different provider, and it should be at a lower cost. It should actually be cheaper for Netflix to buy direct from Comcast, and they also get an SLA, which also improves quality and that’s a good thing.
One of the crazy facts about the Internet is that is very much like the telegraph network of a century and a half ago. Yes, both disrupted our conceptions of space and time, but they also share two technical details: both are based on a binary code, and both rely on relays for interconnection. Almost every single transaction you do on the Internet is converted to binary, grouped together as a stream, and then broken up into packets. It then goes through a series of routers that transit your packets to your intended destination. In the days of the telegraph, your message would transit from one telegraph office to another until it finally arrived at its final destination. Messages were priced according to length and distance because you were using up more resources than someone sending a short message to the next town.
A popular Internet service such as Netflix doesn’t have just one server to distribute all of its video content. It has dozens of them. They are located in places that are nearest to their customers. The aim is to minimize not only the distance each data packet has to travel but to also minimize the number of hops. Netflix contracts with companies that provide this service, each is known as a CDN. It appears that this deal merely cuts out the “middle man,” a third-party CDN in this case, and allows Netflix Comcast’s and have access to its customers all the way to the final mile . Comcast subscribers should have a better experience streaming video from Netflix.
Is This Neutral?
With this deal, Netflix on Comcast will be better than Netflix on Verizon. Netflix on Comcast will also be better than another comparable video service (YouTube?) on Comcast that doesn’t have an interconnection agreement. But it should not impact upstart content providers. One of the major concerns of net neutrality is whether smaller players will have their traffic treated equal to the major players. In this case, it appears that the answer is no.
That argument however doesn’t consider Netflix’s size and its footprint on broadband networks. If it truly accounts for nearly a third of all Internet traffic in the US during primetime, it has few, if any, peers. Netflix has a new tier of Internet content providers, something like:
Websites, blogs, and commercial services hosted on one server. If you’ve ever paid for a web hosting account, chances are you did this. You can get away with doing this because you are not serving much content and can stay within the bandwidth limits of your hosting plan. A dedicated server would be next option once you outgrow your shared hosting account.
Websites, blogs, and commercial services hosted across different servers. Once a website becomes even more popular, it could outgrow that one server, and will have to shift its content across a number of servers. Many sites pay a CDN for the trouble of locating servers across different locations because it can be expensive— think rent and utility bills.
Netflix. It is in a class by itself, connecting directly to the ISPs network. It has outgrown the third-party CDN model and struck a deal with the ISP itself. It is both a content provider and a Tier 2 network.
Again, I’m still trying to understand all of this, but it appears that net neutrality is still important even if it doesn’t apply to this case. Content providers in the first category above are safe because their volume of bandwidth is relatively low and won’t overwhelm ISP networks. Content providers in the second category should also be safe should they not overwhelm ISP networks. However, content distributors might have cause for concern if too many of their customers are like Netflix and begin overwhelming their peer networks. It’s just hard to determine what the line might be and how much it will cost to join this elite class . It’s also hard to predict if peer agreements effectively constitute preferential treatment.
This is largely metaphorical. Forgive me if my use of this terminology is imprecise. ↩
While most of the content is specific to the class, I included some additional resources that be helpful for anyone who wants to polish his/her presentation skills.
Gabe Zicherman offers some suggestions on how to give a great keynote. He writes, “being a good speaker at conferences and events is not unlike being a great performer. You need to know your material, intuitively understand your audience, bring something new to the table, and keep yourself in great physical and mental shape to do your best.” One of the more compelling points I took from his article was to learn from standup comedians to keep your audience engaged and to appear excited about your material.
Zach Holman has an entire website on public speaking. It is structured as an outline for each phase of planning, organizing, and giving a presentation, and you can “drill down” for each part to learn more. I discovered it when someone shared a link on picking the color palette for your slideshow deck.
One of the best approaches to presenting is to repeatedly enumerate your points: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them. One the best examples is the keynote presentation Steve Jobs gave at MacWorld Expo in 2007 to introduce the iPhone. He immediately tells everyone that he’s going to introduce three revolutionary products: a new touchscreen iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. The twist is that it was one device and then explains each part: the iPod part, the phone part, and the Internet communicator part.
Flush a toilet, drop something down your sink, or watch rainwater go down a storm drain around North Brooklyn, and the wastewater will likely end up at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Here the wastewater is screened and disinfected before being dumped into the East River. Before it goes out to sea, however, it goes into one of eight digester eggs that break down the raw sewage into a mushy solid they call “cake.” It’s basically what happens in your belly when you make poop, but on a much larger scale.
They postponed the Valentine’s Day tour last week because ice dangling from the digester eggs posed a threat to visitors. Tonight was the make up date, and we went. What better way to spend a Tuesday evening than to learn about and tour the facility that processes our poop before heading out to sea?
The superintendent conducted an hour-long presentation about the whole treatment process. It turns out that poop doesn’t go out to sea at all. Close to 94% of all the wastewater New York City dumps to our waterways is actually clean water. Consequently, the waterways surrounding New York City are cleaner than they’ve been in over 100 years. The other fascinating but bothersome fact was that the digester have trouble processing non-organic material that can’t be broken down by the digestion process. One such product is pharmaceuticals. Every pill a New Yorker pops and passes will eventually go into our waterways, turning our fish into overmedicated drug addicts.
Although the entire tour was long, it was really entertaining. Everyone at the plant appears to love their job and feel a sense of purpose. If we could all be so happy and fulfilled at work.