Updates from January, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Hober Short 11:48 am on 29 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Remember that fee to begin funding a new student center that no one wants to pay for? The one that they had a referendum where the students said no and the Student Senate heard “yes”?

    Well, the main objection was always that we would be paying for a facility we would never get to use. I’m out of here in a little over a year, and I’ll be lucky to see the finished Hillsborough Street before I go. But they did promise a second project, as a part of the bill of goods, to renovate the food court at DH Hill. Remember how they said that, if they got the money, at least that would be done by fall 2010? Yeah, that was a lie, too.

  • Hober Short 7:18 pm on 27 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    If I told you guys in 1986 that Apple would be using Star Trek as a semaphore for high tech in their publicity photos in the year 2010, you woulda laughed at me.

    Also, they got close, but they just slightly misspelled “iPad”.

  • Hober Short 1:20 pm on 26 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Time for good news, bad news. First, good: “Nielsen is finally going to start measuring online TV viewing”. Now, bad: “Nielsen’s new service will only count viewings of a program with the same number of advertisements as the network TV model.”

    As the Slashdot summary points out, this means that if online services like Hulu want to be relevant (i.e. counted), they will have to start showing more ads, which would, they say, “probably mean the death of Hulu”.

    Mmm, nazzo fast, Guido. Hulu’s halcyon days of 30-second commercial breaks has had them running cash-flow negative. That’s okay for a business that is still starting (Hulu is coming up on its second birthday in March), but Hulu can’t stay viable long-term with its current business model. Not changing means the death of Hulu.

    • Ruth 10:29 pm on 26 January 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I for one prefer going to Hulu when what I want to watch is there, regardless of the commercial breaks. I would continue to use what I view as a convenience service, even if it meant a few more commercials.

  • Hober Short 6:44 pm on 25 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    In my Communication for Engineers class, we’re talking about memos and incidents where memos went unheeded, heralding disaster. The two low-hanging fruit are, of course, the Three Mile Island incident and the Challenger explosion. But Malcolm Gladwell wrote a piece about those same two incidents, published back in 1996, and proposed that perhaps risk is inherent in any system as complex as a nuclear reactor or space shuttle. As the sub-head states, “Who can be blamed for a disaster like the Challenger explosion, a decade ago? No one, according to the new risk theorists, and we’d better get used to it.”

    But what caught me was the last paragraph of the piece, which seemed prophetic twice:

    What accidents like the Challenger should teach us is that we have constructed a world in which the potential for high-tech catastrophe is embedded in the fabric of day-to-day life. At some point in the future-for the most mundane of reasons, and with the very best of intentions-a NASA spacecraft will again go down in flames. We should at least admit this to ourselves now. And if we cannot-if the possibility is too much to bear-then our only option is to start thinking about getting rid of things like space shuttles altogether.


  • Pat 3:23 pm on 22 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    At the end of the CES episode of This Week in Google, Jeff Jarvis quoted some sales figures that helped to put the debut of the Nexus One in perspective (relative to other notable smartphones). Specifically, he told us how many units each phone sold in its first week. (UPDATE: Added a Palm Pre estimate for comparison.)

    • Nexus One: 20,000
    • Motorola Droid: 250,000
    • Apple’s original iPhone: 1,600,000
    • Palm Pre: 90,000-100,000

    Leo Laporte then pointed out that Nokia sells more phones every day than Apple does in a month.

    • Hober Short 3:06 pm on 23 January 2010 Permalink | Reply

      How much of that is because iPhone had a huge rumor campaign going for years before it went on the market, and probably before the phone was even in development?

      The droid had a marketing blitz surrounding its release.

      The Nexus One was “Okay, come buy this thing, I guess. You know, if you’re interested or whatever.”

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 2:54 pm on 21 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    SCI FI Wire reports that Roddenberry Productions is working with Imagine Television and Tim Minear (a producer on Buffy and Firefly, among other shows) to develop a new television series based on Gene Roddenberry’s The Questor Tapes.

    The article doesn’t really have any more hard information than that, but the announcement does appear to be official and genuine.

    I’m never optimistic about the success of any new TV show, because most of them fail, and this one strikes me as rather narrow in appeal. But if nothing else, this new project might make it more likely that the original Questor pilot might finally see some kind of rerelease. I’ve never seen it.

  • Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. 12:41 pm on 20 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    One of the contributors at The Digital Bits recently posted his “best films of 2009” column. His actual list didn’t mean much to me, since I haven’t seen a single one of the films he picked. But I did find this paragraph amusing:

    2009 will also go down in history as the year Hollywood officially ran out of titles. OK, I imagine very few people confused Up with Up In The Air. But between District 9, 9 and Nine, there was very little danger of anybody forgetting what year it was. And I can only assume that a couple folks had to convince their friends that no, they hadn’t already seen A Single Man a few weeks ago. That had been A Serious Man…. And I cannot believe we’re now at a stage where you have to specify which movie you’re talking about if you mention Halloween II.

    Unoriginal movie titles are nothing new, but I must admit I hadn’t realized it had gotten that bad. But Adam Jahnke left out the worst offender of 2009, in my opinion: Star Trek.

  • Hober Short 4:07 pm on 19 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Trying to skimp on spending money on textbooks this semester, I went to the library today planning to borrow the library’s reserve (i.e. you can’t take it out of the building) copy of my English text and hand-copy the information I needed for my first assignment. Once I had the book in my hand, I wandered over to the computers set up with scanners, thinking perhaps I could just scan the relevant pages and spare my hand. They were all taken.

    But standing alone, unused, unloved, and quite clearly new was a vision of beauty:

    A Zeutschel OS 12000 commercial grade book scanner. Ten minutes later, after grappling with the somewhat unintuitive interface, I had a PDF of the four pages I needed. The marginal cost for an additional pair of pages was probably ten seconds. Flip the page, press “Scan”, wait, press “Save”. Repeat.

    I recognized it instantly for what it was, but as I was trying to use it, I noticed some other students giving me furtive looks. As I laid the book out on the flat bad, they tried to finagle textbooks on to conventional copy machines. When they figure out what I learned today, people are going to be lining up to use this thing.

    • bxojr 12:45 pm on 20 January 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Wow. Add a Kindle, and you could easily create your own e-book version of any printed publication (or, more realistically, excerpts therefrom) — given enough time and money, since I assume there is some per-copy charge.

      I bet the textbook publishers LOVE that thing.

    • Hober Short 12:49 pm on 20 January 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Nope, no fees. It’s comparable to using the Mac G4s with scanners attached to copy the book, except it automatically crops and de-warps the pages.

    • Pat 3:25 pm on 22 January 2010 Permalink | Reply

      How did you take the PDF away with you? Did you have a flash drive with you? Or does it e-mail the file to you?

    • Hober Short 3:38 am on 23 January 2010 Permalink | Reply

      It has a bank of ports for all the standard forms of flash media: thumb drives and the various types of cards, lik SD and MemoryStick.

  • Hober Short 1:02 pm on 19 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Intrade Watch: forget the exit polls, we’ve got a compelling outcome already.

    That’s Intrade’s summary of Martha Coakley’s chances at winning the Massachusetts Senate seat, dropping from 98% two weeks ago to 40% this morning. Whoever’s betting against her, there seem to be a lot of them. I’d love to link to the page for the contract itself, but they don’t seem to have one…

    Previous coverage of Intrade here.

    Edit (10:43 EST): Brown took the election and Intrade’s servers are down. I wonder what that means.

  • Hober Short 1:04 am on 19 January 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    I still don’t get it. If outlawing smoking in bars were so good for the bars, why did it take an act of legislature to force the bar owners to accept their own good?

    Actually, it occurs to me that individual bar owners knew they would lose the smokers’ business to other bars that allowed smoking. The only way to force smokers to keep giving the bars business without allowing them to smoke was to get together and ban all the smoking.

    Otherwise, each one would ban smoking and there would spring up one really hopping pro-smoking joint? Sheesh. I dunno.

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