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To-to-too mmuuuch caffeine

Monday, October 1st, 2007

iTunes WiFi Music Store

I just got done blogging the rollout out their new Starbucks WiFi Music Store here in Seattle and I’m aquiver with coffee as a result. This morning I happened to stop into the Starbucks for a latte when I remembered that the new partnership for free iTunes access at Starbucks retail locations was lighting up in Seattle this morning so I whipped out my iPhone to check it out. The new Starbucks review is a good sister article to they soon to be posted in-depth review I did of the new iTunes WiFi Music Store.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera with me in the morning so I had to come back to review it over lunch about 90 minutes later. Between the quad shot earlier, and a triple over lunch I’m completely wired. *Bzzzt* *Bzzzt* *Bzzzt* *Bzzzzzzt*

Luckily I don’t have anything left on my to-do list for today so I’m pretty much free to lay on my couch watching movies with Skype. Finally getting a long weekend is really helping me feel a lot more relaxed from all the activity at work recently. Now for the rest of The Matrix Revolutions and then perhaps a little Lord of the Rings to continue on with the epic feel.

Of advertising and social commentary

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Advertising is an interesting world – companies invading the psyche of the consumer, introducing products and messages with a singular goal in mind: profit. Many companies (AtlasDMT, Google, Yahoo, etc) have been quite successful on the web in finding ways to make contextual advertising automatic, targeted, and easy for both publishers to implement and consumers to use.

That being said I decided to experiment a little bit with advertising on Futurist Now. I’m not really doing this with a financial goal in mind (although having my hosting bills paid for every month would be nice) but more to see how the various contextual algorithms handle my content and what kind of companies they select to place advertisements on.

Obviously they have a vested interest in pushing companies they think my visitors are likely to click on (as their revenue is entirely click based) so seeing the products and services selected provides an insight into the web-browsing consumer, although in a statistically averaged way.

Provided the random nature of my content, and my wide range of topics this experiment has already led to some very interesting results. For instance the Amazon.com contextual advertisement script decided that linking the name Jack Thompson to a product in their catalog which contained a director of the same name as shown by the image below:

Amazon advert for Jack Thompson

Now on the surface this not only makes sense from a technological perspective, but also from that of delightful social commentary. In the post in question I was referring to the now infamous Jack Thompson, legal attack-dog on a crusade against violence in video games. Jack Thompson the ex-attourny (the State of Florida BAR association pulled his license to practice law last year) has spent the last few years trying to ban violent video games as he perceives them to be the cause of almost every ill that threatens society.

Amazon was kind enough to link his name to the movie Feed, which starred an entirely different Jack Thompson, and yet somehow seems fitting. Feed is one of the best trashy C rate movies I am proud to own. The movie revolves around a murder detective who crosses continents in search of a serial killer who lovingly fattens feeds his victims to death. Upon their deaths he liquifies their fat to feed to his next victimlover, thus closing the loop on the food chain and completely disgusting the movies audience.

There is justice in advertising!

It’s cold out here, no kind of atmosphere…

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

I’ve actually been enjoying myself quite a bit the last few days. My project shipped at work, and although it was a rough couple of days it’s done now and I’m feeling much more relaxed as the result. From Friday night through to this fine Sunday afternoon I’ve been distracting myself with the Red Dwarf Complete Collection on DVD. I’d always loved the PBS Red Dwarf telethons as a kid, but am discovering I must have missed episodes as particularly some from the later seasons I hadn’t seen before.

Today I woke up early for brunch at the B&O with Brien (mmm Beni Thai Crabcake Benedict!) and then to go for a photo walk. I had to pick up some food for Skype so I decided to start out in my car and after picking up the food went back to my perennial favorite location to shoot: the conservatory.

Sunlit frond

My favorite shot of the day – a backlit palm frond in the conservatory. I actually shot it specifically with an iPhone wallpaper in mind (and tried to frame it correctly for the overlays at the top and bottom) and am quite pleased with the results. You can check out the iPhone specific version here, and the rest of the shots I liked from todays walk can be found here in my Flickr archives.

Sunlit frond” by sparktography

Connect360

Saturday, October 7th, 2006

Connect360-Splash-1

I just found the coolest bridge between my Apple iMac and Microsoft Xbox 360. I found some software called Connect360 from Nullriver Software. It’s a simple preference pane that allows any Mac to share it’s photos in iPhoto and music from iTunes with a 360 seamlessly. It’s now possible for both Windows and Mac’s to communicate with the 360 for living room entertainment.

Installation was a breeze: after opening the zip demo from Nullriver’s website I double clicked on the Connect360.prefpane to install the preference pane. After starting the service I was able to select what I want shared and configure transcoding options for any files that the 360 won’t be able to play natively.

Connect360 prefence pane

I walked into the living room and used my Media Center remote to browse to the media tab on my Xbox 360. My imac showed up and after clicking through an authorization screen I was able to browse my music library and playlists as well as browse through all my photos and albums in iPhoto.

Connect350-Xbox

The interface is snappy, and browsing the photo libraries were response. It even increments play counts and last played dates in iTunes when you play music. I have to say that Microsoft keeping media interaction open to developers is a big win. Connect360 supports MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF and AAC Lossless for audio files, and JPEG, RAW, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF for photos.

Update: With a photo update Connect360 now supports video as well. Check out the Connect360 website for more information.

If you have both a Mac and an Xbox 360 I suggest checking out the free demo. If you like it it’s $20 to unlock the ability to browse your full library rather than 1,000 items that the demo restricts you to.

Sadly for now Connect360 does not support transferring movies or iTunes store purchased content but hopefully that will be released in a future version. While waiting to check out Apple’s upcoming iTV it’s nice to have a good solution for getting my media from my Mac to my living room.

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