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Posts tagged ‘fail’

Moderating The Addiction

It’ll come as no surprise to those who know me that I’m something of a Facebook junkie. I’m not a stay-at-home mom posting 20 pics of the kids wiping their noses, or the needy guy who posts his location every 5 minutes – no more than every hour, I promise – but I spend my share of time there. Sure, I went through that ugly Mafia Wars phase, but I’m over that … really!

About fifteen years ago, during the early days of the information revolution, I heard a speech from Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, in which he introduced himself with the then-cryptic moniker, “scott@sun.com”.

“That’s an email address”, said McNealy, “and soon you’ll all have one.”

Sure enough, I started seeing the names with the funny symbol appearing in advertising everywhere – it was clear that Scott’s premonition was coming true. Today, I’d be thrilled to have only one – or even just five – email addresses.

As Ron White would say, I told you that story so I can tell you this one. Much like the email address – and shortly thereafter, the web site – became a ubiquitous element for businesses large and small, the Facebook fan page is now at the center of many advertising plans – even SCMO’s. But there’s one big difference between then and now – while the internet was controlled by a relatively neutral governance board, Facebook is a for-profit company, one that often has business purposes that are at odds with some of those who have come to so completely depend on the social network to attract customers.

A key tool for content publishers who want to raise their presence among Facebook’s near-billion users is the social reader app. If you’re a FB user, you’ve probably seen a social reader in your news feed. An entry will appear stating that so-and-so recommends an article, and when you click on it to see if you like it too, the app intercedes, wanting to access your permissions before allowing you to view the content. If you’re smart, you stop right there, but millions of people don’t – as recently as last month, for example, the Washingoton Post’s SR app was pulling in over 4 million hits a day from Facebook users.

But when you tie your cart to a horse you don’t control, you never know when you’re gonna step in a road apple. Facebook management could see those big numbers being raised by the social readers, too, and wanted their share. So they quietly changed their code to harvest the articles being hyped by the social readers and display them as “trending articles” in the News Feed of their users. Click on a link and instead of going to the site where the content is located, the content is brought to you – without ever having to leave Facebook. How devastating is it to those websites depending on Facebook to feed them traffic? The Washington Post has seen their traffic drop from the aforementioned 4M hits a day to 220,000 – a brutal hit in a world where eyeballs equate to dollars.

But that’s the price you pay if you’re Facebook user, whether a large corporation or single person. It’s their world, their code, and they play by their rules. I certainly get as irritated as anyone when they jerk with the user experience, but I try not to become on of those hyperventilating fanboys you hear interviewed in the news every time FB makes a change. Of course, having counterculture tools like FB Purity to help keep your sanity doesn’t hurt … 😉

Back to my own Facebook addition for a moment – like most addictions, it started out innocently enough. Wanting to expand the Marlinnut brand, I established the SCMO fan page and Twitter feed as a way of reaching new billfish fans. If you haven’t checked out our Facebook page, I’d encourage you to take a moment and give it a look. It’s our way to share some of what we see elsewhere on FB with our fans and friends, and to spread the good word of SCMO to a whole new group of fishermen. If you like what you see, I’d be honored if you’d “like” the page, and share it with your friends!

Who Are You, And What Have You Done With Albert?

I won’t lie to you – picking on the Angels comes as naturally to me as breathing. Raised a Dodger fan, I learned early that the Angels are like that bratty little sister that wants to tag along with you and your friends. And quite honestly, that whole “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” BS is every bit as bush as the worst of the McCourt regime.

Winners and losers ...

This year, though, it’s almost like they’re trying to make it even easier for me. As long time MB followers know, my heart beats true to the teal of the Florida Marlins. When they made the call to rebrand the team I was on the fence about whether to stay a fan, but I saw how hard they were working to improve and stuck it out. At the top of their shopping list – slugging first baseman Albert Pujols. A decade of play with the St. Louis Cardinals brought personal fame and team success, and he was the biggest free agent to hit the market in years. The Fish seemed to be in pretty good position and looked very much like the only team with any real chance to convince him to switch uniforms – until the Angels swooped in and nabbed not only Pujols but another almost-Marlin, C. J. Wilson. Clearly, the hated Angels were in line for an amazing season. Clearly …

As I write this, Pujols and his Halo teammates are playing in their 26th game of the season, and Albert is still waiting for his first American League home run. Worst still, it’s not just a power thing – he’s just not hitting, period. Pujols, a career .327 hitter is hitting a miserable .206 – barely above the Mendoza – and is only getting on base 1 in 4 times by any method at all. Tonight, the game is only in the second inning and the mighty Albert has already hit into a double play. It’s the worst possible scenario for a guy making $12M a season – not to mention the guys writing the checks. Forced to carry the load not being toted by Pujols, the Angels are 10 and 15 for the season, and the chatter has already started.

I’ll be honest – I figured of all the free agent movement during the off-season, nothing was as automatic as the fact that Pujols would hit the crap out of the American League West. In Miami, we’re tearing our hair out watching Heath Bell blow save after save, but the idea that Pujols could look this confused at the plate is simply shocking. Long considered one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball, it’s clear that pitchers simply do not fear him now. Watching a game last week with Pujols up in late innings, I saw a relief pitcher mow Pujols down on three pitches. The guy didn’t even bother nibbling the corners or trying to get Albert to swing at a bad pitch – he just threw the ball past him three straight times. It was as amazing as anything I’d seen.

As a Cardinal, one of the things that always set Albert Pujols apart from his peers was his mental approach to the game. Nicknamed “The Machine” by the media, you just couldn’t get into his head. In a way, it was reminiscent of another elite athlete known for his mental toughness, Tiger Woods. Woods seemed invincible until his carefully crafted world crashed around him; for years he couldn’t find his ass with both hands. St. Louis is well-known as the best place in baseball to play, with knowledgable fans who understand the ups and downs of the game – and knew that even if The Machine got into a rare slump, the old Albert would soon be back punishing the ball. Now, he’s in a new league, a new town and the only support he has is a freaking Rally Monkey.

One wonders just which direction this story will go …

Unequivocal Proof Auto-Tune is the Devil’s Tool …

I am an unabashed music fan. I remember discovering pop AM radio in the early 70’s and quickly graduating to FM album rock. The day I bought my first album – Queen’s “A Night At The Opera” – was a game changer.

Although I’m definitely a rocker, I’m open-minded enough to appreciate the best of all genres. After all, while trends have come and gone, good music is always good music – you can sit me down with some big speakers and a copy of “Straight Outta Compton” and I’m a happy boy.

To me, the one thing that separates good music from the rest is talent. If you have skills, whether as a singer or a player or a producer, you’ll produce good music. There’s an honest to good music that can’t be faked.

Which brings me to Auto-Tune. A software plug-in used to smooth out the rough spots in otherwise good performances, it was the music industry’s dirty little secret until it was abused on Cher’s “Believe” in 1988 and became all the rage. As producers recognized the power of the tool, they realized it could not only be used to distort a good vocal performance but also to make palatable an otherwise-unlistenable one.

There are lots of examples of Auto-Tune cleaning up the performances of attractive but untalented Pop-Tarts (see Spears, Britney or Simpson, Ashlee), but nothing comes close to this. I have no idea who Lisa Gail is, and nothing indicates that this was done as some kind of joke, so I can only assume it’s a vanity performance paid for by a loving (or henpecked) husband. Be warned … you’re gonna want to poke chopsticks in your ears before the end of the first minute …

They say guns don’t kill people; people do. In this case, though, Auto-Tune is the gun and good taste is the victim …

Lovely Cruise My Ass

There’s wind in our hair
And there’s water in our shoes
Honey, it’s been a lovely cruise

– Jimmy Buffett, “Lovely Cruise”

I have a hunch that very few people onboard a Carnival Cruise Lines week-long trip down the Mexican Riviera are waxing poetic about their cruising experience right about now. As I write this, the CARNIVAL SPLENDOR is under tow somewhere about 120 miles off Ensenada, slowly headed towards San Diego. An engine room fire on Monday left the ship powerless and adrift, requiring intervention by both the Coast Guard and Navy, as well as a small fleet of tugs hired to drag the disabled ship home.

Engineers were not able to restore power to the ship, which was operating on auxiliary generators, a Carnival statement said. As of Tuesday, “several key hotel systems, including air conditioning, hot food service and telephones are not available,” the cruise line said.

Engineers were able to restore toilet service to most cabins and all common-area bathrooms, as well as cold running water, the line said. “The ship’s crew continues to actively work to restore other services.”

Guests are able to move about the vessel and children’s activities and entertainment are being offered, Carnival said.

The Navy aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, which was training nearby, was dispatched to provide water and food to the 4400 passengers and crew. This may have provided some excitement not on the schedule of events, but unfortunately the menu is currently limited to Spam and Pop-Tarts …

This being America, I’m sure that as soon as the ship is in cellphone-range of the US, passengers will be hiring lawyers to help compensate them for the “emotional distress” they faced. It’s worth noting, however, that Carnival has been more than generous in their compensation package for the stranged passengers – each will receive a full refund for their trip, including any transportation costs associated with reaching the departure point of Long Beach, as well as a voucher for a free future cruise.

Of course, back in the day, Captain Stubing would have sent Gopher and Doc down to the engine room with some paperclips to fix the problem, and had Isaac fire up the frozen concotion maker … and all would have been well … :-)

You’re Not Really Surprised, Are You?

The internet is a-Twitter (sorry, bad pun) with the news that most of the games offered on the social network Facebook – including the 10 most popular – sell information about their users to third-party advertisers. Privacy advocates are screaming that this is one more example of Facebook’s ongoing lack of respect for their users, and Facebookers are organizing boycotts.

I’m a frequent Facebook user, and I maintain a FB fan page for SCMO. I consider myself reasonably security-savvy on both Facebook and larger internet, and I have only one thing to say about this:

*yawn*

As is often the case, the truth isn’t nearly as exciting as the hype. It’s true that the game companies are passing along information about their users, but all they provide is the userid for their customers – nothing else. Now, having the userid does allow an advertiser to look up information about a specific user on FB, but they’ll only see what that user allows outsiders to see via their privacy settings – and by now, everyone should be well-versed on how to control those.

Beyond that, people need to take a step back from the keyboard and realize where they are. From the moment it stopped being a government-run tool, the internet has been all about one thing – making money. All that stuff you do online for free – do you really believe it comes with no cost? What you do is financed by advertisements, and website authors – remember, Facebook is just a big website – are all looking for better ways to target ads to their visitors.

Larry Flynt, who was one of the first people to use the internet as a business tool (remember, porn helped the internet as we know it today), sums it up pretty well:

“The minute you sign onto the Internet you are being watched, not just by our government, but also by our major corporations. They know where you go, what you buy, what your interests are and what illnesses you have. This is powerful information that can be used in any number of ways, not all of them to your benefit.”

My basic philosophy is to treat any information you enter anywhere on the internet as public, and never publish anything I wouldn’t be willing to see spammed across the net. Whether this blog, my forum posts or my Facebook wall, I assume the worst and that it’s all out there. There’s an entire generation of camwhores who haven’t figured that out yet, and will come to regret it one day, but that’s for another rant. For now, never lose sight of the fact that the internet is only as private as everyone wants it to be – and not everyone wants it to be private …

Ain’t Never Gonna Learn …

I’ve got a question for you – what do you think it’s gonna take before the celebutards of Tinseltown figure out that the rules of society apply to them too? Does one of them have to die before they get it?

Britney … Lindsey … Snooki … Tara … Paris … the list of the young and dumb of Hollywood is long and – thanks to reality TV – getting longer all the time. And quite frankly, some of them aren’t all that young any more – but they don’t seem to be getting any smarter with age. This week, however, real reality jumped up and bitch-slapped a pair of paparazzi favs right upside the head.

Remember when we saw a tearful Paris Hilton taken away in cuffs to serve what turned out to be a couple of weeks in the slammer back in 2007? Remember her interview with Larry King shortly after release, telling the world how this would be a “new beginning” as she began her new life of charity work?

Riiiight.

Hilton was back in court on Monday, this time to plead guilty to cocain possession in Las Vegas. She avoided jail, but was saddled with probabion, community service and a fine. It’s worth noting that she was initially stopped by the Vegas police after they detected cannibis smoke rolling out the window of her vehicle – not a month after being stopped in Italy for cannibis possession.

Those who watched the vapid blonde in court noted that she moved through the court as if on the catwalk, and that she didn’t seem to be impressed by the seriousness of the situation. Yesterday, however, she may have gotten a taste of the predicament she has gotten herself into.

Hilton and her sister Nicky flew to Japan to promote their fashion and fragrance lines when Paris was stopped by Japanese Customs agents. Apparently, they don’t take lightly to convicted felons in Japan – and that’s exactly what Hilton is now. After grilling her for several hours and forcing her to wait overnight at an airport hotel for a decision, she was denied entrance and forced to return home.

And then there’s Lindsay Lohan.

Lohan has been in and out of court more times than most judges in the last few years. Beginning in 2007, she’s had a string of instances where drugs and booze and cars have mixed in bad ways, resulting in several arrests and one memorable 84-minute jail term. Much like Paris, however, she’s learning that your past does indeed follow you. When she failed a couple of drug tests recently she was ordered to appear in front of the judge from her most recent conviction, who is expected to revoke her parole and toss her in the slammer – this time for real.

I’m not going to try to say either of these girls had a real “career” to worry about, but both are feeling the effects – and limitations – on their lives by the results of their actions. So far, it’s all been relatively harmless and somewhat laughable, but at what point do we stop laughing? What will it take for these two – and the others acting just as stupidily irresponsible without quite so much spotlight – to grow up and act normal? Does someone have to die? Oh, that’s right – someone already did.

Not so long ago, Brittany Murphy was another out of control party girl, part of the same Tinseltown posse as Paris. in fact, MadTV did a hilarious spoof of the Powerpuff Girls in which Brittany, Paris and Tara Reid starred as the “Powerslut Girls” who saved the day by wringing the alcohol out of one girl and lighting it by rubbing together the stick-like legs of another. All funny stuff – until Brittany was found dead last year from what included an “accidental overdose of prescription medications“. Call it what you want, but it was the past catching up with her.

While the passionate speeches of Paris Hilton after her jail-time were obviously faked, there is some indication that Lohan may actually appreciate the dangerous position she finds herself in, and may be sincere in her desire to get the help she obviously needs. We can only hope so …

And It Comes With A Commemorative Full-Body Shoehorn …

I am one of those rare people who actually enjoys air travel – stick me in a window seat with my iPod and I’m good to go coast-to-coast. Sure, the cheap-screw nickel-and-dime-to-death policies of the airlines are an irritation, but I bring my own snacks and water bottle, so I’m just fine. But some ideas are so irritating that they even get to me …

An Italian company is introducing a new airline seat that would decrease the space needed for each passenger. Current airline seats leave between 30 and 32 inches between each row of seats, but the SkyRider seat would decrease that to 23 by using a design that is best compared to that of a horse saddle. Users maintain a semi-standing position that is more upright than a traditional airline seat, decreasing the knee room required for each row.

“The SkyRider has been designed and engineered to offer the possibility to even further reduce ticket prices while still maintaining profitability,” the site said.

The SkyRider was designed for shorter flights. The company compares the forward seating position to that of a motor-scooter rider or horseback rider.

“For flights anywhere from one to possibly even up to three hours … this would be comfortable seating,” Dominique Menoud, Aviointeriors director general, told USAToday. “The seat … is like a saddle. Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle.”

This strikes me as an example of a product that was designed by someone who had no intention of ever using them. Beyond the basic fact that a lot of the people who fly are more than 23 inches wide, one can’t help but wonder how the hell you get out of this torture rig in the case of an emergency. The FAA has yet to approve them (surprise!), but I’ll bet those cheap bastards at RyanAir are already salivating at the thought of a saddle-filled fleet.

I can just see what’s next … replacing the seatback entertainment with a mini-urinal – after all, you’ll be close enough and you’re already assuming the position …

You Sure His Name Wasn’t “Bob”?

Many of us who have spent much of our lives on the sea dream of having it be our final resting place. The idea of our loved ones being able to stand on a beach, look out over the blue waves and feel close to us is a wonderful thought. The idea of having our corpse wash up on said beach after a botched burial, however, is not so wonderful.

Daniel Lasky loved the ocean, and when he passed away at the unfortunately young age of 48, his family and friends gathered in Ft. Lauderdale to honor his wishes to be buried at sea. Friends, family and clergy joined the late Mr. Lasky for his final voyage onboard the fishing vessel MARY B III to his offshore gravesite, after which they proceeded to go fishing in honor of his memory. The story should have ended there – but it didn’t.

The following morning, a boater discovered Lasky’s body floating in the water about 4-1/2 miles off the Hollywood, Florida coast. A police report noted that the “white male victim” was found “floating face down and completely nude with the exception of a sock on his left foot.” Cops subsequently determined that Lasky was not a crime statistic, just the victim of an ocean burial gone bad.

I have participated in burials at sea in the past, always with cremated remains, and it can be a difficult experience – lots of things can go wrong. Mourners unfamiliar with the motion of the ocean can find themselves sick, ashes can blow back in one’s face, and there’s just something unnerving about the sound of the teeth plopping into the water. I can’t imagine the challenges with the burial of an intact corpse, and frankly I’m amazed it’s legal.

Once could surmise what exactly happened to Lasky’s clothes – or whatever was used to encase the corpse when launched – but I’ll leave that for the more morbid-minded. I’ll just remind everyone that there’s a reason the term “concrete galoshes” came into existance … 😉

Taking That “Woman Scorned” Thing To A Whole New Level …

We’ve all seen – and some of us have participated in – relationships that go sour, and know how passion and emotion can make you do things you regret. Fortunately, most of us stop short of taking it as far as one Bakersfield woman who paid a high price for her passion.

Jacquelyn Kotarac, a Bakersfield doctor, was involved in what what was described as an “on-again, off-again” relationship with William Moodle, a fellow Bakersfied resident. One would have to assume the relationship was “off-again” a week ago Wednesday, when Kotarac tried to force her way into Moodle’s home. While Moodle exited the house unseen to avoid a confrontation, Kotarac stepped up her efforts.

Police said Kotarac first tried to get into the house last Wednesday night with a shovel, then climbed a ladder to the roof, removed the chimney cap and slid feet first down the flue.

Kotarac apparently died in the chimney, but her body was not discovered until a house-sitter noticed a stench and fluids coming from the fireplace Saturday, according to police. The house-sitter and her son investigated with a flashlight and found Kotarac dead, wedged about 2 feet above the top of the interior fireplace opening.

Not a pretty way to go. The local coroner has determined that Kotarac died of mechanical asphyxia, meaning she wedged herself so tightly that she couldn’t breath. Kotarac had been seen drinking earlier in the evening, although police are hesitant to say alcohol played a role in the incident.

I, however, am not so hesitant. I have my share of alcoholic ex-girlfriends and have seen first-hand how an evening at the bar can turn a sweet, loving woman into a crazed weasel bent on revenge. Dr. Kotarac’s death is an unfortunate and extreme case, but not at all unusual.

So ladies, the bottom line is this – if you’re on the outs with your boyfriend and think that you’re thin enough to do the “Santa slide down the chimney” thing, remember this: If you drink, don’t slide …

Expensive Money

The National Bird is making a visit to the Southland today. No, I’m not talking about the bald eagle, but rather Air Force One, which will deliver President Obama to Los Angeles for a pair of Democratic Party fundraisers later this evening. AF1 is scheduled to hit the tarmac at LAX around 4PM – just the right time to guarantee the Presidential motorcade will irritate the hell out of evening commuters. The President’s destination is Hancock Park, where they will be holding a pair of events at the home of writer/producer John Wells of “West Wing” and “ER” fame.

Maybe I’m just getting cynical in my old age, but it seems like a lot of time and effort to hop an overnight to Cali just to rake in some money for the party coffers. Sure, they’re gonna stop in Wisconsin to make a speech at some alternative energy factory there, but we both know that’s not the real reason they topped off the tanks on the Big Blue Bird this morning. It’s so the elite – and wannabe-elite – of Hollywood and the local political ranks can be seen with the President, and inject a little capital into a political machine that’s hemorrhaging hundreds. But while it may seem a little smarmy to have the Commander-in-Chief fly cross-country to raise money while juggling two wars, it’s no different than his last 10 predecessors did.

Let’s put aside the distaste for a second and get down to what matters – the money. They always say that if you want to understand a scam, follow the money – so let’s give that a shot here. The two events – a cocktail party and a dinner – are expected to raise about a million dollars. The 200 guests get a chance to hob-nob with the rich and powerful, but we all know there’s only one reason they’re dropping the money in the till – Ol’ #44. Let’s face it, if you want to meet LA Mayor – and fellow fundraiser guest – Villaraigosa, all you need to do is be in the right snack stand at a Lakers game.

So the Dems are counting on the Pres to show up and do his thing, but just how much do you think it costs to bring a sitting President across the country. There’s the cost of the flight, plus the security, plus all the hassle on the ground … I’m pretty sure it’s a lot more than the $1M they’ll raise. And if you think about it for a second, who’s paying to bring Obama to the Wells residence anyway? That’s right – you and I, the American Taxpayer. We’re footing the bill for the entertainment at a event where money is raised for a political party. Wouldn’t it be easier – and a lot less irritating to commuters – if they just had us all write out a check directly to Nancy Pelosi?

Excuse me while I force the vomit back down my throat …