more reasons to love google

May 26, 2010 3 comments

Who’s used Google in the last couple days? (I know, stupid question.) But everyone’s noticed the little PacMan game the logo turned into for the 30th anniversary, right?

So, some stats.

Lost productivity totaled $120,483,800
4.82 million hours of valuable work time were frittered away on Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde.

I’m not sure whether to groan or laugh. Though with all the millions of people using Google, $120M isn’t actually that bad HAHAHA.

And yeah, yeah, I didn’t think I’d update this again either, but this was too interesting to not share.

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people who shouldn’t be talking about politics

May 3, 2010 Leave a comment

EVERYONE WHO HASN’T BEEN EDUCATED.

Obviously, right?

It’s not just Repubs, either– I’ve already done a post on the partisan thing, haha– because a lot of them ARE moderate. There are a lot of Republicans who’re socially liberal and fiscally conservative and there are a bunch of Dems who’re socially conservative (PART OF THE REASON THERE WAS ABORTION COMPROMISE ON THE HEALTH CARE BILL, HELLO?) but fiscally liberal and there are so so so many different variations of it all.

I mean, politics isn’t just black-and-white, Democrats-and-Republicans, and they don’t need to hate each other based solely on one little thing like party identification. I mean, that should be the reality, but the uneducated on both sides are making me sick. You’ve got Democrats saying ALL REPUBLICANS ARE ASSHOLES (sorry) with no regard for their actual stances on issues and Republicans who say ALL DEMOCRATS ARE RUINING THE COUNTRY WITH THEIR LIBERAL PROGRESSIVE WAYS (and also Obama is the anti-Christ) and it’s just.

I mean.

What is even going on here?

I’m preaching to the choir, though– journalists know that better than anyone. Newspeople need to know a little bit of everything and understand it all in a way that they can explain it easily to people with no clue about what’s going on. It’s a cool job. You’re kind of like the middleman between raw data and the audience, and it’s your job to help them understand.

AND THEN THERE ARE THE JERKS WHO SENSATIONALIZE EVERYTHING, MISINFORM PEOPLE, AND EXACERBATE THE ISSUE. GOOD GOING, GUYS. I HOPE YOU DIAF.

subscriptions vs metered paywalls

May 3, 2010 Leave a comment

I remember Times Select. I was in sophomore year of high school and I needed to do about 10 current events papers and you couldn’t hit up the archives unless you had Times Select. I know, I was a lazy kid. Put everything off for the last second. I talked my dad into getting Times Select and it was actually pretty cheap, considering how much a paper subscription cost.

So I don’t mind the idea of it, even if the editors didn’t really like it. I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do, and they discontinued it because the sub cost didn’t make up for the ad revenue.

Buuuut I really would rather not hit a paywall. It’s just, you start being careful of what you click on, and if you stop paying attention to important stories, then you miss a lot. And if you’re not careful because the paywall is only a few cents per story, what if you end up spending hundreds of bucks just… reading stories?

It adds up, and I don’t think they’ll put a little meter in the corner tracking your progress so you know when to stop. That’s sort of a dirty trick, I mean. Can’t they have a subscription paywall instead of a metered on? Read 10 stories and hey, whoa, better subscribe for more. Or offer incentives and premium stuff for subscribers. It’s the internet! The possibilities are endless.

… a newspaper’s gotta take the plunge eventually. And instead of waiting for resources to dwindle, I think they should jump ahead of the curve and set an example. It’s a new age of journalism! Why aren’t the papers I like getting on board with it?

MORE COMICS.

April 25, 2010 3 comments

This time, let’s talk about DMZ. That stands for demilitarized zone, which New York City becomes after the “Free States” movement that was started in the midwest by disgruntled citizens (it actually sounded a lot like the Tea Party) turned violent. It’s a second civil war that comes to a standstill in New York City (because New Yorkers are tough as nails), and although much of the city has been evacuated, there are still lots of people left behind there, trying to get by. Some are insurgents, some are terrorists, some are military, (the Asians are well-represented, so as a matter of pride, I love this series), and what-have-you.

(I’m a sucker for survival/rebuilding stories. Check out Freakangels if you’re anything like me!)

Matty Roth, the protag of this story, is an aspiring journalist (hey, like us!) who was due to go into the zone to report. He dropped in with an experienced senior journalist who’s kind of a jerk (but it’s okay because he dies) and then he gets cut off from the paper he works for and Matty needs to either go native or get himself killed. Luckily, he’s got someone helping him out.

He becomes a celebrity, of sorts, because no other reporter has the guts to go into that city. The paper company provides him with supplies when they manage to get back in touch, and the comic series basically explores the conflict between groups within the DMZ, the larger conflict with the Tea P– I mean, the Free States movement, and basically how he manages to get by. Doesn’t hurt that he’s kinda cute in a scruffy sort of way. I just really love this next panel.

He has a lot of moral issues to work through, and a lot of personal conflicts regarding his sources and protecting people he knows– it’s not really a comic (graphic novel, I guess) about journalism so much as it’s a comic about a journalist. He starts out green, but he learns to grow and adapt. Gives me hope, kinda. And it’s awesome. As with Transmet, I’m not gonna provide links, but they’re not too hard to find. (Besides, anyone who knows me should be able to just hit me up for the files.)

As with Transmet, there’s very little mention of actual papers, but broadcast and print via the web are still very much alive.

COMICS.

April 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Are awesome. Let’s just get that out there. What do comics have to do with the news media? Plenty!

Let’s talk about Transmetropolitan! It’s an awesome, awesome comic by Warren Ellis about a gonzo journalist following in the footsteps of one Hunter S. Thompson. It’s in a genre called cyberpunk, which means it’s set way in the future. Not everything’s good, not everything’s bad, it’s a bit obscene and gory and violent, the people are mean, everyone’s on drugs, politicians are openly crooked

Technology is way advanced. Events in the comics recall tons of other real-life historically relevant events, and at the center of it all is this dude called Spider Jerusalem. He’s not a nice guy, but he’s a great journalist and he does what it takes to find the truth and get it out there. Spider’s got a brand. See? Relevant to 301.

He’s recognizable as hell.

The setting is blatantly NYC (because everything important happens in NYC) except it’s so far in the future that no one bothers keeping count of the years and the setting is only referred to as “The City”. Journalistic tools have advanced, but are still sort of the same– source gas instead of wiretaps, video and photography capabilities stored in a pair of shades. That stuff.

What’s relevant about Transmet, though, is the message that journalists still have jobs. Spider submits his stories to his editor, and there are no newspapers in sight, though news providers are still called papers and they’re still big-time companies. The future of journalism as imagined by Warren Ellis is pretty freaking awesome. In the interests of keeping this blog at least somewhat legit, I won’t be providing download links but they’re not hard to find if you’re really looking. You can also get ’em off Amazon. But anyone thinking about seriously being a journalist should check Transmet out.

The first few issues are a bit hard to get through (like I said, gory and violent and obscene), but once you get into the swing of it, it’s hard to get back out. No one should be following in Spider’s footsteps, though. He’s pretty awesome, but definitely not a model journalist. If anyone does check it out, keep in mind this finished in 2002. Warren Ellis is living in the future, man.

Next up: DMZ! Another comic about a journalist, with a slightly more serious tone.

great firewall of china

April 8, 2010 Leave a comment

… is surprisingly easy to get around, apparently!

This is HotSpotShield. It’s a VPN — virtual private network — and it reroutes you through an American network (or some other network) to get around the Chinese blocks. Most VPNs cost $40-60, but this one is free, with a bit of lag time (or so I’ve heard). Its main purpose is to

prevent snooper, hackers, ISP’s, from viewing your web browsing activities, instant messages, downloads, credit card information or anything else you send over the network

but haha, guess what people will really use it for? At least in China.

There used to be this site, greatfirewallofchina.org that used to be able to reliably tell you what sites do and don’t work in China, but it’s not so reliable anymore and the people who ran it took the site offline. But since I’m talking about China already (and wow, I do that a lot), I thought all this might be interesting for anyone who ends up out there.

So basically, temporarily, the best thing to use would be a proxy but if you’re gonna be out there for a while, HotSpotShield should work. Of course, most of this was posted in 2007-2009, so the information might be dated. China’s censoring sucks, but with how easy it seems to be to get around it…

maybe that’s why the tech-savvy Chinese (who are the only people to really need to know how to avoid the GFWC) aren’t complaining. Except on principle.

iPad hype!

April 7, 2010 Leave a comment

I love this article.

I love how it makes the distinction between the techie crowd and the normal crowd — I’m one of those “why would you ever get an iPad??” people, but it didn’t really occur to me that — duh — some people prefer user-friendly and don’t do nearly as much stuff on their computers as most ‘techies’ do. The fact that news media outlets — especially big ones like the NYTimes — are making the distinction screams to me that we’re all moving in the direction of technology. That gives us a pretty good idea of what the future holds, or something like that! I still don’t think laptops are ever gonna go out of style, though. Touchscreens are okay for playing around, but trying to put words on a screen is way faster with a keyboard.

So here’s an excerpt, which I really think sums it up (which I guess is the point, since it’s the last paragraph):

And the techies are right about another thing: the iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it’s infinitely more convenient for consuming it — books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on. For most people, manipulating these digital materials directly by touching them is a completely new experience — and a deeply satisfying one.

The bottom line is that the iPad has been designed and built by a bunch of perfectionists. If you like the concept, you’ll love the machine.

The only question is: Do you like the concept?