Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, March 14, 2021

Does anyone else find this recent Blondie strip disturbing? Consider:

- Dagwood is engaging in workplace cyberslacking, a widespread and growing problem.

- What’s more, he’s not just casually Web surfing — he’s messing around in a chat room. That “hi, let’s chat” he opens with just has a creepy, cyberstalker vibe to it.

- Finally, Dagwood’s online anonymity is outed — perhaps the most unsettling feeling for someone playing on the Internet, regardless of purpose.

Is it just me? Perhaps I’m a bit edgier about the funny pages lately, ever since the cast of Garfield converted to Satanism.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/14/2005 10:13:21 PM
Category: Internet, Pop Culture, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Fifteen years ago, I bought Final Fantasy Legend for the original Nintendo Game Boy. It was a trip: A fantasy role-playing game that was designed to take you days — days! — to play and complete. For the early ’90s, this was largely uncharted videogame territory.

A friend of mine quickly took a shining to the game, and would play it for (what seemed like) hours on end. He was borderline obsessed with it. Despite much derision from me and our dormmates, he pressed on, devoting ridiculous amounts of time to it.

He got to a point in the game where it wasn’t at all obvious how to proceed. It turned out to be a real dead end, despite all efforts to try to suss it out. It appeared that the end of the line had come, with an unfulfilled feeling to go with it.

Why didn’t he just do a search for game cheats? This was 1990ish, children, and there was no Internet (to speak of). Dark ages, indeed.

What there was, was a 1-900 number that Nintendo had set up just for these situations. The idea was that anyone who spent hours of effort getting to a certain point in the gameplay wouldn’t mind shelling out some coin to get the inside secret on how to get out of a difficult jam.

The downside, of course, was the stooping to extracurricular aid for a freakin’ videogame; you might as well have gone to a prostitute. It represented a divide: Going from playing a consequence-free game, to demonstrating an unhealthy preoccupation. The feeling at the time was that the shame was too great to actually resort to telephone help for something only a generation removed from Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

But he couldn’t concede defeat. So he called the 1-900 number. He probably spent 2 minutes on the call, but he got the info he needed, got past the game’s sticky point, and went on to solve the whole thing.

And I made sure to ride him about it. A lot. In fact, I just rode him about it today, during lunch. Paying for a videogame after the purchase of the actual software is enough to earn my years-long derision.

So, you can imagine what my opinion is of today’s virtual marketplaces for massively multiplayer online role-playing games like EverQuest, where players pay real-life cash money for game elements and actual businesses have sprouted up around the “pharming” model.

So if you feel like bragging to me about how you landed a coveted Sword of Foofram, and paid only $250 on eBay for it, think twice. Unless you want to be reminded for the next 15 years about what a chump you are/were.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/14/2005 09:52:22 PM
Category: Videogames | Permalink | Feedback (2)

When I used quotation marks around the word “magazine” in the title of my preemptive trashing of Blogging! Magazine, I meant to express my opinion that it was looking like a true publication in the most skeletal form only.

Well, the reviews are in, and it sounds like my gut assessment was overly generous. (I highly recommend Fat Eye’s reaction, not only for the highly-entertaining vitriol, but also for a direct link to this PDFed piece of crap, while it lasts — which shouldn’t be for terribly long.)

I feel sorry for anyone who gave money to these snakes, but only to a point. One look at the promo website, with it’s no-skill layout and obviously baseless hype, told me that it was going to be a painfully amateur showing at best. Turns out it’s a shade or two worse than that. The Internet is full of scams, and this one wasn’t even a particularly well-presented one.

I guess this will serve as a lesson against participating in future half-baked schemes. But I disagree with Zero Boss on a couple of the lessons he’s extracted:

- Don’t fall for “subscription” magazines. If someone wants to make money off of a blogging magazine, let them eat Google AdSense. AdSense requires that a site generate large amounts of traffic to turn a tidy profit. In other words, it requires more work and investment than collecting a stream of Paypal submissions.

- If someone purports to publish a blogging magazine using anything other than Movable Type, WordPress, or similar software? Run screaming.

What he’s saying is that, if a future magazine about blogging isn’t itself formed as a blog, it’s not going to be legit. Rex Hammock is of the same opinion, arguing that an alternate format would be inferior to the flexibility of a blog-powered publication.

I disagree. It’s like saying you can’t do a movie magazine unless it’s presented as a film, or a music magazine unless it’s in song form (or at least audio). Cross-media treatment works, and works wonderfully: It creates a separate channel for the topic, opening it up to a whole universe of people who might never have known about it otherwise. Commercially, there’s still more bang in the advertising buck in print than online, so that’s the other driver in launching a magazine.

Like I said originally, a blogging magazine will debut in the near future. Whether or not it comes from an established publisher or a startup, it’ll be a magazine worthy of the name, worthy of notice, and worthy of time and money well spent.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/14/2005 09:01:08 PM
Category: Bloggin', Publishing | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Did Hershey’s commit a major bilingual boner by putting the name “Cajeta Elegancita” on it’s new line of Hispanic-targeted chocolate products?

Depends on which Spanish-speaker you ask:

Well, that’s the Mexican version of cajeta — a type of dulce de leche, a very sweet, caramelized condensed milk eaten straight from a tin, drizzled atop desserts or made into candies throughout Latin America.

But in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, cajeta, ahem, is a vulgar term for a certain delicate part of the female anatomy.

And that’s the heart of it: Because Mexican-Americans make up about two-thirds of all Hispanics in the U.S., that’s the specific subset that Hershey’s had in mind when devising this product line and accompanying campaign. Reinforcing that is the use of budding Mexican popstar Thalia at the pitch-person.

Naturally, that approach can be off-putting to non-Mexican Hispanics. But I think it’s a positive sign that the marketing world is taking a closer look at the Hispanic population in the United States, and recognizing that it’s not one homogenous group. The more the nuances are targeted, the more long-term success companies will have.

I think the focus on possible double-entrendre interpretations can go a little overboard. Just about any word or phrase can be assigned offcolor meanings; that doesn’t mean it should be avoided for commercial uses. I think in this particular case, the fact that it’s an American company delving into Spanish marketing reinforces suspicions that it’s a grafted-on effort, without enough research behind it. That’s really unfair; when millions are at stake, the bases tend to be covered ahead of time (although miscues do get through — see Dairy Queen’s tragic MooLatte).

There are, of course, many instances of the same word in the same language having wildly different meanings in different cultures. The word “fag” in American English is derogatory toward homosexuals; in the UK, it’s a synonym for a cigarette. The movie Snatch, which was largely a British production, also comes to mind.

I wonder how this will shake out. I’m sure plenty of hacks out there are already evoking the old (and false) “Chevy Nova/No-Va” example, even though the reality of the Chevy parable may wind up being closer to the reality in this current case.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/14/2005 05:59:10 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Society | Permalink | Feedback (2)

officially decent
Yes, Mother: I do check my hit-counter logs during the day (and sometimes night). It’s a tad voyeuristic, but in my mind, harmlessly so. Besides, I enjoy getting a sense of how and why people find their way to this little corner of the Web.

Certain originating domains tend to stand out more than others on the logs. Today at about a quarter after high noon, I noticed that this blog registered a hit from someone at the Federal Communications Commission. What’s more, that visitor landed (via a Google search) on my November 2004 post about the real reason behind the Terrell Owens-Nicollette Sheridan “Monday Night Football” imbroglio.

Less than an hour later, the FCC officially announced their decision on the MNF opener, ruling that it was not indecent. (No word from the commissioners on whether or not the originally-planned John Madden appearance in the spot would have offended the nation’s sensibilities.)

I’d like to think that the anonymous FCC visitor to my online digs was none other than Michael J. Copps, who was looking for some additional pulse-of-the-people insight before issuing his seperate statement on the matter. I’d like to think that, but who’s kidding who; it was probably just some low-level worker bee. Besides, the Commission made their decision over a week ago; they just got around to making it public today.

Still, it’s intriguing to think that a blog’s referral information could serve as a rough early-warning system for impending events and announcements like this. It’s reminiscent of the alleged “Dominos Pizza Meter” indicator that linked upticks in Pentagon delivery orders to Operation Desert Storm escalation.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/14/2005 04:02:05 PM
Category: Bloggin', TV, Football, Society | Permalink | Feedback (2)