Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, May 04, 2021

Sensing that Adobe’s widespread Portable Document Format represents a threat to its Office franchise, Microsoft is developing Metro, a PDF replacement, as part of Windows Longhorn.

Microsoft’s plans to make Metro the native way Windows sends data to printers in Longhorn could threaten Adobe’s franchise. “It’s essentially a PDF replacement,” says Rob Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

Metro fits into a larger Microsoft tech initiative called XAML, a markup language the company is testing for writing rich Internet applications. There could be a larger market at stake, too. Adobe sells server software that can pull data from PDFs and route it to employees in a work flow. According to Helm, Microsoft plans to deliver development tools for writing similar functions in Office when it ships its Visual Studio 2005 tools suite in October.

Adobe’s document format works with software that Microsoft doesn’t supply, and its popularity for archiving documents could give companies less incentive to use Office. “Politically, you can see PDF as a bit of a threat,” Helm says.

This tells me that the battle to control and maintain the standard for operating systems and data manipulation is moving beyond the desktop, and increasingly online. PDF was dead in the water before Adobe started giving its Reader away for free on the Web; only then did it become ubiquitous. That’s the same path any challenger format will have to take, unless — and here’s where Microsoft’s OS dominance is key — it can reside natively on most computer systems. Integrating Metro into the next version of Windows is the way to do it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/04/2021 10:00:10 PM
Category: Tech
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The only bright spot from my day of air travel last week was the actual flight, on Song. The in-seat entertainment monitors made the journey from New York to Tampa not only bearable, but quite enjoyable, to the point where I’m going to specifically book future travel plans with Song whenever possible.

I got the chance to sample Franz Ferdinand while airborne. I’d heard all the buzz over the band, but hadn’t gotten to hear any of their stuff. For once, it sounds like the hype is mostly justified. The band’s sound is best described as ABBA without the disco, if that makes sense…

I’ve since become addicted to one Franz track, “The Dark of the Matinee”:

You take your white finger
Slide the nail under the top and bottom buttons of my blazer
Relax the fraying wool, slacken ties
And I’m not to look at you in the shoe, but the eyes

So find me and follow me through corridors, refectories and files
You must follow, leave this academic factory
You will find me in the matinee
The dark of the matinee
It’s better in the matinee
The dark of the matinee is mine
Yes it’s mine

I time every journey to bump into you, accidentally
I charm you and tell you of the boys I hate
All the girls I hate
All the words I hate
The clothes I hate
How I’ll never be anything I hate
You smile, mention something that you like
How you’d have a happy life if you did the things you like

So find me and follow me through corridors, refectories and files
You must follow, leave this academic factory
You will find me in the matinee
The dark of the matinee
It’s better in the matinee
The dark of the matinee is mine
Yes it’s mine

So I’m on BBC2 now, telling Terry Wogan how I made it
What I made is unclear, but his deference is and his laughter is

My words and smile are so easy now
Yes, It’s easy now
Yes, It’s easy now

So find me and follow me through corridors, refectories and files
You must follow, leave this academic factory
You will find me in the matinee
The dark of the matinee
It’s better in the matinee
The dark of the matinee is mine
Yes it’s mine

It’s damned catchy. We’ll see how many times I can play it through my iPod before becoming thoroughly sick of it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/04/2021 08:51:26 PM
Category: Pop Culture
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In a move that should start a trend — but more likely won’t — Loews theaters will begin advertising movie start times with a “real time” disclaimer:

Loews Cineplex Entertainment said Wednesday it will start to advertise movie show times with a note saying most movies actually begin 10 to 15 minutes later because of the time devoted to commercials, PSAs and previews before the movie actually begins.

New York-based Loews, which has more than 200 theaters and 2,100 screens nationwide, said the information would appear in newspaper and Internet listings beginning in June, just as the major summer movie season hits full stride.

The change was a response to complaints from moviegoers, according to John McCauley, Loews’ svp-marketing. However, he felt that advertisers would still get a significant number of eyeballs. “We still think people enjoy coming early, getting their popcorn, finding their seats, talking [with] one another.”

I’m all for it, as I’ve long factored the pre-movie dead time into my theater experience.

But is it really necessary? Loews isn’t telling us anything new here. Everyone knows what you’re in for when you buy your ticket; you either endure it or (try to) avoid it. So what’s the purpose of an in-writing reminder?

Simply, it’s a public relations move by Loews. They’re trying to position themselves as the patron-friendly chain, actively responding to all the grousing. It doesn’t require any special effort on their part, yet gives the illusion of a proactive move.

Beyond that, it’s useful as an experiment, to see if it actually does impact theatergoing patterns. Will more people arrive later when explicitly reminded of the “real” start time? Or will the majority not care? Such information would be very useful for advertisers (which assuages the apparent crimp this puts into their investment).

The other factor here: On opening nights, waiting too long can backfire on you in the form of sold-out shows. Even if you get your ticket, waiting too long to get into the screening room means you might end up with bad seats. So it’s all a chancy proposition.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/04/2021 08:16:48 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Movies
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Here’s the list of “famous birthdays” on my Excite homepage for today:

- Artist Keith Haring, born 1958

- Actress Pia Zadora, born 1956

- Actress Audrey Hepburn, born 1929

- Arab Republic of Egypt President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, born 1928

- Golfer Betsy Rawls, born 1928

To which I respond, in order:

Who?
So what?
Fine…
So what?
Who?

I mean, come on. I’ve barely heard of these schmoes, and I’m all edjumacated and stuff. I can only imagine the average reader looking at these names and wondering just who the hell they’re supposed to be.

This is a real good indication that Excite is using some archaic source material for its content feeds. It’s way past time to update. Can’t they find a birthday list that includes someone born in the last quarter-century, at least? And as a bonus, someone who’s an actual current-day personality (or close enough to count)?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/04/2021 07:20:10 PM
Category: Internet
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