Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Monday, October 31, 2021

It’s that time of year again, WordPressers:

Maybe I’m the only one who didn’t realize that WordPress doesn’t automatically adjust itself for Daylight Saving Time. But in case there are any other WP-powered bloggers out there who can’t figure out why their timestamps are still an hour ahead:

- In your wp-admin backend, choose Options.

- Under the General Options tab, adjust your Date and Time settings to the appropriate variance from Greenwich Mean Time (it’s -5 hours for my ‘hood, in Eastern Standard Time; adjust accordingly).

I’m sure there’s a plugin somewhere out there that will automate this, but it’s not part of the default WP installation (understandable, because the software isn’t U.S.-centric). So don’t be that clueless blogger who’s still sporting the wrong timestamp a month from now; wind back that blog!

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/31/2005 09:50:52 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Is there money to be made on those silly video snippets that get emailed around? It’s questionable, but Revver is gearing up to try it, and it’s getting backing from the usual VC and dot-com veterans.

The idea is to solicit amateur video uploads, add advertising messages to the end of the clips, then make them available for email forwarding. The number of times a clip is distributed is tracked with a tag, and the ad revenue is split between Revver and the content creators. If it actually comes off, it could be lucrative:

As an example of the potential profit, Revver estimates that about 80 million people viewed the cartoon produced by JibJab Media of candidates George Bush and John Kerry singing a version of “This Land is Your Land” during last year’s presidential election.

If Revver had been able to sell advertising on that video at a rate of $8 per 1,000 viewings, it would have generated $640,000, half of which would have gone to the creators.

No question that email forwarding is still the chief way these things make the online rounds — this, despite all the virus/malware cautions. Just this Halloween season, I’ve received a few “scary” video clips from friends and colleagues who really should know better. As long as people persist in doing it (and admittedly, it’s a lot easier to do that then to set up webspace to host such a file and then link to it), someone ought to monetize it.

This idea hinges on a couple of things, though:

  • Promoting Revver as a destination site for finding compelling video
  • Convincing advertisers to jump aboard

The first objective is going to take a ton of marketing to build awareness. It doesn’t matter how many videos they’ve already amassed (and it seems like they’ve already got a pretty big and varied library); if only a niche audience knows about it, it ain’t gonna achieve critical mass. There are already plenty of video repositories out there, and none of them have revenue potential beyond AdSense.

Advertisers should like the notion of sneaking their messages onto direct-mailed content. I don’t know how crazy they’d be about having their commercials tacked onto the end of the clips — the sweet spot would be the beginning of the clip, before the good stuff starts. I’m not sure why Revver is even bothering starting out with back-loaded ads, because I’m sure advertisers are going to demand front placement anyway.

I’m guessing this scheme will need a homerun moment to get rolling. Something like JibJab’s videos, that capture the zeitgeist and wind up spreading far and wide. Once that happens — and Revver capitalizes upon it by hyping the ad revenue subsequently generated — I could see this start to take off big.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/31/2005 09:33:06 PM
Category: Internet, Business | Permalink | Feedback

Could it be any more appropriate? I come home tonight to a darkened house (thank you very much, Daylight Saving Time), and the living room is mysteriously bathed in the glow of an already powered-on TV.


Actually, this has happened before. Some sort of glitch in the set; I’ve been woken up a couple of times from the TV spontaneously coming to life in the middle of the night. I don’t recall it ever happening during the day, though.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/31/2005 08:54:24 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

Sheesh. You write one post about the Supreme Court nomination merry-go-round, and all of a sudden you’re on the Republican National Committee distribution list.

I’ve gotten four or five emails today from Katie MacGuidwin. She’s apparently charged with helping to mobilize poli-bloggers to make a lot of supportive noise over the Samuel Alito SCOTUS nomination, which is anticipated to bring about a bruising confirmation process. Her emails have been simple media updates regarding reaction from various politicians and pundits about the selection; basic blog fodder, really.

I’m not offended by the content or intent, but I’m not crazy about getting unsolicited emails; and multiple shots in the space of a few hours qualifies as spam. What’s even more curious is that there wasn’t an opt-out link in the emails, which I’d think would be standard operating procedure for a political organization. Yes, I can go ahead and blacklist her address and stop any further emails from getting through (no loss, because I’m not about to turn this into a full-fledged poli-blog), but I really shouldn’t have to.

Still, beyond the personal inconvenience, I’d have to say that I’m impressed by how quickly the GOP started feeding their online peanut gallery (the first email hit my inbox around 8AM). They’re obviously investing a lot of clout into the blogosphere.

Maybe it’d be worthwhile to try to snag an interview with Katie? Since she’s obviously drinking the blog Kool-Aid, she might be amenable to some exposure here. And it’d provide some insight into how one of the major parties is harnessing the decentralized online dissemination machine.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/31/2005 08:40:07 PM
Category: Bloggin', Politics | Permalink | Feedback

Sunday, October 30, 2021

plenty of body
Last night was the aforementioned Halloween wine tasting hosted by my friends Tom and Amber.

I duly took the black cat wine I found just for the occasion. And it’s a good thing I did pick up that Zeller schwartz Katz bottle, instead of the Vampire merlot I originally had planned on; turns out someone else brought that Vampire wine. So I avoided being redundant.

The “tasting” part of the party quickly gave way to “drinking”, which was more or less the plan anyway. I was determined to try every bottle there, and except for a white Ménage à Trois that got quickly emptied, I managed to accomplish that mission.

And speaking of funny-named vintages… The Sheila’s Chardonnay from Fair Dinkum Winery was quickly nicknamed “The Big Boob Sheila” by one of the ladies in attendance, and if you can’t figure out why after seeing the label pictured above… I’ve heard of a wine with legs; this one might have had that, and something more.

I can’t say I disliked any of the wines I tasted. That probably doesn’t mean much, since I was pretty buzzed after the fifth glass or so. I managed to have a more discerning palate for the accompanying cheeses; there were a couple of blue cheeses (including a 40-year-aged variety) that were excellent, while I found the edam to be fairly bland.

It was a good time. I’ve been paying for it by dragging today. Not sure I can tolerate any more cheese for the next couple of days. But it was well worth it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/30/2005 06:55:05 PM
Category: Food | Permalink | Feedback

If a newspaper doesn’t report on a story, you can assume that some other media outlet — radio, TV, the Web — will pick it up instead.

Or not. Eric Deggans pinpoints the critical role of newspapers and their resources in the newsgathering and reporting process:

[T]he information gatherers in a major metropolitan daily fuel the news process for nearly every other strain of news media - from online to TV and radio.

Every newspaper fields dozens of staffers who reach into the community and dig up original, often unknown information. TV and radio stations, already working with slimmed-down staffs, use print reports as important signposts; many bloggers and news Web sites, which never had large reporting staffs, often link to or build on reports developed by major newspapers.

That’s how it rolls: You can consider the media dissemination of information as a river, with the originating source being the papers’ newsrooms. Without dedicated resources (i.e., paid reporters putting in work-hours at digging up stories), the river dries up.

That’s not to say that other outlets do zero reporting. There are magazines with their own coverage areas, and broadcast stations get tips called in. But on a daily basis, those other outlets don’t do their own work, because they know they can access newspaper reports and either build off them, or simply regurgitate.

Naturally, newspapers don’t create the news: Events happen regardless of specific media coverage. But there’s a ton of stories out there that require investigative pursuit to uncover, clarify, etc., and you can’t do that by passively sitting back and waiting for the story to come around to you. That’s where papers show off their function.

This alone doesn’t rescue newspapers’ struggling business model, which is the thrust of Deggans’ column today. Controlling the source is one thing; putting it into a package that’s enticing to news consumers is the critical part.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/30/2005 06:14:53 PM
Category: Media | Permalink | Feedback (3)

the earth is our moon
During yesterday’s 46-15 Michigan State win over Indiana, the camera caught a funny crowd shot: A group of 15 or 20 Spartan fans, all dressed in lime green tshirts with Ignignokt’s face on them, with afro-wigs of the same color on top of their heads.

Always brings a smile to my face to see an “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” outcropping.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/30/2005 05:43:23 PM
Category: TV, Football | Permalink | Feedback (3)

If you’re not satisfied with having your money working for you, maybe you’d prefer to see it playing for you, roto/fantasy style:

The idea is simple: Run an imaginary fund portfolio, aiming for a specific performance goal and shooting for maximum accuracy and consistency rather than biggest returns. You use the actual performance of real funds, but with imaginary cash and a scoring system that’s about more than maximum gains.

Fantasy fund league rules could vary based on the experience of the players, but you get to make them up because there’s no formal game out there, no Web site managing your fund teams. (Anybody smell a business?)

Fantasy money is powerful because investors tend to be a bit cowardly when their own cash is on the line. They may have astute judgment, but they don’t always trust it.

Personally, I think it makes more sense to put your real-money portfolio(s) into fantasy competition. Make it count! Get rich or get wrecked — with plenty of requisite trash-talking.

Would this be something the brokerages might want to facilitate? Merrill Lynch or Fidelity could offer to host fantasy leagues as a way to funnel customers online and push additional services. Or if it seems like to much of a frivolous pursuit for the old-line companies, some upstarts like Ameritrade could jump at the opportunity.

If this actually materializes, I guess we can thank MarketWatch’s Chuck Jaffe for dreaming it up.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/30/2005 03:52:15 PM
Category: Business | Permalink | Feedback

Today I shook out two aspirins from the bottle in my medicine cabinet. I saw that they were the last two pills.

That’s unusual. I bought this bottle just a little over two years ago, and I’ve never before gone through an entire bottle before the expiration date hit. It’s pretty much been just me popping those aspirin, so that should give a hint as to what the last couple of years have been like for me. (And no, it hasn’t been hangovers; there have been far fewer of those during this period.)

Of course, 24 pills over two years is hardly cause for concern. And I plan on sticking with the mildly curative properties of aspirin over an alternatives. I’ll hold off on the morphine until my 60s…

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/30/2005 02:37:00 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, October 29, 2021

I guess quirky goes only so far on the balance sheet: Delta Airlines is shutting down its discount flyer Song branch after a quarterly loss of $58 million.

I’ve never been loyal to any one airline — I don’t fly often enough to have a need to — but Song came awfully close to wrapping me up. And it had mostly to do with their inflight entertainment monitors, which really make just the thought of flying any other way unbearable.

Delta says it will incorporate some of the features it rolled out with Song. Hopefully it’ll be those monitors; the food and cocktails would be okay too. If not, I guess I could go with JetBlue, which also has TVs in their seats.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/29/2005 01:14:08 PM
Category: Business | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Friday, October 28, 2021

Brooke Shields is having her second baby in the Spring.

I wouldn’t count on many scheduled playdates with the soon-to-be silent-born/vitamin-treated Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes lovechild.

As for the actual Shields birthing, I couldn’t have said it better myself:

Just to make Katie Holmes jealous, expect a non-silent birth with lots of screaming and tons of drugs.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/28/2005 05:47:29 PM
Category: Celebrity | Permalink | Feedback

Dane Carlson’s “How Much Is My Blog Worth?” applet seems to be spreading like wildfire around the blogosphere; I guess everyone wants to know how well they’re shaking their moneymaker, blog-wise.

My blog is worth $35,001.48.
How much is your blog worth?

Thirty-five grand for this collection of half-baked humor, analysis, and observation? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Carlson writes that this thing calculates value based on the same link-to-dollar ratio present in the $25 million AOL-Weblogs Inc. deal. Of course, I noted that Jason Calacanis undervalued Weblogs Inc. in the interest of getting out while the getting was good.

So, really, I’m thinking this thing is generating lowball valuations. Accordingly, I’m holding out for six digits, baby.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/28/2005 05:25:53 PM
Category: Bloggin', Business | Permalink | Feedback (2)

ghostface lakesghostface killa
Or don’t. But if you live up in Odessa, aerial photography confirms a configuration of lakes that’s downright spooky, to match some of the local history around them.

Not even real estate rebranding can obscure the scary truth:

[Environmental scientist Jaime] Collazo had seen at least one of the Scream movies. He found the Scream Ghostface on the Web. He posted the two images in a corridor of the [Hillsborough County’s Environmental Protection Commission] offices. In the process, Collazo noticed a second unsettling detail in the aerial - Dead Lady Lake.

“It’s almost like a mole on that face,” he said.

“Lady Lake” is the name preferred nowadays, particularly in real estate circles.

“It sounds so much nicer,” said Sammie Callahan, who bought a house on the lake three years ago.

Callahan, 50, discovered the lake’s real name as she checked property records on her house. County employees told her a woman had been found dead there long ago. Then, after moving in, Callahan asked a local old-timer about the name.

“She said, “The body was in the ditch that runs alongside your house.’ “

For those interested, you can find this satellite view of Odessa, Florida on Google (it’s not quite as detailed, aka frightening, on the Maps view).

Just in time for Halloween. I sure hope this doesn’t turn out to be some elaborate guerilla marketing stunt for yet another tired iteration of the Scream franchise. Now that would give me the creeps.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/28/2005 08:17:54 AM
Category: Florida Livin', Movies | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Thursday, October 27, 2021

I guess there’s an ultimate upside to having an Ayatollah mark you for a hitjob. Salman Rushdie is loving life these days, hobnobbing with Bono while going iPod-less.

He’s also loving the Big Apple:

Q. You live mostly in New York these days?

A. Yes. All of my life I wanted to live in New York. I work really well there. The city is so possessed of a work ethic that if you’re not working you feel like a [expletive]. [Laughter]

Q. It seems like you’ve become a different character than the guy who was in hiding all those years.

A. I don’t quite see that. During those years, I was the same person, but I was facing all this stuff that was very difficult. One of the things I discovered at the end of the period of protection was how quickly one returns to normal. That’s not to say there aren’t scars — I’m sure there are — but the desire for ordinary life is overwhelming.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/27/2005 10:38:44 PM
Category: Publishing, Celebrity | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Once I heard about Harriet Miers’ withdrawal from consideration for the Supreme Court vacancy, I wondered how long it would take for some delusional right-wing blogger to claim credit for the event on behalf of the nattering nabobs of blogativity.

Turns out, not long at all.

It’s a real good example of how exaggerated a presence the Web is in some people’s lives. Fact is, bloggers could have railed long and hard 24/7, and it wouldn’t have caused the President to blink. It wasn’t until it was clear that the right flank of the GOP was ready to go on active attack that Bush gave in. That, and Miers’ obvious shortcomings on constitutional law expertise.

A reminder to would-be blog crusaders: You can’t build a critical mass when don’t have a true mass medium. And despite the hype, the Web ain’t there — and I’m not even going to add the qualifying “yet”.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/27/2005 10:29:48 PM
Category: Bloggin', Politics | Permalink | Feedback (1)

going hollywood
Only the NFL could manage to piss off not just one, but two cities while engineering a franchise relocation back to Los Angeles.

“We’re going to try to ride out the rest of this year the best way we can,” a source involved in the discussions said. “[The Saints] could very well spend another year in San Antonio. If you’re looking at it long-term, L.A. is a no-brainer. But I also think we need to give New Orleans and Louisiana a shot. We have absolutely no obligation to San Antonio. None.”

Way to kick the Crescent City while it’s down. Not that it should come as any surprise to New Orleanians; they’ve known for years that team owner Tom Benson has been itching for any excuse to move the team. It was going to happen eventually anyway, Katrina or not.

As for San Antonio, I guess it’s learned that it doesn’t pay squat to play gracious host to an NFL club. Where’s the motivation to court a future franchise? Not that it’ll stop boosters from continuing to mount future efforts…

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/27/2005 09:28:32 PM
Category: Football | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Wednesday, October 26, 2021

I haven’t done this in a long while, so what the heck. Here are the last ten music tracks to tick up on my iPod, set to shuffle/random play:

“Truth is Out of Style” - MC 900-Foot Jesus

“A Letter to the New York Post” - Public Enemy

“Sabotage” - Beastie Boys

“Somebody to Love” - Queen & George Michael

“Lullaby (extended mix)” - The Cure

“I’m Like a Bird” - Nelly Furtado

“Rock the Casbah” - The Clash

“Because the Night (live)” - Natalie Merchant

“Finest Worksong (Mutual drum horn mix)” - R.E.M.

“Dancing Queen” - ABBA

Quite the mix, huh? Nothing if not diverse. Feel free to share your random results from your computer/music player in the Feedback box below.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/26/2005 11:39:09 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Tech | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Everyone’s favorite Bay Area hipster has landed herself a cover story: Rachel* provided the Weekly Planet a story about five costume mavens in anticipation of Guavaween.

Just in case anyone was wondering just what the heck she was alluding to yesterday

She told me about it earlier today, and was pretty excited about it. As well she should be: Not only is it a cover byline, but it serves as a nice companion piece to her cover photo on last month’s tbt* Blog Issue. She’s got the alterna-freebie print news outlets pretty well covered (pardon the pun — or don’t).

Of course, there is the risk of over-exposure. But I’m sure Rachel* can flow with it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/26/2005 11:14:51 PM
Category: Publishing, Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

tricky track
It’s pretty much official: Trackback is getting spammed to death.

Around here, the only type of blogspam I get now is of the trackback variety, without exception. The traditional comment-form spam now appears to be passe, done in by all the efforts directed on that particular front.

I have found a fix: Trackback Validator plugin for WordPress. It’s based on an operating principle fundamental to the concept of trackbacking:

The idea behind the Validator, which is under development by students in the Rice University Computer Security Lab, is simple: Trackback URLs that point to pages that don’t link back to your blog are bogus. It’s an easy test to perform, and one that no current Trackback spammer is bothering to try to defeat; since we’ve started using this plugin on our personal WP blogs, our Trackback spam rate has dropped to zero.

To me, this is exactly what trackback is supposed to be, anyway: An alert that someone else bothered to link to a specific post that you wrote, and did so within the context of their own timely content. (Obviously, there’s some room for interpretation.) There’s no other reason to shoot out a trackback. In the world of blog linkage and feedback, there’s a clear delineation: Comments are free-standing, and trackbacks are teasers to extended referential material.

In any case, the Validator has been doing its job. I’ve had it installed for a week, and it’s stopped every illicit trackback that’s come through. The image above illustrates the action: Those “last 50 trackbacks” have come through in the last couple of days, and as you can see, all but three have been spam.

I’m not fooling myself that this is a permanent solution. At some point, spammers are going to figure out how to beat this; I can’t imagine it’d be that hard to scrape permalinks, post them to a site, and then send forth the trackback. But until that happens, this’ll do.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/26/2005 10:58:25 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Tuesday, October 25, 2021

No lie: While walking back to work today with my lunch, I saw this dude at the corner of 2nd Avenue South and 3rd Street (downtown St. Pete) who looked like a dead ringer for Mikey Teutul from “American Chopper”.

Well, actually, this guy seemed taller. But otherwise, just like idiot Mikey (the real article pictured above).

It’s a strange era we live in when looking like Mikey is actually something to shoot for.

Incidentally, the Teutuls’ Orange County Chopper shop is right down the road from where I grew up. My cousin Bill claims to know somebody who knows somebody who was a business partner with big-scary Paul Sr., just before the TV show came around.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/25/2005 11:19:11 PM
Category: Reality Check, Celebrity | Permalink | Feedback

Why do I find Konstantin Dlutskiy’s Russian Marketing Blog so oddly compelling?

Is it the lamentation of the glory that once was post-Soviet McDonald’s in Moscow?

Nah, couldn’t be. I think it’s the question of whether vobla or dried squid make the better beer snack.

Imagine if the Iron Curtain never came down…

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/25/2005 10:52:21 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback

start traffic
Do I know how to pick ‘em, or what? My post on Jill Wagner, spokeswoman on those Mercury car commercials, has been bringing in a steady stream of visitors.

Then today, Gawker Media’s Jalopnik linked to the post.


I’m getting mad hits right now; probably top off at a thousand for the day. Chingy-ching, baby. (Go Adsense.) I need to curry favor from Gawker blogs more often…

Can’t say I blame Jalopnik nor his readers. Wagner’s got an engaging screen presence. I don’t give a hoot about cars in general, and she sure grabbed my attention.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/25/2005 07:28:20 PM
Category: Bloggin', Advert./Mktg., Women | Permalink | Feedback (4)

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