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Tuesday, December 20, 2021

My fascination with the bright and the shiny might lead some to believe that I suffer from “technoism” (what a stupid phrase, for reasons I’ve explained before).

But in fact, the opposite is (mostly) true. Fact is, I tend to cling to older technologies, as long as they fit my needs. That’s why I carry an iPod made in 2002 — practically ancient by now. I’m not a fanatic about it; if the shortcomings start to pile up to the point where it no longer makes any sense to live in the past, then I’ll upgrade. But until then, I figure the combination of a learning curve on using new wares, plus the inevitable bugs that come with every new version (hello, Windows) means that it’s prudent to stick with what works.

But, inevitability, some measure of sentimentality creeps in, as absurd as it may seem for circuits and silicon (which accounts for my preference for oldschool Atari-era videogames). Ernest Hooper is feeling those pangs, as the St. Petersburg Times is finally doing away with its antiquated Coyote document creation/editing system

I had always assumed that Coyote was a proprietary program unique to the Times. I had never heard of it when I started at the newspaper in 1994, and it seemed like every new writer and editor that came along had to be introduced to it. Turns out it was, at one point, in somewhat wide use throughout the newspaper industry. I can’t track down much about it right now (don’t feel like digging), but I guess it was developed by Smith Industries/SII back around the mid-1980s.

So, we’re talking about a publishing content management system that predates Windows (at least the usable versions), Microsoft Office, mouses, and even widespread corporate use of GUIs. It was native on those old-style green-screen CRT monitors that displayed nothing but clunky uniform text (formatting was applied through pre-HTML tags). And it was still being used by a 250,000+ circulation newspaper mere weeks ago (on top of a Windows 2000 operating system, but still). Yeah, it was well past time for an overhaul.

But as musty as it was, there were a couple of things I liked about Coyote:

  • A copy-clipboard function that was accumulative. That is, you could copy a chunk of text, move through the document, copy some more chunks of text, and when finished, you could paste everything into one compiled piece. I really wish you could enable this behavior in Word, or even in Windows across-the-board (in browsers, on the desktop, etc.).
  • An instant messenger-like component that, in my mind, was more effective than modern versions (at least for a newsroom environment).
  • Robust search-and-replace macros that seemed easier to craft and execute than anything in Office.

I’m sure these are among the things Hooper is going to miss too. But we press on. Personally, I haven’t used Coyote in years (Trend had long since abandoned it by the time I came aboard). But I’ll always remember it, with a warped sort of fondness.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/20/2005 09:55:20 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Publishing, Tech
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In case anyone’s forgotten, your blog is a potentially self-damaging public (and permanent, even when altered) record. I’m thinking one Blake Ranking won’t be able to forget this, as the Central Florida teen was forced to plead guilty to DUI manslaughter charge after state prosecutors found his confession on his blog, contradicting his subsequent denials.

I really wonder how long it’s going to take for people to figure out that EVERYONE can find your online mutterings, no matter how obscure they might think they are. It’s not rocket science: If you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t put it on the Web in the first place. It’s going to be sniffed out by Google, and from there, it’s archived forever (or practically so). Deleting doesn’t change that, as Ranking’s experience showed.

Not that I think Ranking’s biggest mistake was in blowing his cover; obviously, he’s guilty of a crime, and that’s what ultimately matters here. Still, I think this is another demonstration of the inability to fully experience an event unless you recount it:

It’s not enough to actually participate in the action; you have to imbue it with a final legitimacy by relating it to another person. It can be in the form of simple conversation, or confession, or even bragging, as long as the story is told. Often, even a person who was present during the event is eligible, even if it’s only to compare notes.

It’s human nature — as a species, we’re compulsive blabbermouths. Consequently, it’s also why so few people are capable of truly keeping a secret.

Ultimately, we sabotage ourselves. Blogs are just another method of doing so.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/20/2005 08:26:05 PM
Category: Bloggin', Florida Livin', Society
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Because I just can’t get enough of those jive-talking, PSP-shilling animated squirrels, here’s another one of their television spots.

This one is much funnier than the original spot I linked to. I’m not sure if it’s even airing in the U.S.; the only place I seem to see it on TV is during NHL games that come through from Canadian-based feeds. I’d guess the “hells yeah!” declaration, coming out of the mouths of animated rodents, might be a little too edgy for American stations.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/20/2005 07:06:35 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Videogames
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You always hurt the one you idolize. Researchers in the UK have found that little girls in Britain take undue glee in destroying their Barbie dolls as part of a coming-of-age exercise.

“The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity, and see the torture as a ‘cool’ activity,” said Agnes Nairn, one of the University of Bath researchers. “The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving.”

Researchers from the university’s marketing and psychology departments questioned 100 children about their attitudes to a range of products as part of a study on branding. They found Barbie provoked the strongest reaction, with youngsters reporting “rejection, hatred and violence,” Nairn said.

“The meaning of ‘Barbie’ went beyond an expressed antipathy; actual physical violence and torture towards the doll was repeatedly reported, quite gleefully, across age, school and gender,” she said.

While boys often expressed nostalgia and affection toward Action Man — the British equivalent of GI Joe — renouncing Barbie appeared to be a rite of passage for many girls, Nairn said.

“The most readily expressed reason for rejecting Barbie was that she was babyish, and girls saw her as representing their younger childhood out of which they felt they had now grown,” she said.

Nairn said many girls saw Barbie as an inanimate object rather than a treasured toy.

“Whilst for an adult the delight the child felt in breaking, mutilating and torturing their dolls is deeply disturbing, from the child’s point of view they were simply being imaginative in disposing of an excessive commodity in the same way as one might crush cans for recycling,” she said.

Oh, the many levels of psychological intrigue this suggests:

  • The ritualistic destruction of childhood;
  • Lashing out at unfulfilled aspirations;
  • Surrogate mommy-figure rage;
  • Early expressions of actionable feminism.

Feel free to chime in with any more pseudo-Freudian interpretations.

The only thing that surprises me is source of the destruction. I’m familiar with little boys getting ahold of their sisters’ or playmates’ Barbies, and doing a hatchet job on them (I probably did that myself). But the girls themselves doing in their dollies? I wouldn’t have suspected.

Predictably, Mattel’s not too thrilled with this news. Not only because it damages an already-beleagured brand, but also because it probably bodes ill for its planned Barbie-themed women’s fashion line. I mean, if those little girls mutilated the doll, imagine what they’d do to the real-girl clothes — and the real girls wearing them…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/20/2005 06:36:11 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Society
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A capsule review of Donny Deutsch’s “Often Wrong, Never in Doubt” offered up the following wrapup on the book:

If you can get through such cringe-inducing passages about Deutsch’s bad self, however, a patient reader can learn a few things about building a successful advertising firm.

Yeah, like: Make sure your father owns an advertising firm that you can take over. But first, spend a requisite amount of time bumming around, after getting fired from another firm. Finally, sell your birthright to a conglomerating company that buys up agencies at the first whiff of quality client cultivation.

That, along with a smidgen of ego, is the Donny Deutsch formula for success.

(I guess I’ve just blown any chances of working for Deutsch Inc…)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/20/2005 03:08:00 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Celebrity
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