Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2021

Last night, I was playing with the neighborhood cat. I have to — she’s a fat, lazy little thing, encouraged to be so by her owner; so I feel compelled to inject occasional bits of excitement/exercise into her routine.

By way of a toy, I yanked down one of those plastic-ghost hangings I got for Halloween and waved it all around the little critter’s head. She really took to it, batting it around and biting it aggressively. It was worth seeing that, as it was such a contrast to her usual narcoleptic state.

Naturally, I took things too far. I put my hands too close to this feline frenzy, and pulled back with a couple of claw marks: One on the palm of my left hand, and another on the back of my right hand. Neither was deep or blood-letting, but I certainly notice them when moving my hands.

As it turns out, I had a pretty restless night’s sleep, leaving me groggy upon waking up. And this entire morning, I was floating along in a fog.

So, I have to conclude that I’ve contracted Cat Scratch Fever. Which, whenever I sing, I like to re-lyricize as “Scritch-Scratch Fever”. And which, unbeknownst to me until now, is not merely a Ted Nugent-concocted state of mind, but also an actual medical condition (re-rendered as the more neutral-sounding “cat scratch disease”).

I suppose if I had to get sick today, this is the perfect Halloween-type illness to contract. I’m thinking some candy tonight will cure me.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/31/2006 12:50:42 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Science | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Monday, October 30, 2021

You could see this coming: Mass-market advertisers, eyeing imminent increases in their online advertising budgets, are calling for Web publishers/syndicates, by the mid-2007, to bring in auditors to verify their viewer and clickthru counts.

“When you grow up, you have to do certain things,” said Mainak Mazumdar, NetRatings’ vice president of measurement science and product marketing. “The Internet has matured to a place where traditional marketers — companies that have been spending much more money on television and print — are asking the questions that they would ask for the print side. I see that to be very positive because it does legitimize the Internet.”

Maturation may legitimize the Web as fertile advertising platform, but what de-legitimizes it is click fraud. As more money pours into Google AdSense and its contextually-delivered cost-per-click (CPC) advertising model, more concern is expressed over the ROI of those paid-for clickthrus — are they valid, or the equivalent of ad-reaction spamming? With BusinessWeek devoting a recent cover story to the growing click fraud scourge, it’s suddenly a front-and-center issue that threatens the viability of the online ad market.

Not long ago, I argued that the whole CPC concept is suspect anyway:

Which makes me wonder how long it’ll take before the clickthru model for online ad revenue gets tossed out the window. It doesn’t make much sense, anyway. Clickthru offers the illusion of advertising-and-transaction tracking, but really it doesn’t — it just spits back a metric on the initial gateway action toward a strictly potential online purchase. Factor in accidental clicks and just plain tire-kickers, and the notion that clickthrus represent real advertising effectiveness becomes awfully shaky.

Truthfully, clickthrus represent merely the fervent desire by advertisers, marketers and syndicates to see some solid linkage between Web exposure and sales. There undoubtedly is — I’m sure a percentage of those clicks brings in immediate revenue. But it’s never going to be the majority. Online tracking is going to have to get a lot more robust before this dream is realized.

Would third-party auditing be an appropriate substitute for the current lack of robustness? It’s not the perfect solution, but for the companies footing the bills, it’s close enough.

This does, inevitably, loop back to my own current experience as an AdSense publisher. Fact is, the payouts on this blog have jumped remarkably of late. My reaction? Instead of assigning the increase in dollars to the success of some ad-optimizing redesigns here, I instantly assumed the worst: That some click-fraud ring was screwing around and artificially inflating my site’s clickiness. I’m not sure yet if that’s the case, but I wouldn’t be surprised. And if that’s not determined now, I’m sure the mid-2007 auditing initiative will help sink me.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/30/2006 11:23:17 PM
Category: Internet, Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback

The balance of power, such as it were, between the two near-omnipresent portable digital devices on my person was surprisingly reversed today. By the end of the day, I was lugging around a cellphone that was completely drained of battery power, while my iPod was juiced up at pretty much full capacity.

Odd circumstances accounted for both situations. With the iPod, it was a combination of having it connected to my computer most of yesterday, plus listening to it for only a few minutes to and from work today. Nothing major, except that it runs counter to the usual neglect I give it during most weekends.

As for the phone, that’s a bit more of a bugaboo. I’ve had this LG VX8100 since July, and have had persistent battery problems with it for most of that time. In fact, I just bought a brand-new battery, figuring that the one that came with the phone was a dud. It was fine for a little over a week. Then, today, the battery inexplicably drained by mid-morning, despite my not even touching the thing. It drained from about three-quarter charge all the way down to zero — not even enough power to boot up. This indicates a problem with the phone, although it’s possible that I’m overcharging the battery (as dumb a concept as I’ve ever encountered). I’ll test it out myself over the next few days before running to the Verizon Wireless outlet for replacements.

It was downright unsettling not having a live phone line in my pocket. Fortunately, I was able to soothe myself with some tunes.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/30/2006 10:39:07 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback

Sunday, October 29, 2021

Following up from last week’s rankings, here’s the NHL Special Teams Index through yesterday’s slate of games. Click through to last week’s post to compare and contrast movement on the list.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 Montreal Canadiens 24.0 (3) 90.6 (3) 114.6
2 San Jose Sharks 26.4 (1) 87.9 (9) 114.3
3 Minnesota Wild 18.0 (12) 94.0 (1) 112.0
4 Buffalo Sabres 20.9 (5) 90.2 (5) 111.1
5 Anaheim Ducks 20.4 (7) 90.3 (4) 110.7
6 Atlanta Thrashers 20.6 (6) 88.4 (8) 109.0
7 Pittsburgh Penguins 23.1 (4) 85.2 (12) 108.3
8 Edmonton Oilers 17.4 (13) 88.5 (7) 105.9
9 Florida Panthers 24.6 (2) 81.2 (21) 105.8
10 Dallas Stars 16.0 (16) 88.9 (6) 104.9
11 Ottawa Senators 10.3 (28) 92.3 (2) 102.6
12 Colorado Avalanche 18.8 (10) 82.4 (19) 101.2
13 New York Rangers 19.6 (8) 81.0 (22) 100.6
14 Carolina Hurricanes 17.4 (14) 82.4 (18) 99.8
15 Vancouver Canucks 12.7 (21) 86.7 (10) 99.4
16 St. Louis Blues 14.3 (20) 85.0 (13) 99.3
17 New Jersey Devils 14.3 (19) 84.6 (15) 98.9
18 Columbus Blue Jackets 15.9 (17) 82.5 (17) 98.4
19 Chicago Blackhawks 18.5 (11) 79.0 (24) 97.5
20 Washington Capitals 16.7 (15) 80.3 (23) 97.0
21 Toronto Maple Leafs 12.7 (22) 83.6 (16) 96.3
22 New York Islanders 18.9 (9) 77.3 (25) 96.2
23 Los Angeles Kings 10.1 (29) 85.3 (11) 95.4
24 Philadelphia Flyers 9.4 (30) 84.6 (14) 94.0
25 Calgary Flames 12.3 (23) 81.4 (20) 93.7
26 Nashville Predators 15.8 (18) 75.5 (29) 91.3
27 Tampa Bay Lightning 12.3 (24) 76.1 (28) 88.4
28 Detroit Red Wings 10.5 (27) 76.8 (26) 87.3
29 Phoenix Coyotes 10.5 (26) 76.4 (27) 86.9
30 Boston Bruins 12.0 (25) 74.5 (30) 86.5
- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/29/2006 07:33:39 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback (1)

meets the eye
The mantra of the “new” National Hockey League is more uptempo play, which should lead to more scoring. Which, presumably, should lead to more TV eyeballs, and thus more cha-ching.

So the commissioner’s office probably will be groaning over a scientific study which uncovers how goalies can improve their hand-eye coordination to improve their save percentages.

The basic findings? Keep your eye on the puck:

The researchers discovered these elite goalies focused directly on the puck nearly a full second before the shot was released nearly three-quarters of the time. They also concentrated on the ice in front of the stick when it came to a quarter of all shots. Their gaze was only on the body of the shooter 2 percent of the time.

“Looking at the puck seems fairly obvious,” [University of Calgary graduate student Derek] Panchuk said, “until you look at the eye movements of novice goaltenders, who scatter their gaze all over the place and have a much lower save percentage than the elite goalies.”

“This research is exciting because it’s new information that can be immediately incorporated into a goalie’s game with the proper training,” [University of Calgary researcher Joan] Vickers said. “Our previous experience tells us that if athletes incorporate what we’ve learned in ‘quiet eye’ studies, they can improve in their sport, even if they are already at an elite level.”

That “quiet eye” is what Vickers describes as the critical moment of focus prior to action — i.e., when the quick-decision mechanism in sports kicks in. Further examination of this state is forthcoming, with these two researchers next looking at situational reactions for goalies against wrist shots, slapshots, and penalty shots.

It’s amusing to think that NHL goaltenders, somewhat persecuted under the revised post-lockout rules, can turn to the physiological research ranks to regain their edge. Could the dead puck era make a comeback, fueled by science?

Hopefully, someone in some lab is countering this with optimizational research into shooters’ techniques…

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/29/2006 05:56:15 PM
Category: Hockey, Science | Permalink | Feedback

The hipness barometer for MySpace is dropping fast, folks. Observe: Those fickle teens who defined the online community are abandoning it, while some 30 percent of MySpacers are now between 35 and 49.

Something tells me Rupert Murdoch is going to be asking for a refund soon.

Once again, the boom-bust dynamic in social networking websites appears:

1. They launch amid much hype over attracting groups of enthusiastic, hip, pretty young things

2. They attain a critical mass of a couple hundred thousand million members

3. They start to cross-promote and sell ads like crazy, cashing in on what’s assumed to be a captive audience

4. They roll out premium add-ons for nominal fees

5. They get so large and ad-driven that they turn off the very members that flocked to them in the first place, leading to defections and a loss of cool-cache

6. They sputter on, devolving into purely affiliate-marketing/spam-generating subscriber rolls of questionable value

And so on, until a new crop of sites roll out. What I can’t figure out is why people continually buy into them, swallowing the hype about how they’re new and innovative, when they’re far from it. Maybe the average joiner goes into it knowing that it’s got a short shelf life.

This is more or less the way MySpace is going, and it shouldn’t be any surprise. What is surprising is how predictable the Web is becoming as a medium: Despite the much-vaunted user-generated factor, it’s behaving much like any other media. Which, actually, underlines just how user-responsive traditional media has always been, contrary to the usual characterization of mind-manipulating intent from newspapers, television and the rest.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/29/2006 02:50:17 PM
Category: Internet, Society | Permalink | Feedback

The winds are blowing like hell around the tri-state area. And, just by coincidence, the pregame report from today’s Tampa Bay at Giants game is that the hallway doors in Giants Stadium are broken, and can’t be closed.


Why exactly does the NFL allow the Giants and Jets to pull this crap? It’s no secret that the doors at the Meadowlands “break” every time a fierce windstorm comes around on gameday. Heck, the stadium was designed to achieve this wind-tunnel effect. I don’t know why the other teams don’t put up more of a fuss; sure, both squads have to deal with it, but the New York teams are better acquainted with just how the wind tricks up the airborne ball.

No, I’m not complaining just because my former hometown team is being affected today. I’m just astounded at the audacity of the Giants, that they continually pull this maneuver. I wonder which team intern is stuck with the job of “accidentally” breaking the doors late Saturday night…

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/29/2006 02:12:07 PM
Category: Football, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

I’m sure many of you WordPressers are counting on me to, once again, remind you about adjusting the timestamp clock on your site to account for Daylight Saving Time.

So, um, do it. Unless you want to be an hour off on your posts and comments for the next few months, and look the clueless fool. The bright side to that: It won’t be quite as long as in years past, since starting in 2007, the spring-ahead adjustment comes on the 2nd Sunday of March.

The instructions:

- 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.

For me, on U.S. Eastern Standard Time, that means my magic number off Greenwich is -5. Adjust yours accordingly.

I assume this step is necessary for all versions of WP, including the just-released 2.0.5 Ronan upgrade. It’s not a glitch, but rather a necessary concession to the WordPress’ global flexibility — not all parts of the world observe DST, and so it doesn’t make sense to make it an automatic feature in the content management system’s backend. I also assume there’s a plugin or two out there that will automate this, but for people like me who are too lazy for that…

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/29/2006 01:29:04 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, October 28, 2021

Yes children, it’s Halloween time! If you discount the devil-worshipping/pagan overtones, it’s as wholesome a holiday as you can find.

I impulsively bought a dozen-count packet of those little plastic-bag hanging ghosts. They’re not as fancy as home-made cloth versions, but with their newspaper-stuffed heads and twisty-tie necks, they have a certain chintzy charm that I cannot resist.

Problem: The white plastic bags that make up their bodies are square-shaped. So the tops of their heads have a pointy right-angle to them. Which gives them a vaguely Ku Klux Klan look. To me, anyway; no one else has mentioned it. I guess the season conveys the assumption that they’re supposed to be spooky spirits, instead of strung-up Klansmen (which actually might be a positive statement, perhaps).

Anyway, I like them. I’m sorry I’ll have to take them down in a few days.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/28/2006 07:38:45 PM
Category: Creative | Permalink | Feedback (4)

all hail
Dairy Queen won’t approve, but this baby tee is the perfect gift for that drama queen in your life. Provided she can take a joke, of course — probably a rare find.

This type of brand subversion is not new. I first came across this altered logo t-shirt at least 10 years ago, sported by a woman named Lexi, who was, allegedly, an alternate on “American Gladiators”. That, and the way she filled out the shirt, were what made the encounter so memorable.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/28/2006 06:42:35 PM
Category: TV, Comedy, Fashion | Permalink | Feedback

Friday, October 27, 2021

One might reasonably assume that hell.com would be the domain of one B. Al Zeebub.

But no, that Internet domain is the property of Kenneth Aronson. Who, despite a lot of big talk, is certainly bummed about his sinister-sounding corner of the Web not drawing squat for bids in a silent auction of prime URLs.

“Branding experts said the name is recognized more than Coca-Cola,” said Aronson. “It’s so enigmatic and the person who buys it has the potential to make it a very big portal.”

The domain, which Aronson said he wouldn’t sell for less than a million, has become home to a secretive online community that receives nearly 5,000 new visitors daily.

“Hell.com is a variable asset and it’s the opposite of what we need,” said Aronson. “I may even consider withdrawing it because of all the publicity it has received.”

Yeah, keep that dream chugging, chump. I believe the market has spoken.

I wonder how this impacts the valuation of heaven.com? Or for that matter, the more nebulous online territories that are limbo.com and purgatory.com. Plenty of options for someone seeking an otherworldly browser-accessible hangout.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/27/2006 09:01:28 PM
Category: Internet | Permalink | Feedback

Thursday, October 26, 2021

Need corroboration that the flannel-heavy grunge look and style are making an early nostalgic comeback?

Here you go: Kurt Cobain has displaced Elvis as the king of dead celebrity moneymakers. (Am I the only one who sees the irony in that story being in USA Today’s “Life” section?)

So then, hello again, heroin chic. I’ll get the spoon…

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/26/2006 11:03:21 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Celebrity, Fashion | Permalink | Feedback

Do you need to buy a copy of Paul Dickson’s “Slang: The Topical Dictionary of Americanisms”?

Find out by testing yourself with this excerpt from the book, highlighting modern-day cube-speak:

Britney: Boy, I needed a break from the cube farm.

Kevin: No kidding! Did you catch the prairie-dogging when Caitlin’s coffee-maker exploded?

Britney: At least it provided a little drama to a morning when I was definitely glazing. Although did you get that weird e-mail that was being forwarded around?

Kevin: No, I think the digital hygienist struck again.

Britney: What are you working on?

Kevin: Oh man, I need to get granular on the latest fire drill.

Britney: Yeah, Irving is such a seagull manager. It’s like, you gotta have triorities with that guy. I can’t believe how long the obfun lasted yesterday, as if we didn’t already have enough to do.

Kevin: At least they served lunch. Did you see Tiffany’s canfusion?

Britney: Yeah, and the catering vultures lurking in the hallway? Don’t those people have any shame?

Kevin: Anyway, there was a cloud of bozone in that room. Where are all our idea hamsters?

Britney: I think they realized working here was a big fat wombat.

Kevin: Amen to that. Well, I guess I better get back to my cube. Nice facemailing with you.

Britney: Excuse me, my cell is vibrating.

Kevin: Shhhh! Don’t go all yellular.

Britney and Kevin exit, stage left. Irving emerges from the shadows by the water cooler. He is their boss.

Irving: Darn those young people. I didn’t understand a word they said!

Confused enough yet? No worries, here’s the standard-English translation. If you actually want to admit that you’re not down with the sound in the office. (I’ll admit, I started to lose comprehension at the “cloud of bozone” stage…)

And if you couldn’t figure out who Britney and Kevin are, then I’m afraid you need more help than any slang guide can offer.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/26/2006 10:20:15 PM
Category: Publishing, Comedy, Wordsmithing | Permalink | Feedback

Does General Motors know how to target a market, or what?

Observe: Only a couple of days after the World Wildlife Federation declared Australians to be the biggest resource-devouring and waste-producing denizens on the planet, GM decides to introduce its gas-guzzling Hummer line of vehicles Down Under, starting with the right-hand steering-wheeled H3 (yes, they drive on the “wrong” side of the road in Oz).

The timing is comical — it’s almost like GM took the WWF’s environmental condemnation as a seal of approval for Australia as a receptive market. If this isn’t a clear-cut case of cause and effect, by gosh, it oughta be.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/26/2006 01:46:59 PM
Category: Business, Society, Science | Permalink | Feedback

i, the pod
A couple of days ago, while comment-responding on my post about the iPod’s 5th birthday, I used a unique term to describe Microsoft’s aspirations for its forthcoming Zune media player:

Past the wireless hook, MS is counting on being the “unPod”, thus appealing to people who’ll take anything that’s not Apple.

That “unPod” just came to me. I’d like to take credit for coining it, but of course, someone beat me to that.

Still, a quick Web search indicates it’s not a commonly-employed term. So I’ll gladly post it here, in an effort to have it adopted as the standard descriptor for any portable MP3/media player that doesn’t come from Cupertino. Let the meming begin…

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/26/2006 10:53:26 AM
Category: Tech, Wordsmithing | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, October 25, 2021

The home of the Phoenix Coyotes finally has a pay-for-play name. The former Glendale Arena will now be known as Jobing.com Arena, to the tune of $2.5 million per year.

There is a local angle, as Jobing.com is headquartered in Phoenix and run by an Arizona native. As you might guess, the Internet company is all about online résumés and job searches. Although to me, that odd spelling puts me more in mind of the Book of Job — maybe not the ideal inspiration for the facility’s sports teams…

This NHL arena is right next door to the home of the NFL Arizona Cardinals, recently rechristened University of Phoenix Stadium. Which suggests that, if you play your cards right, you could attend a football game to get practical educational experience, then parlay that later that day with a job fair during a hockey game.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/25/2006 11:42:34 PM
Category: Hockey, Football, SportsBiz | Permalink | Feedback

We already knew that Zune, Microsoft’s answer to the ubiquitous iPod, was going to face an uphill battle to capture digital-media hearts and minds.

I don’t know if the challenge gets harder or easier with word that “zune” sounds a lot like the Hebrew word for “fuck”. I could see it going either way, really: The rabbinical community will denounce the offending device, which in turn will reinforce the street cred that the name will undoubtedly gain in the kibbutz.

If the Zune does a big flop, I suppose it’ll be another footnote reference of the (misunderstood) Spanish-language Chevy Nova/”No Va” example in action.

(Via dustbury)

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/25/2006 05:49:58 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Tech, Wordsmithing | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Office hallway chatter is lately becoming a source of blog raw material for me. Here’s a fresh one from mere moments ago:

A guy who usually sports a goatee came into the office today with all his whiskers shaved off. One of his colleagues saw this, blinked, and she said:

Your face is bald.

Interesting choice of descriptor. Technically, it’s correct — when you remove hair from skin, the result is baldness. It’s usually applied just to the top of the head, but why shouldn’t it be appropriate elsewhere?

That said, whenever I shave off my usually-ominpresent goatee — and it’s been a long while now — I’ve always been told my face looks “naked”. I’m guessing that, because my hair is thin on top, people avoid using the “b” word on me (even though I’m not at all sensitive about it; it’s not like I’m not in on the secret, folks).

Probably because of this semantic subtlety, I think I prefer “naked” over “bald”. Also probably because it sounds dirtier.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/25/2006 10:56:35 AM
Category: Fashion, Wordsmithing | Permalink | Feedback (1)

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