Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Saturday, July 14, 2021

on the 8
It’s been a long time coming, so here’s the next installment of the latest random output to come out of my perpetually shuffling-repeating iPod.

Instead of the usual five tracks, I’ve expanded out to eight, to match up with 8trk’s Favorite 8, like I said I would. Gotta keep up with the Joneses!

So here we go:

1. “Torture”, KMFDM - Maybe in a day or so I’ll stumble on that grassy knoll.

2. “Waiting For Tonight”, Jennifer Lopez - Found a sacred place, lost in your embrace.

3. “Party For Your Right to Fight”, Public Enemy - It takes a nation of millions to hold us back.

4. “Hello, I Love You”, The Doors - Do you hope to pluck this dusky jewel?

5. “Stand (The Scrumfrog Extended Re-Hash)”, Jewel - It’s not all dirty, but it’s not all clean.

6. “Pusherman”, Curtis Mayfield - Your main boy, thick and thin.

7. “Weapons of Mass Distortion”, The Crystal Method - [instrumental, no lyrics]

8. “Get Down Tonight”, KC & The Sunshine Band - Same place, same time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/14/2007 04:18:23 PM
Category: 8trk, Pop Culture, Tech
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Thursday, July 12, 2021

If the chatter coming out of this week’s iMeme Conference can be believed, part of being a Web 2.0 high-flyer is to reject the idea of being a “media company”:

In the brave new world of social network builders, “content” is almost a dirty word. It stand for expensive, tired, and formulaic — the predictable, un-scalable result of profit-seeking corporate media types. Indeed, the first time I heard [Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg] make his point was as a not so subtle smack-down of rival MySpace. As in: MySpace is trying to be a media company. Big mistake. The smart thing to focus on is being a platform-provider, a giver of tools to the creative masses, a massive enabler…

But Facebook makes its money by selling ads. That begs the question, of course: What exactly makes a media a media company? Isn’t Zuck being a little dogmatic or perhaps disingenous, or maybe just naive?

Interestingly, this mirrors the distinction some make between the approaches Google and Yahoo! are taking. Google’s seen as more focused on the aggregation of Web-based content via search and content-creation tools; Yahoo! is more associated with old-style branded content. The “smart” money favors Google, for now; so it makes sense that Zuckerberg would align himself that way.

The problem is that the primacy of user-generated content is mostly a myth.

The most popular videos, songs, and other media files being shared and swapped online are — yes — derived from the familiar mass-media channels. The biggest audiences on YouTube flock to clips of “The Office” and other Hollywood productions; occasionally, an amateur project will create a buzz, but that’s the exception, not the rule. It’s user-channeled, not user-created — unless you consider ripping and uploading a form of “creation”.

So it seems to me that “content” isn’t the dirty word. Rather, “content creation” or “production” are the media concepts that scare aggregators like Facebook, because they cost money. Resorting to swiped content makes more sense, I guess — until the law and rights-management techniques catch up.

The other part of the equation is advertising. Like it or not, accepting advertising on your site/platform makes you a media organ. It’s the same as being the bridge platform for any other application that hosts on Facebook, in a sense, in that the ads are just another module vying for enduser attention.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/12/2021 10:15:17 PM
Category: Business, Internet, Media
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Wednesday, July 11, 2021

Never have I been so proud of my Euro heritage than when I view this climax-filled paean to cinema and European “unioning”:

This mini skinflick is the most popular contribution from EUtube, a YouTube channel devoted to promoting the virtues of the EU.

“The European Union is not the Bible belt,” Martin Selmayr, a commission spokesman, said. “These clips come from award-winning films and they show the E.U.’s rich cinematic heritage, which we can all be proud of.”…

Announcing EU Tube on June 29, Margot Wallstrom, the commission’s vice president in charge of communication strategy, explained: “This initiative reflects the commission’s commitment to better explain its policies and actions on issues which concern citizens across the E.U., such as climate change, energy or immigration.”

Understandably, then, Brussels officials have been a bit frustrated to see their great communications project hijacked by sex. Efforts by some British tabloids to stir up protests about officially blessed “pornography” have come to little, but officials can hardly feel that “Film Lovers Will Love This!” is conveying their full message.

What are the Eurocrats worried about? There’s no fuller message than the promise of rampant sexual relations via the breakdown of national borders. Makes me want to renew my passport for a visit!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/11/2021 07:54:34 PM
Category: Comedy, Internet, Politics
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Sunday, July 08, 2021

It’s been a while since I made note of any blog housekeeping activities here at PopStat.

That’s because there haven’t been any major ones of late. I got the conflicting WordPress installations problem cleared up, with some help. And various tweaks here and there, including installing Bad Behavior to work with Akismet as a blended comment-spam defense (which works wonderfully, by the way). But none of those fixes seemed worthy of recording here.

Today, though, I addressed a shortcoming of this site that’s bugged me pretty much since Day One: The search function. WP’s built-in search utility sucks, frankly. It’s geared toward geek-centric output: Search terms spit back entire posts into an output page. That might be fine if you post infrequently, and compose really short posts. But when you output as much as I do, and wordcount per post is up there, you wind up with pages of “results” that aren’t particularly user-friendly. Even I’ve been loathe to use it — I’d instead do my searching for old posts via the WP backend.

So I looked at a natural alternative: Google. Under the Google Co-op tool (of all things), you can create a customized search widget that’s limited to your own site/blog. This utility has been around for years, but I don’t think it’s been as flexible as it now is. In particular, I wanted to score that cool-looking javascripted Google brandmark in the search textbox, and I’m happy I was able to customize it thusly.

This search widget is also linked to my AdSense account, so there’s some revenue-generating potential there. I’ll be shocked if it nets more than pennies, but you never know.

Finally, in addition to planting the Google search tool and ditching the native WP one, I moved the actual search input box way up the left sidebar, to appear above the fold. I have some qualms about this, organization-wise. I’d kept the old search box way down, under the Archives header, because that makes the most sense in my mind — you’d be searching for older material (i.e., stuff that’s not on the current front page). But it was obviously buried there. Moving it to the top makes it very conspicuous, and hopefully more likely to be used by visitors. It’s the same logic that every search engine out there uses, so I’m guessing there’s something to it.

Anyway. Feel free to take the new Google searchbar out for a spin. I’m happy enough just looking at it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/08/2021 04:32:16 PM
Category: Bloggin'
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Wednesday, July 04, 2021

In this age of pay-per-post payola in the blogosphere, I’m wary of any requests for custom-created blog content.

And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what’s in it for Answers.com with their Creative Writing Challenge. By inviting loads of bloggers to post a chunk of compositional creativity, using ten assigned words/phrases that hyperlink back to specific Answers.com entry pages, a good amount of Googlejuice is generated. That leads to more traffic for those Answers.com pages, which leads to higher keyword-advertising rates for that site overall. Yeah, I get it.

Still, there are prizes and potential linkback traffic at stake. And since I have the day off and nothing much else to do, I figured, why not? All contests have an ulterior marketing motive. Besides, I just spelled out motives for both me and Answers.com, which severely dispels concerns of stealthiness.

And so, here’s my entry. Any signs of literary adroitness are mostly coincidental:

Upon my return from Belize, I encountered a brown recluse spider.

Imagine my surprise, as this species of arachnid is normally not found in New York – rather, they are near-ubiquitous in the southeastern U.S. I concluded that, for all intents and purposes, this particular spider was on a quixotic quest to expand its natural range.

Deciding that such speculation on the spider’s origins was, at best, perfunctory on my part, I resolved to abrogate the problem. With nothing else within easy reach, I picked up my trusty yo-yo, and, in the style of 16th-century Filipino hunters, I flung the spool hard.

Bullseye! With one shot, I nailed it, squashing the eight-legged potential menace.

At the time of the deed, my conscience was clear. But, perhaps in a quid pro quo of karmic payback by buggy animals everywhere, I soon thereafter developed an irrational case of melissophobia.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/04/2021 08:05:44 PM
Category: Bloggin', Creative
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Thursday, June 28, 2021

play on
Because I’m a sucker for any iTunes-manipulating blog meme: The twenty-five songs in my digital music collection with the longest run time. As originated by David at Better Living Thru Blogging!.

Yep, there are some lengthy ones, especially the hour-plus beasts. A little bit of everything, from danceclub-quality mixes to classical. None of them are strung together by me — I acquired all these tracks in the single-file format they appear in here. They’re all music tracks — no comedy, spoken-word or any other anomalies.

The image above serves as some proof that I do, indeed, have these long-play files in my music collection. For better SEO presentation, here they are listed below:

1. “Voyage Into Trance”, Paul Oakenfold:
1hr, 12min, 39sec

2. “Just Another House Mix”, Florian Ehing:
1hr, 12min, 04sec

3. “The RoLLA HardHousemixx II”, DJ Precise:
1hr, 10min, 26sec

4. “The Cerulean Wavestation”, Cerulean Wavestation:
1hr, 07min, 41sec

5. “Bach, Goldberg Variations”, Glenn Gould:
51min, 18sec

6. “Club Trance Megamix”, DJ Berra:
25min, 34 sec

7. “Chris Liebing Trance - tribal techno”, Carl Cox, Frankie Bones, et al:
25min, 20 sec

8. “Alice’s Restaurant”, Arlo Guthrie:
18min, 46sec

9. “Released”, Tecknixia:
18min, 35sec

10. “Persian, Arabic, Turkish & Indian Dance Mix”, [no artist]:
15min, 55sec

11. “Rapper’s Delight”, Sugar Hill Gang:
14min, 37sec

12. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, Creedence Clearwater Revival:
11min, 06sec

13. “Memories of May (overdrive mix)”, Wintermute:
10min, 02sec

14. “Yar’s Revenge Parts 1-3″, Mister Hardcore:
9min, 55sec

15. “Master and Servant (Slavery whip mix)”, Depeche Mode:
9min, 40sec

16. “Discotecka (DJ Dove Remix)”, Starkillers:
9min, 30sec

17. “The Private Psychedelic Reel”, Chemical Brothers:
9min, 28sec

18. “Napalm Brain/Scatter Brain”, DJ Shadow:
9min, 23sec

19. “Stem/Long Stem ++Transmission 2″, DJ Shadow:
9min, 22sec

20. “Ojos Asi (Thunderpuss Remix)”, Shakira:
9min, 15sec

21. “Cyberchakra”, Doctor Strangelove:
9min, 12sec

22. “Salt Tank - Eugina 2000 (Progressive Summer Mix)”, Paul Oakenfold:
9min, 05sec

23. “We Know You Know It (Filthy Dukes Remix)”, Foreign Islands:
9min, 01sec

24. “Tainted Love (Full mix)”, Soft Cell:
8min, 58sec

25. “The Owls Go (Pandatronix remix)”, Architecture in Helsinki:
8min, 56sec

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/28/2007 10:07:43 PM
Category: Bloggin', Pop Culture, Tech
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Who is Jennifer Cole?

That’s the question, isn’t it? Well, that’s my question, anyway.

Yesterday, I received a Facebook invitation from one Jennifer Cole. This is the second Facebook invite I’ve gotten in the past week, the first one being from none other than David. Ever since the former college-only social network got a much-buzzed-about facelift, all the hip folk have been flocking to it, natch.

But not me. I politely declined David’s invite, on the basis of my general disregard for all such sites. I find this here blog to be more than sufficient for my online-engagement urges. (Not that I’m completely out of the join-in loop; I have a LinkedIn profile that, coincidentally, is just beginning to bear fruit.)

I’d like to decline Jennifer’s invitation as well, on those terms. But, since the auto-generated email came from the “invite@facebook.com” address, I can’t directly email her back and politely decline. Plus, even though the name is tantalizingly familiar, I simply can’t place her. I’m crossing my fingers that she’s not a close, personal friend… Or at least, not one of the many, many Jennifers in my past.

So, instead, I’m using this blog post to turn her down. Jennifer, if you’re out there, thanks but no thanks. And please, write me directly so I can figure out who you are.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/28/2007 10:09:51 AM
Category: Internet
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Tuesday, June 26, 2021

Yes, the irony is self-evident: Would-be eBay challenger/alternative MightyBids is throwing in the towel — by putting itself up for sale via eBay listing.

The owners are hoping the absurdity of the situation will net them some healthy scratch. But the experts are dubious, to say the least:

MightyBids is just one of many online auction sites that have arisen from discontent with eBay fees, said Rosalinda Baldwin, chief executive of The Auction Guild watchdog group.

Without looking at MightyBids’ site but taking into account its user base, she estimated the site wasn’t worth much more than the cost of registering its Internet address, or around $9.

That seems overly harsh, but maybe it’s the cold hard truth. Take into account Yahoo!’s recent decision to shutter its non-Asian auction sites, a radical move acknowledged as stemming from the futility of even other Web giants competing against eBay in the space. (I can’t locate a confirming source, but I believe Y! Auctions managed to carve out less than 1 percent market share in the U.S. — a truly pathetic showing that practically demanded a pull-out.)

I didn’t realize eBay was such a category-killer. I guess it’s done its job positioning itself as the first and last destination for Web auctions.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 06/26/2007 10:38:16 PM
Category: Internet
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Monday, June 25, 2021

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to find a reputable Piaget watch dealer on the Web?

Yeah, me too…

The reason is that purveyors of upscale goods and services have a holdover attitude toward ecommerce as the land of the chintzy/cheapo bargains grab-bag:

For one thing, luxury brands have long been concerned that an online presence cheapens their image. It’s a perception rooted in the early days of the Web, when bargains at retail sites like eBay and Amazon.com were the norm, said Matt Marcus, Gucci’s worldwide director of e-business.

“Luxury firms are afraid to provide that convenience online because they don’t think it’s a luxury experience,” added Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a research firm based in New York. “But what they don’t realize is that wealthy consumers don’t want the in-store experience, they want convenience.”

I don’t know that the idea of the Web discount is totally unwarranted; Amazon thrives on beating retail prices. But I doubt anyone’s going to think Prada will be marking down their hoity-toity wares just to encourage shop-and-click traffic. Long-term, it’ll pay off to open up the online sales channel.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/25/2007 11:18:01 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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Sunday, June 24, 2021

Do Business.com owners Jake Winebaum and Sky Dayton seriously believe they can command $300-400 million for their company, based mostly on the URL?

It’s a pipe dream. What they call a paid-search advertising directory is basically nothing but a small pool of categorized listings — nice that they can get those companies to pay for playing, but there’s no true searching or vetting of the links involved. I’m sure plenty of clueless searchers assign authority to the site based just on the name, but any real money to be made in search-based advertising begins and ends with Google, with a little sliver left over for Yahoo! and Ask.com to scrap over.

The reality is that Winebaum and Dayton are hoping all the recent Web 2.0-inspired dealmaking will raise the tide for all boats in the Internet business. Having overplayed their hands the first time around, when they paid $7.5 million for the domain name in 1999 in hopes of flipping it shortly thereafter for multiples of that amount (the following dot-com crash killed that plan), they figure the window’s opened again for a silly-money deal to come around. If not, they can always hang on for a potential third round of online hyper-speculation.

While no one’s going to pay nine figures, in fact there may just be a market for the site. Not in its not-terribly-unique current form, for the reasons cited above. But not long ago, I mentioned a distinct void in online business media:

I’m trying to think of a MySpace portal for businesspeople, that’s full of registered users posting jobs, networking, commenting and distributing news, etc. A real must-join online hangout for hardcore business players. And really, I can’t think of one… There are elements of such a concept all over the Web… But I don’t know that one site has harnessed what’s supposed to be a community that rushes to the Web for their fix of targeted content.

What better content for a re-booted Business.com than an active social network, aimed at businesspeople? Think of the cache behind joining an online community that would assign you an email address like “[yourname]@business.com”, and a personal page that reads “[yourname].business.com”. Plus the MySpace-like tagging, friend/colleague connectivity, etc. And given the audience, so much of it can be monetized with nominal fees: Access to targeted contact lists, B2B products/services, etc. A goldmine with the most appropriate brandname ever.

Again, no one’s going to pay hundreds of millions of dollars just for a domain platform. Truth be told, a business-centric social network doesn’t absolutely need to be parked at business.com. But it’d be an ideal fit, and the site’s current owners could do a lot worse than cashing out for a few million now, rather than crossing their fingers on a possible future Internet land rush.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/24/2007 02:35:50 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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Thursday, June 21, 2021

Two things I found surprising when I learned about Yahoo! acquiring Rivals.com today:

- I can’t believe Rivals.com remained independent for so long; I’d assumed some larger media concern, eyeing the dedicated audiences for high-school and college sports, had scooped it up ages ago.

- I also can’t believe that Y! Sports, with 15 million monthly visitors, is bigger than Bristol:

Yahoo Sports, which is advertising-supported but has a sizable subscriber base for its fantasy sports league, recently surpassed the audience of its biggest competitor, ESPN.com, which has about 12.7 million users, comScore says.

That’s got to be galling for ESPN, which has touted Web growth as a key driver in maintaining its brand position as the be-all end-all for sports. It’s still the king of televised sports, which is where the real money is; but if it can be knocked off its online perch, who’s to say it’s not vulnerable in TV in the long run?

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/21/2007 10:04:27 PM
Category: Internet, SportsBiz
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Monday, June 18, 2021

You knew those phenomenal growth rates couldn’t last forever: Online shopping seems to have hit a lull, the result of saturation and seemingly more appealing experience in brick-and-mortar stores.

Nancy F. Koehn, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies retailing and consumer habits, said that the leveling off of e-commerce reflected the practical and psychological limitations of shopping online. She said that as physical stores have made the in-person buying experience more pleasurable, online stores have continued to give shoppers a blasé experience. In addition, online shopping, because it involves a computer, feels like work.

“It’s not like you go onto Amazon and think: ‘I’m a little depressed. I’ll go onto this site and get transported,’ ” she said, noting that online shopping is more a chore than an escape.

Well, some ecommerce sites are indeed designed to “transport” you via shopping, even if there’s more of a blase aspect to doing so in your living room. You can also take more time to research, examine, and muse over the item on the Web — you can’t really do that in-store.

All that’s compensation for not being able to physically get your hands on the thing. And there’s the delayed gratification of waiting for shipping to deliver. As always, pros and cons.

I don’t doubt that part of this shift comes from the loss of novelty in mouse-click shopping. It’s commonplace now, so perceptionally, there’s little difference between Amazon.com and Target. Shipping is probably the main sticking point, which has brought about a new counter-solution:

In response, a so-called clicks-and-bricks hybrid model is emerging, said Dan Whaley, the founder of GetThere, which became one of the largest Internet travel businesses after it was acquired by Sabre Holdings.

The bookseller Borders, for example, recently revamped its Web site to allow users to reserve books online and pick them up in the store. Similar services were started by companies like Best Buy and Sears. Other retailers are working to follow suit.

“You don’t realize how powerful of a phenomenon this new strategy has become,” Mr. Whaley said. “Nearly every big box retailer is opening it up.”

The overriding impulse is to save time by going to the store, but also getting that expected deep Web discounted price. It seems neither sales channel can do it on its own — ecommerce sites being too detached from the consumerist experience, and retail outlets being too ponderous in layout and transaction fulfillment. Combined, they create a new model for satisfying purchasing impulses.

FURTHER THOUGHTS: Stanley Bing adds some context, arguing this trending as proof that ecommerce isn’t going to kill off traditional retail in the long run:

So keep on growing, online retailers! Good luck to you! All the best! But forgive me if news indicates that your march across all civilized nations is reaching manageable levels, that there may be some actual, physical business entities standing when the day is done.

And hey - you pundits who always predict that one medium is about to extinguish all others? Next time shut up, why don’t you?

It’s a similar argument regarding emerging media with regards to the older formats they compete against, in that zero-sum results rarely occur. For instance, for all the perception that television “killed” radio, it really didn’t: It just forced radio to reinvent itself into other formats, within which it thrived. Does the same concept apply to retail? I’m not so sure, but it’s interesting to see the immediate results.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/18/2007 09:01:55 AM
Category: Business, Internet
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Saturday, June 16, 2021

It seems that fringe Republican congressman Ron Paul is striking a chord with online political junkies, bolstering his otherwise slim 2008 Presidential prospects.

Republican strategists point out that libertarians, who make up a small but vocal portion of the Republican base, intrinsically gravitate toward the Web’s anything-goes, leave-me-alone nature. They also say that [Paul’s] Web presence proves that the Internet can be a great equalizer in the race, giving a much-needed boost to a fringe candidate with little money and only a shadow of the campaign staffs marshaled by Romney, McCain and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Yep, with the help of the online hordes, Paul will build a campaign to rival that of Howard Dean’s. And we all know how successful Dean’s Web-centric Presidential bid was.

Again, perspective: Objects on the Internet often appear to be larger than they are in real (offline) life. Paul could get a billion friends on his MySpace page, and that will translate to little or no additional votes during caucus/primary season — y’know, when the shows of support actually count. Not only won’t he directly get any support, but his chances of influencing the Republican platform toward more libertarian-leaning policies diminish as well (not that that is a factor — despite 8 years of neocon undermining, Republicans are still perceived as the smaller-government party anyway).

Paul still has a decent shot of getting elected President via his online buzz. President of Second Life, that is. The White House? No.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/16/2007 06:26:06 PM
Category: Internet, Politics
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Thursday, June 14, 2021

memeing high
Unlike some of us, I haven’t succumbed to the chat-speaking charms of the LOLcats (or kittehs, or meme cats, or whatever you want to call them).

Until now, I guess.

But only for the historical record. Because I can’t be the only one to notice a strong resemblance between this feline-du-jour imagery, and the now-oldschool “every time you masterbate, God kills a kitten” pic-meme, can I? I see a clear connection. The Web’s fascination with cat humor continues its evolution, ever so weirdly.

The only thing missing from today’s rendition is those damnable domokuns. Although I’m sure there’s at least one LOLcat work of art out there with them in it, too.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/14/2007 08:16:09 AM
Category: Comedy, Internet
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Monday, June 11, 2021

Rock on. Safari is being ported to Windows.

I’m not desperate for a new browser. I’m using Firefox 2.0 on WinXP, and it’s running without incident. I fire up Internet Explorer 6.0 once a day at home, simply because it’s more convenient for checking a couple of accounts; that amounts to about three minutes, tops. I do have to use IE on my office-issued computer; it serves as a constant reminder of why I dumped it from my personal use in the first place.

I haven’t used Safari since I was regularly using a Mac, over a year and a half ago. It’s very Mozilla-like, by design. But it was a pleasure to use, especially the rendering engine. It’s free, so I might as well load it up and play with it. I’m going to wait for a non-beta version to come out first, though.

As for the supposed implications:

Like many of Apple’s strategic moves, the implication of an Apple browser for Windows was not immediately clear. It is likely that Mr. Jobs is now plotting a broader business strategy that will allow Apple to grow beyond its niche position in the computer market of about 5 percent.

I don’t really see that. WinFari (how’s that for a repurposed moniker?) is going to hit the same wall that Firefox does, in that it can’t overcome IE’s status as the out-of-the-box default browser on Windows. The only slight edge: Apple could bundle WinFari into iTunes, just as it’s done with Quicktime Player. Assuming iTunes retains a leading position as a media app interface, the new browser could get a solid user-install base. If iTunes is rigged to work integratively with WinFari, that will set the course for Apple’s Windows browser strategy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/11/2021 11:44:36 PM
Category: Internet, Tech
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I was just being cheeky when I made my prediction for what would transpire in “The Sopranos” final episode:

The whole thing turns out to be a psychoanalytical fantasy. Dr. Melfi is still Dr. Melfi, but Tony Soprano turns out to be some schmuck named Vinny Lafazzo, a plumber from Paterson, who harbors escapist fantasies of being a mob kingpin. The entire preceding eight years has, in fact, taken place within the space of a single couch session.

I didn’t watch the finale. But it sounds like my ending was better than the real deal:

You want closure? After eight years of “The Sopranos,” [series creator David] Chase ended the series with the exact opposite. He lopped off the show in mid-scene, as Tony, Carmela, A.J. and Meadow arrived, one by one, for a rare family dinner out at Holsten’s.

No doubt, the devoted are mighty let down. A few of them seem to be hijacking my previous post on the subject by using the comment box to vent. So I guess I’m hosting an ad-hoc “Sopranos” message board. I’m okay with that, so if you feel the need to spew, head on over. Fuggedaboudit.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/11/2021 11:17:20 PM
Category: Bloggin', TV
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Thursday, June 07, 2021

options
All of a sudden, I feel a kinship with Fortune Magazine Senior Writer Adam Lashinsky.

Why? Because he recognizes a fundamental flaw in Google’s (and others’) way of doing business:

I’m emphasizing this for the simple reason that Apple requires you to OPT IN to its function to share your music with others. Most other companies — including that company that does no evil, Google — probably would go ahead and enable the software to share unless you OPTED OUT. That’s the deal Google asks book publishers to follow, for example. If they don’t want their copyrighted titles indexed on Google they need to say so. Similarly, YouTube (owned by The Goog) asks content producers to inform them if their property shows up on YouTube in an unauthorized way…

Asking users to opt out of services you want them to use is at best arrogant and at worst evil. Opting IN is the respectful way to do business on the Web. Am I wrong?

If you ask me, he’s not wrong. But then, I addressed this very same issue before:

Once again, Google’s approach to content use is take first, solicit reaction later. It’s a classic technocratic attitude: If it’s there for the taking, it ought to be taken, and permissions be damned.

It’s a curious way to build up a business. If eBay routinely put up items for auction of its own volition, without asking the owners of said items if they wished to have them auctioned off… Sort of the same dynamic here. Long-term, it’s a handicap when doing business.

I also see parallels with Wikipedia’s recent fallout over a publicized false biography, in that the operating principle puts the onus on the victim to participate and correct the situation — a patently unfair system.

It’s pretty straightforward to me. But at the time, I mused about whether or not placing content on the Web constitutes permission to copy/repurpose it:

I guess this calls into question the nature of content on the Web in general. Should stuff online be assumed to be free for the taking, simply because of the medium from which it’s accessible? Is that implied rule to being on the Web? How does the commercialization of the Internet change this?

That last part — commercialization of the Web — is the heart of it. The Internet was invented for the purposes of open accessibility and sharing of all the information placed on it, for mainly non-commercial purposes. But its evolution into today’s ecommerce medium changes that, even if the capabilities haven’t. Plus, content producers don’t have full control over how their wares get onto the Web: If someone buys a DVD, rips the movie off it, and uploads it online, that bypasses any opt-in/opt-out process.

What it boils down to: A great deal of what’s considered standard business practice with online media is, in fact, not exactly legal. Sheer volume and lack of controls makes any other option unrealistic — but that doesn’t make any of it right.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/07/2021 11:12:09 PM
Category: Business, Internet, Media
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Saturday, June 02, 2021

pole position
By posting the above image of high-school (and college-bound) pole vaulter Allison Stokke, I supposed I’m contributing to the out-of-control Websploitation that she and her family are encountering:

The wave of attention has steamrolled Stokke and her family in Newport Beach, Calif. She is recognized — and stared at — in coffee shops. She locks her doors and tries not to leave the house alone. Her father, Allan Stokke, comes home from his job as a lawyer and searches the Internet. He reads message boards and tries to pick out potential stalkers.

“We’re keeping a watchful eye,” Allan Stokke said. “We have to be smart and deal with it the best we can. It’s not something that you can just make go away.”

But this accompanying photo is hardly titillating, and anyway there are loads more accessible image sources for the sudden 18-year-old phenom, starting with the original disseminator.

Not that anyone’s asking me, but rather than try to stamp out this wildfire of Web celebrity, maybe Stokke and her family should, in turn, exploit it. It occurs to me that pole vaulting is among the niche-iest of sports; that Stokke should come across even limited fame within that context is a unique situation.

So why not make the most of it? Why not buy/procure the now-defunct AllisonStokke.com site, make it the official online home of the only recognizable pole vaulter (male or female) out there, and make some money off the situation while it lasts?

The best parallel I can think of, at least in terms of fringe sports celebrity, is Gabrielle Reece. She stood out on the volleyball circuit with both her play and her looks, and has parlayed that into a physical-fitness mini-empire. No reason why Stokke can’t achieve the same thing, even for a pre-defined limited stint.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 06/02/2021 06:37:29 PM
Category: Internet, Other Sports, Women
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Tuesday, May 29, 2021

What is 8trk?

At present, the details are thin. Be assured that it’s got something to do with music. And the number 8. Not so much with 8 track tapes.

I will say that, if this Favorite 8 feature persists, I may have to upgrade my iPod Random 5 post-filler.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/29/2007 08:55:12 AM
Category: 8trk, Pop Culture
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Looking to buy up some prime waterfront land in the Hawaiian islands? Lo’ihi Seaview Estates is selling it for a song: Only $39.95 per parcel.

There is a slight catch. This is a long-term investment, in that you won’t be able to build on it — or hell, even walk on it — for a while:

Scientists don’t really know when, or if, Lo’ihi will break the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Many guess about 10,000 years, but it could be much longer than that.

Honestly, if someone really wants to blow real money on fake property, I’d think Second Life’s land auctions would be more gratifying, and at least as geeky.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/29/2007 08:10:42 AM
Category: Business, Internet, Science
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Sunday, May 27, 2021

Ethipia is an in-development fantasy comic book that is, of course, being blogged-chronicled.

Why “Ethipia” instead of the factual spelling? It’s a story of typo-inspired creativity:

I was speaking to a guy from Sudan online, and he was admonishing me for my using the name Africa while referring to his home. He didn’t like the name because it was given to the land by the Greeks, and he started giving me the names of the land before the Greek influence. He typed “Ethipia” as one of the names (I assumed he misspelled it), and I couldn’t get it out of my head. There was something about the spelling that stuck with me. I wrote it out both ways, and then I emailed him to ask why he had spelled it the way he had to confirm my suspicions. He admitted it was a simple typo on his end, and I told myself to make the correction. Only I couldn’t shake the feeling that that name needed some thought.

In the end, I decided to keep the misspelling if only to let people know that though this is based on Ancient Ethiopia and the region, I wanted it made perfectly clear that this is a work of fantasy. I’ll research every aspect of the culture and region exhaustively, but no matter how much information I glean from various (often contradictory) sources, my historical accuracy isn’t going to be perfect. So the short answer is that Ethipia is closely based on Ethiopia, but it won’t be 100% the same place.

For want of a vowel, a fantasy landscape is born. A rare instance of something good coming out of all that rampant Web word-mangling.

FURTHER THOUGHTS: I’m thinking a catchier title for this post would have been “ETHI-NO-PIA”. I was preoccupied with making it clear that there wasn’t an unintentional typo in the title.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/27/2007 06:38:58 PM
Category: Bloggin', Creative
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