Pulp Media

The SpongeBob Movie

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I took my 10 year-old and her friend to see the “SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” the other night. My daughter didn’t think much of the cartoon feature, nor did I. Disappointing more, because we’re both big SpongeBob fans, and we saw the movie with a big crowd of kids quick to laugh. Sigh.

The problem: Timing. What’s the saying about comedy and timing being everything? SpongeBob episodes have good timing, and they have to. Episodes can’t be much more than 10 or 12 minutes long. Pace is fast moving and the laughs going rat-tat-tat. For 90 minutes there has to be a script capable of sustaining nine times the typical SpongeBob segment. Instead, the movie felt like one episode stretched and stretched and stretched.  Read More

Pulp Media

Small Superman in ‘Smallville’

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The school year opened with my booting our TV and accompanying entertainment center—unaffectionally called “the shrine”—from the living room. In its place, there is a Windows XP Media Center 2005 PC. The dual TV tuner offers more recording capability than TiVo, which I put to good use. The timing meant I could start recording “Smallville,” which, for the new TV season, started running from episode one on the ABC Family channel.

Before I diss “Smallville,” I should say that I generally really like the show. It’s not exceptional TV the way, say, “Alias” or “Sopranos” might be. But “Smallville” moves along, even if watching requires some serious reality suspension.  Read More


The Raw and the Raw

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Oh the stinging raw emotions rumple through offices along the Northeast and West Coast. The Kerry crowd is none too happy about Tuesday’s election results. I talk to lots of really angry people, during the course of a work day. My advice: Drive the speed limit (to avoid road rage), stay out bars (to avoid a table aside the head), and read a trashy novel (to separate from all the post-election anxiety).

Me, I’m ambivalent. I live in the metro-D.C. area and just don’t take politics too seriously. Besides, I didn’t much like either candidate. I’m also pretty emotionless about the election. In the end, I just wanted a winner, whichever candidate that turned out to be.  Read More

Humor Pulp Media

Why Offensive ‘Team America’ Rocks

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Without question, movie “Team America: World Police” is one of the most offensive pieces of filmmaking to be released in a couple of decades—and what a delightful offense, too. The movie had me crying to tears within the first 30 seconds, and laughing and crying and laughing for the next hour and a half. I’m waiting for the news story that some poor movie goer either laughed or was offended to death. Either is likely.

I could see the aftermath audience reaction as the lights lifted in the theatre. A group of young black men whopped, “America, Fuck Yeah!”; from the movie’s theme song. About 10 rows behind them, several older, black and white couples sat immobile. Stunned I think, because they were so offended by the movie’s philosophical conclusion.  Read More

Google Microsoft Web

What Google Desktop Search Means to Microsoft

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Since I received a bunch a calls today about Google’s new desktop search utility, larger perspective is warranted.

The browser wars really set the stage for the search competition underway between Microsoft and Google. While the Justice Department looked to Netscape as the threat to Microsoft’s monopoly, I view the Web was the greater threat. The Web introduced a vast, informational network that did not require Windows for access. Microsoft attempted to thwart the threat by way of browser-operating system integration, by making Windows more a required utility for getting at the information.

Search is really an extension of Microsoft’s original, informational problem with the Web. More than any other search vendor before it, Google has demonstrated the effectiveness of fetching information without the need for Windows. If you look at how people use computers, information is increasingly a major priority, whether accessing text or digital content, like photos and music.

On the surface, Google’s desktop search utility appears to be about the desktop PC. It’s much bigger, because Google brings the desktop search capability into the same browser where people search the Web—and provides information simultaneously from both locales. Google essentially is blurring the informational divide between desktop and Web information, which is a smart approach that should concern Microsoft.

Google is shifting the focus away from specific technologies, like Windows, to the greater utility of Web-based information. This shift grows in importance as people increase the number of different type devices they use to search the Web—not just computers but also PDAs with Wi-Fi capabilities, cell phones or Smartphones, among others. Google’s desktop search tool may run on only Windows, but that’s because of the sheer volume of people using the operating system. And that’s where Google can fill in search capabilities left out by Microsoft.

Google’s desktop search strategy syncs well with other Google initiatives, too, like GMail, Blogger and Picasa. Information—and finding it—underscores all three initiatives. I see their importance growing as people create more and more sharable content, whether personal online diaries (blogs) on photo albums.

Microsoft won’t let search get away. The same competitive problem facing Windows 10 years ago, when the Web started to generate interest and buzz, is the same with search: Access to a vast, informational system without the need for Windows. Now Google has brought search home, to Microsoft’s front door: The Windows desktop. That’s turf Microsoft won’t relinguish easily.

More importantly, Microsoft understands that as information grows more complex, such as with digital content, some vendor has to provide robust, cataloging, searching and managing capabilities, whether across the desktop, network or Internet. Microsoft wants to be that vendor.

Google may be first, but AOL and Microsoft also are preparing desktop search tools. Competition is just beginning.

Marketing Media News Media Politics Stupidity

If It Looks Like Bias, Walks Like Bias, Is It Bias?

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Oh PLEASE! What is the New York Times doing? This morning, I clicked on a story by reporter Todd Purdum headlined, “Best Defense: More Offense”; I had been reading different stories around the Web about the second presidential debate. Before I could get to the story, a banner ad touting John Kerry’s success in the debate filled a separate page; the Democratic National Committee had paid for the ad.

Now as a former journalist, I do know something about boundaries between editorial and advertising content. In print, placement of an ad next to a related news story is a big no-no. Reputable newspapers or magazines would never place, say, an ad about Microsoft Windows in the same spread—or two-page layout—as a positive review of the product. In politics, this rule is typically more strictly followed in the United States. In broadcast journalism, the now defunct “Fairness Doctrine” helped ensure political fair play.  Read More


The 20D Delivers

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This afternoon, I put the 20D to the test during a visit to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. The SmugMug photo album shows off some of I snapped today. These were all taken without flash in automatic mode and have been posted with no adjustment or cropping. I shot all images at fine-quality JPEG, or about 8.2 megapixels. Detail on the Capitol building, shot a good half a mile or more away, is excellent. Warning this is a hefty, 3MB-plus image.


My First Canon EOS 20D Tests

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I am working with my new Canon EOS 20D digital SLR, which I bought after a buddy snatched up my Nikon D70 for his dad. I highly recommend the camera to anyone who can afford it and either takes pictures professionally or, like me, is moving into serious amateur photography. Warning: This camera could easily be more than what most people need.

For me, the 20D is a rude indictment about how ill-prepared I am to move to digital SLRs. My problem isn’t so much photo basics but understanding lenses, their idiosyncrasies, and what might be right for this camera and my shooting needs.  Read More


Toidy Bowl Packing

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They say that kids do the darnest things or that kids growing up with newfangled technology take to it differently than do adults. These two pictures are evidence of both.

Looks like a toilet boil, doesn’t it? Turns out this Styrofoam wonder is from a first-generation, flat-panel iMac box. Flip the toidy boil over and it fits over the iMac’s lamp-like base. I must have no imagination, because I had unpacked a couple iMacs without seeing the resemblance, flipped over, of course.  Read More

Culture Politics Pulp Media

Law and Disorder

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Good thing I was interested in live TV last night rather than using the DVR. Disappointing would have been the recording. I turned off the TV about half way through the first of two “Law and Order” episodes, disgusted how one-sidedly political the show has become. Naively, I had hoped for respite with the cast change. No such luck.

Episode one sought to put alleged Iraqi prisoner abuses on trial. The timing and context had to be deliberate given the election year. As if we hadn’t watched or read enough already about the prisoners’ treatment for it to be repackaged as entertainment. Geez. I tuned into episode two during the last 20 minutes, which made nonsense out of people devastated by the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers.  Read More


More Fun than It Looks

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Vacation last month in San Diego took the family to Sea World. Where else? My wife Annie can be seen here on one of the water rides. She’s not perfectly focused, but that doesn’t diminish the pic’s impact, particularly considering the camera—a Nikon D70 digital SLR, outfitted with Nikon ED 70-300mm lens.

We also traveled with the Canon S500 (used by my wife) and Canon S410 (used by my daughter). But these more typical digital cameras—and most others—couldn’t have captured this image as well. Auto focus and shutter response typically is too slow. Nor could I have achieved the reach with the built-in zoom lens.