Archive | February, 2009

I am going to the driving range today

26 Feb

For the first time in over a year.  It’s not going to be pretty: if you’re at Chelsea Pier tonight and you see an English guy (me), keep your wits about you.  I have the unique ability to fire a golf ball in any one of 360 different directions with no warning whatsoever. It’s pretty special.  Don’t think you’ll be safe standing behind me, either. 

Update later.

Update:  That was excellent.  I wasn’t nearly as bad as  I expected (I really suck as a golfer, but have fun trying which is the main thing).  A few shocking shanks, but a few sweet shots too. Weird to be hitting balls onto a pier surrounded by water, very different to what I’m used to.

I’d forgotten how amazing it feels when you catch it perfectly.  Awesome.  Going back tomorrow, hehe 🙂

http://brightkite.com/objects/2982583c046d11de969d003048c10834

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Twitter: To Auto DM/Auto Follow or Not?

24 Feb

Twitter is suddenly really popular.  Had you noticed?  Everybody from Shaq to my mom (true story) is on there now. As with anything that becomes popular, the level of noise has increased dramatically.  Lots of folks trying to tell you how to get rich quick, or share awesome marketing secrets with you.  Don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of awesome marketing secrets.  I like Twitter because it sparks conversations:  I connect with people I find interesting. I goof around a bit, I network a bit, I share bits and pieces of my life (personal and professional), and vice versa. Above all though it’s authentic:  there are real people on the end of the tweets.

And so to the issue of Auto DMs.  For those that don’t know, a DM is a “Direct Message”,  a Twitter message that goes only to one person (i.e. is not visible on the public stream).  Kindof like a mini email sent just to you.  There are sites out there that will let you send one automatically, meaning that if I follow you on Twitter, the site recognizes that and automatically sends you a message.

They’ve been quite a hot topic on Twitter lately, with a lot of folks on there having a pretty vehement dislike of them, myself included. The reasoning is that Twitter is a very personal, conversation driven platform, so ‘faking it’ by sending an automatic canned message (e.g ‘thank you for following me, looking forward to connecting with you’) is disengenuous.  Much better to send a personal message (either DM or @) when the mood takes you, rather than automating it.  After all, how interested in me are you if you’re sending me the exact same message you send everyone else who follows you?  I’ve gotten auto DMs with broken links in them (great promotion, huh?), and ones with too much text that just cut off mid sentence.  Those ones make me feel really special.

I feel the same way about auto-following folks.  You can use those same applications to recognize when somebody has followed you, and immediately recipricate. Again, there’s no value here:  I want you to follow me because you’re interested/engaged/amused by what I have to say, not as a de facto, tit for tat thing.  If you automatically follow me because I’ve followed you, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Follow me because I’m interesting, not to return a favor.

Full disclosure here:  I briefly used an auto responder out of laziness for a while on @kaimoviereviews – all it said was ‘thanks for following, I take requests’ – figured I should let people know they could ask me to review movies, but after giving it a little more thought I realized that if they were interested enough to follow, they’d be interested enough to read my profile or click the link (or DM/@ me) and find out for themselves.

So what’s your take on the automation thing.  Big deal, or not so much?  Do  yo u follow everyone who follows you, or are you more selective?

@kaimac
@kaimoviereviews 

Update: Techcrunch/RIAA/last.fm User Data Debacle

22 Feb

So today Erick Schonfeld at Techcrunch posted an update to his last.fm story from Friday.  36 hours or so after posting the original, with more than 300 comments posted on the blog and a number of categorical denials from last.fm staffers.  Still no official statement from CBS/last.fm though.

Erick tries to clarify a couple of points.  On the timing he says he said he posted the story late on friday because he had been waiting for a statement from CBS/last.fm (when it arrived it was a one liner saying they weren’t aware of any data being handed over).  Later, he says this:

From the very beginning, I’ve presented this story for what it is: a rumor. Despite my attempts to corroborate it and the subsequent detail I’ve been able to gather, I still don’t have enough information to determine whether it is absolutely true.

This is from Erick’s original story: “And Last.fm, which is owned by CBS, actually handed the data over to the RIAA. ”

That doesn’t read like a rumor to me, although Erick does refer to it as such a couple of times elsewhere in the story.  Regardless, is that what Techcrunch has become?  A Rumor mill? 

As I said in my previous post, I don’t know whether this story is true or not, but I do know that Techcrunch published the story late in the day on Friday, failed to cite sources or corroborate, and failed to give the accused party a voice or right to reply.  How many accounts have been cancelled in the 36 hours since that story ran?

Failing to identify who at last.fm/CBS gave that one line statement and rushing to publish the story without all the facts amounts to little more than tabloid rumor-mongering.  Which org (parent or child) was it that gave the original one line statement btw?  I could have sworn that in the first version of the story I read it said CBS, but now it says last.fm.

I would have expected/hoped for more from Techcrunch.  I’m also very surprised that 48 hours in there’s still no official statement from CBS or last.fm: I would have expected a statement first thing saturday morning.

Update:  Erick posted another update, here.  No more info as to sources (that I’ve been able to find), and last.fm posted a pretty angry denial on their blog.  This one looks to be fizzling out somewhat.  Wonder what impact it’s had on their numbers?  Also curious about last.fm’s statement that they’d stopped processing the cancel job so folks who deleted as  a kneejerk reaction could change their minds.  Could see how that would make folks somewhat paranoid.  Incidentally, Erick’s post now has almost 600 comments, the most that I can remember seeing on techcrunch.  Wonder what their traffic numbers for that post are like?

Techcrunch Story: Did Last.fm Just Hand Over User Listening Data To the RIAA?

21 Feb

Yesterday evening, Erick Schonfeld at Techcrunch ran this story about UK based (and CBS owned) music service, last.fm.

In a nutshell, it cites one unnamed CBS source as saying that last.fm handed over user data to the RIAA (the story implies that it relates to the unreleased U2 album that’s been doing the rounds on file sharing services). If true this story would be massively damaging to last.fm: the service doesn’t work without the scrobbler (little app that uploads a record of what music you’ve played to the site), and if users are worried that their personal info (IP, email etc) is at risk they just won’t use it.   Everywhere I look I see people saying they’re going to ditch it.

A number of last.fm staffers have flat out denied the claim, although there’s been no word from the CBS mothership just yet.  I don’t know whether it’s true or not (though I would be very, very surprised if it were: last.fm spent years building that trust with their users, would be astonishingly reckless to throw that away like this), what I am surprised about is the silence from Techcrunch. They published the story late in the day yesterday, then a few hours later (after the unofficial denials had come in from the last.fm staffers) updated the post with this:

Update: Some more denials from Last.FMers, including one of the co-founders, Richard Jones, in comments, who says this story is “utter nonsense and totally untrue,” and another one from Russ Garrett, a systems architect.

Not ‘we’re looking into this further’ or ‘looks like we made a mistake’, just ‘some people at last.fm are saying it’s not true’.

It really is surprising to me that an industry leading blog would publish such a serious allegation on the basis of one unidentified source, and not do any followup investigation in the light of the denials above.  By ignoring the response and simply posting that addendum, Techcrunch’s credibility, in my eyes, is seriously damaged.  Publishing a story like that without input from the company involved (or identifying a second source to back up the claims) is at best shoddy journalism, at worst a hatchet job.  Schonfeld says he ‘contacted both CBS and the RIAA’, but went ahead and published the story regardless without comment from either.

Not impressed.   And especially not impressed with Techcrunch’s silence.  If the story is true, stand behind it and back it up.  If it’s not, issue an apology and retraction.

For the record, I’ve been a user for years, and will continue to be.  FWIW I don’t really like U2 much.

The Keene Act & You (1977): Watchmen Movie Lands March 6th

17 Feb

17 Days.

My Oscar Predictions: 2009

7 Feb

Just posted my predictions for the oscars this year on @kaimoviereviews

Couple of gutsy ones there I think (best supporting actress, for instance), and one hopeful (Slumdog).  If Button wins best picture I’ll be very disappointed, but it does have all the hallmarks.  I didn’t hate it exactly, but the entire middle section was completely overdone, and the whole thing felt like it was designed just to clean up at the Oscars.  We’ll see.

My predictions:

Actor: Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Sup: Philip Seemour Hoffman (Doubt)
Actress: Kate Winslet (The Reader, but she should be winning for Revolutionary Road imo)
Supporting Actress: Taraji P. Henson (Benjamin Button)
Directing: Benjamin Button
Foreign: Waltz With Bashir
Picture: Slumdog

Adding (an hour before the oscars!):

Cinematography: Benjamin Button
Visual Effects: Benjamin Button
Writing (Adapted):  Slumdog
Writing (Original): Milk

Just getting this one in on time, before Bill Maher announces:  Documentary, Man on Wire.

Brilliant Duane Reade Valentine’s Day Promotion

5 Feb

Because nothing says ‘love’ like ‘I bought some shampoo’, right?

http://www.duanereade.com/ff09/