The Internets

15th January
2009
written by Jeff

Many of you probably read all about the plane that skidded off the runway in Denver bound for Houston last month. If you follow Twitter, you may have seen the passenger who Twittered about it immediately after.

Twitter Crash

The immediacy of the internet demonstrated in all its glory.

Today, a US Airways plane crash landed into the Hudson River. Fortunately, like the Denver plane, everyone managed to escape safely. Once again, the interwebs was on patrol.

First, on Twitter, there was this photo taken from a ferry on the Hudson by passenger and Twitter user jkrums. Then, a whole batch of photos showed up on the Flickr stream of gregol.

All of this within an hour of the plane hitting the water. I wonder who will be first to post video of the crash to YouTube. You know someone has it.

Now, I’m posting this blog and the plane went down less than 90 minutes ago. No wonder news organizations are scrambling to be the first to get a story since the internet scoops them virtually every day.

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14th January
2009
written by Jeff
9th January
2009
written by Jeff

There are few things more annoying than advertisements on websites, none moreso than ads that inhibit your ability to view content. The Houston Chronicle website is fantastic and forward-thinking in many ways, but advertising is not one of them.

Exhibit A

chron_ad01

While I’m sure Macy’s wants to get everyone’s attention now that they’ve announced they are closing a bunch of their stores, there is NO reason to force me to look at a stupid flash animation of their ad that covers the story I’m trying to read, ESPECIALLY when the ad is not accompanied by a “CLOSE” button.

Frankly, button or no, having an ad drop into the content area is just never acceptable and it makes me LESS likely to patronize any advertiser that allows their ads to be placed on a site in this manner.

Exhibit B

chron_ad02

This is even MORE annoying if that’s possible. It’s bad enough that we have to look at a peeled back website page that – AGAIN – covers content, but this moves ridiculously slow and doesn’t show you the CLOSE button until the whole thing has loaded. That is unacceptable and, again, makes me want to not buy whatever the hell that advertiser is selling.

I get that newspapers are trying to monetize everything. They have to as print fails. But, this is the WRONG way to do it. If they didn’t have a cookie that blocked these ads for 24 hours after you’ve seen them once, I would visit far less frequently. As it is, I get most of their news through RSS feeds anyway.

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7th January
2009
written by Jeff

Two years ago, I complained about how the Associated Press forced you to use Internet Explorer if you wanted to view their videos. Since that time, the AP has moved to a cross-platform compatible video viewer. Who hasn’t, right?

Um, TNT, that’s who.

For some reason, my DVR didn’t record Leverage last night (very cool show, btw) and I tuned into the late re-run about 20 minutes into the show. I figured, hey, TNT has full episodes online. I’ll just watch it there.

So, I hopped on over to TNT and got this.

TNT Video FAIL

Seriously, TNT? Windows only? What year is this, 1998? Maybe I need to only use Internet Explorer too. Perhaps you could suggest I upgrade from Netscape Navigator.

I decided to try Hulu. Nope. Just a link back to TNT.

*sigh*

When will media companies learn the lessons that YouTube taught them when it comes to video? Don’t make me download a plugin (unless I don’t have Flash, which is common to virtually everyone). Don’t make me switch browsers. And, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t tell me I have to have friggin’ Windows.

I like your damn show, TNT, but your website sucketh.

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5th January
2009
written by Jeff

Wayne Campbell: [holding a bag of Doritos] Maybe I’m wrong on this one, but for me, the beast doesn’t include selling out. Garth, you know what I’m talking about, right?
Garth Algar: [wearing Reebok wardrobe] It’s like people only do these things because they can get paid. And that’s just really sad.

Calvin MurphyI have been a fan of the Houston Rockets since the late 1970’s when socks were long and shorts were short, when Calvin Murphy was shooting jumpers, not broadcasting games and when Rudy Tomjanovich was running the floor, not coaching the Rockets or scouting for the Lakers (shiver).

They’ve won two titles for the city – the only two by a major franchise (no offense Comets or Dynamo) – and have been good members of the community. Unfortunately, like most sports teams, they make bonehead maneuvers from time to time.

The latest is the pending release of their new “fan” wiki site supposedly set for release this weekend. The site is billed “for the fans, by the fans” if for the fans means for “ticket holders” and by the fans means by “Rockets’ staff.”

They have access to fans in all sorts of ways – through sites like ClutchFans.net, the undisputed heavyweight champ of NBA fan websites, through Twitter, through Facebook, etc. – and yet they choose to create a wiki site that looks like a 1997 Geocities website and appears to be a poorly disguised atttempt to generate positive spin on negative stories and control what is posted on the internet.

With blogs – particularly those on Chron.com – and the negative comments that are frequently left by readers, organizations like the Rockets want to better control information because they know the web can be a pretty vitriolic place. The result of such negative press can be slowed ticket sales, particularly in rough economic times, and hurt feelings of fragile players (*cough* I’m looking at you T-Mac *cough*).

Now, you could take the cue of companies like Comcast, a much maligned corporation that has embraced Twitter and used it to bolster sagging customer support. You could generate a REAL blog with REAL information about what goes on behind the scenes. You could – if nothing else – pull a Mark Cuban and actually respond to emails and engage the fans at their level transparently and honestly.

But, this abomination is the wrong way to go. For Pete’s sake, the site is sponsored by HP!!! Who has a sponsored wiki???

The very concept of a wiki is the free collaboration of people with many different attitudes and ideas. There is virtually no chance this will happen when the Rockets have shown no intention in the past of doing this on any level, and I speak from experience.

I have worked with the Rockets quite a bit in the past 10 years including the fact that my business partner owns and operates the aforementioned ClutchFans.net and has covered the team for 13 seasons. I can tell you from experience that saying the Rockets worry about what information is made public is like saying Amy Winehouse sometimes uses drugs or Jared from Subway used to be a little chubby.

Knowing them as I do, I’d like to take this opportunity to write a little letter to team owner Les Alexander and the Rockets organization.

Dear Mr. Alexander,

Hey, Les! I can call you Les, right? Cool. I know the market crash must be pissing you off. But, being an investment guy like you are, you must be ok, right? Got any tips for me? I’m kidding.

Seriously, let’s talk about this whole Fan Wiki site you guys are doing. What’s up with that, bro? I know you have struggled with the fans with them calling you a carpet bagger and getting grumpy about your support for PETA in a rodeo town, but this isn’t the way to do it.

Remember that time you fired Calvin Murphy right after you bought the team and everyone freaked out? Then, you hired him back because you looked like a douche? Good times.

Look, I know you don’t like the negative press. None of us like Fran Blinebury and we only really tolerate Richard Justice. We all know that most of the commentors on blogs are high on crack or barely old enough to masturbate. You just gotta let that roll off your back, bud.

You can’t overreact and try to control your own press. That’s called propaganda, Les, and while these people on the internet may be a little crazy, they are also nerds. They know this is just some corporate bullshit. Did you see how they hacked the Twitter accounts of Britney Spears and Fox News today? You want someone to start posting “Les, UR gay!” all over your wiki?

I didn’t think so. Do the right thing, Lester. Let fans find their own ways to participate. Nobody expects you to be Mark Cuban though they may occasionally want you to be indicted for something. But, don’t try to fool us into thinking you are being our pal when you just want our money. Fans aren’t stupid, buddy.

Oh, and while you’re at it, could you put some buzzers or electric seat cushions on the seats of the folks in the expensive seats and zap them every time they refuse to get off their asses and cheer. Maybe you could tell them to rattle their jewelry like John Lennon. I bet they’d get a good hearty guffaw from that, wouldn’t they, old chap?

Thanks for listening.

Your bestie,

Jeff

P.S. Do you have an in with any of the Power Dancers, because a couple of them are hot. I’m just sayin’.

Follow the discussion on the ClutchFans BBS.

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