May 26, 2007

Google Reader: Pros and Cons

Google Reader was spotted on my computer at work and I got asked if I liked using it. My initial thought was that I love it, but I've thought about it and here are my pros and cons.

1. It follows me whichever computer I'm using.
2. Easy subscription process built into Firefox/Google Toolbar.
3. Although I haven't used the sharing feature, I think it's pretty cool.
4. The view is clean and easy to read, however, see con #2.
5. The stars like in gmail are a good way to bookmark great articles, or longer articles you want to go back and read later.

1. It seems to have quite a lag in updating feeds. In Sharpreader, as soon as I would post something it would show up, in Google it could be hours.
2. It bypasses traffic counters, so people who read my blog via Google reader don't show up in my stats...people who's blogs I read via Google Reader don't know I've stopped by.
3. It's not easy to go back and read something again, once you read something it pretty much disappears, you have to click all feeds/all items to view read items.

Things From Other Services That Would Make Google Reader Better
Sharpreader's notifier was great, and new items came in fairly instantly. Maybe a Google Reader blinker built into Gtalk that you could chose which feeds to notify you when new items come in.
Bloglines' feature of seeing who is subscribed to a feed and what other feeds they're subsribed to was a great feature. I'm sure there's some level of this built into Google Reader, but if it's not in the top of the feed, I'm not going to look too far to find it.

What's Next For TV

Don't worry no spoilers here. All I will say about the season finale of LOST is that it lived up to the hype that it changes everything. I'm more and more impressed with the creators and writers and even ABC for trusting them to make the show the way they want to make it. There's also the part of me that is disappointed we won't pick back up with where we left off until February 08.
One of the great things about Tivo is that I don't have to be bound to watching TV as it happens. While LOST is one of those shows that I feel necessity to watch while it's airing...otherwise I'm dodging the internets, newspapers, friends, emails, etc until I get a chance to watch. No other show is like that. And although there was some significant events in the season finale of The Office, I still could have slept alright having not seen it at 7 (AKtime) on Thursday. So, when I heard that NBC canceled Studio 60, but would air the final episodes in the ER slot, I set Tivo to record it. I watched Thursday's episode last night, and it made me feel two things. The first is that I'm disappointed that NBC didn't give the show a shot from the start. I hear more and more positive reviews of the show, despite it's cancellation. The second thing I felt was the loss of the West Wing. If you haven't seen Studio 60, it's a show about the cast and crew of a SNL type show created by Aaron Sorkin who created The West Wing. Because it revolves around a show, it can get pretty meta at times. This meta TV was no more evident than this week. On the show within the show, Allison Janney was the guest host, so she was playing herself. Allison Janney played CJ Cregg on The West Wing for 7 seasons, CJ had a relationship with Danny Concannon, played by Timothy Busfield. Timothy Busfield plays Cal, the director of the show within the show (to make things even more confusing, Busfield actually directs several episodes of the show about the show within the show). Although fellow West Winger Bradley Whitford didn't appear in this episode, Janney made reference to him in the same way she would've about Whitford's West Wing character. Confused yet? I thought Studio 60 had an interesting dynamic to it and the power of that dynamic was made clear ironically in the episode after NBC announced it was canceled. Having fictional characters interact with real life characters is something that can add a degree of depth to a show. Imagine Matt Perry's character making reference to Friends, or Steven Weber to Wings, or Lucy Davis to the British Office, or even if Nate Torrance's character talked about doing credit card commercials.

8th Post of May

May has been a slow month for blogging for me. Work has kept me pretty busy and I haven't had much to blog about. I've been using Twitter pretty frequently, though, so if you're a twitterer, add me. I've also added my Twitter feed to the side bar of the blog. I had a chance to have lunch with Molly this week to discuss my next project. She seemed to be interested and my idea seemed to sell, so I'm going to start putting details together.
I didn't have a New Music Tuesday this week because I still can't get past Sky Blue Sky. Every chance I get, I find myself listening to that album.
I saw Hot Fuzz last week and I've got to say it's one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. I've discussed before how much of a fan I am of Shaun of the Dead, well Hot Fuzz is from the same guys. Many of the same elements and actors as Shaun of the Dead and definitely the same brand of humor. Also on the recently viewed list: Children of Men, School for Scoundrels, Employee of the Month, Last King of Scotland, The Good Shepherd, and Cinderella Man.

May 15, 2007

New Music Tuesday: Get Yourself Out in the Sky Blue Sky

Today marks the release of one of the most anticipated albums of the year. You could put Neon Bible, Sky Blue Sky, Easy Tiger and a handful of others on a short list together. I've been looking forward to Sky Blue Sky's release since Jeff Tweedy mentioned it in September of 2005 at Stubb's BBQ. It's one of those albums that's been leaked for a while, and the band has been streaming it for weeks, so there was little surprise, but it still got me up early to start it playing. Wilco appeared on Prairie Home Companion over the weekend playing several songs, you can check that out here. It's a solid record, equal parts Being There and A Ghost is Born with a little Summerteeth thrown in for good measure. I say with full confidence, get your hands on a copy of Sky Blue Sky. It's an instant classic.

Sample and Buy Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

May 12, 2007

Colin Hay @ The Discovery Theater

Two things became evidently clear to me last night.

1. Colin Hay is an entertainer.
2. Colin Hay is a brilliant songwriter.

About 25 minutes into his performance, Colin Hay had played two songs but told several entertaining stories and several jokes. Not the typical pace of a concert, he notified the crowd, "this is how my show is..." Normally a musician might talk a bit between songs, but Colin Hay played a few songs between monologues. The stories he has and the way he can make a story about his luggage getting lost by Alaska Airlines entertaining kept the crowd almost more eager for his monologues than his music. Luckily for me and the rest of the Anchorage crowd, his music and his words were both entertaining. He knows who he is and he has no qualms about poking a little fun at himself in the process of engaging his audience. He mixed in a few of the Men at Work standards with some tracks from his latest album Are You Looking At Me? Quite a satisfying experience. It could go as a lesson to other singer/songwriters that booking a show in Anchorage can be a great experience. People show up, people respond, and judging by the number of CDs I saw in people's hands, people buy merch.

May 7, 2007


I read somewhere recently that a prominent blogger and new media personality won't read anything by anyone who doesn't publish under their real name. Some of the rationale is that a potential job would Google your name to find out what you've been up to. Well, Googling my name gets you here, despite me never using it. I've never blogged under my full name nor my real name. My real first name and my real initials, but I've shied away from using my real name. Another point made is that using your name gives you presence, which is one of the more valuable things on the web. I'm not sure I'm in it for the things that are valuable.
Well, I can tell you it's not because of me. Although I have a rather unique last name, it doesn't carry any industry authority, so I've never figured it would add any value to my words. My job also isn't a glamorous web2.0 job. I am involved with gadgets, technology, statistics and marketing, but I'm not a celwebrity by any means. In the near future I'll be launching a project that would benefit by me using my real name. So stay tuned as I will keep you in the loop as the new project gears up for launch. Until then, MKinMotion.

Everyday Album Series: World Party, Goodbye Jumbo

My first experience with Columbia House (cassette tapes) came at the same time that I discovered there was other music out there besides U2, Top 40 radio, and hair bands. I was introduced to several bands in the summer of 1990. An intro to They Might Be Giants, The Sundays, Jesus and Mary Chain, Nine Inch Nails and of course World Party. This was the age before alternative radio, and definitely before there was music suggestion software, so music discovery was pretty rare. While the record companies may have loved this time (afterall they could sell you a two song single for $7) and most people didn't own CD players and computers were only useful for spreadsheets and typing term papers.
I can imagine Karl Wallinger looking back with the famous Marlon Brando line, "I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody..." Goodbye Jumbo is one of those rare albums that's perfect. It came along at a time when even the biggest of today's indie music snobs were still kowtowing to Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation, so most people still don't know about this gem. It had two hits on MTV's 120 minutes "Put The Message in the Box" and "Way Down Now" which still both stand up to the test of time as great songs. Add a couple of classics in "And I Fell Back Alone" and "Sweet Soul Dream" and we're bordering desert island territory. So do yourself a favor and give it a belongs in your collection, if for no other reason than to remind yourself that perfect music existed but no one paid attention.

Buy World Party - Goodbye Jumbo

May 6, 2007

Seis De Mayo

Apparently Cinco de Mayo means heavy movies. I watched two. Half Nelson and A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints. Some similar themes, but significantly different films. Both were well acted, well shot, and well written.
Ryan Gosling was amazing in Half Nelson. The young girl (Shareeka Epps) definitely has a future in the film business. The movie was gritty and raw, but within the raw imagery was a balance of a Dead Poets Society classroom and the drug realism of Traffic or Rush.
Chances are A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints didn't show up on your radar. I didn't know much about the story when I dropped it in my queue, just saw a favorable review from someone I trust. It stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Shia LeBeouf as Dito Montiel. The film simultaneously follows him coming of age in New York and a successful 30 something returning to care for his ailing father. It's powerful and entertaining, but definitely heavy. Robert Downey, Jr. is on the short list of actors who I can watch do anything.

May 4, 2007

Josh Hancock and Tony LaRussa

I'm a big fan of Tony LaRussa and a bigger fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, but there has to be some correlation between LaRussa's DUI arrest during Spring Training and Josh Hancock's now confirmed DUI fatal crash last weekend. Banning alcohol in the clubhouse is just the start.

May 1, 2007

Do You Believe in Science?

It seems, according to this article, that there is more effects tied to living in a Northern climate than Seasonal Affective Disorder. Apparently there is a correlation between the lack of Vitamin D that you get from a normal amount of sunlight and cancer. Oddly enough, there is still a correlation between getting too much sun and getting cancer, so pretty much you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Me, I'll take my Northern climate and a bottle of Vitamin D to go please.

Toronto Globe and Mail via Anchorage Daily News