01 April 2011

This is the end...

RadioFreeG needs to ride off into the sunset.

Hopefully this blog has entertained you over the last 6 years, and made you think about things differently.

Thanks for reading, the podcasts will likely be available forever, so enjoy them until technology makes them inaccessible.  [The reason books will always be cherished is that they are technology-free, but this sounds like the start of another article, so let's wrap it up.]

Thanks to everyone that listened and read and laughed along with me over the years.


01 February 2011

Stop the Meter!


Go to this site and put your name on the petition:

This site will send your concerns to the decision makers in Ottawa who can finally tell Bell and Rogers to change their terrible pricing policies for 3rd party Internet Service Providers.

Bell and Rogers have a conflict of interest here.  They provide content that competes with content you can download over the Internet for free.  Bell and Rogers want you to pay for every bit of bandwidth you use to download material because that means you are not watching their crappy TV services.

Do the right thing - hit the link to Openmedia and make your opinion count!

07 January 2011

Apple, iTunes, the Beatles, oh my!

Apple is not just a computer company.  They have their tentacles in software, hardware, pop culture, the Interweb, and it all comes down to their brilliant marketing.  Yes, Apple has engineers that are masters of industrial design, but if you don't find a way to cut through the noise your product will fail.

Billy Mays was always "shouting with a smile".   He cut through the noise, making you aware of some desire you didn't even know you had, and told you about some wonderful product that could fill the void in your soul. 

Back to Apple, Steve Jobs and company make great marketing materials.  The "I'm a PC I'm a Mac" commercials spawned a cottage industry of parodies.  The iconic "1984" Superbowl commercial is a touchstone of modern advertising, and the "Think Different" campaign got all the Grammar Nazis in a tizzy.

Here is the latest example of their genius.  I walked (as opposed to parachuting) into an Apple store for some gift cards to iTunes.  iTunes, another masterpiece of distribution and paying premium dollars for premium product, but we won't get into it here.  On the first table I found these brand new cards with pictures of the Beatles on them.

The gift card was really a little booklet that, one purchased, allowed a music fan to go online and download the entire Beatles catalogue from iTunes.  This was much more than I wanted to spend, but the package was simply phenomenal.  So clean in design, perfect images, excellent use of white space, even the card stock made the entire package feel great to hold, open, and flip through the trifold design.

I bought some other gift cards and asked the cashier if I could have one of these special Beatles packages, since they were worthless unless activated by the cashier.

She said no.

I asked if I could just buy one of the packages outright and she again said no.  She told me that people were coming in every day, seeing that packaging, and asking to take one just as I had done.  For some reason Apple does not want to let people have it, and the Apple store was on alert to make sure no one took one without activating the card!  I found this shocking, but she did give me the chance to take some terrible quality pictures on my non-iPhone.

So lets recap here:  I am not the biggest fan of the Beatles or Apple.  Apple released some 50 year old music, from a band that has not existed for 40 years, for download.  They made some fancy packaging for a plastic card that gives you the chance to get the music on your own and put it on your mobile device.  The plastic card which gives you easy access and makes the download procedure idiot proof is now a commodity.  The case for the plastic card itself is an object of desire.  If Apple chose to sell the trifold marketing pamphlet "as is" for $7.99 I bet you $7.49 would be pure profit and it would sell out in about a day! 

Is Apple scared that without these cards the sales of Beatles songs on iTunes would suffer?

Apple sold 2,000,000 individual  Beatles songs in the first week these files were available for download on iTunes. 

Apple, I bow to your greatness.


20 November 2010

Rogers is EVIL!

Rejoice!  We no longer have to couch our accusations using that weaselly lawyer term "allegedly" - Rogers Communications Inc is an evil company that  lies to its customers and tries to bully competitors out of the marketplace.

(Photo from Crackberry.com, 2009)

Full text of the Toronto Star article is available here "Rogers Could Face $10M Fine on Ads".

In a nutshell, Rogers blatantly lied about the number of dropped calls for its new "Chatr" line of discount mobile phones for talk and text without expensive data plans.  "Chatr" is a direct response to the new mobile offerings in the Ontario cellular market by companies like Wind MobileRogers' unlimited talk and text plan will still run you $45 per month plus tax to use crappy handsets, and only if you stay within certain "Chatr ZONES"; move 3 feet to the left and Rogers is waiting to screw you for roaming charges!! 

Rogers, you were found guilty by the Canadian Competition Bureau of lying about your product and your competition.  Everything about you stinks of rotting death.  How you manage to keep your virtual monopoly on cable television service to line your pockets and fund the super-greedy tactics of all the other revenue generating arms of your Hydra-like organization is beyond me.  Cable TV delivery is the one thing you actually do reasonably well - get the hell out of all your other lines of business and leave the Canadian consumer alone!!

To the Canadian Competition Bureau, I say hit them with a $100M fine and make them finally pay for screwing the Canadian consumer for all these years.  $10M fines won't teach Rogers anything.  Ted Rogers himself was likely buried with more than that amount of cash stuffed in the lining of his coffin.

In conclusion, Rogers Communications now a CONFIRMED lying organization without a whiff of integrity.  Thank you Wind Mobile and Canadian Competition Bureau!


12 November 2010

Windows 7 and "The Cloud"

Microsoft is really trying to squeeze as much juice from the fruit of Windows 7 as they can.  Nothing wrong with that, but now they are implying falsehoods and maybe even outright lying to the consumer.  The current marketing initiative for Windows 7 is an example of why marketing is the sweet science of lying by another name.

First some history about what Windows 7 replaced; that almighty sack of fecal matter that is Windows Vista.  Windows Vista is a piece of flaming garbage for the experienced and non-experienced user alike.  [See my prior post "Vista Be Shita".  This is an older link to when the podcast was still up and running, so have a listen to hear about all the craptacular goofiness that is Windows Vista.]

Companies refused to upgrade from Windows XP, and the masses ran in terror.  Microsoft tried to fix something that wasn't broken, and the people told them to shove it sideways.  To this day I have small suspicions that Vista was made poorly on purpose.  Think about it - Windows 7 saves the day and gives people a reason to upgrade from Windows XP to something that actually works.  Glowing reviews for Windows 7 as compared to ugly smelly pox-riddled Vista, not the mature product of Windows XP!  Then I come to my senses and realize no one at Microsoft would ever come up with that plan... right?

Microsoft has this shiny new Windows 7 product that works well and people actually want; it flies off the shelves to the surprise of no one.  Windows 7 breaks all sorts of sales records in its early days on the market.  How do you keep this sales momentum rolling?

Now the lying begins.  To keep consumers buying Windows 7 as the product life cycle trudges along, Microsoft is making not so subtle references it its advertising to Windows 7 having some magical connection to "the Cloud".  Check out the video below:

Fanny Housewife is taking a lame picture of her family and "needs" Windows 7 to get her "TO THE CLOUD"!  Microsoft, please stop with this nonsense!  

Anyone using Gmail or online storage or even Hotmail for the past DECADE has been using the cloud!  The "Cloud" is just another name for off-site processing and storage of information.  My Gmail account is stored somewhere else, and the operating system or browser I have makes no real difference to accessing that data.  The protocols for accessing information elsewhere are Internet based, not based on an operating system.  Windows 7 has no special connection to the cloud, nor in itself does it offer any special advantage over using Mac, Linux, or any other operating system to employ cloud computing.

 Yes, there is a definite advantage to pairing your Windows 7 powered machine to an Xbox gaming console, and possibly using the Microsoft branded online "xxx LIVE" applications with the new Win7 mobile phones.  But that should be expected as synergies across branded products for greater productivity and ease of use from a company like Microsoft.

Microsoft, all the stuff you show people doing in the cloud has been done for years.  Granted, it was likely done by advanced users, but it has been done.  Most people will buy a Windows 7 machine and do no more than check their email, check facebook, buy a book, skype a friend or two, listen to some music, and maybe send a photo for printing at the local supermarket.  That's it in a nutshell.  That is the experience of baby boomers learning about the interweb and calling their kids for IT support when they forget to turn the screen on after hitting the power button on the big box under the desk.  These people are not going to be streaming video across different rooms in their house or care one whiff about the cloud!  The majority are going to do a few things over and over and over and call it a day.

Plus, doing the things you show people doing in the commercials is not as easy as plug-and-play.  I consider myself a intermediate user with years of PC experience and I know it always takes more to get something done than the zero-effort solution marketers love to plaster on the screen.

Microsoft, you are lying.  Stop it.  Build something that is actually better and people will love it enough to make a purchase.  Make improvements like you did to the Office Suite of programs which is miles ahead of all competitors.  The "Office Ribbon" was new and bold and shocking at first.  After using it for a bit, the ribbon made so much intuitive sense continuing to use a version of MS Office WITHOUT the ribbon is a mark of insanity.

Microsoft, again, stop lying, and do what you can to make your product better to service the REAL needs of your customers.  Don't have your marketing teams try to generate needs in consumers that are not there, and then fill those desires with products advertised on the backs of thinly veiled lies and half-truths!

Consumers bitch-slapped you once Microsoft, by calling out Windows Vista as a cesspool of toxic waste.  Don't give up all the good will you manged to regain by lying to the consumer about the capabilities and advantages of Windows 7.


09 November 2010

Convert .PPSX to .PPT Easily !

This is a handy-dandy little trick I stumbled upon purely by accident and hope it helps some of you out there dealing with PowerPoint files.

Some PowerPoint files that you receive come with the extension ".ppsx".  This means the file is a "slideshow" and you cannot get at the underlying data in the individual slides.  The file name looks like this:

 To open this file as a normal PowerPoint file, simply change the extension from ".ppsx" to ".ppt", and you can open and edit the slides to your heart's content!  

Such a simple trick.  And, you can mess with people that send out "protected" .ppsx files next time you get one!


27 October 2010

Everyone's a Critic

So, I was listening to the Nerdist podacst a while back, and the host came up with a great observation.  With the invention of sites like Twitter, Facebook ,and even good old Blogger, people are free to jump all over something and criticize in little soundbites.

On this blog I try to temper immediate feelings and really get a good rant going against someone or something that happens to Crush my Cheetos.  ("Crush my Cheetos"?  Think it will catch on like "Grind my Gears"?  Highly unlikely since I don't have a TV show.)  There is some effort given to make a structured case with examples to support the conclusion after a logical analysis of the situation.  Space is not an issue on a blog post, but time is a factor.  That's why some posts come in bunches, you need time to make a good post and think about what you want to say.

Compare this to Twitter and Facebook status updates.  Many people use these services exclusively on their mobile device.  There is an instant capture of judgement where praise or blame is foisted upon the Interweb for all to see.  There are a bunch of things going on in that instant, let's break them down:

1) A new idea is presented. There is nothing new under the sun.  If something is TOTALLY new we would not be able to relate to that thing.  There has to be some commonality to human experience for us to interpret a thing.  Some of us like the new thing, some don't, based upon our immediate interpretation of what the thing presents to us as similar to our past experience. 

2) People make a judgement about the thing based on their first perception and immediate feelings.

3) Conceit.  People somehow decide they have to let that first-cut interpretation based on feelings be shared with the world!

4) The complex chain of events involving memory, physical stimuli, and cognitive processes gets transmitted after being distilled to 140 characters or less.

5) The substance of those 140 characters, regardless of the words used, boil down to "Yay!" or "Boo!".

Where is the chance for reasoned debate?  Where is the cooling off period so our rational faculties can temper the heat of immediate sense perception?  It is lost.  It is lost once our "Yay!" or "Boo!" decision is made public.  It is a rare breed of person that will easily recant their immediate position.  By making that first snap decision, it helps ground your future mindset on the issue, thing, movie, advertisement, youtube clip, website, etc.  The position you hold first is the hardest one to change, so why jump to it so quickly?

Give your thoughts time to breath!  In a world where everyone is not only a critic, but an instant critic broadcasting for a global audience, DON'T BE SUCKED IN BY THE FIRST OPINION THAT IS SCREAMED AT YOU THE LOUDEST!! 

You have a mind, you have rationality, you have the forum; use them correctly and let's try to tone down the debate volume and turn up our capacity for free thought and open minds.


11 September 2010


If you are new to over the air high definition TV, check this out for a basic understanding of OTA HD:

Have fun!


14 June 2010

CBC World Cup Online Coverage

Most regular readers of this blog will know I am the first one to call out the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [CBC] for being a complete waste of time and money, an anachronism from a different century that should die following a period of everlasting withering, but lives to fight another day for some inexplicable reason.

Not this time.




So, Let me say Kudos to the CBC for their online presence and broadcasting of ALL World Cup 2010 Matches LIVE from South Africa!

Unlike some services online, like ESPN3,  or Rogers Communications Inc, (fuck them all to hell), CBC requires no login and password combination.  Go to CBC.ca, click the link to watch the games live, and there you are!  Simple is best when it comes to online, and thank heaven CBC did not make the site look like a bad parody of some "YAHOO!" web page with ad after ad after ad strewn across my page in text and flashy-blinky form. 

CBC has a small 10 second car ad at the beginning of the stream, and that is it for advertisements taking away your enjoyment of watching the big game.  The page design is simple and easy to navigate.  There is a "matchtracker" feature similar to FIFA.com, except this one is pleasing to look at and gives you the tale of the match in an instant detailing time of penalties and goals and substitutions.  Other well thought out links are easily found for nation groupings, upcoming games today and later in the tournament, and the required news, photos, chat, etc., one would expect on a modern website trying to foster some sense of community.

The genius lies in the media player itself and the options to view the match.  The media player for the live stream is very nice with a minimal look, highlighted progress bar that always remains on the bottom of the screen, and the easily found MUTE button for those watching at work like yours truly.  There are also other video feeds available to focus only on one or two star players from the match in progress, or the wide overhead view of the stadium.

The overhead view is wonderful, as it makes the pitch look like a video game.  If CBC is trying to lure more kids to their main site through this dedicated portal they are doing a great job of being somewhat non-traditional and presenting the game in a way many older viewers dislike, (up-down instead of left-right).  The chance to focus on star players only is a great addition.  Imagine having the ability to follow Maradonna with the infamous "Hand of God" goal, right on your desktop!

Finally, the way all the elements work together is fantastic.  Tune in at any point in the match and the quick load time means you are in the action right away.  Look at the "matchtracker" scorecard to see which minute a goal was scored.  Use the progress bar to go to that minute of the match and watch the goal, then hit the "back to live action" button to join the match in real time.  See if your favorite player is available on one of the isolated camera feeds and open a second window that remains in sync with the main game window to follow that player.

CBC, the fact that you did not get the Olympics in Vancouver and wasted buckets of taxpayer cash fawning over yourselves was truly a blessing in disguise.  Missing those Winter Olympics gave you the chance to grab the right to World Cup South Africa 2010.  You have put forth an excellent website, a wonderful, clean, easy to use website that anyone broadcasting live sporting events would do well to emulate in the future. Congratulations on not fucking this up!

Man, I just praised the hell out of the CBC, my second greatest enemy next to Rogers Communications Inc, (fuck them all to hell).  Maybe I'm just mellowing with old age...