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Archive for July, 2009

Minneapolis (with frequent updates)

July 24th, 2009 2:04am 1 comment

Hello from the North Star State, Minnesota, or as the locals say it: Minnesoooota). I’ve never been to the upper mid west before, you know, so here I am. Anyway, I’ve placed a Google Map below outlining important locations I’ll be visiting during this “business trip.” Click the blue points on the map below to stalk me and see where I have been chilling (zoom in if you want – I’m being really accurate). I only ask that you don’t track me down and murder me. I’ll update this whenever I get to it (sorry I’m not cool enough to have an iPhone that does it automatically). I’m on some ghetto unsecured wireless internet (tunneling of course), so updates might be shaky, but check back here map point updates and post updates (below the map).


Legend: Green Point: been there, Blue point: to do.

UPDATE, 7/24 2:00 a.m: This dorm room looks exactly like a townhouse bedroom. Have a look, especially at Cleary’s mess. Sorry for the ghetto image quality, I can only use pictures from my cell phone because my laptop sucks and the SD reader doesn’t work – so the digital camera is useless for the time being.)

UPDATE, 7/24 2:26 a.m: Props to the IT department here, who are really doing their jobs right. They are really pissing me off with their network security. Guests get 3 hours of bandwidth limited (500kbps) access, then get booted from the unsecured WIFI network. I probably used it all, because my connection is dropping on and off to the point where it’s hardly usable. The wired network doesn’t work unless you log in with an ID. Also, you need an ID to get on their WPA2, non-limited WIFI network. Oh well, at least I finagled internet out of them. (For security purposes, I am SSH tunneled – since unencrypted WIFI is a good place for hackers to sniff your plaintext passwords). Anyway, enough tech babble for now.

UPDATE, 7/24 3:12 a.m: Tom’s hot blooded, check it and see. Anyway on a totally unrelated note, he pointed out not one, but three recycling bins conveniently located in our room: bottles/cans, newspaper and office paper. I’m a fan of the greenness here.

UPDATE, 7/24 3:20 a.m: I’ve resorted to writing this blog in notepad, because the internet outages are getting ridiculous and it made me lose content and rewrite the same stuff three times. I made the decision to make this one huge blog post rather than smaller ones – since it’s one trip, so keep refreshing.

UPDATE, 7/24 3:35 a.m: I’m really digging Central Standard Time. It’s 3:35 local time, and it would be 4:35 on the east coast. It’s bed time though – check for more updates later. Since I don’t have phone internet access, don’t expect many updates throughout the day – I’ll be busy. But updates will be had by all.

UPDATE, 7/24 2:37 p.m: My morning workshop on blogging was informative and helpful (I’m doing it completely wrong on this site by the way). It was pretty cool though and I have some great tips for our newspaper bloggers back home. I’m at another session right now on a break, so let’s update a bit. I’m loving the Minnesota accents here. Just make the locals say words with Os in them. It’s funny. You know I’m from NY when five people are waiting to cross the street because there is a do not cross light up and I just go anyway because there is plenty of time. I must have NY written on my head or look lost, because everyone asks me if I need help. But they’re really friendly here. I’m not used to that because in NY, people do their own thing. There is a huge bridge that crosses the Mississippi because the campus is on both sides of the river with a nice view of the skyline and the Metrodome. After this session, I have one more, then dinner, then we’re getting our paper critiqued and I need to train my staff on some web software. So the conference business should be taken care of by 8:30PM and then we’ll see what’s up for some Friday night twin city action. Should be fun.

UPDATE, 7/24 9:01 p.m: On my way to tear up downtown MN. Peace

UPDATE, 7/25 2:44 p.m: We toured downtown last night. At first we got off the bus in a sketch area where people were walking down the street blazing it up (how they don’t get in trouble is beyond me) and cracked out people. Then Then we walked towards civilization. We actually passed a lot of the main stuff – a Marriott, the Target center, Metrodome and so on. We also grabbed a sweet dinner and exclusive locally brewed Minneapolis beers at Pizza Luce was good. We’re off to the Mall of America tonight. My second session is about to begin, they’re just working out some networking shared file problems with Boot Camp, because we need to use Windows and the computers are on OSX. One other note – these computer labs are awesome. We have a managed logon from a directory server that works both on OSX and Windows. Oh word up to the smokeshow sitting to my left.

UPDATE, 7/25 5:19 p.m: Jamba juice is yummy. Time for Saturday night Minneapolis.

UPDATE, 7/25 5:24 p.m: I still haven’t seen a lake while I’ve been here. They have 10,000 of them in this state. Something doesn’t add up

UPDATE, 7/25 6:12 p.m: We’re on our way to Bloomington – just passed the Metrodome. $4.50 parking. It’s $19 at Yankee Stadium. Hmm…

UPDATE, 7/25 6:12 p.m: If you thought Mall of America is huge, it’s even bigger. There are 3 Lids and 2 Victoria’s Secrets. Why do you need more than one of the same store? There are like 5 floors and we didn’t even get to everything on the 3rd floor.

UPDATE, 7/25 6:36 p.m: Nickelodeon Universe amusement park within the mall with like 15 rides? Sponge Bob’s Rock bottom plunge was a sweet indoor coaster. You go up at a 90 degree angle and straight down about 100 feet, then a loop then some twists. Not bad for an indoor mall coaster.

UPDATE, 7/25 6:40 p.m: Holy crap, a Bank of America ATM. The bank is almost nonexistent in the midwest.

p>UPDATE, 7/25 8:50 p.m: You can’t get a bad local beer in this city. Twin City Grill’s Amber Ale is yum. Actually, the place was amazing. They had some potato/red bell pepper soup of the day, killer salt and vinegar fries and a delicious BBQ chicken sandwich.

UPDATE, 7/25 11:15 p.m: Back in dorm. Some Mexican soccer team pulled the fire alarm in my building. Here in Minneapolis, they don’t evacuate when the alarm is going off. As the alarm was raging, people were unfazed and going about their business. When the fire department got on scene, they didn’t even tell everyone to leave. Very strange – if this were Fairfield, they’d be freaking out getting everyone out to safety. Anyway, this one kid who didn’t speak English got arrested because the alarm shoots out ink to ID the person who pulled it. What a noob, that’s common knowledge. Which brings me to my next point. Fire alarm pullers are useless, and the fact that certain state fire code requires buildings to have them is dumb. Smoke and heat detectors these days are advanced and can detect a legit fire and set off the alarm. If a building is on fire, I’m not ruining my clothes and getting ink on me by pulling the alarm.

UPDATE, 7/26 2:30 a.m: That’s about it. We’re leaving today. Not a bad trip at all. It sucks going east because an hour disappears. A 2 hour and 50 minute flight hour flight is instantly 4 hours by the time you land.

Final thoughts: The Mississippi is really no big deal here. It’s rather small and the Hudson in Westchester is wider. This school is huge, and everything went well. I probably won’t be back here unless I’m on business though.

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You call this a social media site?

July 22nd, 2009 3:15am No comments
Features include a 1998 styled webpage, boring text links and a joke Asian guy

Features include: a 1998 styled webpage, boring text links and a joke Asian guy in a wifebeater.

As usual, when my school attempts to do anything regarding technology, they get it completely wrong. Rather than wasting precious resources developing this rubbish, they should spend some time fixing the completely flawed school website, that was just recently redesigned into a broken linked, visually horrifying disasterpiece. They should be fixing our failure Luminis portal, which  was down all “weekend” (meaning it was down from Friday to Tuesday) for an upgrade. But forget about that, we need to focus on a social networking site for students and staff, because that’s of utmost importance.

“The success of Facebook and MySpace show that users want a forum to socialize,
engage, and learn – their way,” says Scott Barnett, director of Web Communications at Fairfield. “Fairfield LIVE was built on a robust platform and channels the best of the social media experience into one space – with the privacy and toolset needed on the backend that does this very wisely.”

Let me tell you something, Mr. Barnett: You are a moron. The success of Facebook and MySpace show that users want to use Facebook and MySpace – not garbage being developed by KickApps (anyone ever hear of KickApps?) My ass looks better than the school website, and you’re partnering with some crappy, fly by night social media company that pretty much sold you a version of MySpace. What are you guys blind? Can’t you see that it looks absolutely awful in comparison to Facebook and other modern web 2.o social media sites? Who is on the committee that worked on it and approved it. Apparently, it’s probably a bunch of freshmen that were brainwashed by the administration and think IE 5.5 is blazing technology! Apparently, if you are employed at this school and are involved with anything web related, the requirements include: complete blindness to modern web styles and design, a keen eye for 1998 text based websites, the ability to create text links and the ability to paste corny JavaScript effects into the HTML code of a page.

God knows how much this cost. The school is cutting staff, firing professors and doing everything possible to save a buck in this recession, but we’re rolling out garbage sites that no one will use. Get over yourselves. Save money and the embarrassment of releasing a site that might have been cool in 1998 on my 33.6k dial-up modem. Idiots.

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Cablevision’s Deceptive Practices

July 16th, 2009 11:10am No comments

Cablevision is a sneaky, deceptive company and practices dirty tactics that are unfair to competitors. They have monopolistic tendencies and downright lie to consumers about everything.

Please explain to me how this is fair: Cablevision owns the Rangers, their arena (Madison Square Garden), and their TV channel. At first, they refused to gice Verizon the rights to these channels until the FCC forced them to do so. Cablevision then proceeded to deny HD channel access in order to form a competitive advantage in its markets. Verizon filed another FCC complaint regarding this matter which (at the time of this writing) is pending.

As a result, they can go around advertising that it is the only company that provides all NY sports teams in HD. Cablevision’s ad doesn’t state that they are the reason they are the only company that carries, due to the sports monopoly they hold.

Remember the 2002 fiasco with the YES network? If not, the Yankees formed their own TV network after their MSG (owned by Cablevision) contract expired. Cablevision refused to carry YES on their system because they were sour over losing the Yankees and were too cheap to pay royalties to YES for access to their content. The result? An entire season was blacked out on Cablevision. At the start of the second season of no deal, after arbitration Cablevision did carry YES, but sold it as a premium channel.

Next: MSNBC. MSNBC and Cablevision signed a secret agreement stating that MSNBC can only be carried on Cablevision in areas where other TV providers exist. No one knows the terms of the agreement, or when it expires. How is that legal? And what blockhead at MSNBC would sign that? All it does is limit your viewers and make you lose advertising revenue. Take Verizon FiOS for example. They carry MSNBC by default, but cannot put it on the system in areas where Cablevision is the primary cable provider.

The Connecticut Attorney General has asked the FCC to look into an exclusive programming deal between Cablevision and MSNBC, stating that this is anti-competitive and unfair, in particular to AT&T’s U-verse.

So Cablevision has two pending FCC investigations, because in short, their business practices are deceptive and manipulative. The company thinks it can do whatever it wants, but is pretty screwed.

Shameless plug: If Verizon FiOS is in your area, get it. It is beyond amazing.

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