Ramblings of a Nutbar

You’ll probably regret this.

The big move is coming…

Yes it is…

I’m in the process of setting up a brand new shiny website, and in a matter of days, everything should be fully functional…I hope!

Would you like a preview? So sorry! Can’t do it! But I still love you.

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January 16, 2009 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | , , | Leave a comment

Why is the US Airways crash such a big deal?

Seriously. I understand it’s a sort of big deal, but all-day coverage over a 150 person vehicle crashing, where there were no casualties and very few injuries? What’s up with that?

Actually, I know exactly what’s up with it. The bottom line is that it’s a story that the media can sensationalize. Really, that’s it. Why is it so amazing?

  • Planes rarely crash. It’s a unique story.
  • The story has a “hero”. The pilot did a good job landing the plane. Kept it together and everything.
  • It was in New York. The last time a plane made the news in New York was 9/11.

I’m sure there are a couple other points, but essentially, that’s it. The news smelled blood, and they pounced.

The honest to goodness truth is that this isn’t really all that amazing a story. If a Charter bus in Kansas carrying 100 passengers on their way smeplace went off the road and crashed, but everyone survived, it probably wouldn’t even make it out of local news, or maybe it would get a 10 second blurb at 10. This is big and sensational, and therefore it’s getting nonstop coverage.

Okay, enough ranting. Hey, a new website is coming soon. Details coming soon.

January 15, 2009 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | , , , , | Leave a comment

I keep getting older!

While I haven’t seen “Benjamin Button” yet, I have to admit that sometimes I wish I could turn the clock backwards as I aged. Give or take a few hours, it was 28 years ago on this very day when I started slowly dying. And somehow I’ve survived another revolution around a 865,000 mile wide mass of hydrogen releasing more nuclear energy every second than has ever been created by man through all human history, all while strapped by unseen forces to a 13,169,754,100,000,000,000,000,000 pound rock being hurtled through space at almost 67,000 miles per hour.

I specifically wrote it that way so it sunded like a real accomplishment.

Now if you’ll excuse me,  I’m off to go buy a tub of frosting (and maybe a crappy guitar. I need to learn sometime, and ideally before I’m dead.), and then I’m off to party with Martin Luther King Jr.

January 15, 2009 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | , | Leave a comment

New Years Resolutions

So, what are your New Years resolutions? Do you even make resolutions? Have you ever kept a resolution?

This year, my top 10 resolutions are as follows:

  1. I resolve to be less of a loser.
  2. I resolve to father at least one child.
  3. I resolve to lose 50 pounds or more.
  4. I resolve to hit the 10,000 subscriber mark on YouTube.
  5. I resolve to get mentioned at least once on a national TV show.
  6. I resolve to be a better husband.
  7. I resolve to go back to school.
  8. I resolve to find a job that is both enjoyable and fiscally rewarding.
  9. I resolve to invent something useful.
  10. I resolve to write a book.

There they are. My top 10. Let’s see if I can manage to pull off even one of them.

Later! :-D) <—That’s my double-chin smiley. See resolution #3

December 28, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | | 1 Comment

Merry Christmas!

Now, I know that some of my readers don’t hold to the same beliefs as I do, and that’s cool. Without diverse opinions, the world would be a boring place, right? To those viewers who don’t share my beliefs, I wish a most fulfilling holiday season to you and yours.
For anyone else, I want to just remind us what the season is all about. It’s not about shopping, or giving presents to your family. It’s not about buying cards or standing in lines at 3AM. It’s about love, coming down to Earth clothed in humanity. It’s a love that was willing to sacrifice everyting, just to save us. In a little town called Bethlehem, love came down one night, and in that we can place our hope.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

December 25, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6k&Under – Keep or kill?

So a couple weeks ago I started a program on my YouTube channel called 6k&Under, a program featuring lesser-known faces on YouTube who are far more talented than you’d guess by looking at their subscriber base. I really enjoy doing the show, but I’m having problems:

  1. Production time – Ever tried finding talent in the seas of less-subscribed people? Finding a needle in a haystack is easier, and it’s probably more fun, too. I can spend 8 hours researching for a 4 minute video. User submissions are helpful, but I either don’t get any, or I get 70, and I can’t sort through all of them right away, which means they get lost in the shuffle.
  2. Low viewership – The people gettng featured are watching, and a few of my regulars are watching, but nobody else is even coming over to say hello. When in it’s first day, my stupid Viagra video gets more hits than the latest 6kU episode got on day 1, I have to wonder if it’s worth the effort.
  3. My third point – Because all good lists need three points or more.

So help me decide if the show is worth keeping on life support, or if I need to pull the plug. Answer a few questions, and then comment below. Be honest! (See more to complete the survey!)

Continue reading

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, My Random Thoughts, YouTube | , , , | 15 Comments

How YouTube Plans to Self-Destruct

I’ve long suspected that somewhere deep down inside the central heart of YouTube Corporate HQ, Chad Hurley has a little room, 10′ x 10′, completely empty save a marble pedestal with a Magic 8-Ball Sitting upon it. And I imagine that every morning he walks into this room, shakes up the Magic 8-Ball, and whispers “Today can I drive it all into the ground?”

Yesterday, the 8-Ball said “Yes”

So Chad rolled up his sleeves, and called together all of his top programmers, including Melvin, the guy who insisted on programming a 500 Internal Server Error into every 6th time you click on your Inbox, and they went to work.

A few moments ago, I happened to spot that Nalts wrote a blog entry pointing to YouTube’s Blog. In a release dated Yesterday, YouTube made the following announcement:

As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t. Here are a few things we came up with: 

  • Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

  • Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

  • Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

  • More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

The preservation and improvement of the YouTube experience is a responsibility we share. Let’s work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us. 

At first this sounds like a great attempt to clean up YouTube. I would fully support making illicit and profane content harder for minors to get their hands on. I also hate dishonest thumbnails. But when one takes a moment to stop and think about these changes, one can see (even in a state of total sleep deprivation) that the changes are going to hurt more than they help.

First, and what I see as the biggest problem, is the issue of no longer taking the 25/50/75 points in a video for thumbnails. Now, as I demonstrated in my test video, the thumbnails were not falling on the exact 25/50/100 points anyway, but they were close enough that one could aim to make sure a clip was placed that properly represented the video. This is called branding folks! It’s putting a pretty wrapping on your box that shows you the best part of what’s inside.

Yes, people do sometimes abuse the system, but why punish the 95% of people who don’t regularly commit this dastardly deed, just to force the 5% of abusers to figure out a new way to cheat the system (which they will). I lose branding control, and the scum just have to try a little harder to get what they want. Nice. This hurts, especially considering how many content creators wanted MORE choice in picking thumbnails, not less.

Really, the whole article reeks of “Quick! Somebody’s planning to sue us! Let’s do a super quick fix to make it all better!”. It doesn’t look like a lot of time and planning went into this.

My sincere hope is that it’s something that after a few days YouTube will realize their error and correct their mistake, but I do sometimes wonder if there really is a room at YouTube HQ with nothing in it but a marble pedestal and a Magic 8-Ball…

December 3, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Walmart – Devil in a blue box.

Okay, I’ll preface this by saying I’m a capitalist. Big Time. I am all for making money. I think money is a wonderful thing, and having it eliminates many problems (albeit creating a few of it’s own). That being said, I find myself becoming more and more disgusted at Walmart as I get older.  The reason is that too much of anything, even capitalism, can be terrible. Making money is great, but doing so at the cost of American jobs and the lives of innocents is another.

Lives? You mean you didn’t hear about it? Friday, during the “Black Friday” rush, a temporary maintenance worker at a Walmart was killed by the mob of shoppers standing in line for all the stupid crap they didn’t even need. If this doesn’t upset you, I don’t know what will.

Reading other posts out there in the blogosphere, I know that if I let this sit without explaining further, I would get piles of “It’s not Walmart’s fault!” comments (that is, if I were popular enough to gather comments), but most anyone who has ever worked in a retail environment, as I have, knows the truth.

Corporately-operated busnesses are eternally attempting to cut costs and maximize profit. In and of itself, this practice is a great thing – I wish more corporations would do this with their multi-million earning C level execs for example. But the downside to cutting costs is that you usually have to sacrifice something. Apparently Walmart sacrificed security.

In this case, the police had warned Walmart well enough in advance that the crowds would be tremendous, as if common sense doesn’t dictate that in a recession with the highest unemployment rates in years that maybe more people than usual will show up to save money. Walmart was asked by the police to have adequate security staff on hand to open the store.

What did Wally World do? Did they have two or three security guards standing at the door to push back the crowd while the doors were being unlocked? That sounds like a sensible idea to me. But sadly for Jdimytai Damour, this didn’t sound like a good idea to Walmart.

No, instead of using common sense and having as many security officers flanking the entrance as possible, they had a great cost-cutting idea. Security guards cost a lot more than most everyone else working at the store level. Why, for the cost of three of four security guards, you could hire a whole fleet of maintenance guys. And why would you need a whole fleet of maintenance guys, when one will do nicely? So they assigned the role of unlocking a door with thousands of tired, cranky, mob shoppers on the other side to one lowly maintenance guy. A temp worker at that. I imagine his personnel file probably had “Expendable” stamped on it in big blue letters with an “always” and yellow smiley underneath it. I’m sure fellow Star Trek enthusiasts are wondering if they actually gave him a red shirt before sending him to his doom, or if they just expected him to know he wouldn’t be returning from this away mission.

I’ve worked in a lot of retail and hospitality environments. An established business, especially one such as Walmart should have known better. Working in the hotel industry, we always hired on lots of extra security during special events. When I was working at my last job, security always opened the doors, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Walmart’s quest to save money, maximize profit, and cut corners is the direct cause of this man’s death. Had he been a security guard, I would have been less incensed, but he wasn’t, and he should NOT have been the one opening that door.

And of course there’s the other stuff, like the way that Walmart has left Sam Walton’s “buy American” approach, and embraced selling cheap foreign garbage, or their unethical business practices in employee treatment (I had a friend back in my hometown who got fired for requesting a few days off – to go to a funeral!), etc, but you get the point.

The saddest thing is that I’ll probably wind up continuing to shop at Walmart, because frankly, there’s nobody else in the area that has the same selection at prices we can afford while I’m busy being unemployed. So really, I’m just whining.

And because I don’t think the shoppers are completely guiltless either, here’s a great video by Peter Coffin:

December 1, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts | , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

It was a cold November back in 1492, when the pilgrims sailed the Ocean Blue. The pilgrims were a downtrodden people, as the king of Sweden was persecuting members of their religion, the Quakers. After an agonizing 4 years, 3 months, and 2 days at sea, their lead ship (the Pinto) finally washed upon the shores of a strange land. Disembarking from their ship, the pilgrims decided to explore the strange land.

The leader of the pilgrims, George Washington, was trekking through a jungle with his two lead explorers, Lewis and Clark, when they met a strange people. These people, calling themselves “indians” had lived on the land for many years, learning it’s secrets to producing produce.

Naturally, Washington was interested in a deal with these people. After two weeks of talks, the pilgrims and the indians had a conference. The pilgrims were low on food since shortly before coming over they lost their second ship, the El Nino in a terrible storm. Feeling kind, the indians agreed to bring the food. This turned out to be in the pilgrims’ benefit, as the indians prepared a large meal with care, and the pilgrims were known for bringing two pitchers of tea and a tray of generic donuts to conferences.

At the end of the conference, the pilgrims learned all the ways of the land. For this, they were very grateful, and they asked what they could offer the indians in return. The indians already knew how to build boats, and most of the skills the pilgrims had in Sweden were of no use to them. (Who really needs to know how to make swiss cheese anyway?). With nothing to give the indians, they comprimised, and instead formed 13 colonies and forced the indians into barren plots of land. And the rest, as they say, is history.

What do you think? Not bad for a guy who always slept through history class, eh? 😀

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

November 25, 2008 Posted by | Humor, My Random Thoughts | , , , | Leave a comment

New Google feature: Wiki Searching

If you follow the news on search engine technologies (yeah, I know – every waking moment of your life), then you’re probably aware that in the last few months, several search engines have spotted a feature that Google was missing: User customizable searches. In July, Yahoo released their Build Your Own Search Service, and a few months prior to that a site called Wikia Search popped onto the scene, allowing everyone to easily add and rank search engine results made using Wikia.

Customize your searching on Google!Now Google is a smart company, and they realized two things: 1 – that this is a feature that could be a huge lure to these other search engines. And 2 – With their stocks tanking, they needed a new innovation.

Enter SearchWiki, today’s newest Google feature. With SearchWiki, Google has effectively opened the door for you to customize your search results. If you’re tired of seeing a certain site pop up every time you search, just delete it!

There is one important thing to keep in mind. According to the official Google Blog:

The changes you make only affect your own searches. But SearchWiki also is a great way to share your insights with other searchers. You can see how the community has collectively edited the search results by clicking on the “See all notes for this SearchWiki” link.

In other words, the comments you add to links will be visible to the whole world, but the ranking you set them to is only visible to you. So while I appreciate the thought, going to Google and adding my YouTube Channel as the number one result for “funny” and “awesome” won’t get me seen by more people, but adding comments might. So get to work!

As a side note it looks like at this moment the feature is only for Firefox and Chrome, and isn’t enabled on IE6. I’m sure it will come soon, once Google is done tweaking it on their pet browsers.

November 21, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Tech News | , , , , , | Leave a comment