Month: March 2006

I’m in Utah…Utah?

Yep, Utah. Park City Utah to be precise, home of the 2002 Winter Games (well anything that took place on a mountain anyway). It's about half an hour outside of Salt Lake City, and is a place of wireless internet connections, natural beauty, and tons of talk on Analytics during the Omniture 2006 Summit.

Right now I'm playing a little bit of hooky as I should be over in the main lodge having breakfast, but I've taken the time to sit in my hotel room and respond to some emails that have gathered. There are two talks I want to sit in on today, but other than that, my day is looking pretty relaxing.

So far, I can't believe how much I've learned, or how we've lived without the Omniture product at TSN. It will let us analyze all sorts of data including traffic patterns, how people get to us, where they go on the site, things that we simply don't have the abilities to do anything about right now.

In addition to that, I learned a ton from a panel yesterday on Media websites. It's amazing how little I knew before coming here, things like the Flattening of the web, the rise of search as a main means of navigation, the death of the homepage, and the rise of single story entry pages.

Toronto comiCON vs Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon

I haven't been involved in a good old fashioned online feud since the late nineties, it's not really worth my time, and generally I find that after a few posts I grow bored…but Aman Gupta and his little HobbyStar Marketing concern have brought me all sorts of joy of late. The guy is such a huge target that it amuses me to no end to engage in a little online debate with him.

A little bit about why I am wasting my time with this fine individual;

The Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon is happening from April 28th to 30th. It's in the fourth year now, and for the last couple of years the rival convention (which happens in August) has put on a one day show called the Toronto comiCON the weekend prior to the other show.

I'm the co-owner of All New Comics, an online retailler who is making a huge impact on the comic industry by sponsoring 20 participants in the Women of Comics panel at the Paradise Comics Toronto Comicon, and who will be making our big national impact at this show.

With that said, you can probably understand with the amount of money we have invested in making our mark at the Paradise show how I could be offended and angered when someone tries to directly affect my bottom line by putting on a sabotage show. This has nothing to do with me being a shill for the competition (something Gupta has accused me of because the Paradise Show uses HeadsDown Content Management to update their award winning website), this has to do with me being angry that Hobbystar is putting my business (as well as business for dozens of other retaillers) in jeapordy because he has an axe to grind with Peter and Kevin of the Paradise show.

Gupta has been no end of amusement for me. He uses words wrong all…the…time. He called me a shill, obviously not knowing what the word means. He called me an alias for Paradise…when the man himself posts as “hsm” and I post as “Brian G” (which is my really real name).

What's really sad is that the HobbyStar show in the summer is actually a decent show, it's kind of strayed from its roots and become more of a Genre show of late with Horror, Anime, Sci-Fi and Comic portions, and it's always been in a wayyyy too small venue for the crowds it attracts, but it was a good enough show. Their website leaves a lot to be desired, and tons of people have complained about the way that they have been treated by HobbyStar staff during the event.

Gupta however has proven himself to be a real piece of work. Both in this dialogue, and in a couple of other messages on the board (as well as some messages on the CGC boards which I don't concern myself with.

It all culminated today in what I think is the funniest post I've written on the subject thus far. “The 10 rules of dealing with Aman Gupta“. I really don't think I can do better than this, so I think I'm done now.

Well, I'm done after having blogged about it of course.

A big old link dump

Here's a little random link dump of various things I've noticed on the web this week, as well as a link to a conference I'm going to at the end of March.

Microsoft's Origami project has been unveiled. It's called an “Ultra Mobile PC“, which is kind of cool, but looks like it won't be really awesome until the second generation. They have a full version of Windows XP, and they can do everything a normal computer can While they look pretty, battery life for the first generation is only expected to be around 2-3 hours.

The Toronto Hydro Corp is planning on turning Toronto into one giant wireless hotspot. Mirroring major American cities like Philadelphia, New Orleans and San Francisco, Toronto Hydro wants to bring low Cost, broadband wireless access to Canada's largest city. Of course Bell, Rogers, et al are up in arms saying that a municipality shouldn't be getting in on their game.

Wired Magazine has an article on Microsoft's new efforts to stop Phishing and other various tactics. The author's experience in the first paragraph mirrors one of my own.

Working late one night a few months back, I was just about to sign off when I decided to check my email. At the top of my inbox was a message from PayPal, “confirming” a change in my email address. But I hadn't changed the address. In an exhausted panic, I clicked the link to correct an obvious fraud.

For a split second the browser opened not to PayPal but to an unrelated IP address. Then, almost instantaneously, the screen was replaced by what looked exactly like a PayPal window, requesting my password to sign in. This wasn't PayPal; it was a phishing bot. Had I been just a little drowsier, I might have been snagged by the fraud in the very act of trying to stop it.

The exact same thing happened to me about 3 months ago, and I almost totally fell for it. Luckily I always look at the address bar of a page, and I remembered that the particular email account that the email was sent to doesn't have a PayPal account associated with it.

The $39 Experiment is about a guy who sent out 100 letters to 100 companies asking for free stuff. The website has the text of the letters, as well as a list of all the free stuff he's wrangled out of companies.

My EA Sports Fight Night Round 3 review is up on TSN.ca now. Let me just say that not only is the game awesome, but after a little tweaking, my created boxer, Brian Garside, may be one of the greatest heavyweights to ever lace the gloves. Dude is a MONSTER, and he has p0wned all of the n00bs in my department thoroughly. The best part was yesterday when John A was playing against me (computer me, not even me me) and I kept telling my computerized avatar to clinch…and he DID! Awesome.

Finally, at the end of the month I'll be attending the Omniture Summit 2006 in Park City Utah. I'll be learning a ton of stuff about how statistics can make our lives better, and how Omniture can do that. It should be pretty cool, and I think I'll learn a ton. Plus, four days in Utah, how can you go wrong?

A weekend with an Xbox 360

One of my jobs is to review video games. I know, I know…I have the worst job in the world don't I? I have to play video games, I'm forced to fool around with new technology, and it's part of my job requirements to surf the internet all day looking for cool sites. Makes you jealous doesn't it? Anyway, this weekend I got to take an Xbox 360 home to play Fight Night Round 3, which I reviewed on TSN.ca (review coming soon).

So this meant I got to spend a weekend with an Xbox, and boy do my thumbs regret it. It's an amazingly cool, amazingly powerful machine though, here were my opinions.

The Xbox 360 is cool. The style of it is slick, the GUI is slick, the controllers are slick, it's a slick outfit. Xbox Live is awesome, and it's a light year beyond where it was with the last iteration. The fact that you can download movie trailers, game trailers, and all sorts of other stuff puts it on a whole different level.

Then there's the Media Center integration. Being able to look up your computer and play MP3's etc right through your stereo is awesome, and the current generation Xbox's Media Center extender kit has meant that our Xbox is almost always on (but rarely having games played on it).

I love the fact that the controllers are wireless, and I love that you can turn the console off by turning off the controllers. That's a feature you can't do on the old Xbox.

The games are light years ahead as well, Fight Night is so graphically beautiful that you can actually see the wearyness of your fighter, and the damage to him comes across on the screen.

Of course all is not roses in Xboxland. The unit is terribly noisy, especially when you're playing a game (the optical drive is crazy loud), and the heat it spits out is pretty intense. Also, you need a good TV to actually appreciate it. We have a 32″ LCD at work which we run the Xbox on HD at 720p, and the thing is incredible. At home on our ghetto 26″ CRT though, it's not that impressive.

Still, I want one, if for no other reason than because it's pretty, and it would mean I could review games without lugging the entire unit home.