Month: November 2007

Why the music industry sucks: Stupid Old Guys

I just got my first issue of my new subscription to Wired Magazine, and I may have to cancel due to my blood pressure rising. In it they profile Universal Music CEO Doug Morris, who is but the latest in a long line of guys who just doesn't freaking “get it”. The article is about how Universal is the most forward thinking of the labels by releasing DRM free music (about eight years after it is already too late by the way), but the entire article leaves you with the impression that he is the lone voice of reason AGAINST this decision, and it's probably those “uppity thirty something whipper snappers” who are forcing this decision through.

My favourite quote is this:

If you had Coca-Cola coming through the faucet in your kitchen, how much would you be willing to pay for Coca-Cola? There you go

Coca-Cola DOES come through my faucet, in the form of Dasani water…but I still spend good money on bottles of Dasani water.

The problem is that the music industry got focused on making money, and not doing the thing that it used to be good at…nurturing and promoting new artists. That used to be their core business, and the money flowed in. Now their primary interest is in “protecting their copyrights”, and there is simply no money to be made in that. The lawyers, who are getting RICH off of this, have bamboozled the music industry into thinking that this is the thing they've gotta do. SUE PEOPLE!!! SUE INDUSTRIES!!! SUE GRANDMA FOR HAVING THE RADIO ON WHILE SHE WATERS THE GARDEN!

Speaking as an uppity thirty something whipper snapper, I've got a strong message for all of the 68 year old CEO's out there. If you don't understand it, then shut up and let someone who does explain it to you. If you still don't understand it, then shut up and let that uppity thirty something be the face of this new market. If they fail, you get to pin all of the blame on them. If they succeed, you get to take all of the credit for seeing a “diamond in the rough”. It served you well all of those other times when new things or trends came around and someone explained to you why this was an important thing to latch on to.

Of course, we can also look at this quote to see why he was scared:

“There's no one in the record industry that's a technologist,” Morris explains. “That's a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn't. They just didn't know what to do. It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?”

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn't an option. “We didn't know who to hire,” he says, becoming more agitated. “I wouldn't be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me.”

I call bullshit on this. Mark Cuban, Shawn Fanning, Michael Robertson, any one of those three could have redefined your business in the 90's. Instead you chose to vilify and persecute them. Of course they showed you by becoming billionaires and millionaires.

Don't look at your falling profits as an example of why this new thing is wrong, look at them as an example of what happens when you don't listen to all of those people around you who are telling you that THIS is the next big thing.

Because let's face it, the last “big thing” that you REALLY “got” was during the Reagan administration.

My wife and daughter

This is more for me than anyone else. Just a reminder what my wife and daughter look like. Way back in October, before I started on this whole Optimize / Website Usability combo massive project, I spent a really nice week off with them. We went to Toronto, had a few fun days at home, K and I played a whole lot and read tons of comics. I even played some video games.

Those were the good old days. These days I just work. I work at home, I work at work, I work during the early morning, the mid morning, the afternoon, the mid-afternoon, the early evening, the evening, and sometimes the late evening (though I often choose to go to bed so that I can begin the cycle in earnest the next morning early).

I found this picture of us picking apples in the apple orchard on my PC's desktop as I cleaned it up in preparation of moving to a different PC.

Good times. Good times indeed.

Department of incorrect conclusions

I read a lot of things about the web. One of my favourite websites, Design Float is kind of like Digg for web design. I like it because while it's updated a few times a day, the content is specific to something I'm interested in (Web Design), and there are at max 3 or 4 articles a day. Now and then though, we get something so incredibly obvious that it kind of irritates me.

Today's conclusion was from Logo Position Orientate Your Users which could also have been titled “The Incorrect conclusion of the day”.

Here's the gist of it. Your logo should go in the upper left hand corner. This is a standard, and allows users to quickly orient themselves with where they are. Further, your logo should not deviate from home page to inner pages (or a user might think they got lost), never mind the fact that a good portion of your users will never see your home page, since they will arrive at your site from a Digg link or a Google search.

Two websites are shown as good examples. Apple and Social Actions. Apple, yeah, pretty good stuff. Social Actions? I'm not sure if their logo is the words sociLActions, or the little green RSS ripoff logo.

This is my favourite quote:

“We know that FeedBurner does not have a great interface. They place the logo on the opposite corner…”

Yes, because the logo is in the opposite corner, their whole interface is crappy.

Jeez.

So what we learned is that the upper left hand corner of a website is where logos traditionally go. If you don't put your logo there, then you're probably dumb and at the very least a poor designer.

Don't challenge conventions kids! Do what Design vs Art tells you!

Also, please walk, don't run, and for god's sakes obey all traffic signals.

Design conventions are a good thing, they help us understand the rules. There's also a very famous saying “rules were meant to be broken”. It's important to KNOW the rules, but it's also important to know enough to occasionally bend them.

Driving in Toronto – the meme

My buddy John just sent out this little Driving in Toronto meme which is so incredibly true, particularly the bits about shredded tires, turn signals, and driving 130 in the left lane being a shooting offense.

DRIVING IN TORONTO

1. You must first learn to pronounce the city's name: it is T.O.

2. The morning rush hour is from 5:00 AM to noon. The evening rush
hour is from noon to 7:00 PM. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.

3. The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 130 km/h. On the 401
or 407, your speed is expected to match the highway number. Anything
less is considered 'wussy.'

4. Forget all traffic rules you learned elsewhere; T.O. has its own version of traffic rules.
For example, cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, in Oakville, SUV-driving, Cell phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.

5. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear ended, cussed out, and possibly shot.

6. Never honk at anyone. Ever! Seriously! It's another offense that can get you shot.

7. Road construction is permanent and continuous in all of T.O. and, in fact, the GTA. Detour barrels are moved around for your entertainment pleasure during the middle of the night to make the next day's driving a bit more exciting.

8. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, cats, barrels, cones, celebs, rubber-neckers, shredded tires, Cell-phoners, deer and other road kill and the coyotes feeding on any of these items.

9. MapQuest does not work in T.O. — none of the roads are where they say they are or go where they say they do, and all freeway off- and on-ramps are moved each night.

10. If someone actually has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been 'accidentally activated.'

11. If you are in the left lane and only driving 130 km/h in a 100 zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be 'flipped off' accordingly. If you return the flip, you'll be shot.

12. Do not try to estimate travel time — just leave Monday afternoon for Tuesday appointments, by noon Thursday for Friday and right after church on Sunday for anything on Monday morning.

I love #5 because it happened to me once.

When I worked security back in 1995 or so, I got rear ended late one night by a Civic because I actually slowed down at a yellow and stopped at the red. They guy behind me yelled at me for stopping, and I was all like “the light was about to go red for me, and would definitely have been red for you and OH YEAH YOU REAR ENDED ME!!!” As I'm talking to him I'm thinking, “this guy's either drunk or an idiot”. He's popping gum like tic tacs, and begging me not to call the cops. I told him I had to because he hit my work vehicle.

Cops arrive and tell me they don't want to call in a breathalyser because they don't think he's drunk, he's just nervous. I told them that I was positive this guy was drunk.

They finally call in a car with a breathalyser, and the guy blows a 1.4, nearly twice the legal limit. The cop apologizes to me and tells me it was a good catch.

Something’s rotten in LondonTowne

Okay, I love London, I really do. It's a great city, fairly low crime rate, everything's nice and close, my mom and dad are in town so we've got built in babysitting, and my childhood friends are all here, so we've got a built in social network. All of those are good things, but there's one thing that drives me so insane that some days I actually long for the bad old days of Toronto..

London has the worst drivers in the world.

In

The

World

See this traffic? Even this Indian traffic chaos is more sensible than London.

Why? Well you can see the patterns in that chaos. You can understand what someone's doing. In London you never know.

The other day I was behind a guy who decided to turn right. He signaled, prepared to turn, and then swerved back, turned off his signal, and continued on straight. Okay, he's not tur…WHY IS HE CUTTING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME?!? Then suddenly he turns left cutting across 3 lanes of traffic and nearly causing me to sideswipe him.

On my way to work this morning there was a beautiful white Mustang in front of me, brand new, gorgeous car.

The driver was doing about 30. So I'm getting so frustrated, angry, annoyed. I pull up alongside the car, and look over. In the car, swear to god, is Clara from the Where's the Beef commercials.

This woman is about 90, cokebottle glasses. About 4'5″ tall. Literally looking THROUGH her steering wheel to see out the window. All I could think was, “There should be a law against someone that old having a car that powerful.”

In Toronto you know that drivers are going to be idiots. You know this guy is going to cut you off, and that guy will likely try to run that red. In London the only thing predictable about drivers are that they will be slow, and that they'll do something totally unpredictable.

What I’m playing – Bioshock and the Orange Box

Having finished up Halo 3 a while ago, I had gone back to plugging through Marvel Ultimate Alliance and toying around in Crackdown. I picked up BioShock, and then sold a few games to grab Guitar Hero III, but when it was sold out (pretty much everywhere), I bought The Orange Box instead.

Bioshock is an amazing game. It's full of style, with an incredible visual narrative. The story is pretty good, and it's fun to let it unfold around you. The super powers are a really cool twist, but I find it really hard managing resources and I've reached a point where I can't keep bullets on hand for my various weapons quick enough.

The Orange Box is probably the best value in video games of all time.

It contains Half Life 2, Half Life 2 Episode One, Half Life 2 Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress Classic.

Now I've finished about 3/4 of Half Life 2 on two different systems (the original X-Box and the PC), but I'm going to give it one more shot. It looks incredible on the 360, and my sweet TV makes it all the better.

Portal is an incredible game. It's really short taking just over 2 hours to complete totally, but it's ridiculously fun. This would have made a terrific XBox Live Arcade title.

Finally there's Team Fortress Classic 2. I've let my Live Gold membership expire, but this game may be enough to get me back on there. It looks like it's a load of fun, and the really cool graphics which look torn from the pages of a comic, are a welcome addition.

There's still a lot of really great stuff available for the Xbox 360. Assasin's Creed, Call of Duty 4, Beautiful Katamari, and of course Guitar Hero III are all on my “must play” list. I'll probably give a few other games a whirl if I can find them really cheap (like Simpsons, Conan, and Tomb Raider Anniversary).

The next game I'm likely to shell out cold hard cash for is Rock Band, which was supposed to get released on Tuesday, but will now arrive in Canada on December 20th. That sucks, but it gives me some time to get some stuff done so that I can dedicate the holidays to rocking out I guess.

‘Member Bee?

Ever since we took Kaylin to the Western Fair back in September, she’s asked the same question of us every day. “Member Bee?” She’ll say, and then go into a tirade about how the bees went “wound and wound”, and how the Ladybugs went “too faster”, and how the man in the cage was carried by the monkey. Tonight however when she was asking ‘Member Bee? She was also asking about the bee who flew and carried the honey. Thank you Barry Bee Benson.

Ryan and I took our girls (Paige for him, Kaylin with me) to see The Bee Movie today. It was the first movie since “Stars and Strollers” for both of our girls, and they surprised us by sitting still for pretty much the whole flick…even during the agonizing last half hour which just dragged far too long.

We got to the theatre first and went looking for Ryan and Paige. Kaylin and I entered the theatre, and the look on her face when she saw the massive screen was priceless. Her eyes widened and she was amazed.

We went back into the lobby, found Ryan and Paige, got some snacks, and entered the theatre as the trailer for The Golden Compass started. Now I’ve got to say as an adult it looks awesome, but it’s full of action and massive bears attacking one another…a little overwhelming for a toddler.

The theatre was dark, and Kaylin was overwhelmed. She stood still and made this awful little mewling sound. My hands were full with snacks and a booster seat, so I had to grab an usher to help us out a little bit.

Once in her seat though, she was happy as the bee’s knees. She sat in the chair mesmerized, and barely looked at the spoon that I was using to feed her ice cream.

She was such a great kid. About 20 minutes into the flick I got tired of leaning down to hear what she was saying, and I plunked her on my lap, where she sat for almost the next hour.

Both she and Paige had a great time, and I have to admit it was a lot of fun for me too. The movie wasn’t great, but just the fact that I know I can take her out to a movie and she’ll be good means that we’ve got another “daddy/daughter” thing that we can do to get away.

And that is sweeter than all of the honey in the world!