Friday, December 30, 2011

Review: Working'!! Season 2

I missed the apostrophe  the first time I saw this
Not much has changed between the first and second seasons of the slice-of-life comedy Working. All they did to differentiate the Japanese titles of first and second seasons was add an apostrophe to the title of the second season, which I know is giving a headache to many of you grammar fiends out there. “Working’!!” has not changed the whimsical character interactions and the light-hearted themes found in the first season of “Working!!”, but there have been subtle changes in the second season which have given new life to the staff of Wagnaria.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Paul Christoforo Story: PR Failure to Internet Meme In Less Than 24 Hours

Today much of the enthusiast video game community have been abuzz talking about the saga of Paul Christoforo and the Avenger video game controller add-on for the Xbox 360 and PS3 Controllers. When Dave, a concerned customer that had bought the Avenger product early this month, sent a concerned email to Paul Christoforo, the now-former PR representative for the Avenger product, he received several unfortunate and unprofessional responses from Paul.

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Thoughts on the Facebook Timeline

Facebook's Timeline has been out for over a week now and so far the the popular reception has been mixed. The majority people I know personally and online have either ignored it or have been ambivalent towards Timeline. The concept of organizing events, interactions, and photos on the profile page to create a personal narrative is compelling, but as is the norm with Facebook, the concept has not quite matched its implementation.

One of the main issues is that Techcrunch's Josh Constine explored is that even though Facebook's Timeline works well with the current privacy controls, there are many things that users can easily overlook or forget to remove from the Timeline. For any avid Facebook user there are potentially thousands of Facebook photos, comments, and events that could show up on the Timeline, and not all users fully understand that events on the Activity Log in the distant past can show up again. 

Potential privacy headaches aside, the Facebook Timeline also feels like a half-hearted throwback to the bygone days of Myspace personal profiles. Users have long desired the ability to customize their profile pages, and while the Timeline is a start in helping satisfy those desires, it does not offer up the ability to embed media or fully customize themes. Giving users more options would have gone a long way in giving Timeline much more substance, since as it is right now it feels more like a time-consuming gimmick rather than a desirable enhancement to Facebook. 

It is easy to understand Facebook's approach with Timeline: It is a addition that gives users power to curate and record their relationships with other people. However, is it something that the majority of Facebook users have wanted or even find useful? Doubtful. It seems to me that the Timeline is a project that was born primarily out of Facebook's desire to further cement their hold on the market, rather than being born from the desire to provide users with tools that they want to use. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Finding the Boundaries of Social and Personal With Between

I saw an interesting post over at the Geek Dad blog on Wired about Between, a mobile app made by a South Korean start up that is a social network for two people. In many Asian cultures sharing photos and other details about personal lives is against the norm, so Between was created to be a social network for people in intimate relationships to give them some of the advantages of a traditional social network while keeping things private.

In all of our admiration of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Anybeat, it can be easy to forget where our boundaries of our personal lives end and our online social networking lives begin. It is easier to find these boundaries on some social networks as opposed to others, but regardless our constant connection to the online world has made us take for granted the value of intimate moments and relationships.

There is always room for socializing with other people, but it is ideas and apps like Between that really let us appreciate human connections instead of casual connections. Some of us can still have intimate moments without anybody intruding on Facebook, and some of us can even have similar moments with people outside our traditional friends list on networks like Anybeat, but for those of us that want something that is purely intimate, Between looks like a great app.

Source: Wired Geek Dad

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spotify No Longer In Beta For Blackberry

Christmas has come early for Blackberry lovers that use Spotify. Today Spotify announced that the Spotify app for Blackberry is now available to compatible Blackberry  phones, which are the Bold 9780, Bold 9700, Curve 9300, Bold 9000 and the Curve 8520.

Even though the app is only available to premium Spotify subscribers, it is still a welcome addition in the relatively deserted Blackberry app marketplace. Blackberry users now have a great alternative to the Pandora and the Blackberry Music subscriptions services to satisfy their music needs on the go. Before today Pandora was the only quality streaming experience on the device, so now Blackberry users can feel a bit more comfortable knowing that they actually have options now.

Source: Geeky Gadgets, Spotify

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Predicting the Future of Social Networking in 2012

2012 will be the year for alternative social networks like Anybeat.
An interesting point that was brought up in a recent Forbes article on megatrends in social media for 2012 was the growing importance of our roles as curators and transmitters of online content. As inconsequential as posting a interesting news link or linking a video to our friends and family may seem to be, it is this process that is fast becoming a major online ecosystem in which corporations are starting to invest time and money into.

Corporate and marketing focus aside, social media and the Internet has also played an important part in organizing and supporting protests and revolutions around the world in 2011, and our roles as transmitters of online news and videos of events were key to the unprecedented global spread of political awareness. This trend will continue in 2012, and the rise of alternative social networks will continue to expand our roles as curators of online content.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Digital Evolution of the Global Protest Movement

The global trend of political activity by the Facebook Generation has continued with the Occupy protests in the United States and the recent protests in Russia against election corruption. As the younger generations of the world have found themselves increasingly empowered thanks to social media and social networks, in turn the Internet has increasingly found itself to be the location of battles for free speech and political freedom. The recent Russian spam attacks on Twitter this past week have been the latest volleys in this battle and are a sign that the conflict is intensifying.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reasons to Have Faith in the Google Music Beta

Many people were slightly underwhelmed at what functionalities went live at the Google Music beta’s launch. Not only was support missing from the world’s second largest music publisher Warner Music Group, but the Google Music beta was also missing core functionality to purchase music on Android devices and PCs. Google has started to roll out music purchases to specific Android phones since the original announcement, but it is still easy to sense that there is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Google’s latest project.

To further complicate the situation, Google is not entering the cloud-based music market alone. Amazon’s Cloud Player and Apple’s iCloud and iTunes Match services already exist and are competing for money and mind share.  There are also other music services that offer alternative music purchasing services that have gained traction such as Spotify and Pandora that the Google Music beta has to compete with. With such well-established competition, it can be easy to dismiss Google Music to be another one of Google’s ill-fated ventures.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Siri's Impact in the Battle of the Smart Phones

The iPhone 4S and Siri
The recent launch of the 5th generation iPhone 4S has not generated the stir that its legendary predecessor has four years ago, but while it does not compare to the original iPhone on the number of revolutionary functions, the iPhone 4S has one function that is poised to change the face of mobile devics; Siri.

As a comprehensive virtual assistant that accompanies iOS 5 on the iPhone 4S, Siri has disappointed those expecting a bit more versatility. In terms of potential and design direction though, Siri actually is a revolutionary function that is poised to change the way phones are used, and this is why Siri is Apple’s biggest salvo across the bows of Google and Microsoft’s mobile aspirations.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why eSports Matters

Audience at Starcraft 2 finals of MLG Anahiem 2011
Recently I have been enthralled by sudden growth of the international competitive gaming scene, but I still cringe when some claim that eSports will explode into mainstream popularity. While gaming itself has now embedded itself into mainstream culture, competitive gaming has not reached the same level because it remains a niche pastime for the minority of the population. Despite the presence of gaming consoles in almost every household, we will not be seeing "Halo: Reach" or "Starcraft 2" tournament replays sharing airtime with conventional sports on any of the popular network channels. The diversity and vast scope of mainstream gaming is not compatible with the narrow focus of competitive gaming, and any attempts to introduce it into the mainstream awareness are bound for failure.

So is eSports a lost cause destined to burn out with the trends and fads of yesteryear? Actually, no. What makes eSports unique is that it does not need the mainstream to grow, and if it continues the rapid momentum it has built up over most of 2011 it can easily become a global juggernaut in online entertainment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Wii U Unveiling Debacle

If Nintendo’s unveiling of the Wii U left you somewhat confused, rest assured that you are not alone. The Wii U unveiling was so underwhelming that Nintendo stock prices dropped to levels never before seen since the original Wii’s launch in 2006. The Wii U unveiling undoubtedly had the biggest splash at this year's E3; it was topic of conversation for everybody who attended E3, and has left the Internet abuzz ever since it was announced. So if the Wii U announcement was successful in getting the new console name out into the public imagination, why did the stockholder exodus occur?

Putting it simply, the Wii U is both too extreme and not extreme enough, and this awkward position means that Nintendo can potentially end up in last place in the home console race. As the core of Nintendo’s strategy to cement their lead in the home gaming console race for the future, Nintendo did not prove that the Wii U and its tablet controller was innovative or advanced enough to keep it at the forefront of the race when the next Xbox or Playstation would eventually come out. Indeed, when compared against Microsoft’s current Kinect controller-less motion capturing technology, to many people the Wii U tablet controller almost looks like a step backwards in terms of pushing the envelope of video gaming.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review: LA Noire

There will always be a Call of Duty game, a Madden game, or a Need For Speed game, but there will only be one L.A. Noire. There is not a game that exists now that comes close to offering the wonderfully woven tapestry of exposition and tension that L.A. Noire offers, and I am confident that it will remain that way for some time.

You do not simply play L.A. Noire, you become invested in the narrative as it unfolds across multiple cases, and you are enveloped in the grimy underworld and slimy politics of crime-busting in Los Angeles during the late 1940s. Other games about might have atmospheric settings, but L.A. Noire does not simply just have great atmosphere, it drowns you in it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June Playlist: 90's Rock, Modernized

Summer is here, and there's no better way to celebrate the start of this great season with some great rock. Yellowcard is one of the last modern ambassadors of the pop-punk rock craze of the 90's, so it is fitting to head into summer taking a brief look at their latest album When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes. Continuing Yellowcard's efforts to modernize their 90's pop-punk style, When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes is a standout album that has lots of great songs.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Political Reality of the Facebook Generation

Activists and bloggers in Cairo's Tahrir Square during the height of the protests

Our generation has created new markets our relentless demand for online media, changed the Internet with the Web 2.0 movement, and has helped globalize pop culture. Yet despite these accomplishments, many doubted that we would have a substantial lasting impact on the world beyond our media consumption. The advent of the Arab Spring and our leadership of the democratic revolutions in nations across the globe have silenced these doubts. Our generation can now add another accomplishment on the growing list, along with a new nickname; the Facebook generation.

Friday, May 27, 2011

And we're back folks

It's been awhile. I know I said I was taking a break, and that break turned out to eight months long, but I didn't want to be providing half-assed content during that time. Now that I've managed to carve out more time, I'm going to resume ranting on a semi-regular basis.

Also on my list of things to do, I will be updating the look and layout of the blog in some fashion. I'm not going to make any major promises on when that will happen, but it will be done sooner than later.

The last thing I want to mention is that I will be aiming to post on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. This won't be an actual posting schedule, but just something that I will adhere to if I have suitable content to post. I'm aiming to increase the quality and depth of my posts, so I might take some extra time in polishing an article if I feel it's needed.

It feels great to be back writing. Check back again soon!