Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Google Voice transcript of a pocket dial

Google Voice is really cool and useful for me.

It's also occasionally hilarious as it tries to transliterate incoming voice mail.

Today, someone accidentally pocket-dialed me.

Here's the first (innocuous) part of the transcript:
"How, hey. Why don't they. I don't know how the bye people. Hey, give me a only, okay. Hey Joe of. I will talk to you soon. No Cleaning. Yay. Goodbye alright call bye here. Hey Nothing getting here. Have a great day. Bye. Allow and dinner. Yeah. Okay bye. He has a cellphone, hey all that what's going on, and I could go. But hey in it, or Yahoo. Com. Hey, bye bye everything you bye bye that weird looks like we're here, hey. Ohh. Hello, blah blah blah blah blah. Her bye bye, hey. But hey, some other things. Hope things are going to you later. Bye, it's, hey i love you, hey baller. Bye. You Okay bye. Peace. But if you can, hey hey. The. Hey, and and Yeah, it was. Hey, ohh bye. Hello. Hey, hi this is Yeah, hey."
Then, **** gets dark:
"You know you are you. Hello. Hi, Just wondering, reply. I wonder if I had a death wish today. I did not have a lot. Hey, so I will not work."
I think my phone has issues. And is projecting...

Friday, September 21, 2012

Parenting and Accountability

People who know me know I'm pretty keen on personal accountability -- for myself, and for other people.

Those same folks know I don't have to know you to hold you accountable.

I'll be professional, I'll be constructive, but if you are doing something blatantly untoward in public, it's totally possible I'll chat with you about it. Society's arguably in a bit of a nosedive, and I'd argue societal character disorder is at least in part at play.

 My kids know this, too. Sometimes, that bites me.

Last night, I was helping my 4-year-old with something she really should be able to do on her own. I stopped what I was doing, briefly helped her, then went back to what I was doing.


"What, Hon?"

"You didn't do it right."

"Look, Sweetie, it's not my job to do this for you."

"Yeah, but it is your job to do the part you said you'd help me with right!"


She's totally right.

Note to self: Avoid transparent half-assery.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Can't change the past ...

There is no going back to the past, jacking with the timestream, stopping John Wilkes Booth, keeping Pa Kent from having a heart attack, or avoiding the Butterfly effect.

There's just dealing with what did happen, and doing something about it and your life from right now onward.

So if you're reading this now, sitting in the dark in you're underwear in your lame-ass wannabe version of the Batcave, put on your Big Boy pants, nut up, do what you already know needs to be done, and get past all the bull***t self-talk you've used to justify your flaccid inactivity.

Nothing you do defines your value, or adds or detracts one iota from who you are at the core.

How you react to what's done to you says volumes about your character, and who you really, really are.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling (for me)


Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

has been making the rounds (a la @lawnrocket).

Rather than just pass the link for the list on to people (but do read it), here's a bit o' commentary.

It's great for storytellers, videogame developers, actors, and people (at least).

The ones that resonated with me?

7, 8, 10, 13, 16

7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

(As an actor, it's about knowing what I want, not how I get there; how I get there will change. Repeatedly. For gaming, figuring out the end and how it can change lets me create a whole bunch of fun for the Player before they get there.)

8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

(I get stuck in trying to get it "right" when I'm trying to do [anything]. People are beautiful and flawed. So are genuinely interesting characters. Some of my favorite games are far from perfect, and off the popular radar. "Breakdown". "Enslaved". "D&D Heroes".)

10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

(Same advice I got years ago from one of my acting coaches, Stephen Prince, and helped me recognize not just what was important to my acting craft, but to me as a human being. Identifying and tearing apart those specific bits of "Dead Poets Society", "The Iron Giant", "The Secret of NIMH", "The Dark Knight", "Say Anything" and other films that resonated with me was a pretty big growth moment for me.)

13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

(Acting, writing, gaming, or otherwise being. Boring is boring.)

16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

(Consequences are funny thing. "Make it matter" seems obvious, but living it and trying to do something with it is something else. Rising to it is something else still. In fiction. And in just trying to live.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

How YOU can be successful

OK. I have concrete steps for how you (specifically, you) can be successful in life.

I don't care what you do. Or where you are. Averaged over your life, this will work for you.

  1. Do the work you are supposed to be doing
  2. Don't avoid the work you are supposed to be doing
  3. Don't be an ass while doing the work you are supposed to be doing. (Actually, just don't be an ass.)
  4. If you are not doing #1, but are doing #2, and/or #3, don't lie about any of it. We know. Everyone knows. And we tell each other. About you. (It's not gossip; it's consequence for your bad behavior.)
And yes, this is motivated by a handful of recent events with severely broken individuals operating at a shockingly bad sub-professional level, a brief personal historical assessment of similar folks, and admittedly my nigh pathological, idealistic desire to hold people accountable to do the right thing (I know, I know -- it's on them, but ...).

We all hold our reputations in our hands. I am amazed at the arrogance and character disorder of people who think that truth doesn't apply to them.

(You're welcome.)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Elaine Frances Tirabassi (1946-2012)

AUDIO: Elaine Frances Tirabassi (1946-2012)

(Here's the text of the obituary, but please listen to the audio.)

ROUND ROCK, Texas — Elaine Frances Tirabassi (1946-2012), 65, went to be with Jesus Feb. 6, 2012, after a brief struggle with leukemia. She was surrounded by her family.

Born in Brighton, Mass., she was the daughter of the late Florence and Clifford Johnson.

Elaine was a model of wisdom, godly submission, discipline and sacrifice. She was a deeply dedicated and caring friend. Elaine was a loving spouse and helpmate for 40 years, before losing her husband, Victor Wallace Tirabassi, in 2009.

Elaine is survived by her children and their spouses Dan & Kate Tirabassi, Joanne & Adam Creighton, & Anthony Tirabassi; her six lovely grandchildren Kiera, Gianna, Isabella, Carina, Gavin, & Joshua; her siblings Bob Johnson, Marjorie Bollino, and Paul Johnson.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking donations are made to: Campus Crusade for Christ International, Staff #: 0372883, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, FL 32832

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Netflix, Redbox, Blockbuster, and Amazon

My last post inspired me to switching gears to be bit crazy.

That last post was about the Kindle Fire as a perfectly viable physical and distribution platform.

But I also like the potential disruptive models, and weird (but still possible) business scenarios that get me what I want as a consumer.

I've written before about Redbox buying Vudu and Blockbuster, Netflix buying Redbox, Amazon buying Netflix, and there being an explosion of content for Amazon (though not as much as people think; Amazon really does OK, and there's a high overlap in Hulu/Redbox/Prime Instant Videos), and an Amazon Netflix rental DVD distribution (which they might or might not keep), and "Amazon Redbox" stations everywhere.

Part of this has already happened, as Netflix bought those blue rental kiosks at Walmarts everywhere. Then (in case you missed it) Coinstar (the company who owns Redbox), bought NCR for $100MM. NCR operates things like ATM machines, point of sales and retail systems, airline check-in systems, and Blockbuster Express branded kiosks

Coinstar's purchase of NCR (to be finalized quarter 3 of this year, if it's not considered anti-regulatory) includes DVD kiosks, "certain retailer contracts", and DVD inventory -- Giving Netflix a bunch of additional distribution points and product. 

That's after the Verizon and Redbox announced a physical and streaming agreement, that's going to make things real challenging for Netflix (and maybe Amazon streaming).

That Verizon / Redbox streaming competition makes things harder for Netflix, but maybe it makes them more applicable for an Amazon partnership (who obviously has the bigger market cap).

One of my big frustrations with streaming media is having to go to multiple sources to get content, and/or a lack of compelling new content (Netflix), or content expiring sooner than I can watch it (Hulu). I actually think an explosion of streaming options could be a good thing, as licensors can charge less (say, 30% of what they do for "just Netflix", license out to multiple streaming sources (4 to n), and make a lot more money, and be on whatever streaming solution to which I want to subscribe as a consumer. 

Going back to Amazon, as a consumer, I'd be fine if that scenario worked out somewhere that way (consolidated acquisition or more of the same content across multiple streaming services. Add scenarios where Amazon has an Xbox 360 media app. And buys Gamefly. That would give me my movie / book / music / gaming fixes in the same purchase / rent / stream / physical or digital model that I want, all in the same consumer-oriented ecosystem, whether I get it from my PC, phone, tablet, or game console.

Like I said, crazy. And I'm intentionally ignoring a lot of stuff. But not myopically

(Quick aside about relative market caps and aggressive partnership: Netflix is about 6x the market cap of Coinstar, but I'd argue Coinstar is being more intelligently aggressive in their partnerships and acquisitions. Netflix does stuff like the failed Quickster fiasco, and buying the domain.)

The Kindle Fire, official Google tablets, and bad assessments from "experts"

I was reading an article, "Why Amazon Can't Win a Tablet Price War Against Google" (the title is basically the premise).

At first, I thought, "there are some good points here."

Moments later, that turned into, "WTF? This is ridiculous and invalid.

The article had some good points, but seems to be ignoring a lot, and overall, it's a poor article.

To be honest, I think the author was trying to center around the semi-clever analogy, "the Fire is just another box for Amazon", and intentionally or myopically left stuff out.

He ignored low-level things like Amazon is doing away with boxes (shipping items in their own packaging), and higher level things like their ridiculously successful digital distribution (their Prime subscribers, their hundreds per month $5 MP3 albums, Prime Instant Videos, etc.).

Then there's Amazon's cloud storage (consumer and enterprise S3), their negative inventory business model, the fact the business is built around making their money per transaction, etc.

And while this particular author says it's not sustainable to lose money on the manufacture of each device, it is when it's amortized across the business (think the Xbox and Xbox 360 business unit growth and P/L distribution across quarters and other business units under Microsoft's digital entertainment umbrella).

He claims the loss on manufacture of the Fire is between $10 to $70, which tells me he doesn't understand what the loss is, and is discounting reduction of manufacturing cost over time as components become far cheaper (economies of scale, efficiencies in manufacture, successive technologies, etc.) -- again, the Xbox / 360 growth is an example of that.

Also, Acer and Asus -- tablet providers he classifies as "Companies that are in the tablet hardware business only" "that sell tablets for profit" -- sell tablets for $199 (for a profit; they're not loss-leaders, which wouldn't work in this context). Amazon can easily do likewise.

And then there's just flat out odd stuff he says in the article -- like

"Any discount retailer, from Wal-Mart to Costco, has to make it up on volume. But Amazon can't."

Really? Amazon is an online discount retailer that's perfected the Dell negative-inventory distribution model. Of course they can make it up by volume.

As far as dogging the subsidy model (Amazon allegedly subsidizing manufacturing loss), think the handset carrier analogy (which is a perfectly sustainable model). The Fire is analogous to the handset, Prime to the phone service, and Amazon purchases are the way-higher-margin-than-microtransaction purchases.

This is not to discount Amazon having some serious competition from Google, and it's possible official tablets.

But Amazon's foremost advantage may be it genuinely has a product portfolio mindset, which is something -- to be frank -- Google struggles with. As a concrete example, I pitched an all-ecosystem offering to the stakeholders for each of the ecosystem pieces, and the people I talked to seemed genuinely confused and/or uninterested in its combinatorial value-add across the ecosystem (outside of their individual piece). Pitching the same concept to some other "ecosystem-type partners" blew their socks off, and there's a mad scramble from them to snag it and make it happen in some form or fashion.

Second, Amazon could open their Fire platform. Right now, the Fire is a semi-locked Android tablet, which turns a lot of people off (myself included, but not enough to keep me from buying one). Amazon could open the Fire up to a "legit" version of Android, and become a partner for Google's ecosystem, and make the device more appealing to more folks.

Amazon could make some content free or cheaper on the Fire, and charge more on other platforms. They could do the Microsoft Windows Phone model (Halo ATLUSKinectimals, Xbox Live app), and make the Kindle, Prime, and related apps free on the Fire, and charge for the other versions (or make them free on both, but feature-richer on the Fire).

So that's probably enough about the Fire and that myopic business assessment.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Today's run

  • Distance: 2.1 miles
  • Duration: 14:42
  • Pace-setting song: The Passenger (Michael Hutchence, Batman Forever Soundtrack)
  • Major challenge: Dragging an 84-pound dog who didn't want to run in the rain