Thursday, August 27, 2009

Maps, 360s, a Dynamo stadium, and Nokia

A list of neat map mashups. It's really worth a look, I think.

XBox 360s fail over 56% of the time. Whoa!

Dynamo stadium news! Might an announcement come soon? Though the concept picture I've seen is an open air stadium, I think an indoor stadium would draw more fans. Particularly during the summer, the heat can be oppressive and drive fans away.

The Nokia N900 looks nice. I've been following more tech news recently, apparently.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

World Cup, web albums, and desk phones

The US is trying to get the World Cup here! I hope Houston and Dallas get games.

Picasa now has collaborative web albums! Multiple people can add and edit photos in an album! Nice! I hope this means I'll have to worry about my storage limit less.

Some people are trying to bring back the desk phone, with some style. Gotta say, it looks nice. With enough bells and whistles, I might consider getting one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Real beer

I met Rory Guinness. That's Mr. Guinness of the Irish beer company. And, what a nice guy! He signed a poster for me, and let me take a picture with him. And, he always had that smile on his face! I've seen authors at other book signings where they just want to get in and get out. Not Rory! What a sport.

His mother is currently undergoing treatment at MD Anderson, so keep her in your prayers.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

I think it'd be neat to speed read.

25 thing to watch for in the (now past) Texan's pre-season opener.

Vote for the best of Houston! As much of a foodie as I am (though, admittedly, not as much as some), I had trouble coming up with bests. Also, it just occurred to me that they have a best gelato but not best ice cream.

And, a Google thing: Google Calendars are no longer searchable, though you can still add them if you have the right ID. So, some people started up their own Google Calendar search. They need calendar submissions, though.

Things coming up in Houston. Mark your calendars!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cool stuff: camera, e-reader, and design

Neat! A camera with a projector! I wonder when phones will have this (since they're already supporting video).

And, Sony is coming out with two new e-readers. $200 doesn't sound too high, does it? This says that it even supports Google books, pdf, and doc files. Interesting! Also, as more books are avaiable on Google books, more books are also available for the Sony and Amazon readers.

Continuing on the trend of cool stuff, here's a pretty cool website: Yanko Design. You may never see the products they showcase, but you'll be glad some people are coming up with those ideas. Oh, and also WebUrbanist.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Houston electricity stuff

TXU is lowering their rates--but they might still not be the lowest for you. How's that for energy prices?

You may want to check what rates you're paying, though, since the past June and July have been the warmest in history for the city of Houston.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Venezuelan mess

What kind of statement is this? Venezuela's Chavez says that Venezuelan air force bases are at the service of Russia if they need a stopover for their long-range bombers. Uh, thanks? Was there an event that sparked the comment, or is it a non-sequitor?

Chavez is also nationalizing 60 oil-service firms, possibly leaving 22,000 jobless. Not to mention, now, coffee plants.

They're also considering a law to imprison journalists who publish materials "harmful" to state stability, saying it's necessary to "regulate the freedom of expression." This comes at a time when Venezuela has shut down 34 media outlets.

And in case you were still wondering, despite what Chavez says, Venezuelan officials (which are all of Chavez's party until very recently) are still helping Colombian rebels.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Soccer in the US

Glenn Davis, at the Chronicle, talks about style in the MLS.

He says that fans should have a say in a team's style, essentially saying that teams should have flashier plays and tactics, eventhough they're not necessarily conducive to winning more games, in order to bring in more fans. He's right to say that winning alone doesn't bring in more fans, but I think he's missing the crux of the problem. After all, looking like "lower-table English soccer" doesn't explain the problem when lower-table English soccer is more popular in England than the MLS is here.

The problem, essentially, is marketing. Davis points out that the MLS competes with football, baseball, and basketball. Very true, but think about those sports for a second. When you think of football, what do you think of? Maybe you think of big guys pounding into each other off the line of scrimmage, or a running back weaving between linesmen, or a really cool catch in the endzone. When you think of baseball, you may think of the pitcher looking down from the mound, or a batter hitting a homerun, or a double play from the infielders. When you think of basketball, you may think of a variety of shots or slam dunks, or a hook shot, or a block. Indeed, even hockey brings to mind a variety of scenes, and even golf gets more air time than soccer.

So, what does soccer bring to mind? Not much. Maybe Brandi Chastain. Soccer needs a marketing gimmick. Basketball had the Harlem Globetrotters in the early days, and now rely on a huge fan base to support amazing players showing off amazing skill. Baseball's All-Star game might be the most famous, because it shows off some pretty impressive skill--the home run spectacle always brings in a big crowd to see their favorite players hit baseballs really far.

The MLS just needs to a better job with marketing. We have some very talented players, but has any non-soccer fan really heard of Stuart Holden? Landon Donovan's great, but he's really only known on the west coast. How about getting some retired and amateur players (or, wait until Donovan's retired) and putting together some kind of Globetrotter-type team, that goes around doing tricks? We need something cool to get people excited about. There's been some commercial success at that. Soccer commercials overseas show some pretty neat abilities from top players. Why can't we have more commercials like that? Everyone remembers the Michael Jordan versus Larry Bird trick shot commercials. For the most part, these aren't tricks you see players displaying during games, but they get people excited without having them watch an actual game. That, I think, is key to improving the product both on and off the field.

Of course, this takes money, and the MLS is a relatively new league. But, signs are that the MLS is doing well, is growing, and will be able to afford better/more marketing in the future. They've already made deals for more coverage with ESPN, so hopefully they're well on their way.