Monday, June 23, 2008

Opinion : Comments "Speak Up!"

Remember in school when the teacher told you, "There are no stupid questions"? Now, we all know there ARE stupid questions. From the questions with painfully obvious answers to those that are just plain dumb, you should always ask the question to yourself before you speak up. But I believe teachers told us this because they wanted to encourage discussion. Discussion is a tricky thing. Some times it comes easy, most times it takes some effort.

The Web 2.0 movement is all about the community. Sites like Reddit, Digg, and various personal blogs depend on the user to stay alive. Without the user, there would be no content. So forms like comments are really important, and always (almost) encouraged. However, along my journey into the Web 2.0 community at large, I've found that not all sites truly encourage holistic participation. For example, the Gawker blog empire. You actually have to audition to comment. They say they don't want "spammers", which is a legitimate concern. However, there are always those freaky "I'm Not A Robot" pictures and other means to ensure you're getting a real commenter. So why do they have the audition process? They do it because they want to shape the content of their site, even the community created content, just like big brother. I like to compare their process to reality television. There are a select few who get commenting "privileges" (the cast) and then the producers (Gawker's editors) guide them through the show. I don't like it. If they are worried about boring or stupid comments, they've already failed. I've seen plenty of absolutely ridiculous, sometimes offensive stuff.

I guess my argument really is null though, it's their site and they can do whatever they want with it. All I'm saying, though, is not allowing the free flow of comments hurts their product. I will admit, I'm no "star commenter", but sometimes I actually have something useful to say (shock I know) and it really chaps my ass to have to try to "Apply to Comment" and then never see my comment on the board. I've stopped trying.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Review : Album : Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Coldplay is like the ex-girlfriend I'm deciding to give another go, after she decides to knock off the nonsense and step up to the plate. X&Y was Coldplay's nonsense and now Viva La Vida is stepping up to the plate. The album makes up for the disappointment X&Y left in many hearts four years ago. For me, it secures Coldplay's place in the list of bands who have changed their sound without sacrificing quality.


'Lost!' - After about ten or so listens, this is my favorite song on the album. Why is this track so critical? The position on the album. It is a jolt to the heart of Viva La Vida's life. 'Living in Technicolor' and 'Cemeteries Of London' are not strong enough to make you step back and be impressed with Coldplay's revolutionary album"; 'Lost!' is. Two very key aspects to this song. First, the percussion. It knocks you in the face with a tribal beat and one of my favorite elements; hand clap! This steady base endures through the song and is what makes it great. Second, the organ chord progression is very catchy. I almost didn't want Chris to start singing his predictable lyrics. However, he doesn't do too bad in this one. "Just because I'm hurting, doesn't mean I'm hurt." And you can tell Coldplay themselves wanted this track to be important, they put it on there twice.

'Lovers In Japan'/'Reign of Love' - The Cure. The beginning of the song is straight out of the Robert Smith playbook. However, once the rhythm kicks in we're off riding on a new era Coldplay song. There is great movement in this piece, you almost feel compelled to run as the song suggests. It then transforms into 'Reign of Love' a classic Chris Martin love song that almost lulls you to sleep.

'Viva La Vida' - I love it when strings are used in pop music and this song is basically strings and percussion. I have no idea why Johnny is playing his guitar in the iTunes commercial, there is no guitar part. Unlike most songs on X&Y and some on Viva, the lyrics to this song are not predictable. Chris did a good job of telling of a story and it takes a few listens to actually follow the words and their meaning in this song. You can definitely hear the Arcade Fire influence at the end of the song with the echoing ohs.

'Death and All His Friends' - This one immediately caught me with the line, "so come over, just be patient, and don't worry". Contrast is what makes this song great. You begin with a quiet classic Parachutes like piano riff with Chris barely whispering. Then at 2:12 it begins, Coldplay's arena power ballad. An instant concert classic, along with 'Lost!', you can almost see the grand technicolor lights that will kick in half way through. The inspiring chant "No I don't wanna battle from beginning to end, I don't want a cycle of recycled revenge, I don't wanna follow Death and all his friends". You cannot help but rally.

What I Disliked:

I'm not sure what happened to Chris Martin between the time he wrote Rush of Blood to the Head to the time he wrote X&Y. Maybe the sudden dive into celebrity caused a blackout in his creative mind, but Viva La Vida is (like X&Y) lacking quality lyrics. Especially when compared to the lyrics on Parachutes and Rush of Blood. Viva La Vida does have some good lines, but a majority of the word Chris cries in falsetto are cliches and simple rhymes. Most guilty song of poor lyrics: 'Violet Hill', "was a long and dark December, from the rooftops I remember", come on! It sounds like he used a rhyming dictionary for kids.

Listening to Viva La Vida and then listening to Parachutes I realized the only indicator that it is the same band is Chris' voice. The band has changed its sound so dramatically that you can't help but wonder what could have been if they would have suck with the simple, almost folksy, acoustic guitar/piano genre.

At least they have found some footing in the new genre they reached for with X&Y. The album is a success and will do well in sales, but even more so the concert tour will prove to be a smash hit with an arsenal of crowd pleasers.

However, for me, the old Coldplay of Parachutes and Rush of Blood to the Head will always be why I take notice.

Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends : Grade 3/5.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

From Above

It's out there. It's real. The universe, infinite darkness and discovery, we don't think about it often enough, we're so caught up in our own little planet.

Completely bare assed, mooning the cosmos! It's incredible, it's horrifying, it's right there!

Definitely something on my "If you had 3 wishes...": Spacewalk, and gaze.

(photo via and more at:

Friday, June 06, 2008


Why doesn't Dell have mac capable drivers on its website? How in the hell am I supposed to get the brilliant resolution?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tech News : Verizon to aquire Alltel

In tech news, Alltel will be acquired by Verizon. Hopefully this will improve Verizon's service in general. I've been a Verizon user for years. When my parents and I moved back from Korea in 2002, the "everyone owns a cell phone" shift had just began. We initially started with Sprint but then switched to Verizon, which for the most part, was a good move. However, now that I am starting to desire data access on my cell phone and there are devices like the iPhone all around, I'm surprised Verizon has continued to stick with its VCast/browsing software. The software itself is poorly designed and severely lacking in features. I guess the web browsing promises of the iPhone and the email accessibility of the Blackberry have spoiled me when I consider standards of mobile data access. But is wanting a simple and reliable way of accessing the internet on my phone too much to ask?

In Related News:
I FINALLY saw a Kindle out in the wild today. All my previous notions of this waste of a product were right. The thing is THE MOST poorly designed, overrated, misplaced concept device I have ever seen. My main issues (mostly design related).

I'll make this short:

1. It's not symmetrical. The body of the Kindle is a mess of polygons gone wrong. It awkwardly fits into the cheap looking jacket it comes with. Oh, and Jeff Bezos, don't think I didn't notice the stolen strap design to hold the jacket Moleskin stealing ass. (I know I'm being mean and unprofessional, but the guy just annoys me!)

2. It's so BIG. Now, it could get away with being as big as it is, IF it had a good symmetrical design, but it doesn't. It is fairly thick too, I'd say about an inch at its thickest. If you read my earlier post about the Kindle, when it first came out, you'll know I don't even believe in its concept. However, if the market demands a portable e-book reader, then I at least want it to be stylish and slim. The Kindle fails at both.

3. Lacks two very important features, one of which is an industry standard in my opinion; color and touchscreen. I'll give the Kindle a pass on the touchscreen technology (even though Jeff Bezos claims the Kindle is "revolutionary", but when you're "revolutionary" it means you're at the top of the game, not meddling in the lukewarm waters of a SCROLL WHEEL!), because it isn't fully developed yet. But the Kindle not having color is unforgivable. How am I supposed to enjoy content without color? One of Kindle's main selling point, according to Amazon, is access to thousands of newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Let us go through these three media sources and weed out the ones that only use black and white text...hmm let me think here...carry the 2 and subtract 1...ummm oh that's right..ZERO! When the lady I saw using the Kindle paged up the entire screen inverted the black/white contrast and then loaded the next page, it looked so low-tech I couldn't believe anyone would ever spend $340 for it.

I know I'm being very critical here, and I know all you e-book lovers will defend the Kindle and e-publishing world in general. However, my essential beef with the Kindle is the way in which Jeff Bezos and Amazon have framed its creation, release, and marketing. They have framed it as "revolutionary". PROOF:

It is not revolutionary. Every feature claim is neither unique nor innovative.

NOT UNIQUE: Instant access to books, newspapers, blogs, and magazines = iPhone, MacBook Air, any device with Wi-Fi essentially. Portability = again, iPhone, MacBook Air, any device with Wi-Fi. Specific e-book reader = Sony's portable reader.

NOT INNOVATIVE: A scroll wheel (should be touchscreen). Black and white only (should be have color capability). Industrial design that looks like you bought it at the dollar store (should be symmetrical and thin).

The arrogance of Bezos is incredibly annoying. End rant.

One final note in this extra long tech entry. I bought it! Pictures of set up, soon to come! Dell told me in the email it is expected to arrive June 6th, i.e. TOMORROW, which I highly doubt. I'm more expecting Monday, but here's hoping!

Monday, June 02, 2008

What's In My Bag

"Whats in your baaag, whats in your baaaag. TOMMY TOMMY TOMMY*!"

*Tommy Armour golf equipment