Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category

Patents And Oscars

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This is a big day for announcements.

First, IBM announced a record 6,478 patents in 2012, patents for inventions that will enable fundamental advancements across key domains that includes analytics, big data, cybersecurity, cloud, mobile, social networking, as well as industry solutions like retail, banking, healthcare, and transportations.

These patented inventions also will advance a major shift in computing, known as the era of cognitive systems.

This is the 20th consecutive year that IBM topped the annual list of U.S. patent recipients.

Ginny Rometty, IBM’s chairman and CEO, had this to say about the milestone:

“We are proud of this new benchmark in technological and scientific creativity, which grows out of IBM’s century-long commitment to research and development. Most concretely, our 2012 patent record and the two decades of leadership it extends are a testament to thousands of brilliant IBM inventors — the living embodiments of our devotion to innovation that matters, for our clients, for our company and for the world.”

IBM’s record-setting 2012 patent tally was made possible by more than 8,000 IBM inventors residing in 46 different U.S. states and 35 countries. IBM inventors residing outside the U.S. contributed to nearly 30% of the company’s 2012 U.S. patent output.

There was also an early morning announcement from Los Angeles, this year’s Academy Award nominees.

There was another long slate of Best Film nominees, including Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty.

I’ve seen five of the nine, which puts me well ahead of where I am most years in terms of what films I have and haven’t seen.

Best Actor nominations were led by Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln and Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook.  If you’ve seen Lincoln, it’s hard to see how the Best Actor Oscar doesn’t go do DDL.

On the Best Actress front, the nominations were led by Juillard-trained Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook.  But don’t rule out Emmanualle Riva for Amour, or the chamelon-like Naomi Watts in The Impossible. In a crazy year, Quvenzhane Wallis could even walk away with the Oscar for her crazy good performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, one of the most unique, imaginative films I’ve seen in years.

Quentin Tarantino got a nomination for Django Unchained in the Best Original Screenplay category, but I think that one is there for the taking by Mark Boal, screenwriter for Zero Dark Thirty.

Congrats to all this year’s nominees.  As a big movie fan myself, looking at that slate of Best Pic nominees, you realize what a strong movie year it’s been.

Finally, on the topic of movies, if you’re a big movie fan, check out Stephen Rodrick’s piece in The New York Times magazine about the trials and tribulations renowned screenwriter-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Affliction, et al.) had financing and making his new film, The Canyons, which stars that ever-intemperate actress Lindsay Lohan.

Meanwhile, below I’ve included a nice video clip summarizing IBM’s 20 successive years of patent leadership, and you can learn more about IBM’s patent efforts on our Tumblr site.

Written by turbotodd

January 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Big Bird’s Social Media Job Search

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Poor Big Bird.

Through no fault of his own, he becomes the punching bag of the Republican party during last night’s presidential debate, which by all counts have suggested provided a big “W” in the Romney column.

I grew up with Big Bird.  I know Big Bird well.  Big Bird is a friend of mine.

Please don’t kill Big Bird.

If it weren’t for Big Bird, I might never have learned to read.  Which means I might also have never learned to write.

Which means I couldn’t bring you these blog posts on such a regular basis.

I guess I could draw stick figures and post them here, but I don’t think they would be nearly as interesting.

What interested me about the debate, beyond the substance (sic? was there any substance, or just an amalgamation of statistics thrown about?), was the social media response.

Of course, on Twitter, the debate Twitterstream flew by so quickly, I was having flashbacks to the Arab Spring.

In fact, according to Beth Fouhy writing for the Huffington Post, Twitter announced after the debate it had been the most tweeted event in U.S. political history.

Heaven help us.

There were apparently 11.1 million Tweets — this brings it in behind the most recent Grammy Awards, MTV’s Video Music Awards, and the Super Bowl.

I’ll leave aside for the moment the fact that our first and probably most important presidential debate in years trails the MTV Video Music Awards in terms of Tweetability.  Along that road lies the fall of empires and such.

What was most troubling to me was that comments from the social media echo chamber seemed to be pretty much that, an echo.

Mind you, I don’t expect an Alexis de Tocqueville treatise on democracy from my social media compadres, but an original, insightful thought or comment about the substance of the debate might be good every once in a while.

But no.  We got @FiredBigBird (Update: We had @FiredBigBird.  His Twitter account has apparently been suspended.  Poor Big Bird can’t get a break!)

Of which there are now were over 27,000 followers.  I am not ashamed to admit this fact, because it’s my job to keep up with such social media trends.

What’s your excuse???

I’ve been on Twitter since 2007 — I was even part of that original crowd at SXSW Interactive using Twitter that first year to plan lunch and escape boring conference sessions.  I had no clue someday I’d be following Big Bird on Twitter concerned for his future employment!

Yeah, I’m a little jealous.  I’ve been laboring in the Twitter trenches for years, and I’ve eked out just over 2,000 followers on some serious and substantive issues concerning our planet, technology, business, politics, and, yes, golf!

So, like our Republican candidate, I’ve decided to come out swinging.  Enough of this Turbo Twitter Travesty.

I’m about to get bold.

I’m going big and I’m going wide.

I’m going to take on the visage of one of the Sesame Street characters, because that’s clearly the only way anyone can get any real attention in this joint.

So I’m posting a poll below, and you, the audience, get to vote for the Sesame Street character that best personifies me “Turboness.”

Vote early, and vote often.  If it works for America, by God, it can work for my blog!

As for Sesame Street’s funding options…well, Big Bird has to earn his way just like the rest of us.

If he can’t make it on TV, there’s always Broadway, or off-Broadway…or, well, I’m sure there’s a football team somewhere in America that would take him on as their mascot.

Just don’t ask him to Tweet too often…those velvet Big Bird hands don’t do so well on the iPhone keyboard.

Written by turbotodd

October 4, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Sewing Up The London Olympic Games

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The new Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms for U.S. Olympics athletes at the coming London Olympics games may look spiffy, but a number of U.S. politicians have come out recently to complain they were manufactured in China. Let the games begin!

Well, it seems that the London Olympic Games are only a couple of short weeks away now.

As we get closer and closer to the lighting of the London 2012 Olympic torch, we will also start to see lines get drawn in the digital and social sand, as this will likely be the most “social” Olympic Games ever.

There will be lots to juxtapose in this year’s games in London with those of Beijing in 2008.

Most notably, the fact that we won’t have a 12 hour delay by the broadcast networks. Instead, NBC has already indicated that they will show many of the events live.  American GDP could swoon to a new low in these London Olympic summer games!

If you’re looking for a place to follow the games, there will be no shortage of television and digital opportunities. Just this week, Facebook and NBC announced a collaboration for “transmedia” coverage of the London Olympic Games.

In that deal, data from Facebook will inform TV coverage on NBC and other channels that will carry portions of the Summer Games starting on July 27, according to The New York Times. The specific uses will vary, says the Times, but there will be a “Facebook Talk Meter”  occasionally shown on TV to reflect what is being said online.

Conversely, on Facebook the NBC Olympics page will get frequent updates with what the companies call “exclusive content” for fans only. Fans will then be able to share what videos and articles they’re perusing on the network’s Olympics website.

It’s hard to believe that in only 4 short years, Facebook has grown from 100 million users, the number they were at during the Beijing Olympic Games, to over 900 million.  There’s no question this will be a much more social Olympics, but let’s also not forget the projected TV audience is 4 billion (In Beijing, the global TV audience was estimated at 4.4 billion.)

Speaking of China, U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) castigated the U.S. Olympic Committee for its decision to have the U.S. Olympics team dressed in Ralph Lauren-designed berets, blazers and pants that were manufactured in China even as the U.S. textile industry struggles to keep U.S. workers at their sewing machines.

Maybe they should introduce sewing into the Olympics as an official sport and we can have ourselves a “sew-off?”

I recently did some Olympic scouting of my own, looking for Websites and mobile apps to help make sure I keep up with the Virtual Joneses during the London sports festouche.  Here’s a few of them I unearthed:

I also found an interesting app for the iPad, the “Ultimate Olympic Guide,” which cost me a whopping $.99 and provided some nice background and overviews of each of the Olympic sports.

Feel free to add any other useful London Olympics resources in the comments section below.

All About The Content Razorblades

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The Interwebs platform wars continue to escalate.

Not days after I read Ken Auletta’s fine New Yorker piece on the U.S. antitrust suit against Apple and several book publishers for alleged price fixing — a scheme that clearly had Amazon and its Kindle Fire in its gunsights — do we discover that Amazon is working with Foxconn on its own mobile mousetrap, one that, like the Fire, would presumably provide easy access to all kinds of compelling content from Amazon’s vast cloud of digital entertainment.

Books, movies, gaming apps…Amazon’s play suggests that the Internet industry is moving into the razor/razorblade club, with the devices being the razors, and the razorblades being all that vast digital content.

I, personally, mostly don’t care which razor I use. I’ve owned tablets and smartphones both Android and iOS now, and most recently have given a Kindle (not the Fire) a test drive.

The most important element for me in the digital content wars are the depth and sophistication of the content libraries themselves.

That is to say, help me move beyond Amazon and Apples’  57 Channels On Demand and Nothing On!

Amazon’s bookstore, of course, has virtually the world’s book population at your disposal, so no complaints when it comes to reading (although I do agree we need healthy, competitive alternatives to the Amazon reading ecosystem).

But when I go into my Amazon Prime movie library, which lets me watch some movies for free with my Prime subscription, it’s like dragging the bottom of the movie barrel.

To some degree, I see the same problem with Netflix, although Netflix has seemed to have worked more diligently to expand its library.  Amazon Prime, on the other hand,  just added a bunch of new episodes of William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line.”

Woo hoo, where do I renew my subscription??!

The cloud providers may be lining to try and lock in as many denizens as they can via their device and subscription services, but the form factor is less important than the catalog function.

What’s kept me from cutting my own cord on the TV is the fact that the Netflix’s and Amazons of the world don’t have enough diversity of content (never mind live event access to major sporting events, which for my money are msotly worth the high cost of monthly cable subscriptions alone).

So if the Apples and Googles and Amazons really want to move these markets, they need to quickly hire some sophisticated business development executives and hard-driving attorneys who can  make some negotiation headway in the hills of Hollywood’s film libraries  rather than try to draw lines around the device footprints.

It’s never about the razors, always about the razorblades.

Written by turbotodd

July 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Nora Ephron: I’ll Have What She’s Having

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We lost a great writer with the passing of Nora Ephron.

Judging from all the accounts of those who knew her, we also lost a great human being.

I did not know her, but I knew her work.  Anyone who followed American cinema over the past three decades, how could they not?

Starting with the anti-love love story (about love, and Ephron’s love for New York City), “When Harry Met Sally,” when both Harry and Sally decided they couldn’t just be friends after all…“You’ve Got Mail,” the first movie that presciently understood love in the late 20th cyber century…“Julie and Julia,” which brilliantly bridged time and space, juxtaposing a young female blogger in Queens in the early oughts struggling to follow her life’s passion with Julia Childs bushwhacking her way through male-dominated culinarydom in Paris in the 1950s.

What I liked most about Ephron’s writing was her humor.  But I also liked that she challenged accepted and conventional wisdom about women and humanity in general…and threw most of that conventional wisdom right out the window.

She understood their were universalities that underscored us all — men, women, children, — and made us all seem more like one, despite all our supposed differences.  She could also brilliantly underscore those universals with her fantastic humor, humor that highlighted our common humanity and sometimes made seem so frail, but stubbornly persistent, our human condition.

But she wasn’t always about funny.  1983’s “Silkwood,” much of which was shot at the then new Las Colinas film studios near Dallas, demonstrated Ephron’s knack for serious storytelling, revealing the story of Karen Silkwood, an Oklahoma nuclear plant employee whistleblower (played brilliantly by Meryl Streep) who disappeared under suspicious circumstances before she could arrive for a New York Times interview.  It was a serious movie about some very serious and relevant issues, and paved the way for later whistleblowing films like “The Insider.”

Or “Heartburn,” which laid bare the thorny thistles underlying marriage, again with Meryl Streep playing her alter ego to Ephron’s former husband Carl Bernstein (played devilishly by Jack Nicholson), with Ephron falling in love with the insider Washington columnist despite her (valid) fears about marriage, only to find him living a double life with another woman (John Edwards, anyone?).

No, I didn’t know Nora Ephron.  But for the last thirty years, I did know her work, much of which still makes me chuckle years later.  That’s a rare talent, especially these days.

I don’t know what it exactly what it was that Ephron had…but I’d like to have just a little bit of it nonetheless.

Written by turbotodd

June 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm

A Billion Angry Birds Served…And Counting

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Remember that scene from the movie “The Social Network,” the one where Sean Parker is advising Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin over cocktails?

It goes something like this:

Sean Parker: You don’t even know what the thing is yet. How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down. A million dollars isn’t cool, you know what’s cool?

Eduardo Saverin: You??

Eduardo Saverin: (As the scene shifts back to the deposition room): A billion dollars!

With the looming Facebook IPO, it seems that Parker was off only by a factor of 100, but a minor detail.

Well, it appears Facebook is not the only one reaching the upper echelons of the Internet stratosphere.

Overnight, TechCrunch reported that in Rovio’s newsletter this week, the company announced its own revenues had increased by more than tenfold in 2011, and that its “Angry Birds” gaming phenom had passed the one billion download mark.

I can see the big Angry Birds McDonald sign in the sky now, over 1 billion Angry Birds served!

What’s probably less well known is that Rovio has turned into a merchandising juggernaut, selling Angry Birds-stamped merchandise ranging from T-shirts to pencil eraser sets (of which I am now the proud owner of 2 — assembly required!).

Some 30 percent of all Rovio revenues came in last year via its massive merchandising efforts.

Could an Angry Birds movie be next? Well, perhaps not an entire movie, but certainly a spoof that pretends to be directed by Hollywood action auteur Michael Bay:

Such drama!

Of course, with all those “Angry Birds” game editions replicating like rabbits, you’re soon going to require a super-duper-bird-throwing-handheld-supercomputer to be able to keep up with all those pigs running around.

Good thing Apple’s allegedly now set to deliver a new version of the iPhone in September (this according to Apple Insider, although no details of the new iPhone have yet been released.)

One can only hope for some hopped up “Angry Birds”-optimized iPhone DRAM!

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