Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘new york city’ Category

Samsung Theatre, RSS-Less Google

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Anybody watch that Samsung Galaxy S4 launch last night on the Webcast from Radio City Music Hall in New York City?

Well, the latest episode of Smash it certainly was not.  I think the entire show could probably have used a dramaturg, but hey, what do I know? The last show I saw at Radio City Music Hall was Iron Maiden sometime around 1985.

But, if Samsung doesn’t exactly have a handle on the number of the thespian beast, they certainly do seem to have learned how to make smartphones.

Once I got past all the drama last night, I was ready to shell out a few hundred bucks to move back into the smartphone camp (I’m currently carrying an LG feature phone from Verizon, because unlike most people, I actually still use my cell phone to TALK to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.)  I currently depend on an iPod Touch 5th gen for most of my tablet computing (news consumption, email, calendaring, shooter games, travel, etc.)

But at some point, I’m going to create my own harmonic computing convergence and try to come back to one device.

Of course, the price point for an unlocked Galaxy S4 will likely require a second mortage, and that’s if you can even find one.

So I’m also keeping an eye on the downmarket players like BLU Products, a little known player from whom I recently ordered an unlocked feature phone for $35 that I now use as my bat phone.

BLU is introducing a whole slate of new smartphones in April, entitled “Live View,” “Life One,” and “Life Play,” all of which will allegedly be sold unlocked on Amazon and range between $229 and $299.

The Life View model will include a 5.7-inch display (bigger than the Galaxy 5 at 5 inches), a 12-megapixel rear/5-megapixel front camera, 1GB RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, and also a 2,600Ah battery for those lonnngg plane rides to Bangalore.

I imagine that phone will be “good enough,” and you can learn more here on Engadget.

What’s apparently not good enough for Google is having an RSS reader. It was just announced that Google Reader was going to be taken out back to the Google woodshed and shot, as of July 1 of this year, a resultant casualty of Google’s annual “Spring Cleaning.”

To whit I ask, couldn’t they have found something less useful to “clean?”

Not to pile on, but this is a really dumb move for Google, if not for the bad PR value alone (and there’s been plenty of that). Google Reader was a beloved product, if only by the niche social digerati — you know, all those massive influencers with a big social media megaphone.

For my money, it’s a jaded move — Google’s not making any money off Reader, and RSS feeds are notoriously difficult to measure, so why not bury it in the Mountain View backyard? On the other hand, it would be nice for them to keep a useful tool that helps we bloggers keep our blogging sanity, and Reader does/did? just that.

C’est la Google vie…I’ve turned to Feedly online and on the iPod, and Reeder on the Mac, to assuage my soon-to-be Google Readerless existence.  So far, I’m digging the newspaper-ish like layout.  I just hope I can learn how to add and subtract feeds as easily as I was able to on the Google Reader cloud.

As for my post-SXSW-partum depression, the sun’s shining in Austin and I plan to get out and play some golf this weekend.  But I’ll just say this: For me, Best SouthBy ever.  I saw a lot of great speakers and sessions, talked to a lot of cool and interesting people, consumed some of my native city’s great food and drink, and enjoyed myself all the way around.

And for those of you who made it to the IBM party at Haven Saturday night, well how about that?  Definitely NOT your father’s IBM.

The bar she has been raised.

Send A Fax

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Greetings from the Big Apple.

I’ve been here for several days now, after a fun adventure with Jet Blue trying to get here, and I’m pretty sure I’ve already gained several pounds, what with all the pizza and Italian cuisine and sushi and gyros I’ve consumed.

Of course, sitting in all day meetings hasn’t helped, so it’s a good thing I’ve gone out and run the NYC marathon course every evening to get some exercise.

That was a joke, of course.  The last exercise I did in NYC was when I was a NYC bike messenger, and the last routine I perfectly executed there was a pirouhette from the seat of my bicycle into the cab door, and on down onto Park Avenue and into the back of an ambulance to Bellevue hospital.

That was in July 1986, about the same time that the fax machine started the long, slow decline of the bike messenger business in NYC and beyond.

Eventually, we also saw the long, slow decline of the fax machine.

Everywhere in the world.

Except, according to this morning’s New York Times, in Japan, where the love affair with the fax machine continues to this date, despite the advent of the Internet and smartphones.

I’ll leave it to you all to read the piece.  It’s quaint, and culturally intriguing.  But I think it also goes a long way towards explaining the decades-long now economic slump in which Japan continues to find itself.

Then again, I guess it’s a lot easier to hold on to the past if you can hold a piece of fax paper in your hand.

Written by turbotodd

February 14, 2013 at 4:00 pm

IBM Global SmartCamp Finals: Next Week In NYC

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IBM’s SmartCamp Global Finals are slated to be held at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on February 7th.

The SmartCamp initiative was launched in 2010 with the goal of identifying early-stage entrepreneurs who are developing business ventures that would align with the IBM Smarter Planet vision, and give them the visibility, mentoring, and resources that only a large company like IBM can provide.

On the 7th, eight startups from around the world will compete in New York City for the title of “IBM Global Entrepreneur of the Year.”

The IBM SmartCamp Global Finals will bring together leading venture capitalists, industry experts, press, analysts, entrepreneurial organizations and academics to network and celebrate entrepreneurship.

The Global Finals will feature eight startup finalists from around the world, from Kenya to France to Singapore. The eight finalists not only come from all walks of life, but they offer a broad range of innovative solutions that all have the potential to make the planet a whole lot smarter.

Finalist HistoIndex, a startup from Singapore, has an imaging solution which will allow for earlier detection and better treatment of fibrosis.

GetWay, a big data startup from Brazil, enables any industry to precisely monitor real-time sales data in retailers spread all over a territory.

And QuintessenceLabs, from Australia, has harnessed the properties of nature as described by quantum science to fortify the protection of data in-transit, at-rest and in-use.

You can be a part of the excitement on February 7th at the SmartCamp Global Finals, where you’ll have the opportunity to network with innovators, business leaders, and experts from around the world, hear the startup finalists’ presentations, and witness the naming of a new IBM Entrepreneur of the Year.

Go here to learn more and to register to attend the event. As an FYI, I had the great privilege of helping cover the event last year in San Francisco, and recorded a video with Scott Laningham (embedded in this blog post) where I summarized what I learned.

Preppers

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Buenos dias.

I hope those of you in the northeast still without power find yourselves in the range of AC/DC again very soon.

I’ve been reading some fascinating stories about the lengths to which people have gone, especially from downtown (below, say, 40th Street), to find power enough to charge their cellphones.

Hey, I’d be right there in line behind you (although I’d try the Google solar recharging tchotchke I got several years ago first).

I’ve also been reading about the comeback of pay phones.  I didn’t even know there WERE any payphones left in NYC, but yes, there’s actually some 12,000 of them (down from 35,000 at their peak).

Because I was a New York City bike messenger once upon a time, I am very familiar with NYC pay phones. When I used to traverse the streets of Manhattan riding around moving vehicles like a crazy person, I had two pieces of technology: My Sony Walkman, and a beeper.

Whenever that beeper went off, I would head straight for a pay phone so I could call into my dispatch to grab another pick up.

But to imagine that a landline pay phone was my last line of communication defense…well, that’s what it’s come to for so many New Yorkers.

Some other good news I’m hearing: 14 of the city’s 23 subway lines were expected to open (though the 3, 7, B, C, E, G, and Q trains remain dark), which should go a long way towards alleviating some of the ridiculous auto traffic seen in NYC yesterday.

And the Cuomo plan to require three folks to a vehicle coming into Manhattan, though a heavy hand, is also not a bad idea, at least until more public transport can get up and running.

I’m also amazed that LaGuardia Airport opened this morning, especially after seeing those flood waters leaning up towards the jetways just two days ago. I imagine there will be lines of folks wanting to get out of town.

As for me, I’m sitting back taking some notes for my own disaster “crash” kit.  No use not turning these lemons into lemonade.

First on my list, other than plenty of fresh water and three days of non-perishable food: One of those combination hand cranked cell-phone recharger, flashlight, and weather radio. I’ve read about too many people who just didn’t know what the —— was going on, and that alone would drive me absolutely crazy.

A small, portable stove with a minimum week’s worth of fuel.

Small packages of dried instant coffee and powdered Gatorade.

Some sealed packages of beef jerky, power bars, and MREs (because I’ve seen so many complain about eating only bananas and power bars for three days stuck in their apartments)

Cash, and plenty of it.

Tell me what else I’m forgetting, my NYC area kinsmen.

Ready.gov had a whole list of basic and additional emergency supplies that’s worth a look see here.

Hang in there, NY, CT, and NJ.  You’re almost back up on your feet, and the rest of the country is cheering you on.

Written by turbotodd

November 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm

9/11 Goodness

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I don’t have a lot to say on the anniversary of September 11th.

Or, I have so much to say, I’m not sure how to bring it all together and make some sense out of it.

Though I had already moved to Austin by the time of the attacks, the New York area was the only other place I had ever lived other than Texas. An attack on New York was like an attack on my person.

I was visiting New York on business just prior to the attacks, and remember sitting at Laguardia just two days prior, on 9/9.

It was a gorgeous day, another of those blue September skies, and I remember noticing the Twin Towers off in the distance, which was a revelation — I knew you could see them from Newark, but never from LaGuardia.

Two weeks later, I remember flying back up to NYC for another business trip, making that turn at the bottom of Manhattan, and seeing the still smoldering ashes and now ghost limb of a skyline.

As so many had said it would, things had changed during those two weeks.

The drumbeats of bloodlust and revenge were pounding. I landed at LaGuardia this time and it was a ghost town, like something out of a Stephen King novel. The only seeming inhabitants were the National Guard patrolling the gates with their assault rifles.

When I went down to the Ground Zero area, I remember passing by Canal Street and seeing the hundreds of missing persons postings, and crayon drawings of planes flying into buildings.

Once at Ground Zero, I remember the troops announcing that you could no longer take photographs, that this was a crime scene.

It was at that moment I knew we were headed for some slippery slope territory.

I was also impacted by all my New York friends’ stories — some who were in or around the Towers that day, some who were on their way there, one who had been scheduled for one of the ill fated flights and cancelled at the last minute, one who lost someone in one of the Towers.

There were too many close calls and coincidences than I cared to count.

On that day, my biggest priority was making sure all my friends and colleagues in the New York I had loved and left were okay.

And, thankfully, they were.

That is what I choose to remember about 9/11 on this, today, the 11th anniversary: The gestures, big and small, that were about reaching out in concern and caring for others.

Whether loved ones or strangers, there was a compassion and outreach expressed during those days and weeks after the Towers fell that revealed an inner kindness normally masked by our tough American exterior.

That was some of the goodness that emerged from the ashes, and that goodness is something I think we’d all like to see more of in our everyday lives.

Though it may have taken great tragedy to bring it about it, there’s no reason we have to wait for another such tragedy to reveal that goodness.

Perhaps the revelation of that potential for good is the one precious gift that rose through the horror and blackness of the ash and soot on that beautiful, blue September day.

Written by turbotodd

September 11, 2012 at 2:41 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

My Emerging New York Times Paywall Neurosis

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So, here’s the deal.

I’m having major agita over this whole New York Times paywall thing.  And I know I shouldn’t be.

Let me just say, I love The New York Times. The gray lady has been a big part of my life since I first went to NYU as a wee college lad.

I used to zoom around the streets of Manhattan, working as a bike messenger and taking my life into my own hands (not to mention that of all the bus and taxi drivers), and whenever I took a break I’d sit down with a copy of the Times and play catch up with the world.

This was WAY before anything digital.  But in 1995, or somewhere thereabouts, the Times moved online and trained me not to worry about the cost of the newspaper by underwriting their stories via advertising.

So, I went along for the ride.

Now, I’m near a crossroads.  Though I highly value their content, and am willing to give them some money, I have to wonder how much is the right price.  Currently, I’m hearing at least $15/month.  I could probably buy into that.

But then, I see that they’re going to penalize me just because I have an iPad AND an iPhone (and want to be able to use it via the Web site).  Gray lady, it’s NOT the devices that’s interesting to me.  It’s allowing me to get the information via whatever digital channel happens to be the most convenient to me at the time.

Don’t you get that???  I know you have some really smart people working up there (I know some of them), but when I first saw this plan, I had to shake my head.

You trained me not to pay for your product, and now you’re training me to pay more than I probably should just because I pick up the virtual newspaper at more than one newstand???

Here’s the best part.  I found I could subscribe to the Weekend edition, complete with home delivery of an actual printed newspaper, for about the same amount I would pay for one of the middling digital editions…and I’d still get access to the New York Times Web site and digital editions gratis.

Could that be correct?

So, Mr. Sulzberger and Mr. Keller, know that I’m ready and willing to hand the gray lady some money every year, but please, simplify simplify simplify.

When you continue to give stories away for free via social media and search referrals, and yet *I* as a longtime loyal reader have to pay more to get access on these digital platforms (which, I would have thought, ultimately save some money since you didn’t HAVE to deliver a physical newspaper to my doorstep), there’s something wrong with this picture.

I’ve got my credit card out.  But I’m still waiting for a plan from you that makes sense and doesn’t force me to go out and sell newspapers subscriptions door by door just so I can pay for the privilege!

Written by turbotodd

March 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

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