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

Posts Tagged ‘sxsw

SXSW Day 1: Setting the Scene

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I knew I was in trouble at SXSW this year when I showed up this morning, earlier than I’ve ever shown up on the first Friday, and I couldn’t find a parking spot ANYWHERE near the Austin Convention Center.

Then I knew I was in more trouble when entire parking areas, which used to house the parking that I had available to me for SXSW, were being taken over by the likes of X-Box 360, PepsiCo, and CNN.

So, I put on my backpack and made my way over to the convention center on foot. I saw a lot of people doing the same thing.

I think SXSW Interactive has officially jumped the shark. But as my amigo Spinuzzi said, it still affords great networking opportunities.

Sure, if you can FIND anyone. Being that I’m one of the “old” people and don’t much use geo-location services (if I want someone to know where I’m at, I’ll send them a Tweet or post it here on the Turbo blog), I guess I’m at even more of a disadvantage.

Yesterday, I got the lowdown on Blippy, a site on which individuals post all their credit card transactions. Now THAT’s transparency.

That’s one of the key themes I’m going to be most interested in at this year’s event. Transparency, privacy, security, particularly as they relate to increased use of mobile devices and social capabilities and the nexus between the two.

I’m also going to be interested in data, aggregation, and who gets to use what information. I think we’re into some seriously uncharted waters on that front.

It remains to be seen how much mobile access we’ll have on site. I’m typing this post on an Apple wireless keyboard using my iPad (the original). But, I’m in a bar (yes, at 12:15 in the afternoon…but I’m drinking a Diet Coke…I SWEAR), and they have good wi-fi access. We’ll see how AT&T fares with their 3G and how SXSW fares with the ACC wifi. Heaven help them if they don’t fare well.

In the meantime, I’m having lunch. I’m sitting at BD Riley’s on 6th Street (my local watering hole). It’s 12:15 PM. I don’t know the lat/long, but I’m sure you can look it up on Google maps.

But if you want to see me, you’d better hurry. This is SXSW — it’s dangerous to stay in one place for too long.

Written by turbotodd

March 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm

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Go Daddy China

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This has been an interesting week.

I’ve not been blogging much because I’ve been too busy playing work catchup after SXSW.

Hope you’ve been digging the podcast interviews Scott Laningham and I conducted as much as we did producing them.  We talked to some really interesting people here in Austin last week.

Of course, time rolls on, and everything changes, including in the interactive space.  I’ve been watching the Google/China situation with great fascination.

When I was in Beijing, it was before the Olympics and I stayed in the Beijing Hilton, and far as I could tell, I never had any issue with Internet filtering.

But boy have Google and China gone at it this week.  Last one out turn out the Great Firewall.

My own personal take is that while information wants to be free, China wants to keep it locked up, and Google can’t get a high-enough cost-per-click to make it worth their while.

So they reroute their mainland search queries to the “special administrative region” of Hong Kong, forcing the China government-owned mobile companies to rethink their mobile search deal, and in the end Microsoft’s Bing is the beneficiary.

You really can’t make this stuff up.

Even GoDaddy.Com has told the Chinese to take a domain-sales hike, which is really disappointing, for I was looking forward to someday seeing Danica Patrick scream around the corner Chairman Mao’s visage overlooking Tiananmen Square NASCAR style.

Of course, they may, in fact, be fighting the last Internet war — smartphone traffic has taken off like a rocket, up 193% year-over-year, according to AdMob.

The iPhone leads the way in terms of share, at 50% (up from 33% last year), followed by Android (up from 2% to 24%), and Nokia losing share (from 43% down to 18%…ouch!).

This just in time for Microsoft and FourSquare to start cozying up, with Bing now offering up a Foursquare map application that allows Bing map users to see check-ins on FourSquare.

Hey, maybe the Chinese Communist Party can use Bing maps to see Foursquare check-ins of Google sales reps running around Beijing trying to avert the wrath of the Golden Shield?!

Written by turbotodd

March 25, 2010 at 3:31 pm

SXSW Interactive 2010: Clay Shirky Keynote Debrief

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The title of NYU ITP professor and author Clay Shirky’s Sunday morning keynote was enough for a major draw: “Monkeys with Internet Access: Sharing, Human Nature, and Digital Data.”

And amusing as the title session was, the title was serious enough to jump up straight to the top of my personal SXSW Billboard charts for best session, because it was a session that got down beneath all the pixels, HTML code, and social media splatter to really focus on the underlying human motives that drive our behavior, in the digital realm and off.

After thanking the sleepy audience for “getting vertical so early” on a Sunday morning, Shirky explained his talk would be broken into three key segments:

Buses and Bibles, Monkeys and Balloons, and Lingerie and Garbage.

He started his talk explaining that oftentimes, our recommended approaches to solving problems is too simplistic. Congested traffic? Build more and bigger roads. Or provide better public transportation as a viable alternative.

But as in the case of PickupPal, a ride-sharing service in Ottawa, the inclination towards sharing (in this case, providing information for ride shares) existing code (in this case, laws) can conflict with the opportunity for efficiency (getting people from point A to B with limited utilization of petroleum and the roadway).

In other words, PickupPal was too efficient to be legal, and the Ottawans had to change the law to accommodate its excellent opportunity for efficiency.

This was really a fight about sharing, and how much efficiency could be allowed.

Gutenberg was another example. His original product was the selling of published indulgences, and the press was originated to enable the publishing of more indulgences faster and cheaper (as opposed to those published by handwritten scribes).

Soon, Gutenberg turned to publishing bibles and Martin Luthers’ Theses, and before you know it, the Protestant Reformation was in full bloom (and as a reaction, the scribes begin writing slower). By 1600, Catholicism was simply another religion.

Shirky’s point: Abundance breaks more things than scarcity.

When things are scarce, we know how to deal with them. When they’re abundant, the price goes away. Things we previously thought were scarce we don’t know how to price or value.

In this case, it was bad news for the scribes, and ultimately the medium destroyed the message.

Flash forward a few hundred years and enter Napster, the fastest growing software in history (in 1998-99). It garnered 70M+ users in a very short period of time, and it had not a trace of geekiness anywhere.

At the time, the crime rate had fallen to historic lows, and it was only the “theft” of recorded music via digital means that was a major issue. Shirky compared this to the sharing of primates, who had different modes of sharing for good, services, and information, the last being the most frictionless.

And in Napster’s case, all it had done was to take a world of music that had previously been constituted as a good or service (something you could buy), and instead turned it into one of information (something you could easily share with no real cost to you).

Here’s this song for so-and-so, put it online, and watch it take on a life of its own. Like monkeys, we have positive feelings about sharing information with one another – we’re biased to like doing so, which completely freaked the music industry out.

We do NOT voluntarily withhold information if sharing it made someone else happy, and this was the case with Napster.

We have positive feelings about sharing information with one another (like monkeys). We’re biased to like doing so, which freaked the music industry out. We didn’t voluntarily withhold information if sharing it made somebody else’s life easier, because the barriers to doing so were low and it we like helping others if it takes no greater effort on our part.

But in this case the music industry shocked and spiteful when we didn’t do what they wanted us to do (not share).

We didn’t voluntarily withhold information if sharing it made someone else’s life easier. The industry was shocked, spiteful, when we didn’t do what they wanted us to do.

Shirky then launched into the “Balloons” part of his talk, referring to the DARPA Big Red Balloon Challenge.

Last December DARPA said they would give away $50K to anyone who could identify the lat/long of ten large red balloons.

They figured it would take up to a month for someone to identify all ten. A team from MIT found them in about ten hours.

But to help with the find, there was a need to have a link to a spherical trigonometry formula that would help seekers with accounting for the earth’s spherical shape in their quest. Where did DARPA link to?

Wikipedia. Why? Because a link to the same article on the online Brittanica would have required registration, etc. Wikipedia was faster, cheaper, better. Wikipedia was all about sharing.

Finally, Shirky moved into the Lingerie and Garbage section, starting with references to “LOLcats” and the three wolfs howling at the moon t-shirt phenomenon, but ended up in some very serious situations around the globe, one where people have taken to sharing to create civic value and to help change the culture participants find themselves embedded in.

Places like PatientsLikeMe.Com, where patients who suffer from the same conditions come together to document their symptoms (and treatments) in excruciating detail.

Places like India, where females came together to challenge the extreme male Hindi power structure through online and offline activism, and who now speak with a common, group voice that India politicians can no longer ignore.

Places like Kenya, where in December 2007 the Ushahidi movement originated by Kenyan lawyer and blogger, Ory Okolloh, helped build an Internet mapping tool to allow people anonymously report violence via cellphonee, and which was able to collect testimony of incidences of such at lightning speed.

Ushahidi was also used recently to help out in the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes.

Shirky suggested through these tales there has been great progress. Ten years ago, we couldn’t have even tried such things. Now, with these tools available, our motivation has swung to help one another.

Anything we formerly did in terms of intrinsic motivation was often with small groups. Now, we have the capability of doing revolutionary things on a much grander scale.

Moving ahead, the only question becomes, will we do them, or will we stand by and be paralyzed, as in Darfar, or Sarajevo, or other places around the globe?

Only time, and possibly a few revolutions, will tell.

Written by turbotodd

March 14, 2010 at 7:20 pm

SXSW — Day 1 Podcast Recap

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developerWorks’ Scott Laningham and I partnered yesterday afternoon outside Ballroom B at the Austin Convention Center to record this day 1 recap podcast (7:30, MP3).

In it, we lamented the now seeming effortless efficiency with which one can retrieve their SXSW Interactive badge (a big change from the past), a short defrief of Doug Rushkoff’s keynote, and some parallels of that talk with IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative.

Written by turbotodd

March 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm

iPads & Rushkoff

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Okay, so far, I’ve only had two voters in the “Should Turbo Buy an iPad” contest.

It’s 50/50 so far leaning towards don’t do it.

And that’s good, because I wasn’t.  I’ve been burned too many times on 1st gen tech buys.

I’m going to let the “crowd” work out the kinks, let Apple fix the breakage, wait for a 30% price drop, and then get me some new Apple luvin’.

And anyway, after hearing Doug Rushkoff’s keynote talk to help kick start SXSW Interactive this PM, I’m thinking everything old is new again.  Or was that the other way around?

Rushkoff has been a new media soothsayer since before new media was cool.  And he looks like he’s been there, done that (Excuse me while I go check myself in the mirror.)

I don’t want to scare you or anything, but his prognosis seemed pretty grim.  Only now the bad borg ain’t IBM or Microsoft, it’s Google or Facebook, and digital currency could very well “do to central banking what Craig’s List did to classified advertising.”

What, you mean, like, make it really, really cheap?

The title of his talk was “Program or Be Programmed.” I guess I’m in deep doo doo, because I can’t even program my DVR.

Rushkoff started his talk reminsicing about how going online was once akin to dropping acid, and that it would let us change the world however we wanted.

Now, anybody who can go online does so with near triviality.

When I look at economy, the world, government, Rushkoff explained, I feel we are attempting to operate our society on obsolete software.  Legacy systems to legacies we don’t even remember now (including that Y2K COBOL code from 1999??)

His point wasn’t literal, but rather universal, and the idea that we have societal software around the globe but particularly in the U.S. that is completely inappropriate to whatever it is we want to get done.

If we don’t understand THESE programs, he explained, then we don’t stand a chance of recognizing those programs.

They were built atop of the economy, our current government, etc., and if we can’t see through this we can’t see through them.

There’s a fatalism, an automaticness, a doom, an inevitably to whatever is coming and that seems to polarize us into two camps. It’s the beginning of the world and the end of the world.

What I believe, Rushkoff explained, was that we won’t know until we understand how our technologies work, and work on us?

If you are not one of the programmers, you are one of the programmed.  And with that, he launched into his new 10 commands.

  1. Thou shalt not be always on. If we stay always on, we’ll fry our nervous systems.
  2. Thou shalt not do from a distance that which can be done in person. There’s now a fetishism of these devices where we’re using long distance technologies in short distance situations.
  3. Exalt the particular. Not everything needs to scale.
  4. You may always choose none of the above. Everything digital is discrete, everything a choice. Digital activities are on a landscape of forced choice (Facebook: Single, Married, In a relationship…the problem is when you use things that compel certain kinds of choices, and you start to think that those choices are the preexisting conditions of the universe. They are actually conditions of the programs that you use.
  5. Thou shalt never be completely right. The net reduces complexity. Wikipedia seems complex these days, but in the old days, using an encyclopedia was reductionist and simplistic. In 10 years, 2nd life will be indistinguishable from reality…Philip Rosedale. Kids raised on MP3 have 20% less of the sonic qualities that we recognize. The outcomes then are no longer totally of reality.
  6. Thou shalt not be anonymous. Out of body. Really bad for community and the social contract. We end up becoming parts of polarized angry mobs with no sense of consequence for our actions. Desocialized, tend towards alienization.
  7. Remember the humans. Content is not king in a communications environment. Google v. Murdoch. It’s okay not to deliver what/everything you do stripped out of context. Promotes derivative values from intrinsic ones.
  8. Thou shalt not steal. When there’s no social contract, Openness can continue until there’s nothing left for anybody to give away.
  9. Program or be programmed. We are end users, meaning consumers. Either create software or you are the software. We lend or borrow or live in a world as a result of our refusal to program or be programmed. Rushkoff learned BASIC, today they learn MS Office. The further you keep the coder and the user away from one another, the better. We celebrate our newfound agency in the digital age but we remain one step behind our programmers. I am still profoundly hopeful (not optimistic) that new media poses to society.

Written by turbotodd

March 13, 2010 at 12:15 am

SXSWi: Let the Austin Digital Invasion Begin

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Wow.  Twitter is absolutely on fire with peeps getting excited to be getting on planes to head to our fair city of Austin, Texas for the start of SXSW Interactive.

What was I thinking?  I should hang up the laptop for the day and go out to the airport and sell some hot dogs or something.  Can we fit enough planes into Bergstrom Intl to get everybody here who wants to get here today???

Well, it’s all very exciting, and I want to apologize to my readers for being a slacker (speaking of slacker, I just got introduced to Slacker.Com, the other radio streaming service, and I’m pretty impressed) and not having yet publish the sessions I hope to attend.

I’ve been handicapping for a couple of days, and it’s a work in progress.  This year seems to be an embarrassment of riches, as far as session content, and the venues have expanded to several hotels in and around the Austin Convention Center.

I will refer you to my previous post to get some Austin tips and tricks, but let me just extend a huge, warm Texas welcome to everybody arriving in Austin.  We love having you here every year for SXSW overall, but especially SXSW Interactive.

It’s obviously great for our local economy, but it’s also great for the interactive industry.  And for me, it’s awesome to have some of the best minds in the digital realm showing up in the thousands to share, network, discuss, and learn about the latest and greatest initiatives in our industry.

Though I may be partial, I’ve been around these Web parts for 15+ years, and I’ve seen a few Intnernet related-conferences.

SXSW Interactive stands up there with the best of them, and we Austin digerati are so glad you all have helped make it such a tremendous success.

I’ll be on the ground at ACC for the next several days myself — sharing, networking, listening, learning — and my podcast buddies Scott Laningham and David Salinas will be around as well, and we’ll be working to try and recap some of what we hear and what we think about it all.

For all you weary travellers, take tonight to grab your badge, grab a Shiner Bock beer, and kick back and get ready to fill your head.

As to my schedule, I’m sharing it with you and the world here — don’t hold me to it, however.  I often make last minute changes, and as you can see, I’ve had some challenges deciding across a number of the session slots on which to attend.

My own session entitled “Smarter Social Media” is Tuesday afternoon at 5:00 PM (although there’s a chance I could go on as early as 4:40 PM) as part of the Future 15 series.  It’s in Hilton D.

I can’t tell you how excited about meeting some of those familiar faces I see here annually, as well as those of you whom I’ve yet to meet.

Welcome to Austin, Texas, the live music capitol of the world!

PS  If you couldn’t make it here, fear not.  Just follow the hashtag #sxswi on Twitter and you’ll hear all about it!

Written by turbotodd

March 11, 2010 at 6:59 pm

SXSW Interactive: Turbo’s Austin Tips ‘N Tricks

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At the peril of having my close Austin friends and associates put a bounty on my head, but in the spirit of being socially media-inclined, I’m providing you with my list of favorite places to hang, eat, etc. I know I would be looking for such personal recommendations when on my own way to a town I may not be familiar with, and it’s the little recommendations that often go a very long way towards making or breaking a trip.

So, for those of you on your way to Austin later this week for SXSW Interactive, this is *my* recommendations and tips list and nobody elses!

Arrival At the Airport — I fly a lot.  The Austin airport is probably one of the cooler one’s you’ll ever encounter.  Most all the businesses and eateries are chapters of other local restaurants, so if you’re in the market for a Big Mac when you arrive, you’ll have to wait until you get into town.

Arrival Tip: Hint, keep an eye out for live music upon your arrival.  Local bands sometimes play, gratis, right past the bookstore near where your go downstairs to get your baggage.  Spend a couple of minutes supporting our local music scene while waiting for the baggage handlers downstairs to do their thing.

Transportation: You can get cabs downstairs outside of the baggage area.  Look to your right as you walk out, and you should see a line of cabs.  You can also take a city bus downtown — here’s the schedule for what we call the Airport Flyer, which typically runs every 40 minutes.

My suggestion: Find some other folks headed downtown and start your networking on the cab ride in.

Restaurant Recommendations:

Sushi: I’m partial to restaurants in South Austin (south of Town Lake, which is just south of the Austin Convention Center).  If you want some of the best sushi in the world (I’ve eaten sushi around the globe, so no sushi bait jokes) then you have to go to Uchi on South Lamar.  Make it easy on yourself and go with the chef’s menu (the “omakase”).  Closer to the convention center, you can walk to Imperia or Kenichi.  You can also use the Austin Sushi Bar Locator.

BBQ: I grew up in Texas, so I don’t eat just any ol’ BBQ.  For my money, a tart, tangy BBQ sauce is as key as a nice smoked meat.  If he would serve you, I’d just send you to my buddy George’s house.  His smoked brisket is ungodly good.  But, he only does that on special occasions.

So, I would recommend you get down to Artz Rib House on South Lamar.  I’ve taken plenty of out-of-towners there and once they start in on those baby-backed ribs, they get this glazed look in their eyes.  That’s always a good sign.  Downtown, you can always try the Iron Horse (right by the ACC), Lamberts (more upscale) and Stubbs, all of which also have a respectable BBQ showing.  But Artz is my fave.  If you’re ready for a road trip, hit Coopers in Llano or, now, New Braunfels.

Mexican: Wars have been started over less than misguided Austin Tex-Mex restaurant recommendations. Since it’s already overcrowded, I’ll tell you one of my faves in South Austin is Polvos on South First Street (short cab ride from downtown).  I eat frequently at La Reyna (the real deal, as far as Tex Mex goes…and it also seems to be good enough for the cast of “Friday Night Lights,” many of whom I’ve seen eating there during their shooting season).

You also can’t go wrong at any Maudie’s or any Chuy’s.  I’ve also recently refamiliarized myself to Jovita’s, whose new menu lifts them out of the Tex-Mex only ghetto with some refreshing new, more healthy dishes (including their killer ceviche) and live music.  Manuel’s on Congress is also a convenient upscale Mexican food mainstay downtown, as is Z-Tejas on West Sixth.  Both have killer margaritas — just what the doctor ordered after a day filled with digital meme headfilling.

After Hours Fun:

The Austin Bats: I’m not sure exactly when the bats start flying.  The Austin City Guide site says mid-March, so you may be in luck.  At dusk, 1.5M Mexican free-tail bats leave from under the Congress Avenue bridge over Town Lake and head out into the Austin night to eat our bugs, and we love them for it, especially in the summer.  It’s definitely something to see…bring your own garlic.

Live Music: Uh, hello, this is the live music capitol of the world  You can’t throw a rock without hitting a live music venue, including a bunch of those places I listed as being great places to eat.  We put live musicians pretty much anywhere we can fit them here in Austin (I did mention that part about them playing live at the airport?)

My favorite haunts: Saxon Pub on South Congress Lamar.  Recommended shows there in the next week: Joe Ely (Friday 3/12), Ray Wylie Hubbard (Saturday 3/13), The Resentments (Sunday 3/14), Bob Schneider (Monday 3/15), and Bruce Hughes (Tuesday 3/16).  Other great music venues near and far: Stubbs, Antone’s, Continental Club, Emos…just check out Do512.com for all the live music events.  It’s SXSW season, for heaven’s sake, there’s more music than anybody knows what to do with, including we Austinites!

Finally, just go take a walk down 4th, 5th, or 6th streets and the capillary streets in and around there.  There’s no shortage of after hours fun, and honestly, the SXSW Interactive parties can be a pain in the you-know-what (too crowded, hassle, etc.)  It’s often better to find some of your friends and colleagues and just make your own party!

BLOGGER’S NOTE: If you found this post helpful, please be sure to share it out to your fellow SXSWers!

Written by turbotodd

March 8, 2010 at 6:01 pm

South By Southwest Redux

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It’s that time of year.

One of my favorite times of year.

South By Southwest.

For those of you who don’t know what South By Southwest is, you clearly haven’t been reading this blog long enough!

South By Southwest is an Austin institution, a now film, music, and interactive festival which I first attended and spoke at in 2000.

In March 2000.  Just before the Barron’s article came out announcing all the startups were running out of money (and how quickly).

Just when we thought the Internet bubble had been filled with nitrous oxide, but turns out instead it was filled with hot air.

I remember landing in Austin and having to fight my way through the airport with all the job recruiters running around grabbing resumes from existing passengers. I exaggerate, but not by much.

Those were the days, for those of you who might remember.  In this economic and job climate, it might as well have taken place in James Cameron invented virtual world, Avatar.

That same year, a little book had just come out. It had started life as an Internet manifesto with 95 theses called The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Chris Locke, one of the co-authors (along with Rick Levine, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger), spoke at that year’s South By Southwest.

I remember listening to the panel and Locke in particular, getting my copy of the book signed, and flying back to New York City to announce to my associates at IBM’s 590 Madison Avenue office that the world was about to change, that marketing was going to be revolutionized by the “market conversation” and consumers’ participation via the network, and that we had to get on board and fast!

I might as well have been Chicken Little.

It was way too soon to talk about such things.  At least, it was at IBM.

Mind you, at the time, there was no such thing as Facebook…LinkedIn…YouTube…bloggers (okay, maybe a handful)…SixApart and WordPress weren’t yet available, and most Internet denizens were just trying to figure out to get in on the next IPO.

Flash forward.

Here we are 10 years later, I’m actually living in Austin (it’s a much shorter commute to SXSW), and social media is now basically an industry.

My how things change.

At this year’s SXSW, I’m going to reflect publicly on what’s happened during those ten years at IBM with respect to both our company strategy and social media — and I only have 15 minutes to do it!

The elevator pitch: Smarter social media at IBM has required an embrace of a more open and conversational approach to marketing and business, as well as an integration of the company’s revitalized, crowdsourced values with a simultaneous transformation of its business model. In the session, I will explore how social media helped invent and reveal to the world IBM’s smarter planet initiative.

For the record, my session is in the very last time slot of the SXSW Interactive event, at 5:40 PM on Tuesday, March 16 (in Hilton D).  If you’re coming to Austin and are one of the few, one of the proud, who can stick it out for the full 4 1/2 days, I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

In future posts, I’ll also try to point out some of what I would consider the other “can’t miss” sessions of SXSW Interactive 2010.

Oh, and it turns out the sky wasn’t falling, that there was something to this whole social media thang.

And, if you remember your fairy tales well, Chicken Little was always a morality tale about courage…something early social media evangelists know a little something about.

So, don’t let Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey get you down, keep fighting the good fight, and whatever you do, do NOT follow Foxy Loxy into his den.

Of course, it’s fine to friend him on Facebook.

Written by turbotodd

March 3, 2010 at 8:51 pm

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