Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sweet story

A nice late Christmas present to New Englanders in Friday's New York Times.

Gumbel surfaces

So this is where Bryant Gumbel went. Not that we missed him.

Speaking of Gumbelmania, if you start typing his name into google, the second "auto-fill" option is "Bryant Gumbel sucks." That can't be a good thing.

Reviews aren't good either.

ANd in the Boston market (WCVB) the aforementioned NFL "Network" during the simulcast of Pats vs. Giants is shamelessly plugging itself, requesting that woebegotten cable customers besiege our providers to provide their goods.

Seriously: BRYANT GUMBEL?

If he says "we got ourselves a game here one more time, someone's gonna bazooka barf.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

So much for a quick cuppa jo

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, it appears that
Dunkin Donuts
will start selling Massachusetts lottery tickets.

It was really bad when the chain dumped fresh-baked donuts acouple years ago so it could cater to the latte, cappacino, frappachino craze. That added minutes to the line. Now it’ll take a half hour minimum to fill your caffeine craving.

Not everyone needs a double-soy-decaf-no-fat-machiatto. And now this latest indignity: Do we really need yet another retail outlet for these infernal tickets?

Oh, if Double-Dee can’t slake your lotto thirst, apparently Home Depot and CVS can do it as well.

INT-eresting forecast

Worcester today is expected to experience "freezing fog."

Gotta get my mind around that one.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Who's your daddy?

For people who really, really wanna know there's "Boston Paternity."

I only know this because their spiffy white van was on the pike the other day. If you're gonna have to get swabbed, at least they come to you.

It advertised fast, easy DNA testing: Tag line was something like: "Find the father."

More here.

Services include both relationship and fidelity testing. And both legal and "non-legal" paternity testing. Oh my! Lots of references about affordability. No prices. Hmmm.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Let it snow, let snow, let it...Enough already!

Everyone had pretty much panicked the day before, so by the time I left work around 2 pm on Thursday I was sick of hearing about the snow. Clearing off the rig in Framingham was no biggie. There were a couple inches, but it was light, fluffy fairy powder. Like movie snow.

No problemo.

About two miles later, problemo. The turn off from to the Shoppers World cut-through was unplowed. No one wanted to chance it. The growing caravan of still-moving-but-slow-as-crap traffic continued east.

Half mile later: Gridlock. Took 40 minutes minimum to make it to Speen Street. Then we sat. And sat. And watched the lights by Neiman Marcus cycle through over. And over. And over again.

Still, chin up. It’s a good time to catch up on the AM talk loonies. Plus it was the steroid hearing day. Nothing to do but punch in WEEI and listen to the George Mitchell press conference. Hell if I’ stayed at work, I would have missed this and it was juicy. Pun intended.

Word had percolated earlier that morning that the hated Roger Clemens was named. Since he chucked the business end of a broken bat at Mike Piazza in the world series many had pegged Roger as a roid-rager. But Andy Pettite? INT-eresting.

And Miguel Tejada? Rafael Palmeiro had thrown him under the bus already, but was kinda hoping it wasn’t true.

You could almost hear fellow road-refugees heave a collective sigh of relief when it became clear that none of the Red Sox heroes were listed. No Manny Ramirez. No Big Papi. Although most who’ve watched the team know that Manny’s probable drug-of-choice is by no means performance enhancing. If you catch my drift.

The EEI guys were blaring on and on self-righteously about an earlier MSNBC report that Jason Varitek had been “named.” But then he hadn’t been. So the long knives were out for MSNBC and whoever the blogger was that desecrated the captain’s good name. Listening to those boyz get all holier than thou was a little much.

The snow kept coming.

Apparently a Yankees trainer had blown the whistle on Rocket Roger, Pettite and others. Brian Macnamee.

About an hour later, still on Speen (the stretch between Route 9 and the Mass Pike entrance is maybe two miles. Maybe.) Greg from Plymouth called in to opine that “Eric Gagne quit juicing too soon.” Couldn’t he have sucked it up another season instead of imploding at Fenway? The guy was a disaster.

Gotta love these guys.

Another hour slugged by. We’d memorized the facades of Neiman Marcus and Home Depot. It was Bud Selig’s turn. (Let it be said that the
”Selig Sucks” T-shirt, bought outside Fenway, remains the best present of all time.)

Selig said he will Take Action! Unilateral Action Where Possible! But clearly this mess is the players’ fault, the union’s fault. Face it; It’s all on Donald Fehr. Where was Selig when the players were achieving full pumpitude and slamming record home runs and saving the game from strike fallout? I’ll tell you where: He was counting the leagues money and covering owners’ asses? “Hind sight is 20 20,” says Bud in the press conference. Puhleazze.

At one point, he actually said he hadn’t read the whole report. Come again? Isn’t this what he paid $20 million of fan’s dollars for? And hadn’t he had it for three days? if his eyes are tired or he can’t read, couldn’t one of his minions read it to him? Come on! And we wonder why baseball’s reputation—if not its coffers—is in tatters.

Ted from Marlborough calls: “What’s it say when the guy with the most credibility in baseball is Jose Canseco?”

Point taken.

EEI guys reports that Canseco was denied access to the press conference and pitched a fit.

Ah, the pike. NOW things will move.

Wrong again.

The parking lot stretches through the tollbooth onto the onramp. When we move, it’s at a walker’s pace. A slow walker. The speedometer barely budges. It takes another hour plus to get to the Route 128 tolls. People get out of their cars to clear windshields and back windows. We’ve been sitting still for so long that back windows jam up repeatedly.

My primary concern became the state of my bladder. Back window snowed in again.

Wonder where Brian Macnamee and that other guy—Kirk Radomski are right now. Undisclosed location no doubt.

As we crawl towards exit 17, it’s now dark, the snow continues. People start merging to toward the right miles ahead. Stuck in the second right lane, I start to wonder if anyone will let merge right in the foreseeable future. Doubtful.

Murray from Newton rings in to say that given the news on Clemens, the whole region, nay the whole Red Sox nation owes Dan Duquette an apology. Maybe Clemens really was in the twilight of his career when the Sox let him go. His renaissance with the Blue Jays and Yanks is now forever suspect, he says.

Tom Caron, of NESN and also an EEI guy, says Clemens could have been using while at the Sox. Bold words for a company man. Of course Sox ownership has changed since then.

Hallelujah. The pike-straddling Star Market appears on the horizon. I call home to see what the state of the local roads is. Answer? Unplowed.

Given that there’s a large hill between the exit and home, the new master plan, if the exit is navigable, is to park in the old Cahners building and hit Buff’s Pub for a burger and the facilities. And wait for the local plows to do their thing.

Hallucinatory burger images and smells tantalize. Bourbon would be nice too. And Buff’s has great fries. And a bathroom. Bingo.

The ramp is a mile away. No need to worry about merging right. Everyone is merging right. Including the morons in the far left lane. It occurs in the three plus hours I’ve been on the pike, no plow or sander has been seen in either direction. Then again, how could they fit?

A car stopped on the ramp, which on a good day has one and a half lanes. Extraordinarily enough, there is orderly merging around the poor schlub who either ran out of gas or just couldn’t make it up the grade. Even odder, there’s hardly any traffic on the Centre Street rotary. Red letter day. This is always a snarl. It looks like I could shoot right over to Watertown Square but bladder conditions forbid the attempt.

Breezed into the old Cahners digs. Cut through the building, past Pizzeria Uno’s to Washington street. Try to grab a Globe out of the street box. The coin changer doesn’t work

Catastophe: Buff’s is closed. Back to Uno’s which never looked so good.

Back through the drifts to the Pizzeria Uno where the tables are packed but a bar stool awaits.

Bourbon, I tell the bartender. “Make it a double,” chime in the two guys adjacent. First one’s from Colorado in town for business, The other, from Rhode Island, gave up on his commute and checked into the Sheraton across the street. The bar over there was overwhelmed so Uno’s wins the runoff.

The bar’s abuzz about Clemens and Pettite. And Mo Vaughan. “There’s a guy who didn’t need to bulk up,” says Rhode Island.

Colorado is amazed that a whole region gets shut down by a measly 10 inches of snow. He’s shot down. “Rockies fan,” someone mutters.

Another guy pulls up a chair. New Yorker. Doesn’t have much to say vis a vis Roger or Andy. Nurses his beer glumly. Orders dinner to go. Someone mentions Chuck Knoblauch and New Yorker practically erupts. “I HATE THAT GUY. Steroids was the LEAST of his problems.” Then no one can shut him up.

The bourbon is deelish. The chicken may have been the best ever. Six hours in a motionless car blinded by snow does funny things to you.

I call in for local road update and get the hi sign.
Centre Street is still slick but car-free. So too, miraculously, is Watertown square. Common Street looks bad, as I hit the hill. Some moron has stopped in the road. Bourbon- emboldened I blow by on the left. Life lesson from Vermont: Never, ever slow on the up hill or you’re dead meat.

The ranch never looked so good. Time: 8:20. It took six hours to cover 15 miles—including dinner.

Kitty litter cake???????????????

This must be a joke right? Maybe not. See here.

Seriously, why???

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Fabulosity


This is one helluva an obit about one helluva gal, Mary Lillian Ellison. She was better known in wrestling circles as “the Fabulous Moolah."

Money quote from The New York Times: “The Fabulous Moolah enjoyed the mayhem, but she especially coveted the money.”

When she started, her promoter found her given name was not nearly glitzy enough for the ring.

He asked her why she was wrestling: “Annoyed, I blurted out, ‘For the money. I want to wrestle for the moolah.’” according to her biographical account: "The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Eerily reminiscent

Today it occurred to me that the opening riffs to U2's "Sunday, Bloody, Sunday" and Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" are actually pretty much one and the same.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Bubble? What Bubble?

New Youtube fave on the current tech bubble (or lack of same.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Mitt's Mormonism (and why it bugs us)


Bostonians are very caught up in being open minded, in a very self-proclaimed way. Even though we’re anything but.

When I first got to "the Athens of America" too many years ago--actually it was the day the Pope arrived -- it irked me that people who witnessed the South Boston busing mess were the first to deride the south as the last-bastion of racism.


That’s why the whole
Mitt-erama
is so ummmm, well un-COMFORTABLE.

Everyone likes to think they’re fair and unbiased. You. Me. Fox News. Nobody is. So might as well admit it and move on.

The other night over a wine-soaked dinner at one of the South End’s finer spots(garlic chicken to die for—YOU know the place), I was trying to explain why even though I knew I SHOUDLN”T be bothered by Mitt’s Mormonism, it still was still just, well bothersome.

The tortured confession came after a couple pomegranate martinis THEN a couple of side cars. Which really does explain a lot. There were eight at the table. I was trying to explain why Mitt’s faith should be no more an issue than JFK’s Catholicism was in 1960. However the whole Mormon thing, just seemed, well, it just seemed…



”WEIRD???,” interjected friend Peter. “It’s weird because MORMONISM is weird,” he explained. As if to a two-year old.

Well, it's good THAT’s out in the open. The difference between evolved vs. unevolved bigots is that the latter have the good grace or shame to seem embarrassed by it.

And really, it is kinda weird, no? Says the agnostic.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New ink-stained icon

This is my new hero.

There are so few in reporting these days. From this interview, Matt Taibbi has the perfect mix of irreverence for journalism.

Money quote:

"If you have no real knowledge or skill set and you’re lazy and full of shit but you want to make a decent wage, then journalism’s not a bad career option. The great thing about it is that you don’t need to know anything."



At the same time he has the utmost respect for how it’s done, if it’s done right.

Money quote:

"“Seymour Hersh is the guy I really, really admire….He’s old school. He’s the kind of guy who sits and pores over the newsletters of all these minor government agencies to see who retired that week so he can approach that person to see if he’s got any stories to tell on his way out of service. There are a few guys like that who are still out there, but they’re all holdovers from a lost age. I’d like to say that I’m the continuation of that crop of journalists, but I’m totally not."



My buddy Ed, who sent this pointer, summed it up: “This guy Taibbi is the closest thing to Hunter Thompson Rolling Stone has had since well, Hunter Thompson."


Sigh.

Monday, November 26, 2007

How low can we go?

The publishing game has quickly become, as Fake Steve Jobs put it, a race to the bottom.

Here's, a recent help-wanted ad on monster.com for a business “publication.”

The job description:


"The editor is responsible for all local editorial and photographic content that appears in each issue of the magazine. In 11 of the magazines this is a twice-a-month requirement and in three it is a weekly requirement. The generation of this editorial and photographic material includes the development and maintenance of industry contacts to develop story leads; the actual writing and correction of the story as well as assistance in directing the editorial composition and graphic look of each issue. The editor must regularly attend industry functions, hold positions within industry associations and councils, and attend trade shows. The editor must also visit equipment dealers and distributors and visit contractors in their offices and on job sites. This position requires 50% travel and frequent visits to construction job sites. The editor is also responsible for managing contributing editors who write for their magazines.

Qualifications:

1. Research, provide graphics, write and/or edit all materials that appear in all issues of their magazine, i.e. feature stories, industry news, people in the news, and other items of local interest.
2. Photograph and/or select covers for each issue.
3. Plan and develop a local editorial calendar that complements the national calendar.
4. Plan and manage editorial materials to ensure complete geographic and industry coverage.
5. Manage contributing editors who write for the magazine.
6. Manage freelance photographers who do photography for the magazine.
7. Manage time so as to meet editorial and production deadlines.
8. Generate and communicate local editorial priority list to traffic manager.
9. Review layouts and copy before going to press.
10. Develop strong local industry contacts with contractors, dealers, distributors, associations and governmental agencies.
11. Coordinate with local associate publisher and sales representatives to ensure full industry coverage.
12. Attend and cover all important local shows, meetings, conventions and dealer functions.
13. Develop and maintain relationships with freelance writers to cover special events and geographic regions when necessary.
14. Travel when and where necessary to cover the geographic areas covered by the magazine.
15. Visit Construction Job Sites.
16. Handle editorial calls, questions and discussions.
17. Handle all reader calls.
18. Contribute suggestions for national editorial content.
19. Participate in special national projects.
20. Research and write local special sections."



I'm not kidding. Check it out here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Get your pedometer(s) here, but control yourself!

At the Brighton New Balance Factory store checkout there’s a rack full of pedometers, including one Via model that gauges your calorie-burning efforts as well as distance covered. A sign warned would-be buyers that management could limit quantities sold to three per customer.

This begs the question: exactly how often are they overrun (no pun intended) by marauding marathoners/walkers/hikers who want to horde calorie-burn-measuring pedometers.


Speaking of Brighton, the new WGBH building is ginormous. And its signage looks uncannily like someting out of Vegas. Huh.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stay-away Rod gets assist from the Oracle of Omaha


Here's the most interesting headline from the weekend: 'Alex Rodriguez Gets A Surprise Assist From Fan in Omaha'.

And the deck: 'As Yankee Slugger Whiffed n Contract, He Turned To Buffett and Goldman'.

(The Wall Street Journal story is here.)



If A-Rod, who seems more like Eddie Haskell by the minute, turned to Warren Buffett and Goldman Sachs to help with his Yankee contract troubles, it won't be long before he hits up Dr. Phil for marriage counseling and Bill Gates for tech support.


Enough news about the purple-lipped freak. At least thanks to these high-powered assists, he'll be plying his trade in pinstripes and not in the Boston white-and-red.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Papelbon rising




Okay, not to pile on the whole Red Sox-as-dynasty theme (although I hope it’s true) but here’s why I like this particular Soxian vintage.

First, they’re not all prepackaged and gee-swell-wholesome. Jonathan Papelbon has sported a world-class hangover since the clincher on Sunday. In fact, he apparently has lost the World Series Game Four game ball. These guys can not hold on to their championship mementos to save their lives.

Anyway, on Monday Papelbon, with his David Lynch hair, told a reporter at Fenway that he’d spent the night drinking and the morning puking. Maybe not a role-model, but definitely refreshing. And he’ll apparently say more of the same on Letterman tonight.

I was IM’g with a former co-worker who moved to the southwest. We had season’s bleacher tickets, back when they could be had for under $10 a game. For awhile, he jumped aboard the Diamondbacks bandwagon but recent Sox successes sucked him back into the vortex of the righteous. His take on Papelbon: “Ya gotta love him. I’d like to hang out with him—-for about six beers. Then, I want to leave before the fight starts."

"And it will.”


The Sox parade on Tuesday was hilarious. At one point, Manny Ramirez appeared to be wearing not one, not two, but three hats. At the same time. And none appeared to fit.

That raises his chapeau quotient from the two he wears on field. Another friend, a Mariners fan no less, loves to watch Manny play left at Safeco Field. “I love it when he loses both hats on a play,” he writes.

We all have our hobbies.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Turning the tables on PR spam

If you're a reporter or ever have been, you must love what Wired Editor Chris Anderson has done.

While i'm completely sympathetic, a buddy who left the profession a few years ago summed up his view about Mr. Long Tail's tactic:

"I feel privileged he even lets me read his blog."

NPR annoyance


Why is it that NPR's Nina Totenberg feels compelled to read reams of "dialogue" verbatim from each Supreme Court case she covers?

Someone who's covered a beat as long as she has should be able to paraphrase the important stuff and quote judiciously just the "good bits."

Who needs: Question: Blah blah blah. Response: blah blah blah?

If anyone wants to read a transcript they can do so. In print, extensive quote mongering is usually a sign the reporter isn't sure about what he or she is writing about.

What's her excuse?

Friday, October 26, 2007

What do Yogi, Sinatra, Einstein and Streep have in common

New Jersey today announced a Hall of Fame of its very own.

Inductees range from Thomas Edison to Bruce Springsteen. And of course the Chairman of the Board. Also astronaut Buzz Aldrin and novelist Toni Morrison.

Which leads to the seminal question: who’s the ranking member—The Chairman or The Boss?

No shortage of angst here


There’s been a lot of
jawing in the local media
about how, since the Sox won it all in 2004, there’s a certain lack of say—-agita, neurosis, angst—in the general populace.

Short memories among those who just had to be talked off the ledge, Tobin Bridge, insert local-high-spot-here when Boston was down 3-1 to Cleveland. What was that—-a week ago?

For some, the fact that the Sox are up 2-0 in the World Series vs. an under-performing Rockies team stirs quite a bit of the “A” word. Folks who think the Rockies might just have us right where they want us.

Go figure.

This is not the heart of New England for nothing. Disaster lurks just beyond every victory and don’t you forget it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not a good sign for game one Sox v. Rox


This is NOT a good omen.

The morons at the local Fox affiliate actually had John Kerry on to wish the Red Sox luck. This is convincing evidence that the only broadcast group more inept and obnoxious than the Fox national sports on-air team is the local Fox morons. Including Maria and what's his name. They are unwatchable.

Stay tuned. I hear Fox has lined up Michael Dukakis to drive his tank to the mound for the first pitch.



P.S. Note to Senator Kerry: John--Why the long face?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This is the mystery man

The non-demonstrative guy behind home plate is Jeremy Kapstein, a senior advisor to the top Red Sox cheese. And apparently the prototype for Jerry McGuire.

You know he had to be a big deal given his box-seat real estate. But, seriously, could he look a little bit happy about it???

Toldja there'd be more on this

Here's the inevitable David Copperfield-show-goes-poof story.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

At last a Web community I can get behind

It’s true I don’t have the bandwidth to track the idiocy that emanates from Tim McCarver’s mouth. Thankfully, a little googling shows there’s an army of like-minded citizens out there.

Finally. A community I can get behind. A large group who hate, loathe and despise Tim McCarver. Wait, that’s too harsh. They hate, loathe and despise what Tim McCarver says. On national TV. Ruining our favorite game. He is, in the words of one blogger, imminently "mute-worthy."

The orange-headed freak accounts for four of the 35 stupidest-ever sports quotes as compiled here. As one respondent said, he surely deserves more.


There is a consensus about the orange-headed freak. Misery loves company. See here. And here. And here. Oh yeah and here.

These are my new peeps.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Funky data centers

This was a kind of fun ComputerWorld assignment on “funky” data centers. But not nearly as fun as some of the resulting
Slashdot comments
. Check out Blakey Rats in particular.

What the....?

Maybe someone out there knows what this means.

In tonight's Fox broadcast of game 3 Sox-Indians, Tim McCarver and Joe Buck were nattering on about Victor Martinez' likes and dislikes. Apparently, Kansas City is his favorite road town and Curb Your Enthusiasm his favorite show, said Young Joe Buck.

To which McCarver rejoins: "There are four Venezuelans on this team and his favorite show stars Larry David."

What the heck is he trying to say here?

Is it code?

Anyone?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thoughts from Sox vs. Indians, game one

First: Who’s the dude behind home plate, with the dark jacket? A buddy in Seattle who watches most games has been obsessing about this all season. The guy shows no emotion. Typically wears a dark jacket, white shirt. No emotion. No chit chat. He’s over the right hand batter’s shoulder each at bat. My buddy think's he's an alien.

Second: What’s with Asdrubal Cabrera’s pearls? At first I thought they were a bit much, then I remembered: It’s a night game. (Ed. note: Here's the answer.)

Third: I take back nearly everything bad I said about Bobby Kielty, who started in right over new-fan-fave Jacoby Ellsbury (who has played center and left but not right) and fan goat J.D. (aka Nancy) Drew. Kielty tonight proved he can still hit Sabathia, which was why he was called.

Fourth: Note Manny’s errant dreadlock. Looks like it’s signaling a left turn. Actually not a bad idea, when you remember this is Manny we're talking about. It's not a given he'd take a left at first.

Fifth: It’s the seventh inning, Sox are up 10-2. One is tempted to chalk this one up as a "W." Until Paul calls from the road en route to the Pats game in Texas and reminds: “Just remember. Gagne’s sitting in the pen, waiting. Tick, tick, tick.”

Check. Check. No premature celebrations.

Question for you: When is it appropriate to say a team has broken a game open? Sportscasters in recent memory have said the Sox have broken one open when they get a five run lead. Umm, I don't know about you, but seems to me plenty of teams have resurged against bigger leads than that.

Case in point, that Friday night Yanks-Sox game in September. On second thought, forget about it. I'm still trying to.

Gotta Love Uncov

A friend clued me in to the Uncov site a couple months ago. It is, in short, brilliant

Now someone has taken the time to interview the brains of the operation here.

God love Ted Dziuba.

Here’s a money quote from the Wired interview.



“You know you're a bullshit company when your core technology is Ajax. If the business is every widget under the sun conglomerated into this giant application, there's no real technology there. There's no noteworthy computer-science problem being solved. The Ajax stuff is pre-written. You just have to go to the libraries and put it all together.

When Gmail came out -- and Gmail is a pretty kick-ass product -- it was like, "Ha! Ajax for dynamic web apps! We can use it for everything!" So now you have companies like Zoho, for example. Their sole goal is to take every desktop app that ever existed and reimplement it in Ajax with no added features or functionality. It irritates me as an engineer that companies with no engineering merit, first off, are getting funded and, second off, are getting bought out.“


My hero.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Post-season inanities

Tony Gwynn tonight commented on an onfield meeting of Yankee and Indians managers with the umpires: The Yankees were claiming catcher's interference in a Hideki Matsui at bat.

Gywnn brightly suggested that "One of those guys [the managers] is going to end up upset."

No kidding.


Someone should tell these on-air guys that they don't have to fill every silence. In fact, on-air silence (plus the roar of the crowd, etc.) can make the best broadcast.

Ditto for moronic on-field interviews: Example: The resident NESN twit to Manny Ramirez/David Ortiz/Jason Varitek et al. after some on-the-field heroics: "How great did hitting that walk-off-home-run feel?"

Or, the classic: "How much do you love these fans?"

Come on people. Just because you can say it, doesn't mean you should say it.


On the plus side, TBS' coverage has been mercifully free of the hideous, epilepsy-inducing graphics that make Fox telecasts unwatchable. The graphics and that orange-headed, pun-spouting freak Tim McCarver.

NY Post Headline: 'Wang Pulled, Yanks Trail 4-1'

I'm not kidding. Right above Page Six. Around 9:15 p.m. eastern.

More notes from the ALDS

How about a voice transplant for Tony Gwynn?

Bye Bye Roger (if only it'll take this time)

I wish people would stop with the public discussion of whether last night’s so-so performance was perhaps, might be, kinda, sorta could be Roger Clemens swan song at Yankee Stadium. Or professional baseball. Or whatever.

That guy has retired more times than Frank Sinatra, so enough already.

That man’s best work in years is in that cell phone commercial

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Wicked Old 'Dos




Watching my twin obsessions this week—-the Red Sox clinching the AL East and PBS’s “The War” (Feel free to insert Boston/Cambridge axis jokes here) it struck me that a lot of people’s hairdos are frozen in time.

Exhibit A: Dennis Eckersley, former Oakland As relief ace and Sox player-turned-commentator. Theguy's a great analyst, with the perfect mix of expertise and fan-like wonder. Exhibit B: The War’s Ken Burns. Both are 40-something guys with 25-year- old mops.


To paraphrase Peyton Manning: “They’ve been working those ‘dos since the fifth grade.”

Pot/kettle disclaimer, the same could be said for me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

First rule of lying: Don't pile it on

Cautionary tale: If you’re gonna lie (or worse, have your mouthpieces lie FOR you), Keep in simple. Redundancy ain't a good strategy in prevarication.


According to this New York Times account of the sentencing of big shot director John McTiernan to four months for perjury, his new lawyers pulled out every tool in the drawer to explain his earlier “mis-statements” to authorities.

Money graph:



“His new lawyers argued that on the night he received the call from the F.B.I. agent, he was jet-lagged from a location-scouting trip to Thailand, had contracted typhoid and had stopped taking his antidepressant medication.”



This is a little like telling your second grade teacher that the cat ate your homework, threw it up, and then your dog ate the cat puke.

Totally unrelated: How can anyone rationally think of Rudy Giuliani as president? The weirdo factor alone should disqualify him.

See this story: I can't believe I'm saying this but the NRA audience had it right: "Eeeeew."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Microsoft buy into Facebook? Don't make me LOL

This Microsoft-wants-to-buy-a-chunk-of-Facebook saga" is hilarious.

Facebook’s cool quotient is already history. Face it, by the time people like me have Facebook profiles, it’s definitely over. The kids have moved on.

A buddy and I were IM’ing about it today. (Yes, old farts like IM too). He complained about all the Facebook invites he gets from strangers.

“Facebook was cool,” he typed, “when it was invitation only.”

Now with PR people and marketeers congregating there, it’s become more a place you'd flea (er, make that flee) than hang out in.

The twenty-somethings are going elsewhere, he noted. He said he cringed after seeing his niece’s and nephew’s pages.

“How lame is that that Uncle Ed has a Facebook page?” he laughed. Or I guess he laughed. He did LOL anyway.

The rationale behind Microsoft dropping up to $10 billion on Facebook--Yes, billion with a “B”--is that if they don’t Google will. In fact, even if they do, Google will.

Which begs the obvious conclusion: Mark Zuckerberg is the luckiest man on earth.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's coming on SaaS season

The next few weeks will be big for the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) category.

Salesforce.com is about to host its DreamForce event. NetSuite’s IPO is on its way. SAP will unveil A1S on September 19 in New York.

Click here for full TechTarget post.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Quotable quotes from the majors

Some good nuggets from the last few weeks in baseball:

“Let’s be honest: it’s not going to affect his speed,” NESN color commentator Jerry Remy after Boston catcher Doug Mirabelli reinjured himself running to first.


“I may not look sexy, but I feel sexy,” New Los Angeles Dodger pitching phenom, 40-something-year-old David Wells, aka the round mound of the mound. He said this right around the time he--who tips the scales at 260 or so--beat out a bunt for a single.

And an oldie but goodie:

“I’ve seen him in the shower. He ain’t the Greek god of anything,” Sox manager Terry Francona upon hearing that first baseman Kevin Youkilis’ nick name is the Greek God of Walks.


Bonus item: How did it escape my notice that the Mariners pitch a guy named Putz???

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Why we hate cable companies (in case you forgot)

Here’s why people hate cable companies.

I was trying to arrange broadband Internet access for my mom’s house down in North Carolina. She has no interest or need for Web access, but I do and since I’ll be going to visit more often, it’s a necessary internet cost. (Those Starbucks $9.99-per-day t-mobile charges were adding up.)

My first call to her cable company—Charter Cable—yielded an interesting response. Since their records showed her account under my father’s name—he died in 1984—the rather snippy man on the phone said we’d have to come in, death certificate in hand, to change the paperwork.

Funny. Her bills have been in her name for more than a decade. Probably more than two.

A few days later I called again. No mention of a billing name change.

This fellow, positively chatty, assured me that the installation guy would be able to hook up digital TV, phone AND cable modem even if I—and my computer—could not be around. This sounded fishy. So I asked him three times if that were really the case. He assured me it was.

Fast forward three weeks to the installation. Mom called me as instructed, although after Installation Guy had already installed the digital TV cable box. Then she put the clearly put-out fellow on.

Obviously in a hurry, he said he could not install the cable modem without a PC on hand. In fact, he had not even brought a cable modem with him. Hmmm.

Given that this was the only reason we’d scheduled the service this seemed odd. To make matters worse: He yelled at me. Really yelled. Interesting concept of customer service.

The work order stated that cable modem was the game plan and that the salesman had promised this would not be an issue, I said.

“He just wanted to make a sale,” he responded.

Hmm. I asked for Charter’s phone number.

He said he didn’t have it.

“Um. Don’t you work for them?”

“No.”

He was one of those nameless contractors who feel no connection to the vendor they represent and are likely abused by said vendor. Hence the tip-top service we get. After an audible, irritated sigh, he managed to provide the number. Was that really so hard? I wanted to ask. But didn't.

After a good five minute wait (probably record time) a Charter support lady said the work order read as I had been told. As in: "Install cable modem, leave easy install kit." She apologized for “any confusion.”

I called Installer Guy back. He was madder than ever.

He had no modem. No install kit.

“Okay. Take everything out.”

If you could hear livid, that was the sound I would have heard it. Who gives a damn if we ruined his day? But I do care that my 80-plus-year-old mom was put through this idiocy for no reason.

Insult to injury: Charter support lady had told me she’d call Mom in an hour to make sure the old (BellSouth, God bless ‘em) phone service had not been impacted by this farce.

It’s been three days: No call.


Moral of the story: Cable companies suck but Charter Cable takes that suckiness to a whole other level.

For more tales of Charter Cable hell, see here. And here. And here.

(I should have googled Charter Cable complaints before, but in truth there is no alternative in western NC.)

Addendum: A recent Comcast experience in the Boston area was the polar opposite of what the Charter fiasco in North Carolina. Not only did the installer do a great job installing digital phone connctino and updating my cable modem, he cleaned out all the outside cable box connections AND provided his cell phone number in case there were any problems. He said to call anytime and leave a message because he typically worked in the area.


So far there’s been no need to take advantage of this offer, but the very fact it was made made him and by extension Comcast a star.

That is above and beyond what anyone can expect. But consumers should be able to expect at the very least competence and civility.

Charter showed neither.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Some perspective please

Like many tech/business reporters (well okay ALL so-called mainstream media types), I’ve been through some job stresses of late.

Change is good and all that but stress is stress and it's easy to get caught up in it. You know, rapped around your own axle. Then something snaps you out of it.

Case in point: On a recent trip to Toronto, the car service guy and I chatted curbside while we waited for his driver. He said he’d been a flight attendant for 25 years, with Pan Am and others.

“Why did you leave?” I asked.

“I went through and survived three hijackings. That was enough,” he said. He was on one flight on which several passengers were executed.

Gulp.

See what I mean?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

They're having so much fun they may puke...

The current Foxwoods ad is so damn perky someone should shoot it. Or me.

Harried-looking couple arrives and transforms (poof!) into a fun-loving duo. Watch them dance! Watch them toast each other! Watch them win!

Only problem is they're trying so hard it's like watching Sammy Davis Jr. laugh at Sinatra's jokes. More panic than fun.

Anyone else wish that the chip the guy flips to the doorman would lodge itself in his own esophagus?

Microsoft Hosting Stack Makes Gains Vs. LAMP

Netcraft numbers show the Windows Server/IIS combo making inroads on Apache territory. See this SearchITchannel story.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

SAP Makes Mid Market Push Bigger

ERP kingpin SAP continued its midmarket push this week, announcing 33 new partners offering small and midsize business solutions in North America—26 new Business One partners and seven All-in-One partners.


Story here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

MBS Chief Reassures Partners

Microsoft partners anxious about the new MBS (Microsoft Business Solutions) chief got their chance to meet him at the vendor's Worldwide Partner Conference July 10 to 12 in Denver

Click here for the whole story.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Fun Facts From Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

Best nickname:

The hotel for press, analysts combined the interior look of a war zone with the fa├žade of a parking structure. Press wags not-so-affectionately dubbed it the Baghdad Hilton.



Best Stealth Factoid:

Designated Microsoft spokespeople would not provide price on the new embeddable version of BizTalk Server (R2). A panelist was not so reticent: List price: $500.

Best Bamboozle:

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner talked up a three-way simultaneous launch next February of Longhorn/Katmai/Orcas (that’s Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 to those who stand on formalities.)

The only thing is, at least one third of the three products won’t ship at launch time—SQL Server is on for a second quarter 08 general availability.

Best Quip About the Best Bamboozle:

An MBS exec, who shall go nameless here, asked whether the launch was more marketing shtick than real launch answered: “Marketing, reality, what’s the difference?”



Second Best Quip about the Best Bamboozle:

A former system integrator exec attending the show: “It would be nice if they all shipped together, but I’m not sure the world could stand it if they did. This launch will blow previous enterprise launches away.”


Most Reassuring Comment for MBS Partners:

New MBS senior vice president Kirill Tatarinov said his experience building Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) will help him in the business apps push. Both DSI and MBS are “oriented on a partner ecosystem. The message there [with DSI] is to build manageable systems, with the whole ecosystem working together. For us to help businesses run themselves well and implement business processes…From meeting with partners for two days non-stop, I can say the ecosystem in business solutions is much broader and partnering is the strategy.”


Most Cynical Response to Marketing Spiel:

The incessant “People Ready” message started grating immediately. Asked if he were, in fact, “people ready,” one long time Microsoft analyst noted: “You show me which people and I’ll tell you if I’m ready.”

Most Craven Appeal For Approval:

When EPG honcho announced to partners he watned them to help build Micrsofot’s enterprise sales grow 20 percent next year, there was silence and less-than a smattering of applause (It was early). “I do need some applause on that,” said Simon.

The polite crowd obliged.


Best WTF moment:

Allison Watson strapping on a jet pack that would allegedly “propel” her around the stage. Fade to black.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Big Surprise: Microsoft Gets Aggressive On 'Live' CRM Pricing

Microsoft, true to its volume sales heritage, will offer its upcoming hosted CRM Live service for as little as $39 per user per month.

That figure puts it well under the list prices of competitive offerings from Salesforce.com and NetSuite. Most of those rival SKUs list for well over $100 per user per month although discounting undoubtedly occurs.



There will be two main CRM Live “SKUs”: an Enterprise edition for $59 per user per month and a lower-end Professional edition for $39 per user per month as an introductory price good for 2008. The main difference is that the professional version provides no offline data synchronization.


And, true to its word, the company says sales of even the Microsoft-hosted “Live” CRM will carry a partner component. In fact, “customer access will be entirely through partners. We certainly believe partners add value and want to make sure they’re involved,” said Brad Wilson, general manager of CRM for Microsoft.


Those partners will get 10 percent margin on the initial sign up and ten percent forever annuity from then on, Wilson added.

Salesforce.com, which blazed the trail with hosted CRM, offers a 10 percent referral fee, but it is a one-time payment—there are no residuals. Salesforce.com is, however, encouraging partners to do customization work and app development atop its platform for fatter margins. NetSuite partners who hit certain target numbers on net new sales, can get 30, 40 even 50 percent margins.

The good news for Microsoft partners is that $39 is so inexpensive, it could spark a sales surge. The bad news is that 10 percent now-and-forever on $39 per user per month may not float a lot of partners’ boats.

Still, realistic solution providers are resigned to the reality of declining margins on software license sales and work to differentiate themselves on customization, adding vertical capabilities and other value.

In addition, Microsoft is pledging $20 million more to help existing partner organizations grow their capacity, said Barb Edson, director of Dynamics marketing.

That money is earmarked for training and recruiting employees for existing Microsoft Business Solutions partners. Microsoft has taken some hit for trying to broaden distribution of its MBS lineup at the expense of existing partners and this is designed to remedy that

The goal is to add 1,000 new employees to partner organizations globally, Edson said.

And, in other programmatic news, Microsoft launched a “Certified for Microsoft Dynamics” certification. ISVs who certify their MBS Dynamics-based applications can get up to $10,000 from Microsoft.

It's True: Longhorn Awaits Next SQL Server/Visual Studio Releases

Folks discounted an earlier report that Microsoft would sync up its gigantic Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio Server 2008 but that’s exactly what it’s going to do.

That’s the word from Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, speaking at today’s Worldwide Partner Conference kickoff keynote in Denver.

Turner called this the biggest product rollout in company history.

Microsoft had promised to release Windows Server 2008 (aka Longhorn) to manufacturing by year’s end, opening the way for what some partners call a slip in the long-in-the-works server operating system.

The main big-bang event will be in Los Angeles February 27 with many more regional events planned.


Partner reaction to the earlier report was decidedly mixed, with one database specialist bemoaning the impact of earlier synched releases on product shipments