Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Consumers Union Buys Consumerist!

If you have followed my blog... (yes there are a few weird people out there) you may have seen my unsolisisied advice to consumer Reports post a while back...

Doc's Unsolicited Advice To Consumer Reports Post
In that post about how I took a survey for them and offered a long laundry list of how I felt they needed to get really aggressive or perish in the modern world. Here is a short snip:
I may be telling you a bunch of stuff you already know, but I never see a CR story listed on Digg for example. Now your in a tough spot due to the whole "information wants to be free" dogma that is sweeping our culture and how that is in serious conflict with how you do your work... so I guess you may have to let "some" of it go... a "short attention span version" of the reviews. Get them reading, then REALLY play up the direct support with no advertising angle and maybe even EXPOSE the hidden advertising and "gaming" (fixing ratings) on other sources that people seem oblivious too.
Now I am not suggesting that I personaly motivated this move but they seem to be doing exactly sort of thing I thing they I would suggest they do in order to get up to date, Like acquiring The Consumerist!. Maybe a lot of people are sending emails and including sharp tongued notes in their surveys. : )
Check out the story here... Consumers Union Buys Consumerist!

I love this website, they have been kicking ass in exactly the way I want a consumer advocacy
website to do. My only regret is that I haven't had time to read it MORE.

The possibility that the long time credibility and experience of CR could be influenced by the Consumerist staff and vice versa makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy inside. It's the kinda thing that could POSSIBLY lead to very good things. At any rate, it can't be as bad as CR stagnating and becoming more obscure to younger people. Lets hope they are not just interested in The Consumerist as a cheap way to advertise... 

I sincerely hope the see them as a resource for new ideas on how to use the web to fire people up about getting what you pay for and hold companies feet to the fire when they make crappy products.

More Unsolicited Advice For Consumer Reports

Back in June I sent may this email which was a follow-up to the survey comments offered them back in April.

CR Staff,
I just wanted to let you know that I have attempted to use your website 4 times now and have unfortunately not found information on products I was interested in each time.

This last time was a bit confusing because I was using other sources of information and one review quoted Consumer Reports! I was overjoyed that my subscription would pay off and I could get good solid information without having to muck about on the web sifting through the shills and hype.

Imagine my surprise when I logged on only to find out that a search pulled up nothing. I narrowed my search and found an interesting page of content that WAS NOT on the site, with instructions on how to get it... The way it reads, it sounds like you would pay $7.95 for a back issue or if thats not available... you will get a photocopy of the story for that same $7.95.

My question is, why not encourage more people like me to keep their online subscriptions and just scan the reviews from the back issues into a library of PDFs accessible to subscribers? I don't want to have another traditional publication in the house, I am trying to reduce the number of magazines we get as it is. CR seems perfect to be subscribed to in an electronic form... as long as it takes advantage of the strengths of that medium like access to archived materials.

As I see it, my number one issue with CR is that every time I try to use it, the item I am looking for is not there. These are not crazy items either, the thing I signed up to get reviews on was electric toothbrushes! And the thing I could not find today was backyard mosquito traps. I love what you guys do, and I want to keep supporting it... but so far, I have personally received no value from the service. That can only go on for so long.

I am sure you have many smart people working on the website and that there is a plan that I am not seeing, but from my outside prospective, it just doesn't seem aggressive enough when compared to the "free" (and crappy) alternatives out in the world. I don't want to see a world ruled by blatant shills writing fake reviews... But I think in order for that to be averted, you guys need to start kicking some butt!

Sadly, I can't report that in the last 4 times I have tried to use the site, butt kicking has ensued...

Thanks for your ear,

I think they are getting the message from people like me, some news today that would seem to be VERY good.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Story Of Jamieson's Birth

I have not been updating my blog... something has been taking a huge amount of my time recently... Actually he is asleep on my chest right now and I am typing at a weird angle. its 3:56pm. This is about normal for the last 2.5 weeks.

So as late as this post is, I want to get it up for posterity.

A strange thing happened in the delivery room while both my son and wife were having problems... A nurse asked me if I had a camera and if I wanted to take pictures! Know she may have known that the worst part was over or perhaps she was just trying to distract the increasingly distraught and now mostly useless dad... I thought she was crazy at the time, It was only later that I realized that most dads take a couple of "snappy happy" shots of the birth weight and such.

I am glad I got more of the story than that...

Wire Mother Saves The Soft Pink

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Son Is Born

I have been crazy busy this last week because I am now a dad...

Its a very sorted tale with lots of twists and turns but with all there is to do now I may not find the time to tell a complete story for quite a while... so here is a picture of him for now. : )

Friday, December 5, 2008

Prop 8 The Musical!

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

So many stars all joined together to sing and dance a message of peace, love and commerce! Plus NPH!

A whole bucket of win.

Clever lyrics sneak back into Pop music?

When I first heard Lilly Allen I detected something in the music and imagery that gave me a slight pause. She was unconventional in her attractiveness and I always think its great when the media machine allows a person that looks like they were not stamped from a mold sell records. Don't take that the wrong way, I think she is a very pretty young woman... She just is unique when compared to what "pop stars" have looked like over the last 15 years.

But thats not the only thing that piqued my curiosity. there seemed to be a cleverness in her eyes of the video "Smile". She looked like she was having fun and more importantly she seemed to have a bit of comic timing. The song itself however, although having a lot of potential with its jaunty reggae-esque bounce and interwoven vocal lines, fell short for me as it was too repetitive and did not deliver the lyrical heft I usually demand.

So I never recommended her to anyone else, and just assumed she had a clever producer and video director that had coaxed a good one off performance out of her like so many pop stars before. She did not in fact appear to be the vanguard of a revival in pop music that would give us an occasional song or two that had some substance.

A few mounts later I found out that her father is Keith Allen. I pretty famous Actor/comedian. Best in the UK it would seem. I discovered him by watching his documentary "Keith Allen Will Burn In Hell". Which is a biting expose profiling the controversial Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps. In the film Allen basts the Church's anti-homosexuality views, confronts them directly and returns their insults with a bit of wit and a large dose of distain. (once the gloves are off). It was really fun to watch someone say some of the things I have always wanted to say to these fuckers, and in their own home no less! He really proved just how stupid they actually are just in the fact that they allowed him so much assess.

In addition to being a funny smart-ass, her dad apparently has some music industry connections... He co-wrote New Order's only UK number one single "World In Motion" and occasionally performed with them live. Lilly is also the god-daughter of late Clash singer and guitarist, Joe Strummer. Hmmmm. Don't get me started about nepotism in the entertainment industry. My father was only a radio announcer and if he could have pulled strings to help my music career, I doubt he would have since we stopped speaking when I was 16. But I am sure Lilly got a "leg up". Usually that annoys me, but strangely I am willing to give a pass on this due to the fact that I think she may have inherited some interesting positive traits from her dad...

Look at this...

She is credited as the songwriter, That doesn't mean anything I'm afraid, people often don't write their own books either folks! But lets give her the benefit of the doubt...

Life’s about film stars and less about mothers
It’s all about fast cars and passing each other
But it doesn’t matter cause I’m packing plastic
and that’s what makes my life so f***ing fantastic
And I am a weapon of massive consumption
and its not my fault it’s how I’m program to function

Nice... and I do mean that. I would have been proud to have written that.

I want to be rich and I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever I don’t care about funny

You know, this is a damn good skewering of the attitudes common in our society.

The song itself if popish and light sounding, almost fun, but with a pinch of melancholy. It has a "killer Hook" ugh... but thats all perfectly planed and constructed like a missile to deliver the payload of these lyrics into the minds of placid people... and THAT is EXACTLY what has been largely missing from good pop music for so many years.

God speed Ms. Allen! I hope your little stealth smart bomb explodes in the minds of lots of young people that need to change their view a bit.