Friday, July 20, 2007

Testing Remote Controls

Wow, even if you don't need to use this little trick to actually test your remote controls, it's still a pretty cool way to impress kids or your dumb friends (oops, did that come out right? Oh wait, yeah it did!").

How to Use Your Digital Camera to Test Remotes!

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Friday, July 13, 2007

R.I.P. Recorded Music

This is a great story about the rock music artist Prince releasing his new album, "Planet Earth" for free in  a British newspaper this weekend. The recording industry, and especially his own label, are furious, as they are being robbed of their chance to debut the album in retail stores.

While I understand the recording and retail industries' outrage over losing the opportunity to cash in on these sales (especially since this could be a blockbuster album, as it has new songs and old hits from a very popular artist) I still fail to understand their surprise. The world of Media distribution has been going through significant changes for more than ten years now. And the changes are not some sophisticated system that people can't understand, it is simple economics and sales practices that retailers put into place in the first place. While Prince is using the model of "covermounts," putting a CD or DVD in a newspaper or magazine, I'm going to use examples from the more popular model of online distribution.

The first (and perhaps most important) principle is price. When Napster debuted in 1999, the online service allowed people to acquire the same music, at the same or better quality sound level, that they could buy at a store for FREE.  One of the most widely used tools in the Retailer's and Marketer's toolboxes is free stuff. "Buy one, get one free," "free with purchase," "free with a test drive," "free just for stopping in." We have all heard these slogans. The catch is that the free stuff is usually either crap or surplus stock, and everybody knows it. But when you condition the consumer to covet this concept, you shouldn't be surprised when they jump at the chance to acquire something for free that they actually want.

If "free" is our economic concept, then our important sales concepts are "availability" and "impulse." With Napster, (and similar services that still operate) people could "shop" for digital music in the comfort of their jammies in their own home. No weather, no traffic, no rude salespeople. Just put in a search term, find what you want, and download it. Simple, fast, easy.

Now most people would probably not think about impulse in relation to getting something that is free, but I bring it up for two reasons. First, many people have an impulse to accept something that is freely handed out, such as a handbill on the street or a sample at the mall. So when we see free our reaction is to automatically go for the deal. The second reason I bring it up is because the ease and accessibility of Napster and other services did not give a lot of people time to consider the moral applications of their actions, getting hooked on the service before they ever really considered what they were doing. By the time people started labeling the service as piracy (which it was) people were already hooked.

Now of course Napster was sued, deemed an illegal distribution method, and was forced to go legit in order to stay active (basically ending it's life, as far as I am concerned). The problem is the industry didn't learn from this valuable lesson.They could have taken the opportunity to launch their own site, making songs available for a reasonable fee and sending out the CD's as a backup. The retail stores could have brought in coffee, couches and listening stations, gotten rid of the aisles of merchandise, and emailed the people their music once it was purchased.

Instead they buried their heads in the sand and stuck with the status quo. Now companies like Apple and Wal-Mart sell songs legally for $.99 or the whole album for $10.00. I don't if this hurts the record labels' profits but it obviously does the retailers, as people are getting the same music at home for $10.00 that they would pay $15-25 in the store.

If that is not bad enough for these industries, independent artists are now starting to sell and distribute their music on their own websites and online services. So far these musicians are small, independent artists who aren't even on the Billboard Chart's radar. But I believe there will come a day, probably in the next 5-10 years, when one of these artists will sell enough music to make the charts, which will spell the beginning of the end of the labels and the music retailers. Now don't misunderstand, these people still need promoters to get their music in the public eye. But they will not need labels and retailers to do it. Online promoters, marketing companies, and web designers will do the job instead.

In summary, IF the recording industry does not change their practices, and IF it is not too late they will cease to exist as a viable business venture. The only people dumb enough to pay the extra money for a CD will be the recording industry execs. who make them. I hope they get an employee discount, although I'm doubtful they would have the presence of mind to actually use it.

Story - Free Prince CD Enrages Music Industry - AOL News

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

If you are a Harry Potter fan (and really, who isn't? You know you are). Check out this site for The Blue Heron Bookstore in Peninsula, Ohio. Friday and Saturday July 20th and 21st (when the final book in the series comes out) they are having an all out Harry Potter Festival complete with Hogwart's Express ride, start of term ball, feast in the Great Hall, and a trip through Hogsmeade Village (they are turning part of Peninsula village into the village from the books!). I don't mean to advertise for them, I just think it is a great way to celebrate such a wonderful series of literature. Check it out!

Welcome to The Blue Heron Bookstore

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Procrastination and Accomplishing Your Goals

I don't know about you, but I have a lot of trouble with procrastination and getting things done on time or right away.So, ;here is a page from my favorite blog on how to keep from procrastinating and how to tackle big tasks by breaking them down into little bits. Even if you are good at getting things done, there is probably a good tip here for you, too.

Procrastination - Lifehacker

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Let's go Drivin'!

I know kids in the rural south often learn to drive tractors before they are old enough to drive, and professional racing had drivers as young as 13, but this is a bit ridiculous. I guess Cindy Lauper was right. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun! Maybe I should start teaching Wayde how to hold a beer bottle between her legs while steering?

Story - Girl, 11, Charged With DUI After Chase - AOL News

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Michael Vick and Dog Fighting?

Wow, if this story is true, it is truly a sad state of affairs for one of America's most popular athletes. I agree that we should not hold these people to high up, as they are just people. But on the other hand they are a representation of their team and sport and should be held accountable as such.

IF Michael Vick is involved in dog fighting, I would expect the league to use stern punishment, as well as the justice system. Such a cruel act to be perpetrated on another creature is simply egregious, and should not be tolerated in our society. If anybody sees more on this, please let me know.

NFL - Investigation Dogs One of NFL's Big Stars - AOL Sports

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Hot Fuel

 I just found this article about gasoline, and how it expands in warm weather, which means you get less of it when you pump on a hot day. The story is not very happy, for this chemical process costs all of us precious dollars out of our budget. But my feeling of frustration is tinged with giggles when I read the Petroleum Industry marketing executives comment about consumers gaining fuel in the winter:

"It's our view, generally speaking, that most Americans are made whole
in the course of a year," Gilligan says. "They lose BTUs in the summer,
but gain them back in the winter."

Come on pal, don't build me a snowman and tell me I'm in Hawaii, it's not going to fly. If you don't want to install the fuel coolers just tell us (which they did). But don't try to tell me we get that energy back. Think about it.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Drinking Water

I've heard a lot said about drinking water. That's it's healthy for us, that we should drink lots of it, etc. But there have always been plenty of questions like how much should we drink? What reasons (other than thirst) are compelling enough to make us put down our pop or beer (I'm still not sure there is a good reason to put down our beer).

Well, this article gives some great reasons to drink water and how to form the water drinking habit. I'm thinking of trying this for a week to see how it makes me feel. I let you know later what I find.

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[Jott from Russell Bonchu] This blog entry is being written with a service called, which let's you...

Jott From Russell Bonchu

 This blog entry is being written with a service called, which let's you call the service from your cell phone and it will send an E-mail to someone or a reminder message to yourself and it is currently free. Seems like a real time saver, especially for people who don't have e-mail or web access from their cell phone.
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[Jott from Russell Bonchu] Hey, this is test of a new service called Jott, which is at and it lets...

Jott From Russell Bonchu

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