Archive for the ‘Web’ Category

2011: The Measured Circle Year in Review

January 6, 2012

2011: The Measured Circle Year in Review

Movies

I had suggested that 2011 might be the Geekiest Movie Year Ever, and certainly, looking at the top movies, they did very well.

There are some late year releases that are going to join the top tiers (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked will all make over $100m domestic gross). Those are all sequels, and there are fewer originals in the box office champs this year. Four of 2010’s top ten weren’t sequels (Inception, How to Train Your Dragon, Tangled, and Despicable Me). At this point. only Thor and Captain America are non-sequels in the top ten (and that may not be final…MI may get up there for one).

However, if we look at non-geek movies in the top twenty, they definitely were on the rise this year. In 2010, we had True Grit (#13), Grown Ups (#15), Little Fockers (#17), and the King’s Speech (#18) (and I’d entertain arguments about the Karate Kid #11). This year (based on rankings of domestic gross on December 31st…it will change), it’s The Hangover Part II (#4), Fast Five (#6), The Help (#11), Bridesmaids (#12), and Horrible Bosses (#20).

Originality still works in animation…successes included Rio (#15), Rango (#19), Hop (#22), and Gnomeo & Juliet (#27).

When we look at live-action geek originals, there really is no comparison with the cartoons: Super 8 (#18), Battle Los Angeles (#32), Immortals  (#33), Zookeeper (#34), and Contagion (#39).

Some movies that weren’t as successful?

  • Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil: wide release (over 2500 theatres), big stars (Glenn Close, Joan Cusack, Cheech Marin, and many more), a thirty million dollar budget, and a 50m+ first movie, this one only earned about 10m
  • Straw Dogs: again, big names, big release, remake of a cult classic…you probably would have budgeted $25m for this, too. Gross: about 10m dogro
  • The Thing: okay, not star-studded, but still…prequel to a cult classic, promotable genre…I would have bet the 35m here, probably. Return in dogro: aobut 16m. Not the best year for R-rated horror
  • Some other 2011 geeky movies that didn’t make 25m dogro: Apollo 18, Fright Night, Shark Night 3D, Conan the Barbarian, Dream House, Mars Needs Moms, Your Highness, Season of the Witch

I’m still working on the 2011 Box Office MVPs…hope to have that soon.

TV

It was a good year for geek TV. While The Cape failed to get a second season, a number of new geek shows did. Cable continues to be the best bet, but Once Upon a Time drew good numbers as a network show. Here’s a look at some highlights from the year:

Some 2011 Debuting Series and Their Status

  • Alphas on Syfy (renewed) team of people each with an extraordinary ability
  • American Horror Story on Fox (renewed)
  • Being Human on Syfy (USA version) (renewed) ghost, vampire, and werewolf are roommates…based on BBC series
  • The Cape on NBC (canceled) superhero
  • Death Valley on MTV (renewed) mockumentary: cops deal with zombies and such
  • Face Off on Syfy (renewed) competition show for special effects makeup artists
  • Falling Skies on TNT (renewed) aliens invade Earth
  • Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet (renewed) reality show search for Bigfoot
  • Game of Thrones on HBO (renewed) based on George R.R. Martin’s book series
  • Grimm on NBC (ongoing) cops and fairy tales
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness on Nickelodeon (ongoing)
  • The Nine Lives of Chloe King on ABC Family (canceled) Discovered Destiny series
  • Once Upon a Time on ABC (ongoing) fairy tale characters in our world
  • Paranormal Challenge on the Travel Channel (unknown) reality competition
  • Paranormal Witness on Syfy (unknown) nonfiction
  • Person of Interest on CBS (ongoing) computer predicts crimes
  • Prophets of Science Fiction on the Science channel (ongoing) documentary
  • Teen Wolf on MTV (renewed)  more serious take on the movie
  • Terra Nova on Fox (unknown) time travel and dinos
  • Unforgettable on CBS (ongoing) special (but medically real) power
Special note: Congratulations to Peter Dinklage for winning an Emmy for a performance in a geek series (Game of Thrones). That’s certainly noteworthy…Leonard Nimoy was nominated for playing Spock, but didn’t win for it.

Books 

Bestselling geek books listed at Amazon.com for 2011:

  1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney
  3. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
  4. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  5. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
  6. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  7. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
  8. The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
  9. Miss Peregrim’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  10. The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel

Games

Released in December, Star Wars: The Old Republic (an MMORPG…Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) got to a million players faster than any of its predecessors. While that takes a considerable personal commitment, there is no question that the game with the biggest crossover cultural impact could be played for thirty seconds at a time: Angry Birds. Traditional gamer games, like Call of Duty (both Modern Warfare and Black Ops) and Madden were in the top ten, but so was Just Dance 3 (and 2). Games being marketed for fitness and for party interaction seems like a bit of an evolution. The Kinect was  part of the national conversation…and “hacking” it was promoted in a TV ad. The Kindle Fire provided another platform…and home hardware expanded its offerings (giving you movies/TV and the web). What’s the future of dedicated home gaming hardware? Will games be played overwhelmingly on portable platforms…and “gaming systems” become simply entertainment systems?

Miscellaneous Pop Culture

  • A major story was the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical on Broadway. It became the subject of jokes when it had difficulties getting up and running, including some injuries. There was backstage drama as well. However, it would eventually set a one-week Broadway record of nearly three million dollars. That may not be enough to make it profitable, but it is popular
  • Watson’s IBM won a highly-touted Jeopardy tournament…and would later help with medical research
  • Telepresence robots were in the news…allowing an immunochallenged child to attend school, buying a scone
  • Netflix changed its pricing plans, and ran into massive bad publicity.  Amazon gave free video streaming at no additional cost to paid Prime members
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published information on how to survive a zombie apocalypse
  • To great fanfare, Pottermore, an online Harry Potter experience was announced. Harry Potter e-books did not materialize when expected
  • DC Comics renumbers and reinvents its comic books with the “New 52”

In Memoriam

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Win a $1000 ThinkGeek Shopping Spree

November 3, 2011

Win a $1000 ThinkGeek Shopping Spree

ThinkGeek is one of my favorite websites. I’ve gotten some cool stuff there over the years, including the ThinkGeek Personal Soundtrack T-Shirt.

It was great to see that they are doing a drawing to win a $1000 shopping spree:

http://www.thinkgeek.com/contests/2011spree/?cpg=175NRP&link

You need to enter by November 25, 2011…let me know if you win. 🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Pottermore: the next evolution in Harry Potter

June 19, 2011

Pottermore: the next evolution in Harry Potter

“With a Muggle yell…they cried, more, Pottermore!”

People want more Harry Potter.

The last movie is coming (July 15 in the USA), and is likely to be the biggest international box office hit of the year:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The e-books seem to be getting closer, with Jo Rowling recently calling the format a “godsend”:

J.K. Rowling: “…there are times when e-books are a Godsend.”

Fan fiction (“fanfic”), not official but allowed by Rowling within certain guidelines, is popular.

However, people really want more official interaction with the characters.

Well, something is coming this Thursday at 3:00 AM Pacific Daylight time.

You can see the announcement on YouTube at that time (and there is a countdown clock on the site) here:

http://www.youtube.com/JKRowlingAnnounces

What is it?

That’s not clear yet…it’s not a new book, but according to this

The Telegraph article

“Even though this is not a new book…it is something equally exciting.”

They are paraphrasing fansite

The Leaky Cauldron

which has had a sneak peek.

The two words that The Telegraph left out are important…here is the original quotation:

“Even though this is not a new book, we have been informed it is something equally exciting.”

They’ve been informed that, it’s not the perception of the fans.

Still, they are effusive about it in articles, and it may be something new.

I think it’s even possible that they will sell the e-books directly from there. I don’t think they would do that exclusively and independently. A Kindle, for example, can not read mobi books that have security…and I’m very convinced these would have DRM (Digital Rights Management). What they could do, though, is possibly arrange with Amazon that Rowling gets the first month or some other term to sell the e-books directly from Pottermore exclusively…but in azw (for Kindles), with Amazon getting a cut. They would also offer formats for NOOKS and Sony Readers (EPUB with DRM, for example).

That would be a creative arrangement, certainly. Alternatively, Pottermore eventually sells the e-books as a referrer to Amazon: they would get royalties plus a referral fee. Yes, I think Rowling will work out a big slice of the pie on the e-books, just as a blockbuster movie gets something like 90% of the ticket price at your local theatre.

Pottermore could have an online role-playing game, audio (like audio readings), video (interviews with Rowling?), new short animations, exclusive merchandise…all kinds of things.

It wouldn’t surprise me to have it be something really innovative: it will be fascinating to see. 🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

You think today is boring? Try April 11 1954

November 30, 2010

You think today is boring? Try April 11 1954

You know, I’ve always said it’s one of the biggest advantages of being a geek…a low threshold of amusement.  🙂

We’ll watch movies that even we think are bad…over and over again.  We’ll spend hours arguing about some irrelevant point of non-existent technology.  We honor somebody who had a walk-on role in a TV series…decades ago. 

And all the time, we’re really enjoying ourselves.  😉

So, I felt challenged when a

news story

reported that the

True Knowledge

search engine had declared April 11, 1954 the “most boring day ever”.

I figured, hey, they just don’t aren’t asking the right questions.

So, I started looking on the geeky side.

I looked for movies (1954 was a great movie year)…hm, nope. 

I checked TV shows…there was a crossover episode of Jack Benny with Burns and Allen.  I like Jack Benny and George Burns…but I can’t exactly call them exciting.

I checked birthdates, deathdates, UFO sightings.  I tried to check comic book releases.

Honestly, I didn’t find much.

I didn’t dig all that long, but still…that’s unusual.

This is clearly intended to promote the website, so I looked more into it.  It’s supposed to be able to answer trillions of questions.  It doesn’t give you links, it gives you the information, which is nice. 

However, it failed questions I asked it time and again.

“Norman Corwin Presents”?  No reference.

“Mothman”?  Just gave me a link.

“Herbie Popnecker”?  No answer.

Kindle?  No answer!

Is the information you do find accurate?

Um…I’d have to say no.

Tim Curry’s occupation is shown as a “film composer, opera singer”.   It only lists two albums for him.

It also has some very quirky ways of saying things.  A birthday is both that and the “Anniversary of Creation”.

What happens if it doesn’t answer your question?

It asks you to answer it!

That makes it very easy to manipulate, unless they have some sort of review process.

If you’ve been using the site, let me know what your experience has been.  If you’d like me to find interesting things about your birthdate, let me know.  🙂  If you were born April 11, 1954…tell us about exciting, world-changing things you’ve done.

It always surprised me what becomes a big story.  This one has a clever angle, and I commend the website on their promotional strategy.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle. 

Will Amazon challenge Netflix on streaming video?

September 2, 2010

Will Amazon challenge Netflix on streaming video?

Netflix rocks on streaming video!  We’ve started to see the benefits of their recent big news deal, with the Godfather, Iron Man, and the new Star Trek all available.

How can you beat that for $8.99 a month?

Well, Amazon may be trying something:

WSJ article

They are one of the few companies I could see challenging Netflix on streaming.  Amazon is really good at data delivery…it’s one of the things they do.  They already have Amazon Unbox.  They have the advantage when making deals of also being a big seller of DVDs (which gives it some bargaining power).

They seem to be really looking at the possibilities.  Amazon is good at losing money on things while they buy marketshare.  Is it too late on this one?  Netflix has a great rep.  Blockbuster is still just holding on.  Hulu may start charging for some things, and has ads. 

Amazon is good at appealing to non-techies.  They could sell their own branded box, or just offer the option for people who can already get Amazon Unbox (like Tivo users), and there are a lot of those. 

I think this could happen…it will be interesting to watch.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

If you’re happy and you know it, tweet your tweets

July 24, 2010

If you’re happy and you know it, tweet your tweets

Science!

I love this one!

A group of scientists from Northeastern and Harvard have analyzed how happy people are…based on their tweets.  Being scientists (and not gossipbloggers), they looked at the trends (twends?) in the aggregate, rather than at individuals.

You can see a line graph for the mood-peaks during the day (least happy tweets?  Around noon), and comparing East Coast and West Coast.  Which coast is happiest?  Let’s see…New York or San Francisco?  😉  The West Coast was consistently happier, but that could be misleading.  Maybe the East Coast uses “bad” to mean “good” more often, that kind of thing.  Maybe the more densely packed East Coast is more likely to say happy things in person.  They also look at the days of the week…the weekends were more happy (surprise, surprise).  🙂

For the data, you can click under the title to get a pdf…I recommend that, I found it a bit tough to read without it.

The other really cool thing is they have done an animation showing the mood variations blooming throughout the day and night (it cycles twice).  Even if you didn’t know what it was, it’s pretty.  😉

You can see the data and the animation here:

Pulse of the Nation: U.S. Mood Throughout the Day inferred from Twitter

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

My take on The Futon Critic

June 10, 2010

My take on The Futon Critic

This is, quite simply, the best TV site on the web.

That’s saying a lot.  TV Guide has a large website, and TV.com has a lot.  IMDB.com, which is the best movie website, covers TV, but not like this.

Now, I do have to clarify: this the best TV site for TV watchers.  Not for historians, not if you are writing a book about a show…but if you are watching TV, right here, right now, and in the near future, this is the site you need.

Why is it so good? 

It’s easy, it’s comprehensive, and it’s customizable. 

What more could you want?

Well, I am desperately disappointed with it in one particular.

It only does prime time.

See?  The only problem is…there isn’t enough of it.  😉

I hate having to go other places to research other shows, but that’s the way it is…for now.  I keep hoping, although I don’t want them to degrade the value by stretching themselves too thin.

Alright, let’s get more specific.

First, the listings.  I love that you can choose just to see new episodes!  Oh, and it’s not some cheesy grid with all the channels…it’s a simple list. 

That’s great…easy, clear.

You can search by show.

You can read breaking news.

You can look at ratings.

There are “rants and reviews”.

You see press release information about the episodes and the shows.

Okay, so all that’s great, but may not seem all that unique (but uniquely well displayed for me).

Here’s where it jumps from a 7″ Motorola VT-71 to a 60″ plasma.  😉

You can customize your own list of shows, news, and so on.

Yes, you can see listings just for the shows you choose.  You can see news about them.  You can get alerts. 

Okay, that may not sound like all that much, but trust me…if you like TV, you’ll be impressed.  Check out the grids!

I’m usually not an unreserved endorser, but except for their chronological limitation, I probably would be. 

Oh, did I mention that MyFuton is free?  🙂

http://www.thefutoncritic.com

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

 

My take on Acronym Finder.com

May 6, 2010

My take on Acronym Finder.com

 
Acronym Finder.com
Type: website 

Okay, this is a quick one.  It should be short, though, right?  It’s all about acronyms.

You know acronyms?  For example, there are those TLAs, used frequently in computing.  What’s a TLA?  Three-Letter Acronym.  🙂

One of the websites I’ve had on my links bar for years is AcronymFinder.com.  I teach medical folks, but I’m not one…and I find I have to jump in there sometimes to find out what is being discussed.

It’s easy, by the way.  You just type in the acronym, and let it find you results. 

You’ll see all the results, but you can also limit them down to any of a number of categories:

  • Information Technology
  • Military & Government
  • Science & Medicine
  • Organizations, Schools, etc.
  • Business & Finance
  • Slang, Chat & Pop Culture

Those are the “verified results”.  They also have an “acronym attic” with possible answers.

For example, TLA gets me 67 verified results, but I can look at 210 other possible definitions.

You can also click on a magnifying glass to search the web for the full term, so you can get more information.

Now, there are other places to go, like Urban Dictionary.  However, one thing I like about AcronymFinder: all the results are safe for work (but still clear).  At Urban Dictionary, you might feel you were working for the SEC with some of the results, if you get my drift.  WTF is defined at Acronym Finder as “What the Freak” (polite form).  That’s clear enough without getting Human Resources involved.  😉

HTH…TTFN.  😉

 This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

My take on The Oracle of Bacon

March 20, 2010

My take on The Oracle of Bacon

Type: website
The Oracle of Bacon

So, you remember back last century, when you were playing the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” game? 

The goal was to name an actor and then connect that actor to Kevin Bacon, by naming movies with bridging actors.

Let’s say you want to connect, oh, Jon Stewart (the host of The Daily Show) to Kevin Bacon.

Stewart was in Doogal with William H. Macy who was in Murder in the First with…Kevin Bacon.

That’s only two degrees of separation.

Let’s make it harder…how about Charlie Chaplin?

Chaplin was in A Countess from Hong Kong  with Marlon Brando who was in  Apocalypse Now with James Keane who was in…Murder in the First with Kevin Bacon. 

Now, I wish I could tell you that I’m doing that off the top of my head, but I’m not. 

I’m using The Oracle of Bacon, a website designed to play the game.  Darn computers, taking all our fun, right?  😉

Not in my mind…it’s fun that somebody put together the software to query the IMDB (Internet Movie Database). 

Of course, Brett Tjaden and the later contributors who built the website had to be geeks (I’m a proud geek), so the site does more.

You can link together any two actors, not just Kevin Bacon.

For example, Jackie Earle Haleyis taking over the role of Freddie Kreuger from Robert Englund.  How about matching up those two?

Their number is only two: Robert Englund was in The Mangler with Ted Levine who was in this year’s Shutter Island with…Jackie Earl Haley.

The idea of the Kevin Bacon number came about from the idea that he seemed to be in almost every movie ever made at one point.  🙂  Interestingly, the Oracle has crunched the numbers, and Bacon is not the most connected actor.   That honor goes to Dennis Hopper, which I can totally see.  🙂  Long career and lots of movies…and movies with lots of people in them, that can all help.

You can see the top 1000 centers (Kevin Bacon is number 507) here

 I’m impressed with the programming, but you don’t have to be to have fun with the site.

Know somebody who has ever been in a movie?  Use the Oracle of Bacon to match them to your favorite star!

No doubt…the Oracle of Bacon is a geeky pleasure.  🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

My take on Addictomatic

March 13, 2010

My take on Addictomatic

Type: website

There’s a reason why the people who made Google are, like gazillionaires.  The web is great…but it’s just so hard to find stuff!  Oh, wait a minute…that would make the people at Yahoo gazillionaires too, right?  Oh, and Google does have that mapping thing…ooh, and translation!  Scratch all that.  😉

Here’s the thing…sometimes, you just want to get the info on something, right?  Maybe it’s a news story, and maybe it’s a friend, and maybe it’s that weird TV show you liked that nobody else even remembers.

Well, you know how there was that scene in The Man Who Fell to Earth when David Bowie is watching all the TVs at once on different channels, and we’re supposed to say, “Wow!  He must be an alien, because who can pay attention to different things at once?”

Dude!  We’re all like that now!  Think about it: we don’t have a movie theatre, we have a multiplex!  A burger is cheap unless it has two patties!  We don’t have a “best friend”, we have a posse!  It’s all about the multiplicity, man…

So why, when you want to search for something on the web, do you limit yourself to one set of results?

Enter Addictomatic.com.

It’s not the only multi-search engine, of course, but it’s really cool!  You can search for a topic, and it shows you the results from a whole bunch of sources…all in little windows with clear, clickable links!  Did you know the Colchester zoo in the UK just welcomed a little baby aardvark?  Congratulations to the proud parents, Oq and Adela!   You can hover over the link, and get more info…or click on it and plunge right in.

This is important…it isn’t just websites, it’s blogs, Twitter, Flickr, Truveo…the whole cannoli!

After you get the results, you can bookmark, share it…you know, for all your fellow aardvark aficionados out there.

You can also browse.  I went to the Offbeat category, and got these great headlines:

New men’s undies made from bananas

Goat fans, cities butting heads

NJ cops use dead deer as bait in sting operation to catch a large feline that apparently drops ten-dollar bills

Devotees of Fla. man drank giant snail mucus in ritual

Now, don’t you want to know more?  No?  I’m like Number 5 in Short Circuit…need more input! 

Can’t come up with topics of your own?  They have popular searches…you know, waste time vicariously!

You can customize the search sources…but I think it’s more fun to, as they say, “Inhale the web.”

I recommend this one, but I warn you…it brings back the joy we had when we first discovering the Internet.  And that turned out okay, right?  Right?  I know you are in there, I can hear you typing!  😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.  If you are reading this blog for free and would like to support it, just click here and then shop at Amazon.


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