Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Roku Revolution

As you probably already know, late last night, Roku released the new channel store. I got my tipoff this am from @thepreppydude when I checked Twitter before email. After humping over the silly check for update bug (No, REALLY roku.. check again..) I had a channel store and the potential for 10 new channels on my Roku box.

It was 6:30am when I pronounced to my family that Broadcast Media is officially spun on it's head and we began pondering how the war would shape up. More on that later, first- here is a Rogue's take on the new channels and the navigation software...

The Channels are broken into 3 main categories- Social Media, Podcast/Media Distribution, and Personal Content viewing/sharing.

Social Media:
The new channel line up includes Facebook Photos ( which allows you to see your friends' photo streams) and MobileTribe. For us, Social Media apps on the family TV make no sense at all. You have to associate the channels with an account. We have 4 different account holders in our household... none of us want our accounts up there and viewable by the household. With Laptops, netbooks, cell phones and an iPod Touch in the household, we are all already 24X7 connected to our chosen social media, this is just noise on the TV. I did NOT add these channels.

Personal Content Viewing/Sharing:
The sharing feature of this may be the nudge that pushes me into buying Roku boxes for family members for Christmas. The Flickr Channel is nice, but I want to be able to see my contacts' photostream as well. If I do this, I could upload photos and my parents half a country away could view them on their TV instead of their computer. Yes, I can make a private group and add them to it, etc.. but that is just complicated. The selling point of the Roku is it's simplicity. There is also frameChannel, which allows me to do photo sharing. I hate to move photos to yet another service, but if we can not get Flickr right, we might consider it. the sharing application that really sold me was MotionBox. With a free account I can share video with my contacts. This means I can shoot video, upload it and the grandparents (and great grands maybe) can see it on their TV, even though they are far away. I am SO all over this. An unlimited account is 40$/yr. I wonder how good their infrastructure is on the backend.. seems like it is about to become VERY easy for someone to film and produce a TV show and distribute it. Who needs YouTube?

Podcast Distribution:

The other channels are not just single channels, but collections of hundreds or thousands of feeds. These channels include,, Mediafly, Revision3 and Pandora. the amount of content that will contend for my attention on my living room TV just increased about 400%. This is the reason that Broadcast media just got spun on it's head. Makes me wonder how all of those podcast hosts feel about being elevated to TV star over night.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly:

Once content explodes, navigation and search becomes the barrier to enjoyment. This is the only place where the Roku channel interface falls down. With just 2 or 3 channels the old coverflow style was functional. As the channel number goes up, this becomes unwieldy. I still hope for a Boxee/Roku mating. I love the Boxee interface for navigating many channels and creating favorites. Even better, I dream of functionality that my old lover Joost had.. the ability to take content from many channels and providers and create my own custom channel with only the content I love on it.

What content do you most love that you want to see on your TV? Which service providers will you prod to create a Roku interface? the possibilities are endless... as my youngest daughter quipped, "Now we really can get the Puppy Channel... puppies, puppies, puppies......"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Human SuperComputer

Since I could not get to SC09, we are going to try a little experiment in High Performance Collaborative Computing. Much like Condor, I am asking to borrow a few of your spare cycles to carry a message for me. The 3 hour time difference and the fact that the Ogre is on the floor pretty much all day has caused havoc with our communication systems. I want him to understand he is missed and see if I can make him smile in the middle of Chaos that is the show floor.

If you are at SC09 today, please go by the Purdue University booth (2473) and ask for Dave. ( or ask for GOAT, or maybe even ask for Ogre). He will be the guy who has grown out his hair to look a bit like Wolfman Jack. Just give him the following message:

"There is a Kitten in Kokomo waiting for you". If you want, tell him Roguepuppet sent you.

If you manage to make it by, feel free to respond below and tell us what his response was.

Even if you do not leave a message, please accept my heartfelt thanks.

And if you are not at SC09 either, but know someone who is.... pass this on.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What's wrong with FlashForward

The new Fall 2009 show FlashForward was one that lots of people wanted to like and whose premise was initially exciting. It has, however, fallen flat. People not actively slamming it have given up on it. I tried again this week to watch it...but find it so uncompelling that it is easy for real life to interrupt. For many shows, I may hit pause on the DVR when I am interrupted and come back. With FlashForward, I walk away without hitting pause and do not have any qualms about missing pieces of it. This is not a good sign for the life of show.

The show has interesting characters and takes on compelling philosophical issues- so what went wrong? This last episode finally gave me some insight into the problem when they introduced yet another character. The show now has over a dozen major characters in a one hour show. With the average show running actual time about 45 minutes * 9 episodes, that comes out to just a little over 33 minutes of airtime per character over the course of an entire season. Not a lot to become invested in characters. Even worse, all of that time is in small 4 or 5 minute bursts. The story, while compelling, has been made overly complex to the point that the storytelling is fragmented, fractured and not even close to fun.

What other shows have failed you this season- giving in to complexity, special effects or shock value rather than building upon great storytelling??

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Perfect SciFi Setup Scene

We zoom in on a couple driving east in a car on a countryroad. It is 4am. There is barely a sliver of a moon hanging in the sky. It is very dark.
The camera picks up a large flash and streak of light low on the horizon in the direction tey are driving.
Her: Whoa, what was that?
Him: Meteorite
Her: It started so low, and almost seemed to land right over there... ( she points vaguely north east)

At the same time, a possum runs onto the road from the direction she pointed, speeding straight into the path. Thud. Bump Bump. There was no avoiding it.

Without warning, a literal flood of small animals start darting into their path from the direction of the "landing". The car starts to gather residue from the bunnies, raccoons, foxes, possums, squirrels, chipmunks, etc..) who all have a certain air of frightened "FLEE" and a complete disregard for the vehicle they were running straight into...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

iTouch and gaming is fun again

A recent WSJ article shows that Nintendo is starting to get a clue that they are under fire, but they are still in denial. From the article:

" Nintendo and Sony say unlike Apple's products their devices are designed to be game machines. "From the actual game play to the games themselves, we don't see any real overlap," said a spokesman for Sony's games division."

"If we can't make clear why customers pay a lot of money to play games on Nintendo hardware and Nintendo software and differentiate ourselves from games on the mobile phone or iPhone, then our future is dark," said Mr. Iwata at a recent company event.

We are a Nintendo family. We have a Wii. We have a lot of Wii stuff. We have multiple DSs. We have a library of DS games. We have a library of DS games the game chips of which the kids are constantly losing and re-finding (sometimes) despite dollar penalties to replace lost games and family peer pressure from other people angry at the lost game. We have invested a lot of energy ( and money) into the Nintendo platforms.

Then I got an iPod Touch. I have purchased a couple of DS games since the Touch came into my hands. I have been fairly disappointed in them. I hardly play them. My iTouch is rarely far from my hands ( part of that is the fault of Tweetie2.

What are the reasons that I think the Touch is a superior platform?

1) The games are cheap. If a game sucks and I only spent 3 bucks on it, do I care? When I spent 20-30 on it, I am grumpy.

2) I can download the games without ever going to a brick and mortar store. I know Nintendo is going there with the DSi, but I am NOT going to spend 200$ each for 4 kids just to upgrade and get download capabilities. It sounds silly, but in a family and life pressed for time, it makes a big difference.

3) I can load and take MANY games with me without carrying a case of game chips.They can't get lost, I do not have to keep track of them. I am considering switching our family to this platform, just for the loss of Mom headache of tracking games when we travel.

4) The games and the interface is fun. Nintendo may have a machine designed for gaming, but it does not grab everyone. My second daughter- the rebelliously Anti-Geek in the family who gave up her DS years ago and rarely plays Wii got ahold of my iTouch the other day and started playing games. I had to arm wrestle it back from her.

5) Even the gamers like it. My two stepsons are at prime tween gaming age and have been gaming almost as long as they could walk. They live and breathe games. Getting time on the iTouch to play is a huge motivator for them. They play RPG, they play tower, they play strategy and they play just silly stuff.

If Nintendo thinks that having a device "designed for games" is superior, they are lost. Do they forget that electronic games evolved on Computing platforms? Have they noticed that other gaming platforms have evolved back to computing platforms and do much more than games these days? Time for Nintendo to look around and do an honest assessment or their future is so dark it will be 6 feet underground.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Google Wave Bots I wish I knew

Building off of a previous post talking about the separation of data from application on Google Wave, here is my list of Bots I would most like to be able to include in a Google Wave (watch back later for Gadgets and Extensions):

1)Gluebot. This would be a robot from Adaptive Blue that taps into the Glue data and API. This means that when I am writing in a Wave, it is listening and when I mention an item, it inserts the Glue profile page for that item. It should also allow me to query interactively for recommendations. For example, if I am writing an article on Imogen Heap, I should be able to type in and the bot will substitute in the correct data. If I have also included a shopping bot, it should be able to interact with that bot as well to give me best place to buy.

2. Secure CheckbookBot. This bot would need to be completely secure and have access to the data flow from my bank account. As I interact with shopping bots, it will record the transaction and keep my checkbook register up to date and in sync

3. PersonalDataBot. This bot will know all the personal things I can not remember about the people I interact with. Not because I manually typed it in, but gleaned from all of their other social networking interactions. It will know their birthday, their anniversary, that their kid is sick or their spouse just got fired. It will remember where they went for vacation, and if they commented back to me recently. It would show this data in a private ( HUD-like) display as I am collaborating with people.. showing me select images or reminders on special occaisions. ( yes, I fully expect this one to freak people out.. but that big pile of data is out there, why not actually coordinate and use it?)

4. DataTransformBot. We are starting down this path already. There is a simple Maths bot that will take 5*4 and subsitute 20 in the wave. But I want this one to do more. And probably, it will have to be a collection of bots to start with. Here is the basic starter request list:
a) currency translator (like Rosie, but for dollars instead of words. I
type in my currency, the bot auto translates to the appropriate currency
for the viewer)
b) complex Math ( there is a LaTex bot, but how about the equivalent of a
natural Language bot for math?)
c) unit conversion ( metric to english and vice versa are the first start)

5. TranscriptionBot. If I include an audio file in a wav with an indicator, it subsitutes/includes the transcription

6. SemanticSearchBot- will do Semantic Search where I indicate and substitute the results. Natural Language would be icing on this cake.

7. CodeTranslationBot. People have started writing syntax checking bots already ( handy when they work well), but I want one that I can paste in code from one language and it will give me first pass at my language of choice. I am willing to have it limited to matching language types at first pass... Object oriented to other OO, scripting to other scripting, etc..

(edit. corrected this is not an official Google site ( see comment below) but still very useful)
You can find a very cool and useful Wiki of Bots , but what Bot would you add to conversations if it existed?

Data Collaboration: a Google Wave Vision

Instead of working in isolation out on the Google Wave Sandbox, I finally got an invite to the public preview, where all the cool kids are getting their feet wet. It has led me to ponder if all technology/software innovations are a case of the chicken or the egg.

The first obvious Wave application is chat.. and so chat happens. and happens and happens. ( even when it doesn't make sense). People start speculating about what this technology will replace, what will "die" as a result.

Someone "saw" that waves would be interesting for an RPG, made a dicebot and the word got out. Now there are all imaginable forms of RPG gathering in the waves... many still to just discuss and make character sheets, rather than ongoing campaigns.

Someone made a sudoko gadget and there are a multitude of waves where people are collaboratively or competitively playoing sudoku.

The Google Wave infrastructure is truly a case of "build it and they will come". What is missing is a groundswell of the public asking for functionality. It is all experimental and folks are still building toward Ah Ha moments, so perhaps there will be more of this in the weeks to come. Here is the the thing I wish more people got: Google Wave is not just about real time collaboration. Google Wave is the first functional separation of data from application.

Data exists. I can create it in a Wave, embed it in a blog, share it on twitter, entangle it with a word doc, a presentation or a spreadsheet. It does not matter which application you use to view or interact with the data, you will see the same data, the same updates and the same edits. Because the data is separate from any one application, it is very easy to pass the data to other applications, transform it, visualize it or sync it to other data streams.

This is the truly mind blowing fact that seems to be slipping through the cracks because the functional demonstration of it is not quite finished. What will you do with your data when you can have it any (and every) where?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

When you can laugh at yourself? very sexy

1. Nathan Fillion is sexy
2. Serenity is great story telling
3. A sexy actor poking fun at his previous image? Makes we want to do all sorts of illicit pleasurable things for him...

I twittered the Hulu link earlier, but apparently outside the US can not view... so Here is a transcription attempt. It just wouldn't fit in 140 chars.

It is the Halloween episode of Castle, where Mr. Fillion plays an eccentric mystery writer. Camera zooms in on him strapping on pistols, zooms on his crotch and a swoosh of his Serenity coat as he rounds a corner and pretends to take something in his gun sight. His daughter, sitting on a couch looks at him in mock amusement. He is in full out Serenity garb.

Daughter: Hey
Castle: Hey
Castle: I was... I was just trying on my Halloween costume
Daughter: what exactly are you supposed to be?
Castle: Space Cowboy
Daughter: OK, A there are no cows in space. Second, didn't you wear that like 5 years ago?
Castle: So?
Daughter: So, don't you think you should move on?
Castle: I like it ( slightly pouty)

I Laughed out loud.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Crystalline Marketing

I just deleted a multi-paragraph literary metaphor on the nature of business, because really- who has time to read all of that. Let's cut to the chase. Bottom line? If we are really trying to re-invent business, then we need to re-think the concept of Viral as well. Adam Penenberg wrote a guest piece on TechCrunch this morning to call for the renaming of Viral/publicize his new book, "Viral Loop" that got me thinking (if all you are interested in is a fast buck, sign out here- no hard feelings. That is not what this is about. If you are interested in building long standing, lasting relationships with customers that has value... read on) .It is not just that we need to re-name Viral, we need something this is just as effective, but behaves very differently.

In today's social media intensive marketplace, businesses have to understand that their end users are empowered to carry on active dialogue and build relationships- with the company and with each other- as never before. Viral Marketing behaves like it's namesake... tearing through the online community as fast as possible, "infecting" as many people as possible- not caring who it touches or when it strikes. When you play the numbers game, exposure is everything the more people who see o participate in your latest viral campaign, the better. But like a virus, these campaigns wear out the user and never have a long shelf life. There has to e a better way to build a relationship with users without behaving like a pathogen.

What if we started marketing campaigns that behave like crystals instead? What if you could build a marketing campaign that seemed to coalesce out of nothingness, and formed strong beautiful structures that endured outside forces and people wanted to come back to again and again? This is Crystalline Marketing. Thinking back to their youth and jars of sugar water sitting for weeks gathering dust, some argue that crystals take too long to grow. Rate of crystal growth is however affected by the concentration of material, temperature and the availability of nucleation sites. There is also good evidence that the fastest rates of crystal growth happen when the Gibbs Free Energy Rates between the states are highest- which only happens when the process is reversible.

What does all this science mumbo jumbo have to do with your next promotion??

1) Saturation of the solution. This one is obvious to almost everyone--the more people you who know/love your product, the easier it is for them to connect with each other and form bonds. If only two people know you exist, you need to work through normal social media channels to spread the word. You can not fake it. Adding sand into a container of water with a little bit of salt is not going to get you salt crystals more quickly. Depending on your product and your social media savvy, this could be an overnight phenom or a long slow process of gaining trust and building relationships. But taking the time to do it correctly will result in lots of pure strong crystals.

2. Temperature.. Simply put: a little heat speeds things up. This might be a new promotion, a new product launch, a new event or entering a new social media venue. the important things? Stop thinking of these campaigns as the ends- the are merely the heat that gets your solution excited and speeds up the growth of crystals. It is also important to remember that too much heat too quickly can disrupt the crystal forming process and just result in molecular chaos.

3. Nucleation Sites. Given the right environment and the right solution, crystals will eventually form almost anywhere= but it is much easier for tem to form if they hagve nucleation sites- places where they can easily coalesce. This might be a blog, a Twitter stream, a Facebook page or a YouTube channel. Make sure you make it easy for your fans to find not only you- but each other as well.

And so what's all that nonsense about Gibb's Energy? In simple terms, think of it this way- the relationships have to be a two way street. Not just users coming to get something, but users gathering to give something as well. Give them a chance to participate, lead, create as well as win prizes, gain fame and download coupons. The more potential for give and take, the faster users will coalesce and form strong crystals of support for your product or brand.

Remember that in real life, crystals give us everything from nourishment to cutting edge utility to perfect beauty. Why not put Crystals to work for you and build a relationship that will last through time?

In the Twilight Sector a Role Player's Dream Comes True

I am an old school RGP'er. For me, it is about the role playing. I have been lucky enough to find and grow a group of friends who feel the same way and a couple of times a year we get together for a weekend long gaming session that both satisfies and leaves us hungry for more. We play a variety of games, from D&D , ShadowRun, Cthulhu, Hollow Earth, Traveller and others. The ones we latch onto longest tend to be the richest settings and the most imaginative stories that the DM puts together. Although we are enamored with the concept of Traveller, it tends to not get as must traction because the ( very old) manuals and supplements we have access to tend to be full of mechanics, but not as much story. When I was given the opportunity by @ephealy to review a new setting for Traveller, I was both excited and hopeful, but also cautious- wondering if I was going to get another book full of lots of tables.

When my link to The Twilight Sector Sourcebook by Michael J Cross and Matthew Hope arrived, I downloaded it quickly and did a quick flip through before work. I was intrigued by the subtitle "Space Opera" and encouraged by the parsity of tables and the number of beautiful interior illustrations. I could not wait to have time to sit down and read through the entire 131 pages. I was not at all disappointed.

The first 30 pages are back story. Not dry, historical Old Testament style "begats" but rich storytelling that quickly builds a Universe in your mind. There are 17 pages of "things to consider when playing and new rules, but much of this is due to the introduction of mutants. The are two types of mutants in the setting ( Scientifically Induced and Natural) and there was a need to explain them further and describe the powers, combinations and possibilities of these character classes. This is followed by 44 more pages of narrative description of the 7 main systems in the Twilight Sector and its 2 stations. Again these include illustrations, stories, history and maps. The last 28 pages are the beginnings of an Encyclopedia Galactica, which the state up front will be expanded in every supplement. I am crossing my fingers that they will take this feature and put it online, not requiring the purchase of every supplement for a "full encyclopedia" - that comes across as slightly manipulative.

The best thing for me was that after reading the sourcebook, my mind started spinning possibilities. I have already contacted our biggest Traveller enthusiast and we are going to co-GM a round of Traveller in this setting during our Dec 11 weekend gathering. I think it could turn things around for our group. The writers are very clear in pointing out that you could spin any genre in this setting, from mystery to horror, but the truth is, as rich and diverse as the setting is, you could run many different games in this setting as well. I can easily imagine playing with Mutants & Masterminds ( with modifications), Cthulhu or even a modified ShadowRun in this captivating setting. That would of course, break way too many rules for most gamers,so we will stick with it as a Traveller setting for now.

Want to learn more about Twilight Sector? Read on...

  • Atomic Array: href="">Twilight Sector
    (Atomic Array 034)

  • Game Cryer: href="">Review by
    Chris Perrin

  • The Zhodani Base: href="">Twilight
    Sector - A new TU

  • Apathy Blogs: href="">Something
    New For Traveller

  • Rogue Puppet: href="">A
    Role Player's Dream is Discovered

  • href="">Review
    by Michael Shorten

Drop by Terra/Sol

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Anniversary thoughts

This was us, a year ago today. In some ways, it seems like yesterday and in other ways, it feels like we have been together, melded in our desires, wishes and goals for the whole of our existence.

I will not lie, there are hard days. There are struggles when work and life pull us in many directions and our schedules feel overwhelmed. But there is always a return to the comfort and peace found curled up next to each other in front of a fire; the satisfaction found when we work hard side by side to finish a new project the excitement of knowing that we have the rest of our lives to spend together, exploring, growing and watching each other succeed.

Happy Anniversary, Most beloved Ogre of Mine.