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October 24, 2016 - Comments Off on Getting My Star Wars Political History Straight

Getting My Star Wars Political History Straight

After watching the latest episode of Star Wars Rebels, it brought back my confusion over what each political and historical party was called during the movies so I thought I’d try and work this out.

In “Phantom Menace” we start with the “Galatic Republic” (aka: Old Republic). After much strife with the “Separatist” movement1, who intends to leave the Galatic Republic2, the galaxy falls into the “Clone Wars”. Eventually, the “Galatic Empire”3 is formed from the ashes of “Revenge of the Sith”.

After the true nature of the Empire becomes clear, three senators4, begin creating the first “Rebel Alliance” and that brings us to "A New Hope”. The “Rebels” fight it out and eventually we get the “New Republic” after "Return of the Jedi". A fraction of the size of the former “Galactic Republic” and “Empire”, the “New Republic” remained on friendly terms with a majority of galactic systems. A faction called the “First Order” eventually secedes once tensions reached a breaking point and built it’s ranks over the next 30 years. This brings us to "The Force Awakens" when the “Resistance”, founded by Leia, is attempting to fight the “First Order” and it’s rise to power.

So, to sum it all up…

First there’s the "Galatic Republic", but the "Sepratists" cause a huge Clone War and the Republic is turned into the "Galatic Empire". But then the "Rebel Alliance" rises up to fight the Empire, eventually leading the entire galaxy into the "New Republic". A faction alled the "First Order" then arises and causes everyone trouble, leading to a group known as the "Resistance" to fight them.

That is a lot to process but I’m glad I finally worked it out.

  1. led by Darth Sidious and his apprentice Count Dooku 
  2. they refused to comply with its excessive taxation and corruption in the Senate during the Separatist Crisis 
  3. let by Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, the real mission was to bring Sith rule to the galaxy 
  4. Bail Organa of Alderaan, Garm Bel Iblis of Corellia, and Mon Mothma of Chandrila 

April 26, 2016 - Comments Off on YouTube will soon roll out six-second ads that you can’t skip

YouTube will soon roll out six-second ads that you can’t skip

Today the company announced that beginning next month, it'll offer six-second "Bumper" ads that are designed to be a better companion to the shorter video clips that millions of YouTube users are watching on smartphones.

The company justifies the short ads (which cannot be skipped, unlike longer spots) by pointing to research showing that 50 percent of 18 to 49-year-olds turn to mobile as their first option for consuming video — and keep in mind a ton of that is music.

This is fascinating! YouTube, which is supposed to be "forward thinking" and part of the "newfronts" is embracing the oldest vehicle the TV industry has for making money - the advertisement. In an age where no advertisements seems more and more like the future, where content is king and the user is in total control, YouTube is practically going backwards.

Source: YouTube will soon roll out six-second ads that you can't skip | The Verge

Related: New Study Finds Humans Experience Greatest Feelings Of Joy When Pushing ‘Skip Ad’ Button | The Onion

January 27, 2016 - Comments Off on One Box To Rule Them All

One Box To Rule Them All

Today, 99 percent of pay-TV customers lease set-top boxes from their cable, satellite or telco providers. Pay-TV subscribers spend an average of $231 a year to rent these boxes, because there are few meaningful alternatives.

As a consequence, consumers have limited choices for commercially available set-top boxes, so an overwhelming majority of consumers lease a box from their pay-TV service that doesn’t interface well with the wealth of video content online. To receive streaming Internet video, it is necessary to have a smart TV, or to watch it on a tablet or laptop computer that, similarly, do not have access to the channels and content that pay-TV subscribers pay for. The result is multiple devices and controllers, constrained program choice and higher costs.

Decades ago, if you wanted to have a landline in your home, you had to lease your phone from Ma Bell. There was little choice in telephones, and prices were high. The FCC unlocked competition and empowered consumers with a simple but powerful rule — consumers could connect the telephones and modems of their choice to the telephone network. Competition and game-changing innovation followed, from lower-priced phones to answering machines to technology that is the foundation of the Internet.

WOW. His article doesn't link to an actual proposal so it's hard to know if this is real or just hard talk, but it's very promising. This, "unlocking", would give outside companies access to cable company data they've never had before. Think about Apple creating 1 box that is your AppleTV & cable box. Or, better yet, Sony creating a Playstation, online video player, and cable box - all in one device. There'd be huge innovations in your cable interface and how you search for things to watch. Google w/YouTube and AndroidTV as well as Amazon with it's FireTV might be real players as well.

UPDATE: Jean-louis Gassée has an excellent post on this whole situation. I've also updated the post with the link to the actual proposal.

Source: It’s Time to Unlock the Set-Top Box Market | Re/code

FCC Proposal:

January 4, 2016 - Comments Off on PayPal Hacked!

PayPal Hacked!

A well known Security expert had his PayPal account hacked over the holidays. I've been mad at PayPal ever since they caused me so much grief in getting a simple refund when I used them to pay for some clothes at a local retailer, so this doesn't surprise me. What everyone should take away from this is how easy it really is to gain access to what you think are your secure accounts.

In my second call to PayPal, I insisted on speaking with a supervisor. That person was able to tell me that, as I suspected, my (very long and complex) password was never really compromised. The attacker had merely called in to PayPal’s customer support, pretended to be me and was able to reset my password by providing nothing more than the last four digits of my Social Security number and the last four numbers of an old credit card account.

Any company that authenticates customers with nothing more than static identifiers — address, SSN, DOB, phone number, credit card number, etc. — is vulnerable to these takeover attempts.

This is an article you can actually share with the title, "must read" and it not be a fakery.

Source: 2016 Reality: Lazy Authentication Still the Norm — Krebs on Security

December 31, 2015 - Comments Off on Why ESPN Isn’t Worried About New Year’s Eve Competition for the College Football Playoff

Why ESPN Isn’t Worried About New Year’s Eve Competition for the College Football Playoff

Holding the semifinals on New Year's Eve is something ESPN is simply going to have to get used to. Between now and the end of the sports network's 12-year contract to air the College Football Playoff, the semis are scheduled for Dec. 31 seven more times.

I don't understand why ESPN made this deal. With competition from it's own new year's eve show on ABC, not to mention the other 3 broadcast networks, I'm really curious to see what the ratings are for the 8pm game. Especially if…

Alabama and Michigan State are locked in an epic, multiple-overtime battle that stretches past midnight on the East Coast? …ESPN [will] come up with something—perhaps with some help from corporate sibling ABC, which will be set up in Times Square

Source: Why ESPN Isn't Worried About New Year's Eve Competition for the College Football Playoff

December 24, 2015 - Comments Off on Christmas Party 2015

Christmas Party 2015

Mom (and Dad) have been throwing a Christmas party for their friends and neighbors for about 8 years now1. They love doing it even though it's a lot of work and I love taking the photos each year. A few years ago I created a collage from all the years and I've added to it each year. It's played on the living room TV for all to see each year via our AppleTV and the magic of iCloud Photo Sharing. People really love watching it and it's a lot of fun to see how I've gone from thin to thick, then back again, as well as see kids grow up and those who are no longer with us.

I'm really glad I've been able to record these parties through the years. My family always complains at first that I'm taking way too many photos, but they love them in the end. I've always tried to use a decent camera so that my pictures stand up to the test of time. Little tip, if you're recording your family's precious moments only using an iPhone, you're going to wish at some point you'd bit the bullet and at least bought a simple point and shoot camera. Sure, phones take decent pictures, but I've got tons of photos from past events that were taken with my first iPhone which only captured photos at 320 x 480 pixels. That's tiny! Not only the size but the quality was pretty bad as well.

So, enjoy the holidays with a photo2 or two and Merry Christmas from me to you. Hey, that rhymed!

  1. Except for last year and their first year down in FL 
  2. I'm even going to try more videos this year 

December 6, 2015 - 1 comment.

2015 NY & DC Downton Events

As I write this, I'm northbound on Amtrak's Acela Express to NY's Penn Station to prepare for the last ever Downton events1 we'll be promoting in New York at the Hudson Theatre. If you've never gotten a chance to ride the rails instead of fly, you should really give it a try. The train is an infinitely better experience than a flight, it's also just as expensive, which is why most Americans never even give it a shot. I love it though and I'd definitely take the train more if the prices were lowered and the schedules for the southern lines were more frequent.

I'll be meeting up with my colleague Phil Piga who organizes and runs events for PBS. Phil and I have been working together for quite awhile now and I've been getting involved more over the last several years, even Directing the live online stream last year, which was a thrill and something I've missed. This year, there is no live stream, so I'll be there more as a Creative Director, making sure the branding, backdrops, posters, lighting, stage, presentations, and much more are designed and setup properly. Once the event begins, I'll take my place backstage to make sure the lights, audio, and talent get the proper cues.

It's been a privilege to have been backstage with the Downton cast on several occasions. To see and chat with them in such a cordial & relaxed manner has made the effort and late nights all the more worth it; not to mention made my job seem very cool to mom & dad. Once again, we'll be shooting interviews with the fans and recording the event for a video we'll put together later. And of course, I'll have another post on this year's Downton creative when it's ready, so be sure to lookout for that. Till then, remember, Jan 3rd - the last season of Downton begins!

  1. This is actually my 3rd time at this event. I'd like to think it's gotten better each year. 

November 23, 2015 - Comments Off on ItsWilder Speed Tests

ItsWilder Speed Tests

I just used to test out this site’s homepage and I’m a bit embarrassed to say it got an “F”. It takes an average of 3.2 seconds for it to load and one of the reasons appears to be something called “Serve Scaled Images”. It appears that all my photos (including the main image) are “resized in HTML or CSS from 1920x1080 to 300x169.” GTMetrix goes on to say, “serving a scaled image could save 306.0KiB (97% reduction)”. But looking under the Waterfall tab, where you can see each phase of your site loading and how fast it was, I can see that just to reach my server and get a response took 1.53 secs. That’s fairly slow considering it should take around 700 to 900 milliseconds (I think).

I’m seriously considering moving this site from to Immotion Hosting after reading this article.