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April 2010

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I remember when Facebook was a small startup targeted to students on college campuses. It was called The Facebook then, making reference to the freshmen facebook that many universities put out. It was a great and useful tool to keep in touch with your classmates, share lecture notes, and plan study groups. Then it began to grow and the creators saw opportunity. Next they opened it up to high school kids. Everyone knows once something is in the hands of high school kids it is forever ruined (slightly kidding). Then they opened it up to everyone. Not only that, they opened it up to businesses and application developers and that began the era of myspace-ification; making Facebook ugly and annoying. That hasn’t stopped their growth though. No, in fact, they are still growing by leaps and bounds and doing so they have made some really questionable decisions regarding your privacy. The latest round of decisions sold out the average user to big companies in order to make a quick buck. Not only that, but they’ve decided that once private information is now public.

Say you’re like me and have been a Facebook member for a long time. There were certain parts of your profile that you could keep private. It seems that the company no longer thinks those things should remain private, even though they explicitly said they would in the past.

“In yet another backtrack from their privacy policy, Facebook has decided to retroactively move more information into the public, indexable part of profiles. The new profile parts made public are: a list of things users have become ‘fans’ of (now renamed to ‘likes’), their education and work histories, and what they list under ‘interests.’ Apparently there is neither any opt-out nor even notice to users, despite the fact that some of this information was entered by users at a time when Facebook’s privacy policy explicitly promised that it wouldn’t be part of the public profile.Source

That’s pretty troubling if you ask me, especially the part about them not even notifying users. How would you like to do a Google search of yourself and find information that was only available to your friends be made public without any sort of notification? I wouldn’t like it, that’s for sure. Not only is some information public now, but applications can now access your personal information.

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While reading an article about the lack of black players in baseball I posed a question to my coworker. The exchange went as follows:

shep: do the cardinals have a single black player on their team?
Coworker: don’t think so
Coworker: well brendan ryan kinda
shep: lol

For those who might not understand why that is funny, pictured below is Brendan Ryan.

Surprising news broke today that Conan O’Brien’s show will be moving to cable’s TBS. A lot of people, including myself, were shocked by this, especially since news broke late last week that negotiations with Fox and Conan were moving along smoothly and that his tour would be Conan’s way of wooing the affiliates in the major markets. I thought that Fox would for sure be the new home for O’Brien for sure. One reason why this is so surprising is because Conan is going from the premiere late night gig to basic cable. Many people see this as a step down. It might be, but here is why I think it is a better move for Conan than a move to Fox would be.

Many Fox affiliates around the country air shows like The Office and The Simpson in syndication during the time slot that Conan was going after, 11PM EST. Those syndicated shows bring in a lot of revenue for the local affiliates, so they are obviously reluctant to put Conan on, especially when many see his stint on The Tonight Show as a failure. Now, we can argue on whether or not he really was a failure or if that blame should be handed to NBC, but that’s not what this article is about. Even if the affiliates did decide to air Conan’s show there might not be a guarantee that it would air at 11PM. Affiliates will always do what generates them more money. My local CBS affiliate does not air Craig Ferguson’s late night show right after Letterman. Access Hollywood or some other celebrity gossip show airs, pushing back Ferguson’s show by half an hour. I could see many Fox affiliates doing the same thing. Remember, it was the complaining by affiliates about the awful Jay Leno show that made NBC cancel it.

You also have to look at the fact that virtually every home in America now has TBS. There is less of a distinction between network television and basic cable these days. In fact, basic cable is, in my opinion, creating some of the best shows on television. I read somewhere recently, and unfortunately can’t find it now, that only about 60% of Fox affiliates were willing to air the Conan show at 11pm. Conan really would be reaching more possible viewers with his TBS deal. I also think a deal with a basic cable station will relieve some of the pressure to perform well. Cable seems to give shows more creative freedom and longer grace periods in order to grow. Let’s not forget that, according to TBS, the average age of its viewers is 33. That’s a lot lower than the major networks (in fact Leno’s average viewer age went above Letterman’s 54 to 56 since Leno retook the reigns). That will definitely appeal to advertisers looking to capture the younger market.

After hearing about the move I was definitely shocked and thought it was kind of a mistake. The more I think about it the more it makes sense for Conan. I think we all need to stop thinking about television the way we always have. Television is changing just as quick as all other forms of media. I think Conan’s move will be the next big move to take viewers further away from “traditional” television. I just hope TBS capitalizes on it.

EDIT: I also think that the whole situation with NBC has damaged the Tonight Show brand so going from The Tonight Show to cable isn’t really that big of a step. The Tonight Show was once iconic, but with the two fiascos, both involving NBC and Jay Leno, it isn’t what it used to be.

A while back I switched to Google Chrome as my main browser on my Mac. With it came one problem: XM Radio Online would not work in Chrome on the Mac (works fine on Windows). Thus began my search for a desktop radio app that would allow me to listen to XM without launching XM’s site. That’s when I found Radium.

The app sits in your menu bar and gives you a huge list of networks that it supports, including XM. I decided to download the app and try it out for the 30 day free trial. I was not disappointed. The app was easy to set up, in fact, there was very little setup on my part. The first time I launched the app it downloaded an updated list of stations. CatPig Studios, the makers of Radium, constantly update the list of stations available. From the list I was able to favorite the stations that interested me the most. The sound quality has been fantastic. I’ve not come across a stream that didn’t deliver rich sound. Unlike a lot of Mac Software, it is actually reasonably priced. For only $16 you can use the app on as many computers as you have. Just generate a new license and you’re on your way.

There are several things that put Radium a step above the rest. First of all, it actually works. I’ve dealt with many players that have stations that rarely work, especially when it comes to XM Radio Online. Secondly, the radio list and the app itself are constantly being updated. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found apps that haven’t been updated since 2007. It’s reassuring to know that CatPig is putting time into making their already great product even better. Also, I requested my local NPR station, St. Louis Public Radio, be added to the list and they were happy to do it and even emailed me when it was added. Can’t beat that. Lastly, the app is unobtrusive. Since it sits in your menu bar you barely know it’s there unless you’re actively changing stations or adding favorites to your list. I would go as far as to say it is the perfect radio app for your Mac.

For my birthday I asked for Best Buy gift cards because I really wanted to get a Universal remote to control my new TV, receiver, and PS3. I decided to get the Harmony One from Logitech. I got it and set it up last night and I have to say it is an awesome remote. It is so nice not needing 4 or 5 different remotes to control everything.

The setup of the remote was a breeze. You add your device by type, make, and model number then answer some quick questions and the software does the rest. I didn’t have to input a single code. It asks you what device operates on what port and asks whether or not the device uses TV audio or receiver audio. You then plug it into your computer via USB and it transfers all the settings to the remote. One of the best features is a feature called Action Buttons. There is a button on the touch screen that simply says Watch TV. Press it and it turns on the U-Verse box, the TV, and the receiver and makes sure all devices are on their proper settings. If I decide I want to watch a DVD, I press Watch Movie and it turns off U-Verse, switches the receiver to BD (Blu-Ray) and turns on the PS3 (needed a PS3 accessory for this functionality). The same goes for the Play Game button.

From what I’ve seen so far, all the functionality of the other remotes is still intact with the Harmony One. That was one of my biggest worries as most universal remotes I’ve dealt with in the past have lacked essential functionality from one device or another. I also plan on setting up some more buttons, such as Play Music, as well as adding my iMac to the remote device list. I also need to set up my favorite channels on the remote. Once those are added they will display on the touchscreen portion and I can just touch which channel I want instead of dialing it in. On top of all these other great features, it is a rechargeable remote so I don’t need to worry about always having double A batteries on hand anymore. Can’t wait to see what else I can do with it.