Archives for March 2007

More than meets the eye…

I think I’ve figured out what I’m doing on July 4th this year.

Can’t Wait. Not sure why, I had pretty much forgotten what the Transformers were up until recently, but the more I see of this, the more I want to see it. Way back when, I was a big fan of the cartoons… showing my age, I know. Always liked Optimus Prime… Who’s your favorite?

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Star Wars USPS stamps on the way

When the USPS rolls out their new $0.41 cent first class stamps in May, they’ll be doing so with the full backing of the Force.

r2-d2 star wars post boxAs part of their celebration of Star Wars’ 30th anniversary, they rolled out R2-D2 mail boxes earlier this year and they’ll be rolling out special edition Star Wars stamps with renderings of the different characters through the years.

They’ll come on sheet of 15, which is less than the normal 20 stamp book/sheet, but I guess they couldn’t fit any more on the sheet. I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan in the world, but I recognize that these will certainly be stashed away by quite a few collectors. I might even buy a few for myself.

They also are releasing a set of three pre-paid express mail Star Wars envelopes. Pretty good deal for them really. As many collectors won’t ever use them, that’s an instant profit for the USPS. And don’t tell me they didn’t plan it that way.

There is also a contest to win a trip to Star Wars Celebration IV and a poll of the favorite stamp. The one that wins the voting will get it’s own sheet of stamps. So far there are only a little over 23,000 votes cast and they aren’t showing any actual results. My vote is for Yoda though. Deserving of a stamp is he. (sorry. I had to.)

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Is Microsoft subscribing to Netflix?

Microsoft(disclaimer: I am a shareholder in MSFT) announced the addition of Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings to their board of directors and also to a seat on the Finance Committee yesterday.

Of course the first thing one has to ask.  Is Microsoft looking to buy up Netflix?  Possibly.  Not likely, but possible.  I certainly can’t claim to have my ear to the industry train tracks.  (speaking of train wrecks…)  In any case, I don’t think that Microsoft will buy Netflix, unless they decide to further the broadband downloads of the movies.  It’s a readymade service that could be ported over to the Xbox pretty easily.  Suddenly Xbox live users can easily download and watch just about any movie.  One more step on the way to being the home media center that Microsoft always seems to think it is supposed to be.

On the other hand.  Perhaps the subcription mail rental business isn’t spiking as well as it was before and if the ISP’s would get off of their …  and get everyones bandwidth up to par with the rest of the 1st world countries, we wouldn’t need it at all.  Then we’d really see a push for broadband online rental and delivery.  Who needs to get it by mail if you can download it in a few hours?

Another interesting possibility is that Microsoft is looking to bring in a Subscription veteran on their way to creating a better subscription license system for their products and a consumer version for their Windows and Office products.  Buy a subscription for $$$ a month and you get free upgrades.  Well.  Maybe not.

In any case, it is a great honor for Reed to be named to the Board as MSFT doesn’t seem to have a history of naming currently sitting CEO’s to the Board.  Regardless of what you think are MSFT’s motives (maybe they just wanted another board member.) it still seems to be a rather interesting move.

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American Idol’s voting is flawed

Fortunately for me, the only channel that I get for television is a local over-air FOX channel.  Their daily programming consists of about 18 hours.  Of those 18 hours, about 10 hours of it is paid programming.

As a result of FOX being the only channel I get, I’m stuck watching American Idol.  Well, that and my wife’s addiction too it.  And of course, I get sucked in fairly quickly by trying to guess who America will kick off next.

I would even vote if their voting system wasn’t horribly broken.  Lets forget  that Sanjaya should have never even made it into the final 12 let alone the 11.  And I would bet he’ll make it into the top 10 as well.  Why?  Let’s just say there are a lot of star-struck 16 year old girls with cell phones in this country.  But I said “lets forget” about that.

Where their voting is truly flawed is in the available voting methods.  I can call in or send a text message with my vote.  Each of those costs me money.  No doubt, they have a rather lucrative contract with the cell phone companies.  My problem with it is that I think that I should be able to vote online.  No, there is no good way for them to make sure that I don’t duplicate votes.  Well besides IP filtering.  And even that causes problems with some networks that only use one IP when hitting the net.

It could be done though.  Make people register on the site to vote.  Make them enter their phone number and a few other markers like address, zip code, e-mail address, etc… that you can use to pattern match and eliminate duplicate votes.  Sure, you won’t filter all of them out, but you should be able to get most of them with a good algorithm.

A better question is to ask how many more votes they would get if they opened up voting to the online fans.  Hundreds?  More.  Thousands? More.  Hundreds of thousands? More.  Try a number closer to millions.  Now ask yourself how that could skew the results each week if you added an extra million votes to the mix.  Drastic.

Maybe you could even avoid perversions like Sanjaya who really isn’t all that great of a singer, but obviously has a pretty large fan base based on his looks rather than his talent.  Or maybe he’d win it all if the online votes were more of the same.  We’ll probably never know.

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