This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO sMoRTy71.com -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
Monday, July 31, 2006
Interesting links - July 31, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
If someone had told me...
on Friday morning that I would build a gazebo in the backyard, wire lights all over the aforementioned gazebo, help paint our kids' playroom and wire speakers from the patio to the manroom this weekend, I would have told them that they were crazy. However, that is exactly what I got suckered -- um, I mean, that's exactly what I got the opportunity to do!

In my spare time, I made some nice progress on our little web app project, too.

Work will seem like a vacation tomorrow.

BTW, photos from the projects are here
.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Calacanis has deleted all of my comments


In addition to the joke post I mentioned earlier, Jason has now decided to delete all of my comments to his blog. Luckily, I saved a copy of them just in case.

First, Jason claims that people like Michael Arrington of Tech Crunch are upset about the idea of paying amateurs.

My response was:

"19. Arrington isn't questioning whether bloggers or "amateurs" should get paid. He is challenging your overall product strategy and this transparent attempt to get publicity for Netscape.

Nowhere in his piece did Arrington say you shouldn't pay people. What he did say, that I'm sure upset you, was that it would not help you.

I totally agree with him. Even if you do get some of the Digg users (and I'm guessing it won't be the top 20 you're shooting for) to take your money, I am betting that they won't abandon Digg. So you'll basically be paying someone to syndicate Digg. Why not use their RSS feed instead?

You're missing the critical piece of the puzzle in the success of sites like Digg -- the existing community. It'd be like offering to give someone free drinks to come to your bar (so that their friends will come and pay for drinks) when all of that person's friends still go to another bar (and they like it better). The offer isn't enough to change one person's behavior, not to mention the entire group.

And as previous posters have said, your "man of the people" front is a joke, too. You built Weblogs Inc (and now Netscape) by being a content pimp. Let someone else do all the work and then give them some table scraps and some empty praise in your blog."


Next, he claimed that the media "elite" are so upset over his $1,000 offer.

My response to Michael Arrington's comment was:

"11. Michael:
I made the same point in the comments of his previous post yesterday.

As a prototypical fame whore, we can't expect Jason to use logic in defending his product. He would rather blow this publicity stunt up into some power-to-the-people movement rather than address the real problems with Netscape.

I wonder if Jason and team considered whether any Netscape users actually wanted Digg-like functionality before building it. I'm betting that, like so many other companies do, they saw that Digg was successful and they wanted to be successful, too. Surely, just copying Digg would be enough to be successful, right?

And for the record, I think people should be paid if they want to be paid. The fact that so many people are doing hours and hours of work every day without asking for a penny shows that there is much more to it than money (and it also shows how little Jason understands about social networking and UGC).
"

And then yesterday, I had a little debate with a user named Christian who had Jason's back on his post titled, "Classic."

I started off by responding:

"Again, Jason's fanboys aren't paying attention. NO ONE IS SAYING PAYING PEOPLE IS A BAD IDEA! Give that a minute to sink in.

What people are saying, that Jason is trying to avoid, is that paying people WILL NOT HELP NETSCAPE.

For some reason, like Jason, most of the commenters are debating an issue that no one else is disagreeing with.

Arrington's TechCrunch post, which set off Jason's first (of many) rants, didn't criticize the idea of paying people. It criticized Netscape's product strategy.

And in my earlier comments, I pointed out that people should get paid IF THEY WANT TO. The fact that none of the Digg users have asked for money means that they have no problem doing it for free (and it means Jason doesn't really get the motivation behind user-generated content).

Jason, do you care to address the real issue that has been criticized (Netscape's product strategy and the message it sends to old Netscape users)? Or are you going to continue to argue something that everyone is on board with?

I bet I know which one you'll choose.
"

Christian came back with this and this (which is still on the site and quotes my response).

So I said:

"20. Christian:
The quote you dug (not dugg, btw) out of that article was one I hadn't seen. However, it still doesn't say it is a bad idea. It seems to be looking for more justification/clarification.

Having read Jason's blog for quite a while, my point is that he can't ever discuss the stuff in the middle. It's an extreme in either direction. So in this case, it is "everybody thinks paying people is a bad idea, except me. YA ME!" That is not the case at all.

And to say that Digg users have been "suckered" is ridiculous. Do you really think that no one realizes how much time and energy that they spend contributing? You might as well claim they have been hypnotized by Kevin Rose and he is sending instructions through the Diggnation podcast.

And finally, I still contend that neither Jason nor you understand the motivation behind user-generated content. For the really hardcore contributors, IT ISN'T CONSIDERED WORK! That's why the thought of getting paid seems weird/insulting/whatever to them. Most of them do it for some other reason (recognition, to help out others, etc.).

So it isn't that the system is suckering people and that they don't realize it. It's that they are motivated by something other than money and that they don't consider what they do as work. That's where the big disconnect is in this idea.

Sure, some people on this blog have commented that they would take $1,000; however, none of them were the top users that Jason seeks. So until someone shows me the target (the top Digg users) switching over, I'm sticking by this opinion.

And finally (again), you're right. No one knows if this idea will work for Netscape. I was just trying to clarify what Arrington was asserting (and that I agree with) because Jason had twisted the message to serve his latest cause/PR stunt.
"
Friday, July 28, 2006
Calacanis deletes my comments?
I've been commenting pretty regularly on Jason Calacanis' blog about his ideas for Netscape.com (where he offered to pay the top Digg users $1,000 per month to use Netscape).

So far, he has responded to none of the issues that I (or anyone else) have raised regarding his product strategy. Instead, he continues to debate about a topic where there is little, if any, disagreement.

Well, today, he asked readers of his blog whether they were members of the Grand Havana Club. I decided to poke a *little* fun at him by posting:

"5. Jason:
Why not offer all of the members of the Grand Havana Room $1,000 to join your new Grand Netscape Room. I'm sure you design it to have all of the same features as the Grand Havana Room.

And let's be real. You don't really want to know whether others here have joined. It's just more name-dropping and posturing for your fanboys to fawn over."


When I checked back later this afternoon, I notice that that comment has been deleted. I was pretty disappointed 'cause I thought it was pretty damn funny. Interesting approach from a guy who claims that he loves a good debate. At least he read it.
Get a DVR and watch less TV
I've had a TiVo since 2001 and have suggested them to countless friends, family members and any poor sap unfortunate enough to be within 10 feet of me when recommending them to friends and family members.

The objection that I get most often is that they don't watch that much TV. When I say that I don't watch that much either, they usually laugh and tell me I'm crazy. I try to explain that I only watch the stuff I like, but it is too late.

Now, there is a new study that shows that DVR owners do, in fact, watch less TV than those that don't have them.

There are several days each week where the TV in the manroom is only on for playing XBOX 360 or watching a DVD (minus 30 minutes or so of Sportcenter before work). I never just randomly channel surf anymore.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Interesting links - July 27, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Kevin Rose responds to Calacanis
... and echoes my comments (here and here) to Jason's blog about the Netscape PR stunt to buy Digg users for $1,000 per month.

I wasn't ever a big KR fan; however, I am warming up to him after his response. Nice work!
Interesting links - July 26, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Interesting links - July 25, 2006
1 stuck pixel = new DS Lite
As I mentioned last week, I sent off my DS Lite to get repaired for a red pixel that was stuck. Not a huge deal; however, it was annoying (and Nintendo warranties against even 1 stuck pixel).

Anyway, I got my DS Lite back yesterday to find that Nintendo gave me a brand new DS instead of repairing the old one. For some reason, I feel better about have a new one than one that has been repaired.

Now I'm trying to balance my DS Lite addiction with my latest one -- FIFA World Cup 2006 on the 360.
Mark Cuban responds to my comment
Earlier this week, Mark Cuban challenged readers of his blog to help him come up with some new ways to market movies. He claimed it was one of his biggest concerns. Oh, and to make the challenge more interesting, he offered a job to anyone who could do it.

Now, although I don't need a job (working on movie and/or HD related stuff *would* be awesome), I decided to chime in with my 2 cents. Of course, I wasn't alone. As of this writing, there are almost 400 comments... and a couple of them are actually decent :) Most, though, are from people bashing the quality of movies or trying to improve the moviegoing experience (neither of which was the assignment).

Anyway, I suggested that connecting with the blogosphere early and often was the way to build and maintain positive word of mouth. Considering how little people value the opinions of critics, getting bloggers on your side could be huge. I also gave some suggestions for tactical ways to do that. Admittedly, that isn't groundbreaking stuff; however, for whatever reason, most studios still haven't figured out the value of tapping into the blogosphere in a really meaningful way (no, MySpace pages run by production assistants don't count).

Much to my suprise, I got an e-mail back from Mark last night. I won't copy the note here; however, I will say that he was very positive in his feedback of the ideas. In fact, he claims that they are working on almost all of the ideas at some level already.

So maybe I won't be getting a job; however, at least I know I wasn't totally nuts in my suggestions. I also appreciate Mark taking the time to drop a quick note.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Sirius still suckin', I'm still waiting
Although I had vowed to not comment on Sirius anymore, I wanted to report that I got an update e-mail from their warranty department. See, I am STILL waiting for my replacement for my replacement radio to arrive.

It has been just a shade over 3 months now and here is the latest:

"Dear SIRIUS Customer,

We sincerely apologize for the delay fulfilling your warranty claim and thank you for your continued patience. Our priority is to provide you with the very best customer service. Please be assured we are expediting your claim as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately we are still out of stock and will contact you again, with an update, in the next 2 weeks. If your model has come in we will let you know when it has shipped.

Please remember you can continue to listen to commercial free music online at Sirius.com while you wait for your replacement.
"

I love that last line! Do they really think that someone is going to keep their service turned on when they haven't had a radio in 3 months?

Hopefully I will get the replacement before the eBay market totally dries up.
Applian dissing Sling Media
Applian, the software industries equivalent of a remora, has started a public smear campaign against Sling Media because they added encryption to SlingPlayer, thus breaking one of Applian's apps.

At-Large Recorder, which was originally called SlingCorder, is a $29.95 app that allows you to "record videos streamed from SlingBox™ devices as Windows Media Files." Sling's new encryption prevents At-Large Recorder from being able to record the streams, so Applian is crying foul and claiming that Sling's decision is a blow to fair use.

This is ridiculous. This has nothing to do with fair use. Blaming Sling for changing their product (and breaking Applian's app) is like one of the millions of mashup sites blaming Google if they change their map API. Applian is taking a free ride on the success of the Slingbox (down to trying to inappropriately use the Sling name). They should have worked a partnership with Sling before building their app and taking people's money.

BTW, Applian is the same company that has an app to steal streams from paid services like Rhapsody and Napster (with a laughable appeal for users to support the artists they like by buying music). Of course, Applian is careful to point out that they are "not affiliated with any of these services, nor do we encourage violating any license agreements. We offer this list only for compatibility purposes."
Interesting links - July 24, 2006
Paul Reubens on RENO 911!
I knew he was going to be in Reno 911!: Miami; however, Paul Reubens is also doing a guest spot next week on the new season. Based on the preview at the end of this week's episode, they show Paul, dressed in khaki shorts (and cape!) and purple beret, playing a member of a Guardian Angel-like community patrol.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Interesting links - July 21, 2006
I've recently realized that I am consuming more content than I can blog about in depth. So, taking a cue from Dave Zatz' "Interesting News Dave Hasn't Covered," I will be posting a daily (maybe) list of links (usually about home theater, personal technology, video games, web trends, etc.) I find interesting, but don't have time to talk about.

Thursday, July 20, 2006
Video of the DS Opera browser
My Japanese is a little rusty; however, I think it is saying that Sony just got their ass handed to them... again! This is going to be very cool:

Zooomr still giving away pro accounts
Zooomr, which has been described as Flickr on steroids, is still giving out free pro accounts to any blogger that posts a Zooomr-hosted image on their blog. All you have to do is go to this page and submit the URL that contains the photos.

Here is the photo I am using to qualify for my freebie:



I haven't had a ton of time to play with Zooomr; however, I will post more thoughts after I kick it around some more.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
7 year anniversary at work
I just realized that I started at my current place of employment seven years ago tomorrow. It is hard to believe it has been that long.
Monday, July 17, 2006
"Puttin' on the Dog" was fun
Saturday night, Amy and I attended the Paws with Purpose "Puttin' on the Dog" Dinner and Charity Auction at The Olmsted. We were the guest of one of Miles' classmates who also received a dog when we got Faith.

Dinner, which was catered through the Olmsted, was a really good Carribean-themed buffet. There was also a cash bar. So after stuffing ourselves with jerk chicken and Maker's Mark, we decided to bid on some auctions (probably not the best idea).

We ended up winning a couple of the silent auctions. One was for a skating birthday party at a local skating rink, a birthday cake and a Gamecube game (which shall remain nameless until after their birthdays). Because the boys both have birthdays in August, this was the one we wanted to win. I was locked in a bitter bidding war and the price went from $25 to $75 in the final 2 minutes. Not bad for over $200 worth of stuff.

The other auction was for a 5-day Safari Camp at the Louisville Zoo. Mahlon loves animals and usually does some sort of camp during the summer, so this was perfect. The camp is usually $185 and we got it for $45. Plus, they threw in some stuffed animals that Mira and Miles really liked.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Paul Reubens & DLR on Conan
I was super-excited this morning to find that Paul Reubens and David Lee Roth were on Conan O'Brien last night. So I grabbed some coffee and fired up the TiVo.

First, let me say that I believe (or should I say "believed") that both Paul and Dave were at the top of their "craft" during their heyday. I've often argued, usually after a few beers, that DLR was the greatest rock 'n' roll frontman of all-time, that Sammy Hagar, while a fine person, was nowhere close to Dave, blah blah blah.

So Paul comes on and does great. Still funny. Turns out he just finished the script for a 3rd Pee-Wee Herman movie (YES!) and Cartoon Network is showing episodes "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" Monday through Thursday at 11PM during Adult Swim.

Then, after Carlos Mencia, comes David Lee Roth's performance. Now, I know since leaving Van Halen, Dave has become a parody of himself (although his first full-length solo album, "Eat Em and Smile," was really good at the time). He hams every performance up as if trying to show Eddie, Alex and Michael what a big mistake they made.

However, nothing prepared me for what I saw and heard. Dave walks out on the stage while about 6 or 7 bluegrass musicians are starting up "Jamie's Crying"... bluegrass style!!! I'm not kidding. He did a campy and oh-so-cheesy version of the Van Halen classic backed by a bluegrass band. The worst part was that the slower pace of the song allowed for more time for Dave to over grin and over laugh. He really, really thought this thing was cool.

Neither the audience nor Conan seemed to know what to think. I give Conan lots of credit for walking over and thanking Dave without laughing. Unfortunately, Dave's performance wasn't over. As Conan was signing off, Dave tried (very unsuccessfully) to copy Paul Reuben's dance moves.

So, to recap, Paul Reubens is still the greatest. David Lee Roth is not even close (although it is painfully apparent that no one has told him).
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Got my first la la CD!
My first CD from la la arrived today - "Maladroit" from Weezer. Interestingly, it is the second CD that shipped. I am still waiting for the Faith No More disc that shipped on 7/9. The disc was in great shape and included all of the CD inserts.

I also got my shipping kit from la la and shipped out my first disc. I'm really diggin' la la right now.

BTW, if you want to try la la, shoot me an email and I'll send you an invite. If I get people to sign up and trade a CD, I will get a T-shirt.
Gamefly adds Wii games
Just noticed that Gamefly has added 27 games for the Nintendo Wii. Most of them don't have release dates; however, that didn't stop me from adding about a dozen of them to my "Q" including Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, Super Mario Galaxy, Red Steel, Project H.A.M.M.E.R., Sonic Wild Fire, Excite Truck and Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam.

And, for those who favor the dark side, GF has also added 26 PS3 games, too.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
"Argo" had better kick ass
There is a lot of hype around the confirmation that Microsoft is definitely making a new line of XBOX-related media players under the codename "Argo." I just hope that MSFT can make a kick-ass handheld that actually does something new (and just doesn't copy the iPod/iTunes model).

Ever since seeing the Toshiba Gigabeat S, I am really excited about the idea of seamless integration with Windows MCE. Right now, I have no *easy* way of putting recorded shows from my DirecTiVo (thanks for splitting the codebase, DirecTV) or MCE box onto my 5G iPod. This sucks. I want to sync a handheld device with my Media Center box (or my XBOX 360) and have video converted on-the-fly to the device.

The other requirement for me would be storage. A 30GB iPod barely holds all of the music that I own. If I'm going to store video, I need more storage. 100GB is the bare minimum if I'm going to carry this thing around like a portable TiVo.

I am also hopeful when it comes to the WiFi connectivity promised for Argo devices. If this thing could access my media center PC or, better yet, my Slingbox over Wifi, it would be the perfect handheld media player. And streaming functionality would negate the need for tons of onboard storage (for me anyway).

Oh, and unlike my initial excitement about a handheld XBOX, this thing doesn't need to play games. I'm am too cracked out on the Nintendo DS Lite to care about playing the mostly-lame current 360 lineup on a handheld.

Since the first "Argo" products are due by Christmas, it shouldn't be long before features and prices (they'd better not pull an Apple when it comes to pricing these things) are announced.
Using Basecamp for "secret" web app
A couple of months ago, I mentioned that I was working on a top-secret (not really) web app with a few of my friends. That project stalled out for a while due to everyone's summer schedules; however, we are getting the ball rolling again with a slightly smaller group.

After attending the 37 Signals "Getting Real Workshop" in Chicago last month, I decided to try Basecamp again and use it to manage this project.

So far, I love the simplicity of it. Other team members are already adding Milestones, Messages and Comments which is a good sign. My biggest reservation about setting it up was whether I could get anyone else to use it.
Monday, July 10, 2006
We're now a 2 DS household
With a 15-hour drive to Disney World and the boys' birthdays (6 and 9) coming up, I decided to pick up an early birthday present for me... uh, them and buy another DS Lite. They both love playing with my DS Lite plus having 2 DS' allows for multiplayer gaming with only one game cartridge which should make for a much more pleasant trip to Orlando.

Right now, they are battling it out in Super Mario Bros. Amy and I even did a little Calculations x 30 battle in Brain Age.

I almost wish that the DS Lite had come out before the XBOX 360. I would probably have spent that $450 on another DS Lite and more games.
Getting & sending first la la CD
I should be getting my first CD from la la any day now. I signed up for the service several months ago after reading about it in WIRED (I think). I set up a tentative Want list and then didn't really check back. Over the weekend, I got an e-mail saying that someone was going to be sending me Faith No More's "King for a Day / Fool for a Lifetime" CD. Cool!

Upon logging onto the site to see if the CD had shipped, I saw that someone was requesting the lone CD that I had listed (the not-so-good self-titled debut from Morningwood). So I have printed out the shipping label and am awaiting my shipping kit from la la which includes prepaid mailers and CD sleeves.

I am going to go through my collection this week to see what other CDs I might want to list. Check out my la la page later in the week so see what I've listed.
Friday, July 7, 2006
Jucy's jacks up prices
Over the past couple of years, a group of us have been frequenting Jucy's, an out-of-the-way barbeque joint, about every Friday. They have great food in a really authentic and unpretentious atmosphere (They were actually featured in the local paper recently and praised as the best barbeque place in town).

Well, today, we noticed that the price of their food has been raised. The normal lunch that I get (chopped beef sandwich with 2 side items and a drink) is now $8.75 (up $1.28 from last week's $7.57). I love the food and all; however, $8.75 seems steep for what you get.

When questioned by one of my co-workers about the new prices, they blamed it on the price of gas. Come on! Gas has been around $3 per gallon here for months, wavering a few percentage points above and below.

And even if I were to accept that as a legitimate reason, how is $1.28 per customer a fair increase? That's 15%. Gas prices haven't shot up 15%. Next thing you know, they'll be blaming it on the North Korean missle tests.

While I love the food, I think I have made my last trip to Jucy's for a while. I'm already getting gauged by higher gas prices (WHEN I BUY GAS!). I'm not wiling to pay a 15% premium for it when I eat lunch.
Old school hack vs. HD DRM
HD Beat is reporting that German mag Computertechnik has used the old "Print Screen" hack (that was first used when DVDs were first introduced) to capture Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs.

The hack uses the "Print Screen" function in Windows to capture each frame of the movie. The frames are then reencoded into either MPEG-2 or MPEG-4. The audio is captured later by looping audio back into the sound card and recording it.

It is really pretty sad that DRM was a big reason for the delay in rolling out HD-DVD and Blu-ray (and the PS3); however, all of that fancy DRM has been rendered ineffective with an old school hack.
Thursday, July 6, 2006
Nintendo's gift to Bush
Nintendo is the greatest. According to WIRED, Nintendo sent a new DS Lite and a copy of Brain Age to President Bush for his 60th birthday. I would love to know how he scores.
Who cares about Rocketboom again?
OK, all of the blog world has been buzzing with the news that Amanda Congdon quit Rocketboom. My initial response was, "So what?" However, I decided to go back and look at their archive to make sure that I hadn't missed the good content. Well, I didn't. Not a lick of funny in there. Plus, Amanda is really annoying to watch.

The fact that she expects to move to LA and turn her Rocketboom notoriety into a career is almost laughable. Sure, she is the most well-known videoblogger; however, that's about like winning a beauty pageant at a county fair. The winner thinks they are really cool and no one else really cares. Of course, some people, like Jason Calacanis, are throwing money at her already without having any plan for how she might grow their business.

Don't get me wrong. I think video content is great when done well; however, I don't think Rocketboom is doing anything noteworthy enough to have everyone fretting over Amanda and her departure.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.