Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fun YouTube Videos

Will the Suns Keep Shining?

This entry may seem a bit out of place because it’s about sports…but one thing that I love besides fashion, media, technology and pop culture is basketball – but not just any basketball, Phoenix Suns Basketball! (I’m also a devoted University of Arizona Wildcats fan, but that’s a story for another day.)

I just got home from the Phoenix Suns vs. New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden and it got me thinking – has all this media frenzy in recent seasons around The Phoenix Suns’ “amazing collection of talent”, “innovative playing strategies” and predictions to FINALLY take home the championship this season be detrimental to the overall success of the team? Let me explain a bit about each of these characteristics before I explain my concerns...

Amazing Collection of Talent: sure, the players play like a real team should – they feed off of each other’s strengths and don’t allow just one player to carry the team unless it’s absolutely necessary. They try to stay out of fights (again, unless absolutely necessary like Raja Bell’s clothesline on Kobe Bryant in the May 2006 game against the LA Lakers.) Above all, the team functions with all the ups and downs of a family…but mostly, it helps that the team is composed of players who possess the most diverse playing skills in the league – Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa, Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw and as if that wasn’t enough, we now have Grant Hill, as well! What a talented (and gorgeous) team!
Innovative Playing Strategies: “:07 Seconds or Less” – need I say more? This is a great book by Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum about his experience shadowing the Suns for a whole season. Wouldn’t that be incredible? What I wouldn’t give to see my Suns day in, day out for a whole season! Ok, back to my point, for those of you haven’t read the book, have you ever wondered why most Phoenix Suns games seem to be more fast-paced and higher scoring than most NBA games? Well, this is why – the Suns believe that it only takes :07 seconds to set-up and take a shot. So if the shot clock is set to :24 seconds, why not try your shot in the first :07 seconds rather than waste the first :17 seconds with the potential to miss? Sure, there are some requirements for this strategy to work: 1) The Suns must maintain a high shooting average, 2) they must be very good at rebounding their own missed shots and 3) this strategy works best if the opposing team is a relatively low shooting average (otherwise, there would be more time freed up for the other team to take extra shots).

So that’s the great stuff…then why am I afraid for the Suns this season as are many basketball analysts? I was at the game tonight and the Suns won 115-104, but they actually struggled against the Knicks in the second and third quarters. There should have been NO struggle. There was expected to be NO struggle! Seems that there’s been something wrong with the team chemistry lately. They need learn to leave personal issues off the court and just support each other – without going overboard like jumping off the bench when a cheap shot is called on the team MVP! Also, since both Marion and Stoudemire will be sharing the spotlight this season, Marion needs to get over his petty jealousy issues and hug it out with Stoudemire. Either that or he’s got to go (and I hope it doesn’t have to come to that). They can’t rely on Steve Nash to be the team's band-aid for yet another season - he has more important things to focus on, like continuing to play like the MVP that he is!

While I'm on the subject... I'd like to send my love out to my original Suns: Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle and Charles Barkley!

Bringing it all together...A Phoenix Suns Widget!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Get With It with Widgets

Next time you’re in line at Starbucks during the morning rush, you know you’ll be there for a while so entertain yourself by doing a bit of marketing – help educate consumers about an impressive phenomenon known as Widgets. Turn to the person behind you in line and ask them “Do you know what a widget is?” Chances are they’ll say “no.” So seize the opportunity to give them a brief description of a widget and they’ll likely respond with a sudden expression of familiarity and realization that they have, in fact, used a widget before.

Widgets have existed since the beginning of the World Wide Web, but have only recently begun to see their full potential as a strong marketing tool. Many people have downloaded and used widgets assuming the widget is just a helpful tools created by a company to make their user experience more engaging and successful. While this is one of the goals of a widget, what the companies really had in mind is marketing - the opportunity to own prime real estate on the consumer’s desktop.

One very popular widget is Southwest DING! – travelers and non-travelers have downloaded DING! when searching for a well-priced fare. It’s simple to use and is not disruptive to the user. From Southwest’s perspective, they own this consumer before any purchases have even been made. In the future, it’s more likely that the consumer will conduct a quick search on DING! prior to checking any other airline’s website.

Another fun widget is The Gap ModelMaker which allows consumers to add their face to a Gap ad. However, this isn’t where the genius ends. The user can then select the outfit for their picture and also add accessories. Although the consumer simply thinks they are dressing their own little Gap ad, they are actually browsing Gap’s online store. Even if only a small percentage of consumers visit Gap Online or walk into a Gap store as a result of the widget, The Gap will have succeeded in accomplishing their goals.

Some of my favorite widgets include The Simpsomaker, My iTunes, PopSugar and Top Lists. On the other hand, instead of downloading widgets created by companies, websites like GoodWidget allow users to create their own widgets and send them to friends. Now this is even more brilliant. Companies are now able to get consumers to essentially do their marketing for them! Genius.

Strikers See the Green

The writers can start writing once again…the strike is finally over (well, sort of)! It seems the unseen heroes behind the scenes that we know so well have come to an agreement with studios over their contracts. Hallelujah! But what I don’t understand is why the Studios waited so long to come to terms? Were the hashing out the numbers? Ever wonder what the executive conversations sounded like over at Walt Disney, “$34.3Billion minus a small fraction of $130M over 3 years…oh boy, that’s steep. Maybe we should just let our writers go and just run syndicated shows forever. We still have advertising, right?”

The writers had a very valid argument against the studios in asking for revenues for online replays of TV shows so what puzzles me is why this strike didn’t occur last year when replays of online shows were a bigger threat to TiVo than DVR. Especially when advertisers will soon pay more and more for online ads that can’t be skipped and can be more targeted than traditional TV advertising.

Also, there was another strike going on at the same time on Broadway - that strike is also over and the theater district is back in the cash-collections business. With all the revenues lost given the inconvenient timing for this strike, I expect ticket prices to ultimately increase for consumers. Nevertheless, this was the first Broadway strike in the union’s 121 years of existence, so hopefully this is will be the last we ever hear of a Broadway strike…unless, of course, Broadway shows begin to play online, as well. Now there’s an idea!

Are we there yet?

We’ve all seen the films, TV series , books and songs that reference the future. And the future is always depicted as a world where everything is optimized and the world as we know it today seems pre-historic! Well, I’ve been waiting for this future to become the present….so are we there yet?

2001: A Space Odyssey” (Film & Novel)
A classic Kubrick film from 1968 with a supercomputer named Hal who has a mind of his own – today, we call this artificial intelligence. So, did we accomplish AI in 2001? Not really. But then, this was a sci-fi film and it was Kubrick so I suppose I shouldn’t expect this to come to light for perhaps another century.

“Franchise” (Novel)
A short story written by Isaac Asimov in 1955, set 53 years later in 2008, Asimov’s hopeful thinking was that the US presidency would be selected by a computer program that could automatically select the most “representative citizen”…..well, one can dream, can’t they?

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows” (Film & Novel) & “TransformersSeason 1986-1987 (TV Series)
Really? So I suppose we should expect wizards walking amongst us – keep an eye on those close friends who always seem to get everything want. Also, be weary of the electronics who may be “more than meets the eye.”

Back to the Future II” (Film)
Filmed in 1989, our beloved hero, Marty McFly, travels to October 2015. In this world 26 years in the future for Marty, but just 8 years away for us, the world is unimaginable. Flying cars, “Hoverboards”, holographic people working in diners, holographic newscasts and tiny frozen pizzas “dehydrated” to create large piping hot dinners in a matter of seconds - do we think this future world is actually just 8 years away? Dehydrated pizzas, ok, fine. “Hoverboards” have been mimicked by AirBoard – a decent attempt, but still not even close and costs $14,500. How about flying cars and holographic people with real jobs completely eliminating the need for people? All this by 2015? Unfortunately, I think we’re a little behind schedule. Another fun prediction worth noting is the prediction that the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in 2015– this hasn’t happened since 1908 so I suppose it’s possible. Afterall, with flying cars, anything seems possible.

Ghostbusters II” (Film)
This infamous movie predicted the end of the world to be February 14, 2016!

With that, I conclude my trip to the future. Knowing all that there is to come, doesn't life today feel like the simple life? Not so much…time for me to refresh my Facebook page on my iPhone so I can see what my friends are doing and thinking at this exact moment! "See you in the future!"


I’ve recently been introduced to a fun little free-ware photo-editing program called GIMP. I was looking for a free version of Adobe Photoshop to create fun holiday cards when my brother told me to check out After a several frustrating hours of playing around , I finally figured out how to extract photos from backgrounds and place them strategically into other pictures. Now I'm addicted to this fun little program - check out some of my creations...for example, me hanging out with my favorite rat pack cuties:
or, my husband and me posing for the paparazzi with our with good friends, Tom, Katie, Vic, David, Jada and Will:

So, as a beginner, GIMP is absolutely ideal for all my photo-editing needs. If you have ever found yourself struggling with cut & paste pictures to create picture to make your friends laugh (or jealous), you should definitely try GIMP!