Monday, February 15, 2010

Buzzing The Buzz

Google's Buzz service is clearly hyped to counter the dominance of Facebook in the realm of the Social Web. Their site's main page states "Go beyond status messages" -- an obvious reference to the once obscure social networking website, which is now the top Internet phenomenon ranking a threatening second to Google's number one spot.

While competition usually breeds good things for the rest of the population one can't help but wonder whether all these buzzing (intended or not, the pun is there; deal with it) would actually amount to anything beneficial. What is buried under the trillions of posted messages is the online advertising dollars at stake. Clearly, economic advantage is what these networks are fighting tooth and nail over.

Quick to the draw are the privacy groups crying foul to the launch of Google Buzz. Previously the default settings on Buzz was too revealing for most people's need for privacy. Every Gmail contact signing up to Buzz were automatically set to follow and was available for the rest of the world to see. While Google has since made changes to Buzz's default setting to incorporate such privacy concerns, many are still wary that the latest social networking service is just too square a peg to fit in a round hole.

Personally, I signed up for Gmail for the email service and I simply love it. And if it weren't for the ease of keeping in touch with my football team I wouldn't even have the need to sign up for Facebook. My first impression of Buzz is that Google's attempts at making an email service look and act like a social networking service is just too darn clumsy. I didn't know what to make of it other than being an aggregator. Buzz's claim of going beyond status messages by posting photos and links and what-nots... well, you can do that in Facebook already.

If there's anything that can be learned in favor of Buzz at this point in time it's this; I realized that the people I email are not necessarily the same people I want to constantly keep in touch with. One cannot simply override the differentiation of social circles -- families, close friends, acquaintances, business contacts -- by simply trying to integrate one technology platform with another.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saints take Superbowl XLIV

The New Orleans Saints win Superbowl XLIV with a 31-17 upset over 4-time MVP Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. This is the Saints' debut in the league championships and the first ever Superbowl title for the 43 year old NFL franchise.

Indianapolis led the Saints 10-0 in the first quarter highlighted by a Peyton Manning touchdown pass to Colts receiver Pierre Garcon. By the second quarter Saints quarterback Drew Brees led the offense twice to within 30 yards of the Colts end zone, allowing kicker Garrett Hartley to score on 40+ yard field goals. The Colts still led 10-6 at the end of the first half.

The Saints began the third quarter with a well executed onside kick that culminated in a scoring drive sealed by a Drew Brees to Pierre Thomas 16-yard TD pass. The Colts showed composure as they also scored on their next offense bringing the tally to 13-17. The subsequent Saints field goal tore down the Colts lead to just 1 point at 16-17 by the end of the 3rd quarter.

The final quarter was all Saints as the Colts' started to succumb to the opponents' marching momentum. On Indianapolis' initial drive on the fourth, Colts kicker Matt Stover tried to salvage a botched deep pass at New Orleans' 33 yard line with a 51-yard field goal attempt. However, the kick sailed wide to the left. The following offensive drive by the Saints ended in a 2-yard touchdown pass to veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey and a 2-point conversion that was awarded to the Saints after review.

Approaching the last two minutes of the game, all hopes for the Colts were extinguished as the no-huddle offense characteristic of Peyton Manning was trounced by a perfectly-timed Tracy Porter steal that resulted in a 74-yard interception touchdown return. The Colts' final attempt at redemption fizzled out with a fourth down incomplete pass resulting in a turnover at New Orleans' 5-yard line with 44 seconds left in the game. Brees ended Superbowl XLIV a true saint kneeling down for the final ticks. Final score Saints 31, Colts 17.

I had earlier predicted a 14-point victory for the Saints. (See my Facebook post, a full 13 hours prior to the kickoff). US President Barrack Obama also made a prediction for the Colts in an AP story (read it here). With all due respect... in your face Mr. Obama! :p

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oscars Nominees - The Top 10 for 2010

The yearly Academy Awards is moving the buzz circles once again as the 2010 Oscars shines its spotlights on a total of 10 films for the best picture category, the most nominations since 1944.

This year's nominations are a curious mix of the critically acclaimed and the popular blockbusters. James Cameron's science fiction hit "Avatar" and Kathryn Bigelow's war drama "The Hurt Locker" are pitted against each other with 9 nominations including best picture and best director.

The animation "Up" is nominated for both best animation and best picture categories. Other luminaries in contention are Sandra Bullock as best actress for "The Blind Side" going up against Oscar mainstays Meryl Streep for "Julie and Julia" and Dame Helen Mirren for "The Last Station". For best actor, Morgan Freeman gets the Academy's nod for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in "Invictus", as well as George Clooney for "Up In The Air" and Jeff Bridges, who earlier won the best actor award in the Golden Globes for his role in "Crazy Heart".

The nominees for best picture are:
  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up In The Air
The 82nd Academy Awards will air March 7th and will be hosted by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.

Random Words of Wisdom

The Internet has arguably contributed to the sharp increase of literary creations over the past decade. Websites, particularly social networks like Facebook and Twitter have become havens of wit and what-have-you's for many peoples from all walks of life.

About a century ago reading has been thought of as elitist and even rebellious in some societies. Nowadays it is quite common to encounter quips such as "Every revolution destroys the average middle first and most savagely"*, and "A love inspects the distorted promise."

We are definitely in the wake of the explosion of the mass mind. Nevertheless, while the landscape is at first glance a mess of virtual vile verses, it is certainly edifying to encounter random words of wisdom more frequently now than the pre-Web era.

(* from Seth Godin's blog.)

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