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Television

Submission + - Whence the Next 'Computer Chronicles'?

theodp writes: Geeks of a certain age who watch Slashdot TV episodes will probably be reminded of Computer Chronicles, which had a nice 20+ year run from 1981-2002 on PBS with co-hosts that included the late, great Gary Kildall. So, how would you pitch U.S. TV/cable networks to convince them to air a similarly-spirited show that keeps viewers abreast of the latest tech news on a weekly basis? Hey, how about a Slashdot editor in a 1967 Camaro Super Sport convertible!
Microsoft

Submission + - Will Microsoft dis-Kinect Freeloading TV Viewers? 2

theodp writes: Just when you think the cable TV viewing experience couldn't get any worse, GeekWire reports on the Microsoft Xbox Incubation team's patent-pending Consumer Detector, which uses cameras and sensors like those in the Xbox 360 Kinect controller to monitor, count and in some cases identify the people in a room watching television, movies and other content. Should the number of viewers detected exceed the limits of a particular content license, the system would halt playback unless additional viewing rights were purchased. As Yakov Smirnoff might say: In Soviet Russia, Kinect-equipped Motorola Model 20F2 console TV watches your family!
Books

Submission + - Google Ad Takes Credit for 'An Awesome Book!'

theodp writes: A May 2010 interview discussed the unreal success that author and illustrator Dallas Clayton enjoyed with An Awesome Book!', Clayton's self-published children's book, which debuted in 2008 at an LA release party. However, it wasn't until a few months ago that Clayton's 'awesome' story was heard by Google Marketing. Still, that didn't stop the Google Creative types from remixing old video footage to suggest that Clayton owed his success to Google+ in its new An Awesome World TV commercial, even though Google's new social network didn't exist until June 2011. So, on an evil scale, is this akin to taking credit for a co-worker's work on national TV?
Books

Submission + - Google Co-Opts 'An Awesome Book!'

theodp writes: Those who catch Google's new 'An Awesome World!' TV ad campaign may get the impression that the mad success artist/poet/dreamer/dad Dallas Clayton had with his self-published children's book An Awesome Book!' had everything to with Google+. Rejected by publishers, Clayton is shown signed-in to Google+ while searching for 'how to self-publish a book.' With that obstacle overcome, Clayton's book becomes the subject of favorable Google+ posts and starts getting +1'd on other websites as well. Success ensues, and Clayton's Google+ site is soon adorned with pics from his book tour. Clayton is indeed a pretty 'Awesome' success story, but it's hard to see what Google+ had to do with his initial success. After all, if you visit the website of the +1'd An Awesome Book! interview featured in Google's commercial, you'll see it carries a date of 'Tuesday 11 May 2010' (not shown in the ad). Google+ wasn't introduced to the world until more than a year later, on June 28, 2011. And if Clayton did Google for 'how to self-publish,' he did so long before the debut of Google+ — a launch party for An Awesome Book'! was hosted by Bjork in LA in 2008. It's hard to blame Clayton, who comes across as an even more likable free spirit in a video that pre-dated the slick Googlified version, for this Google+ advertising tomfoolery. On the other hand, Google Marketing — which blogged that it heard of Clayton's tale 'a few months ago' — probably deserves consideration for Cracked's list of Great Things Co-Opted by Douchebags!
Crime

Submission + - How Apple's Story is Like 'Breaking Bad' 1

theodp writes: Over at CNN, Omar L. Gallaga explains how Apple's story is like Breaking Bad , the TV drama whose protagonist — high school chemistry teacher Walter White — decides to use his science skills to cook methamphetamine to provide for his family after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Walter takes shocking, out-of-character risks but reinvents himself as a brilliant, feared meth chemist who grows more ambitious, ruthless and cocky with each victory. 'Like Steve Jobs,' writes Gallaga, 'Walter White's cancer awakens a panic in him to hurry up and leave a legacy through his work.' Gallaga continues: 'Like Walter White, it [Apple] has mixed the proper elements at just the right amounts to create highly pure, addictive products. The products have been made within secretive working conditions. The skill employed to design and manufacture them tends to make what competitors put out seem like cheaper, cloudier, less effective imitations.' And if that's not enough to scratch your Breaking Bad itch until tonight's season finale, check out Vice's interview with series creator Vince Gilligan.
Television

Submission + - DirecTV CEO Doubts Apple TV Can Beat His Set-Tops 1

theodp writes: In a move that evokes memories of Steve Ballmer's initial pooh-poohing of the iPhone threat, DirecTV Chairman Michael White downplayed the Apple TV hype, expressing doubts that 'Apple's interface will be so much better than DirecTVs' that people will be willing to pay for an extra box. So, will White's statement — 'It’s hard to see (it) obsoleting our technology' — come back to haunt him?
Patents

Submission + - Amazon Patents Pitching As-Seen-On-TV Products

theodp writes: Q. What do you get when you surround the image of Men in Black star Will Smith trying on sunglasses with a pitch for 'MIB Bill Smith Dark Shades'? A. U.S. Patent No. 8,180,688. 'Many people consume broadcast media such as television shows and movies for many hours a week,' Amazon explained to the USPTO in its patent application for a Computer-Readable Medium, System, and Method for Item Recommendations Based on Media Consumption. 'The consumed broadcast media may depict a variety of items during the course of the transmission, such as clothing, books, movies, accessories, electronics, and/or any other type of item.' So, does Amazon's spin on As Seen on TV advertising deserve a patent?
Google

Submission + - Google's Mad Men Star in Search Plus Your World Ad

theodp writes: A search for 'awesome things' in the online ad for Google's new Search Plus Your World finds — surprise — awesome Google Creative Lab employees. Google also tapped its 'Mad Men' — internal and external ad agency types — to portray happy Google+ users in other testimonials for its more-like-real-life social network, including one Larry Page shared to introduce Google+ Pages, where loyal customers in the Hangout for Zen Bikes are Google Creative Lab employees and ad agency staffers. The cast of the touching Sharing But Like Real Life national TV commercial was also chock full of Google advertising and marketing staffers. Google presumably knows where to draw the line so they do-no-FTC-evil, but one wonders how the ads would sit with the already-Google-obsessed FTC, who warned 'Advertisers should not pass themselves off as ordinary consumers touting a product, and endorsers should make it clear when they have financial connections to sellers.'
Google

Submission + - Google SPYW Ad Spotlights Awesome Googlers

theodp writes: A search for 'awesome things' in the online ad for Google's new Search Plus Your World turns up — surprise — awesome Googlers. Google also tapped its 'Mad Men' — internal and external ad agency types — to portray happy Google+ users in testimonials for its more-like-real-life social network, including one Larry Page shared to introduce Google+ Pages, where the loyal bike shop customers hanging out include Google Creative Lab employees and ad agency staffers. The cast of the touching Sharing But Like Real Life national TV commercial also featured Google advertising and marketing staffers. Google presumably knows where to draw the line so they do-no-FTC-evil, but one wonders how the ads would sit with the already-Google-scrutinizing FTC, who last year warned 'Advertisers should not pass themselves off as ordinary consumers touting a product, and endorsers should make it clear when they have financial connections to sellers.'
Google

Submission + - Google+ Creepers-to-Keepers Ad: Cute or Creepy?

theodp writes: In October, Dr. Phil aired a show called Bullying: The Power to Protect Your Child. 'What do they call you?' Dr. Phil asked 16-year-old bullying victim Ally. 'Bitch, slut, freak, creeper and weirdo,' Ally replied, sadly adding that 'maybe I'm just not meant for this world anymore.' In November, Google released a new TV commercial to help demonstrate the features of Google+, which TechCrunch noted showed how a woman was able to use Google+ to 'put people in her own unfortunately named 'Creepers' Circle' (one eventually works his way into her 'Keepers' Circle). Some loved it; others were annoyed by the ad's notion of creating Google+ Circles of Creeper nobodies. So, is Circles Love Story — aka Creepers to Keepers — cute or creepy?
Advertising

Submission + - Google+ TV Commercial: 6 Things to Note

theodp writes: Over at GeekWire, Monica Guzman analyzes the ad for Google+ that aired on Thanksgiving Day during the Lions vs. Packers football game, pointing out five notable things about the commercial: 1) It's about people, not posts. 2) It starts with search. 3) It appeals to social consistency. 4) It's up close and easygoing. 5) It makes a little claim to magic. So, in the spirit of Google+, let's +1 this and add a sixth notable takeaway: 6) The enthusiastic group of users Google tapped to drive home the voice-over testimonial for Google+: Sharing, But Like Real Life is curiously largely made up of Google advertising and marketing types. Google's lawyers no doubt know where to draw the line to avoid running afoul of FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, but would the ad resonate as much with viewers and the media if they knew the enthusiastic Google+ users included Google Creative Lab Writers, Google's Director of Social Product Marketing, and other Google Marketing and Advertising staffers?
Advertising

Submission + - 'Friends' in Google+ Ad Actually Google Ad Folks

theodp writes: PC Magazine reports that Google took on Facebook by airing a Thanksgiving Day TV commercial for Google+ during the Lions-Packer football game. The ad — Sharing, But Like Real Life — touted the more personal connections that the search giant suggests can be found via its Google+ social network. While some found the ad long-winded, the commercial was generally well-received. The Daily Mail called the big-money ad Google's 'biggest bid yet to take on Facebook', giving the spot kudos because it 'showed groups such as family, college friends or even 'epic bros' rather than co-workers or clients.' Or did it? Googling the names of those that found their way into the ad's Google+ circles turned up LinkedIn profiles and other results showing the heartwarming ad's 'cast' appears to be curiously composed almost entirely of Google Advertising and Marketing folks. While it's not 'Our Social Network Is Worth Fighting For', one wonders if Don Draper would approve.
Microsoft

Submission + - 2011's Kinect Evokes Memories of 2001's HAL 1

theodp writes: Hal in 2001:' I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that [open the pod bay doors]'. Kinect in 2011: 'I'm sorry, Dave Jr. I'm afraid I can't do that [tune in the Spice Channel].' A Microsoft patent filing made public this week proposes to restrict access to TV, movies and video games by using a 3D depth camera to estimate viewers' ages based upon the dimensions and proportions of a person's body, such as head width to shoulder width, and torso length to overall height. For adults with short arms or other seemingly childlike proportions, settings can be overriden by someone with an administrator password,
Google

Submission + - Can Google Fix the Cable Box?

theodp writes: In purchasing Motorola Mobility, Slate's Farhad Manjoo reports that Google will also come into possesion of one the nation's biggest suppliers of set-top boxes. So, can Google work some of its do-no-evil magic on the loathsome cable box? Don't bet on it, says Manjoo. For one thing, there's no evidence that Google would be very good at remaking the set-top box (Google TV, anyone?). But even if Google managed to dramatically improve set-top boxes, it's doubtful that cable and satellite companies would buy in. First, they'd lose all those ridiculously lucrative cable-box rental fees. More importantly, they'd have to give up control of the main entertainment device in most homes, and with it the opportunity to slow or stymie competing sources for entertainment. After the merger, notes Manjoo, Google could get several billion dollars by selling off Motorola Mobility's set-top-box division — a much surer payday than taking on Big Cable.
IBM

Submission + - IBM Patents Pee-Wee's Secret Word of the Day

theodp writes: Any child who's watched Pee-Wee's Playhouse since its debut in the '80s is familiar with the concept of the 'secret word of the day' (often issued by Conky the Robot). 'Now you all know what to do when anyone says the secret word, right?', Pee-Wee Herman would tell the kids. 'Scream real loud!' Apparently unfamiliar with this prior art, the USPTO on Tuesday granted IBM a patent for its invention of the Public Speaking Self-Evaluation Tool, which Big Blue describes thusly: 'The system provides a user interface through which the user is able to define the undesirable words or sounds [e.g. 'Ah', 'Um', 'Like'] that are to be avoided, as well as a maximum frequency of occurrence threshold to be used for providing warning signals based on detection of such filler or undesirable words or sounds.' BTW, IBM advocates switching the U.S. from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file patent system, which some believe will encourage a rush to the patent office with half-baked inventions.

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