Virtual Drunk

Flash game from some sort of Swiss German drinking festival here. Use the arrow keys to control your drunkard.

Ain’t No Burn Like a Boiler Room Burn

Interesting article in Bambi Francisco of CBSMarketwatch’s regular email. It seems despite the dot.bang people are still up for getting burned.

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS.MW) – Sometimes, you do what you can to stay afloat.As many market watchers have already observed, there are companies out there that appear to be promising candidates in a hot business area, but make their money off of something entirely non-related.

Some investors may have heard of a company called Mace Security International, whose shares traded to a recent high of $6.68 in mid-June after trading below $2 earlier this year. The stock went gangbusters because the company’s been touting its anti-terrorist, surveillance security products.

One would think Mace housed a number of technologists in cubicles. Yet those techies weren’t techies at all, unless washing cars requires an engineering degree. Apparently, Mace generated 85 percent of its sales this year from being a car wash.

Mace shares eventually got washed up a bit as its true colors were exposed. Let’s face it, being a car wash isn’t a competitive advantage for a security company. (Now, if they were impersonating a car wash but were really a security company — I’d say that was impressive.)

But here’s what we can learn from Mace. Sometimes you have to be creative if you want to stay in business.

PalmOne Sings to Mac Choir

PalmOne, official provider of PDAs to Renaissance Chambara, has announced a portal for Mac users. Admittedly the content is as sparse as a supermodels buffet at the moment, but I have hopes that it will get better. If they want this to happen at a rate of knots they can throw a fat roll of benjamins at me: gedcarroll at mac.com.

SourceNext: mad, bad or dangerous?

Crazy Japanese software company makes craz-ey adverts, seriously check these out. Maximum kudos to Ashlee Vance at The Register for bringing this to a Western audience.

Revolution with a spray-can

If you live in London or have been to Shoreditch you’ve probably came across the grafitti art of Banksy. Talent, anger, political statement and a black sense of humour via Andy Warhol to create provocative stencil art.

In the interest of spreading the revoluton here is Banksy’s guide to creating creative grafitti:

A guide to cutting stencils– First off, stencil anything. If you wait for the perfect idea you will be waiting for ever. Cleverness is never as entertaining as blatant stupidity, failure and public humiliation

– Obtain a fucking sharp knife. Blunt knives result in fluffy pictures and make the whole process long and boring. Snap off blades of British steel are best.

– Draw your artwork on paper, glue onto some card then cut straight through the both. Acetate is apparently quite good but any sort of free cardboard is okay. Stiff 1mm to 1.5mm board is ideal.

– Get a small roll of gaffa tape, pre-tear small strips and stick them on your shirt inside your coat.

– Find a suitable piece of card to act as a folder. For instance when using red paint cut the stencil into the bottom of a pizza box so when you get paint all over your fingers its not so suspicious.

– Leave the house before you find something worth staying in for.

– Spray the paint sparingly onto the stencil from a distance of 8 inches.

– If you’re in a place with lots of security cameras wear a hood, move around the city quickly and act like a sad old drunk if you attract attention.

– Be aware that going on a major mission totally drunk out of your head will result in some truly spectacular artwork and at least one night in the cells.

– When explaining yourself to the Police its worth being as reasonable as possible. Graffiti writers are not real villains. I am always reminded of this by real villains who consider the idea of breaking in someplace, not stealing anything and then leaving behind a painting of your name in four foot high letters the most retarded thing they ever heard of.

– Remember crime against property is not real crime. People look at an oil painting and admire the use of brushstrokes to convey meaning. People look at a graffiti painting and admire the use of a drainpipe to gain access.

– The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a bi-product of making something that means something. You don’t go to a restaurant and order a meal because you want to have a shit.

Real Winners of Euro 2004

Creative Club has posted the top advertisements that capitalised on Euro 2004 here. While Greece won the football many of these brands hoped for a bumper sales windfall courtesy of the football tournament.

GoatCactus and Screen Ghosts

Holy Smokes I hear you cry, what on earth can such a bizarre heading mean? Before you ask we haven’t been hitting the magic mushrooms again. Facetop is a project at the University of North Carolina to ‘ghost’ video conference participants on to a computer screen, check here. No more annoying iChat screens

GoatCactus is a piece of software that uses computer math to generate music, off its head check this out

History Repeating

Thanks and maximum kudos to Ted Dolotta who posted this New York Times Op Ed to the Interesting People email list. The New York Times online piece can be found here (registration required, but well worth it).

Their George and OursJuly 4, 2004

By BARBARA EHRENREICH

When they first heard the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776, New Yorkers were so electrified that they toppled a statue of King George III and had it melted down to make 42,000 bullets for the war. Two hundred

twenty-eight years later, you can still get a rush from those opening paragraphs. “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” The audacity!

Read a little further to those parts of the declaration we seldom venture into after ninth-grade civics class, and you may feel something other than admiration: an icy chill of recognition. The bulk of the declaration is devoted to a list of charges against George III, several of which bear

an eerie relevance to our own time.

George II is accused, for example, of “depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury.” Our own George II has imprisoned two U.S. citizens – Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi – since 2002, without benefit of trials, legal counsel or any opportunity to challenge the evidence against them. Even die-hard Tories Scalia and Rehnquist recently judged such executive hauteur intolerable.

It would be silly, of course, to overstate the parallels between 1776 and 2004. The signers of the declaration were colonial subjects of a man they had come to see as a foreign king. One of their major grievances had to do with the tax burden imposed on them to support the king’s wars.In contrast, our taxes have been reduced – especially for those who need the money least – and the huge costs of war sloughed off to our children and grandchildren. Nor would it be tactful to press the analogy between our George II and their George III, of whom the British historian John

Richard Green wrote: “He had a smaller mind than any English king before him save James II.”

But the parallels are there, and undeniable. “He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power,” the declaration said of George III, and today the military is indulgently allowed to investigate its own crimes in Iraq. George III “obstructed

the Administration of Justice.” Our George II has sought to evade judicial review by hiding detainees away in Guantanamo, and has steadfastly resisted the use of the Alien Tort Claims Act, which allows non-U.S. citizens to bring charges of human rights violations to U.S. courts.

The signers further indicted their erstwhile monarch for “taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments.” The administration has been trying its best

to establish a modern equivalent to the divine right of kings, with legal memorandums asserting that George II’s “inherent” powers allow him to ignore federal laws prohibiting torture and war crimes.

Then there is the declaration’s boldest and most sweeping indictment of all, condemning George III for “transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a

civilized nation.” Translate “mercenaries” into contract workers and proxy armies (remember the bloodthirsty, misogynist Northern Alliance?), and translate that last long phrase into Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

But it is the final sentence of the declaration that deserves the closest study: “And for the support of this Declaration . . . we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Today, those who believe that the war on terror requires the sacrifice of our liberties like to argue that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.” In a sense, however, the Declaration of Independence was precisely that.

By signing Jefferson’s text, the signers of the declaration were putting their lives on the line. England was then the world’s greatest military power, against which a bunch of provincial farmers had little chance of prevailing. Benjamin Franklin wasn’t kidding around with his quip about

hanging together or hanging separately. If the rebel American militias were beaten on the battlefield, their ringleaders could expect to be hanged as traitors.

They signed anyway, thereby stating to the world that there is something worth more than life, and that is liberty. Thanks to their courage, we do not have to risk death to preserve the liberties they bequeathed us. All we have to do is vote.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Newly-Discovered Dumb Marketers

Coca-Cola, the troubled beverage company is in the midst of a major marketing promotion to try and bolster sales of its signature drink. Throughout the US, Coca-Cola has put 120 special cans into multipacks of original Coke. These cans look like a Coke, feel like a Coke, but instead of the secret formula contain a GPS device and a cell phone courtesy of Airtel.

You find the can, you activate it and some marketing klutz can show up at any time in a Bell Jetranger to drop a giant 4WD off for you – with surprise being the operative word. This is in a country where security is verging on paranoia since 11/9/2001, has the highest number of gun nuts, conspiracy theorists and gangbangers.

Now, not that I am prejudiced or anything but why would you want to be surprised by a bunch of Coca-Cola marketers playing at being the NSA a la Sneakers or Enemy of the State?

Big Brother Awards

Privacy International tackles some of the most prevalent civil rights abuses currently occuring in the West. The decline of the right to privacy. Here is details of their forthcoming Big Brother Awards to be held at the London School of Economics.

BBC Online Under Siege

New Labour continued waging its dirty war on UK’s public sector broadcaster the BBC has just entered a new phase. Philip Graf’s report into the BBC’s online activities recommends cutting the content that could be provided by private sector providers. This of course has nothing to do with Labour’s special relationship with independent media companies including Flextech Television; or that the channel has sometimes not been on message with Labour headquarters regarding the recent Iraq conflict. Adobe Acrobat reader required, MacOS X can use Preview instead.

3 F**ks Up

Troubled mobile phone company 3UK balls’d up my phone connection. July 4th – US independence day and the day when I give notice to 3 to terminate my contract.

– Unfortunately I can only give my notice Monday – Friday as the department that deals with number portability is away

– July 5, after waiting half an hour I manage to get through to someone at 3 around 9:35am. They will arrange for a PAC number to be sent out and instead cut off my number. I work in PR so this is a major SNAFU

– I am now relying on the Royal Mail to get a SIM card to me that will work by July 7!

Rad Gear For Coming Down

Ok, its the Sunday morning (late) after the Saturday night, your feet are aching, your clothes stink of cigarettes and your ear drums have been desensitised by 5 kW of music power. Oh yeah and your best mate is working his way through the contents of your fridge.

Some jazzy gear to ease those frayed edges of reality that stray into your world:

Oakley MP3 glasses: Ok so you will look a bit of a spaz, but they will protect your eyes from harsh daylight and have enough space for Adventures beyond the Underworld by The Orb, Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Unfortunately Lance Armstrong is riding in the Tour de France with YOUR pair!

Mickey Mouse ceiling projector: Ideal for when you are about to go to sleep but still feeling a bit cosmic. Only available from Toys R Us in Japan

Relax and terrible Tuesdays will be not quite so bad even if your pension fund is taking a punishment with the Ambient Devices Orb.

China Leads The Way

America historically has led the Internet, by setting many of the technology standards and being home to many of the main companies whose technology underpins and makes use of the Internet.

A small geeky announcement on ChinaTechNews.com indicates that the balance is shifting. The announcement is significant; think of it this way, how many extra phone lines could you have if you added an extra digit to the area code of a phone number? Well imagine that jump but much, much bigger to understand the leap forward that the Chinese are making with the Internet by adopting IPv9.

This also marks a profound future social, economic and information shift to the East; especially when considering how the most brutal and naked form of capitalism since the Robber Barons of the 19th century America is reshaping the country. The futures red, the future’s China; get ready for video on demand Shaw Brothers Classics.

Barcode turns 30

The Boston Globe online has a mildly interesting article about the UPC (universal product code) or bar code that graces all our groceries. They give a potted history of the code and mention the various urban myths that rose around it including:

– it represented the Anti-Christ

– it was a corporate plot against consumers (though the lack of technology before the bar code had not stopped collusion).

The article goes on about the inventory savings items, but neglects to mention other add-ons that came out of it including:

– Near-real time sales data, which could be datamined for purchase paterns, this allowed Walmart to famously increase beer sales by putting a six pack and nappies (US Eng: diapers) together for stressed fathers

– Increasing the power of retailers who can provide research companies and suppliers with data on product sales faster, fattening the coffers of AC Neilsen

– Dramatically altered store design by being able to trial changes in layout or promotion and see the results through the tills, this was as dramatic as the spreadsheet allowing senior business folk to run what if scenarios

– Loyalty cards, when you can analyse purchase patterns and inventories, match them both together to decide how to influence consumer behavioiur

– It revolutionised kick-backs for music shop workers. When I DJ’ed far more (and had more time), I used to hang with a number of record shop assistants who worked in ‘chart shops’. By being signed up to promo agencies for white labels, the specialist shops for my imports and underground vinyl and the small chart shops I got the freshest music cuts. The smaller independent chart shops got a lot of support from the major labels:

– Cheaper records to sell on to the public

– Items often arrived in their stores first

– Exclusive access to limited edition remixes

– Instore band signings (often at the expense of big chains like HMV)

– Promotional record label items: jackets, bags, gig tickets

– One high selling record for free with every two hype items they put through the scanner (note that I did not say sell)

I remember Jez and Tony of Penny Lane Birkenhead well. Tony had been with the firm for time and was a seasoned ligger, Jez was a quiter dreadlocked skater kid who used to work in a secondhand dance vinyl shop in the Palace – a trendy shopping complex on Wood Street L1.

This barcode revolution did not happen overnight, I still remember being in primary school in Liverpool and seeing sticky price tags and the guns being used in the local Tesco and Asda supermarkets. Bargain bucket department story chain TJ Hughes, only implemented a stock management system utilising bar codes less than five years ago after new owners discovered stock in their warehouses that may have been over ten years old. The local supermarket to my Uncle living in rural Western Ireland still uses sticky price labels with no barcode scanner in sight, a nod to our modern times came when the labels changed colour from white to fluorescent yellow.

Jargon Watch: counter-googling

Interesting article on Trendwatching.com about businesses using Google to research customers and better tailor their offering to their needs – Google as a kind of ad-hoc CRM solution. Trendwatching label this counter-googling.

An interesting example they cite is “The Bel Air Hotel in LA already Googles first-time guests upon arrival, based on their reservation details (name and address), leading to personalized services like assigning guests a room with morning sun if Googling shows the guest enjoys jogging early in the day (source: http://blog.outer-court.com).”

Sell your Siebel Systems shares NOW! :-)