Although it hasn’t exactly been breaking news that sinking software-God Microsoft has hired America’s favorite family comedian Jerry Steinfeld to promote their previously poorly advertised Vista, the big question still remains: was it really worth it?

Dumping 10 million dollars on a single promoter (in my opinion) was really something that shows the outside world that Windows has a failing operating server, and they know it. If you think about it, Mac didn’t make much noise by hiring lesser-known Actors Justin Long and John Hodgman, and in a sense they really came out of nowhere with that strategy in delivering one of the greatest ad campaigns ever assembled. And in Microsoft’s more high profile recruiting of Jerry Steinfeld, they have really taken another approach. Will it work? It all depends on Steinfeld.

Obviously, the most effective ads have been brought out by the advertising company, but really executed by the actors in the actual ad. And because of that, Microsoft really needs to focus on pumping out a lot of their time on a great supporting cast (if there requires one) and a great director. If that doesn’t fall into place, Microsoft needs to spend their next ten million on a new operating system.

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Is Windows….Cool?

August 17, 2008

Let’s face it. Microsoft just isn’t as cool as Apple. And after a heck of a sales slump with their beloved Vista and Bill Gate’s departure, things are looking pretty grim for them. And rightfully so — their advertising sucks. Lee Clow’s genius “Get A Mac” campaign has hit internet stardom, and turned into a phenomenon that successfully depicts Microsoft as “uncool” for anyone who doesn’t work in a cubicle. The Economist put it well, quoting: “All this puts Microsoft in the awkward position of having its brand image defined by a rival—despite its own vast advertising budget, which towers above Apple’s.” And they made a very interesting point with that as well. 

Similar to Google now, about fifteen years ago (which is ages in computer technology) Microsoft was the ‘it’ company, literately and technically. Although there was no main competition, Windows users enjoyed using their R2 operating system and Bill Gate’s mastermind domino effect was in full force. Everyone bought a Windows because everyone else had a Windows. And that was the story of Microsoft’s life — until Mac got out of their previous slump with their OS 9. Until then, people never thought of computers as….cool. And that was really what fed Apple’s beast and let them unleash their OS 10, with a level of user service, compatibility and customization that shocked the world. No one had ever seen or heard about it before, and that is what kept Windows alive — people were simply afraid to switch to a previously unstable company. My family was one of the people who did, and I vividly remember the color and brightness the OS 9 and 10 boasted. I loved my iBook clamshell, and never cared that it crashed about three times a day (mostly because I was about six). 

After the OS 10, Apple really separated themselves with Windows as the cooler brand and used it to their advantage. When the iPod came out, Apple thrived on its sleek, easy to use music player that swamped everything from the Creative to the Walkman. And what did Windows do? They fought fire with fire and created their own, hopefully for them “cool”, new music player — the Zune. 

And it was horrible. It was ugly, bulky, and huge. But what windows really failed to do was the feature that made the Ipod thrive — accessibility. Anyone can own an iPod from any computer (including Windows) and buy songs from anywhere (the iTunes Store just makes it easier) and put it on your iPod. The Zune simply made that impossible, not letting you take any songs from your previous iTunes store purchases, basically making sure that you start a new collection of music in Microsoft’s Zune store, which is more limited. 

Windows diehards valiantly defended their sole portable device with biased charts and Apple Parodies striving themselves on the fact that the Zune uses WiFi. And although that’s great, the only WiFi that Microsoft offers on their Zune is music sharing, where you can only play your buddy’s (he has to have a Zune) songs three times and then you must buy them off of the Zune store. And now with the iPod touchand iPhone, you can use WiFi (yes…you can’t change songs) to surf the web, update your wordpress, and do basically anything on the web you can with a computer. 

So after soon after the Zune’s release, Apple released it’s iPhone, which needs no introduction. Originally laughed off by Steve Balmer, the iPhone tromped all of Window’s brand name phones, and Balmer again looked like an idiot. So after all this, Windows really was in deep trouble. They looked like  old, dark, cubicle hackers, and that really wasn’t what many users strived to be. They lost tons of business from mac and their “get a mac” campaigns. So what did they do? Fight fire with fire….again. This time it was with an ad of their own — the Mojave Experiment, where they brought people into their dark San Francisco lair only to have them completely rip up Vista, calling it slow and “crash happy.” Then they showed them a “new” windows interface with a codename Mojave, and they said it was nice and fast. All of this is ‘conveniently’ on tape and is documented on this website.  

Windows again has made themselves look boring and dumb, and overall — uncool. And until Microsoft can make something better than Apple without copying them, then I (and many other people) will eat our hats. 

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What do you really want out of your blog? Most people would say the magic word — hits. But what are really hits? There are hundreds of websites that offer you free hits as long as you sign up, and thousands of people flock to them in hope that they will double and triple their stats. And most people will. But what shows up on your hit counter and what your visitors actually see is much different. You’ve always thought of your visitors being people who somehow found your blog, bookmarked it, and check up on it a couple times a week. Many blogs have only three or four of those people. And the rest?

In truth, the rest are people trying to earn blog hits as well. You may sign up to sites like BlogExplosion, where to get hits, you are forced to look at other people’s blogs for thirty seconds. 99% of people won’t lift an eyelid to any of the sites, all they will be looking at is the button they press to get to the next one. And when you pay off all your credits from surfing, your site goes to those pages, and people most likely won’t read a word you write. It will show up as a hit on your stats, but that hit means virtually nothing. 

My point here? In my quest for blogging, I want hits too. But my definition for a hit is something more different than the dictionary may claim. I want people to actually read my work, like you are doing today. And I have gotten many of those kind of visits. How? By participating in other blogs. Not just commenting with “good post”, and then leaving a link, but actually reading their article, and telling them what I think about it. This is something a lot of bloggers don’t do, and for obvious reasons. They only care about nourishing their own blog, when the truth is that no one will read it. Its a simple give and take, and it is widely misused. 

There are many things that participating in other blogs can do for you, and that’s why I think they are the key for getting a popular blog that many people will enjoy.

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China’s In Trouble

August 6, 2008

I bet a few critics of the IOC are giving their “I told you so” remarks right about now. Why? China’s in big trouble. After insurgent attacks in Western China, China’s is up to their necks in problems – as well as doubters. These attacks (which killed 20 border patrolmen) claimed to be in favor of independence in some of China’s Western providences. But everyone knows that they came at the perfect time – just days before the Beijing Olympics. And why are we so ticked off with this? In 2001, when China was given their Olympic stature, they vowed to do many things for the game, including limiting the violence and taking care of their human rights issues. If you ask a foreign policy hunk, they’ll most likely tell you that after seven years, they haven’t exactly fulfilled their promises. Their popular-with-the-press pollution problem doesn’t help either, as many athletes who arrived to the games wore masks off the plane. 

But aside from that, one must wonder if another attack is in the making for Beijing. The Chinese government boasts they have foiled past plans, but many of us know that with China’s decreasing credibility, they are looking for anything to gain the press’s trust – and with China that sometimes leads to a habit of exaggerations. Aside from that, it looks like China isn’t very keen on getting very much outside press into their business – they weren’t so accommodating to Japanese reporters covering the insurgency attacks. They also don’t like the rest of the world reporting on the games, as they issued a countrywide internet blackout for websites that planned to cover the Olympics. They also sent out a list of websites that they did not want to publish a word about their games, most international. China has also cut off internet access entirely in parts of their country, and one can only wonder why…

So here we have a country in which many people are speculating. It has in a sense failed its own promises. They have issued a media and internet blackout throughout their entire country and have set limits on all the worldwide media they can get their hands on. They aren’t exactly best of friends with America, and our athletes have showed their concern by wearing masks inside the air-conditioned Beijing airport. So with all this, one might conclude the US president should not be one of the spectators at the Olympics. This was something I was for until my brother brought me to my senses and gave me a great, but simple reason why this would be a horrible idea. He correctly stated that Bush would stir an already sticky situation by boycotting the Olympics.

Now this is a correct answer, but there is something he may not have thought of, and rightfully so. In this whirlwind of politics, one might forget what the Olympics really boil down to – sports. A gathering of world-class athletes couldn’t come in a more grand stage, and sometimes big time newspapers and writers can forget that. We’ve all had those moments sitting in front of the TV with a Coke in one hand and chips in the other with your buddies, and whether you are watching tennis or basketball, ski racing or baseball — pegging your friends with chips or chucking them at the players on TV – we’ve all felt at home. I remember watching the finals with a bunch of guys I spent a week with in some remote tennis camp (that’s another story), and they were all Boston Celtics fans. Crammed in a smelly breakfast room with a bunch of sweaty top US junior tennis players in a room with only two small rotating air-fans, I felt like some monk dude who found the connection with god. I had found the real essence of sports – rooting on a team with a bunch of other people who you knew nothing about other than the point that they liked another team. You hated them, but that just makes your connection with them more powerful. So this is why we should forget that maybe we made a bad decision by picking China to host the Olympics, but besides that, in the end it’s the game that matters. I’m sure if Bin Laden was a Red Sox fan and Bush was a Yankees fan they would get in a brawl, but in the end they are just sports fans. My point here? Sports isn’t just a game, it’s an escape from politics and the outside world. That’s why every country should be part of this celebration, and that’s why we should all forget the politics, cram ourselves in small bar with our buddies and stare at the TV screen, and be sports fans. Not politicians, presidents, citizens and terrorists, but just sports fans. And that’s all that we have in common these days.

Mobile-Me Mayhem

July 18, 2008

As a die-hard Mac user and bleeding edge software enthusiast, you might have expected me to jump for joy after my .mac account was automatically updated to the Mac’s new push software called mobile-me (if you’re a Windows user, just Google it). But instead, I was enraged. First off all, it’s app logo looks like a 1st grader drew it,  but more importantly, I have absolutely no use for it. As an outdoorsy kind of guy (I spend most of my weekends in the snow), I have no use for the new 3G, which would die within 3 days of my clumsy lifestyle. So my phone is what I like to call a Razr (if that’s how the folks over at Motorola like to call it) on steroids. It has the same interface as the Razr but it is coated with at least an inch or two of armor. It is the fattest phone I have ever seen, but I love it. Anyways, I just hate how apple just assumes all of their users are semi-rich 30 year-olds (at least), and signs them up for stuff that requires them buying the iPhone. But the worst part about Apple’s new creation is that if you aren’t signed up for it (and paying a hefty $99 a year), you can’t connect to other .mac sites, including yours. I haven’t been able to see any of my Apple friend’s web sites (including this good one) , which really is a shame. Finally, you can get this push email software for free with a lot of other companies that (sorry Mac) can do it better. Even if this mobile-me thing is actually helpful, (which many people have tried to convince me that it is) I would LOVE if the next time Apple asks you if you want it or not. Sheesh. 

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