Archive for February 2007

Should Blockbuster Games Drive Console Sales?

Tanya sent me this article on the difference between Gears of War and Halo 3 in their abilities to drive adoption of the XBox 360.  In the article, he debates whether Gears of War has been successful in driving sales of XBox 360.

After selling nearly 3 million copies worldwide (nearly 1 for every 3 XBox 360’s) it has become a staple in any gamer’s library. But a true killer app should drive people to buy the console. Looking at Xbox 360 shoppers online, Gears of War was a great success among current owners, but Microsoft will have to wait until next holiday season for its first console-defining game.

Comparing Halo 3 to Gears of War on this metric, three things become apparent: Gears of War may have sold a lot of copies but it was only marginally effective at driving 360 adoption (calling its “killer app” status into question).

The author has his terms mixed up here (even though he references a Wikipedia definition that supports his assertion).  According to Dave’s Authoritative Dictionary, a killer app is a product that drives a tremendous amount of sales, reinforces brand identity and disrupts competing products in the app’s market segment.  A killer app is an innovation that not only taps into a need or desire in a significant way, but it also taps into needs and desires that consumers weren’t’ even aware they had. But once they experience the killer app and gain realization, their reaction is, “Yes, of course.”  That in turn drives evangelism, which accelerates growth from early adopters to close followers to the consuming masses.

A product that drives the adoption of a supporting platform is one that has a halo effect.  Examples would be the iPod having a halo effect on Macintosh sales, Halo 3 driving XBox 360 sales or increased BMW sales after the BMW F1 team wins a race (win on Sunday, sell on Monday). 

 

Yes it is important and desirable for XBox 360to grow as a platform but Microsoft is still losing money on 360 consoles, so to have Gears of War in the library of 1 out of 3 XBox 360 owners at $60 a pop is a good thing because Microsoft is actually making money on the game.

Plus, as gamers rave about Gears of War to their friends and on web forums, GoW buzz creates an associated level of buzz and excitement for the platform.  The association with the halo effect is: Gee, if GoW is so incredible, and it only runs on the 360, the 360 must also be incredible.  It’s the same as, Gee, if BMW won at Interlagos, their cars must be sweet.  I must have a BMW.  The association of a desirable characteristic is made to a related product and that association drives sales.

So, my point is that while GoW may not be directly driving platform sales by the author’s implied definition, i.e. consumers go to Best Buy and purchase both GoW and a 360, GoW is still an important and valuable game because it drives revenue and builds brand identity.

Gears of War – Again

The thing about playing XBox 360 for me is that if I don’t play it, I forget how cool it is.  This is something my friend Eric can appreciate; it has been over 90 days since he last played on his XBox.  He even has a hi-def TV now but alas no XBox.

If you don’t play, you forget about it.

If you’d like to read my XBox’s blog, where it whines incessantly about the fact that I ignore it, you can read it here: bimmergeek’s XBox 360 blog.  It’s a cute little service that uses data from my gamertag to publish a whiney blog about how I neglect my XBox.  It’s actually a creative service.

 

Anyway, I’ve been back into Gears of War again.  What a fantastic game. Excellent playability, gorgeous graphics, chilling horror.  Even when I know what’s going to happen, I still get rushes of adrenalin and ice in my veins when I get killed or encounter a murderous creature.

I tried picking up where I left off, at the final scene in the final act, where I must kill RAAM, the uber-bad ass.  I got soundly trounced because a). I’m not a great gamer and b). I hadn’t played for 6 weeks and lost my GoW chops (as if I had any).

So, I started over from the beginning and have been working my way through the game again.  Wow.  What a blast.  Even Tanya reluctantly enjoys watching me play.  It’s an engaging game.

 

I was up late last night playing and this morning, I’m a little groggy.  But the cool thing is I did dream about how to play the current level better than I was last night.  Kinda neat how my brain figures stuff like that out in my sleep.  Happens a lot.  Which might explain why I never seem to get good sleep…

My Daddy’s Job

One day a fourth-grade teacher asked the children what their fathers did
for a living. All the typical answers came up — fireman, mechanic, businessman,
salesman, doctor, lawyer, and so forth.

However, little Justin was being uncharacteristically quiet, so when the
teacher prodded him about his father, he replied, “My father’s an exotic
dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front of other
men and they put money in his underwear. Sometimes, if the offer is really
good, he will go home with some guy.”

The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the other
children to work on some exercises and then took little Justin aside to
ask him, “Is that really true about your father?”

“No,” the boy said, “He works for the Democratic National Committee and is
helping to get Hillary Clinton to be our next President, but I was too
embarrassed to say that in front of the other kids.”

Jesus Jibber Jabber

A friend of mine sent me this link to a story about the ostensible discovery of the bones of Jesus and his family.  There’s all this speculation that Jesus’ family’s tomb has been discovered.  Woo hoo.  Such excitement.

Such bullshit.

This is nothing more than the latest dose of apocryphal/gnostic jibber jabber that is intended to subvert the historical record of the Bible as well as call faith in Jesus into question.  I love this quote from the article:

Nothing in the film or book challenges traditional Christian dogma regarding the resurrection. But it could pose a problem for those that believe Jesus’ ascension, 40 days after the resurrection, was both physical and spiritual. And, if further DNA testing were to link Jesus and Yose with Mary, it would call into question the entire doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

 

Well, it may not call into question the notion of the resurrection but it does attempt to present problems with the bodily ascension of Christ into heaven.

I find curious the comment about the presence of Joseph’s DNA as a factor that would call into question the immaculate conception of Jesus.

One of the patterns that I have found in my own experience and in my reading of the Bible is that God transcends the laws and principles that govern life on earth but he does not subvert them.  Miracles are not, in my opinion, God making new laws of physics, chemistry or biology but are him functioning within those laws in ways that trascend the limitations of those laws. 

This being said, I have no problem believing in a God who is powerful enough to create the universe and who also has the power to immaculately conceive a baby with the DNA of Joseph.  DNA is a fundamental component of biological life and its characteristics are a function of male and female parents.  It would make no sense to me for there to be no presence of Jesus’ “father” in Jesus’ DNA.  Of course, all I am doing is speculating, but what I am saying is that if the DNA of a father were present, it wouldn’t disprove immaculate conception.

All this begs the issue of authenticating the bones and the tomb as belonging to Jesus and his family.  There is no authoritative source of DNA from an authenticated Jesus to compare to any other sample source.  Without this, there is no meaningful scientific way to conclude that this tomb was in fact Jesus’.

Any person who is dissuaded from faith in Jesus based on this kind of speculation isn’t the kind of person who is willing to believe anyway

GPS Helps Me Eat

I’m trying different restaurants so as not to be a creature of habit, which I often am when it comes to food. So, when I’m in the mood for trying something different, I just boot up the GPS and select an ethnicity of food and pick something relatively nearby.

Last night, we found a decent Mexican restaurant that was semi-fast food but still tasty. And today, I was hungry for some pizza, so I resorted to going to what is familiar: Little Caesar’s Baby Pan Pan. Again, GPS led me there and now my belly is full of crust, tomato sauce and pepperoni. Yum.

Peace and Happiness

Two important things about me:

1. I have a typically male juvenille sense of humor. I like sex jokes, poop jokes, fart jokes, whatever. I also like intelligence and insight into life from humor, but if I can’t get that, a good boob or schlong joke will work just fine.

2. In the morning, I tend toward somber depression. Why? Because it’s frickin’ morning, that’s why!

For these reasons, I have long been a fan of the Bob and Tom Show. Part of my morning routine in Lansing was to wake up, turn on the show while brushing my teeth, then take a shower, then listen to the show while getting ready and finally, while driving into work.

Now, for many years Tanya has complained about the show and has unfairly used their truly juvenille, prurient and lame jokes as proof that they are low-brow, common denominator stuff. That’s like saying that Al Gore’s claim to have invented the internet discredits his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth (well, maybe the documentary discredits itself by its own existence, so I guess my similie doesn’t work, so insert your own crafty, witty similie here so I can move on with my blog entry).

In spite of Tanya’s protests, we have listened to the show most mornings for several years. And I have predicted that if I were to die, she would still listen to the show if not for her actual enjoyment, then at least for nostalgia. She vigorously denies this. If only I could do a control experiment without that whole dying-but-not-sure-what-comes-after thing.

As if to tease and torment me, the show is syndicated in cities surrounding the bay area but not in the valley itself. Instead, they have inane jibber jabber shows like the one on KFOG that say nothing, go nowhere and have no finesse. They are limp emulations of Howard Stern, who is nothing but a more shocking version of Jerry Springer.

So, for many weeks, my mornings of preparation have been sans Bob and Tom, Chick and Kristy Lee. A couple weeks ago, I subscribed to the web site and downloaded some of the show MP3′s but I lacked anything to conveniently play the show on while getting ready in my bathroom. Oh sure, I could get an iPod Nano and one of those speaker stands, but that’s a $200 solution to a daily 20 minute problem. If I were single, it would be a done deal. But there’s no way I’d get a capital expenditure request approved by my CFO for that so it was a no go.

Then I realized that my Treo could play MP3s so I downloaded a couple B&T tracks onto the Treo. It worked reasonably well but there’s just not quite enough volume to get over the sounds of the apartment. So now I play them on my laptop.

This was a good step but it wasn’t complete because I didn’t have them in the car on my 25 minute drive to work.

Last night, I put about three weeks worth of B&T MP3s on my iPod and this morning I listened in bliss. I am certain I looked like the unbalanced man I am as I laughed hard several times (Why do the Irish wear kilts? So the sheep don’t hear the sound of a zipper.) And since I have spent the morning laughing, I find myself in a better mood than I think I have been in any morning since getting to the valley.

Happy Dave.

But What Would You Call Your Blog?

As I’ve blogged about several times over the past year, I do not like the direction BMW has taken the 3 Series. With each successive year, the car has gained width and wheelbase as well as more interior space. BMW seems to be taking the 3 Series away from its history as a driver- and road-oriented car — i.e. luxury-sport — toward one that is less responsive and roomier, like the 5 Series. In fact, aside from engine options and design cues, most notably on the rear of the 5, there is little to differentiate the current 3 Series (the E92) from the 5 Series.

And so with less than a year to go before I need to make a decision about what my next car will be, I have been taking a direction, that prior to the E92 would have been unthinkable for me: I am seriously considering not getting a BMW.

To which Tanya asked: If you didn’t get a BMW, what would you call your blog?

Sigh. A good question for which I have no answer. PissedOffBimmerGeekNowDrivingAJapMobile.com?

I don’t like how the car has grown in size.

I don’t like how BMW has disconnected the driver from road feel through the steering wheel, nor the sense of thick hydraulic viscosity through the steering wheel. This philosophy of disconnection is perhaps ominously portended by BMW’s development of electronic sterring assist. Crikey! I can turn the steering wheel to park, BMW! Keep your fricking electronics away from my steering inputs!

I don’t like the Gentle Start, or whatever stupid name they have given to an intentional dilution of torque in first and second gear under 2200 rpm.

I do not like the lack of progressive application of the brakes; at slow speeds (i.e. parking lot navigation or slow traffic flow) the brakes grip RIGHT NOW with little moderation in grip. It almost feels like strong magnets grabbing metal.

I do not like the interior’s movement away from a driver bias toward a flat dashboard.

These are serious factors that tend to dissuade me from wanting a 2008 3 Series next year. As I have been driving in the valley (and thankfully seeing proportionately less Detroit iron than in Michigan), the Acura TL and Lexus IS have been capturing my attention.

This causes no shortage of cognitive and emotional dissonance for me! I have never cared for the Japanese philosophy toward suspension, which seems to want to isolate the cabin from road feel and road noise. The Japanese suspension tends to be more cushy than sporty. Well, at least this was true the last time I had test-driven Japanese cars. Perhaps that has changed.

So, in the next few weeks, I am going to test drive both of these cars. I’m going to revisit the Japanese suspension.

And maybe, just maybe, this will create enough of a perturbance in the BMW matrix that Germany pulls their heads out of their asses and quits fooking around with the 3 Series DNA. Leave the genetic engineering to the biochemists, eh?

Third Eye Bling – Motorcycle Drive By

Last night and this morning, I listened to a Third Eye Blind compilation I put together on my iPod. I had forgotten how much I like their music. Their bassist and drummer are one of the best rhythm sections I’ve heard in a band. They work well together and drive solid grooves throughout most of their songs. I also like how the vocals border on the rhythmic pattern of rap without all the horrid baggage that comes with it.

This morning, just as I was getting close to the office, Motorcycle Drive By came on. It’s seems to be about a relationship with a girl in Chelsea (Manhattan) that didn’t quite work out, but it’s a song that has always resonated with me. Now that I’m here in California, it connects with me in a different way. Here are the lyrics and if you want to hear the song, email me and I will send it to you.

Summer time and the wind is blowing, outside in lower chelsea.
And I dont know what Im doing in this city,
The sun is always in my eyes,
It crashes through the windows, and Im sleeping on the couch,
When I came to visit you,
Thats when I knew that I could never have you,
I knew that before you did,
Still Im the one whos stupid
And theres this burning, like theres always been,
Ive never been so alone, and Ive never been so alive.

Visions of you on a motorcycle drive by,
The cigarette ash flies in your eyes, and you dont mind, you smile,
And say the world doesnt fit with you.
I dont believe you, youre so serene.
Careening through the universe, your axis on a tilt, youre guiltless and free,
I hope you take a piece of me with you,
And theres things Id like to do that you dont believe in,
I would like to build something, but youd never see it happen
And theres this burning, like theres always been,
Ive never been so alone, and ive, Ive never been so alive,

And theres this burning, ah ha, there was this burning. aye yie yie

Wheres the soul. I want to know, new york citys evil.
The surface is everything, but I could never do that,
Someone would see through that.
And this is the last time, well be friends again.
And Ill get over you ,youll wonder, who I am.
And theres this burning, just like theres always been,
Ive never been so alone, alone, and ive, and ive, Ive never been so alive, so alive

I go home to the coast. it starts to rain, I paddle out on the water alone,
Taste the salt and taste the pain. Im not thinking of you again,
Summer dies and swells rise, the sun goes down in my eyes, see this rolling wave, darkly coming to take me, home,
And I never been so alone, and Ive never been so alive.

Responsive Government

I finally got my California drivers license today. I was glad to get it because California hands out honking huge temporary licenses. How would you like to cram an 8.5″ x 5.5″ piece of paper in your wallet? Yeah, I know! It’s horrible! And the registration form is the same size. And and and you only get one copy.

Which leads me to a couple comments about the government here.

First, I have already made comments about the DMV in California in previous entries. The DMV is fantastic. They have an amazing level of customer service that most private sector companies would do well to emulate. Saturday we went back to wrap up our title transfers of the bimmers and my Yamaha to California and to get our license plates. Somehow, Tanya’s plates showed up as already having been shipped, which made no sense because Cali doesn’t issue plates until the registration is complete.

In any other state (well, ok, Michigan because I haven’t done a complete survey of state DMVs), the woman helping us would have been, “Too bad, so sad. Next!” Instead, her response was to bird dog the problem and she solved it herself! What government employee ever sees things to completion like this?! As if that weren’t enough, her response to my news that I had forgotten to bring the documentation for my car was to say, “I’m here until 12. Go get your papers and come right back to my window and we will wrap it up.”

That’s what we did and that’s what she did. It was amazing. And then there was the smart ass guy who helped us greatly during both trips to the DMV.

Now here is a story that will amaze you. Ever since we had moved in to the apartment, we had the wonderful experience of being awakened on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:50 AM by a trash truck emptying five or six dumpsters. It was quite frustrating. At first, I just thought, “Well, this is the city. Who the hell cares whether we get awakened at 5:50 in the morning…”

Well last Tuesday, I was mad as hell and I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I searched for the Cupertino noise ordinance and saw that there were certain parameters for noise that suggested the city might actually be sympathetic.

So, I called and left a message on the voice mail. I assumed that this was merely one of those governmental black hole voice mails where some cat-eye-glasses-wearing bimbo listened to the messages while chomping her gum and promptly deleted them with an quiet evilc cackle. I was astounded when about 45 minutes later a polite guy named Alex called me back.

I explained that we had just moved here from Michigan and that I didn’t want to sound like a whiner but the garbage truck… and the noise… and I can’t sleep. Alex was awesome. He took it seriously and said that it sometimes happens when they get a new driver, because they aren’t supposed to do trash collection within a certain distance from a residential area. He said he would call Los Gatos Trash Company and ask them to reschedule.

Dudes! It worked. No more trash collection! Happy, happy Dave and Tanya.

We had dinner with Scott on Friday night. Went to what Scott called a hole in the wall, that was actually right across the street from our apartment (we are in such a fantastic location). Scott told us that you can always tell whether you’ve found a good ethnic restaurant if it’s full of people of the ethnicity of the food.

When we stepped into the sushi bar it was small and crowded with Japanese people. There was the three of us and one other white couple. Good sign.

I was nervous about eating sushi because the concept sounds fundamentally gross to me. I was amazingly surprised at how much I enjoyed the food.

I went safe with some terryaki salmon (yummy) and terryaki beef (not so yummy – poor preparation). We also ordered California rolls. Tanya ordered some sushi and I tried it. I mostly liked it.

The tuna was pretty tasty and I had some fish eggs. Ehh. Kinda squishy and not much taste. The weird thing was that a couple hours after we finished dinner, I was craving more sushi. I might just have to go back again.

Apparently, at the valley tech firms, Presidents Day is a holiday. Bizarre but I’m not one to question the gift of a new three day weekend.

So, we decided to go for a drive. This is the route we took:

The drive to Santa Cruz was not necessarily beautiful but it was done on some wonderful twisties up the mountain. This was the same road I took a week or so ago that was a bit over my head.

But the best part of the drive was when we took Highway 1 up to Half Moon Bay. Here are some pictures from the trip:

There were many properties like this along 1: Crappy little dives right on the ocean. Amazing.

If you click on this picture and expand it, you will see not one but two GT-40′s parked at the Roadhouse Restaurant. The red one is most prominent but there is also a classic baby blue GT-40 parked in front of it.
DSC03254

I got these two pictures of guys using sails with their surfboards. Pretty incredible. The waves were powerful and huge. These guys had serious surfing chops. Keep in mind it’s frigging February! Click to expand.
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Go here to see the other pics, most of which were taken by Tanya.

We went to a restaurant called Half Moon Bay Inn. I heartily do not recommend them to you. They were expensive, the service sucked and the food wasn’t spectacular. Their servers were all Barbie dolls but none of them really knew how to pay attention to customers. After 25 minutes with no food, I asked our waitress to check the status on our food. She said she would and then ignored us for another 15 minutes in my sight! But when it came to bringing the check, she was instantaneous. Guess who got a $1 tip and the following comment on the receipt: Service was unacceptable; food was ok?

Upgraded Helmet

This weekend, I bought an Arai Quantum 2 helmet to upgrade my Icon Mainframe helmet. There were a number of reasons for the upgrade.

Before we moved, I was out for a ride and when I got done, the Icon sticker on the front of my helmet had peeled half-way off. When I pulled it off to restick it, the remaining adhesive pulled a spot of paint off the helmet. So last week, I contacted Icon to have them replace the helmet. They wanted to give me a bigger sticker to cover it up!

Ummm. No.

So, that experience concerned me a little bit about the quality of the helmet.

In Michigan, I was content with a $200 helmet because I felt the risk level was approrpiate for a mid-range helmet. Though I’m not uncomfortable with the risk level in Cali, I do think that the higher traffic density does raise the risk level somewhat so I wanted to upgrade my helmet. Tanya helped me upgrade my riding protection with full leathers over Christmas (the Alpinestars jacket and pants are fantastic and I realized after yesterday’s ride that the pants are finally breaking in – I don’t feel them bind when I saddle up).

I did a lot of research on higher-end helmets. In most cases, the two brands that seem to be popular among skilled riders are Shoei and Arai. I looked to the choices of skilled riders because they have enough experience to understand the potential forces in a crash to lead them to choose a helmet that provides the best protection from those forces. I chose Arai.

One of the most influential factors in my decision was the fact that more than half the F1 grid wears Arai helmets. This is significant because since Senna’s death in 1994, the FIA has been very focused on driver safety. The driver tub must be able to withstand tremendous G forces during the deceleration in a crash without losing its integrity nor allowing anything to penetrate the tub. So, essentially, the only part of a driver that is exposed in an F1 car is their head. When a F1 driver chooses a helmet, that choice is the last factor in their overall safety. What they end up choosing says a lot about what they think is possible in protecting their exposed head.

Fernando Alonso races with an Arai helmet. So, it’s not only half the grid but the current world champion. Giancarlo Fisichella and Kimi Raikkonen also race with Arai. For so many F1 drivers to choose the Arai was an impressive and meaningful factor.

Another important factor was that Arai designs their helmets to fit three different head types (when viewed from the top): round, round-oval and oval. I like Arai’s attention to this kind of design detail.

For most purchases, I do a lot of research. This means that a company’s web site is an important part of the decision-making process. Shoei’s website did not do an adequate job of articulating the differences between each helmet model. Though Arai’s site is hard to read with miniscule type and some quirky web copy, it does a good job of explaining their helmet line.

Once I got the Quantum 2 home, I was impressed with its finish quality. The vents were well-designed and plentiful without being gimmicky. The interior of the helmet has excellent quality of finish and the cheek pads are comfortable. After yesterday’s ride, I realized that the helmet has a fantastic sense of neutrality to it. My other helmet feels weighted so that you work to keep it upright. Not so with the Arai: it has a neutral level of balance that feels natural.

The cheek pads felt kind of weird for the first day or so. They rested on different places than my Icon helmet so that took some getting used to. Yesterday, I lost my awareness of the presence of the helmet and was able to enjoy the ride that much more.

So, I’m very happy with my riding gear now. I’ve upgraded all the important parts of my gear: leather jacket, leather pants and helmet. I have Alpinestars riding boots and they are just an inch or two too short for my pants; the cuffs keep coming out after 45 minutes of riding. It could be user error so I’m not counting them down yet and I don’t really want to spend $250 on a better set. I think I’m in good shape for now.

Apple Ad: Vista Security

I generally enjoy the Mac vs. PC ads. They are clever and funny. They are also often ideologically slanted and misrepresent the reality of the downsides of PC functionality. This makes sense, since the ads are made by True Believers. I have written ad nauseum about the fallacy of any platform (or browser) being inherently more secure than another so I won’t repeat the details of my arguments here.

Suffice it to say that were Mac OS X as popular as Windows, it would not only attract the same level of attacks as Windows, it would also be exposed as Windows has. Ironically, after ~six years of aggressive viral attacks, Windows has been unwittingly hardened by the very sociopaths who sought to take it down.

Mac’s claim to inherent security is actually security based on obscurity, which means Mac’s apparent security is due to the lack of attacks. OS X comprises less than 5% of total desktops. Therefore, Mac OS X does not present an attractive attack surface for virus writers. Which will gain more notoreity? A virus for a platform installed on hundreds of millions of PCs or one installed on a few million?

All this said, the following Apple ad is 100% dead on target. Vista’s User Access Control feature is utterly maddening. The ad does not exaggerate the frequency with which Vista asks you whether you want to allow some event to happen on your computer. It is also correct in that Vista gives you no warning about threats if you turn User Access Control off.

This ad does an outstanding job of illustrating the annoyance of UAC but curiously doesn’t explain how Mac OS X is better.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n4mdcXa8B0]

Idiocy and Arrogance in the GM Boardroom

OK so let me get this straight:

This past summer, GM CEO Rick Waggoner invited Carlos Ghosn to, shall we say, to go have sex with himself after being coerced into a meeting with Ghosn by activist investor Kirk Kerkorian. The idea was to meet with Ghosn, a man with amazing bandwidth and turnaround skills (he is CEO of both Nissan and Renault) to disuss a partnership to leverage capabilities. Waggoner handled the meeting perfunctorily ; Ghosn, I’m sure, shrugged with some relief and went back to growing both car companies’ business.

So, Waggoner, out of fear and pride, rebuffs Ghosn and Kerkorian and plods on along to turning up the volume on more stale designs and clueless marketing. Then, in a brilliant flash of rocket-scientist serendipity, thinks, “Hey, how about if I buy up another ailing car company and see what kind of synergies that can get us.” Apparently, Waggoner has been attending Carly Fiorina’s Merger and Acquisitions seminars.

This is nothing but corporate and individual ego. Waggoner and GM’s Board dismissed an opportunity to work with an excellent CEO and two strong car companies only to offer up a bid for a weaker domestic car company. A classic case of Not Invented Here.

And do you think the unions will fail to tell GM and Chrysler to go have sex with themselves when GM comes to them with more demands for concessions? “Hey, you guys could afford to buy a partner, you can afford to pay us benefits and maintainn your legacy payments.”

Pure idiocy.

Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHO8l-Bd1O4]

So, apparently, if we drop-shipped a crate of dead Commodore 64′s, we could solve the middle east crisis.

Thanks to Todd for this video.

How I Try To Save My Life

In this article, Motorcyclist magazine compiled 50 ways to save your life when riding a motorcycle. I’m not so bright and stuff leaks out of my ears pretty quickly, so I tried to coalesce it down to a few items that I can keep in my mind. So here is my own list of things I work to focus on when I ride my motorcycle.

Check tires, oil, signals, chain and brake cables before every ride

ALWAYS wear your protective gear. Dress for an unexpected encounter with asphalt. No one ever plans to crash their bike.

Never ride angry, tired or sick. Seriously. Never.

Assume you are invisible. My two primary safety challenges are 1). My own limitations and decisions, and 2). everything from the boundary of my bike outward 360 degrees. Assuming I am invisible to other drivers, pedestrians, creatures, etc. means I anticipate dangerous situations and formulate my responses on the fly. Assuming I am invisible means I am pessimistic about the intentions and skills of other drivers.

Physics trumps right-of-way, ego and fatigue Yes, the left-turning car should have yielded the intersection to me. If I ignore rule #1 and assume the driver sees me and will yield to me, I could end up as a hood ornament. Moral victories are of little value in the hospital. Similarly, physics trumps my efforts to elevate my ego above other drivers and riders: if I exceed what is safe (conditions, my skills), at some point physics will take over from where my ego drove me. Same with fatigue.

Focus on riding. Be prepared to ride with focus from the very beginning of the ride. Most accidents happen during the first 15 minutes of a ride, below 40 mph, near an intersection or driveway.

Look ahead (far beyond the trunk of the car in front of you), evaluate, formulate and respond. Learn to balance the need to focus with the joy of the experience of riding. Your primary responsiblity is to focus on your environment and your responses to it. Fun is secondary. Eventually, you will be able to do both.

Be aware of the 70 degree wedge of threats directly in front of you. Be continually conscious of traffic placement all around you and don’t make directional changes on old information, with “old” being relative to the conditions (i.e. “old” on a deserted stretch of road can be longer than “old” on an expressway or busy road).

Approach and navigate intersections with heightened caution. Intersections are one of the most dangerous places to be in. Come to a complete stop (feet down) and look thoroughly before entering the intersection. Remember rule one when you have the right of way in the intersection.

Slow In Fast Out Know your bike’s and your limitations. It’s easier to scrub speed before entering a turn than it is once you’re already in it too hot.

Look Where You Want to Go Target fixation takes you where you want and need to be.

Rude behavior begets rude behavior If you want drivers to treat you safely and considerately, do the same with them. Rude behavior from bikes amplifies rude bahavior from car drivers.

Relax. Breathe. Be one with the bike.

Be an ambassador of good riding behavior Don’t be the reason why car drivers hate motorcyclists. Help create a positive image of riding with considerate, safe behavior. Err on the side of being overly considerate.

Take time to frequently build your skills. Practice panic stops. Make sure you ride with two fingers on the brake. Take riding skills classes regularly. Learn the good and the bad from other riders’ techniques.

Legally Blonde Review and Other Comments

After seeing Rent and Les Miserables (which makes you miserable), I decided I was soover going to musicals with Tanya. Done, done, done. Hate them. I told her it wasn’t worth me going to a musical on a $70 ticket because I wouldn’t enjoy it and in my immaturity, I would pout and piss all over the evening. Eventually, she gave in and went to musicals with her friends.

Then I saw Urinetown. There was something that sounded appealing to me about it and I decided to go with her. It ended up being one of my favorite “plays” because it was irreverent, funny and didn’t take itself seriously.

Which is a big part of why I hate musicals. They seem contrived to me. The songs seem to be all forged out of the same stale formulas about how show tunes should sound and I’ve always felt that people who can’t write good dialog end up putting shitty lyrics to crappy music and write it off as a musical. And don’t even get me started on Rent’s and Les Miz’s insistence on signing every fricking word of “dialogue” in the play. And and and… Andrew Lloyd Webber has penned some ofthe pukiest, dankest music ever to grate on human ears. Total vomit.

But Urinetown gave me a small hope that if there were musicals other than the classics and something other than an AIDS awarness vehicle, I might possibly be interested.

Last night’s Legally Blonde musical was excellent. It was funny, it didn’t take itself seriously at all and the music, for the most part, was fantastic. It occasionally resorted to weak musical formulas but for the most part, the music was solid and the intstrumentalists played solid stuff (drums, bass, guitar and brass mostly).

Plus, you can’t argue with watching a bunch of beautiful girls dance.

Just about everyone in the cast had stellar talent. Strong voices that didn’t fade or distort and the women had amazing dance chops. When I say “dance” I don’t mean dancing dancing. I mean the routines and choreography were cool. I’m used to seeing theater casts at the Wharton, which seems to book third and fourth tier performers. Last nights show in The City (San Francisco) was definitely top shelf talent.

OK and so the gay thing hit me in the face for the first time. It was amazing to me to see so many gay couples there. It was weird to imagine one guy calling up another and saying, “Hey Bradley, let’s go see Legally Blonde on Valentines Day…” And then there was the dad, mom and teenage son sitting next to each other, with the son sitting next to his mom. Uh huh. We can predict where this is headed. At intermission, I watched the family get up and Tanya leaned over and whispered, “I know exactly what you’re thinking.” Yup. I’m transparent.

It was also our anniversary yesterday. Nine years. Amazing. We are at a phase right now where we are under a lot of pressure with the move because we are in a new place, things aren’t what we entirely want, work is challenging for the wrong reasons and we left all our friends behind. There’s a huge upside to the move but the downsides are the kind that pop you between the eyes every once in a while.

Legally Blonde Musical

Ok so the show is about to start. Two rows in front of me are two guys sitting together. In the row in front of them is a man, a woman and their son. Mom and son are sitting together. Draw your own conclusions

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Sent from my mobile device.
Please excuse any typos.

Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is the practice of riding your motorcycle between lanes of traffic. It is legal in California and is one of the most insane acts one can regularly witness on the road. As one web page describes it, “Being aware of the lethal danger you’re in and simultaneously ignoring it is a requirement of lane-splitting. This ability is composed of experience, guts and self confidence.”

The author forgot the adjective stupid.

I rode my motorcycle into work today and I was passed by two motorcycle riders who were lane splitting. Typically, on low-velocity roads, lane splitting is done when traffic is stopped so the rider can get to the front of the line at a traffic light. Even as a motorcyclist, it irks me when bike riders cut to the front of the line by splitting lanes. And if it irks me, you know for sure it annoys other drivers. And annoyed drivers who feel taken advantage of may not give a bike rider the benefit of the doubt when they see him in their mirrors.

In any given area of population, the number of angry/insane/inattentive/unqualified drivers is directly proportional to the area’s population density. Consequently, lane splitting in Napa Valley could be relatively safe; doing so on 101 on the way toSan Fran or on El Camino Real (the road I take on the way into work) is not such a great idea.

It felt weird to be the only motorcycle on El Camino Real this morning that was staying in line with the rest of traffic.

No wonder people hate motorcyclists. We bring it on ourselves.

Garmin C330 Portable GPS Nav

The other day, I went into San Jose for a hair cut. Not only was the “salon” recommended to me but it was one of the few/only places I found that had “reasonable” charges for a haircut: how about $40 for a guy’s cut?! Aveda salons charge $60 and up for a simple haircut. Craziness.

On my way back, I exited off 280 on the N.Wolfe exit but turned north instead of south. I was kinda bee-bopping along, listening to DMB at a sound level unhealthy for a 40 year old man who is already deaf in one ear. For this reason, I didn’t notice that I was heading in territory I didn’t recognize. After a while, I realized, hey, where the hell am I?

Still thinking I was running south, I made all kinds of turns on roads I thought were familiar. At one point, Tanya called me to let me know she was running late from work and I said, “So am I! I’m so fucking lost!” When she asked where I was, I told her that I was so lost I didn’t even have a guess where I was at. She laughed at me lovingly encouraged me to persevere and offered to help guide me home when she was able to get Google maps up on her computer. Yeah, eh. I’m going to circle around the valley like a stacked jet at O’Hare trying to get landing strip time during a fricking snow storm. Lovely.

So, I finally pulled over in a mall and used my Treo to get maps from Google and Windows Live. The Google maps were worthless on a mobile phone. Too small. Live maps are good sizes on a mobile phone but their approach to querying is queer-y. They want you to use a location that is “near” some other location. You can’t give it a real address and get directions simply. I ended up using an intersection as my starting point and it gave me good directions home. As you might expect, the directions were simple and I was an idiot for getting lost and feeling like I was buried deep in the north valley. In truth, I was only about 6 blocks off.

Oy!

So, yesterday I picked up the Garmin C330 portable auto GPS nav. The portable design allows both of us to use it in our cars, though since Tanya has a sickeningly intuitive and accurate sense of direction, she probably won’t use it much (I hate her – I should’ve married a dumb blonde so I can look smarter). But I had a business dinner in Sunnyvale last night. I followed Scott there but just to test the GPS, I turned it on for the trip.

I didn’t know the address of the restaurant but I did know its name: Tao Tao’s. So I entered in Tao Tao and badda boom, it gives me the address and the phone number! Schwing. Scott knows the valley exceptionally well, and he picked the exact same route the GPS did. The GPS directions were spot on. It tells you when to get into the left or right lane, gives you lots of warning and is silent during long stretches without direction changes. I don’t know why this impressed me. Did I think it was going to say something like, “You’re doing great. Just keep going straight. … Yup, still going straight…. Very nice straight driving. Keep doing that until I tell you to turn….”

It was cool coming home because I didn’t know where I was. I had already programmed our address into it and stored it as HOME so I pushed the Home button and she directed me right home.

Cool daddy-o.

This afternoon, I was hungry for Quiznos. On a whim, I entered in QUIZNOS and got a directory of the restaurants. I picked the next-to-the-closest one because how fun is it to go to one that is easy to get to? Again, flawless navigation.

I’m very happy with this GPS nav unit so far. It puts me on level ground with Tanya, that wife of mine who gets perfect scores on driving license tests and who never gets lost.

Sigh.