Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oral cancer kills 1 person every hour

Trent White & Ryan Pratt

One of my best friends, Trent White, recently lost a hard-fought battle with cancer. He was 28 years old.

Eight months earlier, in November of 2011, Trent was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Oral Tongue. He didn't smoke, chew tobacco, or have any known reason to have this disease. Oral cancer has existed outside the awareness of much of the public, yet it will take one life, every hour of every day in the United States.

Help me promote oral cancer awareness and donate to the Oral Cancer Foundation in Trent's honor by clicking the "Support Me" button here. Thank you for joining us in the fight to end oral cancer.

Trent and I didn't get to see each other as much as we would've liked. But we could always count on seeing each other every summer at my family cottages in Nut Ridge, NY. And we always made the most of it.

Even if it was just a long weekend, we always squeezed in as much as we could. A day in Nut Ridge with Trent usually looked something like this: a morning hike (where we inevitably ended up axing down a tree or shot-putting boulders off a waterfall); an afternoon of boating, skiing, wakeboarding, and tube wars (where 3 of us would get on our own raft behind a boat and literally battle like Gladiators until someone fell off -- or their shorts did -- which often didn't stop Trent); and then the occasional 9 holes of "golf" (where we usually just ended up drinking beer and racing golf carts with our shirts off).

Then after an evening feast -- and I do mean feast, Trent would single-handedly crush an entire 8-pack of hot dogs -- after an evening feast, we always ended up sitting around the campfire talking and telling stories.

Just last summer, someone decided we should each tell our "CRAZIEST" story. I think I may have gone first, then maybe Mike, Nat, Ally, Russ, and then we got to Trent.

Trent's story was indeed crazy. Let's just say no one else told a story after Trent. If you really want to hear it -- and have at least an hour to spare -- ask me about it sometime.

It would take weeks to tell you all the wild, hilarious, insane, amazing, unbelievable, inspiring, incredible, and crazy stories about Trent and his antics -- someday I might even write a full-length action-adventure romantic-comedy about him -- but for now this montage of photos and videos from friends & family will hold its place.

This is just a glimpse of the amazing life of Trent White:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Top 10 commercials of 2012

The year's not over yet. But it's nearing quickly. Which means it will soon be time for best-of-the-year lists to appear on all your favorite magazines, shows, and blogs. And if you thought I fell off that wagon, you were wrong. I am, and will always be, a lister.

My first top ten list in the series of "Best of 2012" is of TV commercials.

There have been a lot of great ads this year -- from Charlie Sheen, Bud Light, and Doritos during the Super Bowl; through a younger, hipper award season; to the more traditional holiday favorites -- but only these ten made the list for 2012 (so far):

1. The Dog Strikes Back (Volkswagen)

2. Man's Best Friend (Suburu)

3. Counts (Nike)

4. Star Wars Fantasy Football (ESPN)

5. iPad Mini Heart and Soul (Apple)

6. Sousaphone (Hyundai)

7. The Next Big Things (Samsung)

8. Transactions (Acura)

9. Accurate. Deadly. Dependable. (Hornady)

10. Don't Tell Mom (Hyundai)

Watch them all here along with some honorable mentions:

Did I miss any? What's your favorite commercial of the year? Leave your suggestions in the comments below:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

4K is the new 1080p. Ultra HD explained.

4K is the next generation of high-definition video. And if you think HDTV is high-def enough? Wait until you see Ultra High-Def TV!

4k is now officially "Ultra HD". But to officially qualify as Ultra HD, a display needs to have a resolution of at least 3,840 pixels horizontally and at least 2,160 pixels vertically. To put it simply, a 4K image has more than 4 times as many pixels as a standard 1080p HD image.

However, resolution isn't everything. Many other screen technologies (contrast, brightness, etc.) and viewing distances must be considered. For most displays under 50-inches, our current 1080p displays in our current living room setups are near "retina display" quality. Retina Display is a term coined by Apple to define a resolution where the human eye cannot resolve individual pixels at a typical viewing distance.

But for bigger displays (and bigger is always better), Ultra HD is like looking through a window on your wall. It's huge, and it's incredible.

Unfortunately, as with all new things, it's an unattainable technology for most consumers.

Right now, only three brands even offer 4K "Ultra High Definition" displays: Sony, LG, and Toshiba. And all three are extremely expensive.

LG's "Ultra High Definition" TV is an 84-inch display that will cost you $20,000. Sony's is the same size. but even more expensive at $25,000. And Toshiba's "Quad Full HD" TVs currently come in two sizes -- 55-inch and 84-inch -- at similarly high prices.

But even if you could afford these TVs, there's not much content out there in the 4K ultra high-def format. Of course you could always upscale Blu-rays or HDTV and it would look fine. Or you could shoot the footage yourself using a 4K-capable camera (i.e. the new GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition). But unless you can somehow get your hands on the 4K content produced mainly for commercial movie theaters, you're SOL.

However, just like HD and 3D, this technology will become more affordable and the content more mainstream. But unlike 3D, this is no gimmick. 4K is the inevitable future of television and film. And before long, Ultra HD will be the norm.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Top 10 high-speed, slow-mo cameras

So I have just recently been introduced to "The Slow Mo Guys" on YouTube.

And now, of course, I want a high-speed, slow-motion camera. And so, of course, I started doing some research.

But surprisingly, there wasn't a whole lot of information about this on the web. I Googled for days with minimal results. I asked Siri and to noone's surprise she hadn't a clue. I found a forum on Vimeo, another on CNET, and handful of individual camera reviews. Then finally, nearly two weeks later, I came to the following conclusion:

You don't need a Phantom v1610 high-speed camera capable of 1,000,000fps to capture and create great slow-motion video.

All you really need is a camera capable of 60fps to 120fps and after-effects software like Twixtor to "speed up, slow down or frame rate convert your image sequences with visually stunning results."

Though it would awesome to own one of these first two, extremely-expensive, thousands-of-dollars-just-to-rent, high-speed cameras -- the last 7 in this top 10 list are much more affordable consumer cameras perfectly capable of producing slow-motion videos:
  1. Phantom v1610
  2. Red One
  3. Canon EOS 5D Mark ii/iii
  4. GoPro Hero3
  5. Casio EX-FH100
  7. Panasonic AG-AC160
  8. Sony NEX5/7
  9. Casio EX-ZR300WE
  10. Sony HDR-HC9
Did I miss any? If so, let me know in the comments below.

Update: Instead of spending thousands of dollars on one do-it-all camera like the Canon EOS 5D Mark 3, I decided to buy the Sony NEX 5-R and the new GoPro Hero3 Black Edition. Between the two they can do just about everything I want from a camera, including: portraits, action shots, landscapes, night sky, underwater, and, of course, slow-motion video.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Top 10 ways to connect with millennials

If you're looking for a way to connect with the millennial generation, social networks are the best source to find those "kids" and build meaningful relationships with them. Try interacting with them via:
  1. FacebookWith over 1 billion active users and more than 42 million pages with 10 or more likes, Facebook is the perfect place to connect with MBAs. Your company/product/school should have its own Facebook page that millennials can “like” and get daily updates on relevant news and events. By creating an official Facebook page, you can easily reach a self-selected audience who is actually interested in what you have to say.
  2. TwitterTwitter is a proven marketing tool and an effective outreach device. Many companies have a presence on Twitter. And some even have multiple accounts, including an entire product-oriented presence. Millennials are already using Twitter to communicate, research, promote and personally brand themselves – you should be doing the same for your company's/product's brand. Take a moment each day to tweet about something relevant or interesting.
  3. LinkedInWhere Facebook is considered a more personal space, LinkedIn has been defined as the “professional” social network. Use LinkedIn to connect with working millennials with money to spend. You should not only create a LinkedIn group for your company's employees, but also create subgroups for each product's users/experts to better connect (and stay connected) with your customers.
  4. Google+Google+ is the fastest growing social network ever, already with 90+ million users. And it’s critical to Google’s new “social” search algorithm. Create an customer-facing company “page” now and start adding your customers, users and fans to your “circles” (Google+ pages are different than personal accounts in that you can’t add people to your circles until they’ve added you). Once your Google+ page has been created you can advertise it to millennials just like any other social network.
  5. YouTube / VimeoVideos are 53 times more likely to appear in search than text webpages. So if you are trying to connect with millennials organically through search, YouTube might just the best way to do so. Need content ideas? Try helpful tips from users or how-to videos for your products.
  6. BlogsYou are probably already blogging, but if not, you should be! A blog is the easiest way to get information on the internet for your audiences to find. And comments on blogs are the easiest way to start a conversation with those audiences. If you don’t already have a blog built into your website, you can start one for free on Blogger or Wordpress. Then start posting any news or commentary that you think millennials might find interesting, relevant and timely. Your company's blog is also a great way to promote your new products to millennials doing research on the web.
  7. Instagram: This photo sharing network is an easy way to post a picture worth 1,000 words. Find the most artistic person with an iPhone or Droid in your office and create an account on Instagram for your company. Post pictures of goings-on around the office, product details, or people using your products to pique interest in your company. Instagram is the new Flickr.
  8. PinterestPinterest is the hot new social network, and it’s dominated by women. Create some boards around “Women", “Fashion”, and “Style” to connect with the female millennials.
  9. FoursquareMake sure your company is available for “Check Ins” on Foursquare. It’s an easy way for millennials to advertise for you by showing their friends where they've been and leaving tips for future visitors/customers.
  10. TumblrIt’s the new way to blog. The best Tumblr blogs have a niche theme, so pick something simple like “Our Customers” or the newest internet meme and twist it to something your customers might find interesting or funny.
For more information on connecting with the millennial generation, please contact me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

iDo: the top 10 best wedding apps for iOS

Well, I finally popped the question. And yes, she said "yes!"

And now, just days later, we're waist deep in wedding planning.

But we're millennials, so we didn't go to the bookstore and pick up magazines, nor did we check the yellow pages for wedding planners and venues. Instead, we got an app for that. Actually, apps, plural. And there are plenty to choose from -- but here are the top ten:
  1. Appy Couple: Appy Couple is simply the most stylish way to share your wedding with guests. Appy Couple makes the journey from engagement to honeymoon and beyond even more chic, social, and fun. Once you have your app set up, your guests simply download Appy Couple and sign in to your wedding to find out everything they need to know about your big day.
  2. Pinterest: Pinterest is where you can dream about, plan, and prepare for the things you want to do in your life, including and especially your wedding! Whether it's vacation plans, new gadgets, favorite recipes, fashion, the latest home decor, or your wedding, Pinterest is an easy way for you to make the most of it. Quickly and easily save and organize your inspirations with this iPhone or iPad app.
  3. The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner: The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner has the features couples love -- and need -- most, including: counting down the days to your wedding; the ultimate wedding checklist; budgeting and tracking payments with an easy-to-use budget tool; browsing through 1000s of wedding dresses; and browsing 1000+ of ideas for cakes, decor, hairstyles and more!
  4. Wedding Countdown: Getting married is one of the biggest milestones in life is and surely worth anticipating! Wedding Countdown is a highly customizable countdown app that lets you look forward to your wedding day.
  5. Destination Weddings & Honeymoons: Find ideas and expert advice from the leading bridal magazine devoted exclusively to romantic travel and weddings away. 
  6. Wedding Budget: This app is a necessary tool for today's bride and groom to set up their wedding budget, keep track of expenses and shows a clear view of over/under budget status. You can easily adjust budget of each wedding component as planning goes along.
  7. Wedding Scan: WeddingScan is an intuitive wedding registry application that allows you to register for any item, at any store simply by scanning a product’s barcode with the WeddingScan iPhone app. If a product doesn't have a barcode, WeddingScan allows you to take a picture of it and add a brief description.
  8. Fun Wedding: So you want a fun and memorable wedding reception? Ensure your guests have the time of their life with incredible music that keeps the dance floor packed! Not your typical boring music lists, Fun Wedding gives you access to 19 unique music charts updated monthly from millions of actual song requests made through the DJ Intelligence® request system at real wedding receptions around the world. 
  9. Wedding Flowers Moodboard: The Wedding Flowers Moodboard App, helps you create the image you want for your wedding bouquet. The app takes you through a large selection of images and tips to help you choose the shape of your bouquet, the style, the colour and also looks at the season your wedding is going to take place. You are able to select the photo’s you like and add them to your moodboard, adding notes as you go. You can also take your own photo’s and add them to your moodboard directly. Show your Moodboard to your friends, your florist or your wedding planner. 
  10. Wedding Dash: Take a moment to relax and forget about the real wedding to play a game where you plan ultimate dream weddings for picky brides and grooms! Help Quinn launch her fledgling wedding planning business, starting with simple backyard weddings and advancing to elegant ballroom receptions. Choose all the details, manage comical disasters, and keep guests happy – or risk the wrath of Bridezilla!
Are there any I missed? Add them in the comments below:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Proposal: @RyanPratt & @AllyTaulbee's love story

Christmas 2009.

Ryan Pratt and Ally Taulbee fell in love on Christmas Day, 2009.

But their love story starts long before that day...

Ryan and Ally's lives came together like a fateful movie -- at times a hopeless drama and simultaneously a romantic comedy. There were a few tears but mostly laughs. Some good times, some bad. But some memorable, movie-like moments always brought them back together.

In the Winter of 2001, Ally and Ryan locked eyes at opposite ends of the long golden hallway just outside the purple gymnasium at Jackson High School. They didn't speak. But it didn't matter. It was a typical high school romance.

Then one Saturday morning in the Fall of 2005, Ryan and Ally locked eyes once again. This time just outside the Starbucks on North High. Though basically strangers at the time, their embrace felt more like that of two long lost lovers in a classic 50s film. Her warmups were a brilliant scarlet on grey film.

Then there was the notorious strip beer pong tournament in the basement of Ryan's house on Lane Ave during the summer of 2006. Ally won. And Ryan lost. It was college.

In the summer of 2007, Ryan met Ally at Lido's on North High for drinks. Her best friend was bar tending. Ryan showed off. Ally giggled. And to this day that is all they remember. It was college, the sequel.

The following year, Ally and Ryan spent a hot summer day in the lagoon-style pool at The Barn in Dublin, Ohio. Ryan sat on the shallow brick edge as Ally hung on his dangling legs. Their conversation drowned out the DJ by the bar. It could have been a scene from Gatsby.

In 2008, Ally and Ryan spent their first holiday weekend together watching a Christmas movie marathon, which included Home Alone, Scrooged, Elf, Fred Claus, The Santa Clause, and, of course, Die Hard. He surprised her with a Horton Hears a Who DVD and stuffed elephant.

2009 was their first "official" Christmas together. They had been "going steady" for only a few short months, but they were already madly in love. Ally's family spent the week in NYC and Ryan was in Canton. But they "celebrated" the weekend before and exchanged 143 texts on Christmas Day.

On New Year's Eve, Ryan called Ally from the dark street outside a bar in Cincinnati. Ally was on the beach in California pre-gaming for her march in the Rose Bowl parade. As the clock struck twelve, Ryan proposed to Ally for the first time. It was more-so a drunken declaration of love than a marriage proposal -- but even then he meant every word.

By 2010, they were inseparable, and spent those holidays traveling together to each other's family homes. Ryan was already plotting the official proposal.

In 2011, Ally moved her dresses into Ryan's closet. Cali and Barley became sisters. And that December, they bought their first Christmas tree together.

By the summer 2012, he could not wait another moment. On July 2nd, he went to Jared's. It was a secret to everyone but his two best friends. He walked out with the perfect gift and a grin from ear-to-ear. Ironically, later that night, she wept on his shoulder, wondering if he was ever going to propose. It was the only secret he ever kept.

On July 10th, he bought a fake Christmas tree online. Two days later that tree arrived at the door. Ally teased, "What is it? It's too big to be a ring!" Ryan lied as he stuffed the box on the top shelf in the garage, high above Ally's reach, "Just a little surprise for Nut Ridge babe."

On July 23rd, the ring arrived. It was a special order, designed online, a perfect 1.43 carat princess cut diamond. 143, a numerical expression of "I Love You" -- three numbers that followed them everywhere.

On the morning of July 24th, they left for work together -- but Ryan had other plans. He went to the store instead. Ensuring she'd come straight home after work, he lied one last time, saying his sister was in town for dinner. But Ryan wasn't at the store for lasagna noodles, instead he picked up a "Christmas" ham, pine scented candles, and 3 rolls of red, white and green wrapping paper. He returned home, pulled the boxes from the garage, and began decorating. By 3pm, the house was covered in lights, inside and out. And he'd even wrapped the presents. The ham was in the oven, the candles were lit, and the gifts surrounded the tree.

One small red box with a white bow stood out from the others.

Watch the entire proposal:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

John Carter (almost) flops. Marketing (still) to blame.

Disney's marketing team is fully to blame for what was almost one of the biggest box office flops in film history, John Carter.

Not only is John Carter a decent movie, it's a great movie. While the overall consensus of the film today is somewhat negative (52% on RottenTomatoes), early reviews built promising buzz. The negative reviews came later in its life. And I'm here to defend it from those bandwagon haters.

Though I can agree the film is a little slow to start (yet needed for the payoff in the final scene), the ambitious alien adventure that ensues is truly action-packed and at-times hilarious. I didn't just NTN, I literally LOL'd at parts. It's a perfect blend of action, romance, science-fiction, comedy, aliens, heroes, and princesses. And, ironically, this fun-for-all-ages-damsel-in-distress story is what Disney's story-sellers failed to tell.

From day one I was interested in John Carter, but I had done my research and already watched the complete Tim Riggins saga -- twice. Those who weren't yet Taylor Kitsch fans, and didn't know about  the Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels, still needed to be sold.

Disney can only blame themselves for the near $200 million loss. Disney's former chairman Rich Ross (fired following the flop) couldn't have been more wrong when he said "the film failed to connect with audiences." Nobody even met John Carter, how could they connect? The empty theater seats were a direct result of Disney's inability to promote the film's premise to audiences.

It's not just "John Carter" -- it's "John Carter: Princess of Mars." By changing the title of the film and not including "mars" or "princess" -- thereby removing both the sci-fi and romance from its very name -- most movie-goers just assumed it to be about some Star-Wars-Episode-2-like-desert-arena-monster-battle that Disney's marketing team became laser-focused on. So who can blame women and families for buying tickets to see "The Lorax" instead?

But the real shame is that those of us who whole-heartedly enjoyed the delightfully-fun film and its three-dimensional special effects -- and there were plenty of us, 126 positive user reviews out of 163 on MetaCritic -- may never get the sequel, or the trilogy, we desire.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Google Wave was the next big thing

Do you remember Google Wave?

You probably don't. But Google Wave was supposed to be the next big thing in social networking. So why should we believe that Google+ will be?

I think the answer is: we shouldn't.

Despite the stats toting it as "the fastest growing social network ever," Google is merely playing catch-up. At least Google Wave was innovative. It was a totally new concept on sharing and collaborating. Google+ is just a combination of Twitter and Facebook. It's really nothing new. And it fails to help us with any problems or needs that Facebook and Twitter don't already solve.

So be cautious. The stats are misleading. And largely inflated by Google+'s integration with its new social search algorithm. Google+ may not die as suddenly as Google Wave but it will never be "the next big thing."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Forget cursive handwriting. Teach kids HTML.

Cursive vs. HTML

It's not like we still make kids learn how to write cuneiform. And the last time humans used hieroglyphics was 394 CE. So isn't it time to stop teaching kids cursive handwriting and start making HTML a mandatory language in grade school?

It doesn't have to be complicated programming, just start with some simple href's, div's and br's. By the time kids can write a paragraph they should be able to create a simple blog post sans WYSIWYG editor. Then offer optional, more-complicated courses in high school. After all, it's something they'll actually use when they grow up.

I can't even tell you the last time I hand-printed anything longer than a post-it note. Everything is digital today. Even newspapers, an ancient dying media, are printed with digital fonts. So what purpose do cursive handwriting lessons serve to better our youth? By the time this generation joins the workforce, there may not even be paper to write on (despite HP's best effort to prove its need).

Coding and programming -- especially HTML and HTML5 -- are the language of the future. So why not prepare our future for the digital tomorrow?

Just "new" it

Just new it
Please don't change it. Just "new" it.
Everybody hates change (Facebook's user interface updates, Google's social search, McDonalds' new fry oil, Star Wars special edition) but everyone loves something "new" (Apple's new iPad, Wendy's fries with sea salt, Nolan's The Dark Knight). It's the key to product updates.

But, honestly, there isn't any difference between a new product and a changed product. It's all in the packaging. Not the physical packaging, but the marketing.

The way a product is branded by marketing will inevitably create the consumer perception of the product's update. If marketing can create a "new" perception of the product, like the always brilliant product marketers at Apple did with the iPad 3, consumers will buy in. It's much more difficult to sell a product that's just "changed."

Just think about it. What are some other "new" products that were well-received by consumers, and some poorly-received product changes? Add them in the comments below or Tweet them at me @RyanPratt.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

25 Twitter Do's and Dont's

Twitter Commandments

Unlike Facebook and many other closely monitored social media outlets, Twitter is a lawless community where anyone can post anything. And while some people take advantage of that wild-west-ish world for spam and other unruly or exotic calls-to-action, many of you are just looking for some general guidelines to tweet by and/or tips for growing your network. For those of you that fall into the latter category, here are twenty-five do's and don't for Twitter:

  1. DON'T Complain about work. 
  2. DON'T Tweet about religion.
  3. DON'T Tweet about politics.
  4. DON'T Be afraid to express your opinions.
  5. DON'T Be too personal or negative.
  6. DON'T Repeatedly post the same link or tweet. 
  7. DON'T Abuse trending topics or hashtags. 
  8. DON'T Over sell your own stuff.
  9. DON'T Over share your own stuff.
  10. DON'T Post more than one #FF per Friday.
  11. DON'T Use corporate rhetoric and jargon.
  12. DON'T Exceed five tweets per day. 
  13. DON'T Post a picture you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the newspaper.
  14. DON'T Post similar messages over multiple accounts.
  15. DON'T Say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face or to a TV camera.
  16. DON'T Publicly mention and thank everyone who follows you.
  17. DON'T Follow someone today and unfollow them tomorrow.
  18. DON'T Send automated/scheduled tweets and replies. 
  19. DON'T Just post a URL with no supporting text.
  20. DON'T Follow more than 25 new people at once.
  21. DON'T Follow hundreds of people at once and remove all who don’t follow you back.
  22. DON'T Send a canned direct message whenever someone new follows you or your company.
  23. DON'T Make your account settings private.
  24. DON'T Be guilty of the self-congratulatory retweet.
  25. DON'T Forget to reply to mentions.

  1. DO Complete your profile.
  2. DO Add a picture of your face or logo.
  3. DO Have a sense of humor and be funny.
  4. DO Follow hashtags (#) when attending events/webinars.
  5. DO Collect people’s Twitter names just like you do phone numbers and email addresses.
  6. DO Create hashtags (#) for your own events.
  7. DO Promote new tools/resources.
  8. DO Establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
  9. DO Follow thought leaders and bloggers in your industry.
  10. DO Follow people your followers are following.
  11. DO Follow people suggested in #FF (Follow Friday) tweets. 
  12. DO Make your Twitter usernames easy to find.
  13. DO Make your tweets useful resources so people need you.
  14. DO Interact with those people you follow who don’t follow you back yet.
  15. DO Use the “Favorites” feature as a list of testimonials.
  16. DO Link to your own resources/articles as well as others.
  17. DO Direct Message people instead of sending them an email.
  18. DO Develop relationships with reporters, bloggers and other media people through Twitter.
  19. DO Respond to concerns people tweet about you, your company or products.
  20. DO Use your company account to update customers as well as prospects.
  21. DO Be sure to follow back everyone who follows your Company Account.
  22. DO Integrate your Twitter efforts with your other marketing initiatives.
  23. DO Follow the celebrities you’d want to be friends with, the newspapers you read, the products you use, the restaurants you eat at, the designers you wear, and the athletes you root for.
  24. DO Tweet at your favorite celebs and people you don't personally know.
  25. DO Follow @RyanPratt ;)
Mention or direct message me if you have any questions, comments, additions, or concerns.

Trive Drew

Have you seen WALL-E? Well with my next great idea I will single-handedly create that disgusting world of thousands of fatasses floating around in fully automized Lazy-boys, because I want to create the ultimate drive-thru.

The ultimate drive-thru, or Trive Drew, is six full-service drive thrus in one. Need a hamburger? Order from the fast food window. Want a 6-pack of Bud Light? Just show 'em your ID. Thinking ahead? Order some Krispy Kremes for tomorrow morning. Need a refill on your diabetes medicine? Just pull through the pharmacy. No rain in the forecast? Get your car washed. Order the latest Blu-ray online? Just have your receipt ready.

The Trive Drew - Everything you need. Never leave your car.

Oh, it looks good!

If you haven't seen this quick clip from Conan O'Brien you need to -- it's hilarious! But beyond that, there's actually a very valuable lesson to be learned.

Despite being an editor for two years of my life -- constantly changing and tweaking content for the better, always redrawing the line between perfection and deadlines -- I have finally learned the secret to life is a simple phrase: "Looks good!"

Those two words can have so many positive effects on your life, whether it be in relationships with friends and loved ones, success at the workplace, or on your own personal self-esteem. Instead of always critiquing yourself and others, just simply say, "Oh, it looks good!"
  • What do you think of this report? "Looks good!"
  • Do you think we need to make any changes? "Looks good!"
  • How does my butt look in these pants? "Looks good!"
Now don't thank me, thank Conan!

Here is the full clip and origin of the Captain America "Looks good" sketch:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Celebrities using Siri

Celebrities Using Siri

You may have noticed a few new Apple advertisements promoting Siri -- no big news -- but the fact that these ads include some of the biggest names and faces in showbiz is. Though Apple products have always been for the "cool" kids, it has never needed celebrity endorsements to market its products. So what's changed?

Outside the obvious, the passing of Apple's own celebrity CEO Steve Jobs, the company has also recently posted record quarterly earnings. With new leadership, and more cash than Scrooge McDuck, the formula has most definitely changed, but the expectations for results have not. And Siri hasn't exactly been the game-changer everyone expected. For many iPhone 4S owners Siri is a gimmick to show off at a party, and though a useful concept on paper, its a novelty that's rarely used. But if Apple hopes to revolutionize another product set like it did for phones (iPhone) and tablets (iPad), it is depending on Siri. And unless she becomes the next big household "name" from Cupertino, it won't.

If Apple doesn't have widespread Siri adoption by the time it unveils its television set (not to be confused with its set-top box, the AppleTV), it will have to fallback on other "innovative" features yet-to-be-named. And who knows if those will pan out?

We've already seen a few un-Jobs-like decisions seep through the cracks (i.e. the new AppleTV interface). That same day we learned that the iPad 3 was actually just the "new" iPad -- departing from the numerical product release system used in the Jobs era. And these new Siri commercials starring Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel are no different. Apple needs Sam and Zooey to sell Siri. And they'll probably need a bigger celebrity army than that. The only question now is, who do you think we'll see in the next Siri ad?

Dr Garage MD

Just as Web MD is the Dr. Gregory House of internet diagnostic tools for human health; there should be a Garage MD for diagnosing car troubles. And, there should be an app for that.

Imagine this, a web-based tool that can be accessed via a computer browser, mobile browser, or mobile app that takes all of your car's symptoms and diagnoses the problem for you. Or even better, listens to your car sounds (i.e. Shazam) and can tell you exactly what is wrong. How awesome would that be?

I honestly hope someone steals my idea and makes it happen, they don't even have to give me any credit, I just want the app to exist and work properly.

Update: But if you want to throw some cash my way I am NOT closing the door on the idea.

If you could fly...

... It wouldn't be nearly as cool as teleportation. Sure, the idea of soaring like a bird is neat. And it certainly sounds wonderful to never have to sit next to that smelly obese man on the plane, fight over the arm rest, and awkwardly squeeze by him to go to the bathroom. But teleportation is one step better.

Just think about all the time you spend travelling. On average, Americans now spend more than 100 hours per year commuting to and from work. Add to that the time you spend driving the store, movie theater, and restaurants; flying on vacation; and even the time walking to the mailbox and you begin to understand the value of quicker modes of transportation. Well nothing is faster than teleportation.

Yet, more often than not, the ability to fly beats out teleporting in super power surveys. In a recent poll by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, 16% of U.S. residents stated they'd want to fly -- while only 11% said they wished they could teleport. Millennials responded similarly, 22% and 18% respectively.

I'm not surprised. But I am disappointed. So now I am wondering, what super power would you most like to have?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why I stopped reviewing movies

Everyone's top 10 is different.

On December 20th 2011, I officially reviewed my final film. Since then, I have been asked multiple times why I quit. After 2½ years, 401 top-ten articles, and 943 attention-span-sensitive movie reviews, how can I just stop? The answer is simple: my opinion doesn't matter.

Think about how many times you've disagreed with the critics. Now think about how many times you've disagreed with your friends. How can anyone know if you'll like something -- especially some stranger who's never met you?

The truth of the matter is no one person's opinion matters, not even an expert's. My opinion doesn't matter. Richard Roeper's opinion doesn't matter. And neither does the opinion of the person sitting next to you on the couch or in the theater.

Consensus reviews and social suggestions are the future of critic recommendations. 

There's a reason why The Academy Awards have been giving out Oscars for 84 years. And it's the same reason has over two million visitors per month. The consensus opinion is the only way to fairly judge what's best and truly make a recommendation of value.

But now, in today's highly connected world of social networks and technology, not only are the reviews of those experts more easily collected and quantified into meaningful rankings, but so can the reviews from your friends. And like everything else in life, the opinions of those closest to you are the only ones that really matter.

It's why Facebook's "Like" button is so meaningful, and why those posts with the most "likes" appear at the top of your homepage. It's also why the most tweeted and retweeted topics appear on the new #Discover tab of Twitter.

Don't get me wrong, expert opinions still have their place. The experts have the time to narrow the field for us. They can see everything, find the diamonds in the rough, and direct us down the path towards the "likable." Without the experts -- plural -- we'd have no guide. But only our "friends" -- those with similar interests and opinions -- can possibly predict what we will actually "like." 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The death of news? Long live a world wide web of keywords

News isn't dead. It's just transforming with the new forms of media.

There used to just be news. It didn't come in multiple forms. In the beginning, it didn't even come from multiple sources. It used to just be word of mouth. You heard about the news from friends, family, and neighbors. It was extremely local, which in turn made it extremely interesting and extremely relevant. Any and all news was newsworthy.

Then specific news sources were created -- newspapers, followed by radio and TV, and finally the world wide web -- eventually creating a news network so vast, reaching so many, that news was no longer newsworthy.

So news was divided into sections, creating not only local and national news for specific geographic regions, but also topical sections based on human interests. These human interests became the key to delivering the most newsworthy information to the most interested audience. And so, self-selecting audiences were born. Audiences who self-selected themselves as being interested in certain topics and sections of news. It started in the form of "pass me the sports section"; which became "favorited" niche websites and blogs; and eventually became what we know today as a "Like" or a "Follow".

But today, news is not only divided into sections for specific self-selecting audiences, it's also broken down by specific keywords. These keywords are used to tag or label news with specific related terms. The entire internet is based on the relationship between these keywords. Without them, Google wouldn't be relevant, Wikipedia wouldn't be vast, Twitter wouldn't be as global, and you wouldn't end up on oranges when you started with apples. Without keywords, you not only wouldn't be able to find what you consider newsworthy, you also wouldn't discover anything new.

Today, news is all related through a interconnected web of keywords -- the world wide web of keywords. And without it, news would die.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I know.

The greatest movie quote of all-time?

"I know."

Simple. Elegant. Cool. Confident. Romantic. Sexy. Tough. Great.

And like Han Solo, that's all that needs to be said.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rebranding in the 2010s: The Netflix slash Qwikster debacle

I've experienced this myself -- when a company I worked for briefly split in two and became one company with two websites. It was a difficult decision, and even more difficult transition.

There are the obvious complications that come with re-branding a business: new logos, new colors, new business cards, new letterheads, etc. These are the same problems transitioning companies have dealt with for years. But today there is so much more to worry about.

Today, rebranding businesses have to consider the transitions in the digital world as well. 

There's website domains. Is your URL available? Or how much is it going to cost you to purchase it from that squatter?

There are SEO effects. Sure 401 redirects will combat a complete domain swap. But all the work you've done creating inbound links from other highly-ranked websites; all the research on META tags, keywords, and descriptions; and any positive effects you've received from social search (SPYW) is as worthless as having a Facebook page with zero "likes."

Which leads me to the biggest issue -- and the one that eventually put an end to Netflix's rebranding fiasco -- is the question of what to do if your handle isn't available on the social networks?

Just as there are domain squatters for URLs, there are Twitter and Facebook handle squatters. As soon as it becomes apparent any social network is the "next big thing" and opens itself up to business and companies, users sign up and sit on social network names. Heck, I'm not even squatting and I have 27 Twitter accounts and 13 Facebook usernames. But unlike URLs which have democratic companies monitoring and maintaing these domains (i.e. GoDaddy), social network handles are a ruleless wild west for name-squatting cowboys (and cowgirls).

The moment Netflix announced they were rebranding their DVD mailing service as Qwikster people jumped on net and blew up search engines with the term "Qwikster" -- which inevitably lead them to find a foul-mouthed, pot-smoking Elmo who already owned the Twitter account for @Qwikster. It was major flaw in C-suite's plan for Netflix. Something you'd expect a company as successful as Netflix to have thought of. But they didn't. And they soon lost the quickdraw gun fight with Jason Castillo (aka @Qwikster) who's since cleaned up is act a bit -- changing his profile picture to a crest and washing his mouth out with soap -- but not before single-handedly putting an end (and some bad PR) to the Netflix / Qwikster debacle. And...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Academy is out of touch with the general movie-watching public

The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) must have a sign hanging outside their door: "No wizards, witches, puppets, mutants, bridesmaids, drivers, or samurais allowed!" Because these are the films they nominated for the Best Picture Oscar this year:
  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • Hugo
  • Midnight in Paris
  • The Help
  • Moneyball
  • War Horse
  • The Tree of Life
Not only are these nine films not in the general movie-going top 10, according to the box office numbers for 2011:
  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - $381,011,219
  2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - $352,390,543
  3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - $281,287,133
  4. The Hangover Part II - $254,464,305
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - $241,071,802
  6. Fast Five - $209,837,675
  7. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - $207,533,800
  8. Cars 2 - $191,452,396
  9. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - $185,538,618
  10. Thor - $181,030,624
But they are also not in the general movie-critic's top 10. This is what RottenTomatoes currently has each of those nine films rated at (if you don't know, these percentages are based on the number of "approved" critics who gave the film a positive review):
  • The Artist - 97%
  • The Descendants - 90%
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - 46%
  • Hugo - 94%
  • Midnight in Paris - 93%
  • The Help - 76%
  • Moneyball - 95%
  • War Horse - 76%
  • The Tree of Life - 84%
And lastly, and most importantly *wink*, this is what I thought about those nine films:
  • The Artist - See-it - 10th best film of the year
  • The Descendants - See-it - 15th best film of the year
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Skip-it - outside the top 50
  • Hugo - See-it - outside the top 50
  • Midnight in Paris - Rent-it - 16th best film of the year
  • The Help - Rent-it - outside the top 50
  • Moneyball - See-it - 3rd best film of the year
  • War Horse - Skip-it - outside the top 50
  • The Tree of Life - Rent-it - 33rd best film of the year
IMHO, these are the films I thought were the 10 best of 2011, and the films the Academy should've nominated:
  1. Drive
  2. Source Code
  3. Moneyball 
  4. X-Men: First Class
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 
  6. Bridesmaids 
  7. 13 Assassins
  8. The Muppets
  9. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 
  10. The Artist 
So c'mon AMPAS, is this really how it is going to be? Is that what we, the movie-watching public has to look forward to each year? Because I couldn't care less who wins. I have no rooting interest. And no horse in the race. If you really want the tagline "Oscar-winning" to mean something to the next generation of movie-goers, you're going to have to connect with them. And posting your "no wizards, witches, puppets, mutants, bridesmaids, drivers, or samurais" nominations is not the way.

2012's Super Bowl XLVI on TV in 3-D

I recently purchased a 3D television (LG LW5600 3D LCD LED HDTV) and absolutely love it for watching 3d Blu-ray movies (i.e Thor, Captain America, Tron), but there is a definite gap in programming when it comes to TV and sports. Especially on AT&T's U-Verse, which no longer carries ESPN 3D or any networks that specialize in 3D.

But the word on the street is that NBC will be broadcasting this year's Super Bowl in 3D. I've had multiple sources tell me that DirectTV will definitely have it. And I'm hoping, somehow, U-Verse will have it as well. But I can't find a single article, or single worker at AT&T who can either confirm or deny it.

Which leads me to this blog post. If anyone has any information on this, please leave a comment. I'd love an answer by Saturday.

The Grey: the movie's deeper meaning between black & white

If you haven't seen it yet, all you need to know about the movie The Grey is that 59-year-old Liam Neeson fights off gray wolves with broken airline liquor bottles taped to his hands. But the screenplay, written by director Joe Carnahan and Ian MacKenzie Jeffers (who also wrote the book from which the movie is based), is much deeper than that. And that's where the SPOILERS begin!

Jeffers' book is titled "Ghost Walker" which all but proves my theory -- my theory that this film doesn't take place in the Alaskan wilderness, there is no plane crash, the wolves are a "test" of his faith, and Liam Neeson is already dead. 

My theory is that The Grey is purgatory.

The movie starts with John Ottway (Liam Nesson) contemplating suicide, a choice he consciously decides against -- or so we think. As the movie progresses there are three or four distinct times he could have actually died, leaving this world and entering a realm of purgatory where his faith is tested before moving on to the afterlife.

Throughout the film we also get glimpses inside Ottway's memories, including the repetitive vision of his wife lying next to him in bed, reminding him to "not be afraid" (we later learn that this is actually a hospital bed -- but can't tell which of them is sick). And we get a flashback to his job as a gray wolf assassin, protecting his fellow oil-riggers from attacks. It's a job he despises.

Jumping ahead, post-brutally-realistic plane crash, Ottway eases a victim's death by informing him to just relax, "it'll slide over you, it'll feel nice and warm." Strangely descriptive for any living soul to know without experiencing for themselves. His fellow survivors are equally curious.

Later that night the first group of gray wolves attack their "camp." Coincidentally, these are the exact predators that Ottway has become an expert on through his experiences and research for his job. The wolves continue to attack an unrealistic number of times as the days go on (something animal-rights activists are howling over), killing the survivors off one-by-one. Now it could just be that this is a Hollywood action film, but I would like to give it more credit than that. Maybe this is our first hint that these animals aren't real, the entire experience in fact is part of Ottway's "test."

And then there's Ottway's father's poem -- revealed during a deep conversation of faith, religion, and the after-life amongst the survivors:
Once more into the fray.
Into the last good fight I'll ever know.
Live and die on this day.
Live and die on this day.
I fully expected it to end with "... the grey." And when it didn't, the red flag was raised. So what is "The Grey" then? It can't just be a reference to Ottway's grey beard, can it? And grey wolves are actually "gray" wolves -- with an "A" not a "E". Which got me thinking...

Grey is the color between white and black, between life and death, between heaven and hell. The Grey is purgatory.