July 23, 2013

Superman/Batman Movie

Yes, this movie is happening and if they're wise they should definitely grab plot points from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.  An older, darker, grouchier Batman against a morally weakened, puppetized man of steel? That would be great, at least in concept. DC has a history of ruining their movies, and their Superman track record isn't great either, but I give this high hopes for succeeding. The comics are fan favorites and the movie should do well. Looking forward to hearing more about this.

July 22, 2013

The Night Gwen Stacy Died

For Spider-Man fans, a new twist: a novel which uses Peter Parker's life as a rough outline then alters it to place it in the real world and with slightly different characters. Peter's still there, but he's not a superhero. Thus, no costume, no webbing, no super-villains. Gwen Stacy's not in the book either except in the guise of Peter's new girlfriend who adopts and begins using the name. Oh, and Peter's a cab driver with a bit of precognition going on. Think of this as a real-world novel with a guy named Peter Parker who seems awfully familiar.  Worth a read.

July 19, 2013

Microsoft Surface - coming to a clearance sale near you?

CNET recently published a story about Microsoft Surface and it's problems gaining traction.  In my opinion they've gotten it all wrong. CNET mentions that the lighthearted dancing ads was inappropriately themed for a device aimed at the business crowd. While that is a viable opinion, my take is that's exactly why they did it. They wanted to show a device that could replace your laptop, could do real work, but was also fun. The whole enchilada. They took a chance. Instead of showing staid suitly-clad businessmen on their way to the boardroom they showed young hipsters dancing in the conference room. If you're trying to make a product look cool, this was a good attempt.

The story also declares that Steve Jobs wouldn't have done this, and that's why Apple is far ahead of the game and Microsoft is...Microsoft. Yet, while the iPad was marketed primarily as an entertainment and consumption device there's no denying it has slipped in through the back door of many companies and it can do real work. Later ads have shown it being used in the fields of music, architecture and medicine. But what ads are they best known for? The silhouetted dancers. So now I wonder why Microsoft tried that tactic?

July 16, 2013

Google Reader

Google reader was put to rest on July 1, Google seeing fit to sunset a product that was obviously loved by many. It seems like one by one some of our favorite longstanding products don't pass muster anymore and despite our objections that they're still perfectly usable get banished to some archive like a blog you've forgotten or your Myspace page.

It does seem as if Google underestimated how popular this product was. They have tons of data at their disposal and thus should know exactly how often it was being used, yet their initial reasoning that Reader use was declining doesn't seem to hold much water. If that were so then people would scarcely look up when they read the announcement. They'd be too consumed by the newer tools they were using, too busy to care about a tool they'd long forgotten, as Google suggested. Instead what they were presented with was something of a backlash, a cry for help, or many cries at once.

 It was almost as if hundreds of voices cried out at once -- Ben Kenobi

One by one the news stories were filed first by technology blogs then mainstream press alike. And they weren't just reporting the facts, they were lamenting them and the departure of a tool they used every day. Every. Day. Does that sound like a tool that's use is declining and dying?

Gigaom does a good job of chronicling some of the reasons Google pulled the plug and the most interesting/compelling reason is because it was too open. That's right: too open. With competition from Facebook and Twitter each building their own ecosystems which are essentially walled gardens Google felt the need to build their own which is how we got Google+. While Gigaom correctly points this out, they also state that the underlying technology responsible for this openness, RSS, isn't going anywhere and can still be used with a different reader. What they didn't point out was how much power Google has to affect this as well: they own Blogger as well as other web site creation and hosting tools like Google Sites. What if someday Google decides to not support RSS at all? Imagine every Blogger site's RSS feed broken for good. Or imagine the Chrome browser not supporting RSS and somehow not playing nice with sites like Feedly. It wouldn't be the first time a major player has dropped support for a technology, as evidenced by the broken Flash-enabled web pages on Apple devices.  Its unlikely Google would do this, but if they don't want their content being automatically pulled into Feedly or the new Digg reader then its a step they could take. All the while making it extremely easy to automatically pull that data and share it using Google+.