Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games: Let’s Get Real, Okay?

Surely, you’ve seen the video up on YouTube by Anita Sarkeesian called Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games that she fundraised on the popular Kickstarter site, yeah? You haven’t? Take some time out of your day and give this video a spin and then come back here; I’ll go ahead and wait.

Oh, you’re back? Okay.

We’re going to skate to one song and one song only, okay?

Now, if you’ve watched the video or have even heard about it, you know that in it, Anita (we’re calling her that; I’m not typing her full name out a thousand times — you know who I mean) has taken that $100,000 and put together a very, very meager video that addresses her idea that video games are a feminist’s wet dream when it comes to needing a cause to stand behind, taking a few examples from the small handful of video games that she picked specifically for this cause. Just this one. Absolutely not intentional, right?

Women in Video Games: You Can’t Open a Dialogue with Comments Disabled

Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games: Let's Get Real, Okay?I’d like to point out that the comments are disabled. Yes, Anita stated that she had a huge backlash due to what she was doing for the video and that people were angry for, it seemed, no reason. She disabled comments because they were possibly going to be negative (and, yes, she was right about that), but also because they would’ve painted truth to the portrait she was putting to canvas. A bit of research into Anita proves that not only did she take marketing classes that taught her how to do this very thing, but she actually posted links to her Kickstarter on popular “trolling” forums just to watch the flames kick up. It was all meant to paint a huge target on her back so that the trolls would do what they do best and then she could claim victim.

Yes, I believe Anita ran around antagonizing people in order to tell a sad story to people about how cruel the Internet was to her and gain favor for her Kickstarter campaign. I think these videos were meant to show she would do something with the money she earned, but I don’t, even for a minute, believe that she spent $100,000 on anything that would benefit her audience. No, in fact, I believe she confused people more.

If you’ve been reading my articles for a while or maybe followed my career through the years, I’ve had my hand in a few female empowerment gaming movements. I was never the poster girl for feminism and I’ve stated as much on one of my podcasts when this same topic came up on our show: I don’t buy into the hype. Why? Because that’s all it is. It’s a bunch of conspiracy theories birthed from truths and that gets nobody anywhere. Yes, as a woman I realize we make less on the dollar than men do for the same job and I realize we’re all still objectified and none of it is easy to swallow. I would never diminish the fact that us women have complications with equality. Never.

However, before I will ever claim I’m a feminist or a misogynist, I am a realist.

Women in Video Games: I Am a Realist

Read that a few times, and say it out loud. Let it get in your mouth and swirl it around: I am a realist. This means that I don’t need to be preached to about my self worth because I’m proving that every single day and that’s what we should be teaching our daughters. We don’t need someone making videos and pointing out that Princess Peach was a damsel in distress because — guess what — we knew that. We shouldn’t be shamed for playing the games that use the trope because we, as humans, developed it and for good reasons.

In video games, we made an actual linear story entertaining the notion that a male hero could save a female “damsel in distress” because it was the easiest to pluck up from when it came to world-renowned stories. If you pick up your book of fairy tales, any one of you will find that it is rife with these stories about how the male figure saves the female and her life of misery will be turned into one of riches and splendor. What we also find out is that there are stories about absolute urchins with hearts of gold who want to marry a princess because they can treat her right in comparison to the other arranged royalty she could marry and then they will both be rich and loved forever. These are stories. Tales that were written in a time when it was what every young boy and girl wanted: to be rescued.

Women in Video Games: Rescue Me

Let’s be honest, ladies and gents: shit was bleak back then. Nobody had the freedom they do now and stories used to reflect what it was like for a soldier to come home from battle to his “princess” and know he fought the good fight for her. That’s the origin story to this abashed “feminist fuel” that Anita points out. Rather than use that Kickstarter money to research her ideas, thoughts, and claims, she presents us with that video. She states that these tropes all come from somewhere but doesn’t actually take any real time dissecting why, their origins, and possibly the psychology that goes into why we clutch our chests and hold these stories so close to us. Every single book you will ever read will have some facet of this in it and it’s not for no reason — so why didn’t she make the video about this? Instead, she chose to make a video that oversimplifies a concept and then tears through the gaming industry to make its men look like insensitive morons.

A video I could, in my eight years in the gaming industry and my 30 years in being a gaming enthusiast, could rebuke.

Some notes I took from Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games:

  • Dinosaur Planet and Star Fox Mash-Up Wasn’t a Feminist Issue: The game was originally set to feature Krystal Fox as a hero but was then retooled completely. Anita states it is supposedly because Nintendo thought nobody would play this strong character who was a female, but in reality, the Star Fox game was not coming along as planned and the developers meshed the two together. Star Fox has always been the hero of his stories and they wanted him to have a female “princess” in his story. This was not about taking her dignity but about adapting a story into one that was already a marketing success and not letting one of their key staples to the Nintendo name have a flop. Little did they know that the game still wasn’t popular, but it had nothing to do with Krystal, Star Fox, or the feminist propaganda.
  • Princess Effin’ Peach: None of these upset me quite like the segment about Princess Peach. Why? Because she’s an easy target for feminists to come after. She was, after all, the first really well-known video game Princess. In the Super Mario Bros. series of games, Peach is often kidnapped and Mario needs to find her and save her. This goes back to fairy tales and how the everyman is worthy of the treasured princess because he is brave enough to fight through monsters and ascend mountains just to get to her. We’ve been hearing this age-old story for centuries and Disney made worldwide success telling this story for decades. However, we’re going to throw Shigeru Miyamoto under the bus because feminists need something to stand on? No dice. Princess Peach did have her own video game for the Nintendo DS and it came under heavy fire because it was absolutely marketing on the sexism that came from the Princess Peach character. Something that had been going on for years and years was now a problem because we’ve all become overly sensitized to feminist issues and who we will offend by doing what. Peach had always been seen as a high-pitched, cooing blonde with big blue eyes and sensitivity for days — but when you keep that going and make a game including those traits, people go nuts. What did they want? Did they seriously want her to brandish a sword and go fight? That was never her character in the first place.
  • The Legend of Zelda Isn’t The Problem: This game is a fairy tale put to screen and it has been since its inception. Anita takes aim at a lot of Nintendo titles that got their start decades ago and doesn’t look into the origins of why they were created or what Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to do when he conceived them in the first place. The Legend of Zelda is a fairy tale story and Nintendo put a twist on it by bringing out Sheik, later on, who was the bad-ass alter ego of Princess Zelda. The company did this because that was the character. Unfortunately, a lot of people want to turn it into a constant marketing ploy done because women mean nothing and men want to save women. Who is limiting who here? Is it possible that Miyamoto just truly wanted this story to be told because he grew up with these fairy tales? Is it possible that there is an innocence here that she’s unwilling to look into?

Women in Video Games: Are Your Blinders On?

As a female, I never felt slighted by video games and the protagonist’s goal. Not once did I ever lift my fist to the heavens and say “But I want a story about me, Candice, being the heroine! What about me?” because there were always parts of my life that resonated with both sides. Both the hero and the damsel are tropes because everyone can relate to them at least once in their life, whether they’re male or female. There are men out there who have felt weak and wished they could be saved just like there are females out there who want to pick up the gauntlet and go to war in order to save the people they love. There are games out there that feature strong women and I’m happy to state that my Commander Shepard, voiced by Jennifer Hale, took down her fair share of prejudices while protecting the Normandy. Don’t act like strong women characters aren’t there, folks. You just need to not have your blinders on.

Women in Video Games: Progress in Spite of it All

Now these are just my opinions, but obviously I feel strongly about them. I never balk about people offering their opinions either because we’re all allowed to have them. In fact, men and women have fought and died in wars so that we could have the freedom to express ourselves. If you were to come to any female 30 years ago and tell her what women are doing in 2013, she’d gawk at you. Why? Because it’s crazy. 40 years ago? 50? Whether people believe it or not, we’ve progressed pretty consistently through the years when it comes to gender equality and, even if we have a long way to go, at least we’re going somewhere.

Honestly, I believe the worst offense Anita Sarkeesian pulled with this video is that she tried to dress up her opinions as facts and took a lot of money from people in order to make an opinion video series. Civil liberties get forgotten about quite often when we express our opinions and, a lot of times, it’s because people try to dress them up as facts. She did not open up a dialogue about the way women are viewed but, in fact, she put a negative spin on something that us realists feel we need to defend. She was dishonest about her intentions and used feminism and the Internet to rally support to a cause that she felt something for but the actual end-game hasn’t been revealed. It’s a shame, too, because I would love to see a video that actually researched the origins of these tropes and the people who continue them. A chance to really see just why it happens rather than take a broken, jaded assumption and turn it into “fact” for page hits on YouTube.

I know I’m probably part of a minority on this matter, but what do you guys think? Where do you think this comes from, and do you think Anita meant well? How would you have done it better, and do you think we’re blowing up an age-old trope and turning it into something it shouldn’t have been?

Image: screencapped from Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games

On Brett Cohen, Celebrity, and Social Conditioning

Somewhere around July 27th, Brett Cohen decided to prove something. Granted, it was probably nothing we will remember in a month or two, and I think I’m being honest when I say that we’ll probably forget next week. Brett Cohen tricked several hundred people into thinking he was important and, at the end of the day, that’s all that occurred here.

Let me backtrack here a little bit for you. (Check the video.)

In this video, Brett Cohen states that he was putting together a social experiment in which he would pretend that he was an important person who strangers would want to know. He gathered a fake entourage of security guards, assistants, handlers, and even photographers to follow him around and build up his hype. It didn’t take long, keep in mind, for the frenzied passers by of New York City to latch onto the possibility of a celebrity sighting. Suddenly, questions were being asked, photo opportunities were requested, and even without knowing who Brett Cohen was, the minds of a horde of strangers were wandering. He had all of their attention simply by showing he had the ability to pay the wages of a handful of individuals so, in our heads, we think “This man is important” and we fall for it. Hell, I know if I see someone with several thousand Twitter followers, I automatically think “WHOA. That’s several thousand people! You must be important!” without even contemplating how, why, or what occurred. Of course, after some reflection on the possibilities for so much attention, you start to realize what is at the core of it all.

We’re all desperate for connection.

In our day-to-day lives, we’re narrowing into our tiny communities and usually that is all that matters to us. We look at the people on television as if they are contained within the various boxes that house screens all over our tiny microcosms. Each screen in our homes, our offices, and even at bars, diners, and theaters will pump in information about people we’ve never met nor shaken hands with. We find it hard to believe that we live on the same planet, living the same types of lives and even taking the same steps as these people who we see on screens. True, there are plenty of us who think nothing of it and we continue our lives merely lifting our chin with a nod of recognition when we see a celebrity, but the rest of the world does not. We live in a world full of wide-eyed, hand-extended consumers who want every single crumb that we can give them that will shed some light, gleam some hope, and point a finger on how they can make their lives so beautiful.

When we see it is impossible, you find tabloids and newspapers ready to tear the angels we built right from the heavens and drag them through the street by their hair and we laud them as villains. How many people cheat on their significant others on a daily basis? A few candid shots of a girl from a Twilight movie making out with someone other than her highly publicized boyfriend and we’re ready to throw her on a cross and burn her at the stake, aren’t we?

I know what you’re thinking: “But I don’t care about these things. They’re trivial. My life is important.” but it is also safe to assume you’re lying. We’ve all cared at one point or another and perhaps it’s not widespread, but you have had a moment where you have looked at a celebrity as more important than the average human. We all have and that is pretty much why we have the culture in which we’re living today. It’s kind of like people who say: “Well, I recycle” when you know they don’t. If everyone were recycling as much as they say they are, we wouldn’t be here, would we?

Brett Cohen wasn’t changing the world by pointing out how massively desperate the world is for connection with its celluloid heroes. Was he making a statement? Maybe to him he was, but what he was really doing was pointing out how much a herd of people in Times Square needed to say they were somewhere important; they wanted to say they saw someone who — even though they weren’t recognizable — was as close as they might come to actual fame. I watched the above video and didn’t feel disgust as much as I felt pity for the people who didn’t realize they were flat out lying just to feel and say they were connected to something important for half a moment.

The problem lies in the fact we make our celebrities too important instead of looking at them as human beings, too. We did this. We brought this on ourselves, didn’t we? The second you lift up any human being higher than you, you’re asking to hold them to a level that you see as better than yourself. You will mindlessly try to obtain what they have and watch movies that are the Cinderella stories of people who went from unknown to skyrocketing success. We cannot blame Brett Cohen for pointing it out, but maybe we should start changing who we find worthy of occupying such pedastals of importance.

On Brett Cohen, Celebrity, and Social Conditioning
This look screams “Hey, baby. How ’bout them stars?” and I love it. (Image via @neiltyson)

Do you think Neil deGrasse Tyson ever worries about this? Do you think people ever see ol’ Neil wandering through Times Square and tackle the brilliant astrophysicist to get a picture of him? No, I bet they don’t. I doubt his suit jackets are filled with the panties of college girls who will breathlessly run to their dorms to scream out “I finally met Neil deGrasse Tyson! It was everything I dreamed!” to their awaiting sisters.

Isn’t that a shame? Sure, The Situation from The Jersey Shore gets money, fame, opportunity, and genitals thrown at him wherever he goes, but the men and women who make a difference? Where are their flash mobs?

What I have concluded from this video that Brett Cohen did (with some friends and co-workers) is that we’re grasping at a connection and recognition for said connection. I can’t fault a single human being in that video for being anything other than a living, breathing reminder that we’re all attempting to define ourselves through any means necessary. Drew Grant over at the New York Observer seemed livid over the concept, and I can see a lot of people following suit with his theories and frustrations with the world today.

What I ask, and this comes from me, is that we perhaps step back and honestly try to scour ourselves of the instant dismay and contemplate what part of ourselves was on that street in Times Square. It is always so easy to say “That would never be me.” But why not contemplate what parts of you would be there? Who would you rush to get a photo with? Why would you rush to have your photo of them? Is it about connection or having a memory for yourself? Why would you need that of someone you never met before? These are all questions I pose for the honest human being.

No judgment, my friends, I promise.

How to Enable the New YouTube Theme

YouTube has been hard at work on a new YouTube theme to make keeping track of your subscriptions easier. The new theme is a major upgrade from the unprofessional looking design of the old theme. The newest theme is a division of its beta theme, Cosmic Panda.

The new theme features a slightly grey textured background that’s designed to be easier on the eyes when they’re staring at the webpage for long amounts of time. The whole theme gets a major upgrade with newly styled buttons to give it a more rustic look. Notifications and elements within the webpage give a friendly look and feel to the page over the lifeless buttons that made up the old theme. The size of the icons have also been increased and, where applicable, they are much higher quality for those who like HD images.

If you haven’t gotten the theme yet, we have a solution for you so that you can try it out. Since this theme seems to be popping up on multiple people’s YouTube accounts, including mine, this is likely to be the new look of YouTube over the beta Cosmic Panda theme. A lot of the elements of Cosmic Panda can be seen within this unified design; over all, it’s a spectacular improvement. The only element that seems unchanged is the design to channel pages, which still look the same under the new layout.

To get this new theme, you’ll need a Web browser that comes with a developer console, like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, to add a line of data into the user agent to change a cookie; this forces YouTube to give you the new theme design.

Log in to YouTube with your account information. YouTube gives you a unique cookie when you log in and we’ll be changing this.

Open the developer console in your browser. Your operating system will determine how the developer console will be accessed. In Chrome on Windows it’s Ctrl + Shift + J and on OS X it’s Command + Option + J. If you’re using Firefox you can use Ctrl + Shift + K for Windows and Command + Shift + K on OS X.

Navigate to the console section. Under Google Chrome it’s a tab that you’ll have to click; on Mozilla Firefox you’ll already have it pulled up. You want to enter the following string of code exactly as you see here and press enter: document.cookie="VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=ST1Ti53r4fU";

Close the console and refresh the page. Now close the console and refresh the page; you’ll notice that after the refresh, the new theme will be enabled for you and it’ll run you through a quick guide on the new theme and how to use it to its fullest.

At first the new layout may seem a bit more busy than it was, but you’ll quickly get used to it and it won’t seem as overwhelming as it first seems. I’ve had fun with the new theme and think it’s a major improvement over the old dull theme. What do you think of the new theme?

Two Budget Audio Setups

Audio is the most important thing to get right no matter what kind of multimedia content you are producing. If you’re doing a live show with a camera pointed at you, a pre-recorded audio podcast, or even machinima, poor audio is the one thing your audience will have a hard time forgiving. Even if your visual content is outstanding and your bumper music flawless, the majority of your audience will appreciate and positively respond to quality audio.

No matter what operating system you use, your sound is directly impacted by your hardware and software choices. Analog audio running through a PC’s integrated audio card microphone jack has so much going against it that it’s almost impossible to get broadcast-quality results. An audio card is faced with static caused by traffic going through the board and various buses, pops and cracks from slight jack movements during recording and more. The absolute best first step towards making a positive difference in your audio is getting off analog connections and using digital hardware.

USB 2.0 and firewire both work very well with digital audio interfaces. Some of them can be very complex, which is one of my next topics, but today we’re going to cover two setups that require a minimum investment with great results.

Below are two audio setups that I have put together and used on a personal level. These rigs are designed to work both on Mac and PC.

1. Economy Basic – $25
This setup is intended for a broadcaster on a tight budget. While your results may not impress a professional sound engineer, they will get the job done and keep your program on budget. As an example, I’d recommend this setup to a high school or college student doing commentary over a game of Call of Duty for posting on YouTube.

The Logitech 350 is a solid and clear option for anyone wanting to achieve good audio without dropping a lot of cash. Because the mic is so close to your mouth, it’s important to remember to keep it out of your line of breath. In other words, if you put your finger against the mic and breathe out through both your mouth and nose, you shouldn’t feel it. If you do, move it away slightly to avoid having puffing noises on your recording.

Audacity is a free quick-and-dirty audio recording software that lets you do some noise cancellation and compression on your audio to make it have more of that radio broadcaster sound. It’s important to give 10 seconds of silent recording with the mic on before you start speaking to allow the noise cancellation to work properly. Remember, audacity is only going to be a benefit to you in post-production.

2. Economy Premium – $65
This package gives you a great clear sound without the need to wear a USB headset. It’s a bit pricier than the basic, though the addition of a condensor mic allows you to have a more powerful vocal presence in your recordings. Below are two options of USB condensor microphones, each with its own pros and cons.

If you’re not a fan of the Snowball design, as they can be quite bulky, Samson makes a very good USB condensor microphone called the “C01u” and a higher level version named “C03u“. Their microphones are solid and very clear, though their level of support doesn’t quite have as stellar a reputation as Blue in terms of keeping their drivers and software up to date on various operating systems.

I’m a big fan of this setup, and have used it myself (with the Samson option) for several years to do web-based radio. Not having to have a tiny microphone in front of my mouth has also been a benefit when I need to clear my throat. I recommend strongly getting a pop filter if you’re not comfortable talking to the microphones from a 45 degree angle and keeping it slightly to the side.

Having good audio can be the difference between a dead audience and a growing one.

ISPs Lash Out At YouTube And Netflix

The poor internet service providers. Their networks are always clogged with high internet traffic from YouTube and Netflix, ISPs are struggling and they cannot afford the high traffic anymore. The way ISPs look at it, they have two options, charge customers 21% more for access or bill the companies 3.7¢ per GB of use. The problems have gotten so bad that the ISPs have become unusable at peak times due to the overwhelming amount of traffic.

ISPs claim that they cannot afford the investment they have made to support the high traffic demands of YouTube and Netflix. The ISPs are pulling the, “you’re not pulling your own weight,” pointing the finger at the two highest bandwidth suckers on the internet.

Most Online Service Providers pay a fee to their Connectivity Provider(s) to be connected to the Internet, which is generally based on the bandwidth they require, while the largest ones act as if they were Connectivity Providers in their own right and connect to others via peering agreements. In both cases these charges are generally flat fees, not linked with usage and they form a very small part of their total expenditure/cost structure. In effect, Online Service Providers are paying to connect their services to the network but are not paying for downstream service delivery. [PDF]

The same study that came up with the results of the internet troubles also pointed out 4 ways we can fix this problem:

  • Charge people more for Internet access.
  • Charge every Internet company per gigabyte to deliver traffic.
  • Allow paid prioritization, so sites like Netflix could go faster than everyone else if they cough up the cash.
  • Deploy more “managed services” that operate over the same last-mile IP pipe.

The report lays out these clear options for users, and the costs per gigabyte aren’t that much compared to all the troubles ISPs are making about it. While usage-based billing has already come to places like Canada, it’s clear that ISPs would like to extend it to Internet companies as well as to customers.

Are Ads Coming To Your Google Gmail Account?

I have been using Google’s Gmail for about five years and have always found it very reliable. I mainly use my Gmail account to receive Gmail alerts and to also receive emails when I do not wish to give out my primary email address. The thing I like about Gmail is that it seems to have a semi-efficient spam stopper, which I use when spam does sneak through occasionally. Overall, I like Gmail and will continue to use the free email program. But Google has been experimenting with adding ads to the Gmail you receive, though you may have not have experienced the ads as of yet. The ads from Google are still in the experimental stages and not every Gmail account can see the ads.

One article states:

Ads in Gmail have always been related to e-mail messages. For instance, if Gmail users are corresponding with friends about planning a vacation to Mexico, ads for flights or hotels in Mexico might appear. The display ads will show up according to the same formula, Mr. Shilkin said.

The placement of the advertisments will not be done by humans and instead will be automated so no one reads your emails.

I went looking through my emails for the past few days and I did not have any ads. In fact, I went back as far as the 21st and, again, no ads at all. I would imagine that Google has some type of secret formula it is using to determine who gets the ads and who does not.

Google also assures us that the ads will be inserted into the emails by machines and that no human eyes will view your emails.

So with the ads most likely coming our way, will you continue to use Gmail?

Source – NY Times

‘Fountain Girl’ Who Fell Into Mall Fountain While Texting Identified And May Be Suing

The video of a woman texting while walking through a mall and then falling into a fountain, is priceless. Like many of you, I had a hardy chuckle when I first saw the video on TV, and wondered how anyone could be so stupid. Lets face it, the size of the fountain was huge and fairly hard to miss. But we are now learning some other facts, plus rumors, that even add to the mystery of ‘fountain girl’ who now has been identified as Cathy Cruz Marrero.

There are suspicions of why Marrero would even want herself identified in the video. The quality of the video was so poor, had she kept quiet, no one would have known who should was. So why would she come forward and identify herself as being the person in the video?

There is some speculation as to her motives, some of which do not reflect well. Rumors have it she may have done it on purpose. Hard to believe isn’t it? But not that hard when we learned that she worked at the mall. That’s right boys and girls. So how could she not know that the fountain was there?

There are also other allegations that Marrero is currently facing felony criminal charges:

In the hours that followed Cathy Cruz Marrero’s appearance on “Good Morning America” today to talk about the fall and its aftermath, she was in court for a status hearing on charges of five felony counts, including theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Marrero, 49, was charged in October 2009 for allegedly using a coworker’s credit cards to make more than $5,000 in purchases at a Target and a Zales jewelry store — $1,055 of those purchases were dismissed from the case in previous hearings.

So there are the sordid facts, rumors and allegations which once compiled and rolled up together, does not make the victim look,  so much like a victim after all. I know if this was me I would not let anyone know that I was the dunce who tripped into the fountain.

What about you? Would you have come forth and identified yourself?

Does it appear that the alleged victim is really a victim?

Share your thoughts with us.

Comments welcome.

Source – The Huffington Post

Source – ABC

Do The Neilson TV Ratings Matter Anymore?

There was a time when Neilson reigned as the king of ratings and advertising money was dependant on where you ranked. But things have changed and the monopoly that Neilson once enjoyed is being challenged. Not because Neilson ratings no longer matter, but because people have left their couches for watching TV on portable devices. Even if you don’t own a portable device, you can still view TV programs on your computer at home or on the road. A few months ago I had a conversation  with a gentleman who had bought a laptop PC with a HDMI connector and was streaming TV programs to his HDTV. So how can Neilson come up with accurate ratings for a generation who is leaving the living room TV for mobile TV watching?

In a recent article it stated that:

Nielsen, the market leader in traditional TV ratings, is having a tough time tracking eyeballs elsewhere. It has yet to offer advertisers an accepted way of measuring viewers who watch video on their home computers — let alone on portable devices.

There are so many different ways today to watch TV programs that it may be difficult for Neilson to keep up. How can you monitor those of us who watch Hulu on their home PC or Hulu Plus on other streaming devices? How can one separate the change in viewing habits that is leaving the traditional TV watching habits stuck in the 1950’s?

Times are changing so fast in the mobile TV market that Neilson may be left in the dust trying to keep up.With companies like Apple, Google, Roku and others who are offering alternatives to traditional TV, 2011 should be the year we see major changes on how we watch the tube.

I know my next laptop computer will have a HDMI output so I can stream directly from Hulu to my HDTV.

How to you get your TV fix?

Comments welcome.

Google Chrome Cr-48 Notebook – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

It has been just about a month since I received my Cr-48 computer and I have nothing new to report. The system for the most part works fine. Yes, there are some glitches and gotchas that Google is going to need to fix, but like any new box, that is to be expected. My experience thus far has been enjoyable for the most part. Here are some of the good, bad and ugly parts of the system.

The Good: If you have used the Chrome browser, than you have used the Chrome OS. The majority of what I do is on the Internet so this notebook is good for me. As long as you have a wireless connection, you are all set to go. In addition Google provides a free 100MB account for two years from Verizon. So no matter where I go, I have a connection.

Battery life is 8 hours as claimed.

The keyboard lacks a Caps Lock key, but this is a minor issue. Overall the keyboard functions well and the keys are just a big as the keys on my 17″ laptop.

The Bad: The only minor issue I have is that my blog runs slow when using the Chrome Notebook. At first I thought it may be my wireless system, but after a few experiments, I determined for some unknown reason, LG is just slow when using the Chrome notebook. I have connected to other wireless systems with the Chrome notebook and have experienced the same problem. All other web sites work just fine and Chrome is fast.

Though the keyboard works well, in dim light it is hard to see the letters on the keys. That’s right boys and girls. I am not a touch typist. :-)

The Ugly: The track pad stinks. I was trying to copy a link yesterday and there was no way I could get the system to recognize a right-click. I recommend connecting a USB mouse to the system to make your experience more enjoyable.

Conclusion: I think there is a market for this type of computer. My concern is price. If Google can get the pricing around $300, I believe it will be a winner. Over $300 I would have to give it a lot of serious thought. You can find inexpensive laptops on sale now for about $350.

Anyone else out there using the Cr-48? Thoughts? Opinions?

Comments welcome.

VEVO Android App Brings Thousands Of Music Videos to Your Android Phone

Anyone who likes to watch YouTube music videos on their Android device has, up until this point, been pretty much out of luck. VEVO, the provider of many of the major-label videos on YouTube, blocked these videos from mobile applications. They didn’t appear on the YouTube app at all, and if you tried to load them on the YouTube mobile site, you’d get an unfriendly “this video is not available on mobile devices” message.
This week, however, VEVO has launched their own Android app as well as made all of their videos available on the Android YouTube app. You can finally watch those 10 minute Lady Gaga epics without having to open your laptop, as well as thousands of other music videos, absolutely free.
Head over to the Android Market now and download the VEVO app, or update your YouTube app to the newest version to check out the new features. The VEVO app is beautifully designed and lets you browse through music videos by artist or genre, look at charts of the most popular music videos, and even make playlists of your favorites to watch in a row. VEVO for Android even has voice search, so you can find what you’re looking for even without using your phone’s keyboard.
The video quality is great, and looks HD or very close to it on videos that are uploaded in HD. This app is a huge win for music fans on Android, who up until this point would have to copy music videos to their device to watch them since you couldn’t in the YouTube app.
If, for some reason, you’re not interested in downloading a new app on your phone, VEVO videos have appeared in the newest YouTube update as well. You can find artists’ VEVO channels right in the YouTube app, and stream their videos in high quality from there. Music videos are now marked with a music note icon (see image), and you can also read artist bios and browse videos by their artist.
Here’s to awesome tunes on your phone!

Do You Like the new YouTube Limits?

Someone asked recently what my thoughts are concerning the new limits that YouTube has placed upon content producers. They raised the length of video allowed to fifteen minutes for many of you. The problem is, though, that many of us don’t watch anything more than ONE minute.


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Do you watch fifteen minute videos? Does anyone you know sit through clips that long on YouTube? I can understand the need to occasionally upload something longer than ten minutes – I’ve done so myself a few times. But realistically, I know that it’s very rare to have someone sit through the entire thing.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that YouTube did a good thing when they raised their upload limits?

Homeless Man With The Golden Voice – Video Removed From You Tube

If you haven’t seen the video clip of the homeless man with the golden voice, you have missed listening to a rare gift. But in addition to his voice, this man has a story to tell that is heart warming. Ted Williams was homeless living on the streets in Columbus, Ohio and panhandling near a busy intersection. Mr. Williams admits that he had lost his way in life due to drugs and alcohol. But what was encouraging about the man was that he was now clean and had been for two years. Then there was that voice. As Mr. Williams stated, a rare gift from God.

After the video appeared on You Tube, the Internet made this man a sensation. He was flown to New York, cleaned up, and made an appearance on the Today show. Offers started to pour in with one offer being from the Cleveland Cavaliers and also the promise of a mortgage free home. This morning, Mr. Williams again appeared on the Today show and met with his mom, who he hadn’t seen for 20 years. It did appear that the 90-year-old mother had given up on her son, but that his newfound fame was something he cherished and would not throw away . Mom was thankful and the story ended on a happy note.

But now there is a sour note to the entire event. A recent story tells how the newspaper that originally reported the story has pulled the You Tube video of its original interview:

The newspaper posted the clip on its website, and it appeared a short time later on YouTube, copied “by an anonymous user,” the Dispatch said. Within hours, the YouTube clip exploded, driven by a flood of referrals from Reddit, Twitter and Facebook. And today — just three days later — a clean-cut Ted Williams appeared on the TODAY Show while entertaining voice-over offers from media companies, sports teams and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. The YouTube clip surpassed 12 million views.

Until it was pulled. Today, according to a message on YouTube, the clip has been removed “due to a copyright claim by The Dispatch.” Of course, there are copies floating around out there, and if you visit Dispatch.com, you’ll find the original clip along with a rich section of video and text coverage of The Man with the Golden Voice. (I’ve been unable to find any official Dispatch version of the clip on YouTube.)

If the video wasn’t put up on You Tube, would anyone would have seen it on the Dispatch website? I understand the copyright thing and why the Dispatch wants to protect its video, but the best part of the story is that Mr. Williams was noticed and found. He was helped and subsequently reunited with his mother.

Comments welcome.

So what do you think? Should the Dispatch have removed the video from You Tube?

Source – lostremote

Source – Dispatch.com

5 Tech Gadgets I Won’t Be Buying This Year

During this time of the year, many of you will be searching the Internet and local retail stores for the perfect gadget. In my case I have 5 gadgets that I will not be getting this year and I have listed the reasons why I don’t want them.

1. Microsoft Kinect for the Xbox 360. It is not because I don’t think that the Kinect is a great improvement which should be a great benefit to the Xbox. It is just because I have half of my retirement money invested in the Wii and Wii games.

2. 3D HDTV. Millions of us have invested our hard-earned money in HDTV without 3D. Are we supposed to throw out our new sets just to have the latest and greatest technology? Do we really need to watch our favorite sporting event in 3D?

3. Neato Robotic Vacuum. I was one of the first to buy a Roomba. I still have a box full of broken Roomba’s sitting in my garage. None of them were worth the cost and the bottom line was that none of them vacuumed very well to begin with.

4. Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse. I have another box in my garage filled with old mice. I am hoping they will mate and produce a really new baby mouse. I have spent enough money on mice in my computing career that I have no intention of spending $70 on another mouse that provides little or no benefit to the user.

5. Logitech Wireless Solar Powered Keyboard. Why would I want to spend $80 for any keyboard whether solar-powered or not? I use laptops only so fancy over priced keyboards are useless to me.

What gadgets are you hoping that Santa will place under your tree and that you can’t live without?

Comments welcome.

How To Make Money With YouTube

There should be an image here!Ever since its creation in 2005, the video-sharing phenomenon has been newsworthy not only for videos: users were making media appearances about how they parlayed their hobbies into six-figure incomes, but they’ve been tight-lipped when it comes to their secrets.

Luckily, e-commerce experts Brad and Debra Schepp have written How to Make Money with YouTube: Earn Cash, Market Yourself, Reach Your Customers, and Grow Your Business on the World’s Most Popular Video-Sharing Site, a complete guide to using YouTube for fun and profit. By the time you’re done with this book, you’ll know everything there is to know about:

  • Planning, creating, and sharing your own videos that “don’t suck”
  • What makes a video go viral
  • Harnessing YouTube’s power for branding, advertising, and fundraising

Inside How to Make Money with YouTube, you’ll find real-life YouTube success stories — from video makers who used the site to launch successful consulting businesses to a company’s humorous “Will It Blend?” videos that brought thousands of new customers to its Web site.

Google Programmers Leaving For Facebook – Good Or Bad?

Unless you exclusively use Yahoo! or Bing, you know about Google’s dilemma. Chrome OS would be out sooner were it not for its programmers leaving to work for Facebook. Apparently, Google’s loss is Facebook’s gain. Should we be supporting this, or should we be mailing letters to the ex-Google employees demanding that they leave Facebook and return to Google? Are their decisions good or bad? That, my friends, is the real question.

There should be an image here!Why their decisions are good

There are many things that can be added on to Facebook. Although going against the age-old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, additions to Facebook are amazingly innovative. The new group system, for example, is tremendously simple and secure. I was looking at someone’s post on my wall, and instead of the See Wall-To-Wall option, I got a See Friendship option. When I clicked on this, I saw a whole lot more than wall posts. I saw things like events both of us attended, comments on each other’s status updates and photos, and mutual “liked” pages. What’s even cooler is that there is a box on the left column (above the usual ads, of course) where you can type two of your friends’ names and see their friendship. I find that pretty cool, and it doesn’t have to be the friendship between another person and me — it can be from two of my friends as long as they are friends with each other. If they’re not, it just displays a blank box.

I find all of these enhancements to be extremely interesting, and they help to make the world more open and connected, which is the plan of Mark Zuckerberg. I’m sure that the addition of Google programmers really helped with the development of these things for the Web.

Why their decisions are bad

What happened to the innovations that Google put out on the Web? Gmail, Blogger, Orkut, Chrome, YouTube, and Picasa, just to name a few, are amazing services. The programmers over at Google are doing wonderful things with the Web, and Chrome OS is one of them. If Google programmers are so good that Facebook is stealing them, why are the ones who are now in Facebook not fixing the screwed up chat system? There are a lot of privacy issues on Facebook, and a lot of people are pissed off by it. Why aren’t Google programmers fixing this, especially since they work for Facebook? Overall, Facebook is obviously not using these Google ex-employees to the fullest. Facebook, use these people to fix the holes in your security issues, but first, fix the damned Facebook chat!

The verdict

I personally think Google employees should stay in Google if their expertise isn’t being used to fix chronic Facebook problems, but you guys decide whether Google should take its employees back or leave them be! Leave a comment below.

Neil L (AKA The WinMacLinTechie) is a power user of Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. He blogs at WinMacLinTechie and is currently involved in many projects to help both the world and himself. You can also find him on Twitter and YouTube.