Wednesday, December 31, 2003

A movie theatre in Manhattan has finally done it. Crossed the line of over $10 for a move. $10.25 to be exact. Officials with Loews and Regal spoke in this article about the justification for the increased prices. John McCauley, a Loews Cineplex spokesman, told CNNfn, "Loews Cineplex is dedicated to providing the best movie-going experience to our patrons with state-of-the art technology in world-class theaters. Given the richness of entertainment we offer, we feel that our tickets are priced at a fair value for everyone to enjoy the show."

My Take: $10.25 does seem like a lot for a movie...especially when you factor in the ridiculous cost of the "extras" to go along with it. If each person jsut had a coke, your talking about $14 per person for adults and $9 for kids. For a family of four to go to a movie and have a pop, your looking at $45. For a lot of people that is a very expensive trip for only 2 hours of pleasure. Most parents agree the prices for a video game for Xbox, playstation etc..., at $49.95 seems high. But when you compare that, and the hours of "entertainment" to just one movie outing...boy it seems like a bargain.

From the "depends on how you look at it" department; a 67 year old British woman was flying from Britian to her daughter's wedding in Florida when she suffered a heart attack...that's the bad news. The good news was when someone jumped up to yell, "is there a doctor on board" fifteen heart specialists, all bound for a medical conference in Florida, stood up to offer help!

Ok, more: Strange But True Minor League Inning of the Year: On May 1, the ever-innovative Trenton Thunder batted around against Norwich -- without an official at-bat. How? Easy. Seven straight walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly.

OK...this one was so good I had to post one more: At Least He Got the Hang of It Dept.: After hitting no grand slams in 2,999 consecutive at-bats, Boston's Bill Mueller switch-hit grand slams from each side of the plate in back-to-back innings, July 29 in Texas. The Rangers, of course, had allowed no slams all year before that.

Jayson Stark takes a look at some of the wacky stats of the 2003 baseball season. For instance, did you know that Luis Sojo is so old he played for the Yankees in both their regular season and their Old-Timers game? How about in an Aug. 21 game in Milwaukee, the Phillies managed to get five straight hits without scoring a run. (They had one runner thrown out at the plate, another nailed at second trying to stretch a single and a third turn the wrong way after crossing first base and get tagged out.) One more: When Kevin Millwood no-hit the Giants in April, it meant the Giants' last three no-hitters had all come at the hands of pitchers named Kevin (Millwood, Brown, Gross). And no other team has ever been no-hit by a pitcher named Kevin.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

What do Hall of Fame baseball managers like Connie Mack & John McGraw have in common with today's business leaders? Why are baseball managers like Joe Torre & Dusty Baker better role models for management than corporate heroes like Jack Welch, Ken Lay & Bill Gates? And just what does Peter Drucker have to do with Oriole ex-manager Earl Weaver? Management consultant & ex-baseball reporter Jeff Angus shows you almost everything you need to know about management you can learn from baseball.

Speaking of Bill Callahan, do you feel sorry for this guy? Or was it simply a case of a coach who road his predecessor's coat tails for a eyar before it all caught up to him? Here is a guy who, in his first season as coach, led his team to a Super Bowl appearance. He follow sit up by leading the Raiders to a dismal 4-12 season. Oakland posted its worst record since also going 4-12 in 1997. The Raiders tied with three other teams for fewest wins in the league in the biggest collapse by a team that reached the Super Bowl the previous year. According to this story, players were actually contemplating walking out on the team prior to the last game of the season because they disliked this guy so much. Charles Woodson said of Callahan, ""He's really made this thing personal. When things get personal, it's not a good situation to be around people that it's personal with. I won't play for him. He's not the type of person you want to be around. He's just really brought a really negative vibe to this team over the course of the season."

Even Tim Brown, the longest-tenured Raider, has his concerns about Callahan. "I don't know if he's the guy who can bring this team back together. This year, he made things personal with this team. You can't do that. If he's back, it's going to take two to three years to fix this, because nobody trusts a word he says."

My Perspective: regardless of whether the players or Callahan are right, Tim Brown said it best: He lost the team. That, to me, is bigger than losing any game. Once you lsoe the team, it's over. Now it's time to start over...and I'm not just talking about the coach. I think it's time to cut ties with players like Tim brown, Jerry Rice, Charles & Rod Woodson, Rich Gannon, etc...& start to rebuild. I don;t think you can take an old 4-12 team and have one or two more runs at a title. IT's time to rebuild with fresh blood.

Who says it is hard to find a job these days? Dan Reeves, Jim Fassel, Dick Jauron, Gregg Williams, Dave McGinnis, soon to be Bill Callahan, have/will have all been fired. Steve Spurrier is looking to leave Washington & Dick Vermeil is contemplating retirement. That meants, count em, 8 of the 32 teams in the NFL will be possibly looking for coaches this offseason. Thats 21% of the teams in the NFL! Talk about opportunities, it seems anyone with a pulse should be able to get an interview.

Software called Grokker could be the future of search

The next/better google? David Kirkpatrick writes that Grokker, a software tool takes the data culled by an online search and organizes it visually into categories that enable you to quickly dig deeply to find the exact site or information you need, is the best software available for performing searches.

The company which originally came out with the software, Norther Lights, went out of business last year. A new company, startup Groxis, has re-issued the software at a lower price: $49. Therein lies the problem. Even if this software does a great job at focusing a search, people jsut don;t pay for something they can get for free. Google, for now, is free.

Fitzpatrick writes, "It makes me wonder if Google really does have search as sewed up as we often assume. When you use Grokker you realize just how brain dead even the best search tools are today."

My response: Google may be brain dead, but free is still free. It does seem like an awfully cool tool for those looking for this type of specific application, but a real competitor to Google it is not.

Grokker takes the raw output of a search and organizes it into categories and subcategories. Groxis has put more intelligence into the software this time, so it is not dependent, as it was with Northern Lights, on categories established by others. This means that a wide variety of types of databases can be Grokked-now Grokker can search with six different engines simultaneously -- Yahoo, MSN, Alta Vista, Fast, Teoma, and WiseNet.

It also can organize searches for products on Amazon or for files on your own desktop. Google capability is coming within weeks, Groxis says, as a separate software component that users will add. Soon you will also be able to use it in conjunction with AskJeeves, eBay, social networks like Linkedin, and job site Monster.

Rock star David Byrne turns PowerPoint into art

From The "Talking Heads" Singer originally intended to spoof the ubiquitous Power Point software as a dumbed-down form of expression between communication-addled business executives.

But after spending several hours designing a mock slide show, Byrne became intrigued. He decided to experiment with PowerPoint as an artistic medium -- and ponder whether it shapes how we talk and think.

Byrne, 51, who was born in Scotland but has spent most of his adulthood in New York, said the compilation wasn't meant as a "serious statement about anything."

But by fixating on PowerPoint, Byrne -- idolized by millions as a rock star for intellectuals -- has stoked a fierce debate.

Visual artists say Microsoft Corp.'s popular "slideware" -- which makes it easy to incorporate animated graphics and other entertainment into presentations -- lulls people into accepting pablum over ideas. Foes say PowerPoint's ubiquity perverts everything from elementary school reports to NASA's scientific theses into sales pitches with bullet points and stock art.

One of the Internet's inventors, Vint Cerf, gets laughs from audiences by quipping, "Power corrupts and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely."

But the overall tone of this compilation is somewhat like a sales pitch -- whimsical and upbeat. Byrne is unapologetic about liking PowerPoint.

"Software constraints are only confining if you use them for what they're intended to be used for," Byrne said in a phone interview. "PowerPoint may not be of any use for you in a presentation, but it may liberate you in another way, an artistic way. Who knows."

Peter Lewis at writes a story comparing Digital pictures with the "art" of photography. In the story, Richard LoPinto, vice president for SLR camera systems at Nikon Inc., says of Ansel Adams; "Far be it from me to speak on his behalf, but since I did have contact with him in earlier days, I know that he was a smart and aggressive guy. He shot with a large-format camera and had the patience to stand around waiting for hours for the perfect shot, but he also used our Nikon FM series cameras. I would like to speculate, and it's purely my personal opinion, that were he with us today he would be really taken by the technology and would be at the forefront."

"In fact," LoPinto said, "I would go so far as to say that if Rembrandt and Picasso and other great artists of the past were alive today, they would not be able to resist the idea of using digital technology. Think of Norman Rockwell. All of his art was based on photographs he made. Conversely, some of the great photographers of our time emulate the techniques of great artists," LoPinto said. "When I take portraits I like to use what you might call Rembrandt lighting, and a digital camera is a wonderful tool for experimentation."

"So, Ansel Adams, yeah, I think he'd love it,' LoPinto said.

Those are some pretty powerful statements to say some of the best artists in the world would use technology to enhance their images! I prefer to think they would not.

Skype is one of the coolest things I've seen come out of the ethernet/technology field since KaZaa. In fact, it is brought to you by the same founder of KaZaa. It is called Skype. It is much like Instant Messaging except you actually can call the person live and pay no toll/long distance charges. I tell you what, this has the VOIP people & telephone people going nuts! I'm sure there will be some lobbying in Washington DC to make this illegal (like the music industry did to Napster). From "Skype is built on peer-to-peer (P2P) technology, using third-party computers to route calls. Like KaZaA, Skype is free for users. Good news for them; less so for the companies that want VOIP to make money."

From Top Ten Technology Trends for 2004.

Monday, December 29, 2003

When will people stop suing for stupid things? This one ranks right up there with the McDonald's coffee spill lawsuit. Apparently a women in Connecticut is suing a city/playground because her son crashed into a railing she said was designed improperly because it was painted green (the same color as the shrubs behind it). The question I have is, if the railing wasn't there, would she then sue because her son hit the shrubs and poked his eye out? The boy had to have some stitches and his mom now says the city owes for lost income because he can't audition for modeling jobs. Maybe he can pull a George Costanza and become a hand model?

Speaking of Football, what a finish to the season! I can't believe the Seahawks made the playoffs. I can't believe the Vikings choked and are going home. I can't believe anyone will beat Green Bay (or should I say Brett Favre).

I'm 33 years old & I got a Playstation 2 for Christmas. Is that a bad thing? I justify it by saying I'll play it with my 3 1/2 year old. Actually, he loves it. My sister got him a camera game for it. Basically, it is a lense that site on top of the TV and allows you to be "in" the game. You dance to it's commands, make cool colors appear on the screen, catch snow & generally do all sorts of things on the screen. Ryan spent about an hour yesterday dancing in front of the thing just to make rainbow colors appear to his movements. It was kind of funny...until I wanted to turn the TV back onto football!

Friday, December 26, 2003

Here's a cool story about a website. It picks the "best" word, phrase & name of the year. "Embedded," as in the reporters assigned to accompany military units during the war, beat out "blog" and "SARS" as the top word of 2003, Web site said.

I think Christmas pushed my oldest son over the top. He will be 4 in April and was an absolute terror on Christmas day. My wife cried, I was going crazy & Ryan was in trouble pretty much throughout the day. I felt so horrible for my mom and dad and my in-laws, who put a lot of time and energy into trying to make this a special day for him. With the new baby arriving less than two weeks before the Xmas, Ryan having to stay with the in-laws for a week and all the excitement and visitors to the house I think it was just too much for him to handle. His schedule was all out of whack and Christmas day just happened to be the day it all came to a head. It can only get better.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

This website gives you a basic chance to test your IQ. IT is pretty cool. I scored a 133. It takes some time (about 20 minutes) so don't go in thinking it is just some stupid short thing. It is actually quite fun. Lots of brain teasers. Of course at the end they'll try to sell you the whole report, but that's up to you! Here were my complete results.

Your IQ score is 133

This number is the result of a formula based on how many Congratulations, Nicholas!questions you answered correctly on Emode's Ultimate IQ test. Your IQ score is scientifically accurate.

During the test, you answered four different types of questions — mathematical, visual-spatial, linguistic and logical. We analyzed how you did on each of those questions which reveals how your brain uniquely works.

We also compared your answers with others who have taken the test, and according to the sorts of questions you got correct, we can tell your Intellectual Type is Visual Mathematician.

This means you are gifted at spotting patterns — both in pictures and in numbers. These talents combined with your overall high intelligence make you good at understanding the big picture, which is why people trust your instincts and turn to you for direction — especially in the workplace.

Quick: Name the 10 most powerful companies in Networking? Did you guess Cisco as #1? I think there can be no argument this juggernaut manufacturer has earned the right to the top spot, but how about the other nine? Microsoft at #3? Verizion #7? Where did the companies you named stack up? Did they even make the list?

Verizon has announced four more suppliers for its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) build-out starting next year, but analysts say the winners should be cautious, as these contacts are not exclusive and there are no quantity guarantees

The four suppliers announced today -- Corning Cable Systems, Preformed Line Products Co, ADC Telecommunications Inc., and Tyco Electronics -- will provide fiber optic cabling and other outside plant equipment for the FTTP system.

It's Christmas morning and you just got that sweater you saw in the mall and said, "who would ever buy that" as you walked by it. What do you do? This article gives you five key tips to "re-gifting" a gift. The article says that not only is it OK to re-gift, but in some cases your obligated to do so! As for me, If I gave somebody something they didn't want or need, I would hope they would find soemone who would use it or exchange it for something they could use!

Verizon has completed selection of equipment manufacturers and suppliers for its plan to deploy fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) systems next year. The four final vendors will provide fiber-optic cabling and other outside plant equipment, also known as the "passive" elements of the FTTP system. The vendors are: Corning Cable Systems, a subsidiary of Corning Inc., of Corning, N.Y.; ADC, of Eden Prairie, Minn.; Preformed Line Products Co., of Cleveland, Ohio; and Tyco Electronics, of Harrisburg, Pa. Four other companies selected were announced last month.

American Airlines recently awarded a five-year, $39 million contract to our Enterprise Solutions Group. The agreement names Verizon and Nortel as the single providers to replace American's voice network with our fully managed voice services worldwide. The agreement covers 33,000 of the airline's 50,000 employees. Under the financing arranged by Verizon Credit, all equipment will be Verizon-owned and ESG will provide American with managed voice services based on a simple monthly per-user charge. These services include Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and unified messaging that will enable employees to capture phone, email and fax messages by phone or PC. The airline's customer call centers will be upgraded with a Verizon-managed integrated voice recognition system delivered via IP. The system will improve service efficiency while reducing cost. Based on our initial performance, American may elect to expand the contract to cover all of its employees for a total of $70 million.

Wow, it's been 14 days since I last wrote. Time sure flies by when your welcoming a new addition to the family. Dec. 16th we welcomed Logan Rodney into the family. He was born at 12:57 pm weighing in at 9 pounds even. He is child #2 for my wife and I. Our first, Ryan, loves being a big brother so far. He always wants to hold the baby, but at 3 1/2 he is still a little rough with him. Two boys now. My wife likes to joke about how she is outnumbered 5 to 1. Two male kids, one male husband and two male dogs. Good thing she likes sports!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Under the, "You never know what you might find" category: During the filming of a new PBS show "Find," One of the items found stashed away in someone's attic of old junk was a painting which just sold at auction for just over $1 Million. Maybe my mom SHOULD keep everything!

For just $19.95 you too can skip the free halftime show during the Superbowl and tune your TV into the greatest Pay Per View event Since Wrestlemania I, Drum roll please....The Lingerie Bowl presented by Dodge. That's right, you and your family can sit in front of the TV and watch scantilly clad women dressed in nothing but Lingerie, knee & elbow pads & a helmet (who's gonna be looking at their face anyway?). Of course, due to some protesting, the Lingerie may be out and sports bras and volleyball shorts might be in! Either way plenty of flesh to go around the old chip and dip table!

Monday, December 08, 2003

So what do you think should be construed as "fair compensation?" Typically I am against frivolous lawsuits (suing McDonald's for spilling hot coffee on yourself), but in this case, some justice needs to be done. Five people were convicted and have spent the greater part of seven years in prison for attacking and sexually assaulting a victim in Central Park. As it turns out, they are innocent. They are suing for $50 million each. They reputations, lives and family have been ruined. How much is fair?

Well, Arnie's beginning to see how California politics really works now. His first proposed budget has been rejected by the state's legislature, meaning a delay in the passing of a budget (and a delay on economic recovery) for California's economy. Arnie will be hard pressed getting much accomplished in CA...where the opinion seems to be every man for himself rather than what's for the good of the people. Of course, anything bad that happens between now and then will still get blamed on him, even though his actions get turned down by the legislature.

One small step for man, one giant leap for text messaging! A man who's plane went down in Alaska and spent 24 hours in sub freezing temperatures, was rescued when a cross-country skier found him and text-messaged rescue crews. While some may not like the advancements we have in technology, you can not argue that sometimes it saves lives!

ADVANCED NETWORK GIVES NEW JERSEY COLLEGES AN EDGE, a consortium of 57 New Jersey colleges and universities, has awarded Verizon's Enterprise Solutions Group a 3-year, $13 million contract for a statewide education network and associated services. The network -- a virtual private network over Internet protocol backbone -- provides such features as videoconferencing, streaming video, digital libraries, data intensive research capabilities as well as administrative applications. The network serves faculty, students and administrators at the schools, enables collaboration among the institutions and also provides distance-learning opportunities for corporations and other organizations in New Jersey. For more on the groundbreaking NJEdge.Net project and Verizon's role, see .

Friday, December 05, 2003

Anyone looking for a sales job for the #1 service company in America to work for? Verizon Info Services is holding a job fair on Thursday for anyone interested in becoming a premise (outside) or telephone (inside) sales rep. I recently started here and recommend it completely & wholeheartedly. If you are interested in attending, e-mail me & I'll hook you up with the details.

"Softer & Stronger For YOUR End Zone"
That's the new slogan for Charmin toilet paper that will be unveiled during the 2004 Superbowl on Feb. 1st. For the first time ever Procter & Gamble is buying a commercial spot during the big game. The spot that will debut at the game will show a quarterback bending over to grab the snap from the center, only to be distracted by a piece of toilet paper, rather than the traditional towel, hanging from the center's waistband

Ever get to the airport two hours early only to find out your flight is delayed by an hour? I think it's happened to all of us who travel even sporadically. It always seems to be the same old story..."the weather in Texas was bad causing your plane to be late arriving." According to this study, that is actually very RARELY the case. In fact, only 1% of the time a plane is late is it due to weather related problems. Almost 40% of the time it is due to a "systems delay!"

For those of you who like to rack up the frequent flyer miles & save them for a long awaited, never seems to get here, vacation...experts are saying that is a BAD idea. According to this story, inflation hits the frequent flyer miles just like is does money. The longer you sit on them, the less they are worth. In some cases, they even expire!

Jobless rate dips to 5.9%, though growth in payrolls is far weaker than economists had forecast.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - U.S. employers remained cautious in November despite robust economic growth in late summer, adding meager numbers to their payrolls, according to a government report Friday that fell far short of Wall Street forecasts.
Full Story Here.

Another great reason why internet shopping may be doing very well: "Officials concerned about holiday terror threat." Apparetnly "soft" targets like shopping malls have been in the chatter being heard by U.S. Intelligence (Oxymoron?). Here is a scary quote from that story: "As recently as two weeks ago, the intelligence community was telling the Homeland Security Department that this felt a lot like the summer of 2001," said Roger Cressey, a former counterterrorism official with the National Security Council.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Anyone looking for a sales job for the #1 service company in America to work for? Verizon Info Services is holding a job fair on Thursday for anyone interested in becoming a premise (outside) or telephone (inside) sales rep. I recently started here and recommend it completely & wholeheartedly. If you are interested in attending, e-mail me & I'll hook you up with the details.

Internet shopping is heating up. This report shows internet shopping jumped 25% over the same one week period ending November last year. Internet shopping continues to grow. This is great news for all of us last minute foot shoppers. Less mall traffic!

Tha Magic number was 21.66 BILLION dollars. That's how much in sales Wal-mart did in November alone. I can only imagine what December's number will look like. As a comparison Target had 4.41 billion in sales. Here's the full story.

Ever wondered about buying those "extras" from a car dealership (undercoating, extended warranties, Rust-proofing, etc..)? Here is a good article on about that very subject.

Coincidence? I think not! About a month or so after I started at Allied Telesyn we had a big Bowling Party at Majestic lanes. For those of you who don't know, I am a pretty good bowler (221 book average). Today we fould out at Verizon that we are having a party so that all of us newbies can meet & greet everyone on Friday at 1 PM. I opened up the flyer that came in e-mail today and, you guessed it, it is at Majestic Lanes.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Verizon and Alcatel are deploying one of the world's largest Internet protocol (IP) telephony systems for the school district that covers the city of Las Vegas and surrounding areas.
As the sixth largest school system in the United States, the Clark County School District has more than 300 facilities, an enrollment of almost 268,000 students and 30,000 employees. The 27,000-line IP network will connect every classroom and administrator and deliver enhanced communications features and security capabilities.
The three-year contract, valued at more than $15 million, covers the range of services provided by Verizon's Enterprise Solutions Group, such as network assessments, project management and installation, as well as hardware and software from Alcatel. In addition, Verizon and Alcatel are providing on-site technical support, training and ongoing maintenance.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Speaking of new jobs...Verizon Information Services is still on a massive hiring spree for sales as well as admin. Shoot me a resume and I'll forward it to the right person.

New jobs are always fun & some things never change. I've made three calls, totaling over 2 hours of time, to correct a payroll issue. I think we finally got it resolved. I should be receiving a reimbursement check shortly. It seems like the transition to a new job can never be as smooth as you like. The training here was great, the pay is good (when you get it), but there seems to always be one glitch. What's your "new job" story?