My brush with greatness

Milli Vanilli – Girl I’m Gonna Miss You
Okay. Thank god for YouTube. In in the early 90s I was asked to “sail” a boat in a music video for some band I had never heard of.The producer had chartered a sailboat so the singer could sail away at the end of the love song with a broken heart. That boat, being chartered, was insured and needed to be captained by a responsible individual who was insured to sail boats (that was me due to a brief career in yacht delivery). So, for $500, I sailed the sailboat to a dock in Cotuit, where these dudes in bicycle shorts and dreadlocks were lipsynching to a song and camera people and makeup people were climbing all over the dunes. Why they picked Cotuit for the shoot is beyond me, but the video is unique for two reasons.
1. It shows a Cotuit Skiff — the kind of sailboat I own three of, and which my grandfather built in the 1940s.
2. I am on the big boat during the shoot and barely if impossibly visible at the end when the love stricken star sails into the sunset.You see his back. I am sitting to his left, ducked down, with a hand on the wheel because he was utterly unable to understand the notion of steering.Nor, apparently, singing, for less than a year later, Milli
Vanilli was ostracized for lip synching their act and having utterly no music talent.

[I hosed the video trying to put a normal title on this post. Will try to revive. YouTube embedding is not for the stupid]

Burger King’s Pocketbike Racer for Xbox 360
So I am half-watching the boob tube last night and there is this ad with the Burger King Subservient Chicken and the King. The King is on a little motorcycle, robes flapping, roars through a crowd and over a plywood ramp — Evel Knievalling with some serious hang time and smashes into the ground with definite internal organ damage.

A chicken wearing a garter belt, a demonic King with the creepiest smile in the world, a motorcycle stunt gone wrong …..

Okay, you have my attention.

Then the green Xbox logo comes on screen and I realize I just saw an ad for game and not a sandwich?

WTF? Then came the deal — I can buy the Xbox game and make the king fly off a ramp and waste himself at ….

Burger King.

Amazing. I am not worthy.

Inflight advertising

I need to read the SkyMall catalogue in the seatback pouch more often. Where else could I learn that there is a massive aftermarket for iPod docking stations, including one ingenious wonder that also holds toilet paper?

Here it is, courtesy of

Anyway — SkyMall is also testament to the fact that we live in strange times. This is like the Ripley’s Believe it or Not of junk and impulse shopping disorder.

But I digress — what I am really interested in is inflight advertising. You get hammered with impressions from the second you arrive in the terminal to the moment you escape at the other end. Out of home, light boxes, overhead banners …. the inflight magazines are the haunts of Negotiation seminars, expense management software, the stuff the modern Willy Loman must think about after blowing the big deal in Cleveland.

On USAirways yesterday I opened the tray table for the first time in a long time and saw this ad for Panasonic Toughbooks. I liked it.

And then I covered it up with my tougher ThinkPad and got some work done.

The back is a lot better

Many thanks to Jim Leonard, Krista Summitt, Mitch Ratcliffe and others who volunteered advice and referrals on getting over this sciatica attack.

I’m a lot better than I was last week. Still a bit creaky, but the real nasty pain is gone, and I can bear to sit in a plane or car seat. Productivity has returned.

Now to get a full night’s sleep

Lunch over IP: The natural history of the @ sign

Lunch over IP: The natural history of the @ sign

Reading Bruno Giussani is a delight. This history of the “@” or “at” sign is a keeper. Bruno is my favorite Swiss blogger and info theory blogger out there.

“The precise birth date of e-mail is unknown, but technology historians set it somewhere in late 1971, when a then 30-year old American computer engineer, Ray Tomlinson, did what he unassuming calls “a quick hack”. He successfully sent the first electronic message from a computer to an account (his own account, in fact) on another computer.”

China’s First Global Capitalist – Businessweek on Yang Yuanqing

China’s First Global Capitalist

“What’s it like to work with the Chinese?” is the top question thrown my way the past 11 months. BusinessWeek helps me answer it with a profile of our chairman, Yang Yangqing.

“Yang Yuanqing, 42, chairman of Lenovo Group Ltd., the leading PC company in China, steps into the Ding Hao Electronics Mall and a dizzying scene. Everywhere there are signs, lights, and swarms of shoppers. Strolling from one shop to another to peruse the displays of his company’s devices, Yang, introduced by his handlers, speaks quietly with shopkeepers. But each time he stops, he is immediately surrounded by a scrum of people giddily snapping his picture with tiny digital cameras and camera phones. Yang is a rock-star executive here, a Chinese Bill Gates.”

I’ll post in the future about my impressions of Lenovo’s culture and leadership. I’ve had a few interactions with Yangqing and have found him remarkably thoughtful and decisive — a guy who projects immense patience and attention to execution. He is not a larger-than-life type of manager who plays into the old PC industry’s adoration for what Jim Manzi at Lotus once called the “Cult of Personality.”

Om Launches the NewTeeVee

NewTeeVee » Welcome to NewTeeVee

A smart launch from GigaOM on the hottest topic I’m following — online video.

“You’ve arrived at the newest member of the GigaOM family, NewTeeVee.com1. We aim to cover online video from end to end and front to back. We’ll point you to hot startups, hot videos, hot pipes — tracing the talent, money, code, and data across the network. We’ll combine the signature GigaOM skepticism with a healthy sense of wonder for all the cool stuff that’s going on out there. And lots and lots of pictures and video.Regular voices from the OMpire (don’t tell him I said that) will be visiting, with pieces from Katie Fehrenbacher on mobile video and Om Malik on telecoms, television, and underlying technologies.”

Best of luck with it Om.

Digital parenting — Junior gets warned

So I’m cruising through the spam when I catch one from Blizzard, the geniuses behind World of Warcraft, and there is a mail to my son — but sent to me because his WoW account is on my credit card, telling him (and me) he’s been busted for swearing at another player.

“A user of the above account has recently been involved in actions deemed inappropriate for the World of Warcraft by the In-Game Support staff of Blizzard Entertainment.  This decision was made after a thorough investigation of the situation as a whole.”

What follows is a direct quote from his instant message tirade to a player who aggrieved him: “YOU MOTHER#$%^ BS IS THE MOST #W#$^%& IMPORTANT ONE IN THIS ^%&$% BG”

Nice. Whatever that meant. It was like a letter home from school, except WoW isn’t teaching him much more than how to wield The Cosmic Axe of Purple LongHammer against some other 12-year old casting Spells of Sticky Asphalt.

Guess who had their account locked down by Dad this morning?  Sheesh.

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