Search This Blog

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hey, It's a Digital World Out There

I do a lot of engineering work on TV network structure. I found myself today searching through Google for a digital TV to analog TV converter. I thought I would find a lot of options, but surprise, not a one to be found. This amazed me, since in 2009 the TV broadcasters will be switching over to an entirely digital signal. All those people who still have analog TVs will need one of these magic conversion boxes. Gee, the FCC is already offering incentives to buy the converters. So where are they?

Does industry and the public believe that analog televisions will work without a converter post-2009?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Why Do More People Vote For American Idol Than For The President?

We live in a society where more people vote for American Idol contestants than for the President of the United States. Here's why:
  1. Idol contestants give a straight-from-the-heart performance and are judged on their talents. Presidential candidates talk around issues and are judged on whether they were "less offensive" than their opponents.
  2. Idol judges give blunt feedback on a contestant's performance. (Okay, only two of the judges). Looking at recent presidential debates, the moderator gives no feedback and the media gives very obtuse feedback.
  3. American Idol is entertaining. Presidential debates are seldom entertaining. Or informative.
  4. Americans feel like they can make a difference by voting for Idol contestants. Americans feel that their vote for President isn't meaningful.
  5. The packaging of the Idol brand is professional and eye catching. Nothing presented during a presidential campaign has that same quality.

Maybe presidential contests need to be updated for modern America.

  1. All the candidates gather, they give a speech and the Supreme Court narrows the field to a "final three".
  2. The final three get to give a speech and then perform a skit pertaining to their favorite key social issue.
  3. Jay Leno, David Letterman and Jon Stewart rate the candidates and give their blunt, but comical feedback.
  4. America votes by phone for their "winner". 24-hours the new president is crowned. The losing candidates go on a 10-city tour, performing their skits and telling witty political stories. Or making movies about the environment.

Forget Quality, It's About Making a Buck

Eugene has a executive health club called the Downtown Athletic Club. I have been a member since 1994, and under the direction of Marty Boozer, the club provided excellent services that provided a great atmosphere for not only 'working out' but also making good business contacts. The facility was kept pristine and all was in great working order.

About a year ago the owner's daughter took over for Mr. Boozer. Since she has taken over, most of the long-time employees have left or been let go, the facilities are decaying and the due have gone up. I have been asking for months for a few basic things to be fixed; a scale, a swimsuit dryer, a water fountain. I'm always told these will be taken care of, but to date, nothing has been done.

The DAC is no longer a prestigious club, it's now on par with other, less costly health clubs in the area. Many long time members are realizing this and are leaving the club. Many of those that remain gripe about the decay.

I find it very sad that this organization has turned its back on quality in order to save a few dollars. I can only believe that if the decay continues, members will continue to leave. New members that join will not stay long. The owners may have a plan in place, but it doesn't seem to favor the membership.

Is it a sign of where America is heading that we will trade quality for a few dollars?

Blue's Clues Extended

Actors Cabaret of Eugene has been performing the first staged version of Blue's Clues. Blue's Clues is a very popular young children's television show on Nickelodeon. The stage version has been playing to packed houses of happy kids.

The show has been extended four weeks through April 14, playing Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

More information is available at

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Computer locally or centrally?

I am consulting for a company that has a difficult decision to make... continue using Microsoft applications and operating systems, or migrate to Linux and use server based applications. In this case we are evaluating Google Apps.

We are finding that a majority of the company's employees user their computers mostly (solely?) for word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail, and instant messenger. Certainly these users could use a Linux machine instead of a Windows-based machine.

Having centralized applications and documents has the advantage of being accessible anywhere. Still there is the fear of storing sensitive information on someone else's server.

When a decision is made, I will post a follow-up.

Friday, March 9, 2007

An Ounce of Prevention

Today a customer database became corrupt and there was no good backup to recover. It took a team of three working day and night to manually enter data and restore the customer's database. And is it right?? This is just another example where some up front planning and preparation can save time (and embarrassment) later. It is so easy in the fast-paced workplace to "do" rather than "plan", but I can't count how many times I've seen where a small amount of time spent up front would save 'pain' later.
A good lesson for software managers... plan before doing.