Lucky Wishlist Give Away

We have a Winner!!

Congratulations to O.Himes, whose wishlist number was randomly selected to receive the certificate prize . They received the $25 coupon code in her email. Check out the things they love in their list of wants, but not needs.

In appreciation for those who shopped, dreamed and shared their lists, we also sent out a one-time 10% discount code to everyone who created a wishlist.

Keep on Shopping, Curating and Sharing those lists– and watch for new ways to win coming soon !

Recent collection of Twisted Dreams Pendants

Sesame Street News

I had flashbacks to Sesame Street this morning while trying to scan through some news headlines. Remember the game where you had to pick the item that did not belong? Here were the headlines that greeted me this morning?

Britain warns terror threat is worsening
Police: Spears has minor accident in Mercedes
Haitian prime minister ousted over high food prices

Sing Along: “one of these things is not like the others, one of these things does not belong…”

Does someone at CNN really think that those headlines are all equivalent? That Ms. Spears having a minor traffic accident with no injuries and minor damage is equivalent to arguments to increase the amount of time prisoners can be held with out charge and an entire country rising in revolt because they are starving?
Or is the public so oversaturated with bad news that is beyond their control, almost beyond imagining that we have to throw in “digestable” news chunks just to cope?

It shouldn’t be funny

I know that this news article about a scrub python swallowing the family dog should be completely sad and make me feel for the kids in a strongly protective maternal way, but it has been a sick and twisted sort of week so far, and I have to admit- it made me laugh a little.

Sure, yes, I feel bad for the poor kids who lost their pet terrier/chihuahua mix. I would not wish that event on any child or any human anywhere. Honestly. But that smile that crept on my face as I pictured the poor animal control guy coming to the house to capture the snake with the dog half hanging out of the snake’s jaws and shaking his head because the whole thing could have been prevented… the very definition of Schadenfraude right there.

The fact that CNN had to add a video showing the Lump in the snake, says way too much about human nature right now.

Hey, don’t hate the snake.. it was just hungry.

The MacWorld Point people are missing

I have been having a lot of fun remotely watching the craziness and goings-on at MacWorld this week. There are a handful of liveblogs of the Steve Jobs Keynote for this event that you can go and read. It is interesting to compare the coverage and reporting in different live blogs, what people think is interesting or not. There is a little blurb in the Engadget liveblog that jumped right out at me. It was not even reported on some of the other blogs, so small and inconsequential is it to Apple specific technology and developments. It was this excerpt from the Keynote when Jim Gianopulos ( Chairman & CEO of 20th Century Fox) took the stage [emphasis added are mine]:

10:06am – “The real back story, when Steve came to us, it was a no-brainer. It was the most exciting, coolest thing we’ve ever heard. VoD isn’t a new thing. But there was music, and then the iPod. There was a phone, then the iPhone. Apple does things in an intuitive, insightful way… this will be a transformative version of the rental model. We’re incredibly excited about it.”

“There’s another idea we’ve been talking to Steve about. There are other formats — DVD. And there are next gen formats, like Blu-ray.” Laughter and applause. “People still want to buy hard media, but we don’t want to deny them the benefit of watching the same movie. So we developed a digital copy that will be on discs going forward.”

Stuck in the middle of all of the hype and hoopla about movie rentals on iTunes and making this VoD for real is an interesting little tidbit. Fox intends to put a digital copy of all of its movies on the DVD. So when you buy a hard copy of the disc, you also get a digital copy you can copy to your computer, load on an iPod, put on a file server at your house and watch in a digital home video system, etc.
As far as I am concerned, this is actually a REALLY BIG deal. Some poking around on the web shows that someone with the new Family Guy DVD ( the first DVD to include this feature) confirms this functionality. There is no detail on the functionality/DRM built in. From the MacRumors report, it looks like this will require iTunes and will most likely be DRM’d. However, this is a step forward from the original Fox plan which worked only with Windows and PlaysForSure devices. It is not clear if this means they are abandoning their Windows only path, or if both types of files will be on the DVDs.

This is not the complete solution- none of this works on Linux or Unix computers, it is all still completely laden with DRM, but it is at least 5 steps in the right direction. I hate The Family Guy, but I am tempted to go buy the DVD, just to support the move. Most likely I will check the FOX releases and see what is being released soon. We are a household of media consumers, currently two of us having video capable iPods, three with laptops and 2 portable DVD players- if I can buy a disc and also get digital versions of the movie that the laptop and iPod users can play, I may actually start buying DVDs again- not just renting them. How about you?

The blame game: Technology is evil

“Professor Tara Brabazon, from the University of Brighton, said too many young people around the world were taking the easy option when asked to do research and simply repeating the first things they found on internet searches.” So states an article in The Argus earlier today.

This is without a doubt a true statement, what is troubling is her solution :Ban Google and Wikipedia as options for her students doing research projects. I am so very tired of the people playing the blame game and turning the blame around to the newest technology. Yes, too many educators adopt technology without thinking about how/why to use it in their classroom. But many do a great job with it- working hard late at night to update lesson plans to be sure students are learning relevant information, technologies and life skills. The fact that students are being lazy and taking short cuts on their work has nothing at all to do with the technology and everything to do with the nature of students.

Let’s take a little trip back into the way back machine. Way way back when I was in grades 7-10, the xerox copier was becoming much more common place. ( told you I was old) Libraries were starting to make them available to the public for small fees. Usually the fees to copy were small enough that students could easily xerox whole pages from books at once- making the process of note taking very simple. However, some students took the easy way out and were soon turning in research papers that were copies of article out of World Book or Encylopedia Britannica. Others were blindly quoting what third level sources told them without going back and checking facts. Teachers were angry and frustrated at how this new technology was destroying the students ability to write original papers- so they banned the use of xeroxes during library time and you were required to turn in hand written 3X5 index cards with your notes on them to prove that you actually wrote notes and did not just xerox them. In some small percentage of cases, this probably discouraged students from copying whole articles from the encyclopedias- but it never did keep students from blindly quoting and writing the first references that they found and doing fact checking. As a matter of fact, it tended to discourage lots of fact checking, because the process was painfully manual.

The really good teachers incorporated the copy machine into their lesson plans and used it to free up time students would have been manually writing notes and gave lessons in how to be discriminating with sources, do good analysis of opinions and facts stated in articles and spent time helping students learn to find great sources. These teachers focused more on the process of analysis than on the process of hand writing notes.

I do not believe that this was a new story with our generation, either. I have an odd mental picture of University lecturers griping about the deterioration of their student’s memorization abilities, because of the introduction of the printing press.

This is not a new idea- Neil Postman actually addressed this in his book “Amusing ourselves to Death”, in which he posits that the current media format ( specifically television, but also web video, etc..)has considerably eroded our attention span. I do not argue the truth of this, or that it is a mental capability that people need to continue to work on build and enhance. The ability to hold long threads of thought, argument and discourse is part of what allows researchers to innovate and discover new things. However, the solution is NOT to become luddites and ban technology so that we can get our attention span back. There is simply too much information today for very old techniques( memorization, oral tradition) or even moderately old( card catalogs, book indexes, flipping journal pages) to suffice in a comprehensive search of information. A better approach is to first teach effective search technique and then to spend lots of time on the oldest subject around- critique and analysis of sources.

video viewing up… are we really surprised?

The online world is all a-twitter today as people work through this recent Pew Internet& American Life Survey report. The BBC first reported that “Online video sharing sites are reaping the benefits of the ongoing writers’ strike in the US.” in this article. That led TechCrunch to write an article that quoted the BBC article and recently released Nielsen Online numbers that show “According to Nielsen’s figures, YouTube’s audience was up 18% in the two months after the strike started and Crackle doubled its audience from 1.2 million users to 2.4 million users”.

Now, I have no doubt that these numbers are correct. Gods know I watch more and more video online every day ( no it is NOT all NSFW, thank you). But to attribute this so strongly and immediately to the writer’s strike is yet another example of people’s misunderstanding of co-incidental events. Before I even link the two, I want to see the trends from last year. What was the growth pattern over the months of the year in 2006? After all, the Pew report very strongly shows that teens and young adults are some of the biggest consumers of video, and the November/December time frame includes long holidays, end of semester breaks, etc.. They certainly have significantly more time on their hands to cruise the net than other times when classes are in session. (yes, I do know that there are some folks who watch YouTube on laptops in lecture halls..).

Then, I want to see the numbers on a graph with a matched time pattern for other events. Hulu released in early November. YouTube released a new interface somewhere in that time frame and made it easier to subscribe. Joost did a serious push for viewers and was running strong promos in October. Presidential candidates started getting serious on YouTube, electoral coverage is live on YouTube and getting promo’d in the mainstream press more and more.

I believe that there are a myriad of reasons that online video viewing is up… but that the writer’s strike is actually one on the smallest. The BBC article sounded more like it was written to make the writers on strike look strong, than by someone who atually watches video online.

What about you? Have you purposely turned to the web for video to fill a hole in your TV viewing habits??

It’s a weird, weird world

After getting the kids off to school this morning, I was hit with the “alien beast trying to claw its way free from my stomach” bug. I crawled back into bed for a while and tried to sleep through the cramps and fun pain, then eventually crawled back over to my computer. What I found in my feeds when I got back up was enough to make me want to crawl back into bed again. One or two of these would not be so strange, but back to back to back??? Time for a world-wide reset button.

Here is a synopsis:

Stellar parenting:

Man Throws 4 children off bridge, because of fight with wife

4 decomposing children’s bodies found in home- no one even knows whose kids they are yet.

Local Tragedy:

Rochester Indiana is about 45 minutes north of my house, and although we are a bit soggy, there are places very close by where the flooding is very bad. I can not imagine being able to save 3 kids and then getting stuck…sitting on top of an SUV and knowing 2 other children were drowning inside.

Whackos take it out on themselves:

Man cuts off his hand, fearing eternal damnation.

I am just considering going back to bed at this point and hoping the news looks better when I wake up.