31 October, 2006
Recien llegado de Vancouver casi, me lance el periplo de 20 horas (la ida por la vuelta) a Miami para renovar mi pasaporte Venezolano y me resulta grato informar que el proceso fue un exito y el Consulado Venezolano en Miami realmente funciona.
Hace un tiempo atras me toco interactuar con el consulado por primera vez, y confieso que me dio un poco de temor hacerlo, puesto que ninguna comunicación con ellos (por telefono o e-mail) recibia respuesta. Sin embargo me aventuré y les mande mi pasaporte (el viejo) para extender su vigencia por correo. Al tiempo lo recibi de vuelta, con una prórroga, tal como lo ofrecían: la vaina había funcionado, sorpresa!
El proceso para la renovación del pasaporte (léase el proceso para sacar un nuevo pasaporte) fue un poco extraño: luego de llenar una planilla para solicitar una cita a través de la página del Consulado, recibí varios mensajes un poco extraños que básicamente requerían que confirmara, reconfirmara y recontraconfirmara que seguía aún pendiente del proceso de renovacion... hasta que finalmente me llegó un mensaje con la hora y fecha de la cita.
En el Consulado, el proceso avanzó con gran suavidad. Nos separaron en dos grupos: unos con cita y los otros sin cita. Nos pasaron a los que teníamos cita primero y luego de pasar por el detector de metales lo recibía a uno una especie de anfitrión que recogía el papel de la cita (había que imprimir el mensaje con la fecha y día para mostrarlo) y lo mandaban a sentar a uno en un salón cómodo y amplio. Frente a las sillas había sendas filas designadas para cada tipo de trámite (Fe de Vida, Certificado de Uso, Poderes, etc.)
Eventualmente llamaban el nombre de uno (no a grito pelado, sino por altavoz), entregaba uno los recaudos y lo convocaban con un papelito para el mediodía a recoger el pasaporte nuevo. Ahí estuve a la hora que me convocaron y en un ratico me llamaron y tenía en mis manos mi flamante pasaporte de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, el cual ahora tiene hasta holograma y código de barra.
Suena a broma, pero es en serio: apartando afiliaciones políticas, buen trabajo el que esta haciendo el Consulado Venezolano en Miami!
I received an invite today to join a new community by Amazon. It's called Askville and it's pretty much the same thing as Ask Yahoo!: a place where you can go to, in order to get your "questions" answered.
Am I alone, or does Amazon seem a little slow moving lately? I was happy when I recently saw them implement comments as a new feature in their reviews (something that was loooooong overdue) but in general they seem to be a couple of steps behind the other large sites.
Granted that they are not the same thing as Google or Yahoo! but I admit I just don't see them the same way I used to before... and it doesn't seem I am alone: this blogger is analyzing Amazon's stock performance and he feels they are a little overvalued as well.
So, bottom line: don't get me wrong, because I still love them (I continue to be a committed Amazon.com reviewer and customer) but they are starting to feel more and more like a retailer... which is probably all they are, after all. :)
30 October, 2006
One thing I tell you: they are NOT making me fly that thing! :)
Posted by manny hernandez @ 09:33
29 October, 2006
Gracias a este blog, me alegro de haber descubierto a Pato Fu! Son brasileños y tienen un sonido un poco entre Aterciopelados, Kinky y Julieta Venegas.
A pesar de que el video es "un poco" extraño (imaginen Ren & Stimpy y aun no le llegan), el tema es super-contagioso. Fue tomado de su album Toda Cura Para Todo Mal. Enjoy!
So I leave for a week, unplugging myself from the blogosphere (there, Mat: I said it again) and I come back to a crummy Blogger that will not even let me update my template: I keep getting this ugly error every time I try to (any tips on what to do about this would be highly appreciated):
001 java.net.ConnectException: Connection refusedblog/26/30/9/manuelhp42/atom.xmlIn the meantime, the folks over at the Blogger Buzz talk about last week's "novel", while I am not alone in my frustration (or in my considering moving over to Wordpress if things don't get better).
I will stick to my guns and keep publishing my blog here, but if the problems don't stop once the Beta currently under way becomes the new Blogger, I will be moving: it will be a lot of work (and a good chunk of linked traffic lost), but...
In less than a week, we'll be strolling through Loch Haven Park to help raise awareness for diabetes.
If you haven't yet contributed or signed up, you are still on time: join me or sponsor me.
Hope to see you there!
Posted by manny hernandez @ 04:21
28 October, 2006
Esta es una razón por la que siento que ofrecer servicios de traducción sigue siendo algo rentable en este mundo... Sin comentarios.
Nota: Estamos de vuelta de Vancouver. Este fue uno de los mensajes notables que tenia en mi correo, al volver. :)
20 October, 2006
Tomorrow bright and early we're heading out to Vancouver. We'll be back on the 28th. Needless to say we're very excited to take this vacation. I haven't taken this much time off in over a year, so I very much need it, plus it's the first time we're going to be by ourselves, without the baby: he's going to stay with "las abuelas" and "Tia Camila". I think it's going to be interesting and fun at the same time.
The blog may be a little slow in the next few days, unless I find some nearby internet cafe that won't make posting on it an inconvenience. Otherwise, I will see you guys a little over a week from now!
Posted by manny hernandez @ 19:27
Earlier this week, a student from the Film School approached us about promoting a PSA supporting an organization that was backing the fight against breast cancer. Being the cause that it was, we didn't only promote the casting need they had: we interviewed the student and published an article on the Student Portal back in Full Sail.
The organization they are supporting is called Shirts For A Cure and ALL their designs truly rock (musically and design-wise). I just ordered this model, but I highly advice you to check out the rest of the designs. You may find one for one of your favorite bands, but even if you don't know any of the bands whose shirts are being offered, it's such a worthy cause that you should still get one.
The Mars Volta keeps doing it. Omar, Cedric and company don't seem to be able to get an album wrong. Though Amputechture is no match for Deloused in Comatorium it is significantly better than Frances The Mute and a fascinating showcase of musicianship. Fans of prog rock and fusion jazz alike are bound to find in here a treat for their senses, as the album jumps from track to track, leaving nothing to chance.
Within the 16-minute long opus "Tetragrammaton" (easily the anchor track for the album), one can clearly identify the influences of the likes of King Crimson's Robert Fripp and legendary jazz master Miles in the work of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, the genius lead guitarist and composer behind The Mars Volta.
Other outstanding pieces are "Asilos Magdalena", which delivers a hypnotizing blend of acoustic guitar by Omar and the voice of singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala. Last, the opening and closing tracks frame in a relatively dark atmosphere the remainder of the album, in a mood that brings Porcupine Tree to mind.
I am seriously hooked on The Mars Volta. Ever since I discovered them, they've become one of my favorite bands and this album continues to draw me into their music.
Similar concept to the one posted a while back: this guy took it a step beyond... it's very creative and funny at times.
19 October, 2006
It is confirmed: Genesis will reunite for a tour next year, but without the participation of Peter Gabriel.
Quoting from the BBC article
"A spokesman for Genesis said specific details of the tour and 'long term plans' including possible new material would be announced in the next few weeks."
I am happy to read this. It would be perfect if Peter joined them, but... hey! It's better than no Genesis at all! :)
I heard someone say this recently and it stuck with me. Roadmaps are our plans for the future, how we hope things will evolve and the path they will take. In Product Management and Product Development, we constantly refer to them... but are they really a static thing, something that we can "hold on" to? I'd say they are more of a general reference.
Did you ever hear that John Lennon song "Beautiful Boy" (I may have mentioned it here before) that went:
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."It's sort of the same thing. We are busy making plans and implementing things in our little worlds, while the rest of the world keeps moving and making their own plans and implementations... The result? When we lift up our heads, the environment is not the same any more and some of the very assumptions we had made before have moved.
Frustrating? A bit, but it's reality. We gotta deal with it and know that from time to time we may need to look again at the data, restate our assumptions and review our plans based on them. I wonder if you have any stories from your lives about roadmaps that proved to be polite fiction? :)
I just saw a video of the coming Time Machine feature to be included in the Mac OS X Leopard upgrade.
It's unbelievable. I don't want to spoil the video, but basically it seems like a huge leap in terms of how we deal with deleted data and restoring lost files.
18 October, 2006
I landed on VeryFunnyAds.com and just saw this very funny commercial for the BC Lions. Since we're gearing up to go to Vancouver, BC on vacation for a week, starting this Saturday, it also felt very appropriate! :)
And as a bonus, here's another fun ad from France, about the March of the Penguins (called March of the Emperor there). It's what I call thinking outside of the box. Enjoy...
While I admit the Chicken Little-like title may be a bit blown out of proportion, I am not honestly stoked about the released of the latest generation in browsing to come out of Redmond, Washington. I downloaded the last beta of Internet Explorer 7 and ran it in my laptop for a while before I decide to roll it back (it was nice to find out that the latest beta could be rolled back -a feature I am not sure to find in the the final version).
In any case, I will definitely wait on applying the Automatic Update Microsoft will be sending our way for a few weeks. I won't say "I WILL NEVER install that damned browser!" because I will end up eating my words. I will install it over time, but I am not in a rush to do it just now. Why? It doesn't really offer me with anything I don't already have with Firefox: plain and simple.
Posted by manny hernandez @ 18:58
I had seen this character a few weeks ago on YouTube, but I didn't know that he had a show on HBO ("Da Ali G Show") and this was one of his characters on it. Blame it on my excessive Internet focus, which results in complete Cable TV ignorance... :)
Here't the trailer for Borat, his coming movie, scheduled to be released Nov. 3. It seems pretty funny!
I just got this communication from the folks over at SaveTheInternet.com:
Tune in to PBS tonight to see the SavetheInternet.com Coalition featured in "The Net at Risk," a documentary produced by award-winning journalist Bill Moyers.
Then join other SavetheInternet.com members in an online Web discussion at PBS.org.
Bill Moyers' show airs at 9 p.m. in most cities (check local listings). Immediately following the East Coast broadcast, PBS.org will host a live Internet debate between Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott and phone industry flack Mike McCurry.
You can be a part of this online debate. Here's how to join in:
When: Oct. 18, 10:30 pm Eastern / 7:30 pm PacificYou'll be asked to log in to participate in the online discussion.
Posted by manny hernandez @ 12:12
17 October, 2006
It was a stressful period leading to the party. We suffered changes in the party's main "attraction" from puppets to animal petting to, what ended up being the final solution: a big bouncing castle that we rented from RentAJumper.com.
In the end, the stress all led to a party that was as smooth and enjoyable as can be. Hey! You can even see me here sporting my Marillion shirt in "Manny's Hot Dog Corner".
One tip I found the other day was this:
A guide line which we found very helpful with our three was that the number of invited guests should be (less than or ) equal to the birthday childs age. i.e. five guests for a fifth birthday party.We had about 15 kids over and Santiago turned three, so you do the math. Indeed it was very involved (almost like one of my projects at work), but the truth is that when I saw Santiago's face and saw him enjoy himself so much, it was ALL worth it.
I don't know if next year we'll repeat the stunt (maybe we'll do a theme park party with a handful of friends) but this year, it was a great time. Thanks to all who came! And to those who couldn't, you were in our hearts.
It really doesn't matter whether Toyota's intentions were completely innocent. When you look at the similarity of the logo they used for one of their websites and the one for 9rules.com, there's a big red flag waving.
Quoting from the comment of an Intellectual Property attorney that teaches in our Entertainment Media School:
"... in copyright infringement lawsuits, judges and juries use something called a lay observer test, meaning that if the average person can look or listen to the two works in question and see that they are identical in some ways, there is an argument for infringement."
I am subscribed to a fabulous newsletter from the Wharton School of Business, called Knowledge@Wharton.
Recently they sent a fascinating article that I could relate to in more ways than one. The article, titled "Plateauing: Redefining Success at Work" touches on how success is seen by more and more middle managers in America today.
Is America starting to pick up the lead of Europe in terms of learning to work to live and not work to live?
16 October, 2006
Reading about the expansion of LinkedIn into the niche of service recommendations, I ran into a post of an upset LinkedIn user who had found no good use for the site.
I normally don't do much when I see user complaints for a site that I don't run, but I felt I'd post my two cents about my experience with LinkedIn. For context purposes, I currently have 329 contacts in my LinkedIn network, some of which are heavy users.
1) SPAM: Sure I've gotten (mostly in recent months) a handful of requests from people I don't know, but it hasn't been anything like an unmanageable thing that has taken over my days and nights to deal with. In the end, there's always the option to decline invitations to connect, etc. which is what I do when I don't know the person that is trying to contact me (nothing against people from Holland, but a good deal of the requests from unknown people come from there).
2) New acquaintances: I've landed some nice business opportunities and people I didn't know before are now in my circle of acquaintances. This I see as the biggest benefit of the tool: not getting in touch with close friends (that is what other Social Networks are better at, by reason of sheer volume), but rather establishing new relationships through your existing network, actually making the most of the proverbial "six degrees of separation" concept.
3) Integration with Outlook: heavy weight... It does take up system resources and I wouldn't recommend it. But you don't need it. I haven't played with the Apple Search Widget they offer, but there's a chance it is of a lighter nature due to the type of technology that these widgets typically are made up of. I won't offer advice about their toolbars, since I haven't used any.
There you have it. How about your experience? Anything to report from your use of LinkedIn?
The audio quality is not great, but well worth checking out to wet your musical appetite. Indeed, The Mars Volta demonstrate why they are one of the greatest bands around these days. This is a video of them playing the track "Tetragrammaton" from Amputechture, their most recent album, live in Fresno.
Too bad silly fans like the someone over in Seattle's Endfest would do things as stupid as tossing bottles of urine onto the stage. Needless to say they stopped that performance right there...
No, I don't have a crystal ball, but I follow trends and something I've observed lately is that Google is on a shopping spree. So who's next in their target? I am feeling adventurous today, so I will say Netvibes (let me thank Luis for pointing me in the direction of ).
Netvibes is a Web 2.0 product offered by a Paris-based web development startup. If you encounter it at first you may think: "Customizable Google Home Page again -what's so special about it?" Unlike Google's option Netvibes (like all other nice products developed in Ajax) feels like a desktop application.
Netvibes allows you to listen to podcasts without any more software, it integrates with Meebo transparently (as a tab) and lets you preview messages from your GMail, Yahoo! Mail and (yes!) POP mail accounts seemlessly. And, if the tabs it comes with are not enough for you, you can add other tabs (a-la-Firefox, but inside the browser) as this blogger has done.
So why would Google want to snatch them? Think of all the products they've bought in recent times. Each time they were items that either enhanced an existing product they were already offering or they added something to their product line (I guess that strategy is not really unique to them... but (1) even after their capital expenditures they have free cash left behind and (2) they are investing). So there you have it! If I am right, you owe me a pack of gum... yes, you! :)
15 October, 2006
A few minutes ago, as a result of an earlier post I made, a friend from High School (back in Venezuela) found out about me and we got back in touch... about 17 years later. THAT is the power of the web!
Do you have any similar stories to share?
We even ran into a good friend, her partner and her daughter, with a beautiful sign that read "Love Makes A Family". After the parade was over, we headed for Lake Eola, where we got on one the swan pedal boats. It was all pretty unplanned but it ended up being fun.
Posted by manny hernandez @ 16:32
13 October, 2006
Yesterday, we were at a meeting where the person presenting brought up a video of a TV ad from EDS (the IT company) showing some guys building airplanes in the air.
It was hilarious and it also struck a chord with me, because in the Web Development, that is something we do all the time! The most recent example I can think of was the redesign of the home page of the portal that I manage, along with the change of the Content Management System that drives it... while we kept the existing site up and running.
We had one "live" production site, one "non-live" (IP-based) production site and two development spaces, one corresponding to each production site, so that we could maintain the current site and make any code changes necessary to it, until we were done with the transition. It was crazy, but it turned out to work out beautifully and it was fun too.
I wish the video were still up on YouTube or Google Video, but it was taken down. For now this site offers the EDS airplane commercial in MPG format.
Below, you can see another one EDS commercial that I think will crack you up too. This one mocks the San Fermin Bull Running festivities.... with squirrels.
Reading a post about turning 34 that my great friend Rafa wrote reminded me of my feelings about birthdays in general. I remember when I turned 25 and 30, both times I felt like I was actually getting older... it's hard to explain, because it probably had more to do with the "round" numbers than anything else, being that they are somewhat of "milestone" numbers, if that makes sense.
On my birthdays I don't necessarily look back at what I've accomplished and the road ahead (I tend to do that more around New Year's time). But I can say life's been good. I have a wonderful family that I love. I've learned a lot in all my jobs and from all my bosses and peers (yes, even the ones that it may have not been as fun to work with -you can learn something from everyone).
When I think of the future, I remember the lyrics of "Beautiful Boy" by John Lennon, where he said:
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.So true, so true... and you: what effect do birthdays have on you?
My friend Jacquie is having her birthday today (Feliz cumpleaños, amiga) just like my son. She is in charge of introducing international students around the world to Full Sail: yes, we all feel she has one of the coolest jobs here! :)
During a recent trip to Berlin, she found a fascinating channel on German television: ze sheep-counting channel! Can you beat that, you insomniacss out there? I bet you wish you were in Deutschsland, ja? ;)
12 October, 2006
Lisa Gerrard released this week her new album The Silver Tree. It used to only be available through iTunes, but now you can also get it through Amazon.com.
Lisa Gerrard has always been one of my favorite singers. I loved her voice when she sang with Dead Can Dance, and I continued to enjoy her style since she started her solo career. Among her solo albums, her work scoring movies such as The Insider and Whale Rider attracted me the most... until this album.
The Silver Tree stands out in 2006 as a solid piece of ambient music that with the ethnic quality that has always been the staple of her music. The album scores an easy five stars, making it one of the best releases of 2006.
Superman es Venezolano, su nombre completo es Superman Ramon Valor Perez y vive en el Estado Guarico, Venezuela.
Posted by manny hernandez @ 17:53
11 October, 2006
Tomorrow I am doing a workshop on blogging at work. I put together a Powerpoint presentation that I felt would be useful to offer here. Turned it into a PDF for convenience purposes.
Feel free to reuse it if you find it useful:
Blogs: More Than Just Personal Journals (PDF format)
How about a song for Ronald?
It would just be so nice if the dude in the backseat weren't out of tune. :S
This article from the Best Blog on WordPress made some excellent points around our short attention span these days, and how we don't take some things seriously enough (we don't devote enough time to things that require dedication) while we seem to want to take other things (solution pills) too seriously. Seems like we're getting some things all mixed up, aren't we?
As I was sitting at the computer, I heard a distinctive knock on the glass of our front door. It was like someone was there, so I went to check who would be coming by at 5 a.m.... I was surprised to see a deer, a beautiful deer (a little younger than the one in the picture -the one in the photo just happened to be the nicest, recent deer picture that had the Creative Commons license in Flickr). I was slow to run to grab my camera and the deer was fast... and though it was just a brief encounter and we didn't see face to face but only through a glass, it was a very special moment. It made the morning very special.
Smells like... Fall is here
This morning smells special too. At the time I am posting this, I am wide awake and it's bright outside. I am writing as I come back from leaving the recycling bins in the curb to be picked up. It dawned on me that fall is with us now: fall has arrived in Orlando.
I am pretty sure it was the smell of our magnolia in the front of the subdivision that I sensed when I was coming back... and that just-perfect-temperature that makes you feel great in the morning.
Good morning, everyone! Have a good day! I am going to grab my morning coffee and go wake up my wife and my son.
Ah! Remember: If someone knocks on your door one of these days, don't be afraid to check even if it's late at night. You may be in for a surprise! ;)
A few weeks ago I posted about Writely, praising it for its good things. Well, it seems Writely is no more its own self. Just now, as I was logging into Google Spreadsheets to pull out a sheet we had been working on with the list of guests for Santiago's birthday this weekend, I found myself looking at the recent documents me and Mat had been bouncing back and forth via Writely for the launch of the new Avance Associates web site.
The documents I had in my Writely account until recently were sucked into Google Docs & Spreadsheets. What a nice surprise! Honestly, even after installing OpenOffice on my Mac, I am seeing gradually less and less reason to NOT work on service-based software that you basically have available from anywhere. Google's direction in this respect seems to be right on the money!
Microsoft will have to move quicker if they don't want to be left out in the years to come selling stand-alone applications that only people and companies unwilling to move on will continue to fork huge amounts of money for.
10 October, 2006
What happens when a bunch of people from all over the place contribute to write a book? No, it's not called a publishing company. It's called a book wiki, and precisely that is what this project is about. Quoting from their site:
We Are Smarter Than Me has been formed to prove that the community can write a compelling book better than individual experts.
... this book is being written by, and for, the community. The Founders have begun the writing process, but the text you see is alive. All registered members may edit, add and delete content at will. Just click the "edit" link at the base of each chapter's text and you're on your way.
Sounds like Wikipedia? It's because the concept is similar, just applied to publishing, a pretty novel experiment as far as I can tell.
I received an invite to participate in the project (something that has me very excited) from the people over at Wharton School Publishing, who have published numerous books I've had the chance of writing a review for in the past couple of years.
The focus of the book, tentatively titled We Are Smarter Than Me, is serving as a guide to the landscape of community knowledge and the identification of key principles to harness it.
To ensure the success of the venture, they've also enlisted some additional resources to provide support in the form of an advisory committee of faculty and industry experts, led by Tom Malone, a senior faculty member at MIT who heads up the Collective Intelligence Laboratory. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, has agreed to serve as a member of the Advisory Board as well.
If this sounds appealing to you, I say join in to become a part of what will become the world's biggest book on community in 2007.
I just had a chance to read this article in Blogcritics. It partly reminded me of an experience I had in a record store in Venezuela, but still felt like it was here in the US.
I was looking for an album by Pablo Milanes that had been released ages ago (the one that had a track called "Hombre Preso Que Mira A Su Hijo", where he basically turned a Benedetti poem into a song). I went to this record chain store that had some of the same types of people in them that the author describes in his article, and asked about this album. He gave me "the look" back, as if I'd asked him something in Chinese, and pointed out that the album in question had been a limited release and my chances of getting it were slim at best. He recommended that I get the compilation of hits by the artist (insert here your favorite sales push pitch) to which I said no, since I was on a very specific search.
I went a few stores down the same mall and ran into another record shop (not smaller by any means, but that's irrelevant to my point). I started simply browsing through the reduced items, and what do you think I found? The SAME album I was asking about, and not one but dozens of copies of it, one of which ended up in my collection.
I couldn't help going back to the other store to point out to the guy who'd "taken care" of me before, to let him know if anyone else asked about this limited edition CD, they could go to this other store. ;)
Indeed, the music scene and the industry at large is no longer the same, but I have faith that there is still hope because I learn about artists that develop their own craft and deliver it directly to their fans using the Web as an e-commerce/distribution vehicle. So ironic... The very claim that the industry makes, ends up being the way in which innovative independent artists convey their art. I say there's hope: what do you think?
The new Apple "I am a PC" commercial is (once more) hilarious. It deals with the ease with which you can produce videos using iVideo vs. Movie Maker. The case they make is... well, compelling, to say the least. Hopefully you will agree, if you view the first iMovie video that I recently put together.
Check it out!
I am close to done with a fantastic new book from the Voices That Matter series from New Riders, titled "Dispatches from Blogistan" by Suzanne Stefanac.
As a blogger for almost five years now, I've found it VERY useful in every way. I have it on my list to review in Amazon.com very soon (giving it five stars, of course). It is without a doubt the best reference for bloggers out there.
As I gear up for a workshop on blogging I will be delivering this coming Thursday, I am citing it as the #1 reference for all attendees.
The book also has an accompanying blog (not surprisingly) that I highly recommend to all new and veteran bloggers alike.
09 October, 2006
What came as a surprise (I know, I shouldn't be surprised about it) was that, as soon as the lights were came on, one of the persons working with the show came out with a TON of Elmo balloons (I mean a ton!) He was met by an horde of parents desperate to leave an extra $8 in the UCF Arena floor (after having paid $27 per ticket plus some commissions and fees in some cases, if you got them through Ticketmaster.com). I admit I ended up forking the money for the overpriced balloons... but not after waiting for a while, until Santiago realized that every single other kid around him was getting one! :P
Within minutes there were no balloons left and if you looked back you could see a sea of floating Elmos in the audience. It was a surreal experience... :)
I just finished applying a good chunk of changes to the blog. It's the first step of a two-phase approach in order to migrate to a three-column design.
Today, I incorporated the CSS I liked the most from the friends over at Blogger templates.
In the coming days/weeks, I will be working on the second part of the process. You will obviously notice the changes. :)
Posted by manny hernandez @ 18:47
Well, seems like Mark Cuban got this one wrong. A matter of days after the rumors about a potential Google purchase of YouTube hit the blogosphere, the Search Engine giant announced today the all-stock deal, whereby Google will be snapping YouTube for $1.65 billion, making it its most expensive purchase yet.
Still, Cuban posted on his blog today, claiming he still thinks Google is crazy. He's (still) got some very valid points but, like he does when he goes nuts in a game, he's not shutting up when he should. He's probably getting some nice (unintended) publicity from making this much fuzz about the takeover. Not that he needs it... or does he?
Now, more important: what will come out of this?
-Google will be able to take #1 spot in the online video market, one of the most exciting areas on the web nowadays. Considering how much community building they were missing with Google Video and how much of a community YouTube had going, they are going to be winning here.
-YouTube, besides the financial muscle Google can bring, will probably benefit too from the higher quality streaming capabilities that Google can offer. I have posted numerous videos to both platforms consistently getting much nicer results (in terms of streaming and video quality) with Google Video than with YouTube.
I am sure I am missing other benefits, as well as some other difficulties, like the one pointed out here. Any other comments? Is anybody else excited about this besides me? :)
P.S. Thanks to my friend Mechie for the heads up instants after the news was announced.
Our company, Avance Associates, launched its new web site today. The web site sports a slick, minimalist look that cleverly blends the colors of the company's logo while it runs on a fusebox framework using PHP as the underlying language. It incorporates an RSS feed powered by Feedburner that spits out recent posts from this blog.
The design and development was done by Mat Giordano, whose services I highly recommend. He also counted on the guidance and instructive hand of Mike Edelnant of Visual Aesthetic.
We are proud to announce this major step in the evolution of our company and invite you to spread the word about it if you ever know of anybody needing help in the areas of translation, internet marketing, and design.
Some of the company's current and past customers include numerous Major League Baseball teams, Border Trade Alliance, Addison-Wesley, AOL Latin America and Manduca Ventures.
08 October, 2006
It's not what some of you may be thinking...
Read the reply I got from my ISP's Tech Support this afternoon after I wrote to them earlier today. Can any of you shed some more light on the topic or share any additional recommendations?
For now I disabled the catch-all status of main account of the domain targeted (won't go into any more details, since I don't want to put any of my domains here to attract more of these attacks).
Name : Manuel Hernandez
Phone : _____
Browser Info : Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.1) Gecko/20061003 Firefox/2.0
I have been getting a LOT of messages addressed to an account I have not set up, yet they keep arriving. They seem to be something related to spam.
Dear Manuel Hernandez,
Thank you for contacting Online Support. It appears that you may have been "Joe Jobbed".
A Joe job is an e-mail spoofing exploit in which someone sends out huge volumes of spam that appear to be from someone other than the actual source. A Joe job is sometimes conducted as an act of revenge on someone who reports a spammer to their Internet service provider (ISP) or publicly advocates anti-spam legislation. The perpetrator is said to be Joeing the legitimate owner of the e-mail address they use. The Joe job is one of the oldest spamming operations in existence, and one of the simplest ones to carry out: the spammer may not have to do anything more than change the "Reply To" address in their e-mail program.
The term originated from an attack on Joe Doll, proprietor of Joe's CyberPost (joes.com).
Spammers often will use a random address from their spam list as the from address in their outgoing spam. This is done simply to disguise the true source. It's easy to become the victim of a Joe job, even if you are not an anti-spam advocate!
Everybody is at risk of being "Joe Jobbed".
So how can you protect yourself and your email account?
Don't unsubscribe from anything. That lets spammers know they have a valid email address. Keep your email address off websites!
Now that you have been a victim, you may not have any recourse to remedy the problem, if it is still persisting, except to change your email address. This is a discouraging answer, I am sure. The best protection is prevention.
This kind of attach really blew me away! I'd never seen so much SPAM in so little time... in the account where I received it, at least.
Posted by manny hernandez @ 16:13
After his less-than-stellar 2003 album Sacred Love, Sting is now putting out Songs from the Labyrinth, an album where he cover the music of 17t century John Dowland, accompanied by Bosnian lute player Edin Karamazov. How will that sound? Oct. 10 we'll know.
For now I can only hope it will be better than Sacred Love, but that shouldn't be a tall call... can you tell how much I enjoyed it? ;)
Posted by manny hernandez @ 03:57
07 October, 2006
As the final version of Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 is due to be released later in October, Firefox is not sleeping. Today, Firefox 2 Release Candidate 2 was made available for download.
Adoption of Firefox has continued to increase, surpassing the 12% mark in Sept. 2006, according to Market Share. Still, if you ask me, that's not enough: I am not going to go into a rant of "IE is a crappy browser, etc. etc." It's more like Firefox runs on superior technology and is significantly more secure to use while browsing the increasingly more unsafe waters of the web. Plus it's got a much more intuitive interface, which Microsoft is only playing catch up with... as usual.
If I had a crystal ball, I'd predict at least 20% market share for Firefox a year from now, if not more. Perhaps, combined with a steeper decline in IE usage, due to the increase in the user base of Apple machines now that they run on Intel processors. ;)
Posted by manny hernandez @ 15:55
Oops! I knew they'd eventually find something bad with diet Cola Drinks besides the aspartame. I guess not even the Splenda-sweetened soda is safe... Actually, it kinda makes sense: Cola drinks are anything but natural. Why would we insist so much drinking them?
Posted by manny hernandez @ 15:53
Something you don't expect to run into these days, yet still something so natural and human. Ironic, huh? The more "connected" we become, the less we truly connect with others.
Hug someone else and pass this along!
Quien no se acuerda de estos Japoneses que no sabian papa de español pero podian cantar la salsa caliente del Japon?
Gracias a los amigos de Te.Acuerdas.De, pude dar con este video que paso a compartir...
I ended up calling the builder of my house and they argued that the warranty that covered this type of issue had expired two years after our closing (as usual, how convenient) , but they would "kindly send a Quality Assurance inspector" to assist me in identifying the cause of the leak. He came by and climbed on the roof, pointing out to the outlet of the dryer vent, which had roof cement that had cracked around it. All I had to do was swing by The Home Depot, get a couple of tubes of roofing cement, apply them and be done... I did as he instructed me and saw no more problems, or so I thought.
Today I had our handyman come by to fix the damaged paint in the ceiling inside (above the dryer) and he pointed out that he still felt a bit of humidity in the damaged spot. He climbed in the attic and found this pearl you see in the picture. The duct that dumps the air from the dryer to the environment was disconnected from the roof... and it had probably been that way for a while because the attic was full of dryer lint. How's that? An Act of God, as warranties sometimes exclude events? I don't think so. More like lousy workmanship.
Who's to be trusted these days?
Posted by manny hernandez @ 09:41
06 October, 2006
Almost two years after he called touring quits, the news that circulated earlier in the year about Phil Collins reforming Genesis with his former bandmembers from Genesis, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks (Peter Gabriel doesn't seem to be in the plans), to do a tour of the US and Europe in 2007 are picking up steam again.
At the same time, the Wikipedia article for Genesis includes mention of word from the band's management group saying this is not the case. At this point, I am going to say it will happen... First, Collins hasn't really seen much luck in recent years. Second, he recently split from his third wife. And last, this would be a much expected reunion by all of us who saw the band sadly fade away with its infamous Calling All Stations album. The timing would be perfect for such a move.
Who's on board for a concert if they reunite?
I guess that's the echo that resonates from Mark Cuban's comment earlier in the week, when he said "Only a 'moron' would buy YouTube", after learning about Google apparently showing interest in buying the main stop for video on the web for roughly $1.6 billion.
Seems like YouTube may not suffer the fate of Napster after all, huh? ;)
Since I haven't posted anything since yesterday morning, I figured I'd share a little bit of Word knowledge I acquired today.
Have you ever needed to add a watermark to your Word documents? You know, that "transparent" looking element in the background of your documents: could be your company logo, could be the word "DRAFT", etc. Here's how to do it:
1) When in Word, go to the Format option in the menu.
2) Select the Background option.
3) Pick "Printed Watermark" from the list.
4) Select among the options available: Picture Watermark (for a logo, for instance) or Text Watermark. It also allows you to lay it out horizontally or diagonally.
There you go! Courtesy of my next door neighbor, Ed. :)
Have a good weekend, you people!
05 October, 2006
Back in September, I posted news about Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey" remix competition. Today I've had a chance to check out some of the remixes that have been posted and I was BLOWN AWAY!
Listen to the Top 20 Remixes. So far, I've loved "Favard's Remix", "The Ballad of Enos Remix" and "Furia de Mono Remix" the most, but I'm far from done listening to all of them...
Update (10/07/06): The results are in. The Ballad of Enos made it to the Top 4 selection by Peter. Here are the final results. Learned about another nice remix, one which played with the samples by stretching them into a long track that sounds more like a drone version: it's called "The Trees".
Posted by manny hernandez @ 08:16
04 October, 2006
My friend Gilberto sent me a fantastic article on common mistakes one makes when running a small business. Great reading for freelancers and small business owners alike!
Listening to Mat talk about his experience at Flashforward (he happened to be featured on the home page podcast summarizing the conference) felt like 1999 all over again. People talking about business plans and business ideas... I realized I've had this amazing new business idea in my mind for a while, so I decided to publish it to get as much feedback about it as possible.
I am going to create a web site. But it is not just going to be just like any other site. It's going to allow people to connect like it was never possible before. Imagine being able to hook up with folks you haven't talked to in ages! That would be possible with my new web site. Bands would also be able to promote their music and develop a fan base! How's that? Innovative, huh? I know... I know... It wasn't easy to come up with the idea.
I think the best name for the technology I will be creating will be "Social Network". What do you think? Do you think people will get the idea? "Social" because it will be about people and "Network" because it will allow people to connect... you know as in connecting tubes (after all the internet is a series of tubes).
The name of the website will be... are you ready? MyWebsite. Not MySpace, not MyWeb. MyWebsite! How cool is that? I don't know, but I feel it's special enough, unique enough. It's not like 164 million other results appear when you Google "social network". I am convinced it will be a piece of cake to "own" the space that I will be entering. It will be MySpace... sorry, meant to say My Space.
P.S. While we're talking about 1999, I remembered back then there was a Web Economy B.S. Generator that became legendary. Here's a new Web 2.0 B.S. generator in case you need a few buzzwords for a meeting any time soon.
As usual, even with such a sad topic, Stewart shines in his coverage of the Mark Foley scandal:
Posted by manny hernandez @ 08:06
03 October, 2006
This post on 10 Steps to Guarantee You Make the Digg Front Page was simply hilarious... It's so funny that it's sad, because it does disect very well the behavior of Digg users in order to profit from it to get traffic.
I must say I agree with something: the post I made a while back on how to add a digg this story button to your posts in blogger gave me some good traffic a while back (and continues to), so the guy that came up with these 10 steps to make the Digg.com home page may actually be pretty right on! :)
So, a few years ago many of us jumped in the Napster bandwagon. It was a musical feast: "all the music for free," many of us thought, without considering the implications of our actions. Not that the large record labels would be affected (which they have), but that the recording artists ultimately would, though many have continued to argue over time that it is in live performances thanks to ticket and merchandise sales that bands really make their money.
Anyway... the fact is that all that (Napster, Kazaa, AudioGalaxy, eDonkey, etc.) was illegal and will continue to be, because we're not supposed to get for free what other people have devoted their time and energy to, and particularly, because they live off of it. So what's to do, if you are psyched about music and need to listen to more new songs every week than money can get you? That is the goal of this post: to help you play the sport of getting cheap music legally.
"Duh!" some may say. The truth is that you can get insanely cheap music by purchasing used CDs. Sources? Starting with your local independent record store, which typically will carry a whole section of used albums, all the way to Amazon.com and eBay. In Amazon at times I've found CDs at $1 and $2, if there is a ton of copies being offered (the timeless law of supply and demand at work).
The catch? You got to make sure you are getting CDs that are supposed to be traded, not promotional copies. Just recently, I accidentally purchased a CD that was meant for promotional purposes (those are not meant to be sold). How can you tell whether they are promotional copies? First off, they will state so in signs throughout the CD and the art. Then, you can typicall tell too because the UPC (bar code) or the case is perforated. When you purchase a promotional CD, it is not cool either.
CD Trading, a.k.a. LaLa.com
Not too long ago, a service that allowed owners of CDs to trade them for $1 per CD plus shipping. These will also be used CDs, but the real deal lies in the fact that these are all worth the same, so pricing is not based on supply and demand. Now, getting that copy of the latest Nelly Furtado album that you are craving will be a tough thing to score, because supply and demand does drive the time an album lasts "up in the air" waiting for a seller and a buyer to connect. But typically, if you take care of your karma (you not only sign up to receive CDs but also begin to ship out CDs to others as they request them), CDs that you add to your Want List end up in your mailbox eventually.
The catch? You may not always get the art for the CD and you do not control the timing of CDs coming your way, so this is not for the "faint of heart" who NEED to have their music ASAP. But it you are the patient type, LaLa may easily qualify as the best option to legally build up your collection of physical CDs.
Music Streaming and Download Services
If you must not own the physical item, i.e. if you are beginning to go 100% digital and want to stay legal, Music Streaming and Download Services may be your best bet. iTunes is the world's largest Music Download Service (not offering Podcasts, Videos and Movies too), but they lack (for now) a streaming option, so you can only "test drive" the music for 30 seconds-a-track to get a feel for it (if you are listening to it for the first time), but that's it. If you want a single track, you pay 99 cents and if you want the full album, you (typically pay $9.99).
The catch? Pretty obvious, no? The price... Now, if you are totally the detached type and are fine with purely streaming music and not having the assets at your disposal (whether they are in physical or digital format), then music streaming services such as Rhapsody, Yahoo! Music or (the new) Napster are a pretty good deal. I used Napster for almost a year, paying almost $10 and got a chance to sample a whole lot of music that way. The way they work is sort of like a radio station that you configure, by selecting the music you want to hear, and you just listen to it ...
Music Discovery Services
There is a last resource that you may or may not be aware of. In recent times, a number of music discovery/social network services have popped up, which allow you to discover new music you may not know you are bound to enjoy and connect with other users with similar musical preferences to yours. Among them are Last.FM and Pandora. They are set up differently. Last FM works by quietly (with a download you need to install and your permission) peeking into what music you listen to, to pair you with neighborhoods of listeners that enjoy the same type of music. They also offer Last FM radio, based on your musical listening history. Pandora asks you for questions about music you like and begins playing a radio station with that music as the starting point, and based on your response to music they throw into the mix (like it, do not like it) they build you a profile that over time is supposed to be a nice match for you.
The catch? Well, not costing a penny and allowing you to discover new music, I'd say there's not much of a catch, but if any, it would have to be the fact that you control very little of what you get presented with: the radio stations they play to you pretty much work like any radio station, which play tracks you don't control (you cannot even make requests). However, the fact that the music you get is aligned with your preferences (in my opinion) more than makes up for this.
So, there you have them... the four big options for you to play the sport of getting cheap (or free) music legally. Let me know how your game goes.
Yesterday, in an action that I cannot yet explain, I dropped off my cell phone in a glass with water. I guess the only explanation is that I thought it was empty, and I had no open "places" to hold it in while driving, so it "made sense"... needless to say the poor thing started to fade away, as a hologram loosing power would and the screen would not respond, etc.
I dropped by a Sprint store to discover that the warranty that the phone had (go figure!) obviously didn't include cases like the one I had experienced (when do they?) so I was basically in a position where I had to talk it out with Customer Service and get back to them (them being the folks that send you a brand new phone when things go wrong with yours).
I was reading what other people have done in cases like this, and I did most of what they say: I shook the unit vigorously as soon as it happened and pulled out the battery after a while (I didn't do it immediately). The result: this morning, a miracle occurred and it was working again. I am going to keep it quiet so as to not jinx it, though.
I promise: I will never put my cell phone in a glass of water again! :)
So, you're a manager. As someone supervising other people, one of the most important things you will have to do at least once a year (I'd argue it should be at least every six months) is provide feedback to your reports, typically packaged in the form of a performance review. Since I am now preparing the performance reviews for two of my team members, the topic is fresh in my head, so I figured I'd share my tips on how to put together winning performance reviews.
Gather data over time
First of all, a performance review is supposed to be for an entire period, whether six months or a year. So, pretending to exercise your memory as the time comes around for the review is, well... lame. Make a point of taking notes or keeping e-mails and communications filed that you can go back to later, to remind you of things to point out in the review. It's not about rubbing things on anyone's face: it's about using facts and concrete examples, not impressions or feelings, to back the statements you make. This is important because by showing examples of performance that you want to see more of or less of, you make it clearer to the employee what is expected from him/her.
Gather 360-degree feedback
Before you sit down to write anything for the review, make a point of having the person write about him/herself, and collect feedback from:
-Other neighboring co-workers,
-Clients, and if possible
-Other managers the person may not report to.
The concept is to go beyond the obvious and spot things that you may not even be aware of, since they occur "below the radar".
A good way to have the person become a better professional is to group feedback into three buckets:
-Things for the person to CONTINUE to do.
-Things for the person to START doing or do MORE of.
-Things for the person to STOP doing.
For each of these, force yourself to balance things out. Try to look for an equal number of elements to point out for each "bucket". If you find yourself listing only good things, not to rain on your parade, but you are not helping the person become even better. If you are only listing negative items, force yourself to find the good... and if there's none, then maybe the person shouldn't be on your team, anyway.
Goals, goals, goals
As with everything, if it cannot be measured, how do you know you did a good job with it? Hopefully, when the employee first started (or after any 60- or 90-day probation period you may have in place) you should have set up clear goals for him/her. Besides the person's performance, you need to go over these, to determine if they were met and if not, why. This requires that they be measurable, even if its by means of providing a specific result ("such and such project complete") and the date by which it should happen.
Before you are done with the performance review process (when you meet with your employee), make sure to set new goals for the next period.
Well, there you have them! If you have any additional tips to share, publish them in the comments in here.
02 October, 2006
Here are two things (one, funny and interesting and the other one, a bit more on the unsettling side of things) that I ran into this morning. I thought I'd share them:
- Images of Japanese Vending Machines: well these guys sure know practicality. Some of the most unexpected vending machines pictured in the sampler sold eggs, offered mobile phone recharging (that's smart!) and... helped you get out of a bind when you are in need of toilet paper. :)
-An analysis performed by Gannett News Service found that "the best-performing hospitals are much more concentrated in the nation's higher-income counties." How surprising can that be? I would have never imagined that. Yes, I know: sometimes there can be unexpected things.
Posted by manny hernandez @ 10:59
When I read things like this I get really excited! It makes it even MORE exciting to be working in this field "in this day and age". :)
I honestly think Amazon.com has a better chance of getting something like this accomplished. The reason is that their user base (and user database, as a result) is much larger. Therefore, they can pull better recommendations, if they simply go beyond the obvious: "people that liked this MOVIE typically liked this other MOVIE". They can pull elements from different media. Example: if someone owns/ranked high a Philip K. Dick novel, there's a good chance the Science Fiction recommendations (whether among movies or books) would be a hit... even if the person hadn't seen 2001 or Star Trek.
What other parameters you think would be useful in building a succesful recommendation to a user?
Maybe the title is not all that exciting to click on, I agree. But I recommend you check out this site. This guy has a number of Flash-based pages, all of which follow a mosaic theme (if you partly close your eyes, you can spot the "background" image for the theme). When you mouse over any of the mosaics of the image, each of them is the cover of a book (in the case of the page I am referring to, Art Books), which pops up providing you with a larger version of the cover, book details and a link back to Amazon.com to buy it.
There was an insane amount of work put into this. Truly admirable!
01 October, 2006
In the next 90 days the following domains I own are going to be expiring:
I am considering selling them. If you are interested, please write to manuel at avanceassociates.com with your bid.
-The animal feeding grounds: not only Santiago enjoyed it, Andreina also had a blast feeding goats, sheep and the cow they had. At the bottom of the post, you can see a video of Santi feeding one of the goats. It was a funny sight. Also, we captured a video of him feeding these special pellets you get at the zoo to the cow, which happily extended its very long tongue to grab them.
-The puma ("el tigrito"), shown in the picture above: They actually had quite a few felines in there: no lion or tiger, but just about all the other ones you can imaging or hope to see close.
-The elephants: They had two beautiful female Asian Elephants and have two shows on weekends during which they show the animals performing a number of great tricks, including keeping balance on just two feet (first two opposite feet and then two feet on the same side). Unfortunately, I had no camera left at that point.
-The snake exhibit: The indoor exhibit was packed with a group of Cub Scouts who were paying a visit to the park, which made for a pretty loud contemplation of these quiet reptiles. Also under the same roof was a little exhibit of the famous Puerto Rican coqui (including a button that that the kids could press to hear its sound).
For admissions details and more information, visit the zoo web page. It's over 50 miles away from the Disney area, so plan for a long drive to and from if you come from that area: for us it was about 30+ minutes driving from the Oviedo area to Sanford.
No es porque sea mi cuñada, pero de verdad que es muy talentosa. Prueba de ello es que recientemente colgaron tres de sus piezas recientes en la galeria de los estudiantes de Computer Animation.
Tiene menos de cuatro meses de haber empezado clases y ya se esta destacando! Esta chama va a llegar lejos...
Tambien publique el videito del cumpleaños en YouTube, por aquello de que quede para la posteridad, pues... especialmente el momento en que Loly se quita los lentes para salir bien en la foto (esta), solo que en ese momento estaba yo filmando un video. ;)
A friend of mine pointed me to the page of Marla Olmstead, a 4-year old girl who paints like many artists wish they could get to pain in their lives... I loved some of the works shown in the videos in Marla's web site. Check it out.
Posted by manny hernandez @ 07:32