Archive for September, 2007

Gamers of the world, get ready to have your buying power wooed like never before: According to Gamespy, in its first 24 hours (and in the US alone), X360’s Halo 3 netted over $170M for Microsoft. (Thanks, Bungie.)

Yes, netted. $170 million dollars.

In 24 hours.


Per GameSpy, “this trounces big blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man 3 and novels like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

You don’t say.

Now let’s hope NBC won’t get the rights to the TV show.

Read the article here.

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Me Happy.

Kudos to Microsoft for even getting the packaging right. I am pretty impressed with the whole thing already.

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This may very well be the coolest visual narrative for a series of blog posts, ever. If you have been following the unlocking/hacking of the iPhone story over the last few weeks, and like Star Wars, you will get a kick out of this fun little project.

And by the way, Gizmodo.com just became my new favorite tech blog. If it isn’t yet in your blogroll or on your RSS list, you probably need to do something about that.

Follow-up (The Empire Strikes Back). This story is obviously far from over.

And in related news
(from France)…

Have a great Friday, everyone. 🙂

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I have to admit it: I was actually looking forward to NBC’s Bionic Woman.

Not that the original series was any good, but I figured if a network went through the trouble of reviving a semi-iconic show, they would probably take more than ten minutes to put something cool together. I wasn’t looking for something edgy or original here. This is network TV, after all. I expected a fair share of cliches and bad special effects and cheesy plot lines. I did. But I hoped to be pleasantly surprised, nevertheless. I knew the odds were pretty slim, but I figured it couldn’t be all that bad. I mean… NBC can afford to pay some pretty clever writers. They do sometimes come up with pretty cool shows (like Heroes and Lost). It wouldn’t take much more than a couple of hours for a creative team with a penchant for superhero plots to hash out something kind of different for this show. Something worth watching. Maybe something sort of fresh, even.

But no.

I had no idea it could actually be this bad. Frankly, I am surprised that piece of crap got green-lighted by any network. I am embarrassed for NBC and everyone attached to this project.

I feel especially bad for the actors who got suckered into being a part of such a sorry excuse for noise between commercial breaks. I think that static would have been more satisfying. Or just a solid hour of advertising. Why the hell not? At this point, if this is the best a TV network can do with even such an easy concept for a TV show, then perhaps it’s time for them to clean house and start from scratch.

I can’t help but wonder if NBC actually has real live people working on show development anymore. (I suspect that NBC now uses computerized plot generators to develop scripts for new TV shows.) What I still can’t wrap my mind around, however, is how the networks manage to hire executive producers and directors who stay true to their scripts’ complete lack of substance or sense.

It’s embarrassing. Really.

Maybe NBC uses robots to direct these single-serving shows? Maybe?

(You know she’s the villain because she smokes.
And dresses in black.
And wears provocative makeup.
And has euro hair.
And dishes out cool one-liners – sort of.)

(You know this is a good show because it uses rain
to create dramatic moods for fight scenes and intense dialogue.)

Seriously. This show’s entire script (including every single line of “dialogue”) must have been put to paper in less than ten minutes either by someone with severe ADHD, a sub-80 IQ, or both. Worse yet, a gaggle of NBC execs actually signed off on it, even after watching this pilot.


Because I hate to let an hour of TV viewing completely go to waste, let me share with you these 30 random things I learned during my memorable first (and last) hour of Bionic Woman:

1) When you’re a bionic woman, smoking isn’t bad for you because your lungs heal really fast.
2) Bad guys dress better and act cooler than good guys. They also have cool evil names like Corvus.
3) Adding rain to a scene is one of a director’s subtle tools to clue you in on the fact that either the action or the dialogue are about to get intense and meaningful.
4) You can walk away from getting T-boned by a speeding 18-wheeler, getting thrown fifty feet into the air and getting taco-ed into a lamp post, and then perform super-top-secret limb-reattachment sci-fi surgery within hours.
5) Despite #4, getting shoved three feet backwards into a door will cause you to fracture your wrist.
6) Every super top secret government lab has cool furniture, insanely badass mood lighting, and really cool automatic sliding doors.
7) You can actually maintain 55mph on a muddy singletrack for fifty plus miles wearing 3″ heels.
8) Despite having been in a horrific car accident in which you lost 3 out of 4 limbs and almost bled out, your clothes aren’t even wrinkled or stained and can be used at your leisure when escaping from a super top secret underground facility.
9) Super top secret underground facilities come standard with extensive and unmonitored tunnel systems which can be used to escape.
10) The first thing you would do upon realizing that you have bionic legs is jump from rooftop to rooftop (preferably the ones that are 200ft apart instead of the ones just 20ft apart)… because you saw Peter Parker do it and thought it looked cool. (Bonus: You won’t break your heels doing that either.)
11) When you are the boss of the henchmen and all twenty of your henchmen are standing right behind you, the proper procedure to tell them to stand down is to tell them through your walkie-talkie.
12) The bad guy is the one with the foreign accent, the cool clothes, and the sharpie in his pocket (so he can leave goodbye notes on motel room walls).
13) Hanging a laptop out of your window to hide it from your idiot older sister is a sign that you are a delinquent yet resourceful character who may come in handy in later episodes.
14) As always, one of the central characters has daddy issues, so that season 2 (god forbid) can focus on yet another legacy/conspiracy plot.
15) Bad guys would rather monologue, drop lame one-liners, or light cigarettes than kill the good guys when they get the chance.
16) Screaming really loud is a sign that you, as an actor, are pretending to be upset or scared or angry about something.
17) The college professor you are dating may actually be a top secret government-sponsored biocyberneticist (and neurosurgeon) who will turn you into a hyperkinetic cyborg if the opportunity presents itself.
18) The appropriate reaction to learning that you are now super fast, super strong, and relatively invincible is… anger: “WHY did you do this to me????!!!”
19) The appropriate reaction to finding out that the alternative to #18 would have been either death or being a disfigured one-armed, half blind, legless cripple is… anger: “WHY did you do this to me????!!!”
20) The appropriate reaction to finding out that you don’t have enough material for a full hour show is to add a pointless love scene to the script… or more rain. Or a pointless love scene with rain falling somewhere in the shot.
21) Highly trained assassins with bionic eyes, advanced cybernetic targeting systems and state of the art sniper rifles can only manage shoulder shots.
22) Asian actors are visually ambiguous to American audiences, so the characters they play could be either good or bad. We’ll just have to wait and see.
23) Miguel Ferrer plays the same character in every TV show, which is usually not a bad thing, except in this case.
24) The Federal government has become so efficient at providing medical care to pregnant wounded bartenders since the Hurricane Katrina “incident” that getting turned into a cybernetic superhero is now merely an outpatient procedure.
25) Character development on NBC dramas essentially consists of picking a cool song to go with the final two minute scene of a series premiere to make up for an inexistent script.
26) TV show characters change clothes and hair styles four of five times per day.
27) Muggers in NBC’s contemporary American cities are 40-something white guys with switchblades hanging out in back-alleys, just waiting to get their asses kicked.
28) The decision to pick Michelle Ryan for the title role came from a need to make the bionic woman just a little bit pretty so she would seem “believable.”
29) The decision to pick Lucy Hale to play Becca Sommers (the bionic woman’s younger sister) might have had something to do with attracting a younger demographic (anyone watching Drake & Josh or the O.C.), which is just beyond lame considering the vehicle.
30) TV characters just love to hang out and have long meaningful conversations in pouring rain.

Would it really have been so hard to come up with something decent? Not even great, but just… decent?

Shame on you, NBC. I don’t think you’re even trying anymore.

PS: Can you believe that ER is still on?

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Halo 3 +1

So… I occasionally turn into a complete gamer geek. (It happens to the best of us.)

Just so you know, I picked up my very own pre-ordered copy of Halo 3 yesterday and played it for a few hours last night, and I have to admit that the game absolutely lives up to the hype. I didn’t think it would, but man, does it ever.

Although the graphics are much better and whatnot, the game doesn’t look a whole lot diffrent from Halo 2, but where the game really shines is in the gameplay. So much so that the changes made to the user interface have so radically improved my playing skills that I went from being pretty lousy to being pretty awesome virtually overnight. For someone like me (who routinely got his ass handed to him by twelve-year-old kids in multiplayer mode), this turns me into an instant fan of the Halo franchise. (Kudos to the development team for having opted to focus on the user interface rather than working on fluff – like better visuals, or whatever. The prettiest games are not always the best games, after all.)

The lesson here is this: User/customer experience should always be paramount to any marketing or process-related endeavor. (Kathy Sierra would be proud.) Giving your users a cool product is going to be exciting at first, but without a radically valuable user experience, the coolness of the product will wear off quickly. On the other hand, focusing on making your users rock right from the start (incorporating a lot of usablity in your design) will lengthen the lifecycle of your product, significantly increase its adoption rate, and generate a whole lot of referal business over time. If using the product is as easy and fun as it is valuable to the user, you’ve created a winner. If all you’ve focused on is style and coolness, but the learning curve is steep or the usability is limited, you’re screwing yourself out of a market leadership position.

Obviously, every product designer should always strive to create a healthy balance of substance and style, but no amount of style will ever take the place of substance.

In the apparel world, if a garment looks awesome but starts falling apart or fading after a few weeks, you aren’t likely to get repeat business.

In the automotive world, if a car looks fantastic but has to be repaired every 10K miles, you’ll soon be out of business.

In the software world, if you design a gorgeous app but it is frustrating (or sometimes virtually impossible) to use, you’ve just wasted a whole lot of venture capital.

Congrats to Microsoft and Bungie for having not only designed an incredibly fun game, but also for having blown all of the previous game pre-order records and having rolled out this product so damn effectively.

In related news, check this out (image source).

Have a great Wednesday, everyone. 🙂

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From Francois Gossieaux’s brilliant Emergence Marketing blog this week:

Reveries.com conducted a survey on the potential of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace as media for marketing activities (pdf download of survey summary results and analysis are here). The main finding seems to be that marketers are in the very early stages of truly understanding the potential of these new networks – with only 18% of the respondents calling the potential of online social networks as a medium for marketing “huge”.

Other interesting tidbits from the survey include the fact that marketers see “word of mouth” as the most promising aspect of social networking sites, and that many pointed out that marketers should participate in the conversations that take place on those sites without interrupting them.

Unfortunately, the reality is that many spammers have already invaded Facebook, Myspace and other similar sites. Go check the walls of the most popular interest groups in Facebook to see for yourself – many are littered with posts that are total sales pitches or with information that is totally irrelevant to the group’s conversation.

Speaking of Word-of-Mouth, EM has an interesting post on the subject as well:

The latest issue of the Harvard Business Review has an article on how to calculate the value of customer referrals (article not online yet).

They conducted two studies – one in telecom and one in financial services. Some interesting findings from those calculations include:

  • People refer way less than they say they do
  • The customer referral value is higher than the customer life-cycle value
  • The people with the highest customer life-cycle value are not the ones with the highest referral value
The importance of these findings are twofold. First you need to segment your customers along the customer life-cycle value axis, but also along the customer referral value axis. That will enable you to target your incentives to groups to either increase their usage or increase their referrals, or both. Second, this research shows that customers will low customer life-cycle value can in fact have a higher value to your company through referral value than those with high customer life-cycle value.

Read more stuff from Francois here.

Good stuff to chew on. Have a great Tuesday, everyone. 🙂

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Leadership At Its Best

“Too many times business owners seem to be satisfied spending their careers as managers rather than leaders. When you see real leadership in action, you’re left in awe. Real leaders are active, engaged and motivating. They create an atmosphere that’s electric – both fun and productive.”

Mike Bawden

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