Archive for September, 2008

Smash TV: Survivor: Gabon, Week 1

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

Survivor Gabon

Survivor Gabon Week 1

Probst Survivor GibonIn terms of production value and sometimes suspense, “Survivor” is in a class all its own for reality shows. Many have tried to emulate its format, but no one has learned how to capture what it means to haul 18 complete strangers to some exotic locale, force them to create a “society”, perform difficult physical or mental challenges, and, as its fabled slogan says, “outwit, outsmart, outlast” the elements and the other contestants for 39 days. Since its start in 2001, there have been cult favorites like the first winner, the ornery Richard Hatch (now serving time in prison, incidentally, for evading Uncle Sam with his prize money), professional soccer player Ethan Zohn, who won the otherwise uninteresting season three, Survivor: Africa. That was even the season that introduced Elizabeth Hasselbeck to the world, and now we can take in her Republican cheerleading on the “View”. The locales for the show was visually stunning, and the show is paced in such a way to guarantee that there will be some level of intrigue in every episode, and as the season goes on and there are fewer survivors, things get pretty intense. Of course, this is the show that brought the term “tribal council” to American cultural lexicon, and it’s the centerpiece of each episode. Survivors arrive here ready to vote out someone with lit torches. The erstwhile (and recently Emmy-winning) host Jeff Probst reads out the votes, and when your name is called, your torch is symbolically snuffed out. The prize at the end of 39 grueling days? A cool million bucks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rappin’ Ed McMahon: Gimme That Cash, Sucka!

Monday, September 29th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

Ed McMahon Rapper

Here’s the skinny on Ed McMahon, in case you didn’t know this: he is a professional sycophant. Always has been. Most famous as Johnny Carson’s sidekick for more than thirty years on the “Tonight” show up until 1992, McMahon has not had a whole lot of jobs since then that bring cash home. He has been the Publisher’s Clearing House host for some years; you know, that bogus sweepstakes mailer you get that promises millions when the prize van comes-a-knockin’ on your door. Ed will be there –well, at least until some financial troubles set in.

See, Ed is 85. He went to the press this past July asking the public for help essentially and give a face to the current home foreclosure meltdown that has been gripping this country this year. Ed McMahon, the familiar face who created the “Heeeere’s Johnny!” line and a host of other dopey expressions (“Heyo!”, “You are correct, sir!”) while sitting on his ass at NBC Studios in Burbank all those years, is still in the news. Now you might think that an octogenarian would be taking it easy, relaxing, lucky to be alive and praying that each day is pain free and that you’re limber. That’s what a typical 85-year-old would do. Some would reflect on a long life with grandkids, passing on some wisdom and leaving some kind of proud legacy, knowing that your life is ebbing and that, bless your heart, you’ll be gone soon. Such a life is not Ed McMahon. Read the rest of this entry »

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Americans Prefer Texting to Phoning: So KMA

Sunday, September 28th, 2008 | SMASH Pop Culture with No Comments »

Text Message Slang

Sry 2 Say

According to Nielsen Mobile, Americans have become little more than touch-typing androids:  sending 1’s and 0’s to one another as a means of communication.
Text Messages Vs. Calling
As of the fourth quarter of 2007, it turns out that US cell subscribers sent text messages more than they phoned - for the first time ever. And since then, the averages subscriber’s # of text messages has increased 64 percent as the # of actual calls (what are those?) has dropped slightly.

According to the folks at Nielsen, this is all attributed to spread of the new QWERTY-style kepads on cellphones. QWERTY owners send 54 percent MORE text messages than folks with ordinary keypads.

Additionally, companies are now offering larger text messaging plans (unlimited in many cases) where it actually makes more financial sense to send a few lines of text than to engage in a full-on conversation that could potentially put you over your monthly minute threshold.

By far, the most prolific texters are teenagers ages 13-17, who pump out 1,742 messages a month, according to Nielsen Mobile. Read the rest of this entry »

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Presidential Debate #1: No Knockout Punches

Saturday, September 27th, 2008 | SMASH Politics with No Comments »

The first Presidential debate of the election season between Barack Obama and John McCain at Ole Miss was a mostly sobering, understated affair. No one tossed any pounding blows. No one came away with any killer lines. There was, I think, a fairly decisive victor but it wasn’t necessarily because of debating skill or technique. This was to be a battle between the 72-year-old McCain and the much younger upstart Obama, the former clearly one with experience in the Senate dealing with the evening’s theme, foreign policy and national security. Obama, by contrast, had to be seen as the distinct challenger and there is evidence that his poll leads have not been as high because voters have taken his relative lack of experience to heart. McCain clearly tried to expose this vulnerability as much as possible. But Obama was able to hold his own against the senior senator.

Some highlights (and lowlights): Read the rest of this entry »

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FREE Wifi Internet in San Francisco? Meraki Says Yes

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with 1 Comment

Newsom Meraki

Who says Mountain View has all the fun?

The good folks at Meraki are making news again.  As some of you have heard, this San Francisco company has been busy putting a repeater-based network in place to provide the city of San Francisco with FREE Wifi Internet.

To date, Meraki has provided its Wi-Fi gear and free Internet access to residents in 80 percent of San Francisco’s major neighborhoods. The company plans to continue building the “Free the Net” network in 2009, deepening coverage in each neighborhood.

Recently, Meraki held a press conference with mayor Gavin Newsom, to launch its latest project, which will add wireless coverage to twelve low-income housing projects in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. The company also plans to provide Wi-Fi Internet access to low-income housing owned by the city in other neighborhoods as well as provide free Wi-Fi to senior centers throughout the city by the end of 2008.

You can sign up here to help expand the ever-growing network: Read the rest of this entry »

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Ms. Jackson If You’re Skanky

Monday, September 22nd, 2008 | SMASH Pop Culture with No Comments »

We really hope this doesn’t get more attention. We mean it. This video clip serves no escapist or entertainment purpose. Of course it is NSFW, and even saying this seems far too lenient. No one should or would derive any pleasure by watching a second of this most ultimate of fame-whorish trash that has been seen recently in celebrity-dom. No, you can’t catch it on TMZ or Perez Hilton, or even the more mainstream celebutard magazine sites like People or US Weekly. Nope, this one’s far too crude and lascivious. In fact, we’d say it’s exploitative because it is also profoundly distressing.

On September 13, 2008, Janet Jackson brought her enormous and elaborately-staged show to the Oracle Arena in Oakland Arena for her “Rock Witchu” tour. It’s been a tough year for Miss Janet. Her last album, “Discipline”, which featured several interludes of her talking to a computer named Keiko, was a disappointment, both commercially and artistically. This is Janet’s third (or so) failed comeback for her, and her career has been in a consistent freefall in the past few years, especially since she bared her famous breasts to the world during the Super Bowl in Houston in 2004.

So what’s a girl gotta do –a girl of 42, mind you –to restore a career as Read the rest of this entry »

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Smash TV: Big Brother 10 Week 10 Finale!

Sunday, September 21st, 2008 | SMASH TV with No Comments »

As predicted, the winner of Big Brother 10 is Dan Gheesling, the 25-year-old Catholic high school teacher from Dearborn, Michigan. He was the unanimous choice of all the jury members, who were reunited all on stage at CBS Television City in Los Angeles for the live telecast. Dan and Memphis Garrett, the “mixologist” from LA, were the Renegade duo that was left in the end. They endured some grilling from the seven jury members –those who were tossed out of the house most recently—Jerry, Keesha, Renny, Ollie, Michelle, April and Libra.

Before the questioning began, CBS tried to stage some trouble at the “Jury House” by having them talk openly about who they wanted to walk in as the next jury member. “So guys, who do you think the next juror is”, said Libra in an unconvincing tone. Keesha wanted it to be Memphis because he was “arrogant”. Ollie with his stupid head mumbled something barely incomprehensible about Dan “mocking” everyone and “the entire process”. Then the dramz began with the entrance of Jerry, the next and final jury member, who waltzed I and all hell broke loose. Libra, with her face full of make-up, opined that Jerry wasn’t the “gingerly old man” that “America thought he was”, which begged the question as to what is a “gingerly old man” in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

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Voice to Text: Transcribe Your Voicemails with SpinVox

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with 1 Comment

Spinvox Message

If you use a cellphone, you use voicemail.  And if you use voicemail, you know the unfortunate pitfalls involved in its daily use:   dialing in costs you minutes, it takes time to wade through multiple messages (you’re forced to listen to the messages that are drivel or spam in nature), and you are forced to press your ear to your mobile device or have your bluetooth headset on in order to retrieve your messages with any degree of privacy.

SpinVox has an answer for those of us who dread the daily doldrums of message retrieval.  It’s a voice-to-text program that makes voicemails easier to use.

The service monitors your calls and turns what’s spoken into a text message.  It then Read the rest of this entry »

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Check Your New Tires For This Code or Risk Death

Sunday, September 14th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with 3 Comments

Tires are Ticking Time Bombs

Don’t Kick Those Treads Too Hard

Is this a new set of tires or a four-piece set of ticking time bombs waiting to explode?

The answer may surprise you…

That new set of Bridgestones you just purchased from Sears could be six, eight or ten years old and just waiting to disintegrate some time during your morning commute.   The rubber that tires are made from dries out after six years, but unlike Europe and Asia, American companies may sell “expired” tires long after they have aged to the point of becoming deathly dangerous.

A recent 20/20 investigation found that the “new” tires on sale at Sears and Walmart can be up to 12-years-old. [See the video below] Read the rest of this entry »

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Triumph the Insult Dog at the RNC

Saturday, September 13th, 2008 | SMASH Politics with No Comments »

Triumph the Insult Dog at RNCThere’s no need to set this one up. Triumph, the nasty, potty-mouthed Doberman that is the creation of long time cocmedy writer Robert Smigel (“SNL”), and a recurring character on Conan O’Brien, is at it again. This time he and his acid tongue has been sent to St. Paul’s Excel Center and the recent Republican National Convention. It’s not only hilarious to see this puppet dog in a straw hat and cigar, but it’s amazing that Smigel can come up with such rapid ad-lib zingers to the pale, captive crowd of supporters. And somehow, in the end, Triumph also succumbs to the charm of a certain sexy and zesty librarian VP choice, Sarah Palin.

In the interest of fairness, Conan’s people also sent Triumph to Denver for the Democratic extravaganza. But these two clips are uproarious, and it’s not merely the fact that many of these people are not as familiar with Triumph or his schtick. There are two clips here, in fact, and the MO is the same. Triumph searches out the Read the rest of this entry »

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Smash TV: Big Brother 10 Week 9

Saturday, September 13th, 2008 | SMASH TV with No Comments »

Big Brother 10 Week 9

Quite a dramatic week inside the BB house, but that’s because we are near the end of the show and the houseguests are, as Jerry thoughtfully put it, “smelling the money” –the half mil the winner will get. After Renny’s ouster last week, we had two people voted out, Keesha and Jerry. That leaves the Renegade duo of Dan and Memphis to await the harsh questioning of the jury in Tuesday night’s final episode.

Watching Keesha get the boot was a little tough. She had been thinking for several weeks that she was in a Dan-Memphis-Keesha alliance, and to some extent she was right. Other people were backdoored or maneuvered our of the house as a way to preserve this alliance. Thus Michelle was unceremoniously let go; ditto Ollie and his stupidity (and his admission this week, from the jury house, that his regret was thinking with his heart and not his brain). In any case, Keesha felt she had a shot at the final two, and that somehow Dan or Memphis would bring her along for the final two selection.

With Jerry still in the house, that complicated things. Instead, Memphis and Dan had a plan that needed smart execution. Memphis elected to Read the rest of this entry »

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Memos to Obama and McCain: How to Win in the Next 56 Days:

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

Obama McCain

With about 60 days to go before the general election, the US Presidential race is officially on.

We have the prospect of history before us. We will elect either the first Black President or else the first female Vice President. Attention to the race is heightened after two straight weeks of political conventions, high profile appearances and speeches.

According to the TV bean counters, ratings for John McCain and Sarah Palin’s speeches matched or even exceeded those of Barack Obama and Joe Biden the week before. 40 million viewers in prime time. That’s more than the audience for the David Cook/Little David Archuleta showdown on American Idol in May, and more than those who witnessed Daniel Day-Lewis cop an Oscar in February. America, not only are you really into this election, but you have made these people very famous.

And that’s a major thing here: recognition. For a lot of people who may know Read the rest of this entry »

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One Laptop Per Child Partners With Amazon

Monday, September 8th, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

One Laptop Per Child Amazon

So it looks like the revolutionary “One Laptop Per Child” XO computer is finally going to make its way into the hands of general consumers on a grand scale. And as it happens, the behemoth retailer will be delivering the device and managing the much-discussed G1G1 program, where consumers will purchase one device for personal use, while the other unit is donated to a child in need.

This seems like a match made in heaven given the disappointing turn of events during the last G1G1 disbursement, where things didn’t go as smoothly as planned.

“Many things in the last G1G1 did not run as smoothly as we would have hoped,” Negroponte said. “Those things, mostly related to fulfillment, by their nature, are what Amazon can fix.”

The Boston Globe reported Friday that OLPC founder and chairman Nicholas Negroponte confirmed Read the rest of this entry »

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Smash TV: Big Brother Week 8

Saturday, September 6th, 2008 | SMASH TV with No Comments »

Big Brother 10

Things appear to be going as planned–the Renegade Alliance plan, that is, between Memphis and Dan. After the double eviction of Michelle and Ollie last week, Jerry became HOH –the second time this season for him. With five members left, the lines have been clearly drawn. Beyond the strict (and secret) alliance of the two renegades, there is Keesha.

Dan and Memphis see Keesha as a partner. On the other side, Jerry was pretty much by himself. Renny, who is best friend’s with Keesha, was also alone for a couple of reasons. One, Jerry never found any kinship with the ‘Nawlins beauty shop owner, so he wasn’t going to ally with her. Her dislike for “The Colonel” was also well-known. Two, neither Memphis nor Dan liked Renny either in that they didn’t trust her. Yet Renny’s value up to now was that she was someone who would roundly beat whomever would be in the final two. And it’s only because Renny never reached the nastiness or horrible behavior levels of an April or a Libra. In the end, Renny was voted out. Jerry put up Read the rest of this entry »

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“Earth Album” Reveals Photos From Around the Globe

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 | SMASH Technology with No Comments »

Earth Album

Ever wonder what people do with their free time in other parts of the world? Earth Album allows users to navigate photos taken from around the globe, all from the comfort of their own homes.

It’s quite an interesting concept. The site actually doesn’t host any of its own pictures, but instead references them from Flickr. Earth Album uses Google Earth in its Hybrid Satellite View to “mashup” said images with the coordinates on the earth. Simple in theory, beautiful in execution.

Using Earth Album, it becomes immediately clear that you’re not just getting the watered-down, stock images of the mainstay temples and pyramids in other lands (sights we’ve become all-too-accustomed to seeing when viewing such photos).

In my first few minutes of exploring, I was pulling up images of lightning striking outside the bedroom window of one lucky Finnish photog. I witnessed people diving from Read the rest of this entry »

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Diddy Be Buggin’: Are There Black People in Alaska?

Monday, September 1st, 2008 | SMASH Politics, SMASH Pop Culture with No Comments »

P DiddyWell that didn’t take long. Not even 24 hours had passed since John McCain, in only his reportedly second meeting, announced that Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska would be his running mate, that the knives have come out from all corners. While social conservative types like Pat Buchanan (whom Palin supported in 2000) and Rush Limbaugh are beyond themselves in rapturous excitement, much of the media and other rational heads have called the pick the single biggest political gamble they had ever seen in modern American history. Ed Rollins, former Reagan henchman and former supporter of Mike Huckabee, has admitted just as much. David Gergen, former administration official under both Republican and Democratic White Houses, an Independent and respected analyst, told Wolf Blitzer he had not seen this coming. A gamble, yes, but one that had potential to possibly ruin McCain’s chances to be President.

The usual suspect of Democrats or Clintonistas are naturally apoplectic. Horny toad James Carville declared himself at “a loss for words” to Larry King on Friday night. This before taking apart Stepford Wifish Nancy Pfotenhauer, once respectable economist-turned McCain acolyte on payroll for repeating over and over again that Palin was the most popular governor in the country right now. As if that brings experience and as if the former mayor of Wasilla, AK three years ago is poised to become Commander in Chief should, God forbid, something happen in the next few years to the 72-year-old McCain. To think this was the most qualified of all Republicans –even, to take the female argument, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas—that McCain could have chosen only points to the political contrivance of this all. Read the rest of this entry »

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