Saturday, April 29, 2006

Have You Ever Been Banished From A Website?

Yesterday, I was banned from posting on two websites ...

As The Apple Turns Forums ... because I called a moderator out for lying to me through email.



AND

Posting any comment within the forums on the new IPRONG.COM website for calling out Bill Palmer in the comments about the name change.



Has this ever happened to you?

Do you not want someone to know you are surfing their site?

Never fear ... just go to THE ANONYMIZER

Or for a little $$ you can download a permanent anonymous surfer/emailer program called Primedius WebTunnel

This message was brought to you by the helpful staff at Fix Your Thinking.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Was The Name iProng Tested With Site Filtering Software?

Just a little while ago I tested out a customer's computer with Freeverse's BumperCar child site filtering software.

I tried to reach this website ... I was warned over the word "Pron".

If some of you aren't familiar with what "Pron" means it is geek terminology for the word "PORN". Originally meant to trick internet filter software.

So, I stopped quickly by the local library branch and sure enough, browsers time out going to this website (the one you're reading) and to iPRONG.COM.

This is the last post I do on this topic barring anything out of the ordinary.

[UPDATE] One of the more ironic things about this issue ... Palmer claims Bumper car is a sponsor.

He'll Also Have To Change This Name To PRONGBOOKGARAGE.COM







While searching through websites that link to iPRONG.COM (2 that are not Bill Palmer sites) and iPODGARAGE.COM (47 that are not Bill Palmer sites) I came across a new Bill Palmer joint that hasn't been in any press releases:

MACBOOKGARAGE.COM

It has the same styling as iPODGARAGE.COM ... looks like a template from that site was used in it's creation.

If Apple didn't like iPODGARAGE.COM ... it's not likely they will like MACBOOKGARAGE.COM either!

Maybe he can change that name to PRONGBOOKGARAGE.COM

And don't forget to click daily on any iPRONG.COM link from this website ... hey you never know ... you might actually find a website you like! In defense of the site ... it does have thorough reviews of iPod peripherals.

[UPDATE] A reader email indicated that Palmer's MACMISCHIEF.COM website has been taken down and this website put in it's place.

Overheard At The Factory Warehouse: "Hey Wanna Buy This iPod?"

An interesting article at CNN Money:

Not exactly counterfeit

Foreign contractors make more products than they're supposed to then sell the excess out the back door.


The story is about the New Balance Shoe Company finding this out and trying to shut down the factory that was making the "excess".

I post this because it relates to the iPod Industry nowadays. I believe that some of the fake iPod Shuffles, iPod Nanos, etc etc that are coming from China and Taiwan are being made by Apple's very own contractors.

Something to think about ...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

No iPods Were Harmed During The Making Of This Film



Here's a very cool advertisement for Tekserve of New York (An Apple Authorized Repair & Sales Store):


iPod Domino Commercial

As reported by Gizmodo

Over 60 thousand dollars worth of iPods fell domino-style in this new ad for Tekserve, New York’s famous and quirky independent Apple specialty store. If you’re in the city, you can see it blown up on Madison Square Garden’s 15’x30’ LED displays at 33rd Street & 7th Avenue, from May 1st through July 30th.


Why don't more Apple Specialists do this ... show Apple how to really promote Apple?

The only thing I have against Tekserve is that they sponsor O'Grady's Powerpage.

Sidenote: The iPods may not have been as expensive as claimed ... recently this lot of 34 iPods went for $1750 on eBay. (I had bid in the auction)

Apple Takes A Bite Out Of Aperture Development?


Think Secret (not that they are considered a reliable source for Mac News) is reporting that Apple has disbanded the Aperture software development team.

Interesting comments are coming from the MACRUMORS.COM forums on the topic:

arn (MACRUMORS.COM webmaster)


this could negatively impact sales, so hopefully they double checked their sources on this story

arn


Personally, I have always thought that Think Secret posts its stories in a malicious tone for the purpose of hurting Apple.


I wonder whether this isn't a bogus leak from Apple, attempting to shut down their Think Secret mole.

I also wonder if Apple has received any pressure from Adobe to end the project ... is it plausible that Adobe said,

"If you end Aperture development, we'll accelerate Photoshop for Intel development"

[UPDATE] Aperture apparently isn't going to be axed

Which came first? The OGG or The Apple?



The domains OGGVORBIS.NET & OGGVORBIS.ORG currently point to APPLE.COM ...

In case you don't know what Ogg Vorbis is:

From VORBIS.COM (the actual oggvorbis website):

Ogg Vorbis is a completely open, patent-free, professional audio encoding and streaming technology with all the benefits of Open Source ...


Apple's iPod and iTunes support the following audio formats:

AAC (16 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Music Store), MP3 (16 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3 and 4), Apple Lossless, WAV, AIFF

iPodlinux installed on an iPod will allow you to listen to the OGG Vorbis format.

Interesting ... what could be the reasoning for this?

Here are the only players for the Mac that support the OGG format:

XiphQT: Xiph QuickTime Components (XiphQT) is a set of QuickTime plug-ins that allow iTunes, and other QuickTime-based applications, to play ogg vorbis files.

VLC media player: VLC is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats.

Ogg Drop: Ogg Drop will encode audio tracks and CD's into vorbis. It also contains a QuickTime component that allows iTunes to play ogg vorbis files. Ogg Drop is entirely free.

[UPDATE] The domain is NOT registered by Apple:

Goddady.com whois registration for OGGVORBIS.NET & OGGVORBIS.ORG

Antonio Alcorn
West Hartford, Connecticut 06107
United States

iProng ... the iLong Lie Of A Name Change At iPodGarage!




Had to get this out quickly and will be delivering more soon ...

iPodGarage.com (A Bill Palmer joint) is changing its name to iProng.com

Yes iProng

iLounge.com ... if you remember used to be iPodlounge.com ... and was pressured by Apple to change the name. Apple's naming policy is an "unsigned" contract that you agree upon with your product or promotional naming. If you want to be an authorized and accepted developer, distributor, or news site that is recognized by Apple, you must follow this policy.

Note also that the "Apple patented" scrollwheel was also removed from the logo!

Bill has posted a story about the evolution of the iPODGARAGE.COM website and how Apple's evolution of the iPod is behind the name change.

Here is some good irony ... Bill Palmer is running a contest for the most hits from a single blog or website. He doesn't say that any websites are excluded from this contest. The prize is an iPod Nano. Wouldn't it be ironic if this website WON?!!!

Click here to win me an iPod Nano!

Just as Bill promises to monitor his links in to the iProng website ... I will monitor my links out!




From the "iProng" website:

As of May 8th, iPod Garage is evolving into iProng™, the even bigger and badder voice of the iPod Generation. We're marking the occasion by giving an iPod nano and other prizes to bloggers and webmasters who help us promote the name change. Here's all you have to do to play the iProng Name Game:

- Place a permanent link to www.iProng.com in the sidebar of your blog or website, visible from your site's front page (even though we haven't yet changed our name, the iProng.com domain is already active).

- You don't have to let us know you've done it; we'll see your site in our referrer logs as soon as someone clicks through on your link.

- Leave the link in place from now through the end of May.

- Then on June 1st we'll count of the number of unique click-throughs from each sidebar link and perform a weighted random drawing to determine the prize winners. Sites with more click-throughs will have greater odds of winning, but even sites with a single-click through will have a chance to win top prizes.

First prize is a 1 GB iPod nano in your choice of white or black, delivered directly to your doorstep. Second prize is a $50 iTunes gift card. Third prize is a $25 iTunes gift card. Five other winners will receive a new iProng T-shirt.

Remember, all you have to do to win a an iPod nano is post a link to www.iProng.com in your site's sidebar and keep it there. Create your link today and help us celebrate our evolution into iProng!


Some followup FYT stories:

Kill Bill Pt III: The True Story Behind Bill Palmer & LoadPod

The Historical Bill Palmer, Not Found In Any History Books

HipBILLcritical

The New iPod Garage Website: Now 2X The Rule Breaker

[UPDATE] Is it possible that this "name change" is related to the premise behind this article:

Apple Set To Get Tough On iPod Illegal

[UPDATE II] As of May 1 2006 with only 7 more days to go ... I seem to be one of only four non-Bill Palmer sites linking to iPRONG.COM. Out of those sites mine is one of two that are conforming to the contest rules. Keep clicking away on the link at the top right. Out of the two sites that are following rules I have sent 130 links from 81 seperate unique IP addresses.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

No MySpace In Steve's Places


IFOAPPLESTORE.COM reports:

Some Stores Now Blocking MySpace.com

The flagship stores and others have had a chronic problem with visitors hogging the display computers and using them for hours on personal business, rather than demo’ing the computer or software. As I’ve chronicled here before, people send and receive e-mail, have their appointment and check books open on the counters, and are logged into every conceivable Web site. Now Apple has taken notice of the activity, but not from a crowd point of view. Rather, the stores’ Internet connections are apparently taking a hit from all the bandwidth activity. According to visitors, Apple is now blocking the MySpace.com Web site to cut down on net activity. Visitors at certain stores who surf the MySpace.com URL are re-directed to Apple’s own Web site.


Apparently, this wasn't done for security or concern over MySpace content.


Interesting ... what exactly are people doing on MySpace in Apple Stores? I got bored in about 10 minutes. It took me about an hour and a half to "figure things out" and post my page.

Not much going on ... but I wish this was!



There's not much goin on the world of Apple, eBay, or Technology drama (or at least ... not that you haven't already read about here.) I'll be be posting a feature story sometime soon.

I see a lot of movies, so if any of you are interested in my opinion of a particular movie (out in theaters or on DVD) ... lemme know.

For your feasting eyes until news comes along or I post a feature story:

Apple iPhone Commercial

If you didn't KNOW this was fake, you would swear it was a real Apple commercial ... even has a good theme song playing in the background.

I sincerely hope Apple pays attention to this ... wow!!!

By the way, in case you're curious like I was ...about the telephone contact info that appears on the screen of the phone:

Here is that info from a Google search:

Apple Store - Stanford Shopping Center

(650) 330-2430. Store Hours Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm Sat: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm Sun: 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. How to get here: The Apple Store ...
www.apple.com/retail/stanford/


The song in the video is:

In The Waiting Line Zero 7

You can get it here on iTunes:


Zero 7 - Garden State - In the Waiting Line



I believe the movie is My Fair Lady ... correct me if I'm wrong.

If you wanna know what my real thought about this is ... this is what rumors are about! Concept drawings and plausible speculation is what interests me more than knowingly stolen business plans!

I'd also like to point you to this video ... very interesting to see Steve Jobs address Cupertino City Council:

Steve Jobs Addresses Cupertino City Council



This really highlights what a cool person he is.

Monday, April 24, 2006

MySpace: It is done.

I finished my myspace page this past weekend:

Click here and be my friend!

A couple of notes:

It appears that women are completely comment and message raped on the site. Most of my friends who are female have said that it's "sketchy" that a lot of random guys just want hookups (as in sex) or how random guys make weird comments about how "good you look"

I have had very obscure people find me ... like a girl that rode my bus in junior high school.

Pages load VERY slow .. don't know if this is a poor coding problem or just heavy traffic.

I don't see myself being there a lot ... it doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.

I have been hit by the "friend whore" phenomenon ... seems people will just randomly message you to be your friend ... what do those people get? Anything? Is there some merit to having lots of friends in your network?

I removed a lot of the people from my page that I initially "friended" for various reasons.

Good Artists Copy Mac Theft Software ... Great Artists Steal Mac Theft Software

It's hard to know who came first with the idea of MacBook Pro Theft software:

iAlertU got the most press and had their first press release on April 18, 2006.





But today, out of the blue ... comes TheftSensor ... with a website and seeming release dates and development dates back to March 29, 2006:



The current page at Theftsensor wasn't created until April 20th though. Maybe it was just reposted. There is a blog associated with the orbicule Theftsensor software site ... and it appears there have been 7 or so posts to the blog ... but ... with the blog being in blogger the dates could be altered to be any date the moderator wishes for them to be. I can place any date within the past two years as my blog entry time.

It is possible that they both thought of the idea simultaneously, but I doubt it.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

As The Apple Turns Website Starting To Die



One of the reasons I started the "posse search" for As The Apple Turns Editor Jack Miller is that I noticed the website was starting to yield a lot of errors and broken links. In the past, when Jack has been on "lengthened hiatus" nothing like this has happened. Of course previously ... the longest period of time had been 93 days without updates ... but at least readers were told he would be away and that updates would be sparse.

Presently, most of the AMAZON.COM affilate links are expired, the "rerun" (archive) section doesn't work ... and various parts of the site have started to yield errors.

Just thought I'd provide an update . . .

SEE ALSO:

The Plot Thickens And No One At As The Apple Turns Cares

Code Of Ethics For Journalism



Another item of interest being tossed around in the Apple vs Bloggers case is that bloggers are not held up to the same code of ethics and conduct as traditional news reporting is:

Here is a link to the code of ethics for journalism ... note my emphasis:

The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of writers, editors and other news professionals. The present version of the code was adopted by the 1996 SPJ National Convention, after months of study and debate among the Society's members.


Note that this has not been modified since 1996 ... blogging wasn't a phenomenon and NO NEWS OUTLET used it to convey information to readers. Now ... virtually all media outlets use blogging as almost a primary function of their reporting to provide more in depth editorial and historical/rhetorical content.

Note also that this is voluntary and therefore cannot be used as an Plaintiff's argument for "newsworthiness or journalistic credibility".

And Now Some Words From The Editor ...

Here are a couple of posts I have made recently to the MACRUMORS.COM forums on the topic of the Apple vs Bloggers case that is currently before the California courts:

Quote: Originally Posted by matticus008
As much as I don't particularly care for Apple's tactics, bloggers are NOT journalists. In order to qualify for the same protections as journalists, they must follow the same obligations and responsibilities as journalists.


[ME] Now this I will disagree with ... this is NOT in Apple's favor. Look up the definitions to the word "journalist" and the word "reporter".

reporter (as in "communicator") n. : a person who investigates and reports or edits news stories

journalist (as in "writer") n. : a writer for newspapers and magazines

Where are these standards you speak of contained in these two definitions?



During the last election ... the best place to find information was from BLOGs not from the "mainstream press".

News and news reporting is a result of an action and a medium ... not the result of training or standards.

Would you not call Rush Limbaugh a journalist or a reporter or news commentator? Agree or disagree with his politics or like or dislike his show ... he did not graduate from college nor does he have any formal "journalism background". He also does not follow your standard way of reporting.

Although I despise Jason O Grady and Nick Ciarelli ... as a blogger (myself) who is facing this exact same issue ... I believe bloggers can be journalists ... but that is NOT what Apple is arguing here. It's the EFF trying to twist the shield law and its application to this case that has you doubting the veracity of journalism ... not actual fact or circumstance.

Here is a good case for you:

Gregg Leslie, legal defense director for The Reporters Committee For Freedom Of The Press, says that asking whether bloggers are journalists is the wrong question. "Bloggers is a vague amorphous term like telephone users", he says. "Just like some telephone users are journalists and some are not; the same thing with Bloggers. The medium doesn't answer the question. It has to do more with the function that the person is performing. That's how we approached the shield law question. If the Bloggers' involvement is to report information to the public and to gather information for that purpose openly then they should be treated like a journalist."

"There should be a functional analysis in addition to or instead of the current analysis of what medium you are writing in, " Leslie said.


"As the courts have confirmed what makes journalism journalism is not the format but the content," says Kurt Opsahl (attorney for the EFF). Where news is gathered for dissemination to the public, it is journalism - regardless of whether it is printed on paper or distributed through the internet"


Here's another set of posts about "ethical blogging" vs "what I report here on FYT":

[ME] Note that it's the press trying to twist this for sensationalism and actually listening to the EFF (for senationalistic argument) ... not Apple that is saying that bloggers aren't journalists.

Apple isn't agreeing or disagreeing with the premise that bloggers are journalists ... they are disagreeing that ANYONE has the right to report trade secrets as news.

This case, if decided in Apple's favor will be a REAL blow to blogger's rights ... just the opposite effect of O'Grady's and the EFF's intentions.

I have had a similar argument against my blog recently ... it is being fought over a REAL issue for the court to decide ... whether or not I was a journalist ... previous cases have said that it's not the medium, it is the content that makes a journalist a journalist. If the intent is to report news ... then there is an intent to be a reporter; therefore a reporter (and journalism) exists.

Apple isn't arguing O'Grady's intent ... it is arguing the fact that NO ONE ... certifiable tv journalists, radio reporters, CNN, NBC, FOXNEWS ... none of them have the right to report trade secrets ... which is (in the hands of OGrady) STOLEN PROPERTY obtained = against the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

Quote: Originally Posted by dubnluvn
The bloggers should not be held responsible since they did not break laws to get the information


[ME] They did break laws ... AppleInsider and Ogrady (and others) knowingly accepted confidential business plans, diagrams, and designs. Think Secret EVEN SOLICITS for you (yes YOU) to break the law and "give them dirt" ... the Think Secret site has an ad that says "GOT DIRT?" CALL this #. Reporting or disseminating trade secrets publicly is against the law ... read the UTSA.

A company can't make everything trade secret or at will ... obviously a future product is a trade secret ... obviously Apple doesn't want its competitors to know what it has in the pipeline.

I love rumors sites ... but there are ways to speculate, overhear, and creatively extrapolate --- THAT is the hype that we all like ... not hurting Apple by potentially hurting their impact of groundbreaking hardware and applications.

__________________________________


One more from the MACRUMORS.COM forum:

Quote:Originally Posted by iPie

In any case, if AAPL wants to keep secrets secret, they should just do a better job of it. Wow, this is a real lesson in how to squander good will.


[ME] O'Grady's intentions have nothing to do with good will or "fandom" or love of journalism ... he posts these "trade secrets", solicits for these "news bits", and coerces others for this information for THE SOLE PURPOSE of artificially raising his hit totals so he can whore the figures in front of advertisers. PERIOD!!!

I would even venture to say that there is malice involved.

__________________________________



There is far more drama involved in this case than any of you could possibly imagine. My conspiracy theory is that Think Secret, AppleInsider, and the PowerPage are trolling the web (with a few cohorts) posting these "flamebait" statements into forums. None of the posts ever have reason or intelligence behind them.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Even Though It's Like Internet 1994 ...



I have avoided MYSPACE because it just seemed so yesterday to me. Each page is poorly designed, hard to read, and filled with a lot of meaningless stuff about people (mainly teeny boppers) who you wouldn't want to associate with (even if they are your age).

But recently ... MYSPACE has been getting a lot of attention (somewhat negative) ... this has caused the phenomenon of this networking site to grow 2 fold. It has now become the 10th most hit site on the internet. Yes, as in ONE and ZERO! More hits than the Bank Of America website!

A lot of my friends have said they have met cool people and made really good contacts through myspace.

Yesterday, I was sent an invitation from the "the myspace email invite system".

From time to time, I get to myspace and can't look at someone's details because I'm not a member. So ... today ... I bit the bullet and joined.

It will mostly serve as a "I've got it ONLY to have it" page. I'll only update it from time to time.

Here's the link ... join my friend network if you are on myspace ... and send me a message.

Find me on MySpace and be my friend!


I'm uploading this pic as my background for my page :-)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Want A Refund For Software? Think You Can't Get It? Think Again!



Head over to this BLOG to read a creative way that will force a retailer to give you a complete refund on opened software:

I have thought of this before, but this is a well written story (written in the same style as stories here)

The Quick Witted Refund Poilcy

The Top 10 Mac Apps ???

I just read a blog post by Om Malik:

Om Malik's 10 Must-have Mac Apps

I respect Om very much, but he listed the top 10 Must-have Mac Apps as:

QuickSilver
Ecto
NetNewsWire
VideoLan/VLC
BluePhoneElite
Cocktail
CandyBar
USB Overdrive X
FolderShare
Camino

First off .. I have to say that most of these apps are just clutter and eye candy. Second, none of these apps are truly revolutionary applications. Third ... none of them are what I would call TOP TEN.

As for Cocktail and Candybar ... these apps have crashed my system so bad that the drive was completely unrecoverable ... Cocktail is poorly documented and Candybar is truly nothing more than "eyecandy". Camino, a web browser, who cares? Safari and Firefox are good enough.

If I were to honestly evaluate a Top 10 Must-have Mac Apps list I would include the following:



1) Diskwarrior ... this hard drive optimization and directory rebuilder will save your life twice before you die ... I guarantee it!

2) Toast ... a much easier and comprehensive tool to burn CDs and DVDs with.

3) Intech Hard Disk Speedtools ... recently discovered by me when I needed to put a high capacity drive in a G4 Cube and G3 iMac. (Hint: Beige towers and first generation G3 towers and iMacs can't read more than 128GB in HD capacity ... a utility provided by Intech erases this problem)

4) Skype ... while I would like to see the same feature set as the PC counterpart ... this internet to telephone utility often helps me find my phone ... I simply turn on my Powerbook and call my phone from the internet and follow the sound of the ring.



5) Salling Clicker ... this utility turns most every bluetooth phone into a remote control for your Mac allowing you to control iTunes like you've never dreampt of amongst also controlling Powerpoint, Apple DVD player, and even Home Automation apps.

6) MP3 Trimmer ... a unique utility that allows you to take MP3's and trim them down for a variety of reasons ... why? Ringtones files can be smaller and more poignant, instrumentals can be trimmed of the fat, songs can be trimmed for the meaty part.



7) Graphic Converter ... by far my most loved shareware app ... can convert any picture to any format ... can be a lifesaver if you regularly edit pictures ... also provides basic editing and photo manipulation. Poor Man's Photoshop!



8) Nisus Thesaurus ... free thesaurus that is better at spell checking than Apple's free dictionary and indispensable to me for this site.

9) Quicken ... let's face it ... if you did your taxes this year with TurboTax software for the Mac and you already were organized with Quicken ... you saved yourself hours of time and possibly money. Quicken's universal cross platform nature makes it an essential tool in anyone's life.

10) iTunes ... again ...we have to face the fact that there is some obviousness in choosing a top 10 application. Without iTunes ... the whole iPod experience would not be possible. My personal wish is that Apple would write a utilty that allows use of WinAmp visuals though.

My personal opinion is that Om's Top 10 were personal choices ... the top 10 you see here are essentials. If you have these apps on your hard drive ... you'll not only be thankful to the developers but MUCH more productive ... and mostly ... these apps are best on a Mac ... or ONLY on the Mac!

Of course there are plenty of "built in apps" like Safari ... but I consider them obvious must haves. The apps above may not be all that apparent to every Mac user.

Do you have any Top 10 choices that I might have missed? Would you bump any of my Top 10?

[UPDATE] Through IM I was notified that Om's choices were all shareware and freeware ... my point is the title of his blog entry and the notariety he regularly receives would indicate that his choices would be mildly essential ... I picked apps that I believe ARE TRULY essential and revolutionary for their functionality.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Macs Don't Get Viruses!



A friend of mine received an interesting piece of SPAM this past weekend:

The title of this email is Macs Don't Get Viruses? THINK AGAIN!

To which viruses is Intego referencing here? They aren't. No where in this email does it discuss a virus that has hit the Mac platform. The funny thing is ... whenever some sort of "virus scare" comes out for the Mac ... Intego and Norton always issue an update to "potentially combat it" ... meaning their software didn't protect you (if there was a real threat).

See the previous FYT story:

Mac Fanatics Cause iVirus

The Plot Thickens And No One @ Apple Turns Cares ...



If you haven't been over to the As The Apple Turns Forums to check out what has gone on concerning finding the whereabouts of Jack Miller (Author and founder of APPLETURNS.COM) ... well then ... I'll update you.

As you know, about 10 days ago ... I received a reply from someone who claimed to be a neighbor of Jack Miller. They had a few interesting details and seemed to be credible to me. Since I exhausted every research route, I decided to go public with the information.

First, I published here on Jackwhispers, then I published in 4 topics in the forums at the ATAT forums. Immediately, moderators at the forum expressed concern. One, in particular stated that this was possibly a privacy issue (for Jack) ... so he took it upon himself to delete the various posts I made and consolidate them into one. After only 24 hours, the forum entry was deleted permantly from the website.

We are STILL without answer as to the whereabouts of Jack Miller. I would think that with two weeks of postings in the forums and several topics on the discussion of his whereabouts circulating the web ... there would have been some reply by now ... even from him if he were alive.

I'd like to share with you a conversation between a moderator (who has deified himself) and I through email ... I hope it's understandable ... I just want to illustrate the stupidity that I have had to deal with in this matter:

His initial email to me after posting the information in the ATAT forums:

Good afternoon -

My name is Dan XXXXXXX and I am the primary administrator and owner of the As the Apple Turns forums. Based on your website alone, I have seen no compelling evidence at all that Jack is dead; indeed, MacOSRumors reported last week that they are preparing to run a story to let everyone know where he is. If he was really dead, they'd have said so.

I would appreciate if, in the future, you did not spread speculation as fact on the forums in order to gain attention for your blog.

Regards,

Dan XXXXXXX


Ok, I expressed here and in the forums that in no way was I doing this as a publicity stunt or attention draw for my website. I have a A LOT of hits here ... nearly 1000X more then the average BLOG and almost 5X more than the average Apple news aggregator (during some periods).

This site was partially based on the writings of Jack Miller and the witty style of writing he brought to the Mac Web. For this reason, and this reason alone, was I interested.

Here is my reply to the email above:

Dan,

I did no such thing ...

I was not promoting my blog ...

No one knows where he is and someone claiming to be his neighbor emailed me last night after seeing my story ... this is why I can't confirm any more than I did.

Shame on you and the forum for not finding out.

Where is the story on MOSR ... and they are considered a reliable form of news ... their website is lower ranked than my blog!


Essentially his venomous comment was met with a little spit.

The "update on Jack Miller story" on MOSR that was posted on April 10 2006 - hasn't materialized. It's now April 17th.

Here is another email exchange between the ATAT mod and I:

[Dan]So some random person emails you with an unverifiable bit of information and that's good enough for you to spam 6 cross-posted threads with the exact same content about it? My goodness. Have you by any chance ever worked for CBS News?

Whatever, guy. Let me know when you have anything other than hearsay to go on, and I might take you seriously. Have a nice day.

Regards,

Dan XXXXXXX


A brief couple of exchanges:

[ME] I'm passing your comments to Jack Miller's family (through the neighbor that contacted me) ... way to honor him and the forum HE STARTED!

[ME] What amazes me is that a site's moderator doesn't even know if the site owner is alive or dead ... what does that say about you? Or your credibility?

On Apr 14, 2006, at 12:55 PM, Dan XXXXXXX wrote:

Oh shove it. If you knew anything, you'd know that the forums operate independently of the rest of AtAT.

[ME] I plan to post our entire conversation on my website. Please for your own sake do not email again.

[Dan] Oh no! You're going to slander me on the internet! How tragically lame.

It's not the first time someone's taken issue with the way I run the forum and I'm sure it won't be the last. I wish you the best of luck with your exposé.

Regards,

Dan XXXXXXX

[Dan] You're always getting emailed by "people," aren't you? Pity it seems that under scrutiny they turn out to be nonexistent.

If I had malice, I'd have banned you. Fortunately for you, irritating me is not a bannable offense at AtAT. There are always people discontent with authority. Like I said, it's happened in the past and will happen again. If you want to launch a campaign against me or the AtAT mods, that's your right. Just don't expect much to come of it.

Dan XXXXXXX



Take into account I have made almost one sentence replies without much content.

Here's more:

[ME] Care to explain that? How have they turned out to be non existent and WHY should I hand out private information such as names and email addresses? You and other mods stated that Jack's privacy is being invaded ... or are you just being confrontational.

[Dan] "You have yet to provide proof behind anything you've said so far -- from the original email you allegedly received that sparked this whole thing to this apparent slew of emails from people who dislike the AtAT Forum Administration. Since you seem to have no problem posting the entire contents of these private discussions for everyone to see, I don't understand why you can't back up your assertions in the same manner.

[Dan] By the way, if you do post these emails on your blog (in violation of Federal Privacy laws), I hope your readers are clever enough to note that you did, in fact, start this whole thing by making a snide remark about the my credibility, and while I have been perfectly civil with you the entire time, you have been making threats left and right and digging through my personal life. You are getting really close to crossing my line. Let's avoid that, shall we?"


Dan XXXXXXX


[ME] Email communication (unless expressly agreed upon) is NOT private by ANY law in ANY state.

You started it ... but that's what you want me to say so you can make another clever comeback.

In case you didn't notice ... I posted for people to clarify ... some of your "moderation" detractors emailed me from my website and said they do not like the forums at ATAT and the mods there.. Again, you are taking things way to far and not being sensitive to my intent at all Which is shameful. You aretrading on the good name of Jack Miller, and in the off chance there's something that can be done, I will see to it that there is.

Just get off your high horse for a little while ... and by the way ... this aquaintance you know ... how heck long does it take to find out if someone is dead?

I will ask you again ... please do not email me again.

[ME]


His reply:

[Dan] I have now filed a police report, issuing a complaint of harassment, threatening demeanor, and the possibility of fraud.

It is laughable that you ask me questions and then insist I do not respond.

I, however, am telling you now that a report has been filed with my local police department. All further communiques from you (and the threats contained therein) will be forwarded directly to them, without me ever reading them. You have crossed the line and I no longer wish to play this game with you.

Have a Happy Easter.

Regards,

Dan XXXXXXX


With a few edits to protect privacy and edit out Dan's profanity ... these are the complete emails. Again, this relates to the last post ... are you a weirdo when you argue or complain with someone? Don't make hollow threats that make you look looney. Maybe some people are intimidated when someone says ... they are reporting you ... I dunno. Unless you receive a call from a "court official or law officer" or receive a case # ... just ignore them. This said, NEVER harass anyone ... just make sure they know your stance ... if they ask you not to email them further ... DO NOT!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Are you a weirdo when trying to get what you want?

Here's some email communication received from an eBayer recently ... after offering him a 1/2 refund due to his error and not wishing to pay for return shipping. I offered him half of the purchase NOW (through Paypal) of $45 and told him upon receipt of a working power supply I would refund the other half (another $45):

* only my last name is stripped and his eBay ID

$45 isn't enough, [my last name]... but I'll take it (grumble, grumble).Then I'll buy a 600-watt supply from the seller in California whose ad you probably ripped off... and I'll keep watch on every item you try to peddle on eBay from now on, at least any Mac stuff. I'm a member of eBay's volunteer fraud patrol, and Macs and Yamaha pro music gear are my turf... stay off it. CA's attorney general is threatening to close eBay down because of all the fraud that goes on here (he says it's about 10% of all frauds reported in CA).

So, I'll accept the $45 and keep the power supply. Consider yourself lucky.

XXXX


Of course I alerted eBay to this "volunteer fraud patrol" remark.

People ... understand that reason is almost always met with reason. With me, consideration and kindness is usually met with double the favor and double the respect. If he had sent a more considerate and well reasoned email ... I would have gladly offered him a full purchase price + shipping refund with no questions asked.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A better way of saying ... One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure.



You've heard the old saying, generally shouted by dumpster divers,

"One man's trash is another man's treasure"


A few days back a friend of mine got upset with me because I wanted to grab something that was sitting on the side of the road near a trashcan. It looked like a lot of electronics, even some DVD movies. They claimed that it would be embarassing for them to be seen "dumpster diving" (eventhough it really wasn't). This same friend also knows that recently I found several thousand pieces of promotional items from Ambien. I was able to sell those items for over $1800 in about 2 weeks time and about an hour's worth of labor.

So this was the scenario I posed to her:

"If she saw 24k gold ounce bars sitting next to a trashcan, and the gold bars had a note on them, "Please take me!" ... would you take them?"

She replied, with a quick, "Yes, of course, but that's not gold bars!"

Then I said, "Where would you take those gold bars to get money for them?"

Her reply, "A bank!"

"No bank will accept gold bars and just hand over cash to you.", I said. Where else?"

"This is stupid", she said.

I said, "This is my point ... I can take that stuff ... what looks to me in good shape, and probably sell it right now for $600 at a pawn shop or sell some of it on eBay within a week ... whereas I would have to locate a gold and coin collector and then have the transaction reported to the government and claim the money on my taxes with the gold bars."

She didn't even know about the coin collector route for the gold bars. The point is ... those items were just as liquid as gold to me and no embarrassment for me.

Updates To Recent Stories ...

** UPDATES **


I've got a number of updates to deliver concerning recent stories posted on Fix Your Thinking.

First, concerning Jack Miller of As The Apple Turns ... the best that I can tell ... he has passed away. The best details I can get is that it was sometime in late 2005.

I miss the ATAT website and the tongue in cheek approach Jack took with his commentary. This site was partially inspired by ATAT with the funny headlines to present drama of the Apple and eBay worlds.

[UPDATE] Someone, who claims to be the forums administator in the ATAT forums pointed me to this story on MacOSRumors.com that was posted on April 10 2006:

Two very significant reports are on deck: what has become of As The Apple Turns' Jack Miller, a good friend of ours....

I want to make sure that everyone reading this knows that I am not posting this as some joke or publicity stunt. This is a serious matter and I am not posting it to generate hits for this site. As with all content here on FixYourThinking ... I get answers and I give solutions ... I don't post for any other reason.

_________


If you remember I did an article on ebay dropoff stores back in January. Since this article was published,Bidzirk, the company that was the focus and source material for the exposition part of the article took me to court for defamation of character. In March of this year, we had an injunction hearing where the judge ruled in my favor ... saying the article was news and news commentary and therefore covered under the Lanham Act protections.

One item of contention in the suit against me is Bidzirk's claims that I singled them out and did no research on the topic of eBay listing stores. Fact is, I visited 3 competitors and did extensive Google research on the topic. The problems I mentioned are actually very common among eBay dropoff stores ... just as I mentioned in the article.

Well, recently a friend of mine won an item that was listed by a local eBay dropoff called iSOLDit. Here's what happened:


Friend sends this email after auction close:

Item: 17 INCH FLATSCREEN LCD

This message was sent after the listing closed.

I just paid for this auction and will come pick it up tomorrow or the next day. I have to let you know that I don't understand the $7.00 handling charge at all. To me, one of the benefits of bidding on this auction in particular was to be able to save money on shipping. $7.00 is a lot of money to charge to hand over something that is already paid for. I'm waiting for an explanation on this one because right now I'm feeling a little taken advantage of. I looked over the auction and it mentions a handling charge but there are no percentage references or price ranges or anything. On other iSoldIt auctions I have seen it specifically lists store pickup as an option and lists the price for this handling charge. I recently looked at an auction for a computer system that came in two boxes and sold for $250 and the charge for that was about $5.50. It seems odd that I am getting charged nearly 40% more for an auction that was less than half the price and is only one box.


Reply from iSOLDit:

I’m sorry that you are feeling taken advantage of. Let me explain. We have a handling charge on every single item we have in our store. Our shipping calculator calculates the shipping and handling costs when the item has been measured and weighed and listed on ebay. We don’t even know what they will be until the auction goes live. Our calculator has figured a 7.00 handling charge on this item. We have a statement in our auctions to click on the ISOLDIT truck for shipping calculations. As in all other auctions, you should check this amount before bidding on an item.

I hope this helped ease your mind. Our handling charge stands as is.

Thank you for your purchase!

Manager


I’m really unhappy about this and while this may be your policy and so forth, it makes no sense to me. The fact that your calculator figures this price doesn’t justify it nor does it make sense of it. I saw your statement about clicking for shipping calculations. Why would I click on a shipping calculation when I was going to pick it up? I stopped by the store before I bid and asked if store pickup was possible and the owner said that it was. There was no mention of a fee to pick up an auction that was won.

Your email does not come across well and in fact further compounds the problem when you tell me what I should have done as though I know nothing about eBay and its practices. Your auction was not clear about these issues and I specifically came to the store ahead of time to ask about it as mentioned above. I have been on eBay for many years and have done a modest amount of buying and selling personally.

This is my first experience with your business and so far it had been reasonably positive to this point. If you insist upon letting this charge stand with no concessions at all, it will certainly affect my return business and I will let my friends know about what I experienced.

Please respond back and let me know what can be done about this situation. I’ll end up paying either way, I’m not an unpleasant person, and I won’t leave negative feedback. I would just like to be treated fairly in this situation and so far I’m not feeling that way. If I was doing business with a retail store and had a similar problem I cannot imagine that they would tell me that I should have known and its our policy and that’s just the way it is. It’s like going to a restaurant for takeout and discovering that you have to pay the waiter a tip anyway. I shouldn’t have to pay a shipping charge when I’m just picking something up. Please show me that you want future business from me.


Now ... my personal opinion is that my friend here was a little wordy. But point is evident ... the handling charge WAS NOT mentioned in the auction as a seperate charge. It is called "shipping and handling" ... not "shipping but you have to pay handling no matter what."

If iSOLDit had mentioned this fact within the auction - a pick up fee and or that handling is paid no matter what ... there wouldn't be a problem.

So, I will remind readers again ... whether taking your items to an ebay dropoff for consignment or bidding in an auction that an eBay consignment is listing ... make sure you know all the details by asking detailed questions.

_________


And finally here is an actual reponse from Regal Cinemas regarding my article on Declining Hollywood revenue:



Dear Jack,

I understand your frustration and honestly can say that out of the complaints we handle the ushers are a rare one. The only thing we can do is forward your complaint on to let the corporate level management know you are unhappy. You see, thus far the policy of ushers checking the theatres, with batons, has been a positive one.

The reason we ask the ushers to check the theatres at least twice during the feature is to ensure the sound, temperature, picture, lighting, etc. are all working properly. Also, we ask that they check the auditoriums, with dimly lit batons, so that there presence is known. The reason for this is so disturbing patrons will know to stop their actions, disturbed patrons may address their concerns with the usher, for usher safety, since it is usually very dark in the auditoriums, and because they need to see where they are going, check ticket stubs and grab the attention of disturbing patrons.

Once again, thank you for contacting our office with your concerns. We do value your patronage but simply do not have other options for theatre checks at this time. I will forward your concerns to the appropriate management.

Sincerely,
XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX
Customer Relations Associate
Regal Entertainment Group


It's rare because personally I feel silly having to complain about it. I assure Regal, if they were to take an exit poll on the "usher intimidation and quality check" that they would see overwhelming opposition to it. (Especially if it were explained the way it was in this email) ... if the management doesn't know about a broken thermostat in a theater ... there's something wrong that an usher won't be able to fix DURING THE MOVIE!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Of Note ...




A few reader emails have asked why I haven't reported on Jason O'Grady's article over at ZDNet titled Apple VS Me ...

I'm aware of it and plan to post a few tidbits soon.

First I'll comment that - while I appreciate and welcome spelling error and grammar error critique ... Jason O' Grady's piece was FILLED with blatantly obvious errors ... many of them. So, while I believe he is a news reporting / news agregating site ... and he certainly has a staff of people that proofread his articles ... it's obvious that a staff, a paid unbiased editor ... does not a journalist make. Journalism is purely an intention to report news ... that, he does, and that, he is protected to do by the constitution.

EXAMPLE:

At issue was a series of stories that I ran in October 2004 about an upcoming product that was in development. Was it the next great PowerBook? Maybe the a red hot iPod? Maybe a killer new version of the OS? Nah. The stories about a FireWire breakout box for GarageBand, code-named "Asteroid." Yawn.

Maybe the a red hot iPod? Maybe the a ...

The story is = The story's != The stories

'stories' means plural story, not 'story is'.


The story has AT LEAST 20 such errors. There must be a staff of hundreds for ZDNet and it's sister CNet.

Meanwhile ... read these two comments I posted at Slashdot:

Read the Uniform Trade Secret Act ... it states that if you know information is a trade secret (it even gives the example of "an upcoming product") then you may not report it unless A) It is common knowledge, B) The company has already shown the prototype publicly or C) The company has authorized you specifically to report the information.

This isn't a matter of speech at all ... he's right ... he had the right to publish it ... he didn't have the right to publish it without impunity. There's a difference. This is NOT reporting on scandal, corporate wrongdoing (tobacco, enron, or even faulty product) ... this is expoliting STOLEN information solely for gain ... ie increasing hit totals to show potential advertisers.


It is also a matter of the way in which these things are worded, edited, and poorly reported ... Jason O'Grady's comments on his site often contain mixtures of sophmoric fiction and malice towards Apple.

AND

These leaks hurt Apple sales and even third party Apple developers and retail partners sales - leaving excess inventory while people wait around these rumors.

What Think Secret and the Powerpage have done is; stolen business plans (trade secrets)


I'll post more in an in depth story ... for now ... you can read these previous stories:

Rumor Has It: Apple Doesn't Like Rumor Sites

Save Nick vs Save Apple

The Powerpage Has lost Power

I was first to report on this topic around the Mac web back in 2004 and broke news on several aspects of this case.

Monday, April 10, 2006

More to Alert You About On iAlertU

On Friday I mentioned the new security system software released called "iAlertU"

I've been playing with it and I like it ...

There are a few bugs:

Essentially you can just turn the alarm down by hitting the mute button on the keyboard ... but this could be disabled easily.

You could simply close the top of the Macbook instead of picking it up - this would put the Macbook to sleep instead of tripping the alarm. Again, this is something that could be fixed.

All of the bugs I have found would require knowledge of such a "security system" or knowledge of the Mac OS - which most criminals lack ... or at least lack with quick wit in a "dash and grab".

I have seen some sites saying that you could use any "Front Row" remote to shut it off ... but Apple's "Front Row" remotes CAN be paired to individual Macbooks, iMacs, and MacMinis ... see this Apple website page.

This is an amazing utility ... I just hope that its makers decide to offer it for remote control by Bluetooth as well (being able to use it with Salling Clicker)

Selling Devices With This Whole Site On Them?



As reported by Slashdot:

A new startup called Webaroo is launching [today] with an audacious proposition: You can search the Web without a net connection of any kind. Initial release consists of 'Web packs' on specific topics such as news, city guides or Wikipedia. Later this year they're promising a full-Web version that you can carry on a laptop -- provided you're willing to devote something in the neighborhood of 80 gig."


I don't mind people copying words and ideas from this site and posting on their websites (mentioning me as a source and without my permission) ... but I do mind people selling my ideas and directly profitting from my work without modification or addition of insight ... not that I would even make it into 'an internet essentials collection'.

This seems like a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Those technically savvy enough to care about Internet access will get it through a hotspot, library, or some other means. Those technical enough to care don't want cached info, but live data.

Besides this fact ... it doesn't support Macs.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Do You Love Movies; But Hate Watching Them? (The full story)

Do You Love Movies, But Hate Watching Them?




I would like to discuss with readers the topic of movies. In particular ... the moviegoing experience and why Hollywood is having problems. The answer may surprise you and you may disagree with my point of view. I have a solution that I plan to take action with ... submitting it to the two major theater chains which control 84% of all theaters in the United States.

I like going to big theaters and seeing the advance midnight screening of blockbuster movies.

That said ... over the last two years my moviegoing experience has been somewhat disappointing. I don't attribute this to poor quality, lackluster creativity of scripts, or even higher prices. Mostly ... the moviegoing experience can be narrowed down to one basic problem ... the theater chains.

Cost cutting, political correctness, and consolidation of theater chains have contributed to sour experiences.

Truthfully, I believe these are the main contributing factors to declining movie attendance:

1) Social factors eroding theater experience (talking, cell phones, babies crying, etc.)

2) No ushers and/or chaperones

3) No enforcement or clarification of rules

4) Theater chains being too politically correct to realize the need for #2 and #3

5) Declined discipline in schools and at home

6) Obtuse political message and agenda movies

7) Overhyped movies that cost millions to promote


Piracy, alternative viewing methods, and alternative content providers have so little to do with declining movie theater attendance that it's laughable that the MPAA (Motion Picture Association Of America) thinks these are contributing factors.

First, I'll tackle numbers 1 and 2.

When I went to see the movie Alien VS Predator about 1/3 into the movie, a woman in front of me gets a call on her cellphone. Opening up her clamshell cellphone and what looked like a 2" wide supernova star in the dimly lit theater ... she proceeds to instruct her babysitter where to find diapers, what to feed her child, and other instructions. She's talking in a slightly higher volume because the movie action is getting intense and she even tells the "babysitter" on the phone that she can hardly hear.

You know the scenario ... when you can't hear, you unknowingly talk louder yourself.

I lean over and do a loud, clearing throat ... "AAAAAA HMMMMMM"

No response

I lean over and say a very loud, "Excuse me!"

She continues to talk ... we are now almost 30 seconds into this conversation ... and we aren't talking about a cupped hand light whisper here.

I lean over again and say even louder, "Excuse me!"

Everyone in the theater turns towards us then looks back at the screen. My best friend, who discusses the topic of movie theaters with me often, is a little awestruck that I seem to be choosing a battle here.

The woman and her husband finally acknowledge me saying, "I guess some of us don't have children"

I honestly can't remember my response, but her husband stood up and said, "He's just rude honey, let's go!"

I'M RUDE ???

They get up and leave the theater and don't return.

There's no way of knowing, but they may have informed management about the incident ... of course blaming an "unsatisfactory experience" on me, because an usher came in and leaned up against the wall for about 5 minutes.

Not related to or because of my incident ... soon after it happened ... nationally; Regal Cinemas initiated a new "usher intimidation" policy.

An usher walks in with a flourescent air traffic controller wand and circles the theater. This is suppose to serve as some sort of intimidation and an "eyes are watching you" warning. What it serves to do is ruin the movie the moment they come in. Often, the usher's head bobs and blocks the screen ... casting a shadow as they walk in front. Your eyes also focus on their traffic batons like a hypnotic watch as they go up and down the left and right aisles.



I won't address all of the annoyances in movie theaters concerning distractions and noises ... but I'm sure all of you have been in a theater where a baby is crying.

There's a simple solution for this. Theater goers should be banned from all movies with children under 5 after 6PM and age 13 and under should be banned after 10PM unless accompanied by a parent ... not a gaurdian, not a sibling, but a parent. Consolidated Theaters have implemented this policy ... it's working (somewhat).

On to the next two for discussion:


3) No enforcement or clarification of rules

4) Theater chains being too politically correct to realize the need for #2 and #3


A local Consolidated Theaters venue called Cherrydale Cinemas implemented a new policy in the summer of 2005 for a brief period of time. I liked it. Here's what they did.

The movie previews played as normal then the lights came on, the film stopped and the manager came out and stood front center with two ushers ... one on each side.

He said (something close to) ...

"Welcome to Cherrydale Cinemas ... thank you for coming to tonight's show. Due to recent complaints we need to make sure you are aware that there is no horseplay, no talking, no cellphones, and no smoking. If you must talk, keep it brief and at your best whisper. If you must answer your cellphone ... you must have it on vibrate and leave the theater to answer it. There will be no warning, this is your warning. You will be removed from the theater if we catch you and you will not be refunded. Enjoy the show."


That took less than one and a half minutes ... I enjoyed that movie ... there weren't any problems. I would say 9 times out of 10 when I go to the competing Regal Cinemas (called The Hollywood 20) there is some sort of talking problem or cellphone problem.

The clarification of rules either by management or by on screen placement needs to be implemented. The message, just as this message pointed out, needs to clarify punishment for breaking the rules too. There is no affect in saying, "Please silence your cellphones" with some cellphone company's logo. The cutesy commercials that cellphone companies do talking about people who have cellphones in movies, only serve as what I call ... "filler rather than thinker".

To relate another story to you ... recently, I went to see the movie The Hills Have Eyes ... now this isn't the kind of movie you would call a horror classic ... to be honest, it would only be memorable if it was a 1st date, a birthday, or otherwise something special.

Same best friend and I (that I mentioned before) are taking a break to watch a matinee of this low budget horror film. About 15 minutes into the movie we hear a guy talking very loudly on his cellphone ... but we can't see him. There are only five other people in the theater ... My friend and I included.

My friend, who has grown less tolerate of these incidents and still recalls "the day I stood up to the rude" got up, found that the guy was talking just at the door. He leans over the railing and says, "Could you take that outside? We're trying to watch a movie."

Apparently the guy grumbles, my friend sits down and rolls his eyes. About 15 more minutes pass ... the action in the movie has just gotten intense. The guy returns with candy, a tub of popcorn, and a drink ... barely being able to hold all of it and quite frankly looking like he was about to drop something.

As he's walking up the aisle (going all the way to the top back row corner) ... he's mumbling ... we could hear an occasional expletive as he trimmed his eyes our way. For a minute or so, we could hear him mumbling. Then, he gets back on his cellphone. I tell my best friend that I will go out and tell management and get an usher. I return with an usher who sits with hands folded; near the bottom for about 5 minutes and then leaves. "Mr. Mumble" is quiet for the rest of the movie. As the credits are rolling, "Mr. Mumble" walks down, leans over, and tells us, "It was uncalled for to go tell on me, you pussies, and if you have a problem, we can meet outside."

We went to management expressing our concerns over this incident. The theater manager told us he noticed the "weirdo walking out" and he gave us a "standard apology" and offered us passes for another movie.

Being proactive, we asked the manager why he couldn't have just taken the guy out and why they let a few people ruin just about every movie. He told us that "corporate" had made it clear that no patron should be removed unless causing physical harm or after receiving two warnings. He also said that recently, Regal Cinemas had issued a "note to management" that you must catch the "perpetrators" in the act ... not just go by what another patron says.

In some ways, I can understand this policy. But there comes a time when a manager should be allowed to be a manager. It was obvious, by our dress, our intelligence, and our general demeanor that we weren't trying to "lie to get free tickets" or just complaining because we are complainers.

After this incident ... both of us pledged that we would write Regal Cinemas ... we both received canned responses even after requesting that we not receive such. The response isn't even worth republishing ... it just serves to clarify what I have already told you and give a fake apology ... it's almost like a computer program pieced together an email and mailed it off.

Which gives me an idea and a solution for the problem that theater chains are causing ...

Movie Theater Chains need to move into the 21st Century. Movies could become completely automated and technologically adavanced. This would (over time) save money, cut down on costs and reinvigorate the moviegoing experience.

Here's what I'm talking about:

1) Automated tickets ... slide your credit card or insert cash into a machine / slide loyalty card if you have one ... get tickets

2) Place ticket into validation machine at the door to your theater

3) Vending machines for candy, popcorn, and drinks ... not just standard machines ... you could even have the robotic bartending type robots.



4) If (really a matter of when) movies come to theaters via download or by DVD ... movies start automatically ... no "film technician" needed

5) Cellphone jamming inside the theater ... or walls with cellphone signal jamming paint.

6) Infrared lasers that criss cross theaters blocking video recording (but are invisible to the eye)

7) A human usher in each theater ... which would mean a reduction in staff.

The "humans" could also be movie critics ... I would love to read real reviews from real people that aren't biased about movies ... movies that they may be forced to watch that they otherwise might not see.

Over time, ushers wouldn't need to be in theaters full time.

I think it would even be a good idea for a podium in the corner with a special seat for such an usher to sit ... like he or she was "lording" over the theater. There are obvious auxilliary benefits to having a podium like this as many theaters rent out space for presentations and business meetings.



The main cause of declining box office revenue is lack of control over the experience. Which brings us to reason #5 ...

Declined discipline in schools and at home

The school systems in the United States, the modern code of law, and modern parenting tell us not to punish ... just warn, pay a fine, or be put in "time out". Basically all this has the effect of is laying the law down, but not enforcing the law once broken.

This is exactly what the movie theater chains are doing. Just relying on an "understood" respect of others (which isn't there anymore) and not punishing anyone who breaks this "understanding" (to be courteous, be quiet, be still).

If movie theaters took the stance of ... "here's the rules, break em, be punished" then this article, in one year's time, would be relatively obsolete.

A friend of mine made a suggestion: instead of the manager coming out before each movie, what if the manager of each theater recorded a 45 second informercial to show on screen before each movie. Nothing funny or cute, nothing politically correct ... just

"Here's the rules of respect for my theater 1. ...2. ... 3. ... break these rules and you may be banned permantly from this theater, at the very least you will be removed, and you will not be refunded."


I can just imagine how effective this would be ... especially after someone was ripped out of a theater. (Adults and teenagers alike)

Next on the list:

Obtuse political message and agenda movies

I had high hopes for the movie V for Vendetta ... it looked very stylistic, with a great plot, and great actors.



Boy, was I disappointed. While I like the general flow of the movie at first, as it progressed ... subplots were introduced into the film to make political statements and to attach the film to a far left political agenda.

V for Vendetta is about a future that has for all intent and purpose turned into a communistic, government controlled entity. Ok, interesting ... then you find out that "it all started when America's War got out of hand" On screen you see protestors protesting the war in Iraq and George Bush Jr. This is an intentionally inserted message by the directors of this movie as V for Vendetta was originally released in comic book form from 1982-1985.

Then there is a subtle subplot involving Natalie Portman's character being inspired by a lesbian relationship she reads about while imprisoned. Again, this subplot was not in the comic series ... although the original comic did contain "subversive sexual themes".

Some websites theorize that this plot was inserted after seeing the "critical success" of Brokeback Mountain. I have been told by straight heterosexuals that Brokeback Mountain is a very good film as well. That it is beautifully made and has a decent story. But, it is too graphic and leaves nothing to the imagination. And therefore, only serves as a mild type of "porn" for the sexually deviant. There's nothing wrong with films that show gay relationships, but ... Hollywood has to understand that these films (and the graphic imagery and language) sour an experience ... not just one weekend at the box office.

While the best of my friends, both male and female (and my editor) claim I am on the wrong path with this article with this reason ... I disagree.

A for Agenda


Polarizing your audience sours people from the experience as a whole. My father, who loves movies as much as I do, refuses to go see movies in theaters ever since he saw Platoon ... the ONLY movies he has been to see since is the latest Star Wars Trilogy. I know many older adults who feel polarized by agenda movies at theaters and hear of people's bad experiences with crying babies, rambunctious teens, and cellphones. Some of these people, who used to go to movies in the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's ... have not gone since Hollywood started really cranking out the "Academy Award Nominee" (movies that play to the lifestyles of Hollywood) type movies.

Finally ...

Overhyped movies that cost millions to promote

The best examples of overhyped movies that did worse than expected and underhyped movies that have done better than expected are two recent Matthew McConaughey movies.

One called Two For The Money costarring Al Pacino was promoted relentlessly for almost 6 months before it's release. It hasn't even recovered it's filming budget from worldwide release and worldwide DVD sales.

Another recent film, which wasn't hyped at all ... as I saw no promotion except within February (less than a month before its release) called Failure To Launch has made nearly 50 million OVER it's production budget.

Two For The Money was a story about the glorification of gambling, had bad language, and nudity. This movie was hailed by critics as one of Matthew McConaughey's best to date.

Failure To Launch was a good date movie, about getting a son out of the house. No nudity (except for a funny rear shot Terry Bradshaw), no bad language, but it was trashed by critics.

In the case of Failure To Launch, I think if as much marketting muscle had been put into it as there was Two For The Money and if critics gave this a thumbs up (as they should) you'd see a tremendous box office take for this movie.

In a way, this is why I like horror films, they are low budget, star no name actors (usually), and usually have no critical review beforehand.

I think movies should have exit polls ... just touch a star rating on a touchscreen on your way out. Incentive to participate would be a random free popcorn or concession. No personal data would be gathered, just your rating. I would LOVE to see these ratings from real people immediately following a movie the day after a movie opened. You'd get a much better demographic of users than even the internet could provide.

A recent movie that I think was underhyped and would have made a lot more money was Final Destination 3. I reviewed this movie here on Jackwhispers last month.



So there you have it ... this is what I think could turn the movie business around.

Here's a recap:

1) Make rules clear and enforce them vehemently

2) Make the experience more automated but more human at the same time

3) Turn theaters back into destinations that cannot be experienced at home

4) Let patrons decide rather than Hollywood what they want in their theaters

5) End multimillion dollar ad campaigns and union complications ... so that small moviemakers have a chance to express their visions of stories they want shown on the movie screen.

Here's some research tidbits for you to think of:

* Hollywood now commands $7.25 per ticket for the average movie. This means if you are paying $8.50 for a movie ticket, the theater is only seeing $1.25 of that ticket. This would be one reason concessions are so outrageously priced. I just feel like when i go to see a movie I am being ripped off by such incredible prices. Why do you want a negative feeling amongst your customers? Would not volume and lower prices, yeild the same profit?

* The average movie theater multiplex costs $2.8 million to build (and is not inclusive of the land) ... the average cinema is on a 15 year mortgage.

* Read this interesting slashdot article about theaters being unhappy about faster DVD releases.

* Professional, union film work is governed by the rules and guidelines of the film union - the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). This union establishes minimum salaries for different levels of performance - leads, supporting players, background, etc. Salaries can range from $115/day for "background actors" ("extras"), to $700/day for "day performers" (those with lines), and up to $4,000 a week for major roles. These are minimum rates. Only about 7% of actors are able to negotiate any of these salaries to high five figures and six figures. Only 5% are able to acheive million dollar paydays for movies.

I am of the personal opinion that movies should be investments rather than potential gambling losses. Actors, directors, and crew should work on percentages of the box office ... this would prevent a lot of the "agenda" movies from coming out. Financiers would be much less inclined to take the risk with "agenda" if the result depended on box office success. (Movies would also be lower budget and therefore could have more promotion)

The End: Do You Love Movies, But Hate Watching Them?

Do You Love Movies, But Hate Watching Them?



Last week I started a series of articles that discuss the ailing movie industry. In the first two posts I covered 4 of the 7 reasons I see as the root cause of declining attendance at big destination theaters.

The main cause is lack of control over the experience. Which brings us to reason #5 ...

Declined discipline in schools and at home

The school systems in the United States, the modern code of law, and modern parenting tell us not to punish ... just warn, pay a fine, or be put in "time out". Basically all this has the effect of is laying the law down, but not enforcing the law once broken.

This is exactly what the movie theater chains are doing. Just relying on an "understood" respect of others (which isn't there anymore) and not punishing anyone who breaks this "understanding" (to be courteous, be quiet, be still).

If movie theaters took the stance of ... "here's the rules, break em, be punished" then this article, in one year's time, would be relatively obsolete.

A friend of mine made a suggestion: instead of the manager coming out before each movie, what if the manager of each theater recorded a 45 second informercial to show on screen before each movie. Nothing funny or cute, nothing politically correct ... just

"Here's the rules of respect for my theater 1. ...2. ... 3. ... break these rules and you may be banned permantly from this theater, at the very least you will be removed, and you will not be refunded."


I can just imagine how effective this would be ... especially after someone was ripped out of a theater. (Adults and teenagers alike)

Next on the list:

Obtuse political message and agenda movies

I had high hopes for the movie V for Vendetta ... it looked very stylistic, with a great plot, and great actors.



Boy, was I disappointed. While I like the general flow of the movie at first, as it progressed ... subplots were introduced into the film to make political statements and to attach the film to a far left political agenda.

V for Vendetta is about a future that has for all intent and purpose turned into a communistic, government controlled entity. Ok, interesting ... then you find out that "it all started when America's War got out of hand" On screen you see protestors protesting the war in Iraq and George Bush Jr. This is an intentionally inserted message by the directors of this movie as V for Vendetta was originally released in comic book form from 1982-1985.

Then there is a subtle subplot involving Natalie Portman's character being inspired by a lesbian relationship she reads about while imprisoned. Again, this subplot was not in the comic series ... although the original comic did contain "subversive sexual themes".

Some websites theorize that this plot was inserted after seeing the "critical success" of Brokeback Mountain. I have been told by straight heterosexuals that Brokeback Mountain is a very good film as well. That it is beautifully made and has a decent story. But, it is too graphic and leaves nothing to the imagination. And therefore, only serves as a mild type of "porn" for the sexually deviant. There's nothing wrong with films that show gay relationships, but ... Hollywood has to understand that these films (and the graphic imagery and language) sour an experience ... not just one weekend at the box office.

While the best of my friends, both male and female (and my editor) claim I am on the wrong path with this article with this reason ... I disagree.

A for Agenda


Polarizing your audience sours people from the experience as a whole. My father, who loves movies as much as I do, refuses to go see movies in theaters ever since he saw Platoon ... the ONLY movies he has been to see since is the latest Star Wars Trilogy. I know many older adults who feel polarized by agenda movies at theaters and hear of people's bad experiences with crying babies, rambunctious teens, and cellphones. Some of these people, who used to go to movies in the 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's ... have not gone since Hollywood started really cranking out the "Academy Award Nominee" (movies that play to the lifestyles of Hollywood) type movies.

Finally ...

Overhyped movies that cost millions to promote

The best examples of overhyped movies that did worse than expected and underhyped movies that have done better than expected are two recent Matthew McConaughey movies.

One called Two For The Money costarring Al Pacino was promoted relentlessly for almost 6 months before it's release. It hasn't even recovered it's filming budget from worldwide release and worldwide DVD sales.

Another recent film, which wasn't hyped at all ... as I saw no promotion except within February (less than a month before its release) called Failure To Launch has made nearly 50 million OVER it's production budget.

Two For The Money was a story about the glorification of gambling, had bad language, and nudity. This movie was hailed by critics as one of Matthew McConaughey's best to date.

Failure To Launch was a good date movie, about getting a son out of the house. No nudity (except for a funny rear shot Terry Bradshaw), no bad language, but it was trashed by critics.

In the case of Failure To Launch, I think if as much marketting muscle had been put into it as there was Two For The Money and if critics gave this a thumbs up (as they should) you'd see a tremendous box office take for this movie.

In a way, this is why I like horror films, they are low budget, star no name actors (usually), and usually have no critical review beforehand.

I think movies should have exit polls ... just touch a star rating on a touchscreen on your way out. Incentive to participate would be a random free popcorn or concession. No personal data would be gathered, just your rating. I would LOVE to see these ratings from real people immediately following a movie the day after a movie opened. You'd get a much better demographic of users than even the internet could provide.

A recent movie that I think was underhyped and would have made a lot more money was Final Destination 3. I reviewed this movie here on Jackwhispers last month.



So there you have it ... this is what I think could turn the movie business around.

Here's a recap:

1) Make rules clear and enforce them vehemently

2) Make the experience more automated but more human at the same time

3) Turn theaters back into destinations that cannot be experienced at home

4) Let patrons decide rather than Hollywood what they want in their theaters

5) End multimillion dollar ad campaigns and union complications ... so that small moviemakers have a chance to express their visions of stories they want shown on the movie screen.

Here's some research tidbits for you to think of:

* Hollywood now commands $7.25 per ticket for the average movie. This means if you are paying $8.50 for a movie ticket, the theater is only seeing $1.25 of that ticket. This would be one reason concessions are so outrageously priced. I just feel like when i go to see a movie I am being ripped off by such incredible prices. Why do you want a negative feeling amongst your customers? Would not volume and lower prices, yeild the same profit?

* The average movie theater multiplex costs $2.8 million to build (and is not inclusive of the land) ... the average cinema is on a 15 year mortgage.

* Read this interesting slashdot article about theaters being unhappy about faster DVD releases.

* Professional, union film work is governed by the rules and guidelines of the film union - the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). This union establishes minimum salaries for different levels of performance - leads, supporting players, background, etc. Salaries can range from $115/day for "background actors" ("extras"), to $700/day for "day performers" (those with lines), and up to $4,000 a week for major roles. These are minimum rates. Only about 7% of actors are able to negotiate any of these salaries to high five figures and six figures. Only 5% are able to acheive million dollar paydays for movies.

I am of the personal opinion that movies should be investments rather than potential gambling losses. Actors, directors, and crew should work on percentages of the box office ... this would prevent a lot of the "agenda" movies from coming out. Financiers would be much less inclined to take the risk with "agenda" if the result depended on box office success. (Movies would also be lower budget and therefore could have more promotion)

I'll post some more tidbits later in the week.