Say Hello to Google TV

Logitech dropped the Revue yesterday, the first offering in what is sure to be a bevy of devices designed to bring the Web into your living room.  So with all the wonderful things your phone can do on a 3.5 inch screen in your pocket, why wouldn’t you want the same kind of customized content being fed to you on your big screen while you watch a related show? Well maybe because you’re giving Big Brother G a bunch of information about yourself in the process.  Every time a user fires up Google’s laser-like search functions he makes an implicit choice to pay a toll in the new currency of the Internet: personal information.  Don’t you forget it. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Consider the following video from 2009:

While your privacy-muscle may twitch when listening to CEO Eric Schmidt describe his vision for Smart-TVs, the fact of the matter is that no one’s making you use their services (which are free, and generally work really REALLY well).  And there’s no doubt that Page, Brin, and Schmidt will enhance the TV experience one way or another.

Netflix streaming will be accesible via an Android-based app provided for Google TV—which seems to indicate an Android phone app is likely on its way. It’s up to apps to make themselves open to Google TV’s universal search so results can show up. Negotiations between Google and Hulu are ongoing, meaning we could see Hulu Plus show up sometime soon.

Other apps will be available from a Google TV market—a silo within the Android Marketplace—which reps say should launch sometime next year, or “as fast as possible.” An SDK, based on the existing Android SDK, will be made available, with a Google rep saying devs “will be able to reuse a lot of code.” The same rep said a separate search algorithm—”Google TV Search”—draws from a wide body of content, including live television, guide listings, and, when paired with Dish, video stored on your DVR. The TV search will also pull in what’s on the web.

Gizmodo

So far, my own HTPC (a Windows PC plugged into my TV) has been good, not great.  But Logitech is a company that specializes in controllers and interfaces, so I’m optimistic that this could put a better spin on the experience.  From the viewpoint of a relatively educated consumer, it seems as though the Big G may wind up with more to offer Google TV customers than Apple can through iTunes.  Since 98% of Google’s revenue comes from search, they are not in the business of controlling or distributing content, just serving it to you as quickly and accurately as possible.  They want you to be able to find whatever the hell you want (and generally for free), because, frankly, they want to know what the hell it is you want so they can serve it to you in the form of targeted ads.  Apple on the other hand, wants to control every aspect of its content-distribution ecosystem, and make micro-transactions on each individual episode you “rent” (read: play on demand).  That’s great for Steve, but might end up limiting how much content they’re able to get on board.  Either way, we’re watching the future of Television unfold.  You might want to stay tuned.

Attention New York/Bean Towners: Freakonomics Movie Sneak-Preview Tonight, Pay-What-You-Want Pricing

The freaks over at table 9 Freakonomics have decided to run (what else) a little pricing experiment, and are offering a screening of the new movie with a pay-what-you-want pricing scheme.  So if you’re looking for a way to get rid of all those pesky pennies and nickels, why not put on your finest mustache and go to a quasi-intellectual screening to see some entertaining research projects coming to life?  There’s hookers! And crack!

Interstingly enough, co-author Stephen J. Dubner has already fuxed with some of the early data and found that 18 people have already paid the maximum of $100; about 10x the average ticket (the movie can be rented on iTunes for $9.99).  He hasn’t said how many people paid the minimum of $0.01, but being just one-thousandth of the average $10 ticket, it only takes 1 purchase at that price to offset 10 at $100 and bring that average right back down to earth.  And knowing that the price of movie tickets is actually high enough to prevent me from going to see films that I’m interested in, I’m going to have to take the obvious answer and go with the under $9.99/ticket for this experiment.

I am guessing most of the $100 payees thought they would be the only person to do so, and would therefore show up in the data set as the sole high-roller. Sorry, folks.

It does remind me of something that happened in college. I had a brand-new girlfriend, Sandy, and we were planning to go to the movies one night, along with a friend of hers. Sandy told me that if you showed up at the movie theater in town (this was Boone, N.C., with only one theater) with a $100 bill, they’d let you in free because they never had enough cash on hand to make change.

How could you not be attracted to such a clever girl?

So I went to the bank, drained my account and walked out with a crisp $100 bill. That night at the movie theater, the cashier took my $100 bill without a second glance, gave me three tickets and gave me back the change. Sandy smiled. I did too. She wasn’t clever in exactly the way I thought, but she was clever nonetheless.

Freakonomics Blog

Cities that can check the movie out tonight are Boston, Cambridge, Mass., Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.  No reason not to, people, YOU CAN PAY A PENNY.

Maybe the theater should try a pay-what-you-want plan for food.  That way I can enjoy a film without spending $30 on nachos.  Come on, you HAVE to get that extra cheese.

10:00 of Bioshock Infinite Seems Awfully Finite to Me

There’s 10:00 of Bioshock Infinite floatin’ around that thurr Intyweb.  If you enjoyed the immersive narrative and claustrophobia of Rapture at all, you have to be pumped that this team is taking to the skies.  Also if you enjoy bad puns, this game seems to have a certain magic so far for me.  Enough puns to take down a bull elephant.

The game’s hero, Booker DeWitt, seems to possess a great deal more character than the protagonists from previous BioShock titles, which should come in handy when dealing with the incredibly powerful (not to mention adorable) Elizabeth.

Kotaku

High Art from Low Art

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If Auto-Tune the News has taught us anything, it’s that consciously re-framing authentically unintentional funnies can often induce even more lulz than the original meterial.  Maury Povich being one of my all-time favorite TV shows, I couldn’t deprive you of this.  Kung Fu Hillbilly deserves to be shared with the world.

Quoth my boy Ken: There’s high art; there’s low art; and there’s high art made from low art.

You are wise, sir.

But What About Luigi? Happy Birthday to Mario

The Creation of Mario by DeviantArtist TsaoShin

So a lot of people are going around saying it was 25 years ago today that Shigeru Miyamoto created the Mustachioed One who’s helped sell over 200 million Nintendo games.  So I’m guessing the customary ritual is to eat mushrooms instead of cake? Anyway, they’re all crazy because Mario’s first appearance was in the arcade version of Donkey Kong, released in 1981.  He was then known as “Jumpman,” but come on, it’s the same guy.  What do you think, Billy Mitchell?

So it’s not really Mario’s birthday, per se, but the anniversary of Super Mario Bros. on the NES.  Now that I’ve set that record straight, enjoy some more delicious factoids about Brooklyn’s most beloved plumber.

  • He was originally named Mr. Video, as he was to be the face of video games.  He did, in fact, reach that level of superstardom, but ironically, Miyamoto-san has noted that had he not changed the name to Mario he likely would have “disappeared off the face of the Earth.”
  • He is largely credited with saving the video game industry, after the dark age of E.T.
  • He was originally a carpenter instead of a plumber, although he’s held several other jobs throughout his illustrious career including archaeologist, prescription-happy doctor, and ring referee.
  • Mario’s distinct look is less a fashion statement than a result of technological limitations.  The red/blue combo was used to contrast against black backgrounds.  The hat was slapped on to avoid having to deal with hair, and the mustache likewise in lieu of facial expressions.
  • Donkey Kong Jr., the follow up to the original Donkey Kong is the only game to have ever featured Mario (Jumpman) as a villain.
  • He’s made many cameos in other Nintendo properties, such as in a portrait in A Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time in the Zelda series, and of course as the referee in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!.

Now, in his honor, please enjoy the soothing sounds of two 7 foot Tesla coils playing the Super Mario Bros. theme with sparks.  It’s crazy but it’s science.

Ridiculous Stop Motion is Ridiculous

How the hell do people have time to do this shit?  I’m an unemployed blogger and I can’t even fathom committing the kind of time it takes to put together a 6 minute stop motion video made entirely out of LEGOs.

Ninja Moped via Kotaku

Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Laces: Nike Patents BttF II Kicks

You’re officially living in the future, folks.  Apparently, we’ve been one step closer to hoverboards since 2009.  Sometime last year, Nike filed for a patent application for shoes (with lights!) that automatically lace themselves up, like the ones Marty Mc-Super-Fly introduced to the world way back in 2015 1989.   Pic below [Engadget] links to another with more detail.

Not to put a damper on the good news, but in this crazy-mixed-up world of cross promotions, I have to wonder if this design isn’t a signal that a new movie might be looming over us (you know kind of how the Transformers movie is a $300 million commercial for action figures?).  Sadly, if it were, it would be yet another horseshit remake of a classic that really doesn’t need to be redone.  In fact it NEEDS to NOT be redone.  BttF gets a free pass on cheesiness at this point because “Ayyyy, it’s the freakin’ 80s”.  If you try and redo it, you’re just bringing that cheese to a party where everyone is lactose intolerant, and it’ll fit in about as well as Martin Lawrence does in King Arthur’s Court.  And the result is sure to be only slightly better than that catastrophe.

Look out for a barrage of concept car designs attempting to revive gullwing doors and we’ll raise the alert level to yellow, but for now I’m onboard (motherfuckin’ hoverboard!).

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