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R.I.P., John Hughes

August 7, 2009
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An electric company’s new growth

August 6, 2009
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I can see my houses meter from here!

I can see my house's meter from here!

Chances are, if you live in Philadelphia, you’ve had to deal with PECO. They’re really the only gig in town when it comes to electricity, and even if you’ve managed to avoid having to use their services, you’ve not missed their big old building. The 39 year-old structure has been the one of the main focal points of PECO’s apparent desire to go green. Firstly, they replaced all the old lightbulbs that made up their scrolling sign atop their building with a fancy new, greener, LED display which debuted on July 4th. Then, in a really green move, they turned their roof into a field. The expressed purpose is to reduce the drainage problems from rainwater runoff that the building has. Apparently, over 1.5 million gallons of water fall onto the building each year, and the new eco-roof will absorb up to 70% of that, putting less stress on municipal facilities. The grass, seemingly greener on PECO’s side, will be open to the public in what is probably their greatest PR move to date. Even the local killjoy blog thinks it’s a good move. On top of these window-dressing moves, PECO is also implementing a new initiative that may actually help Philadelphians manage their energy consumption, with an eye to becoming more efficient consumers. The company is going to be installing new smart meters which will allow you to read your meter, regulate air temperature, and even control your appliances from your computer. Sort of similar to what Penn was trying to do on their own, PECO wants to roll this technology out as early as next year. Definitely seems like a step in the right direction.

The beginning of the end of the beginning

August 6, 2009
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journalistic gold

journalistic gold

Rupert Murdoch, the master of puppets in charge of NewsCorp, announced today that all of its sites will soon start charging for their services. It’s scary how much NewsCorp controls, Fox, MySpace, NY Post, Wall St. Journal, the Dow Jones, HarperCollins, just to name a few American holdings, and how wide-reaching this announcement could be. Granted, it’s most likely directed towards their publications’ sites, like the Post, or the (London) Times, but this could change how media is disseminated on the internet. NewsCorp has already been fairly successful in making the Wall St. Journal a paysite, although it’s a niche publication in a rich market. I can’t see there being anything but a massive backlash against NewsCorp if they go ahead with making all their publications’ sites subscription-only, and even though I’m really not a fan Fox News, the Post, or most of the media outlets Murdoch owns, I think this is a necessary step. Once a massive corporation starts something, all its competitors and the smaller companies will have to do the same , or that first corporation will have problems. In most instances, this would just drive customers to the free alternatives, but this will most likely be the kick in the pants other media outlets to also start charging. It’s really the only way that the proliferation can survive. Every free blog, every news aggregator, every Google search gets its information from some company that paid a reporter and editor to produce the information. I know it sounds rather like Reganomics, but there really is a trickle-down effect with online news – without someone getting paid at some point in the process, it’s unlikely that the proliferation of information will be able to continue effectively. Considering that the majority of blog posts on this site rely on information from other sites (who in a lot of cases go their information from other sites), I would like someone to get paid to keep finding things out, otherwise there wouldn’t be anything to write about on here. Granted, I’m not really sure I’m so concerned with Fox News’ continued existence, especially with this kind of ‘journalism’:

Yelling in the dark

August 6, 2009
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the fate of todays attacker

the fate of today's attacker

Earlier today, Twitter shut down in attempt to fight a direct and complex attack on its site. For many hours, opinionated people had to resort to their old ways of butting in on other people’s conversations, the passive-aggressive returned to post-its, and the rest of us had to turn on our TVs or use the rest of the internet to listen to talking heads. The BBC’s article on the attack suggested that there are at least 45 million users on Twitter’s site, but due to the proliferation of accounts on smartphones and third party software which interacts with the site, there could be many more. Twitter seems to have become the Marmite of the 21st century, in that you either love it or hate it, and obviously whomever co-ordinated this attack today must not have been a big fan. Interestingly, it seems that the site has really become the domain of the old, as only 16% of all Twitter.com visitors are under the age of 25. Again, this could be a skewed statistic, in the same way that my mom still goes to Google’s website to search for something, even though I’ve told her a fair few times that there’s a search bar at the top of her browser – kids know to use TweetDeck, their iPhones, or even text messages, whereas the old folks are just impressed they got on the computer without something going wrong. If it is the case, though, that Twitter really is just a bunch of older folks shilling their (somewhat) unsolicited opinions, I can see why someone would want to pull the plug on it – the guy probably had already spent too much time at his grandparents’ condo dinner parties and couldn’t bear to put up with any more rambling.

License Plate

August 6, 2009

Dear Internet,

I want to get a vanity license plate.  Any and all suggestions are welcome.  I tried with one but it failed.  Long story…

Love,
Avrin

“The Shack” Is the Place to Be

August 5, 2009

Now I know what you’re thinking.  What is this?  How could that thing, a middle-of-nowhere collection of rotting wood and nails be relevant to absolutely anything?  Well, let me tell you…

Read more…

Moved by the elderly

August 5, 2009
tags: ,
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I wonder if hed have enjoyed it

I wonder if he'd have enjoyed it

There’s a fairly well-known band out there called Radiohead. They’ve released a few albums that have gone platinum, did a lot to single-handedly shift our thinking on online music sales structure, and even have a new album out there to make everyone under the age of 35 to incessantly drool over. They apparently also quite liked Harry Patch, whom you may remember from last week’s news, or the Battle of Passchendaele if you were there (if you were you are a liar or a ghost, or both). Patch was the last remaining known veteran of the Great War (or the prequel to WWII), who died last week at the age 111, and was at the aforementioned battle, where nearly one million people lost their lives. Apparently, Thom Yorke, who is no stranger to letting the internet know how he feels about people, was so moved by Patch’s story that he felt compelled to write something about it. As such, Radiohead pulled together and gave a new song to the BBC to stream for free. At first, I was surprised that Radiohead had shied down from their In Rainbows (lack of a) business model and returned to the now traditional record company way of allowing the song to be streamed for free, but then charging for a download. Then I read that all the download profits will be donated to the British Legion, the excellent UK charity that cares for veterans and war memorials. The song isn’t half bad, either, especially considering it was written and released in the span of about a fortnight. As far as I can tell, this is the most spontaneous thing that Radiohead has done over the course of their career, and while there are reports that they’ve been in the studio to record a new album (and so recording quickly wouldn’t be much of a hassle), I’m quite impressed. While it’s not quite “Ohio” in its immediacy and likely impact, I think it’s got to bode well for whatever they’re actually doing in the studio.