Do or Do Not.

Archive for July, 2005

Did…did you just advertise to me?

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This article on CNN.com discusses they ways in which more and more TV shows and networks are using in-content product placement to shove advertising down viewers’ gullets. (Every time a Desperate Housewife drinks a can of Coca-Cola with the label conveniently pointed toward the camera, that’s in-content product placement.) Product placement isn’t anything new, of course, but it seems the advertisers are stepping up their usage of it, largely because of all of those pesky TiVo boxes allowing viewers to–gasp!–skip all of the commercials.

But ha HA! You can’t skip the commercials if they’re part of the program itself, you stupid viewer! How dare you think you have the right to ignore our advertising!

I don’t really mind product placement advertising–it’s certainly less annoying then having to sit though extra commercials. And being a sports fan, I’m pretty much used to it, since everything on any given sports telecast is “sponsored by” some company or other. Doesn’t mean I’m anxious to see more of it, of course, but I understand that the TV networks are businesses and those businesses make most of the money from advertising revenue. Product placement’s relatively not so obnoxious, so hey, good on ya, networks.

The best part of the article was this quote from FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein, discussing why the FCC should indicate to viewers at the beginning of a program that the show might have in-content ads:

But Adelstein agrees that “we may need to change our rules to address the fact that, even when there is some disclosure, people still don’t know that they’ve been advertised to. At a minimum, it seems that advertisers should disclose up front (in the program) there’s going to be a product placement, so that when somebody sees it, they know what they’re seeing.”

Ummm, maybe it’s just me, but…if the viewers don’t know they’ve been advertised to, if you have to explicitly tell them, then it’s not really very effective advertising, is it? If the viewer doesn’t know he’s looking at an ad, does that speak more to the lameness of the ad or the stupidity of the viewer?

Written by Allen

July 28th, 2005 at 3:52 pm

Posted in Pop Culture,TV

Monkey mind

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Ever have those times when you have so much stuff going through your head that you’re almost paralyzed? Too many things to think about, too many projects to work on, too much to worry about…too much to let yourself focus on any one thing, and so you wind up not doing a damn thing.

Kinda sucks, doesn’t it?

I’m trying to get myself more organized, because I really and truly believe that will help me with my “monkey mind” problem. Not with all of the issues I’m trying to work through, of course, but the more I can organize away and out of my head, the more brainpower I’ll have for dealing with those issues which can’t be cleared up quite so easily.

Today should bring my copy of David Allen‘s “Getting Things Done,” which seems to be something of the Organizational Bible to the geek set these days. I’ve tried putting into practice some of what I’ve learned just by reading other people’s sites and blogs and wikis about the GTD system, but I realized that by not reading the book myself I was just ending up with a half-assed implementation of it. What little bit I’ve done has helped, so I’m assuming that the more I understand of the system and the more I successfully put into practice, the better off I’ll be.

I’m also hoping that the more I can get organized, the more I can clear out of the clogged gutters of my brain, then I’ll be able to focus more, which would be a Very Good Thing Indeed. I have so many things I want to be writing right now and can’t seem to get myself to focus on any of them (a longtime problem for me, believe me). But that’s more of a post for another time…some other time when I can’t focus on work.

What abot you guys…do any of you have any organizational philosophies you use to manage your daily and/or creative lives?

Written by Allen

July 27th, 2005 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Organization

Monday Photo(s): Reactionary

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You guys get a special two-fer today!

The Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence currently has a big dinosaur exhibit going on–they’ve got a whole bunch of maybe-not-life-sized-but-still-pretty-big animatronic dinosaurs, so of course we had to take Kelsey, who loves her some dinosaurs.

The downside of taking Kelsey to see the exhibit? We had to take Laurel, who’s not so much down with the dinosaurs…or really with anything else that might scare her. At all.

The sculpting on the dinosaur models was pretty decent, even if the actual “anima” part of “animatronic” was a bit lame–most would just kind of move their torsos up and down a bit, though there was one that actually spit water at passers-by. That would be this one:

And this would be Laurel’s reaction to the Aquaexpectosaurus:

Poor kid. She’s never going to be able to watch The Land Before Time again.

Written by Allen

July 25th, 2005 at 9:49 pm

Posted in Photography

Free isn’t always

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I think it’s pretty well accepted at this point that many companies like to offer their customers “free” products or services that don’t necessarily add any value to the customer’s experience. Case in point: Amazon’s free shipping for orders over $25.

The impetus behind this offer is pretty clear: “Hey, that’s a pretty paltry order you’ve got there,” Amazon tells you. “If you spend just a little bit more money, we’ll give you free! shipping!, so it’s like you’re not even really spending any more money!” They tried this on me last night, and would’ve work if I hadn’t been paying attention to one significant detail…the estimated shipping date.

I ordered two books, both of which were about $10. Amazon told me (in nice, large letters) that if I spent another $4.92 that I’d qualify for free! shipping! OK, fine–I went and found a Blue’s Clues book that I thought the kids might like. The book was $4.99, putting the total just over $25, so free! shipping! was mine.

But the estimated ship date for that order was July 29…next Friday. For three books that “normally ship within 24 hours.” Getting the free! shipping! would have only served to de-prioritize my order. I’d save a little bit less than one dollar, but it would take more than a week longer for my order to show up at my house.

I went back and ditched the Blue’s Clues book (sorry, kids) and selected the regular 3-5 business day shipping instead.

My order shipped this morning.

Written by Allen

July 25th, 2005 at 1:42 pm

Posted in General

Good enough

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I just found this passage from Susan over at Write On Right Now! which seemed to dovetail nicely with my post from yesterday about fear:

If there’s a barrier in writing it’s me. Being afraid to write what I want to write because it might not be marketable, might have a small audience, might not be understood, might make me an enemy, might tick off my mom. Substitute your own excuse of the week. Being afraid to take chances with my writing that will stretch me and help me grow. Being afraid to be the writer I am capable of being because what if I fail, what if I succeed, what if someone doesn’t like who I become, what if “I” don’t like who I become? Being afraid I’m not good enough to tell the story I want to tell because I don’t have the skillset, because I don’t know where to find the information, because someone told me it was a dumb idea. Just plain being afraid is the only barrier to me. The rest is scenery along the way.

I’ve frequently been afraid of writing, though afraid of exactly what part of writing I’ve never been sure. I used to rationalize and tell myself that what I was afraid of was success–my gosh, what if I actually am good enough to be a professional writer? Then I’ll have to go on book-signing tours and do radio interviews or (if the particular dream I was trying to avoid at the time was that of being a screenwriter) I’ll have to go to pitch sessions at the studios and I really don’t like talking in front of people and it’ll all just be way too much so I might as well stop writing right now.

(Please note that nothing in that fear-string had anything to do with the process of writing itself.)

Terry, who knows me so, so well, clued me in to the truth: I’ve been more afraid of not being good enough, of course. I’ve long thought/known/assumed that I had the talent to be a successful writer. I’ve thought that for so long, in fact, that I was terrified of finding it out it might not be true. No telling what that might have done to my sense of identity.

Cut to couple of nights ago: I dug out the 60 pages or so of the crime novel I wrote for National Novel Writing Month in ’03. I’d gotten stalled at that point, 60 pages in; I’d written a scene that totally killed the narrative flow and I had no idea how to get myself out of the situation. What I should have done, in the spirit of NaNo, was scrap the scene, forget about it and just move forward.

Instead, I just quit. Not the first time I’ve done that.

But the other night, I went back and re-read what I’d written, and I realized something:

I am good enough.

I’m not saying that right at this moment I could send out a manuscript and immediately it would be purchased, published, shoot up the bestseller list and have the movie rights sold for millions of dollars. But as I read these pages, pages I hadn’t looked at it in almost two years, I had enough distance to be able to read them with an objective eye. And while there was plenty of not-good stuff to be found (it’s a first draft, after all)–there was far more stuff that was actually pretty damn good.

I’ve always been a good self-editor. I’m good at analyzing my own work and seeing what works and what doesn’t, and I think that’s going to help me quite a bit–probably more than quite a bit–if I’m going to make it as a writer. And I read these words I’d written right after having read books by Dennis Lehane and Tim Dorsey and I can see it: I can see myself actually pulling it off.

I have a lot to learn about the craft of writing a novel, I know that. But I’ll learn that by, y’know, writing novels. I’m looking at trying to plow through the rest of this one, hopefully to be done with a first draft by November 1–just in time to dive into whatever I decide to write for NaNo this year.

It’s time for me not to be the barrier to my own writing anymore.

Written by Allen

July 21st, 2005 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Writing