First Cynical Impressions of new Apple tablet
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

Quickly written, poorly edited first response to the newly unveiled Apple tablet device.

1. The Name
The "iPad"? What's up with that name? Sounds like something that Always or Tampax would market. I'm not sure why they didn't go with the infinitely more awesome "iSlate" or "iTablet".

2. Battery Life
Awesome! 10 hours of usage, up to 1 month of standby time. That's amazing. However, the cynic in me thinks, "Hmm, just like the iPod and iPhone, I suspect that the battery won't be removable, and will probably suck after about a year of ownership. Which means I can look forward to paying $99 so an Apple tech can put a new battery in."

3. Storage Space
I'm not dazzled with this feature. The base (read: most affordable) model will have only 16GB of storage. That's not great, especially if you want video. The storage space tops out at 64 GB, which isn't great for people who want to carry a lot of multimedia. I also question the storage space given that developers will likely start to develop games and apps that are larger for this platform.

4. No Flash support
Great. You've got a web browser built in, but you can't visit Flash-based sites. That means won't work, thus eliminating a competitor in the video-on-demand market. This means that a lot of interactive sites you might visit won't function correctly either. This is lame.

5. 3G
Available through AT&T, though it will cost you $29.95 per month for unlimited data. I like that the device can be used on other carriers, if you want.

6. Looks sexy
Of course it does. It's an Apple product. It's nothing, if not beautiful. The tablet is super light weight too - I can't wait to see how it feels in my hands.

7. New iBooks storefront
Looks pretty spiffy. Slightly higher price point than Amazon, but unsure how much extra cash that might mean for publishers. Major kudos for offering ePub format, which is an open standard.
8. Sounds a little pricey
Per, the price points are as follows:
"It starts at $499 for 16GB, 32GB for $599, and $699 64GB. Adding 3G costs a $130 per model, so the most expensive model (64GB / 3G) is $829."

That's.... a bit rich for my taste, especially since you need to toss an extra $29.95 per month on top of that if you want to actually leverage the 3G capability.

9. But I love to feel actual keys when I type!
Comes with built-in Bluetooth or you can get a keyboard dock. Either way, those of you who hate typing on the screen itself have options. Nice feature.

10. Doesn't seem to come with a camera
Frankly, that's sort of disappointing. I think this could have been a product that really made videoconferencing more mainstream. I sort of envisioned a camera on both sides of the device, utilizing technology such as Skype to handle the videochat functions.

11. Does it multitask?
If it's using the iPhone OS, it probably doesn't multitask. That's surprising/disappointing. With the larger screen, it's be nice to have a few apps open at a time.

update #1: Engadget has an interesting price breakdown of 3G service on the iPad versus the iPhone.

update #2: No stylus/handwriting support? I'm surprised - you'd think that would be a natural addition, and would have gone a long way towards making this a Kindle-killer. I would have loved to see a demo of annotating an ePub document with a stylus.

update #3: Git yer purdy iPad pictures here at the official Apple site.

note: this post may change, as more details come out, but this is what I'm thinking right now. Pic above is from the AP.
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Damages returns, plus a crime show for the commitment phobic
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist

One of the best shows on television that you may or may not be watching is FX's Damages. On one hand, it's a shame more people don't tune in, because the writing is excellent and the production values are great. Glenn Close puts on an acting clinic as Patty Hewes, a relentless and morally corrupt lawyer. The central mystery is compelling and often leaves you breathlessly awaiting the next episode. On the other hand, the story is extremely intricate and absolutely demands that you pay attention to every scene, every line uttered. It's a show that punishes you for missing even one episode. So I do understand why people are reluctant to tune in. You simply cannot watch the show unless you're willing to watch every episode of the season, and you have to start with Season 1 to fully understand the plots of season 2, and presumably, season 3. I know that that's simply too much of a commitment to entice some people, even in the age of the DVR and TV on DVD.

Nonetheless, I can't recommend the show highly enough. While the show does punish you for missing an episode, on the flip side, it's also a very rewarding show for those willing to sit through all 11 episodes of a season. I firmly believe that if nothing else, you should treat yourself to Season 1 of the show, which ranks among my more perfect TV experiences ever. The tightly plotted season begins with Ellen Parsons (star Rose Bryne) bursting out of her apartment covered in blood, clearly having just witnessed something horrible. The show then jumps back 6 months prior, as we see the same woman just starting to work for Patty Hewes. By the end of the first episode, a brutal murder is revealed in the present, and the show then spends the next 10 episodes walking us through just what exactly happened in the span of those 6 months.

For those of you who are all caught up, don't forget that Season 3 starts this upcoming Monday, January 25th. Head over to the Televisionary blog, where Jace has a nice sneak preview review of the new season. I'm super excited for the new guest stars this season: Lily Tomlin, Martin Short and Campbell Scott join the cast this year. I'd also like to note that the show has one of my favorite title sequences ever.

For those of you who may be more commitment-phobic when it comes to your television shows, I'd like to recommend a show I finally got around to checking out: ABC's crime drama Castle. I had avoided the show at first because, although I love star Nathan Fillion (of Firefly and Dr. Horrible fame), I thought it was yet another cop procedural. However, I was greatly mistaken. Castle is best described as "Murder She Wrote, but with a dude in the Angela Lansbury role." Now, I mean that in the best possible way: Nathan Fillion is incredibly charming in the lead role as Richard Castle, best selling mystery novelist and all around smarmy rich guy. He has good chemistry with Stana Katic, who plays a NYPD detective Castle is shadowing as "research" for his new series of crime novels.

Basically, it's a fun, mystery-of-the-week show, with a dose of "will they, won't they" sexual tension thrown in between the two leads. It's the kind of show that you can probably just pick up and watch at any point, and in any order, since the episodes seem largely self-contained. You can watch episodes free online at the show's official site to see how you like it.

Of course, ideally, you'd see the merits of having both shows in your life and make the decision to watch both of them.

One final programming note: tonight on ABC, you can catch the pilot episode of Modern Family at 8pm, with a new episode of the show following at 9pm. If you have somehow avoided watching this brilliant new sitcom, this is your chance to jump on board. Modern Family's pilot is as close as show will ever getting to a perfect launch.
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Architecture As Art
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
I've often heard people scoff at the notion of blogging, as if it's still the advent of the internet and blogs are there merely as people's personal diaries made public. However, blogs have clearly evolved and everyone sort of brings their own motives to the table when it comes to putting down their thoughts on the internet for all to see.

I personally blog for two reasons. One, sometimes I just have a thought about something that I want to share, usually related to pop culture or football. Two, sometimes I find something out in the wilds of the internet that I want to share and bring to the attention of my readers, since they might otherwise miss out on something that might amuse them. This particular post is of the latter variety.

I wanted to share with you an amazing video that a friend directed me to. It's a gorgeous short film that meditates on architecture as art. The workmanship is quite remarkable - the subtle way that CGI effects are added in as the film progresses, the sharp eye applied to the editing of the film, and the score composed to complement the action. In addition, I really liked the way the filmmaker starts the film as an invisible presence, and then slowly becomes more prominent as the film goes along.

I highly recommend you watch the film in fullscreen mode with your sound turned up. Enjoy.
Here's the link to the Vimeo site where you can see it in HD mode (recommended).
The Third & The Seventh by Alex Roman.

However, if you can't be bothered to click over, I've embedded the non-HD video here as well:

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

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Thursday TV Alert
Thursday, January 14, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
I haven't blogged much lately, but I wanted to pop in and remind you all to set your DVR for a couple of shows airing tonight (or very soon).

First of all, if you are still resisting my attempts to get you to watch NBC's Parks and Recreation, perhaps I can tempt you with news that Will Arnett (a.k.a. GOB from Arrested Developement, a.k.a. Mr. Amy Poehler) will be guest starring on tonight's episode. Herc from Ain't It Cool News claims it may be the funniest episode of the series to date. And if you tune in for Parks and Recreation, you might as well stick around for the whole NBC Thursday night comedy block, one of the few things the network hasn't bungled lately. Jack Black is on tonight's Community, and we get 2 new episodes of one of my favorite comedies, 30 Rock.

Speaking of Arrested Development, three more former stars of that show - Jeffery Tambor, Jessica Walter and Judy Greer - will be popping up doing voice work for FX's new animated series Archer. It's a very bizarre show, but if you're a fan of the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup, you may want to check this one out. I thinks fans of the shows The Venture Brothers and Sealab 2021 in particular will love this really demented show.

Here's what some excellent people have to say about the show:
While the comparison between FX's new animated comedy Archer and James Bond is an obvious one, the comparing this series, from creator Adam Reed (Sealab 2021), to Better Off Ted would be more apt.

While Archer follows the high-flying exploits of a suave James Bond-esque secret agent man, at its heart the series is a deliciously loopy and perversely raunchy workplace comedy.
- Jace from Televisionary

There is a specific rhythm to "Archer" and a unique vibe that wormed its way deeper into my consciousness with every episode I watched. It took a few episodes for "Archer" to establish a consistent tone, but once it did, it became a lot of fun. If you share its weird sensibilities, you may find that at its best, "Archer" not only echoes the whipsmart, creatively deranged "Arrested Development" but that it also feels like the naughtier cousin of TV's better single-camera comedies.


There are about a dozen other shows I could reference in trying to describe "Archer" -- you could also say it's the Bizarro World version of the USA spy show "Burn Notice" or a raunchier "Chuck" -- but none of them would quite capture this show's blend of deadpan wit and surreal goofiness. Suffice to say that "Archer" will probably appeal to viewers who like their comedy literate, demented and subversive.

The lead character, Sterling Archer, is not exactly a textbook spy (though at least he looks good; he dresses and combs his hair like a cartoon version of Don Draper). Your first clue that something is off is that his code name is Duchess; he's also likely to get sloshed on missions and shoot a gun in the office when he's having a bad day.

- Mo Ryan from her column, The Watcher
I happened to catch what I assume was a one-shot episode of the show before and really enjoyed it. You can catch the first two episodes tonight on FX at 10pm EST.

Video previews can be found at both sites linked to in the quotes.

Lastly, it's never too early to set your DVR for Starz's upcoming series Spartacus: Sand and Blood. Looks like the 3o0 crossed with Rome, with a healthy dose of nearly naked Lucy Lawless thrown in for good measure. I'm so there. The show premieres on January 22nd.
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Conan O'Brien Is Moving On
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 | Author: Mad Typist
In today's "Good for you, Big Red!" news, apparently, Conan O'Brien has rejected NBC's offer to give up his time slot so that they can continue to assault us with the "comedic" stylings of Jay Leno. I'll copy-pasta Conan's statement below, but here's my thought: maybe this isn't the worst thing that could happen.

Yes, I know Conan's life was disrupted for over a year while NBC strung him along with promises of the coveted Tonight Show job, and yeah, I know it sucks to uproot your whole crew and family to move to horrible Los Angeles. On the other hand, I always thought Conan was sort of a bizarre choice for the Tonight Show gig. The Tonight Show always felt too mainstream to me to contain Conan's particular style of soaring eccentric genius.

I'm not a fan of Jay Leno myself, but apparently lots of people are. And the kind of people who liked Leno's easy-going schtick are probably not the kind of people who are going to receptive to skits involving characters like Triumph the Comic Dog and The Masturbating Bear.

I think that Conan would be a much better fit on a more edgy mainstream network like Fox, that will give him room to be as strange as he likes. I'd also love to see what an uncensored late night show from Conan would look like on a network like Comedy Central, FX or even HBO.

The full text of Conan's statement here (also, read Alan Sepinwall's excellent article about this):
People of Earth:

In the last few days, I've been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me. For 17 years, I've been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I've been absurdly lucky. That said, I've been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over 'The Tonight Show' in June of 2009. Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me. I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my 'Tonight Show' in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in primetime by making a change in their long-established late-night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move 'The Tonight Show' to 12:05 to accommodate 'The Jay Leno Show' at 11:35. For 60 years 'The Tonight Show' has aired immediately following the late local news. I sincerely believe that delaying 'The Tonight Show' into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. 'The Tonight Show' at 12:05 simply isn't 'The Tonight Show.' Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the 'Late Night' show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot. That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of 'The Tonight Show.' But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn't matter. But with 'The Tonight Show,' I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it's always been that way.


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