Monthly Archives: May 2007

Battle Royale

I have spent the last 6 work hours with earbuds on and eyes glued to the WSJ coverage of da D. I don’t know much about what seems to be the geek’s equivalent to the Detroit Auto Show, except that it brought together a rivalry that looks much like a Michigan State/Unv of Michigan inner-state Big 10 football game. As fierce and loyalty-driven as all the fans become during that weekend in October, when you take a step back, you really can’t compare the 2 teams beyond families with split green and white/blue and gold flags flying. I’m talking about Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates. Apple vs Microsoft. Steve and Bill sat down for a joint interview at this gigabyte mecca event, before which they hadn’t done since like 1991 for Fortune (aside from sitting at the same dinner table at the same conference in ’05). I think a few techies actually died happy right there in their conference room folding chair.

As they politely took turns answering questions, Bill in his Dwight-esque beige uniform and Stevie in his jeans and signature black turtleneck (Tell me; WHO else do you know that can pull off a turtleneck in that sexy way? Tell me. Who? Nobody.), its evident that there will be no taking it out back after the meeting, there will be no dropping of the gloves. These two computer giants, in the last decade, have taken very different approaches to the personal computer and tech specs in general. They have veered in different directions. They were pedalling down a very narrow road next to each other. Their only options were to knock someone down gladiator-style or take different roads at the next fork. And that’s what they did. Their answers were very different, they answered in very different styles, you could see the differences in visions and success. Incomparable.

As opposed to the predicted battle royale, these men are decidedly getting older, their punches less fiery, competitive nature calmed. As they both have their billions stashed away, they are riding the wings of success in their prime. This interview found them both simply reminiscing about the good ol’ days of 16k modems when they used to work together and pushed each other. Most people ended up calling it a love-fest vs the must anticipated smackdown as both companies are wheeling out their fair share of new products this year (Apple TV, Windows Vista, etc). The only squib came from my husband in a separate interview earlier in the day when he said PC-compatible iTunes was like “handing a glass of ice water to someone in hell”. OH SNAP. But other then that, you can tell they are no longer friends nor rivals. They are watching over their respective well-oiled kingdoms from afar and smiling, thinking “…and it was good”

PS – Bill made some comment at the beginning about how he is not the “Fake Steve Jobs” I laughed at this simply thinking that, of course, Bill is just jealous of my husbands success. But after some research, I discovered that he was refering to this Fake Steve blog that take a witty twist on Steve vs Bill issues, which you must imagine, I am in love with.

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Masters of Science in Cyber Social Butterflying

For universities to keep their internet start-up dorm residents from dropping out to go global in Silicon Valley before they can even get into the bar without a fake ID, they are actually bribing them with MySpace. MIT and UofM finally have no choice to but attract the 20 something tech genius grad student by letting them get a degree in the art of legitimate stalking. This is also reason #37,543 Gen Y is proving how hip and social and cyber-savvy we are AND making it legit at the same time. Facebook 201

As off the wall and specialized as it may be, I think its a step in the right direction for tradition-soaked age old universities to keep in step with advancing knowledge and interest. Granted the WSJ article only sites about 4 colleges that have these programs, its a start.

Even though these handful of institutions are working on being up on whats popular and whats in store for “the future corporate leaders of the global marketplace“, it’s still frustrating that the vast majority of schools, and corporations for that matter, are either a) not putting in the effort to try to understand what we as the brightest and best are looking for in our experiences or b) don’t really care because we are older and wiser and you will do what we say because that is how it has been done and that is how it will be done. Forever. Overall, it APPEARS that people actually care about catering to our needs (See Google work culture – sick) but because it is only the companies and colleges with the most facetime with the general public and media (and money) to make it known that they are sweet, dawg. 90% of 20 somethings are not being schmoozed with free on-site massages or pop culture master’s degrees. And I realize money blah blah is an issue, but most companies just need to put aside their pride and open a magazine or read a few blogs to see what we as a generation need and want in our future. Get off your high horse because pretty soon we will be running the show and man, karma is a bitch.

{step off soapbox and walk away with head held high}

A Hotel on Broadway

As a self-proclaimed music enthusiast, I have given up on the tragic state of FM radio and Clear Channel-induced propaganda. Many moons ago, just as another Detroit radio station fell victim to yet another loud-mouthed-with-nothing-to-say DJ playing “hits from the 80s, 90s, and now!”, high school shout-outs, and mad moms in minivans winning Disneyworld trips, I threw my white flag in and turned off my car radio. I couldn’t buy blank CDs fast enough to keep up with my changing music taste and new band discoveries in constant rotation in my car and bedroom. My dad was falling into the same radio slump as he contemplated re-registering for his 1991 subscription for “2000 CDs for one cent each!!!” (The last thing our house needed was more Steely Dan anthologies and Billy Joel greatest hits. Don’t get me wrong, they are legends in their own right and have graced the Waters family airwaves every Sunday – but you need to draw line after something like River of Dreams). When he found himself dusting off his reel-to-reel, he decided it was time to make some changes. Enter satellite radio.

We have not turned back since that day in 2003 that we got our XM radio hook up. Since then, it has taken over our lives. Running wires into every room in the house, car hookups, portable players, streaming on the web. When I found out I could bring “the sounds of Starbucks” into my dorm room, I was on my knees thanking the commercial gods of coffeehouse rock. Dad had every Canadian hockey game that CBS wouldn’t pick up. Mom had her news and Martha Stewart. Me and my sister had bona fide new music on 150 channels of broadcast bliss…..commercial free! So when the news hit of a potential XM-Sirius merger earlier this year, you have to believe I was obsessed with the business behind this theoretical ground-breaking proposition. My first instinct was as a loyal customer: “The channels! Imagine the possibilities! 500 channels! Ecstasy!” my next was as a business woman: “The monopoly! Imagine the lawsuits!”

This is the best professional judgement I came across in a WSJ article.

If the FCC somehow turns their head from the possibility of airwave-takeover with this merger, the outcome could be awesome for listeners. Low subscription prices as production costs decrease (if they want to be ethical about things…..HA I am an idealist), larger selection, more celebrities, more Howard Stern (!).

But the essence of monopoly is in the air. It would take us right back to the Pinocchio strings of the media as another consolidation leads to giving us no choice but to listen to what they feed us. And for many satellite listeners, that was the main reason for the switch in the first place. Lest we not also forget the basic ECON 101 lesson behind a monopoly – without competition, where is a corporation’s drive to lower prices? They could take the prices up to $1,000 but if you want it badly enough, you will pay. Then it becomes an internal struggle instead of a media luxury; how much is Howard Stern worth to you?

The idea of “competition” is where the fine line will be hyper-analyzed over the next few months as a decision is reached as to whether the FCC will allow the merger to take place. You could argue that XM and Sirius are each other only competitors in the satellite radio ring. But is that all they are fighting with for our listening (and money)? Or is FM/AM broadcast a threat in the radio ring? iPods in the music application ring? old school CDs? Podcasts in the media ring? Wii in the entertainment ring?? If the competition expanded to the entertainment industry as a whole, satellite radio is less than 2% of the market. I never considered this idea of what combination of consumer products are vying for my attention (and money – you get the idea) Its like 6 degrees of separation within all capitalist organizations. Somewhere, there is a poor college student trying to choose between XM radio and TBS reruns.

(logic: listen to XM or Podcast? The Onion podcast or NY Times TimesTalks? TimesTalk with Larry David or Harvey Weinstein on entertaining America? An episode of Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm? Vandelay Industries or Junior Mints? TBS rerun or DVD box set?)

The 20-something Takeover!

This article may be a continuation of some parts of my post on our big-headed generation, but I am mostly just posting it without commentary because I think it is genius. This girl has hit the nail on the head as to how I feel about this post-grad life and times of the 20 something

The Midwestern NY takeover!

I have une petite guilty pleasure in following the gossip and trendy cat-fights of the New York City socialites – the closest the US will ever come to royalty. The last few weeks, its been the typical bashing of benefit outfits and marital playoffs. A run-down on my not-so-secret way inside the minds of these keys to eternal happiness through valentino are websites like park ave peerage, gawker, socialite rank (now defunct), new york social diary, and the like. i read mostly for the pictures of high fashion and the occational whitty commentary. But the hidden gold in these websites are the comments posted by “readers” who are, in fact, the socialites themselves – chatting back and forth at each other over horrible fashion missteps, calorie counts, engagement party guestlists, and all around bad b*tching. It also does wonders for my self-esteem and work-driven midwestern upbringing – I still find it laughable sad how devoid of actual life these “have it all” girls and gay boys are.

But then, as if the hollywood gods had finally found a way to take over the blaze high rollin’ life of these Park Ave {insert clever royalty pun here}, the social “scene” losts its mind over the explosive finale of the online socialite networks, as a NY Magwriter played fashionable hardy boy to the mystery that was the masterminds behind these sites that had New York PYTs wrapped around their judgemental little fingers. In summary of this indepth research project – the uncomfortably questionable lovey russian bro-sis duo on the fringe of NY society had created Socialite Rank as a cyber-hair-pulling-and-nail-scratching fight as revenge for their dismiss from the inner circle (all the cliche metaphores i am using here are making me cringe – all the better for effect). So blah blah that was no surprise, trying to put down those that had kept them down. Ruthless and extreme but {yawn}. But, like any great prime time soap opera writer that keeps their audience yearning for more over the top antics and unconcievable situations, the twist does not come until page 8 of this 8 page headlined news story. After Socialite Rank hung its highlighed and weaved head and went off the web, eyed turned to an equally explosive site, Park Ave Peerage, full of never-before-seen pictures of the Trump Princess out on the town, socialites tanning in the Hamptons, and color-coordinated family photo shoots for seashell-clad frames at the summer house in Nantucket. People (nay, not people, socialites) wondered who was posting these intimate photos that actually make these ladies and queens look….normal?? Are you ready for the twist? an 18 year old freshman boy at the University of Illinois.

Is there really anything left to say? This midwestern Indian immigrant dude sitting in his dorm had infiltrated the glass case of [fake] emotion that surrounds the fortress of New York. He has brought the future leaders of charity balls around world to tears. Just read the comments on his site after the cat was out of the bag. The girls are speechless as well. This dude stole Anna Wintour’s show as table after table at the Met Institue Costume Gala cheersed to his brillant research and classy commentary. To keep from crying over the fact that they can no longer continue to ignore the fact that they live among us midwestern homegrown kids and that we are as much real to them as they are to us.

We both know I’m a phenomenal dancer

I am a student of Gen Y. I strive to see how the US population views my generation and to see if they are right on or smelly stereotypes. I found a WSJ article today about a trend in the twenty-something new professionals that I had never heard before. It struck me as such a sprawling generalization and seemed so self-important I found it hard to accept at first. But its true. Our generation needs more praise.

This issue was too impressive to pass up, but a little touchy for my single voice to try to explain. I’ve got my ideas behind it, and I asked some friends and my parents to let me know what they thought of this as well.

My dad’s opinion was pure coincidence. He has seen, in the workplace, an increase in praise and positive reinforcement years before my generation entered the workplace. “I don’t quite agree. The change in management style actually occurred when the generation targeted by the article was kids, because managers then were parents and started applying the same style of management they used for parenting. The fact that these kids grew up at the same time many companies where going over the top on praise (because it evolved over time like anything else) is coincidental.” So perhaps the US as a whole is stepping up the compliments.

A friend of mine took the upper hand on the issue, looking at it from the management position. She is a pitching couch for the local high school softball team. She said that her girls’ need for praise has turned into their demanding praise and rejecting negative feedback. Have we come to see praise as the norm? Do we get a handful of compliments and become jaded over our failures? Do we think we are without flaws now?

Over the weekend, some friend and I had a girl’s wine-and-chick-flicks night in. We watched The Devil Wears Prada (a personal favorite – Anne Hathaway is right up there with America Ferrara for me – helping us big brown eyed girls embrace our features and size 6 self). There is a scene when Andy is complaining to Nigel that for all the Starbucks she fetches and spa appointments she books and look-sees she has to trail to, she does not receive so much as a glimmering eye of gratitude from Miranda (a character not-so-loosing based on the equally pursed-lipped Vouge editor-in-chief Anna Wintour)

I, personally, agree to the extent that I do feel better about my work and am willing to put forth more effort when I know that it will be recognized. But is that a generational characteristic or a need that all people have? Perhaps because my generation has grown up in a, until recently, peaceful time – we have never had to worry about a war draft, or saving scraps to sustain American lifestyle – we are less aware of our part as a collective, looking more closely at ourselves instead. We do not see that our hard work is propelling a company forward, but that it is not personally satisfying without recognition. Could it also stem from being raised off the Internet? Another view of it is the instant feedback that people get after posting blogs, recording podcasts, uploading YouTube videos, writing facebook or MySpace wall posts, etc. We have become accustom to hearing what people have to say about our work in our personal lives. If most of the feedback you get from friends and family on things like that is positive, then a positive shine our your own work is bound to follow. And without getting that same approval from bosses may discourage us into believe that our work is useless.

I get rare praise for the menial work I do from day to day in the office. But there was one particularly stressful report that gets sent up to some big-wigs that I had spent days going over with a fine-tooth comb ensuring it wasn’t going to get sent back to me by the CEO wondering why a $40 million charge was made to Girl Scout Troop #5555. A few days after I held my breath and pressed “send” on that report, I got an email back from my boss’s boss saying that his boss wanted me to know that I did a great job on the report. I have saved that email, spent about 5 hours beaming over the accomplishment, showing Elaine and forwarding it to my parents to put on the fridge like an A+ report card. I now work harder every month on that one report, waiting for the praise to come again. It never has, but I still bank on the fact that if it happened once, it’s bound to happen again. The ball is now in the manager’s court, though. Does he compliment my excel qualities every month over the fact that it was done without errors – which is the basic description of my job requirements, nothing out of the ordinary – or ignore the fact that I am waiting patiently like one of Pavlov’s dog waiting to get that steak again?

I ask – how much effort does it take to stop by an employee’s office and tell them thanks? Not much. Today, pat someone on the back. If nothing else, there’s got to be some good karma in there for you somewhere.

Must See TV!

It’s Thursday. The best day of the week. Over the hump. And time to hang out with some of your best, most drama-filled with the perfect amount of comic relief, fickle, always-knows-what-to-say, beautiful friends. I’m talking about Michael, Jan, Toby, Kelly, Meredith, Derek, Addison, JD, Elliot, Turk, Betty, Daniel, Wilhelmina, Liz, Jack, Kenneth, and all their buddies. But it can be stressful as well. Because with all these people vying for your time, it’s hard to please everyone. And everyone is so fabulous and funny and diva-esque that you don’t want to miss a beat with any of them!

I wrote a frantic email to my parents this morning:

We have a huge emergency. Must See TV thursday has gone into overload. The Office is “supersized” = 45 min long and Greys TWO WHOLE HOURS (blows my mind) but they….sin of all sins……OVERLAP! could we tape the office (8:36-9:19)? Just be sure that everyone is positioned in front of the tv for Greys at 9 therefore nobody will miss the beginning of greys and wont need to be taped. we need all hands on deck to get this going smoothly.

Responses –

Mom: Have you ever heard of “re-runs”?

Me: our generation doesnt have the patience or capacity to wait for re-runs. we need it new and we need it now.

Dad: Sorry, but I’ll be in front of my XM Radio LISTENING to the BuffaloSabres-NY Rangers game because its NOT on Canadian TV because of abreach of international etiquette on the part of US TV Networks!! Butthat is another matter all together……However, I will tape the office……

Mom: Maybe you can tape the game on cassette. What can we use the Beta for?

Me: tape ugly betty on beta. i can wait for that one. its second tier, you can put ER on there too. oh but 30 rock is supposed to be really good and laura is trying to convert me. its at the same time as greys, which is another moral dilemma. what are the networks trying to acheive here?? other then send their audience into a ALL NEW EPISODE tailspin.

I live for The Office. My life IS The Office. And Grey’s is important simply for the fact that if I miss it, I will be shunned from my flesh and blood friends. And I adore Tina Fey. And who doesn’t love the twisted mind of Alec Baldwin? And I think America Ferrera is a diamond in the rough for my generation. And Zach Braff makes movie soundtracks like the best college radio DJ I know (plus he wrote, directed, AND starred in the life-changing movie that was Garden State for me). And….and….I have dreams about McDreamy (so cliché I think Doc actually threw up a little bit in his mouth when I told him that. Then questioned my fidelity.) And I’;m only looking at NBC and ABC!

With the upcoming finale season just weeks away, I feel like these extended episodes are a warm up for the big night when we have to use all technology to our advantage in order to not lag behind as the primetime parade marches on without you. TiVo, DVR, iTunes, old fashioned tape recorder. It seems implausible to even CONSIDER missing the Grey’s finale (Will George chose Kallie or Izzie? Will Addison’s spin off get picked up?) to see what all the fuss is about with 30 Rock (I heard something about someone’s boyfriend moving to Cleveland? Now THAT is funny), yet someone is begging you to change the channel. Its Tracey Morgan. So you have to ask yourself: where does your loyalty lie?

The business numbers don’t add up to the stress that is the remote control battle that goes down in homes across the US every Thursday night at 8:00. WSJ says viewer numbers are down per show. But they don’t take into consideration that fact that there are 3 time as many shows to choose from now. So they essentially are only including those viewers that have 3 TVs next to each other showing The Office, Ugly Betty, and Survivor (If this person does existes; I feel a little better about my clearly NOT out of hand obssession with the shows)

All this torrent babble about one-dimensional drama is just more of a reason for me to ask, again, what are The Networks trying to achieve here?? It’s like the Clear Channel chaos theory. Whatever show you chose will determine your ultimate fate. Jim and Pam forever or Wilhelmina Mode domination?