Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Holy Mars!

Black spots have been discovered on Mars that are so dark that nothing inside can be seen. The spots might be entrances to deep underground caves. Here is an example, captured three weeks ago. This hole is about the size of a football field and is so deep that it is completely unlit by the Sun. Some say holes and underground caves like this could even support life and might be prime targets for future exploration.

Does this remind anyone else of the face on Mars found by Viking in 70's? It's always exciting to think about the possibilities of the unknown. Given that Mars is a cold desert with nothing to sustain life, I doubt there's anything in those holes but cold and darkness. Still, makes you wonder what could be down there...

One Thought on WWI

I took a break from packing Monday afternoon and got a chance to watch some of the Band of Brothers marathon on A&E. I love that series. I'm a sucker for WWII stories, and this is a great one. It's amazing to see the old men that lived through it, and actually got to live to be old men.

As I watched, I realized that America had so much more involvement in WWII than WWII. The story of WWII is told more becuase we played a bigger role. OK, back to work...

Friday, May 25, 2007


I was stuck at work late this week and had nothing to do. So I start exploring Wikipedia and end up spending an hour reading about World War I. It was amazing. Seems strange that what was once called "The War to End All Wars" is now a footnote to WWII. I think there are 2 reasons for this.

One, WWII had clear-cut morality. The Allies were the good guy and the Nazis were the bad guys. Doesn't seem like anyone disputes this. WWI, on the other hand, there was no Holocaust or other great atrocity that sticks out in our collective memory to make the distinction as easy. Two, the media was much more advanced for WWII and was able to better document the fighting. I've seen a zillion things about WWII, but I can count on 1 hand how much I've seen about WWI. Apart from some fuzzy pictures, the vividness of the fighting just isnt there.

It's just such an amazing story. The political aspect alone is unreal. Technology allowed the entire world to communicate on a global level for the first time and it all goes to shit. Trench warfare. First use of an air force. First use of toxic gas. By some accounts, a soldier’s most important piece of equipment was his gas mask. They would find soldiers abandoning their rifles, but none would leave the mask behind. Huge amounts of casualties for very little gain on a regular basis. The numbers are staggering.

For example, the Battle of Somme was one of the bloodiest fights of the war and was hugely impactful on the British people. The first day of fighting alone had 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead. But that whole battle was just a diversion created to draw the German army away from the Battle of Verdun, which was as devastating for the French as Somme was for Britain.

The hero of that battle, Philippe P├ętain (who coined the phrase "they shall not pass" from Lord of thee Rings fame) was in charge of free France during the Nazi occupation and eventually impisoned for collaborating with the enemy. A hero disgraced; how much more epic can you get!

If you’re not bored to tears yet (by now, I’m guessing Brian is the only one still paying attention), check out a great website: www.worldwar1.com. Start with the timelines and then go to battle plans. You can see the plan each country wanted to follow, and how that usually never worked out.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Computer Programmer or Serial Killer?


Based on a person's picture, you have to decide if he is a computer geek or a serial killer. Go with your gut feeling and click on your choice. There are 10 photos. Your score will be given at the end.

I got 8 out of 10. But I think this has more to do with luck and figuring out the pattern in the quiz than understanding human nature. It's like a rock/paper/scissor tournament. Figure out what came before and it helps you guess what comes next.

And yes, I stole this link from a Julie Heller email. Sue me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brian's Blog

After months of complaining about why anyone would wanted to start a blog, Brian Heller has capitulated. Take special note of the design, it's spectacular.


The Best eCards Ever

When you care enough to send the very funniest, go here: www.someecards.com

A few samples to whet your appetite:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New IM Shorthand

lal - "laughing at loser"

It can be used at the person you're speaking to, yourself, or someone else. For example:

"Tony just bashed that guy's teeth in - LAL!"
"You're wearing black pants with brown shoes - LAL!"
"I have herpes - lal."

Try it out and spread the word.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Trend Hunting

When I'm not huntin' wabbit, I'm huntin' trends.

big ups to Harley for the link

Friday, May 18, 2007

Starburst Ad Remakes

Viral marketing at work! The ad is so popular that it's being remade over and over:

girls have too much time
describing it a recess
nothing better to do at a slumber party?

This, of course, is part of a larger trend where the younger generations feel the need/desire to publicize their lives for public consumption. They take what they find interesting, incorporate (the fancy term is interpolate) it into their lives and then spit it back out.

My key takeaway is that effective advertising to youth markets is more than just flash and fluff. You need a compelling idea (the fancy term is meme) that is funny, or serious, or sad...doesn't matter. But it needs to stick with a few, who can then spread it to others. This is the essence of viral marketing, spreading memes from brain to brain where it takes hold until the next one comes along.

The New Starburst Ads

Have you seen this? Maybe not. If you have and were like me, it just left you confused. It introduces a new character they invented to promote new Starburst Berries & Cream. It has nothing to do with anything product related, just an absurd character with no connection to reality. It's actually really funny, but funny/strange instead of funny/smart.

Here is the ad they show on tv. (This blog will make more sense if you watch the video clips in order). Funny, but strange. But on YouTube and making the viral rounds is a longer clip that shows the backstory. The character is still weird, but now the story of the ad makes a little more sense.

The strange thing is that they aren't showing the back-story in the ads, relying on word-of-mouth to get the story across. I guess Starburst is hoping to draw in fewer, more dedicated brand loyalists that get the joke, rather than a mass marketing campaign to a wider full audience. It's an interesting case study. Consumers must seek out the answers to advertising rather than having the message given to them on a silver platter.

This has been done before (sort of), mostly by car companies that show a 30 second movie and then direct you to their website to get the rest of the story. But this is different in that the ads aren't the introduction but the second chapter of the story.

It's definitely a bold move. Not sure what agency is behind it, but I'm guessing they did some heavy-duty research to see if this strategy holds any water. Will it work? Who knows. The more important question is whether this kind of campaign, where consumers are in the dark and must seek out answers, will work. It worked for Lost, so maybe...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lost Theories

Cool Website

I know it's been a while. More blogs to come once I get bored at work on Monday.