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I had planned a reader mail entry today but as I sorted through my mailbag I realized that a lot of it is pitches from new sites.  As you know, I'm not afraid of reading a press release or trying a new site, but it really bogged me down today.  So, rather than hold up an entire post while I try to figure out if sites like Kyte are worth sharing, here's a mix of mail and other notes.

Speaking of broadcasting yourself with a webcam, How to Improve Your Cheapo Webcam's Picture Quality - These are mostly tips on lighting so that the automatic adjustments the camera makes give you a good looking picture.

It's not hard to guess that if you provide the full content of your blog posts through your
RSS feed that the number of people who visit your blog is going to drop and the number of subscribers you get to your feed is going to go up. Cognitive Daily proves it with numbers and charts.

The Gawker Media empire has added another site. Jezebel looks to be about fashion and gossip and sex and pubic grooming.  I'm not sure what the word is for this mix, but when you read through it you can see how it's one thing.

Yesterday's off-the-hook item was reaction to a NYTimes op-ed piece calling for infinite copyright. Though there are counter arguments everywhere I look, this one seemed to draw the most link traffic. "The key to Helprin's problem is his total and complete misunderstanding of the purpose of property as well as the purpose of copyright law." This is interesting to think about before you read the piece. I don't think I've ever asked myself about the purpose of property.

Speaking of copyright, A Fair(y) Use Tale - Disney Parody explanation of Copyright Law and Fair Use - With animation you don't have to actually use the words they say because their mout5hs aren't actually moving to any specific words, so I was expecting this to be some kind of dubbed parody song.  But no, someone actually went through the trouble to assemble Disney clips one word at a time. Kind of annoying actually.

Speaking of over-dubbed mash-ups, a reader named Bailey submitted this one. It's a mash-up of Godfather 4 and the Comey testimony.  Really well done.  I forwarded it to Chris Matthews since he's been making that comparison.

There is a show on TV that involves D list celebrities trying to lose weight. I think I've seen the commercial but I haven't watched the actual show.  But you don't have to be familiar with the show to find some catharsis in the unbridled rage this panel judge directs at contestant Dustin Diamond. Yes, that's how you take no guff. NOTE: Lots of cursing out loud.

I got a note from Glenn last week about his podcast interview with the author of "The Dangerous Book for Boys."  "I love this guy," Glenn wrote. Then I started seeing the Amazon URL for the book and I thought, wow, Glenn can sure sell a book.  But it turns out the book is enjoying a lot of attention on its own and Sunday I saw it mentioned in this article about marbles making a comeback as a kids' game. The article paints a picture of a backlash against video games and "structured play." The other day I was joking that the new tools being developed for online communities are great as long as no one ever leaves the house and kids stop playing outside. I wonder how many kids are trying to figure out where the buddy list is on their marbles.

Speaking of kids and technology...

Hey Will,
I am guessing
you've seen this, it being on the same daddy site as yours and all.

To me, the lesson is:  Don't be a moron.  Whether you are on the web or in the real world, just don't be stupid.

I do scenic work for a theater company in Philly, and have seen complaints about me on MySpace, written by actors working for us.  Needless to say, we don't re-hire these actors.  People need to realize, the web is not the place to openly rant about people who can affect their lives!  Write a journal!

Just my 2bits worth,

Will replies: Rob, yes, I did see that piece.  You're right that people need to learn what's appropriate to put online and sometimes I find myself just assuming that eventually our culture will learn how to deal with Internet technology better and people won't get burned so often by things they publish carelessly.  But part of the point of that article is that a MySpace page is like a tattoo a kid gets when they're too stupid to know any better.  As long as there have been humans there have been kids doing stupid things.  The problem now is that if you do a stupid thing online, it can live online for along time, maybe forever.

Speaking of kids learning...

Melissa, author of The Martha years and The Charlotte Years, is enthusiastic for homeschooling.  This may be the largest carnival we've had yet.  I think there are over 60 posts.

Here is the carnival.

Take care.

Speaking of teaching, "Times columnist and editorial board member Bill Maxwell kept a promise to himself, to become a professor at a small historically black college, to nurture needy students the way that mentors had encouraged him as a young man. His second year started with promise but ended in despair."

Speaking of being sick of kids already, the most interesting thing about this 2600-year-old contraceptive is the role it played in the creation of the heart symbol.

Hello Will,
The first site that sings his name.

The second one.

The 100 Best Products of 2007 (according to PC Magazine) - At first I was relieved that it's one long list and I didn't have to click through pages.  Unfortunately there are no descriptions so if you don't recognize the name you have to click the link to find out what the item is.  Thank God for tabbed browsing.

Ralph's Recommendations (Ralph writes in periodically with online game suggestions.  He's under no obligation, so this may be the one and only intallment of Ralph's Recommendations.):

  • Supertank Survival - Your military overlords have developed a new supertank, and they've chosen you to test it... by dropping you behind enemy lines and seeing how far you can make it before you get blown up!
  • Urban Stickman Sniper: The Beginning... - Rise through the ranks to become the best stickman sniper in town!

Supertank Survival was fun but very hard to do on the lap top since I use a touch pad, not a mouse.  It requires two hands, one to move and one to aim, plus a third hand to fire so you do the math. The sniper game felt disturbingly real for something so simple. I never thought I would feel dirty after murdering a stick figure.

Speaking of graphic killing, Sylvester Stallone is coming out with the fourth installment in the Rambo series.  The trailer is here, all three and a half minutes of it.  It's one of those trailers that tells you so much about the story that you really don't have to see the movie -- and frankly once you see this you probably aren't going to want to see the movie anyway.  Just one NOTE: It is seriously gory gross.  I mean almost Tarantino kind of blood and guts but without the smirking subtext. And that's just in the trailer.

Speaking of sequels (though this one looks worthy), according to the description on this YouTube video, the Sarah Connor Chronicles is a new TV show meant to take place between Terminator 2 and Terminator 3. (For those not familiar with the industry, an "upfront" is when the network puts on a special presentation for advertisers of what they have planned for the coming season.)

Speaking of finding Sarah Connor, the UK is set to launch yet another mechanized means of surveilling its populace.  This time in the form of a meter-wide, four propeller aerial drone. In addition to flying, the propellers are for chopping off the heads of fleeing criminals and other social miscreants (just kidding, but not really).