Stefan Hayden

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Archive for the 'review' Category

On the first of 2007 John and Hank Green decided to stop talking to each other via text and alternate days creating Youtube videos instead. A Year and almost 300 videos later a community of 30,000 people formed around their discussion of Harry Potter, Awesome, Nerdfighters (a pro-nerd moniker), and WorldSuck.

Their experiment ended at the end of 2007 but as they wrapped up the idea of sharing a channel and posting a video on alternate days was about to get a refresh. The Five Awesome Girls channel started just before the Green brothers were done. The brain child of Kristina Horner, of The Parselmouths, along with Lauren Fairweather, of The Moaning Myrtles, Five Awesome Girls brings together five girls who each were apart of the community that John and Hank Green built.

Quickly a format was established. The five girls each picked a day of the week to post a video. They didn’t all know each other in real life and so the used the videos as a way to learn about each other. Each video addressed the other girls to directly to ask questions and give challenges. Other habits also came in to the format like says why the day was awesome.

Hardly a month later Five Awesome Girls was such a complete success that other channels popped up fast and furious with the same format. a Five Awesome Guy’s channel popped up in late January and not a week went by in February where a similar channel had also appeared. Everyone was Awesome: Girls, Guys, Gays, Kiwis, Teens, People, and on and on. All with a clear legacy back to what the Green brother’s started and the Five Awesome Girls formalized.

This internet meme has been successful for a number of reasons and I think it’s here to stay and will not wither away. A group channel has several advantages over individual channels.

Multiple members makes it possible to put out more content at a higher level of quality. It also make more avenues of finding subscribers through the members individual channels. More people also makes it more interactive for the people making the videos. And their interactions also makes it easier for the audience to follow along.

You know you’ve hit it big when you have a lot of haters. Just this week the Five Awesome girls’ account was hacked and their videos deleted. YouTube has just restored their account today, four days later. I think this format has a lot more success in the future.

approx # of videos in ( )
January 01, 2007 – vlog brothers (299) – 27,658 Subscribers
December 31, 2007 – Five Awesome Girls (110) – 9,762
January 26, 2008 – five awesome guys (90) – 16,060 Subscribers
February 03, 2008 – 5 awesome gays (64) – 4,853 Subscribers
February 09, 2008 – Five Awesome Kiwis (74) – 1,236 Subscribers
February 14, 2008 – five awsome teens (45) – 71 Subscribers
February 15, 2008 – 5 Awesome People (81) – 51 Subscribers
February 16, 2008 – voltron team (87) – 59 Subscribers
February 18, 2008 – 5AwesomeRvBers (71) – 85 Subscribers
February 21, 2008 – Five Awesome Limeys (17) – 225 Subscribers
February 25, 2008 – five younger girls (60) – 494 Subscribers
February 27, 2008 – five awesome goats (20) – 1,188 Subscribers
April 02, 2008 – 5 Awesome Midwesterners (37) – 159 Subscribers
April 14, 2008 – amazing vlog show (33) – 41 Subscribers
April 14, 2008 – five awesome clones (26) – 169 Subscribers
May 09, 2008 – five awesome Js (16) – 65 Subscribers

Little BrotherI’ve been waiting for Little Brother to come out since Cory podcasted it last year. It has been a long wait but definitely worth it.

One thing I hope comes out of this book is that people push Cory to write more near future fiction. He really shines at that. Down and Out was far future, Some One Comes to Town was present day / magical realism. All were good but his near future story always rock the hardest.

Anda’s game was the first to catch me but Little Brother really sends it home. Cory knows the bleeding edge of technology so well that it’s effortless for his to jump four to eight years ahead. The changes to the world in Little Brother are extremely small and if anything extremely likely.

If anything this book was too short. The second half had several instances where it seemed like things were going to take a unique twist only to to take another twist. I would have liked more time to explore each scenario Marcus almost gets stuck in. I think it might have fit better in to two or three books. Neil also makes some good criticisms you might want to check out.

I think few things live up to a whole year of anticipation but Little Brother definitely did. It’s a super fun book (a boy book no less) and I can’t imagine any teen who likes computers not liking this book.

Un-kindness to developers: Internet Explorer 7 script debugger stops IE7 from doing anything. IE completely freezes.

After using FireFox 2 all day today I’m 100% sold on FireFox 3. I can’t live with out it. This 400mb giant needs to die and the trim and fit FireFox 3 needs to get out of beta asap.

Juno was pretty much everything I hoped it would be. Amazing. Some people companied that the dialog was too sharp and quick witted but that’s a style I will not get tired of for a long time.

Cake at Terminal
Cake was awesome last night. John McCrea said he was sick and could only play certain songs. Those songs seemed to be Cake’s greatest hits though so I was more than happy. I’m still looking for a set list (here’s one from the 10th and it even has Sad Songs and Waltzes!).

Seems like Some one filmed almost the entire show: Stickshifts & Safetybelts, Opera Singer, Never There, Rock’n’Roll Lifestyle, Wheels, Black Sabbath’s War Pigs

The same girl took some amazing photos as well. Here’s the whole photo set on Flickr.

Somehow I managed only to see the crappy openers King City and Brazilian Girls and Miss the two I was looking forward to seeing Oakley Hall and Agent Ribbons.

So only one episode has aired but there is a ton of stuff to say about it.

Starting off with the strong parts the art direction is spot on. It really feels like a whole other world and it really sets whole series up to really shine. It’s just a shame that the art department was the only ones who knew what they were doing.

A lot of the good parts end there though. I don’t think any of the blame is on the actors. For the most part it seems to be a strong cast list.

The main problem seem to simply be the writing (Steven Long Mitchell, Craig W. Van Sickle) and directing (Nick Willing). The writers seem to have done a lot of work on The Pretender which was a great show but I don’t think really lends it self to a fairy tale re-imagining.

The plot has been needless changed instead of just just tweaked. A good retelling takes the core of the story and changes it just enough to make it new and interesting. Clearly there there brainstorming went on for too long. There are 100% too many robots, a plot twist that seems to add almost nothing.

The writing is painfully heavy handed. Having the Tin Men be a try of sheriff is great but using a line like “Tin Men are what we call Police” takes all the subtly out of it. Time after time things are over explained in stilted dialog. The moment completely remove you from the story and really lowers your enjoyment of the show.

Clearly the writers were not comfortable writing dialog as the plot rushes forward like a three hour mini series has no right to. A mini series has all the time in the world to pause and really build character but this does not really take advantage of that.

Even with all these problems it sill remains mostly a fun show and I hopefully can continue watching for purely superficial values. With better writing this really could have been a gem.

Google reader has also released a featured that is almost cool enough for me to like. I like the idea of my reading list being turned in to my blogroll.

I need more option though. I just don’t want a list. I want to be able to sort them bye which I read the most. I don’t see why instead of a javascript include they can’t just put out an API. Sue it’s more work but this feature seems like it’s for the power users anyway.

Gmail is finally showing me the new interface. Most of the new features are supposed to be backend but there are a few features of note. The contact manager is more robust and with the ability to add people’s IM from other services. It’s unclear if gtalk will actually let me talk to them though the gtalk client but I wait with baited breath.

The new contact manager is nice but still sadly under powered. I know too many people with multiple emails and I really want a better way to merge multi email addresses in to a single contact.

Google Love Jaiku

Twitter competitor Jaiku was just acquired by google. With Twitter having been the bell of the ball why did google jump Jaiku’s bones?

Google could be trying to save money by buying the second most popular. But when has Google ever wanted to be second best? In that case Google thinks Jaiku is the better solution. Jaiku has always been looked down upon by twitter users saying it was too “feature heavy”. Jaiku does offer more ways to include icons and outside feeds in to your own stream. Google clearly thinks features are the way to go.

In a world where acquisition is the exit strategy is the preferred method for successful startup this passover of twitter seems like a big slight to them. I look forward to twitter users saying google bought the wrong company and Twitter telling everybody they did not want Google to buy them.

Either way unless Twitter come out with some exclusive deal with myspace or facebook tomorrow they are going to seem like the losers in this deal.

On this I Am America (And So Can You!) day eve I finally got a chance to try Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream. And you know what, it wasn’t half bad.

I’ve been a JetSet fan for a while now (in internet time at least) and I hate when I miss the obvious. JetSet is part of a larger network of shows called Next New Networks.

Next New Networks is yet another IPTV network that have been popping up all over the place. The fact that I did not already know they existed just goes to show I don’t read NewTeeVee as much as I really should.

There a ton of really well produced shows on that network. Not all are my cup of tea but it has been a long time since I’ve found a network with more then one show that I like.

Beyond JetSet I’ve also become a fan of ViroPop with their ZapRoot show about environmentalism and PulpSecret about comics. I was really excited about Total MMO but it’s in a odd format that doesn’t interest me. I rather have human hosts talking about ideas and issues with MMOs. But I’m picky as I’ve been looking for good commentary since the golden years of Lum The Mad. ThreadBanger for indy fashion designers was also a fun watch but not really up my alley.

I think the thing I really love about Next New Networks is how awesomely niche and focused these shows are around really active communities. Such active communities ends up making richer shows. I know Zadi from JetSet has been doing an amazing job of bringing users into the show and it really heightens the interest in the show.

Oh TV… why must our relationship be so love hate? I have to say I was about to give up this season.

Gossip Girls was boring. The narrator removes the emotion from the show (not Kristen Bell’s fault) and the CW does not seem to have enough money to really make these kids look as rich as they should be. And the dramatic pauses, talk about soap opera. This is at best the poor man’s version of The OC.

Reaper was fun but not the kind of show I really can get super excited about. Missy Peregrym also kind of bothers me. It was fine when she was dating Dino because he bothered me too but in any other context it just seems wrong.

Private Practice was horrible. Just about everything in the show was wrong. Could Richard Webber give her more outs to come back if Addison’s show is canceled? Why does he have to “hold her job open” when she basically followed her husband there and just started working full time when she arrived? Why does the daughter who hide her pregnancy from her father have a holistic birth plan? Is she really that organized? And I thought this was supposed to be funny. Face it anything with Amy Brenneman is just going to be a touch feely show that makes people cry.

Dirty Sexy Money is such a great show though. It, like gossip girls, is about ultra rich people in NYC. Though I guess ABC has real money cause unlike on the CW this show really looks like it has more money then it knows what to do with. Peter Krause, from Six Feet Under, is amazing and really is going to hold the show together. His character is likable and conflicted and just well written over all.

I want to like AideRSS, an rss ranking service, but they are just too vague on how the service ranks posts. Feed reading is such a niche power user activity that they want to know more about the secrete sauce before they commit to it. Though I think part of my problem is that I am a filter style blogger and I want to be the one finding obscure post and shining a light on them.

The Stars’ new album, In Our Bedroom After the War, is up in advance on eMusic. I hope this is not just a marketing ploy and they just put the MP3s when they were done and the rest of the world has to wait simply because the CDs need to be pressed.

I really liked their last album, Set Yourself On Fire, as there was three or four songs that I really feel in love with. You Ex-Lover Is Dead is just amazing and also worked almost as well in the Degrassi episode (go canada!) as Breath Me did in Six Feet Under. Calendar Girl is also amazing.

In Our Bedroom After the War is a solid album but doesn’t have any songs that really jump out at me. Over time I’m going to learn to love all the songs but I really love albums that grab me with really amazing singles.

I can’t say they got worse cause they sound great and the album is a good purchase for any Stars fan. But they were not as lucky as last album with songs that really grab you.

If you want to get in to the Stars I would not start with this album and instead check out Set Your Self on Fire.