The "C" Branch

Jaded commentary on random shit, with an extra helping of cynicism, satire and general contempt for society & Western culture, religion, politics, celebrities, technology, business & more.

Aug 31

Daytime Emmy Awards 2009 Results and Winners

The 36th annual Daytime Emmy Awards, hosted by the lovely Vanessa Williams, took place yesterday in Los Angeles. The Daytime Emmy awards recognize outstanding performance and excellence in American daytime programming like talk shows, game shows, soaps, and even children’s programming.

Some highlights from this year’s results: Rachael Ray won in the “talk show entertainment” category, and “Sesame Street” won a lifetime achievement award. (As a side note, I am thrilled that Sesame Street won this award…I remember watching it as a kid and am happy that my kids will be able to watch it some day too.)

Here is the complete list of winners:

  • Drama series: “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
  • Lead actress in a drama series: Susan Haskell, “One Life to Live.”
  • Lead actor in a drama series: Christian LeBlanc, “The Young and the Restless.”
  • Supporting actress in a drama series: Tamara Braun, “Days of Our Lives.”
  • Supporting actor in a drama series (tie): Vincent Irizarry, “All My Children,” and Jeff Branson, “Guiding Light.”
  • Younger actress in a drama series: Julie Berman, “General Hospital.”
  • Younger actor in a drama series: Darin Brooks, “Days of Our Lives.”
  • Game-audience participation show: “Cash Cab.”
  • Game show host: Meredith Vieira, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”
  • Talk show-entertainment: “Rachael Ray.”
  • Talk show-informative: “The Tyra Banks Show.”
  • Talk show host: Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd, Barbara Walters, “The View.”
  • Morning program: “Good Morning America.”
  • Directing in a drama series: “One Life to Live.”
  • Writing in a drama series: “General Hospital.”
  • Performer in a children’s series: Kevin Clash, Elmo in “Sesame Street.”
  • Lifetime achievement: “Sesame Street.”

You can view the entire list of nominees as well as great photos and footage from the event on here.

Aug 30

Obama’s “Cybersecurity” Bill Frightens Internet and IT Pros

There is a new bill proposed in the White House that would give president Obama “emergency powers” to deal with internet/network security emergencies, rolled within the legislation into a new term known as “cybersecurity.”

This would essentially allow for a few things:

  1. The president would basically be able to disconnect anyone from the internet who he felt was a “cybersecurity threat.”
  2. The government would certify IT people so they could be to be up to par with these “cybersecurity” standards.

As you might have guessed, I’m not too thrilled with this new proposed legislation, and neither are the folks over at ComputerWorld. Read more on IT Blogwatch.

Aug 29

Mario Kart: The Movie – Trailer Looks Amazing!

A bunch of serious Mario Kart fans have decided to produce a movie, and so far the trailer looks awesome! It’s got everything – drugs, bastard children, homicide. Plus, the acting and voiceovers seem pretty decent and it looks like this might actually have some serious potential. Perhaps costumes/etc might need a little work, but overall it’s looking really good.

You’re not going to want to miss it. Check out the trailer below:

I don’t know about you, but I’m itching to see more. Hopefully new developments come out soon!

Aug 28

A Quick “Getting Started” Guide to Self Publishing Online

There are tons of ambitious people out there who are looking to publish some of their existing work – or even considering producing some work they haven’t even made yet – just for the sake of publishing it. However, the many factors involved, like up-front costs and the stress of dealing with publishers and printers, can often kill that ambition pretty fast.

Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 27

Yahoo! Mail Putting start: 0000-00-00 end: 0000-00-00 on Outgoing Mail

It seems people using Yahoo! Mail are going to be sharing some random information with everyone they email whether they want to or not.

I’ve noticed today that all incoming email messages from people using Yahoo! mail have the following tag at the bottom:

start: 0000-00-00 end: 0000-00-00

I don’t know yet if this is an exploit or just a glitch with Yahoo! mail’s system, but if it’s an exploit, it could be changed and used by whoever figured it out for sending spam through mail that legitimate Yahoo! users are sending. Hopefully it’s just a glitch though and not someone hijacking the system.

At any rate, if you use Yahoo! mail you might want to periodically email yourself at a different address to make sure you’re not sending any unwanted data you don’t know about!

Aug 03

The Whole “Laptop Hunters” Premise is Just Stupid

This “Laptop Hunters” ordeal has been going on way too long for me to have not shared my two cents yet, so here goes…

Chances are you’ve seen one of the “Laptop Hunters” commercials Microsoft has been pushing on TV and the internet, but in case you haven’t, I’ll do a quick overview of the original premise. A girl – Lauren (later a second Lauren, Sheila, a Mom who’s returning to law school, and others join the fray) – goes computer shopping with a budget of $1000 or less, looking for a 17″ laptop with speed and an adjustable keyboard (still not sure exactly what that is) – and Microsoft tags along. They promise to buy her whichever computer she finds meeting that criteria, to prove that the only practical computer for an average American on a budget is, of course, a PC with Microsoft Windows.

<a href=";playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:0bb6a07c-c829-4562-8375-49e6693810c7&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=shared" target="_new" title="Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion">Video: Laptop Hunters $1000 – Lauren Gets an HP Pavilion</a>

A couple things pop out in the original video that leave me shaking my head, so I’ll first discuss those, and then we’ll take a look at some real facts about pricing and other important factors when buying computers.

  1. Lauren is supposedly some random person off the street who’s buying a computer, yet she really seems like an actress, possibly even a paid actress, to me. Mind, I guess they could have tried filming the commercial with 250 different people before they finally found someone as great on camera as she was, but the whole thing just seemed a bit too nicely done to be an on-the-fly thing with someone off the street (especially considering that the producer has consistently produced garbage software after having years to polish and perfect it).
  2. Near the very beginning of the video, Lauren spends about 6 seconds in the Apple store (she calls it the “Mac store”) to decide she’s “not cool enough for a Mac.” I find it intriguing that Microsoft is going to pull that “prestige” stereotype nonsense about Apple users. I wonder how Microsoft would like it if I made a commercial portraying Windows users as idiots who don’t know enough about computers to realize what constitutes a decent, stable operating system. Oh wait, at least mine would be about 100 times closer to truth then their lousy stereotype (sorry Windows users).
  3. Microsoft emphasizes the factor of price heavily in their equation, but only takes into account the initial cost of the computer. But since that seems oddly presumptuous to me, let’s be realistic and say that Lauren were to keep her new laptop for 5 years (a fair assumption considering she was on a budget in the first place). First off, it will no doubt have a ton of bloatware preloaded onto it, which stores like Office Depot and BestBuy offer a removal service for around $40-60. If she leaves it on, it will only slow it down and cause problems down the road, thus making the need for future repairs even more likely.

    Of course, her Microsoft Windows laptop is going to require an Antivirus/security subscription among other things down the road, beyond the initial cost of the machine. And, considering that it’s running Windows, it will probably need to be formatted and reinstalled at least once during that five years, almost definitely more if she doesn’t properly handle the previous security software investment.

    So let’s say Lauren gets an Antivirus (like she would need to, even according to Microsoft) for we’ll say $30/year, and handles installing it herself. That adds $150 to the cost of the computer over the next 5 years. A Mac, of course, would not require this OR come with bloatware, and would still remain at its initial cost at this point.

    Further, based on my experience working on and repairing Microsoft Windows computers, chances are she’s going to need to have some work done on it (either a good cleanup and virus removal or a full-blown erase and reinstall) which could cost her much more than $100, but we’ll stay conservative and go with only that amount.

    Now the cost of her $699 computer has increased by $50 for removing the bloatware, $150 for her security subscription and another $100 for the repairs it will no doubt require, bringing it to a much more realistic $999 and hovering over her $1000 budget after sales tax (and hovering substantially higher in certain states).

  4. Lastly regarding this video, at the very end Lauren claims, “I’m a PC, and I got just what I wanted.” And I guess if what she wanted was a cheaply-made machine with system software highly prone to security exploits and virus infection, she most certainly did get what she wanted. But, chances are of course, that she probably didn’t.

Following the release of these commercials by Microsoft, Apple got upset and asked a Microsoft executive to stop airing them, which was stupid given that Apple has not only been airing “Mac vs. PC” commercials for quite some time but also released some that have been considered rebuttals to “Laptop Hunters.”

For example, this one:

So, to conclude, I will share my general, objective thoughts on why this whole “Laptop Hunters” premise is plain stupid and what factors are realistic in choosing a good computer.

  1. Price Tag – The ongoing Mac vs. PC debate is not about prestige, and that was a low blow by Microsoft. It’s no question that Apple’s products cost much more, yes. But that comes with the fact that they are simply designed with much better quality every step of the way – not to function as some sort of prestige or “coolness” icon. From my work on the insides of both PC and Apple laptops, it’s obvious to me that with their solid construction and smart features like the rubber-mounted hard drive rack, the construction of Apple laptops is in general FAR superior than virtually all of the low-cost PC laptop manufacturers.
  2. Software Production Fail – Setting aside the Mac vs. PC debate for a moment, understanding the disadvantages in construction among cheap PC manufacturers, let’s talk software. Including Linux and other much more solid and reliable operating systems alternative to Microsoft Windows, it’s very apparent that Microsoft is at the very bottom of the totem pole. If I had the time and resources, I could probably gather a few of my buddies and write an OS that gets less viruses – from a basement somewhere. Microsoft has to be aware of this and knows darn well that these laptops running their software that these people are buying are vulnerable, insecure, and require third-party software to protect them since Microsoft can’t handle that itself (which tacks on to the computer’s price).
  3. Attacking Each Other Fails – As I implied earlier, it was dumb for Apple to try and have Microsoft remove the commercials given all the sliming they themselves have doing to Microsoft. However, it was dumber for Microsoft to make the misleading ADs, especially when they’re failing miserably at producing a decent operating system and are currently still subjecting people to using arguably their worst OS ever.
  4. Facts Work Better – Though my natural inclination towards Apple products was no doubt detectable, it was all based on facts that I clearly stated throughout this article. Rather than trying to “slime” each other and produce misleading advertisements, the computer companies should simply declare facts and let people make their decisions based on them (admittedly, Apple has done this well in many of their commercials, though perhaps not as tactfully as possible).

So to summarize the facts:

  • Apple computers cost substantially more than their PC counterparts, but for several good reasons (as follow).
  • The construction and assembly of Apple computers is by far superior to that of PC laptops within the price ranges shown on Microsoft’s commercials
  • A laptop running Windows will require additional investments out of the box, including Antivirus software ($150 across 5 years), bloatware removal ($50 on average), and repairs/virus removal down the road ($100 is extremely conservative).
  • Apple computers and even PC hardware running Linux or other OS’es based on Unix are much more stable and do not require the additional security solutions and investments mentioned above that Microsoft-using computers do.

Well, there you have it. Objective facts and information on the differences between Macs and PCs, based on the material in Microsoft’s recent “Laptop Hunters” commercials. Now you can make your own decision.