Flashback: December 12, 2004
“War of the Worlds is in it’s second day of shooting in Athens NY. It snowed there last night but filming proceeded. The set was under lockdown in the tiny village.” (Garth Franklin, War of the Worlds Set Reports)
About this time three years ago, we were all excited about being picked to be in a little Steven Spielberg movie called War of the Worlds. The entire village of Athens, New York (town where I live) was transformed to a bustling Hollywood set for about two weeks as crews built a ferry slip, put in fake railroad tracks and brought in lights and generators.
To give you an idea of the scale of this transformation, Athens doesn’t have a single traffic light. In fact you have to drive twenty minutes in either direction to find a traffic light.
The scene they were shooting was the fire train / ferry scene. For five nights from 5pm to 5am we ran down the street towards the ferry, stopped as an imaginary train wizzed by, expressed horror and screamed at the imaginary tripod that rose out of the imaginary mountain behind us. We were pushed and shoved before being killed by an imaginary tripod as it rose out of the Hudson river and tipped over the ferry. It rained and snowed the entire five nights. I can’t say it was fun.
When I finally saw the movie I was disappointed, but the first half of the movie — right up through the ferry scene — was truly Speilberg-worthy. The lightening strikes and the fog horn sound of the tripod as it rose out of the street was scary stuff. In true science-fiction style, the tripods used a known technology — high-power electromagnetic system (HPEMS) — to damage electrical devices and stop traffic.
The reason I’m taking this stroll down memory lane today is that Eureka Aarospace plans to offer police the ability to use HPEMS to disable or damage a criminal’s vehicle. The sticking point? Narrowing the beam so that only the vehicle in question is disabled.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
|“Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals.”|
Ali and his team pulled out all the stops to investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs. Their conclusion?
It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the FCC. We hope this report will encourage the paranoid community to develop improved helmet designs to avoid falling prey to these shortcomings.
Here’s a TV interview with Ali Rahimi. I was struck by how seriously he approached this, although the interviewer was obviously having a good time. Ali clearly believes in the value of approaching everything he does from a scientific viewpoint.
Not convinced by Ali’s findings? Not to worry. You can buy designer clothing at the EMF Safety Superstore. Pick up a pair or two of Finger Faraday Cage gloves for the holidays. It’s the perfect gift for your favorite tin-foil hat relatives. Just don’t tell them about the study.
|“About every three months this year there has been a mobile Linux initiative of some sort launched. It’s a bit like the common cold. It keeps coming round and then we go back to business.”
The Open Handset Alliance is a consortium led by Google to develop open standards for mobile devices. In Darren Waters article, Symbian dismisses Google Android, John Forsyth, vice president of strategy at Symbian wonders whether developers will flock to Android. I think they will.
|The next 5 years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did.IBM
Institute for Business Value, The end of advertising as we know it
The report says that two-thirds of the advertising experts IBM polled expect 20 percent of their advertising revenue to shift from impression-based to impact-based formats within three years.
Ummm….what does impact-based mean? And how the heck are we going to measure it?
|“Anyone leaving Redmond for Google is a threat. Not because they’ll scurry around collecting company secrets — as if the search giant’s interested in Microsoft’s ’90s-era technologies.”|
Some staffers who are putting in their notice are being escorted off campus immediately. Why? Because they’ve put in their notice to join Google.
Tim thinks the reason behind the quick mandatory exits are simply that Microsoft is afraid of losing more employees to Google if the person has a chance to stick around and talk up his new job.
|“I didn’t write this to become famous; it was just to capture what I was going through.”
Sgt. Troy Steward
In summer 2006, the online magazine Slate, Doonesbury creator GaryTrudeau and editor David Stanford launched a military blog called the Sandbox. According to a recent Washington Post article, the project began with one of the more bizarre solicitations in publishing history — an invitation from a cartoon character.
Trudeau penned the words, “It was a dark and messed-up night,” in a “Doonesbury” Sunday strip, imagining a soldier blogging. In the next panel, B.D.’s cartoon comrade Ray Hightower announced the debut of “our command-wide milblog,” where troops could vent and rhapsodize, and folks on the home front could learn what is going on from their point of view.
This is quite a beautiful blog in a very sad way. The writing is quite moving, and as in Michelle’s emails, I’m struck by the juxtaposition of normal and surreal.
|“I work as a movement controller for helicopters. I help coordinate all the helo flights in and out of here, track the people, and load the helicopters. It’s a great job, I love it! I have a great team. I work over 70 hrs a week…ugh…so on my “down days” I sleep! Today was a down day for me and I slept until 530 pm! It was great! Insurgents are everywhere. That sucks. We just keep our eyes peeled.”
Last Friday I got an unusual email: “Hi! It’s Michelle Murphy from HTS! I found Lisa on MySpace and she gave me your email address, I hope you don’t mind. What have you been up too?! I miss you mega! I’m out in Iraq!”
Michelle is a former student. She’s just one of many soldiers serving in Iraq right now, but she’s the only one I know. And until Friday, I didn’t even know she was there.
Over the weekend we caught up a little and she shared some photos and anecdotes about what her life is like right now. She wrote about the extreme temperatures, living in pods instead of tents, and a little about what her days are like. She offered to send me a video of a camel spider but warned me that it was pretty gross. I looked up camel spiders and they are, indeed, gross.
Michelle has a gift for writing. It’s like her computer keyboard has no backspace button. And the darndest thing is, she has no idea how well she writes.
Our generation is just now discovering the wealth of written correspondence left behind by our fathers and grandfathers and it got me thinking — who will compile the emails left behind from this generation?
Overheard: There are going to be areas of your business where the very last thing you want is creativity
|“Creative people are great, but creativity tends to be a messy process. There are going to be areas of your business where that’s OK, and there are going to be areas where the last thing you want is messiness.
In those areas you should value and reward competent people who can do routine tasks very, very well. That’s just as important as having brilliant, breakthrough thinkers.”
Nicholas Carr, How To Be a Smart Innovator
|“From that day forward we said we will not ship a product that we sell to the enterprise until we run our business on it”
Ron Markezich, Microsoft’s ultimate beta tester
That issue came to a head with the release of Exchange Server 2000. Markezich says the product was not running optimally inside Microsoft, but it was shipped to customers nonetheless. The result was a veritable nightmare: customers experienced the same problems and Microsoft had to rush out numerous hotfixes.
Lorne Green’s famous Alpo campaign — “It’s so good, I use it myself.” In the TV commercials he would hold up a perfectly marbled sirloin steak before the camera.