Links for February 20, 2006 – Online Applications & Tools, RSS, Package Tracking, Photo Seach, Real Estate, TV, Wifi, Minnesota Movies

  • – Simple software to help you get organized.
  • – Everyday products that are cool.
  • – Webmaster Tools and SEO Software Resources.
  • – nativetext is a free web service that translates RSS feeds from blogs and podcasts into foreign languages.
  • – trakpak is the easy way to track multiple shipments from multiple carriers (currently UPS, FedEx, and USPS are supported).
  • – Real estate research.
  • – Flickr search engine.
  • – Feedication.com is a web application that acts as your own aggregation service. It is able to fetch and display information about you. It currently supports syndication with web services like 43 Things, 43 Places, 43 People, All Consuming, last.fm, del.icio.us
  • – Gradebooks, assignments, messaging and a personal website just for teachers.
  • – eVokeTV.com is focused on multi-tasking tv watchers – the growing population of users that have broadband internet connectivity while watching TV. Whether you are a passive viewer or actively engaged with the programming you watch, we strive to give you a
  • – Nonprofit film industry trade association devoted to promoting the film industry in Minnesota.

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Links for 2/17/06 – Blogs, Podcasts, Internet Radio, PSP, DVR, & Video

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e-strategyblog.com – Recent Internet Marketing Posts

Recent posts from my :

Super Bowl Advertisements

Considering all the Super Bowl advertisers have made all of the Super Bowl ads available online, perhaps companies have finally figured out that it makes a hell of a lot of business sense to put your television commercials on the Web. It has annoyed me for years that so few companies practice this…practice.

If I like a company’s commercial, I want to be able to find it on their web site. I may even, as I will shortly, blog about a particular ad, extending the reach of that commercial message. With that thought in mind, even gives you code to paste an ad directly onto your web site or blog. No brainer, huh?

So, I’m happy that all of the .

For my money, by far the best commercial was ‘s Caveman, what with the caveman doing his best impression:

ad featuring a city populated by stuntmen was clever:

had a very clever ad made that much better by the fact that is in it:

‘ ad was great simply because of the cool animation:

And, finally, ‘s ad was funny for the concept: A hamster make the case for why he’d be an excellent football mascot:

Are Gamers Athletes?

I know this story is a week old, but I must address it. A week ago Sunday, on professional gamer Fatal1ty and how he’s making a ton of money winning .

The piece details the exploits of Fatal1ty (a.k.a.  Jonathan Wendell) and his growing celebrity as a gamer and his clout as a commercial endorser. His agent tries to argue that Wendell is an athlete for a new form of sport.

No. No no no no no no no no no NO. He is not.

I’ll agree that video games are sport in that they consist of people competing against one another and that they are quickly becoming a spectator sport, but gamers as athletes? Please.

One of the primary aspects of being an athlete is skill of a physical nature. Don’t tell me that a largely sedentary activity such as playing video games is a sport, the most excursion of which requires sweating over controller.

Wendell clearly has mad skills as a gamer (and actual athletic skills, as the piece points out), but to call someone an athlete merely because they excel at video games is purely absurd.

Watch the 60 Minutes Video:

This Week In Internet Marketing – 1/24/06 – 1/27/06

Here’s a roundup of this week’s posts at my :

HDTV Buying Guide

It has been just over a year since I bought my and now I can’t imagine life without one. The picture is so crystal clear (and huge) that it almost bothers me to see movies in the theater because you see imperfections in the film in theaters (scratches and lint on the film and such) that you do not see in a purely digital high definition transmission. I rarely see movies in the theater anymore; usually only those movies that are so epic that they demand viewing on a massive theater screen.

Needless to say, playing video games on it is a treat, as well.

I have since given advice to friends on buying an high definition television and someone suggested I put it on my blog. So here it is:

My HDTV Buying Guide

HDTV Research

Considering you’re on the brink of laying down some serious scratch for your new entertainment system, you’ll no doubt want to research your purchase before committing the cash.

The best starting point I’ve found is . It will take you through the basics: What type of set you can afford; what size screen you should get; the fundamental definitions, formats, and technologies you’ll need to understand; the difference between wide-screen and 4:3; features and cable connections (with a superb chart); what to know about playing video games on your set; understanding picture quality and settings on your HDTV; and what to know about accessories and warranties.

About.com has an excellent page that ; they also have a very good home theater section.

Burn-In

You mean you could spend a ton of money on a new HDTV, only to have it completely ruined by burning a TV station logo into your screen? Theoretically, yeah, you could. But don’t completely freak out about it; a little common sense and you’re fine.

Basically, the idea is to not have a static image showing on one
portion of your screen for a long time, or that image will “burn-in”
and you’ll always have a “ghost” of it whenever you watch your TV. I
was all paranoid about it but fear has proved largely unfounded; You
just need to be responsible about how you use the set.

Don’t spend eight hours at a time playing a video game with a stationary graphical element (like a health bar) on it without changing the image once in a while. If the presidential election ever comes down to the wire like 2000 again and you’re rivited to CNN’s all-live coverage, just remember to change the channel occasionally to refresh the screen so that crawling ticker at the bottom doesn’t wreck your screen.

I admit, it freaked me out at first, too. But common sense is all you need. I have had no problems.

Read more:

Buying Refurbished

I bought a refurbished HDTV, so I’ll focus on my experience but don’t let the word "refurbished" scare you away. Refurbished can mean anything from the packaging the item was shipped in was dented and so was returned to the manufacturer but nothing at all was wrong with the item itself, or there was something wrong with the item but it was refurbished by the manufacturer to like-new working order.

Sellers of refurbished items put many safeguards in place, so you need to pay attention to their policies, but I think it’s a pretty safe process. I had no problems. The risk of buying refurbished, I think, is small but the savings benefits are significant.

There are two companies that I narrowed my purchase options down to but there are others out there that you can find when searching for “.” Those two were (because they are based in Minneapolis, so I’d presumably get my set quicker and since they are in town, if I hd any problems with the TV, it won’t be a burden contacting them in person).

Before settling on your particular set or of you’re planning on buying from an online shop, definitely check out for reviews of both the TV you’re considering or the merchant. Some of the reviews are obviously by the merchants selling the items, but most of the reviews are by people who have actually bought the product, so can see if there are any issues that you should be aware of.

I ultimately bought my TV from is and I was very happy with them; they had excellent customer service, and the TV arrived before they said it would. Their shipping service was great: Two guys brought it into my home, took it out of the box, and set it up in about five minutes.

You’ll also need to buy decent cables—everyone except people at Best Buy have told me that you don’t need to buy the obscenely expensive ; but even so, you’ll need good cables to hook up your home theater sound system, your DVD and/or VCR, your cable box, and your gaming system.

When you finally get your set, you’ll need to "calibrate" it for optimum performance. . You can buy set-up discs to optimize your TV for realistic settings (they set them at the factory to high brightness and high contrast to make the TVs look more vivid in the showrooms). I found one at Best Buy.

If you don’t already, think about subscribing to one of the premium movie cable channels like . Each of them have a high-definition channel and the movies on them are something to behold: The clarity is amazing—better than DVDs and certainly better than movie theaters that are using reels. You won’t really be getting the best out of your set if you don’t subscribe to some HDTV channels.

Movies are amazing but if you’re into sports, there’s nothing like watching a football or baseball game with the extra screen width and the surround sound picking up field noises and being able to hear hecklers in the crowd behind you.

As I said before, playing video games on an HDTV (especially if you’ve got a surround-sound Dolby 5.1 home theater setup) is an amazing experience. Needless to say, video games will only get that much better if you hook up a next-generation video game console such as the to your HDTV.

That’s what I’m talking about!

HBO’s Football Show – 1st & Ten

is the best. I mean, who needs TV when you’ve got Home Box Office? ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; and now and –the list goes on.

Apparently, it goes back as far as the 80s, when HBO boasted their comedy series , a sitcom about the fictional NFL team the California Bulls. The show stars as a divorcee who seizes control of the team from her ex.

The show ran from 1986 to 1991 (before I started subscribing to H-boe) and featured appearances by a plethora of NFL stars and former stars.

With the Vikings season over, I’ve been filling my time watching episodes from the box set of 1st and Ten. The highlights for old school football fans like myself, no doubt, will be the player appearances. The Vikings featured on the show include , , , , and .

While , you can find the box set now at Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Borders, and Barnes & Noble.

Stupid Synchronicity

I just had an annoying moment of synchronicity.

I had the NFL Network on as wallpaper while I was working but it was, as it will, beginning to repeat itself so I flipped over to HBO where Spice World was playing in all it’s High-Def glory. My finger hovered over the channel button on my remote only long enough for me to positively identify the actor on my screen as the same man who starred in one of my favorite twisted movies,
How to Get Ahead in Advertising.

It was him. And by "him" I mean Richard E. Grant. How to Get Ahead in Advertising is the bizarre story of Dennis Dimbleby Bagley, an up-and-coming young British adman who blanks when trying to come up with an idea to sell pimple cream. His stress induces a boil on his shoulder that eventually grows into a second head that embodies his evil alter-ego.

As the Guinness commercials say: Brilliant!

So, anyway, I’d confirmed that this actor in Spice World was the very same Mr. Grant who starred in my favorite twisted movie about advertising. Not being a Spice Girls fan, I switched over to Starz only to find Mr. Grant hogging my screen once more in Hudson Hawk.

I mean, what’re the odds?

NFL Network

About a week ago I got one of those oversized envelopes from the cable company that mean either the rates are going up or the channel lineup is changing, or both. This one delayed the inevitable for a while by dropping the bad news of rate increases in favor of channel lineup news. (I’m sure the rate increases will come later, they always do).

Much to my delight, the contents of my oversized envelope informed me that I would soon enjoy the NFL Network as a part of my digital tier lineup.

Damn! NFL football 24 hours a day.
What could be better than that?
Thank you, Comcast.

So naturally, the first thing I did this morning was tune in to my new favorite channel. And…the jury is still out. The first program I watched was NFL Total Access, NFL Network’s signature show that actually airs in the evening and was obviously being replayed this morning.

It’s a pretty good show. The Total Access crew includes Rich Eisen, Terrell Davis, and Lincoln Kennedy. It’s an NFL Live-type program with player and coach interviews and action footage. It looks like they’ve got web cams installed in ever team’s complex because the remote interviews have that Live from Iraq stutter-motion quality.

After that was a very good Inside Training Camp program called Jaguars Summer that, obviously, takes you inside an NFL training camp. It was a fascinating account of player progress and the coaches deliberation. The episode I saw was also surprisingly timely, as it discussed the troubles former Pro Bowl sackmaster Hugh Douglas was having making the team and the coaches discussions about whether or not they should cut him. Douglas was cut August 30th; I was watching September 1.

Next they replayed the program I’d just watched.
Great.

After that….drum roll, please: NFL Films Presents…Pop Warner Football! They had the dramatic background music, the professional crew, but it was little league!

They’ve obviously got more time to fill than useable content.

They have some programs I’ve yet to watch but am looking forward to. Playbook is an Xs and Os show that breaks down the game using teams’ own video.

During the season, they will also replay selected games using camera angles you don’t get on the TV broadcasts.

I’m sure I’ll talk more about the NFL Network in the future.