post

News & Observer Sides with State

Sometimes when I go home my parents will have held on to something for me to see.  Most of the time it’s something my dad wants me to read.  He might cut out a Fortune Magazine article with a sticky note on top of it saying something like, “Read this, do it and buy me a Ferrari.”  Other times it could be a new driving law he wants to make sure I know about, or anything else a concerned parent would want their kid to know.

When I came home from spring break my parents had saved two News & Observer articles for me.  Both articles had huge pictures of the victorious N.C. State basketball team following their defeat of Syracuse on Friday, March 15.  Below the photos covered in red were two smaller pictures of carolina blue displaying drastically different emotions.

My parents didn’t hold on to these to rub it in (I think…).  My good friend, Staats Battle, plays basketball for the wolfpack, and he made sure to get his face on that front page.  That’s him to T.J. Warren’s right.

TJ

I’m glad my parents held onto the article so I could see the picture, put above it the headline read:  “N.C. State victory; UNC agony”.  And below the above picture filled with jubilation and excitement was this…

annette

Hell of a contrast, right?  This woman looks like she should be wearing a darker shade of blue.

Already disgusted with the N&O’s portrayal of my team’s loss, I decided to see if the article had any redeeming qualities.  Here are the first two sentences of staff writer Luke Decock’s run down:

“While North Carolina all but ensured it will not begin the NCAA tournament just down the road in Raleigh, N.C. State went a long way toward joining the Tar Heels in the field with an upset of Syracuse.  The Wolfpack got the big win it needed to bolster its fragile NCAA case with a 66-63 win over the Orange on Friday, but North Carolina exited the ACC tournament early with an 80-75 loss to Pittsburgh, making it unlikely the Tar Heels will be seeded high enough to stay close to home at PNC Arena next week.”

This sounds like a subtle “this is our state” cry for praise.  I even did a quick search of this Luke Decock to see if he was a N.C. State grad, he wasn’t.

Anyway, I flipped to the sports page hoping it might show more of a balance of the two teams.  I saw these two pictures of T.J. hanging on the rim and Roy doing his thing along with Luke Decock’s headshot next to the article.  I stopped reading.

DUnk

*There’s Staats again under T.J.’s foot

roying

I realize that the N&O is a Raleigh paper, but it’s not N.C. State’s newspaper.  I grew up reading the sports page of the N&O, but this particular edition surprised me.  Sure they’re not going to put a picture in there of Tokoto throwing down a huge dunk when we lost, but no need to pick out the most ridiculous looking Carolina fan in the whole arena.  Obviously I’m biased, but I think the N&O could have done a better job of representing our heels despite the loss.

-FS

post

HBO GO Gos Down

It just so happens that the finale of True Detective’s first season fell in the middle of our spring break.  None of the ten friends I was with thought this would be a problem.  We were staying at our friend Sutton’s house in Big Sky, Montana and without thinking much about it, we assumed he had HBO.  He didn’t.  Sutton couldn’t even believe it, and it’s his house.

Missing the finale was not an option.  We knew if we waited to watch until we got home, somehow we would hear what went down, whether that be on twitter or word of mouth.

First, Sutton called up his Dad to attempt to convince him to buy HBO.  Not a chance.

After the failed hail-mary, we quickly opted for the HBO GO avenue and decided to huddle around a computer screen to watch.  We had two MacBooks in the TV room ready to go.  Buffering, buffering . . . nothing.  We reloaded the page at least twenty times hoping to get through, but the worst had happened, HBO GO crashed.

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 9.25.29 PM

This is when the viewing crew split.  A few guys went to sleep, exhausted after a full day of skiing.  A few continued to reload the page, refusing to be snubbed of the season finale.  I opted for the hot tub with a view of the valley (not a bad second choice).

I was only in there for a few minutes when I heard some commotion from inside.  My friend Mark got through on his iPhone.  He isolated, put some headphones on and zoned in.

The other guys continued to reload the page on their laptops, further fueled by Mark’s success.  Finally, they got through.  One of the guys in the hot tub scrambled to get out and secure a spot around the screen.  The two other guys in the hot tub hadn’t followed the show, but knew I did.

“Fordo, you not gonna watch?”

“Nah, it’s not going anywhere.”

I stayed in the hot tub and enjoyed the view along with a few beers.  Honestly, I was pretty proud of myself.  I had been anxiously awaiting the finale all week and even re-watched a few episodes.  But I was lucky enough to be in one of the more beautiful parts of the country and decided to take it all in while I was there.  Or, at least until the next day when my friends were talking about it so much I had to watch on my own.

Even when it comes to HBO, live matters.  Every True Detective follower I know wanted to watch the finale live.  The HBO GO crash caused an outrage on Twitter.  Fans wanted to watch, and they wanted to watch it LIVE!

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 9.27.17 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 9.26.09 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 9.26.35 PM

 

Whether or not you have the ability to record or watch later, there are some things that will always cause fans to watch live.  True Detective is one of those things.  Sure it’s not the Super Bowl, or the Oscars, but its got quality content and a dedicated following.  Whoever can figure out that equation will bring in the viewers.

-FS

*images obtained from Google images

*Tweets obtained from heavy.com

Ads: The Voice Inside Your Head

minority-report-500x377

Before the icy weather hit Chapel Hill Monday afternoon, I planned on talking to my classmates about the Minority Report-style advertisements that are being developed.  Unfortunately, class was cancelled and my classmates didn’t get to enjoy the visually pleasing, thought-provokingly brilliant presentation I prepared for them.  But it’s okay; I went to the basketball game instead, the heels won, and my classmates can catch the run-down here when they get bored of soaking up rays and drowning themselves in fruity island drinks over our Spring Break.

Previously in class, we have discussed the idea that science fiction movies are one of the better indicators of what is to come in future technology.  The 2002 Spielberg film, Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise has reinforced this idea.  The sci-fi film includes various future forms of media including virtual newspapers containing holographic images, but most interestingly (to me, at least) are the interactive advertisements that try to lure Cruise’s character, John Anderton, to kick back and enjoy a Guinness.

In the movie, the ads recognize people as they walk past by scanning their eyeballs.  As John Anderton walks through a shopping area, the ads speak out loud to him attempting to draw him in.  Back in 2002, these digital ads may have seemed like a stretch of the imagination, but just twelve years later, here they come.

minority-report-gap1

Several tech companies are currently developing the technology to make Minority Report-style ads a reality.

Digital advertising screens have been in use for some time now.  You may see them at a bus stop, on the side of a building, or at a subway station like this one in Stockholm.  But IBM and Japanese electronics company NEC are about to kick it up another notch.  An article in The Telegraph a few years back highlighted the companies plans.

blowing-in-the-wind-5-640x355

Researchers at IBM began working on digital, tailor-made adverts several years ago.  Their goal was to develop technology that will show consumers ads that reflect their personal interests.  IBM claims that the customized ads will seek to limit consumers from being bombarded with advertisements that have no relevance to them.  Instead, they will only be shown advertisements that may resonate with them personally.  At least that’s the goal.

IBM’s system will work by using wireless technology tags called RFID chips to identify consumers as they walk by.  These chips are increasingly being built into credit cards and cell phones.

The digital ad boards will be able to identify people based on the information encoded in the RFID chips, and advertise towards them according to their personal preferences.

The ad boards are being developed as part of IBM’s Smarter Planet Program that “aims to use technology to make people’s lives easier and more efficient”.

Japanese company NEC already has a similar (but not so sophisticated) technology in place.  NEC’s billboards are able to identify a shopper’s age and gender as they walk past, offering them products that best suit their demographic.  The signs use basic facial recognition software and cameras to pick up on this information.

I happen to think that the ad boards being developed would be really cool.  I don’t think I would like it if they talked to me like the ads in Minority Report, but if they flashed an image up to suit my taste I would have no problem there.

Most advertisers welcome the new technology and think it will limit the amount of poorly targeted advertising.

My only worry, especially with IBM’s product, is that we as consumers will be tracked everywhere we go.  There will undoubtedly be privacy issues to handle and who’s to say that IBM won’t sell our every move to the government?

-FS

 

Double Tap That

Several of my classmates have brought light to the “battle for likes” that Instagram has created amongst users.  It is an unwritten rule of the Instagram game.  Yeah, you’re sharing pictures because you think whatever it is you’re doing is cool, or your friends might think it’s cool; but all you really want is that double tap.

I would like to consider myself a sparing Instagram user.  I have had the smartphone app for around three years now and have 54 total posts.  Everyone has a few friends that just get carried away.  My roommate, for instance, has posted 118 pictures, but even that is low to some.  He is always asking me “which picture should I use?”, or “what should I put as the caption?”, to which I usually respond with a laugh followed by, “dude, I don’t care”.  Point being, he’s going for the likes.

Several times I have gotten into conversations with friends about how many likes they get.  One of my buddies is terrible at instagramming, but he doesn’t care.  He doesn’t get a lot of likes, and he’s not going for them (he says).  It’s a refreshing point of view opposed to the people who are constantly checking their phone after they post a picture, hoping that this one will break their like record.

This fall I went on a hunting trip with my grandfather for my 21st birthday.  My grandfather and I (along with my Dad and a friend) flew out to Colorado for the weekend to go Elk hunting. I know it seems like a ridiculous weekend trip, but as you could imagine we had a great time.  On the way back, I posted a picture on Instagram of my grandfather and I with my elk.  In my mind it was a way to publicly thank my grandfather for truly one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

IMG_1127

I posted the picture before getting on the plane to fly back home.  When we landed, I had somewhere around 80 “likes” on my picture.  I kid you not, one of my friends sent a group text commenting on how I was “racking up the likes”.  Another friend texted asking what my LPM was.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  Later I found out he was asking me what my likes per minute was.  See, some people just get carried away.

I’m not going to sit back and act like I am above the battle for likes, but it doesn’t concern me nearly as much as it seems to other people.  Sure it makes you feel kinda good when you get above fifty, and the few times I’ve broken one hundred have surprised me a bit.  But at the end of the day I posted a picture because I thought it was worth sharing.  If you like it, that’s great.

-FS

Firsts for the Sports World

Michael-Sam-Mizzou

The recent coming out of Michael Sam, a highly touted football player from Missouri captivated sports news a few weeks ago.  The talented defensive end admitted to have been gay for some time, but felt that he should make his sexual orientation public before entering the NFL draft.

The ensuing reaction from the media was all positive (as it should be) but I wonder if all the attention to stories like this are confer-intuitive to the progression of homosexuals in general.  NBA basketball player Jason Collins made his coming out public last spring and until today he had not played a game since.  The Brooklyn Nets offered Collins a contract today and he took to the court against the Lakers in L.A. tonight.

I think it’s great that the media recognizes milestones such as this, but the amount of attention given to these announcements may be a bit much.  It makes coming out seem like much more of a big deal than it should be.  I don’t mean to be inconsiderate of the people who have built up the courage to make their homosexuality public, but I do believe the media has successfully blown it out of proportion.

I wish the best to both Michael Sam and Jason Collins in their respective careers.  I just hope they make headlines in sports for something other than their sexual orientation.

-FS

jason collins

*images obtained from Google images

post

The Digital Third-Wheel

These days you can relive an entire night the next morning.  Even before you get out of bed or scramble around for a few advil, you probably reach for your phone.  With the help of Instagram and snapchat you can look back into last night over and over again through the lens of your friends cell phone.

Some nights are bound to produce a lot of content.  Last Thursday was one of those nights in Chapel Hill.  The heels won and the celebration began.  Everyone at the game rushed to Franklin Street, but before they did, they whipped out their phone to take a video of the students storming the court.  Then maybe they stormed the court and got their phone out again to make sure all of their friends saw that they stormed the court.

I went to the game with my cousin Earl, who flew down from New York city a few hours before the game and flew back the next day.  I only get to see Earl a few times a year now that he’s in the working world, so I was excited to go to the game with him.  We had a great time, it would be hard not to at a game like that, but Earl’s phone was there.

Whenever we made a big play and the crowd started to get really loud Earl tried to catch it on camera.  I might be using some selective memory here, but every time Earl tried to take a video we turned the ball over, or missed a big shot, or Coach K called a timeout to talk to the refs.

I let this happen a couple of times, but eventually I had to say something.  I wasn’t about to let Earl’s phone lose the game for us.

“Put that damn phone away dude.”

“You’re right.  Fuck it, I’m done with the phone.”

He put the phone back in his pocket, we made a little run, then we tied the game.  The Dean Dome erupted, the stands started rocking, and Earl reached for his phone again.  I didn’t care enough to give him shit for it.  I was way too into the game.

Now more than ever there is an apparent need to document what’s going on in front of you.  Earl’s not the only fan that tried to capture a bit of the insanity that went on in Chapel Hill last Thursday.  We’re all guilty of letting our phones get in the way of enjoying the moment.  Whether that’s at a concert, or a basketball game, or your average night around town, chances are somebody will take a video or a picture to share with the world.  So don’t worry about missing out on anything, you’ll be able to watch what happened tomorrow morning.  But if you were lucky enough to be there, in the moment, someone’s phone was too.

-FS

Netflix and the Bechdel Test

tedtalks

Colin Stokes discovered a pertinent issue in the movies of today while re-watching some of his old favorites with his two young children.  One of the movies was The Wizard of Oz–the other, Star Wars.  Stokes explored the differences of these two classics in a Ted Talks he did in November 2012.

In The Wizard of Oz, “all of the most heroic and wise and even villainous characters are female”, Stokes points out.  Star Wars (on the other hand) has only two female characters, Princess Leia and Aunt Beru.  The main character in Star WarsLuke Skywalker, joins an army to help overthrow the government and save the universe.  Dorothy’s character in The Wizard of Oz makes friends and becomes a leader among the friends she makes.

wizardofoz1

Stokes would rather raise his kids in the land of Oz instead of “the world of dudes fighting”.  He asks why there is so much fighting in the “movies we have for our kids and so little yellow brick road?”

The movies of today are “doing  a phenomenal job of teaching girls how to defend against the patriarchy, but they are not necessarily showing boys how they’re supposed to defend against the patriarchy.  There are no models for them,” Stokes admits.  He sites Hermione of the Harry Potter movies, Katniss of the Hunger Games, as well as Pixar’s Brave which exemplify great role models for young women.  However, none of these movies pass the Bechdel Test.

20131004050534!Katniss_Everdeen

Allison Bechdel, a comic book artist, developed the Bechdel Test to assess the movies she watched.  The test only requires three questions:

1. Is there more than one female character?  2. Do these characters talk to each other?  3. Do they talk about anything other than the guy they both like?

Stokes drew attention to two statistics in his talk.  The first was that only 11 of the top 100 movies in 2011 had female protagonists.  The second statistic was that one out of five women in America claim to have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life.  Stokes doesn’t blame the movies our kids watch for this statistic, but calls into question what our young boys are learning from male-dominated movies.

“We have got to show our sons a new definition of manhood,” Stokes says.  “We really have to show them and model for them how a real man is someone who trusts his sisters, and respects them, and wants to be on their team.”  A real man stands up to the bad guys who want to abuse women.

Stokes believes we can accomplish this definition of manhood through the Netflix que.  He urges parents to “look out for those movies that pass the Bechdel Test” and “nudge our sons to identify with those heroins”.  The boys need to learn to pull for the girl in the movies, because they will need to know how to pull for the girls in real life.  They will need to be comfortable with joining their team, rather than fighting alone.

-FS

*All images obtained from google images

Guilt Me Into What?

cigs

photo obtained from google images

I question the tactics of some activist’s and organization’s attempts to guilt me into doing something for their cause. Too many times I have been enjoying a show or sporting event only to have my mood ruined by an anti-smoking commercial. Their attempts usually lead me to turn my TV off or at least turn it to mute and ignore the message completely.

If it’s my emotions they’re after, they best take a lighter approach.  And they should avoid leaving me with an unexpected amount of guilt that I did not ask for when I turned the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on.

They intentionally throw viewers out of their comfort zone and tug as hard as they can at their heartstrings.  A sad song plays, pictures of abused dogs and cats slowly fade in and out on the screen, the viewer might be moved to tears.  The end of the commercial will undoubtedly urge you to donate and encourage you to take a stand on the issue; placing a responsibility on your shoulders that you didn’t ask for.

The anti-smoking ads trouble me the most because every person talking through a voice box made a decision to start smoking.  They weren’t born with a birth defect and they didn’t contract a horrific disease.  Someone who doesn’t smoke, like myself doesn’t need to see that.  I bet nobody will even click the link, the smokers don’t want to see it anymore than we do.

These type of ads are unfair to the viewer.  Although they are fighting for an admirable cause, they should not accomplish it by forcing guilt on their audience.  I don’t mean to sound cold-hearted or insensitive to the causes that drive these ads, I simply believe they should take a different approach to achieve their goal.

-FS 

 

Internet-Induced Anxiety

internet

I, like many other people I know, have a growing fear of how much information the internet can gather from my day to day browsing habits.  The more I read about it, the stronger the fear grows.  I’d like to be able to shake this fear off, thinking to myself, “I have nothing to hide”, but maybe I do? I don’t remember, but the internet probably does.

This fear I have has prevented me from doing countless things that are mostly incorporated to make life easier.  For instance, I don’t have online banking.  I know my bank can be trusted, but I would rather drive to the bank or an ATM to manage my account than lose my phone and have someone clean me out.  I never click the save password option on a website for fear that someone will log in to one of my many online profiles and do god knows what with them.  I have also never saved a credit card when making an online purchase.  I can’t believe it’s even an option.  It’s gotten to the point where I pretty much ignore any of the shortcuts that websites offer me.

I know my fear will continue to be tested when the “internet of things” comes to life.  The internet of things will allow us to control everything in our homes from the smart phone in our pocket.  These capabilities already exist for some things.  People now have security systems that can be completely operated from the phone.  They can lock their house, turn off the lights, and you can even watch what’s going on at your house while your gone.  My parents are looking into getting a system like this.  They say it will make them feel more comfortable when they leave town.  And I’m over here thinking all you have to do is lose your phone and everything’s gone.

I guess I should start getting used to this internet-induced fear, cause it’s sure as hell not going anywhere.

-FS

*All images obtained from google images

post

Watch the Media Work

1370293317_house-of-cards

Being the House of Cards addict that Netflix made me into, I am now re-watching the first season before they release the second next week.  So, I’m pretty much rattling off five episodes a night.  I’ll probably be done with the second season by next week.

While re-watching the second episode, I noticed a classic example of the media not telling people what to think, but what to think about.  Kevin Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood, strategically delivers bits of information to reporter Zoe Barnes who in turn tells the people what Frank wants them to know.

In this particular episode, Frank seeks to remove Secretary of State Michael Kern.  He gets Zoe to write an article to bring Kern down (which it does), then gets Zoe to release a statement that Catherine Durant will be filling the position.  Before Frank made a move, Durant wasn’t in the cards.  But after Zoe releases the statement saying Durant is the favorite, the rest of the media follows suit.

This happens continually throughout the season.  Frank leaks a rumor or prediction to Zoe and the media follows the leader.  All Frank has to do is place a notion into Zoe’s hands.  The rumor then flies around and sways the public all the way up to the President.

I’m not very well-versed in politics, but if this type of influence actually occurs, it’s terrifying.  I knew the media was involved in politics, but not at this level.  I’m fairly certain it’s an exaggeration, but it sure as hell makes for an interesting TV series.

-FS

*All images obtained from google images