Do Spin Offs strengthen or weaken a brand?

Remember Cheers? Remember Frasier? Now, remember The Tortellis? Nobody else does, either. The question of “do spin-offs strengthen or weaken the core brand?” is one that is difficult to answer. I certainly don’t plan to answer it here, but I can give you a few in-depth glances at franchises that have gone off the beaten path, and some that lived to tell the tale. Continue reading “Do Spin Offs strengthen or weaken a brand?”

Cable Companies still ignoring Cord Cutting

I haven’t had my own cable TV line since 2008. Well, I did, for about five weeks in 2010. Then I immediately shut it back down, because the bill was insane. I continue to get harassing phone calls from Time Warner Cable, trying to get me to reactivate, at all hours of the day and night. I tell them, perhaps if these special offers were their normal rates, I wouldn’t have left in the first place.

What saddens me most as how ostrich-like the cable companies remain. They say that people are leaving in record numbers, for economic reasons – not because they don’t like the service. Let that soak in. No, really – really let it soak. Because I, the consumer, don’t see enough value for my dollar, I quit using a particular service. But, the cable company thinks I only did it because I don’t have enough dollars in my bank account. How self righteous can an entire industry be!? Continue reading “Cable Companies still ignoring Cord Cutting”

Siri's Android & Windows Phone 7 alternatives…

Remember when Siri was a big deal? Siri got a big ad campaign, but I haven’t met too many people who actively use it. It has been promised in the iOS6 iPad (3rd gen) update, but I’m not looking forward to it any more than the addition of any other feature. But if you’re the kind of person who was jealous of the iPhone owners with Siri, then I encourage you to check out these applications for your handheld of choice:

Windows Phone 7: Check out Ask Ziggy on the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Android: Enjoy iris. on the Android.

In both cases, the applications pull from various sources on the internet to find the answers to questions you’re asking. I have found both of them to have excellent speech recognition engines, and be very fast. I have to give bonus points to iris. for having partnerships in place that allow them to pull data from services like ChaCha and Wolfram|Alpha. But Ask Ziggy is no slouch – it includes great in-line graphical forecasts when asking for the weather, and easy to read and time-stamped information when providing stock quotes.

Although neither integrates as flawlessly into the OS as Siri (and how could they?), and you may not be able to check your calendar on the fly, these are still two excellent apps that provide users of other platforms excellent alternatives to living a life without a voice activated digital assistant (boy we’ve come a long way from the PalmOne m505.

How to Change your Product Key and Activate Windows 8

There are just some things you can’t get away from, and the command prompt is one of them. A lot of people with the new RTM of Windows 8 Professional have will run in to an issue with activation. When you download the ISO, at least the one for Windows 8 64-bit Professional from Microsoft’s TechNet, it installs with a 90 day trial license. By default, there is nowhere you can click to change the product key! So I fell back on an old trick where you can use the command prompt to change the key in Windows. Here’s the step by step guide:

  1. Hold the Windows key on your keyboard and press “R” (this will bring up the RUN prompt).
  2. Type CMD and press enter or click okay (as seen above) (you can also do this directly from the start menu and click the “Command Prompt” icon).
  3. Type: slmgr.vbs -ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX (with the X’s of course being your 5×5 product key – note the key I used in the screenshot below is also a fake, so don’t waste your time).

That’ll do it! You’ll get a pop up Window confirming that the key has been changed, then you can proceed with your Windows Activation.

1997 – Cornershop – When I Was Born for the 7th Time

You might not remember Cornershop, but you’ve probably heard them. Their album is an eclectic sampling of influences from around the world, and Spin magazine called it album of the year in 1998. It’s easy to see why, it’s addicting.

American audiences (with their new found love of Hindi-films on Netflix) may only just be beginning to understand some of the references, but that won’t stop you from nodding your head along with catchy drumming, easy vocals, and myriad of instruments. But the opening two tracks, for most people, are probably the most memorable. Sleep on the Left Side and Brimful of Asha hook you right in to the album. Brimful… is also known as “Bosom for a Pillow” because of the refrain “everybody needs a bosom for a pillow, everybody needs a bosom.”

Candyman has a funky sound you can’t help but love, and while you keep expecting some form of contemporary rap to appear on top of the song (which eventually and only briefly arrives), it remains, for the most part, an instrumental only piece. The nearly 4 minute song is very light on lyrical influence, letting the drums and bass guitar do most of the work. You can say the same for a track called State Troopers. Track 11, however, takes what you’re used to and expecting, and swaps it for a American style country-music-influenced song entitled Good to be Back on the Road Again, which includes lines such as “It’s good to be on the trail / from where my heart set sail / put an anchor down for friends, and good beer.”

The entire album really takes what you expect from a pop album, and mixes in more of what we’re seeing from current generation Psychadellic-Funk-Indie-Rockers. If people ask me about albums I’ve been listening to for well over a decade, standards that I keep in my collection and I always go back to, When I Was Born for the 7th Time is at the top of that list.

How to Remove your Credit Card information from Xbox Live

After previous account hackings of Xbox Live customers, I gave you some information about how to secure your Xbox Live account. But if you want to be extremely cautious, or let’s even say you’re even thinking of giving up on your Xbox and want to make sure nobody can get in to your account and charge things to your card… these are all smart things to consider. It’s important to remember that you can delete a profile from your Xbox 360, but there has been no good way to delete an Xbox Live account, just disable automatic renewal of Xbox Live Gold subscriptions.

So, how do you go about protecting your credit card information? By removing it. You already know that, you want to know how! It’s really quite simple:

  1. Head over to Account.Live.com.
  2. Click on Billing on the left hand side:
  3. Click Payment Options across the top.
  4. Click on the card you want to remove.
  5. The right side of the page will change, click Remove near the top.
  6. A box will pop up in the center of the page, at the bottom of that, click the Confirm Removal button.

Now, even if you never log in to that Windows Live ID again, you can be safe in the knowledge that your credit card details have been removed from Microsoft’s servers.

Gaming in Windows 8 Part 2: Xbox Live Integration with Windows 8 RTM

So I got my RTM edition of Windows 8 downloaded and installed from TechNet this week. Everybody at work was excited, but I think I was the only one who stayed up late and installed it as soon as I could! And of course, now that it’s Friday, it’s time for a gaming post. Obligatory though it may be, I’m excited to bring some cool notes your way. That’s right this is Gaming in Windows 8 – Part 2. Continue reading “Gaming in Windows 8 Part 2: Xbox Live Integration with Windows 8 RTM”

Just got my Windows 8 RTM installed!

Nothing to share, yet, other than: yes, there is a learning curve. A lot of the keyboard shortcuts I’ve used for the past decade have been supplanted by touch and gesture friendly options. But apart from these growing pains, I am finding the operating system itself to be snappy and efficient. I have nothing much more to say at this time, but I have made the leap and made this my primary OS. I have not virtualized it this time as I have in the past Windows 8 is now only OS installed on laptop, plus a few virtual machines of Linux, Macintosh, older versions of Windows, et cetera. I am looking forward to diving in headfirst and will update soon.