Overpaid Executives: Terry Semel

July 4, 2007

And thank goodness he is no longer the CEO of Yahoo! I remember the days when Yahoo! was young, new, and the hottest shit on the block. Remember when they spent all that money doing TV commercials where some guy in the end sings, “Yaahooooo!” But wait…Google didn’t spend anything and…well…yeah, enough said right?

What inspired me to write about this was well, this article that was sent around at work that I felt was rubbing salt into Yahoo’s open wounds and I loved it. If you don’t want to read the story, it’s about how South Korea’s LG will have mobile handsets that will allow users to capture and upload video to YouTube from their mobile handset. And then…I saw this on the side…

Yahoo Coverage of the iPhone

And my eyes lit up in glee because I find it incredibly hilarious — Yahoo HAD to do something regarding the iPhone and what do they do? They provide coverage on a device that takes advantage of their competitor’s products and services! Yeah it’s not the worst thing, but when you think about it, it could’ve been Yahoo that bought YouTube or rather, rumors were floating around that Semel was in talks to buy Google back in ’02 — I’m pretty sure he wish he had now.

What is actually more disappointing is that Semel was a former movie executive did he not see the potential or did he just lack the vision? I’ll go with the latter. Yeah, Yahoo still is somewhat of a portal, but wouldn’t you say it’s kind of cluttered and “in your face”? If you’re seriously going to search, don’t you just want to be greeted with a search box instead?Look at Google’s page, very simple, very to the point. Yahoo still reminds me of the Internet in the ’90s.
I actually enjoy that Google is eating away at Yahoo’s margins in online advertising. I love this line here: “Mountain View-based Google now makes more money in a single quarter than Yahoo does in an entire year.” I don’t know if detest would be the correct word, but didn’t think Panama was all that they made it out to be. I still couldn’t get the same types of reports from Google and instead of seeing numbers I saw swirly things as the Flash application was busy loading the data. Yeah, Panama was nice in that it showed you charts and was an improvement over the old archaic system, but Panama is in your face and intrusive. I still actually prefer AdWords’ interface, I want numbers, so give me numbers. Oh, and charts? Yeah they have that too, but if you want to see it.

I’ve actually stopped using Yahoo Search Marketing, why bother? Another innovation they failed out on…Site Targeting. I remember at my other job that “Site Targeting” had been referred to as Tier-2 (CPM) and my god was it the most horrible interface and experience in the world and provided you with ZERO flexibility in adjusting your marketing campaigns. Why? Because we were at the mercy of submitting I/Os to our account representative, who updated our campaign ~5 days later. Money wasted. Not only was it unfortunate that we were at the mercy of our account representative, but he was…unresponsive. A reply to an e-mail took about a week. His name was Kevin, I want to say he was in the LA office, but I think he was actually up North because we knew someone who worked at Yahoo and could switch us to a different account representative in LA. Oh yeah, he was fired. Yahoo did something right I guess.

I have not touched Yahoo Search Marketing since January. What’s the point? I’ll just use Google. (Ask actually seems really interesting too now, I’m more anxious to see how another Murdoch project will turn out.)

YouTube and the iPhone could have potentially been something Yahoo could’ve gotten done under Semel’s direction. They’re still struggling to keep up. Google has managed to expand their company into different markets. I’m quite excited to see Google’s implementation of WiFi in San Francisco. Why? Duh, the iPhone has WiFi. Google & Apple…they’re creating an interesting relationship, one that is partially media based. Again, as a former movie executive, didn’t he see the potential? Guess not. And maybe that’s because he has an old-school mentality along with the users of Yahoo.

And how the hell did Semel not 1) get terminated and 2) amass about half a billion dollars? Tsk tsk tsk, it’s unfortunate because in any other job, if you let the competition trounce all over you, well, you’d probably get fired instead of the half billion dollars. That is especially when you’re dealing with shareholders, don’t screw with their money! I’m not calling him a bad guy, I’m just shocked about how many times the ball has been dropped. That and he’s grossly grossly overpaid.

It’ll be interesting to see where Yahoo heads with Jerry Yang at the head of the helm. Maybe the company will be more focused more on the technical side of things.

I’m not a Google fanboy or anything, but using Google is really convenient, the recent Google-Sicko-health insurance thing has been interesting too and makes me…weary of people, Sullivan summed it up very well over at Search Engine Land. If anything, if Google is wants to stay true to their principles — indexing the entire web, well, all the negative information would still be available…or would it? And maybe Miss Lauren Turner did go about it the wrong way in well, blogging about it. Cute headline though. Shouldn’t she have e-mailed her clients with a disclaimer at the end? Hmm…

And maybe this is because of the digital age, but it’s so…interesting to see how it’s changed a company’s longevity. I mean, look at AOL — they used to be the #1 Internet Service Provider, where are they now? But ah, this is for another post another time.

Michael Moore’s Sicko…

July 2, 2007

I saw the movie. My experience with working in the finance industry (insurance/mortgage) allowed me to kind of gloss over what insurance agents were targeting, what was acceptable, and research into insurance laws — which really was not that much fun because each state as well as DC have their own insurance laws. And I think that’s what also made me pay more attention to the movie because I am out of that industry — advertising for it — and I am very very glad.

The movie may not be the most accurate and yes, of course, the people that participated in the movie would be ones that have faced problems regarding health care or the lack thereof. So what if it isn’t accurate? Michael Moore has created enough of a buzz to garner attention to an industry that, well at least me, don’t really pay that much attention to. Yeah, a lot of people have been blasting Michael Moore on the movie, but again, he is at least bringing attention to health care. Because yes, you would be a much better person if you saw Live Free or Die Hard instead of  Sicko.

I don’t believe the intention of Sicko was just to show you how broken the American health care system may be, but it was one to have you think about other things in relation to what Michael Moore presented. And it did just that. The whole time, I thought about how much bull-shit really is at the heart of many future doctors. They want to “help” people, the “unfortunate.”  I’m not saying don’t become a doctor, but come on, let’s not keep humoring you and me, because if you’re a doctor in America, you’ve been sucked into a vicious self-perpetuating cycle. Yeah, you’re doing great work, but you’re helping people who have access, you’re just at the tip of the iceberg.

One of my favorite parts about the movie was when Moore visited Britain and asked new parents, or parents of new-borns how much the baby cost. Only in America can will they put a price tag on a new bundle of joy.

And perhaps at the heart of the American health-care system is the intention of executing Social Darwinism. The Republicans won’t be too happy with that. But yeah, it essentially is Social Darwinism at work, because obviously, working individuals with health care are much more productive citizens (and most likely more educated) than their non-working and non-insured counterparts. Not true? Well, try getting medical attention without any money and we’ll see. You’ll be bounced out faster than

Yes, Moore does go to different countries to see what health care there is like. He’s not insisting that we adopt one of their models, but wants to know why health care is reserved for a different class in America. It at least appeared that health care providers (doctors, nurses, hospital staff) were, oh my God, actually concerned with their patients. The doctors I’ve been to, well, could hardly give a fuck. I take great comfort in that.

As Moore stated in his film, his film really was about people with health insurance and how you may or may not get shafted.  And it’s also unfortunate that there is the possibility that you will get shafted despite paying. As I was watching the movie, Moore failed to bring up the rate of taxation these other countries impose on their citizens. Granted, they are much higher than ours, but they at least have something to show for it. Right now, we have Iraq to show for our tax dollars for the past 5 years. AWESOME!

It was also unfortunate that Moore failed to dive into the economic conditions of the country. I believe economic conditions in France are not all that great, but at least these countries are putting the welfare of their citizens first. Isn’t that what’s important? Without a healthy population, where the hell do you go? All in all, it wasn’t a horrible movie.

I enjoyed it because it began to shed light on an important issue and that I didn’t feel like I killed a bunch of brain cells in the process. Do I recommend it? Yes. Not a must see, but it’s worthwhile to watch.

My Trip To The Apple Store

June 30, 2007

I went to the Apple Store today, I really should start carrying around a working camera, and saw the huge line to play with the iPhone. Pretty cool if you seriously had that much time to waste. But yeah, I was bringing in my iPod because it had no longer had right channel audio. This wasn’t my first time using the Genius Bar at the Apple Store, I had been sent there once as an errand boy by a company that I used to work for — I had to go back there twice, the second was on my lunch break and that took over an hour, but my own experience was great.

The only downside was the wait, but when you think about it, the 20 minutes I waited was a lot shorter than a normal turn around time of at least 3-5 days, maybe 14. I got to entertain myself by looking at random Apple peripherals and software. Does anyone know if there’s an Apple natural keyboard that’s also wireless? That’d be awesome. After waiting for about 20 minutes, I told the “genius” at the Genius Bar about my problem and he asked if I had thought about resetting the iPod — didn’t quite understand why that’d help, but he formatted it — didn’t care, have all my music on computer anyways. While the “genius” waited for a MacBook Pro to open up so he could reset and add on a song to my iPod, I listened to other people gripe about their problems.

I found it entertaining to eavesdrop while waiting, what else was I supposed to do? I wanted to see how helpful these “geniuses” were and I must say, the Asian “genius” wasn’t really all that helpful to the other customer next to me. Prior to eavesdropping, I had heard something about a 14-day return policy — it’ll make sense later. The other customer next to me was having trouble with his new AirPort Extreme, the Asian “genius” didn’t seem to quite understand the problem that he was having. Essentially, the customer had his new AirPort Extreme and wanted to use both so I’m assuming he wanted to use the other one as a repeater. However, he couldn’t find the old AirPort Base on his Mac. I would’ve told the customer that it was pointless to buy the AirPort Extreme then because it’s operating on 802.11n and that it probably wasn’t necessary to use the other as a repeater as 802.11n has a greater range, thanks to MIMO. That is, unless he has a really really big house. (Shouldn’t the guy have directly connected, via ethernet cable, to re-configure it?)

Customer: “Well, I’m not satisfied with the AirPort.”

Asian “genius”: “You can always return the product.”

Customer: “You told me that there’s a 14-day return policy and I’m a few days over that.”

Asian “genius”: “You can ask a manager to allow for the return.”

The Asian “genius” wasn’t really all that helpful, I also heard something about California law actually having a 30-day return policy. ::Shrugs::

By the time this was all and done, I had actually been brought a new iPod with a new serial number sticker! All covered under AppleCare, pretty cool. It was worth the 30 minutes I spent there for a new iPod.

When You Let People Decide…

June 30, 2007

on issues, well, okay, let me just re-phrase that, when you let everyone decide/vote on culture, expect a bit of stupidity to be in full force, especially now that Americans are supposedly getting more involved. I think they’ve just gone and fucked everything up. What is this about? The “New Seven World Wonders”. If it were up to Americans, the “New Seven World Wonders” would probably include:

1) McDonald’s — you really have to give credit for its imperialism and its ability to Mc-everything, this truly embodies the heart of America.

2) SUVs — God’s gift to Americans, no? Probably a Ford, because they’re really reliable.

3) Dust Bowl — who besides Americans could destroy nature to the point that they create a freakin Dust Bowl in the Mid-West?

4) Buffets — I don’t know if buffets are all around the world, but if they’re as bad as buffets in Americans, well you see why half of America is a fatass

5) the Internet — Al Gore invented it…remember?

6) making plastic surgery seem almost normal — what other superficial country in the world has this effect?

7) Corn — no not the actual “creation” or discovery of it, but rather, all of its uses, such as feeding cows corn instead of grain, corn syrup! (Next time, look at that can of regular soda, it’ll say “Corn Syrup”, everywhere else in the world has natural cane sugar — thank you for protecting the corn industry America!)

Anything missing? Well, yeah, but what other things belong on America’s Seven Wonders of the World. This list is as stupid as the people who voted for Bush, both times — you know who you are.

Motorola USB Charger Saved Me $40.00+Tax

June 29, 2007

Who would’ve thought that the Motorola USB charger for the Razrs would actually be able to power the Creative X-Mod. I liked how everyone griped about it. In fact, it’ll take any charger that has a USB end. Didn’t people think about this? Yeah, it’s not exactly portable, but it no longer has to be hooked up to the computer to use. So stop bitching about the lack of a charger and start being creative with your shit. Charge your USB powered phone on your computer duh. How much are you saving? If you’re buying from Creative, $40.00+tax.

See?

Sony NW-HD3 with Creative X-Mod

Yeah that’s the NW-HD3…and lemme tell you, one of the best things I like about the NW-HD3? It’s ability to use its own sound processor or an external one — in this case, the X-Mod. The iPod not so much. In fact, after only about ~6 months, my iPod no longer powers the right channel. I’d go to the Apple Genius Bar tomorrow at the Apple store, but the iPhone is coming out tomorrow :(

Where you @ Sony?

June 28, 2007

Sony can thank Antone Gonsalves for this one: Sony To Ship AppleTV Rival in July

I really had no idea what direction this entry was going to take, at first I thought it was going to be about the digital set-top box market, but it began to take another direction as I began to compare Sony and Apple. I’m quite certain that there are several articles that do just that, specifically how Apple re-created a market that Sony once dominated. Sony’s had many blunders in the past and they’ve repeated some of them, what’s exactly in store for the once dominating electronics giant? Who knows, but I will say one thing though, if Sony continues to do what they’re doing, they’re setting themselves up for failure.

So, what do I mean by “continues to do what they’re doing?” Sony may have a great brand name, but one of their biggest drawbacks is their atrocious user interface. Despite Sony’s profits and their success, it still appears that Sony hasn’t created a usability team. It also appears that Sony cut the department that actually came up with clever names. (Walkman anyone?)

NW-HDx — Best Name EVER

Sony has made several attempts into the portable digital music player market with their extremely catchy NW-HDx series. Oh wait, that wasn’t the complete name, as if seven syllables wasn’t enough, it’s complete name? Network Walkman NW-HDx, x denoting the model number in the series. The first Sony portable digital music player, portable digital music player because Sony had decided to push ATRAC, the NW-HD1 was actually a decent product.

Sony NW-HD1

This could’ve been the “iPod killer,” like every other portable digital music player out there on the market. From a technical standpoint, the NW-HD1 was great, it had a sleek, small design (it’s about as big as a deck of cards), comes bundled with a remote and dock, an amazing finish, and up to 30 hours of battery life. It’s problem? A few things, like any other Sony product it was $$$, ATRAC only (for a limited time), Sony’s Connect store, and the biggest bitch of all, SonicStage.

Sony began to see that they were going to be in another Betamax type war with ATRAC and mp3, but thanks to the digital age, Sony was able to turn their NW-HD1 into a mp3 player with a firmware upgrade. Well, thank goodness for that! At least Sony got to take control of that situation.

The other problem Sony had is, as I stated prior, their software’s atrocious user interface and how much of a bitch it was to transfer music to. Granted, I didn’t own the NW-HD1, but I did own the NW-HD3, which was the HD1′s successor. (The NW-HD3 was nothing more than an updated HD1 — plays mp3 right out of the box! — without all the extras, thanks a lot Sony.)

Sony NW-HD3

Sony’s SonicStage was the biggest pain in the world and probably was the most difficult and frustrating one to use of all. One of the lack of features that bothered me the most about SonicStage was the lack of ease in just creating a playlists. The NW-HDx do not have playlists, rather, they are called “group” instead. Sony and SonicStage really like for people to take many extra steps in what one would assume, or hope, to be an easy process. There is limited drag-and-drop support, you’d think they would’ve applied it across the board.

Everything is an involved process, you first have to import any music you have, which really was a pain when you had certain folders to add as you’d have to either let the software scan the entire folder again, or select all the new folders you want to add. My main gripe is that you couldn’t simply drag-and-dropped files to the library or directly to the music player. I would have been much happier had they included this functionality.

What excited me about the NW-HD3 and what disappointed me at the same time was that Sony was giving away 50 FREE Downloads, a $50.00 value!, to their Sony Connect Store. Why didn’t the electronics division work together with the recording division? Selection on the Sony Connect Store was sparse and disappointing, I had a hard time finding 50 songs that I actually really wanted to download/purchase. Sad huh?

Sony did create some cool looking mp3 players, like their smaller, flash-based mp3 players, just check out their page. By the looks of it, Sony is no longer going to pursue the hard-drive mp3 player market at least, hast thou conceded to Apple?

I actually enjoyed the NW-HD3 itself. It really was a great device, the only physical aspect that I didn’t like about it was the lack of an ability to quickly scroll through many songs, groups, artists, et alia. It was the software that drove me crazy and that is where perhaps Sony began to go wrong. Sony was successful in creating electronics that didn’t require management software and maybe it was Sony’s lack of experience in such a field or their arrogance in trying to one-up the competition that prevented them from seeing such a problem. Ease of use is the world to consumers.

Back to that AppleTV Rival Thing

Oh, yeah, back to that. Anyways, Sony is looking to enter the internet set-top box market with their AppleTV Rival — I highly doubt Sony actually dubbed it this, so they can probably thank Antone Gonzales for the verbiage — called the “Sony Bravia Video Internet Link.” Another long winded-name, they really did get rid of that department that came up with cool names.

The Sony Bravia Video Internet Link is…not going to be compatible with most pretty close to all televisions. Why? Well, Sony has a line of Bravia TVs out, and guess what? The Sony Bravia Video Internet Link is the $300 toy that accompanies it! On top of about $1,299 for the cheapest Bravia TV according to the SonyStyle website, that’s $1,600. It’s not exactly a cheap solution.

So, exactly how does it rival the AppleTV? I don’t know, it doesn’t have a hard drive, it’s more expensive, it only hooks up to Sony Bravia TVs, it doesn’t look like it has wireless, apparently you can no longer mount your TV along the wall if you have this, and oh, there’s hopes of bringing YouTube video? Oh wait, that already happened with the AppleTV. Ah, so that’s the reason why it’s dubbed the AppleTV rival!

What makes this Sony device very interesting is how segmented and selective Sony intended for this product to be — it’s only compatible with Bravia TVs. Sony expects to load this device up with access to free content (YouTube? — yay for pixelation on a grandeur scale!) and perhaps movie titles from the Sony catalog? Who knows, but if Sony’s internet video store looked anything like the Sony Connect store expect to see some tumbleweeds tumbling by.

Additionally, with Sony’s track record, browsing for videos is probably going to be another pain in the ass. Sony’s software/user interface can turn something so enjoyable into something where I feel as if my teeth are being pulled. I’m not saying the AppleTV is perfect, but I’d say it’s a hell of a lot better solution than what Sony has to offer.

Don’t Weep! All Is Not Lost!

(Unfortunately, this is my 3rd 4th time having to re-write this thanks to wordpress -_-)

All is indeed not lost for Sony. Recent news have been quite positive for Sony. Although Sony is no stranger to a format war, it always feels better to know that you’re probably winning, and with the news that BlockBuster has released, Sony can rest assure a bit longer that BluRay is here to stay. The recent BlockBuster news reports that customers are picking BluRay over HD-DVD 70% of the time! Can you imagine if Sony can push BluRay the same way they did with DVD?

On other positive news, it was also recently announced that Sony expects to release 380 titles by sometime next year. That’s extremely positive news for Sony, they can begin to start recovering the cost of the PS3.

Sony’s Chief Executive, Howard Stringer, said to look out for Sony in the electronics segment again. Is Sony making a come back or are come backs so passe nowadays that consumers are going to shrug Sony off? Or does Sony think it has played catch-up enough to begin innovating once more? (That plastic bendable screen was pretty cool though.)

What Sony needs to do is to also address the needs and concerns of their customers; their atrocious software user interface clearly has not reflected that they care about their customers. Given Sony’s past track record in an area that requires management software Sony’s consumer electronics division will continue to suffer. Yes, Sony, it is about the product, but it is more about the whole user experience.

The launch of Tith.tv

June 20, 2007

Welcome to the launch of Tith.tv! I’ve always wanted to blog for a while…but was finally convinced by someone at work to do so. Here at Tith.tv I’ll be covering certain news articles with my opinions “peppered” in — “peppered” may not be the best word, but you get the idea. I”ll be providing commentary to many categories: tech, politics, news, celebrity stuff, ANYTHING(!), as long as it has caught my interest.

Thanks for visiting.

Tith.tv


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