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37 posts from September 2006

Faith of My Fathers, by John McCain

After seeing Senator John McCain speak a few times over the years, I grew curious to learn more about him. He always comes across a very intelligent and insightful person. I knew he served in Vietnam and was held as a POW for a few years, but I had no idea what he and his fellow POW’s endured while in captivity.

McCain’s Faith of My Fathers was published in 1999 but is as inspiring a read today as it will be 50 years from now. McCain comes from a long line of American military heroes. His grandfather and father were both four-star admirals in the Navy. Although McCain comes across as a very reserved and quiet man, he apparently knew how to have a good time in high school and through the Naval Academy; McCain isn’t at all shy about sharing some of the more colorful details of those formative years.

This isn’t just a book about McCain’s years as a POW, although that is the focus for the second half of the book. That part of the story is remarkable enough, but the coverage of both of the elder McCain’s and their military highlights make for a truly special read.


An Insider’s View of the Newspaper Industry

Check out this post by Shawn Hessinger regarding the current state of the newspaper business. The print-on-demand scenario he notes and the NewspaperDirect service he links to are fascinating alternatives. I wonder if Google News will eventually create virtual newspapers for each major city and leverage something like NewspaperDirect for print distribution…


CNET TV

If you haven’t already taken a look at this, you owe it to yourself to visit the CNET TV site. It’s only in beta at this point, but it sure seems a lot more stable and polished than most beta sites I’ve visited over the years.

Although there are a number of objects on the screen, the interface overall is simple and intuitive. I really like the virtual remote control on the left, for example; the 8 channels they currently offer fit nicely in a list at the bottom of the remote. It’s also extremely easy to create a playlist from all the videos across all channels. So as I scan through the entire program listing I can quickly click on the plus sign next to the segments I’m interested in and they’ll show up in my personal playlist.

Since I like to keep up on the latest tech trends, I can see myself creating a playlist every morning and having it run in the background while I get settled in for the day ahead. I’d like to think the traditional TV networks will follow this model at some point and offer bite-size segments from news and other programs for playlist viewing. You missed a fascinating segment from the Today Show? No problem. Add it to your NBC playlist and watch it anytime later that day. I don’t care if the network adds a commercial to the front end. And from their point of view, it’s much easier to disable the fast-forward button online than it is on a DVR, so 100% of the online viewers will see the ad, compared to something less than 100% for the traditional viewers.

P.S. -- In the original version of this post I neglected to mention that my colleague Barry Pruett alerted me to CNET TV; despite all my various news feeds and other tracking systems, I think this one would have slipped below my radar if Barry hadn't given me a heads-up.


Yahoo’s Christmas Vacation

Yahoo’s Christmas Vacation? Wasn’t this a bad Chevy Chase movie? (Is “bad Chevy Chase movie” redundant?)

In a strange and somewhat unfriendly cost-cutting attempt, Yahoo is forcing all U.S. employees to take a vacation the week of December 25-31. They’re doing it to save a few bucks and reduce the apparently large stockpile of accrued employee vacation time. One additional and unexpected side-effect from the announcement is a boatload of bad PR. (Who’s the genius who said “no publicity is bad publicity”?!) To view the seemingly endless list of comments, just search for “Yahoo vacation” on Google Blogsearch.

This policy makes Yahoo seem more like an automotive assembly factory from the 1950’s than a cutting-edge, progressive media company. What’s the over/under on how long it will take before Yahoo softens their position on this forced vacation?