Thursday, April 29, 2010

Funniest porn parody movie titles

Porn studios have gotten lazy. It used to be that they’d come up with funny movie titles that riffed on popular mainstream movies or TV shows. Now they’re not even bothering to swap in rhyming dirty words to make a clever title.
One studio exemplifies this trend with porn parodies like “Not the Bradys XXX” and “Not Three’s Company XXX” – its take on “The Brady Bunch” and “Three’s Company,” respectively. How uninspired.
Porn parodies are still a big business. Recent news reports say X-rated parodies of “Avatar” and “Glee” are in the works.
A couple of websites have compiled lists of funny porn parody movie titles, including eBaum’s World and AMOG. But from what I can tell they just recycle titles from other websites and haven’t done any fact checking. Upon review, some of the funniest ones were probably just made up.
Here’s a list of my favorite parody titles from actual porn movies:

A Beautiful Behind (A Beautiful Mind)
American Booty (American Beauty)
Beverly Hills 9021-Ho! (Beverly Hills 90210)
Big Trouble In Little Vagina (Big Trouble in Little China)
Bitanic (Titanic)
Breast Side Story (West Side Story)
Buffy the Vampire Layer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Cheeks & Thong's Up in Stroke (Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke)
Clockwork Orgy (A Clockwork Orange)
Diddle Her on the Roof (Fiddler on the Roof)
Dun-Her (Ben-Hur)
Forrest Hump (Forrest Gump)
Hung Wankenstein (Young Frankenstein)
I Cream of Jeannie (I Dream of Jeannie)
Inrearendence Day (Independence Day)
Good Will Humping (Good Will Hunting)
Little Shop of Whores (Little Shop of Horrors)
Malcolm XXX (Malcolm X)
Missionary: Impossible (Mission: Impossible)
My Bare Lady (My Fair Lady)
Night of the Giving Head (Night of the Living Dead)
On Golden Blonde (On Golden Pond)
Pubic Enemy (Public Enemy)
Riding Miss Daisy (Driving Miss Daisy)
Romancing the Bone (Romancing the Stone)
Saturday Night Beaver (Saturday Night Fever)
Saving Ryan’s Privates (Saving Private Ryan)
Sheepless in Montana (Sleepless in Seattle)
Snatch Adams (Patch Adams)
Swinging in the Rain (Singing in the Rain)
The Boobyguard (The Bodyguard)
The Da Vinci Load (The Da Vinci Code)
The Da Vinci Load 2: Angels & Semen (Angels & Demons)
The Poonies (The Goonies)
The Porn Identity (The Bourne Identity)
The 69th Sense (The Sixth Sense)
Throbbin’ Hood (Robin Hood)
Tits a Wonderful Life (It’s a Wonderful Life)
Whore of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings)

The following movie titles are too good to be true. These titles are mentioned on websites listing funny porn movie titles, but I can find no evidence these movies exist after checking the Internet Adult Film Database, Adult DVD Empire and elsewhere.

Apocryphal porn parody movie titles:

Add Momma To The Train (Throw Momma From the Train)
Barely Legally Blonde (Legally Blonde)
Cherry Poppins (Mary Poppins)
Eyes Wide Slut (Eyes Wide Shut)
Free My Willy (Free Willy)
Glad He Ate Her (Gladiator)
Lawrence Of A Labia (Lawrence of Arabia)
Ocean’s 11 Inches (Ocean’s 11)
Schindler’s Fist (Schindler’s List)
Sorest Rump (Forrest Gump)
Terms of Enrearment (Terms of Endearment)
The Empire Strikes From The Back (The Empire Strikes Back)
Will He Bonk Ya In The Chocolate Factory (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)

Breast Side Story
Tits a Wonderful Life
The Poonies

Updated May 21, 2011: Added additional movie titles

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My name is Pat and I’m a copyright infringer

Is there a support group for copyright infringers? If not, there ought to be.
Copyright holders are on the warpath lately issuing takedown notices to websites that allow consumers to share content such as videos and photos.
German studio Constantin Films recently ordered YouTube and other video sharing sites to take down a host of funny shorts that used a clip from its film “Downfall.” The scene with Hitler having a temper tantrum has been used in countless Internet memes where editors change the subtitles to reflect some current event. (For more information, check out these articles by TechCrunch and the Open Video Alliance as well as this video on Vimeo.)
A good argument can be made that all of those Hitler parody videos are permissible under the fair use doctrine.
In another case, TechDirt reports that Twitter took down a post by a music blogger because he included a link to a website where people could download a song from a yet-to-be released album. TechDirt argues that Twitter overstepped its bounds.

My notice of infringement

Today I received an e-mail from Yahoo’s Flickr photo-sharing service that it had removed four photos from my collection.
“We have received a Notice of Infringement from Newscom via the Yahoo! Copyright Team and have removed the following photos from your photostream,” the message began. These were four photos taken nearly two years ago at the Nintendo press conference at the 2008 E3 video game conference in Los Angeles. I was at the event and posted my own shots, but they weren’t so hot since I was seated pretty far from the stage. So I supplemented my photos with four shots of Nintendo executives taken by freelance photographer Bob Riha Jr. and distributed by Newscom along with Nintendo’s press releases from the event. I included the full cutline and credit information with the photos.
My Flickr photo collections are for my family and friends to see, but I keep them open because I don’t want my loved ones to have to remember some password to get in. I also don’t add tags to the photos so they aren’t easily searchable.
Yahoo’s copyright goons warned me about further violations.
“Subsequent NOIs filed against your account will result in further action that may include termination without warning,” the message said.
I hope they were talking about terminating my account and not my life.
Not taking any chances, I prompted deleted the photos in question.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Looking back on the Korean War

I recently posted four articles about the Korean War (1950-1953) based on interviews with my father, James A. Seitz. He served in the U.S. Army at a medical aid station near the frontline at the end of the war and into the armistice.
One of the drawbacks to the blog format is that a series of articles such as this is posted in reverse order. To provide better organization for the series (and also to post a few more photos), here is the series as it was meant to be read:

Part 1: Reporting for duty

Part 2: Near the frontline

Part 3: Entertaining the troops (a visit from Marilyn Monroe)

Part 4: Back home

Photos (top to bottom) from James A. Seitz:
James A. Seitz outside officer’s mess hall in South Korea, 1953
Seitz with U.S. Army sign that says “We’ve done so much, for so long, with so little, that now we can do anything with nothing,” South Korea, 1954
South Korean village and rice paddies, 1953
South Korean village main street, 1953

Friday, April 23, 2010

8 things Twitter needs to do to improve service

I’ve been using Twitter for a year as of yesterday. I like the microblogging service for finding interesting weblinks and to offer my two-bits on pop culture, customer service and other things. I also use it to promote my stories at and my blog posts on Tech-media-tainment. To date, I’ve posted 967 tweets, many of them retweets of other people’s posts.
It’s a fun service. But honestly if it disappeared tomorrow, I’d just shrug and go on with my life.
That said, here are eight things Twitter needs to do to improve its service:

1. No more fail whales. Twitter needs to improve its system performance and stop the frequent messages about being over capacity.

2. Improve search. I’d like to be able to refine searches, such as searching my own posts or someone else’s or searching by date or location, etc.

3. Fix the funny coding in searches where an apostrophe shows up as a bunch of weird characters.

4. Offer the ability to see what people in any town or zip code are tweeting about, not just trending topics by country or large metropolitan area.

5. Add the ability to retweet from Lists of Twitter users.

6. Fix the “Add your location” feature. It stopped working for me and I can’t add my location any more. I get the error message: “Unable to contact Twitter location service. Try again.”

7. In the Retweets section, Retweets by You hasn’t been working much lately. Fix it.

8. Provide a “mark as read” feature so you only see new posts. I currently use the Favorites star as a bookmark on my main feed and lists. But whatever you do, don’t take away that Favorites star. I’d be lost without it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reflecting on the Korean War today

Part 4: Back home

My father, James A. Seitz, returned home from the Korean War in April 1954. He was there for the final four months of the war and stayed nine months following the armistice.
I interviewed my dad about his experiences in the war:

What stands out the most?

I’m just thankful that I survived, because I saw enough deaths and enough suffering. When you lose some people that you’re responsible for that’s pretty heartbreaking. You say to yourself, “Boy, they left their families back home.” It’s not easy.
All three (who died under my command) were single. They were young guys – 18, 19, 21, somewhere in that age range.
When you’re there you’re thinking two things: one, how long am I going to be there and, two, I’ve got to make sure we stay as safe as we can.

Was it a good idea for Americans to get involved in the Korean conflict?

You’d hate to think that a country that’s been invaded can’t be saved.
Was World War II worthwhile? We invaded Europe to drive out the Germans. It all could have been Germany today.
Korea was divided after World War II, because the Japanese took over Korea during the war. The Chinese had been there. They had a North and South Korea anyway. North Korea invaded South Korea to take it all.
North Korea literally took over the country. When America came in, they came in just at the tip of the peninsula and they drove them back.
When I got there it was basically at the line … they had driven that far. And as far as I know there was no intent to drive them any further than that. They agreed to peace but no change in land (after three years of conflict).

Looking back

Nobody ever talked about whether it made sense for the U.S. to be involved, he said.
Seitz spent a little over a year in Korea and endured one winter there.
He wrote letters home every week, but wasn’t able to call from Korea.
He entered the service as a second lieutenant and was promoted to first lieutenant while in Korea. After returning home, he earned the rank of captain while serving in the Medical Service Corps, U.S. Army Reserve.
While in Korea, Seitz bought some china and a red silk robe with a dragon on the back. The robe was ruined by dry cleaners in the states, my mom, Alice, said.
But what about all those letters Dad sent home?
“Your dad wrote to me regularly. I got a letter a week,” my mom said. “There were a lot of letters. And he described in detail what was going on. I kept every one of them in a nice big box.” She had them when they moved from Madison, Wis., to Detroit in the early 1960s.
So what happened to them?
“I burned them,” she said.
“Because I got mad.”
She calls that action a “very big regret” now. “You go through the rest of your life regretting certain decisions.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My dad and Marilyn Monroe

Part 3: Entertaining the troops
While serving at a U.S. Army medical aid station in Korea during the Korean War, my father, James A. Seitz, witnessed some pop culture history.
Movie star Marilyn Monroe visited the troops in February 1954 to sing a few songs and entertain the soldiers. Seitz was at the Bulldozer Bowl when the 27-year-old Monroe sashayed onto stage wearing a slinky, plum-colored sequined dress.
“The crowd of fellas there was so excited. They would have done anything she asked them to do,” he said. When she walked out on the stage, the crowd of men just “roared.”
Getting a visit from the gorgeous movie star cheered the spirits of the troops, he said. “She didn’t have to do anything. She just had to walk out on stage practically.”
At one point, Monroe said “come to me” and the soldiers rushed the stage.
Monroe later mingled with the troops. Seitz took a few snapshots like many other servicemen in attendance.
Monroe and baseball great Joe DiMaggio were newlyweds on a trip in Japan, when the bride took a detour to Korea to entertain the troops. She performed 10 shows in four days with the USO, in front of audiences that totaled more than 100,000 servicemen.
The sex symbol later recalled that the trip “was the best thing that ever happened to me. I never felt like a star before in my heart. It was so wonderful to look down and see a fellow smiling at me.”
The temperatures in Korea were bitter cold during the four days Monroe performed, but she said later that she felt only the warmth of the adoring soldiers.
She sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Bye, Bye Baby” and “Do It Again,” interrupting her performance to crack jokes with the soldiers about their fondness for sweater girls. “You fellas are always whistling at sweater girls,” she teased. “Well, take away their sweaters and what have you got?”
She returned to Japan from her exhausting trip with a 104-degree temperature and a slight case of pneumonia. DiMaggio nursed her back to health before the couple continued their honeymoon, touring some of Japan’s smaller villages, according to media reports.
Monroe’s side trip became a point of contention between the newlyweds, who divorced later that year.
“It was so wonderful, Joe. You’ve never heard such cheering,” Marilyn said.
“Yes, I have,” DiMaggio replied.
Marilyn Monroe wasn’t the only notable figure, my father photographed in Korea. He also snapped a few shots of then-Vice President Richard Nixon as he inspected the troops.

Keeping the troops in line

Seitz had one of the most important duties during his time in Korea – He was responsible for distributing beer to the men in uniform.
“The troops drank a lot of beer,” he said. “As an officer I had the responsibility for the distribution of those things. We would divide up what we got and take it to the various units.”
Schlitz was a popular brand of beer, judging from my father’s photos.
The troops drank so many cases of beer that beer cans became a popular roofing material for the locals. (See photo below.)
Sometimes the men had other things on their mind than having a few beers. Once Seitz had to go tent-to-tent tossing out prostitutes.
“We were not too far from Seoul. One night I discovered that one of the Koreans had brought some ladies into the camp,” he said. “So we went from tent to tent throwing out Korean women who were there. Gosh, that was amazing. We never expected anyone to be bringing girls into the camp. They were there to make some money.”

Photos, top to bottom (By James A. Seitz, except where noted):
Marilyn Monroe at the Bulldozer Bowl, Korea, February 1954
Monroe mingles with the troops, Korea, February 1954
Monroe on stage, Korea, February 1954 (Photographer unknown. From the website of Edward Piercy.)
Shipment of Schlitz beer, Korea, 1954
Korean home with beer can roof, 1953

Check out videos of Marilyn Monroe's Korea visit on Google Video and Dailymotion.

Next: Back home

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My dad and the Korean War

Most Americans think they know about the Korean War from watching the TV show “M*A*S*H” (1972-1983), which was set there.
But the series was more of an allegory about the Vietnam War, which was in progress when the show began. “M*A*S*H” lasted for 11 years on CBS. (Long enough to see star Alan Alda go from young with dark hair to old and gray.) The actual Korea War lasted three years.
My father, James A. Seitz, served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War in 1953 and the armistice in 1953-54.
“The Korean War: Years of Stalemate” provides a good recounting of the conflict.

Part 2: Near the frontline

James A. Seitz discusses serving at a medical aid station in the Korean War:

The line was maybe 75 miles north of Seoul. It was very mountainous and hilly there. The line was almost along the crest of one of the hills. The aid station was back behind the second row of hills. That’s where I was.
Literally almost a day after I was there, the North Koreans bombarded the frontlines where our people were and then attacked. They came up over the hill and attacked. And we had over 100 people who were injured and shot and many were killed. They all came through the aid station.
They were bombarding with artillery when they attacked so the troops all went underground to escape the attack. Of course, some of them were injured by the artillery. But we had a truckload of Chinese – you can’t call them Koreans because most of them were Chinese – and we threw them in the truck and sent them back. They were dead.
We had over 100 casualties and about 15 dead at that time. We worked from midnight and were still working at 6 o’clock the next morning trying to take care of the wounded. The ambulances came out to our place and loaded them up and took them to the division hospital.
We were in an aid station right on the line. The MASH units were farther back. They were south of us. They had to be in a position so that they could fly helicopters in without being shot at.
We were within two miles of the frontline. We had ambulances to bring in wounded from the line. It was very tough to retrieve the wounded, no question about that. Some of them were brought back in jeeps, whatever they could get a hold of.
What we did there was primary care, make sure we could stop any of the bleeding that was going on, clean ’em up if we could and then send them on to get further treatment.
I supervised.
I supervised privates and a couple of sergeants. They were trained to work in an aid station. They were trained to take care of cleaning up injuries and administering some medication if needed.
I lost three of my men during that time … aides.
They were on the front line and they got killed by the artillery.
That was an eye-opener.
They were on line to support the troops right there. They carried an aid kit that was intended to stop any bleeding that they could.
The thing we feared the most was artillery. They would fire during the day. Of course, you don’t know when it’s coming. All of a sudden, it’s BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! and there are bombs exploding around you. There was no way of knowing when it was coming or anything like that.
All they’re doing is shooting in a general area. We’re behind the hill and they don’t know exactly where we are.
They shot sometimes in the front of the hill because we had people there to watch them and make sure they don’t come up the hill to get anyone.
The hills were barren from the fires. An artillery piece would come in and explode and some of that would start a fire.
It was all ground combat. They had no airplanes. We had air support though. But we didn’t see many airplanes fly over our area.

Where we were living, we had dug into the side of the hill. So where we slept was partially underground. We dug into a hill, so that when we stepped out we were level with the ground but there was a hill behind us.

The fighting was very, very erratic. During that period, I think we only had three or four what you might call assaults. That first assault occurred the first week I was on line. That kind of sets you back.
There were several divisions spread all across the country.

At one point, the South Koreans felt the U.S. needed to protect some mines.
I don’t know what they were mining. But they were digging something. And apparently the government felt we needed to protect them so they wouldn’t be destroyed. We had eight of us who were there.
The people who were living there were very poor. It was really tragic. We would eat Army food, obviously. We had a kitchen and all of that. And in the evening they would come to the gate of our place and beg for whatever food we had left over from our meal. … We gave it all to them.

Next: Entertaining the troops

Photos, from top to bottom, all taken by James A. Seitz 1953-54:
Tanks near the frontline
Convoy of U.S. Army vehicles
Barren hills in the warzone of the Korean War
Sign warning about the Demilitarized Zone ahead
South Korean soldiers man a DMZ checkpoint

Monday, April 19, 2010

Remembering the Korean War

The Korean War is often called the Forgotten War.
Taking place between World War II and the Vietnam War, the Korean War ended with a whimper in July 1953 when North Korea and South Korea signed a truce that officially divided the peninsula. That line of demarcation, known as the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ, still separates the two countries to this day.
The Korean War lasted from June 25, 1950, until July 27, 1953, according to Wikipedia. In the United States, the war was officially described as a “police action” because there was never a declaration of war by Congress.
Time magazine chose the American Fighting-Man as its Person of the Year in 1950.
My father, James A. Seitz, served for more than a year in the U.S. Army in the Korean War.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he worked two years at his father’s pharmacy in Menomonie, Wis., until he was drafted.
He was engaged to my mother, Alice L. Kelly, when he was sent to Korea in February 1953. He returned in April 1954.

Part 1: Reporting for duty

James A. Seitz discusses the Korean War:

When I was in college as an undergraduate, they had a program that would prepare you to get a commission if you completed it all – the ROTC program. I took the course and during the summer I went to camp.
So when I graduated I was unofficially an officer. I wasn’t an officer yet because I hadn’t been called into service, but I had all the qualifications for it. I’d go in as a second lieutenant.
Not too long after I graduated lo and behold I get a notice from Selective Service to take the physical.
So a busload of us went for a physical. And I looked around on the bus and most of those guys had been there before. You could tell by the way they were talking about it. Many of them had taken the physical and had failed. They were grumbling, “What am I doing here? I already had one.”
So I went up to the Twin Cities in a bus from Menomonie. We drove up to St. Paul in the morning and came back in the afternoon.
Within a week, I got a letter that said I’d passed.
So I got on the phone and called the Army and said, “Well, listen, I’m going to be drafted. I might just as well go into the service as an officer. So could I get called in?” And the man said, “Oh, heavens, we’d be glad to have you. Come down to Milwaukee and have your physical.”
So I went down to Milwaukee and had the physical and quite frankly I was a little edgy because I thought, “I’ve got to pass this one.” I took the physical and the doctor said, “Well, your blood pressure is up a little bit. We can’t take you.”
And I said, “Well, my gosh, I took the physical for the service and they passed me and now you’re telling me I don’t pass?”
And he said, “Well, maybe we should give you some additional tests. Can you stay overnight? We’ll test you again tomorrow.”
So I stayed overnight and they took my blood pressure two or three times and he finally said, “Well, you pass.”
Within a couple of weeks I was shipped out. It was pretty fast.
They sent me down to San Antonio, Texas, for two weeks to familiarize us … All of the guys who went down there were fellas who were in the same category I was. Some of them were dentists, some were doctors and all that.
They gave us some lectures. We went out in the field for some overnights and things like that.
From there, I was sent up to a camp near Boston.
I reported there and they said, “You’ll be here two months and then you’ll be sent overseas.”
I was in Boston for two months then I went home, was there for a few days, and then took the train to Washington state. And then I got on a plane and flew up to Alaska. We flew to one of the islands just off of Alaska for fuel. Then we flew to Japan. In Japan, I stayed there a week.
Then I got on a boat from Japan to Korea.
I stayed for about a week in Seoul, Korea … and finally went to a colonel there.
There were two of us and he says to the young guy, “I’m sending you to such-and-such unit.” And he said, “Oh, great, I’ve got some friends there.” And the colonel said, “Oh. I changed my mind.” (Laughter.)
A couple of days later they put me in a jeep and we drove all the way up to the frontlines.

Next: Near the frontlines

Photos (top to bottom):
Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 1950: the American G.I.;
James A. Seitz outside a U.S. Army tent in Korea, 1953;
U.S. Army camp in Korea, 1953 (Photo by James A. Seitz);
Helicopter pad at U.S. base in Korea, 1953 (Photo by James A. Seitz)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Connecticut: Land of ticks

Connecticut is home to roadside diners, tag sales and ticks.
And by ticks, I mean blood-sucking bugs, not nervous twitches. Although the former can cause the latter if you see one of the nasty creatures.
A tick bit my son last week. Already we’ve brushed off three ticks this spring. And that’s just from running around in the backyard, not hiking through tall weeds and brush.
The tick that bit my son was a small one that hitched a ride on his clothes and latched onto his upper chest in the middle of the night. We found it the next morning. It was digging under his skin, but hadn’t started sucking blood from what I could tell.
His doctor told me that a tick that’s been on for less than 24 hours has practically zero chance of transmitting Lyme disease, the big concern with tick bites here. After 48 hours there’s an 8% chance of transmitting Lyme disease. After 96 hours, it rises to 70%, the doctor said.
Lyme disease is named after the village of Lyme, Conn., where a number of cases were identified in 1975, according to Wikipedia.
Laurie Cantillo wrote a good article for the New Canaan Patch about the tick problem in New Canaan, Conn., where I live.
If you want to be thoroughly grossed out, check out the tick photos at, a unit of WebMD. (The photo above is from the website.)

Friday, April 16, 2010

TurboTax surprise: You’re screwed

I’ve been using Intuit’s TurboTax software every year since 1999 to prepare my income taxes. In the previous 10 years I never had any serious problems with the software. But this year was different.
Fifteen minutes to midnight on April 15, the last day to file taxes, I hit the send button to electronically file my federal return and was greeted with a jaw-dropping surprise. A message popped up on my screen that read:

Patrick … You Cannot E-File This Return

We know it’s not what you wanted to hear at this point. However, we do have details on your situation below.

Not only didn’t I want to hear that, but I had no expectation that would ever get such a message. The message said it had “details” on my situation below. But they were hardly details. The note made some vague reference to “certain forms that can’t be e-filed, usually because of tax regulations.”
It then instructed me to print out 44 pages of documents and mail my return. There was no way I was going to be able to print out my return, attach the W-2s, write a check, find an envelope big enough to stuff the papers into, locate a post office still open at midnight, get postage and have the thing mailed by the filing deadline. Not with less than 15 minutes to go.
Yes, I shouldn’t have waited until the last few minutes to file. I had been working on my return leisurely for a while and was looking for final charitable and other deductions to add. Now I face a financial penalty.
Here’s my problem with TurboTax in this incident: The software should have alerted me to the fact that I couldn’t e-file my return as soon as it started filling out the form or forms in question. With e-filing becoming increasingly common and lots of last-minute filers out there, this is something TurboTax should and must do.
The only thing different with my return this year was having to file a Schedule E for Supplemental Income and Loss. Before we moved to Connecticut from Illinois last summer, we were unable to sell our home. So we were forced to rent it out. That turned us into landlords for the last five months of the year.
And come on Uncle Sam, since when is a printed document better or more efficient than an electronic one. The entire tax process should be able to be done electronically.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Celebrate the first National Robotics Week with some cool robot lists

In honor of the first National Robotics Week, here are some fun robot lists, both real and fictional.

5 robots we should deploy right now (Popular Mechanics, Feb. 2010)

The 13 most legendary robots from film (The Huffington Post, April 2010)

Best movie robots (Rotten Tomatoes, June 2009)

10 sexy robots that fry our circuits (Asylum, Sept. 2009)

The Wild World of Robots infographic (Geeks Are Sexy, Feb. 2010)

National Robotics Week runs April 10-18. Its goal is to recognize robotics technology as a pillar of 21st century American innovation and to highlight its growing importance in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, health care, national defense and security, agriculture and transportation.
National Robotics Week was created by an alliance of companies, universities and organizations with a stake in robotics.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Vote for the world’s 7 Wonders of Nature

Selecting the world’s seven natural wonders is no easy task.
I just voted in the New 7 Wonders of Nature poll and agonized over my choices from the 28 finalists. A few were easy – the Amazon Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon. But picking the next five was rough.
The global New 7 Wonders of Nature initiative is led by Bernard Weber, a Swiss-born Canadian filmmaker, author and explorer. He is the founder of the New7Wonders Foundation, which is funded by licensing and commercial partnerships with companies, TV rights holders and event organizers.
The Zurich-based organization previously sponsored the selection of the seven man-made wonders of the world, announced 07-07-07. That poll attracted 100 million votes worldwide.
The New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign started in 2007 and will culminate with the declaration of the chosen sites on 11-11-11. More than 440 recommended sites were narrowed to 28 finalists.
I based my votes on a few criteria. First, the site had to be a place that was utterly unique in the world. Second, it had to have a definite wow factor. Third, it had to be a place that people would dream about visiting.
Rounding out my picks for the seven natural wonders are Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the Matterhorn in the European Alps between Italy and Switzerland, and Uluru or Ayers Rock in Australia.

Photos (top to bottom): The Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon and Ha Long Bay.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Poor Plaxo, living in LinkedIn’s shadow

Pity the also-rans in the online social networking space.
Many companies have tried, but few have succeeded in the sector. Even some social networking services that once were popular got eclipsed by rival services.
Friendster was hot for a time, but was surpassed by MySpace, which was lapped by Facebook, the current leader in the field. Yahoo has failed repeatedly in its attempts at social networking. Google has stumbled in the sector as well. AOL says it will sell or shut down its offering, Bebo, as soon as next month.
Then there’s Plaxo, which plays mostly in the professional social networking space. It’s been around since 2002 and is now owned by Comcast. But it’s been left in the dust by LinkedIn, which came up with a more useful service.
I’ve been a member of Plaxo for years, but don’t really know what to make of it. It borrows ideas from both professional and personal social networking services and the results are a mess.
Plaxo advertises itself as a “smart, socially connected address book” and “your address book for life.” But it adds personal sharing features like Facebook. The resulting service won’t satisfy either professional users or personal users. Plus, the layout and design of the site are ugly.
I use Yahoo Mail for my personal address book and LinkedIn as my professional Rolodex and don’t see a need for a third service to combine them.
So tonight I’m deleting my Plaxo account. One less web account to keep track of.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

LinkedIn: Social networking for professionals

LinkedIn has carved itself a nice niche in the social networking space.
It’s not about posting status updates on your life (Facebook), sharing photos with friends (Flickr), connecting with your favorite bands (MySpace) or sharing your thoughts (Twitter).
LinkedIn is the serious social networking site. It’s pretty much all business. Officially LinkedIn is about connecting with colleagues, customers and others to find jobs or make business contacts.
But I like LinkedIn for other reasons.
My LinkedIn profile is my professional face online. If people want to learn more about me, they can check out my LinkedIn page and see where I’ve worked before and where I went to school. There’s a link to my company’s Web page to check out my work. I’ve also added links to my personal blog and Twitter page so people can get to know me as a person, if they wish to do so.
LinkedIn is a good tool for promoting one’s professional brand.
I like how LinkedIn profiles are ranked highly on search engines like Google.
I use LinkedIn as my electronic Rolodex. It’s a great way for keeping track of people’s title changes and job changes. That’s a valuable tool for journalists.
With a profitable business and 65 million members worldwide, it should be no surprise that LinkedIn is preparing to go public, according to Bloomberg.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

‘FlashForward’, ‘V’ on the bubble

I have a knack for picking shows to watch that end up getting cancelled after a season or two.
This is mostly because of my taste in eclectic and sci-fi/horror/fantasy shows. Also I tend to watch broadcast networks, which don’t have the financial resources anymore to support unusual, lower-rated programming.
ABC’s “FlashForward” and “V” are two freshmen shows I like that are in danger of cancellation. Both are flawed, but entertaining nonetheless.
A couple of weeks ago, Walt Disney Co. canceled the excellent syndicated movie review program “At the Movies” during its first year with new hosts Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott.
With ABC’s “Lost” ending this season, I’ll have more time to watch all the movies on my Netflix list.
One surprise was the CW’s renewal of “Supernatural” for a sixth season. I love the show, but it’s building up to a series finale this season with the apocalypse and war between heaven and hell. I’m not sure another season can top that. Sounds like a pure business decision to renew it.
The only remaining show on my must-see list is the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” which has matured into a terrific show.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Avalanche Software Art Blog: Fun, twisted Disney artwork by game designers

Avalanche Software, a video game development studio purchased by Walt Disney Co. in 2005, has a fun art blog for employees to unleash their creativity.
Much of the art posted takes Disney and other pop culture characters and presents them in new and interesting ways. “Mulan” meets “Kill Bill” is one example. X-Men heroines as Disney princesses is another.
Posted above are two recent favorites of mine: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” meets Edward from “Twilight” (top); and Hester Prynne of “The Scarlet Letter” and Ophelia from “Hamlet” as Disney princesses.
Great stuff.

Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series on Tech-media-tainment’s favorite Web sites.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My attractive female Twitter followers

It must be my animal magnetism.
More likely it’s me continuing to delude myself that beautiful young women are following my tweets.
This is one of my occasional posts on my sexy Twitter followers. As usual, I’ve left out the many attractive PR women who have chosen to “follow” me on Twitter because of my day job as a tech reporter for Investor’s Business Daily.
What’s left are typically Twitter followers who are marketing something. In many cases, they use photos of pretty women to set up their spam accounts.
I don’t care if it’s just an illusion.

FIRST robotics competition a great showcase for junior tech geeks

It’s a thrill to see young people excel in science and engineering. That’s why the FIRST robotics competitions are such a pleasure to attend.
The FIRST competitions are a combination varsity high school sporting event, science fair, Battlebots show and dance party. The participants have a lot of fun and so do the spectators.
My son, who’s nearly 7, and I attended the FIRST Connecticut Regional Robotics Competition in Hartford, Conn., on Saturday. The event, held April 1-3 at the Connecticut Convention Center, is sponsored by Northeast Utilities.
Inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. FIRST is an acronym for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”
Every year, FIRST creates a new game to keep things challenging.
This year’s robot game is called “Breakaway.” Teams compete on a 27-by-54-foot field and earn points by shooting or pushing soccer balls into goals. The field has big speed bumps as obstacles. At the end of the match, teams can earn bonus points if they get their robots to climb poles and suspend themselves in the air.
Fifty-six teams from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Brazil took part in the 2010 regional.
Congratulations to all the teams participating in the event, especially the winning three-team alliance of Uberbots of Avon, Conn.; Brazilian Machine of Porto Alegre, Brazil; and the Gearheads of Somerville, N.J. They advance to the national FIRST robotics competition in Atlanta starting April 14, according to the Republican-American of Waterbury, Conn.

Photo from the April 3 FIRST robotics competition in Hartford, Conn.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ingredients for a good ‘mancation’: The great outdoors, sports and machine guns

I recently took a “mancation” to shoot machine guns in the desert, watch Cactus League baseball, visit a copper mine and explore Phoenix.
For the uninitiated, a mancation is a man vacation. Just the guys. No day spas or shopping or things women might enjoy. Mancations are about manly stuff – thrill seeking, adolescent fun, maybe some geeky things.
The possibilities are endless.
They range from the mundane (golf vacations) to the extreme (running with the bulls in Pamplona).
The concept of mancations has been featured in such movies as “City Slickers” and “The Bucket List.”
I’ve taken a few mancations in my life. My college roommate Scott and I drove from Chicago to Key West, Fla., in December 1988 and rode the rapids on the Upper Gauley River in West Virginia in September 1998. I also explored China with my brother Bill in May 1999.
Obviously it’s been awhile since my last mancation.
But here’s my list of guidelines for mancations:

10 Mancation Rules

1. No women allowed. (Duh.)
2. No shopping excursions, spas, theaters, and other activities popular with ladies.
3. No getting dressed up. No fancy restaurants or events.
4. Shaving not necessary. Grow that beard if you want.
5. Red meat diet. (Steaks, burgers, etc.) No vegetarians.
6. Beer.
7. No talking about your feelings.
8. Limited contact back home. (i.e. Calls to wife or girlfriend.)
9. Activities must include one or more of the following: the great outdoors, sports, big machines, and other macho stuff.
10. Have fun.

Photo: Riding the rapids on the Upper Gauley River in West Virginia.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Exploring Phoenix: Arizona ‘mancation’ Part 4

While in Phoenix last weekend, we sampled some of the many things the region has to offer this time of year.

South Mountain Park

High on the list of things to do in Phoenix is a visit to South Mountain Park. At more than 16,000 acres, it’s the largest city park in the U.S. The desert preserve includes 51 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
We took a hike to enjoy the fresh air. We saw some Indian petroglyphs, cactus-dwelling birds and spring desert flowers.
We also drove up the winding mountain road to Dobbins Lookout, elevation 2,330 feet, for some great views of Phoenix and the surrounding area.
On my last visit to the park several years ago I saw chuckwallas, the largest iguanid lizards native to the U.S., sunbathing on some rocks. Chuckwallas can reach up to 16 inches in length. Unfortunately I didn’t see any of the lizards on my brief visit to the park this time.

We sampled some great Mexican food at Los Olivos in Scottsdale. The historic restaurant was a favorite of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, according to an article on Associated Content.
We also had a terrific steak dinner at Monti’s La Casa Vieja Steakhouse in Tempe. It’s another restaurant that’s steeped in history.
For some kitschy fun, we ate at the original Bill Johnson’s Big Apple Restaurant, a cowboy-themed eatery established in 1956, in Phoenix. The waitresses wear gun belts with six shooters. It’s a hoot.

McCain-Palin rally

Speaking of hoots, when I heard that Sen. John McCain was reuniting with his running mate Sarah Palin from their failed 2008 presidential bid for a rally, I couldn’t resist attending.
McCain is in a tough reelection battle, facing a Republican primary challenge from radio talk show host and former U.S. Congressman J. D. Hayworth. He invited the former Alaska governor to speak at rallies in Tucson and Mesa last weekend.
We attended the Saturday rally in Mesa and watched Palin whip up the crowd with her fiery rhetoric and folksy charm. She was interrupted by two protesters who were promptly dragged out of the auditorium – one by his hair.
I’m not a fan of either political figure, but it was entertaining to be at the event, which was attended by 3,000 people.

Photos: South Mountain Park (top), and Sarah Palin and John McCain at the March 27 rally in Mesa, Ariz. (Photo from the McCain reelection campaign)