The Oaks Ignore Their Pleas

Super Bowl Observations

Posted in General by Jeff Graves on February 3, 2014

The game itself wasn’t much of a contest – literally from the very first (mis) snap, the Broncos seemed to be cursed, and the Seahawks did very little wrong.  But as always, it was entertaining, from the commercials to the hyped half-time show to running commentary on Twitter (sorry, Facebook, I never even checked you.)  A few thoughts…

Hours before the game started, I headed to the grocery store for my weekly run.  Yes, it was busy, but I was a bit surprised to find just about everything I went for.  That is, until I got to the “sauce” aisle after deciding to make chicken wings for the game.  There were plenty of bottles of sauce on the shelf, except for one – Frank’s Red Hot.  Apparently, a lot of people decided to put that S%^t on everything, because there was a huge hole where the Frank’s Red Hot used to be.  It was the only sauce even close to being sold out, and in it’s place was a solitary bottle of Louisiana brand hot sauce.  Tip: Louisiana brand actually is pretty damn good.

The always over-hyped commercials were just eh, I thought.  I did like the Radio Shack “Back to the 80’s” ad, although I’m not sure it will do much for Radio Shack’s reputation.  (I wonder if they still ask you for all that information when you go to check out).  There were the requisite tear-jerkers from Budweiser, and the salute to Lt. Chuck Nadd was well done.  Most of the others sort of blend into one another, although I thought the Bob Dylan Chrysler commercial was just plain sad.  Apparently money can buy anything, even 60’s icons.

The strange pairing of Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers actually worked for me.  Mars got the pace rocking with his opening numbers, and the Chili Peppers took it a notch higher, while Mars played right along.  It was loud, bright, over the top, and just right for halftime.  As someone pointed out on Twitter though, I wonder when Mars and any of the Chili Peppers will actually speak again, though.

Oh, and the game…well, the game was, as too many Super Bowls seem to become, a bit of a snooze fest.  Even the Fox commentators gave up towards the end of the 3rd quarter and deemed the game “over”, after trying to concoct scenarios at halftime for Manning to engineer a comeback.  It’s hard to reconcile the Denver Broncos team we saw 2 weeks ago dismantle the New England Patriots with the team that couldn’t even run their first play from scrimmage without the other team scoring.  It was nice to see the underdogs take home the trophy, even though I didn’t actually stay up to see any of the post-game festivities.  All in all, it was less of a sporting event than an entertainment one, and it managed to capture my attention for 4 hours, and I guess that’s what it’s all about.

The Grammys and the Digital Couch

Posted in General by Jeff Graves on January 27, 2014

For the first time in years, I watched the Grammy Awards last night…well, I watched the first 2 hours or so, anyhow.  While I’ve always been a music fan, I didn’t watch to see any one particular act.  What drew me into the show was the notion that I could watch the digital commentary on Twitter during the broadcast.  I was the only one in my household who wanted to watch the show, and so communing with a few million people online seemed like an interesting way to take in the show.  Looking back, I might have been more entertained by the running “MST3K-like” comments of the Twitterverse than I was by the scripted jokes of the presenters.

I know that the idea of combining social media, especially Twitter and big event broadcasting isn’t a new thing – Twitter has been focused on driving more engagement through TV for several years now, and has actually hired a number of really smart, interesting people to focus on exactly that.  For more, check out this Fast Company article on the whole thing.

I think there’s a ton of possibility in this model, although l’m not sure how that might translate into a viable business model for a digital property like Twitter (and they seem to be still trying to figure this out too). Whether you’re watching alone, as I was, or in a group, the idea of being able to sit around a “virtual couch” and share thoughts and experiences about a television event as it’s happening can make the broadcast itself far more engaging – just look at what happened to Sharknado.

Interestingly, I found myself continually scrolling through the Twitter stream, and sometimes not paying too much attention to the show itself, especially during the commercials.  This might be a problem for brands, who don’t need another way for people to check out of their commercials in the time-shifted, short attention span world we now live in.  While advertisers (hello, Pepsi) can buy tagged, sponsored tweets to try and catch people’s attention, I found them a bit annoying, to be honest,  Perhaps, though, it just takes the right KIND of engagement – rather than shilling the “Pepsi halftime show” (which was kind of a letdown, frankly), brands might be better served PARTICIPATING in the conversation.  At the end of the day, that’s what Twitter does really well – enable conversations among people with common interests, and conversations aren’t what most brands do well yet.

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Experiments in Sharing

Posted in General by Jeff Graves on November 2, 2013

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As you can probably tell if you’re looking at my previous blog entries, I took my son into Boston this morning for the Red Sox “Rolling Rally” to celebrate their 2013 World Series victory.  I knew that I’d want to take some pictures of the event, and share them with friends, but I really did NOT want to view the entire parade through the screen of my iPhone.  I also didn’t want to spend a ton of time fiddling with Twitter or Facebook to share my pictures, but I wanted to find a way to share them in real time, along with the thousands of other images and thoughts that flooded the metaverse.  I decided to try out some ways to automate some of the “busy work” of digital sharing, and looking back, some of my experiments worked, and some didn’t.  Here’s what I learned today…

I set up a few recipes on IFTTT last night to help me with automating the sharing process.  The first allows me to automatically send any tweet that I mark as a Favorite (including pics) to this blog, which let me capture a number of really nice professional photos from the event with a minimum of fuss.  That worked really well, was quick and seamless, and despite a couple of “missing link” tweets, performed as I’d hoped.  Count that a success!

My second recipe wasn’t as successful, but it wasn’t an issue with IFTTT, it was an iPhone problem.  I set up a recipe to take any photo I took with Instagram and publish that on this blog as well.  Unfortunately, in my tests last night, Instagram performance was so slow that I abandoned the idea of using it today.  I just didn’t want to spend a ton of time waiting for my pic to render and upload while the parade was coming.  This was the first time I’ve used Instagram since upgrading to iOS7, and I believe that the combination of the new OS and the Instagram app, mixed with my iPhone 4, caused my issues.  Disappointing, but at least I tested it last night, and didn’t waste time as the parade rolled by.

Another issue, which was shared by many others, I suspect, was the complete overload of the wireless network in downtown Boston as the parade approached.  Refreshing Twitter and uploading photos took a ton of time even before the parade reached us, and I noted that several other folks on Twitter were reporting similar issues.  I elected to abandon “real time” sharing, and just use the iOS Photo app natively to take my pictures, and share them later in the day, when I was home in range of my wifi network.  I also think that the overloaded wireless network may have contributed to a really fast drain of my iPhone battery, due to the need for the wireless radio to transmit and receive for a longer time than normal to conduct “typical” tasks like refreshing Twitter and Facebook feeds.  As a result, my iPhone, which was fully charged when I left the house at 8am, was down to a 3% charge by 1pm.  It didn’t prevent me from taking the pictures I wanted, but I did end up leaving the phone in my pocket more than I might have otherwise.

However, that wasn’t a bad thing at all, because the main reason I went,  (and spent time on my experiments last night) was to enjoy the time with my son, and to be “in the moment” for a pretty special event.  While not all of the things I tried worked exactly as I’d hoped, I was able to capture and share some memories of the event with my friends, and spend a really great morning with my 9 year old.  On that front, the morning was absolutely a success!! Go Sox!

http://ifttt.com/missing_link?1383412355

Posted in General by Jeff Graves on November 2, 2013

from http://twitter.com/MikeCarp37
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Posted in General by Jeff Graves on November 2, 2013

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Posted in General by Jeff Graves on November 2, 2013

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Posted in General by Jeff Graves on November 2, 2013
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Posted in General by Jeff Graves on November 2, 2013

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Posted in General by Jeff Graves on November 2, 2013

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Posted in General by Jeff Graves on November 2, 2013

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